February 22 2003
WELL, THAT WAS QUICK: The troops haven't even hit the ground
in the Philippines and The Los Angeles Times has already produced
the obligatory "quagmire" piece. In an article titled
Could Face a Swamp in Philippines," John Hendron writes:
stepped-up role raises concerns of escalating involvement that
have dogged the Pentagon since the Vietnam War, when an advisory
mission eventually grew into a deployment of hundreds of thousands
of U.S. soldiers.
so predictable these days....
AL-QAEDA, & NORTH KOREA: This piece
from MEMRI is a must read. For anyone who doesn't have their
head stuck in the sand, it's just more evidence that the Axis
of Evil exists and is a growing threat to the U.S. and the world.
IN THE BREEZE: Editor & Publisher has been surveying
editorial pages at the top 50 newspapers (by circulation)
in America over their position on the war. Their results confirm
what we've seen here at RCP over the last few weeks:
the first two E&P surveys (Jan. 20 and Jan. 31) documented that
a majority of the top 50 newspapers (by circulation) opposed
President Bush's desire for a quick invasion, on various grounds,
a third survey conducted Feb. 7, immediately after Colin Powell's
presentation to the U.N., charted a dramatic shift. Several
previous critics of invasion suddenly espoused pro-war views.
E&P identified and charted three groups: very pro-war, severely
skeptical, and the cautious (but not necessarily opposed to
latest survey, the composition of the groups has not only shifted
somewhat but a persistent condition for going to war has emerged.
37 papers publishing editorials on Iraq between Feb 15. and
Feb. 19, the hawks numbered 15 and doves 9, while the cautious
camp became solidly internationalist. Some that once reluctantly
accepted a quick war for different reasons are now calling for
any invasion to be backed by a stronger world coalition or with
the full support of the United Nations Security Council -- a
noteworthy condition at a time when the U.N. appears deeply
fractured. Thirteen papers now occupy this middle ground, meaning
that almost two-third's of the total sample oppose any war for
the time being.
a majority of editorial pages at major US newspapers 1) originally
staked out antiwar positions 2) were convinced enough by Colin
Powell's presentation on February 5 to change their views and
3) fell back into the antiwar or "internationalist"
camp after the UN Security Council meeting on February 14.
this trajectory in paper after paper - even though it makes little
sense. How can Powell's argument be compelling enough to create
a major shift in the editorial community on February 5, only to
see them shift again in less than two weeks? It should also be
noted this shift occurred absent ANY new, significant proof of
Iraqi cooperation with inspections.
writers really that fickle? Or did de Villepin's rhetoric on Valentine's
Day provide enough of an excuse for editorial writers to dismiss
and discard Powell's facts and return safely to their original
antiwar positions? - T.
Bevan 9:15 am
February 21 2003
A BAZAAR: If you add
up the numbers in this story from the Times of London, the
U.S. will be dishing out upwards of $50 billion in "direct
assistance" just to get countries on board with the war effort
before the first shot is fired.
As we work
diligently inside the hallowed halls of the United Nations to
fashion another Security Council resolution (as if this new piece
of paper will magically confer some moral authority lacking in
the previous seventeen resolutions), outside in the real world
we are being taken to the cleaners.
course, is setting the standard of this money-grubbing free for
all, seeking to push the current US offer of $26 billion to more
than $30 billion. Think about that number. It's more than we've
spent so far to excavate what used to be the World Trade Center
towers and to rebuild New York City.
three non-permanent members of the UNSC (Angola, Cameroon and
Guinea) are currently
in Paris proclaiming their solidarity against the war with
French President Jaques Chirac, but continue to haggle for dollars
with the United States on the side.
I suppose, just part of the process of organizing any war effort,
though it's distasteful to watch and should convince any doubters
that despite moral protestations to the contrary, the struggle
over Iraq is all about national self-interest. In the case of
the United States, that interest is national security and the
protection of its citizens. And at least an intended byproduct
of our effort will be to liberate the Iraqi people. I'll leave
it up to you to speculate on the interests of France and the rest.
OF EUROPE: Of course, I can't mention Jaques Chirac without
pointing out that despite his busy schedule organizing protection
for Saddam Hussein and lecturing the United States about the immorality
of war, he's
found time to entertain and meet privately with the Butcher
of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, in Paris this week. Messieur Chirac
demonstrates once again he's got a little soft spot for murderous
tyrants who brutally oppress their people. The French must be
Donna Brazile gets some
serious ink in today's New York Times. This comes on the heels
of her widely noted interview
with the Washington Times on Wednesday where she voiced concerns
that Democrats are losing African-American votes to the GOP. Here's
a quote from Katharine Seeyle's article today:
said her party was more preoccupied with appealing to white
men, 37 percent of whom vote Democratic, than to black women,
95 percent of whom vote Democratic. And yet, she said, the party
counts on black women to show up on Election Day.
I think Brazile's
concerns are well-founded, but the problem Democrats face is twofold.
First, for years Democrats have been well beyond the point of
diminishing returns with respect to African-American voters. In
other words, Democrats have consistently received 90%+ of the
black vote and it makes no sense for them to spend valuable resources
to try attract another one or two percent of the African-American
vote. It simply won't make a difference.
Democrats take African-Americans for granted, why wouldn't they?
African-Americans have allowed themselves to be taken for granted
by blindly voting as a bloc for Democrat candidates. For Democrats
to be competitive in future elections they will absolutely need
to expand their base among whites, particularly men, without losing
a significant portion of the black vote. It's going to be a tough
balance to strike as the years go by.
attempts to demonize Republicans as racist are sounding more and
more outdated, especially as significant numbers of African-Americans
continue to make their way into the middle class. Issues like
tax cuts, school choice, and less intrusive government resonate
with middle-class voters, regardless of their race. Unless Democrats
come up with new ideas to address this socioeconomic shift, their
strong bond with the African-American community, which is based
in large part upon emotion, will most likely continue to dissipate.
Why people hate
lawyers. - T.
Bevan 8:34 am
February 20 2003
WATCH: The Latino
Coalition is one of the major Hispanic groups supporting Miguel
Estrada. (For the record, the others are the Hispanic
National Bar Association, LULAC,
The Hispanic Business Roundtable
and the US Hispanic Chamber of
is a copy
of an ad the Latino Coalition recently ran in Roll Call. Yesterday
coalition announced they will put television ads supporting
Estrada on air in Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida and the District
of Columbia. President Bush also went
on Spanish language television yesterday to blast Dems for
holding up a vote on Estrada.
Democrats say they have 44 votes and will hold firm. But, as Byron
York reported yesterday in his
piece for The Hill, the players in this drama are exploring
a few behind-the-scenes scenarios to break the impasse.
had better hurry. The longer this fiasco goes on and the more
public it becomes, the worse it will be for them. For every registered
Democrat Hispanic voter they whip into a frenzy by calling Estrada
a "Latino Clarence Thomas" the Dems will alienate two
or three more moderate and independent Hispanic voters they otherwise
would have won.
DEJA VU: This whole presidential declaration thing is weird.
I could have sworn Dick
Gephardt officially announced his candidacy weeks ago, but
I guess that was just the pre-announcement announcement. It sort
of took the edge off of an otherwise boilerplate event.
announcement added a couple new twists to his standard "my-daddy-was-a-milk-truck-driver"
stump speech that he's used to court labor unions for the
last two decades. In addition to assailing President Bush on a
whole host of issues, Gephardt tried to tackle the class warfare
issue head on:
already know what the other party will say. They'll say I'm
practicing 'class warfare' by opposing their tax giveaways for
the wealthy, their endless procession of loopholes for the special-interests
to jump through.
me tell you: the real class warfare is a President who thinks
it's okay to eliminate taxes on stock dividends, while shifting
the tax burden onto middle-class families."
All in all,
pretty predictable stuff.
The one thing
that did jump out of Gephardt's speech was a tiny piece at the
end where he put the spin on his experience and took a not-so-subtle
slap at his biggest potential rivals in the all-important (at
least for Gephardt anyway) Iowa primary::
not going to say what's fashionable in our politics — that I'm
a Washington outsider, that I couldn't find the nation's capitol
on a map, that I have no experience in the highest levels of
government. I do, and I think experience matters. It's what
our nation needs right now.
not the political flavor of the month. I'm not the flashiest
candidate around. But the fight for working families is in my
bones. It's where I come from; it's been my life's work."
Howard Dean and John Edwards! Gephardt's explicit support of the
war effort puts him on thin ice in Iowa and without a strong showing
there his candidacy will be in serious trouble by the time he
touches down in Manchester.
NOTE: Many of you may have noticed that we've experienced
some technical difficulties in the last 48 hours and yes, it was
due to the blizzard. However, we've been told everything is back
to normal and we fully expect to be running smoothly from here
on out. Shoot us an
email if you run into any issues with RCP's functionality.
- T. Bevan
February 18 2003
NYT OP-ED PAGE DOES IT AGAIN: Despite the frequent complaints
(many of which originate in the blogosphere) of front page editorializing
and silly mistakes, the New York Times is still a great paper.
Few newspapers can match the depth and breadth of The Times' coverage,
as well as the quality of its reporting. Given all of this, it's
fair to expect the Times' op-ed page would also be one of the
best in the country and, even with an unashamedly liberal ideological
perspective, would advance thoughtful, cogent, and well written
arguments using a roster of competent columnists.
the page is a complete disaster. It's Maureen Dowd comparing world
affairs to the latest Sex in the City episode twice every week
and a predictable stream of emotional, hate-filled, anti-Bush
rants from Bob Herbert. Let me stop here for a moment to give
Tom Friedman and Bill Safire their due, you may not agree with
everything they write but it's impossible to characterize their
work as silly. Not so Paul Krugman.
me to today's offerings. Krugman and Nick Kristof shed any hint
of intellectual seriousness and run naked through the daisies
in their columns this morning.
argues that the American media, but Fox News and CNN in particular,
have decided "not to present a mix of information that might
call the justification for war into question" for fear of
being labeled unpatriotic. Instead, the networks have decided
its their job to "prepare" and "sell" the
coming war with Iraq to the American public.
calls President Bush a foreign policy idealist, saying that
he is showing a "cavalier obtuseness to practical consequences"
of his policies. To make the point, Kristof even goes so far to
say that Bush's pro-life beliefs and policies are killing people:
upshot is that women and babies are dying in Africa because
of Mr. Bush's idealism.
answer is for pro-life people to support abortion policies, for
Bush to abandon pursuing a tough, multilateral solution and "engage"
directly with North Korea, to negotiate with Yasir Arafat, and
to forego the threat of military force as a means of enforcing
the will of the international community on Iraq.
suggests that Bush model himself after one of the most ineffectual
leaders of all time - Jimmy Carter - whom Kristof describes as
a man of principle who doesn't let his principles get in the way
of making sure the children of the world survive. My goodness.
Jimmy Carter can trot around the globe "staring down dictators
and fighting disease" is precisely because he is unrestrained
by practical matters like, let's see... US NATIONAL SECURITY.
It should also be clear that one of the main reasons Bush (and
a majority of the American public) support military action against
Iraq is because one of the practical consequences of failing to
intervene could very well be a mushroom cloud in Manhattan or
some similarly horrible disaster.
to Kristof's argument, Bush's entire approach to foreign policy
is driven by "nightmares of things that never were"
and the antiwar crowd is guilty of pursuing the ideal of "peace
at any cost" without acknowledging the potentially horrific
consequences of such a policy. - T.
Bevan 9:08 am
February 17 2003
THE 10 WORST: Tucked deep inside the five-pound pile of
advertisements otherwise known as the Chicago Tribune's Sunday
magazine has a story listing "The 10 Worst Living Dictators,"
authored by David Wallechinsky. There isn't a direct link to the
story, so I've recreated Wallechinsky's list below:
Jong Il - North Korea (Age 61, in power since 1994)
2) King Fahd & Crown Prince Abdullah - Saudi Arabia
(Ages 80 & 79, in power since 1982 & 1995, respectively)
3) Saddam Hussein - Iraq (Age 65, in power since 1979)
4) Charles Taylor - Liberia (Age 55, in power since 1977)
5) Than Shwe - Burma (Age 70, in power since 1992)
6) Teodoro Obiang Nguema - Equatorial Guinea (Age 60, in
power since 1979).
7) Saparmurad Niyazov - Turkmenistan (Age 62, in power
8) Muammar al-Qaddafi - Libya (Age 60, in power since 1969)
9) Fidel Castro - Cuba (Age 76, in power since 1959)
10) Alexander Lukashenko - Belarus (Age 48, in power since
Mentions: Omar al-Bashir (Sudan), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Bashar
al-Assad (Syria), the leaders of he People's Revolutionary Party
of Laos. Wallechinsky finishes by asking whether Hu Jintao, the
new head of the Communist Party of China will join the ranks by
continuing the repressive regime in China.
It's an interesting list, and if you read the comments you get
the sense Wallechinsky might have put it together with an ever-so-slightly
hidden agenda. Iran is conspicuously absent. And in addition to
placing Saudi Arabia above Saddam, there is this comment about
the Iraqi dictator:
the Gulf War, Saddam was considered over the hill as a global-scale
dictator until President George W. Bush began to promote his
status as a threat to world peace."
fairly quaint way to describe a tyrant who is alone among those
on the list as having a twelve-year history of defying the international
community and running roughshod over 17 consecutive UN resolutions.
worth noting that Wallechinsky's list is based solely on human-rights
abuses. If you take the list and cross-reference it with respect
to those dictators who pose the greatest threat to US national
security and assisting potential terrorists, the list would change
to include Iran - probably at the number two slot - as well as
Yemen. Syria, Sudan and Libya would move up the list, displacing
Liberia, Burma and Equatorial Guinea. In the end, you'd be left
with (GASP!) the Axis of Evil and a host of smaller Arab countries
that have both atrocious human rights records and a soft spot
for militant Islamists. - T.
Bevan 9:22 am