I missed this op-ed by Bill Safire on the German (and French) shenanigans (see "New Europe vs. Old" below). Safire understands both their perfidy and their imprudence. The smaller nations of Europe (old and new) are not amused by this power play. A side note: When I was roving around Bulgaria in the early 90s I noticed only German and Japanese businessmen trying to get work in the newly freed country. I was surprised that the Japanese were already there and were being well received. I enquired. I was told that the Bulgarians would much rather not work with the Germans because they were afraid that their power would reassert itself very quickly. Hard to trust those guys if you know anything about the history of the 20th century, I was told. I found the same sentiment in the other newly-freed countries. They were, however, very keen on having the Americans come in as soon as possible. The tension between the old and new Europe was already evident, as well as the need for an American presence.
The Boston Globe summarizes a study published in Lancet (site not available, unknown reason), the medical journal, on the effects that one parent families have on children. Surprise, its not good for them. The study is especially significant because it tracked almost a million children for a decade, into their twenties; the largest such study ever done, it comes out of Sweden.
This Washington Post reports that a deal has been struck between the TV networks and Mitofski International and Edison Media Research to replace the old Voting News Service for exit poll data. The deal is worth about $10 million through 2004.
A new poll in Germany shows that support for the SDP has dropped to 25 percent, the lowest figure in 26 years the poll has been conducted. Gosh, I really feel bad for the chancellor (and his foreign minister), dont you?
Just as I predicted over a month ago, the new members of NATO from what used to be called Eastern Europe (perhaps now we should call them the "new Europe," and let the French and Germans speak for the "old Europe) are much more supportive of the US than Western Europe. This will continue to have interesting repercussions. It will make the EU less important (and probably end up making even NATO as a unit less important) and will make bi-lateral relationships ever more important (whether it’s with Spain or Slovenia or Poland or Russia). It’s clear that it is the old Europe that thinks that calling Bush a "cowboy" is a term of disapprobation. See this front page story in The New York Times from yesterday called, "To Some in Europe, the Major Problem is Bush the Cowboy." It is worth reading because the point is so obvious: the French and the others in "old Europe" are trying to take this opportunity to point to everything about America they don’t like; we see things in black and white, we are too blunt, too impatient, too confrontational, too religious, and once Bush makes up his mind, well, you know he made up his mind, and is willing to act. These are bad cowboy-like things!! Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was fun to work with, say the old men of Europe. I find all of this fun. I am very happy about these developments because they are very revealing. They reveal more about Old Europe than it does about us. They disliked Reagan for the same reason and they acted accordingly (remember the missile deployments?); they lost. They think they can get away with it now because the Cold War is over and they think we are less necessary to them. They are missing much in all this, including the great relations we are having with Russia and what this means for them gaopolitically; how and why the Old Europes economy is faltering and what all this will--in the end--have to do with the War on Terror and the bi-lateral relations it will demand. By making themselves irrelevant, they are also making the UN irrelevant, their last place of power (and of what little authority they have left). The UN, like the un-cowboy mode of Old Europe, is outdated, and soon will be a relic. Jonah Goldberg and Diana West have some fun with this, and Kristol and Kagan thank France. And Krauthammer nails it, and
explains why our sometime-friends will return to the fold when it is their interest to do so; that is, after we do the work, they will want the spoils.
The New York Times ran this profile of Gary Hart yesterday. Worth a quick read; Hart claims to have invented the Iowa caucuses in an interview.
Bill Keller in The New York Times Magazine argues that Bush is much closer to Reagan than to his father, both in his conservatism and also because both were (and are) "misunderestimated." Bush has "the relentless discipline of a president who consistently defies the expectations of people who think they are smarter than he is." The emphasis on his character and his bold "vision" is what makes this a must read. Keller seems to understand that Bush is a tough guy with an instinct for doing big things and, as with Reagan, Bush is "more than the sum of his advisors and constituencies." Lengthy, three coffee read.
This is Ryan Lizzas analysis (from The New Republic) of the six Demos in front of the NARAL Pro-choice America meeting last week. Each had the opportunity to have a "Sister Souljah moment", and none took it. Lizza uses this as an opportunity to evaluate the campaigns of the six. Thoughtful.
Although I look forward to watching it, I have no prediction on the game. I do note that Americans will bet more money on this game (about 5 billion) than the gross domestic product of Honduras! And here is a site that explains the physics of football. And this reminds us of the all-time greatest super bowl ads.
Dennis Praeger has a nice piece on this question, from the Jewish World Review.
The following comments of Sen. Hillary Clinton speak for themselves, but Ill add my two cents for good measure:
Regarding Bushs support for a guarantee of state college admission to the top 10% of students from every Texas high school, Clinton replied,
“In order for that to work you have to have totally segregated schools.”Translation: Black Americans cannot excel in integrated schools.
Quoting from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Clinton said:
“Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character? If we don’t take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves.”Translation: Your skin color contributes to your morals and virtue.
Time for black Americans to find an alternative voice for their political concerns, esp. when it comes to education. And let them begin with that great American, Frederick Douglass, who scorned race pride:
"The whole assumption of race pride is ridiculous. Let us have done with complexional superiorities and inferiorities, complexional pride or shame. I want no better basis for my activities and affinities than the broad foundation laid by the Bible itself, that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth."
Let’s see, what’s going on here. I am getting three impressions: First, the French and the Germans have asserted themselves against a war on Iraq and they seemed to have done so together, after talking it through. Further, this was a surprise, and I am betting that not only the President but Colin Powell were angered by this little conspiracy. Hence Powell’s hard attitude now gets harder; he is telling aides that he will accept military action even without a Security Council resolution. They must have lied to him, and their actions have backfired. Second, France and Germany know this and they are starting to react to little things that shouldn’t really bother them if they are really in the poker game. So they show irritation at Rumsfeld’s comment about "old Europe." This is an overreaction on their part. Sensitive (once big, now little) countries, are they not? The French-German attempt to influence world opinion, in the end, will have failed. They have no authority; in part because of their histories and also because they have a lot money/contracts tied up in Iraq: they are playing the most self-interested game of all. Third, the high diplomacy that is taking place, and not only in the UN, is going to fall together for the US. So announcements are being made about how Australia , etc., are helping and will do so even if there is no new UN resolution. And Condi Rice has a good article on Iraq in today’s New York Times that is part of our efforts at public persuasion. She says Iraq "is failing in a spectacular fashion."
But, in the end, Bush is holding the ace-in-the-hole because he will have a national and international audience in his State of the Union talk and that will be powerful and authoritative. While it is true that that speech will be effected by the Blix report to the Security Council, yet there is no reason to think that he will not condemn Iraq for violating the Security Council resolution. In the meantime, Saddam blusters, but that he is worried is shown by what’s going on internally, and because the other Arab countries are willing to do almost anything to avoid a war, (including getting rid of Saddam) although what they are saying publicly is that he ought to move towards assuming his responsibility for peace in the region. We are soon going to see who is holding the cards, and those that have already shown their hand, will fold. We have all played poker, but for lower stakes.
Here is a BBC report (thanks to Pejman) on the first play of the Poet to be performed in Iran in 25 years, The Winter’s Tale. Good sign, I presume. Note that it was performed in English, with a Farsi translation on a screen. Has Shakespeare not been translated into Farsi? Most of the packed audience were students, I bet many were the children of the regimes functionaries, maybe even a "Nest of traitors!"
Christopher Caldwell writes that the Bush administrations brief to the Supreme Court on the Michigan case makes a strong case for affirmative action:
"The Bush memos are the most important substantive defense of
affirmative action ever issued by a sitting president. If the Court accepts
the president’s reasoning, it will have rescued affirmative action from
what appeared to be a terminal constitutional illogic. More than that–it will
have secured for this rickety program an indefinite constitutional
Peter and others blogs have linked to Michael Kellys spendid vivisection of the so-called "anti-war" march last weekend. I thought, since it is the centennial of George Orwells birth, that it would be worthwhile to recall some of Orwells observations about supposed pacifists and anti-British sentiment in Britain during World War II. (This year is the centennial of Orwells birth, and I have made it a winter reading project to read his collected works, which I picked up used several years ago.)
This, from The Lion and the Unicorn in 1941, which sounds very much like a description of the American Left today:
"In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions form Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionable true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save the King that stealing from a poor box."
Stay tuned; Ill have further excerpts as the days and weeks go by.
Fouad Ajami writes this lengthy piece in the Jan/Feb issue of Foreign Affairs. The prose is clear about a complicated subject. Very enlightening and thoughtful. Although it shows the amazing complications involved in our policy, the possible and probable effects of our policy toward Iraq (and therefore the region), it also argues that we said we would do must be done and much good is likely to come from it. Long. Four Turkish coffees.
There are an overwhelming number of reports (especially on what passes for television news) stating that it is absolutely necessary to continue the inspections in Iraq for many more months, that there is no smoking gun, that our allies are deserting us, that even Tony Blair is waffling, that there is a real anti-war movement in the US, that Bush’s poll numbers are dropping. In the meantime reports say that Bush continues to be "icreasingly bellicose", that he is now out on a limb, and our policy (and his presidency) is at stake. It goes on; you get the point. Let me just make an assertion here: It is the United Nations and its credibility that is at stake. Bush warned the UN not to become irrelevant. His first step in the process of trying to save the UN worked, I see no reason why the second step shouldn’t. The UN must go along with Bush on Iraq or it really will become irrelevant. Only the short sighted do not see this. This is the real issue. Does anyone think that the Saddam’s tyranny will last into the summer? Bush’s state of he Union talk should be the turning point in all this, and very few in the establishment media think that he can pull it off. I respectfully disagree. So far, he pulled it off at every turn and these self-same folks doubted that he would; they have misunderestimated him. Even the public press reports prove that Iraq has violated UN Security Council resolution 1441. If the UN doesn’t give it’s blessing to US action, it will become irrelevant. I tell you that if I were a UN leader I would not like the wrath of Bush to come down on me. And it will, right after Iraq falls without the UN’s blessing, even if it is without a war. It would be the beginning of the end for the UN. All of this will be clear by mid-February.
I wonder if this could be the start of something? A county commissioner in Ohio (Auglaize County) has switched parties because Nancy Pelosi was elected Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. This proved to John Bergman that the Demos are no longer the party of inclusion, they are forgetting about moderate and conservative Demos. So he became a Republican. One county at a time.
Michael Kelly not only nails down who the so-called peace activists were on the weekend, and chastizes the press for their incomplete coverage, but has some thoughtful paragraphs on the contemporary left. Here is the money quote:
"The left has hardened itself around the core value of a
furious, permanent, reactionary opposition to the devil-state America, which
stands as the paramount evil of the world and the paramount threat to the
world, and whose aims must be thwarted even at the cost of supporting fascists
Here is Doug Kmiecs piece supporting the administrations stance on the Michigan case.
Now that we have the Al Sharpton announcement behind us we should be prepared to look at the next potential candidate, Gary Hart. Here is the WaPo report on his speech, billed as a major foreign policy address. Here is the full speech, from Harts website. The Scrum has a few useful paragraphs on Hart and how he is going about becoming a candidate, including some useful links.
This short story from yesterdays USA Today
notes that--Rep. Charles Rangel to the contrary notwithstanding--the front-line troops in todays military are disproprtionately white.
The fact that Al Sharpton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination shows that even he believes Jesse Jackson to be irrelevant. (Good to see the Democrats will have their own problems to deal with in a Sharpton run for president.)
Now Mickey Kaus maintains that Hillary just might be interested in the 2004 race (rather than waiting for 2008), and there are signs of this given "the aggressive,
heavily spin doctored remodeling campaign underway to
transform her image NOW as a hard-core lefty with a mean
streak to a softer, smiling moderate conciliator who can
bridge the ideological gap to GET THINGS DONE."
This is the latest, and one of the oddest, addition to our arsenal: A very fast catamaran capable of doing almost 50 MPH and carrying 300 soldiers. It is about to be deployed. Jonah Goldberg brought it to my attention. Glad to see hes involving himself in some serious matters!
Lucas Morel has some fine thoughts on the Michigan case now in front of the Supremes. He claims that with "strict scrutiny" as the standard, the decision is likely to turn on the meaning of racial diversity. A must read. And Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts on quotas and diversity, as does Ward Connerly.
This is kind of cool, even for a non-techno guy like me. A pretty clear explanation of how the Apache helicopters work, what they are capable of, etc. Flying tanks, is what some folks call them.
I see that the Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article entitled "Bush Administration’s Position in Michigan Cases Sets High Bar for Use of
Race in Admissions." I immediately thought, "Well, yes; and that bar is the U.S. Constitution."
Of course, Bush did not go as far we would like, especially given his support for racial diversity as an "important goal" last Thursday and in the legal briefs on Grutter and Gratz. Nevertheless, one hopes it is a step in the right direction.
USA Today reports that there are over 100 good guys (SOF and CIA) tracking Saddam inside Iraq and are ready to kill him, if and when necessary. There is some interesting stuff in this short story; I don’t really doubt that most of it is true, yet, I wonder what the point is in publicizing it. And the BBC has this cautionary note to those who think there is any real chance that Saddam may step aside and spend the rest of his life on the beach somewhere: Just before the Gulf War in 1991 there was a similar flurry of activity/hope that he would go into exile. It didn’t happen. Yet I still think it is possible that he might do it, especially if some of his own people want to save their skins and either persuade him (unlikely), force him (more probable), or, of course, they could simply kill him (most probable). In the meantime one quarter of the British Army is being sent to the Gulf, according to the BBC.
This is a touching story from the BBC. The last widow of a Union soldier died in Tennessee. Gertrude Janeway was 93 years old. She married her veteran husband, John, in 1927 when she was 18 and he was 81. There is a widow of a Confederate soldier still alive, in Alabama.
In case there is any doubt in your mind that Hillary is serious about running in 2008 (or possibly being on the ticket for VP in 2004), please note the various interesting references to her Senate career in these two articles, one from the White Plains Journal News and the other from Newsday. Also note that she is now on the Armed Services Committee.
This is from yesterday’s London Times and is typical Andrew Sullivan; almost perfect. Things to keep in mind when thinking of these-so-called-anti-war demonstrations. A good paragraph:
"Of course, most anti-Americanism today doesn’t deal with this complex reality. It deals with the fact of American
hyper-power, and its impact on the broader world. In this sense, it’s a new form of anti-Americanism. It’s
anti-Americanism without the counter-balance of fearing the Soviet Union. And it’s anti-Americanism without the
positive element of twentieth-century faith in socialism or Marxism. This makes it in some ways a purer
anti-Americanism, one that simply hates American power, rather than one that posits any credible alternative. And
it’s made far worse by the relative growth of exactly that power. The post-Cold War 1990s, after all, saw
economic stagnation and rapid disarmament in much of Europe, combined with a massive boom and military
investment in the U.S. What was once dominance has become de facto hegemony. So anti-Americanism now
looms in the world’s psyche without any of its erstwhile anchors. It isn’t tempered by fear of a rival super-power;
it isn’t fortified by a vital economic or political alternative. And when American power is actually deployed, this
free-floating animosity mutates into a kind of hatred."
I just noticed that Balint Vazsonyi passed away last week. He was not only a concert pianist, but a lover of America. I met him only once. It was in Washington about four years ago, and Lee Edwards introduced me to him. I hadnt heard of him until then. Lee explained that Mr. Vazsonyi was a great lover of the country and had established an organization to promote the principles of the American Founding. Mr. Vazsonyi, of course, did not know I was also born in Hungary or what what my work was. In his irrepressibly Hungarian way he started lecturing me about the nobility of the Founding and implied that he was the only person in the world who understood these things, and how it was his duty to teach the natives. Well, this was an opportunity I couldnt resist! So, as Lee Edwards the gentleman looked on in utter panic, I proceeded to tell Mr. Vazsonyi that I was sick and tired of all manner of foreigners coming to my country and telling us how to think about ourselves. I stayed with this theme for more than a few minutes, but, of course Vazsonyi, being-Hungarian-and-all, just kept rhapsodizing about the Founding with pretty good arguments and scholarship as if all he had to do was keep talking to persuade another ill-educated native about his own country. Well, Lee was standing there ill at ease through all this, so finally I let the cat out of the bag and told the great pianist (in Hungarian) that we were both Americans born in the wrong place and I understood what he understood and he could stop browbeating me now. And he did. And Lee was able to take a breath; the joke worked. May this American Rest in Peace.
OxBlog (see Saturday) reports the world-wide anti-war protest numbers and decides that they amounted to much less than the 100,000 protesting in Caracas (plus 50,000 supporting them in Miami) against Chavez and his tyranny. OxBlog asks: Which protests made the NYTimes and WaPo headlines? To no ones surprise it was not the protests in Venezuela. But, hey, Im not complaining. I think it was kind of fun seeing Ramsay Clark, folks from the World Wokers Party, and various actors whose names I can never remember. Just like the good old days (or not). I hope they feel better about themselves. The rest of us can still feel pretty good about the country.
Has anyone noticed how naturally President Bush jump-started the "national dialogue on race," a project Clinton could only manage to contrive with a stacked blue-ribbon commission and "townhall" gabfests?
To be sure, the media is trying to keep the Lott debacle alive by tacking on a reference to him in any discussion of the GOP and race; nevertheless, when an elected official treats a matter seriously, especially a controversial one like affirmative action, it is cheering to see that the country is astir with arguments on both sides of the issue. You would think the briefs submitted by the current executive branch were actually dispositive on this question, given the great heat and occasional light now emitted over the subject.
Heres my tag line for any Supreme Court justice interested in a nice closer for their court opinion:
"Under our Constitution, race should not be the measure of any individuals rights."
By the way, is Alts computer broken or something?