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Saturday, March 15, 2003

A funny thing about lying... how often the truth slips out. Freudian slip is perhaps the term for it.

This is from the Scripps-Howard News Service, via Paul Jaminet:
Supreme Court vacancies? Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., says he's been told there will soon be two, and is rearranging his staff for what is expected to be the mother of all fights on Capitol Hill to stop any Bush nomination.
...any Bush nomination... Kinda shines a different light on claims that the opposition to Miguel Estrada is "principled;" or is being done only out of concern for justice...
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I found these at CrooowBlog

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.[...] I believe in negotiated solutions to international conflict. This is, unfortunately, not going to be the case in this situation where Saddam Hussein has been a repeat offender, ignoring the international community's requirement that he come clean with his weapons program." - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Dec. 16, 1998

"I do not believe that going to war now is the best way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.[...] Before going to war, we must exhaust all alternatives, such as the continuation of inspections, diplomacy and the leverage provided by the threat of military action." - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, March 7, 2003

Friday, March 14, 2003

P. Krugman
#83: A New Low in Sheer Scurrilousness

On one level George W. Queeg (03/14/03) by Paul Krugman is a new personal low for him in sheer scurrilousness. The fictional Captain Queeg was the mentally deranged paranoid whose officer staff heroically mutinied against him in Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny." To put Bush in the role of Queeg to France and Germany as first and second officers of the USS Caine is really outrageous. But rather than fulminate about that, it is probably a better use of everyone's time if we view this column for what it really is–a sop to the New York Times liberals.

Note how Krugman touches all of the treasured, cliché-ridden trigger points of the anti-war crowd from "no evidence has surfaced of a supposed link to Al Qaeda" to "who wouldn't want to see Saddam overthrown BUT..", to we've "threatened" other countries to get our way and to (our personal favorite) "North Korea, not Iraq, is the clear and present danger."

This puts Krugman snuggly in the Streisand wing of his party where he no doubt belongs. But we would suggest that a column entitled "George W. Churchill" would more accurately reflect President Bush's position in the current situation. Winston Churchill was not in power during the 1930s, but from his position a backbencher in Parliament he tireless warned the international community of the threat of Hitler and the re-arming of Germany. As he did so, European leaders dithered, the League of Nations made excuses for Hitler and the world watched a parade of now all-but-forgotten pacifistic PMs (Ramsey MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlin, et. al.) go through No. 10 Downing Street. It's interesting, but a little sad, to watch lessons of history ignored and abandoned with such sanctimonious ease.

We still have income tax day circled on our calendars as "crow-eating day" for the anti-war left. We may be a little premature, but that should be close.

[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. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]

Thursday, March 13, 2003

If that the earth could teem with women's tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile...

John Fund has a good article, Stars and Gripes , in OpinionJournal, on the Hollywood lack-wits who thought war was just dandy when it was Bill Clinton who was dropping the bombs...
...Indeed, in 1999 singer Judy Collins--best known for her soulful renditions of antiwar songs--actually sang at a White House gala at the very moment that U.S. and NATO bombs were flattening parts of Belgrade--accidentally destroying the Chinese Embassy in the process.

Similarly, singer Sheryl Crow is appalled by George Bush's moves against Iraq, but she had no problem with Bill Clinton's intervention in the Balkans. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the singer accompanied Hillary Clinton on a USO tour to entertain U.S. troops in Bosnia. "Once over there, I felt extremely patriotic," Ms. Crow told a reporter that year. "Here are these people, from 18-year-olds to military veterans, enduring real duress for the cause of peace. I don't ever want to play for a regular audience again, only military folks who are starving for music." Ms. Crow hasn't been seen around any military bases lately.

Some celebrities are at least honest about their hypocrisy. Comedian Janeane Garofalo was blunt in explaining why Hollywood types didn't protest any of Mr. Clinton's military ventures: "It wasn't very hip." ...
[my emphasis]

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Day by Day

I feel supererogatory echoing InstaPundit, but, what the heck, do take a look at Dean Esmay's interview with Chris Muir
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Suckered by the Saudis...

Gary Farber has a very plausible theory...
...Back on planet Earth, laying aside the risible fantasy of Richard Perle, Noble Philanthropist, what strikes me as what is going on here is, among other things, that Richard Perle was suckered into a Saudi Arabian financial honey pot ploy to get back at Perle for his political involvement in acts of hostility to the Saudi regime...
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Who wags what...

I love reading Dave Trowbridge's pessimistic posts, and being inspired to make optimistic replies. His latest, War Is the Health of the State, is very good, but I won't even try to summarize it. An excerpt:
...No, what we are seeing here is an aspect of the first of the "spiritual triumvirs" spoken of in the famous phrase "the world, the flesh, and the devil." In Christian terms, "world" does not mean the created world, which Genesis tells us is good. Instead, in the original Greek, the New Testament speaks of 'ο κοσμος (ho kosmos), which means something like "the order of things" or, in more modern terms, "the system." The New Testament writers warn of the power of this order to distort the choices men make and call them away from God. In political terms, one can think of it as a kind of "reality distortion field" that subtly warps the perceptions and judgments of political actors and calls them away from right action, so that, even with the best of intentions, they can find themselves trapped in situations that appear to leave them no choice...[Wow. I love this kind of cackle. You see the difference; I'm a blogger; Dave's a writer!]
Here are some of my thoughts...

This sort of argument is personally thought-provoking, but not very useful as political criticism. If Bush backed away from the war to concentrate on the economy, one could still say much the same thing. Is there any evidence? Any facts? We are all of us caught up the world's machinery, but judging from accounts by people who have worked with him, Bush is seemingly less so than most powerful people.

My take is that Bush decided to liberate Iraq long ago, and is not stampeded by polls or economic ups and downs. And the REAL purpose (among others) is the bloodless overthrow of the Iranian regime, which is by far the biggest terror-supporting nation, and is working on nuclear weapons with much more success than Iraq. (And those opposing Bush are doing exactly what is likely to lead to MUCH bloodier wars in the future.)

It is becoming ever more clear that Bush is pursuing BIG and risky plans. He's letting them be seen a bit at a time, so as not to overwhelm the timid. One can think of objections, but this doesn't seem to be a situation where wag-the-dog is applicable. You don't propose to bring democracy and freedom to the Middle East as a distraction from the economy. No way. Nor if you are over-worried about poll numbers. Doesn't make sense, there are easier ways to be popular. Bush is going to wag the whole world, just you wait and see.

And one really shouldn't pay much attention to what CBS says. Their gang relentlessly pushes the line that the economy is in deep trouble (not so), downplays the dangers of terrorism, up-plays Inspector Blix; And suprise!...they get the poll results they want. Phooey. In a week or two everything's gonna be changed anyway.

My suggested poll question is: Should the government's first priority be the short-term fluctuations of the economy, or the long-term security issues that threaten the civilized world?
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Containment kills...

Walter Russell Mead has written a powerful article, Deadlier Than War :
Those who still oppose war in Iraq think containment is an alternative -- a middle way between all-out war and letting Saddam Hussein out of his box.

They are wrong.

Sanctions are inevitably the cornerstone of containment, and in Iraq, sanctions kill.

In this case, containment is not an alternative to war. Containment is war: a slow, grinding war in which the only certainty is that hundreds of thousands of civilians will die.

The Gulf War killed somewhere between 21,000 and 35,000 Iraqis, of whom between 1,000 and 5,000 were civilians.

Based on Iraqi government figures, UNICEF estimates that containment kills roughly 5,000 Iraqi babies (children under 5 years of age) every month, or 60,000 per year. Other estimates are lower, but by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War -- and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5.

Each year of containment is a new Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein is 65; containing him for another 10 years condemns at least another 360,000 Iraqis to death. Of these, 240,000 will be children under 5.

Those are the low-end estimates. Believe UNICEF and 10 more years kills 600,000 Iraqi babies and altogether almost 1 million Iraqis...
The astonishing number of people who are trying to preserve Saddam in power are murderers. They are utterly indifferent to the massive suffering of Iraq. They make token statements about Iraqi civilians who might die in a war, but are stone-cold about the civilians dying right now. People who supported Clinton when he threatened to remove Saddam by force now discover they are pacifists who cannot tolerate the monstrosity of war. Lying scoundrels. People who denounced sanctions as cruel (without of course denouncing Saddam for spending Iraq's income on weapons instead of food) now claim containment is an effective way deal with Iraq. They will do anything to prevent a victory for an America led by a conservative. They would kill a million Iraqis in the blink of an eye if it would hurt George W Bush.
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Book recommendation

(Recommendation meaning a good read, not profound literature--I'm never really sure what that is..).

I'm reading the book I mentioned last week, Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War, by Lt General William G. "Gus" Pagonis. It's both a memoir and a management book. It's fascinating to me, I just love reading about how things are done "behind the scenes." In fact I like it even if the main subject itself is not interesting. (For instance, I'm not an opera fan, but I hugely enjoyed Beverly Sills' autobiography.)

Pagonis was in command of all our logistics for the Gulf War. His task has been compared to running a business, from hectic startup to giant operation with 70,000 employees, to orderly shut-down--all in 17 months! Here's a bit from his adventures in Vietnam:
About a month into my command, the assignment changed. I got orders to move the entire outfit to the Mekong Delta, about eighty miles southwest, down the coast from Saigon. I had 30 boats and 350 soldiers [for unloading freighters at Cam Ran Bay]...

...When we got to Dong Tam in the Mekong I reported to the colonel in charge, who had very little information to add to what I had already been given. He said that we were to mount 105mm howitzers belonging to the 3d Battalion, 34th Artillery, on a fleet of barges, and use our LCM-8's [Landing Craft-Medium] to move that firepower up and down the rivers of the Mekong Delta. The barges, which were huge, flatbottomed affairs, weren't armed; and as far as the colonel knew, they weren't equipped to carry mounted howitzers or to support artillery fire. But our orders were to get it done in a hurry. Out in the jungle were soldiers—members of the 2d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, as I later learned—who might die if that artillery wasn't available to support them.

The first order of business, therefore, was to figure out how to mount these guns on the barges. I leafed through the available manuals and found no guidance there. But having dabbled in military history during my several academic jaunts, I figured that in the long history of warfare, somebody must have tried to do something similar. I put in a call to the Office of the Chief of Military History, who dug around a bit and finally came up with a Civil War manual that depicted some Union barges on which guns had been mounted. He sent us copies of the relevant pages; and in short order, my sergeants were retooling our barges, mounting our own howitzers based on plans developed a century earlier. History, once again, proved to be very helpful...
As a history fan I gotta love that..

The book is a war story, but you could also use it as a primer on how to run a large organization. One of his ideas: The standup. A meeting every morning from precisely 8 to 8:30. Pagonis and a note-taker sit, everybody else stands...
...Early on I discovered that making people standup keeps the ball moving at a faster pace. People speak their piece, and then quickly yield the floor to the next person. On the rare occasion that someone starts to get long winded or wax philosophic, an unmistakable kind of body language begins to sweep through the crowd. People shift from foot to foot, fidget, look at their watches—and pretty quickly, the conversation comes back into focus. It's an interesting phenomenon. I can't recall the last time I had to crack the whip. The peer group has great power...

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

P. Krugman
#82: Back to Rubinomics

We have often commented on Paul Krugman’s amazing ability recycle old columns by dressing them up with new lead-ins so that they masquerade as insightful new columns. He’s done it again in A Fiscal Train Wreck (03/11/03) in which he uses the refinancing of his home as an excuse to re-launch a discussion of "Rubinomics"– a shop worn theory of interest rates and deficits we debunked in Squad report #36.

Like millions and millions and millions of Americans, Krugman has discovered that long-term interest rates are near post-depression lows and so he did what many of them have done; he rolled his mortgage into a fixed rate. Whoopee! He then goes on to opine that rates will likely rise in the foreseeable future. Again. Whoopee! We're wondering what do they pay this guy for?

The fiscal train wreck part comes when Krugman exaggerates Congressional Budget Office (CBO) deficit projections and labels them "scary." But even then, the worst he can come up with is a projected a deficit of 4% of GDP. This is hardly of panic proportions and probably includes some worst case scenarios for war costs. Nevertheless, he is expecting long rates to rise, as no doubt they will, when the recovery resumes. But then, Krugman being Krugman, he slips in the word “skyrocket” to describe future rates. In our opinion this is a complete misread of the budgetary data.

Fortunately, help is on the way. In a few weeks the CBO will begin using a procedure known as dynamic scoring to make its projections. In a nutshell this allows CBO economists to consider the impact of fiscal policies that may cause deficits near term, during periods of underemployment, on deficits and surpluses in the future. This may sound like an obviously good idea ( a stimulus is supposed to increase red ink in the short run for the benefit of fuller employment in the longer run), but until recently CBO rules have not allowed for this consideration.

Of course, we can hear Krugman screaming now. This scoring procedure will seriously undercut his ability to back up his dire predictions and his opposition to future tax cuts. But that’s good. Cutting taxes whenever surpluses appear is, among other things, a way to get money out of Washington before Krugman and Co. think up entitlements to spend it on.

[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. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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Can this be true?

Henry Hanks at Crooowblog blogged several things under the title ABC bias Watch, including this:
...ABC's Diane Sawyer and Dan Harris marveled Friday morning over the “love” Iraqis have for Saddam Hussein. Sawyer brought up how Hussein says “the love that the Iraqis have for him is so much greater than anything Americans feel for their President because he's been loved for 35 years, he says, the whole 35 years" as President. From Baghdad, Dan Harris relayed Hussein's claim that he is “restoring Iraq to its greatness, its historical greatness. He points out frequently that he was elected with a hundred percent margin recently.”
Lunacy. Even anti-war activists usually concede that Saddam is a monster who we would be better off without, (before hurrying on to the important stuff, which is how the real monster George W Bush is going to crush the earth like a cockroach).

And here are these TV people with not even a tenuous connection to reality. I'm not a TV watcher, but guess I'm not missing much...unless maybe the collapse of Western Civilization into delusional solecism...
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Don't miss ...

Do not fail to read Lee Harris' essay: Our World-Historical Gamble
...The modern liberal world system has permitted the growth of power in the hands of those who have not had to cope with reality in order to acquire this power: it has simply been given to them, out of the sense of fair play prevalent among Western liberal societies. Iraq was paid for its oil, which in return paid for its weapons - and both were produced by us, to be used against us. But this, tragically, has had the unintended consequence of diminishing the value of the sense of the realistic in the eyes of those who have thus acquired their power and wealth - a fact just as much in evidence in the behavior of Saudi Arabia as in that of Iraq. It is the re-enactment, on a world-historical scale, of what has been done by many well-meaning Americans in the case of their own children - by giving them so much, we have robbed them of that indispensable sense of the realistic that can only be achieved by the head-on collisions with the irremovable object called the real world. We have nourished their fantasies, instead of forcing them to face the facts of life...
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...But during the last half of the twentieth century, the concept of the classical nation state has been replaced, without anyone seeming to notice this fact, by a radically different concept, though one that shares the same term: it is what might best be called the honorific concept of the state...
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...But perhaps our greatest challenge will be to our own thinking. We must take a hard look at every idea we hold dear and ask, Does this idea even fit any more? And does it any longer make sense to speak of conservatives in a world in which a catastrophic change of some kind looms, or liberals when it is the core liberal values of all of us - even the most conservative - that are being threatened?...

Monday, March 10, 2003

Lotsa trumped-up candidates around these days ...

Sen. Kerry, rather notoriously, recently referred to:
...some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted...
Hmmm. I can think of a coalition like about: Bribed by the Trial Lawyers, coerced by NOW, bought by the NEA, extorted by Jesse and Al...

(Via Dean Esmay)

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Perhaps we are using the same words for entirely different concepts?

I found this post in the blog Bitter Sanity very thought-provoking. (via Glenn Reynolds)
...But what does it look like to Europeans? I think that Europeans see the UN's mission, not as ensuring security, but as acting as a check on unfettered nationalism. And I see this profound but unstated difference in perception of the UN's purpose as the underlying source of the current UN conflict.

Considering what European nationalism did to the twentieth century - not to mention the nineteenth, the eighteenth, and I could go on for a while - it's reasonable for them to have concluded that nationalism unrestrained is the evil that causes war. And to have turned, after the Second World War, to transnational organizations - the UN, the EC, the EU - as a way of putting chains on nationalism, of keeping it within bounds, of preventing it from ever again drawing the whole world into war. These organizations are entrusted with keeping the old demon of nationalism down, and so naturally, they must have a certain degree of authority over national governments.

In order to do this, the UN - more precisely, the web of transnational organizations, but the UN is the foremost of them - must be endowed not only with political power, but with moral force as well. Nationalism is a spiritual phenomenon and it engages people's hearts. To counter it and to overmaster it, the UN must also call upon spiritual ideas: the brotherhood of all people, the future of the world, and peace itself. It must be conceived, not only as symbolizing these things, but as embodying them. Defiance of the UN becomes synonymous with breaking the community of mankind...
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Federalist in Chief?

Combustible Boy noticed, and I did not, that the President used the term federation in his March 6 press conference...Here's the passage:
...One of the things we love in America is freedom. And if I may, I would like to remind you of what I said at the State of the Union. Liberty is not America's gift to the world. It is God's gift to each and every person. And that's what I believe. I believe when we see totalitarianism, we must deal with it. We don't have to do it always militarily. But this is a unique circumstance because of 12 years of denial and defiance, because of terrorist connections, because of past history. I'm convinced that a liberated Iraq will be -- will be important for that troubled part of the world. Iraqi people are plenty capable of governing themselves. Iraq's a sophisticated society. Iraq's got money. Iraq will provide a place where people can see that the Shiite and Sunni and Kurds can get along in a federation. Iraq will serve as a catalyst for change, a positive change. So there's a lot more at stake than just American security and the security of people close by Saddam Hussein. Freedom is at stake as well. I take that very seriously...
I had pretty much assumed that that's what's being planned, but it's nice to actually hear it from the big man himself.

Did you ever wonder why you neve hear of the French-speaking Swiss oppressing the German-speaking Swiss? Or vice versa? It's because ... well, heck, you ought to already know the answer. If you don't, look it up...