In the Washington Post, Brzezinski repeats the lie:
Both Democratic presidential candidates agree that the United States should end its combat mission in Iraq within 12 to 16 months of their possible inauguration. The Republican candidate has spoken of continuing the war, even for a hundred years, until “victory.”
(Via the Corner.)
Of course, that is exactly not what McCain said. Now Brzezinski is a politician, so we shouldn’t be shocked when he lies. The Washington Post, on the other hand, looks bad here. Aren’t there supposed to be standards of accuracy even for op-ed pieces?
UPDATE: Better link for McCain’s actual remark.
Politico has the story:
During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion — positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he has projected during his presidential campaign.
The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.
Obama gave his usual “it wasn’t me—I never saw it—I wasn’t there” response:
Late last year, in response to a Politico story about Obama’s answers to the original questionnaire, his aides said he “never saw or approved” the questionnaire.
They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who “unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position.”
Politico, however, did the legwork, discovering:
But a Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago nonprofit group that issued it. And it found that Obama — the day after sitting for the interview — filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes added to one answer. . .
Through an aide, Obama . . . did not dispute that the handwriting was his. But he contended it doesn’t prove he completed, approved — or even read — the latter questionnaire.
An interview and his own handwriting. I’m not sure even Obama can get away with disavowing his own words and handwriting.
Oh, and what are those opinions that he says never held? Ed Morrissey summarizes:
Opposed to parental notification on abortions. He amended this to say that he might possibly support it for 12- or 13-year-olds, but no older. Flatly opposed the death penalty, a position he denied ever having. Supported bans on the sale, possession, and manufacture of guns, again a position he denied ever taking.
(Via Hot Air.)
Obama is looking more and more unprepared for national politics, where people sometimes follow up on what you say.
A diary at Daily Kos reports on the race for the Democratic credentials committee. (Via TalkLeft, via Instapundit.) He concludes that it is possible for Clinton to gain a majority of the credentials committee, and thereby seat the Michigan and Florida delegations. I don’t know if any of this is accurate or not (he does list Texas for Obama — does the caucus trump the primary?), but it’s hugely entertaining.
The plan, announced by Secretary of State Rice, includes several Israeli concessions:
- removing 50 travel barriers in and around Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya and Ramallah,
- dismantling of one permanent roadblock,
- deploying 700 Jordanian-trained Palestinian police in Jenin and allowing them to take delivery of armored vehicles,
- raising the the number of Palestinian businessmen allowed into Israel to 1,500 from 1,000,
- increasing the number of work permits for Palestinian laborers by 5,000 from its current number of 18,500,
- building new housing for Palestinians in 25 villages,
- connecting Palestinian villages to the Israeli power grid, and
- Israeli support for large-scale economic development programs and encouragement of foreign investment.
In return, the Palestinians promised an immediate cessation of rocket attacks and suicide bombings.
Okay, I made that last one up.
He’s not going to mend any fences with the far left with this interview.
A Des Moines pizza deliveryman did his part to make the world a better place:
A pizza deliveryman told Des Moines police that he shot a man who robbed him at gunpoint when he delivered a pie late Thursday to a south-side address.
The alleged assailant, Kenneth Jimmerson, 19, was taken to Mercy Medical Center in serious condition. He was charged this morning with first-degree robbery and will be taken to Polk County Jail when released from the hospital, police said.
Melanie Stout, 18, the woman who placed the order for the pizzas, was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
The story is not entirely cheery though. In keeping with the “no good deed goes unpunished” principle:
Restaurant officials have suspended the Pizza Hut driver, James William Spiers, while the case is under investigation. . . Vonnie Walbert, vice president of human resources at Pizza Hut, said:
“We have policy against carrying weapons. We prohibit employees from carrying guns because we believe that that is the safest for everybody.”
It’s exactly that sort of thinking that made this deliveryman look like an attractive target.
I have to blog this right away, since it won’t last long. Sky News reports that the opposition is claiming victory based on unofficial results. Then the rub:
The electoral body said it would start announcing early partial returns at some point today.
The official returns will probably be a bit different. (Is Jimmy Carter there to give Mugabe cover?)
UPDATE: The NYT reminds us of the last Zimbabwean vote:
In 2002, reported results had challenger Morgan Tsvangirai piling up a big lead. Then, suddenly, the announcements stopped. When they resumed, hours later, Mr. Mugabe was well ahead.
UPDATE and BUMP: The Telegraph reports: Robert Mugabe’s defeat cannot be covered up. Here’s hoping.
The Guardian’s report is less promising:
Robert Mugabe was desperately trying to cling to power last night, despite his clear defeat in Zimbabwe’s presidential election, by blocking the electoral commission from releasing official results and threatening to treat an opposition claim of victory as a coup. . .
Tsvangirai [the apparent winner] made no public appearances, apparently out of concern for his safety. Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, warned Tsvangirai not to declare himself president because that “is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled”.
Yes, I suppose we do.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit confirmed Thursday the entire Detroit office has been recused from the Al-Hanooti case, but officials would not say why. The case is instead being handled by government lawyers from Washington, D.C.
The system requirements for Crysis:
OS – Windows XP or Windows Vista Processor – 2.8 GHz or faster (XP); 3.2 GHz or faster (Vista) Memory – 1.0 GB RAM or 1.5 GB RAM (Vista)
You have to click through, just for the photo.
Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.
But Ed Cone disagrees, pointing to two stories that did give context. Cone is partly right; the article I read at the Washington Post did give some context (can’t find it now, sorry), and didn’t present it as spontaneous rebellion. However, I think that Morrissey is more right than wrong.
The media has utterly failed to educate the public on the state of the war, preferring to focus on its “grim milestones.” (I suppose it’s more efficient their way: they’ve been able to represent the entire war in 12 bits.) To anyone who is informed on the war, it has been perfectly obvious that this had to happen eventually. Morrissey saves me the trouble of explaining why:
The British left a power vacuum behind in the south that the Baghdad government could not fill at the time, and Sadr and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigades filled it instead. They have fought each other and some smaller Shi’ite groups for control of the streets ever since 2005. . . The Iraqi government had no choice but to challenge the militias for control of Basra and the surrounding areas, but they waited until the Iraqi Army had enough strength to succeed.
This explanation rates in complexity somewhere between the domino theory and “Berlin is that way” so the media ought to have been able to handle it.
UPDATE: Day by day weighs in.
We’ve become sadly used to the passing of the word “terrorist” to describe actual terrorists (remember, those people who intentionally kill civilians as a means of political coercion), and also to its occasional misuse to describe anyone the speaker doesn’t like (typically Bush, Cheney, Blair, etc.). Still, one might have hoped for better from our own government.
Michael Totten posts about the dismaying story of an actual freedom fighter who was denied a green card by the INS because of his history as a “terrorist”:
Saman Kareem Ahmad is an Iraqi Kurd who worked as a translator with the Marines in Iraq’s Anbar Province. He was one of the few selected translators who was granted asylum in the U.S. because he and his family were singled out for destruction by insurgents for “collaboration.” He wants to return to Iraq as an American citizen and a Marine, and has already been awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter and General David Petraeus wrote notes for his file and recommended he be given a Green Card, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) declined his application and called him a “terrorist.” . . .
The Kurds in Iraq–unlike the Kurds in Turkey and the ever-popular Palestinians– did not use terrorism as a tactic in their struggle for liberation. They fought honorably against Saddam’s soldiers, not against Arab civilians in south and central Iraq.
For the record, a terrorist is someone who intentionally attacks civilians in order to create terror as a means of coercion. A soldier who attacks legitimate military targets is not a terrorist, even when the speaker disapproves of his cause. Conversely, someone whose vocation is setting off car bombs in crowded marketplaces is a terrorist, and he doesn’t stop being so simply because he is currently fighting for his life against the US Marines or the IDF.
The New Republic has an article on edit wars at Wikipedia on the pages for Clinton and Obama. (Via The New Editor, via Instapundit.) No surprise: both sides have some juveniles. But the key point is here, I think:
The battles over Hillary’s and Obama’s pages have been so heated because the stakes are so high. The candidates’ Wikipedia pages are their second Google hits, right after their official campaign portals.
Wikipedia almost always comes near the top on Google. Why? A friend at Google once confirmed for me what I suspected, that it’s not simply the result of their page ranking algorithm — they put it there deliberately. “People like Wikipedia,” he said.
True enough, people like Wikipedia, but it tends to be of limited use for controversial subjects. Moreover, you can be surprised by what turns out to be controversial; I once read their article about the “alleged moon landings.” (This has long since been fixed.) I’d rather they simply applied their algorithm and let the chips fall where they may.
Ban Ki-moon cannot limit himself to a negative review:
I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders’ offensively anti-Islamic film. There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free expression is not at stake here. I acknowledge the efforts of the Government of the Netherlands to stop the broadcast of this film, and appeal for calm to those understandably offended by it. Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.
Oh, the right of free expression is not at stake here? Never mind then.
Al-Sadr has ordered his followers to “end all presence on the streets” and not to carry arms against Iraqi forces. I guess we know who’s winning.
Still, Al-Sadr has been very slippery in the past, managing to escape destruction each time he’s been defeated. I hope the Iraqi army finishes the job this time.
Friday I blogged on the (lack of) reality behind the movie Stop-Loss, based on the trailer. Well, Libertas actually saw the movie, and didn’t care for it much. (Via Instapundit.) Viewers seem to agree; the movie opened at #7, earning just $1.6 million. Apparently, Paramount is not surprised:
Paramount wasn’t expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. “It’s not looking good,” a studio source told me before the weekend. “No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It’s a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that’s unresolved yet. It’s a shame because it’s a good movie that’s just ahead of its time.”
They didn’t expect the movie to do well, but they made it anyway? I guess they feel some principles are worth wasting money on. (Paramount’s shareholders have some grounds to be upset, I think.)
Also, an Instapundit reader suggests “an X-Prize for an Iraq war movie that doesn’t suck.”
The Washington Times publishes excerpts of an interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. (Via Power Line.) The article is headlined by her comments on race, and on that topic what she says sounds about right. (ASIDE: One is struck by the fact that Rice, who (unlike Obama) actually grew up in the segregated South, managed to avoid forming ties with any racist nutcase ministers.)
However, I was troubled by this bit at the end:
Miss Rice cited resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending North Korea’s nuclear programs, and securing Iraq and Afghanistan as the Bush administration’s main foreign-policy priorities for the rest of its term.
What about Iran? Continuing the quixotic Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” is a higher priority than keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?
The Clinton campaign turns up the heat on Obama:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s most prominent African-American supporter in Pennsylvania [Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter] says that had he been a member of Sen. Barack Obama’s church, he would have left because of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s fiery and controversial sermons. . .
Nutter said, “I think there is a big difference between expressing the pain and anger that many African Americans and other people of color may feel versus language that I think now crosses the line and goes into hate.” . . .
“Somehow, someway, for some people there’s an automatic assumption that a mayor who is African-American or some other elected official has to support another African-American,” Nutter said.
“I thought that when Dr. King said that he wanted people to be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, I thought that’s what he was talking about,” Nutter added.
Speaking in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (45 minutes from Pittsburgh), Obama said he would return America to the “traditional” foreign policy of Reagan and Bush 41.
The truth is that my foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush’s father, of John F. Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan.
(Emphasis mine.) Got that? The foreign policy of Reagan and Bush Sr. was “bipartisan.” Obama must be working from a different dictionary than I, because I distinctly recall the Democrats vehemently opposing Bush and especially Reagan. (I remember it very clearly because, sad to say, I was part of that Democratic consensus opposing Reagan. But give me a break; when Reagan left office, I was 17 and still in the clutches of the Seattle Public Schools.)
I remember the Democratic opposition to Reagan’s military buildup, to SDI, to the liberation of Grenada. I remember apoplectic reaction to Reagan’s evil empire speech, and the Boland Amendment cutting off the Nicaraguan Contras. I remember the 1991 Gulf War resolution that Senate Democrats voted against 10-45 (and two of the ten are no longer Democrats) and House Democrats voted against 86-179. Bipartisan indeed.
No matter how often the Democrats are wrong — against Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush 41 — they’ve always joined the consensus in retrospect, and they’re always right today.
I first saw this piece on a huge oil discovery in North Dakota a little while ago, but didn’t pay much attention, since I’d never heard of Next Energy News before. Now that piece is making the rounds of the blogosphere (Rand Simberg, Instapundit) and one of Simberg’s commenters points to this post, which strikes me as credible. (As the very least, it has lots of supporting links.)
If this pans out, the upshot is 100–300 billion barrels of oil in the Williston Basin, which spans the U.S.-Canada border (with the largest portions being in North Dakota and Saskatchewan). By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 260 billion barrels in proven oil reserves.
UPDATE (5/20): For some reason, a lot of people are finding this post through search engines. Here’s my latest post on the topic.
John McCain releases his first campaign ad since clinching the Republican nomination:
This looks like a front-runner’s ad: entirely positive and mostly non-specific. (There’s perhaps a very subtle dig at Obama by asking “what must a President believe about us?”) I hope he’s not buying the polls that show him as the front-runner; once the Democrats settle on a nominee, the media will do everything in their power to close that gap.
Fox News reports that the FBI has narrowed its focus to “about four” suspects in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Three are scientists connected with Fort Detrick. It’s been a long time since I had any hope this case would be solved. Here’s hoping.
ASIDE: My brother-in-law used to live about a mile from Fort Detrick. It was somewhat creepy driving past it.
Zimbabwe (“get behind the fist”) and Zambia have thrown away thousands of tons of much needed corn, leaving people to starve rather than allow them to eat genetically modified foodstuffs. (Via Instapundit.)
Robert Paarlberg explains:
The overregulation of this technology in Europe and the anxieties felt about it in the United States are not so much a reflection of risks, because there aren’t any documented risks from any GM crops on the market. I explain that reaction through the absence of direct benefit. The technology is directly beneficial to only a tiny number of citizens in rich countries—soybean farmers, corn farmers, a few seed companies, patent holders. Consumers don’t get a direct benefit at all, so it doesn’t cost them anything to drive it off the market with regulations. The problem comes when the regulatory systems created in rich countries are then exported to regions like Africa, where two thirds of the people are farmers, and where they would be the direct beneficiaries.
Duke University has asked a court to shut down a website critical of its handling of the lacrosse rape hoax case.
Polls show that Zimbabwe is poised overwhelmingly to reject Mugabe, if given the chance, which seems unlikely to me. Personally, I suspect he’ll be leaving office the way Nicolae Ceausescu did, and no sooner.
UPDATE: No surprise here; things look bad.
Tom Maguire spots an interesting statement: Under continued fire for his membership in Rev. Wright’s congregation, Obama now says that he would have left the church, but didn’t need he needed to because Wright apologized. (Via Instapundit.) Maguire observes that Wright’s purported apology was not exactly well publicized, and has some thoughts on the value of a second-hand apology.
But why rely on our own recollection; let’s ask Google. (I’m telling you, this Internet is going to catch on!) As of 9:47am Eastern, there are no hits regarding a Jeremiah Wright apology on the first three pages. However, there are plenty of hits regarding how Wright is owedan apology. Geez.
This was making the rounds a few months ago. I was reminded of it today by the state of rhetoric in the current campaign (great oratory really can have content!), but upon listening to it again, I was struck by how germane it is to today’s war. Shall we defeat our enemies, or shall we try to accommodate them, and in so doing sentence countless human beings to slavery?
The New York Times reviews Stop-Loss, the latest anti-war film to come out of Hollywood. Unshockingly, they recommend it. Just as unshockingly, they leave unasked the question of whether the movie has anything to do with the stop-loss policy employed by the Pentagon.
Judging by the trailer (which I saw a few months ago in the previews for Charlie Wilson’s War — a terrific pro-American, anti-Soviet film about running guns to the Afghan Northern Alliance), the protagonist returns from a tour of duty in Iraq, looking forward to his discharge and a life with his fiancée. On the way out, he is informed that he is being “stop-lossed” and sent back to Iraq. Tragedy ensues.
In reality, the stop-loss policy is intended to maintain cohesion in units deployed to war. According to the Christian Science Monitor, soldiers can have their commitment extended for the duration of a deployment and up to 90 days before and after that deployment. So, it would not happen that a soldier who had just returned and was due to be discharged would get transferred to another unit and re-deployed. Indeed, from the perspective of unit cohesion, that would entirely defeat the purpose.
There’s certainly a legitimate debate about whether stop-loss is a good policy (I have no strong opinion), but judging by the trailer, this movie just spreads misinformation and doesn’t advance that debate at all.
Stephen Spruiell notes an Obama ad blaming NAFTA for the downfall of a then-non-existent company bankrupted by domestic competition:
Obama’s presidential campaign aired a TV ad that featured a man named Steven Schuyler standing in front of a Delphi Packard Electric plant in Warren, Ohio. In the ad, Schuyler says he worked for Delphi, an automotive supplier, for 13 years until NAFTA enabled the company to ship his job to Mexico. “Barack Obama was against NAFTA,” Schuyler says, adding, “We need a president that will bring work into this country.”
The Delphi ad might qualify as the most deceptive of the 2008 race. First, Delphi did not exist as an independent company when Congress passed NAFTA in 1993. It was part of General Motors until it was spun off as an independent supplier in 1999. Second, foreign competition did not drive the company to eliminate American jobs. It declared bankruptcy in 2005 because the legacy labor costs it inherited from GM made it impossible to compete against other U.S.-based suppliers. Third, workers at the Warren, Ohio plant were offered generous buyouts and early-retirement packages. Its employees were not just kicked to the street.
Popular Mechanics has an article on the balance between realism and gameplay in military shooters like Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (R6V2). (Via Instapundit.) It’s a good article, but I get the feeling the author is not a serious gamer. The article gives the impression that R6V2 makes great strides toward realistic gunfire, except for a few compromises. My impression, having played the game, is that R6V2 is actually less realistic than its predecessor.
It may well be that they calculate accurately the amount of damage done by a bullet after penetrating cover and/or armor, but there’s another side of the equation, which is how much damage a soldier can take before going down. In reality, a soldier would go down quite quickly, but in R6V2, a player can endure quite a lot of punishment. Its predecessor was less forgiving.
Now, I don’t care all that much about realism for its own sake, but I did enjoy the unique gameplay that arose from the Rainbow Six Vegas’s realism. In R6V, a player firing first from cover would nearly always win, making it possible for sneaky old guys like me (I’m 36) to beat the kids, despite their vastly superior videogaming skills. That style of gameplay has not been duplicated in any other game, including its sequel. In R6V2, players are tough enough that run-and-gun becomes a viable strategy, which puts the kids back on top.
This morning my post on Blackwater Fever was Instalanched. My first response was to use it to try to draw attention to my ad for John McCain. My second response was to wonder how on earth Glenn Reynolds found it. Before today, my blog was known to fewer than 10 people, and I’m not actively promoting it. According to the stats, I’ve received no traffic from search engines. So he must have found out via a linkback.
The thing is, Reynolds must get thousands of linkbacks every day. He can’t possibly look at them all, and also scour the Internet for interesting articles, and also hold down a job as a law professor, can he? I’m curious, so I’m going to try an experiment: I have another link to Instapundit in this post. If I get another Instalanche, we will have empirically confirmed that Glenn Reynolds has no life.
UPDATE: Reynolds refuses to be manipulated into a sending a second Instalanche, but he (or someone at UT claiming to be him) weighs in in the comments. Hypothesis confirmed!
I’m tired of the defeat-in-Iraq crowd pretending that they have the moral high ground. Of course we can and should make pragmatic arguments for finishing the job based on our own security, but there’s a moral argument we should make as well. The pro-defeat crowd wants to abandon an entire people to the worst kind of tyranny in existence today, and all the while they’re patting themselves on the back.
I would like to see John McCain run an ad like this:
(Video shows a teenaged Iraqi girl.) This is Amira. She lives in Iraq. She has had a difficult childhood: she saw her father and uncle carried away for speaking critically of Saddam Hussein. [Adjust details as appropriate.] But now Amira is free, and she has dreams for her life. She wants to travel, to study and become an artist, or a doctor.
(Video shifts to Al Qaeda thugs.) But there are some who don’t want Amira to realize her aspirations. Men who subscribe to a perverted form of Islam and wish to impose it on her country, and indeed the world. (Brief collage of Taliban and Iranian atrocities.) These men come into her country and set off bombs, hoping to terrorize her people into obedience. (Aftermath of a car bomb.)
(Screen splits, with Amira on one side and the U.S. Capitol on the other.) Will America continue to stand with Amira, or will we abandon her to her enemies? This November, you will help make that decision.
I’m John McCain, and I approved this message.
The Inter Press Service news agency (IPS) is reporting on a new disease that is so bad, it’s named after a security contractor:
What Iraqis now call Blackwater fever is really a well-known medical condition, and while it has nothing to do with Blackwater Worldwide, Iraqis in al-Anbar province have decided to make the connection between the disease and the lethal U.S.-based company which has been responsible for the death of countless Iraqis.
ASIDE: I had never heard of IPS before, so I looked them up. From their website:
IPS is a communication institution with a global news agency at its core. IPS raises the voices of the South and civil society. IPS brings a fresh perspective on development and globalisation.
So, basically, this is an obscure advocacy organization that puts out dubious news stories. Probably we shouldn’t make too much of this in the media failure department. On the other hand, the leftists that bought into this are probably owed a bit of friendly teasing.
UPDATE: This blog is five days old. I went to the pageview stats this morning, expecting to see a typical number (like 4), and found I’d been Instalanched. (To a close approximation, every person reading this knows this already.) So here’s my advice to other new bloggers: forget insightful commentary; it’s snarky one-liners that get you noticed!
Anyway, during my fleeting moment of fame, I’d like to draw attention to my ad that John McCain should run on Iraq, in the hopes that someone will see it who can make it happen.
To be fair, it is not alleged that they knew it. I’m reminded of the Humbert Wolfe quote:
You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.
Jim Lindgren, going through the Obamas’ tax returns, finds that Obama seems to have violated the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act by accepting honoraria.
Obama’s effort to sidestep his church’s bizarre teachings becomes more threadbare by the day. It is now revealed that his church’s worship bulletin contained a racist rant (pdf) alleging, among other things, that Israel worked on “an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs.”
In the worship bulletin. And Obama can no more disown this guy than his own grandmother.
I can see why he thinks his best chance is convince people that it’s out-of-bounds even to mention this stuff.
Gallup reports that many Democratic voters will switch to McCain if their candidate doesn’t win:
Among people who identified themselves as Hillary Clinton supporters, 28 percent said they would vote for McCain if Obama is his opponent, the March 7-22 Gallup Poll Daily election tracking survey found. The same poll found that 19 percent of Obama supporters would switch sides and cast ballots for McCain if Clinton is the Democratic candidate.
I’m not sure I buy it, but here’s hoping. Also:
A recent Gallup survey found that 11 percent of Republican voters said they would vote for a different party or not at all if McCain doesn’t pick a running mate who is more conservative than he is.
That, er, shouldn’t be hard, should it?
Pittsburgh’s mayor and city council are fighting over the budget:
Cost-cutting ideas are coming quickly in Pittsburgh City Council, but some members are claiming that they’re being targeted for political revenge by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the latest proposal.
Over objections from the Ravenstahl administration, Council voted to cut half the number of taxpayer-funded take-home cars for city officials.
On the heels of that vote comes a call from an ally of the mayor to put the knife to City Council’s payroll for its staff. . . [Councilman Ricky] Burgess led in making the charge that revenge by Ravenstahl is behind Councilman Jim Motznik’s bill to slash money for council’s staff. Burgess said it’s payback for City Council voting on Tuesday to cut the number of take-home cars for city employees from 59 to 29.
As long as they’re squabbling by cutting the budget, let’s sit back and enjoy the show.
Obama military advisor and campaign co-chair Tony McPeak blames U.S. Jews for the lack of peace in the Middle East. (Via Instapundit.) Enough to get him fired? It’s hard to say. Stephanie Power (formerly Obama’s chief foreign policy advisor) lost her job not for advocating invading Israel, but for calling Hillary Clinton a monster. On the other hand, people are paying more attention to this stuff now.
Breaking her silence on the controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s long-time pastor, Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she would have left the congregation if her pastor behaved like Obama’s. . . “You know, we don’t have a choice when it comes to our relatives. We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend,” she said. . .
The Obama campaign blasted back that Clinton only made the statement to distract from scrutiny about her own recollection of a March 1996 trip to Bosnia. “After originally refusing to play politics with this issue, it’s disappointing to see Hillary Clinton’s campaign sink to this low in a transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.
They’re both right.
On Obama’s race speech, Christopher Hitchens has a way with words:
You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)
The Supreme Court issued an important opinion today. The case involved a convicted murderer who is a Mexican national. The police failed to notify him of his right to consult with the Mexican consulate, and his lawyer failed to raise the issue at trial. The issue was raised on appeal, and after a convoluted path through state and federal courts, the conviction was upheld.
In the meantime, however, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a ruling that required the United States:
to provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the [affected] Mexican nationals.
In response, President Bush issued a memorandum ordering the Texas courts to review the case in line with the ICJ’s ruling. The Texas courts declined to do so, and the Supreme Court took up the case.
At issue were two questions: (1) does the ICJ’s decision constitute enforceable domestic law, and (2) does the President have the power to issue orders to state courts in accordance with that decision? The Supreme Court answered no to both.
For anyone concerned about our nation’s sovereignty, this was the preferred decision. (Last October, Ramesh Ponnuru made a strong case for today’s outcome.) However, legally it seems to have been a close call, hinging on whether the precise wording of the ICJ treaty made it “self-executing.” There’s a limit, then, to how much solace we can take from this decision. We need to stay vigilant.
UPDATE: The key bit seems to be on pages 8 and 9 of the decision. There is a distinction dating back to the Marshall court between treaties that are self-executing, and ones that are merely commitments to act:
In sum, while treaties “may comprise international commitments . . . they are not domestic law unless Congress has either enacted implementing statutes or the treaty itself conveys an intention that it be ‘self-executing’ and is ratified on these terms.”
Lawyers probably knew all this already, but it was new to me. (ASIDE: The decision cites The Federalist #33, which is very interesting in light of our government’s consideration of treaties that infringe our individual liberties.)
The decision then goes on to consider whether or not the relevant treaties are self-executing. It begins thus: “The interpretation of a treaty, like the interpretation of a statute, begins with its text.” (I think I’m going to like the Roberts court.) It continues:
The [Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention] provides: “Disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of the [Vienna] Convention shall lie within the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.” . . . Of course, submitting to jurisdiction and agreeing to be bound are two different things.
They go on to find that the text of the Protocol is more naturally read as “a bare grant of jurisdiction.”
With NAFTA and the International Court of Justice in the news, I’ve been reflecting on so-called globalization. (ASIDE: Regarding the latter story, there are so many different issues muddling the case that I’ll need to read the decision to decide what I think.) It strikes me that there’s really two different forms of globalization going on under one name.
One form seeks to make people more free, and is exemplified by free-trade agreements such as NAFTA, the WTO, and the failed Doha Round. When two people who happen to reside in separate countries wish to make a consensual exchange of goods, very often their governments interfere, either by demanding a cut (as with tariffs), or by prohibiting the exchange altogether (as with quotas). Free trade agreements make people more free by lessening governmental interference in their individual choices.
As implemented, these agreements sometimes work in peculiar and unfortunate ways. For example, when the WTO tries to convince a recalcitrant government to lift a tariff, its tool of coercion is to license another government to impose new tariffs. Thus, the WTO withdraws freedom from one set of people to try to gain it for another set. But, when the mechanism works, both sets end up free. On balance, the WTO seems to extend freedom much more than it curtails freedom.
In sharp contrast is the other form of globalization, which seeks to limit individual freedom by placing people under the authority of international organizations such as the UN or the EU. In the United States, we can already recognize that our governments usually are not especially concerned with individual freedoms, but at least there are mechanisms by which we can hold them to account. International organizations are much less accountable (or — as with the UN — not at all). Moreover, such organizations have already established a reputation for bizarre and capricious behavior (or worse).
James Robbins (at the Corner) observes that many detainees in US custody prefer not to be released, at least not until they finish their classes (!).
Police are asking residents to submit to voluntary searches in exchange for amnesty under the District’s gun ban. The program is starting in the Washington Highlands neighborhood of southeast Washington on Monday and will later expand to other neighborhoods. Officers will go door to door asking residents for permission to search their homes.
Obviously D.C. is responding to an expected loss in the Heller case, but what I want to know is, are people really giving the police permission to search their homes?!
But there’s something odd in this article:
A police spokeswoman said that if evidence of other crimes is found during voluntary searches, amnesty will be granted for that crime as well.
“Chief Lanier has been clear,” Traci Hughes said. “Amnesty means amnesty.”
This can’t possibly be true. If they find a dead body in your house, they’re going to give you amnesty? In any case, I doubt the police chief’s proclamation is binding on the district attorney.
I’ve long lamented the poor state of reporting on the war in Iraq. While our military systematically roots out terrorists, our mainstream media reports only on the latest atrocities committed by the enemy. As Iraq has quieted, and terrorist atrocities have become less frequent, Iraq has begun to fade out of the media. Without the Internet, it would be awfully hard to learn what’s actually happening.
Given the leanings of the media, this is not surprising, but I learned today something that did surprise me: While reporting in Baghdad is expensive, embedding is free! Paul McLeary writes in the Columbia Journalism Review:
Five years into the war, news organizations have understandably cut back a bit, given the immense cost of maintaining a Baghdad bureau. From life insurance for reporters to guards, armored cars (which not all bureaus have), and fortified houses outside of the Green Zone, reporting from Iraq is an incredibly expensive proposition.
But embedding with infantry units is free. Flights to Kuwait, where the Army public affairs team picks you up and puts you on a military aircraft to Iraq, and insurance still cost, but once you’re embedded, your expenses end. And that’s why I can’t understand why every major news organization doesn’t have one reporter embedded with a combat unit at all times.
(Via the Corner.)
So, hardly any major news organizations have embedded reporters any more, despite the fact that embedding is nearly free. (At least, if they do have them, we never hear from them.) This is surprising at first blush, but unlike McLeary, I can imagine a reason why not: perhaps the media simply doesn’t want to report on the troops.
The March 8 issue of the Economist has an interesting article about how spacecraft apparently are not following their expected trajectories:
In 1990 mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California . . . noticed something odd happen to a Jupiter-bound craft, called Galileo. As it was flung around the Earth in what is known as a slingshot manoeuvre . . . , Galileo picked up more velocity than expected. Not much. Four millimetres a second, to be precise. But well within the range that can reliably be detected. . .
Once might be happenstance. But this strange extra acceleration was seen subsequently with two other craft. . . So a team from JPL has got together to analyse all of the slingshot manoeuvres that have been carried out over the years, to see if they really do involve a small but systematic extra boost. The answer is that they do.
Altogether, John Anderson and his colleagues analysed six slingshots involving five different spacecraft. Their paper on the matter is about to be published in Physical Review Letters. Crucially for the idea that there really is a systematic flaw in the laws of physics as they are understood today, their data can be described by a simple formula. It is therefore possible to predict what should happen on future occasions.
Anderson and his colleagues plan to test their theory when they receive data from Rosetta, which executed a slingshot maneuver in November. I hope I hear about the results.
If I had any readers, I’d ask the physicists if they knew anything about this.
I can’t say I’m surprised by the revelation that Eliot Spitzer, his denials to the contrary, personally directed his administration’s wrongdoing in “troopergate.” What does surprise me is his degree of emotional involvement in it:
Around June 25 or June 26, Mr. Dopp [Spitzer’s former communications director] told prosecutors, he first met with Richard Baum, the governor’s chief of staff, who told Mr. Dopp that the governor wanted the records on Mr. Bruno released to the media. “Eliot wants you to release the records,” Mr. Baum told him.
But Mr. Dopp, mindful of the political war that would erupt between the governor’s office and Mr. Bruno, hesitated and decided to check with the governor.
He told the governor that Mr. Bruno would be furious, according to people familiar with his account. Mr. Spitzer responded with expletives about Mr. Bruno and belligerently dismissed the warning.
The governor was so angry, Mr. Dopp recalled, that he turned red and spit out coffee he was sipping as he directed him to release the records immediately. “As he was saying it, he was spitting a little bit,” Mr. Dopp said. “He was spitting mad.”
Not only was this man willing to use the power of his office to spy on his political opponents, but he became furious when Dopp had the temerity to counsel against it. Then, when he was found out, he pinned the blame on Dopp:
A report by the attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, on July 23 said that the Spitzer administration had improperly used the State Police to assemble records on Mr. Bruno’s flights. Mr. Spitzer apologized, placed Mr. Dopp on indefinite unpaid leave, and said he would not tolerate such behavior.
One usually imagines this sort of conduct being of a cold, calculating, ruthless sort. But for Eliot Spitzer, it was more like “How dare you oppose my rule!” He truly was a scoundrel of the first order.
ASIDE: With Spitzer out of office now, the political damage of this revelation to the Democrats is largely contained. (Although the New York Times article does not let on, Spitzer was, in fact, a Democrat.) So I’m curious: Did the New York Times really come into this information during the past week, since Spitzer resigned?
A particular fascination of mine is with the media’s inability or unwillingness to report events accurately. I admit I was slow on the uptake here. The myth of competent and fair journalism is a powerful one: I wanted to believe, all the evidence to the contrary.
Like most people (according to my informal survey of people I’ve felt like asking), I had noticed that whenever the media covered something of which I had personal or professional knowledge, they invariably reported something wrong — often the central facts of the story. But, I always figured, it’s the junior reporters who cover local news, or science and technology. They must get the major stories right. On the occasions when they got caught making stuff up (like 60 Minutes and Dateline NBC rigging cars to make them appear unsafe) I saw it as just an aberration.
It wasn’t until December 2000 that I really grasped the scope of the media’s incompetence and/or dishonesty. In my own defense, there didn’t use to be as many alternative information sources you could use to double-check the mainstream media. Still, my realization came, not by the Internet, as you might expect, but by an older technology: C-Span. It was during the month of legal wrangling in Florida that followed the Presidential election.
One of the many lawsuits was in (iirc) Seminole County. Democrats were suing to have all the county’s absentee ballots thrown out because many absentee ballot request formswere handled improperly. (This would have given the election to Gore.) The day that case went to trial, I was home with the flu, and I watched the proceedings on C-Span. For the first time, I had direct knowledge of the facts of the day’s top story. Later that evening, I watched the media report on what had happened: not a single story got the central facts right, and every one erred in the direction of making the lawsuit sound more reasonable than it was. Sitting alone in my living room, I apparently had better news-gathering resources than the entire mainstream media.
That was the day I realized that the media cannot be trusted, but it still took me a while to realize that (at least when it comes to politics) they don’t necessarily even try to get the story right. Now, I’m not someone who gets exercised about media bias. Journalists have always had their biases; the myth of the impartial journalist is a modern vanity. However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to tell the truth.
In a typical example, the BBC has just admitted (“clarified,” that is) that a recent report critical of Israel was fabricated:
The BBC showed a bulldozer demolishing a house, while correspondent Nick Miles told viewers: “Hours after the attack, Israeli bulldozers destroyed his family home.” . . .
The house, however, was not demolished; the BBC was embarrassed when news reports from other broadcasters showed the east Jerusalem home intact and the family commemorating their son’s actions.
Last week, the BBC apologized live on its news program, admitting it had used footage of another house being demolished.
(Via Power Line.)
While we’re discussing the BBC, last week they reported on a speech in which President Bush claimed victory in Iraq. Except, he didn’t. (Via LGF.) Unfortunately, I didn’t start this blog quickly enough, and the article referenced has already gone down the memory hole. Will they apologize for this? I doubt they are sufficiently embarrassed. (UPDATE: Screen grabs are at the Monkey Tennis Centre. (Via Instapundit.))
A well-known handicap of senators running for president is a lack of concrete accomplishments, and the problem is exacerbated for Obama and Clinton, who are both among the least-experienced members of the Senate. The obvious response, to take credit for things you didn’t do, is starting to gall their Democratic colleagues. (Via the Corner.)
There’s nothing here on McCain, and one feels safe in assuming that they would have included something on him if they could. Of course, McCain’s problem is more the stuff he’s done, than the stuff he hasn’t.
Under pressure from Islamists, Network Solutions shuts down a website being used to promote an upcoming anti-Islamic movie. (Via Instapundit.) Apparently Network Solutions has a policy against “objectionable material of any kind or nature.”
Hmm, perhaps I can get them to shut down websites promoting aspect-oriented programming. Get your censorship while the getting’s good.
For my readers (ha!) looking for any difference in substance between Clinton and Obama to explain all the heat on the left, I recommend an insightful article by Ramesh Ponnuru from the March 10 issue of National Review. (NR subscribers can find it online here.) Ponnuru cites journalist Ron Brownstein’s observation of two factions within the Democratic party:
Brownstein wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times last spring on the tensions within the Democratic party: “Since the 1960s,” he said, “Democratic nominating contests regularly have come down to a struggle between a candidate who draws support primarily from upscale, economically comfortable voters liberal on social and foreign policy issues, and a rival who relies mostly on downscale, financially strained voters drawn to populist economics and somewhat more conservative views on cultural and national security issues.”
Democratic strategists, Brownstein noted, alluded to this division by referring to “wine track” and “beer track” candidates. One class of Democratic voters looks for a candidate who will be a “warrior” for their interests. Another class looks for a candidate who will serve as a kind of secular “priest” affirming their values.
Clinton, he says, is the “beer track” warrior, and Obama the “wine track” priest. In the past, the priests (Gary Hart, Bill Bradley) have tended to lose the Democratic primary, but things look different in 2008, in part due to Obama’s unique abilities and in part due to improved economic circumstances:
We now have a mass upper class. Its material concerns largely met, it can vote for reasons that previous generations would have dismissed as hopelessly ethereal, such as the need to create a new style of politics that brings the country together. Its members have the luxury, that is, of voting for “hope.”
Interesting. The analogy of Obama as priest is also somewhat more poignant given the strange videos being circulated by Obama supporters (for example).
My new voter registration card arrived in the mail yesterday. I’m now a registered Democrat. Pennsylvania is abuzz about the Presidential primary, which, against all expectation, has turned out to matter. I’m part of the surge of Republicans that are changing their party registration to Democrat. (Aside: the Pennsylvania Department of State says that Republican-to-Democrat switchers outnumber the other direction by a 3-to-1 margin. Only 3-to-1? Who’s going the other way?)
I will be voting for Clinton. This is not because I think she’ll be the easier opponent to McCain to beat. I think it’s a fools errand to try to predict now who will be the stronger opponent in November. (Remember, the Democrats ended up with Kerry in 2004 because they thought he was the strongest candidate. Oops.) Neither is it because I want to see three more months of Democratic internecine warfare, although I certainly don’t mind.
I will be voting for Clinton simply because she scares me less than Obama. There’s no question her foreign policy would be a disaster, but she and her people don’t have the same predilection for jaw-droppingly bizarre foreign policy pronouncements.
Of course, this is all a matter of degree. Both have pledged to abandon Iraq, and neither has any plan to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (It’s not clear that President Bush has a plan either, but at least he recognizes the danger.) Nevertheless, on balance, Clinton seems to be less dangerous.
The spell checker built-in to WordPress (the blogging software I’m using here) doesn’t recognize the word “blog.”
This is the first post on my new blog, Internet Scofflaw. For a long time I’ve thought of assembling my essays and other musings into one place, but I never got around to doing so until now.
One driving force behind actually starting now is that I finally came up with a good blog name. I’ll write about what the name means, and other philosophical matters, in future posts, whenever I feel like it. The other driving force is that there’s so much going on right now, it seems like a good time to start.
“Hello world!” is the default name that WordPress gives to your first post, but it seemed appropriate, so I kept it.