I saw something on Fox News last night, and then this UPI story this morning, on some new (?) revelations about fraud in South Dakota. It seems odd to me that it is coming up now; I had thought it was over a few weeks ago. If anyone has any more information on this I would appreciate hearing about it.
A reader (PChuck) thinks I’m too optimistic about Terrell winning in Louisiana. Here is why, briefly, I think Landrieu cannot win. There has to be at least a 25% turnout of Black voters, and she must get 90% of them. (The highest black voter turnout recorded in LA was in 1991 when David Duke ran for governor, and that was only 26%.) And she has to get at least 33% of the white votes. I don’t think she will do either, in the end. Black voters are utterly unenthusiastic about her. It is clear from press reports that Black Demo leaders are very worried. The white liberal/moderate vote might go her way, but that’s only about 30% of white voters. I don’t think she is going to do any better among white voters than any other Demo Senate candidates in other Southern states have in the November election. She needs to make a large inroad of more conservative white voters and she will not for two big reasons: 1) Bush’s support of Terrell and 2) Terrell up front anti-abortion stance. And last, I don’t think that the GOP’s get out the vote effort should be underestimated (and the Demos affort is almost always overestimated). Furthermore, the momentum has been on Terrell’s side for the last two weeks of the campaign; that is deadly for an incumbent. It might be close (say 51-49%) but I doubt it. I predict it will be more like 53-47%. There, I’ve stuck my neck out. Thanks for your comment Chuck.
Its one thing (although tacky) to get a so-called Marilyn Monroe look-alike to sing happy birthday to Thurmond, and it is another for Lott to say that it would have been better for the country to have Thurmond elected as president in 1948. Lott should remember (as Kristol says) that this is the party of Lincoln and while we are glad that Southerners have joined it, it should be clear to all of them that they joined us and not vice versa.
It is shocking, is it not, how foolish and thoughtless some Republican politicians can be?
Here is a copy of Clinton’s speech in front of the Democratic Leadership Council last week. It is long (surprise!). I saw a good bit of it on C-Span. What the written version will not reveal is all the lip-biting and head tilting.
Marv Krinsky brought this to my attention. Note in this story about the USS Truman leaving Norfolk for the Persian Gulf that the following announcement was made:
"Peace on Earth to men of
goodwill," a voice said over the
loudspeakers. "All others stand by."
This is a thoughtful article by Jeffrey Tiel on how the war against terror has changed the terms of the discussion; it is not clear that the Bush administration is perfectly clear on this.
This Reuters dispatch (via Forbes) reflects on the following: as CNN was to the Gulf War so Bloggers may be to the war war on Iraq. Short, to the point, with many good bloggers mentioned. Bloggers will be faster with real news and will cut through the superficial much more quickly than ordinary news outlets; they will also be more analytical.
This CNN report makes perfectly clear--not by design--why Terrell will win in the Liusiana Senate run-off today. The first paragraph from the story: "Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell hopes to win
the runoff election by surrounding herself with
every GOP luminary she can find -- while
embattled incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary
Landrieu fights a lonely campaign for survival,
shunning party leaders whose fate could not
be more closely tied to her own." What an extraordinary situation for the national Democratic Party: The less they are tied to her, the better chance she has of winning. And this is not the first, nor the last, of such a predicament.
This is a typically over-the-top environmental crisis article (from the BBC) that says the following: Because wine makers are moving away from the use of corks as stoppers, local wildlife will be threatened in the Mediterranean area because these cork forests will be replaced by other crops; or, if just let be and no longer cultivated, the area will turn into a desert.
Here is Stephen Hayes article form The Weekly Standard on what Wolfowitz was doing in Turkey and the military preparations that are under way. By February, he thinks, everything will be in place. Sounds reasonable in this high stakes poker game.
Here is an interview with Woods. Especially note the section "On Augusta and the Masters" wherein Tiger reveals how sensible he is generally, and specifically with regard to why he is the one being asked to boycott. He seems like a very good guy to me, smarter than the editorial writers at the New York Times and most of his interlocutors.
Drudge reports that MSNBC is doing very badly. Both Donahue and Matthews are at the bottom (OReilly and Hannity are at the top). This is not surprising news to any of us, but it occurs to me that it is related to the Demos whine about Rush and the so called conservative talk-show/news conspiracy. In short, the various attempts of liberal leaning talking heads is not working, just like trying to find a liberal Rush counterpart a few years back (remember Cuomos attempt?) is not working.
UPI reports that White House economic advisory Larry Lindsey joined Treasury Secretary ONeill in resigning today, with both resignations reportedly occurring at the request of the White House. UPI reports no official statements on replacements, but lists Dick Armey, Steve Forbes, and, yes, you guessed it, Phil Gramm as possible contenders.
Over a week ago I said that Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was on the way out. Well, it’s official. He resigned in order to return to the Yankees, and to end this horrible two-year Western curse. O.K., not really. But seriously, he did resign today and now the fun of speculation begins. I’ll take this chance to renew my appeal for Phil Gramm to take O’Neill’s spot, both because of Gramm’s fiscal soundness and his backbone for the national security aspects of the job. Another dark horse would be Chris Cox of California, the man who should be a judge on the dubious Ninth Circuit, if he didn’t hail from a state where both Senators would likely blue slip him.
I didnt see Jay Leno last night, but I am told that Dennis Miller, who has been whacking the s--- (as Miller would say) out of the Democrats since the election, said that if Al Gore runs for President again, "hell get his ass handed to him faster than someone in a liposuction clinic."
By the way, it should be noted that the CI study was funded by the Gordon Moore (Intel) Foundation. Because both Intel stock and Hewlett-Packard (another huge environmental donor) stock have tanked, their grants to green groups have shrunk by two-thirds or more this year and into next. Not all of these grants are bad, nor is everything the green gropos do suspect (like the CI study, which is very good). But many green groups are facing layoffs and shrinking programs at the very moment they want to scream the loudest about Bush, etc. Makes my day.
The study Peter refers to finding that 46 percent of the planets land area is still wilderness is extremely significant, because it comes from Conservational International, which is a heavyweight global player on environmental matters. And because they focus (mostly) on practical conservation projects rather than preaching to us about our green sin, they are going to anger the World Wildlife Fund and other alarmist groups who are always banging the drum for the green apocalypse. The fact that "only" 7 percent of this land is permanently preserved should not be taken as bad news at all; 7 percent is a HUGE amount of land. Moreover, some of the best environmental scientists think that about 80 percent of all endangered species could be perserved if we work on preserving just 20 important "hot spots" around the world, which would only require preserving a small additional percentage of wilderness area. The CI study shows that we have a lot to choose from, and more latitude than we think. This means the mass extinction crisis is effectively over.
While the news keeps getting better on the environment, look for the rhetoric from Democrats to get much worse. Polls right now show that the environment is the issue where Democrats enjoy their largest advantage over Republicans with voters. So expect Dems and their lackey environmental groups to crank up the volume full blast. Dick Morris is advising Dems to do this, and argues that Gore have won in 2000 if he had pushed the environment harder. This is more than doubtful; it is wrong. I have a piece coming out shortly from AEI that will analyze this issue, showing how the environment is not helping Democrats much, and may well have hurt them badly in some places. Ill link it when it is out.
Here is John Funds take on the most recent Clinton whine (aka his DLC speech) about how the GOP has at its disposal a destruction machine (he probably meant Rush). Good article. Here is his last paragraph: "So heres a little advice for the party out of power: Start by looking at how successful
centrist Democrats who are out of favor with the Clinton-Gore-Daschle axis have won,
among them Pennsylvanias Gov.-elect Ed Rendell and Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia, Evan
Bayh of Indiana and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. All of them hail from states with
powerful conservative talk-show hosts, but youve never heard them whine about a vast
right-wing media conspiracy".
This is from Reason and is very much worth reading. It shows how so called LDS students (no about 12% of K-12 students!) are used as a cover for the failure of schools. This categorization of students (only about 10% of that 12% are really "diabled") is a travesty and must stop, for the childrens sake. Yet, everything in the system encourages it.
A bunch of scientists have determined that:
"Despite population growth, logging and other environmental threats,
nearly half the land on Earth remains wilderness -- undeveloped and
nearly unpopulated, according to a study released today. The study by
200 international scientists, the most comprehensive analysis ever done
on Earth’s wild places and population trends, was seen by some experts
as a surprising cause for optimism. Biologists also viewed it as a warning,
since only 7 percent of the wilderness is protected." Let human beings attack their minds and hands to all this wilderness and we’ll make something of it! But, as the last sentence implies, it would not surprise me if there will now be a movement to protect what’s left; the "Forty-six percent club for no growth," or something like that.
This report from England claims that there might be a connection between the Chechen terrorists that took over the Moscow theatre and the Saudis. There were several phone calls to them from the theatre, for example. The Saudis are being pressed from all sides. I suspect this is about to become really inetresting
The sense that I have had for weeks is now manifest in public: Landrieu cannot win this race. As one pollster says , there is no reason to think that anyone who didnt vote for her in November will vote for her this Saturday. This means she cant get more than 46% of the vote. That sounds about right. You can also smell the defeat by reading this from Roll Call . Even Donna Brazile cant put a good spin on it. The Demos in Louisiana are trying to win a war by placing not-so-many conventional troops on the ground, while the GOP is using the biggest guns they have from the air, and have amassed a huge number of ground troops. This defeat will be demoralizing to the already disorganized and discombobulated national (sic) Democratic Party. And their spinmeisters better take a month long break because there will be nothing for them to say (accept the truth, which they refuse to say).
The Washington Times reports this morning that the U.S. intends to cite Iraq for material breach if it fails to disclose weapons that the U.S. knows to be in its possession. Intelligence which the U.S. has not yet revealed to the inspectors includes details of a cache of over 1800 gallons of anthrax. While the Washington Times’s source suggested that the breach would not be used as an immediate predicate to war, the source did say that they would use this to press the U.N. inspectors to do more.
I previously predicted that Bush’s strategy hinged on the December 8 report, and his comparison of this to undisclosed intelligence data. That said, I am not quite sure what using this information to press the inspectors will do. I understand the need for prudence, but the question is whether we can really expect much more from the U.N., or any more cooperation from Iraq. I’d be happy to hear what the other fellows think.
Strom Thurmond marks his 100th birthday today, making him the oldest American to serve as U.S. Senator. To give some idea of the length of his career, it is useful to recall that on D-Day he landed in Normandy (at age 40) having already served 6 years as a school teacher, 4 years as a superintendent of education for his county, 8 years as a attorney, 5 years as a state senator (overlapping his time as a lawyer), and 8 years as a circuit court judge. Following his service in WWII, he became governor of South Carolina, and ran for President against Truman. All of this before becoming a U.S. Senator for South Carolina in 1954, where he has served ever since. And to this day Strom has a certain fondness for . . . life, as evidenced by his parting speech to the Senate:
"I love all of you," Thurmond told colleagues in a farewell speech in the Senate last month, "and especially your wives."
The Ninth Circuit just ruled on various intervention and other motions in Newdow v. U.S. Congress, denying Mrs. Banning (the mother of the school child at the center of the Pledge case) leave to intervene, denying the U.S. Senate’s motion to intervene, upholding Newdow’s standing to have brought the suit, and directing that he file a brief in opposition to the petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc by (ironically?) Christmas eve. The principal order is available HERE
The Court had earlier (Oct. 9) denied the motions for leave to file amicus curiae briefs in support of the petition for rehearing en banc to every group that filed such motions, including my brief on behalf of the Claremont Institute.
Apart from the troubling refusal of the panel to even consider arguments by amici challenging its ruling, I question whether the panel even had the authority to deny a motion for leave to file an amicus brief in support of a petition for rehearing en banc; such a decision should probably have been made by the full court itself. It looks as though the panel is going to extraordinary efforts not to have to consider arguments challenging the validity of its initial ruling.
Andrew Busch argues persuasively that the key issue for the Demos poor showing in November was national security. He analyzes Daschles outrage at Bushs suggestion that Democrats cared less about national security than about special interests. Busch thinks that Daschle admitted that and, even though not widely reported in the press, the American people caught it and voted accordingly.
NLT reader Gary Maxwell, a former Michigan resident, writes in support of the theory that we should not permit blatant discrimination to prevail if only to prevent more subtle discrimination. He notes that the true believers at Ann Arbor will find a way to meet their diversity goals, but suggests that any plan should be constitutional.
The proposition that any plan should comply with the constitution is one with which I surely agree. Most schools attempt to take the unconstitutional road, however. An example in this regard is the University of California. After the Regents voted to prohibit race-based preferences, the University began running a series of complex studies to determine what precise weighting of socio-economic factors would give the University the level of racial diversity they desired. For those who have a second’s hesitation as to whether or not this sort of facially neutral criteria implemented with discriminatory intent meets the requirements of equal protection, simply reverse the favored and non-favored groups. Thus, do you really think that a court would permit a school that had discriminated against Black students in the past to institute a new admissions system which did not overtly take race into account, but was designed with the express purpose of reaching the same racial composition as the prior overtly race-based system?
Here is the ABC News report that the CIA is investigating an allegation whether a Russian scientist transferred a particularly lethal strain of smallpox to the government of Iraq in 1990. Short, worth a read.
Dubya made his last bid to whack the Demos yesterday by going to Louisiana to campaign for Terrell. Nothing in the press reports (heres the AP and USA Today versions) indicate anything other than what I have been aserting: Things are tough for Landrieu. She is running scared and trying to attach herself to Bush as much as possible. This, of course, is ticking off a lot of Democrats who are claiming that she is not giving the liberals enough reasons to vote for her. But, of course, Landrieu knows better; her only chance at victory is to seem as moderate (read, Republican) as possible. This is not a sign of a great candidate, or of a party that proudly stands for something. The few nationally known Democrats who are helping her (Donna Brazile, for example) are kept hidden from the public eye. Except for Senator Breaux; if he werent helping her, shes lose by another ten percent. Note this comment by Douglas Brinkley:
"If theres such a thing as a Republican revolution now, the defeat of
Mary Landrieu would be a good sign of it,
it would be a real sign that everything is going wrong for the Democratic
Reuters reports that Israel has arrested and is interrogating Khaled Nazem Diab, a U.S. citizen who was allegedly in Israel for the purpose of distributing funds to terrorist organizations. In addition to AQ ties, he is known to have had dealings with the Taliban and Hamas.
As someone who is about to begin adjunct teaching, it is important to keep in mind the ingenuity and treachery of youth. Case in point is this offering from Drudge, which explains how 26 students in Japan cheated on an exam by emailing each other with their internet ready phones.
The Washington Post offers an editorial today explaining why the Supreme Court should let the affirmative action policy in Michigan stand. The editorial has something to contribute when it is making an argument based on public policy, but the moment it crosses the divide into law, it is laughable. Take, for instance, the Posts definition of the question before the court:
But the question for the court is not whether preference programs are a good idea or whether their social costs outweigh their benefits. It is whether they so violate the basic ground rules of American democracy that they should be removed from the policymaking table altogether.
I have to admit that I dont know what they mean by "violate the basic ground rules of American democracy," but an easier way of saying this would have been: violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. But that is difficult for them to say, because the very words betray the legitimacy of treating people differently on account of race--even if this is done with the best of intentions.
But perhaps most telling is the last paragraph, which reads best if you compare it to the words of Orval Faubus or George Wallace:
In reality, diversity in higher education is so widely demanded that the political system will find ways of making it happen -- using whatever surrogates for race and ethnicity it can -- even if the legal system forbids the most obvious means of achieving it. When the courts blocked affirmative action in Texas, the Legislature responded by mandating that the university system admit any student who graduated in the top 10 percent of his or her high school class. This relatively crude instrument is nominally race-blind and well inoculated against legal challenge.
In other words, we should permit naked racial preferences, because otherwise states will devise more subtle and less effective racial preferences. This is precisely the theory that was used during desegregation to maintain segregation in the South, and the Supreme Court was nonetheless capable of striking down the more subtle forms of discrimination. Contrary to the Posts assertion, Supreme Court precedent suggests that a facially neutral program such as the Texas plan passed with discriminatory intent (i.e., maintaining diversity) following a judicial finding of discrimination (i.e., the Hopwood decision) is on shaky legal ground indeed.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Timesreflects on the meaning of whats going on today in Iran today, "a drive for an Islamic reformation combined with a spontaneous student-led democracy movement." He focuses on the thought of Hashem Aghajari, the college professor condemned to death. Aghajaris speech may be found on the MEMRI site here .
As a recent transplant from the Chicagoland area, I can say that Blagojevich entertaining a run for President is more evidence that the Democratic party is looking for a return to liberalism at the top of the ticket. Blagojevich ran a very populist campaign in Illinois, and I think it is fair to say that he would have been soundly defeated if not for the scandals that have plagued the Republican party there.
These are newspaper clippings, ads, odds and ends, that are entirely amusing. It will take a few extra seconds to load. Although all are worthy, I am especially fond of the one on the left, at the bottom of the page.
This is an interesting article from Aerospace Daily on how the Germans are thinking of cutting back on defense spending by nearly 6 billion dollars by 2006. Whatever happened to NATO, rapid deployment force, etc.? They hardly spend anything on defense as it is. Do they think this will help their sagging economy? The reds are no longer running part of the country, but the greens are now running all of it.
Rod Blagojevich, the newly elected Democratic Governor of Illinois, is talking about running for president, if not in 2004, then in 2008. Is this another sign of the trouble that this party finds itself in? It seems to me the guy could have waited until a day or two after he takes office to talk about his ambitions.
If Churchill can praise Rommel in the middle of the war, I can praise Jim Thome. A good man, if not a good citizen, with the greatest swing in baseball. I love to watch him play. I am sorry he has gone to the other side. Yet, you cannot help but notice that he wants to be with certain kind of players, players that are tough, players that are like him. What probably sealed the deal is that David Bell signed on. Thome said this about Bell: "He’s a tough player. He makes no excuses. The bottom line is those are the kind of guys you want to go to war with." War, he says, baseball is war. It is impossible not to love a guy like this, even if his allergies kick in occasionally.
This Washington Times new story is on the Esquire magazine survey that chose Reagan as the greatest living American (followed by Carter, Powell, "my dada," and Clinton). Clinton also headed the list of "the most loathesome living American." About 55% knew that Paul Wolfowitz is deputy secretary of Defense, yet 6% thought that he was the "starting left fielder for the Colorado Rockies."
Isnt that one picket line youd gladly cross?
There is an irony to the thought, apparently alive in the Middle East according to the polls David is seeing, that our troops are in Saudi Arabia because of oil. If this is true, it is only true in the narrow sense that we are there to stabilize the international oil market at a higher price than the market would dictate in the absence of Middle East unrest.
OPEC is obsolete. I am dead certain that our troops and the uneasy status of the Middle East actually prop up oil prices as much as 30 to 50 percent. The prospect of Saudi Arabia shutting down or of other short-term disruptions is behind a large part of the reason for our Russian diplomacy these days, and probably among the reason the Saudis aren’t supportive of our Iraq policy. In the aftermath of a (successful) Iraq war, I predict world oil prices will gradually drift down to about $15 a barrel, from today’s roughly $30 price. The Saudis and other Arab oil states will not like this.
One hesitates to draw a comparison between Clinton and Nixon (Clinton as the Democrats "Tricky Dick" is just a bit too close to the bo. . . No, better not go to that metaphor either. . .) But what conservatives used to say about Nixon applies to Clintons DLC speech: He is better out of office than in office.
Bloomberg’s incredible property tax hike may be the spark that prompts a Proposition 13-style tax revolt in the Big Apple. The cigarette tax is not that big a deal (sorry, Peter) because it is essentially voluntary, and easily evaded through Indian reservations and internet sales. But the property tax hike is going to filter down through every sector of the economy. Watch for an eruption. We are going to be sorry that Bloomberg became a Republican; better if Mark Green had been in charge of this disaster.
Bring back Rudy in 2005?
Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a property tax increase of 18.5%, the largest increase ever. And there is more to come next year. I don’t claim to understanding these things, but is this the best way to deal with an economy that’s playing with recession? First the cigarette taxes, and now this. Not good.
Bill Clinton spoke to the Democratic Leadership Council today. Although I havent yet seen the full speech, here is an AP report on it. Among other things, it is reported that he advises the Democratic Party to present a new unified message with national security and a revived economy as national priorities. Clinton said that it was the partys lack of clarity on these issues that led to the November losses. He is reported to have said: "When people feel uncertain, theyd rather have somebody thats strong and
wrong than somebody whos weak and right." He also said this: "We dont have to be more liberal, but we do have to be more relevant in a
These may be serious comments, Ill have to look at them in context.
Boy George still isn’t doing well in the ratings. In fact, he is third (behind CBS and NBC). And The West Wing isn’t doing much better, it is also sinking. It is possible that they are both declining for the same reason: Too earnest, too sober (how is Aaron Sorkin doing?), too preachy, too liberal? They are both entirely predictable, I only see bits of them now, by accident. These declining ratings are a good sign that our fellow citizens are able to make sound judgments.
John Kerry spoke in Cleveland today. I was busy and couldnt hear the talk, but there are already reports on what he was going to say. And this from Howard Kurz talking about Kerrys unimpressive performance with Tim Russert on Sunday. Kurtz says:
"To put it mildly, Kerry has a
warmth problem." Maybe this guy will be the perfect running mate for Al Gore, he may make Gore look exciting, or at least normal.
This speech given Monday by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz touches on many of the issues that have come up as we have blogged about the war on terrorism and the war on Iraq. It implicitly gives the administrations answer to Steves question about when it will be time to go to use force with Iraq. The speech also addresses Turkeys admission to the EU and the administrations hopes for the development of a liberal democratic Iraq once Saddam is gone.
I don’t have a good answer to Steve’s first question, so let me turn to the second one first. I think conducting both the war against terrorism and a war against Iraq effectively at the same time will be difficult and perhaps impossible because our resources are limited and it might make international cooperation more difficult while increasing support for al Qaeda. Polling in the Middle East shows that majorities outside Kuwait do not have a favorable opinion of the Gulf War. I think this is because we are still in Saudi Arabia and everyone thinks we did it for the oil. They will think the same if we go into Iraq and especially if we stay there. Important military capabilities are in limited supply but more importantly so is attention in the Pentagon. The Pentagon prefers conventional wars. When one starts in Iraq, chances are it will get all the attention.
When should we go to war with Iraq? When we have no other choice. That is simple but not very helpful. We will need a reason and we will have to make a case. The administration through the UN has laid out a clear set of requirements. When they are not met, we will have the reason. The important thing of course is the political effort to make sure that we and others act on that reason. In his recent speech, President Bush began the political work necessary to induce action. High ranking people in the administration are apparently going to various capitals to continue and deepen this work.
It might help if the administration highlighted the critical importance of countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. New reports have just been published that a Russian scientist may have given the Iraqis a virulent strain of small pox. The problem is not just Iraq obviously. My impression is that the administration and conservatives in general have not paid sufficient attention to counterproliferation (CP). Conservatives in Congress, for example, have resisted efforts to give money to the Russians to help them get rid of their weapons of mass destruction. They argue, among other things, that money should not come out of the defense budget and the Russians can’t be trusted. There is probably also some suspicion of CP because it was such a high priority in the Clinton administration. It deserves more emphasis, however. Iraq is a small part of a much bigger problem.
This is out of San Francisco, surprise. Workers at the nations only unionized peep show are not satisfied with the managements contract offer. They chanted, "Two, four six, eight, pay me more to gyrate." Sorry, I couldnt resist.
Bill Buckley divulges how the whole GOP conspiracy operates, how the zeitgeist really works. Pretty good.
This is a long article by Thomas G. West, originally published in Perspectives in Political Science, that considers the question: "Does America Have a Constitutional or a Declaration of Independence Soul?" A dozen coffee or three Knob Creek whisky article; but worth it.
Moving on from turducken to Tucker: David makes a compelling argument against war on Iraq at this time. I am part way to being persuaded. Two interrogatories: At what point or under what conditions would David say that war on Iraq should be conducted? (Liberal smush-heads also say they are against war on Iraq at this time, but for them it is clearly a dodge, which I know would not be the case with David.)
Second: why is it not possible to carry on a war against Iraq and the war on terrorism at the same time? Is it because our capabilities are limited, or that it will make it difficult to work with other countries in the region, or because it will scatter AQ and other terrorists, or some combination of all these factors?
The bird, not the country.
I cannot let Alts last blog boasting of the superiority of the ridiculous turducken go unrebutted. He boasts that the fatty dark meat of the duck made the turkey more tender. Try my method, which is to barbeque a turkey on a Weber kettle BBQ (aside: the inventor of the Weber kettle deserves the Nobel Prize in physics). The trick is to cook the turkey upsidedown, which makes the breast meat very tender and quite juicy. No need for exotic birds like ducks to midwive a happy outcome to the otherwise dry turkey.
I dont normally boast of my grilling (though I am called "The Cool Duke of the Coals" around certain coastal sections of California), but the unanimous verdict from the T-day dinner I catered was that it was the best turkey they had ever had.
The human rights situation in Iraq is being invoked with unusual frequency by some western political leaders to justify military action. This selective attention to human rights is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists.
I heard it said following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that the U.S. military had done more for women’s rights in a few weeks than the National Organization for Women had in its entire existence. Of course, we can already say that the U.S. military has done more for human rights than Amnesty International based on WWII--but we may soon be able to add achievements in Iraq to that auspicious list.
I would like to restate the argument and then comment on some related points raised by Steve.
The argument rests on the proposition that the terrorists pose a more immediate threat to us than does Saddam. Neither Peter nor Steve has disputed this, as far as I can tell. Assuming that the terrorists are the more immediate problem, it seems to me that we ought to deal with them first and do nothing that will make it harder for us to deal with them. If invading Iraq makes it harder for us to deal with the terrorists, then we should not invade Iraq. On balance, I believe that invading Iraq will make it harder for us to deal with the terrorists, for the reasons I have given, so I would not now propose an invasion.
Steve objects that Iraq may have supported or even directed al Qaeda’s (AQ) attacks on the United States. He thereby implies that going after Iraq is a way of going after AQ. In my view, at most the available evidence shows that Iraq may have provided some support to AQ. I think that removing that support will not hurt AQ much but does risk making AQ’s job much easier. Weighing the pros and cons in this way leads me to think that going after Iraq now is not the right thing to do.
Both Peter and Steve suggest that attacking Iraq may have salutary consequences beyond removing some (possible) support for the terrorists. Both suggest (Peter citing Max Boot) that using force against Iraq will discourage Islamists and others from attacking us. Boot says “Islamists are emboldened by U.S. weakness (e.g., the pullout from Beirut in 1984 and from Somalia in 1993), not by U.S. strength.” This argument conveniently forgets that it was one of the most effective uses of U.S. strength (the Gulf War) that inspired bin Ladin to attack us.
To return to the issue that began this exchange, on balance, I still think that the Bush administration is pursuing the right policy. It should go without saying that any number of events or new evidence could change this picture. Also, at some point, we will have made sufficient progress against the terrorists that we can turn, for example, to the longer term problem of countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Some related points: Steve believes that the U.S. is too fettered in its use of force. He cites Vietnam to support this claim, saying that we used half measures there. This is not true. Those conducting the ground war got everything they asked for, and used it all. The Air Force was restricted with regard to the timing of its bombing but did eventually get to bomb just about everything it wanted to bomb. The problem in Vietnam was not a lack of force but a bad strategy. Vigorously pursuing a bad strategy does not lead to victory. It leads more quickly to defeat. This is the danger we face in the war on terrorism.
It is also important to point out that it was military leaders who thought up and pursued the bad strategy. Others in the Army—Chief of Staff Harold Johnson and Creighton Abrams, who eventually replaced Westmoreland—thought Westmoreland’s strategy was bad. It is not the case that civilians have fettered the military.
Steve also raises the issue of overt or latent support for the US in the Middle East, suggesting that if it is there, military action will encourage it. It may well be the case that lots of Iraqis would like us to get rid of Saddam. This does not mean that Iraqis will like having us in Baghdad five years later nor does it mean that liberal democracy will bloom in the desert. More generally, polling that has been done shows mixed sentiments toward the US. Iranians like our technology and movies and television, for example, but not our freedom and democracy or the American people. We should not believe that military action on our part will lead to greater support.
First, let me say how great it is to have a campaign law expert like Allison on the blog. Contrary to the reports of the DNC suggesting that they were going to send 10,000 campaign lawyers to oversee elections, there really aren’t that many lawyers who specialize in this area. I certainly agree with Allison that the exception the FEC carved out for non-profit issue advocacy groups is way too narrow (although this is largely the fault of the statute rather than the Commission). Indeed, when I last read the proposed regulations, they only excepted 501(c)(3) non-profits, and not 501(c)(4) groups (which are non-profits allowed to do limited lobbying). The 501(c)(4) groups tend to be major issue advocacy arms, yet the Wellstone Amendment to McCain-Feingold expressly includes such groups under the 60-day limit on advertisements prior to a federal campaign. This provision must be struck down, unless the Court is willing to overturn the MCFL decision. I would say that even Souter has to see that, but I have no desire to tempt the fates.
The LA Times reported 11/28 that the dean of Boalt Hall (the law school at Berkeley for those readers from other planets) has resigned after a sexual harassment charge was filed against him.
According to the article, Dean John Dwyer was accused of a single encounter with a female student two years ago. States the article "there is no allegation that any form of sexual intercourse occurred." The woman was never a student of his. She managed to file her complaint Oct 11 of this year.
I for one, do not believe that this is the entire story. Why the two-year wait? Why file a harassment complaint over s single encounter, rather than deal with it in some less-apocalyptic manner. I’ve known of cases where faculty cliques atempt to depose other faculty by dredging up students to file unwarranted complaints. Is this one of those? For the Dean’s part, why resign if this is all there is? Has he declined to fight because of other potential problems? I’d really like to know whether he is a cad or a victim. Any ideas?
UPDATE: I found an article from todays SF Chronicle, in which the attorney for the student tells what she asserts happened. Not exactly in the spirit of a confidential inquiry -- and you wouldnt want you kids reading this, either. Heres the link: ARTICLE
First, welcome back, Mr. Alt.
Second, the injunction in Hawaii Right to Life seems to be confusing people. As I understand it, the court held that the group qualified as a not-for-profit ideological corporation, which the court concluded was constitutionally protected from any political speech restrictions under the precedent MCFL v. FEC. I would provide a link, but I cant find the case online.
That would include bans on corporate express advocacy communications (at issue in MCFL) and the "electioneering" ban in the new BCRA. The court decined to rule more broadly that the electioneering restrictions were illegit.
This is a wonderful decision on its own merits, since the FECs regulatory definition of such exempt non-profits -- ostensibly adopting the MCFL standard -- was WAY too narrow. Of course, to the extent this is a harbinger of things to come, thats nice too.
In general it is my observation that the free speech side does well in campaign finance cases so long as Souter isnt writing the opinion. George W., call your father.
The Supreme Court agreed today to hear a case challenging a Texas statute which prohibits same-sex sodomy. The tea leaves suggest that the law is likely to be struck down. The Supreme Court upheld a Georgia anti-sodomy statute in 1986 in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick, but that statute was not limited to same-sex sodomy. Because the challenged statute is limited to same-sex acts, the case therefore has a stronger equal protection component than the previous challenge. Then there is the 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans, in which the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado state initiative which restricted the ability of municipalities to enact laws granting gays favored status in antidiscrimination laws. While the case is not necessarily a precedent--it specifically did not cite to the Bowers case, and the current case does not involve equal access to the political process as the Romer case ostensibly did--many view it more in positivist tones as a statement of the sense of the voting majority court, rather than as a limited judgment of law. The final consideration which suggests that the law is in peril of being struck down is the simple fact that the Court agreed to take the case. The Supreme Court has a very limited case load of around 80 cases per year. If a majority of the Court still agreed that such a law was constitutional, they would have been unlikely to have granted review.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases today challenging the affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan Law School and Undergrad. The Court’s decision to hear the undergrad case is a bit unusual, because the court of appeals had not yet heard the case. In addition to general concerns about judicial economy, the Court likely opted to take the undergrad case because of concerns about procedural irregularities which have plagued the cases, including allegations that the Chief judge manipulated the process to assemble a panel (ultimately en banc) more favorable to the affirmative action policy. This intervention theme is further supported by the fact that the Supreme Court was asked (but refused) to intervene in a death penalty case last year where execution was postponed by a reporedly "informal" vote of only those judges who favored the stay. The Supreme Court was therefore aware of multiple procedural irregularities which have arisen in the circuit recently.
I know better than to enter the fray with Hayward and Tucker on foreign policy, so I will simply add the observation a friend made over the weekend: The selection of a Swedish bureaucrat to lead the inspection team is an odd choice. Hans Blix is about as likely to find weapons of mass destruction as the Swedish Chef is to finally find the chicken he has been searching for low these many years.
Newsweeks has a nice piece suggesting that the liberal activist bent taken by NY Times Executive Editor Howell Raines is having repercussions even within the Times. Staffers went on background to complain about the paper taking a decidedly political edge and making controversies where none really existed, as demonstrated by the Times article concerning CBS’s coverage of the Masters. In perhaps the most telling quote, one staffer suggested "[t]he Masters coverage is so overheated . . . that executive editor Howell Raines is ’in danger of losing the building.’" Here’s to Raines losing the building, so that at least some of the news would actually be fit to print.
This lengthy piece by Max Boot from The Weekly Standard fits right into our conversations regarding the question of de-stabilizing the area. In part the article is a response to the letter that Bishop Wilton D. Gregory sent to President Bush on September 13. I hasten to add, just to tick Tucker off, that I am in agreement with it. I think it’s persuasive.
Victor Davis Hanson reviews two books about the Duke of Wellington in the current issue of The New Criterion. A good read that in itself yet made better because Hanson connects Wellington and his purposes to the contemporary world.
David Tucker has a clear piece on what the press is missing about the possibility of an airliner being brought down by a portable missile, the kind used in the failed attempt in Kenya. The first thing to note is that this isnt new; an airliner was shot down (in Africa) in the 1970s using such a weapon. He also says this, and explains:
"Considering why more portable missile attacks have not
occurred helps us understand how terrorists think about
their business and provides some perspective on the
recent attack. It reminds us that what terrorists attack is
not decided just by our vulnerabilities. It is decided also
by the cost to the terrorists of exploiting those
WaPo editorializes today about the loophole in reform law created by, well by the Constitution. You think Im kidding, but no. They actually say it: "Since this exception is rooted in the Constitution, Congress can do little about it."
Aside from taking their usual swipes at the FEC, the op-ed focuses on a decision by a judge in Hawaii saying that the campaign reform law did not apply to non-profits seeking to run ads in a special election, and suggests that this is not a ruling against McCain-Feingold. While I have not seen the opinion, it appears that both the judge and the Post get this one wrong. According to the Post, the judge ruled that the new law doesnt apply to runoffs, and therefore the court didnt need to reach the question of the constitutionality of provisions in McCain-Feingold which would otherwise apply. It is true that the law doesnt apply to runoffs, but the race to fill Patsy Minks seat isnt a runoff, but rather is a special election. Special elections are covered by the act if they occur after November 5 (and the FEC has suggested specifically that this race is covered). Second, the Post fails to recognize that McCain-Feingold doesnt permit what even the Post recognizes as a constitutionally required exception. Therefore, the ruling about the constitutional need to permit these kind of ads is very relevant to the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold. At any rate, the Hawaii case was just a prelude to the larger constitutional challenge to the bill, which has formal proceedings beginning in D.C. Federal District Court later this week.
In a story that may provoke me to join Schramm in the smoking section, Norway has proposed a total ban on smoking inside all public places. Now dont get me wrong--I have relatives with lung problems (not caused by smoking) and I understand the need for non-smoking sections. But the idea that an individual cannot light up in a bar--or for that matter run an establishment that caters to cigar smokers, strikes me as taking things too far. This brings to mind Peggy Noonans article about smoking and the lack of civility among those who seek to curb it.
This is a perfectly clear summary on whats going on in the Landrieu-Terrell campaign by Stuart Rothenberg. The first line of the article reflects the whole: "Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) has a problem." What that means for Rothenberg is that she must run the exact opposite of the campaign she ran in November; she must now get the Demo base to come out and vote for her, whereas in November she had to appeal to the swing voters. She failed to do that in November (only getting 46%) and I believe she will fail to get her base out on Saturday. And Dubyia is coming to town tomorrow.
While the rest of us were lollygagging around indulging in turkey and turducken, the technical wizard behind NLT added the comments section to the blog. Now every entry has a link for reader comments, where you can post what you think about the topic. Give it a try.
I have returned home from Jackson, and am happy to report that the turducken lived up to the hype. The duck made the three-in-one bird very tender, and the cajun spices added just the right kick. Now we can return to the ordinary law and politics blogging.
There are two interesting articles in yesterdays and todays The Los Angeles Times (registration required) reflecting on the state of the Democratic Party. The one by Kevin Phillips is--characteristically--odd, yet worth reading. He thinks it a very bad sign that blacks, Latinos, and poorer whites did not vote in the numbers the Demos have come to rely on. The other is by Jack Pitney at Claremont and his point is even simpler: The Democrats can only win the White House with a candidate from the South, i.e., Gore or Edwards; the last non-Southern Demo to become president was JFK. And, it should be noted that John Kerry of Massachusetts has taken the first steps toward announcing his candidacy.
Davids rejoinder might be summarized as a counsel of caution, along with a meditation on what course prudence demands.
I seldom worry that American government is being incautious anymore (except when it comes to domestic social policy, where there is seldom any caution. . .) To the contrary, I worry about an excess of caution, of the kind that leads to the kind of half-measures we saw in Vietnam. This is especially the case, I think, in our national security structure. As Churchill once remarked of such a process, "Everyone claims his margin at every stage, and the sum of the margins is usually no." In the current context, I am guessing the role of caution is being very well represented by Colin Powell (whom I suspect is not as bad as many conservatives think).
A more interesting problem is the question that both David and I have raised: If we smash up Iraq, then what? Are we prepared to run the place as we did Japan after 1945? And on what basis do we expect to succeed? We have, I think, debated and thought through the idea of pre-emptive war, but we have not had a serious debate about the prospect of American empire which this entails, an empire, however temporary, that derives from Americas principles as well as its interests, as Peter suggests. I think we need to have this discussion soon. (It might, by the way, have salutary benefits on the calculations of the Iraqi military and other leaders to hear talk of the U.S. deciding that it IS willing to run the place for the next five years. They might decide to start reforming the country on its own.)
I am in heated agreement with David that an American occupation of Iraq may be a very bad idea, though I am less persuaded that there is mass anti-American sentiment in Iraq and other Middle East nations. I think there is a chance that there may be a large number of Iraqis who would welcome liberation by Americans from Saddams tyranny, just as there were in Afghanistan, and from such people ther core of a decent polity might be forged. I have had one conversation with a member of the exiled opposition Iraqi National Congress who argues this case, though obviously he has an ax to grind. (We might we be able to win the trust of the Kurds, if we can persuade them that they wont be abandoned again.) It is hard to tell from here. (Michael Ledeen argues forcefully that ordinary Iranians have become very pro-American and would welcome our help in ousting the mullahs.) Ultimately Bushs decision will likely be guided by another Churchill maxim: "Assume that the favorable and adverse chances equate, and then eliminate them from the calculation."
Finally, I am not sure I agree with David that the war on AQ and the war against Iraq are separate enterprises. To do so means rejecting the case made by Laurie Mylroie, former CIA chief James Woolsey, and others that Iraq is deeply involved with AQ, had a role in the 1993 WTC bombing, etc. Perhaps Mylroie and Woolsey are wrong (the supposed meeting in Prague between Atta and an Iraqi intelligence operative is in hot dispute, as is the claim that Iraq has a Boeing airplane for terrorists to train in--I think that if such a plane exists, it would be kept in a hangar away from snooping US satellites and not out in plain sight where it can be shown on Fox News. . .). To repeat what I said before, it is strange to me that the U.S. wouldnt cite such evidence if they have it, unless it is too circumstantial.
It may be a more prudent course to go about patiently rolling up terrorists bit by bit. I have my doubts. It seemed to me that one of the virtues of the hellfile missile attack on the car in Yemen was that it sent the signal that the U.S. was able and willing to kill terrorists in other nations besides Afghanistan.
Peters blog raises a number of issues. I will comment on only two at this point.
First, when we talk about rearranging or fixing the Middle East, we should remember that someone tried this before. The Middle East looks and acts as it does today in large part because of rearranging that Europeans performed after WWI. Why do we think we will do any better?
Two, contrary to Peters suggestion, I do not think it will do us much good to have troops and ships permanently stationed in the Middle East. In fact, I think it will probably make things worse.
The conversation that has started (Pestritto, Tucker, Hayward) as a consideration of the Iraq inspection issue is slowly turning into a larger and broader conversation, as it should, on what American policy should be with regard to the Mid-East. To say this is complicated is an understatement. It is primarily a matter of deliberation because of our war on terrorists. It’s not that we didn’t know before 9/11 that Saddam was a bad guy, or that the Saudis are not to be trusted (just because we have had relatively good relations with them over the years based on common interests doesn’t mean we have reason to trust them beyond those interests). But now we have arrived at a point where those more abstract considerations have become more practical, yet our public statements on the issue continue to be full of diplomatic niceties. I don’t really have a problem with this apparent disjunction between what we say and what we do, as long as we do the right things. Besides, when you are a hyper-power you don’t have to be beat your chest every time you want to make a point; and, you have the luxury that your enemies (and soft allies, or the UN) will pay attention even if you whisper. (See this thoughtful piece by Mark Steyn--even though he objects to the charade--where he compares Bush and Bandar with James Bond and the supervillain meeting face to face and are most polite, yet each knows who the other is, and what he is about to do.)
In short, what I am trying to say is that it is one thing to say that these guys are SOB’s, and another to say whether or not it is in our interest to do something (e.g., take Iraq, overthrow the Saudis, encourage a revolution in Iran). It sems to me plausible that our whole campaign against Iraq is a feint, it is a sideshow. We have essentially gotten the UN to do our work for us, and it is only a matter of time before the chips fall our way (by peace or war). We are not in a hurry. Furthermore, this feint allows us to do certain things in the region that otherwise we couldn’t have done; including a huge buildup in the region (which, it goes almost without saying will be useful for other purposes, not just going into Iraq) and allowing the Israeli’s to do some necessary housecleaning. Think Trojan Horse here; or, war by proxy. In the meantime, our military and diplomatic investment in the region makes perfectly clear to the various tyrannies there that we are serious and that we will stay, if it proves to be in our interest. And that interest has primarily to do with our war on terrorists. Our policy therefore does instill fear in these regimes (remember our success in Afghanistan as well); they know we will act if we think it is in our interest. So help us clean out the terrorists. It looks like most of them--to one extent or another--are helping. We will continue to have to make those judgments along the way, and each will be a tough call.
Yet, it is a matter of no small consequence that in this process of pursuing our interests in the region, we are finding that the whole region is quite unstable and that some of that instability is--at least indirectly--caused by our actions. Then the next question will have to be whether or not we want to maintain stability in the region or attempt to seriously reorganize it. I am open to the possibility that we can help establish more moderate regimes in the area (even though I admit that they are not likely to become liberal democracies) if those moderate regimes pursue policies more in line with our interests. But these possibilities will have to be taken on one at a time.
Alex Kuczynskis marriage was announced today in the pages of the Sunday New York Times. I have provided portions of it before. Who says that Times writers arent representative of Americans as a whole?
Alexandra Louise Kuczynski and Charles Porter Stevenson Jr. were married in New York yesterday. David N. Dinkins, the former mayor, officiated at the couples apartment.
The bride, 34, who is known professionally as Alex Kuczynski, is a reporter for The New York Times. She graduated from Barnard College.
Her father, Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski of Miami and Lima, Peru, was until July the finance minister of Peru. He is now the president of the Latin American Enterprise Fund, a private investment concern in Miami. . . .
Ms. Kuczynskis stepfather, Thomas L. Hughes, is emeritus president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. . . .
The bridegroom, 55, is a private investor. He is a trustee of Bard College and of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, . . . His previous marriages ended in divorce.
You can read the entire announcement at www.nytimes.com, whic is a subscription service, so I havent included the link.
In reading both these articles, from a conservative and a liberal (Stephen Hayes and Eleanor Clift) you cannot help but think that whatever happens on December 7th, it is very clear that Landrieu is hurting. She is desparate and on the defense. (And she will lose.) Also note the great disadvantage she is running with: No Democratic national "leader" can come to her aid for if he should, it would be to her disadvantage; she would likely lose votes. Isnt it extraordinary that no Al Gore or any other Democrat interested in running for president can go down there and campaign on her behalf? How long can the Democratic Party place their former presidents (and former presidential candidates) on the shelf for fear that they will actually hurt Demos in an election? This happened to Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, et al. It is arguably the case that it hasnt happened to Clinton, yet, even Clinton is not as useful as folks thought he would be, say, a year ago. And we already have confirmed cases of Gore going into Maryland and campaigning for Kennedy-Townsend and then watching her drop by a couple of points the next day. Jesse Jackson goes down and endorses Ladrieu, and she virtually disowns the endorsement (despite her problem with black support). These are signs of a deep seated problem within that party. I dont think there is enough attention being paid to the fact that the Democratic Party as a national entity is on the verge of collapse, or, if you like, has been falling apart for three decades. Only things outside of itself has saved it from such a collapse (Carter comes in as an outsider and is succesful in part because of watergate, Clinton as a new Demo reacting almost solely to GOP initiatives and policies, etc.); and the glue that holds it together is reflected in the over-emphasis on getting the so-called base to come out. It is based on group interest and fear; it is in an utterly reactive mode. Not only does it stand for nothing, it has no authoritative leaders to carry that non-message. It looks bleak. You cant create a political party by attacking a radio talk-show host.