April 4 2003
MICHAEL KELLY: I hate eulogies, especially from people who
didn't really know the deceased. But that's the thing: as someone
who has been a professional follower of opinion writers over the
last three years I feel as if I did know Michael Kelly - even
though we never met.
It's a perfect
example of what great writers do. They are a unique combination
of conversationalist, debater, and provocateur that can generate
a personal connection with their readers. It's a rare talent.
Let's face it, there are a lot of brilliant people in the world
but only a few brilliant writers.
the end brilliant thoughts are useless without the ability to
articulate them. And writing is both the most difficult and most
powerful method of communicating ideas. Stephen King describes
the art of writing fiction using one simple word: telepathy. Think
about it for a second and you see he's exactly right. It's the
ability to transfer an image or thought from your mind's eye into
that of another person.
who's ever read opinion writers of the highest caliber - of Michael
Kelly's caliber - you know exactly what this feels like. Sometimes
it's comes like a revelation, other times it arrives feeling more
like a clarification of thoughts you've already had but just couldn't
quite express. It always feels sharp and refreshing, and it leaves
you with a sense of admiration for the author who didn't just
get it right, but got it EXACTLY right. More often that not, Michael
Kelly's columns generated those feelings in a great number of
people, myself included.
probably no greater compliment to be paid to an author than to
say you'll miss reading his work. We will unquestionably miss
waking up to Michael Kelly's columns here at RCP. - T.
Bevan 4:11 pm
Just a great
McIntyre 10:23 am
UN humanitarian experts are back
in Iraq and assessing the conditions on the ground. This,
I think, is good news. The sooner we can get help in ramping up
humanitarian efforts the better off the Iraqi people will be.
No doubt there are political benefits as well to utilizing the
UN's expertise and manpower in the humanitarian effort.
in Brussels, Colin Powell tossed
out a fig leaf to the UN over its potential role in the larger
reconstruction of Iraq, suggesting that Kofi Annan appoint a "special
coordinator" to work with the interim coalition authority
in Iraq, supervise the humanitarian effort and to be the "eyes
and ears of the U.N. in the area."
course, is like the coach of the team telling you what a great
opportunity it is for you to be the water boy, and how it's a
really important part of the team's overall success.
take our good buddy Dominique de Villepin long to become indignant:
must stabilize Iraq and the region. The United Nations is the
only international organization that can give legitimacy to
tell Mssr. Villepin to stop talking about the UN's "legitimacy"
- that question was settled weeks ago. It reminds me of the hilarious
scene from the
Princess Bride where Vezzini (Wallace Shawn) keeps describing
things as "inconceivable." Finally, Inigo Montoya (Mandy
Patinkin) turns to Vezzini and says, "You keep using that
word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
WE'RE THERE: The AP
troops found thousands of boxes of white powder, nerve agent
antidote and Arabic documents on how to engage in chemical warfare
at an industrial site south of Baghdad, a U.S. officer said
was this a site on the UN weapons inspectors' list? Would Hans
Blix have reported it anyway?
Update on WMD: Coalition
Discovers Suspicious Sites Near Baghdad,
of Ricin, Botulinum Found in Northern Iraq)
Press is reporting that 2,500 Republican Guard soldiers have
surrendered on the outskirts of Baghdad. Wise decision. Hopefully
it's also a symbolic decision that will resonate through the rest
of the resisting Iraqi forces.
Just a tidbit
from the Boston Globe about a physical confrontation that
took place between a professor and a National Guard recruiter
at the University of Massachusetts. - T.
Bevan 7:48 am
April 3 2003
THE MEDIA PENDULUM SWINGS AGAIN: Today the news is
all good. Our troops are surging
towards Baghdad, rumors are rampant that Hussein
and his sons have fled Baghdad (that is of course if they
are even still alive). The vaunted, "elite"Republican
Guard has either been
obliterated or has just melted away. Will there be another
media pendulum swing back this weekend or next week if there is
a 'pause' or two before the final collapse of Hussein's regime?
the truly out of touch the final outcome of this military campaign
was always never in doubt. That was true on day two, day seven,
today, and it will be true if this war is still being fought three
weeks from today. The media hysteria the past ten days led by
the NY Times, LA Times, etc... has been pathetic
and sickening. Bill
Kristol summed it up well in the Weekly Standard:
leftists--hate George W. Bush so much they can barely bring
themselves to hope America wins the war to which, in their view,
the president has illegitimately committed the nation. They
hate Don Rumsfeld so much they can't bear to see his military
strategy vindicated. They hate John Ashcroft so much they relish
the thought of his Justice Department flubbing the war on terrorism.
They hate conservatives with a passion that seems to burn brighter
than their love of America, and so, like M. de Villepin, they
can barely bring themselves to call for an American victory.
It is this
mindset that allows for the literal misrepresentation of the truth
on the front pages of major newspapers all across this country.
This military campaign will be over at some point in the near
future, whether that comes in four days or four weeks, either
way from a military standpoint this will have been a short war.
I have no
idea what is going to happen in the next 2-5 days. The balance
of news this morning seems to indicate that we may be on the verge
of the tipping point of the regime. On the other hand, it would
not surprise me one bit if the Battle for Baghdad over the coming
days becomes quite messy. This of course would provide the media
another opportunity to run a whole string of new 'quaqmire' stories
and nightmare scenarios of prolonged door-to-door urban fighting.
I do know
that we are going to win. I've always known that we were going
to win. I've also had immense faith in the leadership of Secretary
Rumsfeld. I read Sy
Hersh's hatchet job in The New Yorker on Monday which
included gems like:
a stalemate now” - "The carriers are going to run out of
jdams” - "The Marines are worried as hell" - "The
only way out now is back, and to hope for some kind of a miracle."
- “Hope is not a course of action.”
this article, described by the liberal blogger Josh
Marshall as "unquestionably today's required reading,"
my first two thoughts were Bob Woodward's interview with President
Bush where the President looked Woodward in the eye and said “Seymour
Hersh is a liar” and, second Rumsfeld sounds like the exact kind
of person I would want running the Pentagon.
One of the
reasons the media criticism of Operation Iraqi Freedom was able
to reach the fever pitch it did was all the carping from ex-military
officers who don't like Rumsfeld's vision of the new military.
That's fine. This Secretary of Defense understands that the wars
and conflicts of the new millennium are not going to be fought
the way they were fifty, thirty or even ten years ago. This unnerves
many in the bureaucratic echelons of our armed forces, but that
is a good thing not a bad one.
of liberal media and disgruntled officers makes Rumsfeld a vulnerable
target and leaves more than a few hoping Rummy gets a very public
comeuppance. The truth will come out in the following weeks and
months, and we will see where the chips fall regarding whether
or not this battle plan was well conceived. J.
McIntyre 9:09 am
April 2 2003
STRAIN OF WAR:
It's beginning to show on the
President and on the
coalition. As difficult as it might be for our troops to show
restraint in the face of uncertain and terrorist-like tactics
from Iraqi combatants, right now it still remains a political
necessity. Yes, protection of our forces is paramount and yes,
we want this thing over as fast as possible. But we still need
to keep our heads, and we need to keep the coalition tight. And
that means addressing the concerns of the Brits, both their military
commanders and their
U of M:
The Supreme Court heard
arguments yesterday. One thing that has bothered me about
the discussion of affirmative action over the past few months
is that it doesn't address the broader issue of education in the
country. Let me explain.
action was originally designed as a temporary measure to address
educational (and economic) equality. Decades later, despite the
significant progress that has been made in the area of educational
opportunity for minorities, liberals tell us that affirmative
action is still necessary.
for this is that diversity - not necessarily educational opportunity
- is now seen as the main goal. This allows for an incredible
paradox: liberals who fervently support affirmative action also
vehemently oppose any changes to the current status quo of our
primary education system - a system that for decades has shortchanged
minority students and continues to churn out underqualified applicants
to universities across the country. Put another way, one of the
main reasons we're still having a debate about affirmative action
in this country is because our public school system, despite trillions
of dollars of spending over the last fifty years, continues to
fail to produce a broader and deeper pool of minority applicants.
And the answer isn't more money - it's school choice. - T.
Bevan 7:50 am
April 1 2003
KRUGMANIZING YOUR ARGUMENT: Yes, I've created another new
word - this time to describe what happens when you take a rational
argument and then absolutely prostitute it for partisan political
gain. You end up losing credibility and leave the impression that
the argument isn't what matters - scoring cheap points is the
If you strip
away the snide potshots in the opening grafs, Krugman is essentially
making a reasonable point in his column today: We should take
a hard look at the formula for dispensing Homeland Security grants
to individual states to make sure they address issues of population
and risk. We don't need to be spending millions and millions of
dollars in South Dakota when those dollars could provide more
effective defenses in New York, Los Angeles, or Washington DC.
It's a common sense point that I think most everyone would acknowledge.
insatiable partisanship won't let him stop at common sense. Instead,
he makes a mockery of himself by suggesting that the discrepancies
generated by the funding formula are.......wait for it......a
Bush political strategy for 2004! I'm afraid if anyone is looking
like Captain Queeg these days it's poor Mr. Krugman, who sees
political conspiracies everywhere:
adopt such a strange formula? Well, maybe it's not that strange:
what it most resembles is the Electoral College, which also
gives disproportionate weight (though not that disproportionate)
to states with small populations. And with a few exceptions,
small-population states are red states — indeed, the small-state
bias of the Electoral College is what allowed Mr. Bush to claim
the White House despite losing the popular vote. It's hard not
to suspect that the formula — which makes absolutely no sense
in terms of national security — was adopted precisely because
it caters to that same constituency. (To be fair, there's one
big "red state" loser from the formula: Texas. But one of these
days, sooner than most people think, Texas may well turn blue.)
attention to that last line, which undermines Krugman's entire
argument and is therefore relegated to a parenthetical aside and
coupled with the bizarre notion that the President is sticking
it to his home state because it may potentially vote Democratic
at some point in the future.
move to a news
story today in the Washington Post addressing the same issue.
I suggest you read the whole thing, but here are the grafs relevant
to our discussion:
Johndroe said the $2 billion supplemental budget will be
distributed mostly on the original formula, which comes from
the USA Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
the formula's authors was then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick
J. Leahy (D-Vt.), whose state gets more than six times as much
money per capita as California under the formula. A spokesman
for Leahy said smaller states need more money because their
communities do not have large standing police forces to respond
to emergencies. "Small states have security concerns, too,"
the spokesman said. "Protection of Vermont's northern border
benefits the whole country. What if a terrorist got across and
went to New York?" (emphasis added)
sounds like a more plausible cause for the fact that the distribution
formula is out of whack: That President Bush and Karl Rove sat
down in the Oval Office with an eye on reelection in 2004 and
devised the formula themselves, and then slid it into the Patriot
Act when no was looking OR that Congress devised and passed a
formula that satisfied the needs of individual elected representatives
and their constituencies but ending up making very little sense
from a practical point of view?
is functioning as it always has or the President - who Krugman
considers to be a complete incompetent - just orchestrated the
biggest coup in modern political history. Hmmm. Occam's Razor
NEED DEFENDING?: As usual the Wall Street Journal
does an incomparable job this morning in defense of the Secretary,
as did Tim
Hames yesterday in the Times of London. Despite all the carping
at Rummy from Sy
Marshall, and miscellaneous
"unnamed sources" there is little to no evidence
detracting from the fact this war is an unparalleled success so
I think everyone
acknowledges that the most difficult days still lie ahead, and
things could very well get ugly as coalition forces move into
Baghdad. Still, if things proceed only half as well as they have
thus far, I suspect history will look very favorably on the accomplishments
of this war - and on the men who planned it and ran it.
OF THE DAY: "This book is dedicated to the people of
America - strong, outspoken, intense in their convictions, sometimes
wrong-headed but always generous and brave, with a passion for
justice no nation has ever matched." - Paul Johnson, A History
of the American People. -
T. Bevan 7:11
March 31 2003
MORALITY GAP - PART II: What to make of al-Jazeera,
the media outfit that pumps inflammatory,
graphic, and misleading images throughout the Arab world?
Yesterday Jihad Ballout, a spokesman for al-Jazeera, defended
the network's coverage of the war in an interview on NPR (I'll
take a pass on THAT low-hanging fruit), including their repeated
airing of gruesome footage of executed American POW's. Not showing
the tape, he said, would have deprived its viewers of the unvarnished
truth about the war. Journalistic integrity, Mr. Ballout claims,
is why Al-Jazeera won't
censor the horror of war.
It's a nice
rhetorical trick for an Islamic propaganda machine to invoke the
concept of freedom of the press, but anyone who has an ounce of
objectivity understands that al-Jazeera's motives are less than
pure. Indeed, their coverage is carefully constructed to mislead,
and to present a view of war to the Islamic world that the British
government is describing as a "complete
me back to the point I made on Friday. Most Western media outlets,
in addition to being confined by professional principles of accuracy
and honesty (with the possible exception of the BBC as we've seen),
also adhere to an unwritten moral code which simply will not allow
them to publish gruesome images of war - regardless of the ratings
such images might generate or the passions they might inflame.
To the American media horrific visual images of decapitations
and executions are taboo, to al-Jazeera they are the meat and
potatoes of a daily broadcast.
to say that Americans wouldn't tune in to see such images, surely
they would. But there is a significant cultural difference at
work here, as well as a religious one. Al-Jazeera is not interested
in presenting the news from an Arab worldview, it is using the
medium to try and foment feelings of religious fervor, of retribution,
and of jihad.
FOR THE MIND OF THE PRESIDENT: These behind-the-scene
stories about the machinations of the Bush administration
are fascinating to read, but they really don't provide any level
of certainty as to what is truly going on. By the way, is it even
news anymore that there are some "unnamed sources" in
the State Department bitching about Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz?
Despite all of the handwringing in the media over the twelve-day-old
war, the public seems to be quite comfortable with where
we are and what we're doing in Iraq. I think the reason for
the steady support is contained in the answer to this question:
feel that you have a clear idea of what this war is all about
— that is, what we are fighting for?
percent said yes - even though support for the war overall is
only 70%. In other words, most everyone in the country understands
the objectives for being in Iraq - even if they don't all agree
with these objectives. When this number starts to slip and people
lose sight of what we're fighting for then the Bush administration
should start to worry.
By now you've heard about his
statement hoping for "a million Mogadishus." The
guys at Powerline have more
on the Nutty Professor. - T.
Bevan 7:20 am