Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Roger Clemens

As everyone must know by now Roger Clemens won his 300th game yesterday, as well as getting his 4,000th strike-out. I like him because he pitches as if every pitch matters, he is capable of getting angry at himself, hates failure, and the best in him may be diligence. Great accomplishment.

Anniversary of Proposition 13

Stephen Moore, of the Club for Growth, explains why the 25th anniversary of California’s Proposition 13 is worth celebrating.

"Why should we now celebrate the legacy of Proposition 13 after 25 years? For two reasons. First, Proposition 13 and similar taxpayer measures in other states have saved average homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in property tax payments over the past twenty-five years. This is money that would have fueled an even more rapid escalation in state and local public bureaucracies if those dollars had been sent to state capitals and city hall. That is why the majority of California voters still say they would vote for Proposition 13 if given the chance.

Taxpayers nationwide also owe a debt of gratitude to the Proposition 13 tax revolt movement because it proved that, when properly organized, citizens can rise up against unresponsive government and its economically disabling policies that threaten our economic well-being and our basic freedoms."

Blogs on Terrorism

Regnum Crucis and Winds of Change are blogs that seem to be focused on terrorism. Each day they will bring up something (or many things, usually) interesting and sometimes elaborate on a theme with a couple of good paragraphs, with many links. This is an example of the latter on the connection between al-Qaeda and Algerians. Have wondered why so many of the al-Qaeda has such a disproportionate number of Algerian expatraites??

Saudis Reforming?

The Saudis have fired hundred of clerics (and suspended another thousand) who have been teaching intolerance!

Hillary’s Book

Sorry to have been so long away . . . the dog ate my homework or something. Just wanted to report that at the McLean Virginia Books-A-Million they have plenty of copies of "Living History" (sic) at 40% off.

Why We Fought

Here, in the New York Times of all places, lies the answer to all of those who are using the failure to find WMDs in Iraq as a stick with which to beat the administration. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is the most essential paragraph:

"Even if you throw out all the tainted evidence, there was still what prosecutors call probable cause to believe that Saddam was harboring frightful weapons, and was bent on acquiring the most frightful weapons of all. The Clinton administration believed so. Two generations of U.N. inspectors believed so. It was not a Bush administration fabrication that Iraq had, and failed to account for, massive quantities of anthrax and VX nerve gas and other biological and chemical weapons. Saddam was under an international obligation to say where the poisons went, but did not."

Stick a Fork in Him. . .

Interesting report yesterday from one of my well-connected sources in California. It seems Gray Davis’s political operatives have been trying to buy off the recall petition signature gatherers--who typically get paid about $1 a signature--by offering them $5 a signature to have them get signatures for Davis’s anti-recall petition instead. $5 a signature is unheard of. But it is turning out that even at $5 a signature, the petition gatherers are finding they can’t get anyone willing to sign, so they dump the pro-Davis petition and quickly go back to the recall petition at $1 a signature.

The recall effort is reaching a critical mass that is very reminiscent of Proposition 13 in 1978. Which reminds me of a story from that famous incident. I came home from college for the summer a few days before the Prop. 13 vote, and asked my cautious, responsible dad about it. He was at the time on the school board in my home town (back when school boards actually ran school districts), and my old school district was heavily dependent on the property tax. The district was facing major cuts if Prop. 13 passed. My dad said Prop. 13 was a "meat-ax approach" to the problem of high taxes, and would wreak havoc on the school budget and the local town’s general government.

Me: "So, are you going to vote for it?"

Dad: "Hell yes."

Another famous story involved a state legislator who went around attacking Prop. 13, and changed his mind after he noticed that when he said Prop. 13 would cripple local government, most people in the audience just smiled. It is similar with Davis; all the arguments against recalling him only serve to fuel the fire to pull the lever against him.

Recall petition signatures are apparently now coming in at a rate of 125,000 a week, which means it will qualify easily in another few weeks. I suspect there is some chance that the Democratic party might pressure Davis to resign, and turn over the office to the Democratic Lt. Governor (a Latino), rather than risk losing the governor’s office to a Republican.

Toomey versus Specter

Paul Weyrich writes on what promises to be the most exciting primary challenge a Republican Senate candidate will face this year.

Conservative Congressman Pat Toomey is challenging Senator Arlen Specter in the GOP Primary in Pennsylvania. Toomey had a 95% rating by the American Conservative Union in 2000, while Specter had a 62% ACU rating in 2000 (and 48% rating in 1999). ACU President David Keene has endorsed Specter.

Exciting.

Cost of the Iraq War

While I admit this is not a major point USA Today reports on the cost of the Iraq War. The first tallies are now in. Read the whole for some interesting details.

"A short conflict that used fewer missiles, sparked fewer oil field fires and created fewer refugees than anticipated produced a lower-than-expected financial cost for the major combat in Iraq.That means President Bush won’t have to go back to Congress for additional funding this year, a step that could have revived the debate over the war.

A detailed account of expenses won’t be complete for months, but senior administration officials say the cost of deployment and combat will be just less than the $62.6 billion Congress approved in March as emergency funding for Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is the first time officials have offered a tally."

Gregory Peck dies

Gregory Peck died yesterday. This is a pretty standard obit from what I’ve seen. Here is a pretty good fan website describing Peck’s career.

I am not a Peck expert by any stretch, though I would heartily recommend To Kill a Mockingbird and The Guns of Navarone to anyone who has not seen them. But I will add to the obits I’ve read to say this. In many of his roles, Peck played roles that struck me as the character type that modern liberal political theory would praise as "heroic." Peter and Thomas Engeman and others are fond of analyzing traditional American heroic ideals, especially the ideals celebrated in westerns. If I were forced to single out some movies to show twentieth-century liberalism’s rendition of heroism, I might well pick a few Peck movies.

The two that come to mind are his portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and of James McKay in The Big Country. Both characters are intelligent and considerate men. Both have a tendency to judge the morality of what they do by their own intentions and standards -- not the consequences of their actions on others, and definitely not what the mob of people think. Both can fight, but both are very self-controlled and value the ability to think over the ability to fight, almost to the point of disdain. Both resort to reasoned argument in explosive political situations when most people would reach for a gun, and manage to use reason to defuse or resolve those situations.

I’m not saying I think this ideal of heroism is nobler, better, and more just than the ideal celebrated in the traditional Westerns. I think it would be really interesting to compare the lessons, e.g., of Liberty Valance and The Big Country, but that’s not a debate to start on the day after Peck died. But I do think Peck’s best characters highlight a distinct understanding of heroism, different from the best Westerns, appreciated by a large segment of Americans, and worth serious consideration. And Peck acted those roles excellently. May he rest in peace.

Draft Gore?

Oh, oh. As if the Democratic candidates for president aren’t having enough troubles (like not being seen or heard, while Hillary is everywhere) this story, out of Tennessee, reports on John Edwards’ campaign kick-off in that state, mentions that there will be a rally to draft Al Gore tomorrow in Nashville. I don’t know what to say.

Ladies Cell Phone

Samsung is marketing a cell phone for women (only in Asia for now) that includes a calory counter and a mirror. Thought you’d like to know.

Europeans in Africa

Not unrelated to my previous post, you might want to read this, on the French in the Congo. The UN approved French mission is having a tough time; they get no respect. In the meantime, note this Wa Po article on what is going on in Baghdad:

"After weeks of looting and unchecked criminal activity, the U.S. effort to improve security in Baghdad has helped bring signs of normality to this city of 5 million people. As the Americans deploy thousands more soldiers and assign many of them to neighborhood patrols, merchants not only are keeping their doors open longer, they also feel confident enough to stack televisions, air conditioners and other high-priced goods on the sidewalk. Cars zip around until the 11 p.m. curfew imposed by the U.S. military. Parents have begun to let their children walk to school in the daytime."

Europe, the banality of the good?

Timothy Garton Ash, who runs the European Studies Centre at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, writes a piece worth reading in the New Statesman. I used to read Ash during the collapse of the communist regimes in Europe and he was OK, not great, but pretty good. I haven’t really seen him write anything interesting since then (maybe he has, I just haven’t seen it). This readable but ultimately threadbare article is a perfect example of an attempt to paint over the deep philosopical and political disagreements between Europe and the U.S. He goes through the various "cultural" connections, the tremendous influence of America in Europe, etc., and then matter-of-factly states that "there is some serious power politics, too. It is dangerous for the world to have only one hyperpower. It is dangerous for America itself to be that only hyperpower." He says that the reason the political relations between the U.S. and Europe are so bad is because the Europeans are weak. Now, this kind of abstract (dare I say French) thinking is utterly unpolitical. That is, it doesn’t consider how that power arrived here, what is being done with it, to what use it is put, and so on. After all, when we speak about America we are not speaking about the Ottoman Empire, German Empire, or the Roman Empire. Never mind the question, What the Hell is a hyperpower? The U.S. did not make the Europeans weak. On the contrary, we gave them new life. And then there is this issue that Ash brings up having to do with the "banality of evil" now becoming the "banality of the good" among Europeans. And this "good" is a rich soil in which closer political relations can grow. Culture driving politics. I don’t think so, but take a look at the piece yourself and let me know if you have any interesting thoughts on it. Forgive me for reminding you of my recent piece, The Ugly European.

Hillary’s Facts

Dick Morris takes issue with one fact in Hillary’s book via an open letter to her. Short.

Beichman on Duranty

In case you had any doubts about Walter Duranty and whether or not his Pulitzer should be revoked, do read this Arnold Beichman piece in The Weekly Standard, and remove doubts.

Hayward on Bush

Steve Hayward has a fine review of Frum and Woodward’s book on Bush in the latest Claremont Review of Books.

Clinton (Bill) for Mayor of New York?

Apparently it is still possible that Bill Clinton will run for New York City mayor, at least according to the New York Times. In the end I don’t think he’ll do it because he has everything he wants now (fame, money, etc.) without the responsibility. He might think about doing it if his wife decides not to run for president. And that’s unlikely.

ASEAN issues

This Heritage Foundation Backgrounder is full of useful information that should be kept in mind for Secretery of State Colin Powell’s upcoming trip to the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Cambodia.

General Shinseki Retires

This is General Shinseki’s retirement speech of yesterday. I don’t know enough about the internal disagreements to have a considered opinion about which side was right (either, for example, about the Crusader artillery system or about the size of the force the should have gone into Iraq--Shinseki wanted the Crusader and wanted a large force in Iraq than Rummy was willing to have), but this is an interesting speech that merits analysis by those who are in the know (and for later use). Note the reference/question regarding civilian control of the military, and the size of the army being insufficient for future use. He is cautioning us. Also note that neither Rumsfeld nor his undersecretraies, or Wolfowitz were present (I know Rummy is in Europe). He doesn’t even mention their names; no thank you, for example. Here is a WaPo article on his
replacement and some more on the friction between Rummy and him.

Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer in Question

One of Stalin’s great apologist, Walter Duranty, writing in the New York Times between 1922-1941, is being investigated by a Pulitzer Board. There are accusations (again) that Duranty knew about Stalin’s crimes, but didn’t report on them, and that the Pulitzer he received in 1932 be revoked. This has never happened. Worth watching.

Recall Gray Davis Update (Again)

John Fund gives us the latest on the Recall Gray Davis effort. Fund compares the momentum behind the recall effort to the Proposition 13 tax revolt effort of 25 years ago. Just as 25 years ago, almost all mainstream politicos are against the Recall effort but it is going to happen, according to Fund.

Here’s a good line from Fund’s article, quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Terminator mentioned the recall only indirectly, however. "This is really embarrassing. I just forgot our state governor’s name, but I know that you will help me recall him."

The Youngest FBI Instructors

This is both an instructive and amusing article Eighth graders teach FBI agents how to talk on-line when they are looking to trap pedophiles. After all, in this undercover assignment grown men and women have to sound and seem as if they are in their early teens or younger. For example, should he ever capitalize words in instant messages?

Is it okay to say you buy your clothes at 5-7-9?

And what about Justin Timberlake? Is he still hot or is he so two years ago? The agents have to know never to use proper grammar, that you never begin a chat with "hello," and that "pos" stands for "parents over the shoulder."


  

What do they think of us?

John O’Sullivan, in reflecting on the Pew Global Attitudes Project that surveyed opinion in 44 countries, notes a couple of interesting things that the press (and the survey irgnored). Interestingly, he ends up on India--not surveyed in the Pew project--and notes that India is establishing a new strategic relationship with the U.S. This is not exactly news, but it is worth being reminded of.   

European Economy Weaker than Thought

The BBC reports that the European Central Bank President thinks that eurozone growth will be less than predicted.

Media Monopoly is Dying

Glenn Reynolds explains in brief why the old media monopoly on news is over: "For a long time, huge entry costs other economic and technological factors meant that you pretty much had to be Big Media to be any kind of media at all. Now anyone can enter and compete, and even if they don’t take a lot of market share away from Big Media folks, the threat of this sort of competition is likely to have a potent impact." In part, this has to do with the internet, and bloggers.

And note this example of the deceitful big media that Ann Coulter brings up, and Mickey Kaus comments on. Who is Greg Packer? He is quoted, as a random man on the street interview over 100 times in different stories unrelated to one another by everyone from The New York Times, USA Today, etc. Fascinating, and with Coulter’s column, the bloggers are going to run with it, and pretty soon even big media will have to report on it. 

Public Employee Unions

George Will lays out why the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is such a powerful force in the Democratic Party, and why it will have a huge effect on who becomes the Democratic nominee for president, as it did in 1992. It is worth noting that in 1955, 33% of the work force was unionized. Today, it is only 13.2%. But, 37.5% of government workers are unionized. Says Will: "Public employee unions are government organized as an interest group. They want more government, and more of government to be susceptible to unionization." Read the whole thing.  

Are Demos Asking the Right Questions?

Even Howard Fineman of Newsweek doesn’t think so. Instead of asking (as Howard Dean did, regarding the WMD in Iraq), "What did he know, and when did he know it?", they should ask are we safer now than we were on 9/11? Now that is a good political question; much good conversation--that would be in the public interest--could be had if that question were asked. Are we winning the war against terrorists? Is our foreign policy in line with that end, etc.?

Mother Called

My mother just called. Sometimes my mother calls me to remind me to wear my sweater (when she hears on the news that it’s cold in Ohio, she is in Southern California), and sometimes she calls just to chastize me for not calling her often enough. You never call, you never think about me, you know that sort of thing. The truth is that most of time she calls me about politics! Which is a little odd, considering that my mother is not, in the ordinary sense, political. But she does get angry when she sees nothing but Clinton on the TV, and when she gets the sense that the President may have done something wrong by saying that Iraq had WMD. After all, as she says in her heavily accented English, "Something must be wrong, he must have done something wrong, he must be in trouble, that’s all they talk about in the news." I explain to her (in Hungarian mostly, but when we talk politics we almost always end up talking in English, which is a little odd, since she is not good at it; but it seems right somehow) that the Clintons are trying to get some more money and some more fame, and that it is mostly at the expense of the Democratic Party, so not to worry. Then I explain to her that not yet finding the WMD (or enough of it to satisfy certain people) is similar to the Baghdad Museum story, everyone going bonkers about the 170,000 items missing, until it’s discovered that there were only 33 items missing. This will also pass, even though the media and the Demos will never quite admit it. Then she asks me if the economy is really as bad as the Demos claim, and then I explain to her that the stock market is up by 20% over the last few months, and then she ask why are these guys so negative. And then I remind her of the manic-depressive who lived next door to us and how he looked at the world. He was happy to get bad news because it confirmed his inclinations and when he got good news he would always argue that it wouldn’t last, just wait for the next news, he would say, it will be bad. It was then my mother understood how the Democrats think they can only prosper when the country doesn’t. She then asked me about the weather. I told her that it is raining again, and she reminded me not to ride my bike in the rain, it’s dangerous. Yes Mom, koszonom.

The Media and the War

Karina Rollins elegantly beats up on the media’s coverage of the Iraq war in the American Enterprise.

Hillary in denial

Kathleen Parker has an op-ed on the problem Hillary has with the truth. I like her writing, simple and fresh. And, she tends to be right.

Marist Poll on race preferences

This is a CNN report on the Marist Poll that found that 80% are against race based admissions to colleges. Roger Clegg has some thoughts on this at The Corner.

Jerry Springer for Senate

It looks increasingly as if Jerry Springer will run in the Democratic primary for the US Senate (against Voinovich). Here is his new web site runjerryrun. If he runs--there are rumors that he has set up an exploratory committee--it will be very helpful to the crippled Democratic Party in Ohio (I’m kidding).

Snakeater as next Army chief of staff

Rumsfeld has selected a retired Army general, Peter J. Schoomaker, to be the next Army chief of staff. This is an interesting selection because he went outside the current possibles to one who is retired, and it so happens that the fellow is a special forces guy, a "snakeater." Here is a bit more information on him from the AP. It goes without saying that this was cleared by W. I would think such a revolutionary action is not unrelated to Rumsfeld push to transform the military into a lighter, faster, deadlier, and more mobile force. It is also related, I would think, to cutting back troop numbers in places like Germany, and setting up new bases (albeit smaller) in places like Bulgaria, Poland, and Thailand.

Empires and Tyrants

Paul Johnson has a thoughtful essay on the empire of liberty in the current New Criterion. Much to dispute here, of course, but it is worth reading, as is anything that Johnson writes. Here is a great review of Johnson’s Napoleon, a different kind of imperialist, by Victor Davis Hanson. And also note this thoughtful review of Fareed Zakaria’s new book by Richard Samuelson 

The Terminator is Interested in California

Arnold Schwarzenegger is sure sounding like a candidate.

Recall Gray Davis Update

While the Recall Gray Davis campaign has now gathered one half (600,000 of the 1.2 million) of the signatures they plan to turn in to the Secretary of State, they have suffered a recent setback. The California Business Roundtable has voted unanimously to oppose the recall effort.

For an update on the recall effort look here: http://www.recallgraydavis.com/.

I don’t agree with the Republicans who fear this effort might have an adverse effect on Bush’s Presidential campaign. Also, it’s just fun to see a liberal Democrat bludgeoned with a Progressive era tool, the recall.

Bill Moyers Bellowing

The Nation--which for those who are not quite in the know is not exactly just another liberal mag, it is distinctly and proudly left wing or progressive--runs this piece on a talk Bill Moyers (of PBS fame) gave to a group of one thousand liberals in DC. It is a remarkable document that is worth reading in full. Among other things, Moyers goes way over the top, by saying of the Bush administration and its allies in Congress (i.e., Republicans) that they are trying to bankrupt the government and are tearing apart "the social contract": "I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America." Just giving it a benefit-of-the-doubt reading this means at the minimum that anyone who doesn’t believe in the centralized welfare state as established by FDR and LBJ is actually trying to destroy the United States of America is nuts enough....But James Taranto has some more to say on the subject and he is being more direct than I am. Do read his few paragraphs. I think this is serious yawping and needs to be payed attention to because it doesn’t come from the mouth of some (on the face of it) weirdo, but rather an elegantly dressed man who used to work for LBJ and has made millions off us in public broadcasting, and someone who has always protrayed himself as an ordinary liberal or even a moderate. Well, he is a kook, it turns out, and I wonder how many supporters he has.

Home Made Cruise Missile

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports on the cruise missile a fellow in New Zealand built in his backyard, just to prove he can do it. He bought most of the stuff off e-Bay, and is spending under $5,000. He keeps the authorities fully informed, in fact even has a web site called Interestingprojects in which he keeps the reader informed on a weekly basis how the building is going. He says that he likes to think of his project as the military version of "Junkyard Wars." Needless to say, this is interesting.    

Saddam’s Executioners

A newly discovered mass grave indicates thatSaddam was executing people just three days before the war started.

Goldberg’s Commencent Address

Jonah Goldberg gave his first commencement address, at the Hillsdale Academy in Michigan. Pretty funny. Worth a read. I thought about putting up my first high commencement address that I gave a week or so ago to St. Peter’s High School (in Mansfield)--my daughter Becky was in the graduating class--but it really was prosaic compared to Jonah’s, so I will not put it up. I just told the graduates to go out there and love unto exhaustion, work unto exhaustion, and walk unto exhaustion.

Lyndon LaRouche and the Neo-Con Conspiracy

Robert Bartley reveals that the hub-bub surrounding the Neo-Con, Straussian conspiracy in the popular press originated in the anti-Jewish fever swamps of the Lyndon LaRouche 2004 Presidential campaign.

Here are two paragraphs from Bartley’s column:

"Just weeks after the LaRouche in 2004 campaign began nationwide circulation of 400,000 copies of the Children of Satan dossier, exposing the role of University of Chicago fascist ’philosopher’ Leo Strauss as the godfather of the neo-conservative war party in and around the Bush Administration, two major establishment publications have joined the exposé."

So brags an article under the byline Jeffrey Steinberg on Executive Intelligence Review, a Web site devoted to the perennial presidential campaign of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. This time around, Mr. LaRouche is running on a platform equating the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon with the 1933 Reichstag fire, set by Nazis so they could blame the Communists and take over the German government.

With sources like these, no wonder the ’New York Times’ is doing so well.

Tonga Crisis

The nobles of Tonga (the only monarchy in the Pacific) are resisting democratization and, according to a senior New Zealand diplomat, the country is facing armed conflict. China may be involved. Here is the CIA Factbook on Tonga.

Clinton tried to save Howell Raines

It is interesting to note that Bill Clinton tried to save Howell Raines from being fired. The story could have more depth to it, and is even misleading in some ways--implying that Clinton and Raines had profound disagreements--when in fact Raines was basically a mouth-piece for Clintonistas (and Demos) generally. (via Andrewsullivan)

Daniel Pearl and Terror

Cinderellabloggerfella has an interview with Bernard-Henry Levy about his recent book Who Killed Daniel Pearl. Worth reading for many reasons, not the least of which is Levy’s insights into the terror network. (via AndrewSullivan)

European Union, problems

As Poland votes overwhelmingly to join the European Union, the United Kingdom announces that it wants to postpone the decision about joining with Europe on a single currency. It is no wonder that they have postponed this, given the remarks of a former Bundesbank Director.

"Germany is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades. We are in bad shape and euro membership has played a major role in limiting our policy-making room for manoeuvre."

"The present euro zone structure is devastating for Germany. Our economy is bleeding. And I am convinced the UK would be crazy to join - you should stay out for as long as I can foresee."

The Iraqi Most Wanted, playing cards

I stopped at a local gas station this morning and noticed that, right next to the "US Marine Corps" cigarette lighters, there was one box of "Iraqi Most Wanted" playing cards (made in Taiwan). I asked the guy how they were selling (I resisted the temptation to buy one) and he said that they sold well and he only had a few left. Then I spot this article in The New York Times (the Business Section) about how the selling of these cards was conducted and marketed on the internet: "Just as the Iraqi war showed off the power and speed of America’s high-tech weapons, the marketing of the Iraqi cards showed the ability of the Internet and e-mail to promote a product with overwhelming force." Good story of how a million decks of cards was sold within one month, without any plans to do so. The dark side of the story has to do with spam, which is how it started. 

Bloggers and the New York Times Crisis

The LA Times runs this story on how bloggers started and ran with Jason Blair issue (and other NY Times matters); while the Times emphasizes Jim Romenesko (here is his site) as I have already mentioned I think that Sullivan himself had more to do with it than anyone else (but others need to be mentioned as well, e.g., Instapundit).

Mauritania

While I know that there are a lot of other crises in Africa, the one in Mauritania (North of Senegal and South of Morocco) is just different enough from the more ordinary (and no more or less horrible, I admit) to merit mention. It is an attempted coup against President Maya--here is the most current Reuters report on it--but seem to be wrapped up in how Maya, although a devout Muslim, became both an anti-Saddam guy and anti terrorist (post 9/11) and even pro-Israel; in other words, he is pro-Western. The latest chaos seems to be the result of his crackdown on extermist Islamic elements after we went into Iraq. Apparently the crackdown was not popular. Here is the CIA Factbook (written in January, 2003) on Muritania.

Music and World War I

This is an interesting review of a book, "A Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War," which the reviewer claims is a scholarly and dramatic analysis of the "cultural-political roles that music played in Europe and America before, during and after World War I." I haven’t read the book.

Baghdad Museum Looting

The Washington Post reports that "of the 8,000 items considered the most precious by archaeologists, only 47 are still missing." And here is more.

Gray Davis Recall Drive

Robert Novak reports that "The movement to replace just re-elected Democrat Gray Davis as governor of California is beginning to look like a runaway train with nobody at the controls."
I do not, surprise, like Gray Davis, but I have always thought that this recall is a bad idea both inprinciple (it’s one thing to try to remove a governor because he is corrupt, etc. and another to remove him through a recall just because you don’t like him; that’s what elections are for) and not in the interest of the GOP (why not let him take complete responsibility for the fiscal chaos, etc.) and then run against his programs and record in 2004 and win. Also, then you might also help Bush get California back for the Republicans. So, if you remove him now and elect a Republican (which I admit is possible) then he will take at least a part of the heat in 2004. Wrong and follish politics.

Cannibalism in North Korea?

Cannibalism, according to the Daily Telegraph, is "increasing" in North Korea. Horrible. A few paragraphs:

Aid agencies are alarmed by refugees’ reports that children have been killed and corpses cut up by people desperate for food. Requests by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to be allowed access to "farmers’ markets", where human meat is said to be traded, have been turned down by Pyongyang, citing "security reasons".

Anyone caught selling human meat faces execution, but in a report compiled by the North Korean Refugees Assistance Fund (NKRAF), one refugee said: "Pieces of ’special’ meat are displayed on straw mats for sale. People know where they came from, but they don’t talk about it."

Impeachable Offense?

John W. Dean, remember him, of Watergate fame? now surmises that if the President lied about WMD in Iraq it is an impeachable offense. I saw the Democrat Howard Dean trying to get traction in Iowa for his presidential run say that this is one of those critical political turning points that demanded that "what did he know and when did he know it" question be asked. Such points, such modes of political rhetoric, are, of course, either silly or mischevious.

Although I have followed this essentially inside-the-beltway dispute a little bit (a dispute essentially about intelligence gathering, then about whether or not it is worth going into Iraq, and then whether or not that will help with the war on terrorism, and then will Saddam’s demise help with a better and more lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians, then to a full blown--still an inside the beltway thing, though--political issue that is being used by Demo presidetial candidates, to an amazing media hype) I have now decided that all this is no longer worthy of serious consideration. Apparently, so have the American people. What people forget in doing this kind of "inside" politics is that if the issue they are pushing doesn’t resonate with the American people, it just turns into petty politics pursued for petty inside-the-bureaucracy reasons. No citizen is interested in such matters. They were also not interested in the US being blamed for the asserted and unproven mass looting that was supposed to have taken place of the museum in Baghdad (that proved to be all wrong, and CNN is still only is barely able to admit it).

What citizens are interested in is making sure that bad guys don’t attack us any more, and that our national interests are doggedly pursued. Now, it goes without saying that we can have disputes about what those national interests are. It is arguably the case (and although open to it at the time, I respectfully disagreed) that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. But that kind of argument is different; it is not an "inside" argument, it is a "public" argument, a civic argument, unlike the current "where is the smoking-gun WMD" crap.

The "inside" argument cannot have any standing in public--I don’t care how hard ABC news and CNN and Howard Dean work on it--when mass graves continue to be found in Iraq, when the whole mid-East is moving in a more sensible and moderate direction, when it looks as though changing the regime in Iraq was both the right thing to do and also in our interest.

Take a look at this op-ed by Robert Kagan and this long blog by Glenn Reynolds and follow his references.

Hillary at WalMart?!?!

Much has been made of Hillary moving to the right (supporting Bush on Iraq, etc) to enhance her viability as a national candidate. The surest sign yet is that her first book signing will be at a Walmart in Fairfax, Virginia, on Wednesday.

Walmart? In Fairfax, Virginia?? (Fairfax is a Republican stronghold in suburban DC.)

When I first heard an ad for this appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show on Friday I was sure it was one of Rush’s satire public service announcements. But no: It’s true.

I’m guessing it will be a low turnout event.