January 25, 2004
USA TODAY: “Clark’s Democratic presidential bid could be in serious trouble.”
USA TODAY: “Clark’s Democratic presidential bid could be in serious trouble.”
DOH! I meant to post on this earlier, but you can listen to the Blogging of the President radio show live right now at that link. At the moment, Ed Cone is comparing Howard Dean to WebVan. Meanwhile, on John Edwards, Cone observes: “If you meet him in person, you want to go home with him.”
Er, I like Edwards, but not, you know, that way.
UPDATE: Listened to the whole (remaining) thing, as I tried to finish up an article with a Tuesday deadline. Not bad, with a number of useful insights and some amusing fencing between Sullivan and Atrios (Sullivan asked Atrios when he’d last criticized someone on the Left; Atrios couldn’t remember). Frank Rich was engaging, and said he reads a lot of blogs. Jeff Jarvis offered a lot of first-class commentary. Chris Lydon did an excellent job hosting, though his insistence (which was also present in an interview he did with me a while back) that the New York Times was staunchly pro-war was as incomprehensible to me this time around as it was before. Still, quite a good program.
Daniel Drezner listened, and has more comments.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sullivan is asking Atrios for examples, now.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s someone who noticed Lydon’s earlier comment on the NYT’s alleged pro-war bias.
COOL PICTURES FROM MARS, via the Opportunity rover.
MORE EVIDENCE that the British public is taking a tougher line on crime than the British government.
THE DETROIT NEWS is advertising for bloggers.
Joyful Iraqi pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia on Sunday said they would thank God for ending the rule of Saddam Hussein in prayers during haj pilgrimage but other Arabs were thinking of the U.S. occupation. . . .
“I and many people are thankful toward the United States because they were able to release us and we will definitely never forget. I don’t think any Muslim can forget this,” he said, standing by Kurdish and Iraqi flags beside the Iraqi pilgrims.
Somebody tell Howard Dean.
I’VE BEEN SAYING FOR A LONG TIME that Bush is vulnerable in 2004, regardless of how confident the GOP seems to feel. (Here’s an old post on that, but just enter the words bush and vulnerable in the search window to see a lot more). Now Tacitus is weighing in. Even this, rather optimistic charting shows Bush trending downward. I think that’s because the big-spending, “compassionate conservative” stuff is alienating more conservatives and libertarians than it is winning over undecideds.
Projecting the 2004 elections based on today’s polls is a fool’s game — you’d think that Iowa would have taught people how volatile polls are — but that doesn’t mean that Bush’s people should be overly confident. And as for those Bush/Churchill analogies, remember what happened to Churchill the minute people felt safe.
UPDATE: Reader Carole Newton sends this, which is typical of quite a few emails that I got in response to this post:
Bush, Rove et al thought that to keep the GOP conservatives happy, all they had to do was cut taxes and support and pass a bill against “partial-birth” abortions. Wrong. With the outlandish spending by a GOP-controlled Congress, the stupid and costly prescription drug bill, the over-reaching No Child Left Behind Education Act and the immigration proposal (no matter how they try to spin it, their proposal is amnesty for illegal aliens), they have lost a very considerable number of Republican voters like me.
I have voted Republican all my voting life (I am 60 years old) and I can tell you emphatically that I will not be voting at all for the first time. I certainly will never vote for a Democrat and Bush has morphed into a Democrat as far as I am concerned. The Powers-That-Be in the Republican Party know this about their “base” but are ignoring it, much to the peril of George W. Bush in November 2004.
A non-trivial number of people are saying this. Most of ‘em will probably wind up holding their nose and voting for Bush in November. But not all.
MORE: Another reader writes:
As a Republican, I welcome all hard core conservatives who are so disgustedto not vote for Bush. And if he loses, I also welcome them to recuse themselves TOTALLY from the political discussion over the next 4 years, especially when Pres. Kerry gets to nominate 1 or more members of the SCOTUS. Because if that happens, they have themselves to blame, nobody else.
They better learn the lesson that the Nader Democrats learned last election-half a loaf is better than none. Time for them to get their priorities straight. The potential SCOTUS openings should trump all other considerations for them. If they want to mount pressure, they’re best off doing it in the Senate, where a key vote can make a crucial difference…
I expect we’ll hear this debate for several months.
STILL MORE: Reader Roscoe Shrewsbury emails: “You should have written, ‘It’s the immigration, stupid’.”
Hmm. Well, maybe. That’s not what my email suggests, but I’m sure it’s not a scientific sampling. I haven’t seen any polls on that. Has anyone?
MORE YET: Bill Peschel sends this link to a poll suggesting that immigration isn’t a big issue with very many voters.
MUSHARRAF AT DAVOS: Some interesting observations.
UPDATE: Speaking of Davos, all I can say is bravo for Bill Clinton, for reminding people there that the war on terror isn’t some sort of Bush fantasy, much as they might like to believe that:
And you may be interested to know that any time he referred to the Bush administration, or alluded to it, it was in a complimentary way. He told this crowd — again, a crowd that could use hearing it, especially from this source — that much of what we’re doing, successfully, in the War on Terror never makes the newspapers. For example, “cells are rolled up,” which you never hear about. The administration has achieved “cooperation with other governments” that is not “inherently sensational” but “has saved a lot of people’s lives.” You never hear about this bomb found in this container on this cargo ship destined for this port — and “I could give you 50 other examples.”
Good for him. Add this to his earlier comments on WMD, and it’s a major blow to the loonier sections of the anti-war crowd.
DOH! The Clinton link above was broken. Sorry. Fixed now.
MICKEY KAUS explains why he can’t stand John Kerry.
DONALD SENSING weighs in on the Wesley Clark / Michael Moore claims that Bush was a “deserter” and has some very harsh words:
Three observations here. First, Jennings was quite correct to point out that the accusation of George W. Bush’s presumed absences is “a reckless charge not supported by the facts.”
Second, Clark, a retired four-star general, admits he is entirely unconcerned that an ideologue celebrity has made this most serious, unfounded charge against the commander in chief. . . .
Third, practically no civilian actually knows what desertion really is.
He’s pretty hard on Mark Kleiman, too.
UPDATE: Bad link before. Fixed now. Sorry.
HERE’S SOMETHING FROM DAVID KAY that hasn’t gotten as much attention as other things he’s said:
David Kay, the former head of the coalition’s hunt for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, yesterday claimed that part of Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons programme was hidden in Syria.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year’s war to overthrow Saddam.
“We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons,” he said. “But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”
Dr Kay’s comments will intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad to clarify the extent of his co-operation with Saddam’s regime and details of Syria’s WMD programme. Mr Assad has said that Syria was entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own biological and chemical weapons arsenal.
Hmm. We’ve been hearing those reports from various sources of uncertain reliability (like Debka) since the war. But this is a bit more significant. Is Syria next?
UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails: “You know, when I read the Kay report it was a brief in Reuters and the first thought I had was, ‘Okay, what did Kay say that they didn’t report?’ Trouble is, the abbreviated version has had two days to sink in.” Yeah, you’d almost think somebody wants it that way.
I WONDER WHAT THIS was all about?
A security guard at a BASF Corp. chemical plant was shot in the shoulder after he approached a suspicious truck and talked to a man who said he had been taking pictures, authorities said.
The guard’s name was not released, but Freeport police said he was doing well at a Brazosport hospital following the Friday night shooting.
The guard told police the gunman was a man of Middle Eastern descent with bushy hair and a mustache. The man was driving a white pickup with tinted windows and a black stripe.
Probably not terrorist-related, but . . . .
SAMIZDATA has received an upgrade.
WONKETTE IS CRUSHING ON JOSH MARSHALL: “Look, he’s blogging so fast, he has warped the very fabric of time and space!” (Sure, she tries to sound snarky, but they always do when they’ve got a crush. . . .)
JOHN STOSSEL had an excellent program last night on 20/20, called Lies, Myths, and Stupidity. It was even-toned myth-busting on subjects ranging from health, to gun control, to DDT and malaria, to the environment.
The program was tied to his new book, Give Me a Break, which — to judge from its subtitle, How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media, may be somewhat less even in its tone. (Or maybe not — publishers often choose titles, as we’ve discussed before.) The program, at any rate, was just terrific. I’ve ordered the book, and I’ll see if I like it as much.
JACK SHAFER COMMENTS on the Senate computer-files scandal:
I wonder how the Globe would have covered the story had a Democratic staffer stumbled upon a stack of incendiary strategy memos by Republican staffers. If she shared them with her colleagues and then with the Globe, would the Globe have eagerly printed excerpts of them? You betcha. And would Republicans scream holy hell and demand an investigation after the Globe went to press? You betcha. And would the Globe and the Times be editorializing about the investigation’s “chilling effect” on dissent and free speech? You betcha, again.
Clearly, whenever the Senate investigates itself, it’s news. Likewise, the identity, motivations, and modus operandi of these leakers is news, too. But, like York, I can’t help but think there’s a journalistic double standard operating here in which partisan leaks to conservative journals and journalists (the Novak-Plame incident, for another example) are treated as capital crimes, but partisan leaks that wound Republicans are regarded the highest form of truth telling.
And it gets worse, apparently, in an election year.
UPDATE: Robert Racansky emails:
One doesn’t have to wonder too much.
Back in 1997, the New York Times printed transcripts of an intercepted telephone call between Newt Gingrich and Republican strategists. The tape was provided to the press by Rep. Jim McDermott (one of the “Baghdad Democrats” Link):
Jan. 10, 1997 — The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on an intercepted cell phone conversation indicating Gingrich may have violated his Dec. 21 agreement with the panel not to orchestrate a GOP counterattack against the charges. In a telephone conversation taped that day, and subsequently obtained by the two papers, the speaker is heard reacting favorably to strategy concocted by GOP operative Ed Gillespie.
Jan. 14, 1997 — Under fire for accepting the tape of Gingrich’s phone call, the ethics committee’s ranking Democrat, Jim McDermott (Wash.) recuses himself from further consideration of the Gingrich matter, on condition that one Republican also step aside from the ethics committee to maintain the panel’s partisan balance. Unrepentant, McDermott blasts ethics chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn) and committee Republicans, who he says “stonewalled or otherwise “obstructed sensible efforts to get at the whole truth.”
Yes, I remember that incident.
SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER IN CANADA:
It was a great shame for journalists all across the country, for instance, that the Bloc Quebecois, not our so-called media, had to break the story about the revolting 40% increase in federal government spending over the past five years. There was a 90% increase in the Justice Department budget, 129% in legal services alone. What on God’s green earth would they be doing with that money?
Why don’t we know more about the connection between the Desmarais family, TotalFinaElf, the Bank Paribas, Jacques Chirac, and the UN’s Oil for Food program? Given the relationship between the Desmarais family and Chretien, did that have anything to do with our refusal to join the war in Iraq? If this were the States, that story would be front and centre for months. Why do we not know more about the $250,000 the Canadian government gave to Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based organization headed by Ahmed Khadr who is reputed to have links with Osama bin Laden. Khadr used the money to open refugee camps in Pakistan that CSIS now says were used to aid Islamic fighters waging holy war in Afghanistan.
Let me tell you why we don’t have a free press. If we did, things would change for our plushy elites pretty fast.
Indeed. All I can say is that if Ashcroft were ransacking the homes of critical journalists we’d be hearing a lot in the Canadian press about the fundamental lawlessness of America. Which isn’t to say that the Canadians are wrong to be searching here — it’s just to note that that’s what they’d be saying if things were reversed.
POWERLINE REPORTS MORE ELECTION-YEAR PARTISANSHIP AT THE POST: Shockingly, Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus are involved. Powerline concludes: “It is hard to see this kind of shoddy journalism as anything other than a part of the Democrats’ 2004 campaign.”
UPDATE: Here’s a gallery of photos courtesy of Da Goddess. And you can find Big Media reports here, here, here, and here — as well as here. Glad to see that this nice work is getting some recognition.
Public support for the war in Iraq remains strong, with almost two-thirds of the American public saying that going to war was the right decision, a poll out Thursday found.
The number who said going to war was the right decision, 65 percent, is about the same number who felt that way in December, soon after the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Perhaps another reason Dean is slipping?
SWITCHING FROM DEAN TO EDWARDS: An interesting thread over at Kos.
UPDATE: Hobbs is quoting Edward Boyd, though with approval.
INSTEAD OF READING MAUREEN DOWD’S TWADDLE about Iraq, you might want to read Iraq Now, a blog by an officer who’s actually there. Reader David Radulski emails:
Van Steenwyk, a financial reporter in civilian life, is an Army lieutenant reservist on combat duty in Iraq. Van Steenwyk’s notes on leadership for junior officers are some of the best I’ve read anywhere.
Wish I’d had them when I needed them.
Read ‘em all.
“MEANWHILE, BACK IN KOREA. . .” Austin Bay’s latest column looks at what’s going on there.
THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE: Writing from London, Scott Norvell takes on the BBC for hypocrisy:
Case in point: a recent stunt by BBC Radio 4′s Today program. As an exercise in grass-roots lobbying, Today asked its 6 million weekly listeners to propose a new law for the new year. A labour MP, Stephen Pound, was drafted to front the bill when it was all over.
More than 10,000 new laws were suggested over the course of a couple weeks. Of those, five were short-listed and voted on via email and telephone by some 26,007 respondents. The results, as one wag put it, “blew up” in the face of Today’s producers and presenters.
Clearly expecting some sensible law mandating fat-free potato chips or renewed efforts to save the ruby-throated thrush of Upper Equatorial Guinea, the organizers were obviously aghast when the winner, with 37 percent of the vote, was a law allowing homeowners to use “any means” to defend their property from intruders. . . .
And while a few listeners of Today wrote in to express horror that their compatriots could “endorse vigilantism,” most nailed the real problem illustrated by the whole exercise. “Is it surprising that the public is disenchanted with politicians when they patronisingly treat clearly expressed majority democratic wishes like this?” one viewer wrote.
Martin’s Law is clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott found the wishes of thousands of the citizens he ostensibly represents to be “amusing.” The Guardian called it “embarrassing.”
And people wonder why Brits are cynical about their government and media?
Well, some people wonder. (UPDATE: More here.)
MORE: Tim Lambert emails (as I expected him to) that the poll is unscientific. Maybe so — but that’s an argument against the BBC using it — not an argument for discounting it after it produced a result the BBC didn’t like.
The nanotech act of 2003 is certainly one for the history books. Future marketing students might marvel at how a group of salesmen achieved political victory – complete with requisite silencing of dissenters – for an “industry” that does not yet exist. . . .
But for now, it is commerce that is driving the nanotech vision, redefining “real” nanotechnology to suit what is best for nano business. Business leaders and policy-makers did this by carefully selecting which theories are the ones the general public is supposed to believe, then marginalizing the rest.
I predict failure for this strategy. But read the whole thing.
I STILL HAVEN’T read the Frum/Perle book, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, but the InstaWife is reading it, and she reports that it’s very good. (I’ve been so busy with appointments committee work that I haven’t read much this week. Night before last I did manage to settle down with a beer in front of the TV — to watch a videotape of a job candidate’s presentation that I had had to miss that day because it conflicted with a class. If you’re wondering why there’s been less blogging than usual, well, that’s why.)
DAVE WINER defends the Dean Scream. Worth reading.
ZEYAD’S SCOOP OF THE NEW YORK TIMES has become the subject of a big story in Salon, where Zeyad has already been covered once. For those unwilling to sit through the ad, Jeff Jarvis has an excerpt, along with comments on the lameness of the Times’ excuses.
UPDATE: By the way, in connection with this piece, you might want to read this item on problems with the NYT Baghdad bureau (and this item, too, on problems there that haven’t gotten much Western press), along with this column that Dave Kopel and I wrote on gamer culture and the war.
EUGENE VOLOKH: “A little bit of embarrassment seems to be in order.”
Actually, The Volokh Conspiracy has been on a roll. Just start with the above post and keep scrolling up.
JOSH MARSHALL, blogging from New Hampshire: “I think Dean is in very bad shape. The issue isn’t so much, or isn’t exclusively, the loss in Iowa or the whole business with his speech. Rather, I have the sense that he’s neutered himself in the final stretch.”
His readers paid to send him there to report. Looks like they’re getting their money’s worth.
UPDATE: Roger Simon has observations on tonight’s debate. And Jeff Jarvis observes: ” This debate got more attention than any before. This was the chance for a candidate to electrify the audience. Nobody did.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Kleiman says that Clark is getting the shaft from the Kerry spin machine. Meanwhile Andrew Sullivan says that Clark is toast. The two are not, of course, mutually inconsistent. (Kleiman also takes me to task for even linking an earlier Tacitus item without doing extensive research into the pro-Clark spin. Personally, I think that’s a bit grumpy of him.)
I JUST NOTICED that the Corvids CD is ranked 1,028 on Amazon. That’s pretty impressive, especially considering that its sales are probably just about all blog-generated.
UPDATE: Just looked again and it’s up to #873. Good going, guys!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Now they’re #695. With a bullet!
STILL MORE: 430!
BLOGGERS: Killing off Old Media? Or raising ‘em from the dead?
MAUREEN DOWD SNEERS AT SOLDIERS: Soldiers sneer back. “I didn’t know that poodles were eligible for service in the Australian SAS. Please clarify.” The bit about the Fijians is good, too.
I’VE GOTTEN A BUNCH OF EMAILS asking what I think about this scandal:
Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.
From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight — and with what tactics.
I don’t know. This may or may not be illegal — I wouldn’t be surprised either way — but it’s certainly cheesy. “Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail,” and all that. But nobody ever mistook these guys for “gentlemen.” Certainly no hacking skills seem to be involved:
A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, apparently made a mistake that allowed anyone to access newly created accounts on a Judiciary Committee server shared by both parties — even though the accounts were supposed to restrict access only to those with the right password.
We’ll probably hear more about this — although, on the other hand, it’s so embarrassing for everyone concerned that maybe we won’t.
UPDATE: Reader Rick Giovanelli thinks this is mostly an embarrassment for the Republicans:
A fat lot of good it did them. Hard to believe they could have had LESS success had they not been snooping.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Allen S. Thorpe emails with a contrary view:
If I were Leahy, I wouldn’t make a big deal about this. It will only make him look like a doofus.
Is there a Latin term for “Beware of the Techie,” say, Cave Geekem?
I don’t think the Romans had geeks.
UPDATE: Reader John P. Wilson says I’m wrong:
Please, the whole Republic and Empire was crawling with civil and weapon engineers, the original geeks. The Greeks too. Heron, Philon, Frotinus, and Vitruvius, weren’t they all geeks? Can’t you just see them arguing over where the best cement can be found, what makes the ideal aggregate, optimal draw weights by limb cross-section on bows?
It’s easy to believe that the Romans had plenty of nerds. But geeks? I’m not so sure.
IN OTHER WORDS, the question is “Do we want Dr. McCoy for President?”
JAMES LILEKS MAKES MTV with his Howard Dean remix.
It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
HEY, thanks, Colby! But am I old enough for a “lifetime achievement award?” In Internet years, I guess.
IS WEB VIDEO COMING OF AGE? I look at that subject over at GlennReynolds.com.
WHITE AFRICAN-AMERICANS: A reader emails:
Here’s an addition to the “white African American” story you posted to yesterday – this appears on CNN today :
…and these kind of stories support why I have ambiguous feelings about the “African American” tag for people of black descent.
I was born here in the United States, but was educated in a variety of Southern African countries. All my records for my primary and part of my secondary education are from African schools. When I came back to the States to go to college, I had to go to an interview for incoming students. I walked into the professor’s office, and it was obvious that she took great pride in her heritage, with all sorts of “pride” posters, etc. on her walls. It was also evident that it was a shock for her to see a white guy walk in, based on the documents I provided.
Yes, I’ve encountered this phenomenon from time to time. Africa is a rather large and complex place, and there are, in fact, lots of white people, as well as ethnically Chinese and Indian people, who have many generations of African ancestry. For that matter, black Africans are a highly various group, and don’t tend to think of themselves as an undifferentiated mass. Unfortunately, many people — including many people who think of themselves as culturally sensitive — persist in stereotyping.
Of course, this works both ways. My brother — who doesn’t look any blacker than I do — is sometimes asked by Nigerians (in Nigeria) whether he is black. At first he thought this was odd, but one explained “We have Americans coming here all the time who say they are black, but they look white to us.”
UPDATE: More thoughts from Tacitus: “What’s amusing in Omaha is sometimes deadly in Africa.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Julie Carlson emails:
I lived in Liberia for 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer (1982-84). Allow me to make a few observations about race and Africa. First, people in Liberia at least, are very upfront about skin color. To them it is just another way to identify you. I had short hair and was rather thin, and little kids would occasionally say, “Hello white man” when I passed by. I am female. The adults just laughed good-naturedly. Several of my students were discussing another student and I couldn’t place him by name. They said, “well, he’s black”. After a few minutes of back and forth I finally said the obvious. “Well, you’re all black. That doesn’t help me.” Again, lots of laughter. Evidently this particular student had very black skin.
Second, to most Africans, we are less about race than we are about being American. Several of the black volunteers had a tough adjustment. They thought they’d be welcomed as a long lost brother, so to speak. But Americans LOOK American, WALK like Americans, etc. in spite of skin color. They were seen first and last as Americans.
Yes. Too bad more Americans don’t see it that way.
DAVID PINTO: professional blogger-about-baseball? Looks like it could happen. Cool.
HERE’S AN after-action report from the volunteer effort at Camp Pendleton.
TACITUS says that Wesley Clark shouldn’t belittle John Kerry’s military record. There’s a lot of interesting discussion in the comments.
LEE HARRIS: “It isn’t like Howard Dean is the first man to shriek. I shriek quite a lot myself, and have already done so several times during the current election campaign.”
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis comments: “The scream merely gives voters the excuse they were looking for to vote against Dean, to find an alternative, to blow this race wide open.”
THE CURMUDGEONLY CLERK has thoughts on statutory rape, which should probably be read in conjunction with this post by (but of course!) Will Baude. My own sense is that child molestation — along with real, as opposed to statutory, rape — is mala in se, while statutory rape is mere mala prohibita. This is a distinction that is often not reflected in the law, or in public discussion.
My column on society’s attitudes toward teen sex from 2002 is, somewhat, related.
UPDATE: More thoughts here, from Anne Cunningham.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.
PROF. BAINBRIDGE COMMENTS on Bush and gay marriage: “The move Bush makes here is to begin shifting the terms of the debate from outcome to process. Yes, he’s still focusing too much on whether the law should recognize gay marriage, but at least he has begun to shift attention to the real question, which is ‘who decides?’”
SOME PEOPLE have emailed asking me to write more about the State of the Union. I’m probably the wrong one to ask. As a general rule, I hate State of the Union addresses. The last two were different — 2002 was close after 9/11, and 2003 was a lead-in to Iraq. Last night’s, at least once you got past the war part at the beginning, was more typical: a bunch of domestic nostrums that for the most part were either mere gestures (steroids?) or things the federal government shouldn’t be doing anyway (basically, everything about education).
I can’t critique Bush’s gay marriage proposal because I still can’t figure out what he was saying. (I suspect that my confusion is fully intended). The federal government has no business telling states what their marriage laws ought to be. Of course, I basically favor gay marriage anyway — though (and I guess it’s possible that this is all Bush was saying, though I doubt it) I agree that it would be better to see it adopted by legislation than by judicial decision.
Well, like I said, I find run-of-the-mill State of the Union addresses pretty awful: smarmy, full of cliches and obvious efforts to tug at the heartstrings, well larded with pork and posturing. But, you know, they’re not for me. Whenever I find myself grimacing at these, I’m reminded of a direct mail consultant who talked to the board of a nonprofit I used to run. He asked us if we liked the advertisements for porcelain collector plates. Everyone said no. “That’s OK,” he responded. “Those ads are aimed at people who like porcelain collector plates. You’re not their target market.” I’m pretty sure I’m not the target market for the State of the Union addresses, either, though I’m not sure who is. . . .
I’m utterly unimpressed with Bush’s domestic spending program, but I’m not its target market, either. Nor, sadly, is there anywhere else to turn: According to the National Taxpayers’ Union, the Democratic candidates are all worse. Fundamentally, there’s not a big enough voter cohort in support of fiscal restraint. Like it or not (and I don’t) the voters are pretty much getting what they want in terms of spending. That may or may not prove terrible for the country — people have been doomsaying about deficits for pretty much my whole lifetime — but there’s no question in my mind that the money contributing to the budget-bloat would be better spent if it was still in the taxpayers’ pockets. The only problem is that the taxpayers (or at least the voters, an overlapping but not fully contiguous set) don’t seem to feel the same way.
UPDATE: This isn’t exactly a Fisking of the State of the Union, but in places it comes pretty close: “I give you a D for your domestic agenda. Other than your tax cuts, you have accomplished little.”
Meanwhile, if you missed it, here’s a column by Victor Davis Hanson offering a more positive take on the foreign-relations part of the SOTU, which was clearly the better portion.
I’M AFRAID I HAVE TO AGREE WITH MATT WELCH that James Taranto’s characterization of Democrats who booed the Patriot Act as the “al Qaeda Cheering Section” is over the top.
I’ve been a Patriot Act skeptic — to put it mildly — since pretty much day one. It’s not all bad (and even John Kerry pointed that out last night on ABC) but the overall mindset, and the bureaucratic opportunism, that it represents is a bad thing. And “Homeland Security” remains pretty much of a joke today: lots of pork and gold-plating, lots of new bureaucracy, and not a lot of obvious benefit for security. What’s more, Steven Brill’s account of Ashcroft’s role in the Patriot Act’s drafting, which I blogged here back in April, is just devastating.
There’s no question that the Democrats have demonized the Patriot Act and tried to turn it into a political weapon against Bush — and it’s hypocritical given the 1994 and 1996 “crime” and “terrorism” bills, which were basically more of the same. But that hardly turns them into an “Al Qaeda cheering section.”
UPDATE: Steve Sturm says that Matt and I are wrong.
IOWAN DAVID HOGBERG offers a wrapup on the Iowa caucuses.
I LIKED this Amazon customer review of the Corvids CD: “I expected a passable vanity project – ‘Oh look, a writer’s making a record, how cute!’ Instead, I found a fantastic bunch of songs that smell like whiskey and feel like summer.” Any artist should be overjoyed to get a review like that.
LINK PROPAGATION and credit — some interesting observations.
SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on the difference between conservatism and libertarianism.
DANIEL DREZNER NOTES the persistence of soft power.
HERE’S AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT in an ongoing scandal:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – French bank Credit Lyonnais and a French government agency pleaded guilty on Tuesday to U.S. felony charges stemming from the takeover of a failed California insurer as part of a $772 million settlement reached last month. . . .
A separate settlement resolved all federal claims against French billionaire Francis Penult and his holding company, Artemis S.A., which agreed to pay $185 million in fines.
I’ll bet there’s an interesting backstory.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE since I’ve linked to the Grouchymedia site, but he’s got some new videos up that you might enjoy.
BRANCH OUT in your blog-reading: Carnival of the Vanities is up for this week.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, I wrote this column inspired by David Baron’s book, The Beast in the Garden, which is about the way romanticized attitudes about dangerous animals led to people being killed by mountain lions in Colorado. Since then, still more people have been killed by mountain lions, in California.
So it’s interesting to see this oped by an Alaskan, from the Los Angeles Times of all places:
I am puzzled now by the strange way people here are dealing with mountain lions — which is to say, letting them kill you. . . .
Why would anyone go into mountain lion country without the means to protect themselves from attack? I notice the police are armed. The wardens and rangers are armed. Indeed, anyone with any clue where they are would be armed.
The title: “Walk Softly and Carry a Big Gun.”
UPDATE: Reader Jeff Johnson emails:
I used to live in Orange County in the later part of the ’80′s and would go mountain biking in a wilderness park near the one where the recent maulings took place. At that time, 1989 to be exact, there were signs posted to warn visitors to be on the alert for mountain lions. Several years prior to then a small child was killed by a mountain lion and the park service was sued for not properly warning people. I don’t know what part of “wilderness” these people didn’t understand. Anyway, I always stuck a handgun in my rear bag when I rode out there. I figured it was a lot easier to explain to the police why I had to shoot a mountain lion than to explain to my wife’s parents why I couldn’t do anything while a lion was attacking their daughter. And since my Texas father-in-law was an avid hunter, I don’t think I would have been able to make him understand something like that. Besides, I’d be more afraid of facing him for not carrying a firearm than the police for carrying one.
The advice from my uncle who lives in Alaska was, “Always take a firearm into the woods that can bring down the biggest animal that lives there.”
Of course, that can be a pretty big gun. Meanwhile Boulder reader Tony Apuzzo writes:
It’s illegal to defend yourself against Mountain Lion attacks in Boulder, Colorado. Well, at least via a “weapon” or “firearm”.
He seems to be right:
Possession or discharge of a firearm or weapon, including paint ball guns, is prohibited on OSMP.
Why: Visitors with weapons jeopardize the safety of other visitors and wildlife.
You’d think that they’d be more worried about huge carnivorous animals, wouldn’t you?
DICK MORRIS: “Desperate to keep control of the Democratic Party, the Clintons used their negative researchers and detectives to the ultimate and generated a story-a-day savaging Dean.”
Hmm. If this is true, is a third-party run by Dean more likely?
THE EU IS WAKING UP:
Europe’s apparently doomed attempt to overtake the US as the world’s leading economy by 2010 will today be laid bare in a strongly worded critique by the European Commission.
The Commission’s spring report, the focal point of the March European Union economic summit, sets out in stark terms the reasons for the widening economic gap between Europe and the US.
It cites Europe’s low investment, low productivity, weak public finances and low employment rates as among the many reasons for its sluggish performance.
The draft report, to be published by the Commission today, warns that without substantial improvements “the Union cannot catch up on the United States, as our per capita GDP is 72 per cent of our American partner’s”.
Hmm. Bloated public sectors, high taxes, excessive regulation, and inflexible hiring rules probably have something to do with it.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WASHINGTON POST? This “News Analysis” piece by David Von Drehle misquotes Bush to make U.S. operations in Iraq sound less multilateral:
“Some critics have said” U.S. foreign policy is too unilateral, Bush allowed, before ticking off a list of 17 countries with troops in Iraq and citing his teamwork with “the international community” to contain threats in North Korea and Iran.
But here’s what Bush actually said:
Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq.
(Emphasis added.) So the Post characterization actually halves the number of countries involved. (Yeah, Bush only “ticks off” 17 of them, but he mentions the other 17. Not reporting that is pretty hard to defend). Darren Kaplan — who noticed this before I did, and whose post has more background — is certainly “ticked off” at the Post.
Until recently, the Post has been a lot fairer than this. What gives?
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Looks like they “selectively quoted” him, rather than misquoting. By Washington Post standards, that’s considered exercising “good editorial judgement.” Some might call it spin, and some will, and they will be correct.
Actually, I think it’s worse than that. It’s an indirect quote — and it’s an inaccurate indirect quote. That’s not just selective quotation — it’s a misrepresentation of what Bush actually said. A relatively small one, compared to some others, but one for which there’s no real excuse. As Kaplan points out, other papers managed to get it right.
Meanwhile, Porphyrogenitus emails with this explanation for the Post’s shift: “It’s an election year.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Newspaperman reader Jon Ham emails:
In addition to the selective inaccurate quoting, the Post’s copy editors didn’t catch the Copy Editing 101 glitch in the piece. A policy can’t be “too unilateral.” It’s either unilateral or it’s not. There are no degrees of unilateral, just as there are no degrees of unique.
Good point. I had missed that.
MORE: Reader Dave Robertson says that Ham is wrong:
Mr. Ham would be correct if only real definitions were applied. But in anti-Bush political speech, “unilateral” means either “without prior UN approval” or “without active participation of France & Germany”. No matter how many nations participate, Iraq will always be unilateral. Too unilateral is the emphatic variant of unilateral.
And since Bush was already unilateral in Iraq, multilateral can never be applied to any Bush endeavor. Therefore, the U.S. is being unilateral in North Korea by wanting to have multi-nation talks. The multilateral position would be for the U.S. to agree to North Korea’s demands and have on-on-one talks.
What worries me is that this makes sense. . . .
NEWS FROM KOREA:
The food and fuel situation up north is pretty grim, and it’s making the security forces up there nervous. Lots more North Koreans are openly expressing a “I don’t give a damn” attitude. Just like Eastern Europe in 1989. The current food crises is a result of foreign donors refusing to contribute food for North Korea because the government has not allowed foreigners to observe where the donated food goes. Other witnesses have consistently reported that the donated food goes to the armed forces and is not sent to areas where there has been unrest, or where the government suspects there might be unrest (because a number of locals have fled to China or Russia.) Currently, some twelve percent of North Korea’s population, that was getting food aid, has been cut off. New supplies will not arrive for several months.
PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY: My TechCentralStation column is up.
“THEY LIKE BUSH, AND THEY ARE NOT STUPID:” Australian journalist Caroline Overington reports on American voters.
HALLIBURTON MANIA! Last week it was Joe Conason making Halliburton and Mars noises (though he’s backpedaled since, protesting that he never really meant that Halliburton wanted oil from Mars — which would make sense, though if so then the oleaginous spin that he put on his piece can only be explained as an effort to get gullible lefties thinking just that while maintaining plausible deniablilty. Well, sort of plausible, anyway, at least to the gullible.) Anyway, now it’s Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune, doing the Halliburton shuffle:
Like a lot of big firms, Halliburton has had its eyes on the moon and Mars for quite a while. Halliburton scientist Steve Streich helped author an article in Oil & Gas Journal two years ago titled “Drilling Technology for Mars Research Useful for Oil, Gas Industries.”
The article, unearthed last week by Progress Report, a daily publication of the liberal Center for American Progress, described the exploration of Mars as an “unprecedented opportunity” for the drilling industry and a “great potential for a happy synergy” between space researchers and “the oil and gas industry.”
Seriously, this is getting more and more like the increasingly baroque Clinton conspiracy theories.
UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Michael Hawkins emails:
Has no one seen the movie Armageddon? If you need to drill, you call in the oil and gas people. Even liberal Hollywood filmmakers know that.
“FOR DIPLOMACY TO BE EFFECTIVE, WORDS MUST BE CREDIBLE — and no one can now doubt the word of America.” — George Bush, the State of the Union, January 20, 2004.
“Diplomacy has more to do with (credible) threats than with sweet reason. And ‘threats from America’ are a lot more credible, nowadays.” InstaPundit, January 18, 2004.
UPDATE: Stephen Green is blogging the SOTU in realtime, so I don’t have to. His take on Bush’s many domestic initiatives (steroid testing? opposition to gay marriage?) is pretty much mine: unimpressed: “On domestic policy, Bush is the Republican Bill Clinton. No issue is too small to get his attention, if he can throw a few million dollars at it and claim ‘progress.’” I guess you have to do some of this if you’re President. But I don’t have to like it. I like the Social Security privatization, though.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Bush looks better now that the Democratic reply is on. Nancy Pelosi’s unblinking, wide-eyed stare-into-the-camera delivery is just creepy. (“Please meet my captors’ demands.”) But judging from what she said — and from the fact that every member of the CNN focus group, Democratic and Republican, thought the war was worth it — I think that Ed Cone was clearly right to say that criticism of the war is approaching its sell-by date. And the Dems’ program proposals aren’t any more impressive than Bush’s. (Daschle says that when our parents were kids, all Americans could go to good schools. Really? When my parents were kids, schools were segregated.) I kind of like Daschle’s effort to coopt Newt Gingrich’s “opportunity society” phrase, though.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Kerry’s on ABC, waffling when asked how he’ll vote on Bush’s legislative proposals. Now he’s waffling on the gay marriage issue — he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act under Clinton, but he doesn’t support gay marriage now. He describes his vote as “an act of courage.” Then he says he agrees with Bush, but that Bush is trying to find “wedge issues.” Now he’s talking about Equal Protection — but he doesn’t say what that means for gay marriage. And now he’s swerved off into affirmative action, all without ever answering Peter Jennings’ questions about gay marriage. Lame.
MORE: The Democratic response got panned by the MSNBC focus group — even by the Democrats. Pelosi and Daschle are criticized for delivery, lack of message. Chris Matthews notes that Tom Daschle never mentioned Iraq. Yeah, they left that to Pelosi, which doesn’t seem like a good move. Bill Frist notes that only the Republicans stood up and applauded the prescription drug benefit. (I wouldn’t have applauded it. Then again, I’m not a Republican.)
Meanwhile, Bill Hobbs has more analysis on the State of the Union (Tom Petty is invoked), and Spoons was liveblogging. So was Capt. Ed. (Best line: “A Republican president bragging about a 36% increase in Federal spending on education. I join the Democrats in sitting on my hands for that one. If only I were bloated, I could do a Ted Kennedy impression.”) Meanwhile Howard Fineman is making fun of the Democrats for stressing the importance of food labeling. Daschle and Pelosi’s TV skills are derided again: “They should have just turned it over to Martin Sheen.” Ouch.
STILL MORE: Roger Simon exposes my ignorance. And a final note: The pundits all love Edwards now.
MERYL YOURISH says that Daniel Pipes is wrong: There’s nothing “feminist” about a veil.
THIS WOULD SEEM TO BE BAD NEWS FOR THE DEMOCRATS: According to Daniel Weintraub:
Dean and Clark are atop what looks like a two-man race for the Democratic presidential delegates from California, but President Bush holds at least a narrow lead in hypothetical matchups with all the Democratic contenders. So says the latest Field Poll.
Bush leading in California? If California is even in play, he’s going to be pretty tough to beat. I’d be inclined to doubt this poll, but hey — I’ve already been wrong that way once this week. . . .
DONALD SENSING WRITES that Andrew Sullivan is wrong about preemption:
While I see Andrew’s point, I don’t entirely agree. There are two actors in any potential pre-emption situation, us and the other country.
What Andrew says in his post is that the Iraqi WMD picture painted by the American intelligence apparatus was so spectacularly wrong that using WMD weapons or programs as an element of the casus belli for future military actions against a foreign power can’t be credible anymore. . . .
The lesson here for us is to do intelligence better, but the lesson for would-be foreign leaders seeking WMDs may well be that secrecy and bluffing are a good way to find oneself on the wrong end of regime change.
That seems to be what motivated Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddaffi to abandon WMD programs.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Spoons says that Sensing is right on substance, but Sullivan is right on politics.
BUT IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY WHEN IT WAS BORN! Eric Muller’s blog, Is That Legal? is a year old today.
EVAN COYNE MALONEY interviews MoveOn.org supporters who stand up for reasoned debate, and in opposition to hatred. Don’t miss this video!
IRAQI BLOGGER ZEYAD gets a writeup in Salon.
JACK SHAFER says that Howard Kurtz missed the real story:
Look, kid, I know you got a big scoop here, but the story isn’t journalists’ reluctance to give money to politicians, and it ain’t the fact that media company policies vary, as you put it in your hed and subhed. The real story is that most of the media people you nabbed in your database dragnet gave to Democrats! And that the overwhelming majority of the guilty are reporters! Doncha see? Let me write you a lede that says something meaningful, like, “A Washington Post survey of campaign donations indicates that when reporters make campaign donations, they’re more likely to give to Democrats.” From there the story writes itself.
I’m guessing that Kurtz didn’t think that was news.
BILL HOBBS WRITES that the “jobless recovery” isn’t, in fact, jobless. Meanwhile this report from the Joint Economic Committee says the economy is continuing to improve, and notes a great disparity between the employer and household surveys on employment.
Your guess is as good as mine regarding what this means (I’m not much of an economic forecaster — and, as far as I can tell, neither is anyone else!). But it’s hard to see it as bad news.
MORE HATE CRIMES IN EUROPE:
STRASBOURG, France, Jan 20 (Reuters) – A van used as a schoolbus by a Jewish school in this eastern French city has been firebombed in what a community leader has called an apparent anti-Semitic attack, local police said on Tuesday.
The van was attacked on Monday before dawn, 24 hours after unidentified assailants pelted a nearby synagogue with stones during the night, they said. There was no sign who was behind the two incidents.
A local Jewish leader linked the two attacks to marches on Saturday protesting against a planned ban on Islamic veils in school led by an anti-Zionist Muslim leader from Strasbourg.
Then there’s this:
VANDALS desecrated a Holocaust memorial near Vienna with an electric saw and spray-painted the German word for “lie” over an informational plaque describing Nazi-era crimes, a news agency reported today.
The attack was discovered yesterday at the site of a Hitler-era concentration camp in Hinterbruehl, a village 10 kilometres south of Vienna, the Austria Press Agency reported. Police were notified but had not yet found the vandals.
Sigh. And yet the tendency in Europe is still to deny that they’ve got a problem. You’d think these people would have learned.
HELP THE MARINES! BE ON TV! Meet blog-stars LT Smash and Armed Liberal! All at Camp Pendleton, tomorrow.
THE REAL INTERNET CANDIDATE: Lots of people are saying that Dean’s Iowa performance indicates that the Internet doesn’t do much for candidates. But it’s possible that Internet users just didn’t support Dean as much as the hype indicated. At least, these figures from CNN indicate that Kerry did much better than Dean among Internet users.
CRUSHING OF DISSENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: “This is not the first time, however, that critics have questioned the commitment of Alabama’s public universities to the spirit of free and open inquiry that is supposedly the hallmark of academic life.”
(Via the History News Network’s Liberty & Power blog).
HEH: “Dean Flop Threatens Internet, Bloggers Hardest Hit.”
CAST YOUR VOTE in the Bloggies if you’re so inclined. InstaPundit is nominated in the “Best Weblog About Politics” category. As with last year, though, I don’t find the nominations especially, well, representative overall.
MICKEY KAUS: “The Kerry victory in Iowa reminds me, not unsurprisingly, of Gary Hart’s come-from-behind victory in New Hampshire in 1984.”
Andrew Sullivan: “The Iowa voters – not exactly centrists – picked Kerry and Edwards to be the anti-Dean candidate, and the shrillness of the Dean-Clark message (the shrillness that so appealed to Paul Krugman) was just as soundly rejected.”
Jeff Greenfield: (on Edwards) “This guy makes a speech that’s a coherent argument, not a collection of sound bites.”
Jonah Goldberg: “Dean reminds me of the Hulk in that interim stage just before Bruce Banner turns green and starts to rip his clothes.”
Jeff Jarvis: “Did blogging hurt Dean? . . . Did it become so loud inside that room that it became hard to hear the noise outside, where the voters were?”
Josh Marshall: “Stunning. Actually, stunning doesn’t really do it justice.”
Ed Cone: “Another Internet bubble popped.”
Matt Welch: “Boy, That Dean’s a Crazy Sonofabitch Ain’t He? But not necessarily in a bad way! …. I kind of like the idea of a crazy man running for president, but my tastes have long been unsound.” He has a link to audio of Dean’s speech, too. I think that speech may have done for Dean what a similar speech (“How long, Lord, how long?”) did for Frank Clement. Then again, attention spans are shorter, these days — and Matt Welches are more common.
Will Saletan: “Dean’s answer to every gaffe or unpleasant revelation was to trot out another endorsement from the establishment. But he was right: The establishment proved impotent, and tonight it was thrown aside.”
Daniel Drezner: “Howard Dean is not going away anytime soon — he’s still got the money and the national organization. I’m sure the press is thrilled by this fact.”
James Lileks: “This was not a rejection of the Dean message. This was a rejection of the messenger.”
Kevin Drum: “Basically, this means that Dean, Clark, Kerry, and Edwards remain serious candidates, which in turn means that we’re in for a stemwinder of a primary season.”
Matthew Yglesias: “I’m watching Wes Clark on television right now explaining that he has no regrets about skipping the Iowa caucus. In light of tonight’s results, that’s a bit hard to believe.”
David Frum: “Have the Democrats gone sane? Yesterday Iowa Democrats administered a brutal drubbing to Howard Dean and the far left of the Democratic party generally, opting instead for the two most sensible candidates on the ballot.”
Roger Simon: “The voters of Iowa clearly chose the only two candidates–Kerry and Edwards–who seem to have the ability to compete seriously for the Presidency in November.”
Robert Tagorda: “If the three candidates shared the same message, and Dean came out last, what does that say about his image? Basically, the public dislikes the messenger.”
UPDATE: Several readers note that Mark Steyn had the Hulk line nailed down before last night:
By contrast, when Howard Dean, shortish and stocky, comes out in his rolled-up shirtsleeves, he looks like Bruce Banner just before he turns into the Incredible Hulk, as if his head’s about to explode out of his shirt collar.
Yeah, but he looked even more that way last night. . . .
THIS ATLANTIC MONTHLY REVIEW of Dr. Laura’s new book (by Caitlin Flanagan) is only moderately interesting in itself, since I don’t really care much about what Dr. Laura thinks about marriage. But this passage stood out:
Our culture is quick to point out the responsibilities husbands have to wives—they should help out with the housework, be better listeners, understand that a woman wants to be more than somebody’s mother and somebody’s wife—but very reluctant to suggest that a wife has responsibilities to her husband.
This is largely true, but you couldn’t have said it until recently. Couple it with stuff like this Amy Alkon / Matt Welch discussion and I wonder if there isn’t something of a realignment going on.
IOWA UPDATE: Lots of news over at the Command Post election page, so I won’t be blogging a lot on this — especially as the outcome illustrates that no one who thought they knew what was going on two weeks ago actually did, suggesting that the same applies now. . . .
But here’s my favorite bit of current punditry: “CNN TV analyst attributes Dean’s loss in Iowa to the capture of Saddam Hussein.” Sure. Why not?
UPDATE: Okay, a few comments from watching the candidates on TV.
Gephardt: You have to feel bad for the guy. It’s like Charlie Brown and the football — it gets snatched away every time. He’s a decent guy, and he deserved better and I feel kind of bad for him.
Dean: He’s mad as hell, and he thinks he was robbed. Two things really struck me about his speech — the way that as he thanked Tom Harkin and the AFSCME, they seemed to visibly deflate, and just how mad he really was. I think he feels he’s been screwed by the media and by the Democratic Party. Also, as I channel-surfed and listened to the commentary, I got the sense that the press people really hate him. I’m pretty sure that the feeling is mutual. (Read this commentary by Taegan Goddard, too.)
Edwards: Missed most of this, but he seemed classy and smart.
Kerry: National health insurance? This is the time to talk about national health insurance? The overall tone of Kerry’s talk suggested that he thinks Edwards is the guy to worry about. But he would have done better if his talk had been shorter. A lot shorter. Short enough that Hardball wouldn’t cut away for a far-more-entertaining grilling of Chris Lehane, about which I expect Mickey Kaus will have more shortly. . . .
Overall, I’d say that this is good news for the Democrats, and for the country, and bad news for Bush and the Republicans, who would have much preferrred a smashing Dean victory.
And was I wrong to criticize the Des Moines Register poll for showing Clark at only 2%, behind Kucinich’s 3%? Yes and no — Clark’s showing 0.1% now (he’s tied with “uncommitted”). Well, it’s within the margin of error! And, giving the Register credit where credit is due, he did finish behind Kucinich, who’s showing 1.3%. I admit it: I was wrong, they were right.
SHOWSTOPPERS: This article from the Weekly Standard on why special forces weren’t used against Al Qaeda before 9/11 seems pretty damning to me. Essentially, despite considerable pressure to do so (including pressure from high officials in the Clinton Administration), the military brass found ways to drag its feet and prevent things from happening.
The price was thousands of Americans dead, and a far more serious war on our hands. I keep asking, but why hasn’t anyone been fired over this?
UPDATE: Austin Bay emails:
I agree with you completely. I just read the Weekly Standard article you linked to, ie, Showstoppers. This looks like a very, very important article. . . .
Here’s a critical point: Pete Schoomaker is a straight shooter. I’ve known him for several years. Here’s one caveat: I do know the military fears being “left hanging” by the civilians. Still, special ops has counter-terror as a mission. It is a tool we should have used, and this article indicates Clinton wanted to use it. We need to follow reaction to this story.
Indeed we do.
UPDATE: Donald Sensing comments:
When soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines come under fire and are killed and wounded, they have the right to expect that their services’ leadership will demand retribution. All of these acts, particularly the attacks on Cole and the Khobar barracks, were by any definition acts of war and should have been treated as such. And the chiefs of staff should have seen it that way and pressed for it. Their fundamental obligation to protect their troops demanded it. In this they failed and failed morally, the worst failure a military officer can commit.
At the end of the day, though, the fault wends it way diffusely through many agencies and individuals until all the diffusion coalesces in the Oval Office. If Clinton believed the danger was as real as Schultz indicates he did, then he surely was obligated to do more than merely sign presidential findings. Firm orders to execute missions, not merely plan them, never came from his pen. They should have, even if he had to fire some people to make it happen.
Why wasn’t anyone fired? Because the will to follow through was lacking in the only man who absolutely had to have it, the president of the United States.
Actually, both Clinton and Bush should have fired people. And neither one did.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: In a not-really-related development, Ralph Peters is praising Clinton’s performance as an ex-President:
I NEVER thought I’d give Bill Clinton a standing ovation. But last week in Qatar I did just that.
Our former president gave the most perfectly pitched, precisely targeted speech I’ve ever heard to a hall filled with Muslim intellectuals and officials. And they listened.
Go figure. Read the whole thing.
DON’T MISS THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS, a weekly collection of business- and economic-related posts. Since I don’t do much econoblogging, you shouldn’t rely on InstaPundit for that sort of thing.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: AllahPundit appears to have been banned from CafePress. That wouldn’t surprise me — back in September of 2001 they took down a store featuring pictures of Osama bin Laden with superimposed crosshairs within a few hours. As I wrote at the time: “Personally, I don’t see what’s so controversial about pictures of Osama Bin Laden with a bullseye superimposed on his face. But hey, maybe that’s just me.” But maybe it’s just a glitch.
STEVEN DEN BESTE has more thoughts on the Glenn Kessler story from the Washington Post that I mentioned here earlier:
They say, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity,” but we seem to have gone beyond any possible stupidity now.
Indeed. Follow the link for a point-by-point analysis. Meanwhile David Adesnik of OxBlog observes: “If the NYT ran this article, I wouldn’t have bothered post[ing] anything. It’s what you expect from them. But the WaPo? I expect better.” That’s got to hurt.
OXBLOG’S PATRICK BELTON has an roundup of the interesting happenings in Pakistan, which aren’t getting a lot of attention in the United States because of the election news.
IOWA POLITICAL BLOGGER DAVID HOGBERG has more on the Iowa caucuses, including a roundup of other bloggers’ predictions.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, Howard Dean can’t catch a break:
Presidential candidate Howard Dean’s attempt Monday to attend a ceremony honoring the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. left many in the audience unhappy and complaining that the former Vermont governor was trying to overshadow the event.
The Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans hosted the 15th annual event, held at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines.
“That’s not for him,” said Seville Lee, 26 of Des Moines. “This was nothing but a conniving way for him to sneak in and take up a vote from the African-American community.”
Maybe Sullivan is right — it’s the Gore Curse!
UPDATE: More here.
INVITATION? What invitation?
THIS ARTICLE BY GLENN KESSLER IN THE WASHINGTON POST contains an amazing howler in the very first sentence:
The Bush administration’s inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq –after public statements declaring an imminent threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein — has begun to harm the credibility abroad of the United States and of American intelligence, according to foreign policy experts in both parties.
Kessler has apparently been reading too many Howard Dean press releases. Otherwise he’d know that Bush said we should strike before the threat became imminent. Perhaps he should try reading USA Today instead, which gets it right:
The word “imminent” is key to differentiating Dean’s policy from the president’s decision to invade Iraq, said Jeremy Ben-Ami, policy director for Dean’s campaign.
Bush “sold the war on the basis of an imminent threat to U.S. security, and that has now been shown to be false,” Ben-Ami said. Since the threat from Iraq was not imminent, the administration could not properly justify the war, he said.
However, when Bush laid out the case for the war in his 2003 State of the Union address, he said the United States should not wait for an imminent threat.
“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent,” Bush said. “Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein … is not an option.”
(Emphasis added). Really — how hard is this to understand? Too hard, apparently, for a bigshot reporter at the Post. I think that this error is big enough that the Post needs to run a correction — and on the front page where this embarrassing mistake occurred.
UPDATE: Powerline says that Kessler is misquoting Bush to support his storyline. Follow this link and see what you think — it looks pretty damning to me.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Don Williams sends this link to a White House transcript where spokesman Scott McClellan uses the term imminent threat. But Kessler’s story specifically invokes Bush’s State of the Union address from last year, which he then, according to the Powerline post linked above, proceeds to misquote.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Brenneke emails: “As I read the transcript of McClellan, I believe the “Imminent Threat” referred to is a threat to Turkey, not to the U.S. Have I misinterpreted something?” I don’t think so. And reader Todd Burri sends this:
Your reference to the WaPo Glenn Kessler story reminded me of a piece by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson, which ran in the Milwaukee paper a couple days ago. He makes basically the same “Bush Lied” argument about WMDs and imminent threats.
I think the administration could have been more forthright making its case for war, but still… Once More With Feeling: the 1991 armistice agreement made it Hussein’s responsibility to verifiably disarm. A string of Security Council resolutions reiterated it was up to Hussein to verifiably disarm. It was not our task to prove he had these weapons; it was his task to prove he didn’t.
Phrases like ‘no solid/concrete/irrefutable evidence,’ when used by the ‘Bush lied’ crowd, are an attempt to return to Hussein the benefit of the doubt. He forfeited the benefit of the doubt a long time ago He may have disarmed, but he didn’t prove it. I am surprised that no WMDs have been found, but I am not terribly dismayed. That failure means one of two things: either Hussein hid them prior to the war, or he had in fact disposed of them. If the former, they’ll turn up. There’s a lot of searching to do yet. If the latter, then we’re stuck with the strangest possible scenario: Hussein rid himself of WMD but declined to convince the UN that he had done so, thus permitting sanctions to stay in place when he could have had them lifted. Why do you suppose he’d do that? To get rich on illegal oil sales and skimmed humanitarian aid? To continue keeping his people down by funneling resources to his most favored (a la Kim Jong-il)? To keep other Muslims inflamed by making the West out to be the bad guy?
It seems like the “Bush Lied” story is a sort of hot potato that gets passed around a group of like-minded writers, and everybody gets a turn at doing it.
Yes. And everybody gets a turn refuting it, apparently!
GIMLI’S GOT IT: Some people are picking on John Rhys-Davies for saying things like this:
The fact that a minister of the French government has to fly to Cairo to talk with one of the religious heads in one of the mosques to get his approval for a ban on headscarves can be seen in two ways.
One, is how wonderfully culturally sensitive. The other, it seems to give an authority to a wholly unelected figure well outside Europe’s jurisdiction. . . .
When we are prepared to overlook certain things because we don’t want to rock the boat, this is wrong.
The greatest act of racism is to expect that other people will not behave according to your values and standards. . . .
I do not want to see a society where, should I ever have any, my granddaughters have their fingernails pulled out because they are wearing nail varnish.
But while they pick on Rhys-Davies, the news from France seems in accordance with his fears:
France’s drive to better integrate its five million Muslims looked shaken on Monday after a weekend of protests against a looming ban on Islamic veils and a bomb attack on the car of a senior public official of Muslim origin.
The veiled schoolgirls chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) in marches across France and the bomb that destroyed the car of the newly appointed prefect for the eastern Jura area have cast doubt over the policy of winning support among moderate Muslims..
Call me crazy, but I think he has legitimate reason for concern.