November 22, 2002
THE RACE TO THE LEFT: Man, it's just over two weeks from
the midterm elections and Al Gore is already overexposed. His
most recent interview
contains a collection of criticisms of the Bush administration
that is literally detached from reality.
on his web site two days ago Rich
Galen hypothesized the following:
Edwards of North Carolina will run as far to the left as necessary
because he is not interested in running for reelection to the
Senate from the Tar Heel state, thus leaving Kerry as the de
facto moderate in the race."
As if on
cue, Edwards came
out yesterday blasting the Bush administration for underfunding
education (apparently the spending increases on education passed
last year are woefully inadequate) and outlining a "College for
Everyone Plan" which includes a free year of school in exchange
for an undetermined amount of community service. In a nutshell,
Edwards' vision for education: more money, no vouchers. Gee, I
wonder if the teachers unions are going to be okay with this......
And as this
article shows, the race to the left is only beginning for
the entire Democrat presidential hopeful field - with the exception
of Al Sharpton who already makes Karl Marx look like a moderate.
Gore has already made it to the left of Howard Dean on healthcare
- which is no small feat - and it's going to be interesting watching
these guys try to "out left" each other on the environment,
the war, prescription drugs, and on down the list. Since the general
electorate is nowhere near as liberal as the Dem presidential
posse, the trick is to make sure all of the lefty rhetoric and
proposals are enough to fire up the base but also leave enough
wiggle room for the eventual nominee to start crawling somewhere
back to the middle as soon as the primaries are over. The more
heated the primary battle, the tougher that task is going to be.
IMPERIALISM: Responding to yesterday's post of Ruth Rosen's
article (see PRO-PRO-PRO CHOICE below) a reader sends this
piece. Even if you disagree with the argument, it's a thoughtful,
interesting take on how the West approaches the concept of "international
November 21, 2002
GETTING TO KNOW CONDI: A group of African-American columnists
recently sat down to interview Condoleezza Rice. Guess what? They
were impressed. Give credit to Sheryl
McCarthy of Newsday and even the excessively vituperate Derek
Jackson of the Boston Globe for publishing columns praising
Condi's intelligence, drive and, most importantly, recognizing
and respecting her right to hold views different from their own
without resorting to the reflexive "Uncle Tom," "sell-out",
"house slave" rhetoric so characteristic among liberal
African-Americans. Now when can we get a sit down with Clarence
YOU HEARD?: Seumas Milne has reached what could be the apex
of liberal antiwar blather in his
article in the Guardian today. He asserts that "western
politicians are having to face the fact that they are losing their
war on terror" and indeed it is a war we cannot win militarily.
Here are the money excerpts:
nature, terrorist or guerrilla campaigns which have deep social
roots and draw on a widespread sense of injustice - as militant
Islamist groups do, regardless of the obscurantism of their
ideology - cannot be defeated militarily.
grievances al-Qaida is able to feed on throughout the Muslim
world were once again spelled out in Bin Laden's latest edict.
But there is little sign of any weakening of the wilful western
refusal to address seriously the causes of Islamist terrorism.
It was only
a matter of time, regardless of any success in the War on Terror,
before the root cause argument resurfaced with vim and vigor.
But it's laughable nonetheless to posit that the War on Terror
is a "complete failure" or that the Western world would
in a better position today if we hadn't toppled the Taliban and
had instead spent the last 14 months trying to placate bin Laden
and remedy the perceived "injustices" felt by militant
Here's a rather hysterical
piece by Ruth Rosen, pleading for young women to join the
battle against the evil Bush administration before they can repeal
Roe v. Wade and throw all abortion providers in jail. I was struck
by Rosen's characterization as abortion on demand as an "essential
component of women's health."
PLEASE BASH TOM DELAY?: Ellen Goodman is
pissed that Tom Delay is getting a free ride in the media.
Who knew The Economist was sexist?
TO BOB: Bret
Stephens is probably one of the best, yet least known columnists
around. Today he pays a tribute to Bob Bartley, outgoing editor
of the WSJ.
AND WHITE: This has nothing to do with politics, but I couldn't
resist posting it anyway. You may or may not have heard (unless
you live here in Chicago in which case you definitely know) that
Michael Jordan has been involved in a legal/paternity dispute
with a former mistress. But according to Mary
Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times, the horror of horrors isn't
MJ's infidelity - "black women forgive almost anything"
- it's that he cheated with a white woman. Mitchell even goes
so far as to say that race played a role in Jordan's handling
of the matter:
yet, Jordan admitted that he paid Knafel $250,000 to keep silent
about the affair. Now, maybe he would have paid a black lover
the same amount, but I doubt it. In fact, I'm willing to bet
the only thing a black woman would have gotten under these circumstances
was a "too bad" and free tickets to Bulls games.
affront to black women everywhere and to Michael Jordan's dignity.
I'm sure he would have paid the same amount to silence any woman
he knocked up (or thought he knocked up) while married just to
protect his image.
November 20, 2002
THE NEW DEPT: It's done.
Yesterday the Senate passed the bill authorizing the establishment
of a new Department of Homeland Security. (By the way, notice
the NY Times headline that includes the vote total 90-9 as if
to say, "See, Democrats are for Homeland Security, too!")
this new bureaucracy actually make the homeland more secure? Perhaps
a little. The meat of the job still lies with the usual suspects
- the FBI and CIA - and their ability to gather and share information.
They aren't included in the new department so it's tough to say
how much improvement we can expect.
me wrong, I'm not against the Department of Homeland Security.
I think a huge reshuffling of the government bureaucracy is a
good thing, not only because shaking things up will invariably
promote new ideas and serve to refocus the energy of government
in the proper direction (i.e. protecting its citizens) but also
because it will help provide a tangible sign to the American public
that the government is responding to their concerns.
Brown argues that mass immigration from third world countries
"will alter dramatically the shape of Britain and the world,
in almost all ways for the worse." Brown tackles a number
of arguments but fails to touch on the issue of national security,
a more and more critical component of immigration policies of
the West. Whatever your views, it's a piece worth reading.
ONE: A brief mention of Paul
Krugman's column yesterday, the one that had Josh
Marshall fawning over "why Krugman is so important in
today's media ecosystem." First, while I am generally in
favor of privatization of the government workforce, I think Krugman's
concerns over 1) exactly how much money this would save and 2)
the potential reemergence of a spoils system are valid and shouldn't
just be dismissed as liberal red herrings.
is the cynical lens through which Krugman, Marshall and the rest
on the left view the proposal of ANY new idea or policy which
doesn't fit comfortably within their worldview. Liberals don't
want to go to war with Iraq so they float the bogus argument that
it's all about Bush and oil. The War on Terror and the issue of
Homeland Security? They're just the Boy Emperor's political tools
to distract attention from the economy. Tax cuts? Why they're
just a payoff to Bush's rich buddies, of course. The list goes
current incarnation is that the idea to privatize part of the
government workforce couldn't possibly have any true merit, it's
just another example of Bush attempting to manipulate the structure
of government to his personal political advantage and demolish
a base Democrat constituency. Would Krugman have assigned the
same cynical motivations if Bill Clinton had proposed such a plan?
I doubt it.
TWO: It's actually been refreshing to open up Maureen Dowd's
columns and not have to sift through 800 words worth of vicious,
ad hominem attacks on President Bush twice every week. Sure, she
takes a little slap at Bush today (you didn't expect her to
quit cold turkey, did you?) saying:
must rankle bin Laden to see Mr. Bush striding the globe as
Top Gun, a suddenly unstoppable cowboy who soared in the midterm
elections by threatening the evildoer his father easily defeated
and eclipsing the evildoer who transformed his presidency."
the biggest problem with Dowd's columns lately is that they just
really aren't very funny or insightful - not that they've ever
been that way to begin with. Recounting her escapades at a shopping
mall in Riyadh isn't high art or drama, it's a waste of ink. Give
it to somebody else who is serious and has something important
to say. - TB 10:55 am
November 19, 2002
TRIB MISTAKE: I wanted to comment
article yesterday but didn't have a chance. Salim Muwakkil
is an editor at In
These Times and a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune.
For those of you who don't know, In These Times is a small, hard-left
magazine published out of Chicago that (according to their web
site) "has provided groundbreaking coverage of the labor
movement, environment, feminism, grassroots politics, minority
communities and the media." The Chicago Tribune, on the other
hand, is the 7th largest paper in the United States with a daily
circulation of more than 600,000 (as of 9/01) and a reputation
for being "balanced" - though that's certainly a relative
distinction and depends upon your perspective.
So what to
make of Mr. Muwakkil's paean to Cynthia McKinney? It's a tribute
that included this not-so-subtle swipe at Jews:
doesn't fit the insurgent image the media delights in portraying.
But in a nation besotted with propaganda favoring Israel's right-wing
government, McKinney's balanced positions seem radical."
This is followed
by a line which lauds McKinney for her "skepticism"
but makes no reference to the former Congresswoman's outlandish
accusation that the Bush administration knew in advance about
the 9/11 attacks:
skepticism of the Bush administration's global belligerence
rankles a public nurtured on a steady diet of pious patriotism."
troublesome love of country is always getting in the way. Muwakkil
seems to be trying to make the argument that only those aren't
patriotic are able to see things "as they really are."
wrong with a paper wanting to have a number of different views
represented on its back page, especially in a city as large and
diverse as Chicago. But I think the Tribune editors did the paper
(and the city) a disservice by letting this misguided piece out
the door. - TB 7:49am
November 18, 2002
MEET THE PRESS: Nancy Pelosi
had her big coming out party with Tim Russert yesterday. Michael
Crowley over at TNR wasn't
too impressed. I have to concur. Pelosi stuttered, stammered
and looked woefully unprepared to articulate answers to questions
she should have easily anticipated. She didn't provide anything
substantive on questions of war or the economy, other than alluding
to the fact that the Dems are in the process of getting their
I was willing to cut Pelosi some slack because she was obviously
nervous and it was, after all, her first big-time interview since
being elected Minority Leader. But the more I watched I kept thinking,
"she really doesn't have a clue what she's trying to accomplish
in this interview."
Is this really
the best person for the Dems to have in the spotlight? She may
be a talented politician. She may be a decent organizer, and on
and on. But as a spokesperson for the party she's got a lot of
improving to do and not a lot of time to do it. There are a number
of House Democrats better equipped to deliver the message to the
American public than Pelosi and I don't fully buy the argument
that 1) the out of power party needs a "radical" to
energize and organize the base or 2) the Minority Leader won't
be a leading face of the party over the next two years. These
days the messenger is almost as important as the message.
debate between Landrieu and Terrell was also good theater. Right
off the bat Terrell got caught in the now infamous "Russert
Trap" over the issue of which "tax increases" she
wanted to repeal and how much money that would save. Terrell was
unable to cite a number which produced a very Bill McBride-like
did a good job of pounding the message that she's a moderate and
she got some nice help from Russert when he asked Terrell whether
John Breaux represented "Louisiana values" and, if so,
didn't that mean Landrieu represents 90% of Louisiana values since
she's voted the same as Breaux 90% of the time in the Senate.
the big news, however, was Terrell coming out in favor of a Constitutional
amendment banning abortion. Russert sped quickly to the "so
you want to throw doctors in jail?" follow up, which Terrell
stumbled over a bit. I'm sure the folks at NARAL and NOW, after
wiping the drool from their chins, went straight into the studio
and converted the clip into a scary 30 second commercial complete
with an ominous sound track and close ups of Justice Scalia .
But given the conservative nature of Louisiana it's not at all
clear that this will work to Landrieu's advantage - perhaps just
the opposite. And indeed Landrieu fell all over herself yesterday
to voice favor for a number of abortion restrictions, including
a ban on partial birth abortions. I think it's fair to assume
that while abortion didn't play a major role in any of the 2002
Senate races it's probably going to play a role in this one. -