The question as I see it is not whether or not we should “smash up Iraq.” We should do what advances our well-being. At the moment, getting at the terrorists is more important for our well-being than smashing up Iraq. Smashing up Iraq will not stop terrorist attacks now or in the future, even those with weapons of mass destruction. It might teach a lesson to other countries, but I believe the fate of the Taliban has done that. As far as I know, none of the countries that Steve mentions is supporting terrorism against the United States. On the contrary some of them are working (at least somewhat) with us against our common enemy, violent Islamists. Individuals in those countries, especially Saudi Arabia, may be sending money to terrorists or the institutions that nurture those who eventually become suicide bombers but, since these people don’t keep their money in those countries, smashing them will not necessarily stop the flow of money to the terrorists.
As for smashing countries in the Middle East, let Iraq serve as an example. We invade Iraq and take control. Then what do we do? If we pull out, who will keep control? Does anyone believe that the Iraqi opposition will be able to function as a government? Will the Europeans be up to it? The Turks could probably do it but it would not be pretty, since they would be likely to focus on a final solution to their Kurdish problem. Iran of course has geopolitical and religious interests in Iraq. Do we want the Iranians stepping in to the vacuum our departure creates? Anyone want the UN to take over? If we pull out, chaos is one likely result. If Afghanistan as a lawless home to anti-American Islamists turned into a big problem, Iraq post Saddam could be much worse. And if we stay? Do we want to occupy Iraq? That will create even more anti-American sentiment. The problem with this is that we need the cooperation of lots of countries around the world to handle al Qaeda (AQ). Creating mass anti-American sentiment in the Arab world is what AQ has been trying to do. Why should we help?
Saddam’s weapons are a serious problem, so serious that we may have to do whatever is necessary to take control of them. We should recognize, however, that doing so through military force is likely to create problems just as serious as those we would be trying to take care of.
The above of course is based on my typically pessimistic view of the world. Everything might work out. Post Saddam Iraq might quickly turn into a liberal democracy and start a chain reaction of liberal democratizing throughout the Arab world. Remember the effect of WWII on Germany and Japan? I think this happy outcome is unlikely. The Middle East today has almost nothing in common with Germany and Japan before WWII.
As for a strategy, I would suggest the following. First, we should recognize that we cannot exterminate Wahhabism, which is an idea. (Even if we could, it is not the only form of violent anti-American Islamic thought in the world.) We did not exterminate Marxism. It collapsed of its own contradictions. (Would the disappearance of the current Saudi regime have the same effect on Wahhabism that the collapse of the Soviet Union had on Marxism?) The same fate may overtake Wahhabism. In fact, in Egypt, where much of the Islamist (but not Wahabbist) thinking started, there are signs that people are turning away from violent Islamic views. Our strategy should encourage this. We should isolate the violent hard core, attack them (kill or capture them, whichever best serves our interests), strangle those that remain by depriving them of resources and develop some hedges in case isolating, attacking and strangling does not work or, which is likely, work completely.
To go back to the beginning, I believe there is a good chance that invading Iraq will work against isolating the hard core.
Note on this WaPo report on the Mombassa bombing the following paragraph:
Kenyans in the village this evening said the carnage would deliver a devastating blow to their already
weak economy. It is unfair, they complained, that innocent Kenyans would again have to die for causes
they had nothing to do with. Then they started shouting against Arabs, some of whom have settled here
and own stores in the city: "We love America," they yelled. "Go away al Qaeda."
This is pretty cool. A two-way radio (works for about a mile and a half) and a watch. About a hundred bucks a pair.
This is a short Reuters report explaining that the files of Guy Liddell, head of MI5’s counter-espionage branch, have been opened by the Public Records Office and he is recorded as having suggested to Stewart Menzies in August of 1944, head of MI6, that they should threaten Hitler with the use of nuclear weapons in case Hitler used V-2.
David Tucker writes: "I don’t think there is any necessary connection between the geopolitics of the Middle East and the terrorism problem, nor do I think we can rearrange the Middle East to our advantage."
Ordinarily I defer to Davids views based on his having had more foreign experience than me, but I am going to need to have this point explained more fully. It has struck me that smashing Iraq was a wholly appropriate next step in the war on terrorism after Afghanistan, and if we have to go through the charade of inspections to gain some measure of international legitimacy, then fine. The problem as I see it is that we arent willing to implicate Iraq directly in terrorism either because the evidence is circumstantial, or because a direct case against Iraq would be no less compelling against Iran, Syria, Libya, and probably Saudi Arabia as well. And so we are peddling the "weapons of mass destruction" line as a bit of a fig leaf to cover for the implications of policy that we arent yet ready to face. Yet, smashing up Iraq would convey a salutary lesson and warning to those other states.
David may be right that we cant rearrange the Middle East to our advantage, but it is large question that I understand is being contemplated around Washington these days. Does the difficulty of rearranging the Middle East stem from our own limitations (political, military and otherwise) as a reluctant imperial power, or from the inherent primitiveness of the region? And if we dont restructure the region in an aggressive way, what grand strategy does Tucker recommend? It seems to me that Wahhabism needs to be not merely contained, but exterminated. It would be nice if Iraq and Saudi Arabia would turn into Turkey, but didnt Turkey turn into Turkey because of involvement in a Western war?
He was born on November 30, 1874. He said: "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place to live in after we are gone?" He lived well, and we should be grateful. Here is a good piece that Pat Garrity wrote a few years back for his 125th birthday, and one I wrote on the thirty fifth anniversary of his death.
Apparently Mark Steyn has his own site. It would seem to be easier to find his hard-hitting articles this way.
You’ve got the hand it to the U.N. They really know how to find the right people for the job. From today’s Washington Post (p. A18):
"Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix rejected yesterday a resignation tendered by one of his Iraq-bound inspectors after reports appeared that the Virginia man lacked a specialized degree and has played a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs." (My italics.)
It gets better.
"Harvey John ’Jack’ McGeorge. . . founded, and has been an officer in, several sadomasochistic sex groups, through which he has taught courses on ’sex slaves’ and various techniques involving knives, ropes, and choking devices. . . McGeorge is a co-founder of Black Rose, a Washington-area S&M club, and a former officer in the Leather Leadership Conference." The story adds that McGeorge was recommended to the U.N. by our State Department. (What was that about people in striped pants??)
Iraqi camels are nervous tonight.
Bob Novak reports that the Democratic Leadership Council (Al Fromm and Bruce Reed) are warning that if the Demo Party moves left they will suffer huge losses in 2004. They attack the Judis-Tixeria thesis, and claim that a continual appeal to the Demo base will not cut it, the Demo base is not large enough. They’re right.
This is interesting in a kind archeological way. According to an article in the WaPo there is a childrens book writer in Luxembourg who has started writing in Letzebuergesch (or, Luxembourgish). This country of a half a million apparently needs a patriotic shot in the arm (more than a third of its residents are foreign born) so some are now writing for the first time in this off-shoot of German. Up until now this obscure language has only been used for oral communication. It had been assumed that the language is not sophisticated enough for the subtleties necessary in written expressions. Some claim otherwise. Here is short intro to the language , if you have nothing better to do.
Were back from Arnns place. Had a great Thanksgiving. The first thing I notice on returning was this article from the London Independent on the possibility of transplanting a face from a dead person to a living person. The report is from the meeting of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons. It is shocking. Yet, we should be prepared for more such shocks.
I think the Bush administration is pursuing the right strategy. Going after the terrorist organizations is more important than going after Iraq’s weapons with military force. The terrorists pose the more immediate threat. Going after Iraq’s weapons with military force is likely to make it harder to get the terrorist organizations. It may discourage cooperation with us in key countries. DoD has limited resources in certain critical areas (among them SOF) and will find it hard to fight both Iraq and the terrorists. Using the UN increases the willingness of people to cooperate with us. Cooperation is critical for success against the terrorists. Getting that cooperation comes at a price, so we have to weigh what we gain from seeking it against what we lose. I think the administration made the right call.
I would also guess that the disclosure report due on December 8 and our response will be only the first steps in a long process that may lead to the use of military force against Iraq. The inspection process will have to unfold; we won’t be able to hurry it much. I doubt that we will attack Iraq if the inspectors are still there and we cannot order them to leave. But having them there and snooping around is a gain and one that supports the more important task of dealing with the terrorists.
I believe that most of those in and outside the administration who would prefer to deal with Iraq now do so because they think that rearranging the geopolitics of the Middle East is necessary and perhaps even sufficient to deal with the terrorism problem and taking care of Iraq is the first step in this geopolitical rearranging. I don’t think there is any necessary connection between the geopolitics of the Middle East and the terrorism problem, nor do I think we can rearrange the Middle East to our advantage.
In light of the liberals new attacks on FOX news, etc., perhaps it is worth referring to the piece I wrote about Fox News for On Principle juts this last summer, which can be found here .
Im off to Jackson,Mississippi, so my next blog will be spelled with a southern drawl caused by my change in latitude and by the numerous bottles of wine which await me. Happy Thanksgiving.
This is a lovely story. I dont know anything about the writer. He is a novelist, by his own understanding a volvo-driving liberal disengaged from real life and America. His son joined the Marine Corps. First he was shocked and then he learned from his son (and the Corps) what America was about. You will not regret reading it. Ill be back on late Friday. Happy Thanksgiving.
Note that this AP dispatch on the appointment of Henry Kissinger just has to mention that Kissinger is not only a controversisal figure,
"But he has also been called a war criminal by his
harshest critics, for the role he played in Vietnam and other hot spots,
working at times with corrupt governments in pursuit of U.S. interests." AP ought to be ashamed of itself.
Vicki and I are going up to Hillsdale for Thanksgiving. Arnn and his flock have guaranteed that well have turducken, so how could we resist! Yet, with the whole Arnn and Schramm families at one table, it will be an unquiet meal. No doubt Ill have to listen to the brats braying, women clucking, and college presidents speaking in that ever-so-important-hushed tones that will do nothing to stir my blood; I just hope that it doesnt make for ill digestions.
I likewise have doubts about the inspections. My understanding is that they are starting at the sites where they left off when they were kicked out by Hussein. That seems like just the wrong strategy. You know that there is going to be nothing there, because Hussein already knows the site is under suspicion. Why not try a site that you haven’t previously inspected?
My sense is that Bush’s real strategy hinges on the December 8 disclosure deadline, when Hussein has to show his cards about whatever weapons of mass destruction he has. There is reason to believe that we and the Brits have intel about Husseins holdings already, that Hussein will lie, and that we will then strike. The task of eliminating the weapons is complicated because the UN inspectors are likely to emerge with white-gloves still Clorox clean, but if the intel exists, Bush should be able to make the case for those who are willing to listen. As for why he hasn’t revealed more details previously: my sense is that the administration doesn’t want to telegraph what it knows so that Hussein can play three-card monte with anthrax. Better to reveal the sites after they are destroyed.
In honor of R.J.’s blog about bagging his own holiday bird, I offer today’s story from the Opinion Journal, in which Brendan Miniter recounts his turkey hunting tradition. Who knew that turkeys were so tough to hunt? The admonition in the article regarding the necessity of a head shot was eerily reminiscent of G. Gordon Liddy. No word yet on whether Miniter finished the job by hunting a duck and a chicken.
I agree that Phil Gramm has done good for the Republic, and while he has earned the right to return to reading good books and to make the sort of money he deserves, I like many are having trouble watching Phil step off the public stage. I therefore have a modest proposal: Gramm for Treasury Secretary. It is well-known beltway gossip that O’Neill’s days are numbered. We therefore need a replacement who is going to be respected on fiscal matters. But we also need someone who will bring in the bona fides on homeland security. While there will inevitably be some power-shifts to the newly-established Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department currently has a leading role in the war on terror--namely, seizing the assets of terrorist organizations. Phil Gramm has the finance background and foreign policy experience from his years in the Senate to tackle this difficult task. So while I wish Phil a prosperous retirement from the Senate, the country may yet need him--now more than ever.
David Frum reflects on the lack of real freedom in Canada (property, contract) and has a modest proposal for some constitutional amendments.
This Jay Nordlinger piece was published a year ago when Gramm announced his retirement. It is a fine piece about one of the most thoughtful Senators, and since this was his last month in office, it is worth re-reading. I used to know Gramm in the seventies when he was just a professor (the only thing he said he ever wanted to become). He was the most thoughtful economist around, because he wasnt simply an economist. That is not to say that his understanding of the American regime was perfect, but his understanding was the result of his own efforts, of his own powerful mind. Well done, Phil. You have done some good work for the Republic. Now relax and go read some more books.
Richard Epstein offers a thoughtful, libertarians-eye view of Rawls and his work on NRO today.
Scientists are considering creating a hybrid (or technically, a chimera) formed from mouse and human cells to be used as a host to test embryonic stem cells. Scientists are generally bad at considerations that touch on philosophy or ethics, so the following should give readers reason to pause:
Dr. Irving L. Weissman, an expert on stem cells at Stanford University, said that making mice with human cells could be "an enormously important experiment," but if conducted carelessly could lead to outcomes that are "too horrible to contemplate." He gave as an extreme example the possibility that a mouse making human sperm might accidentally be allowed to mate with a mouse that had made its eggs from human cells
Of course, there are other views. Take that of Dr. Fred Gage, who suggests "that the question of making mice with human cells deserved further consideration and that scientists and the public ’should listen to each other more’ before reaching a conclusion to go ahead. . . . The earlier the mice were killed the smaller would be the ethical issue, in his view."
I am actually wondering what in the world is going on. First Daschle, now Gore. Haven’t these guys heard of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc? Pay attention to Gore’s words; they must have been carefully selected. Especially note his use of the term "fifth column." It is possible that Gore is not serious, that he’s just ticked off because his books are not selling and his poll numbers look bad. This is what is called whining.
"The media is kind of weird these days on
politics, and there are some major
institutional voices that are, truthfully
speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr.
Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network,
The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of
them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political
deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the
media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their
ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the
definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."
Based on my duplicate Kelly blog, I see that Schramm is running three minutes ahead of me today. If this keeps up, I may ask him to finish the Motion for Summary Judgment that Im currently drafting.
Yasser Arafats deputy says that the armed uprising against Israel was a mistake. He says they lost much, and gained very little. Its from The Jerusalem Post.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, or if you prefer, turducken day, Michael Kelly offers a few things for which he and indeed all of us should be thankful. Its worth a quote:
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that . . . all the other deep and subtle and clever people of the Clinton White House, and all the thoughts they thought, and all the damage they wrought, are history.
I am thankful that we live in reality again. Or, to be more precise, I am thankful that we live in a reality defined by the actual consequences of policies, rather than what columnists and correspondents and editors can be gulled into thinking are consequences -- gulled at least for long enough to skate through that days news cycle and this seasons electoral cycle.
He also takes aim at those who suggest that Bushs foreign policy successes are merely accidents of history, rather than corrections of accidents. Worth a read.
This is a nice piece by Michael Kelly . He is thankful that the Clinton administration is no longer running our Iraq policy. Ditto.
Peter queries why Saudi criticsm seems to be cresting now. Well, the facts are perhaps overcoming years of careful work on the part of that regime here in the US (and not just in Foggy Bottom). Stubbornly, some still resist -- see the exchange between Cliff May and Bob Novak posted on NROs Corner yesterday. "Blame Israel First" only goes so far, and cant, for instance, explain away the Saudi visa scandal or the emerging money trail story. How long can Mr. Prince of Darkness retain what credibility he has?
I know that much needs to be said about the latest revelations about the flow of Saudi money to bad guys. For now, note this Frank Gaffney piece that recounts the many other problems that have surfaced in the past even though most have been ignored (at least publicly). I suspect that this is now changing. An interesting question is why now, why not a year ago, why not next year?
According to this BBC report a study recently conducted by some Ohio State scientists shows that there is a real danger of the internet collapsing as a result of some strategic attacks on certain major nodes. They apparently argue that it has become progressively more vulnerable, as it has become more commercialized and centralized.
Our problem is solved. The United Arab Emirates just held its first annual camel beauty pageant. There were $27,000 worth of prizes and trophies.
"The aim is to mark the respect and love the
UAE have for the camel," member of the UAE’s
National Federal Council Faraj bin Hamouda told
the Khaleej Times newspaper.
I refrain from further comment.
Steve Hayward has taken note of a trend, demonstrated by John Maddens telestrator homage to the turducken. But it doesnt stop there. Maddens web page leads off with the headline: "Time for Some Turducken." While some love him and some hate him for his use of the telestrator, few who look at Madden can honestly question the fact that he obviously knows his vittles. So bring on the football, and the turducken.
I resisted making comments on a subject that would get a fatwa issued against NLT, but recent comments about Muhammed’s wives, if not the references to the spicy sausage filled turducken, have probably sealed that fate, so I feel free to muse. The multiculturalist types who would have a hard time explaining away the fatwa against the journalist are likely the same folks who seek mandatory public funding for works of art like "Piss Christ," the infamous exhibit featuring a cross floating in a jar of urine. You see, the artist simply has a different perspective from the hegemonic and oppressive WASP culture which defines bourgeous American existence. For these souls, America is an oppressive regime because there are those who believe that public funds should not be expended for this sort of alleged art. Far better the regimes of, say, Nigeria. Imagine, if you will, if someone would offer "Piss Muhammed" in one of these countries. I will go out on a limb and say that public funding would not be the question of the day upon such an offering. Indeed, the immolation and fatwas would make what we’ve seen in recent days look like a beauty pageant by comparison.
What in the world is going on? I mean, really. The dark ages here we come. This is preposterous. Some Nigerian state official has issued a fatwa against the journalist who wrote that Muhammed might want to have one those beauties for a wife (Why not all of them, was my question when I first heard of this?). He wants the journalist dead for having insulted the prophet. How do multi-culturalists address something like this, by the way? Maybe we should keep talking about turducken.
Well, sometimes things work out OK This BBC story explains that Churchill was voted the greatest Briton ever. Diana came in third(?). Whatever happened to Shakespeare, by the way? To paraprhase the old man, maybe Britain has a future because it hasnt forgotten its past. By the way, his birthday is just a few days away, November 30th.
Today’s WaPo runs a long article on the Landrieu campaign. It is actually a good read because it clearly shows that she is desperate, tired, and whatever enthusiasm she has for the campaign is an artifice. She is clearly irritated that she has to do this; whatever happened to the divine right of senators? Also note that there are no out of state Demos coming in to campaign for her, no Daschle, no Clinton, no Kennedy (oh, that would really do her in!); this is significant and is a bad sign for the Demos for the elections in 2004. Since this is (according to Alt) my 301st blog I better make a prediction: Ladrieu will lose, she won’t get more than 47% of the vote. Keep track, Alt.
For those of you keeping count at home, Schramm offered his 300th blog this morning, which, given the relatively infancy of NLT, means that he produces a new blog about every 27 seconds! Other interesting statistics: 20% of his blogs contain references to "turducken;" 40% contain predictions; the remaining 40% explain why his predictions were right, and suggest that Hayward and I were spineless cowards for not reaching the conclusion.
I actually appreciated Haywards note on the Gore book. I didnt know how the publishers worked this. It makes perfect sense. And he is right in saying that this means that Gores book is not selling at all. Good.
The fact that Gores book is languishing on the best-seller list is a sign that it is a total bomb. It is a fairly easy matter for major publishers to juice a book in ways that push it up the best-seller list even when few real people are buying it. (You place large ghost orders with book chains that are later cancelled, send out lots of inventory to distributors even if you know most will be returned, etc.) The fact that it is only No. 21 on the best-seller list tells me that almost no real people are buying the book. Look for it on the remainder table at CostCo for about $1 within weeks. The publisher is certain to take a financial bath on the book; it will not earn back Gores advance and printing costs. . .
Now, can we get back to arguing about truly important matters, like turducken?
Notwithstanding Schramm’s recent stance against polling, I thought he might find these new numbers of interest. A recent New York Times/CBS News Poll finds that respondents viewed Gore unfavorably by a margin of 2-to-1. The GOP is viewed favorably, while nearly half the respondents viewed the Democratic Party unfavorably. Of course, the Times attempts to put their spin on the numbers by saying that "[t]hose polled did not appear to be particularly happy about how the election turned out." In reality, 37 percent stated that they were pleased, while 26 percent said they were disappointed. Given a presumption of an equally divided two party system, the numbers suggest that voters are pleased.
The New York Times conceded today that the economy grew faster than forecasted in the third quarter. This might explain why Democratic opposition to the Bush economic plan did not have public resonance in the last election.
I taped the Reagan special that was on the History Channel last night, and may get a chance to watch it one of these days. Any one else see it? Reviews?
In light of Rawls’s passing, it is appropriate to re-examine his influential book A Theory of Justice. Perhaps the best essay (critique) on the subject is in Allan Bloom’s Giants and Dwarfs. A must read for anyone who is going to law school--particularly if there is any risk that you will run into Martha Nussbaum.
There seems to be some disappointment (and surprise) that the Gores’ book is only number 21 on the best-selling list. Huge publicity, on every talk show, etc., and still nothing. Does this tell us anything? Is this like a good opinion poll? Is it more scientific, even? In the meantime, a new poll shows Bush holding steady at 65%.
Peter Berkowitz reports in The Weekly Standard about a new translation of The Federalist into Hebrew and a conference (with 600 in attendance!) on the book and its relevance to Israel. It is great to re-invigorate a conversation about the nature of self-government and constitutionalism by using this great American work. I wonder if there is an Arabic translation? Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a conference in Iraq, Iran, or Syria?
John Madden has just endorsed turducken on Monday Night Football, and even demonstrated how to carve turducken properly with his telestrater. This is bad.
They made it out of Nigeria, landed in London, only to be verbally abused by Germaine Greer, Glenda Jackson, and other feminists. One of the feminists said that if they go ahead with their pageant, the contestants "will be wearing swimwear dripping
with blood." Another said that the contest was "like a cargo of nuclear waste shunned by all."
In the meantime, to get a bit of a perspective on both Nigeria (on the verge of civil war) and why Islamism is not driven by opposition to U.S. policy on Israel, read this piece by Paul Marshall.
Roll Call reports that Rep. Lucas, a conservative Kentucky Democrat who only won by 51-47 on November 5 (and Bush got 60% in his district in 2000) may make a decision even as early as today about switching parties. He has been talking with Dennis Hastert. He may lose the next election if Sen. McConnels former chief of staff runs against him. Thanks to Power Line for the heads up.
The fur is flying at Brooklyn College over the administration’s denial of tenure to Robert David Johnson, a young professor of U.S. diplomatic history. Although he has an impressive record of scholarship (two books published by Harvard University Press, and he’s only in his mid-30s), and is a highly popular teacher, there are apparently concerns about his "collegiality." According to one source at the college, Johnson has "alienated practically everybody, no matter what political orientation, whether left-wing, right-wing, or no wing."
However, the local chapter of the National Association of Scholars smells a rat. According to them, Johnson’s trouble stems from his public questioning of Brooklyn Colleges affirmative action policies, and his objection to a "teach-in" on the war on terrorism that included not a single defender of U.S. or Israeli foreign policy. The full story is documented here.
As a side note, I’ve met Johnson personally, and he’s no conservative. However, his scholarship is top-notch; indeed, twenty-four leading historians of all political stripes have issued a public protest over the denial of tenure.
I am sorry about this tiger-footed rage after the game; I wonder what would have happened if Michigan had scored on the last play! Alt is right, I wasnt in Columbus. But my son Joe was. I asked him if he had been involved, he said no, he had actually fallen asleep at a friends house. Too tired, he said; hes been working too hard. You decide.
Alt is right that I’m right. Landrieu is finished, and I’m willing to bet a turducken on that! Her comments that Robert refers to indicate her desperation. See this article from the Times-Picayune explaining how each candidate will or will not support the Bush agenda. Terrell is almost entirely supportive, and Landrieu balks at many. Jesse Jackson has now endorsed Landrieu, in an attempt to get the black vote out. This is the best Landrieu can do, but it will not be enough. Bush is more popular in the state than she is, and he will be there a few days before the election; she will lose.
The bad news is that Buckeye fans did not resist the temptation to commit acts of vandalism after the Buckeyes victory over Michigan. The good news is that based on the time of his blogging and police photographs at the scene, we can pretty clearly rule Schramm out as a suspect.
The Times-Picayune reports that Landrieu offered these words to opponent Suzanne Haik Terrell after their last debate: "This will be your last campaign." Terrell took it as a threat, while Landrieu said that she meant that Terrell would not be a viable candidate after this run. Either way, the personal nature of the attacks, and the shrill tone of the campaign suggest a candidate who can see victory slipping away. Looks like Schramm may have been prescient once again.
Michael Ledeen argues that Iran is teetering on the brink of chaos. He notes that almost no press is given to some amazing developments; over half a million marched in Tehran (and many other cities had large demonstrations) last Friday and it is estimated that over half were women. In some cities it is not clear who is in charge. That interesting things are happening it seems to me is true, that doesn’t mean, however, that Ledeen is right to say that we must act right now to overthrow these bad guys. Note this NY Times report on an alliance of sorts we have with an Iraqi Shiite now living in Tehran. It’s complicated.
Is anyone working in France today? Reuters reports that the truck drivers are striking and have formed blockades, the air traffic controllers are striking this evening, causing airlines to cancel flights, and tomorrow tens of thousands of railway workers "and other state employees" are scheduled to march in opposition to the great enemy of privatization. Its good to see that it is business as usual in France. Speaking of striking air traffic controllers--as I recall, Reagan had a solution for that.
WaPo has an interesting article about how consumers are not upgrading their computers as quickly as they once did. It seems that computers have reached a level where the operating systems that are a few years old are able to do the basic web surfing and email applications which consumers desire. Ah, for the good old days, when you left the store only to find your model obsolete and selling for hundreds less in a matter of weeks if not hours.
The Washington Post editorial page yesterday concluded that the Leahy judiciary committee and the Hatch judiciary committee operated similarly in an editorial entitled "War Over Judges." They point to the fact that 100 judges were confirmed by these committees respectively. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that Leahys judiciary committee voted on party lines against two candidates for the circuit court based upon trumped up accusations of ideological unfitness.
Given the numeric similarities, the Post concludes that the problem facing judicial confirmation process is systemic. The good news is that they recommend adopting something like Bushs proposal to streamline judicial nominations. But then they take a play from E.J. Dionne, and the New York Times, and Ralph Neas (thus, the intellectual clone reference), and say that Bush needs to show "some flexibility on nominations to key courts." What, you mean like the flexibility that Clinton demonstrated with liberal Justices Ginsburg and Breyer? The Post is correct in noting that the system has not been operating properly, but the solution is not to force the President to abdicate his responsibility in judicial selection. Quite frankly, no one believes that the groups wailing for consensus judges would be doing so if the President were a Republican and the Congress were Democratic. That said, the closely divided nature of the Senate has caused the president to choose judges who are undeniably qualified and around whom reasonable consensus may be built. Perhaps it is time that the opposition groups realized this, and made some concessions of their own.
If you are a Democrat this piece will make you even more despondent. No real new information in this, yet it makes the Demos national prospects look very bleak indeed. And this, by James Traub, analyzes the effect that Clinton had on his party: not as clear as the effect that Reagan had on his. Indeed, he argues that Clinton’s masterful tergiversations--a "serial redefiner" is what Traub calls Clinton--is what has put the Demos in their current fix; Clinton’s "protean" ways allowed the Demos to play good defense against GOP ideological and electoral dominance, but without lasting value. Traub’s short piece leads more directly into the possibility of talking once again about a Republican realignment.
"The Tax Song" is a number one hit in Germany. It ridicules Schroeder for jettisoning his campaign vows just weeks after the election. Very funny article, a must read. Schroeder is not amused. Good. He is becoming like Daschle.
Here is a short guide to how well Bush has done on his European trip. (Thanks to Powerline). The only thing I will add to it are two points: One the (former) East Europeans are more pro-American than the West and that will be useful in the long run. It will also mean that whatever foreign policy EU will have (which by definition is squishy), it will have to be relegated to a secondary status to the foreign/military policy of NATO (which is less squishy). Two, all this is done without ticking Russia off; this doesn’t mean that there will be no Russia complications in the future, but that is distant; and this will do for now. This is also good for Russia, they can get their (smaller) house in order and talk less about ruling those petty little Baltic states, etc. And, the Cowboy wore his boots for much of the trip.
In Bucharest--in the same square in which Ceausescu had to be lifted to safety from the roof of the Communist Party heaquarters by a helicopter (three days later he was excecuted) in December of 1989 because the people were going to lynch him--Bush said this: "Your country also brings moral clarity to our NATO Alliance. You value freedom because you have lived without it. You know the difference between good and evil, because you have seen the face of evil." This is Cowboy talk, and the ten thousand plus in Revolutionary Square understood exactly what he meant.
By the way, there is a fairly good restaurant just off the square. It was, natch, intended for the Party elite, but by the time I got there--three months after Ceausescu’s death--it had become more open. So we talked about republican government and the connection between food and politics over fair Romanian wine and bear meat.
This is an op-ed by Tom Gibson (in the Denver Post) that is worth reading. It is not rocket science, but it is one of those rare instances when a public argument is made against polling (he calls it a fraud). I think he is right. And I think we ought to have some conversations on these matters. Polling has a bad effect on both politics and the coverage of politics (aside from the fact that they are not to be trusted) and therefore on how citizens understand politics. Any opinions and/or articles on these matters would be appreciated.
George Will is ready to talk about politics from 2004 and on. He begins with the U.S. Senate. Do the Democrats have a chance to regain the majority? Hardly none, argues Will. The Demos will be defending 19 seats and the GOP only 15. Even more important, nine of those GOP seats are in states that Bush carried, seven by 15 points, and 2 by five. And, eight of the nineteen seats that the Demos will defend are in states carried by Bush. Very promising for the GOP, a hard nut to crack for the Demos.
I wrote a short analysis for the Pacific Research Institute of how the environmental vote seemed to have gone AWOL in the recent election (it is only 550 words, and you can read it here .) In short, I argue that the environmental vote is a paper tiger, and conclude that Republicans have little to fear from it so long as they have a sensible environmental policy. I will have a longer piece on this coming out shortly from AEI.
I am getting deluged with vituperous e-mails from people who seem to misread the piece as saying Republicans should endorse the environmental agenda. I am not sure I am being understood here; perhaps other bloggers can weigh on on this. A "sensible" environmental policy means the kind of thing the Bush administration has just done--changing rigid Clean Air Act regulations that actually keep the air dirtier than it needs to be. The media is mis-reporting this, of course.