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April 30, 2004

What the President Might Say

Victor Davis Hanson, in an inspired new essay, has many ideas -- including these:

We believe we can win this war of ideas and values with more, not less, freedom and with greater knowledge and understanding, not a retreat into the dark prejudices of our enemies. So we in America stand willing to help kindred reformers in the Middle East, working in tandem to promote freedom, elections, the equality of women, and guarantees of protection for those of differing ideas and religions.

This is not rhetoric, but the record of history. America has shown in the past — through its sacrifices to free Afghanistan from Soviet dominance, to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, to prevent the genocide of the Kurds and Shiites, to ensure that Bosnians and Kosovars were not exterminated in Europe, to feed the starving in Somalia, and to provide Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians billions of dollars over a quarter-century of partnership — that our promises of help are not mere boasts but are backed by concrete aid in both peace and war. And this too is not new. In Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Panama, Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq Americans have died to eradicate totalitarianism and autocracy and sought to leave liberal societies in their place. It was not just the courage of millions in Eastern Europe who won freedom from the Soviet Union, but also a half-century of determined resistance by the United States that brought down that evil empire and thus allowed a freed Russian people to pursue their natural destiny of peace and prosperity.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 10:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Paul Krugman, Not a Serious Man

Here's the big sum up from Paul Krugman's column today:

I don't have a plan for Iraq. I strongly suspect, however, that all the plans you hear now are irrelevant. If America's leaders hadn't made so many bad decisions, they might have had a chance to shape Iraq to their liking. But that window closed many months ago.

I wish he would just say it: Qu-ag-mi-re. That's obviously his point. Krugman thinks Iraq is a quagmire. Yawn. Teddy Kennedy told us that some time ago.

What strikes me, though, is the profound lack of seriousness in Krugman's output. The best he can seemingly do is serve up one shibboleth piled upon another. First it's the "Mission Accomplished" banner. Then yet another hyperbolic accusation of Bush administration lying about the state of affairs in Iraq. And, finally, that all opportunities to save the Iraqi project have been squandered.

Put simply, he's just riffing on Terry Mcauliffe's talking points. But that's not an interesting, insightful or even remotely serious way for an op-ed writer -- no less an economist -- to conduct his business. At least with Tom Friedman's columns you have to wait until two-thirds of the way through before he throws in the gratuitous snipe at the Bush administration. Krugman's entire column is a gratuitous snipe -- with a weaselly sneer thrown in for good measure.

And that leads me to the ever-lingering question: Didn't the Times used to have an economist writing for its op-ed page? It really would be interesting if the Times hired an economist to provide economic commentary on current events -- say, someone like Gary Becker or Milton Friedman, or even someone more inclined towards the welfare state. I might actually learn something then.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 08:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

More Drugs, Lower Costs

Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution has an interesting post on whether prescription drugs should be permitted to be sold once they have passed a safety standard -- i.e. a return to the pre-1962 system. In other words, whether they should be sold without first having been proven to be effective.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 08:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Teamsters Corrupt?

The former federal prosecutor who heads the Teamsters' internal anticorruption program resigned yesterday, along with 20 other investigators and lawyers involved in that effort, saying the union's president was not fully committed to fighting corruption.

The former prosecutor, Edwin H. Stier, sent a sharply worded letter that accused James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters president, of blocking a broad investigation into possible union corruption in Chicago and of dragging his feet in a case of alleged embezzlement by a Teamsters leader in Houston.

"In spite of our efforts to convince General President Jim Hoffa to remain committed to fighting corruption," Mr. Stier wrote, "I have concluded that he has backed away from the Teamsters' anticorruption plan in the face of pressure from self-interested individuals."

The anticorruption program was created five years ago by Mr. Hoffa in an effort to persuade the federal government to abandon its longtime oversight of the union. The Teamsters had agreed to far-reaching federal supervision in 1989 to settle a federal racketeering lawsuit charging the union with being controlled by organized crime. The resignations could jeopardize the union's push to end federal oversight.

In addition to the investigators and lawyers, a 10-member advisory panel also resigned. That panel included many former top federal officials and investigators who had spent years fighting organized crime.

The entire article from the NY Times is pretty amusing.

Hmmm . . . I had thought that most everyone was basically in agreement that organized labor exists, in this day and age at least, fundamentally for corrupt purposes. Perhaps I'm just out of touch.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 08:00 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

Is Hillary Clinton Encouraging Our Enemies?

Eugene Volokh has the answer.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 01:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Chicken Hawks

Senator Lautenberg was spouting off about "chicken hawks" yesterday. Outside the Beltway has a fine post on the subject. Christopher Hitchens also wrote this good piece addressing the topic a while back.

My thoughts: No one is questioning Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Many are, however, questioning Kerry's anti-war conduct after he returned from Vietnam and his record on national security while in the senate. This is proper. (Would anyone seriously argue that the first President Bush shouldn't be criticized for any questionable post-World War II conduct just because he served in World War II?)

So why do Democrats, such as Lautenberg, continue to claim that Kerry's service in Vietnam is being attacked? Because it is a useful tactic in trying to shield Kerry's post-Vietnam War conduct from scrutiny. More specifically, Kerry and his surrogates hope to confuse voters into (incorrectly) believing that the current criticism of Kerry is about his service in Vietnam. If that can be achieved, then voters are likely to dismiss the criticism as unfair and, having made up their minds on the matter, stop listening to the particulars. In other words, erect a strawman and then knock it down.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 01:33 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Gorelick Still Stonewalling

More evidence on why Gorelick should be a witness before the 9/11 Commission:

As the No. 2 person in the Clinton Justice Department, Ms. Gorelick rejected advice from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who warned against placing more limits on communications between law-enforcement officials and prosecutors pursuing counterterrorism cases, according to several internal documents written in summer 1995. . . .

The extent of Ms. Gorelick's involvement, spelled out in these memos, in buttressing the law enforcement-intelligence wall also raises questions about statements she has made recently defending herself and distancing herself from the decisions about the wall.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer earlier this month about whether she had written a memo helping establish the wall, she replied: "No, and again, I would refer you back to what others on the commission have said. The wall was a creature of statute. It's existed since the mid 1980s. And while it's too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid-'90s, which I didn't sign, wasn't my policy by the way, it was the attorney general's policy, was ratified by Attorney General Ashcroft's deputy as well in August of 2001."

Gorelick had direct involvement in making policy concerning "the wall" -- one of the central topics of the 9/11 Commission's investigation. She therefore has a square conflict of interest as a sitting member of the commission. I don't see how she can in good faith ignore this unseemly circumstance.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 12:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Kerry's Medals -- Jeff Jacoby Nails It

Jeff Jacobs gets the Kerry medals affair absolutely right. After cataloging the different versions of Kerry's ever changing story over the years (which, by the way, is enough reason to read the whole piece), Jacoby nails it:

On Monday's TV show, after being shown the tape of his younger self claiming to have thrown "six, seven, eight, nine" medals onto the trash heap, Kerry heatedly insisted that he had pitched only his ribbons, not his medals. Then he insisted even more heatedly that "ribbons, medals were absolutely interchangeable. . . . there was no distinction . . . I think, to this day, there's no distinction between the two."

Well, if ribbons and medals are identical, then by his own admission he did throw away his medals. So why does he angrily maintain that he didn't?

Kerry could acknowledge that his various statements on the subject are inconsistent. He could apologize for his deception. He could even resort to the Bush Sidestep: "When I was young, I did a lot of foolish things." Instead he attacks the president over his National Guard service -- an assault he has now escalated on the campaign trail -- and accuses ABC of "doing the bidding of the Republican National Committee."

But the questions won't go away just because Kerry snarls at the questioners. By itself, the medals incident matters hardly at all. But as a surrogate for all the issues on which Kerry has ducked and dissembled, it matters very much.

Here's my earlier take.

UPDATE: David Adesnik at OxBlog has a long post discussing the controversy and a similar bottom line: "As for Kerry's inconsistent comments about the medals during his various Senate races, those aren't really worth bothering with. What really gets me is that on Good Morning America, Kerry tried to pin all the blame for this controversy on the GOP attack machine rather than recognize that his own questionable behavior was responsible for it."

Posted by Old Benjamin at 11:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Slapping the U.N.

George Will:

Brahimi is a useful reminder of how limited are the U.N.'s uses. He says Israel is complicating his governmental carpentry in Iraq, and force is "never" the right answer to problems such as the seizure of Fallujah by armed insurgents. So, calm would come to Iraq if Israel returned to the 1949 armistice lines? Brahimi is called the best the "international community" has to offer, which may be true.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 10:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Forget the National Polls

Here's an informative piece about how things are shaping up in the battleground states. The president apparently isn't doing too badly: "The big underreported news on this front is that Sen. John Kerry is trailing or tied with President Bush in many of the key states Mr. Gore won in 2000 and that will decide this election."

Read the bit on Pennsylvania and then query again why the president supported Specter over Toomey.

Posted by Old Benjamin at 10:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack