November 21 2003
NO DOUBTS, NO FEARS: Could there have been any more of a contrast
yesterday between the
leaders of two free, peaceful nations standing before a group
of skeptical reporters, speaking passionately about the values
and rights of man while thousands of miles away the Turks were
through the rubble and shattered bodies created by terrorist
yesterday should remind all of us exactly what is at stake. Whether
you believe in the fundamental cause for action in Iraq or not,
expansion of terrorism at the hands of radical Islamists is
impossible to ignore or rationalize away. We are faced with an
enemy that knows no boundaries, geographical or moral, and will
stop at nothing to continue to inflict suffering on the innocent
peoples of the world.
We can argue
strategy, we can argue tactics. But we can't argue the basic truth
that this is a struggle against evil that must be pursued with
every resource at our command, and every piece of determination
we, as free people, can muster.
OF LILEKS: I can hardly imagine a fate worse than being fisked
by James Lileks. The last item in today's
Bleat gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.
BUSH ON THE BALLOT: Here's a laugher. Republican lawmakers
in Illinois scrambled
yesterday to get President Bush's name on the ballot for next
says presidential candidates must be certified by late August,
but this is impossible given that the GOP pushed their convention
date back to the first week of September. Oops.
To get the
deal done Republicans in the House had to agree to two things.
First, they had to waive more than $900,000 in election fines
- nearly all of them levied against Democrat Secretary of State
Jesse White. Second, they had to agree that in next year's elections,
any paper ballots containing "dimpled" or "hanging"
chads are counted as yes votes for a candidate. Sound familiar?
ironic twist. The bill now moves into the Senate where it will
be considered along with a high-profile ethics bill. Some Republicans
are threatening to scuttle the deal:
day we pass the most historic ethics package this General Assembly
has ever seen, we won't waive fines for candidates who can't
follow the law," said Patty Schuh, a spokeswoman for Senate
Minority Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville). "It's ludicrous."
I'm not sure
Illinois will truly be in play for Bush next year, but it would
certainly be a disaster to not have him on the ballot. Stay tuned
to see what happens. - T.
Bevan 7:49 am
November 20 2003
KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR MEDISCARE: This Medicare thing has
really put Democrats in a pickle. They're staging
from the AARP, doing whatever they can to stop seniors from
receiving a massive $400 billion increase in the Medicare program
over the next 10 years. Think about that for a second.
One of the
Dems' main objections to the bill is the provision allowing private
health providers to compete with Medicare. But as the bill stands,
this is going to be tested in only six cities. And it won't start
for another 7 years. These are pretty meager changes to a system
that everyone agrees is woefully outdated and failing financially.
these modest changes are still too much for the Dems to stomach,
which begs the question: at what point would the Dems accept even
the slightest reforms to Medicare? What if the bill came out of
conference at $800 billion, or even $1 trillion over ten years?
we know the answer. With the AARP's
endorsement of the bill, maybe America's seniors will also
finally realize that the Dems are (and have been for a long, long
time) much more interested in winning elections than getting meaningful
legislation done on their behalf.
is that, from a conservative perspective, this bill a complete
disaster. It's 99% of what Democrats want, and have wanted for
years. Yet Republicans are going to hold their noses and vote
for the largest increase in Medicare since it was established
in 1965 (which will create its own political fallout as Bob
Novak writes today) while Democrats are going to set new lows
demagoguing the issue in hopes of holding together one of their
most vital constituencies.
TRUST THE LA TIMES?: Fifty-four
percent approval rating for President Bush.
DEAN MISTAKE: How do you like that? He's for higher taxes
parts of the American economy.
Postrel for calling Dean "the thinking man's Bustamante"
and for saying of Dean's plan:
specifics are all rather vague, but the underlying attitude
is clear. Dean is running as a guy who wants to control the
economy from Washington and who sees business as fundamentally
bad. "Any business that offers stock options" covers a lot of
companies, including some of the economy's most promising and
tends to be relatively invisible to the general public, in part
because it's mind-numbingly technical. That makes it much more
difficult to reverse, much easier for interest groups to manipulate,
and much more dangerous to the general health of the economy
than the taxing and spending that attract attention from pundits.
rivals piled on - which they should. Not only is this bad
policy, it's bad politics and it enhances the big government,
tax-and-spend image of the Democratic party. How many mistakes
does Howard Dean get to make before he pays a price?
On the bright
side for Dean, another Dem candidate said something so outrageous
yesterday that it may make his re-regulation comments look good
by comparison. According to the Washington
Post this morning:
presidential candidate Dennis J. Kucinich said yesterday that
U.S. military action against Afghanistan in response to the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was not justified and has
proved to be a "disaster" and a "nightmare."
called back two hours later to "clarify" his remarks.
difference between Kucinich and Dean is that the former is a pacifist
from the loopy-left of the party with no hope of being elected
and the latter is the front-runner and the presumptive nominee
of the party. Still, taken together, it's clear this group of
candidates is not doing themselves or their party any favors right
now. - T. Bevan 8:42
November 18 2003
NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS: Fifty-seven percent approval
rating for President Bush in the ABC/WaPo
poll released yesterday, only 50% approval rating in the USA
Today/CNN/Gallup poll out this morning. Both numbers are virtually
identical to the last polls taken by each group.
In the national
Dem horse race, USAT/CNN/Gallup
has Wes Clark picking up three points to tie Howard Dean for the
lead at 16%. Everyone else was basically static, except for John
Edwards who lost nearly half his support, sinking to 5% from 9%.
said before, the national polls on the Dem race are fun to look
at but basically meaningless. The state polls tell the real story,
this one released yesterday by Marist College on the race
in New Hampshire: Howard Dean has a 21-point lead over nearest
rival John Kerry (44%-23%). According to the press release, Wes
Clark has lost ground since the last poll and is running in the
CLINTON STRATEGY: Despite Howard Dean's seemingly unstoppable
march to the nomination, Wes Clark's folks insist the race is
far from over. They point to Bill Clinton's position in 1992 (he
was polling at an anemic 2% in New Hampshire at this point) as
a precedent. If they can just keep the race alive until the focus
shifts south on February 3, Clark may have a chance.
Dean is nowhere in the South," said Clark spokesman Matt
Bennett. So true. And Clark is leading in the latest
ARG poll out of South Carolina.
But the race
may well be over by the time voting starts in SC. If you believe
Rothenberg and David Yepsen, the race ended last week with
Dean winning the support of AFSCME
strategy to have a fighting chance, he's going to need some help.
First, he'll need Gephardt to hold off Dean in Iowa, which is
still a very real possibility. Second, he'll want to see John
Kerry's campaign continue to disintegrate, giving Clark
a chance to improve his finish in New Hampshire. Even though
Kerry voters overlap more with Dean and will probably migrate
to his camp and not Clark's, it's a big boost for Clark if he
can say he finished second in New Hampshire as opposed to third
or fourth - even if he still runs twenty or thirty points behind
the victorious Dean.
the plan. Is it a good plan? Not really, but it's about as good
of a plan as any of the candidates have at this point in the race
with Clark (and I'm not part of the Dem base so take this for
what it's worth) is that in addition to being a political neophyte,
he lacks Dean's authenticity. It's more or less the same
point I made about John Kerry last week. Clark may have a
more attractive resume to some in the party, but parts of that
same resume make him come across as a craven opportunist.
If this somehow
does get down to a two-man race, Dean will beat Clark's brains
in over his past support of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. As long
as Clark's record remains at issue (his shifting support of the
war, questions about his "character and integrity",
etc.) Dean's going to have the upper hand. This strategy may not
work in South Carolina or Oklahoma, but there is a high probability
it will work with enough people who control the nominating process
in enough places around the country to give Dean the nomination.
- T. Bevan 9:27 am
November 17 2003
THE NOSTALGIA OF THE LEFT:
Josh Marshall took some criticism (a jaw dropper for you I'm sure)
over recent comments regarding the strained relations between
the U.S. and South Korea. He responded with this
long post summing up the Bush administration's handling of
the North Korea crisis. Josh finished, as he is normally wont
to do, with this catchy, if somewhat snide rejoinder:
president loaded us all into the family van, revved the thing
up to 70 MPH, and slammed us into a brick wall called Reality."
Now, we all
know Josh is a bright guy, which is why those of us who read him
regularly should be concerned that in his recounting of the episode
with North Korea, he describes the 1994 Agreed Framework as:
our deal to give the Koreans various stuff if they would shutter
their plutonium-based drive for nuclear weapons.
imperfect and requiring revision, this approach was widely supported
by our allies and sometime-allies in the region. Bill Clinton
supported it. Colin Powell supported it, and wanted to continue
it. But the White House didn’t support it. And it got
deep-sixed for that reason.
and requiring revision." That's it? That's setting a pretty
low bar for describing a policy we now know was a complete and
is that right about the time Albright, Clinton, and Carter were
celebrating the Agreed Framework as the solution to the North
Korean nuclear problem, Pyongyang was filing those same papers
under the heading of "public relations victories" and
going right back to the business of making nukes. Criticize the
President and his policy all you want, but can't we at least agree
on the basic facts?
Have we come
full circle back to an "imperfect" policy with respect
to North Korea? The answer is probably more or less "yes"
- but with an important exception. We've confronted Pyongyang
on their violations and - even though the process has been a long
and arduous one - we have brought to bear the influence of the
Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans and Russians on the issue and
laid down markers for "verifiable
and irreversible" dismantling of the North Korean nuclear
weapons programs. This time there will be no assuming that North
Korea is upholding its end of the bargain, and no looking the
other way if they don't.
larger context here that continues to baffle me. Clearly, September
11 shattered many illusions we had as a country and proved beyond
a doubt that the world is a very dangerous place. But
every day since 9/11 a rift has been growing in the country between
those (generally on the right) who still think there are real
and present dangers abroad that need to be battled aggressively
and those (generally on the left) who think the real and growing
danger isn't rogue regimes or terrorists overseas but a "unilateral,
imperialist" President at home. To the political left, Bush
isn't reacting to danger, he's creating it.
striking about this theme that continues to spread throughout
the left is that it's accompanied by a call to return to pre-September
11 policies with little or no recognition of their failure or
contribution to the circumstances we now find ourselves in (see
This is not
a "blame it all on Clinton" argument. To the contrary,
the point I'm trying to make is that there is a lingering nostalgia
for the Clinton years coming from those on the left that amounts
to an almost head-in-the-sand mentality when trying to deal with
a post 9/11 world.
is just one example. Iraq is obviously another. Implicit in the
left's attacks on Bush over Iraq is the idea that the status quo
(i.e. leaving in place a murderous tyrant with a penchant for
WMD's and an affiliation - at the very least - to various terrorist
groups) was just fine.
desire to return to the framework of the UN, which did a wonderful
job of producing resolutions during the Clinton years, is another
example. Bashing Bush over failures in the intelligence community
and the administration's interpretation (or misinterpretation)
of that intelligence. Ranting about the Patriot Act without acknowledging
the serious problems it tried to remedy. The list goes on.
on Bush, every call to pull back or to return to some past policy
comes without the acknowledgement - one which I think the public
wants from elected leaders today - that the world is, in fact,
a different place than it was on September 10, 2001 and that we
need to be doing things differently to deal with it. While I hear
lots of nostalgia coming from the left, I don't really hear anything
different. -T. Bevan 9:18