Friday, January 31, 2003
These protestations are ritual, and mindless. How would the vote of Syria, member of both the Security Council and the State Department's list of terrorist states, confer legitimacy on America's actions? Or the vote of China? Or, for that matter, France, whose president called the president of Syria to coordinate Security Council strategy, and whose interest in stopping the war is a matter of finance (to protect its huge contracts with Saddam Hussein) and vanity (to be the one European ex-power that tames the American cowboy).I wish I could hide Krauthammer behind a movie poster, like Woody Allen does with Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, and pull him out whenever some fool starts spouting the received wisdom as gospel. It would save a lot of time to have that eloquence at hand.
Finally, now that the Dept. of Homeland Bureau... er, Security is official and everything, can we please go back to calling DOD the War Department? Just asking.Why not? Homeland security is all about defense, and the DOD is all about cool things like daisy cutters. How about "the Department of Guns, Jets, Cool Exploding Things, and 25,000 Jarheads Running through Your Back 40"? It's no more or less silly than "Health and Human Services."
Thursday, January 30, 2003
I too cringed when Bush touted out his multimillion-dollar cockamamie proposal for hydrogen-fueled cars. George: Let the private sector do it. Yes, during that part of his speech W. was temporarily and eerily transformed into Al Gore ... One gets the sense that W. is a long way from ever uttering the famous Reagan maxim that "government is the problem not the solution." Few of the Bushies believe that anti-big-government piece of the Reaganomics puzzle. A four percent spending increase is about two percent too much. The spendaholic tendencies of this White House could be its undoing.Hmmmmm. One of these things is not like the other. I suppose the hope at TNR is that no self-respecting reader would click through to a National Review piece and see what the author actually says.
The U.N. Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result. We are confident that the Security Council will face up to its responsibilities.In addition to being a statement of solidarity, this is a huge (if implied) slap at France, the self-appointed "rooster" of the EU henhouse. So now when a Democrat says that we shouldn't go into Iraq without our allies, you'll know it's a ruse. Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, and the Czech Republic? No, not without our other allies. Australia? No, no, the other ones. Like Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, UAE, Oman, and Albania (to name just a few Muslim countries)? Maybe you start to get the picture. It's France, right? Or whoever's still holding out after that. Iraq, maybe.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Think back to the post 9/11 climate, and remember the feeling you’d get in your stomach when you read a story headlined “Does Al Qaeda have a nuke?” or “Smallpox fears rise” - it seemed as if the one thick thread that held your world together was about to get a good hard yank. Some forget how every day brought the same routine - news report, a hot squirt of fear in your stomach, a quick imposition of denial, then . . . well, you had to make dinner, or pick the kids up, or take the dog to the vet. We lived in these twin worlds of the Now and the Horribly Possible. The latter, thank God, hasn’t happened yet.Visceral, ain't it? Next time you hear someone yelling about how imperialist the U.S. is and how we need to wait for the threat to be imminent, for the gun to be smoking, remember the quote above.
I remember the feeling: I remember washing my hands, repeatedly and vigorously, after I opened the mail so that I could play with my son without being afraid -- because a lady that lived 65 miles southwest of us had died of anthrax. No, we don't know where that anthrax came from, do we? Does that make you feel better or worse?
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Go find a jukebox and see what a quarter will doThe music is appropriately spare and haunting, too. Have a listen. There's little I can add to this. The lush color of the chorus, contrasted with the starkness and rawness of the verses: It's a good description of how attractive and comforting loneliness can be. Hmmm. I'm not very good at this, providing a verbal argument for a song.
I don't wanna talk, I just wanna go back to blue
Feeds me when I'm hungry and quenches my thirst
Loves me when I'm lonely and thinks of me first
Blue is the color of the night
When the red sun disappears from the sky
Raven feathers shiny and black
A touch of blue glistening down her back
We don't talk about heaven and we don't talk about hell
We've come to depend on one other so damn well
So go to confession, whatever gets you through
You can count your blessings, I'll just count on blue
Blue is the color of the night
When the red sun disappears from the sky
Raven feathers shiny and black
A touch of blue glistening down her back
Well, on the other hand, one "song" that never fails to move me beyond words is the "Credo" in Bach's B Minor mass, particularly the third small movement (the soprano/mezzo duet).
And yet, the president says there is enough money in the wartime budget to create a huge tax cut that benefits the wealthiest in our country," Pelosi said. "The credibility gap widens.They've found their theme for 2004, apparently: a bit of class warfare and "the credibility gap." But here's the real credibility gap: Bush has, from the start, stood foursquare behind tax cuts as a domestic strategy. First, it is good for the economy. Yes, the rich do benefit; that's why its good for the economy, since the poor pay almost no taxes, and aren't out buying heavy equipment or hiring semi-skilled labor with their "rebates" anyway. Second, tax cuts take money out of congress's purse, which is the only way to keep them from spending it (and even that doesn't work perfectly).
Now here's the credibility gap part: The Democrats have always opposed tax cuts, calling them "risky schemes" to "blow a hole in the deficit" (yeah, what the hell does that mean?). But when they see the country's appetite whetted for some serious economic justice, to borrow a phrase, they quickly come up with a competing plan that, consistently and infallibly, complicates the tax code, rewards behavior that Nancy Pelosi (or someone like her) deems civic virtue, and does nothing to reduce that actual tax burden on the people who build this multi-trillion dollar economy with their own hands, day after day.
Here's a surefire way for congress to fit the tax cut into the budget: stop spending so damn much money with so damn little to show for it. Instead of taking from me to fund your every whim, you feel the pinch for once and actually cut worthless programs, give in to private-sector-style efficiencies, and put congressional raises on the ballot. That would be direct democracy, Ms. Pelosi.
The two crucial questions the president needs to answer on Iraq are: first, does Saddam Hussein pose a threat to our national security so imminent that it justifies putting American lives at risk to get rid of him? And second, how are our efforts to deal with this threat helped by short-circuiting an inspections process we demanded in the first place.Why does no media outlet ask Daschle why? Why did he vote to give Bush the authority to act with all necessary force if he doubts the casus belli? Here's Nancy Pelosi, from the same article:
At the end of the day, it may be that the American people conclude that we have no choice but to put our young people in harm's way. But I think we have to take every precaution before we do that.So Pelosi is willing to go with what "the American people decide"? I wonder if she would be so keen on this concept of direct democracy on any other issue. Partial birth abortion, say. As long as the poll numbers favor her side, she thinks the American people should decide. Earth to Pelosi: You, and Bush and Daschle and the rest of you phonies, were elected to lead, to make the tough call -- not to stick your finger in the wind.
Many Europeans here understand the U.S. goals in Iraq but have been insulted by the administration's tactics. "When you tell your partners that you want to do something with them, but if they don't agree you will do it anyway, that is not negotiation," said Bertrand Collomb, chairman of Lafarge, the big French construction company. "That is the crux of the matter."Is that really the crux of the matter? If so, it's quite revealing. How would you describe someone who understands your goals, and is not necessarily opposed to your solution (viz the general European agreement on Res. 1441, which we basically let them rewrite), but who works to derail that solution because you didn't treat them with enough deference? Perhaps "diplomat" is the obvious answer, but I think I'd choose "petty," "shortsighted," "obtuse," etc. How else can you see these countries? They simply are not serious about Iraq. They can make the point, again and again, that there is no need for us to "rush into war." First, we're not exactly rushing; second, it has been, after all, twelve years since we first asked Saddam to comply with the UN disarmament specifics. The UN has shown that it will not live up to its responsibilities, that it will always be willing to give "one more chance" to Iraq. Enough. This war has had its timing dictated by weak, petty diplo-crats for too long.
Monday, January 27, 2003
In my last column, I cited a Time article reporting that the president had "quietly reinstated" a custom of sending a wreath to the Confederate Memorial. Time has since corrected the story, saying he didn't revive the custom, but simply continued it. I would still ask: Why keep a tradition of honoring the Confederacy while you're going to court to stop a tradition of helping black students at the University of Michigan?Obviously that bit about the Michigan case is meant only to excuse Bill Clinton. One could say to Dowd, "You can't hammer Bush for something Clinton did too." But Dowd, so smart, is ahead of you: "But Clinton," her implied argument runs, "wasn't practicing the politics of economic genocide [would this hyperbole be a reach for her? Nah...] against African Americans!"
Memo to Dowd: According to Lincoln, the defeated Confederates were American soldiers, no more or less so than the Union soldiers. Their memorial is fitting and just. It does not imply any support for the Confederacy's cause to honor dead Americans, soldiers who, in the great American tradition, fought bravely and died for their side. What's next, Maureen? Tear down the Vietnam Memorial because that was another unjust cause? Maybe you can serve us by letting us know just what is and is not worthy of our honor and remembrance. Oh, and break the list down by president and party, too, so that we can keep up with what acts of public policy disqualify other acts of public remembrance.
Maureen, you're such an idiot, I can't believe you live and breathe. I'm sorry that the world is changing in a way that interferes with your attempts to salve your own festering, unconscious guilt with finger-wagging self-justification. That's life. Grow up, see a therapist for the penis envy, and get job where you contribute something to the world, rather than just sucking, maggot-like, on the carcass of the silly, narcissistic "liberalism" of your generation and excreting its tired trope on the pages of the Times.
Friday, January 24, 2003
Fascinating, no? Okay, I'll stop
But the heart of the American complaint — again, reversing an old European saw — is that Europeans are naive and provincial. It is easy enough to browbeat Americans about the flimsy coverage the E.U. gets in U.S. dailies. But where does European interest in the world rise above the dilettantish? When has the E.U. come up with a workable plan for Iraq? For the Middle East? For North Korea? After the carnage of two world wars, the European distrust of power politics is something for which we have reason to be grateful. The problem is that postwar Europeans think their strategic differences with America are the product not of a specific historic experience but of a new, higher morality. And that is what George Bernard Shaw was talking about when he defined a barbarian as one who mistakes the customs of his tribe for the laws of nature.Caldwell's point could be just as easily applied to GM foods, Kyoto, or any number of smaller issues that cause the Europeans to sniff at us from across the puddle. In fact, Caldwell's point is not even so much about war as it is about how an issue divides allies, and how Europe's dismissal of American cowboys, whether leading the way on security, technology, or globalization, is shortsighted rationalization and nothing more. They lack the power to do what we can, so they dismiss it as not worth doing (as grasping or tacky) or dangerous and unwise (rushing headlong into war with Iraq).
In a process without precedent, America has been, for more than a year, walking slowly -- never mind nonsensical headlines about the "rush to war" -- toward an optional war. Optional, that is, in the sense that although it is a defensible choice, it is a choice. War has not been unambiguously thrust upon us, as in 1861 by secession, or in 1917 by unrestricted submarine warfare, or in 1941 by surprise attack, or by aggression across international borders as in June 1950 or August 1990. Yet the left cannot mount a critique that rises above rock lyrics and name-calling.An odd aside: Regarding the "rock lyrics" bit, my copy of Will's column (in the Daily Hampshire [Massachusetts] Gazette) referred to protesters quoting the Beatles ("Give peace a chance"). A later version, found here, rightly credits John Lennon as the author of those lyrics. I'm not sure which version is the "correction" (my paper is an afternoon paper, so I would imagine they take the latest syndication feed). Any non-fan could make this mistake, though. "Give Peace a Chance," though properly a Lennon song, is credited to Lennon/McCartney, since it was published before John and Paul dissolved their partnership. I'll go out on a limb and say that George Will is not a Beatles expert. Gold star for some editor at the syndicate.
In an editorial, [German daily] Bild reminded Rumsfeld of his German roots and the French ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity which had so impressed the American statesman Thomas Jefferson.So Rummy, because his ancestors were Germans, should go easy on Deutschland when they get all spineless? And what of these fabled French ideals? The ones, no doubt, that held sway for about 45 minutes somewhere back in the late 18th century, before giving way to terror, beheadings, a midget emperor, more monarchy, and a historical tendency to jump when the Germans say, no pun intended, "Frog." France long ago decided to whore herself to the half-baked dictators of the world in exchange for being thought of as a first-world country and a world power, since nobody else will pay her that honor. The seat on the security council is akin to the exception, handed out before a big tournament, to a has-been tennis player so as to not say too loudly that she can't run with the elk anymore. As for all the "support" that Germany will withhold, remember that these volks still don't have a proper military from the last time we had to take it away from them when they got a little puffed up about their influence in the world and let another short fella take charge. (What is it with these two countries and their dinky megalomaniacs?) This was, ahem, right after we took away La France's dangerous toys, too, since they weren't inclined to use them anymore and were about to give them to Germany.
So Europe can skip the lectures about responsibility, sovereignty, and the judicious use of force, thanks very much. The tune's getting old, and, frankly, anytime "old" Europe had any force to use, it wasn't particularly judicious, responsible, or respectful of sovereignty. Don't like the way we use force? Then don't call us when your small-time hoods like Milosevic start acting up and you haven't the guts (or, in fact, the muscle) to make him sit in the corner. God forbid we and the Brits didn't start up the Natomobile and come on over, the Cote d'Azur would be speaking Southern Slavic by now.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Fourth quarter results, oddly, are bringing home to investors how good last year was. This is utterly unclear from management comments, but companies are handily beating earnings numbers, and it's not just because they've managed to bring expectations down. The economy grew fairly solidly last year. Cars are rolling off lots. Interest rates are daring people to borrow. Housing is hotter than "Joe Millionaire."While the bears still appear to rule Wall Street, we have a fundamentally sound economy; yet the Democrats lining up for the 2004 presidential run are hinting, loudly, that they will run on Bush's economic failure. Once the politics blow over, this will go into the history books as being a rather painless correction, given all the money that was lost in the bubble. Yeah, it was hard on the people who bought MicroStrategy at 185 or employees at Enron whose retirement portfolios were, unwisely, allocated at about 90% company stock. Beyond that, this has so far been the little recession that couldn't.
(I say dawdling, although, by European standards, the U.S. economy is still roaring).True, but there's still more. The kind of economy we have now used to be called "good." Without the late 90s for comparison, these growth numbers, coupled with still-low inflation, would send the bulls running through the market. So I'm still at a loss when I hear every news anchor in America talk about a sluggish economy and a slow recovery. Everyone thinks it can be 1997 all over again, and they're sitting on their money until it happens. To quote Jack Nicholson, what if this is as good as it gets? What if the years of 2% unemployment (and practically no inflation) are behind us? What if the supergrowth of the 90s was really just a paper tiger? We already have some evidence that that is the case, as stock prices settle at more reasonable levels. Could it be that we have to resign ourselves to the fact that, as before, 5-6% unemployment is statistacally negligible? Don't doubt it.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
And, hey, anyone who still buys into global warming can come shovel my "coldest winter on record" patio right now. Bring heavy gloves.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Friday, January 17, 2003
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Friday, January 10, 2003
Wednesday, January 08, 2003