Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Interesting Bits

Some of the stuff that's caught my eye today:

1. David Rivkin and Lee Casey, partners in the Washington D.C. law firm Baker and Hostetler, and who serve on a UN sub-committee on human rights, thrash Amnesty International on its recently released annual report that equates Guantanamo Bay with the Soviet gulag and calls on foreign governments to arrest US officials travelling abroad. Excerpt:

[T]he men held at Guantanamo Bay are not political dissidents. They are captured enemy combatants. Under the laws of war, they can be detained until the conflict, or at least actual hostilities, are concluded. This has been the practice of the United States, and of every other major power in Europe and elsewhere, for centuries. It is not illegal; it is not immoral. In fact, this rule is one of the first and most important humanitarian advances made in warfare. The right to detain is the necessary concomitant of the obligation to give quarter on the battlefield, to actually take prisoners alive.
What Amnesty is really saying is that, in its view, America’s fight against al Qaeda is not an armed conflict, to which the laws of war apply, but a criminal-enforcement matter where the rights to a speedy, civilian trial are applicable. This is evident in the report’s description of the Guantanamo detainees as individuals “held without charge or trial . . . on the grounds of possible links to al-Qa’ida or the former Taleban government of Afghanistan.” Despite the fact that the vast majority of detainees at Guantanamo were captured on the battlefield, in arms against the United States or its allies, this “criminal enforcement” view is widely held on the Left. It is also a historical and legally incorrect.
Like too many other NGOs, Amnesty is trapped in a 20th-century mindset where the greatest threat to individual life and liberty stemmed from the actions of sovereign governments. That is simply no longer the case. Although the world remains full of repressive regimes, the most immediate threat to the civilian population in the United States and other democracies comes from pan-national terrorist movements who deliberately target non-combatants as a means of achieving their ends. Amnesty International, like other NGOs, must accept — and start to address — this new set of circumstances.

Do read it all.

By the way, President Bush, in today's press conference called the Amnesty International report "absurd".

2. The same Rivkin & Casey take NYTimes columnist Thomas Friedman to task for recommending that the US close down Guantanamo Bay and release the prisoners back to their respective countries:

If we have a case to be made against any of the 500 or so inmates still in Guantánamo, then it is high time we put them on trial, convict as many possible (which will not be easy because of bungled interrogations) and then simply let the rest go home or to a third country. Sure, a few may come back to haunt us. But at least they won't be able to take advantage of Guantánamo as an engine of recruitment to enlist thousands more. I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than a whole new generation.

Rivkin & Casey's perfect riposte:

What a charming way to describe it--a few may come back to haunt us. For al Qaeda, of course, haunting does not involve shouting boo in the night. It involves arranging matters so that scores of our fellow citizens must choose between burning to death and jumping 100 stories to the pavement.

May I add that the folks who hate us, hate us for much more basic reason than Gitmo. They understand that liberty is their enemy.

3. Reuters on new French Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin:

An eloquent speaker, sometime poet and dashing diplomat, Villepin will bring panache to the prime minister's office after the departure of the down-to-earth Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who quit after Sunday's defeat over the European Union constitution.

Who needs a hagiographer when a whole news service will shill for you?

4. John Podhoretz argues that the only way that Jeb Bush could overcome dynastic aversion and win in 2008 is if Hillary is the Democratic candidate as her pedigree (spouse of former President) will dilute the dynastic label sufficiently for Jeb to succeed. [Odd. Was free when I read it but now the article is subscriber only - but I've described the gist of it.]

5. Mark Steyn on the European Constitution:

The American constitution begins with the words "We the people". The starting point for the EU constitution is: "We know better than the people."
One of the most unattractive features of European politics is the way it insists certain subjects are out of bounds, and beyond politics. That's the most obvious flaw in Giscard's flaccid treaty: it's not a constitution, it's a perfectly fine party platform for a rather stodgy semi-obsolescent social democratic party. Its constitutional "rights" - the right to housing assistance, the right to preventive action on the environment - are not constitutional at all, but the sort of things parties ought to be arguing about at election time.

Okrent, Krugman and the NYTimes

We noted last week that the inaugural NY Times Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, resigned. As casual readers we felt that Okrent did a decent job especially in trying to remediate the egregious inaccuracies of the NYTimes opinion page. His valedictory was entitled "13 Things I Meant to Write About But Never Did." #2 was the following:

Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.

... some of Krugman’s enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn’t mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn’t hold his columnists to higher standards.

Donald Luskin, one of Krugman's chief antagonists, fleshs out the story. According to Luskin, in his eighteen months on the job the constant stonewalling by Krugman, editoral page chief Gail Collins as well as pressure from the Angry Left (and possibly Times' management) drove Okrent out of his job.

Okrent knows all these things. I know he knows them, because I’ve met with him and corresponded with him about just these matters since he became the Times’s “public editor” 18 months ago. Our e-mail correspondence on Krugman totals almost 40,000 words (some of which was “off the record,” so I’m using my judgment here in determining what portions are fair to reveal now that Okrent’s tenure as “public editor” is over). Yes, I’m the one Okrent was talking about when he referred to “Krugman’s enemies.”
Okrent wasn’t always afraid of pressure. When I first met him in early 2004 he was full of the burning zeal of the reformer, and eager for intellectual allies. His first words to me were, “You’re much better looking than Paul Krugman.” He told me that the Times didn’t deserve to be called the “newspaper of record” and vowed, “When I’m done with this assignment, I want everyone to know that.” (Okrent later wrote on this theme.) We had a long discussion on accuracy and fairness on the op-ed page, which led a month later to the Times’s new policy on columnist corrections.

This was all very hopeful, as well as flattering. But I knew it wouldn’t last. Okrent ended our meeting by announcing that a limo was picking him up to take him to a dinner party with Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., and executive editor Bill Keller. I wondered how long Okrent could maintain his independence as a reformer if he was getting sucked into the glittery social world of Times management. The pressure had begun.
And as for the Times’s columnist-correction policy, the paper’s columnists and their boss, editorial-page editor Gail Collins, stonewalled it from the beginning. When corrections to Krugman’s columns were made, they were snuck into the text of subsequent columns, hidden in the form of what Okrent has called a “rowback.” Or they were appended to subsequent columns without the designation “correction,” with the original erroneous columns remaining uncorrected in the Times’s web archive.

And that’s only when corrections were made at all. For the most part, corrections were not made. Why? It appears that as Okrent went to Gail Collins for corrections, she quickly learned she could get away with stonewalling him. I faired no better. When I couldn’t get Collins to even acknowledge my e-mails, I sent corrections to her under a false name, but she didn’t respond to those either. I learned that at one point Okrent went directly to Krugman himself for corrections, but the whole exercise soon proved worthless. Okrent apparently gave up on Collins and Krugman, and I gave up sending them corrections as well.

Barney Calame, ex WSJ, will be the Times' next Public Editor. From the picture that Luskin paints, sounds like they need Ann Coulter.

Are we going soft on Terrorism?

Michael Ledeen has a provocative essay today arguing that the Bush administration, after impressive victories in Afghanistan and Iraq and the effects of the two on Libya, Lebanon and lesser extent, Egypt, has gone a bit soft on the Global War on Terrorism.

It is good that the desire for freedom is now manifest among the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is very good that dramatic strides toward self-government have been taken by the Georgians, Kyrgistanis, Ukrainians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. But it is not good enough. Indeed, it is shameful that we have yet to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the terror masters in Tehran and Damascus, who represent the keystone of the terrorist edifice.

Our enemies know this, because, to their delight and perhaps their surprise as well, they are still in power throughout the Middle East. Until and unless they are removed, the terror war will continue, our friends in the region will be killed, tortured, and incarcerated, and the president’s vision of regional democratic revolution will go down the memory hole. He is at yet another great turning point, and, as after the fall of Afghanistan and again after the defenestration of Saddam’s Baghdad, he is drifting, perhaps hoping that he has risked enough, that history is firmly on his side, and even — although it is hard to imagine — that the Europeans are helping the spread of freedom.
Freedom is our greatest weapon against the terrorists, and we do not always need to send armies to support its spread. Syria and Iran are ripe for revolution, and the dictators know it. The revolutionaries are looking to Washington for clear and material support. They are not getting it today. Twice in the past, the president slid into a similar funk, first permitting himself to be gulled by the Saudis into believing he had to make a deal with Arafat before he was entitled to liberate Iraq, then permitting the British to drag out the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom with endless votes in the Security Council. Each time he realized his error, and pressed on with greater vigor. It’s time for him to do that again.

If not now, when?

The temptation to rest on existing accomplishment is easy; a lot has been accomplished, much, much more than anyone would have imagined. Even the feckless Europeans seem to be muttering that maybe Bush had got it right. Then there are concerns that the Coalition of the Willing is almost certainly smaller today than in March 2003 and the fact that we may be a bit stretched. Truth be told though is that a better moment to push the likes of Tehran and Damascus may not come again for some time and an occupant of the White House with the courage to do it may be rarer still.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Monk's Lost Love for Star Wars' creator, part 4

The Monk and Monkette2B watched The Empire Strikes Back last night. I'd not watched it in a good bit -- at least five years or so -- although I've seen the movie about 25 times. Her Highness hadn't watched it in quite some time either.

But I wanted to see if my memory was correct and if the series had really taken a qualitative fall off a cliff with the making of the prequels -- in other words, is Empire only that good in retrospect?

Answer: Empire is simply that good.

Now there are some plot holes, of course, and the omnipresent "glaring omissions" such as: How could Luke get away so easily from Hoth when Vader was already in the Rebel camp? How could Vader not feel the presence of his daughter in the Millenium Falcon? Why did coming out of Hyperspace so close to Hoth cause the Rebels to notice the Imperial Fleet (my only thought is some kind of galactic backwash, like the snow that flies off your skis when you come to a hockey stop)? But this is really small beer.

Empire remains the best-acted and most interesting of all the Star Wars movies, with the greatest character development and, of course, the Plot Twist that became a part of our cultural movie history,

And it demonstrates just how little Lucas knows about his own Goliath. How? First, an anecdote: when filming the Freezing of Han Solo scene, Lucas (he was executive producer) urged Irvin Kirschner to have Han respond to Leia's "I love you" with "I love you too." The trite, shallow and completely forgettable response -- that's nice, and cute. That's Lucas -- trite, shallow, cutesy.

Kirschner held firm and the Leia-Han interaction is among the Great Moments in Movie History -- Leia: I love you; Han: I know. Most people interpret this as the cocksure bounty hunter-evader being oh-so-cool with a Princess, but look closely at the scene and you see that Han is embracing Leia's sentiment as a reassurance and a comfort as he faces death. It's among the best acting in the series.

Second, the Yoda moments. Yoda's speech patterns and comments in The Phantom Menace was the first clue that Lucas had lost control of his own creation; by Attack of the Clones, it was clear that Lucas didn't even know his own characters. Watch Yoda and Luke interact: about 75-80% of the time that Yoda is serious, his syntax is direct and not the Yodaspeak that everyone likes to mock. Only on intermittent occasions does Yoda speak in the fashion for which he became stereotyped. Yoda's discussion and description of the Force, especially his soliloquy before raising Luke's X-Wing out of the swamp, is straightforward, direct and virtually devoid of Yodaspeak. But nearly every statement Yoda makes in Episodes 1 and 2 are riddled with Yodasyntax.

A friend (and now former colleague) took an intensive screenwriting course in LA last year because her dream is to put her two (current) story ideas to paper and make them into feature-length films. What is most notable about the course is that before they allowed her to go to story development and dialogue, she had to write full character histories on each of her major and most of her minor characters to ensure that not only were they fully fleshed-out, but that she would not lose the integrity of the characters whilst hashing out the script. Lucas never adhered to that rule and it's all too easy to tell when you watch Episodes 1, 2 and 3.


Scotland is a beautiful country that has made tremendous contributions to the world in philosophy, economics, medicine and consumable items (shortbread, whisky). Its politics, however, more resemble those of Spain or Belgium than any normal country. As Mark Steyn recently noted in analyzing the UK elections, Labour lost England and retained its vast majority in the Commons thanks to those "socialist satrapies" of Scotland and Wales. There are reasons that Scotland's economy lags behind that of England, Republic of Ireland, and the emerging capitalist states in Eastern Europe: incompetent socialist policies by the Scottish Parliament and wasted money from Parliament (four words: the new Scottish Parliament).

And to encapsulate Scottish political idiocy: George Galloway, and the BBC Scotland commentary at USS Neverdock (click link in title) defending Saddam's biggest shill in the UK. Disgusting.

French Wisdom

The French people voted on the EU Constitution and slammed it: 55-45 with 96% of the vote counted. Thus, the French have exercised more wisdom than their leaders, whatever the French people's fears and motivations (most observers say the no vote would win because the French feared the Anglo-Saxon influence in the EU -- actually allowing hard work and capitalism). Even if it's the right decision for the wrong reason, any setback for that atrocity aka the European Union Constitution is good.

Meanwhile, the Dutch vote on Wednesday and are expected to vote no by an even wider margin.

Nonetheless, this is a unified Europe that the French, German, Belgian and other EUrophiles are seeking to impose, and like Stalin's purgers refusing to accept anything less than a full confession, the EUrophilic elite is not content to take "no" for an answer:
On Friday, the constitution's main architect, former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, said countries that reject the treaty will be asked to vote again.

So instead of going back to the drawing board and trying to improve the blasted constitution, the EUrophiles simply want to ram it down the throats of Europe. Hopefully the Eastern Europeans with integrity (Czechs, Poles) will follow suit and start the death spiral for this farce..

Friday, May 27, 2005

Eason Jordan, take II; with similar silence from the media

Linda Foley is the head of the Newspaper Guild of America, the media's AFL/CIO. She said the "U.S. military" is specifically targeting media members in Iraq. She made a false distinction between US troops and the US military (i.e., the higher-ups want to kill reporters, the soldiers just carry out the orders). Thomas Lipscomb pounds her in a column, whilst the MSM ignores the whole thing. Excerpts from Lipscomb:

Sound familiar? It should. Eason Jordan, president of CNN News, had to resign for making exactly the same accusation at Davos four months ago. He had a major problem--no evidence to back up his charges. And being a prominent person in the news business, once the word got out through the blogosphere, just as it had on CBS’s use of phony Bush records, Jordan was caught in a media firestorm.

Every talking head rushed on air 24/7 to attack or defend what Jordan had supposedly said, and forests of newsprint were devoted to pundantics on the theme. And because no transcript was ever released, the entire affair was conducted in an embarrassing blather of hearsay.

Foley had the advantage of seeing what happened to Jordan and, as the head of a powerful union of 35,000 journalists and media workers, she knew anything she said about targeting journalists would likely be scrutinized. So one would expect that she has a pretty solid case for her revival of the discredited Jordan charges? But one would be wrong. Her spokesperson, Candice Johnson, told me Foley can provide “no evidence” to support her charges either.

* * *
If the most basic tenets of Journalism 101 are now no longer important enough for the media itself to honor and defend against their own members who violate them, where is the professionalism and the authority that is our main claim to writing the indispensable “first draft of history” – much less its value for sale? And if we lose sight of that irretrievably, who needs us? There are bloggers out there today with more credibility than Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, Eason Jordan, and Linda Foley combined, and their audiences are growing.

If Foley is allowed to walk unchallenged from what Mencken might have called “a clear, simple, and” unproven statement, it will only accelerate the speed at which her members lose what is left of their credibility--and then their jobs. (Look at The New York Times newsroom downsizing this week.) If the press isn’t going to take its own standards seriously, it is hard to think of why anyone should take the press seriously enough to pay for it. In the meantime, Rupert Murdoch’s and Roger Ailes’s success offers a constant unpleasant reminder: the media market prefers dogs that bark.

Mideast Observations

Jay Nordlinger, National Review's Managing Editor, has been in Jordan for the May installment of the World Economic Forum. He's been reporting all week but the epistles haven't been as colorful as those from Davos, about which we wrote here.
He makes up for it today.

Al-Arabiya — the TV network that’s not al-Jazeera — holds a debate. The subject is, “What Will It Take to Unleash an Arab Renaissance?”...The participants make an interesting crew: Amr Moussa, the Arab League honcho; Prince Turki al-Faisal, formerly Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief and now its ambassador to the U.K.;... Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister of Iraq; Bassam I. Awadallah, the finance minister of Jordan; and . . . Liz Cheney.

...Zebari, of course, is masterly. He speaks of a “wave” in the Middle East that “cannot be stopped.” For “this is a matter of popular demand. Society wants change, and people are tired of being marginalized.” Zebari quotes the slogan of the Egyptian opposition: “Kifaya” (“Enough”). He will quote it yet more times in the course of the debate, for he is jabbing a nemesis, Amr Moussa (formerly the Egyptian foreign minister, and a personification of the Old Guard).
Bassam Awadallah, the Jordanian finance minister? I swear, I can hardly believe he is a lieutenant to an Arab king. He speaks like a scholar of the American Enterprise Institute: markets, democracy, transparency, rights, the rule of law, opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. He might as well be Jack Kemp, c. 1978, by the sound of him. “We see Arabs in the U.S. and Europe succeeding. Why can’t they succeed here?” he asks. “The answer is that we’re not giving liberty to people.” Ay, caramba!

Next, Prince Turki — getting uncomfortable — plays the Palestinian card. Before any change can legitimately take place in the Middle East, “the Palestinians must be freed.” For “this is a bleeding wound of 60 years’ duration, and it is impacting us negatively.” Why the Palestinian situation demands that Saudi Arabia — or any other country — be a police state, he does not say. They never do. [emphasis added.]

That HAS to be the comment of the day.
I must give Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, the last word. And it concerns words. He points out that, in Arab League discussions, his counterparts were reluctant even to use the word “reform”; it had to be “modernization,” somehow less threatening.

The Old Guard is scared sh*tless.

An outstanding participant in these Davos conferences — including the ones in Jordan — is A. C. Grayling, the English philosopher, writer, columnist, and leftist. He is a complete pleasure to talk with, a gentle man, reasonable, humane. Very unlike the leftists I have met in my own country. He’s the type of man you’d want in the classroom, or entrust your kids’ education to (at least part of it). Anthony does not hate you if you disagree with him. He does not treat conservatives as subhuman, as our professors — and many of our media bigs — do. He possesses a tolerant and democratic spirit.

As many of us frequently say, a lefty who is decent is worth his weight in gold.

Decent lefties? Reminds me of Andrew Stuttaford yesterday-- ours seem to 'remain trapped in a mindset that blends traditional working class belligerence with the idiot radicalism of a third-rate provincial university.'

I encounter a most remarkable entrepreneur, a Jordanian Palestinian, or a Palestinian Jordanian, if you like. He was brought up in Kuwait — and speaks to me at length about discrimination against Palestinians in Kuwait, Jordan, Syria. You may finish at the top of your class, but you are still kept back professionally, he says. A Palestinian has to be three times better than “native” others to land a job — and even that may not be good enough. This fellow longs to be free of onerous taxation and regulation, to make his business grow. I swear, when I listen to him, I’m listening to the most natural Reaganite in the world. And I condemn societies that keep people down, blocking their dreams. It’s one thing, I suppose, if you can’t make it on your own effort and talent; it’s another if anti-meritocratic arrangements thwart you, depriving you of a chance.

Notice how the Palestinian problem is a 'hurt that never stops' but they are despised in the other Arab lands. Somehow, though if you push the Jews into the sea the whole problem will be solved.

Last, I will tell you this: He says one of the most striking things I’ve ever heard: “We never have any ex-presidents” in this part of the world. Oh, how wonderful it would be to see an ex-president! “You in the West have ex-presidents. Here, you’re president for life. If you’re not president anymore, it’s because you’re dead.” But won’t Abu Mazen be an ex-president? I ask. My friend is highly skeptical.

So, there is one possible definition of freedom: Where it reigns, you have ex-presidents.

Wisdom for the ages.

Charles Krauthammer reads TKM?

The great Charles Krauthammer used the same appellation (or epithet) for the judicial filibuster deal that Wongdoer did: the Missouri Compromise (of 2005). More importantly, he notes that the deal is a disaster for Republicans:

On Monday Republicans were within hours of passing a procedural rule that would have eliminated the Democrats' unprecedented use of the judicial filibuster. It would not only have freed from filibuster limbo seven Bush nominees to the appeals courts, but it would also have ensured future nominees, particularly to the Supreme Court, up-or-down votes.

Then the Republicans flinched. They settled for something less. Far less. How much less is still a matter of dispute, but the fact that they settled when they had within their reach the means to restore Senate practice to the status quo ante 2001 is indisputable. That in itself is a victory for the Democrats and a defeat for the Republicans.

The biggest reason why that is true: Republicans will never filibuster a Democratic president's circuit and Supreme Court nominees.

Meanwhile, Robert Robb spins hard in favor of the deal saying, "What does not remain is the ability of Reid to conduct filibusters at the whim of liberal activist groups."

Really? I'll believe that when I see People for the American Way, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Common Cause and the Alliance for Justice screaming their heads off against Sam Alito, Michael Luttig, John Roberts, or Miguel Estrada and one of those gents getting confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.


The recalcitrant Democratic members of the Senate successfully filibustered a floor vote on John Bolton creating at least another 2 week delay. Some bi-partisan comity. These folks cannot be trusted.

Actually a different word came to mind but I really can't say it on a family website and, well, expressing it would make me a lot like the dross over at Kos or Democratic Underground.


Amnesty International: A demagnetized moral compass

John Podhoretz shreds Amnesty International's claim that the detention of al-Qaeda terrorists at Gitmo Bay is the gulag of our time. Here's his conclusion:

Maybe the people who work at Amnesty International really do think that the imprisonment of 600 certain or suspected terrorists is tantamount to the imprisonment of 25 million slaves.

The case of Amnesty International proves that well-meaning people can make morality their life's work and still be little more than moral idiots.


The Rise of the NeoCons

Who are the neo-conservatives? How are they different from traditional conservatives? How has the neo-con movement, barely on the radar when Ronald Reagan was elected, become the dominant and animating movement of today?

James Piereson, the executive director of the John M. Olin Foundation, (about which we wrote here) has composed an excellent short history of the conservative movement in the United States from Friedrich Hayek until today. This 'short' history is actually quite long and, extremely worthwhile. The difference between traditional conservatives and the neo-cons:

Writers and editors like Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Hilton Kramer and Michael Novak had for the most part spent their formative years on the left. Rather than by Hayek, their ideas had been influenced by George Orwell, Lionel Trilling and Raymond Aron--intellectuals of Hayek's generation who had dwelled on the evil of totalitarianism from a moral and political standpoint. Many of them, like Hayek, traced their intellectual lineage back to the 18th-century Whigs, but in so doing they once again emphasized the moral and cultural rather than the economic dimension, typically preferring Adam Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiments" to his "The Wealth of Nations." In brief, they understood the moral foundations of a free society to be prior to and more important than its economic foundations.

At the same time, according to Piereson, the Democratic Party moved away from its liberal roots and became a sprawl of interest groups:

Following the tumult at their 1968 convention in Chicago, the Democrats established a commission, chaired by Sen. George McGovern, whose mandate was to make the nominating process more representative. Quickly captured by liberal activists, the commission pushed through new delegate-selection rules requiring the representation of women, blacks and young people in line with their respective proportions in the population.

The effect was to displace the elected officeholders, party officials and union leaders who had controlled Democratic conventions in the past and to replace them with activists speaking for designated groups. Under this approach, the groups that now found a home in the party began to look very much like the ones Bundy had tried to organize through the Ford Foundation. In many cases, they were the same groups.

Piereson closes with the contention that the rise of the neo-cons was due to the fundamental strengths of its ideas - ideas nurtured with care by philanthropists over the last half century. To maintain its vibrancy conservatives and neo-cons must continue to compete and prevail in the marketplace of ideas and philanthropy in support is critical.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

* * *Announcement* * *

There will be certain changes to this blog in the coming weeks, primarily necessitated by a major change in The Monk's personal life. To wit: I'm starting a new job on June 6 (or 6 June to our non-American readers). To date, my current employer is still without clue that I do this. My next employer is both more technically savvy and more intense. And for the extra money they'll be paying me . . . I should give them value for their dollars. Therefore, my postings will be primarily during the evenings, at lunch time or before I get to work (the last is least likely b/c The Monk is not a morning person). If Wongdoer approves, I may also send him tips and comments to post on my behalf.

Wongdoer will probably carry the ball during the dayshift. That's a good thing in most ways EXCEPT that he may actually be worth slightly more than I pay him. This would be a change because he is currently worth every cent he has made from participation in this blog.

What does this mean to you? Not much since there aren't that many of "you" to begin with. I'm still the namesake, founder, occasional editor and ombudsman of this blog and I'll still converse with commenters (Oyster, Chris, Tundarafan, etc.). All opinions are, however, the responsibility of whoever states them, therefore I take no responsibility for Oyster's liberal inanities, Chris' bemoaning of the Cubs/Bears/Bulls, Wongdoer's impugning the impugnable ChiComms, etc., but I welcome all comments (except spam, phishing, etc.) regardless of my opinion of their worth.

Nonetheless, expect longer entries on weekends with more frequency from me while Wongdoer dominates the weekdays; and expect Wongdoer to sleep away his weekends like he usually does (actually, I think his efforts to teach his 3-year old daughter how to do the family taxes so he doesn't have to eff with it takes most of his free time). In other words, we'll likely become more like Vodkapundit, except we'll still blog more, work harder and get 1/100th the traffic.

Furthermore, starting next Tuesday Wongdoer will have the con for about 4-5 days. That means more wild colors that are unreadable on a dark background and more really long excerpts from whatever the f--k he's reading, but it also means actual insight on monetary issues and succinct commentary. Reason? The Monk will be in Belize (with Monkette2B, natch), taking a short break before he plunges into the roiling waters of his new job.

The Precious Prose

Andrew Stuttaford is a transplanted Brit who writes for the National Review Online. He has a brilliant column today on Tony Blair and throws in a pretty good political history of the last 30 years. His prose, if a teeny, teeny bit overwrought, is simply outstanding. Just some choice samples:

To the novelist and journalist Robert Harris, this (Labour 'revolt' against Blair)all looked like madness: “it does not…require a political genius to see…that it is a thoroughly bad idea for a minority party-cabal to bring down an elected prime minister. The Liberals did it to Asquith in 1915 and have never gained power again. The Tories did it to Thatcher… and have since suffered three successive election defeats… Now Labor, like a chimp examining a loaded revolver, shows alarming signs of the same casual attitude to its political extinction.”

Nice tidbit about Asquith that I did not know and the picture of the chimp is simply precious.

Once firmly established in Number Ten, Mrs. Thatcher could always rely on the adulation of her party’s rank-and-file and, until the Gadarene [from Gadara, of the Decapolis, ed.] meltdown of November 1990, her MPs. Tony Blair cannot. As Labor leader he has filled an abattoir with the slaughtered sacred cows of party orthodoxy. [emphasis mine.] This has won him elections, but lost him the love, affection, and loyalty of his activists. They, poor souls, remain trapped in a mindset that blends traditional working class belligerence with the idiot radicalism of a third-rate provincial university.

"...filled an abattoir with the slaughtered sacred cows of party orthodoxy" Fabulous. Oh and that last sentence.

"Power, sycophants, and the ambitious are all ebbing from the prime minister, as Gordon Brown, whose fondness for some of old Labor’s more numbskull pieties has already made him the party’s darling...'

"Numbskull pieties", must save that for later. Nancy Hopkins, the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Harvard, the Congressional Black Caucus, Columbia...

"Criminal" Potshot

Couple nice pieces from the Media Research Center today:

1. The season finale of NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which aired Wednesday night, portrayed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as a hero to white supremacist gun nuts suspected of murdering two judges, one of them black, and who had expressed the view that the white woman judge who was murdered was a "race traitor" who raised her family in the "Zionist enclave of Riverdale." When the ballistics on the bullet which killed the black judge showed it was fired by the same rifle which was used to kill the white judge, New York City Police Department "Detective Alexandra Eames" suggested to her fellow detectives and an Assistant District Attorney: "Maybe we should put out and APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt." Another detective then presented evidence the shooter came from the West, prompting Eames to point out: "Home of a lot of white supremacist groups."

I don't watch it but I think the Monk is a fan.

2. Is Charles Gibson watching ABC News too much? On Wednesday's World News Tonight, after Brian Ross noted that "some Arabs" on a "popular Web site said they hoped the news was true" about the serious injury to terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, with messages such as, "Let this criminal Zarqawi go to Hell," Gibson turned to reporter Nick Watt in Baghdad and expressed shock, "I'm surprised by something in Brian's piece: The vehemence of the comments on Arab Web sites in opposition to Zarqawi, because we keep hearing that he has considerable support." Watt confirmed that "many" Iraqis "will be very glad if he does die."

Charlie, the Iraqis who get blasted apart by Zarqawi's bombs? They've got families.

Even worse re: the filibuster deal

Here's some worse news about someone I respected -- it seems that the driving force behind the Seven Republican Dwarfs' acceding to the Owen-Brown-Pryor-but-screw-the-President-otherwise deal, or the Doc of these Seven Republican Dwarfs, was John Warner. McCain would happily claim credit because he is an exhibitionist and the press loves the deal, so it gives him better press. But the notion that Warner and Robert Byrd were the driving forces in this is probably easier to accept: both are popular with their bases, both have solid party credentials, both are the old dogs of their party who could put the wisdom-of-age gloss on this whole thing.

I just wish Warner would not be the one to sell out a Republican president. It would be nice if Warner did so in part for the Machiavellian reason that he would make his colleague from Virginia, George Allen, a staunch proponent of the Constitutional option, look good to the base by contrast in a way to boost Allen's Presidential chances in 2008 . . .

No tragedy: France will vote no on EU

The French Conservatives have basically given up and expect the country to vote NO in the EU constitution referendum on Sunday. The Netherlands is expected to follow suit next week by a larger margin.

More reaction to the GOP cave-in

Hugh Hewitt blasts the Seven Republican Dwarfs who signed the judicial filibuster-stalling memorandum of understanding on Monday. Hewitt isn't only a right-winger, he's also a law prof. And he's not a Buchananite -- Hewitt supported keeping the seniority system in place that allowed Arlen Specter to ascend to the chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee. Here is part of his analysis of the fallout from the deal:

Other than the war, there is no issue of greater consequence to GOP activists than the courts, and this includes all GOP activists, not just faith-based conservatives. The sub-parties of national defense and free enterprise inside the GOP know all too well that the courts control many issues, from interpretations of the president's war powers, to the reach of federal regulation over the interstate-commerce clause and tort excesses, to judicial decrees on same-sex marriage and the use of international law to declare state death penalty statutes null and void.

The disfigured filibuster is a constitutional horror, and only the left's babblers pretend otherwise. Writing in a super-majority to the advice and consent clause of Article Two, Section 2 is simple willfulness by a deeply distressed political party, a naked power grab which should have been struck down immediately upon its introduction in 2003, and one which gains false credibility with every day it's left alive.

He's right about the importance of this to the base. Read through our postings: neither I nor Wongdoer is a member of the "Religious Right" -- we're both basically small-government libertarian-lite conservatives who believe the United States should be strong at home and abroad. The judicial nomination fiasco from 2001-02 is the reason that I contributed money to four Republican Senatorial candidates (Talent, Cornyn, Thune, Coleman), all of whom have been principled on this issue and most issues of importance to me and all of whom have been leaders in the Senate.

The Democrats' filibustering obstructionism is also the reason that Thune beat Daschle, and a main reason that Martinez won in Florida, Burr beat Bowles in NC and both Vitter and Isakson won in the deep South. The Seven Republican Dwarfs (Graham, McCain, Snowe, Collins, Chaffee, Warner, DeWine) all sold out the President, the Constitution and their integrity. Will there be a price? Hewitt says yes and points to Rhode Island, where Republicans want to mount a primary challenge to Chaffee; to Ohio, where DeWine's son may lose the primary for an open Congressional seat after DeWine's own cave-in; to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (the PAC that coordinates campaign contributions), which is getting more negative responses from the grass roots than ever because it seeks reelection of sitting Senators, not upstarts like Pat Toomey (against Specter).

More from Hewitt:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee finds itself receiving returned fundraising appeals with "not a dime more" scrawled on their letters. The brainchild of blogger Ed Morrissey, "not a dime more" conveys the refusal to send money to an organization pledged to the reelection efforts of Chaffee and Maine's Olympia Snowe. Of course cutting off the NRSC hurts all incumbents, but principled senators like Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum and Missouri's Jim Talent can go directly to donors via the web. It's the weak horses that like to fundraise as a field.

As for McCain, his Presidential stock is in the toilet, unless he switches parties. As Mark Steyn noted in his interview on the Hewitt radio show:

I think it was damaging for John McCain. John McCain will never be president. Now you talk about his home state. His home state is, in fact, the newsroom of the New York Times. He has tremendous appeal among key demographics of columnists, journalists, editors, news anchors, network reporters, the secretary in the research department standing by the photocopier. But among Republican primary voters, he has very minimal appeal, and insofar as this deal does anything, it only weakens his appeal to Republicans.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In victory, magnanimity?

James Taranto takes issue with me (indirectly) and Thomas Sowell (directly) in arguing that the Democrats who signed onto the judicial compromise did so because they knew their filibuster strategy had failed. His proof? In 2003, they made a political calculation to use the filibuster strategy believing that (1) Bush would be a one-term president; (2) they could successfully paint him as an extremist; (3) the Republicans couldn't break them. The voters sent this message: Daschle out, Kerry back to the Senate, Republicans winning in eight of nine hotly contested Senate races including Florida and North Carolina. Thus, Taranto argues that the compromise is a way to let the Democrats back down and save face.

This is a compelling argument. I agree that the compromise has put pressure on the Dems to play ball now (witness Barbara Boxer withdrawing her BS hold on the Bolton nomination for ambassador to the UN). But despite the stated willingness of Mike DeWine, Lindsay Graham and old lion John Warner to go nuclear if the Dems violate the compromise, I believe the Republicans gave up too much (two filibustered nominees sacrificed, two not covered by the no-filibuster pledge) and doubt both their resolve and their ability to invoke the constitutional option when the Democrats act in bad faith once again.

Instead, as Sowell notes, the most apt description of the compromise came from one of the more bipartisan Republican Senators:
While members of both parties are trying to put a good face on this political deal and the media have gushed about this "bipartisan" agreement, Republican Senator Charles Grassley was one of the few who called a spade a spade, when he characterized what happened as "unilateral disarmament" by the Republicans.

And the long term effects of this deal will only help those who want the courts, not the Congress or the President, which are elected by the American public, to be the final arbiter of constitutionality and policy. More Sowell:
The net effect of the Senate compromise is that this President and future Presidents will be under pressure to choose nominees who can get through the confirmation process without rocking the boat.

That is how conservative Republican Presidents in the past loaded the Supreme Court with liberal judicial activists from William J. Brennan to David Souter and wobbly Justices like Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy.

Somebody has to stand up for an end to this trend. As Ronald Reagan used to say, "If not us, who? And if not now, when?"

Bush policies effective, says UK policy institute

The International Institute for Strategic Studies is no shill for the Bush Administration, thus it's noteworthy when its 384-page report says this:
"Even though the Bush policy was bold, controversial and sometimes divisive, his aggressive global agenda of promoting freedom, and democracy appeared increasingly effective," the IISS said in its 384-page "Strategic Survey 2004-05".

Counter-terrorism efforts over the period had also seen an overall net gain, the report argued, despite the seemingly "counterproductive" aspects of some of the United States's self-declared "war on terror".

Remember: the media's antipathy to the war on terror and the Bush Administration has nothing to do with its failure to report on the IISS findings with the same vigor and prominence as it reported on Amnesty International's preposterous claim that Gitmo Bay is a gulag.

Yeah, right.

HT: the invaluable LGF (see my links sidebar).

Epidemic from stupidity

This speaks for itself: a return of polio due to conspiracy theories in certain areas of the world.

A nation of laws, not men - UPDATED

Jay Nordlinger is by the Dead Sea in Jordan reporting on the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings. His depiction is pithy and colorful especially in depicting the new Iraqi reformers vs. the Arab Old Guard.

But what really caught me was his commentary on something Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays said self-deprecatingly about America:

In praising the Iraqi election — an infinitely praiseworthy thing — Shays goes a little overboard. He says that Jan. 30 “worked better than any election in America,” which is of course absurd. He says that Iraqis are superior to Americans, because our turnout is shamefully low. Actually, Shays should know that a low voter turnout can be a sign of democratic health: Our system allows for freedom from politics; we are a nation of laws, not men; changes in office don’t cause great convulsions in our lives. A nation that can afford a low voter turnout is a lucky one.

We are a nation of laws, not men.




Powerline has long post today on California appellate judge Robert K. Puglia who succumbed to cancer recently. There's the eulogy that Janice Rogers Brown gave and the post reprints a copy of the last major speech that Puglia gave: "Freedom is not Free."

Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” A few hundred yards from the Jefferson Memorial in our nation’s capital the same sentiment is expressed somewhat less starkly: “Freedom is not free.” The freedoms of which we speak are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. They are limitations on the power of government. If we are not to descend into anarchy, we must live under government. But government represents concentrated power and, if government is to respect our freedoms, it must be subject to some check. The check on government is, of course, an independent judiciary which implements the rule of law.

The rule of law relies on a fragile consensus, which remarkably has endured and allowed us, uniquely among the nations of the world, to live as free people for more than 200 years. It is the guarantor of our freedoms. It emits the glow that illuminates the shining city on the hill, the glow that is never so brilliant as when contrasted to the ominous shadows cast by the brutal tyrannies which have threatened our national existence in this century. More than anything else, the rule of law is at the heart of American exceptionalism. That is the unique place that America occupies among the community of nations.

XXXXX bites the dust in The Half-Blood Prince

Spoiler alert: Do not click on the title if you don't want to know which major character will die in the latest Harry Potter book to be released in mid July.

It's not trading on Tradesports.com which surprisingly (to me) has John Bolton's chances of confirmation at 90/96%. That 90 bid is mighty tempting...

[For new readers and/or those not familiar with the markets, "90/96" means there is someone willing to pay 90 units to win 100 units (including the 90 invested) and someone else is willing sell the right to win 100 units for 96. Odds are also given in the 3-1 format which translates to bet 1 unit to win 3 (or about 33%) or 1-4 which is bet 4 to win 1 (about 80%). I like the decimals much better.]

Some folks argue that these markets are nothing more the collections of conventional wisdom. I disagree. These are betting markets where folks are investing their money. There are regular folk who do this but there are also some very clever folks whose primary driver is return. If the conventional wisdom is significantly off-market the clever folks aka market forces will push it back towards equilibrium. When deciding whether markets like these are accurate, keep the following in mind:
1. Is there good access to the market?
2. Is there good volume in the specific contract/event?
3. Is the market free (not signficantly manipulated)

In each case the more the better.

Other interesting markets:

- Bo Bice is 58/60 to win American Idol
- France to pass EU Constitution 38/39
- Liberals to win the most seats in next Canadian federal election 50/54

HT: Instapundit

Confirmed: Priscilla R. Owen

Justice Owen (Tex. Sup. Ct.) is now Judge Owen (Fifth Circuit) after the Senate confirmed her by 56-43. I'm trying to get the vote breakdown (read: who crossed party lines).

UPDATE: The story linked in the title tells who the aisle-crossers are. Byrd and Landrieu to their credit voted for her (she received a unanimous WELL-QUALIFIED rating from the ABA -- the highest possible); Chafee (to his demerit) voted against. Jeffords the "independent" who votes like Ted Kennedy voted against. Inouye (D-Haw.) did not vote.

Sugar Socialism v. Free Trade

Following up on what I discussed here about the sugar lobby and CAFTA, read Pete DuPont's criticism of the sugar subsidies we taxpayers are maintaining. Here's the key:

The American sugar industry is so strongly advantaged by quotas, tariffs and subsidies that total sugar imports have declined by about a third since the 1990s. Cafta would allow additional sugar imports from the Central American nations totaling 107,000 metric tons in the first year. Annual U.S. sugar production is about 7.8 million metric tons, so the effect of Cafta is to raise sugar imports into America by about one day's sugar production, or as Mr. Portman puts it, "approximately one teaspoon of sugar per week per adult American."

That threat--a teaspoon of sugar a week--has caused the U.S. sugar lobby to focus its efforts on killing Cafta. And it may succeed. The U.S. government agreed not to free up the sugar market in the 2004 trade pact with Australia.

* * *
American sugar imports would depress sugar prices, they say. Well, American sugar prices today are about three times the world market's, so some price reduction would be good for Americans, just as lower gasoline prices would be.

U.S. Sugar Corp.'s Senior Vice President Robert Coker believes that "bilateral and regional trade agreements are death by a thousand cuts." Such economic protectionism--no bilateral trade agreements allowed--is the good old-fashioned socialism that has failed millions of people for hundreds of years. Like Lenin, U.S. Sugar seems to think that Americans should suffer economically rather than have a free market in sugar.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Congressional Black Caucus hates the filibuster deal

Roll Call reports via the Corner that the Congressional Black Caucus is very unhappy with the Senate deal:

The Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday announced its opposition to a Senate deal aimed at preventing a showdown on the so-called nuclear option, calling the agreement “more of a capitulation than a compromise.”

The 43-Member CBC, led by Chairman Mel Watt (D-N.C.), is also penning a letter today to the 100 Senators urging them to oppose the judicial nominations of Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Those nominees, expected to come up for consideration in the coming days, were guaranteed an up or down Senate vote as part of Monday’s agreement.

The CBC argued the two nominees “have documented histories of opposing rights of African Americans and of hostility to the broad mainstream of law and rights enacted by the Congress over the past 75 years.”..

It's hard to find a silver lining in this horrid deal but if Mel Watt hates it, it may indeed have a redeeming quality. Problem is Mel Watt is a fool. His prattling though brings to mind this piece by Thomas Sowell today.

...That is why prominent minority figures who stray from the liberal plantation must be discredited, debased and, above all, kept from becoming federal judges.

A thoughtful and highly intelligent member of the California supreme court like Justice Janice Rogers Brown must be smeared as a right-wing extremist, even though she received 76 percent of the vote in California, hardly a right-wing extremist state...

Least of all can they afford to let Janice Rogers Brown become a national figure on the federal bench. The things she says and does could lead other blacks to begin to think independently -- and that in turn threatens the whole liberal house of cards. If a smear is what it takes to stop her, that is what liberal politicians and the liberal media will use.

It's "not personal" as they say when they smear someone. It doesn't matter how outstanding or upstanding Justice Brown is. She is a threat to the power that means everything to liberal politicians. The Democrats' dependence on blacks for votes means that they must keep blacks dependent on them.

Black self-reliance would be almost as bad as blacks becoming Republicans, as far as liberal Democrats are concerned. All black progress in the past must be depicted as the result of liberal government programs and all hope of future progress must be depicted as dependent on the same liberalism.
Many things that would advance blacks would not advance the liberal agenda. That is why the time is long overdue for the two to come to a parting of the ways.

Mel Watt doesn't speak for blacks. He pretends to speak for blacks while advancing an enfeebling liberal ideology whose continuation keeps him and others like him in power.

US-China trade tensions - A Perfect Storm?

Irwing Stelzer has a interesting piece in the Weekly Standard today. He relates that a top Washington lobbyist is telling him that conditions resembling 'A Perfect Storm' could trigger a messy trade war with China.

Republican conservatives can in most circumstances be counted on to back free trade. After all, a belief in free markets is bedrock conservative doctrine. But these conservatives are less enthusiastic about free trade than they are worried about the threat that China poses to American interests in Asia. As they see it, that threat is magnified by the European Union's decision to end the embargo on sales of arms to China imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Even more important, they regard Taiwan as a key American ally, and bridle at China's threat to attack the island if its government takes further steps down the road to independence. So don't look to these traditional free traders to oppose protectionist measures.

Then there is the business community. With the exception of some industries that have been hurt by imports, big business can generally be counted on to stand with Bush in opposing impediments to free trade. But so pervasive has been the damage done by China's pirating of intellectual property that the entertainment industry (music, videos, films, video games), pharmaceutical companies, software developers, manufacturers of branded luxury goods, and a host of others have been meeting in Washington to urge the president and Congress to issue
a firm warning to China: crack down on pirates or we will build barriers to Chinese goods.

Add the usual testy, protectionist left to this mix creates a very real possibility that this could produce veto-proof legislation limiting Chinese imports.

Nor, a few weeks ago, did it seem likely that Senator Chuck Schumer's bill to impose a 27 percent duty on Chinese goods to offset the undervalued renminbi would pass. But efforts to kill the measure failed on a 67 to 33 vote in the Senate, setting the stage for a final vote in July.
Trade watchers should focus on three dates: the July vote on the Schumer proposal; the September meeting in Washington of the U.S. and Chinese presidents; and the October Treasury report on currency manipulation that could set the stage for retaliation. If the Chinese can't find a way to make concessions without losing face, and Bush can't find a way to hold off the protectionists, the free trade system as we know it just might not survive.

The Chicomms are faced with two unpleasant alternatives: meaningfully revalue the renminbi (5-10%) to appease the West or face chunky tariffs. Revaluing may be a better bet for their economy but doing so under vocal Western pressure may be unpalatable. I do enjoy any discomfiture of the Beijing tyrants but this one could get UGLY.


[I originally posted this at 8:19 pm on May 23 but bumped to add details and links]

Now it's time for him to resign his leadership post. If you cannot lead, you cannot be the Senate Majority Leader.

Here's what happened: on the eve of a floor vote to invoke cloture and break the Democrats' filibuster, using the unanimously well-qualified Priscilla Owen as the nomination to break the wall of obstinance, the "moderates" in the Senate reached an accord. The text of the accord is at the link above. Here is what happens:

First, Owen, William Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown will have cloture invoked and obtain the floor vote they've been denied for entirely too long.

Second, the signatories make no commitment on how they will vote re: cloture of William Myers or Henry Saad. In other words, the Republicans gave those two up despite the fact that BOTH would be confirmed in an up-or-down vote.

As for future nominations, Democrats retain the "right" to filibuster in extraordinary circumstances as defined by each individual Senator's own conscience and good faith: in other words, the same conscience and "good faith" Chuck Schumer will claim he's used all along because the President's nominees are allegedly so far outside of the mainstream. More simply: the Democrats give up nothing.

The Republicans however agree not to use the constitutional option to reaffirm the President's supremacy in nominating and obtaining advice and consent (an actual vote) on his nominees during the 109th Congress. In other words, the Republicans capitulated.

And even worse, the 14 signatories and seven Republican signatories (including McCain, DeWine, John Warner, Chafee, Collins, and two other Repubs [can't read the signatures -- upon further inquiry = Snowe and Graham]) have now basically told the President to not bother with a nominee who won't meet the DEMOCRATS' approval. They did this in the second page of the agreement. That means that the 45 Senators in the Democratic caucus (including Jeffords) have a veto over the re-elected President of the United States.

Frist should resign and the President should be furious.

UPDATES: In a contrarian mode, John Podhoretz calls this a victory for the Republicans because it "breaks the Senate logjam on circuit court nominees." True for three of them, not for four others currently filibustered and for the near-dozen who withdrew after the Dems began the filibuster. JPod also says that:
This deal is therefore effectively about the judges it mentions -- and about them only. Every future nomination will be decided as follows. If the Democrats insist that the next nominee(s) are bad enough to invoke the "extraordinary" right to filibuster, the Republicans have the right to say the Democrats are full of it, kill the deal and go to the nuclear option immediately.

Thus, the agreement is only binding to the extent that Democrats do not filibuster -- since it will be very difficult for the Senate Republicans to allow them to get away with the "extraordinary" right claim about a mainstream conservative nominee.

All of this is true, but it ignores a reality: NOT ONE of the filibusters was justifiable on the merits, therefore they were all "extraordinary circumstances" in the parlance of the Democrats and would be once again if the Dems refuse to invoke cloture. In addition, after 2.5 years of allowing themselves to be held hostage to the extremist lobbyists who are pulling the Dems' marionette strings, there is no real hope that the Republicans will get a spine implant in the future.

Additional commentary. First, the Captain:
[W]elcome to Versailles. The centrists who made their play for power last night have constructed an elaborately meaningless document that holds no one truly accountable for their actions and only applies to five of the controversial nominees, splitting them 3-2 for the Administration. It may sound Solomon-like, but in the end the nuclear option will return to the table as soon as the Democrats filibuster anyone outside of Saad and Myers. . .

In the meantime, the GOP centrists [ ] explicitly endorsed the use of the filibuster in dealing with interbranch transactions, against the model of equality among the branches, while the Democrat centrists have betrayed the notion that ideology had nothing to do with their obstructionism.

Professor Bainbridge disagrees, noting that preeminent conservative Russell Kirk would caution against pressing forward for immediate gain, Bainbridge states:
The filibuster is a profoundly conservative tool. It slows change by allowing a resolute minority to delay - to stand athwart history shouting stop. It ensures that change is driven not "merely by temporary advantage or popularity" but by a substantial majority. Is it any wonder that it has usually been liberals who want to change or abolish the filibuster rule?

Proponents of the "nuclear option" claim to believe that abolishing the filibuster could be limited to judicial nominations. It's a coin flip as to whether this is naive or disingenuous. It's a slippery slope to abolishing the filibuster as to Presidential nominations or even legislation.

This argument ignores the constitutional rights and prerogatives of the President in favor of a procedural tool that was designed to slow the pace of legislation. Conservatives are "champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know" according to Kirk. Custom, convention and continuity militates in favor of our 214-year long history of no-filibuster-of-executive-nominees that existed from 1789-2003.

Bainbridge has a bunch of links to other conservatives' reactions. See also Bench Memos

The Missouri Compromise?

The Seven Dwarfs (and I don't mean the Democratic Seven) think they have made a deal to re-establish comity in the Senate and put this issue to rest indefinitely. The right caption for the seven Republicans who are waving this agreement is "Peace in Our Time 2005." [This is actually NOT meant to compare the Democrats to Nazis which is a puerile tool overused by the Left.] It is meant to describe the arrant stupidity of Senators McCain, DeWine, Warner, Chafee, Collins, Graham and Snowe.

Why is this a bad deal for the Republicans?
1. They gave up Henry Saad and William Myers
2. NYT
reports there Democratic officials said an unwritten aspect of the pact was that two nominees not named in the deal - Brett M. Kavanaugh and William J. Haynes - would not be confirmed and would be turned aside either at the committee level or on the floor
3. What in the bloody hell is 'extraordinary'?
4. In Part II the Democrats are bound by 'conscience' and the Republicans basically by 'Rules Change'. Any change of heart by the Democrats will be 'conscience-driven' but a change by Republicans will be 'breaking an agreement and the Rules'
5. They delayed a resolution when they had the votes to determine the outcome

Why I think the Seven Dwarfs went for it:
a. the belief that the 'Rules Change' portion is not binding if the 'extraordinary' clause is being abused
b. A misguided belief that a great tradition of the Senate was at stake
c. Looking for a better time to take a stand and possibly use the constitutional option, perhaps when a Supreme Court nomination is at stake
d. Enough of them were concerned that the public sided more with the Democratic spin
e. they trusted enough of the seven Democratic signatories that at least five would vote for cloture under most circumstances. (this is a bad crutch to lean on. Byrd and Ken "Lying Rat Bastard" Salazar can't be trusted at all so all Reps and all five other Democrats would have to vote for cloture)
f. Concerned that someday a Republican minority would not be able to filibuster liberal judicial nominees

Ultimately this memo of understanding may well be the equivalent of the Missouri Compromise which delayed but could not prevent a much larger conflict. It's my hope that should the situation require that enough of the Seven Dwarfs will find the fortitude to call a spade a spade and withdraw from the agreement.

The Democrats should be very happy.

For the admittedly non-trivial price of Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen they:
i. retained good freedom of operation - 'extraordinary' isn't defined
ii. managed at minimum a delay in a fight they probably would have lost
iii. may permanently forestall the constitutional option if they hold through 2006 and can net win a couple of Senate seats
iv. have probably gutted the Presidential chances of John McCain who would probably have been a tough opponent and now will never be forgiven by the conservatives for this perfidy


Monday, May 23, 2005

Daniel Okrent exits

Daniel Okrent, the refreshingly honest Public Editor of the New York Times, hangs it up. Click the title for his valedictory, "13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did." He purports that this list is random but I'd bet not.


2. Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. [emphasis added] Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes Dowd's way, and some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

I didn't give Krugman, Dowd or Safire the chance to respond before writing the last two paragraphs. I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist.

3. Question: What do these characterizations have in common?:

"At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights." - Television critic Alessandra Stanley on Katie Couric, April 25.
"A semicelebrated hustler Ms. Lakshmi may be." - Fashion writer Guy Trebay on Padma Lakshmi, Feb. 8 .

"Le mot juste here is 'jackass.' " - Book reviewer Joe Queenan on writer A. J. Jacobs, Oct. 3 .

Answer: Each is gratuitously nasty, and inappropriate in a newspaper that many of us look to as a guardian of civil discussion. I'll put the chart that appeared in the Feb. 20 edition of The Times's T: Women's Fashion magazine, touting oxycontin as a status symbol, in the same repellent category.

5. Reader Steven L. Carter of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., asks, If "Tucker Carlson is identified as a conservative" in The Times, then why is "Bill Moyers just, well, plain old Bill Moyers"? Good question.

Farewell, Daniel. And if I were Newsweek, I'd give this guy a call.

What color is the sky...

...in Bob Herbert's universe?

I don't read the editorial section much in the NYT now that Safire's gone. Frankly the in-house conservatives just don't have the heft and well, Krugman, Dowd and Herbert are just...boring. I'm not sure if these three have had a genuinely new and compelling idea in the past 10, if not 20 years. [Does this affliction sound familiar?] Krugman is execrable because he spouts garbage AND is a trained economist. Dowd isn't any better and shares Krugman's habit of grabbing things out of context. However, go back through their columns since 2001 and see if they've written one where there isn't a potshot or rabbit punch against the President.

We've written about Herbert before here, noting his slant, near-slander against the US Army and cavalier attitude about fact-checking. The title of his column today "The Rumsfeld Stain" caught my attention and, well, it isn't any different from the usual dross.

Much of what has happened to the military on his watch has been catastrophic. In Iraq, more than 1,600 American troops have died and many thousands have been maimed in a war that Mr. Rumsfeld mishandled from the beginning and still has no idea how to win. The generals are telling us now that the U.S. is likely to be bogged down in Iraq for years, and there are whispers circulating about the possibility of "defeat."
The military spent decades rebuilding its reputation and regaining the respect of the vast majority of the American people after the debacle in Vietnam. Under Mr. Rumsfeld, that hard-won achievement is being reversed. He invaded Iraq with too few troops, and too many of them were poorly trained and inadequately equipped. The stories about American troops dying on the battlefield because of a lack of protective armor have now been widely told.

The insurgency in Iraq appeared to take Mr. Rumsfeld completely by surprise. He expected to win the war in a walk. Or, perhaps, a strut.

Now the military is in a fix. Many of the troops have served multiple tours in Iraq and are weary. The insurgency remains strong, and the Iraq military has proved to be a disappointing ally.
Mr. Rumsfeld has driven the military into a ruinous quagmire, and there is no evidence at all that he's capable of finding a serviceable route out.

Now, compare this with an editorial from Johns Hopkins scholar Fouad Ajami - who actually goes to Iraq with some frequency:

To venture into the Arab world, as I did recently over four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, is to travel into Bush Country. I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice. The speed with which Syria quit Lebanon was astonishing, a race to the border to forestall an American strike that the regime could not discount. I met Syrians in the know who admitted that the fear of American power, and the example of American forces flushing Saddam Hussein out of his spider hole, now drive Syrian policy. They hang on George Bush's words in Damascus, I was told: the rulers wondering if Iraq was a crystal ball in which they could glimpse their future.
It was Iraq of course that gave impetus to this new Arab history. And it is in Iraq that the nobility of this American quest comes into focus. This was my fourth trip to Iraq since the fall of the despotism, and my most hopeful yet. I traveled to Baghdad, Kirkuk, Erbil and Suleimaniyah.
One memory I shall treasure: a visit to the National Assembly. From afar, there are reports of the "acrimony" of Iraq, of the long interlude between Iraq's elections, on Jan. 30, and the formation of a cabinet. But that day, in the assembly, these concerns seemed like a quibble with history. There was the spectacle of democracy: men and women doing democracy's work, women cloaked in Islamic attire right alongside more emancipated women, the technocrats and the tribal sheikhs, and the infectious awareness among these people of the precious tradition bequeathed them after a terrible history.
By a twist of fate, the one Arab country that had seemed ever marked for brutality and sorrow now stands poised on the frontier of a new political world. No Iraqis I met look to neighboring Arab lands for political inspiration: They are scorched by the terror and the insurgency, but a better political culture is tantalizingly close.

And the NYT wants to charge folks to read this troika??

Dems to Central America: bugger off

The Democrats' opposition to the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in light of the success of NAFTA, the fact that most Central American imports come into the US duty free anyway and the effect it will have on OPENING NEW MARKETS to American exports is shameful. Who is against it? The AFL/CIO (as always) and that same da*n sugar lobby that gutted part of the Australia Free Trade Agreement to Pres. Bush's embarrassment.

The ultimate effect if CAFTA is not passed, according to Michael Barone:
Over the past 20 years, most CAFTA countries have moved from dictatorship and, in some cases, civil war to democracy and the rule of law; their economies, with help from the CBI [Caribbean Basin Initiative, the trade agreement that lowered barriers to the US market in the mid-80s], have moved from subsistence to manufacturing. But the CBI expires in 2008, and unless it is replaced by CAFTA, the United States will have shoved its neighbors backward.

And that shove will be from the Democrats' pushing.

David Brooks' "Growth" at the Times?

There's a concept among the liberals and the media echo chamber: when a conservative slips a bit to the left, they say s/he has "grown" or become "more open". It's this cocktail party verbal diarrhea that bounces around Beltway circles and makes squishy conservatives like Justices O'Connor and Kennedy, David Gergen, Bill Cohen, and others love their own positive press so much that they begin to appease (however subconsciously) their liberal dog-trainers.

The result, logically incoherent statements like this from David Brooks, who went from The Weekly Standard to The New York Times:
Twelve independent and moderate senators - six Democrats and six Republicans - spent much of last week trying to work out a deal to head off a nuclear showdown over judges.

They agreed on the basic approach. The Democrats would allow votes on a few of the blocked judicial nominees (Priscilla Owen, William Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown, I'm told). In exchange the Republicans would drop a couple of the nominees (probably Henry Saad and William Myers).

The Democrats would promise not to use the filibuster, except under extreme circumstances. The Republicans would promise not to exercise the nuclear option except under extreme circumstances.

That was the deal, and a very fair one, too.

In other words, to Brooks it is FAIR that the Senate Republicans sell out the CONSTITUTIONAL power of the President to nominate judges and fair that the President is forced by a militant minority to withdraw certain judicial nominations even though those nominations WOULD BE APPROVED if put to the full Senate.

Mr. Brooks is losing his logical capacity in the crucible of the Times.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Season-turning win?

Every baseball team that struggles but eventually pulls itself together will have some season-turning or signature win somewhere along the line. Houston had a couple after the All-Star Break that helped the Astros become playoff-caliber and the Yanks have usually had one that either started them rolling or helped define the regular-season high points.

In 1999, the Yanks staved off the BoSax after getting swept at home in September in part by coming back from a 5-2 deficit in Toronto in the 8th inning thanks to a baserunning trick by Ricky Ledee that saved an out and a three-run bomb by Bernie. In 2003, there were two: Pettitte beating the Red Sawx after the Yanks had stunk their way from 20-4 to 29-22 and Clemens finally getting his 300th just a few days after the Yanks were group-no-hit by the Astros.

This year, the season-turner COULD be today's win the Yanks pulled off against the Mess. Pavano had pitched 7 innings and allowed only 1 ER but ARod's error accounted for the difference in the Mess' 3-1 lead. The Yanks had not won a game when trailing after 7 all year, the Mess 'pen had the same pitchers lined up against the Yanks who had stopped them before Saturday's game was blown open, the Yanks lacked Jeter, Sheffield and Posada. Two errors and a double steal into the eighth, the Yanks had a prime opportunity: second and third, one out, ARod up with a chance to atone . . . he popped out. Three pitches later, Matsui was down 1-2 to Roberto Hernandez . . . then Matsui did what he often does best: came through in the clutch. His two-run single on what Hernandez said was the best pitch he threw Godzilla, followed by Bernie's key double to score Matsui = Yanks win a big comeback game against a decent team (the Mess play 10 games better than their final record when the Yanks are involved). 'Bout time.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Should extreme Leftists be allowed on the Supreme Court?

Edward Whelan in a new NRO feature, Bench Memos, points a howitzer at the heart of the contention that extremists should not be allowed on the Supreme Court.

Whelan brilliantly asks what would happen if a Democrat nominated a jurist for the Supreme Court who:
- expressed strong sympathy for constitutional rights to bigamy and prostitution
- attacked the Boy and Girl Scouts for perpetuating sexual stereotypes
- proposed abolishing Mother's and Father's Day with an androgynous Parent's Day
- advocated an end to single sex prisons
- supported court-ordered quotas to change the racial composition of a workforce even in the absence of any intentional discrimination on the the part of the employer but failed to hire a single black in his/her 50 person office even though the city in which he/she worked was majority black.

Surely the Republicans would have blocked someone with these views?

Well, as a matter of fact a Democrat did nominate such a jurist to the Supreme Court.

Bill Clinton. RUTH BADER GINSBURG. 1993.


(The source for the information in Whelan's report are “Report of Columbia Law School Equal Rights Advocacy Project: The Legal Status of Women under Federal Law,” co-authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brenda Feigen Fasteau in September 1974 and the transcript of Ginsburg’s confirmation hearing.)

I hope the 'centrist' Republican Senators who are negotiating with the Democrats for a 'deal' to allow most nominees to go through except those under 'extreme' or 'extraordinary' circumstances READ this. Any compromise that doesn't allow an up and down vote on each nominee OR allows the Democrats to have a pre-emptory challenge on a Supreme Court nominee is a capitulation pure and simple.

Your mind vitamin of the day

Victor Hanson discusses George W. Bush's accomplishments in the War on Terror from the perspective of "imagine that on September 12, 2001 he'd said he'd do all this" and comes to the ineluctable conclusion:
It is now time to concede it was not entirely a coincidence, and that President Bush was not a "Pink Panther"-like Inspector Clouseau who bumbled about the Middle East, overturned a few things and ended up accidentally accomplishing what legions of "experts" never could.

Journalistic Genetics: the Moran Brothers

These overachieving types are everywhere.

Yesterday, in response to a posting by Wongdoer, I lauded Terry Moran for being honest about the media's bias and anti-Bush slant on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. Moran is ABC's Chief White House Correspondent -- the top reporter post for ABC News.

His brother runs the Right Wing Nut House blog. Rick Moran is a dyed in the wool conservative. The Moran parents had 10 children including Terry and Rick. Click the link above for more.

Europeans with integrity

After living under Nazi/Commie domination for two generations, the Eastern Europeans generally have their priorities straight and are more than willing to call a dictatorial madman a dictatorial madman.

That's why two European Parliament members (a German and the former chancellor of Czech Republic under Havel) were expelled from Cuba, and Polish EU Parliamentarians were denied entry.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Monk's Lost Love for Star Wars Episode III

Yes, The Monk, the Monkette2B and some friends went to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith yesterday/today/midnight/whatever. As I noted earlier, The Monk has lost some love for the Star Wars franchise and with good reason: Return of the Jedi was the poorest of the prior batch and far surpasses the first two efforts in the prequel arc, which were (1) very poor and (2) bad.

Where does it rank? Star Wars itself gets an A because of what it is, even though it's not the best of the bunch. Empire gets an A as well. Return of the Jedi is worth a solid B to B+ because it had a satisfactory end to the series AND what is still the best space battle in movie history.

Phantom Menace was a C- movie and that may be kind; Clones was at best worth a C; Revenge gets a B-. With lowered expectations comes greater relative satisfaction.

So here's the good, bad, ugly and missed opportunities of Revenge of the Sith:

The Good: Ian McDiarmid, period. Also good: Yoda kicks a** again, some of the fights are great fun, Yoda fights Palpatine, Hayden Christiansen is much better after Anakin goes bad than when he struggled with his Dark Side/Light Side orientation, the last hour of the movie is solid stuff overall and is the one part of the three prequels that ties in with the original trilogy both in style, feel and quality.

The Bad: Samuel L. Jackson's portentiously droning Mace Windu -- he was absolutely awful. Notably weak: the Jedi other than Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Yoda and Anakin. They were all taken out like suckers. The mystique of the Jedi suffers a lot in this film because most of them seem like just ordinary soldiers with light sabers. Other bad: Natalie Portman's acting, much of the dialogue throughout the film, and surprisingly some of the special effects.

A.O. Scott, the NYTimes' top reviewer essentially said this movie showed Lucas was far ahead of even Peter Jackson in special effects production. Not true at all. First: the lizard steed Obi-Wan rides whilst chasing General Grievous (droid army leader) looks like a sprightly version of those Clash of the Titans monsters and only slightly more real. Second: the backgrounds on the lava planet where Anakin and Obi-Wan had their duel looked nearly as fake as they were. Jackson did a fantastic job integrating CGI effects (i.e., the Oliphaunts) with live action and did it consistently throughout 12 hours of CGI-heavy films.

The Ugly: Padme calls Anakin "Annie" on three occasions. If I wanna a cute woman macking on someone named Annie, I'll get Showtime for The L Word. Also ugly: the incoherent initial battle sequence as Anakin and Obi-Wan fly to save the Chancellor, the weak rolling thingamajig fight with Obi-Wan and General Grievous, and Anakin himself after losing to Obi-Wan.

Missed Opportunities: I probably don't have time to hit this category in full between now and the end of the month. But let's go with a few of them.

(1) Anakin's training -- the willful prodigy who grows to be the greatest Jedi before turning bad is an unexplored issue. The first movie could have concentrated on finding Anakin, his training inside the Jedi Temple, his innate abilities and his willfulness -- the first part in flash back, the rest in present day all with a rising conflict in the background (the trilogy was supposed to be Anakin's story, after all), greater use of Darth Maul, and an older and more versatile actor playing Anakin as a preteen to young teen instead of the kid who earned the moniker Mannequin Skywalker for his poor performance. Indeed, Lucas could have cribbed a LOT from Ender's Game to make the prequels better.

(2) The Jedi mystique -- Jedi knights were legends of the Old Republic in the original trilogy. Defenders of the realm, they were the janissaries of the realm with power over the Force and tremendous physical abilities. But we never got a look into the Jedi Temple's inner workings, we never learned how they obtained their exalted status or whether they were in decline when Anakin turned to the Dark Side. Instead, Lucas basically uses prostheses and funky make-up to substitute for any actual insight into what made the Jedi masters and the knights great.

(3) Darth Maul and Qui-Gon -- two underused characters, especially the former. If the Sith were believed dead and destroyed as of Episode I, how did Maul become one and apprenticed to Darth Sidious? And go back one -- explain the rise of Darth Sidious and his master before him, etc.

There are more and more and more. Ultimately, starting the prequels with Anakin as a nine-year old kid, casting Jake Lloyd and rooting the first story in a goofy trade dispute set a disastrous tone for the prequels that could not be overcome. Revenge of the Sith is interesting in its own right, and the last hour would be brilliant flashback material for inclusion in a LONG version of Return of the Jedi, but the rest of the prequels are basically rubbish.

George Lucas ultimately failed where Peter Jackson succeeded brilliantly. Jackson took a beloved story, stayed true to its roots and loyal to the tale's core philosophy. And the Lord of the Rings movies are outstanding.

Lucas is another story: He took a beloved story, expanded it and made a hash of things. He failed the fans and failed the franchise. What's worse, the whole thing was his creation; ultimately, he failed himself.


I haven't seen Kingdom of Heaven yet and may wait for it to come on DVD or cable. However, I think the Monk is being unfair for lumping Troy with Kingdom of Heaven. (I haven't seen Alexander either but frankly expectations are very low given that the callow Colin Farrell is in the lead role. BTW, that would be a great way to kill the Bond franchise.)

For those of you who haven't seen it Troy is a very good, very entertaining movie. Yes, they made some changes to the mythology - the Trojan War is now 15 days instead of 10 years but it's a two hour movie not a miniseries. Also I don't remember a Briseis in the story though her addition did nothing to detract from the overall story.

The cast, with notable exception, was excellent. Brad Pitt is superb as a haughty, aloof and invincible Achilles and is completely credible in the fight scenes. [The womenfolk will swoon over him.] Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom are perfectly set as the serious, noble Hector and the carefree, careless Paris. Sean Bean does a very good, understated role as Odyesseus and old Braveheart hands Brian Cox and Brendan Gleeson reprise perfectly a calculating, megalomaniacal Agamemnon and his cuckolded brother Menelaus. Saffron Burrows is lovely and tragic as Andromache and Peter O'Toole fine as the aged, deluded Priam. The big disappointment was Helen Kruger, while pretty, is too new and far too bland to be Helen, the face who launched a thousand ships.

The sets of Troy were magnificent and battle scenes very well filmed. The approach of the Greek fleet to Troy and the opening battle gave a sense of the vastness of the Greek effort. For someone who knows the story well the sense of tragedy was well done and evident throughout the film.

Well worth your time folks.

Fox panders

Jay Nordlinger raps Mexico President Vicente Fox hard across the knuckles for his asinine apology to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I think he did make a silly remark and an apology would have been gracious but to whom:

So, Al Sharpton is going down for a meeting with Vicente Fox. Jesse Jackson has already beaten him to it — but Sharpton’s following suit (as he usually does with Jackson). The Mexican president, as you know, said something judged offensive to black Americans, and he phoned both Sharpton and Jackson to apologize. That’s covering your bases! Now the Rev. Al — like the Rev. Jesse — is milkin’ it, traveling down Mexico way.

You know what I’m unhappy about? If Fox insulted Americans, and had something to apologize for, he should have called George W. Bush: the president of the United States. I abhor this notion that we have Black America and White America, and that Jesse Jackson — or Al Sharpton, or the media mouth of the day — is president of the former.

No, Bush is president of all Americans, and he’s the one who should have received a phone call, if Fox needed to place it.

Now, if I were a conspiracy theorist I'd say this apology was a calculated slap to the President.

Today's Impromptus - which is always worthwhile - takes a whack at Charlie Rangel, on e of 22 Representatives who voted against a House resolution expressing solidarity with the Cuban opposition. Also he introduces Michael Gove, a young Conservative MP, who writes with impressive eloquence:

. . . Those Conservative values, which we abandon at our peril, are a belief in the maximum freedom for individuals, a recognition that wickedness should be countered by discipline, not therapy, and an acceptance that the price of progress is a patchwork world.

A belief in freedom is the beginning of my politics. Buried in my soul, at a level too deep to surrender, is my passionate dislike of coercion, conformity and collectivism. I think the inherent dignity of humans depends on the free exercise of their will, and efforts to curtail, corral or conscript for the sake of a greater good not only stifle the human spirit, but also generally fail to achieve the good proclaimed.

To my mind there is a beauty in the quirky, the eccentric, the divergent, which one never sees in uniformity. And underpinning my conviction is the knowledge that progress, from Socrates through Galileo to Václav Havel, has depended on the defiance of consensus, on those who dare to be Daniels. The enemy of progress is the doctrine of knowing your place, the principle that your identity comes from membership of a group, the edict which holds that permission must be sought before you can act in accordance with your instincts.

Maybe the party of Churchill and Thatcher isn't dead after all.

The media hates the military...and George W. Bush

TM: It comes from, I think, a huge gulf of misunderstanding, for which I lay plenty of blame on the media itself. There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor.

TM is Terry Moran, chief White House correspondent for ABC News. The bit above is from a transcript of an interview Moran did with Hugh Hewitt. Click the link for the whole interview, Moran was candid and there's some very good give-and-take with Hewitt. Another excerpt:

HH: Are there members of the White House Press Corps, Terry, who actually hate Bush?

TM: I would say the answer to that is yes.

HH: And what percentage of them, do you think that amounts to?

TM: Uh, small, I would say, but some big fish.

HH: What's your guess about the percentage of the White House Press Corps that voted for Kerry?

TM: Oh, very high. Very, very high.

HH: 95%?

TM: Huh?

HH: 95%?

TM: No, I don't think that high. But I would certainly say, you know, it's hard for me, but I'd guess it's in...upwards of 70, maybe higher. You know, it's hard for me to say, but I would say very, very high.

So the $64,000 question is how can you really trust what the MSM writes about the military or the President?

HT as well to OpinionJournal who highlighted Moran's interview as well.