Thursday, January 31, 2002

Must read Krauthammer - - Today’s Krauthammer dose is bang on-is W. tapped into Mr. K’s brain? Sometimes it would seem so. But today Krauthammer writes, “The joint resolution Congress passed on Sept. 14 simply authorized the use of force against those who perpetrated Sept. 11. This is seriously shortsighted. The point is not finding a miscreant's fingerprints on the World Trade Center. The point is finding the next miscreant's plans for the next World Trade Center.” Or as Bush would say, “Get them before they get us.”

This, of course, is the whole point of the war. Just striking back at who did this is not enough. What is needed is to prevent any group from doing anything like the acts of 9/11 ever again. Get them before they get us.

Democrats in trouble - - I was with some friends earlier today, talking politics, er, well, I was more lecturing them and demonstrating absurdity by being absurd in classic Limbaugh style. But I was still struck by something that came up. Do the Democrats have any, and I mean any, ideas? Sure enough, Opinion Journal tonight has a devastating article entitled, “Bush Flies While Democrats Lose Attitude: Has the party of FDR had a new idea since the New Deal?” by one of the best-Daniel Henninger.

I love this: “What Mr. Bush did with that speech Tuesday night was akin to Chuck Yeager strapping the entire Democratic Party into an X-1 and taking the whole lot of them up to 80,000 feet at Mach 2. They were in ideological air they'd never breathed before.”

And come to think of it, you’d think that the article was in the WSJ and bragging rights in the media biased world they would be cheering right? Well Henninger, strongly makes a case that both parties are much better off when they have competing plans for a better America-a positive message. That is “we report”, “you decide” at its best. Frankly I would like to see a Times Op-ed like that.

The team - - I watched most of Rumsfeld’s talk today on the future of the US military. Rummy is the best show going-he is just fun entertainment. What struck me today though is that he is surrounded by smart, smart, people. Sure Stufflebeam is terrible; however, Tommy Franks is awesome, Myers too, but today I really was impressed with Gen. Peter Pace (Vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). [I will link to the talk when the transcript is up.]

Good thing - - In case you haven’t seen or heard about it yet-if you live under a rock, or perhaps a cave-check out the WAPO’s 10 part series on the aftermath of 9/11. It is riveting. Part 6 is up and all the previous ones. I saw co-writer Dan Balz today on Imus (I know, I know getting up at 4am is really silly) and he was very cool. Surprisingly he said that it wasn’t going to become a book-but I don’t buy it, he is working with Bob Woodward-I think every 2nd article of his becomes a book. I do think that in the next 10-15 years it will make the basis for an excellent movie. Check it out.

The Canadian Pundit Buzz
A look at some of Canada’s pundits, what’s hot, and who’s not

Edward Greenspon (G&M): Greenspon uses his latest column to compare the hapless Canadian Defense Minister with the actor from “Yes, Minister.” Eggleton made his boss look foolish when the Minister held back the information that Canadian Special Forces had taken some prisoners in Afghanistan. I don’t know what is worse, the lack of control the PM has, or the fact that the Canadian forces are taking prisoners. Sadly Greenspon barely thinks we need better: “Perhaps we need a deeper thinker than Mr. Eggleton to sort through this issue.” Perhaps?

Jeffrey Simpson (G&M): Simpson has been all over the evolving healthcare debate in recent weeks. What’s more, he actually gives credit to the average voter’s ability to understand the issue: “The Senate committee suggests Canadians should understand that sensible options exist for changing health care, rather than a pigheaded status quo defence.”

David Warren (Ottawa Citizen): Warren takes a look at Bush’s State of the Union address and the Bush Doctrine. Basically he says that while speech’s most memorable word was the use of “axis” and the warning shot to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the bigger issue was to warn the allies that the worst is not over yet, and things will not go back to September 11th.

Murdoch Davis (National Post): Davis spent the week having this editorial/op-ed reprinted throughout the country on the subject of Southam’s national editorial policy-that from time to time there will be a standard editorial for all the Southam papers. The story is tired. National editorials? We get it already Murdoch! If that is what you want to, and apparently are going to, do stop talking about the criticism. This is what counts as ‘media controversy’ in Canada.

Andrew Coyne (National Post): Coyne exposes that Canada’s ruling party, unable to deal with defense or international issues, has devoted itself to more pressing matters. “The occasion offers a fascinating glimpse into the Liberal soul. Other parties have been riven by important questions of policy, unbridgeable divisions over the Corn Laws, the Missouri Compromise, and the like. What is the historic issue that now divides the Liberals? Whether membership forms should be issued one at a time, or in bunches.”

More SOTU stuff - - Mary McGrory who if I remember correctly was someone who really liked Clinton very much has a pretty good look at Bush and his speech.

Check this out: “George W. Bush delivered such a stunning State of the Union speech, during which he dazzled Congress with a mix of Julius Caesar and Billy Graham, that it left the opposition virtually speechless.”

She does send plenty of ‘props’ to speechwriter Michael Gerson, and really does hammer home the plight of today’s Democrats.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Full Coverage: SOTU Reactions - -

Couldn’t sleep, and ended up staying up to watch the Don Imus show at 4am. Actually glad I was up so I could chuckle to myself when the delivery truck for the National Post got stuck in the snow-ha ha. The I-man’s crew seemed to like the speech. Don’s brother Fred said that Bush is the only president he has ever liked, and that all the other one’s are pigs. Don said he supported McCain but has officially jumped on the bandwagon in support of Bush.

[Update: Imus ranted off and on for two hours about Jessie Jackson-"he is not on, that is not happening." Apparently Jessie had tried to get on the show at the last minute.}

[Update II: Howard Fineman noted that the last bit of Bush's speech was a sort of pledge of allegiance for the entire world.]

The NY Times editorial managed to refrain from mentioning Enron for minute to comment-although I still counted six Enron articles. “With plain-spoken eloquence about the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks — and a salute to heroes in the audience — Mr. Bush projected himself as the heir to the eternally popular Ronald Reagan.”

The WAPO editorial was decent-yet managed to drag campaign finance reform in. “To his credit, President Bush delivered a wartime address, an honest and sober account of the long road that still lies ahead in the war against international terror.”

The LA Times was giddy with the proposition that Bush was trying an Old Dick Morris-Bill Clinton move: triangulation. It even finds time to trash Paul Krugman.

NR’s Kate O’Beirne is pretty classic if only for the note: “Tom DeLay was in the "bunker" in the interest of congressional continuity. Had the place been blown to kingdom come, it would have been a tragedy of colossal proportions--with a not insignificant consolation--Tom DeLay would BE Congress.”

Brooks vs Klein - - I forgot to mention this great feature at Slate.com: "The Breakfast Table" this week is between Joe Klein and David Brooks. [Joe Klein's new book, The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton , will be published in March. David Brooks is senior editor of the Weekly Standard and author of Bobos in Paradise.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Thoughts on the SOTU - -

“As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger.”

President Bush is already riding so high in the polls is there any way that he could improve on that? Traditionally Presidents get a bounce in the polls after a State of the Union address, and this will be no different.

The thing that stuck me about the speech is just how much George W. Bush understands the dangerous situation that we now find ourselves. The speech, and I am not sure what the insiders titled it, should be called simply ‘Leaning forward.” If the last speech Bush gave to Congress was about the phrase, “Let’s roll”, this is an extension of it. This administration has done just that so far, and obviously will continue to lean forward rather than back; acknowledge the past, but move forward. At its very core it is a path of offense rather than defense. As evidence there was no mention of Osama bin Laden and only one mention of Al Qaeda.

Bush barely dwelled on the past. The last time he went before congress there was barely a war footing, there was an enemy government in Afghanistan, women there were unable to work or attend school. Four months later the interim leader of Afghanistan was in the audience and he made special notion of the interim government’s Minister of Women’s Affairs.

Most of the speech was war related. He warned that, “some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.” He put nations, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, all on notice. He called them, rightly, an “axis of evil” using imagery of World War II to underscore the seriousness of the current war.

Part of the Let’s Roll mentality is that the US is willing to operate wherever it needs to in order to protect freedom. “The man and women of our Armed Forces have delivered a message now clear to every enemy of the United States: Even 7,000 miles away, across oceans and continents, on mountaintops and in caves -- you will not escape the justice of this nation.”

At times Bush seemed to frame the issues, then toss the ball in the court of the congress. He told the nation that the deficit would be small and short, only if the Congress would contain itself on the spending front. He asked for Trade Promotion Authority and an Energy Plan and noted that the House had moved on these, but the Senate has not. It left a lingering sense that the Democrats in the Senate are not really bipartisan.

He pulled a bit of a Theodore Roosevelt suggesting that corporations were on notice and better be more upfront and disclose their numbers for all to see. Judging from his focus on the war, I would suggest that the business world not test him on it either. If he was a little bit TR, he was also a little bit JFK. He called for more service to country, asking for an expanded USA Freedom Corps and demanded two years, or four thousand hours, of every American to help their community or country over their lives.

Both Andrew Sullivan and Newsweek’s Howard Fineman quickly noted that what the speech may really have done is to unveil a new Republican philosophy-a philosophy that takes traditional republican strengths on foreign affairs and tempers the traditional skepticism of government.

If there was ever doubt in the resolve of Bush it is long past. He is now the driving force and center of the war and has provided a new moral base for the west to operate from.


For More Coverage and insight:

The transcript

Andrew Sullivan’s thoughts

State of the Union - - I'll be posting later tonight after the S.O.T.U. but to get y'all started here is C-Span's page that has transcripts of them back to Truman.

Target: France? - - Little Green Footballs has a great poll up and running asking "who should the US attack next?" Iraq? Somalia? Palestinian Authority? Saudi Arabia? France? Geraldo Rivera? When I clicked there had been 533 voters, 34.9% wanted France to be the next target. That is the ultimate props to NRO's Jonah Goldberg.

Delicious - - Competing problems now that the DNC's Terry McAuliffe has his very own version of Ken Lay. A big backer, Terry makes $18 million, company melts down, maybe nobody'll notice...

Monday, January 28, 2002

Article in the key of Alan - - Got a very cool heads up on this Brendan Nyhan article at The American Prospect on the importance of Alan Keyes' new MSNBC show. Check it out. It raises some of the real problems the show has but taps into what, I feel, is the strongest part: the look at one issue over the course of an hour-which is extremely rare on cable.

CNN back to normal - - Well it is official, CNN is getting back to normal. How do I know? Well I just saw the ad announcing that Judy Woodruff’s show “Inside Politics” is returning to the schedule. Thankfully CNN can get back to shoddy reporting on the “political buzz”. Will they cover things like Bias? Or misleading NY Times polls? Rush Limbaugh, with hearing restored, is going to go ballistic.

Speaking of “Bias” & the Times - - Note that Bernard Goldberg’s latest is number one on the New York Times bestseller list. That must really piss the libs off.

The latest - - My latest EnterStageRight.com piece is up. The Enron Sideshow is about the pundit problems and media bias. I hope you enjoy.

New Battle, New Ally - - Andrew Sullivan has been leading the way on the Enron scandal, and leading it away from politics and into the dirty world of pundit-ocracy. This morning the battle has shifted back to the media bias issue-as in the bias in the reporting over trying to tie Enron to Bush. Sullivan was hard at it this morning-the latest New York Times poll that had some actual interesting numbers, but the editors of the Times chose to highlight, er, none of them. Instead focusing on the Enron questions. Sullivan called the poll, “propaganda.”

This morning Slate.com has a great Mickey Kaus piece. Kaus has been highly critical of the Times Enron coverage on his own site noting on his site that the other day that there were fourteen separate articles on the story. And in this article Kaus notes that in addition to those 14 articles he forgot to include the three Op-ed’s, two editorials, and the two pages of testimony from the Congressional hearings. For all of that, the scandal has not really affected the Bush administration or the GOP.

For example Kaus notes this interesting points:

*Tom Daschle’s unfavorable rating has doubled since June." - - Here is what the Times concluded: “[T]he poll found that the Republicans' drive to make a high-profile villain of the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, has not succeeded. He is still a virtual unknown.” Both Kaus and Sullivan noted that yes, nobody knows Daschle; but anyone who does know him doesn’t like him. So the GOP tactic to make him look bad has worked in the beltway-big time.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Holy Toledo - - When something makes me laugh out loud when I am by myself, it is a good thing. Today's NRO "The Corner" (nice to see the NRO crew working overtime!!) has a really funny comment by Jonah Goldberg. He links to this WAPO story on why the Arab world is such a mess.

Goldberg highlights this graph: "The result is a private sector that falls woefully short of the vitality needed to employ a burgeoning population. One statistic vividly highlights the feebleness of industry in this part of the world: Aside from oil, exports from the Middle East and North Africa (excluding Israel) are about the same as Denmark's, a country with less than one-fiftieth the population."

Then he says this: "Denmark! Toledo, Ohio probably exports as much a Denmark."

All this "unrest" in the Arab world kind of reminds me of a quote in the movie, "Thirteen Days." when Costner's O'Donnell asks Bobby Kennedy, "what is it about the free world that pisses everyone else off?" Kennedy thinks that maybe it is the tupperware parties. Well if the Arab world had Tupperware parties it might double the GDP!

Look at the list of countries you can get Tupperware in. Israel is there. Turkey is there. But no other Middle East nations. Is there a reason? No Tupperware = No economic development? I would imagine that Tupperware is banned in these nations-they probably wouldn't want their women to assemble, sell plastic goods, or solicit plastic goods. mmmm.

Dumb and Dumber - - The Canadian Press has a story today, reprinted by the National Post, on the startling realization that many students are not going to pass grade nine in Ontario. Here is the bottom line in the article:

People for Education (a parent’s group) wants the government to develop an alternative curriculum for students who find the academic and applied streams too difficult.

"What we are calling on the government to do is to implement reforms right now, into the curriculum, so that these students can actually graduate from high school with some sort of alternative certificate," said spokeswoman Annie Kidder.


Whatever happened to failing people? There is a crisis in education today because students get moved along without actually doing what is required to pass. This is a tragedy.

Thankfully the article ends with this:

But Janet Ecker, the Minister of Education, argues there are already mechanisms in place for students who cannot meet the requirements of a formal high-school diploma, such as a "certificate of accomplishment" that shows an employer what a student has learned.

And she insists that lowering standards is not the answer. "Giving a student a piece of paper that doesn't mean anything is not going to help them get a job," she said in an interview.


But where is the outrage? Why are parents not totally angry over this type of thing, instead they are perpetuating stupidity. Forget the brain drain, Canada is doing just fine on its own thank you.

Friday, January 25, 2002

Bush reading program - - Great photo today of Bush leaving the White House with Bernard Goldberg's book under his arm. Here are the comments that accomany the photo:

"President Bush waves as he walks out of the White House in Washington, headed for Portland, Maine, where he is focusing on border and harbor security, Friday, Jan. 25, 2002. Slung beneath Bush's right arm as he walked to Marine One is the book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts the News," by former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg, which accuses television news executives of tilting liberal in how they report the news. (AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite)"

No mention of the book being the weeks number one bestseller. Mmmm.

Being Paul Krugman - - Oh how it must be to as perfect and clean as New York Times columnist Paul Kurgman. Now that would be a movie: commentator, Princeton professor, shaking Bill Gates hand, being a “player”.

Basically what Krugman wants us to stop today, is being a “playa-hata” because he is not the problem. He wasn’t even getting proper market value for his work with Enron.

And he certainly isn’t like CNBC’s Larry Kudlow who actually believed in the Energy Plan proposed by Bush and Cheney. Ya I know watching Kudlow on his new show he sure has been going soft on Enron-NOT. But I’m Paul Krugman and I am clean. Kudlow also is an actual corporate advisor not a professor/columnist. But that is probably splitting hairs.

The problem with this scandal is that Liberals want to use that as an excuse to paint Bush and co. as big business pawns instead of actually addressing the financial implications and fall out. Are conservatives throwing mud? Obviously, but the reason is to stop this from taking away from the real scandal-which is FINANCIAL.

So if Krugman says, basically, “look I took money from Enron but I have been trashing them so I’m clean leave me alone”, shouldn’t Bush be able to say, “of course I took money from Kenboy, I am not stupid you know, but I just let that company self-destruct so I’m clean-leave me alone.”

Indeed, lets get back to figuring out “who let the dog’s out”: Andersen and Enron.

A National Review editorial calls Krugman what he is, a hack. Willing to change his mind just so he can criticize Bush. It really uncovers the Krugman tool kit too: “It's repetitive and predictable: Krugman seems to have only three or four column ideas (tax cuts are bad, private accounts in Social Security are bad, Republicans are bad). It's intellectually thuggish: Krugman caricatures opponents, falsely presents his opinions as "cold, hard fact" accepted by all his fellow economists, and attributes all disagreement with him to crankiness and dishonesty.”

Ahh, to be inside Paul Krugman’s head would be just like that scene in Being John Malkovich where all you see is Malkovich’s in the dinning room of a restaurant. “Krugman?”, “Krugman”, “Krugman, Krugman?”, “Krugman”. It is exhausting.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Making sense - - There was one thing Alan Keyes mentioned last night that really did make sense. It cut through the Enron mess like a hot knife through butter. Here is Keyes' point:

"But first of all, you have noticed, I am sure, that the Enron executives have already received their subpoenas. They‘re going up to Capitol Hill, and because of all of the damage that was done to the stockholders and the pension fund holders, they are going to have to be made to answer for that damage. Well, you know, on September 11, an awful lot of damage was done, to New York, to Americans, a lot of lives were lost. And yet, we haven‘t yet seen signs of a single hearing to explain the deep breach of our national security that we saw in the results of that day. Did that make sense?"

He's right, all this face time about Enron, which is a mess and many people were financially wounded, but their problems pale in comparison to the issues of National Security and how 9/11 was able to happen. When are those going to happen?


Letters - - Got a few emails about yesterdays Camp takedown. Here is one to share:


Hi Jackson!
I've only visited your site once, and already you've got me angry. I've become very adept at avoiding Camp's columns, and now you've rubbed my nose in one! But seriously, as they say, I've often wondered why he's so friggin' annoying. I usually enjoy reading dissenting views, if only to sharpen and focus my own ideas. Camp, however, seems to have a smug, condescending tone, as though dictating from Mount Olympus.
I enjoy your site, keep up the good work.
Chris


Thanks Chris for the kind words & sorry about any nose rubbing, but your right about Camp.

Another reader was good to pass along this article in response to my ESR column from last Sunday by some CATO writers who see free trade as a key to helping rebuild Afghanistan and rightly mention the folly of aid.

Thank you Ravi.




The Alan Keyes Show - - I finally watched the new MSNBC show with Alan Keyes last night. Now I was worried becuase one blogger of note said this, "Just a biased opinion: Andrew Sullivan is getting boring.: Alan Keyes' new MSNBC show is even more boring." I'll be frank, I did not watch the first two episodes, but last night they spent about 50 minutes of times dealing with the death penalty. It was a conversation that eclipsed anything that was on Larry King or Aaron Brown. It is one of the few shows I have seen that actually gives the whole show to one topic which is important.

Blogging for the masses - - There is a new face in blogging and it's name is NRO's "The Corner". It is pretty cool to see Goldberg, Lowry, and the rest of the National Review blog their day away. There have already been some great stuff in day one. Enjoy

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Most annoying Enron Pundit - - Since the Enron scandal started there has been one talking head, besides the LA Times Robert Scheer or New York Times Paul Krugman, that has really been totally annoying. She is Ariannia Huffington and she is on way too many talk shows talking about this. Welcome to annoying Punditville, population: Ariannia. (Also home to Krugman, Scheer, Marshall etc.)

"I'm not suggesting that there is any kind of equivalence, moral or otherwise, between the evil ones who murder innocent civilians and the evil ones at Enron. But surely there must be a special divine punishment for the perpetrators of the kind of deliberate deception we now know that Ken Lay and his cronies foisted on those who had given them their trust -- and their futures in the form of their life savings."

Whoa, like the people who were deceived by the business models of such companies as Pets.com or the Globe.com were not also in a way coning investors? I always thought Amazon.com was a scam too (remember when it was at like $300?) but it has turned profitable finally.

Sure Ken Lay et al seem like a bunch of crooks, and they should be investigated and punished, but good god Ariannia get over yourself. Between the beginning of 2000 and the end of 2001, what was there $4 trillion of wealth that was lost on the stock market? That is why this story is so damned boring. I feel for the people who lost their 401k on Enron, but the market, like God, moves in mysterious ways.

Dalton Camp for Smart People - - Fellow blog-meister Damian Penny has given up the crank and has stopped reading Dalton Camp’s column. Good for him, but can we really let Mr. Camp off that easily? Of course not. I wasn’t going to bother reading it either, but then I clicked it, read it, and I couldn’t just let it go.

Camp’s latest is a grab bag of incoherent stupidity.

Forget the first six graphs where Camp goes on, and on, and on, about the bugging of the Chinese Presidential plane. He tries to cover up his blatant outrage that the Americans have basically denied that the bugging was done by US operatives. I realize that there is a war going on that doesn’t have that much to do with China, but that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass. I would imagine that part of Camps response reflect his repressed disappointment that Canada is unable to engage in such geo-political games.

Besides that there is the point that who says the bugging was by the US? Sure the plane came from Boeing. But that sort of two-plus-two logic is the same as the Enron issue. I saw a girl from the Financial Times (Also on CNN) who explained that it is more probable that the bugs come from within China. The upcoming change in leadership and the powerful free agent military are two other possible sources for espionage.

Camp goes on to take issue with the “slam dunk” mentality of the war in Afghanistan. He looks to the master of all things military, Larry King, to be the final word in the war. I watch most press briefings from the Pentagon and the last I heard the war was far from over and not the slam-dunk King says. And it must be noted that it was the same type of pundits and personalities who at the outset of the war, said that the slam-dunk would be the other way ‘round. Clearly the war is not over, or the detainees would have to be released or charged.

Yet he persists, “It is not especially elevating that Canadians are rushing off to a war to serve under the command of Americans whose political masters advertise a war already won.” Ok, Dalton, name the political masters who have claimed victory. Bush? Rumsfled? Cheney? Powell?

Finally Camp comes out with what he really wants to say, but obviously doesn’t have the moxie to put into real words. Here is his best shot:


“The American treatment of its prisoners is a supreme folly, one visited not only upon them, but upon us all. That the Japanese did worse to our own — after Hong Kong — or the North Koreans or the Soviets elsewhere is moot.

The U.S. is held to a higher standard of humanity and, as well, to the Geneva Convention it has signed. That much, at the very least, and nothing less.”


He says that the US treatment of prisoners is, well, bad. That’s original. These terrorists have been treated with more than adequate living conditions since coming into the US custody. Unlike traditional prisoners of war who were soldiers, these are terrorists who sole aim is to kill American civilians. They cannot be allowed to escape to do that. So if the US takes extra precautions that is fine-hell we should be thanking them.

Part of the problem on this issue, especially for Canadians, is that we have lived for so long in a nation, which takes the rights of killers, rapists, and criminals and places them ahead of the rights of their victims. The recent case of the Pizza and Pornography quid pro quo between inmates and penitentiary administrators demonstrates that this nation no longer has any understanding of why we established these human rights codes in the first place. Why would anyone think it would be all right to show pornography to sex offenders? But if the US actually detains people the human rights groups come out of the woodwork to cry foul. How can anyone seriously think the US treatment of these thugs is otherwise when you hear they are being served Fruit Loops and bagels with cream cheese while having a nice summer trip away from the dreaded Afghan winter? If our troops had been treated the same in WWII would there be an issue?

The canard of the Geneva Convention, and international law in general is that it really only does apply to us in the west. Of course we should follow these rules, we know better. But no one else pays any attention to them. It is the nice double standard of the left. The next thing you’ll know they’ll be demanding grief counselors to help these poor souls recover from their time in Cuba.

Poor Maureen - - I am speaking, of course, of the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Her latest column seems to be about wanting to know if we have won the war or not. But she spends an awful lot of the column devoted to looking at the latest Vanity Fair-the cover with the Bush cabinet.

I believe the thing that makes Maureen sad is that the cover would have had Gore, Lieberman, and instead of Powell someone like former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Who would have Gore selected as Secretary of Defense? It is frightening even to imagine who would have been in the Gore cabinet. And I think it scares the pants off people like Maureen and Democrats in general because the Democratic rising stars are just not the same as the people everyone has come to love. The sky-high approval for these men, and Condie, is for a job well done. The reason the Democrats have been so shrill on Enron and even more so on Karl Rove's comments about the Republicans being so strong because of the war. Hey the truth hurts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Enron coverage - - The whole Enron story is becoming rather boring-But still some new items of note. And I didn't set out to single out Josh Marshall at 'Talking Points Memo' but he is the one going bloggy over the Enron deal.

First, some guys just don't know when to leave well enough alone. Take Josh Marshall he just won't let up-which I suppose is not a bad thing. But he isn't offering anything of substance instead just offering conjecture after conjecture. This business about Ken Lay at one time being considered for the cabinet is pretty lame. Did those doing the vetting know of the Enron problems back in the fall of 2000? Probably not, but maybe they looked at Lay and just found out that they really didn't know him-that he wasn't a good candidate?

Marshall also has gone on to make speculations about Sen. Phil Gramm. On Jan 14th Marshall looked at Gramm's wife who involved in Enron. But this article in the Dallas Morning News says that the Gramm’s lost $600,000. So what is the problem? Here is the skinny:


Dr. Gramm declined to accept stock as compensation from Enron after 1998 because of a conflict of interest raised by her husband's interest in energy deregulation legislation urged on the Congress by Enron.

Her compensation went instead into a mutual fund administered by Enron and pegged to the market price of the company's shares.

"Unfortunately, all that deferred compensation was lost when Enron declared bankruptcy," Mr. Gramm said. "Relatively speaking – and I know there are people in Houston who lost a lot more – but that's a lot of money."


Next is of course Marshall's look at Donald Rumsfeld-which it seems to me is just, well, er, not the greatest idea. The fact that Marshall makes anything of the fact that Rumsfeld, whose wife owned 100 shares (100!), and then defends the news organizations who just plain got the information wrong. The he writes, "TPM on Rumsfeld: love the talk, love the camp, hate the crap (and the flack)."

I would just like to see someone, anyone, muscle Rummy by saying: "Well you know Mr. Secretary your wife does have 100 shares of Enron..."

Monday, January 21, 2002

In defense of Pop History - - Opinion Journal has a really good defense of the pop-history in light of Stephen Ambrose's apparent plagiarisms-That the discrepancies of Ambrose shouldn't condemn the whole field of pop history, because we need them.

“This, after all, is a nation that gazes at Britney Spears's navel, yet has also devoured David McCullough's biography of John Adams--at 751 pages. Academic historians may take issue with aspects of this book, but they can only be thankful that Mr. McCullough has enabled a dowdy historical figure such as Adams to compete with Ms. Spears for attention. So please, publishers, keep those popular histories coming. Just make sure that all the words in them are written by the person whose name is on the cover.”

Run the numbers - - The Bloomberg News has a poll out from last week. That sums up Bush's first year in office. Here are the numbers:

"George W. Bush has been president for nearly one year. Would you say that Bush's first year in office has been very successful, somewhat successful, not too successful, or not at all successful?"
%
Very successful 39
Somewhat successful 46
Not too successful 9
Not at all successful 4
Don't know 2


But even more striking is that 38% think he will be more sucessful in 2002 and 46% think that he do at least as good as 2001. Those are amazing numbers.

Throwback - - While I am reading the daily news and catching up on some emailing, I have the TV on. Nothing new there, but the station is on one of my movie channels and the movie is 1970's Airport. Ok, Dean Martin is in it so already it is worth watching, but what is so interesting is the security at the airports in the movie. I just saw a women ask to pass on a wallet to someone on the plane-the ticket girl wouldn't take it (good for her) but let the women just walk down the ramp to the plane to deliver it herself-ouch. Then she stays on the plane! There is no security as Dean Martin says, "how do you like that, an old lady walks aboard just like getting in an elevator." Yikes.

If you happen to catch it or rent it, it sure is a fascinating look at what air travel was in a galaxy far away and a long, long time ago when you could smoke on board too. But not before you fly as the plot is about a bomber on board the plane.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

I'm a very naughty blogger - - OK, well I didn't post yesterday because my server was down too long. And today, well I have no excuse either. But I expanded on my nation building stuff here and pulled it together into an article for EnterStageRight.com. I hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 18, 2002

On the lighter side - - For a good laugh check out this site. It is like Jackass but at war protests. The videos are great. Especially this one

Canadian foreign policy exposed - - More pathetic deliberations on the "honour" of Canadian foreign policy and the flaunting of international law. This Globe and Mail editorial is another example of the debate in Canada on foreign policy. This time the subject is the deferral by Canada to hand over any prisoners caught in Afghanistan to the US. The editorial basically says that this capitulation to US policy threatens to undermine our classic foreign policy position-which is as far as I can see, one of whining leftist dogma that has done nothing to further Canadian interests or international good.

The ‘detainees’ are being better treated than they were in the caves working for Osama, and many bloggers and Op-ed writers have already made the point that the US always treats their wartime prisoners better than their own troops ever are-so is it any wonder that most Americans could care less about that international law. The law that protects the rights of terrorist, criminals, and scumbags, yet goes out of its way to control the power of the United States.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Op-ed Hell - - Ah, the Toronto Star. What a place to sit back relax and see how the other half think things ought to be. Haroon Siddiqui
lays out his case for what the next Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs should set out to accomplish. It is more than wishful thinking; it is dangerous thinking that does nothing to address the needs of Canadian foreign policy.

Siddiqui opens up with this barn burner: "ONE OF THE great disappointments of the post-Sept. 11 era has been Ottawa's — more specifically, John Manley's — inclination to take orders from Washington." Actually that is what I liked about Manley. Unlike the Axworthy years, which saw Can-US relations drop off the map so that Lloyd could go around the world working on things such as the land mine treaty and bad mouth missile defense, Manley single handedly restored the relationship. Post 9/11 Manley didn't "take" orders from DC, but he did recognize how important cross border trade and perimeter defense are. In fact it is priority number one.

Manley, now the deputy Prime Minister, takes the terrorism job and most of the US-Can part of foreign policy-after that what else is there? "That should free up Graham to concentrate on issues where Canada can make a difference, as it did under Lloyd Axworthy — arms control, human rights, an international criminal court, and a ban on land mines and child soldiers," says Siddiqui. Canada didn't make a difference on these issues before, and it won't today-and it shouldn't. Not one of those would have helped prevent the terrorism of 9/11 and not in the national interest. It is no wonder that the average Canadian still believes that Canada can make a difference, as the Liberals have done everything they can to take this part of Canada off the radar. Remember campaign 2000 (In Canada)? The parties never even discussed foreign policy in any significant way. Why? That's easy; they spent much of the last decade cutting the budget of the military and the foreign policy areas to balance the budget. The kitty is dry, and you can trade only so long on Pearson’s good name before the other nations in the world vanquish you to obscurity. We spent two years as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Hey when they also vote to put “Syria” in that position after you, the thrill has gone. The problem is that the current government never did, and still has not, addressed what Canada's foreign policy goals should be going forward.

"Canada can also be the conduit between America and Iran. Post-Sept. 11, Ottawa let an opportunity slip when it didn't react fast enough to an Iranian overture to help mend relations with Washington," writes Siddiqu. Whoa. This is dangerous. Iran is ready to boil over and the last thing we need to do is get into this. Especially since they are selling arms to the Palestinians. If that is what kind of foreign policy we need, we are going to be in a whole lot of trouble. Which brings us back to Manley. He understood as much as he could, that the sole foreign policy relations’ worth a damn is to the south. We have lost all credibility elsewhere and cannot just immediately make a difference in the Middle East. It just isn't on. When are the chattering classes in Canada going to stop thinking that given our current power, that we can shape events on the world stage?

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Being Bob Herbert - - The Enron game is heating up. The New York Times' Bob Herbert has a disturbing piece today on the evils of deregulation.


If the deregulation zealots had their way, we'd be left with tainted food, unsafe cars, bridges collapsing into rivers, children's pajamas bursting into flames and a host of corporations far more rapacious and unscrupulous than they are now.

Boredom - - The Canadian Alliance (Canada's opposition party) is having another leadership race. It is the most boring political event and makes me sleepy just talking about it. To see what I mean check out the campaign slogans for the main contenders:

Stockwell Day: "Standing for what's right"
Stephen Harper: "Getting it right"
Diane Ablonczy: "Strength through unity"

Zzzzzzzz…..

Grant Hill: "A bright future for Conservative Canadians"

Zzzzzzzz…..

Enza "Supermodel" Anderson: "A supermodel for a super party."

OK, the last one is at least kicking it up a notch-a transvestite running for the leadership of the right wing political party-that is priceless in itself. Who is working for these people making the slogans?

And while I’m writing about this non-news, I will add that there was another story of the Alliance today. An Alliance MP, Roy Bailey, made some potentially troublesome remarks about one of the government’s new cabinet ministers. First, this always seems to happen just as the Alliance is getting somewhere.

Second, and as Damian Penny wrote today, “At a time when the media could be doing something useful like trying to find the dirty secret which forced Brian Tobin to resign, Bailey has handed reporters the perfect opportunity for a round of screaming about the Alliance being a bunch of bigots.”

Bailey it turns out is a supporter of Stephen Harper’s campaign. Which would be just one more reason not to support that twit. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Well, it turns out that the Alliance doesn’t need any enemies they can quietly self-destruct all on their own.

Welcome to the party pal - - This site speaks for itself. Dumping El Diablo.

What kind of Nation building - - I was trying to read some news on the war on terrorism this morning but it seems that the 'news' has turned into slim pickings. But I did manage to find this UPI report. Here is the set up:

In Kabul, U.N. officials launched a $100 million appeal to help the country's interim government, saying the new Afghan rulers immediately need $70 million to pay more than 235,000 civil servants who have not been paid for eight months.


And Thomas Friedman adds:

“It is impossible to exaggerate how broken this place is. You know what ground zero looks like, where the World Trade Center once stood? Well, probably half of Kabul looks the same way, thanks to 22 years of civil war. And the "good" half — with its scant electricity, no phones, no mail, a 10 p.m. curfew and only a bare minimum of food — looks like a caravan ghost town. We might as well be doing nation-building on the moon.”


So what kind of nation are we teaching the Afghans to make? Judging by the ‘we-need-to-send-money-now’ sentiments, it is going to be one of bloated proportions. I concede that there has to be a government-they need police and courts, probably even a military. But are we to seriously believe that Afghanistan needs nearly a quarter of a million civil servants?

To do what? I realize that there will many positions in an Afghan Environment Department-surely they will be able to predict the onslaught of the dreaded Afghan winter.

The Health Department-why have they not done anything about letting people wash their cars with ”water from a port-a-potty.”

Public Works? The place looks like “ground zero” and “thousands of refugees crammed into the fetid old Soviet embassy, living in subzero temperatures with nothing but plastic wrap for windows.”

So the question to ask is how many people it will take to administer working services and what services they will need to provide.

My take: If the coalition is committed to nation building then shouldn’t there be a debate about what sort of society we want to help build. So far the UN seems to believe that as long as we get that $70 million for back pay, everything else will fall into place. Should they get their pay? Of course, but shouldn’t we make sure that these numbers are not cooked up Enron-Anderson style before we send over nine figures? One solution is to free up some funds that the US has frozen over the years. If the west is to pay, even with this money, for Nation Building we should call the shots. That means that it shouldn’t be a place of Democrat sponsored farm subsidies, it needs to be one of prudent tax cutting growth. Speaking of which, if they haven’t been paid in eight months, did the Taliban collect taxes or was it more a Mafia horse head in the bed type arrangement. We need to know.

Pssst. Don't tell PETA - - I've seen this a couple of times now. Landmine seeking bees!

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Commentary BY dummies II- - Sometimes, I go to Salon.com and there is something worth reading but is not free. There was the Andrew Sullivan article this week on Clinton-which was only available for "premium" subscribers (thankfully it is available here) But then when they throw you a bone it is just moronic commentary. Julian Borger had this to say today:

"Of course, this constant barter of cash for influence represents politics as usual. Some Democrats also took serious amounts from Enron, but as a party they are also beholden to other interest groups, like unions and minorities, tempering corporate control. In the president's case, corporate influence appears almost unmitigated. Bush has pushed through the biggest tax cuts in a generation, heavily weighted to the wealthiest 5 percent, and backed an economic stimulus package brimming with corporate tax breaks and amnesties. This was marketed along with the old palliative, the trickle-down effect: tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy create jobs further down the economic food chain."

So it is fine that the Democrats take Enron’s money because they are so beholden to unions and minorities that they will never do anything for Enron. But everything Bush does for the big guy. Interesting, but what about the Education bill-Bush's fat cat friends surely can't like that give away. Please Salon, just make the whole site pay and stop torturing me with these terrible articles and especially stop teasing Glenn Reynolds who still can find no sex in the sex column.


Must read Kelly - - When I stayed up last night to watch Imus, part of the reason was to hear Kelly. His column today is priceless.

Lost: the dreaded Afghan winter - - Nevermind, I found it!! TCS has the goods on the temp in the Antarctic. In the words of Dr. Evil: "It's freakn' freezing in here Mr. Bigglesworth."

Thanks to Rand Simberg - - For noticing my look at Jarvis's denial of media bias. Sent a lot o traffic this cowboy's way. Welcome to Dispatches. But for those of you who haven't, go check out his site.

The incredible expanding government - - The Canadian governmentmade some big changes as the cabinet expands (read: big time pork out). Take now Deputy Prime Minister Manley out the picture, and Finance's Paul Martin and the rest is still way too much dead weight. Why a nation of 30 million needs 39 members of cabinet is beyond me.

Question of the day: how much will this little political ploy cost the taxpayers? (In new stationary, moving, grief counselors, cabinet pay-oink, oink my piggies)

Media bias in denial - - Jeff Jarvis continues to deny that there is a media bias.

Here is his best effort: "Face it: The media were a helluva lot tougher on Clinton and Carter than on Reagan or Bush I or Bush II. The media neighborhood is crowded with conservative bastions once you get past the NY Times and Washington Post: Tribune Company, Dow Jones, Time Inc., News Corp., Hearst, to name a few. And look here on the Internet where most of the blog-talk I'm hearing is conservative. The media are chock full of conservatives. But you don't hear liberals whining about that. You only hear conservatives whining."

This is interesting because for eight years the Clinton's did whine about the "vast right wing conspiracy" which was perpetuated by countless members of the media. The problem is that when 30-40 million a night get their news from Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw-you might as well have a million "conservative" papers to counter it.

His bottom line: "In the end, liberal media bias is still a conspiracy theory and it is born out of one simple fact: Conservatives are by nature paranoid."

I believe that this is what we would call: failing to see the forest for the trees.

Commentary BY dummies - - That is what my headline should have read yesterday, but I wrote "Commentary for dummies". My bad? So still up waiting for Imus to start on MSNBC and I swing past the blogs-thankfully Damian Penny pointed out another John Ibbitson column at the Globe. Here is his "sick" bottom line on the Bush Pretzel deal:

"Several things leap out here. The President was alone; his wife Laura was in another room reading. We have to ask, how strong is this marriage, if the two of them don't spend their Sunday afternoons together? Why wasn't she there watching the game with him? Or why wasn't he with her, reading Gore Vidal? Why couldn't they compromise, and listen to Garrison Keillor on the radio?"


Let the Fatwa upon John Ibbitson begin.

On the search for celebrities out of the political closet - - Damian Penny and I were looking with some awe at who shows up in the right wing. Yesterday it was Larry Miller. While I couldn't find (yet) a definitive list of celebrity Republicans, I did manage to find the list of celebrity libertarians. Surprised to see Geraldo Rivera listed. Wasn't exactly clear how failing to find anything in Capone's vault and being, "buff" made him a Libertarian but what are you going to do-I suppose that is why he is listed as just a 'friend' of Libertarianism. (He certainly wouldn’t qualify in being a member of LGF’s “anti-idiotarian” group me thinks)

The site lists Mike Piazza, Denis Leary, Clint Eastwood, and Kurt Russell as Libertarians of friends of Libertarians. The question is, whom these people actually voted for. Did they vote for the Libertarian Party ticket? Or did they vote for the Republicans?

I did manage to find some information about celebrity Republicans. This Salon.com campaign 2000 article shows off some (yet mocks the fact that the unaccredited screen writer of See Spot Run goes GOP) possible GOP celebs including: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Bo Derek, Tom Selleck, and don’t forget to get your damned dirty hands off the apes with Chuck Heston. And lest we not forget that WWF’s “The Rock” was at the 2000 convention and ABC News.com reported that Heather Locklear lent her name to some GOP fundraisers.

But this Opensecrets.org site gives the list of who put the money where their mouth was in 2000- I’d list it but it is lame and embarrassing. Pat Boone? Loretta Lynn?

Or is it so odd when the do come out (like when South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker did last year) that we actually say, “Wow there are conservatives in Hollywood”. Or (the coffee induced late night speculation rush kicking in about now) more likely is it the sad reality that they might be blacklisted by the majority of the profession and industry-staying in the ‘closet’ when they vote GOP? Does that constitute media bias? Would they be embarrassed when going on ‘Leno’, or ‘Today’, by being introduced as please welcome, “ultra conservative pro gun rights, er, um, actor…” (No, that would never happen, would it?)

It would seem that to gain any real respect within the Hollywood community and remain a right-winger you have to do one of two things. Marry into the Kennedy’s Arnold style, or run for political office. Ronald Reagan, Gopher on The Love Boat, Fred Thompson, and the late Sonny Bono (who carried his own personal hell, Cher, to the House) all did it.

Column hell - - I see Ronald Brownstein on CNN way too much and clearly the extended time with Judy Woodruff is not helping him. His Monday column went all over the place. In his conclusion: "The tax cut is the product of a peaceful era that has vaporized; to borrow from Abraham Lincoln, it is a relic of a "quiet past" unsuited for the "stormy present." Trimming the tax cut now would be less a repudiation of the initial decision than a simple recognition of changed circumstance. With the country facing such an unprecedented challenge, rarely has there been a better time to heed Lincoln's counsel to 'think anew and act anew.'"

Right so throw the tax cut out. Is there anyone, anyone at all, in the world who will do the Democrats a favor and give them a strategy for 2002? I keep thinking that sooner or later they are going to actually make sense and either move to repeal the tax cut or provide an alternative. Ah, but the alternative would have to be some cuts in spending-damn, surely that won't work.

All Enron - - At least with the media frenzy during Monicagate, there was the hint of something titillating. Enron is just not very sexy and it is getting tired already-I'm totally Enron'd out. Greg Pierce's Inside Politics is a good read daily-and it gives you a sense of what the major political issues of the day are going to be. Today: ALL ENRON.

Here's the scandal today (and Pierce's first item): Enron was pro Kyoto and after all the money they gave to Bush, let me get this straight, the administration basically called the treaty, "the weakest link"-Goodbye. My question is this. If Enron was so pro Kyoto why did they give all the money to Bush? Why not give it to Gore? But knowing what we now know about Enron this type of oversight should no longer surprise.

Monday, January 14, 2002

Very Cool - - I am always surprised at some of the cool people who are in the big tent on the right. Today on the Weekly Standard website they have introduced Larry Miller (comedian/actor) as a regular contributor.

On debunking the "violence only leads to more violence":
"Ineffective, unfocused violence leads to more violence. Limp, panicky, half-measures lead to more violence. However, complete, fully-thought-through, professional, well-executed violence never leads to more violence because, you see, afterwards, the other guys are all dead."

Media Bias watch - - Bernard Goldberg’s book Bias is now number one on the NY Times bestseller list. This does not prove that there is bias in the media, but it does prove that many people believe it, or want to read about it.

Jeff Jarvis who has an excellent blog is suggesting that media bias simply doesn’t exist.

Here is his bottom line: “I don't buy the contention that there is concerted media bias for one simple reason: The media are not that well-organized. To believe that there is media bias, you have to believe that the media are well-managed and that reporters and editors take management well. Both assumptions are laughably wrong.“

Jarvis has plenty of inside media experience, so I suppose he could be right. But the notion that there cannot be media bias simply because the media is not well organized seems to be a bit of a canard. More importantly it is not that there can’t be bias in media-it is a free market after all. But it is the denial that ticks people like Goldberg off. I read the NY Times almost daily-I know what I am getting into, but many don’t. So it would be only fair if they just stopped pretending and came out with the bias. (All the news that’s fit to print…so long as it is in “our” worldview) There is a reason why people buy or read certain things-say the National Review. If you are going to it to read some defense of tax increases or Senator Clinton-you’re not going to find it (nor should you). But you also don’t read The Nation to see how good tax cuts are. But some organizations claim to be untainted-and that is impossible.

UPDATE: The fourth item in Greg Pierce's Inside Politics column today gives us another example of bias. Check this bit out:

"Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless admitted as much on [Wednesday] night's 'Hannity and Colmes' on the Fox News Channel: 'Definitely, we saw more homelessness in the 1990s than we did in the 1980s.'

"But we saw far less homelessness on TV sets during the Clinton years. The MRC did the math: During the first Bush administration, morning and evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN ran an average of 53 stories on homelessness annually, compared to less than 17 per year during the Clinton administration," the writer said.

Commentary for Dummies - - John Ibbitson has a predictable and whining piece in the Globe and Mail today.

“We need to know. We need to debate. But all we are receiving from this President are quickly tiring homilies about hunting down the evildoers.”

When is Bush going to tell us what Phase II is? Why should Bush announce what Phase II is? Would it be good to keep the “fog” going until the action is underway? Let’s say it is Somalia. Is Ibbitson saying that we should warn everyone before hand?

Come on. I haven’t heard one other leader, and nothing from Canada’s leadership, for any possible plans, so why should W. even include the rest of us in the discussion. I am sure that if he was reporting during WWII that he would be asking why the world didn’t release a detailed plan of D-DAY before June 6th, 1944.

What went wrong - - I have been noticing this lately. Have we forgotten the Cold War? The answer is pretty clear, especially in Canada, which is that we have really forgotten how to deal with large complex political and diplomatic issues. There is a pretty decent article from Maclean’s magazine on the history of the Canadian forces during the Cold War and what they could become in the future if there is any political will left.

Enron - - If Seinfeld were still on Jerry might say, “Enron? What’s the deal with Enron?” What’s the deal so far? Is it Enrongate? Andersengate? Bushgate? Didn’t-help-Enrongate? Revengegate?

In a nutshell here is what we know so far:
*Enron gave a ton of money to both parties starting in 1989.
*Those donations kicked up a notch in the 2000 election cycle-and went overwhelmingly to Bush and other Republicans.
*Enron’s head Ken Lay on the verge of collapse makes phone calls to Treasury and Commerce Secretaries-who tell him: sorry about your luck pal.
*Enron implodes, but the capital markets carry on-just shrugging it off.


So the question is, is this a scandal? At the very least the whole affair is giving the press an assignment between phases of the war. But I still can’t figure out where this is going. In the story of the grandfather of all modern scandals (Watergate) the key is following the money.

So if we follow the money we do see it go directly to, well, everyone. But that doesn’t mean there is a scandal. Joe Lockhart, former press secretary to Clinton, told the Washington Post, “that a lesson of Whitewater is that Washington scandals have their own momentum.”
"The facts can almost take on a secondary role in these things," Lockhart said. "For better or worse, this will not ultimately rest on whether someone can prove that someone did something wrong."

Of course they can, no one ever really wants to write the facts at hand, because it is much more fun to just write what they think the facts might, should, or could be.

Some just can’t leave well enough alone. Josh Marshall never one to back away from speculation figures that the retirement of Phil Gramm on September 4th is a good place to speculate that his retirement was simply to wash himself of the Enron deal-his wife was on the board. And while he is at it he speculates that retiring House Leader Dick Armey might also be retiring for the same reason.

William Safire breaks it down best “But based on what we now know, it's not a political scandal. Bush's people, including former employees or consultants of Enron, did right by refusing to bail a campaign contributor out of its mess at public expense or by misleading investors. Taxpayers should be grateful.”

At first the line was that Enron got too close to the Bush Administration and other recipients of contributions and that is bad. But then when the reality that Enron tried to get some help and the Bush Administration let it fall on its face. Hey capitalism really works right? Now the line is that the administration should have done something to protect the little guy.

Now this is the democrats in action. They can’t have it both ways. They will have to decide which line to take. On Sunday the scariest words in the English language were, “the Enron meltdown is the reason we have to proceed with Campaign finance reform.” So this is a campaign issue now. I get it now.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Goldbergisms - - Some perils of wisdom from CNN’s Late Edition from one of my favs. Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online.

BLITZER: Jonah, Tom Ridge, how much has he accomplished so far?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think I can state declaratively that we've had no dinosaur attacks since he took office.

Springtime for Enron... - - I missed Meet the Press and only watched parts of ABC's This Week (ALL ENRON) and CNN's Late Edition (MINI ENRON). For all the sunday pundit news go to the reliable Punditwatch. But when the transcripts get up on the web, I have some things to add.

Henry the K breakn' it down - - Kissinger's latest commentary is good. I particularly enjoyed the argument that a determined US policy actually gets much more latitude than many believe-so any phase II action can count on a wide range of support.

To Dave II - - Another good Op-ed about Wendy's founder Dave Thomas. "Though he wore no toga--preferring short-sleeved white shirts and a red tie--he was a Caesar of sorts. He came to life an orphan, saw a vast clientele to feed, and conquered our hunger pangs with 8,000-calorie delights--the dietary equivalent of the daisy cutter. If there is justice in the celestial expanses, Mr. Thomas is now seated at the head table, blissfully ignoring the salad bar."

Much ado about nothing - - I think this WSJ editorial sums up the problem with Tom Daschle's premise that the Bush tax cut has led to deficits-and furthermore to think that he can take up the mantle of "fiscal responsibility" is clearly absurd. Besides, the numbers are really nothing. In a $10 trillion economy is a $25-$75 billion deficit really a problem?

"In any case, the deficits the Bush Administration is talking about are small: from $25 billion to $50 billion this year and another $75 billion in fiscal 2003. These are much less than 1% of American GDP, which all economists know is the measure of debt that really counts."

Friday, January 11, 2002

The Enron song - - From CNN's NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown:

BROWN: Finally for us tonight, and for the week: Enron for dummies. We understand that not everyone in the audience gets this big time business story, as well as, well let's say Lou Dobbs. And we also get that not every one of you, if you were being perfectly honest, gets the political implications of this story in the same way our friend Jeff Greenfield does. In fact, we assume most of you are about as lost in it all as, well, I am. And I don't know about you, but when I get lost in something, I want accordion music.

Segment seven tonight is our friend Barry Mitchell. We should probably call this section eight.

BARRY MITCHELL, MUSICIAN (SINGING): I put all my savings once in energy. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run.

Lost it in the country's biggest bankruptcy. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run. Biggest bankruptcy. Federal inquiry. Who made me loose my shirt. Enron -- run, run, run.

Company employees argue they were stopped. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run. From selling off their shares as the value dropped. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run.

Yes, there's tension now, where's my pension now. And what did Cheney know. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run.

Everyone sing! Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run. Fat cats only. The only ones to profit were the company brass. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run.

Something smells funny here and it's not gas. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run. And the way it looks, did they cook the books? Let's investigate. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run.

Biggest bankruptcy in our history, pals with the G.O.P. Enron -- run, run, run. Enron -- run, run, run.

BROWN: You got it now, don't you?


Things that make you go mmmm - - I don't regularly go to the site. I know, I should do so more often, but I wrote the stuff so there is no surprises. But I guess I need to go to the site more often 'cause my banner has been taken away. I would like to thank whomever paid to have the ad romoved-that was wild. Much appreciated. I will try to pass that good fortune on to someone else soon. Thanks very much.

Putting things in your pipe...- - ...and smoking them. Bush according to this "detailed"AP alert "signs recess appointments for Otto Reich and Eugene Scalia." This is what I imagine Bush might say:

Bush: I have a 90 percent approval rating, what are you gonna do about Christopher? Tommy?

Maybe the problem is Tina II? - - Andrew Sullivan makes the case even more clearly as he mocks the fact that his website has the same amount of readers and will turn a profit in 2002. Who said web publishing was dead?

Maybe the problem is Tina? - - The New York Daily News is reporting that Talk magazine has lost a total of $55 million since it began. The only thing I will say, is that the magazine itself is pretty terrible and that if you look at how much better Vanity Fair and the New Yorker are without editor Tina Brown and you just put 2 and 2 together.

Whitewater? - - Patrick Ruffini gets it just about right. "Let's see. Enron executives pleaded to the government for help, and the Bush Administration refused. Well, that settles that." Exactly.

Goody - - Spinsanity is finally updated. It was about 20 days wthout Spinsanity. It is back taking on the Bush-Daschle fight and the Thomas Sowell column which blames Johnny Walker and Charles Bishop on the education system. While I don't agree totally agree with the stuff on Sowell, the site is great.

Oink, Oink - - Ah, porkers you just gotta love 'em Citizens Against Government Waste have named their porkers of the month. Here's the dish:

"Sens. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-S.C.) may have had a few eggnogs too many before the holidays when they slipped an amendment into the defense appropriations bill effectively bailing out the government's poster child for inefficiency, Amtrak. By barring Amtrak from spending money on its own required 2002 liquidation, the senators have pulled the mismanaged government railroad's fat from the fire, likely leading to more taxpayer subsidies. For favoring bailouts for Amtrak instead of fundamental reform and privatization, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) awards Biden and Hollings its January 2002 Porker of the Month."


So we are expected to just let these pass? "Since its birth in 1971, Amtrak has never turned a profit, even though it has received $23 billion since then in federal subsidies. In 2000, the railroad lost a whopping $500 million." Why is this not part of the debate on the budget?

Must Read (this means you Tom Daschle)- - If you read anything today, well, anything after the Kinsley bit, and Andrew Sullivan's awesomeness, this George Gilder Op-ed at the WSJ. Here is the coup de grace:

"After a decade and a half of favorable policy, from the capital-gains tax cut of 1978 to the general tax reductions of the 1980s, from the deregulation of transport and communications to the collapse of inflation to the downfall of global communism, politicians began taking prosperity for granted. They allowed tax rates to drift back up to record levels. They transformed telecommunications rules into a regulatory sclerosis that wreaked a telecom depression. They ignored the implications of the global reign of the dollar at a time of steady dollar appreciation and growing Third World debt. They embarked on a crusade against chemical industries vital in both war and peace."


The vibe I am getting from this is that the Enron thing is not the fault of the Bush administration, but more likely the result of longer-term issues of regulation. Enron is just the big scapegoat for the billions lost in the last two years on the market. And that is fine, Enron is no angel. To clear any allegations of impropriety, yours truly was impacted by the Enron meltdown-the bastards.

Oh to be clever - - To be honest I actually like Michael Kinsley-well like is a strong word, but I sure wish he would come back to CNN's Crossfire and replace that stooge Bill Press. His column today is Mike being clever at his best-how's that going for you Mike? Note the full title of the article: "Goldberg Variations: Evil genius or useful idiot? We report, you decide." which 'cleverly' plays with Fox News's motto.

I haven't read Goldberg's book yet but Andrew Sullivan has and takes on Kinsley here and here -not to mention the fact that AS found some bias in Slate (Kinsley's baby).

UPDATE: Forget it man-just read everything AS has on his Daily Dish-he is on FIRE tonight/this morning.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Three alarm column of the day - - Howard Kurtz has another hot one today. If only because of this revelation: That Richard Roeper wrote, "Paula Zahn's hotter than Cameron Diaz. There, I said it!" Wake up Roeper.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful... III - - Virginia Postrel is back and has picked up the weather in Afghanistan. She makes a delicious point:

"I remember one particularly disturbing article by a British veteran describing the horrors of traveling at altitude with Afghans. "Don't worry," I told the friend who emailed it to me (not entirely believing myself). "We have something the Brits don't have: the Rockies." A frightening number of Americans think it's fun to spend their vacations making death-defying climbs at altitude while carrying all their provisions on their backs. Those aren't our warriors. Those are our nerdy professors."


It is true, and coming from the west coast of Canada, I know of people who ride their mountain bikes down mountains for fun or live by the creed: "go climb a rock". I know, It is sick, but we love it out on the 'left' coast. (At least in British Columbia we have the good sense not to vote for the Liberal Party-the Canadian equivalent of the Democratic Party for my American readers unlike California, Oregon, and Washington-ya Gore!)

You go Virginia:
"Fearsome winters? Desert heat? Altitude? Swamps? Tornados? You name it, we've got it. And where the weather is perfect, we give you...earthquakes (and no water). This is no green and pleasant isle. In such an environment, you can either be stoic, suffer, and die early or you can irrigate, and air condition, and develop sunscreen and high-tech fleece."


Lunch with the vast right wing conspiracy - - Great Andrew Sullivan post about his lunch with Dick Morris and coffee with Charles Krauthammer.

To Dave - - The best reflection upon the news of Wendy's founder Dave Thomas's death I think is in today's National Post. It looks at his legacy, which I note is more important than Clinton's, which of course is square burgers and chili nothing else. For that I thank Dave!

"Wendy's has pioneered the serving of chili and baked potatoes as fast-food side-orders. The Frosty is another wonderful innovation: A product that thoroughly breaks down the artificial distinction between ice cream and milkshakes."


Indeed...mmmm chili....

Canadian forces update - - OK, we all know the on-again, off-again, situation of Canada's participation in Afghanistan, but today the Globe and Mail is reporting (and the British government is denying) that they are not wanted in Kabul-Gee no surprise there. So it is off to Khandahar.

Must read Gertz - - Bill Gertz has a pretty good look at the state of various terrorists-basically the actions by the US so far have been like flashing a light into a room full of rats and they are looking for the next place to hide. The more this happens the more chance we'll have in catching them.

Editorial Hell - - If you have been here before, you'll know that I have been watching the nomination of Otto J. Reich to be assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs-or the lack of the vote on that nomination. So then I read today's LA Times editorial that says the Reich is the "Wrong guy, by a mile" and I work myself back into a frenzy.

The editorial starts off by saying that the nomination, "has caused people here and abroad to shudder, their memories flooding with images from the bad old days of the Cold War." First, who cares what the people abroad think-last time I checked they didn't have a veto over appointments. Second, what was so wrong about the bad old days of the Cold War? At least it was a time when the US had a kick ass intelligence service.

And then there is this:

"Reich next resurfaced as a lobbyist, continuing to raise eyebrows. While receiving a reported $600,000 fee from the Bacardi liquor company, for instance, Reich met with Sen. Jesse Helms' office to discuss the Helms-Burton law. This 1996 measure, which further tightened the embargo on Cuba, included provisions that greatly benefited Bacardi."


This seems to imply that the lobbying of Reich on behalf of Barcadi was able to get the Helms-Burton law passed. Come on. Bush should appoint him over the recess-the US needs him: Argentina? Columbia? Hello.

Who let the dog out? - - Mickey Kaus gives us the grassy knole look at what happened to Clinton's dog, Buddy. Here is my favorite:

"6. The 17-year-old "high school senior" who allegedly ran over Buddy has been described in the press as a "pretty brunette"—the same description, practically, that was once applied to White House intern Monica Lewinsky. What, if any, was her connection with the ex-president?"

Lowry slams Mineta - - Rich Lowry slams Sec. of Transportation Norm Mineta for not being tough enough. The good news is that rarely do cabinet members do a full pull-the only ones in this cabinet that should feel safe are the ones on the foreign policy team. I have called for John Kasich to replace Paul O'Neill and I can find others-THAT MEANS YOU NORM.

Financial Predictions - - NRO has a great symposium on what the future holds. Stock Markets to increase 12-20 percent. Thank god! And the concensus was that the US economy would end the year getting its freak on-perhaps in the 4-5 percent growth range.

Thanks to Damian Penny!! - - Damian Penny of the best thing from Newfoundland and the premier Canadian blog gave a shout out to me
here which gave my site a nice bit of traffic. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Shooting fish in a barrel - - There is both good and bad news in the rapid fire blogging-The good news that it runs as a check upon the media. The bad news is when you come across stuff like this. Steven C. Day has this embarrassing bit of nonsense online and someone has to get out the guns, throw him in a barrel, and save us.

Issue One: Bush's approval rating:
"How can close to 90 percent -- 90 PERCENT -- of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president? That’s the highest approval rating any president has received since pollsters started asking the question more than half a century ago. Forgive me, but in my jaded view that’s kind of like having 90 percent of respondents say that Barney Fife is their vision of the ideal law enforcement officer. It just doesn’t make sense, even in the context of the war on terrorism.

There is, however, one possible explanation: People are lying to the pollsters. OK, lying is a strong word -- let’s just say that they’re fudging a little. "


Huh? So Bush has a 90 percent approval rating therefore people being asked must be lying. Hey I didn't like it when 60 percent of the nation still though Clinton was doing a good job-man I wish they could redo those polls and ask, "In three years there will be a terrorist attack upon the US and the administrations is doing nothing about it. Do you think Clinton is doing a good job?"

Issue two: What does the energy plan have to do with the war on terror?
"The problem is that Bush & Co. is clearly angling for much more. In recent weeks, we’ve been told that to properly support the war on terrorism one must also get behind things like Bush’s energy plan, his economic stimulus package (a/k/a tax giveaways to the rich, phase II) and even his attacks on civil liberties."


Please. So are we to believe that being energy self sufficient, or at least more so, wouldn't make our actions in the Middle East and region easier? The reason Bush's energy plan is more important now, is that it attempts at least to pry us away from the Faustian deal with places like Saudi Arabia who spit in our faces while we buy their oil and give them billions to do it.

Issue three: Bush's domestic agenda
"His two principle domestic agendas since taking office have involved promoting greed as a public virtue and pandering to the extreme right wing of his party. Those are not my agendas. And they’re not what’s best for this country."


This is interesting. Pandering to the extreme right wing. Well I guess that beats the new battle plan of the Democrats, which is to equate the Religious right in the US with the Taliban. (see this)

Issue four: Legacies.
"It’s strange, really. Having been given the extraordinary gift of a presidency he didn’t win, one would think that he would want to do something extraordinary with the opportunity -- to stretch beyond himself -- to make history. It’s been done before, by presidents with a lot less to account for in terms of how they initially gained office. Lyndon Johnson was the Southerner who led the way on civil rights. Richard Nixon was the cold-warrior who went to China."


This one is my favorite. Just because Bill Clinton spent eight years trying to find a legacy (and thankfully a legacy has finally found him: the sleeping presidency-in more ways than one.) doesn't mean that Bush will. He came in, has enacted tax relief, and now his education package-which is bipartisan but Day seems to miss that. Bush’s legacy will be determined solely on this issue-the war on terror. If he can continue to keep our minds on it, and continues to smoke them out of their caves, he will go down in history with a grand legacy.




Debunking Lord of the Rings - - A pretty interesting article in Salon.com comparing Star Wars to the Lord of the Rings. I have serious problems with the movie (LOTR) and finally someone else is giving us the straight goods on it.

So here are a couple of talking points: My first attack on middle earth has always been: is this the best that they have to offer? Nine guys? Oh sorry four midgets, a dwarf, a guy with long blond hair, and a couple of other guys? Come on.

And realism? "LOTR's" odds step straight out of a Hong Kong karate movie. Nine warriors fighting armies of orcs and other unattractive horrors suffer but two casualties, and both die emphatically with deliberation -- with three arrows in his chest, Boromir pulls a great Eveready bunny act -- again, the moment calls for not even a snicker. (Whether attributable to logic or frugality with extras, Lucas dispatched his Storm Troopers in a trickle.) That's not "LOTR's" only suspension of logic: Apparently, when Hobbits turn invisible, you can hear their footsteps on concrete but not through dry foliage. And it is surprisingly easy to distract a ring wraith from his immortal duty with a piece of food thrown desperately from a makeshift hiding place.


Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should. The point? Special effects enable you to make LOTR but did you ever stop to ask why you were doing it?

The verdict? "LOTR" isn't a bad movie, but its wide acclaim shows just how much our story standards have declined, even as our visual standards have skyrocketed. Maybe filmmakers could learn an ironic lesson from "Star Wars." Even though that film was a pioneer in both sound and visual technology, its relative restraint, compared with today's Hollywood offerings, brings to mind the wisdom of an aged Jedi Knight. Today's studios need to "switch off their targeting computers," aka their fancy technology, in order to "feel the force" in moviemaking.

Ijaz strikes again - - I linked to the last La Times article by Mansoor Ijaz (you know the first one to start questioning Clinton's foreign policy), so here is another. This time the target is the Pakistan-India showdown.

Aid agencies gone mad - - Another thought on the potential catastrophe in Afghanistan (not my choice of wording, but what the aid agencies will have us believe.). This time not the weather, or the failure on the part of the agencies themselves, or even the possibility that aid workers may be stealing some food supplies for personal profit.

So UPI has a new story on the news that there will be food shortages after all, and that some people will be forced to eat grass-and note that it is nothing like eating cake, nor will it. Here is the nugget:

"Logistical problems are also preventing aid agencies and U.N. officials from reaching the affected area. Years of war and the chaotic Taliban rule have destroyed whatever infrastructure Afghanistan had. Most of the remote areas have no road, no transport and no distribution network.

A recent supply of 1,000 tons of flour from WFP took two weeks by truck, and four and one-half hours by donkey to reach famine-hit areas of northern Afghanistan."


So neither weather (what the hell happened to the snow?), thieving aid workers, nor roads will deter the food from getting to these people. First the aid agencies tell us that it is the winter, and then it is because of the bombing, now it is the lack of roads. Don’t listen to these idiots. Why are we not contracting this food work out to someone who can get the job done-i.e. A corporation like McDonalds? You want to feed people they’ll make it happen. Mc-kebabs for everybody!

In praise of Blogger Tim Blair - - Tim Blair shows why he has had 43,000 hits in just one month of his blog. He is just that good. As one reader asked how he could carry out such good intellectual assassinations? Tim's answer: "It’s not really that hard, Gareth. Lots of fish, small barrel, big gun." It is just that simple, like shooting fish in a barrel. You go!

Anyway, the link above is also good. He takes down the big uproar over Bush using the term “Pakis” to describe his friends the, well, people of Pakistan:

”What the article doesn’t mention is that the term isn’t considered a slur in Pakistan, or anywhere else outside of the UK. It’s not a slur; it’s an abbreviation, and a friendly-sounding one at that. No wonder Bush, with his fondness for nicknames, used it.

For more information, go to PakiSearch.com, where you can catch up on the "Latest Paki News", consult a "Paki Shopping Guide", and receive your "Free Paki Email". Shabash, shabash!”


Oh CNN will you ever win - - I noticed this earlier tonight and only post because Joshua Marshall made it his talking point of the morning. I am going exceprt the whole thing-its not that long.

Monday: CNN promotion department runs ad saying Paula Zahn is "just a little sexy."

Tuesday: Larry King Live has Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson on to talk about her feelings about 9/11 for the third time (Nov.16th, Dec. 4th, Jan.8th).

Wednesday: Talking Points editorial board stymied trying to decide which is the bigger outrage.


When I was clicking around the channels, twice-once at 6pm and once at 9pm-I noticed that King was flogging Sarah Ferguson AGAIN. Is it any wonder that they have to push sexy Paula? Who books Kings show? Check the rolodex buddy!

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Wizard now in HOF - - Quick shout out to the wizard Ozzie Smith who was elected to the baseball hall of fame today.

Bush v Gore - - You just have to love Dick Morris. His latest NY POST article reports two things. First the Fox News poll that “- by 2-1 - voters think President Bush is doing a better job of handling the war on terror than Al Gore would have done.”

And second he tells us why voters think Bush is doing a better job. “Were Al Gore in charge - and Fuerth helping to call the shots - our war on terror would dissolve into a series of "Law and Order" episodes while we walked on eggshells to assure the cooperation of the French, Russian, German, Italian and Spanish police services. Public attention would drift, support would wane, and the moment would be lost.”

Morris also suggests that, “Only Saddam hanging by his heels in the middle of Baghdad will send the kind of message that will make these madmen pull in their horns. Bush can do it. Gore wouldn't have.” It is an interesting proposition. I agree, that if Saddam is allowed to stay in power it will give other nations, who sponsor and use terrorism, or seek weapons of mass destruction, the will to obtain or use them. You wanna talk about counter terrorism? Job one should be to take down Saddam and make him an example.

Wolfowitz patrol - - Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had some interesting things to say to the NY Times today. Wolfowitz pointed to Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia and the Philippines as possible phase II targets. It would seem that Wolfowitz has been confined from his usual attack Iraq front and this is no doubt only until the time is right