July 11 2003
BUSH LIED: I've been sitting back watching and digesting
the enormous amount of panting going in the media and the blogosphere
over the Bush/Niger (that's pronounced "nigh-jure" to
me but "neesh-air" to most media elites) story.
much is being made about the CBS
News' claim yesterday that "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was Dubious."
The story doesn't bear out this claim, but it does report that
members of Bush's National Security Council were briefed that
the intel on Niger's alleged uranium purchase was questionable.
Okay, fine. We also learn from the story that apparently 1) both
Condi Rice and Colin Powell read the speech before it was delivered
and believed the CIA had cleared the Niger reference and 2) George
Tenet never saw a final draft of the speech.
this little tidbit in today's
Washington Post story about the CIA's effort to get the British
to strip the reference to the Niger purchase from their official
consulted about the paper and recommended against using that
material," a senior administration official familiar with the
intelligence program said. The British government rejected
the U.S. suggestion, saying it had separate intelligence unavailable
to the United States.
two stories together it seems reasonable to believe that the CIA
was running around warning various people at various times about
the "sketchy" nature of the Niger intel, but that there
also still existed at least some evidence in September 2002 suggesting
that the Niger story wasn't totally bogus. It also seems that
there was some general confusion among the various high-level
players in the administration as to who had seen which drafts
of the speech, when they'd seen them and what they'd approved
or thought had been approved.
what we know so far, you can either believe that a mistake was
made by allowing a claim based on questionable intelligence into
Bush's State of the Union OR you can believe the President of
the United States got up in front of the world and knowingly used
information that had already been proved to be completely fraudulent
to bolster the case for going to war.
In my mind
the more plausible answer is that the administration failed to
properly coordinate and vet the intelligence used in the speech.
A mistake was made. The administration has admitted such. Does
the fact that it was the SOTU magnify the mistake? Yes. And does
the fact that it was related to the issue of going to war magnify
the error even more? Of course.
It is certainly
the right of liberals and Democrat presidential candidates to
believe there was a vast conspiracy to mislead the American public
and to scream "BUSH LIED" at the top of their lungs,
but it strikes me as a little overly dramatic (even bordering
on hysterical) and may not play quite as well with the public
as they hope.
ISRAEL: Longtime RCP supporter Nathan Wirtschafter alerted
us to this
column by Amnon Rubinstein in Ha'aretz Daily this morning
which offers an eloquent tribute to the strength of Israel's democracy:
we did not win, but Israeli society - to the surprise of many
- proved wondrously resilient. Israel's achievement in this
war is unique. In a situation of indiscriminate terror against
civilians and intolerably difficult military service in the
territories, the state allowed its citizens to leave the country.
Even veteran democracies have forbidden their citizens to leave
their borders during war or to take their currency out of the
state. In Israel, both civilians and reservists can escape from
the danger for the price of a plane ticket. Yet despite this,
people did not flee the country and call-ups of the reserves
were not impaired. No other state has ever experienced this
phenomenon: hell at home and the door wide open, but nobody
passed along some additional thoughts on Michael Savage's firing
that are worth a read:
the only reason he [Savage] got onto MSNBC in the first place
is because its left-wing producers think all conservatives are
exactly like him. I think they genuinely thought they were giving
people like us what we wanted. And if they turned out to have
made a mistake hiring him, it would be easier to discredit a
more responsible conservative voice in the future. They can
always say they gave a conservative a chance and see what happened.
Win-win situation for the left, I would say.
these lines, I would add that oftentimes those on the right
who are most widely quoted in the major media are not the best
spokesmen. I think Jerry Fallwell, for example, gets invited
on many liberal shows just so he will make a fool out of himself
and discredit the whole conservative agenda. I know there are
many occasions when I will talk to a reporter from, say, the
New York Times and the next day see that they quoted some fool
making idiotic comments on the same topic instead of me. I think
this is one of the most effective elements of liberal bias.
I think there's
a great deal of truth to this, and you don't have to look very
far to see an
example of exactly what Bartlett is talking about. - T.
Bevan 8:32 am
July 10 2003
DICK: Let's compare:
president has a pattern of using excessive language in his speeches
and off-the-cuff remarks. This continued recklessness represents
a failure of presidential leadership."
Gephardt Press Release, July 8 2003.
I'm president, we'll have executive orders to overcome any wrong
thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day."
Gephardt, June 23 2003
OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM: For the first time in long time,
Herbert has written a column about race that is thoughtful,
important, and free from the usual underlying tones of victimology.
a look the destructive cultural trend that has taken hold among
African-American kids who believe that learning "is only
for white kids." He tells the story of Caroline Jhingory,
a 22-year old black woman from Washington D.C. who went off to
college and returned to find that her friends treated her with
derision and as an outsider. Herbert writes:
Jhingory had come face to face with the dilemma that many black
youngsters encounter as they try to improve their lives by studying,
going to college and making other efforts to escape the swarming
tentacles of poverty and ignorance. Old friends and sometimes
even relatives may see those courageous efforts as a threat,
and react bitterly.
trends seems new to Herbert, some African-Americans have been
raising alarm bells about the issue for some time. Three years
ago in his book called "Losing
the Race," Dr.
John McWhorter explored in detail the origins of what he termed
a "cult of anti-intellectualism" that has taken root
in African-American culture:
anti-intellectual strain is inherited from whites having denied
education to blacks for centuries, and has been concentrated
by the Separatist trend, which in rejecting the "white"
cannot help but cast books and school as suspicious and alien,
not to be embraced by the authentically "black" person.
argues that the pervasiveness of the cult of anti-intellectualism
among the African-American community is responsible, far more
than any other factor, for the achievement gap we continue to
see between African-American students and white and Asian students.
get back to Herbert for a second. If Herbert truly believes there
is a deleterious anti-intellectual strain running through African-American
communities, especially with respect to education, how does this
square with his unwavering support for affirmative action?
lowering of academic standards under the guise of "diversity"
merely reinforce the notion among African-Americans that they
need not take education as seriously as other groups and that
lower academic performance is not only acceptable but expected
from them as a group? Herbert almost concedes as much in the second
to last sentence of his column:
comes the flip side: the all-out wild child has to walk onto
a college campus or into a professional environment, and suddenly
the feelings of inadequacy swell up like a wave that is about
to overwhelm you.
and others argue that the varied array of policies aimed at closing
the educational achievement gap that we've seen come and go over
the years - from ebonics to culture-neutral SAT's to affirmative
action - seek to find ways of incorporating this cult of anti-intellectualism
into the public school system rather than addressing the cause
of the problem itself.
believes that anti-intellectual attitudes have become so strong
and so pervasive among the African-American community that radical
changes to our system are required to change the educational paradigm,
the social attitudes, and the peer pressure that currently inhibit
so many bright young black students from excelling academically.
is to open all-black elementary schools and high schools and create
an environment where promising students (like the ones mentioned
in Herbert's column) can pursue academic excellence without being
encumbered by the social stigmas currently attached to such performance
in urban public schools.
this idea has merit and could possibly succeed in addressing the
exact issue Herbert writes about in his column, I'd be absolutely
shocked if Herbert would stand up in favor of the idea. Liberals
would screech that this would be a return to segregation and that
it's merely a diversionary tactic by conservatives to avoid spending
more resources on public education.
truth is that Bob Herbert has admirably written about a serious
problem in the African-American community, but I'm afraid the
ideological rigidity of liberalism won't allow for even the slightest
changes in public policy - like the implementation of school vouchers
and educational choice - to help provide a remedy. - T.
July 9 2003
IRANIAN HEROES: Yesterday the the 29 year-old Iranian twins'
for individual freedom ended in death on an operating table
in Singapore. Today, the entire world turns to watch, remember,
and pray for those lost and those continuing
to struggle for freedom in Iran.
celebrated the day that marked the end of our own struggle for
independence 227 years ago, Americans should continue to be thankful
and proud of our freedom. Just as importantly, we should recommit
ourselves to being passionate and tireless advocates for freedom
around the world. Godspeed to the Iranian people.
GUN CONTROL: After yesterday's dual rampages in Meridian,
Mississippi and Bakersfield, California, you can be sure it won't
take long for the press releases to start flowing from gun control
the two cases for a minute. In Meridian, it looks as if a guy
who had a reputation for being aggressive and a borderline whacko
finally just lost it and started shooting up the place. Six
people died, including the gunman, and nine others were injured.
The unfortunate truth is that there are absolutely no gun laws
anyone can put on the books to prevent something like this from
people are dead from gunshot wounds: two women (aged 70 and
39) and three children (aged 4, 23 months, and 2 months). Police
are currently looking for Vincent Brothers, a 41 year-old elementary
school vice principal and ex-husband to the murdered mother. So
far as we know, he was a well-liked man with no criminal record
or history of violent assault - although he apparently did have
a "turbulent" relationship with his ex-wife.
short of completely erasing the Second Amendment from the Constitution
and confiscating every gun in America, how exactly are the sort
of things that happened in Bakersfield and Meridian preventable
by passing more gun control legislation? The obvious answer is
that, despite the horror we all feel when we see stories like
this and the urge we feel to do something, they simply
the only thing that might possibly have stopped either of these
episodes from happening or might have saved a few of the lives
lost yesterday is if the workers in the Mississippi factory or
the women in the Bakersfield living room had guns themselves.
I'm not a
gun owner and I'm not a person who advocates arming America to
the teeth. I'm for moderate and reasonable gun control measures
that are compatible with 2nd Amendment rights - just as there
are moderate boundaries on one's 1st Amendment rights. We should
allow states to pass laws that attempt to prevent bad people with
bad intentions from getting their hands on guns and punish them
when then do, so long as those laws don't unduly restrict a citizen's
right to purchase and own a gun if they choose.
people who favor some form of gun control should be able to recognize
that the moment the murderer walked through the door at the yellow
stucco house on Third Street in Bakersfield, two innocent women
and three innocent little children were doomed to certain death.
With a gun, Joanie Harper, her mother and her children would have
at least had a chance - no matter how small - to survive. - T.
Bevan 8:33 am
July 8 2003
SAVAGE WARS: Michael
Savage is gone - and MSNBC is a better network without him.
I watched about five minutes of his show a few weeks ago and thought
he came off as supremely arrogant, uninterested in engaging in
serious debate and doomed to fail. I guess it was only a matter
of time before the guy self destructed.
a network spokesman said the decision to fire Savage was an "easy"
one, the folks in MSNBC's programming department should be taken
to task for putting Savage on the air in the first place - and
not just because he may be a homophobe or a bigot.
cable talk show industry formula is out of whack. You can't go
around the country searching out the most outrageously loud and
obnoxious people, put them on air and order them to generate instant
ratings by being loud and obnoxious, and then fire them when they
end up being loud and obnoxious.
went beyond loud and obnoxious. Actually, it sounds like he went
a bit insane. But in many ways Savage's outburst was not only
predictable, it was exactly what the executives at MSNBC wanted
from him. They put him on air for an hour every week and expect
him to tiptoe along the fine line between outrageous, shocking,
yet acceptable behavior and outrageous, shocking and unacceptable
me wrong, I'm not even remotely trying to defend what Savage said,
it's just I'm not that surprised he said it, and neither should
the folks at MSNBC who spent millions of dollars producing the
show and signing the guy to a contract.
O'Reilly is in much the same category: He's brash, boisterous
and borderline rude with many of his guests. He' also smugly overconfident
in his "working man of the people" routine. This combination
is sometimes fun to watch if you agree with him, and absolutely
unbearable to watch if you don't.
already had a couple of near misses with self-immolation, once
referring to Mexicans as "wetbacks" and making a joke
at a gala charity dinner about some underprivileged kids stealing
the hubcaps off of cars in the parking lot.
One of these
days O'Reilly's going to put his foot in it but good. I suspect
it will happen right about the time his ratings start to decline
and he starts feeling the pressure keep the show on top.
on the publishing side, Ann Coulter is taking an absolute beating
over her new book, Treason: Richard
Sullivan. Geez, even David Horowitz pans
the book this morning over at FrongPage. I haven't seen such
universally bad reviews on a single piece of work since Madonna
the same pattern with Coulter: conservative "bomb thrower"
taps into huge, right-leaning media market and experiences phenomenal
success. Bomb thrower gets bolder, Makes bigger, more elaborate
bombs and throws them harder than ever at other side. Bombs explode
do the same thing. It's just a fact of our current media environment
and it's probably here to stay, which is too bad. We need to see
and hear less from the Michael Savages and Michael Moores of the
world and more from people who are interested in serious, thoughtful
debate. It makes me miss the loss of another
Michael more than ever. - T.
Bevan 8:19 am
July 7 2003
to my previous post
encouraging Republicans to support Howard Dean were all across
the board. One guy emailed to say he thought the idea was "pure
genius" while another offered a less flattering description
that included the word "dumbass."
seem to have offended Dean supporters who are shocked - absolutely
shocked! - that anyone could have even the slightest doubt that
the anti-war, pro-civil union former Governor of a small Northeastern
state with no foreign policy or military experience will beat
George Bush next year. Apparently, people who hold this view just
"don't get it."
part of the weekend reading through liberal blogs and message
boards trying figure out exactly what it is I'm not getting. All
I see is a replication of the recently burst Internet bubble with
a political twist. This isn't some sort of political and techonological
revolution, it's a bunch of hard core lefties in liberal urban
centers donating money and getting together at Starbucks.
is happening with Howard Dean unique? Sure it is, in the same
way it was unique that thousands of Internet companies were pumped
full of millions of dollars and momentarily defied gravity before
shuttering their doors because they couldn't produce any sustained
results. Not to mention that the press's love affair with the
Dean storyline won't last forever.
question is does any of this help Dean beat Bush in Florida, Pennsylvania,
Michigan or Missouri? Again, I don't see it happening (See Adam
Nagourney's piece in today's NY Times). And neither does Mark
Steyn, who does a terrific job (as usual) of summarizing the
Vermont origins of the Howard Dean Kool-Aid effect:
because these ideas are a surefire vote-loser everywhere across
the country doesn't mean they won't catch on if enough of the
tiny minority that believes in them moves to one small underpopulated
jurisdiction. To the starry-eyed Democrat activist, as Vermont
goes, so (eventually) goes the nation.
out the "mujahedean" are those who acknowledge Dean
is headed for certain doom but couldn't care less. As Kate
O'Beirne observed last week:
Democratic base is angry, and I think he [Dean] well represents
their mood, and there are a whole lot of them pessimistic about
the chances of any Democrat knocking off a popular George Bush,
and I think Howard Dean appeals to the death with dignity Democrats
who would rather go down with a true believer, as they see it,
like Howard Dean, than a Bush-lite candidate.
Now cut to
an email I received last Wednesday:
I believe you are correct that Howard Dean has very little chance
of beating Bush, I will be sending money to Dean - and not for
the reason you cite.
is nothing I would like more than to see the lying Straussain
"philosophers" and "gentlemen" of the Bush administration go
to jail for willingly sending American young people into peril
based upon false pretenses. I think it likely that the New American
Centurions will be permitted by a largely uninformed electorate
(24% who think Iraq used WMDs on American troops and 14% of
whom are unsure) to continue their pursuance of the new American
why would I support candidates of the DLC wing of the republican
party? I would rather support a candidate that more nearly represents
the traditions of the democratic party and see him or her go
down in flames.
hit the nail on the head? Still, combining the "Death With
Dignity" crowd with the Kool-Aid drinking fanatacists leaves
you with support that's only a couple inches wide - even if it
does run a mile deep. This may win primaries but it doesn't win
LANCE : No question about it, Lance
Armstrong is an American hero. He's also the highest paid
civil servant in the country. The US
Postal Service, which bills itself as a "semi-independent"
federal agency, is the
primary sponsor of Armstrong's racing team and thus the largest
contributor to his salary, currently estimated at about $4
million per year.
By the way,
the USPS lost $676
million last year. As a matter of fact, since Lance started
his consecutive winning streak at the Tour
de France in 1998 the USPS has lost about $2.192 billion and
the cost of a stamp has increased from 33 to 37 cents.
dispense with the facade that the USPS's sponsorship of Armstrong
and the rest of the pro cycling team is anything other than a
colossal waste of taxpayer money. I'm not saying having Lance
on the federal dole is necessarily a bad thing, but if we're going
to do it and every year the sponsorship is going to serve to boost
revenues and attendance at the largest sporting event in the great
nation of France, the least we could do is see to it that Lance
and Co. are provided with a more befitting sponsor - like the
US Armed Forces or the Department of Defense. - T.