Wednesday, April 30, 2003
More: Den Beste on some sticking points.
"I advised him to say whatever you're going to say, say it once very clearly, and don't say it repeatedly," Lott said. "That was my mistake. I said it not once, not twice, but three times and kept the story alive."Yes, THAT was his mistake; that he kept saying it....not at all that he said it just once.
The reason we need an incest taboo is because there is no effective way for the state to protect children from sexual abuse by family members. Children are essentially at the mercy of the adults who care for them. So only by building into adults a psychological mechanism of disgust and horror at incest can society protect children from the psychological harm of abuse by close relatives.Society builds this mechanism? Stan is now a postmodernist, it appears -- society creates the organism. Do you suppose that we have incest laws and taboos to "build" the revulsion into society, or do those laws and taboos eminate from a revulsion already "built" into us by natural selection, whereby those organisms less likely to engage in closed-pool reproduction had better chances for successful reproduction? Stan stakes his case on the first. He's wrong, in fact doubly wrong; he mixes up cause and effect, then postulates a "slippery slope" based on that error.
Stan is right about one thing: This issue will only grow in importance. The arguments you hear from Kurtz are the arguments you'll hear at the Supreme Court a few years from now when the gay marriage cases get to that level. They don't work now and they won't work then.
More: Radley fisks Kurtz.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
On the Men's Side, the Bad Habits Have Already Started: According to the new Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, established by Richard Lapchick, who has doggedly counted up sports-and-race statistics over the years, NCAA men's basketball champion Syracuse University has not graduated an African-American scholarship basketball athlete in a decade. Kansas, the Orangemen's opponent in the men's championship, graduates two-thirds of its African-American basketball scholarship athletes. This proves a big school can have a top program and still educate players, almost all of whom will need their degrees because they'll never take the floor in the NBA.
Syracuse's tournament win was played as a feel-good story -- plucky school gets first title, lovable grandfatherly coach finally on top. Syracuse's tournament win actually should have been played as a huge embarrassment for college basketball -- school that openly makes no attempt to educate bests school that plays by the rules and treats athletes as students. The grandfatherly Jim Boeheim? If he were really grandfatherly, he'd be taking care of his charges by getting them educations, rather than feeding them phony dream of NBA play then abandoning them the instant they cease being useful.
This year's men's champion actively thumbed its nose at education, not even engaging in a token effort to graduate African-American athletes. Zero action was taken by the NCAA against either school. What message will other NCAA men's coaches take away? Thumb your nose at education.
So at what price success? And, does it really matter if any of them graduate, b/c the vast majority of them wouldn't be in college if it weren't for basketball in the first place?
Monday, April 28, 2003
The [Bush-drivien right-wing] movement's grand ambition -- one can no longer say grandiose -- is to roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal's centralization. With that accomplished, movement conservatives envision a restored society in which the prevailing values and power relationships resemble the America that existed around 1900, when William McKinley was President. Governing authority and resources are dispersed from Washington, returned to local levels and also to individuals and private institutions, most notably corporations and religious organizations. The primacy of private property rights is re-established over the shared public priorities expressed in government regulation. Above all, private wealth--both enterprises and individuals with higher incomes--are permanently insulated from the progressive claims of the graduated income tax.You know, if this were really Bush's grand plan, I'd have no choice but to vote for him. Unfortunately, the GOP has no ambitions that are even remotely that grand. George W. Bush, like his father, is a moderate, semi-big-government Republican. He has more juice with the base than his dad did, but, as even the liberals will tell you, this comes mainly from what Bush says and his token gestures, rather than decentralization ambitions, express or implied. Bush has not presided over any sweeping tax cuts (rates are still a lot higher than under Reagan), nor has he engineered any significant spending cuts or returns of power to the states (for example, his monstrous "no child left behind" education bill, which was supposed to empower local decision and cut federal spending but was, in the end, essentially written by Teddy Kennedy's staff). Asks the folks at Reason or the Cato Institute, the folks who really support "rolling back the 20th Century" (Greider's laughable catch phrase for dismantling the leviathan state), if they think Bush is implementing the kind of reform (yes, it would be reform) that Greider so fears. (Honestly, though, you'll probably have to wait until they've finished laughing.) Greider, as usual, is throwing a punch that is all D.C.-Comics-style "ker-POWW!" bubble and zero actual contact. Read the whole thing for alarmist gems like these:
Liberal activists gasped at the variety and dangerous implications (the public might have been upset too but was preoccupied with war), while conservatives understood that Bush was laying the foundations, step by step, toward their grand transformation of American life.Hilarious alarmism -- plus, if you act now, some supercilious dismissal of "the public's" ability to keep its eye on the ball. (Thank god Bill Greider is watching for them.)
Friday, April 25, 2003
Right now, when a corporation earns a dollar of profit, it pays corporate income taxes at the rate of 35%. Then when the company pays out those already taxed profits to its shareholders, the profits are taxed again on the shareholder's personal income tax return, at a top rate of 38.6%. That's right... the simple act of licking a stamp and mailing the shareholder his own money causes that money to be taxed a second time. It's like a tax on taking money out of your left pocket and moving it to your right pocket.Ohio Senator George Voinovich, a Republican and opponent of the larget cut, and who is Bush's first target in lobbying for more support, is on record as prepared to support the full cut if we can "pay for it." I assume he means through spending cuts. This is a classic dodge, but Bush should indulge him. If we could cut taxes and spending, we could really get the economy in a full-throated hum.
Put those two taxes together, and consider what happens to a dollar in profits. At the corporate level it gets taxed down to 65 cents. Then by the time the shareholder has paid the second tax, all that's left is 40 cents! That's right -- today's double taxation amounts to a 60% tax on the fruits of investment. And that's just the federal tax -- it doesn't even include the additional taxes levied on corporations and individuals by individual states.
During the good times it seemed that America was able to get away with these prohibitively high taxes on invested capital. But now we're paying the price. Corporations learned to take on lots of debt, because interest payments to bondholders are only taxed once -- but when the 1990s boom ended, all that leverage was pure risk when the economy slipped into recession and earnings collapsed.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
That said, what is Newt's angle? He's not going to weasel his way into the Cabinet, certainly. It's not too early to think about 2008. Can Newt pull off that kind of turnaround, from fallen speaker to presidential candidate? I doubt it, but I bet he'd love to run against Hillary in '08, if only for old times' sake. Oh, man. That would be a race worth following.
Public television's Jim Lehrer hasn't been able to get a straight answer out of anyone in the State Department in years, so my vote for a one-night replacement is Tom Arnold from Fox Sports Network's "The Best Damn Sports Show, Period." Always ready to say the first thing that comes into his head, and not afraid to approach the limits of good taste, Tom's in-your-face approach might finally intimidate Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joe Biden or Tom Ridge into telling us something we don't already know. How Mr. Lehrer fares with the likes of Charles Barkley and David Wells on Mr. Arnold's show is anybody's guess; these guys both claim to have been misquoted in their own autobiographies. On the other hand, Mr. Lehrer did spend eight years talking to people in the Clinton administration, so it's not like he's a complete stranger to mind-boggling deceit.As always, Queenan can zing more people in one paragraph than most writers can in a book.
Second, the GOP stalwarts, even those who oppose the Texas laws like Stan Kurtz, are blaming the liberal media for whipping up a frenzy. This is clearly not a case of media bias. Santorum's comments weren't taken out of context or misinterpreted, they were simply an honest formulation of GOP policy. Two things are at work here: One, GOP policy on this issue is entirely our of step with the country. Two, the country is content with code words on hot issues. Santorum skipped the code words.
Third, Santorum attempted to resort to federalism to defend Texas. I'm a little tired of the convenient invocation of federalism (from both parties) when it suits their needs. Santorum even claims to support federalism on abortion ("If New York doesn't want sodomy laws, if the people of New York want abortion, fine. I mean, I wouldn't agree with it, but that's their right. But I don't agree with the Supreme Court coming in."). But in this case, calling for a federalist policy on abortion means necessarily overturning Roe. Which do you think Rick really cares about -- overturning Roe or returning the right to the several states?
Fourth, is it really Santorum's concern,as stated, that a vote to overturn in Lawrence V. Texas will really lead to the legalization of polygamy, bigamy, and incest? No. Santorum may be fully against those things, but I don't believe that to be the issue. The issue is that, by striking down a law against homosexual conduct on explicitly moral grounds, the court removes one more obstacle to gay marriage. Remember that one of the arguments against Texas is that heterosexual extramarital acts (also traditionally defined as sodomy) are treated differently by the law. If the Supremes overturn in Lawrence v. Texas, there will be that much more daylight visible in the door opening to gay marriage under an equal protection/equal treatment argument. This is what the GOP fears, not rampant polygamy.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
More: Michelle Boardman, an occasional Volokh contributor, clerked for Frank Easterbrook -- better known as "Official Brother of TMQ." I'll find out soon enough that they all gather to play beer pong with my brother on odd Wednesdays.
This I think is a huge coming-of-age test for the Republican party. A member of their leadership has just publicy asserted that government has rights which trump the rights of individuals.Could it be clearer than that?
I guess this is just a long way of saying goodbye, good luck, good riddance. Pittsburgh has long combined success with frugality. It's about time Stewart did something useful -- like free up salary cap space.
In the end, the artists hate the record companies, the consumers hate the record companies, and the companies themselves are dinosaurs from another era. They'll be gone soon. Indie labels are already undercutting them, using digital file technology as a major part of their distribution. They'll find a way to make sure they get paid. Will the artists still make millions? Probably not, unless they have successful tours. (But, hey, ars gratia artis, right?) Will the indie companies make multi-millions? Probably not, unless they stumble on the next Madonna-type publicity juggernaut. But methinks they'll be happy to make a living. The world changes, and the most entrenched companies try to hold it back. But they all lose, in the end, because capitalism moves as surely as a glacier.
More: Volokh has a good rundown of the legal side.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Joey likes to think of himself as fundamentally independent. He looks at the people living in their dream palaces--the Arabists, the European elites, the Bush haters--and he knows he doesn't want to be like them. He doesn't want to be so zealous and detached from reality. He's not even into joining political movements at home. But he is less independent than he thinks. He has started to acquire certain assumptions over the past months, which will shape his thinking in years to come. As a rule, these assumptions are the exact opposite of the assumptions he would have formed if he had been watching the Vietnam war unfold. His politics will be radically different from those of the Vietnam generation.And radically different, I guess, from anything else. If I had a hope, it would be that Joey and his pals will be able to synthesize. Party affiliation, like choosing a brand of beer, is an identity marker of a different generation. (The GOP, the "young" party of the two majors, is a century and a half old.) As recent elections have shown, the vast middle is where the votes are to be found in the general election, and an amazing number of votes are in play for both parties. Pundits like to talk about "soccer moms," but in reality, the center is a kind of "everyone else" pool: small-government types who don't self identify with the GOP on issues like abortion or school prayer; progressive thinkers who realize that the trajectory of history has consigned many systems of public affairs to the dump while the free market has been reasonably successful; environmentalists who know that private ownership breeds benevolent stewardship of resources, while the "commons" paradigm encourages misuse, overgrazing/fishing, and blame shifting. Maybe Joey's generation will be the last to suffer, or the first to do away with, the moribund political categories that stifle and distort the political debate.
"This is a classic 'Catch 22' for American Airlines. If it does not find a way to compensate its top executives for the substantial risks they are taking and the very hard work ahead, many will resign from the company," said William Alderman, president of aerospace investment firm Alderman & Company.Oh, boo-hoo. Listen, running American Airlines is not that hard a job, and Don Carty got nearly $4 million in 2001. I'd be glad to do it for a lot less money. And I guarantee I could have happier unions, have more satisfied customers, and lose a hell of a lot less money than Carty is. Technically, I have no problem with executive pay, as long as you're not a weasel, as Carty and his minions appear to be. And as long as you don't pretend your job is so tough that you deserve to make a few million. If you can get it, great -- I'd take it, too. But don't pretend that you earned it through long hours and total dedication when your company, your industry is tanking because you can't understand that your way of running an airline has never even hinted at a long-term profit.
Monday, April 21, 2003
The popularity of PBR is a lesson in reverse psychology. Young adults have taken to the beer because it wasn't forced down their throats. Like ugly clothes and extreme sports, Pabst's value lies in its expression of individuality and choice, a rejection of consumer society by those who feel manipulated by it. Pabst's selling point is its distinct unpopularity, its unself-conscious existence among beers that reinvent themselves as regularly as political candidates.Jesus, it's almost a reason not to drink it. Beer is still marketed under a paradigm that suits the America in which beer became popular. Brand loyalty is of the highest importance, like buying a certain brand of pickup, even if it falls apart in your driveway, just like the last one; rooting for the same team every year, even if they lose; having a favorite NASCAR driver. Add to that mix the loyalty of beer brand, and you have a picture of the target -- he's a Chevy driver, a Giants fan, roots for Jeff Gordon -- and he's a Bud man. What's different about the PBR campaign? Everything, but nothing. It's still a celebration of the identity that a brand offers its patron, but with a contemptuous rejection of the traditional symbols (think snowboarding instead of NASCAR).
Friday, April 18, 2003
I like reading people who disagree with me. It's the only way to formulate a real argument. But it's this kind of stuff that makes me stop in the middle of an Al Hunt column and wonder why the hell I should go on reading.
But I think there's an important ethical distinction between simply responding to speech -- even if it may foreseeably hurt the speaker's pocketbook -- and trying to organize a boycott that's aimed at punishing the speaker, or at deterring speakers from saying such things in the future.I'm not sure he's correct. Is it the case that the boycott of, say, the Dixie Chicks is motivated by a desire to "[deter them] from saying such things in the future"? I would guess that most people who withheld their money from the Dixie Chicks don't particularly care what Natalie Maines says in the future. The point is to exercise a type of economic speech -- voting with their wallets, as it were. Is that "punishment" of the speaker? I don't think so. Nothing is taken away from the speaker, no right withheld. The speaker is free to continue saying what he or she wishes, but with the understanding that he or she does so to the detriment of his or her "customer base." It's an inexact parallel, to say the least, but wouldn't you, Eugene, stop patronizing your dry cleaner if the owner greeted your patronage with a salutation of "Hey, asshole"?
Like I said, inexact; but Volokh's example, I think, really goes wide of the mark. He posits a case of employment:
Here's a simple hypothetical: Imagine that a company employs someone who's a noted Republican activist. The company's sole owner fires the activist, saying the following: "By employing this person, I'm supporting him financially; in fact, part of the money that I'm paying him ends up being used for his activism, so I'm supporting his actual speech and any action stemming therefrom, and I am, however incrementally, associating myself with it. Which, of course, I would not want to do. I will therefore fire this person." Whether or not this behavior is legal (and I think it should be), I think most of us would rightly condemn it as intolerant and therefore improper. Yes, if the employer retains this employee, he may be indirectly supporting a cause with which he disagrees; and perhaps by firing the employee, he may in some small measure weaken that cause. But tolerating people means that sometimes we should do even those things that indirectly help causes we dislike -- pay a salary to supporters of those causes, decline to ostracize them, even in some situations (for instance, if we're a private university that's dedicated to academic freedom) provide an equal forum for them as we do for other groups.But employment is a contract, even if one supports (as Eugene says he does, and I do) the right of an employer to fire for any reason. An employer who has hired me to do a job has an economic incentive to keep me working, and an economic disincentive to fire talented people with whom the employer might disagree on unrelated matters. (Remember the college student working for a Texas media consultant who was said to be secretly mailing insider information to the Gore campaign? She turned out to be an active Democrat, if I recall, in which case it would be not only ethical to fire for political reasons, it would be a disservice to one's client not to.) At any rate, I have no contract with the Dixie Chicks to buy their records. I might do, if I like the tunes. I might even if I like the tunes but hate what they say/stand for/advertise for/etc. (If I didn't buy the music of artists who disagree with me politically, I'd only be able to listen to Zappa.) Nonetheless, if an artist says something irresponsible ("kill the Jews," for example) it is entirely ethical for me to withhold my money, and to send a note to the nice people at the record company telling them why my $12 is still in my wallet, and to tell my friends what I did and why. Now, if the record company wants to fire the artist because they're beginning to look like a financial risk, that's a business decision.
Another example to help distinguish, shifting from speech to the related matter of association: Let's say that a restaurant that won't serve black people. I think a private business can refuse service to anyone they choose without legal sanction, so their right to do business is not at iassue. But is it ethical for the white people in the area to make it perfectly clear to that establishment that they will not bring their money there because of such a policy? Absolutely. Now we move into deeper waters: This was, effectively, the motivation behind various boycotts of South African products in the 1980s. One direct effect of the economic pressure was that less money came into the South African economy. In the long term, one could argue, this led to the disestablishment of apartheid. In the short term, though, many people, including the oppressed black population we were ostensibly trying to aid, suffered first in an economic tightening. Were the sanctions still ethical? That is the interesting question, and the one worth debating.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Anyway, to comment on your tax issue. The converse of your point is: "The idea that this tax cut will actually have an effect is ridiculous." I, for one, do not equate tax cut with "tax reform." I think the two phrases should mean something different. A tax cut is brainless, easy and used as a political doggy treat to show your GOP bona fides. If you want to do something about our 8 million-word tax code, then do something. Don't stay in the existing parameters and trumpet how hard you're working.
The federal government is projected to collect $27.9 trillion in taxes over the next ten years. President Bush has proposed a $726 billion tax relief package that would drop that total to "only" $27.2 trillion. While that amount seems sufficient to satisfy Washington’s spending appetite, a group of Senators is opposing any tax cut larger than $350 billion. These Senators have described all proposals that would tax less than $27.6 trillion over the next decade as "unaffordable."Reidl's next step is to pay for the tax cut by cutting spending. Most of the spending offset he suggests comes simply from cutting waste, counterproductive spending, and sop-type subsidies; the biggest chunk is "unreconciled transactions," a euphemism for spending that the Treasury can't even account for. And he does this without the benefit of dynamic scoring, which has to count for something (Reidl thinks 25-60% of the cut will be recouped). The idea that we can't afford this tax cut is ridiculous.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
It's been a good long while since I've had a sit-down with the US Constitution ...Watch carefully while she proves it.
but if my junior high school memories serve me correctly, I don't recall the Bill of Rights guaranteeing free speech only to those who espouse one particular opinion. Yet that seems to be the disturbing interpretation preferred by those encouraging a backlash against some celebrities who have been outspoken opponents of the US-led war against Iraq.Let's take a look at that. Is it the government encouraging the backlash? No, private citizens are. Now that we have that straight:
One of those singled out is Janeane Garofalo. The passionately antiwar actress and comedian has become the target of a campaign to convince ABC to drop plans for a proposed series starring her.Certainly, in this case, Congress passed a law making it illegal for Garofalo to have a weekly series. No? Hmmm. Let's finish up, then. Here's the closer:
As the United States prepares to guide Iraq toward democracy and a new political future, it must not slip back into its own dark past of McCarthyism, which ruined dozens of lives and careers in the 1950s. The Bill of Rights guarantees free speech to everyone, including celebrities who flash peace signs at awards shows or release music denouncing war. And to believe otherwise, or contend that their dissent is dangerous, may be the most treasonous, anti-American act of all.I thought that to be a Boston Globe writer meant an IQ at least equivalent to one's hat size, but Ms. Graham has enlightened me by squeezing a record amount of faulty logic and misguided Constitutional interpretation into one column. It used to be McCarthyism if the government systematically stifled your right to speak and associate. Now you're a McCarthyite if you don't personally support Janeane Garofalo's latest banal attempt at sitcom humor. A boycott, long beloved of the left, is now an unfair way to register your disagreement with a person or product. How many dime-store editorialists have to have this explained to them? The Bill of Rights protects citizens from the intrusion of the government. It does not, however, guarantee Janeane Garofalo an income. If she shoots her mouth off, then gets hired by ABC, I have my own rights, one of which is to take my viewership elsewhere -- and to let ABC know why. It is not McCarthyism; it is not injurious to the Bill of Rights. It is simple economic freedom. Go back to junior high, Ms. Graham. It appears you didn't meet the requirements to graduate.
The Court has subjected the First Amendment to a stiff dose of “power judging” as well. It has used the amendment’s religion clause—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”—to erect a nearly impassable “wall of separation” between church and state, a wall that the Framers never envisioned. Washington, for example, thought religion “indispensable” to the “dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity”—a view that seems to belong to a different universe from a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that a short, freely chosen, nonsectarian, and non-proselytizing prayer delivered by a student before a high school football game represented an unconstitutional establishment of religion.Like I said, the sorts of beliefs various crowds are pushing all sound like religion to me: belief in something unreasonable, depite a dearth of proof. In the end, if you want to pray at home, great. If you want to fist at home, that's also great. Just don't try to tell my kid how "great" either practice is. His mother and I will have those discussions with him when the time comes. How hard is that to understand?
Chefs can send out food from the kitchen knowing that it will be enjoyed in a smokeless atmosphere. Waiters can lean forward to serve their customers without getting a cloud of Camel right in the face. And sensitive palates like mine can operate at peak efficiency, picking up nuances of herb and spice without interference. It's the dawn of a bright new day. But to usher it in, the government has had to declare shade illegal.Fair enough.
Businesses will spend about 3.4 billion man-hours and individuals about 1.7 billion hours figuring out their taxes this year. That is the equivalent of 3 million people working full time year-round on tax-preparation work. This is more people than now serve in the U.S. armed forces. It is more man-hours than are required to build every car, van, and truck in the United States.He has more.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Friday, April 11, 2003
Thursday, April 10, 2003
More: No round today; the grass is too wet. Another boost for Tiger, who is probably the best prepared to put in 36 tomorrow and still roll out Saturday with a spring in his step. Dark horse -- Chris DiMarco. (Update: DiMarco shot 9-over on the first lap.) Anybody know if Ian Woosnam still smokes his Camel straights on the course?
Side note: Wouldn't it be a shock to the world (and great fun, to boot) if we announced that, after Iraq, Cuba was next on "the list"? Even if just as a joke, like Reagan's "the bombing will begin" remark. Ah, to see the look on that old fart Castro's face, the cigar tumbling out of his gaping mouth into his crotch, his quivering hand reaching for the phone to ready his asylum (in France, no doubt -- or Beverly Hills).
Update: Peter Wood defends Paige, saying that Paige was suggesting where he would send his own kids. First, I think that's unclear in context, but he's welcome to clarify. Second, who cares where the secretary would send his kids? Part of the job is that you don't get baited into pronouncements like this, particularly by the Baptist Press -- a group that could be seen as partial to a certain answer. (Try to imagine the Baptist Press headline if Rod Paige said he'd prefer to have his kids in a secular school.) This was clearly a suck-up, perhaps a deliberately ambiguous one, on Paige's part. Third, does he think that Yeshiva is not a "community of values"? Or that those values are lesser values? Fourth, he has to know that when he discusses what he would "prefer" for "a child" (not "my child"), he could easily be seen as declaring a policy goal.
The secular left wants Paige's scalp over this. That's crassly taking advantage of a dumb comment, and I think they'll tone it down. Bad as it sounds, it's not a firing offense. But if he wants to keep his job, Paige should think carefully before speaking to the advocate press.
is [also] saying that he would never appoint a justice who would vote to overrule a previous constitutional decision of the Supreme Court. Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu, Bowers v. Hardwick: They would all be the law forever. That's quite a platform for a Democrat.Maybe I'm calling this too early, but Kerry's mouth seems to be so far ahead of his brain these days that it might as well be in a different zip code.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
So far, Marine nuclear and intelligence experts have discovered 14 buildings that betray high levels of radiation. Some of the readings show nuclear residue too deadly for human occupation ... "It's amazing," said Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Flick, the battalion's nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist. "I went to the off-site storage buildings, and the rad detector went off the charts. Then I opened the steel door, and there were all these drums, many, many drums, of highly radioactive material."Thanks to the Corner for the link.
"It's all lies," said the official, Abdu Saif. "We are only burning garbage and recently cut grass." A short time later, a man who answered the phone at the embassy said only, "I'm not working now" and hung up.It's all lies, it's all lies. If these guys were any more on-message, I'd swear they were cribbing from Ari Fleischer's notes.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
I saw this picture and was horrified. Something should be put in place quickly to serve as an outlet for these feelings. This may sound squishy, too, but these people need closure. Firstly, we don't want to have to police civil disorder. Secondly, this kind of freelance "truth and reconciliation" can quickly become a political tool in the cloudy days when a transitional government is unformed and various groups jockey for position.
At one stage the marines opened fire after coming under attack from snipers, leaving at least two civilians wounded. One man needed treatment for gunshot wounds to his stomach and left arm. But his friend, Abdul Amir Jaffa, said he did not resent the Americans despite the shooting. "Americans are coming to free us," he told AFP.We shot his friend but he doesn't hold it against us because we did it in the process of freeing him.
I've touched before on the mindset that makes the protesters tick. A lot of them were too young to protest Vietnam. Some of them were old enough but didn't and now feel they missed their chance. Some of them did protest, and are now reliving their salad days. At any rate, the protesters are looking through a prism of 1960s America, where war means 'Nam and hipness means marching. This is not an original observation. But this is: Some of us, myself included, didn't get to see or hear about the liberation of Paris, the dismantling of the concentration camps. Iraq is not WWII, but it may be as close as my generation will get. For me, the stories and images of freed people is a tonic in a country where we shout "Fascist" if someone tries to take away our "freedom" to do any number of silly things, like blocking traffic to protest the war. This, in Iraq, is freedom -- something you can only really feel so clearly when it is a new environment, like realizing you were dry and comfortable the moment before a downpour soaked you.
[The tax cut] will also lay the seeds for a better performing economy, which is the best way to finance a war and address the deficit anyway. Ronald Reagan (the Cold War) and JFK (early Vietnam) proved that tax cuts can spur growth in wartime.Now here's TNR's reply:
Does the Journal really want to stake its argument for cutting taxes during wartime on an analogy with Vietnam?Hmmm. This means what, exactly? That conservatives can't argue a bit of economic theory that says strategically cutting taxes can increase revenue, I guess. And why can't they? Well, because they used the analogy of Vietnam. Not getting it? I'm not either. The analogy was to tax policy in the early 60s, based on foreseeable war expenditures. The fact that the Vietnam War turned long, ugly, and unpopular in no way dismisses the argument that tax cuts can stimulate revenue.
That piece of illogical argumentation made, TNR goes on to ask:
Is [the WSJ] not even a little bit bothered by the fact that Lyndon Johnson's failure to raise taxes during that war was perhaps the driving force behind the crippling inflation of the 1970s. [sic]Their emphasis, by the way. Now there are a lot of people at that magazine who are smarter than I am, I admit. But to link the hyperinflation of the 1970s to Johnson's failure to raise taxes seems absurd. I can see an argument that war spending pushed inflation a bit, but Johnson's solution was to take us deeper into the war, even as he knew that stalemate was the inevitable outcome (viz Beschloss's recent compilation). Surely Nixon's attempts at price/wage stabilization had their own unintended consequences, as monkeying with the free market always does. And what about oil prices? That set off a huge secondary inflation wave, since so many industries were affected by the cost of fuel. And notice how tax hikes throughout the 70s brought the problem of hyperinflation to a screeching halt. Actually, the only deep solution, as opposed to cosmetic tinkering, turned out to be tax cuts, and the US only really emerged from the sluggish 70s in 1983.
Monday, April 07, 2003
Live from the front steps of Saddam Hussein's presidential palace, a US tank commander told Fox News a little while ago that he was going to take a shower in ol' Saddam's en suite. "It's got running water," he said. And gold taps! Can't wait for to hear Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf's spin on this. "They do not control the shower! We have them trapped in the shower! The taps, the nozzle, dish where soap is placed, all controlled by Iraq!"Welcome back, Tim.
"They are sick in their minds. They say they brought 65 tanks into center of city. I say to you this talk is not true. This is part of their sick mind," Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said. "There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad at all."Yeah, you do want to give your troops good news to keep them fighting, but you also have to avoid looking silly. Next time he's going to say it with a U.S. tank rolling behind him.
Friday, April 04, 2003
Still More Kerry: But that's not what I came here to talk about, as Arlo Guthrie says. I came to talk about Kerry's plan. I think he believes he can have it both ways on the war. Sure, he's a total waffler and famously non-committal on anything politically unproven, but I think he believes he's got this war business licked. When members of the GOP complained about the "regime change" comment, one of Kerry's flacks chose to say this:
"Unlike many of his Republican critics, Senator Kerry has worn the uniform, served his country, seen combat, so he'd just as soon skip their lectures about supporting our troops."Examine, if you will, the way that statement drips with hubris. Kerry thinks that his service allows him to "skip the lecture." Bullshit, dude. Nobody gets to cut this one. I'm sure Jesse Jackson's been at the receiving end of racial invective in his life; that doesn't mean he gets to go around calling Jews "Hymies" and then say, "I'll skip the lecture on racial sensitivity, thanks." Sergeant Akbar at Camp Pennsylvania wore the uniform, too -- was wearing it, in fact, when he fragged the officers' tent. Whaddya say, Johnny-boy, should we just let him go? We sure as hell wouldn't want to reprimand somebody that wore the uniform. Heck, I'd better shut up. I've never served, so who am I to judge Akbar, eh John?
Meanwhile, wordsmith David Frum doubts "regime" is really the word Kerry was looking for. (Click, scroll down.) Makes sense to me. I wonder if Kerry is smart enough to be president.
Thursday, April 03, 2003
"Did someone just say, 'Shut up'? I don't know if you heard about this thing called freedom of speech, man. It's worth thinking about it, because it's going away," Vedder said. "In the last year of being able to use it, we're sure as (expletive) going to use it and I'm not gonna apologize."Golly. The last year of free speech? Who knew? Wait, is it a Jesus complex Vedder has, or a cornball, the-end-is-near, street-preacher/hustler complex? (He might have caught the latter from Howard "The Handmaid's Tale is Bush's Blueprint for Women's Rights" Dean.) Given that Pearl Jam was last relevant about the time of the Gulf War, they must think the bombing of Baghdad heralds their return from obscurity. Think Vedder was disappointed when fans began to walk out on his tirade? I don't. I think he felt smugly superior to the "idiots" who didn't care to pay good money to be lectured.