Friday, April 29, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson thinks the world's hostility means we are on the right track

Mostly this animus [in the Middle East] arises because we are distancing
ourselves from corrupt grandees, even as we have become despised as incendiary
democratizers by the Islamists. Is that risky and dangerous? Yes. Bad? Hardly

He goes on to cover other regions, too, in a typically excellent Friday column.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

We will never know...

if Gore would still have gone mad had he won in 2000. I wanted to post on his recent speech, but after reading the Corner, it seems like the discussed it enough - particularly Gore's misuse of Federlist Paper #10. Keep scrolling up.

Tom Coburn

I think many of us who voted for Coburn secretly feared that he would spend much of his time defending or apologizing for saying some outlandish thing (something he has a habit of doing) rather than legislating. But there was no fear that he would go wobbly on any conservative issues. It seems that the latter outweighed the former. While he has been making news outside the state, it’s been for mostly good things. A week or so ago he cosponsored legislation that protected freedom on the Internet, he's taken a lead in opposing the asbestos trust fund, and all the while upsetting the Senate with his crusade against pork. Good show.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ted’s got to ac-cen-tu-ate the negative

I noticed yesterday that Ted Kennedy was celebrating the first anniversary of Abu Ghraib with a lengthy comment about how the administration pissed away our moral authority by permitting torture (this, of course, is after Bush pissed away the good will of the world after 9/11). He says, “The images of cruelty, and perversion are still difficult to look at a year later...” but looking back over all the times he's talked about the abuse over the past year, it seems that he can’t bring himself to look at anything else. He's been on the Abu Ghraib charges like stink on manure (wasn't that one of the abuses? I can't remember) and has gotten plenty of mileage out of the torture-facility-under-new-management line. The WSJ response is nice and all, but Kennedy and his cohorts have been successful in over-hyping this incident to undermine the administration's efforts in the region and drain his domestic support. He can be very proud of his efforts.

Update: Arthur Chenkroff notices that Kennedy has been silent on other Iraqi anniversaries.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Sunday, April 24, 2005

C ain't for cookie

This Jonah Goldberg piece is a few days old, but it's definitely worth reading.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Earth Day

A toast to the earth's health. Long live the earth!

If you want more positive environmental news see here and here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

green zone blues

doom and gloom vs. freedom on the march aside, a refreshing, mostly straightforward few paragraphs from one representative visiting iraq.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cookie duster delay

Pushing back the vote on Bolton was disappointing. You can't blame the Dems for wanting the delay - sounds like standard committee procedure and all. But I'm hoping the Voinovich's party leans on him. As several bloggers have already said, he could've raised his doubts before the meeting. That he hadn't been to previous meetings and was apparently ignorant of the accusations (I guess he missed the weekend's news, too) was embarrassing. Makes you wonder if Biden cornered him in the hall or something during the recess. I caught part of the meeting on CSPAN and heard Biden raising his voice (about as pasionate as I've ever heard him sound) going after the serial abuse angle. Odd that as of Monday (I think) Biden didn't seem concerned with accussations of Bolton abusing subordinates but was more concerned about his judge-u-ment. Now, he's all about those alleged abuses. But, in an exchange with Lugar towards the end, Biden laid his cards down and pretty well said that he wanted more time to find some dirt on Bolton. I'm still confident that he'll have the votes to get through, but I'm feeling a little impatient on the matter.

Simon has a pretty good post on the matter here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Spigots argues for keeping the yuan pegged to the sawbuck

Seems like this policy is ultimately unhealthy, but he raises some good points.

I don’t know what to think about this…

Venezuela is handing out copies of Don Quixote to citizens to inspire heroism.
"Let us all read Quixote to feed ourselves once again with that spirit of a
fighter who went out to undo injustices and fix the world," Mr. Chavez said on
his television show, "Hello President."
And, I'm assuming from the same statement:
"To some extent, we are followers of Quixote."

Nothing at all against Cervantes book, which stands as one of the great works in literature, but I'm not sure the Don is the type of model citizen a government would want to promote - being so wrongheaded so often throughout his adventures.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Kofi talking in circles

Summary of Kofi's logic: US & Britain are partly responsible for Oil for Food (so they have no authority in fixing it?) - US & Britain could've stopped smuggling but chose not to penalize Turkey & Jordan (we kept giving the countries aid. So is he arguing for unilateral action from the U.S.?) - Annan partly excuses the smuggling to Turkey & Jordan saying they were due compensation & it was generally accepted that the oil was in lieu of cash - the US conspiracy to bring Kofi down is vast and powerful and unconcerned with what actually happened. It sounds like Kofi thinks that since everyone had some dirt and blood on their hands, that nothing should've been done. To me, it proves that the status quo prior America's efforts to drain the swamp was so bad that it would have never improved. It also indicates the UN's unwillingness to reform. Anyone thinking that further UN inspections (and keeping Saddam in power) was the answer has his/her head in the sand.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Related story: Pulling the plug on science?

"The administration is trying to tame the deficits through cuts in nondefense discretionary spending for the third straight year. But other countries that spent much of the past half century getting back on their feet after World War II and the military buildups during the cold war, are coming out from America's scientific shadow."

Bush Disarms, Unilaterally

"It's as if we have an industrial-age presidency, catering to a pre-industrial ideological base, in a post-industrial era."

Shave and a haircut....

two bits. Check out the NYTimes lead story for April 15th. The Irish Trojan's Blog points out that after months of NYTimes neglect of the Oil For Fraud scandal, it suddenly becomes front page news when a Texan is associated with it. (via Instapundit)

VDH discusses the US's past mistakes

While I'm sure most of my fellow Liverputtians won't buy the conclusion of this column, we should be able to agree on the preceding points. As for the 5th point, maybe that will be something our grandchildren will agree on.

The maturing of the Japanese/American alliance continues

It's been a long time coming. In a related story, China is dead set against Japan getting a security council seat - that's pretty well known, but what gets me is this quote from a Chinese diplomat:
Only when a country respects history, dares to be responsible for its past,
and is able to win trust from Asian peoples can it play a greater role in
international affairs.

Cooler heads prevail at the E.U.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Thoughts on the nuclear option

During his more rational moments, Harry Reid is capable of hyperbole, but at other times he’s not even in the same ballpark with reality. Whenever he is making some statement about protecting the sacred filibuster, pulling out that little book, the Constitution, from his breast pocket (kept close to heart), he’s committing and act of theatrics campier than an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. I wonder if Reid ever saw the word “filibuster” in that little book. The term Nuclear Option doesn’t at all convey what that GOP is threatening to do – which is to strip the opposition party of its ability to filibuster judicial nominess. However, the term does capture something in the Dem's counter-threat, which is to grind government to a halt – a sort’ve Dem doomsday device, if you will. It’s lamentable that the GOP might have to take such a measure simply because the Dems, seemingly unable to prevail at the polls, have chosen to hijack the majority rule because of its own deficiencies.

The Dems somehow think that "checks and balances" refer to the two parties, but the Constitution says nothing about political parties. When the Constitution refers to checks and balances, it is in terms of the divisions of government. Perhaps Reid should move his little book away from his heart and closer to his eyes (when he's not thrusting it in front of a camera). As I’ve said before, I love the two party system because it marginalizes radical elements of the political spectrum. It’s a natural state in our government, but it isn’t ordained by the Constitution and the idea the two parties are necessary to bring a balance in power is pretty absurd. In a free society like ours, even if every elected official was from the same party (which is not likely to happen) there would still be divisions based on regional differences and economic interests. Take a look at that GOP today and you will see differences and debate on virtually every issue from abortion to the war on drugs to the War on Terror. That the Dem leadership has marginalized itself should be of little concern to the GOP.

It’s almost comical that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi feel that the failure of their party at the polls should not diminish their party’s voice in any way. According to the rules of the Senate, the Dems are not doing anything unconstitutional by filibustering the 10 nominees. But the GOP won’t be doing anything unconstitutional by taking away that filibuster – in fact, they will be restoring majority rule.

So much for constitutionality…but what about politics?

I’m a little torn on the matter. On one hand, I’d like to see the GOP employ the “nuclear option” and let the Dems try to challenge them strength against strength. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out this week, if GOP Senators are worried about escalation because they may someday find themselves in the minority, then they might as well be the minority party now. On the other hand, as Bill Kristol pointed out on TV a week or so ago, the GOP should at least wait until the Supreme Court openings occur so that the issue will have maximum attention from voters. Since I think the whole thing is to the political advantage of the GOP, I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t employ the nuclear option until after the 2006 elections. At best, the GOP may get enough seats to end the filibuster without it. At worst, they would have lost about 18 or so months in appointing the judges.

But, ultimately, I like the idea of the filibuster as used by Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I’m not sure why the current filibuster used by the Dems on the judicial committee does not require someone sweating it out, speechifying until he or she is hoarse, defying sleep and urinating in a bucket so that they stay on the premises – you know, when a filibuster meant something. If the Dems want to block an up or down vote, they should earn it. If possible, the GOP should change the filibuster rules to that kind of measure.

bush, cheney, and rumsfeld are slime-mold beetles.

as one reader commented, "can't these beetles get some dignity?"

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Looks like the cookie duster will have to wait til next week

What you won't see in the China Daily

Not all the protests/riots in China are aimed at the Japanese - just the government backed ones. Publius Pundit says that there is growing discontent with.....the Chinese government? It's somewhat encouraging to know that rampant hyper-nationalism isn't the only thing blooming in China. (hat tip Instapundit)

Tony Blankley urges the GOP to defend DeLay

Austin Bay on the Iraq/Vietnam comparison

It's not only the American left that is having trouble understanding the difference, Zarqawi is too:

On April 2 and again on April 4, the terror gang led by Al Qaeda's Iraq
commander, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, launched "military-style attacks" on the Abu
Ghraib prison complex in Baghdad. In the April 4 assault, U.S. forces took 44
casualties (most of them minor wounds). The terrorist gang, however, took 50
casualties, out of a force estimated at 60 gunmen.

On April 11, the gang attacked a Marine compound at Husaybah near
the Syrian border. As I write, terrorist casualties are unconfirmed, but the
assault flopped.

......

Iraq, however, is no Vietnam. The Vietnam War was strategic defense, a
bitter Cold War "battle of containment." The War on Terror is a strategic
political and military offensive directed at the dictators and theocrats who
rule by death squad and export terror -- and it's a war we are winning.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Just filed my taxes…

And I remembered Steve’s post from last September about his tax situation. I’d mentioned then that I would relate how the tax cuts affected me. That time has come. I used my current W-2 and pulled out a tax book from 2001 and compared it to 2004 so that everything would remain the same as far as marital status, investment, income, etc. I saved just a whisker under 25% in the federal taxes I owe for this year.

Monday, April 11, 2005

DeLay ordeal

Last week, when I posted that the Washington Post & the NYTimes wanted DeLay’s head, it was pointed out to me that the WSJ had run an editorial against him as well. True enough. The first thing I noticed, however, was that the WSJ piece was on the editorial page. The second thing was that the WSJ piece seemed primarily concerned that DeLay was developing the perception of corruption and was thus becoming a political liability. Nothing wrong with the way WSJ handled its opinion of DeLay, even if I disagree. In contrast, The NYTimes recycled old news like it was new news to create that perception of continually mounting corruption. Unfortunately, the Washington Post’s tactics weren’t much better (I say unfortunately because I consider the Post a more responsible paper than the NYTimes). If the two papers have a beef with the Congressman, they should concentrate their efforts on the opinion pages, not compromise the integrity of their frontpages.

I’ll give the left credit: they have damaged DeLay. Though it is not likely that DeLay will be found guilty of any of the more serious charges, according to this NRO piece, his leadership position is in jeopardy.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Glorious freedom

Yesterday's reports of the al Sadr inspired protests against American occupation warmed my heart. Sure, they're burning American flags and making our President look like Bat Boy (scroll down) - but they did so knowing they wouldn't get gassed or killed as a result. America is about the safest country to insult.

Mark Steyn on the CIA

He paints a grim picture of our intelligence. One point that stuck out to me was this:
The CIA, as I wrote a couple of years back, now functions in the same relation
to President Bush as Pakistan's ISI does to General Musharraf. In both cases,
before the chief executive makes a routine request of his intelligence agency,
he has to figure out whether they're going to use it as an opportunity to set
him up, and if so how.
I think there's some truth in that. Regardless of who the president is, many of the government institutions - like the CIA, the Pentagon or the State Department, etc., are made up of career individuals that were there before an administration and will be there after an administration. These people often do not share an administration's goals.

Most Area Terrorism Funding Not Spent

I've had a couple of government jobs and each time the department I was working for was skilled in spending the money they were appropriated before the year was out, lest they get less the following year. This particularly story brings up the question that I know Dude has repeatedly asked as well as the rest of us: what's the purpose of Homeland Security? Their grant system of appropriating funds first and the letting local areas create programs to fund later is upsetting. It reminds me of a question a reporter asked Bush a couple of years ago about the $15 billion dollar 5 year aid package to fight AIDS in Africa. The program was about a year old then and the reporter asked him why only a tiny fraction of that money had been spent. Bush's response made perfect sense: that the methods and facilities to handle the money was not fully developed - in other words, the program could not absorb, say, $3billion the first year, etc. Funding for the program would build as the program was developed to more efficiently handle the money. Why DHS doesn't seem to be doing something similar is mind boggling.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

And back to S. Korea...

I thought this was a good post from Marmot's Hole.

Thousands of Chinese are bent out of shape over Japan

BEIJING (Reuters) - Thousands of Chinese smashed windows and threw rocks at the Japanese embassy and ambassador's residence in Beijing on Saturday in a protest against Japan's wartime past and its bid for a U.N. Security Council seat.

Protesters pushed their way through a paramilitary police cordon to the
gates of the Japanese ambassador's residence, throwing stones and water bottles
and shouting "Japanese pig come out."

Some 500 paramilitary police holding plastic shields raced into the compound and barricaded the gates. Protesters threw stones and bricks at the residence, and shouted at police, "Chinese people shouldn't protect Japanese."
----
One group began throwing bottles and stones when they passed a Japanese restaurant, smashing windows with tiles they had ripped from its roof before police stopped them.

A second Japanese restaurant was targeted later in the evening, with bricks thrown through the window, terrifying kimono-clad waitresses.

"We are all Chinese in here and were just minding our own business," one told Reuters minutes after the attack. "This is terrifying." She said some of the protesters had helped them clean up and advised them not to wear such sensitive uniforms.


I wasn’t able to find any word of the violence in any Chinese papers, which seemed to carry the same Xinhua wire report found in the China Daily. However, a Hong Kong paper did make mention of the violence among other things. I’m guessing the Chinese protests of all the wrongdoing under Chairman Mao will be next week.

"Is it possible to see the evidence in order to refute it?"

Records Give Voice to Guantanamo Detainees

Friday, April 08, 2005

S. Korea should listen to its elders

One is tempted to pick S. Korea up by the collar, give it multiple slaps and say "Pull yourself together man!" It's ironic that a country where filial piety is supposed to be so strong, the younger generation doesn't listen to the older folks that remember N. Korean agression.

Incidently, one sentence in the article describing Japan's role in the region after WWII perplexed me:
Though Japan returned to industrial power, it never restored its moral
legitimacy in Asia.
It's perplexing because prior to industrialization, Japan was very isolationist and whatever presence they had in the region was likely to be in the form of piracy off the coast of Korea and China. So where's the moral legitimacy to restore? Since the WWII, much of S. Korea's economic boom has been fueled by Japanese capital - which, in my view at least, indicates that Japan has atoned for it's imperial past. I'm always confused about the term "moral authority" anyway, especially in terms of politics and deplomacy - but it still seems that Japan now is more benevolent towards their neighbors than at any other time in their history.

The conclusion of the article is right on:

The critical issue in East Asia is North Korea — not the ancient kingdom of
Koguryo, the Tokdo islands or Japanese textbooks.

An initiative that is positive toward Japan is crucial for South Korea-Japan
relations as well as the peace and prosperity of East Asia.

If the core partners of the six-party talks are not in concert, how can they arrive at a common proposal and persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arms programs?

Rich China, Poor China

This article reminded me of the Zhang Yimou film, Not One Less.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

TCS tackles the story about using up earth's resources

Disturbing article about racial tensions in France

Blogosphere caught salivating too early over Schiavo memo

Well, they can’t all be Memogates. I admit I was convinced that the memo was fraudulent, especially after yesterday’s Washington Times piece where every GOP senator denied seeing or writing it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bush launches Phase 2 of his Social Security argument

The newsclip yesterday of Bush next to the filing cabinet representing the Social Security trust was pretty clever. Needlenose has a picture of it. The Democrats' response is that Bush's explanation of how the government actually currently uses Social Security money proves their point about the deficit spending problem - but to me, it shows that there is no such thing as a "locked box" in government. To listen to Reid or Pelosi, one would think that Bush was the first to violate the Social Security trust:
In a letter to Bush, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said: "We urge you to commit to
paying back every Social Security dollar that has been used for other purposes."

The implication is silly. Social Security funds were spent by the government from the very beginning and the problem has less to do with Bush or the GOP so much as it has to do with the nature of government. Converting over to private accounts is about the only way you can keep the money out of the hands of government and secure it in the Social Security system - but when you suggest that, then the Dem leadership threatens to take their marbles home (which is assuming they still have their marbles).

Also, everytime Bush proposes a spending cut, he's charged with underfunding this or that. In regards to the budget, our Senate needs to show some balls and come up with something similar to the House. Bush spent a lot of effort to help get a GOP majority in the Senate, it's time they paid him back by showing a little spine.

Pejmanesque notices a good point

made in this Post article about our intelligence service. Despite glaring deficiencies in our intelligence resources, I've never been comfortable with saying that our intelligence prior to the Iraqi invasion was a "failure", simply because I'm not sure where the bar is in determining success. Intelligence is always hit and miss:
For all of its genuine distinction, the report has weaknesses. Foremost
among them -- a product of the blinding clarity of hindsight -- is a misplaced
perfectionism that feeds the dangerous fallacy that all intelligence failures
are the product of culpable, and therefore remediable, blunders.

NYTimes and the Post want the hammer's head on a plate so bad they can taste it

I missed the part in the NYTimes piece and the Post piece about DeLay's illegal activity. I look forward to their page one expose on Nancy Pelosi.

China and S. Korea unsatisfied with Japanese textbooks

Granted, Japan doesn't like acknowledging its WWII past, but I'd be curious to see a S. Korean history book - or, I'm sure far worse, a Chinese textbook. The Japanese seem to be the universal scapegoat for all their woes. Why not let Japan write up the history books for China and let China do the same for Japan? At least the Japanese student can google other sources.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Google Feature Incorporates Satellite Maps

you may have already seen this. increcible. it's better than terraserver because you can click and drag the map--follow creeks and roads.

Monday, April 04, 2005

San Francisco beating FEC to the punch

They want bloggers earning over $1K to register with the Ethics Commission.

Labor shortage in China?

This story fails to mention that China’s unemployment rate doesn’t get too far away from double digits. But even a 9 to 10% rate is not an accurate depiction of the employment condition in China. When I was there I saw plenty of waste – everything from 3 or more door openers in every restaurant (often outnumbering the number of customers) or several security guards stationed in vacant buildings. While the Party recognizes some of the virtues of capitalism it cannot bring itself to let go of its communist ways. The result is a grossly inefficient system that prohibits the natural reallocation of resources which heavily contributes to the kind of labor problems described in the NYTimes story.

Iraqis gettin’ it done

When I was in college, our Middle East expert – a fine professor in most respects – taught us that the Kurds were historically nomads and that even to the day (this was the spring of 2000), they had no particular desire or understanding for creating a Kurdish state. Even then, Kurds in Iraq were making the most of their autonomous government in the 90’s (courtesy of the no fly zone) – so I’m not sure why he was off the mark. Now they are leading the way for representative government in the region.

And the Shiites ain’t doing bad themselves. The general assembly is getting it done, one argument at a time.

Sandy Bergler update

I don't count myself as a Clinton hater, but it should be noted that he contributed to the Bergler cover up by dismissing it from the get-go:
"That's Sandy for you," he said at a Denver book signing last summer. "We were
all laughing about it on the way over here."

Uh-huh.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Clinton Supporters Gear Up Against 'Swift Boat' Tactics

So long as she doesn't lie about being in Cambodia, the Swifties will probably leave her alone.

Sandy Bergler agrees to plead guilty to misdemeanor

Being in possesion of some marijuana is a misdemeanor. Stealing and destroying classified documents should be a felony. With his plea, Bergler's security clearance will be suspended for 3 years....which means he'll get it back.

How is it an honest mistake when he admitted to removing and destroying the documents intentionally. And why hasn't he come clean about his motives. I'm not satisfied.

Jonah on the environment