The NY Times hails the new multilateralism at the Bush Administration, sort of:
U.S. Acquiesces to Allies on New Iran Nuclear Resolution
WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 — The United States, bowing to the wishes of its allies, agreed Monday to let the International Atomic Energy Agency adopt a resolution deploring Iran's nuclear program without referring the issue to the United Nations for possible sanctions, administration officials said.
...Yielding to the insistence of France, Britain and Germany, the administration backed off its demand that Iran be condemned and that allegations of its misconduct be referred to the United Nations Security Council. The three European countries have joined in an unusual coalition to press Iran to cooperate.
Administration officials said that in the end, the United States had little choice but to go along not only with the wishes of its European allies, but also with the urging of the atomic energy agency's leadership, most notably its general director, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei.
Now, the US may or may not have had a better proposal. But this type of reporting hardly represents a pat on the back to the non-cowboys in the Administration. Why not just say, they folded up faster than a John Kerry flip-flop, and be done with it?
A very kind friend of mine had the perfect birthday gift for me - he took me to a talk by Paul Krugman sponsored by the New School in cooperation with the NY Times. The evening was fun, and the presentation was a pleasant non-surprise - given the political sensibilities of the Manhattan audience, the Professor shone forth as a beacon of (relative) calm and moderation. Now, did I really think he would start drooling or raving? I had my hopes!
So, highlights and lowlights - since no one was attacking him, the Earnest Prof felt free to indulge a charming, self-deprecating sense of humor. At one point, he was asked whether he would consider running for political office. He began a "Top Ten Reasons Krugman Cannot Be A Candidate": "the beard would have to go, I am too short, I can't remember anyone's name...". Big laughs.
From my random jottings: he was very clear that he could not endorse any candidate. However, he said that an effective Dem would need to be strong on national security, neutralize the patriotism issue, and engage in calm, rather than bellicose confrontation. He went on to say, "it might help if your first name is 'General' ". This is part of his stump speech, apparently.
On the looming budget train wreck - he acknowledged that a future Administration might alter the budgetary path that Bush has put us on. "A new FDR" might be elected, derailing the revolution of the radical right. Well, yes - even Bush supporters admit that, if the votes aren't there, these tax cuts are (future) history.
And on the question of the radical right, we got a bit of a shocker, and I paraphrase closely: "I don't think there is a cabal in the White House plotting to seize power... saying it is a fascist conspiracy is not helpful".
Huh? I can't reconcile that with his book intro, but that's what he said last night.
On the subject of income inequality and social mobility, he informed us that "the US is no longer the land of Horatio Alger, Europe is". I would love to see the evidence; David Brooks alluded to that point in his recent column when he said this:
...The gap between American and European G.D.P. per capita has widened over the past two decades, and at the moment American productivity rates are surging roughly 5 percent a year.
The biggest difference is that over the past two decades the United States has absorbed roughly 20 million immigrants. This influx of people has led, in the short term, to widening inequality and higher welfare costs as the immigrants are absorbed, but it also means that the U.S. will be, through our lifetimes, young, ambitious and energetic.
Sprint to the finish - the Earnest prof is working on a tell-all column on the scandal of touch screen voting - I infer from his deliberately vague comments that the companies that make the new voting equipment all contribute to Bush, and the fix is in for future elections. And his Bold Prediction: the Euro will be above 140 in twelve months (Although he mentioned as an aside that Europe is also a mess. A rare moment!)
Nothing on his book cover, very little on civility, and one would have to listen very carefully to guess that we have an opposition party - the feeling of the crowd was that it is the job of the NY Times to make the case against Bush. For example, Dems were bullied into voting for the Patriot Act and the Iraq war resolution. Is it fair to worry that, if put into leadership positions, they would fold up like cheap suitcases if bullied by Chirac? No one asked. Bon soir.
From Andrew Sullivan, "The Grim Task In Iraq":
...I do know we still have a hell of a job ahead of us - in the Sunni Triangle at least. I know it's early days yet, but the president needs to speak to the public at some point in ways that acknowledge more deeply the long, hard slog we face. And the huge dangers we have yet to encounter on the way.
The President has taken a political hit for not attending funeral services honoring our soldiers who died in Iraq. Very well. Let him go to these services regularly, and give a speech expressing condolences, honoring the fallen as our nation's heroes who died bringing the gift of freedom to Iraq, and renewing our commitment to complete the job they have so nobly begun. Borrowing liberally from the Gettysburg Address is fine.
His recent appearance at a memorial service seems to have hit those notes. If the President does this regularly, we predict two probable outcomes - the President will be greeted by cheering troops who support the war, and critics will commence to whine that he is politicizing the memorial services to his own advantage. Confounding the critics is just a bonus - the President should do this because it is the right thing.
Old NY Times stories never die, they just fade into the archives, where your original link can no longer find them. But that was sooo yesterday!
The CalPundit tells us yesterday what lots of folks knew in June, and which I am just discovering - RadioLand has worked out a perma-link agreement with the NY Times.
Its simple, really, if you know what an RSS aggregator is. As a troglodyte still blinking his eyes at the mysteries of this thing you call "Windows 98", my take-away was this: the NYTimes set up a special perma-linking system at the behest of a web/blog service called RadioLand, so that bloggers could get true perma-links to NY TImes stories.
Now, maybe you are like, into it, and want to set up your own RSS aggregator. Very 21st century, and have a nice day.
For the rest of us, what you want is a simple website that does the work for you, and presents NY Times headlines with the proper perma-tag. And since the genie of the blogosphere has anticipated your every desire, that website is here.
And for the total lamers amongst us, the website actually has a perma-link generator - put in the raw NY Times link, and it coughs up the archival-proof perma link, recognizable by the end bit which says "partner=USERLAND".
Anyway, I have permalinks to both pages over under "Media", and it has worked like a charm. Check it out, fight link rot, set knowledge (permanently) free for free, and have a nice weekend.
No discussion of the recent Feith memo leaked to the Weekly Standard would be complete without a mention of the Tenet letter of October 2002. The letter declassified some information to aid the Senate debate on Iraq, and included this:
Regarding Senator Bayh's Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana question of Iraqi links to al-Qa'ida. Senators could draw from the following points for unclassified discussions:
Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qa'ida is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.
We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida going back a decade.
Credible information indicates that Iraq and al-Qa'ida have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.
Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qa'ida members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
We have credible reporting that al-Qa'ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qa'ida members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al-Qa'ida, suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.
These points seem to appear in the Feith memo.
There may come a day when we address two points made by Josh Marshall. His gist - the Feith memo is based on an August 2002 analysis and is not new news; and the source, Feith and his intel group, is not credible.
Since the CIA put its stamp on some of the allegations and insinuations, the "not-credible" response seems light. I suppose the revised defense would be, that which is new is not credible; that which is credible is not new.
How the "not new" response relates to intelligence developed from documents and personnel captured during the war, I have no idea.
UPDATE: Or, you could read the WaPo.
MORE: This story from the NY Times is tangentially related, as it speaks to the reliability of the CIA. The IAEA recently released its latest study on Iran and North Korea, and we extract this: "Iran's program turns out to have been even broader and deeper than American intelligence agencies suspected."
Gee, sometimes the CIA underestimates. As, for example, Iraq in the early 90's, or India in the mid 90's.
Doesn't mean they were wrong, and the Admin right, on Iraq recently. But it gives ammunition to those who decline to take the CIA consensus as gospel.
We are pondering the absolute silence of the NY Times on the Weekly Standard story (with follow-up) about the links between Osama and Saddam. The story centered on a memo from Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith (a noted neocon) to the Senate Intelligence Committee, providing supporting detail to his recent Senate testimony.
But there is no Feith-based reporting at the NY Times! Jack Shafer has a theory, but we have a question: why is the NY Times so down on this story, but so excited about their own secret agent scoop?
Messr. Belgravitas has more (and more), but the soundbite it this - the Ny Times is besotted with the notion that, regardless of whether Tariq Aziz was stiffing Colin Powell, a ludicrous back-channel attempt to (maybe) contact Richard Perle represented our last, best hope for peace. This vision recurs in a Nov. 16 editorial, so they are loving it.
One story up, one story down. Any pattern?
And, in a tribute to the power of the Blogosphere, the NY Times joins in on Nov. 20.
Boom, boom! Out go the lights!
Well, not here. I linked to a Michael O'Hanlon / Brookings Institution effort last week which was cautiously optimistic on progress in Iraq. Among his encouraging points was that electricity production was rising.
Or maybe not - Sadly, No saddens us with the news that October may have been a peak, and that output has fallen in November.
Inspired by Jane Galt, I have to let it out - Hillary Clinton has been a genius on Iraq.
She gave a floor speech in October 2002 that a Republican, or John Kerry, could love, thus following the calculation of the moment. Since then, she has not let herself get sucked into that quagmire, and has instead focussed on preparedness for first responders as her national security calling card. Ths issue hits on funding and training for policeman, firemen, and first aid folks, which is clearly a good choice for a Senator from NY. Homemakers for Homeland Security!
Not being a candidate right now is her smartest decision. If she does let herself be drafted, she will be spared the ghastly infighting and re-positioning that is killing Kerry. Most likely, though, it is on to 2008!
By which time, some of us may have forgotten why we loathe her.
UPDATE: Brad DeLong is a good man who does not seem to have a good chance of being tapped for a Hillary Administration. However, if I cleverly twist his words, I think we can pry from him an endorsement of the Hillary 2004 strategy:
..Why doesn't [the columnist] do something useful with his space--like tell us whether he thinks Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a better president than George W. Bush (almost surely) or would make a good president (almost surely not)?
Critics of the Bush policy in Iraq insist that we need to "internationalize" the mission, a point I will illustrate with Gen. Clark's fine speech, if I can find it.
Critics of the Bush Admin. also point out that they lack confidence in its commitment to nation building in Iraq, offering as evidence Bush's disparaging comments about nation building prior to his Selection (I'm citing the critics, here), and the apparent back-sliding in Afghanistan.
So, without further ado - isn't it the case that we have "internationalized" Afghanistan? We have UN resolutions, and NATO has taken over security in Kabul. And how is it going?
The excerpts below [after the Nick Kristof update] suggest NATO is not leaping forward to pull its weight. When I tire of trying to comprehend NATO, I pick up a copy of "The Little Red Hen".
UPDATE: A mere one day later, Nick Kristof makes the same point:
...The reality is that the U.N. and NATO have even less stomach for suicide bombs than Americans do. The U.N., after all, has been frantically cutting staff in Baghdad. And if we can't get NATO countries to secure Afghanistan, why would it be easier in Iraq — particularly now that guerrillas have displayed their multiculturalism by blowing up 19 Italians?
...I've asked two Democratic presidential candidates, Richard Gephardt and another who spoke off the record, if it's really credible to offer the U.N. and NATO as a solution to Iraq. They harrumph a bit in a way that I interpret to mean: "Maybe not, but it works in front of television cameras."
You're selling your house, and your real estate agent claims that he's representing your interests. But he sells the property at less than fair value to a friend, who resells it at a substantial profit, on which the agent receives a kickback. You complain to the county attorney. But he gets big campaign contributions from the agent, so he pays no attention.
That, in essence, is the story of the growing mutual fund scandal.
Ahh, the corrupt Bush Administration turning a blind eye to the predations of its crony capitalists - a bold new direction for the Earnest Prof.
Is Mickey Kaus Cuckoo for Kucinich! NO! But his latest, self-admittedly paranoid post about Howard Dean, titled "How Anti-War Is Dean, Really?", questions the authenticity of Howard Dean's anti-war position.
Not all of us have followed Dennis the Menace with an eagle eye. However, his army of supporters has been developing this very theme, as we see from a Kucinich website article helpfully titled "WHO IS THE ANTIWAR CANDIDATE -- DEAN OR KUCINICH? "
The Kucinich posting has lots of juicy quotes, but where are the links? Jiminy, is this candidate ready for the 21st century? Here we go with the footnotes, as we trace the evolution of the Dean position:
Sept. 23, 2002, DEAN -- Might Endorse Pre-Emptive Strike. From the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Sept. 29, 2002 - Messrs. Dean and Kucinich on CBS Face the Nation. Team Special K does not emphasize this, but the appearance gave us this oft-cited Dean passage:
Andrew Sullivan: "...today's 20/20 critics seem eager to claim that, even after 9/11, the administration should only have acted against Saddam if it had proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he was indeed in league with al Qaeda.
Sen. John Kerry, October, 2002: "The events of September 11 created new understanding of the terrorist threat and the degree to which every nation is vulnerable. That understanding enabled the administration to form a broad and impressive coalition against terrorism. Had the administration tried then to capitalize on this unity of spirit to build a coalition to disarm Iraq, we would not be here in the pressing days before an election, late in this year, debating this now."
Sen. John Kerry, January 2003: "So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but it is not new. It has been with us since the end of the Persian Gulf War. Regrettably the current Administration failed to take the opportunity to bring this issue to the United Nations two years ago or immediately after September 11th, when we had such unity of spirit with our allies."
C'mon, Andrew, let's give credit where due - Tall John stood up for linking Saddam with 9/11 not once, but twice, in his two most significant foreign policy speeches.
Of course, that was many months, and several Kerrys, ago.
Mark Kleiman takes the time to respond to Glenn Reynolds and myself with a series of "take it back" challenges. Does anyone else remember the classic scene in "Breaking Away", where the overly excited Dad has a problem with the word "Refund!"? I have taken my heart pills!
Mr. Kleiman braces our spirits with a reference to Winston Churchill, and suggests I prepare to eat some crow. Right, then, what's cooking?
Provide evidence from Clark's words or actions that Clark is crazy, or at least that his expressed belief in a long-term multi-country plan for regime change habored by important people around the President is crazy, or take it back.
Provide evidence that Clark is crazy? This cannot be the road down which the Clark campaign wants to walk. As we say in the VRWC, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! Or, to quote General Clark himself, "I'm not sure that I can prove this yet".
But seriously, folks, this is a phony benchmark, as we suggested in our original post. The original allegation made by Andrew Sullivan was "Ross Perot crazy". Now, Mr. Perot is an Annopolis grad, an enormously successful self-made businessman, and a two-time Presidential candidate, who has not, to my knowledge, been institutionalized or even treated for mental illness. Frankly, it is not even clear what "Ross Perot crazy" means, and I doubt we will find a diagnosis in a textbook, although we get useful hints here.
My take was that Gen. Clark was fond of conspiracy theories, like Ross Perot. My evidence is:
(a) the Clark quote from the Boyer piece: "I'm not sure that I can prove this yet." '
(b) the phone calls so famously described by Gen. Clark and misinterpreted by Prof. Krugman on the left, as well as the Weekly Standard and George Will on the right. Stripped down, the General says, the White House was everywhere, I even got a call from a Canadian think-tank. Sounds Perovian to me. [NOTE - I fell prey to a sinister plot to insert the words "the White House was behind it" where I intended to put "everywhere"; I read the Spinsanity piece, but I didn't replace the tinfoil in my NY Yankees cap, so I am blaming mind rays].
(c) Clark's claim that the White House tried to get him fired from CNN. Maybe there is some devastating follow-up which I have missed, but again, this seems Perovian.
Hey, this is kind of fun, and the debate is so subjective that I can't possibly lose. Or win. Submit your favorites in the comments below. Since I don't expect the Clark side to concede that their guy is hearing voices, and I am resolute in my belief that the stuff I have cited is a bit kooky, we appear to be stalemated.
Since I am a fan of both contestants, and have been following the underlying topic, I have an excuse to pitch in my two cents. AND, since I have something neither of them has, you can pitch in your two cents, too.
Here we go: Mr. Kleiman has two objections - Mr. Reynolds endorsed the characterization of Wesley Clark as "Ross Perot crazy", and then impugned his patriotism. Let's tackle Ross Perot first, from Mr. Kleiman's side:
Clark, who (agree with him or not) surely qualifies as an expert on military affairs, has made an extended argument that attacking Iraq made the United States less secure than it otherwise could have been, because it distracted attention and energy that should have been devoted to hunting down Osama bin Laden and the rest of the remnants of al-Qaeda.
It is that argument that leads Sullivan, whose credentials as a military analyst are perhaps less obvious than a four-star general's, to question Clark's sanity...
Well, no - Mr. Kleiman is somewhat unreliable as a reporter on this point. Let's go to the videotape, and see for ourselves what prompted Mr. Sullivan to remember Ross Perot:
...it appears that Clark has something else in mind when referring to these "false pretenses." It comes next in the Boyer piece:
"[Clark] then told me--as he has told others--how he came to learn of a secret war scheme within the Bush Administration, of which Iraq was just one piece.
...Clark visited the Pentagon a couple of months later, and the same general told him that the Bush team, unable or unwilling to fight the actual terrorists responsible for the attacks, had devised a five-year plan to topple the regimes in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and Sudan ... Clark, in repeatedly telling his account, seems to suggest that he had special knowledge of a furtive Pentagon plan that would have the Administration "hopscotching around the Middle East and knocking off states," as he put it. He has acknowledged, "I'm not sure that I can prove this yet." '
Let's put this kindly: This is Ross Perot-crazy. First off, there obviously was a primary and clear attempt to destroy al Qaeda and its base of operations in Afghanistan... But the notion that the Bush administration decided to go after Saddam instead of Al Qaeda is just contrary to what we know happened.
The idea that this was also some subterfuge is also loopy. The Bush administration and its supporters have long argued that something drastic was needed to turn the culture and politics of the Middle East around.
This seems to be the same neocon conspiracy that Special Agent Josh Marshall discovered by the clever expedient of reading people's speeches. For the General to pretend that he has special insight into a secret plan, but can't quite prove it, sounds like, well, Ross Perot explaining that he had to drop out of the election because President Bush had a secret plan to disrupt his daughter's wedding. I will drag a Brother Judd in to show that others saw it that way, too.
Gen. Clark intends to skip the New Hampshire debate to attend a fundraiser in New York City? I boldly predict that his plans will change.
[Boyer] portrays Clark as not only maneuvering around the chiefs in his advocacy, but also as drawing a lackadaisical Clinton White House—distracted by domestic troubles over Monica Lewinsky—into war. In fact, however, Clinton may have been distracted somewhat, but Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was not. Albright was a fiery supporter of military intervention in the Balkans... Albright was the prime mover; many observers at the time—supporters and critics alike—called it "Madeleine's war."
Last week, Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute emerged as a voice of reason on the Iraq debate. This week, he re-appears in the NY Times, with a flip chart that is probably not legible on line. I excerpt the text below, but before we do that. let's stop by the Brookings Institute.
A Relatively Promising Counterinsurgency War: Assessing Progress in Iraq - Michael O'Hanlon testifies to the House Armed Services Committee on October 29, 2003. We skip past the Bush-bashing, and take this from his intro: "in my judgment the administration is basically correct that the overall effort in Iraq is succeeding. By the standards of counterinsurgency warfare, most factors, though admittedly not all, appear to be working to our advantage. While one would be mistaken to assume rapid or easy victory, Mr. Rumsfeld's leaked memo last week probably had it about right when he described the war as a "long, hard slog" that we are nonetheless quite likely to win."
And, totally off-topic, we see this:
School Choice: Doing it the Right Way Makes a Difference - the time-trap of web-surfing snares me again.
Back to Iraq below.
The General has an idea - let's form a joint special operations team with the Saudis to hunt for Osama in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I'm pretty sure this is a really bad idea. Let's start with the obvious: what is the best-case outcome? The Saudis are going to root out Osama? Apparently, that's what Clark is thinking:
"General Clark said the joint United States-Saudi commando force would be similar to groups formed by the American military and police forces in Colombia while he oversaw United States military operations in Latin America."
Again: hmmm. Columbia's our model for success with this scheme? I'm still not seeing the wisdom.
The Judd Bro is warmer to the idea:
The General was here in town last night and offered what would appear to be the first excellent idea of the Democratic primary season: the Saudi commandos probably aren't much use, but it's a good way of putting them on the spot and helping to turn the war on terror into an Arab/Muslim cause, not just a Western one.
And Mark Kleiman would like to be convinced:
New and serious ideas about fighting terrorism aren't easy to come by. I'm not sure Wesley Clark's proposal to get the Saudi armed forces involved in a joint task force to hunt down Osama bin Laden is a good idea, but it's worth taking seriously.
Diplomatically, the idea strikes me as rather brilliant. It's a no-lose proposition. Either the Saudis come with us, thus committing themselves against al-Qaeda, or they don't, thus making the hollowness of their asserted cooperation against terrorism clear.
He is less optimistic about whether the Saudis can make a usefull contribution, but his domestic political analysis is good.
Now, full disclosure - I had my own reaction to this idea only partway through thr NY Times story, before I realized that John Kerry was opposed. My first thought - how do we trust the Saudi soldiers, some of whom may have Osama sympathizers in their families, and what risks do our soldiers face if they share intelligence with them?
Sen. Kerry objected on grounds of operational security, so I need to come up with something else.
Right then - first, it may be a good idea. I would not be inclined to mount joint raids with the Saudis, since I would not trust them. However, Osama had plenty of Saudis amongst his Arab fighters in Afghanistan; let the Saudis put together teams of commandos roaming the countryside passing themselves off as Al Qaeda stragglers, and who knows what they might turn up, or where the locals might point them.
But that said, one hopes we are already doing that - Egypt and Jordan would have troops with similar capability, and their governments have been battling Al Qaeda (or predecessors, or other terrorist organizations) for years. Maybe the General is proposing a good idea already underway. Which illustrates the problem wiith debates about secret plans - how might the White House respond to this proposal, if it reached that point? "Been there, done that"? "Already on it, chief"? And how would we know?
The General's comments are here.
In U.S., Fears Are Voiced of a Too-Rapid Iraq Exit
The Bush administration's decision to speed the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq and replace American troops with Iraqis is bringing fresh warnings from Congress and policy experts against pulling out of Iraq too early and letting election-year considerations dictate Iraq policy.
Much of the anxiety about Iraq is being expressed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and those raising questions include both supporters and critics of the war.
They go on to present the concerns of both liberal and conservative critics. Since we only take conservatives seriously around here, we excerpted this, sparing at least some of our readership the annoyance of tuning out the other half:
Andrew Sullivan takes Michael Kinsley to task:
KINSLEY'S MYOPIA: Mike Kinsley pulls off the astonishing feat of trying to tackle how president Bush went from being an anti-nation-building realist to a liberal internationalist in a few years without mentioning a certain incident that occurred, oh, say nine months or so into his presidency. Memo to Mike: some terorists attacked U.S. soil on September 11, 2001. 3,000 people or so were killed. It made a teensy little difference to U.S. foreign policy.
Now, I'm not surprised that Andrew Sulivan is right, but I am shocked that Mr. Kinsley could be this wrong - even if he disputes that 9/11 was a legitimate basis for Bush changing his mind, he surely ought to address the point.
Even more interestingly, the passage cited by Mr. Kinsley is support of his thesis falls well short of achieving his objective. generalizing from the Somalia experience, Candidate Bush said:
Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious. I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. I think the United States must be humble … in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course."
Let's see - was Saddam a threat to our vital interests in the Middle East? Arguably, yes. Was the mission clear? Our goal was to overthrow Saddam and create a democratic Iraq - seems clear enough. Did we have an exit strategy? Well, as Bill Kristol says, we need a Victory Strategy, but yes - the exit strategy is to train Iraqi military and police forces that can manage their internal security, and leave behind a democratic Iraq. And finally, was the US interfering with a country that was figuring out how to chart its own course? We are talking about Saddam, right? Then the answer is no, Iraq was not working its way towards democracy, or much of anything else.
Mr. Kinsley has given his Slate readers a column that ignores 9/11, and attempts to rebut President Bush by ignoring his own words while simultaneously quoting them. Nice work if you can get it.
Emma, a documentary film maker, has a very interesting idea. What she needs is some fellow film makers not named Michael Moore, to help out.
So, if you see yourself in pictures, or behind a camera, check out her proposal.
And a Bold Prediction: at roughly 2 AM tomorrow morning, I will wake up and remember the name of the person that I know is interested in film making. Don't be like me! Think of the person you know that is interested in film making, and please send them an e-mail right now.
Darn. I thought if I kept typing, it would come to me. Can't trick myself, though - 2 AM it is.
Vote in favor of Iraq war dooms Kerry
...the torpor of the Kerry campaign can be traced to one act, one decision, one vote: his support of the resolution giving President Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
...Even now, a year later, Kerry has trouble explaining his vote to go to war. You'd think a man like Kerry -- a decorated Vietnam veteran who later became an outspoken critic of that war -- would have a succinct, indeed passionate, explanation for his vote. But Kerry stammers, sputters, doubles back, never able to give a short and simple response.
Perhaps that's because Kerry's vote was based on politics, not principle.
I heard exactly that from my child's pediatrician yesterday. If mid fiftyish Connecticut doctors are on the same page with this voice of the South, it bodes poorly for Kerry.
My (non)-answer to both of them - that vote was pure Kerry, who has been accused of putting himself on both sides of every issue for years. If he can't articulate a position on Iraq and his voice sounds funny when he tries, it is because not even Tall John can successfully straddle this tall a fence.
MORE: Mild bronchial infection for the kid, thanks for asking. I am assured by my source that Ms. Tucker is a big deal in the South East, so this may be further evidence that Kerry's derided Southern strategy is falling apart. Whose campaign will the vultures (YES, I have a mirror handy!) flock to next?
John Kerry is the catspaw of the Kennedy machine; Wesley Clark is the catspaw of the Clinton machine; both want to derail Howard Dean so that the Dems can run respectably in the South, and nationwide.
However, Howard Dean, the internet, and George Soros have made Terry McCauliffe obsolete.
WASHINGTON — Both power centers of the Democratic establishment — the Kennedy left and the Clinton middle — are frantic at the prospect of losing control of their party to Howard Dean. They fear a McGovernesque debacle that would hand the G.O.P. a super-majority in the Senate.
The current chaos in the Kerry camp is part of the Kennedy co-option:
So the Kennedy Left moved in to resuscitate John Kerry's campaign. Kerry is a war hero who led Vietnam Vets Against the War and has long been a Kennedy Senate ally. Some liberals believe he expunged his sin of having voted for this year's resolution to overthrow Saddam by recently joining Kennedy in voting against paying for it.
The Kennedyization of the Kerry campaign was carried out by Jeanne Shaheen, the former New Hampshire governor. She prevailed on the candidate to fire his longtime manager, Jim Jordan, and replace him with Mary Beth Cahill, Ted Kennedy's chief of staff. Cahill has impeccable far-left credentials, from Emily's List fund-raising to Representative Barney Frank's staff. She is an ideological soulmate of the superb writer and Kennedy Boston braintruster Robert Shrum, who has been battling Jordan to yank Kerry's moderate position over to the demonstrative dovecote.
Now we know.
Yesterday, David Halbfinger and Adam Nagourney described the dismissal of campaign manager Jim Jordan. Brutal detail:
Mr. Kerry held a 45-minute telephone conference call on Sunday to discuss the firing with aides, many of whom had been hired by Mr. Jordan and who were described by participants in the meeting as distraught and unsettled by this latest instance of turmoil in the Kerry campaign. Rather than calming the waters, three people who took part in the call said, Mr. Kerry was pummeled for nearly an hour by campaign aides who asked if Mr. Jordan was becoming a scapegoat for the candidate's shortcomings.
The participants also demanded to know what Mr. Kerry was going to do to set the campaign back on track, aides who participated in the phone call said.
"We know and you know that Jim wasn't the problem," one aide said in recounting what one staff member told Mr. Kerry. "We want to know that you know that the problem was not Jim: You need to understand that there needs to be fundamental changes in this campaign."
At one point, another participant said, Mr. Kerry — who could be heard eating his supper over the speakerphone as he conducted the meeting — blamed the news coverage for his problems.
Three sources for the news that Sen. Kerry is arrogant, aloof, and insensitive.
Today, David Halbfinger resumes, with a profile of Kerry adviser Bob Shrum. The resignations of the press secretary and deputy campaign finance director are noted, and this is today's brutal detail:
... it is a measure of Mr. Shrum's impact that few believed Mr. Kerry when he denied to his staff that Mr. Shrum was behind the choice of a Kennedy confidante, Mary Beth Cahill, as his new campaign manager.
His own staff doesn't believe him, and they are trying to sell him to the rest of us?
The article also makes half of a valid comparison:
...in 2000, Mr. Shrum was an important consultant to Vice President Al Gore, whose campaign, much like Mr. Kerry's is now, became known for being top-heavy with consultants, leaky as a sinking ship and riven by internal feuds.
Yes, and to complete the picture, the candidate had a reputation for being arrogant, annoying, and disliked by the press.
Sen. Kerry is not going to drop out, so I suppose we can look forward to more stories like this. Or, in a few weeks, we may see a spate of "Kerry Resurgent" stories - the firm hand on the tiller has righted the once-unsteady ship, blah, blah, blah. I will await comparable extended coverage of leopards changing their spots.
UPDATE: The Brothers Judd distill this to one sentence.
Bob Kerrey (NO, not this year's faltering Democratic Presidential candidate; 1992's faltering Democratic Presidential candidate, and former vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) has an answer.
Last week, we caught Prof. Krugman engaging in a bit of Dowdification with an abbreviated quotation. Today, he provides a correction, in the style popularized by Ms. Dowd - just run a more complete quotation with no explanation or admission that this corrects a previous abuse:
...Some say that Representative George Nethercutt's remark that progress in Iraq is a more important story than deaths of American soldiers was redeemed by his postscript, "which, heaven forbid, is awful." Your call.
That's it? Well, if it is "my call", why wasn't I given enough information to make the call last week? Ridiculous.
Dan Drezner gets results, and a plug, from David Brooks, who tackles the "Cheney is enriching Halliburton" attack theme:
Over the past few months, the Democratic presidential candidates have been peddling a story. The story is that the Bush administration is circumventing the competitive bidding process to funnel sweetheart Iraq reconstruction contracts to major campaign contributors, especially Dick Cheney's old firm, Halliburton.
...The problem with the story is that it's almost entirely untrue. As Daniel Drezner recently established in Slate, there is no statistically significant correlation between the companies that made big campaign contributions and the companies that have won reconstruction contracts.
The most persuasive rebuttals have come from people who actually know something about the government procurement process. For example, Steven Kelman was an administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under Bill Clinton and now is a professor of public management at Harvard.
Last week, Kelman wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post on the alleged links between contributions and reconstruction contracts. "One would be hard-pressed to discover anyone with a working knowledge of how federal contracts are awarded — whether a career civil servant working on procurement or an independent academic expert — who doesn't regard these allegations as being somewhere between highly improbable and utterly absurd," he observed.
And so he did.
We also find a fascinating rebuttal to Dr. Kelman presented as a letter to the editor of the WaPo, and signed by Bill Allison, who is "managing editor at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington". Apparently, Drs. Kelman and Drezner, as well as the national press corps, completely missed the point of the CIPC study:
"...we did not argue that there is a quid pro quo relationship between contributions and contracts..."
Excellent - we are all in agreement!
Now, can anyone explain the CIPC press release, which used phrases like "Beltway Bandit companies", and "there is a stench of political favoritism and cronyism surrounding the contracting process in both Iraq and Afghanistan"?
And I may pose a new puzzle - how can a group calling itself the "Center for Public Integrity" put out a press release talking about a stench of cronyism, repeatedly mention Cheney and Halliburton, cite Bush as the largest recipient of donations, and then later quietly tell the Post that they weren't making a case for cronyism at all, that this was simply a plea for greater transparency?
Are they writing letters to every other newspaper that front-paged the first story, correcting the misapprehension they (presumably inadvertently) created?
UPDATE: Dan Drezner rounds up the relevant links.
Soundbite: Clark, in campaign mode, has taken a variety of positions on Iraq.
Meanwhile, back in Kosovo, he misjudged Milosevic, believing that the threat of bombing would be sufficient; he misjudged Milosevic's resilience and resolve, believing that a short (three days?!?) air campaign would suffice; and he correctly anticipated difficulties getting 19 nations to agree on targets, but misjudged the humanitarian consequences.
Although excerpts can not do this justice, here we go:
But first, an update - from the New Yorker to the New Republic - Andrew Sullivan joins in.
Now, Jane Galt doesn't even like Clark for Vice President. Where's the bottom?
UPDATE: The Clark rally begins with Fred Kaplan at Slate rebutting the New Yorker.
The NY Times ran an expose of Gen. Clark's post-retirement business activities, which we hype in the post below. These are the pictures that ran with it, presumably for comic relief.
Caption: Richard C. Holbrooke, left, the former United Nations envoy, was one of the first people Gen. Wesley C. Clark called for advice on building a new career after retiring from the military three years ago.
Mr. Holbrooke had one word for the General: "Plastics".
And the second photo - Waiting For A Man On A... Bike?
Caption: General Clark has helped market the M-313 Shock Trooper, a high speed electrical bicycle, to the military and law enforcement agencies.
OK, we were both wrong - this is not a Saturday Night Live out-take. We can hear the General's spiel now:
"When the poor bastard riding this baby splashes through a puddle, he'll find out why we call it a "ShockTrooper", all right. Plastic insulating underwear is optional!"
In a long look at the General, the NY Times discovers that he is a crony capitalist and a profiteer in the erosion of our civil liberties.
All the more reason to support him! If the nation actually elects this moderate Republican who is running as a Democrat, he will triangulate against the Nancy Pelosi Democrats in a manner that would make Bill Clinton proud. The result will either be to kill the Democratic Party, or cure it - it will either follow him to the center, or split (in a raucous 2008 nomination struggle).
After these new revelations, the General's campaign should be blessedly free of the screaming about Dick Cheney and Halliburton that we might otherwise expect from a Democrat. Gen. Clark's defenders may argue that the General was only a small time crony capitalist, while Cheney was "big-time". However, Oscar Wilde famously addressed this in a related context - we know what the General is.
Similarly, howling about John Ashcroft and the abuses of the Patriot Act should be stifled - complaining seems a bit silly when the General has earned over half a million dollars lobbying for a firm that began providing database info to the Federal Government after 9/11.
The NY Times also alludes to the probability that the General has alienated many of his former colleagues. But we knew that.
Evil Excerpts Follow:
Andrew Sullivan closes the books on Maureen Dowd, and solves the mystery of the "imminent threat". Look for "Bonus MoDo Bashing Item". The full column he is excerpting is here, and Andrew left this out - apparently, Sec'y of Defense Bill Cohen was quite melodramatic on national television back in Nov. 1997:
Suddenly there are fears about Iraqi crop dusters spraying death on the Mall, about the nation's capital being another Nagasaki.
Defense Secretary William Cohen scared everyone by going on ABC's "This Week" and holding up a five-pound Domino sugar bag to show the small amount of anthrax, a cow disease marked by malignant ulcers, it would take to send half of Washington into writhing death throes. When he held up a vial, noting how deadly a single drop of VX nerve gas could be, Cokie Roberts begged him to put it away.
It was a flashback to the days of bomb shelters and learning to crawl under your desk if the big one hit.
Evidently, the big one could only be delivered under Bill Clinton. Who would have guessed?
David Aaronovitch of the Guardian remembers to kick ass and take names.
Rich Lowry makes some good points about how Gov. Dean and Sen. McCain got their reps as straight-talkers:
Dean is in such an enviable position because he has McCain’s strength--the reputation for passion and straight talk--without the weakness that ultimately denied McCain his party’s nomination--a tendency to attack the base of his own party. Dean is a McCain WITH the support of the most energized and committed members of his party--a powerful combination.
Suprisingly, Mr. Lowry neglects to make an obvious point about a common theme - both the Governor and the Senator won the hearts of the NY Times (and other big media) by attacking Republicans.
Or do they? I know what position I want to impute to them, but what position do they really hold in this Nov. 9 editorial?
A New Way to Unclog the Arteries
Last week's report of an experimental treatment that seems to remove plaque from clogged arteries is potentially good news for legions of people threatened with cardiovascular disease. If the findings can be verified in larger and longer studies, the medical profession may have entered a new era in treatments to ward off heart attacks and strokes. Yet this therapy might never have been pursued were it not for a fluke discovery that made patenting possible. Otherwise there would have been little financial incentive for any company to develop the treatment for clinical use.
...For some time now, pharmaceutical companies have been trying to develop pills that might stimulate the body to produce its own H.D.L. cholesterol, thus far with no great success. An alternative approach, infusing H.D.L. cholesterol directly into the body, was shown effective in animals more than a decade ago, but the industry never really pursued it. One reason was that companies saw little economic incentive in using a normal body protein for therapeutic purposes, since it would be hard to gain patent protection. A medicine that could be made and sold by anybody had little potential for profit. That problem was circumvented in this case by using a mutant form of protein discovered among some 40-plus inhabitants of a small Italian village. That made the drug unique, and patentable.
...the fact that such a promising treatment was widely ignored because there was no immediate profit potential is disturbing. In theory, the nation's great web of government-financed medical research institutions should step in to promote development of the kinds of drugs and therapy that industry regards as unprofitable. This story makes one wonder how many similar gaps exist in the vaunted American research establishment.
OK, are they denouncing evil Big Pharma for failing to engage in philanthropic research? Or is it ever-so-slowly dawning on the editor of the NY Times that the beneficient pure research of academia and government doesn't always actually focus on results?
I fear the former, hope for the latter, and just can't decide.
MORE: Mark Kleiman was very interesting on this topic recently. On perhaps on the same subject, I recently opened a fortune cookie which read, "Bounties and rewards".
UPDATE: A must-read response.
General Clark: "I think all Americans - and this is a joke! - all Americans, even if they're from the South and 'stupid,' should be represented."
Adlai Stevenson: "When an admirer gushed to Adlai Stevenson 'Every thinking person will vote for you' he ruefully replied 'Yes, but I need a majority'."
UPDATE: I lift my Corner Boycott to find Rod Dreher pounding away on Clark.
Mr. Dreher wonders, "Is there any other social or ethnic group in America that the Democrats would feel comfortable speaking of in this manner, whatever the group's flaws?".
Hmm, a new categry - Jokes We Will Hear Coincident With Hell Freezing Over:
Q: So, Earnest Dem Candidate, how did you feel about the ADL's criticism of Paul Krugman for underestimating the significance of Mahathir's anti-Semitism?
A: Well, he shouldn't have said that. I think all Americans, and I am joking now, all Americans should be concerned, even if they are not Jewish and from New York.
OK, Serious Advice - the General needs to turn this into a self-deprecating joke ASAP. Something along the lines of "my earlier statement about Southerners and "stupid" was meant to illustrate, by personal example, the breadth of my constituency. If I can get the vote of everyone smarter than me, I can win unanimously".
Well, something like that. But funny. Developing...
Does Maureen Dowd read Maureen Dowd?
From her latest:
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain offered a vinegary critique of the Bush team, urging the president to be more engaged on Iraq, and not leave decisions to subordinates. He also swatted Donald Rumsfeld's assertion that troop levels are fine, saying 15,000 more troops should be dispatched to avoid risking "the most serious American defeat on the global stage since Vietnam."
From the big finish to the same intellectual whirlwind:
Our military around the globe is tapped out, so strained by Iraq and Afghanistan, as the Times military correspondent Michael Gordon discovered, that a unit from the Army's Old Guard is even being dispatched overseas. The guard is best known for ceremonial duties such as standing vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and serving in color guards for visiting dignitaries.
The Old Guard has not been deployed abroad since Vietnam.
OK, which is it - should we send 15,000 troops we don't have, or not?
MORE: Nominees for "most offensive passage" will include:
"Administration officials, nervous about President Bush's election chances shattering, believe we must show progress by starting to pull out."
"...Mr. Bush thought the war could showcase his transformation from family black sheep into historic white hat."
Well, I'm glad it's not just about oil, or avenging daddy.
UPDATE: Alex Parker thinks MoDo has the mojo. Groan. However, he kicks the Matrices' asses, and evidently he and I share a shameful secret that he, at least, has the courage to reveal. NO, not a boating accident - I never bothered to see Matrix Reloaded, and have no plans to see the finale.
THE LAST WORD: Andrew Sullivan closes the book on Ms. Dowd with a Hall of Fame blast (don't be deceived by the post titled "Dowd's Defense" - you want "Bonus MoDo Bashing Item") - he contrasts a now-classic post of hers from 1997 with her current position on Saddam. And apparently the mystery of the "imminent threat" is solved, if we can believe her 1997 intro:
I was peaceably eating my penne at lunch the other day when my friend, another reporter, told me he thought Washington was in imminent danger of being gassed, germed, VX'ed or anthraxed.
My goodness, it was the media that started the "imminent danger" meme! Or Clinton, or Gore, or Ken Starr!
Having quashed the notion that Iarq is Viet Nam (see below), the NY Times floats a new balloon - Iraq is Afghanistan. As a bonus, the reliable Ms. Dowd leaps onto the bandwagon as well (more on MoDo later, and yes, if you say "More on Modo" out loud, you catch my meaning precisely).
Back to the first article, by the clearly competent Milt Bearden, <1>"a 30-year veteran in the C.I.A.'s Directorate of Operations, served as senior manager for clandestine operations. He is the co-author with James Risen of "The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the C.I.A.'s Final Showdown with the K.G.B." ' Mr. Bearden also "served as the Central Intelligence Agency's quartermaster and political agent to the Afghan resistance against the Soviet occupation from 1986 until the Soviets left in 1989."
The Ny Times has a good article explaing why:
But Iraq is not Vietnam, and 2003 is not 1975 or 1968. Saddam Hussein was driven out of power and his regime collapsed last spring. There is no independent sanctuary named "North Iraq" for his Baath Party henchmen to fight from, no Soviet Union to keep them supplied with arms and fuel, no equivalent of Laos or Cambodia in the Middle East for whole divisions of his loyalists to hide in, no Ho Chi Minh Trail that suicide bombers can use to drive to Baghdad. Nor is there an allied Iraqi government yet, elected or otherwise.
The editors at the Times fret about the Bush economic recovery:
The [election year] quandary facing the Federal Reserve will... [be] how much and how fast to raise, its crucial overnight interest rate, now at a 45-year low of 1 percent. Just two weeks ago, the Federal Reserve opted to leave that rate unchanged, and it issued a statement suggesting it would not act for a "considerable period."
But the ongoing flurry of positive economic data should force Mr. Greenspan to shorten his time horizon. Since the Fed spoke, we have learned that the economy grew at a blistering 7.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter. Manufacturing, construction, corporate profit, consumer spending and productivity numbers have all been impressive.
The news gets worse:
Most significant, the economy is finally adding jobs after being battered by the overhang of the popped Internet bubble, terrorism, corporate scandals and the war with Iraq. More than a quarter-million jobs were created in the last two months, according to figures released Friday, and plummeting new claims for unemployment benefits suggest the labor market will only get stronger. The unemployment rate now stands at 6 percent, down from 6.4 percent in June. A new Gallup poll shows that most Americans feel the economy is improving.
Are we approaching anything like our capacity limits?
Nobody is yet suggesting that these are the best of times. The country will be hard pressed to regain anytime soon the 2.5 million jobs lost during the Bush presidency. Still, it's clear that these record-low interest rates, which sustained consumer spending during the slowdown as people rushed to refinance their mortgages and otherwise take advantage of easy money, are no longer prudent.
I will admit that the Fed will almost surely raise short-term interest rates next year, if the global recovery has clearly taken hold. However, with the near-death of the experience of the Japanese economy in the 90's serving as a grim reminder of the perils of deflation, Mr. Greenspan does not seem to be in a hurry.
Now, here is the NY Times on the same speech:
Greenspan Hints Era of Very Low Rates May Be Nearing End
In a speech delivered to the Securities Industry Association, Mr. Greenspan said the Fed is still more worried that inflation will be too low than too high, but he also cautioned that "no central bank can ever afford to be less than vigilant about the prospects for inflation."
Emphasis added, but we say to the Times: Keep hope alive!
Does this explain anything?
Depressed, moi? Why the French are driven to drugs
Patients and doctors blamed as 25% take mood-altering substances
Al mostly because, if he were in charge of providing health care, I know I would be on drugs.
This sort of bigoted nonsense is not what I care to be associated with, or forced to defend. Mr. Derbyshire is embarrassing the NRO specifically, and conservatives generally.
Jonah Goldberg: [email protected]
Kathryn Jean Lopez : [email protected]
Richard Lowry : [email protected] [Does not seem to work]
The e-mail I am finding for John Derbyshire seems odd, but here it is : [email protected]
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is also angry.
Fortunately, I faced an easier choice, since George Bush ran against Al Gore.
Anyway, here is a summary of the thre-way think tank study cited by the Economist - Paul Krugman cited it recently, so it is sure to be good. More details can be found here [Linkrot a problem? Maybe this will work.]
Howard Dean's remarks about the need to appeal to white Southerners could certainly have been better phrased. But his rivals for the Democratic nomination should be ashamed of their reaction. They know what he was trying to say — and it wasn't that his party should go soft on racism. By playing gotcha, by seizing on the chance to take the front-runner down a peg, they damaged the cause they claim to serve — and missed a chance to confront the real issue he raised.
We are in complete agreement - how long can it last?
A three-sentence description of the arc of American politics over the past 70 years would run like this: First, Democrats and moderate Republicans created institutions — above all, Social Security and Medicare — that provided a measure of financial security to ordinary working Americans. The biggest beneficiaries of these institutions were African-Americans and working-class Southern whites, and both were part of the moderate-to-liberal coalition that dominated American politics until the 1960's.
I refer, of course, to the imminent threat of fiscal disaster due to budget deficits:
"...The budget deficit is going to stay above $400 billion for the rest of this decade and then it's going to get bigger as the baby boomers start to retire. So right now--right now, we're on a cour--we're heading off the cliff. The cliff is maybe a decade or two out there, but right now we're driving straight off the cliff. And it's going to take a fundamental change in policy."
The Man Sans Q has more on this puzzling timing question. Speaking for myself, I am sort of picturing Thelma and Louise dying of old age, or ennui. I am also idly wondering, as I contemplate annoying arguments I might raise at cocktail parties, whether any analogy at all can be drawn to the Bush position on Saddam - we are headed towards a problem, and fundamental changes in policy are needed now.
Mickey is having a "Krugman Gotcha!" contest, described below; in response to reader demand, we are announcing a "Krugman Got Us!" contest. The winning entry should be a demonstrably prescient prediction from the Earnest Prof himself.
The judges will probably be the voice of the people in the comments below, although if no consensus winner emerges, my terrible swift justice will be decisive.
Helpful hints: Predictions that "Bush lied" will probably have sectoral, rather than general, appeal. The California energy crisis might be fertile territory, although there is a risk that his predictions and analysis were overly focussed on only a few aspects of a broader puzzle. And let's look for originality - "prescient" should include "out of the mainstream".
So, as the most important American President of the twenty-first century might say, Bring 'em on!
Mickey is hosting a "Krugman Gotcha Contest:
...A prize, to be announced, for the kf reader who comes up with the gloom-and-doom opinion from the fabled Princeton economist's recent writings that now looks the most embarrassingly wrong.
And here is a gem. In his February 21, 2001 column, Bush is touting his tax cut as a boost to the weak economy, and the Earnest Prof tells us that this is wrong, wrong, wrong: