Friday, October 4, 2002
Barring a major headache at work (I know it's coming, but I'm sure when it will start), I will be totally revamping the bloglist over on the right. It will probably take a while to work out the logistics, but it will be easier to navigate through the long list of blogs, which will get even longer, as a few blogs to which I have neglected to link get added. La Blogatrice, Shiloh Bucher, Steve Gigl, Velvet Hammers, and the 3 Bruces all get links.
In other site news, I (finally) broke the 10,000 visitor barrier today. (Whee!)
posted at 07:33 PM | permalink | Comments (3)
Lileks says it best
Quoting from the master's most recent Screed:
As Iíve noted elsewhere, there are two parties nowadays: the US party, and the UN party. The former includes Republicans and Democrats who have an inordinate, romantic, and almost quaint attachment to the Constitution and the notion of national sovereignty. The latter regard nation-states as subsets of a global construct that values unanimous impotence over individual effort, and values procedure over results.
God, I wish I had written that. I'd be happy to be able to write that well. It crystallizes my objections to the anti-defense left (neologism courtesy of Poet and Peasant).
posted at 05:43 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler has a new doghouse. (grin)
Check out his new digs at http://www.nicedoggie.net.
Dawn Olson has also moved, into a Sekimori-designed site at http://www.sekimori.com/upyours/.
(Sekimoriresistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Stacy and Robyn are making the blogosphere more visually appealing, one blog at a time.)
posted at 05:05 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, October 3, 2002
A comment in the MetaFilter thread I referenced in my previous post caught my eye, and I started thinking (always a dangerous thing). The comment was:
I [think] the biggest question is: Why can't the party that won a popular majority in the last [presidential] election win a majority in Congress?
There were a few responses, but I don't think that any of them really hit the key issue.
In an effort to create more districts that could elect racial minority congressional representatives, a growing divide in the composition of congressional districts has occurred. This is pretty obvious when one considers the results of the 2000 elections. Bush won in a majority of congressional districts, even though Gore won the popular vote by half a million votes. The big difference is how the votes were distributed. Republicans tend to be more evenly spread over a large geographic area, while Democratic votes are concentrated in large cities, where there are enclaves with virtually no Republicans at all. The GOP has no analogue to overwhelmingly Democratic districts such as those found in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and most other big cities. Even when a GOP challenger appears on the ballot, the Democratic incumbents receive over 90% of the vote. A "solidly Republican" district, on the other hand, is one where the GOP receives over 60% of the vote.
As a result, even though Gore received more votes than did Bush, Bush won (either through the electoral college as currently configured, or through a proportional system based on votes by congressional district). In fact, a Washington Post analysis conducted shortly after the resolution of the Florida fiasco indicated that Bush would have picked up an addition six or seven electoral college votes if the proportional system used by Maine and Nebraska were to be extended to the rest of the states. (I don't have a link to the article; I saw it on processed dead trees in late December 2000.)
This is interesting, because it indicated that Bush's support was more widely distributed than for the Republican congress that was elected at the same time. Additionally, except for Florida and little New Hampshire, all of the really close races were in states that went to GoreNew Mexico, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Iowa were decided by less than 15000 votes combined. The Democrats have more support, but the GOP has more broad-based support.
posted at 06:59 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Missouri's pivotal race
While wandering around on MetaFilter, I ran across this interesting discussion about the role that the Missouri senate race could play in the upcoming election. Because Jean Carnahan was selected, not elected (couldn't resist), state law says that she serves only until the next election. If she loses, the new winner may immediately assume the seat. There is speculation that the Democratic governor of Missouri may refuse to certify the election results if Carnahan's GOP opponent wins, which will result in another trip through the courts.
If you follow the link, make sure you read the comments; some are interesting, some inane, and a few are just filler, but the thread is interesting all the same. Also be sure to follow the link in the fifth comment, an excellent, balanced article from the Christian Science Monitor.
posted at 06:15 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Logic not needed
Why should French unions employ logic to push their agenda, when they can invoke the spectres of Enron and Worldcom? The fact that neither company is germane to the situation at hand, leftists the world over can speak their names and rally their anti-capitalist shock troops.
This CNN Europe story describes a large rally in Paris, organized by unions upset about the French government's plan to privatize two large public utilities, Electricite de France and Gaz de France.
CNN's Paula Hancocks said the protesters were "bitter towards the French government."
"They say privatisation has been proven not to work in the past. They give the examples of Enron, WorldCom and France Telecom, saying these companies got in trouble because they were privatised," she added.
Enron and WorldCom were never public companies. Enron started out as a pipeline operator, and WorldCom competed against AT&T before deregulation opened the floodgates. (Both companies were considerably smaller until the early 1990's.) Their problems had nothing to do with the government divesting their stock to the public marketplace.
I'm not sure why the unions in France are so concerned; after all, the next time a Socialist government is elected, the companies will be nationalized again. It's not like there will be long-term change. </sarcasm>
posted at 04:50 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
The Guardian on the ICC
In today's edition of The Guardian, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth (and venting at the United States, as usual) that the EU has agreed to immunity for US military forces and governmental officials. (To make the point a bit clearer, the EU has agreed not to extradite US personnel to the ICC as long as the US agrees to a trial in the US; this applies primarily to military personnel stationed overseas, such as yours truly). Information about the decision can be found here, in a relatively balanced article. The article I am dissecting is this one.
There can be little doubt that the standing and credibility of the UN's International Criminal Court will be damaged by the EU's decision to agree immunity for US officials and armed forces. The fundamental idea of the court's founding treaty, to which 139 states have now acceded, was after all to establish a universally respected forum in which the most serious offences in international law might be impartially and independently prosecuted. By agreeing to make an exception, the EU has torpedoed that principle. By insisting that it be made, the Bush administration has again shown its haughty antipathy to the concept of an international community of equals and democratically agreed collective action.
The only standing and credibility the ICC had was among starry-eyed one-world idealists who despise the US and everything which it represents. The purpose of the court was not the problem; the problem was the fact that it contravenes the US Constitution, and that it could be used as a pretext to attack American policies (and the US military) at every opportunity. While arrogant anti-American pontificators prattle on about our "haughty antipathy" to the court, they think nothing of expecting us to subvert the foundation of this country.
Not content with refusing to support the ICC, the White House has of late been actively undermining it. US tactics have ranged from threats to boycott peacekeeping missions to telling east European countries that a failure to agree bilateral immunity pacts could harm economic ties and Nato membership.
Every time there is a peacekeeping mission, the US is expected to supply troops. The one-worlders were expecting us to participate in every peacekeeping mission, which broadened the potential exposure for trumped-up war crimes trials, which is unreasonable and unjust. Telling East European countries that we would frown upon certain actions is not unreasonable, it is self-interest; it is POLITICS.
Britain worked hard to assuage US fears that its nationals would be unfairly singled out. Last month, it admitted it had failed.
Britain failed largely because nobody with a functioning brain can believe that the US won't be singled out, so long as it supports Israel, and refuses to let those who support terrorism breathe easily. The ejection of the US from the UN Human Rights Commission was an obvious example of anti-US hostility from those who are nominally our allies.
Now the government has taken the ultra-pragmatic but nevertheless humiliating position of leading the push for EU concessions to avoid further "negative consequences" for transatlantic relations.
The Guardian appears to be saying that the British government is wrong for calling for a compromise. It is apparently only a bad, humiliating thing when it is not the US that kunckles under to demands to surrender its sovereignty.
But there is no guarantee that the US will accept the terms on offer; it may demand more.
The US has repeatedly stated its objections to the ICC, and the objections have not changed. The ICC is still unconstitutional, even with the waiver in place, although the compromise eliminates most of the hurdles. The offer is not good enough because it still subverts the US Constitution (and the rights guaranteed to its citizens) to the whims of an unaccountable international body. The US will reject the offer, and The Guardian will whinge that the US is not playing fair.
This would hardly be surprising since at bottom, its objections are political, not legal. It abhors the ICC's implicit challenge to US constitutional rights and to its recently-promulgated global strategic droit de seigneur.
The political objection is also a legal objection; the Constution codifies and guarantees our rights, many of which are contravened by the ICC. And the last is a typical obnoxious Euro-leftist smear against the American-led effort to rid the world of terrorism. The connotation is baseless and oh-so-smug.
Yet for all that, the EU climbdown and the resulting damage to the ICC cannot simply be blamed on US importunity. It is the familiar outcome of EU members' ongoing failure to construct a centrally directed, binding foreign and security policy and to eschew vain, contradictory national posturing.
The Guardian apparently feels that the EU has not completely obliterated all traces of national identity yet, and they are distressed by that fact. While their attitude may find a receptive audience in Europe, such views will not fly here in the US, which is why they despise us so.
The Bush administration will not be around for ever.
Need I rebut mindless anti-conservatism?
But this is mere clutching at straws. While Europe's disunity persists, it will continue to lose the arguments that matter.
It obviously never occurred to the editors at The Guardian that European disunity might be the result of an honest, principled objection to the positions that the paper and its allies support. There are none so blind as those who will not see...
posted at 07:00 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Charles Krauthammer's evisceration of Al Gore is a work of art. I am surprised by the tenor of the piece; Krauthammer is seldom so vitriolic, even when he is exercised by the stupidity commonly exhibited by our politicans. A sample:
The New York Times reports that Gore wrote the speech "after consulting a fairly far-flung group of advisers that included Rob Reiner." The current foreign policy of the United States is the combined product of Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz and the president. Meanwhile, the pretender is huddling with Meathead.
Had it not been for a few little old ladies baffled by the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach, Fla., American foreign policy today would be made by Gore-Reiner instead of the Bush brain trust. Who says God doesn't smile upon the United States of America?
posted at 07:52 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
NY Times on Torricelli
In an interesting attempt to put the best possible spin on Robert Torricelli's decision to retire, the New York Times is forced to employ a few rhetorical tricks in this editorial. The Times hates Torricelli, but the prospect of a once-safe Democratic seat falling to the Republicans appalls them, and they pull out all the stops to search for a "good" (ie liberal) replacement.
Much of the speculation yesterday focused on the implications of Mr. Torricelli's decision for the New Jersey Democratic Party and for the balance of power in the United States Senate, where Democrats hold a one-vote margin. These are intriguing questions. But they are secondary to the larger issue of how to give New Jersey's voters a competitive race. Several things must happen to make that possible. The Democrats, led by Gov. James McGreevey, must move quickly to find a credible replacement. The courts must then expeditiously approve the ballot substitution, which in turn will clear the way for an energetic one-month campaign that, with Senator Torricelli out of the picture, can focus tightly on loftier issues than his seamy behavior.
It's interesting to note the quiet desperation in the editorial"we have to find a replacement as soon as possible!"that was lacking when New Jersey GOP candidates such as Donald DeFrancesco and James Treffinger had to end their campaigns prematurely.
As the editorial does point out, however, the primary responsibility for the debacle lies with the Democratic Party, who should have denied support for Torricelli when it was apparent that he was tainted, but the Democrats (under the shady leadership of Terry McAuliffe) seem to have trouble policing their members for ethical lapses. Now the chickens have come home to roost, and Torricelli has laid an egg for the Democrats in their quest to maintain control of the senate.
posted at 07:38 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Matthew Engel alert
Matthew Engel, The Guardian's corrospondent here in America, is at it again. I'm going to address a number of his points in this anti-Bush diatribe.
Yet by far the most vituperative disputes between White House and Congress of the past year have concerned the appointment of judges. Republicans blame the Democrats for jeopardising the judicial system by holding up appointments; Democrats say the other lot started it under Clinton, when the choices were less provocative. Actually, the arguments probably started in George Washington's administration, but they have rarely been this rancorous.
Okay, I'm with him so far, and he is right about the current level of hostility. However, his analysis becomes less dispassionate:
Supreme court vacancies come up infrequently, but the administration has to fill hundreds of more routine vacancies in other courts. The process is always overtly political. Still, the Bush administration, despite its own flawed mandate and all his pre-election talk of "compassionate conservatism", does seem peculiarly blatant in pushing its own partisans, sometimes extreme ones.
There's that talk about a "flawed mandate" again. Bush received more votes (and a higher percentage of the total vote) than did Clinton in 1992, but I doubt that Engel took issue with Clinton's choices for the courts.
As to the "extremism" of Bush's picks, they are extreme only to those who long for an unbridled expansion of the nanny state, where the government has control over everything except abortion, which must be unquestioningly provided to any teenager who requests it.
Charles Pickering was rejected because of a position paper he wrote in the 1950's explaining how to strengthen Mississippi's segregation laws. Senate President Pro Tem Robert Byrd was donning his white sheet at that timehe was a wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. However, as Byrd is now a good liberal, his past views are irrelevant, while Pickering's doomed Bush's first rejected nominee.
As for Priscilla Owen, I discussed her nomination at great length here, responding to a New York Times hatchet job. I need not repeat myself.
The Democrat-controlled Senate judiciary committee has held up many appointments and thrown out two, voting 10-nine on party lines. At least five more are in doubt. If the Democrats lose their Senate majority in the mid-term elections next month, all these nominations are likely to go through. And the gates will be open for Bush to make the supreme court appointment he wants. Stand by for someone (preferably, for political reasons, a Hispanic someone) combining the qualities of Judges Jeffreys, Roy Bean ("Hang 'em first, try 'em later") and Melford Stevenson.
This is odious. It appears to be a swipe at Miguel Estrada, an eminently qualified Hispanic judge with a great deal of experience, who is a nightmare for the group-identity politics of the Democratic Party. (See Byron York's NRO article for more on Estrada).
The court is already split ideologically. This manifested itself most ignobly in December 2000 when, by an astonishing coincidence, the court's five Republican-leaning judges thought Florida's electoral laws required that George Bush should be declared as president, and the four Democratic-leaning judges thought they did not.
(BZZZZT) Wrong. The court voted 7-2 that the procedures surrounding the recount process were unconstitutional (a violation of "one person, one vote", due to the repeated recounts of certain ballots); the 5-4 decision was whether the recount process should continue, however flawed it might have been.
But the ideological divide exists on a more intellectual plain [sic] too, displayed in the split between two of the judges, Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer. Scalia is the leader of the rightwing in the court, a man whose reading of the constitution is rooted firmly in the 18th century. As he says: "The constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead."
Scalia's view is that the constitution actually has a fixed meaning, rather than the moving target view that the left holds. That much is plain. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
It is not an unfamiliar view in a country of biblical fundamentalists; it is slightly surprising to find the judicial mindset that allowed the US to have first slavery, and then segregation, still at the very heart of government.
Coming from Engel, the swipe against America's religious community is unsurprising. His attempt to link them to slavery, and to tie Scalia to the two, is heavy-handed and misleading. He forgets that the core of the abolition movement was religious groups.
Even Breyer, who talks of purpose and context when interpreting the law, is hardly an out-and-out liberal: he has usually voted to reject appeals against the death penalty, even if he does sound angst-ridden about it.
Since the overwhelming majority of the US public supports the death penalty (including a majority in both major political parties), Breyer's support of the death penalty is in line with the populace whose laws he is to uphold. (Engel is a European elistist, with the typical European elitist sneer towards the whole debate). Breyer is a standard-issue liberal on all other points, however.
In any case, there is no doubt which way this argument is going. Scalia is possibly the next chief justice. If Bush stays in office until 2009, he is going to skew the court so far to the right it would take decades to unravel. Long after the president might have been forgotten, his appointees would be influencing American law.
Skew to the right? Unlikely. The two judges most likely to retire are both Republican appointeesconservative Rehnquist and centrist O'Connor.
As to the last sentence, he must be referring to Earl Warren.
Supreme court judges often thwart the intentions of their political patrons by turning out other than expected. Bush is likely to appoint people whose views will be so far off and up the wall that no mistake will be possible.
The only surprises have been Republican appointees who have been liberal Trojan Horses, such as the aforementioned Earl Warren, Harry Blackmun, and David Souter. Another appointee such as one of those would tip the ideological balance of the Supreme Court. We can't have that, now, can we? </sarcasm>
It could be enough to ensure a continuation of his worldview until Doomsday. It is not just a matter of tattooists in South Carolina. It will show itself in cases about capital punishment, corporate responsibility, gun control, you name it. Watch carefully.
Hey, he left out abortion! If one are going to recite The Litany, one must include abortion. Besides, Doomsday is a religious concept; next thing you know, Engel will start approvingly quoting Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson...
posted at 07:10 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Masters of the Obvious
CNN Europe reports that Iraq is warning Turkey against allowing the US to use Incirlik Air Base as a staging point should the US decide to attack Iraq. In a statement remarkable for its blinding obviousness, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Turkey will "absolutely not" be considered a friend of Iraq if it lets the United States use its air bases for an attack on Baghdad.
The article also discusses Turkey's weak economy and its difficulties with Kurdish rebels in the area bordering on Iraq, but fails to note the fragility of Prime Minister Ecevit's government, which is the real issue affecting Turkey's view on the war. While it appears (from his public statements) that Turkey opposes the attack, it is very likely that they will allow the US to use the base. While it is true that in the short term the Turkish economy might suffer more, it is likely that a regime change in Iraq will also result in the removal of trade sanctions against Iraq, and the Turks would be in a position to enjoy the fruits of a rejuvenated Iraqi economy through trade agreements.
posted at 05:52 PM | permalink | Comments (3)