March 31, 2004

"the favorable judgment of history..."

Between these alternatives there is no neutral ground. All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization. No government should ignore the threat of terror, because to look the other way gives terrorists the chance to regroup and recruit and prepare. And all nations that fight terror, as if the lives of their own people depend on it, will earn the favorable judgment of history...

-- Abu Jinan, 9/23/2003

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 PM

Not worthy to clean their boots...

When I think of the coldly calculated campaign of lies and smears leftists have waged against our contractors in Iraq, especially the Halliburton Corporation, with charges of war profiteering and "crony capitalism..."

And when I think of the efforts of myself and many other more important writers to carefully debunk these lies with facts and reasoning...see here and Here and HERE and HERE (With zero hope of affecting anyone on the left, though perhaps a few people in the middle noticed.)

And then thinking of those Americans murdered today in Falluja, while leftist frauds sit safe at home and sneer and sneer and sneer....

I'm feeling so angry I could spit.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:12 PM

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick...


If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now on this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans,

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.

-- Laurie Lee

Posted by John Weidner at 7:26 AM

March 30, 2004

total tune-up

Great resource for bloggers! Kathy Kinsley (of On The Third Hand) will do all sorts of tweaking, fixing, adjusting, and polishing to your templates and blog-machinery. Reasonable rates.

She just made several improvements here for me. If you click on a "CONTINUE READING" button, the text pops-down on this page, rather than sending you to the archive page. And if you click-on a perma-link, you go to a single-entry archive page, with a side-bar (which I could never manage to put in myself).

And bad bots that collect e-mails for spammers will no more gain entrance...

Highly recommended

Posted by John Weidner at 4:41 PM

March 29, 2004


I found this comment by Russell in a post by Andrea:

I always took opinions like that of Tutu’s to evidence a very narrow, almost amnesiac, view of the world. Once the killer kills, the victim falls out of the equation. They’re no longer part of the consideration. All that’s left in the punishment calculation is: 1) a live, breathing human being in the person of the murderer, at least somewhat sympathetic if only as a fellow human, and 2) a surprisingly vague, abstract notion of some wrong having been committed by the murderer. But somehow, in the minds of those like Tutu, they never seem be cognizant of the living, personified humanity of the victim. He or she (actually “it,” to more accurately capture how I think Tutu considers it) becomes an abstraction that falls out of sight or mind.

I justify my support for the death penalty as an affirmation of the sanctity of human life - so, if one really cares about it, which should afford greater protection and consideration, the life of an innocent or of a murderer?

an affirmation of the sanctity of human life...I kind of think he's on to something there. I certainly don't think Bishop Tutu's warmed-over lefty-mush is an affirmation of anything...and if Tutu can "rise above" several hundred-thousand corpses in mass graves in Iraq, a handful of murdered Americans are not going to bother him.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 PM

"Just ask the people he lives with"

The refusal of Democrat leaders to allow the Senate to vote on Bush's judicial nominations is an story of mendacity and hypocrisy. The ugliness is doubled because, having no honest case to make against a group of very competent and decent nominees, they have to slander good men. Jim Miller writes:

More On Judge Pickering:  I never watch 60 Minutes any more; they have been wrong too many times.  Worse, they have sometimes deliberately concocted deceptive stories, as they did when they saved Clinton in 1992.  I can and do forgive news organizations that try to get the facts right; I can't forgive those that try to fool me.  So, it is a pleasure to learn that the program got the facts right about Judge Pickering, a decent man who fought the Ku Klux Klan when that was extraordinarily dangerous, only to be slurred as a racist years later by the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
President Bush himself has said, "Pickering has got a very strong record on civil rights. Just ask the people he lives with."
60 Minutes did, and found that in Mississippi, Pickering enjoys strong support from the many blacks who know him.  In his hometown of Laurel, four of the five black City Council members say they back him, because of all he's done to improve race relations.  And many black attorneys who practice before him say Pickering is fair and first-rate.  They include attorney Charles Lawrence, who says, "I trust him because I've been in front of him.  I've had cases in front of him.  And that's not to say I've always won.  I haven't always won.  But he, he has an understanding of the law and he applies it he applies it fairly across the board...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:45 PM

how swiftly storm clouds can gather

Speech delivery counts for little on the world stage unless you have convictions and, yes, the vision to see beyond the front row seats. The Democrats may remember their lines, but how quickly they forget the lessons of the past. I have witnessed five major wars in my lifetime, and I know how swiftly storm clouds can gather on a peaceful horizon. The next time a Saddam Hussein takes over a Kuwait, or North Korea brandishes a nuclear weapon, will we be ready to respond?

In the end it all comes down to leadership. That is what this country is looking for now. It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad and the collapse of imperial communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile, because they might just wind up lowering our flag.
--Ronald Reagan

Posted by John Weidner at 12:10 PM

March 27, 2004

Oh bliss, for former woes, a thousandfold repaid...

Thinking about the previous post, if plain talk and honesty become the new fashion in the world, it will have to be ascribed to the influence of George W Bush.

There have been a number of times when his clarity and refusal to bullshit have thrilled me utterly. But one of the best, one of the sweetest, one that made me want to fall on my knees and shout PraiseGodHallelujah Delivered at Last! was in April 2001 when he torpedoed the doctrine of Strategic Ambiguity.

It was invented by our worst president, Jimmy Carter, who abrogated the 1955 treaty in which we promised to aid Taiwan if attacked. Instead, we would be "ambiguous" on the question. Carter, of course, never met a dictator he didn't like. But for the United States of America to be ambiguous between a friendly capitalist democratic nation and a brutal tyranny that has no love for us whatsoever was a disgraceful thing. Especially when the end of the Cold War nullified the original reason for the stinking thing.

Here's David Frum's description:

...Perhaps Bush's attention slipped, or more likely, perhaps he could no longer bear the sound of his own voice mouthing the State Department's platitudes. But when interviewed by ABC's Charles Gibson, he dropped the talking points and spoke with startling candor.

Gibson asked: "If Taiwan were attacked by China, do we have an obligation to defend the Taiwanese?"

"Yes, we do," Bush replied.

Astonished, Gibson pressed for clarification. He did not need to say a word, for Bush pressed on unprompted: "And the Chinese must understand that. Yes I would."

Gibson, even more amazed: "with the full force of the American military?"

And Bush gave his final answer, "Whatever it took too help Taiwan defend herself."

"Strategic Ambiguity" was dead...

After so many disappointments and "ambiguities," to be alive at this time is sweet recompense. "Oh bliss, for former woes, a thousandfold repaid."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:28 PM

Amazing—could the age of mumble mumble be over?

We live in a time when nations have to speak about foreign policy in diplomatic gurble-globble, with all sharp corners covered in a soft padding of lies. ESPECIALLY if the subject is Israel or the Palestinians. Remember when Israel bombed Saddam's Osirak nuke plant, and the nations of the world all publicly condemned this horrid violation of "International Law?" While privately breathing a sigh of relief that the problem was taken care of? (Except probably France, which was building the thing.)

So I was stunned to read this curious tale:

...I was at the Israeli embassy just this afternoon with my Political Science class, and the representatives there were more than happy to explain. One student came out and asked what everyone was thinking: given Israel's recent actions, what is its policy toward a similar, preemptive strike against Arafat?

The presenter worked primarily in educational ties, so we were expecting an answer that denounced Arafat's actions while stating the Israeli hope that peaceful negotiations could reach a solution: your typical diplospeak. But she flat-out said it: Israel's policy of preempting terror attacks through the killing of terrorist leaders remains in place and Arafat is on the list.

Then she talked about the next issue: what happens after the primary Palestinian leaders are gone, the fence is up, and Israel disengages. Then, she said, chaos...

..While Palestinians may hate Israeli occupation with unmatched vigor, they hardly realize the extent the country still provided basic governmental services. Power, infrastructure, and economic development provided by IDF troops and government representatives will disappear. Americans protest the fence saying that Israel wants to starve and imprison the Palestinians, but the truth is rather simple: Israel will accomplish these things not because it wants to, but simply by ending its existing benevolent oversight of the Palestinian regions.

Forced to administer themselves, rather than unite behind opposition to the occupation, the current ties between the PLO and Hamas will disappear. Over some short period of time, evolution will force a new generation of leadership. No longer able to gain support by galvanizing hatred and blaming problems on Israel, the people themselves will have the chance to choose a better way and begin the process of creating a two-state solution.

They will need help, she said, and Israel has always wanted to give it to them. Whether you believe the second part or not, the first is a standard to which Israel should be held. If the country remains resolute, little can stop its unilateral actions in eliminating the current leadership and withdrawing behind the fence. All that will remain is for the international community to focus on the task of delivering aid to the Palestinians when they finally decide to use it wisely. American success in Iraq would go a long way toward demonstrating this possibility...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 PM

Which "winger" wrote this ugly smear?

SO, try to guess which shameless partisan from the Republican smear machine wrote this:

...While Clarke claims that he is "an independent" not driven by partisan motives, it's hard not to read some passages in his book as anything but shrill broadsides. In his descriptions of Bush aides, he discerns their true ideological beliefs not in their words but in their body language: "As I briefed Rice on al-Qaeda, her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term before." When the cabinet met to discuss al-Qaeda on Sept. 4, Rumsfeld "looked distracted throughout the session."

As for the President, Clarke doesn't even try to read Bush's body language; he just makes the encounters up. "I have a disturbing image of him sitting by a warm White House fireplace drawing a dozen red Xs on the faces of the former al-Qaeda corporate board.....while the new clones of al-Qaeda....are recruiting thousands whose names we will never know, whose faces will never be on President Bush's little charts, not until it is again too late." Clarke conjured up this chilling scene again on 60 Minutes. Only in this version he also manages to read Bush's mind, and "he's thinking that he's got most of them and therefore he's taken care of the problem." The only things missing are the black winged chair and white cat...

Ann Coulter? Steyn? Goldberg? Lowry? click below to find out.

Ha ha, Gotcha. It was TIME Magazine!

Thanks to Richard Bennett

(Coulter's more pungent take: "...Isn't that just like a liberal? The chair-warmer describes Bush as a cowboy and Rumsfeld as his gunslinger -- but the black chick is a dummy...")

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 PM

idealism is with those who serve, rather than bash, their country

Rocket Man has said that today, unlike in our youth, "the fun is on the right." I think we can also say that today (even more so than in our youth) idealism is with those who serve, rather than bash, their country. -- Deacon, at Power Line
Posted by John Weidner at 5:56 PM

Country Z—statist no more...

I turned a paragraph from this article into a generic version, because it could be used as a template for any number of articles one sees these days:

Mr X, who takes office on June 1, has promised to continue Party Y's free-market policies, which have included privatization of state-run industries, adopting the U.S. dollar as the nation's currency and negotiating a free-trade agreement between Region Z and the United States. He said in the interview that he would "be ready to consider" any U.S. request to keep the Country Z's troops in Iraq beyond their current commitment, which ends in June. And he has pledged to seek more programs for the poor, who make up about half the population, according to official statistics.
If you want to understand why Leftists are acting with the lunatic fear of those whose neighbors are all turning into pod people, imagine that paragraph multiplied by 50 or 100! And keep in mind that "Party Y's free-market policies" actually work, producing prosperity with clockwork regularity, while the Left produces poverty with the same dependability.

Also consider that lefties are still today citing Country Z as an example of "the US always supports corrupt dictators," even though Country Z has been electing its leaders for several decades! That's desperation folks!

Country Z is El Salvador, by the way. And you might think that leftizoids would be rushing to exploit that 50% of the population that is poor. Except that everybody there knows that the figure used to be more like 80%. You're looking at DOOM for the world's Socialists.

There will always be Socialism of course, (though the name will change from time to time) because it's the philosophy of those who feel they are better than ordinary people, and should be telling them what to do (for their own good, of course.) There's an impulse for that in every human heart.

(thanks toBrothersJudd Blog)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:03 PM

We're living MLK's dream....

PoliPundit writes:

...A hundred and fifty years ago, this filmmaker could have written a book opposing slavery. Fifty years ago, he could have made a documentary attacking racial segregation. Now all he can "fight" for is renaming a street? The great civil rights battle of the 21st century is changing street signs?

Call me crazy, but I think America is already living MLK's dream. Sure, there are the occasional racist bozos; but they're the exceptions to the rule. I'm what used to be called a "colored" person. But I have never, not once, been discriminated against because of the color of my skin. (Well, I take that back. I was discriminated against in college admissions because I'm not black.)

The great "civil rights" issue for African-Americans today is not renaming streets. It's not "affirmative action." It's school vouchers.

The remedy for black poverty isn't unconstitutional, divisive, unfair racial quotas. It's a return to the traditional family structure, along with private competition for education dollars.

Who stands on the right side of these issues, Republicans or Democrats? The Party of Lincoln is the party of civil rights in the 21st century...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:16 PM

My "grain of salt" standard

When the subject is failures of military planning (and this would apply both to Mr Kerry's voting against this or that weapons system, and planning failures in the invasion of Iraq) I always think about what must have been the most thoroughly-planned military operation in history—the Normandy Invasion.

Whole buildings full of experts worked for a year on nothing else. The beaches were mapped by frogmen and aerial photography. The one D-Day catastrophe, Omaha Beach, was just sheer bad luck; multiple messages from the French Resistance didn't get through.

BUT, when the Allies got past the beaches, they were utterly flummoxed to discover the bocage. A natural fortress of hedges of a thickness and density they had never encountered before—not really hedges, but earth and stone banks covered with a dense mat of ancient vegetation. New tactics and equipment had to be improvised in a bloody learning-environment. Our timing was thrown off by months, with lethal effects later in the year.

No one had given the matter any thought...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:28 AM

Good for Kerry

From Dean's World:

* Update * My lovely wife, the Queen of All Evil, informs me that John Kerry has been distancing himself from Clarke, and that Kerry has already said that Clarke should be indicted for perjury if he lied to Congress under oath.

If Rosemary is correct--and she doesn't have a link but she has a good memory so I tend to believe her--then Kerry needs to be praised. I hope this is true, I really do. I'm so mad at Democrats right now, anything that makes them look less like assholes would make me happy.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:30 AM

March 26, 2004

The game is called Good Cop/Bad Cop

From the the Australian site Syria seeks our help to woo US

By John Kerin March 27, 2004
SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US.

Secret talks between the two nations have been under way for months but have become more urgent as rogue nations reconsider their role in allowing terrorists to thrive, in light of the US determination to take pre-emptive military action....

This must be a frightfully bad time to be on the Left. Just as you are getting your latest Bush is a Fascist message polished up and ready for a roll-out, the duplicitous bastard starts putting the squeeze on yet another real fascist dictator! What a spoil-sport! I guess all a poor Bolshie can do is hope he runs out of genocidal tyrants pretty soon....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:32 PM

Go figure...

If you are tempted to believe the insinuations of certain politicians that Americans are getting poorer, take a look at this graph, at EconoPundit. He writes:

Out of curiousity I graphed the census data cited by Kaus. If you accept these data as at all valid, the results are striking. It looks like there were two distinct periods of poverty decline in the US, one ending at the point Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" began, the other starting just at the starting point of Clinton era welfare reform. Go figure.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 PM

The Myth of the Racist Republicans

There have been a lot of Academics pushing the line that The Republican Party is a hotbed of racism. And that Southerners are still racist troglodites and cross-burners. It's frustrating to be pretty sure that both these views are false. but not have good counter-arguments.

I recommend The Myth of the Racist Republicans, From The Clairemont Institute

...This bias is evident also in how differently they treat the long Democratic dominance of the South. Carter and the Black brothers suggest that the accommodation of white racism penetrates to the very soul of modern conservatism. But earlier generations of openly segregationist Southerners voted overwhelmingly for Woodrow Wilson's and Franklin Roosevelt's Democratic Party, which relaxed its civil rights stances accordingly. This coalition passed much of the New Deal legislation that remains the basis of modern liberalism. So what does the segregationist presence imply for the character of liberalism at its electoral and legislative apogee? These scholars sidestep the question by simply not discussing it. This silence implies that racism and liberalism were simply strange political bedfellows, without any common values.

But the commonality, the philosophical link, is swiftly identified once the Democrats leave the stage. In study after study, authors say that "racial and economic conservatism" married white Southerners to the GOP after 1964. So whereas historically accidental events must have led racists to vote for good men like FDR, after 1964 racists voted their conscience. How convenient. And how easy it would be for, say, a libertarian conservative like Walter Williams to generate a counter-narrative that exposes statism as the philosophical link between segregation and liberalism's economic populism...

...Timing may provide the greatest gap between the myth and the actual unfolding of events. Only in the 1980s did more white Southerners self-identify as Republicans than as Democrats, and only in the mid-1990s did Republicans win most Southern House seats and become competitive in most state legislatures. So if the GOP's strength in the South only recently reached its zenith, and if its appeal were primarily racial in nature, then the white Southern electorate (or at least most of it) would have to be as racist as ever. But surely one of the most important events in Southern political history is the long-term decline of racism among whites. The fact that these (and many other) books suggest otherwise shows that the myth is ultimately based on a demonization not of the GOP but of Southerners, who are indeed assumed to have Confederate flags in their hearts if not on their pickups. This view lends The Rise of Southern Republicans a schizophrenic nature: it charts numerous changes in the South, but its organizing categories are predicated on the unsustainable assumption that racial views remain intact.

What's more, the trend away from confident beliefs in white supremacy may have begun earlier than we often think. David Chappell, a historian of religion, argues that during the height of the civil rights struggle, segregationists were denied the crucial prop of religious legitimacy. Large numbers of pastors of diverse denominations concluded that there was no Biblical foundation for either segregation or white superiority. Although many pastors remained segregationist anyway, the official shift was startling: "Before the Supreme Court's [Brown v. Board] decision of 1954, the southern Presbyterians. . . and, shortly after the decision, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) overwhelmingly passed resolutions supporting desegregation and calling on all to comply with it peacefully. . . . By 1958 all SBC seminaries accepted black applicants." With considerable understatement, Chappell notes that "people—even historians—are surprised to hear this." Billy Graham, the most prominent Southern preacher, was openly integrationist.

The point of all this is not to deny that Richard Nixon may have invited some nasty fellows into his political bed. The point is that the GOP finally became the region's dominant party in the least racist phase of the South's entire history, and it got that way by attracting most of its votes from the region's growing and confident communities—not its declining and fearful ones. The myth's shrillest proponents are as reluctant to admit this as they are to concede that most Republicans genuinely believe that a color-blind society lies down the road of individual choice and dynamic change, not down the road of state regulation and unequal treatment before the law. The truly tenacious prejudices here are the mythmakers'.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 PM

The prize which no sane man ever covets...

From Belmont Club, here's a morsel taken out of context to whet your appetite. Read the whole post:

...There remains a third answer. That the existence of these two great religious totalitarianisms -- one secular only in name and the other religious only in dissimulation -- is required for their mutual defeat. It relies on the observation that both the Left and Islamism react together to produce an extremely toxic combination which neither could have achieved alone. It takes some reflection to remember just how far both the notions of Islamism and Leftism have moved since September 11. The former was an unknown towards which the man in the street would have been indifferent while the latter was a kind of eccentricity, rough yet without danger. Neither will be again. Both have mutated in interaction or perhaps have become that which they really were.

Both are struggling for the space in which conservatism can never go and for the prize which no sane man ever covets: the dominion of souls....

Posted by John Weidner at 4:10 PM

Reality TV...

This article from Stars & Stripes really tickled me. 'tis a far different Army we have now than when I was young:

MOSUL, Iraq — Armed police burst into a house, subdue a gang of bandits and rescue the hostages.

The scene could be straight out of the U.S. television reality show “Cops,” but instead of American police officers, the lawmen getting their 15 minutes of fame are Iraqi police.

The show is “Heroes in Blue,” an Iraqi reality television program funded by the U.S. military as a way of informing Iraqis about the work of their own security forces. It is a collaboration between an Iraqi television producer and Lt. Col. Wayne Swan of the Mosul-based I Corps Task Force Olympia....

Posted by John Weidner at 3:49 PM

Comment that ate Tokyo..

I've been swapping some comments with my friend Dave Trowbridege, but my comments have grown like The Blob and absorbed all my blogging energy, (blobbing energy?) so I'll just make this one a post...

There's a lot of things I'd like to answer, but they really need long blogposts—maybe soon

But I've got to hit one point. Rush Limbaugh is NOT a demagogue.

1. Rush usually backs up his attacks with facts and logic. I've listened to them, sometimes at tedious length. I predict, without having heard him recently, that Rush is even now attacking Richard Clarke not with invective or cries of treason, but with facts and with honest argument. I predict that he's comparing Clarke's testimony in August 2002 with what he is saying now, and demonstrating that Clarke has serious credibility problems. (And I furthermore predict that Leftists like Neiwert will say that Clarke is being brutally attacked by the Republican smear machine. And then use those "smear tactics' as "evidence" of the fascistic trend of the Conservative Right.)

2. Neiwert says somewhere something like "Rush is trying to drive a wedge between the workers and the middle class." But I've several times heard Rush talking with callers who are poor or unemployed. And he shows concern and listens, and then passionately urges them to keep faith and keep trying, to believe in education and hard work and American values. He tells about his own hard times, and urges them to avoid dependence on government handouts as much as possible. Rush keenly wants the poor to move to the middle class. Of course a leftist might hate that, but it's not demagoguery—he never suggests that people are being "kept down" by sinister forces. And it's the opposite of "vile;" His warmth and sincerity are palpable.

3. Rush often listens to arguments of people who disagree with him. I suspect they go to the head of the queue. He's respectful, draws them out, listens, makes counter-arguments, suggests they might want to give his ideas some thought, gives them a free subscription to his newsletter....He doesn't call them crazy, or impugn their honesty. Most importantly, he is setting an EXAMPLE for his millions of listeners of engagement with differing ideas. That's not what a demagogue would want to do.

4. Rush constantly urges people to think about what he's discussing. One of his jokes is to say "Don't think about this. Just listen to me and I'll tell you exactly what to believe." Which of course is a reminder that people should think for themselves. (Sorry for explaining a joke. Somebody would be sure to miss the point if I didn't.)

5. Rush's ideas are mainstream American Conservative, and he sticks to them. A demagogue would abandon his principles for political expedience. But Rush has strongly criticized the Bush Administration for overspending, for increasing the size of Government, for Medicare. Also he doesn't traffic in conspiracy theories. No black helicopters, no hidden foes that can't be named.

6. It's not demagogic, or fascistic (or vile) for a Conservative to attack Liberalism! Or Big Government, the UN, "multilateralism" or "multiculturalism." That's what American Conservatives BELIEVE, and have all along. (I was introduced to conservative notions back in the 1950's! But that's another tale) One of the many logical flaws in Neiwert's essay is to critique conservatives as if they should hold leftist principles. He cites attacking the UN and multilateralism as de facto evidence of the ugly drift of the Right. But we've attacked the UN consistently from the moment it was mooted. (And with the same arguments all along, which have nothing to do with dislike of foreigners. Read den Beste on Tranzis, and you'll get the drift)

There are legitimate criticisms that can be made about Rush, and I don't always agree with him myself. And he is hard-hitting and brutally combative, and not always fair. But that fits a lot of people on the Left too. You probably disagree with many of his positions, but they can all be argued with, because they are based on facts and ideas, not the slippery insinuations of a demagogue. (And by the way, I never listen to Michael Savage. I think he's a loon. And I've never listened to Rush except when driving. I'd much rather read a book or a blog.)

And speaking of arguing, what exactly is "the (true) conservative position?" You are very coy about your own ideas, which is a bit unfair if you are going to attack others. I loved Exordium, but your ideas aren't in a pin-downable form there.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:20 AM

#151: "Efficiency" Krugman-style

P. Krugman

The Medicare Muddle (03/26/04) is Paul Krugman's third column in six weeks on this topic and makes him the champion recycler of the New York Times. There's really nothing new. As in Social Security Scares (03/05/04), see Squad Report # 148, and The Health of Nations (02/17/04), see Squad Report #145), he continues to walk a tightrope between scaring seniors enough about their benefits to keep them voting Democratic, but NOT scaring them so much that they might embrace privatization. For once the privatization camel has his nose under the health care tent there is no turning back.

Krugman continues referencing undocumented studies showing that government health programs are more efficient that private ones. We would love to see those studies. Our guess is that these efficiencies come at the expense of choice, timely service and quality. When you price something below cost rationing always occurs, one way or another. Then there is an even greater problem. If you wring all the profits out of a private system to provide cheap service, how does innovation continue to get financed? On this point Krugman's silence is deafening.

This photo helps make the point. These two cars are Soviet ZIL-41044s circa 1980. They too were produced "efficiently", because the prices of their inputs were controlled, their design costs were minimal (they were stolen them GM) and customer service was non-existent. So if you didn't mind waiting a year or two and didn't really care which color you got..... Which one would you want?
The Zil, a Soviet automobile

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 AM

March 25, 2004

Berlin sandcastles washing away...

From an article in OpinionJournal :

Florida will be a pivotal battleground this November, but on the crucial subject of education reform the battle in that state is already joined.

In the past five years Florida has delivered real school choice to more American schoolchildren than anywhere else in the country. Which is no doubt why Jesse Jackson was down in Tallahassee earlier this month calling Governor Jeb Bush's policies "racist." He and his allies understand all too well that when poor African-American and Latino children start getting the same shot at a decent education that the children of our politicians do, the bankrupt public education empire starts looking like the Berlin Wall...

Berlin Wall is just the right term. Leftists are scrambling everywhere to prop up their crumbling edifices of tyranny.
...And another study, this one by the Manhattan Institute, finds that even kids without vouchers benefit because the competition is pushing Florida public schools to improve....
Of course. That's the whole idea. Competition. It works. Everyone benefits. Poor and minority and special-ed kids benefit. (Even taxpayers, since Florida has a big program where businesses pay for vouchers)

So everyone's happy, right?

...In response, the teachers unions, pols and bureaucrats opposing any reform have opted for a dual strategy of sue and regulate...
Evil. Evil. Evil. Socialist bloodsuckers feeding on children. The thought of them writhing and squirming at the name Bush like vampires confronted with a cross just warms my heart.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:51 PM


From OpinionJournal:

What you have is classic bureaucratic myopia. The invasion of Iraq was a presidential decision, made by looking at the totality of the national interest. Mr. Clarke's niche was terrorist organizations narrowly defined. And like all such "stovepipe" occupants in Washington, he spent his life trying to get others to adopt his narrow priorities rather than trying himself to see a bigger picture. Gen. Eisenhower is credited with the dictum: If a problem is insoluble, enlarge it. Mr. Clarke's book is an expression of bureaucratic rage that the Bush administration enlarged the terrorism problem beyond Mr. Clarke's bailiwick.--Holman Jenkins

Posted by John Weidner at 2:45 PM

March 24, 2004

Good questions beget good answers...

Orrin Judd posed a good question regarding this:

The government's former top counterterrorism adviser testified Wednesday that the Clinton administration had "no higher priority" than combatting terrorists while the Bush administration made it "an important issue but not an urgent issue."
The question?
Does anyone else find it odd that in his entire run for president, Al Gore never mentioned the most urgent foreign policy issue of the administration he was helping to lead?
Somehow I think that Clarke saying that the Clintonites had "no higher priority" than combatting terrorists just isn't going to stick. It won't adhere.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:26 PM

truly puke-worthy Bush Hatred

Jonah Goldberg writes:

Does anybody remember the nasty insinuations shortly after 9/11 about how Bush "ran away" from Washington for fear of attacks on the White House? The Salon wing of the punditocracy, for example, insisted that, in Joe Conason's words, "The Bush administration told an outrageous lie that the president was a target of terrorists." In classic Conason style, he turned his outrage to 11 on every knob....
Now Richard Clarke, in his book, is claiming credit for keeping the president out of Washington that day! And Conason? His words:
"...To be honest, it seemed to me that you saved their asses that day."
Do read Jonah's piece, it's short, but a gemlike example of truly puke-worthy Bush Hatred.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:07 AM

Quote for today

David Carr, at Samizdata, on The Guardian's showing us the "Yassin we never knew."

"Yassin the wise, Yassin the benevolent, Yassin the humanitarian. He was a gift to mankind. It was said of Yassin that he could light up a room, though he generally preferred lighting up buses and cafes."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:28 AM

March 23, 2004

comrades in the war

Since the World's leftylackwits are just now shedding crocodile tears over a slimesucking terrorist leader who finally got what he deserved, (While simultaneously criticizing Bush for not killing the equally vile Osama) it suits my mood to blog a little about the charm of Israel. (I've never been to the Holy Land, but someday...someday...)

From the blog Kumah! (Via Protocols)

Having just finished an exam, the three of us were driving home to Jerusalem from Bar Ilan University when we hit serious traffic. We decided to pull over to pray Mincha (the afternoon prayer).

We began to pray when all of the sudden another car pulled over about fifty feet away from us. An old Yemenite man hopped out and told us, "what, you don't want to pray with a minyan (quorum of ten)?"

As we answered him two more cars pulled over - one with Breslov Chassidim and the other with a pair of Moroccan brothers, with kippot creased from being folded and pocketed.

More followed and we had the great privilege of praying to God along with a random sampling of our incredible people - gathered from all the world to thank the God of Israel at the side of a highway leading to Jerusalem.(original post has a picture)

These are the people whose murder our lefty pals don't seem to mind. these are the good guys. These are our comrades in the war.


Posted by John Weidner at 6:30 PM

LeftHypocrisy Report #87,391

Remember when Roger Ailes, the head of Fox news, sent, after 9/11, a personal letter to President Bush urging him to take strong measures against terrorists?

He was widely condemned by the Media Wing of the Democratic Party for such a shocking example of partisanship. The NYT had several articles and editorials condemning Ailes, (though they made no criticism at all when Walter Cronkite revealed that he had worked for Bobby Kennedy.)

Now Dave Huber at Oh That Liberal Media has a long list of journalists who are helping Kerry. I will just sit here a while and wait for the outpouring of outrage.

Actually, I would guess that most members of the press are like people around here, and don't even consider helping Kerry to be doing anything. Being for the Democrat is just too normal, like breathing.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:01 PM

to strike an impressive blow

David Bernstein writes at The Volokh Conspiracy:

CLARKE ON BUSH: I don't know anything about Richard Clarke, but he sure isn't making the Bush Administration look good. I'm still hoping that going after Iraq first instead of the real terrorist threat of Iran was part of some grand master plan, and not an inexplicable obsession with Saddam, but Clarke's claim that top Bushie's were obsessed with Iraq both before and after 9/11 gives me pause.
No one doubts that Iran is tops in supporting terrorists, (though Iraq did plenty of it too) but still I find this puzzling...

What does he mean by "go after Iran?" Does he mean invasion? Is so, ponder on how hard it was, diplomatically and politically, to organize an invasion of Iraq. And that despite tons of good excuses: UN Resolutions, genocide, actual use of WMD's, aggressive unprovoked wars. None of those things were available for Iran. I don't think a military attack was ever in the cards.

If Bernstein means lesser sorts of pressure, diplomacy and sanctions and embargoes and such, well, phoooey. That's just more Clintonian BS, and I guess it's hardly worth arguing with such ineffectual stuff.

And of course there IS a master plan. The heart and origin of Islamic radicalism lies in the failure and backwardness and despotism of the Arab world. And the "neocon" plan is to plant a powerful example of democracy and economic freedom right smack dab in the middle of the mess, with hopes of starting a new trend. You may not like the plan, but it's silly to say there isn't one. And for a variety of reasons Iran wouldn't be useful for that. It's not Arab, it's partly democratic, and it's not the sort of gross failure that all Arab countries are. (No doubt Mr Bernstein is aware of the plan, and is ignoring it for rhetorical purposes.)

And even without "the plan," anyone who wanted to really fight against terrorism had good reason to become obsessed with Iraq, and there was nothing inexplicable about it. The necessary first step (the little neocon inside me says) was to hit one important terror-supporting country really hard. Only then would the other terror-supporting tyrants take us seriously and start mending their ways, or changing. (and despite leftist lies, there's never been an intent to fight "an endless series of wars.")

And if you want to strike an impressive blow, Iraq is the obvious choice. Most of the others are too weak militarily to demonstrate our willingness to fight. Conquering Libya or Syria won't shake Iraq, but conquering Iraq has already shaken Libya and Syria and quite a few others. Including probably Iran.

And while toppling the Iranian regime would probably not have weakened Saddam much, toppling Saddam has surely greatly weakened the position of the Mullahs, and greatly encouraged those who hope to rebel against them.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:39 PM

Krugman...truth...a hopeless struggle

The Krugman Truth Squad is going to start passing on Krug's non-economic columns. Makes sense, they are a bunch of economists!

And I thought about giving today's Krug column a working over, but why bother? Every point he makes has already been refuted many times. The Bush-haters who read him don't care about facts...

I'll just whack one mole, to keep in practice. Krugman writes:

...After 9/11, the administration's secretiveness knew no limits — Americans, Ari Fleischer ominously warned, "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Patriotic citizens were supposed to accept the administration's version of events, not ask awkward questions...
Well, you can read the transcript with Fleisher's remark here.

It's obvious from the context that Fleisher is responding to being baited by reporters about a truly vile remark by a left-wing America-hating scumbag, who called our soldiers cowards compared to the brave 9/11 terrorists. And it's clear that if Fleisher had had his 'druthers he would have responded with a well-deserved punch in the nose. He obviously wasn't making a blanket threat to Free Speech, or quoting any sort of prepared position.
Fleisher concludes: "This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is." And he's correct! And if asked, he would have added that we have Freedom of Speech, and the slimeball was free to say what he did. But it was still wrong! And it was perfectly proper for Fleishman to say that it was wrong.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 AM

March 22, 2004

"to escape the cycle of murder and negotiation..."

I'm stunned. I thought I had covered all the reasons for liberating Iraq long ago. (I remember trying to debate with a blogger who started his argument with: "The case for war against Iraq is very weak. It has two components, neither of which stand up to serious examination..." Absurd of course, I'd already blogged at least 6 reasons myself. And of course, the slippery dog wouldn't debate them. They never do.)

Today Wretchard comes up with one more, so obvious, so compelling, that I'm smacking my forehead that I didn't see it.

We might have been put in the position Israel has been in for decades, with every success against the terrorists aborted by demands for "negotiations."

...He [Osama] hoped to force America into fruitless but ineffectual reprisals against the Islamic world, then offer a hudna at intervals while he prepared his next blow. George Bush's counterstroke, which history will either judge as an act of supreme folly or genius, was to go beyond Afghanistan into Iraq. In a worthy riposte to Osama's, he escalated the struggle to the point where it was mutually mortal. If the fall of the Twin Towers was a gauntlet in America's face, the fall of Baghdad was a glove shoved down the Islamist's throat. Both Bin Laden and Bush have made compromise impossible. If the jihadis believed they could control the tempo of the conflict they were misinformed; American forces in the Arab heartland have forced a zugzwang to compel the game to the bitter end.

Yassin's assassination serves the same purpose. Israel's main problem was to escape the cycle of murder and negotiation that was slowly bleeding it to death. No matter how horribly Israel was attacked it was always expected to return, in an attitude of abjection, to the negotiating table. The Jihadis learned that any Israeli counteroffensive could be aborted by throwing the prospect of further talks into its path. Israel's superiority on the battlefield would be nullified because it would always be restrained by the "Peace Process", a misnomer if ever there was one...

If Al Gore had been President, I have no doubt he would have moved against Afghanistan. And also pursued other actions against Al Qaeda. But then what? Sooner or later would come the negotiations—whenever it suited Al Qaeda's schedule. The "Peace Process." With the French in the middle. The fight would be stalled, with the enemy allowed to decide when it is to be resumed....

Posted by John Weidner at 11:45 AM

Imagine a half-dead mouse...

Imagine a housewife. Imagine a messy problem; plugged toilet or half-dead mouse brought in by the cat. Imagine her waiting for her husband to come home, because MEN are supposed to deal with these icky problems... Then think about the following:

Powerline blog, writing in FrontPage, has a long and detailed refutation of the charges of Clinton officials Sandy Berger, Madeline Albright and Richard Clarke:

"Where to begin: the mind boggles at such shamelessness. To state the obvious, in late 2000 the Clinton administration was STILL IN OFFICE. If there were steps that needed to be taken immediately to counter the al Qaeda threat, as they "bluntly" told President Bush's transition team, why didn't they take those steps themselves?

More broadly, of course, the Clinton administration was in power for eight years, while al Qaeda grew, prospered, and repeatedly attacked American interests:

*1993: Shot down US helicopters and killed US servicemen in Somalia
*1994: Plotted to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila
*1995: Plotted to kill President Clinton during a visit to the Philippines
*1995: Plot to to bomb simultaneously, in midair, a dozen US trans-Pacific flights was discovered and thwarted at the last moment
*1998: Conducted the bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed at least 301 individuals and injured more than 5,000 others
*1999: Attempt to carry out terrorist operations against US and Israeli tourists visiting Jordan for millennial celebrations was discovered just in time by Jordanian authorities
*1999: In another millennium plot, bomber was caught en route to Los Angeles International Airport *2000: Bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, killing 17 US Navy members, and injuring another 39

So what, when they had the power to act effectively against al Qaeda, did these Clinton administration officials do? Little or nothing....

Condi Rice deals with the accusation that nothing was done by the Bush Administration, writing in the Washington Post. Much WAS done, more was planned; obviously in hindsight it was not enough.

For another exercise in imagination, go back to, say, August of 2001. Congress deadlocked, Dem majority in the Senate, every Bush initiative stalled. Then imagine Bush going to Congress for authorization to fight a world-wide war against Al Qaeda. Try, just TRY to imagine Democrats giving Bush enthusiastic support for bloody battles in Morocco, The Philippines, Afghanistan, Mali, Yemen.....ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

I urge you to read the PowerLine piece, but if you don't have time, here's the last paragraph:

There you have it: Richard Clarke is a bitter, discredited bureaucrat who was an integral part of the Clinton administration's failed approach to terrorism, was demoted by President Bush, and is now an adjunct to John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:59 AM

March 21, 2004

New technology...

Take a look at this video! A 36 ton truck hits an innovative new barricade at 50mph. The barricade (unlike the truck) appears unharmed.

(Thanks to Dean)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 PM

Where are the new North Korean punk bands???

Funny article on conservative punk-rockers, A Bush Surprise: Fright-Wing Support:

..."But it's when he talks politics that Mr. Rizzuto sounds like a real radical, for a punk anyway. Mr. Rizzuto is adamantly in favor of lowering taxes and for school vouchers, and against campaign finance laws; his favorite Supreme Court justice is Clarence Thomas; he plans to vote for President Bush in November; and he's hard-core into capitalism.

"Punks will tell me, `Punk and capitalism don't go together,' " Mr. Rizzuto said. "I don't understand where they're coming from. The biggest punk scenes are in capitalist countries like the U.S., Canada and Japan. I haven't heard of any new North Korean punk bands coming out. There's no scene in Iran."

Mr. Rizzuto is the founder of Conservative Punk, one of a handful of Web sites and blogs that have sprung up recently as evidence of a heretofore latent political entity: Republican punks. With names like GOPunk, Anti-Anti-Flag and Punkvoter Lies, the sites are a curious blend of Karl Rove and Johnny Rotten, preaching personal responsibility and reflexive patriotism with the in-your-face zeal of a mosh pit."...

This is not completely surprising to me, having met Dr Frank, noted punk-rocker and thoughtful blogger...

But it really tickles me, because the left is still pushing the line that they are the political choice of the young and exciting. When they are actually the flavor of smugness and sclerosis.

Perhaps they will start pushing the line that pierced and tattooed young conservatives "aren't really young." Just like black conservatives "aren't really black."

Posted by John Weidner at 3:19 PM

"Private affluence and public squalor"...a positive indicator

Thomas Friedman has an interesting op-ed, which I think has things exactly wrong:

"But it will require some radical changes in politics: While India has the hardware of democracy — free elections — it still lacks a lot of the software — decent, responsive, transparent local government. While China has none of the hardware of democracy, in the form of free elections, its institutions have been better at building infrastructure and services for China's people and foreign investors.

When I was in Bangalore recently, my hotel room was across the hall from that of a visiting executive of a major U.S. multinational, which operates in India and China, and we used to chat. One day, in a whisper, he said to me that if he compared what China and India had done by way of building infrastructure in the last decade, India lost badly. Bangalore may be India's Silicon Valley, but its airport (finally being replaced) is like a seedy bus station with airplanes.

Few people in India with energy and smarts would think of going into politics. People don't expect or demand much from their representatives and therefore they are not interested in paying them much in taxes, so most local governments are starved of both revenues and talent."...

The infrastructure ploy is a fall-back position for leftizoids who have been forced to concede that government can't actually build an economy. So their position is "The economy can't grow until after we raise taxes and build roads and airports..." Or "until after we build a new City Hall to house the better government that we need before the economy can grow."

India is doing it right, Doing what the US did. What was Galbraith's phrase, "Private affluence and public squalor?" That's a good sign. Buy India, sell China.

Your High School history book probably made a lot of hay with the Erie Canal. But mostly America grew by starving a fairly corrupt public sector and letting the private sector boom with low taxes and few regulations. The museums and universities and national parks and highway systems came after economic growth. Often paid-for or led by "robber barons" or their heirs. They were pulled into existence by rising expectations and prosperity. Rather than being pushed by government in the expectation that these amenities would somehow spark growth.

Likewise the demands for good government came after the great explosions of wealth. Your history book probably implied that "The Gilded Age" and its plutocrats caused corruption and bad government. To which reformers responded with things like the Progressive Movement. But the corruption was there all along. It was increased national wealth that stimulated us to indulge in luxuries like reform movements.

"Few people in India with energy and smarts would think of going into politics.." That was just how things once were in America. Or rather, how they would have looked to a NYT columnist of 100 or 150 years ago. Actually, men with "energy and smarts" were entering politics, but they were poor and hungry ruffians that a Thomas Friedman would have disdained. When the wealthy and elegant young Theodore Roosevelt decided to enter the mire of New York politics, his social equals thought he had gone mad.

(Even the Erie Canal was not one those "highways to nowhere" that get built in Infrastructure-Land. It was a fairly visionary public project, but the need, the demand, the wealth to build it, all existed prior. The canal was busy from the moment it opened. The histories tend to imply that the world stood still until the canal was built. That suddenly, with the opening of the canal, settlers started heading West. No way. "In nine years, Canal tolls more than recouped the entire cost of construction..." That's the tip-off. )

(via Orrin Judd)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:05 AM

March 20, 2004

Put your money where your mouth is...

You know how the Democrats go on and on about how vitally important our traditional alliances are? Well, this made me sit up and think... Blaster writes:

Wouldn't it be smarter ...

For the Democrats to recognize that alliances are two-way, and call on our European allies to be allies? They could still stick it to Bush and say "despite our cowboy President blah blah blah, but the future is too important, why don't you guys support us because success is too important to let our alliances fall by the wayside?"

Democrats are always claiming that their being chummy with European leaders and appreciating their nuanced shades of gray means that they could do a better job of diplomacy and alliance-tending, and save America from the catatrophic isolation that results from electing Republicans...So why wait? Your country needs you now--here's your chance to shine!

Of course some skeptix types might suggest that Democrats might prefer that America have difficulties, just to improve their electoral chances...But surely they wouldn't sink so low.

Or that countries like France and Germany favor Democrats because they expect that they won't actually do anything or ask for any help. And that F & G would no more help Kerry overthrow a genocidal fascist dictator who lines their pockets, than they would help Bush...Nahhh. I refuse to believe such cynical things.

Seriously, Kerry did request that Spain reconsider removing forces from Iraq. Which was highly credible of him. But if he wanted a break from campaigning, he should have hopped a plane to Spain and made a real push. If he failed, at least he would have shown himself to be a serious guy. And if he succeeded, he would have an actual accomplishment to brag about!

Posted by John Weidner at 5:26 PM

Luke 10: 30-32

Deroy Murdock has a moving article on Iraq's mass graves. A subject some ice-hearted bastards have no interest in...

..."Iraq's mass graves have received some attention, but foes of Operation Iraqi Freedom prefer to discuss other things. They would rather focus on unseen weapons of mass destruction than on obvious scenes of mass death.

The liberal media appear only mildly interested in all of this. The Nexis database shows, for instance, that between January 1 and March 15, 2004, America's so-called paper of record, the New York Times, featured 191 references to Iraq and "weapons of mass destruction," but only six to Iraq and "mass graves." It's far easier to slam President Bush on Iraq while some 400,000 Iraqis who loudly would defend him, instead are busy decomposing.

Those who still believe America and its allies should have left Iraq untouched cannot avoid this conclusion: Had their arguments prevailed, Saddam Hussein's mass graves would be in business today, increasingly brimming with Baathism's voiceless victims"

Posted by John Weidner at 2:17 PM


The Belgravia Dispatch has a nice long dissection of some of Josh Marshall's latest lies:

"If Susan Sachs can read the Pew Center poll accurately, why can't Josh?

Maybe because, quoting Josh's intemperate smear of Perle (and assorted unnamed "folks"): "it's the essence of how these folks think, how they deceive themselves when they're not busy deceiving others." "

You can judge for yourselves, the actual quotes, the actual poll results are laid out before your wondering eyes.

That's how us vile right-wing warbloggers make a case. With facts. With evidence. Not that the sort of people who read Marshall will care about those.

(Thanks to Henry Hanks)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:37 AM

Not so distant a prospect...

There's an interesting NYT article, Hussein's Fall Leads Syrians to Test Government Limits, on a number of ways in which the totalitarian rule of the Baath Party in Syria is loosening.

There's some unintentional humor, because the NYT obviously hates to admit that anything Bush does could actually be successful:

...When the Bush administration toppled the Baghdad government, it announced that it wanted to establish a democratic, free-market Iraq that would prove a contagious model for the region. The bloodshed there makes that a distant prospect, yet the very act of humiliating the worst Arab tyrant spawned a sort of "what if" process in Syria and across the region...
It's not a distant prospect, the model is already contagious; that's the gist of the article.

And it's when police states start to loosen control that they become most vulnerable. They think they can reform just a wee bit, and gain some of the advantages of freedom. But once they loosen up they are probably doomed...

...Syrians who oppose the government do so with some trepidation because it used ferocious violence in the past to silence any challenge. Yet the fall of Mr. Hussein changed something inside people.

"I think the image, the sense of terror, has evaporated," said Mr. Amiralay, the filmmaker....

That's the PLAN. The Bush plan. The neocon plan.

The fall of one tyrant leads to the fall of others. And our own shaky petty tyrannies, of newsroom and university and archdiocese—they hate George W Bush for very good reasons...(thanks to Cori)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:13 AM

"Did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag?" How icky!

The Media Research Center's Dis-honor Awards for the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2003 can be seen here.

My favorite, in the I Hate You #!*#! Conservatives category, is:

“I decided to put on my flag pin tonight -- first time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see....I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo – the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and during the State of the Union did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. 

“When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s Little Red Book on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread. But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American....I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us.” 
-- Bill Moyers on PBS’s Now, February 28, 2003.

There's lots more. Lunacies for every taste. Leslie Stahl: “How did we get to a place where much of the world thinks that George Bush is more evil than Saddam Hussein?”. Or Howell Raines: “Our greatest accomplishment as a profession is the development since World War II of a news reporting craft that is truly non-partisan, and non-ideological...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:28 AM

March 19, 2004

#150: Krugman and Greenspan are both wrong on this issue

P. Krugman

In No More Excuses on Jobs (04/12/04) Paul Krugman makes two errors which undermine his entire column. First he relies on his old nemesis Alan Greenspan to argue that the business establishment survey of payrolls is superior to the household survey of employment on the question of jobs and job creation. As you might expect, the former survey, which Krugman always touts, shows the largest job losses. This is the first time we recall that he sided with Greenspan on anything.

In fact, however, he and Greenspan are both wrong on this issue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics which publishes both surveys has made major progress in reconciling the two series and addressing the issues raised by Greenspan. He and Krugman should both read the most recent BLS report on this subject. LINK. In particular, the erratic population control shifts which impact the survey each January (and about which Greenspan complained) have been smoothed to make the survey more useful in research.

In addition, Krugman's claim that the establishment payroll survey captures new businesses is just plain wrong. True they have a model which makes a frail attempt at estimating new businesses, but as critics have pointed out it has proved notoriously wrong at economic turning points - just when we need accurate information most. The best that can be said of the establishment survey is that the revisions using data from state unemployment insurance programs eventually do catch start-ups, but this is typically 6 months to a year after the fact.

This column should be read a yet another attempt but Krugman to exploit the jobs issue which is all he has left to gripe about. Every other indicator of the economy's health is strongly up.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 2:23 PM

"The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation"

Splendid speech today. I recommend you read it all...

...One man who believed in our cause was a Japanese diplomat named Katsuhiko Oku. He worked for the Coalition Provision Authority in Iraq. Mr. Oku was killed when his car was ambushed. In his diary he described his pride in the cause he had joined. "The free people of Iraq," he wrote, "are now making steady progress in reconstructing their country--while also fighting against the threat of terrorism. We must join hands with the Iraqi people in their effort to prevent Iraq from falling into the hands of terrorists." This good, decent man concluded, "This is also our fight to defend freedom."

Ladies and gentlemen, this good man from Japan was right. The establishment of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight. The war on terror is our fight. All of us are called to share the blessings of liberty, and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense. It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges. Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties, and met them in full.

May God bless our efforts.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:39 AM

Remember "Finlandization?"

Alan Sullivan started to respond to a comment, then decided to turn his reply into a post. I started to make a comment on that post, then did the same! Here's the original comment:

Old Cold Warriors [Cheney] never die -- they just give us all the shivers.

I used to support Bush's so-called "war on terror." I'll support it again when he stops attacking the civil liberties and human rights of his fellow Americans long enough to fight, or at least respond to, terrorism abroad.

BTW, have you heard the news from Poland? They're following Spain. We can wave goodbye as they go, I suppose. Our coalition of the willing is unraveling with remarkable speed; even Britain may not last much longer.

We're going to have to offer some assurances for the safety of our allies if we don't want to handle anti-terrorism efforts unilaterally. Alas, Bush knows how to treat his enemies, but he's never figured out what to do with his friends -- besides turning them into enemies, that is.

"We're going to have to offer some assurances for the safety of our allies"

What planet is this guy living on? We are explicitely asking countries to join us in a WAR. We are offering DANGER, because we believe it is the safest course in the long run.

This is just a restatement of something we hear over and over. "We need allies, we can't go it alone! And the way to keep allies is to not ask them to help us. Or even embarrass them by doing anything ourselves."

"Alas, Bush knows how to treat his enemies, but he's never figured out what to do with his friends"

President Bush is offering REAL friendship. We are willing to fight for, and with, our allies. If there were any way to attack the terrorists who bombed Madrid, we would send American soldiers into harm's way in an instant. And we pay our allies the compliment of assuming they would do the same for us. But every government that has helped to try to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq is under unrelenting attack from the left. So what gives them the shivers? I suggest 'freedom and democracy."

The "civil liberties and human rights" bit is just an excuse for appeasement. Infringement of civil liberties in this war has been miniscule--much less than previous wars. And I'd guess "human rights" is referring to Gay Marriage, the status of which as a "human right" is just now being invented! This dimwit is declaring that he is neutral, between a country where gay parades are a commonplace, and enemies who would like to kill him just for talking about such abominations. Mr Neutral High-Above-the-Fray, you are a FOOL.

"...long enough to fight, or at least respond to, terrorism abroad" This is just silly stuff. The fight goes on 24/7. It's a variant on the usual canard that any terrorist attack means that the war is a failure, or that mistakes have been made. Or that we are doing nothing. NO leader in the war has promised that the terrorists will evaporate soon, or that attacks will end soon. On the contrary, we've been told to expect a long difficult struggle.

And it's not "Bush's War on Terror." We are all at war whether we admit it or not. The Madrid bombs killed lots of people who thought the war had nothing to do with them. They were fools to think so. There is no "separate peace" available. This guy is like a petulant teenager sneering at grownups while they wrestle with serious problems.

And it's a cheap shot to sneer at "Cold Warriors." The Cold War was won because the NATO allies stood together in firm defiance for decades. Against a tyranny that killed and imprisoned its own people by the tens-of-millions. (With that firmness also under unrelenting attack from the Left.) Remember "Finlandization?" It didn't happen. And if it happens now, it will be partly because whining fools allow themselves to by used by those, both within and without, who hate our civilization.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:32 AM

March 18, 2004

Maybe NOT Spanish cowardice...

Maybe, just maybe, confused people being stampeded by a well-organized leftist disinformation campaign, aided by a press as rotten as ours.....

From Franco Alemán, Barcelona, Spain (blogging at Tim Blair)

3-10: PP was comfortably ahead in the polls. the only doubt was how big they would win.

3-11: you know what happened.

3-11 to 3-14: a massive disinformation campaign to put the blame on the PP, with rival PSOE and their friendly media disseminating false rumours (suicide bomber, intel services were angry at the gov't because they said they thought 99% probability it was Islamists since the very beginning, etc) and then shouting 'coverup, coverup'. Street agitation, accusation "the govt lies if they don't arrest the bad guys in 24 hours" (really, they did say that), and contravening the electoral law forbidding political propaganda the day before the election. Opposition leaders asking for the resignation of the government, because 'it lied',... THE NIGHT BEFORE THE ELECTION and saying the results wouldn't be legitimate if Aznar didn't appear in a special session in Parliament ON THE NIGHT BEFORE THE ELECTION. 'Spontaneous' rallies in front of PP's offices across Spain shouting and insulting, pot-banging. 1 office burned down. Physical assaults all over. PSOE-friendly media: "what do you know, there are demos EXACTLY in that place at that time; encouraging them? moi?" PSOE officials saying 'we know things that the government isn't telling' without offering any evidence.

3-14: PSOE wins

Quite clear, isn't it? Yes, some minor mistakes in being a bit too blunt blaming ETA were made the first 3 hours by the interior minister, and were quickly corrected. In fact, critics knew about the Islamic connection only after the minister held a press conference about it. It was then whan the opposition, who had been saying 'yes, it's ETA but let's not use this atrocity to blame anyone politically, just the murderers', started precisely to use the atrocity and blame it directly on the government rather than on the murderers when they Islamic clue appeared, as they saw they could inflame the public opinion.

Guys, this country looked a bit like Venezuela that night.

For the record: I am not questioning the democratic result itself: people voted, and the ballot count was unimpeachable. But it there was manipulation and lies, well, they were done by the opposition.

BTW earlier today, all relevant intel docs have been declassified and show that, indeed, for the first hours they thought it was ETA until they later knew about the Islamic clue. This is exactly what the government had been telling all along.

Thank you Andrea, for this one.

I don't know if it's true, but it has the smell of truth. I mean, how many thousands of recent stories could be filed under the summary: Lefties try to get votes by undermining War on Terror? And probably sub-titled: Reported by bloggers, ignored by press...

Can one dare to dream of a backlash in Spain? I won't get my hopes up yet. (I'll just hug to myself the comforting thought that the backlash in the USA is a mighty movement that's been growing for decades. And each terrorist massacre that happens causes another hundred-thousand or so Americans to think about which party Al Queda would prefer, and then vote the opposite.) But I'll sleep better tonight...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 PM

At least one lie has been demolished...

A year ago Senator Kerry accused the Administration of using political muscle on the immensely complex Klamath River Basin water controversy. He not only demanded an investigation, he and other Dems hurled accusations of corruption without bothering to wait for facts:

..."The Bush administration has acted as if federal agencies like the Interior Department are a division of the Republican National Committee and at their disposal to give out political favors," he crowed. "The Klamath decision should have been based on law and science, and not a political operative's agenda, polls, and campaign priorities."...
Trouble is, the charges were carefully investigated and found to be totally bogus:
...Lower-level decision-makers — in Devaney's words, the people who would be "the most likely sources to provide evidence of such influence" — denied feeling pressure to decide one way or another, from Rove or anybody else. So did the higher-ups.

"While we confirmed a passing reference to the Klamath River Basin Project during an otherwise-unrelated presentation to senior Interior officials," Devaney wrote, "we found nothing to tie Karl Rove's comments or presentation to the Klamath decision-making process."

"We conclude that the department conducted itself in keeping with the administrative process, that the science and information utilized supported the department's decisions, and that no political pressure was perceived by any of the key participants."...

To Bush Haters, of course, this sort of thing makes not the smallest particle of difference. All accusations are true. If the Prophet Elijah came down in a flaming chariot and tried to reason with them, they would just take it as evidence that the Administration is a new Taliban, trying to impose a theocracy on us.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Kerry to apologize for his false statements...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:56 PM

and if it happened in Texas.....

By Iain Murray:

Just a quick question

If this had happened in the US, rather than France, wouldn't British and European media be full of stories about American ignorance of the world, American violence, reasons why Americans can't be trusted to lead the world etc etc? [link]

[I hate it when people put in unexplained links, like "this is funny" and you have to click on the link to find out what it is. So I'll tip you off, the link leads to a story about a driver in Montpellier, France, who saw Osama Bin Laden walking down the street and tried to run him over so as to collect the reward...]

Iain's right—if a Yank did this we'd never hear the end of it. And not just from British and European media; there are a ton of people around here who also cherish any story that makes Americans look stupid and violent.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:35 PM

Kerry backpedals...

Brian writes...

You know what my feelings are right about now, regarding the Spain debacle?

I'm thinking, Good. Go ahead and give up. You see what you morons get.

Is that wrong of me? Does that make me a bad person?

I'll decide later whether I regret saying this. But right now, my gut's telling me something, and I'd better just get it out before it gives me heartburn. It's telling me that If Europe is determined to play this role, let 'em play it to the hilt. It makes things easier, and it might shorten the war....

Might. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Before the brave muster their courage.

Since I'm finding Brian's grim mood congenial this morning, I will add, if there are any who are brave. Maybe the brave died at Verdun. And maybe Europeans who love liberty moved to other places long ago...

One advantage of a war of terrorist bombings is that, unlike conventional battles, they don't tend to eliminate the most courageous from the gene pool...But it may be too late for Europe.

But the US is different. I take a nasty satisfaction in this, by Deborah Orin in the NY Post:

DEMOCRAT John Kerry yesterday woke up and realized he was in danger of morphing himself into anti-war fanatic Howard Dean - so he began backpedaling as fast as he could.

Kerry hastily repudiated Dean's bid to blame President Bush for the al Qaeda-suspected Madrid bombings. "It's not our position," Kerry declared shortly after his spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, had defended Dean's remarks.

Then Kerry issued a surprise plea to Spain's newly elected Socialist prime minister to "reconsider" his decision to yank Spanish troops out of Iraq.Kerry probably felt a special need to distance himself from Spain's Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who's the only foreign leader to publicly say he's rooting for Kerry to beat Bush - because of Iraq.

Until now, Kerry has tried to draw a distinction between the battle against terror, which he backs, and the Iraq war, which he blasts. Kerry's problem is that the Madrid bombings link the two and make Spain look as if it's appeasing terrorists.

"As if?" They are appeasing, Kerry is appeasing, but now realizes that, although voters in SF or Boston are probably just as abject as those of Spain, he's already got their votes—They can smell appeasement on his breath, and recognize a fellow tippler. But, he also needs some votes by Americans to win.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:48 AM

March 17, 2004

cannot be deterred, contained, appeased, or negotiated with...

But a good defense is not enough. The terrorist enemy holds no territory, defends no population, is unconstrained by rules of warfare, and respects no law of morality. Such an enemy cannot be deterred, contained, appeased, or negotiated with. It can only be destroyed - and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the business at hand...
-- Vice-President Dick Cheney

Posted by John Weidner at 6:22 PM

Makin' a list, checking it twice....

If you want some info on how we are doing against al Qaeda (you know, the struggle we are "distracted" from) here's a list of the top bad guys—who's dead, who's captured, who's still on the loose.

I'd say we're not doing too bad. (And my bet is that Osama's dead. Otherwise we would have heard more from him, the blabbermouth...)

Posted by John Weidner at 3:28 PM

What's wrong with this picture?

 Kerry today:

... "Today we know that the mission is not finished, hostilities have not ended, and our men and women in uniform fight on almost alone with the target squarely on their backs," Kerry said at George Washington University. "Every day they face danger and death from suicide bombers, roadside bombers, and now, ironically, from the very Iraqi police they are training."...
What's wong with this picture?

American troops. Standing. Passive. With targets on their backs...

That was somewhat true BEFORE 9/11! That was somewhat true, IN THE CLINTON YEARS!

It's not true now. Not at all. WE are attacking. American forces are aggressively hunting terrorists all around the globe. In the Sahara, in Afghanistan, in the Philippines, Iraq, Yemen, and almost certainly in many places we don't even know about.

"...the mission is not finished, hostilities have not ended..."
OF COURSE it's not ended, you dimwit. We haven't killed all our enemies yet. Your President said it will be a long and difficult struggle. (Unless the Democrats get into power. Then it will be a short and inglorious one.)

Remember 6 months ago, when supply convoys were being ambushed in Iraq? That tactic didn't last long, because the convoys took to stopping and attacking the ambushers. Who was wearing the target?

And roadside bombs in Iraq have decreased also. One reason is that when some low-life jihadi finds that oh so perfect spot to plant a bomb, there's a good chance we have a hidden sniper watching that very place. So who's wearing a bullseye?

Posted by John Weidner at 11:09 AM

Win the war--with more cadaver dogs...

Bill Hobbs takes a look at Kerry's plan for the War on Terror (I wrote a bit about the speech here, the press release is here.)

Do you hear it? It's the language of disengaging from the terrorists, and preparing for when they hit us again. It's the language of switching from offense to defense...

...For John Kerry, our "first responders" in the War on Terror are the people who respond to an attack with firehoses, bulldozers and cadaver dogs. For President George Bush, our "first responders" are the 101st Airborne, the Third Infantry Division, the Navy and the Air Force. They get no mention in Kerry's self-described "Agenda to Support Front Lines in America's War on Terror," which contains not a single single word about offense....

They don't want us to WIN. People like Kerry don't want us to WIN the War. They assume we are too big and strong to actually LOSE, so therefore their preferred outcome, STALEMATE, is an option.

Stalemate is the Left's preference in many areas. A continuous level of low-grade terrorist attacks would justify lots of big government—read Kerry's plan, it's all about buying more stuff for more government employees.

It's the same with crime and poverty and bad schools. The Left assumes that we are going to live with those problems permanently. Comfortably. Government programs and studies and task-forces will spawn endlessly, with no chance any of them will be terminated just because they fail to solve a problem. Or because, even worse, they do solve some problem.

Which is part of why George Bush attracts irrational hatred. He wants to solve problems, not live with them.

Actually, the hatred is not irrational, it just seems that way, because they can't say what they are thinking out loud. Kerry can't say that he doesn't envision winning the war, even though it's obvious from his "plan."

We all know people who find President Bush loathsome. But it's almost impossible to argue or discuss the question with them, because their underlying philosophical objections are never revealed. They probably never admit them even to themselves. Have you noticed how often opposition to the war, or other Bush policies, is couched in aesthetic terms? Any example of America triumphant is described as "ugly," or "swaggering."

I've read Leftists express disgust at Bush "prancing on an aircraft carrier." Now I saw the pictures, and that's simply a ludicrous lie. He did nothing of the sort. But to many people, the fact that he was obviously at home with jets, and with our military, and proud of American strength, was obscene! "Prancing" is the mot juste. (The Clintons visited military units too, but they always gave off some subtle signal that were just doing one of those tiresome presidential duties, like receiving delegations of Boy Scouts.)

One good thing about being in a war is that it reveals so much that so many people would like to hide. It's easy to fudge that you don't really want to end poverty or crime. It's much harder to song-and-dance past not wanting your own country to win the war.

[Go here for a delicious example of a leftist refusing to say that he wants America to win against Saddam, even though pressed repeatedly. Amazing squirming.]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 AM

March 16, 2004

one motive above all: fear...

David Frum writes:

...For decorum’s sake, Senator Kerry refrained from crowing over the Spanish result yesterday. But I doubt he will be able to restrain himself for long.

Over the medium term, though, I wonder whether the results will long profit the opponents of Bush and Blair. Up until now, opponents of the Iraq war could claim any number of motives from the most high-minded to the most pragmatic. But the voters of Spain have indelibly associated the anti-Iraq position with one motive above all: fear....

Posted by John Weidner at 2:14 PM

Putting out small fires for ever...

Andrew Aullivan writes:

Now why would al Qaeda want the disintegration of the transition in Iraq? Because they understand how that transition is the most formidable blow to their hopes of transforming the entire Middle East. When clever anti-war types insist there is not and never has been any connection between the fight for democracy in Iraq and the war against terror, they are thinking in terms of legalities and technicalities - not strategy.

The only way to meaningfully defang Islamist terror is to transform the region. If we don't, we will simply be putting out small fires for ever, instead of dealing with root causes. The root cause is the lack of democracy in the region, which gives these religious fanatics the oxygen they need. Al Qaeda understand the stakes. So must we. Iraq is the battlefield. We cannot, must not, falter. In fact, we must ramp up the pressure. Alone, if needs be...

Our actions across the globe are being shaped to fit a Grand Strategy. One of the problems of discussing the War on Terror is that a lot of people don't even have the concept of Grand Strategy.

Or pretend they don't have it. I would guess that a lot of the people who argue that Iraq is a "distraction from hunting al Qaeda" are perfectly capable of understanding the theoretical connection. But, with sneaky dishonesty, they pretend that the argument doesn't even exist, so they can avoid discussing it on its merits.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
--Thomas Paine

Posted by John Weidner at 11:40 AM

March 15, 2004

Riveting sky to earth...

Somewhere beyond the railheads
Of reason, south or north,
Lies a magnetic mountain
Riveting sky to earth.

No line is laid so far.
Ties rusting in a stack
And sleepers--dead men's bones--
Mark a defeated track.

Kestrel who yearly changes
His tenement of space
At the last hovering
May signify that place.

Iron in the soul,
Spirit steeled in fire,
Needle trembling on truth--
These shall draw me there.

The planets keep their course,
Blindly the bee comes home,
And I shall need no sextant
To prove I'm getting warm.

Near that miraculous mountain
Compass and clock must fail,
For space stands on its head there
And time chases its tail.

There's iron for the asking
Will keep ill winds at bay,
Girders to take the leaden
Strain of a sagging sky.

Oh there's a mine of metal,
Enough to make me rich
And build right over chaos
A cantilever bridge.

-- C Day Lewis

Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 PM

Are the "rules" different for Democrats?

From Kerry's speech to the International Association of Firefighters Conference:

You should never have to worry about getting the health benefits and collective bargaining rights you've earned. And President Bush should never forget that the three hundred forty-three heroes we lost on 9-11 were not only parents and children, brothers and husbands, fiancés and best friends. They were also proud members of Locals 94 and 854. They never forgot it and neither will we.
Huh? Maybe I'm confused, but weren't we recently hearing how vile and despicable and slimy and downright Texan it was for Bush to have a two-second reference to 9/11 in his ad?

Are the "rules" different for Democrats? Actually they are; here's how it works: It's OK for Democrats to bring up 9/11 because they are just going to blubber about what a "tragedy" it all was. What's vile about Bush is that he thinks 9/11 was an act of war. And that we should fight back.

If you read Kerry's speech you find the line: "I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the War on Terror; I believe he's done too little." Wow. sounds great. Kerry's getting tough! He wants drag some terrorists out from under the four-poster and pump 'em full of lead!

Alas, disappointment is in store. Read on and you discover his criticisms are all about things. President Bush didn't provide enough body armor, and Humvee armor, and various other gadgets. And firemen don't have enough radios and other stuff. "Vote for me and I'll have the potholes on your street fixed."

And also Bush "hasn't pursued a strategy to win the hearts and minds of people around the world and win the war of ideas against the radical ideology of Osama bin Laden" So are we to assume Kerry has a strategy? To "win hearts and minds?" I bet we never hear any specifics on that one.

Me, I'd rather hear a little something about winning battles...

(thanks to Steve Verdon)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 PM

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day...


Lightning strikes on the horizon behind the flight line at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., during a thunderstorm. Sept. 3, 2003.
Photo: Army Times 9-8-03

Posted by John Weidner at 2:36 PM


Don't fail to read the blog Belmont Club. I don't quote Wretchard often, because his powerful prose makes my scribbles feel supererogatory to the Great Debate. But you should put him high on your list of bookmarks, his bitter medicine is mete for a bitter era. From his most recent:

...There's an old saying that one should be careful of wishes because they might come true. The capitulation of Spain to Al Qaeda's terrorist offensive may momentarily gladden the Eurosocialists -- but only momentarily. Eurosocialism is ironically premised on a wall of free security, traditionally provided by the United States, behind which they can pursue utopianism. But the practical effect of the Socialist victory will be to open Europe's southern borders to more terrorist infiltration...

...The appeasement which so amuses the French may not be so funny when played by the Spaniards. For Spain, in concert with America and France, shared the watch of North Africa. And since that is where many Al Qaeda have moved, as the Madrid train bombing carried out by North Africans proves, Europe will find their relative danger increased far more greatly than the Americans, who can comfortably lose the Spanish contingent in Iraq. The loss of a solid Spain, while an annoyance to America is a catastrophe for Europe. Iraq is far from America but Spain is close to France.

In the end, the very nature of the War on Terror ultimately means that Europe needs America more than America needs Europe. The global jihad means that attacks on Europe can be planned and launched from geographical locations far beyond the reach of their defense forces. That could be ignored while Europe remained convinced that it would not be targeted...

The same assumption underlies the PoMo Marxism of American Leftists and Libertarians. They can deride and sneer at and undercut America's military, and the rustic types who enlist, and the president who is staunch in our defense, because they know the soldiers will still be there to protect them.

They will sneer 'till the day the backpack gets left on their train...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:26 AM

Rot starting at the top...

Cori Dauber puts her finger on something very wrong. She's writing on the reactions of various newsmedia to Madrd and the Spanish elections. About the NYT:

...The Times also goes further, providing a news analysis piece about the implications of the vote but, in true Times style, they see the implications not for the War on Terror, not for the likelihood of more attacks, not for American policy -- but for Bush! "Blow to Bush: Ally Rejected" reads the headline....

...To me this just suggests a level of personalizing our foreign policy, and the War on Terror, that again proves the point I keep going back to: it isn't real for them. It's hype. It's about a rhetorical ploy on the part of a particular party to make the President look like the "Commander in Chief." And so the Spanish elections aren't read through the way they would impact the war because the war isn't that real and thus isn't that important. The elections are read through the way they impact Bush because it's all about him to begin with: it's his policy, his creation.

Both Iraq and the larger War on Terror are, for the Times, "Bush's War" in the most absolute way possible...

How I loathe those prissy shrimps. Their country is at war, the whole world is at war, and they lean back in their chairs and sneer. "It has nothing to do with us."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:52 AM

March 14, 2004

Maybe the terrorists are right about us...

If it's ever necessary to torture me so I'll reveal where I've planted a ticking time-bomb, something like this should do the trick:

...If one of the benefits of fantasy is to remove the reader from an oppressive social reality, and thereby to offer a lens through which he or she might critique and resolve social injustices, critics cannot expect fantasy to perform the same instructional modeling as contemporary realism. This is not an excuse or a justification, and it is not because fantasy does not mirror and model life as does all literature (and all art). It is because, as a genre, fantasy behaves according to its own history, tradition, and purpose. Though it is appropriate to expect contemporary fantasy to fairly and accurately represent social diversity, a more appropriate concern for fantasy may be how well it models the readers’ability to see themselves within their social system and how convincingly it argues for their deserved equality....
It's a snippet from an Encarta pieceAndrew found, about "diversity" in Harry Potter!

Posted by John Weidner at 5:38 PM

A quote for today

...For thirty years we've been told that patriotism was shameful. We were told it was a demonstration of mental retardation or of ignorance about the world. People who were patriotic were heartless racists. For thirty years we've been pelted with the message that there was nothing about America that justified any pride.

And for thirty years the majority of Americans have ignored that message. It bounced off them like raindrops on a duck's back. Americans treasure their freedom of expression, and they treasure even more their freedom to ignore what other people say..

.Stephen den Beste

Posted by John Weidner at 4:00 PM

"to do nothing in the face of such evil is to perpetuate it"

John Powers writes

Allied forces driving toward Berlin at the end of World War II discovered the Nazi death camps that contained the corpses and barely living remains of Jews and other enemies of national socialism. When the scale of brutality and murder carefully was laid bare, filmed and documented, a deeply shocked world promised, "Never again!"

But within only a few years the Chinese communists killed millions of "small landlords." In the 1970s, Pol Pot succeeded in killing two-thirds of the Cambodian population. Countless dead filled the countryside of the former Yugoslavia, and in 1994 militant Hutus killed as many as a million Tutsis and Hutu moderates within only three months, supposedly protected by the French government -- which, in fact, withdrew its troops -- and ignored by the United States and the United Nations.

Now another pandemic of mass killings is being documented, recorded and widely ignored...

Ignoring is what we are good at....
...Prince also visited the torture chambers with victims, and remembers: "To me it became intensely personal. I was looking at somebody that experienced this." He says it changed his mind about the war in Iraq. Prior to seeing Saddam's legacy of brutality firsthand, he thought a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis had been possible, but after seeing the evidence he had a change of heart. He describes why:

"You come away from these fields and torture chambers -- the senselessness of it -- having seen pure evil and knowing that to do nothing in the face of such evil is to perpetuate it. It's not a question of weapons of mass destruction, it's a question of evil, and if you let it continue, you have to take responsibility for what's happening. You can't just turn a blind eye."...

Turning a blind eye is something we are good at. And in the apocalyptic fight against the evil George Bush, 400,000 is chump change.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:50 AM

And yet more Steyn. Gotta love the guy...

From The Australian...

That kind of finely calibrated terrorism –just enough slaughter to inconvenience the state into concessions –is all but over. Suppose you're an ETA cell. Suppose you were planning a car-bomb for next month –nothing fancy, just a dead Spanish official plus a couple of unlucky passers-by. Still want to go ahead with it? I doubt it. Despite Gerry Adams's attempts to distinguish between "unacceptable" terrorism and the supposedly more beneficial kind, these days it's a club with only one level of membership. That's why so many formerly active terrorist groups have been so quiet the past couple of years. In that sense, Bush is right: It is a "war on terror", and on many fronts it's being won.

If Islamic terrorism were as rational as Irish or Basque terrorism, it would be easier. But Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, summed it up very pithily: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

That's a very interesting thought. What are the old "Moustache Petes" of the terrorist game going to do now? Killing a few people will earn you nothing these days.

And though lefties hate to admit it, and hate George Bush for forcing them to face it, the civilized world is going to have to fight. If not now, then later; maybe when a bombing kills 2,000 Spaniards. Or 20,000! And the response will have to be massive, and small terrorist groups will be squashed like bugs if they get in the way.

And though you may think I'm bloodthirsty, the opposite is the truth. The bloodthirsty ones are the people who say "We shouldn't do anything. It might make us less safe." They are the ones piling up a butcher's bill that will be collected somewhere in the future.

And if fire-eating neo-cons had been in charge 20 years ago, we could have squelched these problems with far less loss of life.

* Update: Actually, considering today's election in Spain, maybe I'm wrong about the civilized world having to fight. Surrender is always an option...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:09 AM

Some Steyn...

The inimitable Steyn, on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's headlline: Accused Spy Is Cousin Of Bush Staffer

...It's one thing for the press to be anti-war and feel Saddam should be given another decade or two to come into compliance with Security Council resolutions. It's quite another to be so smitten with the old butcher that your copy editors internally absorb Baath Party tribal politics and assume that mere second cousinship with members of the Bush clan automatically puts you in the inner circle. To be fair to the Associated Press, they sent the story out on the wires with the headline, ''Woman Named In Spy Case Worked As Journalist, Congressional Aide.''

What's that? ''Worked As Journalist''? Well, there's an angle the Seattle guys unaccountably missed. Before she went to work for the Democratic Party, Lindauer worked for . . . the Seattle Post-Intelligencer...

Files, files, miles 'o files. I too have criticisms of the Iraq Campaign. Among them, we should not have bombed ANY Iraqi government buildings. We should have been dropping paratroopers on them, with orders to treat them like the lost library of Alexandria...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:19 AM

good question

Cori Dauber notes:


Spain. At least for a few days. And no one has ever figured out who he was meeting or what they did.

Just a thought.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 AM

We must ask ourselves why they hate us...

George Will defends the imposition of standards on schools in A Genuine 'Education President'

.... The No Child Left Behind Act was passed overwhelmingly by the House (381-41) and Senate (87-10), but now liberals see that NCLB expresses essentials of Bush's conservatism. Democratic presidential candidates have denounced it as a "federal intrusion" in state and local affairs -- everyone knows how much liberals dislike such intrusions. Howard Dean, that perfect indicator of liberal passions, seemed to think that if tests reveal that many schools are failing their children, then drastic changes must be made to the . . . tests.

Yes, the tests can be improved, and schools should have somewhat more latitude regarding disabled students and those whose first language is not English. But many complaints about NCLB are not about marginal or easily adjustable matters.

Teachers unions recoil from accountability and resent evidence that all is not well, or that whatever is wrong cannot be cured by increased funding of current practices. But per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, is three times what it was 40 years ago, and the pupil-teacher ratio is 40 percent lower, yet reading scores are essentially unchanged....

I think NCLB is about a lot more than imposing standards. Bush wants to dynamite the logjam. He wants choice. He wants schools to compete for students like businesses compete for customers.

He does NOT want to destroy the public school systems. He wants them to work for parents, instead of for bureaucrats and politicians.

Of course, for a leftist, that IS destruction. Hence the title. Of course they hate us. How would you feel if you were a child, and bullies grabbed your favorite toys, and then fixed them so they worked better! And then duplicated them so all the kids could have toys. Mindless spluttering hatred would be a mild response...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:43 AM

March 13, 2004

Good, good...

US search for Qaeda turns to Algeria: Country is seen as recruiting hub

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff, 3/11/2004[Link]
WASHINGTON -- US special forces are hunting for Islamic militants linked to Al Qaeda along Algeria's southern border with Mali in a little-known military operation aimed at destroying a key North African recruiting hub for Osama bin Laden's global terrorist network, according to US and Algerian officials.

Small teams of elite US soldiers have been working with local security forces in recent months in the Sahara Desert in an effort to capture or kill members of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, a radical Islamic organization that has pledged its allegiance to Al Qaeda and is suspected in terrorist plots in Europe and the United States, said the officials, who asked not to be identified....

(Thanks to ChicagoBoyz)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:49 PM

She sells sea shells...

Today's thought:

...I get tired of the left's implication that there is something evil about Republican ability to raise large amounts of hard money. The reason they can is simple: More small donors are willing to open their wallets to Republicans than they are to Democrats. The Republicans are the party of the little guy. The Democrats are the party of big union, Hollywood, and leftist billionaire money...-- Bill Quick
It's confusing, I know. Just repeat to yourself:
Hard money = Hard to raise from small donors.
Soft Money = Soros-Streisand Slush.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

March 12, 2004

Crossing your fingers behind your back doesn't work...

THIS is a parody or send-up of a recent Bush campaign ad, called 100 Days. As a joke it's pretty funny.

But the author seems to regard his piece as some sort of serious criticism or statement. And that's just pathetic. It's an example of defensiveness carried to an extreme that reveals far more about the parodist than about the subject of the parody.

It's interesting what's left out. The theme of the ad is "Kerry: wrong on the war, wrong on taxes." But the parody doesn't even mention taxes, and hardly mentions Kerry! (And I'll grant that having a dark-skinned person shown while mentioning terrorism is a valid target of criticism. I wouldn't do it. But that's only about one second of the ad, and I don't think that's what's bothering the parodist either.)

It's because the ad says George Bush is a strong leader in the War on Terror— that's what's driven this guy over the edge. Why? It's the obvious Bush position, and has been for 3 years—it's no big shockeroo. But the writer says in his preface "It is a parody of something very ugly, and so it apes this ugliness."

How so? I don't think he's speaking as a pacifist. And it's not like the ad says we should drag terrorists from their caves and chop them into little pieces with machetes. Why is it ugly? Why is it vile?

I think the problem is the most Lefties are fudging. They are fudging their positions because they are trying to sell things the voters don't want to buy.

Well, it's easy to fudge if the subject is one like taxes. Most people will never understand that taxing the rich won't help the poor. And Democrat politicians always fudge the question of just who the "rich" are, and they get away with it.

But that doesn't cut it for the War. Crossing your fingers behind your back doesn't work. Not when your countrymen are getting shot at and blown up by terrorists. Americans are shining bright lights on our politicians (and bloggers on their fellow bloggers) and expecting clear answers. Leftists loathe that. They are wriggling and squirming and trying desperately to escape the trap.

They just hate it! And so they try to distract us by portraying President Bush as some kind of lunatic Rambo or feckless warmonger (Fooling no one but themselves.) And they went apeshit when he appeared in a flight suit. And when he visited the troops at Thanksgiving.

Why? Because Bush as war leader forces them to confront a question that can't be fudged...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 PM

Taking in each other's washing...

While I liked this Kerry-scorching column, I think one criticism is possibly unfair.

...What Mr. Kerry likes to call "Benedict Arnold companies that ship American jobs overseas" rank a nasty second, but not enough to rate a pin. (Can't wait to hear Candidate Kerry denounce HJ Heinz, his and his wife's own Benedict Arnold company. As columnist James Glassman has written to inexcusably scant notice, "Of the 79 factories that the food-processor owns, 57 (felicitous number!) are overseas." That ships plenty of "American jobs" to Botswana, Thailand, China, India and elsewhere.) ...
I don't have any specific knowledge here, but I'd guess the HJ Heinz also sells in those countries. If catsup is made in India and sold in China, those aren't "American jobs."

And there's probably a lot of in-sourcing going on that politicians aren't interested in. If Heinz ads written on Madison Avenue are used to sell catsup in Thailand, that's in-sourcing. Some ad-man in Thailand doesn't get a job because the work is being done in New York. And probably those foreign factories don't set up their own accounting and inventory systems, but use those of the parent company. So IT jobs are being in-sourced. (With some of the programming being out-sourced to India...)

In a globalized world, these questions start to lose their meaning in tangled recursions...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:20 AM

March 11, 2004

bloody work...

What a grim bloody day. Surprise, surprise, terrorists haven't gone away...

Inertia and stupidity drag down our efforts and waste our strength. BUT, the terrorists haven't gone away...and every hideous crime will strengthen our resolve and push the sob-sisters farther to the periphery.

And treason! A Democrat Congressional Staffer! Arrested for spying for Saddam! And she won't be the last. You just wait.

It makes my head spin. Or maybe that's the two glasses of Port I've had.

Well. I raise my glass. A toast! Friends. Here's to the second coming of Lafayette Baker!

She won't be the last. We have the files. Saddam's files. Miles and miles and miles of files....

By the way, I predicted that there would be lots of documents. Which was no big deal. But you might like to read my posts, here and here. If only for the fascinating passage by Whittaker Chambers on the weird obsession totalitarians have with documents and legalistic forms...

Trivia question: Lafayette Baker wore a gold badge. What did it say? (For real fun there's a splendid historical novel where Baker has a large part, American Falls by John Calvin Batchelor.)

And if you haven't read Chambers' book Witness, you should. It's one of the great American books, kept in obscurity by our leftist iterary establishment. Or just read the foreword, read the part where he slips away at dusk into the orchard, thinking of suicide, and hears his children calling and searching for him...Haunting stuff. And it's the same war! We're still fighting it!

* Update: This post is a bit overwrought, the woman is not charged with espionage. She seems to be more the fluff-brained "human shield" type.

And yet. And yet. If lefty goofballs (and there are millions of them) can morph into supporters of genocidal fascists so easily...where will they go next? They all share the underlying assumption of the Left that it's OK to sacrifice individuals to help society, or to help the cause...

And in every crowd of mush-brained activists, there are SOME who will sacrifice individuals without a qualm. They surface every time there's a revolution...

Is she an aberration, or the tip of an iceberg?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:10 PM

It was a dark and stormy night...

This is so strange and charming—Alan Sullivan is on his boat, on anchor-watch on a stormy night with a power-failure, he's worried, he's wishing he had put out two anchors, OK........... and I'm reading along with his adventures almost in real-time in the comfort of my home here on the other side of the continent! And that didn't even seem noteworthy to me, until I thought about it just now...

Four in the morning. The batteries showed some bounceback once we turned the engine off; there's still enough life in them for us to turn the starter after daybreak--I hope. But I've been up all night because of the weather. Lenticular clouds warned of wind yesterday afternoon. I should have heeded them and insisted on placing a second anchor. Tim ridicules my caution, and I sometimes let him talk me out of doing the right thing. Now I've been up all night on anchor watch. After dark the wind went up to twenty knots, and it veered about sixty degrees, exposing our position to increasing chop. Three of the five boats here moved west a couple of hundred yards, seeking calmer water. There's a half moon overhead in starry sky, and the light is pretty good. The chop is annoying, but I could sleep if the second anchor were deployed. It's the real risk of dragging that keeps me awake..

Posted by John Weidner at 1:28 PM

land of the free and home of the ingrates...

That splendid woman Michelle Malkin writes ringingly in defense of John Ashcroft:

...Every single time Ashcroft has brought charges against jihadists in America, he has been mocked and vilified. Every single time he has tightened the screws on Islamic terror recruitment and financing, he has been lambasted as a racist. Every single time they have been arrested, the defendants have proclaimed their absolute innocence. And each time Ashcroft has won convictions against them -- neutralizing terror cells in Lackawanna, N.Y., Portland, Detroit, and now northern Virginia -- he has been met with more condemnation and derision.

John Ashcroft has nobly taken on the grueling job of protecting a nation of ingrates who take joy in his illness while terrorists continue to plot to kill us all. God bless you, Attorney General, and get well soon. America, land of the free and home of the thankless, needs you back....

God bless you, Attorney General. I'll second that.

We should also value John Ashcroft because he is a gentleman. Remember his Senate race? Remember when his opponent, Mel Carnahan, died? And Ashcroft chivalrously suspended his own campaigning for a week? And then the governor of Missouri said that the dead man would stay on the ballot, with his wife to be appointed if he "won." That was a ludicrous and almost certainly illegal usurpation, but Ashcroft doffed his hat and let it stand. A classy guy.

And when you contrast that with the death of Paul Wellstone, with "Democrats" turning his very memorial service into a political rally, and booing Republicans who came to pay their respects...yeech. Just thinking about those pygmies makes me feel dirty. How low they've sunk.

Thanks to Powerline

Posted by John Weidner at 1:05 PM

If you share the faith, nothing else matters...

Max Boot has an interesting article, The Fringe Fires at Bush on Iraq, on a variety of people being quoted as experienced foreign affairs experts, without any explanation of where they really are coming from...

....Equally biased are the former CIA officers who call themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity — a name that implies the administration, which they oppose, is insane. Ray Close, David MacMichael and Ray McGovern, who make up VIPS' steering committee, have many decades of intelligence experience among them, which is why they are often cited as sources by news organizations like the New York Times when they write stories about how the Bush team has run roughshod over "objective" CIA analysts.

What is seldom mentioned is where the VIPS-ters publish most of their anti-Bush screeds: on, a conspiracy-mongering website run by Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn. VIPS even has an e-mail address at Counterpunch, which is so extreme that it has run an article suggesting that the only major difference between George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler is that "Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was."....

Not just wackos of the Left. Teddy Kennedy quoted as an experrt a retired Air Force officer without giving any hint that she was a turnstone of the far-right isolationist mudflats...
...Since her retirement in March 2003, she has become a prolific contributor to isolationist publications like the American Conservative, Pat Buchanan's magazine, and, an ultra-libertarian website. Pretty much all her work is devoted to uncovering "neoconservative warmongers" who have supposedly taken over U.S. foreign policy. ....
I'm continually amazed by the strange bedfellows of the great anti-Bush volkswanderung. Anyone's welcome under the blankets if they claim that "Bush lied." Teddy is chummy with a Paleo-con, and I've seen Libertarians quoting with bland approval crypto-socialists who, when the Revolution comes, will be herding them onto the first trains to the re-education multi-cultural camps.

Bush-hatred is taking on the flavor of some new religion.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:42 AM

March 10, 2004

Stunted a generation...

When certain people pour scorn on the "axis of Evil" concept, and on regime-change, and claim it would be wrong for us to interfere with a sovereign nation, or act without the permission of the UN, or ruffle-up the Treaty of Westphalia...This is what they are trying to preserve, THIS is what they are FOR:

March 9, 2004: A decade of famine in North Korea, which has killed about ten percent of the population, has also stunted a generation. Until a few years ago, the North Korean army rejected any young man who was not at least five feet three inches tall. No more. Visitors note that more and more of the young soldiers they see appear to be the size of children (under five feet tall.) More worrisome to South Koreans, and something that is not discussed publicly, is the effect of malnutrition on IQ. It is known that children who suffer malnutrition when they are young, do less well in school and have more discipline problems. Some 500 North Korean children have made it to South Korea since the famine began, and they have had trouble in school. North Korean refugees who go to South Korean universities, drop out 80 percent of the time. Some of this poor academic performance can be attributed to the disruption, to the education system up north, by the famine. But the North Korean kids score lower on all sorts of tests. The South Korean government won't release statistics, but observers estimate that the Northern children born since the famine began a decade ago are three or more inches shorter than their counterparts down south....
Of course serious problems should come gay marriage, or outsourcing.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:58 PM

Just like here...

I once read an anecdote, I think Isaac Asimov told it about a once-skinny friend. The friend said: "All my life my mother complained that I was too thin—until the day she switched over and started complaining that I was too fat. I don't think there was a single day when she thought I was just right."

It's the same way with the newsmedia, when Republicans are in charge. The economy is always dismal, there's homelessness and joblessness and despair. When at last the awkward day comes that economic good news can no longer be denied, they flip instantly into lamentations about how greed and capitalism are destroying all that was once charming and simple!

Now it's the same with Iraq! Look at this WaPo article Iraqi Holy Cities Bow to a Capitalist Impulse! Shi'ite pilgrimage towns are booming as Iranians flood in—both to pray and to shop. It's sad, it's lamentable, the quiet charm is gone...greed and materialism are corrupting the people...

Well sure. There's a lot to be said for sleepy and charming places (assuming you are not one of the sleepy locals doing nothing because you're broke.) But if Clinton or Gore were President, we wouldn't be hearing how greed is spoiling Karbala. No sir. Remember the "Decade of Greed?" The 80's, the Reagan/Bush years? So why weren't the 90's called: "The Decade of Even Greedier?" The boom made the 80's look serene...But since a Democrat was in the White House, a capitalist feeding-frenzy was no bad thing.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:29 PM

Remember the "Stability" stage?

Remember how, among the many defense-lines Tranzis have been driven from, there was "Saddam (or the Taliban, or the Soviet Union) is bad but at least he provides stability?"

Well, now they are at that stage in their defense of the Public School System! This article, Built To Fail, reminds me of things we were reading in 2002. No Child Left Behind is going to "throw the system into turmoil!" Wasn't the Middle East going to be thrown into turmoil? Wasn't that going to be the End of the World?

...Under the terms of NCLB, which President Bush has called "the cornerstone of my administration," all of the nation's public school students must be tested in reading and math every year in grades three through eight, and at least once in grades ten through twelve. Any school receiving federal Title I money (ostensibly earmarked to improve the performance of disadvantaged students) faces increasingly harsh sanctions if its test scores fail to meet state-defined standards for making adequate yearly progress. After two years of AYP failure, the school must offer students the option of transferring to another public school in the district and bear the cost of transportation. After three years, the school must also offer low-income students tutorial services through a public or private agency approved by the state. After four years, the school district must take corrective actions such as removing personnel or changing the curriculum in the school. And after five years, the district is obliged to blow up, or "restructure," the school by replacing most or all of its staff or by turning over operations, as the U.S. Department of Education puts it, "to either the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness."

With reasonable guidelines and adequate funding, this timetable might have been a prudent course of education reform. But as the first sanctions are just now begininng to kick in, people across the country are belatedly discovering that NCLB is being structured and implemented as a punitive assault on public education, designed to throw the system into turmoil and open the door to privatization....

Gee, do you really really think so? Could that moron Bush have made a catastrophic mistake, trying to prop up the current system, and yet somehow demolishing it? Even with Teddy Kennedy's assistance? How very very stupid of him. Texans, you know...
'Status quo,' you know, that is Latin for 'the mess we're in.'
-- Ronald Reagan
* Update: If the "stability" argument fails to gain traction, I predict we'll be learning that Bush is a "mastermind" (with a cabal of shadowy Jewish education advisors) who is taking unfair advantage of simple honest straightforward Democrats. You read it here first...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM

March 9, 2004

when the corpses started to be counted...

Some simple good sense, from Brazilian writer Olavo de Carvalho:

...In the last days of the war, though, when the clandestine cemeteries in Iraqi prisons were opened and the corpses started to be counted, I could not avoid noticing — and writing — that the decision taken by George W. Bush had been morally correct and even obligatory: any country that kills 300 thousand political prisoners must be invaded and immediately subdued, even if it does not constitute any danger to neighboring nations or to the supposed “international order”...
Of course. And the tortuous gyrations people are going through to deny it, while not actually admitting that they consider Iraqis expendible in the noble cause of defeating Bush and concealing the bankruptcy of socialism, are alarming, like watching one of those pretzel-people who practice yoga...
(via Brothers Judd Blog)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:43 PM

#149: Chart cribbed and adjusted...

P. Krugman

Paul Krugman's column Promises, Promises (04/09/04) is really a tale of two charts. It's the chart he cribbed from Brad DeLong and printed in the NY Times today vs. DeLong's original chart [link] posted last week.

Krugman's cribbed chart shows how far the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) is off in their forecasts of payroll growth. This is a little like criticizing the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders for putting too high a point spread on America's Team. Of course the CEA tries to put the administration's case in the best light. That's what they get paid for. And Krugman gets paid for just the opposite.

DeLong at least had the intellectual honesty to include the Blue Chip consensus of fifty leading private forecasters (that's the yellow line in the chart below). Krugman took it out because his mission was to make the CEA look as bad as possible, not enlighten us.

The Blue Chip forecast is not as bullish as the others, but it's imminently reasonable. Moreover, it's about what one would expect under current circumstances emerging from a recession that was preceded by a bubble burst and accompanied by rapidly rising labor productivity. Job recovery can be agonizingly slow and that is not even the worst of it.

DeLong's Payroll Shortfall Chart

The facts are these: Many of the jobs lost in the last few years are not coming back. Ever! They are obsolete. They will be replaced by other jobs, but how well the new jobs pay will depend on the skill brought to the job by labor. The flipside of rising labor productivity is that labor must upgrade its skills to function with the new, more productive technology. Checkout clerks at Best Buy and espresso makers at Starbuck's are not going to make much money. Moreover, they are prone to become obsolete themselves in a few years.

To have it otherwise would be a denial of progress. If we listened to those who rail against "exporting" or "outsourcing" jobs, we would still in living in the world of the movie Pleasantville.

Krugman could better spend his time helping the Democrats come up with some sensible alternatives to taxing the rich and punishing "Benedict Arnold" CEOs for out sourcing.

He should also clear up where he got this chart.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 1:49 PM

Bush Glacier not out of steam yet ...

You probably won't hear much about this, but it could be revolutionary...

...Under the new process, each weapon system will be judged not just on its own merits but on the value it provides relative to everything else in the military's inventory, and the cost it exacts to do so. The question will no longer be whether the $250 million F/A-22 Raptor is better than its predecessor, the F-15E.

It is whether the F/A-22's ability to evade enemy air defense radar and bomb targets inside denied territory is that much more valuable than all the other weapon systems that do similar things. It could be compared to a submarine that carries cruise missiles, or an aircraft carrier with a deck full of lower-cost fighters, or even a B-2 bomber.

The challenge for the Pentagon is to try to find a way to make reasonable comparisons of disparate weapons systems....

So, Mr Kerry & all your lefty crowd, why don't you pause in the sniping and sneering for a moment, and tell us what are YOUR plans for making things work better...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:21 AM

March 7, 2004

Danger: Vegetarian Piranhas

Here's a site full of Photoshopped realistic images of Gary Larson cartoons. Quite amusing...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:38 AM

Useful idiots

Richard Bennett pours some cold water on those who think Howard Stern is the victim of persecution by a puritanical Bush Administration...

...The big fine levied against Stern by the Clinton Administration served to raise the bar for shock jocks, essentially providing Stern with the franchise for tasteless radio programming. Nobody could compete unless they were able to pay such a fine, and nobody who didn't already have a huge audience could get a syndicator.

So now Stern has climbed upon a cross and declared himself a victim of Bush and the Religious Right, weaving a web of lies to cover himself, such as the claim that he can't go to XM radio because it's 30% owned by Clear Channel (the correct figure is somewhere between 4 and 8%...

How far will this idiot go to promote himself, and how gullible are his supporters?...

How gullible? If you are criticizing Bush, they make Scientologists look cool and skeptical...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 AM

March 6, 2004

Spheres of influence

Those "9/11 family members" who appeared almost instantly to protest the President's mention of 9/11 in an ad, were, as was generally not pointed out, members of a far-left group: "September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows."

Alan points out this article, with info on what's cooking here. Who does "September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" get most of its money from? From the "Tides Foundation." And who is the head of the Tides Foundation, and donor of millions of dollars? Teresa Kerry.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:43 PM

Just an amazing coincidence...

From NewsMax (who I tend to be skeptical of, but I think this stuff is true):

The U.S. attorney [James Comey] who went after Martha Stewart in what looks to many like a prosecutorial jihad hasn't always been so tough on powerful women...

...Comey, however, was much more deferential to Mrs. Clinton. When President Clinton commuted the sentences of four New Square rabbis after their village voted 1,200 to 14 for Hillary in her Senate race against Rick Lazio, the ambitious prosecutor concluded that it was all just an amazing coincidence.

Fellow Pardongate target Denise Rich likewise seems to have escaped the Martha treatment, even though Comey's agents turned up reams of evidence suggesting Rich was less than truthful when she told probers that there was no connection between her husband's pardon and the $400,000 she donated to the Clinton Presidential Library...

The utter squalor of Clinton's selling of Presidential pardons, and the degradation of the leftists who were willing to overlook it for partisan reasons....well, it's no surprise that certain people are leaping to concoct spurious transgressions by Bush. Their vestigal consciences must be giving them a lot of discomfort...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:15 PM

March 5, 2004


We just watched Spellbound, the documentary on the National Spelling Bee. It's a true delight, I recommend it highly.

Do other countries have spelling bees? I've never heard of it. I suspect they deserve to be called the American Game as much as Baseball does. If you wander about in American history and literature, you will encounter the spelling bee quite often. I remember them from school, though I was never very good. I know more words than most people, but can't spell them worth a darn...

* Update: B. Durbin points out in a comment this interesting post by Bryan Micklethwait on spelling bees and melting pots...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 PM

"at best naivete and at worst dereliction..."

This is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for the cynicism of the worldly wise who favour playing it long.

Their worldly wise cynicism is actually at best naivete and at worst dereliction...
-- Tony Blair

read it all, great speech.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

I was just thinking again about how the the Dems are howling "foul" because Bush put a reference (brief and tasteful) to 9/11 in one of his new ads.

Boy oh boy oh boy...They are just really lucky I'm not the one cooking up ads for the Bush campaign. I got all kindsa ideas that would make Kerry choke on his crouton.

Ad opens: Murky swirling clouds of gray ash or dust.

Gradually ghostly figures become visible.

We dimly see that they are firemen and policemen, moving from right to left across the screen.

They are leading or carrying victims, and hastening to escape the choking clouds.

One fireman lingers, as the others vanish. He approaches the camera; he is nightmarishly caked with ash.

He raises a hand towards us, and begins to write with his finger. We realize we are looking through a dust-coated window.

He writes in the dust: NEVER FORGET.

Ad closes with: Bush/Cheney 2004

* Update: Betsy Newmark has a picture of a 1944 FDR campaign button. What does it say? "Remember Pearl Harbor"

* Update: Lileks is much better at the game of inventing Bush ads:

....Some say we should have listened to our allies.” A stock shot of Marcel Marceau in full-mime makeup, pretending to be trapped in a box. “Some people are a little too worried about what the waiter will think the next time they take a trip to Paris.” Shot of a Kerry lookalike in a bistro, saying “No, really, I’m Canadian.”....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:31 AM

#148: Vampire:hiss....Krugman:hissy-fit

P. Krugman

We had trouble today finding the focal points of Paul Krugman's column Social Security Scares (03/05/04). On a first quick reading he supported the Treasury view that Social Security is in pretty good shape:

"So does the Treasury report show a looming Social Security crisis? No."
and that Medicare is a problem for another day:
"When people issue ominous warnings about the cost of Medicare after 2077, my question is, Why should fiscal decisions today reflect the possible cost of providing generations not yet born with medical treatments not yet invented?"
We agree! So, can this be the Paul Krugman we all love to hate? Actually it can be. On a second reading we realized what was really bugging him. Privatization! Private Retirement Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts threaten to undermine government programs by allowing people to become more self-sufficient. To a socialist, talk of privatization is like waving a cross in front of a vampire. They hiss and turn away. In Krugman's case a hissy-fit is more descriptive.
"After Alan Greenspan's call for cuts in Social Security benefits, Republican members of Congress declared that the answer is to create private retirement accounts. It's amazing that they are still peddling this snake oil; it's even more amazing that journalists continue to let them get away with it�.Why is it so hard to say clearly that privatization would worsen, not improve, Social Security's finances?"
It's hard because any worsening would be temporary due only to transition funding and we would come out the other side with a system where each generation provides for itself privately rather than depending on the current intergenerational transfer system which is little more than a Ponzi scheme run by the government. What Krugman finds "scary" in Social Security Scares is the possibility that people will be depend less on the government in the future.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 AM

Bloggers on the case...

Poliblog makes some good points on the suspicious nature of the "outrage" generated by images of 9/11 in the Bush ad spots.

...Also, Michael Medved raised an interesting point: how did the press find, so quickly, outraged families of 911 victims within approximately 24-48 hours of the commercials airing, and why does that rate as the top story on the newswires (as I type it is the main story at the Yahoo News politics section, via the AP and is also a top story at Reuters)? It seems unlikely that there was sufficient outrage generated in that brief a time for the AP and Reuters to discover the story without looking for it. Rather, it seems fairly obvious that some reporters sought out victims' families to interview and ran with those who are outraged....
I'd guess they didn't have to seek them out, that the "news" was pre-packaged for them.

The post is also an interesting example of how blog commenters can add useful information to a story.

One person narrows down the timing—it sure looks like the press was prepared with outrage-prone people before the spots even ran. Another points out that most of those quoted are members of a lefty group that opposed even the invasion of Afghanistan. Bit of sampling-error there, eh?

A third commenter points out that not all of the outraged are from the fringes—that the The International Association of Fire Fighters called the ads "disgraceful." Then a fourth person points out that the President of the IAFF just happens to be the co-chair of Kerry's campaign!

(thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:25 AM

March 4, 2004

verbal gymnastics...

Poor poor Kerry. He's trying out a number of explanations why his vote to authorize the liberation of Iraq didn't actually mean that the administration was authorized to do so, and that for Bush to do what he clearly said he would do was a shocking and astonishing treachery. Here's one of them:

...Kerry's answer reminds me of the angry customer in the Federal Express ad who, clad only in a towel and a loofah mitt, calls a company to complain that FedEx delivered his package as scheduled, which he should not have expected, and by the way, it inconveniently interrupted a "complicated exfoliation."

Kerry's answer was that Washington insiders believed that Bush didn't mean what he said. "I think that you had a hard-line group (then Pentagon adviser) Richard Perle, (Deputy Defense Secretary) Paul Wolfowitz and probably (Vice President Dick) Cheney. But when Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker (former advisers to the first President Bush) weighed in, very publicly in op-eds in The New York Times and the (Washington) Post, the chatter around Washington and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell in particular, who was very much of a different school of thought, was really that the president hadn't made up his mind. He was looking for an out. That's what a lot of people thought."...

I'm not sure that makes sense, but perhaps it's not intended to be scrutinized too closely. Another line he's taking is that he voted for war because he thought that would make it harder for Bush to go to war!

I don't know how these contrivances will fly with the electorate, but no doubt Josh Marshall finds them perfectly reasonable. (Maybe he wrote them.)

And the poor Dems are going need some other verbal gymnastics soon. They have to explain why the the new Bush campaign ads, which are upbeat and feature happy Americans saying they are pleased with the President, somehow constitute a vicious smear campaign of shocking ugliness, one that's forcing Democrats, despite their reluctance, to respond in kind...

* Update: Jonah Goldberg gets it right, on the complaints that Bush ads shouldn't use 9/11 imagery:

...I'm sorry, but while I have a great deal of sympathy for the families of 9/11 victims, I think these complaints are nonsense squared. A lot more people died during Vietnam than on 9/11 and John Kerry has been running ads with footage from there for months. These families may have a unique relationship to 9/11 but they do not have ownership of that day, politically, culturally or otherwise and it would be absurd if this administration caved on this point, even though I'm sure the media will be delighted to exploit the personal tragedies of these families...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:37 PM

March 3, 2004

#147: So what happened to Rubinomics?

P. Krugman

It must be winter again. Once a year about this time Paul Krugman loads his bazooka and fires one at Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. There was The Quite Man (01/08/02) and the Maestro is a Hack (02/07/03) and now, right on cue, we have Maestro of Chutzpah (03/02/04). These columns are so close in content you could lay a dime over them and not see the difference. We have often marveled that Krugman's lazy recycling habits seem lost on the NY Times editors. Even Hip-Hop recording studios demand new material occasionally.

However, we keep trying to think of original ways to respond to Krugman's shopworn tirades. But it's tough. His principal beef with Greenspan is that he supported the Bush tax cuts. Krugman has written at least 50 columns centered on "tax cuts for the rich" as the root of all fiscal evil. In fact, he attributes most of the "unraveling" in his book The Great Unraveling to these tax cuts. The result, he says in various colorful ways, will be exploding deficits and fiscal ruin and eventual banana republic-hood. The only hope is a Democrat in the White House.

But wait a minute. What about Rubinomics (named for Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin)? We haven't heard that term in a while, have we? That's probably because the bell-weather indicator of Rubinomics, the long-term Treasury bond, currently is not following the Krugman playbook. Let's review:

According to Rubinomics, bond investors are among the most financially savvy folks on earth. They don't tie up money in a fixed-income instrument for ten years or more without demanding a yield that will cover the foreseeable contingencies resulting from fiscal irresponsibility. Prospective deficits are problems only if excessive government borrowing in the future might drive up future interest rates. But the savvy old bond market doesn't have to wait around until the future to reflect a looming problem. The ten-year Treasury note is trading right now on the Chicago Board of Trade. If the bond market sees a fiscal crisis coming down the road it bids up long-term rates NOW.

Another tenet of Rubinomics is that the bond market is omniscient. It's all-seeing and all-knowing. You can't fool it; you can't argue with it; and you can't shut it down. There were reports that Bill Clinton would pound his desk in frustration when Rubin told him he couldn't promote some spending program or other because it would raise yields in the bond market.

So, if all of the neofiscs from Krugman to Andrew Sullivan are right, then the yield on the ten-year Treasury note must be exploding, right? Well, perhaps it should be, but as shown in the chart, it's not. The yield is near a 40 year low and shows no signs of concern. Either they are wrong, or Rubinomics is wrong. We think they are wrong. As we have pointed out before, the projected deficit over the next ten years, under reasonable assumptions, is around 2.5 percent of projected GDP. That's good enough to qualify the US for the Euro zone (joke) and explains why the bond market isn't worried by the Krugman hyperbolics.

10 Year Bond Maturity Chart

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 11:04 AM


It now seems clear that the Judicial Committee memos that were leaked were not, as Dems have charged, obtained by "hacking" or theft. The Dems who were running the committee until recently never implemented any security on their computer system. All memos were available to everyone!

SO, I'll just sit here for a while and wait for Democrats to apologize for their slanderous charges of theft.....

(That's a joke. Ha Ha Ha.)

The big question is why the leakers weren't called "whistleblowers"...Could there be a bit of a double standard?

The even bigger question of why the substance of the memos has been almost ignored...well, perhaps that's a different double-standard. Maybe: "disgusting behavior by Democrats gets a pass because it's business-as-usual?" Or maybe: "Any Democrat lies are OK because 'Bush lied'?"

Thanks to Mike Krempasky for the links.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:22 AM

March 2, 2004

The Angel Gabriel told me...

Kerry flubbed his response when someone asked him whether "God is on our side."

What he should have said, (unfair, but hey, that's politics) was "Of course He's on our side. And He's really fed up with George Bush portraying Him as a Republican!"

Something like that. He could have answered "yes" and at the same time punctured the pomposity of anyone who would answer "yes" seriously. His anti-Christian base would have enjoyed it, and ordinary Americans would not have been too put-off.

Alas, I can't think of anything witty from Kerry. It's going to be a lonnng season....

* Update: Actually, I can think of a whole bunch of things Kerry might have said. The New Testament is full of subversive stuff about poor riffraff being favored by God while powerful presidents and their counselors get the door slammed in their faces. (Of course this is exactly why the Democrat activist base is anti-Christian, but they wouldn't object in this case.)

Why didn't Kerry's handlers have him prepared for a question like that? They may not know what to say themselves, but any Christian could tell them—surely there must be some Christians in Massachusetts? Or they could send a Harvard anthropologist to the heartlands with his pockets full of beads and trinkets and Krispy Kreme donuts...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:58 AM

March 1, 2004

"but mostly because it was free..."

He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory, of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that free men could be prosperous.
Abraham Lincoln, from a eulogy for Henry Clay
When people talk about patriotism, this is the real McCoy...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:32 PM

Nice blogging client for Macs...

Thanks to Todd for for the tip. Ecto is a Mac blogging client that makes it easier to blog with MT, Typepad, and various other bloggeting software, by handling various routine chores.

One nice thing is the HTML button. (I think the Windows version of MT has those, but my Mac edition doesn't.) In the sentence above, I copied the URL's from the web pages, highlighted the text that I wanted to be clickable ("Todd") and chose url with clipboard and the link is made, with color-coded tags. Same with italics or boldface, just highlight and click.

Set-up was dead easy; I just entered the Random Jottings URL and my passwords. The program found everything else on its own, and I just started posting...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:20 AM

"They never cite any case law or specific instances..."

Here's a good article on how the lunatic left is demonizing the Patriot Act without giving a damn whether or not anyone's rights are actually infringed

.... A platoon of "civil rights" groups have launched a lobbying offensive for the passage of local resolutions that denounce the Patriot Act and call for its repeal. In hysterical terms, these resolutions scream that civil liberties have been violated. Eager protesters, their beards graying with age, pack city council chambers to tell of the horrors they have read on the Internet.

They never cite any case law or specific instances of lost liberties. But they've duped more than 200 credulous city councils across the country into passing these resolutions. And now it's hit a dangerous extreme - crossing the line from denunciation to non-cooperation...

... Numerous challenges to the Patriot Act have been raised; and virtually all have been squarely rejected. To date, only one court (a federal district court in the Central District of California) has held any provision of the Act unconstitutional - and that in a highly contrived case in which no one was actually arrested for anything....

One could go on and on about this. When i think of those stupid librarians getting ready to defy Ashcroft's gestapo, without giving a damn that no library records have been seized, or are even likely to be; that it could only be done with a warrant, and is already legal in ordinary criminal cases...(and at the same time refusing to speak up for librarians imprisoned by Castro)....

How I hate those all fraudulent creeps.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:07 AM