November 12, 2006
A LOOK AT THE PSYCHOLOGY OF big-screen TVs.
A LOOK AT THE PSYCHOLOGY OF big-screen TVs.
STRATEGYPAGE: “One of the immediate things known in the wake of the American November elections is that the media strategy employed by al Qaeda has succeeded.”
UPDATE: Related item here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Rajat Datta disagrees:
Regarding the stories in StrategyPage and elsewhere about how the Republican defeat shows that Al Qaeda’s media strategy succeeded: bullshit. Who crafted this meme? Karl Rove? To take attention away from the absolute execrable performance about this Republican Congress?
This Republican Congress and administration betrayed fundamental tenets of the Goldwater/Reagan (dare I say, Gingrich?) “revolution” and have become hypocrites. They lost the election because they became figures of contempt; Al Qaeda’s media strategy had nothing to do with the results of this election.
Yes, in the exit polls “corruption” was issue one. Iraq was issue three. And reader Kjell Hagen sees a bright side:
Al Qaeda has been living on the hope that the Democrats will be “surrender monkeys”, and can be scared to defeat. I think the Democrats will be more steadfast about the war in position than opposition. Sensible Democratic politicians, together with Republicans, will ensure that the fight is not hampered.
When Al Qaeda sees that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will cut and run, they will lose the illusion that all they have to do is to defeat Bush. They will see that whatever party is in power, Al Qaeda faces an unending struggle. This will turn the “media victory” into a bad psychological blow.
In a sense, showing Al Qaeda that both American political parties will fight Al Qaeda relentlessly, is the best thing to do now.
This assumes that the Democrats will not cut and run, of course…
Yes, it does.
INTERESTING: “He also makes a point I had never thought of, which is that the United States and the Coalition have an obligation under Security Council resolutions to maintain security in Iraq until Iraqi security forces can take over.”
PROVIDING SOME OVERSIGHT ON OVERSIGHT, for The New York Times.
ROGER SIMON reviews Borat.
TIGERHAWK liked our last podcast with Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan: “Make time to listen to it regardless of your politics. Bay and Dunnigan offer the most nuanced assessment of the Rumsfeld years you are likely to hear or read, with far more grey than the black or white you get from most pundits, editors and politicians.” Given that, as usual, Austin and Jim do pretty much all the talking, I don’t think it’s bragging on my part to point that out. They should have their own show! In the meantime, you can hear them here.
ORIN KERR notes that in oral argument, the Supreme Court discussed possible Commerce Clause objections to a federal ban on partial birth abortions.
Marty Lederman has blogged about the issue, too. Dave Kopel and I raised a similar objection to the abortion ban in this article, but I concede that it has less force after the Supreme Court’s decision in Raich.
OKAY, ONE MORE TIME: If you haven’t made a Veterans’ Day donation to Project Valour IT, please consider doing so.
TOM ELIA SPOTS a new election myth in the making.
A WAKE-UP CALL that will probably go unheeded.
MORE BUTTER! The New Zealand vs. Irish Butter question came up last night at a family gathering at my house. So we got out the Irish butter and the New Zealand butter, put some of each on pieces of fresh bread, and did a comparison. Most people preferred the New Zealand butter slightly, though my brother — who likes his butter salty — liked the saltier Irish. (He also said it reminded him of Nigeria, as the very same brand is on sale there.)
Your results may vary. Numerous readers also sent me links to places where I could buy fresh, handmade butter that would be even better. I’m sure that’s true, and I think it’s probably a good reason for me not to buy any. Notwithstanding Nina Planck’s recommendations, I’m pretty sure that more butter isn’t what my diet needs.
That said, I’ve noticed that adding a very small amount of butter — say, a tablespoon — to a nonstick pan when cooking fish makes the fish a lot better. if that keeps you from eating something else that’s more fattening (which would be most things) it’s probably a good investment.
AIR ZIMBABWE IS DODGING THE REPO MAN:
Zimbabwe’s troubled state airline has cancelled flights to London, fearing seizure of its aircraft over unpaid debt.
Air Zimbabwe board chairman Mike Bhima said a European air safety agency won a court order empowering it to impound the airline’s aircraft over an outstanding $2.8m debt.
‘As a security measure, our lawyers have advised us to suspend flights pending discussions,’ he said.
Sadly, this is no real surprise. (Via Rantburg).
ROBERT IRWIN’S NEW BOOK, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents, gets a rather positive review in The Washington Post, a review that makes Edward Said’s legacy seem dubious:
Indeed, Orientalism supported the central theoretical premise of many intellectuals at the time — that the prejudices of dead white European males had utterly distorted and warped their scholarship, art, politics and human sympathies.
Robert Irwin, himself an Oxford-trained Arabist, doesn’t buy this. He asserts in his introduction and argues in his penultimate chapter that Said’s book, thinking and evidence are shoddy, unreliable and mean-spirited. The Columbia literary critic’s attack on Orientalism, Irwin argues, maligns the lifework of admirable and deeply learned people, mocks a long, honorable tradition of scholarship, and plays fast and loose with the facts. Dangerous Knowledge is in part, then, Robert Irwin’s riposte to Edward Said. . . .
It ends, though, with Muslim critiques of Western Orientalism and a chapter about Edward Said titled “An Enquiry into the Nature of a Certain Twentieth-Century Polemic.” This is an allusion to John Carter and Graham Pollard’s quietly devastating 1934 Enquiry into Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets , which exposed Thomas J. Wise, England’s foremost book collector, as a forger, cheat and liar. Irwin forthrightly maintains that “Said libelled generations of scholars who were for the most part good and honourable men and he was not prepared to acknowledge that some of them at least might have written in good faith.”
Sounds very interesting.
The Baker commission seems to be doing a lot more than just re-thinking Iraq. It appears to be copiously leaking a Vietnam-type cut-and-run plan that will leave the Gulf far more dangerous than it is now. The Vietnam model looks like a â€œface-savingâ€ retreat by the United Statesâ€”just like that one that left Vietnam a Stalinist prison state with tens of thousands of boat people fleeing and dying, and next door in Cambodia, two or three million dead at the hands of Pol Pot.
Bakerâ€™s press leaks seem designed to test public reaction to the cut-and-run plan.
Conservatives have lost Congress for the next two years, but acquiescing in a disastrous retreat from Iraq would be the worst of all possible worlds.
Yes, if that’s the plan, it’s the sort of thing that could make the Republicans a minority party for the next 40 years, and deservedly so.
UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails:
If the White House concedes to this I will be forced to grapple with the fact that John Kerry may, in fact, not have been any worse than GWB. Hell the president might as well ask Jack Murtha to be Sec. Def. Oh, okay maybe it won’t be quite that bad, but it will be damned close. And it will be a good reason never to vote for a Republican.
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet. But Bill Quick is saying “I told you so.” And my speculation that Iran has some method — nuclear or otherwise — that has deterred us from taking the kind of action that both Bill Quick and I expected in 2004 is seeming better-founded.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John Hinderaker is very unhappy with this talk. He also thinks that any expectation of a deal with the Iranians is “delusional.”
I’ll just note that the last time folks in the White House tried to cut a deal with the Iranians, Don Regan characterized it this way: “We got snookered by a bunch of rug merchants.”
MORE: Reader C.J. Milner emails:
Agreed, but the Democrats shouldn’t get a pass on this. After all, this “cut and run” idea has been their plan all along, and already today they are talking about forcing withdrawals to begin in as little as four months. If the Republicans should spend a couple of generations in the minority for going along with this, they should be joined in political purgatory by the Democrats. The great political struggles of our age will have to be fought out between the Libertarians and the Greens.
You go to war with the political class you have, alas.
MORE STILL: Michael Ledeen thinks talk of a deal with the Iranians is implausible, as the Iranians don’t want to deal.
The media beast is a creature of habit. Thereâ€™s little enterprise of thought. It keeps true to narratives and story lines: Gore is a earthtone-wearing weirdo. Bush is dumb. Try arguing against either of those points and youâ€™ll be laughed out of the talk show studio. Even worse, the host or anchor will never ask you back.
No, the big-picture problem with the media isnâ€™t bias â€” although it indeed is biased in favor of liberals. Itâ€™s laziness. Balance the newsroom politics, yes. But bring in new ideas. And try not reading the New York Times for a day.
Seems like a lot of people haven’t gotten the message: “David Gregory and Maureen Dowd constitute Russert’s entire panel.”
PROPHETIC: A profile of Jeff Flake.
LONGEVITY UPDATE: Will slowing aging save health care costs and produce a “longevity dividend?”
Yes, and fightaging.org has a roundup, along with the usual (and to my mind correct) reasons not to adopt an overly conservative approach. But though I agree, I think we’re still at the point where any progress is important, and likely to be transformative.
WELL, THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG: The gun prohibitionists at the Brady Campaign are warming up for a Democratic Congress.
The question is, will the Democrats be dumb enough to listen to them given that the last time they did it cost them control of Congress for twelve years?
The value in tossing the bums lies in reminding them that they can be tossed. If you think that the “culture of corruption” will go away if only we’d elect the Right People, then you lost the plot long ago. Until you change the underlying incentives, the story will stay the same.
If the Democrats move to limit their own power and to change the underlying incentives, they’ll change the culture. If not, then they were never serious about getting rid of the corruption…they just wanted a piece of it.
UPDATE: Oops cut-and-paste error picked up the breakout quote and double-pasted. Fixed now.
NED LAMONT’S SUPPORTERS ARE NOT DISAPPOINTED:
“I think in any type of significant social movement . . . there are a series of triggering steps, like Rosa Parks sitting on the bus. There had already been a number of sit-ins that happened,” Swan said. “I think when people reflect on the war in Iraq and mistakes that have been made and how we dealt with them, this campaign and particularly the primary will be a very significant moment. Ned having the courage to step up and run – it’s not something that happens regularly in U.S. politics.”
It was a “moral victory,” no doubt about it.
SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED to thank me for linking Bill Stuntz’s piece on what we should be doing in Iraq that I’m going to link it again, since it’s scrolled down a lot and could easily be missed in the post-election buzz.
I also recommend this post by Armed Liberal. (“Elections are sexy and easy. Infrastructure, institutions and laws are boring and hard.”) And read this by Westhawk, too, on the wider war-on-terror situation.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian and Andrew Sullivan (who are sounding more alike in general these days) are both charging me with a change in positions on troop numbers. It seems to me that neither Greg nor Andrew should be casting the first stones regarding changed positions, but here’s the post that they claim shows “scorn” for the more-troops argument. Here’s what I wrote:
Greg thinks we need enough American troops to physically protect all the polling places in a country the size of California. That strikes me as a very unwise allocation of military assets. McCain and Hagel think we need a bigger army, and they may be right. But as I noted, the way you get a bigger army is to create one, and if McCain and Hagel think the need is that screaming why haven’t they introduced legislation to do that, instead of simply calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation? I don’t think that getting rid of Rumsfeld is likely to yield any additional troops.
So where are they going to come from? The “more boots on the ground” folks don’t seem to be doing much talking about that. (This post from The Belmont Club notes that it’s not as easy as it sounds.) We could enlarge the Army (probably a good idea, but it won’t produce any new combat formations for a year or more, probably more if the new formations are to be any good), or we could send troops from somewhere else. Where? Korea? Europe?
I remain unconvinced that we need more troops in Iraq. Afghanistan saw successful elections with far fewer U.S. troops. I’m not convinced that we don’t, but we’d need a million troops to blanket all the polling places,and we’re not going to have that. So what’s the mission? Just as one seldom wins a war by slapping armor on everything (and no army in history has armored all its soldiers and transport vehicles), one seldom wins a war by dispersing forces to lots of locations in a “prevent” defense. That seems to be what the “more troops” crowd has in mind, but it strikes me as a poor idea.
It’s quite hard for me to judge Rumsfeld’s performance, but it’s not so hard for me to see that a lot of the attacks on Rumsfeld seem to be opportunistic and dishonest (something that Greg freely admits). That has no doubt colored my evaluation of the case for his resignation, but I’d welcome some explanation of why, say, a Secretary McCain would do a better job. Tom Maguire sides with Greg, tentatively, but there are some interesting arguments in both posts’ comment sections.
This is “scorn?” (And see the update at the bottom!) It seems rather temperate to me, particularly compared to the kinds of things that Andrew and Greg are writing today — or, for that matter, the kinds of things they were writing in the other direction, a few years ago. I don’t really think that my link to Stuntz’s post is exactly “breathless,” either.
This pattern of misrepresenting posts is the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect from certain lefty bloggers, but it’s too bad to see it from Andrew and Greg.
MORE: Greg Djerejian emails to note that it’s Andrew Sullivan who says I was “scornful,” while it was Greg who said that I was “carrying water” for Rumsfeld.
JONAH GOLDBERG notes that it’s back to the future in American politics.
The “new direction” seems to point toward the old folks’ home . . . .
PAINTING THE SOUTH BLUE?
FOR VETERANS’ DAY WEEKEND, consider donating to Project Valour IT. Yes, I know I’ve suggested this before.
A VETERANS’ DAY ROUNDUP at PJ Media.
HEH: Apostles, indeed.
HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY!
TECH-ADVICE BLEG: I’VE FINALLY FORCED MY OWN HAND on the big flat-screen TV upgrade, by giving the old TV in my basement to my brother. My friend Doug Weinstein researched things exhaustively and bought this JVC model. I went over and looked at it and thought the picture was terrific, and if it supports the bewildering array of hookups he uses (multiple Tivos, multiple tuners, even a venerable Sony VCR) I’m sure it will fit my needs. Any reason why this is a bad idea?
HYBRIDS DOWN, SUV SALES UP — but what’s interesting is that lots of hybrid owners own SUVs, too.
That’s not really a surprise. People like SUVs because they’re good at carrying kids and stuff over distances and in bad weather. People like hybrids because they’re efficient at commuting and they’re cool. Commuting in your hybrid, while using an SUV for family trips or to take kids to football practice, makes sense. (Of course, my own compromise was to buy a hybrid SUV, but . . . ). I notice more and more people have multiple cars, a trend that’s likely to expand as Americans get richer. Perhaps the notion of a one-size-fits-all car will become passe as a result.
ANN ALTHOUSE FINDS A REASON TO LOVE THE DEMOCRATS — TAX CUTS! “Those damned Republicans only want to help the super-rich, while the Democrats’ beneficence concentrates on the humble folk in the $100,000 to $500,000 range. Finally, someone’s looking out for the working man.”
Just a reminder: Rep. Henry Waxman, the aggressive incoming liberal chair of the House Government Reform committee–who is chiding his Republican predecessors for not investigating (in AP’s words) “the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, the controversy over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name, and the pre-Iraq war use of intelligence”–voted for the war. … All future beat-sweeteners about Waxman should be required to (unlike AP) mention this fact before reporting Waxman’s righteous indignation.
Any bets on how often that will happen?
JAMES WEBB’S SUPPORTERS, stunned by his classy behavior. I suspect this is the beginning of a series of surprises from Webb.
JAMES OBERG SAYS THAT OVERWROUGHT PRESS COVERAGE is producing a Russia/U.S. war of words over outer space, even though there’s really no there, there:
International frictions over space policy took a rising turn this week, with Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing unnamed countries â€” clearly meaning the United States and perhaps Israel â€” of “seeking to untie their hands in order to take weapons to outer space, including nuclear weapons.”
Speaking Wednesday at a anniversary celebration at the headquarters of the GRU, Russiaâ€™s military intelligence service, Putin continued: “Great harm to stability is caused by unilateral, illegitimate actions by some powers.” In a separate newspaper interview, GRU Chief Valentin Korabelnikov echoed Putinâ€™s specific warning: “Our attention is focused on the threats associated with the appearance of destabilizing weapons, including plans to launch weapons, including nuclear weapons, into space.” . . .
Far more frightening than the purported U.S. deployment of space-based weapons â€” an eventuality that space experts generally consider remote â€” is the knee-jerk reaction in Moscow, fueled by cultural Russian paranoia, to the widely published press predictions of such weapons.
Thinking themselves justified by such rumors, Russian leaders could instinctively respond by fielding dusted-off and refurbished space weapons from the Soviet era, along with militarized versions of dual-use modern space technologies. But if they did so, they would be sparring with a phantom â€” and might realize that too late.
It almost happened once before. In the early 1980s, some hysterical Western press reports about NASAâ€™s new space shuttle and its supposedly secret role as a space combat ship, bomb carrier and laser weapons platform apparently worried Kremlin chief Yuri Andropov enough to initiate responses. By the mid-1980s, Moscow was gearing up for a shooting war in orbit, using space combat stations to forbid astronauts the right of overflight of Soviet territory. . . .
Amid what is starting to look like a 21st-century reprise of the original Moscow miscalculations, itâ€™s too much to hope for the appearance of another Gorbachev. The Russians must be told, and told quickly and credibly, that the press accounts are inaccurate and unworthy of belief â€” and undeserving of counteraction.
Unfortunately, alarmist news stories are all too often the â€˜spin of choiceâ€™ in general, and the preferred strategy in the case of domestic political infighting. But the threat of falsely sparking a genuine space weapons race through the cynical or just careless promulgation of myths of such an “arms race” is too high for business as usual, on Earth or in space.
As Oberg notes, U.S. military space policy remains essentially unchanged since the Clinton Administration. You’d think that the Kremlin would have sources it trusts more than the U.S. media, though.
HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR BILL STUNTZ has thoughts on what we should be doing in Iraq.
IRAQPUNDIT: “Speak up, Democrats!”
Doesn’t it behoove the Democrats to correct the claim that their ascension to power is good news for the enemies of the U.S.? . . . Democrats don’t have a party position on what to do in Iraq. But surely they have a party position on whether they want to be embraced by the likes of Al Qaeda and Iran. Don’t they? Speak up, Democrats, or Al Qaeda and the Iranian mullahs will find your silence only too eloquent.
Ann Althouse says something similar.
UPDATE: Martin Peretz: “Friday, according to an article by John Hemming from Reuters, Khameini that the defeat of the Republicans on Tuesday was a victory for Iran Let’s hope that the Democrats don’t make it so. One way to prevent this from seeming to be objectively true would be to have Nancy Pelosi end her ugly and personal vendetta against Jane Harman as the chair of the House Intelligene Committee. But, let’s face it, it will take more than that. Much more.”
MESSAGE TO THE GENERALS: So long, and thanks for all the fish.
THOMAS EDSALL thinks that gun-loving libertarians can save the Democratic Party. I’m skeptical. And so, judging by his final paragraph, is Edsall: “If the only upshot of Democratic gains this week is to revive the internecine warfare that has plagued the party since 1968, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory indeed. To avoid this, someone is going to have to persuade the party’s activists to spend less energy fighting one another and more energy fighting Republicans. That won’t be an easy task. But the Western Democrats probably have the best shot.”
STEM CELL GOOD NEWS at FightAging.org.
AIRBRUSHING at Duke.
FOR VETERANS’ DAY WEEKEND, consider donating to Project Valour IT.
WELL, THERE’S AT LEAST ONE WAR KOS SUPPORTS: A war against James Carville!
DEAN BARNETT: “Iâ€™m very concerned about the ascendancy of Bush 41 apparatchiks in the current administration. If I wanted a second Bush 41 administration, I would have voted for G.H.W. Bush in â€™92. . . . Any breathing room we give our enemies will be used to develop greater destructive powers. And whether Iâ€™m eager for war or not, itâ€™s upon us. Donald Rumsfeld realized that as far back as the 1990â€™s. The Scowcroftian Realists still donâ€™t realize it today.”
TERROR IN THE UK: “. What I can say is that today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we donâ€™t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified.”
Kind of makes it hard to argue that the threat is “overblown.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that the threat from home-grown Islamic terrorism would last â€œa generation,â€ reinforcing a highly unusual warning by the head of the MI5 domestic intelligence agency that some 1,600 suspects in 200 terrorist conspiracies were under surveillance.
TPM MUCKRAKER LOOKS AT ethically-challenged Democrats in ascendancy:
The Democrats swept into the majority in Congress vowing to fight the culture of corruption. Bad news for the muckraking biz, right? Thankfully, less-than-squeaky pasts don’t appear to be a factor in the Dems’ reasoning as they divvy up leadership posts and committee chairs.
There’s a list of members and their ethical problems.
HOWARD DEAN’S OFFICE SHOOTS BACK:
After the Republicans have admitted to a thumping, why is it that the only one complaining on the Democratic side is James Carville, who today in addition to trashing Howard Dean, praised the RNC, the outfit that brought us the racist ad that defeated Harold Ford, James’ supposed candidate for Chair?
I think it would be kind of cool to have Harold Ford, Jr. and Michael Steele as their respective party chairs.
TIM MONTGOMERIE: “The Republican Party needs to wake up to the power of the BBC as a media player in America. Its online services, in particular, are widely read in the US and BBC foreign coverage informs how many US journalists see the world. I sat in the White House three years ago and recommended that the GOP develops a strategy to work with London-based media. I met other GOP officials with the same message earlier this year but nothing GOP appears to have been done.”
OVER AT HOT AIR, a Veterans’ Day weekend interview with one of Jimmy Doolittle’s raiders: “We’re at war. We ought to get on a war footing and get the job done.”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL says that “The House GOP needs a new generation of leaders.”
JON STEWART: Democratic majority kingmaker?
TIM BLAIR: “This site formally withdraws any previous criticism of Presbyterians.”
GENERAL RICHARD MYERS talks about Donald Rumsfeld.
Meanwhile, Laura Lee Donoho emails: “My son emails me from Iraq that he and his fellow troops are in a funk about the resignation of Don Rumsfeld. This is the first time in a long time that President Bush has really pissed me off.”
And she’s posted some further thoughts here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Will Rumsfeld’s departure hurt reeinlistment rates?
When all is said and done in connection with the Pentagon management shakeup, the Baker commission report and the Dems actively taking control of the legislative branch, I for one will be watching the reenlistment rate among the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I suspect many troops will opt to return to civilian life if they feel that they no longer have support from the policymakers, rather than be jerked around by people who think like John Kerry. And if the re-up rate goes down, original enlistments will probably decrease, too. Nobody wants to fight in a war that the movers and shakers don’t want to win. That was true in Korea and Vietnam, and it’s true now.
Any new trends should be apparent by March or so, if they are to happen. I guarantee you that any such change will be spun by the lamestream media as Bush’s fault, probably accompanied by NYT and WaPo opinion pieces bemoaning what a dumb thing it was to get rid of Rumsfeld.
It sure would be interesting if Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) idea of reinstating the draft had to be implemented by a Democratic congress in order to maintain military force levels. I wonder what the political fallout from that would be in ’08.
As an aside, I also think that diminished capacity of our conventional forces, especially the Army and Marines, tends to make nuclear war more likely, because weakness encourages the enemy to attack, and when you must fight, you fight with what you have.
Nothing promotes war like weakness.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, here’s a theory: Rumsfeld’s out. Gates is supposed to succeed him. Dems try to block Gates out of sheer obstructionist behavior. Gates is withdrawn and in comes . . . Joe Lieberman as SecDef! With his seat going to an appointee of the GOP governor.
Nah, if they were that smart they’d still control Congress.
GENERAL RICHARD MYERS talks about Donald Rumsfeld.
Meanwhile, Laura Lee Donoho emails: “My son emails me from Iraq that he and his fellow troops are in a funk about the resignation of Don Rumsfeld. This is the first time in a long time that President Bush has really pissed me off.”
And she’s posted some further thoughts here.
ME, ERIC UMANSKY, AND AUSTIN BAY: On the post-election edition of Blog Week in Review.
HOW THE REPUBLICANS CAN LOSE IN 2008: Just have Bush go wobbly now.
THE REVOLUTION DEVOURS ITS CHILDREN:
Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.
The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.
A “Jesus-loving gun-supporting” chair of the DNC? I say, bring it on! It’ll be fun to watch the reaction at Firedoglake.
Plus, it’ll free up Dean to run for President in 2008. Yeearrrgh!
UPDATE: More on Ford here: “He’s clearly a smart, talented guy who, like Steele in Maryland, acquitted himself very well in this year’s campaign but came up short.” I think that’s right. Steele was a Republican running in a state that leans Dem; Ford a Dem running in a state that leans GOP.
Mollahan is, to say the least, “ethically challenged.” There’s no sensible reason for him to retain his seat on the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives. If Nancy Pelosi is serious about “draining the swamp,” she’ll kick Mollohan off the appropriations committee before she pounds her first gavel.
As for Byrd, his history of earmarking excesses makes Ted Stevens look like Ron Paul. Earmarking is little more than legalized corruption. It’s buying votes. Not only did Robert Byrd perfect the practice, he’s the one who put a “secret hold” on a bill that wouldn’t have even eliminated the practice, but would merely have added a bit of transparency to it. Democrats who rightly railed against the “Bridge to Nowhere” can’t be taken seriously if they sit back and let Byrd resume diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to wasteful pork projects in West Virginia. Harry Reid should remove him from the Senate Appropriations Committee.
It won’t be easy — Byrd in particular is likely to raise holy hell. But if you’re going to change the culture of corruption in Washington, you’d go a long way toward demonstrating your seriousness by starting with your own party.
It would also be nice to see the lefty blogs pick up on this, and give Pelosi and Reid the cover they need to do the right thing.
UPDATE: Several readers have written to point out that Pelosi is set to pass over Rep. Jane Harman to make Rep. Alcee Hastings chair of the Intelligence Committee. Hastings is of course a formal federal judge who was impeached and removed from the bench by a Democratic Congress in 1989 for taking bribes. Apparently, the Congressional Black Caucus is demanding a chairmanship for Hastings to compensate for the loss of influence caused by Rep. William Jefferson’s removal from the Appropriations Committee — also due to corruption.
This, within 72 hours of the election. Meet the new boss…
Not the only libertarian to be suffering buyer’s remorse. . . .
AN EXAMINER EDITORIAL on the Republican leadership:
The GOP majorityâ€™s electoral fate was sealed by the corrupt political culture embodied in the Bridge to Nowhere and the congressional leadershipâ€™s inability or unwillingness to put a stop to anonymous earmarking.
So what now? The first order of business is fresh leadership. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., has announced for House Minority Leader. Pence is a charismatic Reaganaut who has often led the conservative majority of the GOP in opposition to the Bush administrationâ€™s Big Government Republicanism on issues like spending and entitlements.
Pence clearly understands the GOPâ€™s problem. . . .
On the Senate side, nothing would better demonstrate a new GOP commitment to its conservative principles than the promotion of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who more than anybody else in the Senate in recent years demonstrated an unswerving devotion to advancing conservative principles and programs.
Coburn particularly makes sense when it is understood that the Senate minority leader is not so much a legislative position as it is first and foremost a bully pulpit for articulating the case for reducing federal spending and intrusiveness, shining more light in the dark corners of Washingtonâ€™s entrenched bureaucratic corruption and projecting creative ways of expanding individual choice and freedom for all Americans. Coburn has some rough edges, to be sure, and Old Bulls like Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Trent Lott, R-Mo., have fought him at every turn. But listening to Old Bulls in great part is what got the GOP in its present straits.
Old bulls spouting old bull . . . .
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Marines!
I NOTED EARLIER that Ann Althouse is depressed about the elections, and looking around it seems that a lot of people feel that way. Well, I understand that, God knows. But one iron rule of elections is that you win some and you lose some. And people tend to exaggerate their importance and, if they’re on the losing side, catastrophize.
I remember lots of gloom-and-doom and catastrophization in the gun rights community ten or twelve years ago. Defeat seemed inexorable, the media were all on the other side, the politicians who were supposed to be on the right side of the issue couldnt’ be trusted, the electorate seemed easily manipulated, and — well, enough. Sound familiar?
Ten years later the Democrats won’t touch the gun issue, right-to-carry laws are passing in state after state, and the “assault weapons ban” — once seen as the camel’s nose in the tent — has expired. How did that happen? Not because of gloom and doom, but because people worked to make it happen: worked politically, worked in terms of communications and media, worked in terms of not getting discouraged but just plugging away. Want the electorate to come around to your views? You’ve got to persuade them. Over the years, I’ve seen this hold true for one issue after another.
Is this a “detached and academic” perspective? Well, I am an academic, after all, and I’d probably be detached about the end of the world, which this isn’t. Maybe I “lack fire,” but I think it’s a realistic perspective, borne of experience. It’s okay to feel bad for a while. Maybe it’s even therapeutic. But ultimately, things happen because people want to make them happen, and work to make it so.
Meanwhile I note that Rush Limbaugh, who was complaining about my pre-mortem before, now says he feels “liberated” because he’s able to say things like . . . what I said back before the election. Well, better late than never, but one problem with the GOP is that it lost touch with the things it was supposed to stand for, and a little more tough love from Limbaugh before the election might have done some good.
AMERICAN TROOPS fear the loss of Rumsfeld. “Indeed, some members of the 101st Airborne Division and other troops approached by The Times as they prepared to fly home from Baghdad airport yesterday expressed concern that Robert Gates, Mr Rumsfeldâ€™s successor, and the Democrat-controlled Congress, might seek to wind down their mission before it was finished.”
CLAUDIA ROSETT wonders why the U.N. is meddling in U.S. politics by trying to block the Bolton nomination. ” Itâ€™s the job of those wearing the hats of UN staffers to serve the member states, not advise them on choosing their ambassadors. Would Kofi Annan and his deputy, Mark Malloch Brown (who as the UNâ€™s #2 has done plenty of his own opining about U.S. domestic politics), care to tell us whether anyone else carrying a UN calling card has been making the rounds of U.S. senators to offer opinions on Boltonâ€™s confirmation?”
ANN ALTHOUSE IS DEPRESSED: “It’s the failure of Americans to support the war. It’s the folding and crumpling because things didn’t go well enough and the way we conspicuously displayed that to our enemies. They’re going to use that information. For how long? Forever.”
It’s okay to be depressed. It’s just not OK to give up.
Austin Bay takes a less negative view.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED at The New York Times!
JOHN TAMMES ROUNDS UP news from Afghanistan.
WELL, IT WAS A “NEW DIRECTION” IN 1972: Democrats seek war advice from George McGovern.
FOREIGN ENTITIES TRYING TO END-RUN THE FIRST AMENDMENT?
A federal appellate court heard arguments yesterday in the case of a New York-based counterterrorism researcher who was ordered by a British court to pay and apologize to a Saudi billionaire she accused of funding terrorism.
One judge on the three-judge panel yesterday expressed reservations about the British court order. Still the questions from the judges of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that they had significant doubts that the court has jurisdiction to toss out the British court’s judgment in the libel case.
Publishers and news organizations are bound to read the American court’s forthcoming decision in the case. The case comes at a time of raised interest in “libel tourism”â€” the phenomenon of foreigners filing libel suits in British courts based on claims that American judges would quickly toss out on First Amendment grounds. Whether American courts can block those judgments, or at least certain of their provisions, is a question none of the judges yesterday appeared especially eager to tackle. And the court expressed little interest in the First Amendment concerns that legal observers say are present in the case.
This deserves more attention than it gets.
My advice to Saudis who don’t want to be accused of supporting terrorism: Get your country to stop being a major source of funds for terrorists. That’s better than engaging in legal terrorism against a free press of the sort that isn’t allowed in your own benighted country.
DEMOCRATS: STILL TRYING TO WIN OVER THE SOUTH!
A Democratic congressman from New York says he wasn’t trying to insult Mississippi in published remarks Thursday, but a Republican colleague from Mississippi says Rep. Charles Rangel should apologize to the state.
Rangel, D-N.Y., was quoted in a Thursday article in The New York Times, saying: “Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?”
I saw Dennis Kucinich holding forth on Cavuto today, too, about how he’s now at the political center or something like that. Hey, maybe he’ll finally be able to pass his bill banning space-based mind control weapons!
Say what you will about the elections, but I think the Democratic Congress is going to bring us a lot of comic relief.
UPDATE: I’m not the only one who sees it this way!
N.Z. BEAR ON THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS: Don’t rush things!
The Grand Olde Party got its head handed to it last night. Any other interpretations are deluded, foolish, or otherwise stupid.
So, the obvious course of action is for the GOP to spend a few days — oh, a week at most — performing a perfunctory survey of the warm bodies closest to their leadership seats, and immediately anoint one of them to be the new face of the Republican Party. That’s the great thing about leadership elections, you know — no need to actually consult anyone resembling the actual rank-and-file of the Party. No need to actually consult the people who give the money, who work the campaigns, who actually, ‘ya know, cast the votes to keep a party in power. Or — who don’t.
Wrong. Very wrong. Amazingly, stupendously, staggeringly and absurdly wrong.
The reality of November 8, 2006 is that the Republican party no longer has control of the agenda in Congress. And yes, that includes the Senate — it’s over. The GOP doesn’t get to decide what bills will come to the floor. The GOP won’t control committees; it won’t control legislation. There is one, and only one, major decision that the Republicans have to make right now to influence how the next two years go — and that is who the party will choose to be their leaders.
This is a huge decision, and it is not one that should be rushed.
Hugh Hewitt agrees: “It is simply astonishing that a party in desperate need of its base’s time, talent and treasure over the next two years would hustle back to home base to consult each other on who should lead the comeback. In no other company or organization would a leadership change take place on such a schedule and with so little input from key constituencies. . . . The House doesn’t exist as an island independent from the party, but the rush to engineer a succession communicates an unwillingness to recognize the significance of the set-back yesterday.”
UPDATE: Establishing a “constituency of expectations.”
JIM TREACHER: “Does this mean Bush is still Hitler? I’m pretty sure Hitler never let his opponents win an election, did he? Unless… this is all part of Rove’s plan. “
FROM TODAY’S SPEECH BY DONALD RUMSFELD: “As we look back on those critical years during the Cold War, so too our grandchildren will one day look back on this time as a defining moment in Americaâ€™s history. History will judge whether we did all we could to defeat a vicious extremist enemy that threatened our security, our freedom, our very way of life. Or, if we left it to the next generations to try to fight an enemy strengthened by our weakness, and emboldened by our lack of resolve.”
Follow the link for the whole text.
UPDATE: Dean Barnett has further thoughts on Rumsfeld’s departure.
OK, I WROTE EARLIER that I liked PJM’s coverage of the elections, especially the video. Virginia Postrel thought it was too video-heavy, but breaking the tie is Michael Malone of ABC News’ Silicon Insider:
This week, in what may prove to be a landmark in the story of the blogosphere, the blog aggregator PJ Media handed out a pile of inexpensive digital cameras to its contributors and asked them to document their experiences on Election Day.
It was a glimpse of the future. And if I was Sony or Canon or Nikon, I’d be looking at that 57 million number and planning a whole marketing campaign around my new Budget Blog camera line.
I do think that this is the future. I spoke today (one reason blogging has been so light) at a conference of journalism and PR folks at UT, and demonstrated some of the digital-camera web video. They were very impressed at what cheap cameras could do, and they should have been.
HEH: “Two days after the mid-terms, the New York Times discovers that Democrats can be corrupt, too. Who knew?”
POST-RUMSFELD: A look at four policy battles that could shape the military.
THE DEMOCRATS MAY HAVE RUN THE TABLE, but look who’s topping the charts! Apparently, it’s still hip to be square.
DONALD RUMSFELD TELLS ALL: Heh.
THE DEMOCRATS WIN, AND THE SUN STARTS TO SHINE! “Poll: Afghans express confidence in country’s direction, security.”
Who knows what else will suddenly get better this week?
Remember: what happened last Tuesday wasn’t a disaster. It was Democracy. It was a disaster only for those who believe that there should be one permanent ruling party, no matter how decadent, treacherous, and sleazy that party is.
Be of good cheer. The Republicans will be back in 2008, and much better for what happened to them in 2006.
Bill’s not usually the optimist in the room, but I think he’s right.
DANIEL GLOVER SAYS IT WAS A BLOODBATH FOR THE “FIGHTING DEMS:”
After Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, a Democrat, nearly scored a special-election upset in Ohio’s strongly Republican 2nd District last summer, bloggers and other Democrats began touting war veterans as candidates for 2006. They touted dozens of such candidates as the antidote for the Democratic Party’s long-running electoral ailments on the defense and security fronts.
But if Democrats have the same low tolerance for political casualties as they have shown for battlefield casualties in Iraq, their push to recruit and elect to Congress military veterans who run as Democrats will be short-lived.
Two words: John Kerry.
BUT THEN WHERE WILL THEY PUT THE RED-LIGHT CAMERAS? “Most traffic lights should be torn up as they make roads less safe, one of Europe’s leading road engineers said yesterday.” But read the whole thing, which is really interesting.
Meanwhile, in Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected red-light cameras. They generally do, if allowed to vote on the subject, which is why cities do their best not to give them the opportunity. . . .
HEH: “Me, if I were in med school I’d be going into piercing-hole-reconstructive-surgery, along with tattoo removal. There’s going to be a lot of work in the future.”
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON writes on Rumsfeld, James Webb, and being careful what you wish for.
UPDATE: Ann Althouse: “What do I think about the Democrats taking over both houses of Congress? I don’t have much feeling one way or the other. I mistrust both parties. I’m hopeful that the kinds of candidates the Democrats relied on to win — people like Webb — will transform the party and make it into something I can support.”
COULDN’T IT HAVE WAITED A DAY OR TWO LONGER? “Campaigning for 2008 begins â€”now.”
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey makes the case for waiting a bit.
I think he’s right. As Russell Friedman says in a different context, I think that Republicans — and Democrats — might want to spend some time processing past events before jumping into the next stage.
VIRGINIA POSTREL: "How about a loophole-closing, rate-flattening 1986-style tax reform from the new Congress? It would be a lobbyist nightmare, and a repudiation of the Clinton administration’s zillions of tax credits for good behavior (extended by the Bushies). But if I squint really hard I can see it happening. Charles Schumer is talking the right way." Another interesting test of whether the Democrats have learned anything during their years in the wilderness.
INTELLIGENCE FAILURE: A look at Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, and Alcee Hastings.
If, instead of the respectable Jane Harman, the Democrats put a man who was impeached for corruption in charge of the Intelligence Committee, I think that it will prove that they’ve learned nothing in the past few years.
A LOOK AT Robert Gates and the “new approach” in Iraq, from The Mudville Gazette.
BILL WHITTLE EMAILS:
Over in Tim Blair’s comment section, a guy named Dave S. said this:
“The Republicans lost and the Democrats won for the same reason — they distanced themselves from their base. ”
That’s the sentence of the year, in my opinion.
UPDATE: George Will: “At least Republicans now know where the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ leads: to the political wilderness. “
Meanwhile, Allah has comments on the Pelosi ascension: “â€˜Fess up, righty bloggers: as bummed as you are about last nightâ€™s washout, youâ€™re kind of enjoying the thought of how much easier your jobâ€™s about to get. I know. I am too.”
Hmm. Sounds kind of like a Robert Ludlum novel: The Pelosi Ascension. Thrills and chills await!