January 17 2003
MURRAY RETREATS: Senator Patty Murray pulled
out of a fundraiser scheduled to take place in Phoenix tonight
after conservative groups threatened to picket the event protesting
her recent comments about Osama bin Laden. Murray's spokesman
said she had to get back to DC for a big vote on the Senate
Appropriations Committee where, presumably, she can help spend
taxpayer money to build hospitals, day care centers and transit
systems - you know, the sort of humanitarian-type projects that
people are so revered for.......
BYRD: Speaking of people who are revered for spending other
people's money, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W. VA) was so upset over
efforts to block billions worth of additional spending yesterday
in the Senate he let go this eye-popper of a statement:
[President Bush] turned his back on his own country when he
turned down'' extra domestic security spending last year, said
Sen. Robert Byrd, who led the fight for extra funds. ''Let something
happen, and then see what the polls show.''
This is the
sort of response you'd expect from a teenager when daddy shuts
off the Visa Gold, but not from a sitting Senator speaking about
the President of the United States. I'm not sure which is worse,
implying President Bush is a traitor or offering up a political
threat in the event of another attack. These truly are tough days
for Democrats in the Senate.
DAY OFF: This story depresses
me. It seems like a no-brainer that the kids should go to
school on Monday and should spend the day reading and learning
about Martin Luther King, Jr. Isn't that a perfect way to celebrate
his legacy? I guess staying at home and watching TV or playing
video games is better way to honor Dr. King's memory. Shame on
the people who care more about symbolism than doing right by the
story is even more depressing than the last. A judge in Baltimore
frees the city's worst drug kingpin in history on a technicality
think there's an occasion where what's right is right, and I
don't think the community has the slightest bit of reason to
be concerned here."
are beside themselves. Whenever I see a story like this I get
the sinking feeling that we haven't heard the last of Mr. "Little
What's wrong with having
a Republican for a wife? Nothing, unless you're a Democrat
Carol Mosley-Braun won't
seek a rematch against Senator Peter Fitzgerald in Illinois.
Braun was seen as a virtual lock to win the primary, but would
have been considered an underdog against Fitzgerald who ousted
her in 1998. So what do one-term, scandal-plagued former Senators
do when they know they can't get reelected to office? They run
for President! At least that is what Braun is considering, according
to the Chicago Sun-Times. Actually, it's the only way back into
politics when you can't get yourself elected by the people: get
yourself selected as Vice President. Good luck, Carol. - T.
Bevan 7:06 am
January 16 2003
LIBERTIES: The ACLU released
a report yesterday that's worth a read. It's called "Bigger
Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance
Society." I've never been of the "our civil liberties
are under assault and John Ashcroft is shredding the Constitution"
persuasion, but you can't help but feel a sense of dread as the
report lays out possible surveillance scenarios, the growing variety
of data collections techniques and the like.
most Americans, myself included, want to strike a balance between
security and freedom. The question is whether our representatives
in government are capable of striking this balance effectively,
and whether the possible future consequences (either intended
or unintended) of finding this balance argue against seeking a
balance in the first place.
is one thing conservatives understand, it's that once you let
the government become involved in an issue it is impossible to
ever remove it. The best you can hope for is to curtail the slow
and steady march of further intrusion and trust that those in
power have the purest, most benign interests at heart.
arguing that the government shouldn't write laws regarding domestic
security, it should. But we are currently surrounded by a plethora
of complex legal and moral issues - from affirmative action, to
cloning, to domestic security - where we see the government involved,
constantly tinkering and calibrating its efforts to address real
and perceived injustices and threats.
recognize that achieving the perfect legislative calibration in
a dynamic, rapidly changing society like ours is impossible. Trying
to do so often results in half-a-loaf measures that create more
problems than they solve. Instead we should be setting strict
boundaries and limits, lines that everyone agrees we as a society
are not willing to cross. We should not legally discriminate against
any of our fellow citizens. We should never allow the cloning
of human beings. And while we should provide our government the
latitude to investigate possible threats, we shouldn't allow it
to collect and control personal data on all of its citizens and
FOR IRAQ: Fawaz Turki writes
an open letter in today's Arab News asking Saddam to seek
exile. Somehow I don't think he's going to take the advice - though
we all wish he would.
DEAL: It's done.
Jim Geraghty provides a littte behind-the-scenes
detail in NRO this morning.
TRIPLETS: Okay, maybe my title is a little unfair, but you
the gist. - T. Bevan
January 15 2003
'COUP' IN THE SENATE: Hugh
Hewitt has been on this story for days. It looks like the
rest of the mainstream media has finally caught on. Democrats
are refusing to organize in the new Senate session, effectively
blackmailing Republicans into getting a better deal on committee
financing. Dems won't give up the gavels until they get the money.
Carl Hulse has the details in today's
NY Times and Helen Dewar writes up the story in the Washington
Post. It's amazing the lengths to which the Dems are willing
to go to test the new Republican Senate Majority Leader.
John Breaux says Social Security reform isn't
going to get done any time soon. The earliest chance to overhaul
the system will probably come in 2005. Hopefully President Bush
will make it a high priority on his second-term agenda. Alas,
we'll have to endure another election cycle of rampant fear mongering
on the issue by Democrats who still haven't come up with a single
idea or proposal to fix the system.
V. LABOUR: Tony Blair is no Margaret Thatcher but you have
to respect the character and determination he's showing under
pressure from his own party. Even as Britain continues to
terrorist threats and people
die as a result of these threats, the British left is hardening
its antiwar position on Iraq. - T.
Bevan 7:50 am
January 14 2003
announced he's going to run for president as a "different
kind of Democrat." We'll have to wait and see what that means.
I had always liked and respected Lieberman until he turned himself
inside out on just about every issue to run alongside Gore in
2000. If you're wondering which issues I'm talking about, the
RNC issued a pretty comprehensive
list yesterday afternoon.
to forget Lieberman's performance during
the Florida fiasco where he repeatedly stepped in front of
the camera to distort and misrepresent. This included a wretched
turn on Meet the Press where Tim Russert asked Lieberman specifically
about the Gore camp's effort to disqualify military absentee ballots.
Despite numerous press reports confirming the tactic and the appearance
of a five-page smoking-gun memo from one of Gore's lawyers providing
specific instructions on how to go about disqualifying military
ballots, Lieberman answered:
me just say that the vice president and I would never authorize,
and would not tolerate, a campaign that was aimed specifically
at invalidating absentee ballots from members of our armed services."
may not have authorized the operation to disqualify military absentee
ballots, but he most certainly knew about it, tolerated it, and
chose to lie about it on national television.
I doubt this
statement will be addressed during the primary, but the clip of
Lieberman on MTP in 2000 could make a devastating :30 spot in
the general election.
STEAM?: A new CS
Monitor poll shows public urgency over the Iraqi threat waning.
Meanwhile, UN inspectors want nearly
another full year to complete inspections. By then, who knows
how the public will feel? Don't worry, it won't come to that,
Washington and London
understand the ultimate consequences of delay.
more reason the UN can't be taken seriously.
U of M:
It looks like the Bush administration is
set to oppose Michigan's affirmative action program that gives
students admission points based solely on their race. We all know
the reaction that will come when the briefs are officially filed
before the Supreme Court, but it's a fight that's worth fighting.
So is this
IT: Prosecutors in Illinois are already
working to put at least one murderer back on death row and
are seeking the death penalty in a couple of cases to be sentenced
in February. Despite the flaws in the Illinois death penalty system
it's hard to see how a serial killer and rapist like Andrew Urdiales
- with no apparent evidence indicating he was wrongfully convicted
- deserves to have his sentence commuted. - T.
Bevan 7:08 am
January 13 2003
ABUSE OF POWER: Over the weekend Illinois Governor George
Ryan made news (and a bit of history) by commuting
the death sentences of all 164 inmates on Illinois' death
row. Additionally, on Friday Ryan bestowed full pardons on four
other individuals, three of whom walked free that day.
a bit of the event live on Saturday. The word "spectacle"
barely begins to describe what I saw. A wildly enthusiastic crowd
in a small Northwestern University lecture hall applauded nearly
every word of Larry
Marshall, the director of Center on Wrongful Convictions at
NU's Law School, who heaped praise upon Ryan and his staff for
their courage and leadership. In a stunning fit of hyperbole Marshall
even managed to compare George Ryan - a man who has at least a
50/50 chance of being indicted upon leaving office this week for
involvement in a bribery scandal that ultimately led to the tragic
death of six children - to Nelson Mandela.
families and Illinois prosecutors are beside themselves with anger
over the decision. It's easy to understand why: try to get through
even a few of these profiles of death row inmates (Part
I & Part
II) without your blood beginning to boil or wondering how
you would feel if someone you loved was on the victims' list.
however, this isn't about emotion, it's about one man's willingness
to abuse a power bestowed upon him by the people to contravene
state law. Ryan was furious over the fact that the state legislature
- particularly his fellow Republicans - failed to act on the death
penalty reforms recommended by his blue-ribbon commission. In
addition to other
motivations, Ryan's decision to grant blanket commutations
instead of working the clemency process on a case-by-case basis
was undeniably driven by a desire to spite the legislature.
words, Ryan grossly misused his powers as Governor to settle a
political score. The legislature wouldn't do what he wanted, so
Governor Ryan took matters into his own hands. He proudly admitted
as much in his
speech on Saturday:
legislature couldn't reform it. Lawmakers won't repeal it. But
I will not stand for it."
of the death penalty agree that extraordinary measures should
be taken to insure the system works and doesn't execute the innocent.
But the fact that George Ryan's administration couldn't get those
reforms passed doesn't give him the right to singlehandly change
the state's legal system with regard to these 167 individuals
and undo decades of legal work, law enforcement and jury decisions.
PRESIDENT BUSH: There's been some recent (though not so serious)
about Jeb Bush's chances of running for President. Theoretically,
I guess it's possible, though no matter how likable or qualified
Jeb is and no matter how popular his brother might remain upon
leaving office, it's hard to imagine the idea of the public responding
favorably to a third President Bush in the near future. It just
seems a bit too monarchical for America to swallow.
guy, on the other hand, has a serious chance of being President.
The way the composition of the electorate is shifting, in fifteen
or twenty years he will be perfectly positioned to call on his
family legacy (not to mention the good looks) to seek high office
- barring some sort of crippling personal scandal. Smart money
is on George P. in 2024.
LOGIC: Anyone else struck by this statement buried deep in
Keller's column last Friday?
North Koreans have made a show of expelling international inspectors
and withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but
they have not repudiated their deal with us, the Agreed Framework."
an agreement tantamount to repudiating it? Perhaps there is a
semantic difference in the strictest sense of the words. Or maybe
Keller is making an oblique reference to the technical difference
between plutonium and uranium development - even though earlier
in the column he says that in the 1994 deal "North Korea
promised to put its nuclear program on hold and act nice."
the argument is ridiculous. Maybe Keller should try the same logic
with his wife: "Honey, just because you caught me in bed
with another woman doesn't mean I'm repudiating my marriage vows."
It just doesn't fly. - T.
Bevan 8:47 am