(and some commentary)
20030609-20030828 | 20030902-20031214 | 20040106-20040320 | Current | Links
In the past 3 1/2 years, OSHA, the branch of the Labor Department in charge of workers' well-being, has eliminated nearly five times as many pending standards as it has completed. It has not started any major new health or safety rules, setting Bush apart from the previous three presidents, including Ronald Reagan.This stuff is pocket change next to Bush's expansion of Medicare, but I think I'd better savor this good news before reverting to my usual state, pining for seemingly unreachable ideals like leaving intrastate workplace regulations to the states, Tenth-Amendment-style.
Since the younger Bush took office, federal agencies have begun roughly one-quarter fewer rules than Clinton and 13 percent fewer than Bush's father during comparable periods.
John D. Graham, who holds the same job [deputy budget director for information and regulatory affairs] in the Bush White House, said regulations are "a form of unfunded mandate that the federal government imposes on the private sector or on state or local governments."
A few months later, Graham, the White House's top regulatory official, was alerting agencies that they would face closer scrutiny from the OMB when they proposed new rules. The day after he was confirmed by the Senate, he sent the first of 14 letters to agencies saying they had failed to prove the need for regulations they had proposed. That was more than had been sent during Clinton's eight years.
At OSHA, The Post's analysis found, the rules the agency has proposed are narrower than most of those it has eliminated. Thirteen of the 24 proposals it has canceled since Bush took office fall into a category the government classifies as "economically significant," meaning they would cost or save the economy at least $100 million. None of the 16 standards OSHA has proposed during that time falls in that group.
I predict that a new generation of "Quantum Lawyers" will begin to populate the physics literature with arguments challenging what "is" is and claming that the wounded interpretations never said that interference should be completely absent in a quantum which-way measurement.I'll reserve judgement until I've listened to some of these quantum lawyers.
Following the historical pattern of terrorist movements everywhere -- from Russia's Bolsheviks to the Irish Republican Army to Palestine's Hamas -- we can expect that within a decade al Qaeda will open one, or possibly several, political fronts in predominantly Islamic states, transforming itself from a deadly but diffuse terrorist movement into implacably hostile governmental factions throughout the Middle East that will pose critical geostrategic challenges to America and our allies.20040809 It's about time:
Saudi Arabia plans to hold its first nationwide elections starting in November, seen as the first concrete political reforms in the country's absolute monarchy, a government source said on Wednesday.20040809 In Finland, internet addiction makes you unfit for military service.
The source from the Municipal Affairs Ministry told Reuters the first stage of the local elections would be held in the capital Riyadh after the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in mid-November.
The elections will elect half of the members of the nearly 180 municipal councils nationwide, while the rest are expected to be appointed by the government.
If they knew and believed that the US commitment to the new Iraqi government would remain strong no matter who won the election, that would be immensely helpful. Sadly, they have no basis right now for any such conclusion. On this issue, as on so many others, Kerry seems hell-bent on avoiding any perception of having taken a stand. Even the Boston Globe, the NYTimes, and the Wapo have noticed.This is one the biggest reasons why, although I find it awfully tempting to punish Bush for his expansion of non-Defense government, and try to stop the damage he's doing to the conservative movement, I don't think doing so is in the best interests of my country.
He's said he won't pull out. But he's also said that going in was a mistake. And he's talked about ways of pulling out. He's on all sides of this issue, just as he seems to be on all sides of nearly every other substantive issue. ... But on this one issue, his refusal to break character by speaking frankly, speaking to the point, has significant foreign policy ramifications. It increases doubt for Iraqis about American commitment, and therefore makes an insurgent victory seem more plausible.
And that is a victory for the insurgents. It actually does make an insurgent victory more likely.
|(The pie reads "a Milovich pie.") That's one of about ten pies my second sister Julie has made this week. As usual, when her heart is in a task, she never disappoints. You see, the apples came from our apple tree, and something had to be done before they all rotted.|
The real issue is the alleged Saudi funding of terror. No matter how much demand we withdraw from the oil market, the Saudis will have revenue and we have to be concerned with how they use it.20040725 The 9/11 Commission's report provides new information about Flight 93:
If cutting off funding is critical to winning the war on terror, then we must press the Saudis on that point. We should tell them that we respect their rights as a sovereign nation, but they owe it to the community of nations to not fund terrorists. If that approach does not work, then it is a waste of time to wring our hands over our "dependence on foreign oil." The only fallback position is the one suggested by my wife: just take the oil.
At 9:57, about seven minutes before the end, one of the passengers ended her phone conversation saying: "Everyone's running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye.""Let's roll" is one of those things that, if isn't true, it ought to be. In any case, the heroes of flight 93 are heroes for what they did, not for what they said.
Soon after, Ziad Jarrah, sitting at the controls, began rolling the plane to thwart the passengers. Just after 10 a.m., he is heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying: "Is that it? Shall we finish it off?"
But another hijacker responds: "No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off."
The voice recorder captured sounds of continued fighting, and Mr. Jarrah pitched the plane up and then down. A passenger is heard to say: "In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die!"
Then a passenger yelled, "Roll it!" While earlier accounts reported the phrase as "Let's roll," which was repeated in speeches by President Bush and became the title of a best-seller, some aviation experts have speculated that this was actually a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram.
Mr. Jarrah "stopped the violent maneuvers" about 10:01, according to the report.
"He then asked another hijacker in the cockpit, 'Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?' to which the other replied, 'Yes.' '' Eighty seconds later, a hijacker is heard to say: "Pull it down! Pull it down!"
Soon after, the plane plunged into a field in Shanksville, Pa., about 20 minutes flying time from Washington.
A society of different lifestyles spawned a group of young people who were brought up without parental discipline, without proper role models and without any sense of responsibility to others.... Today, people have had enough of this part of the 1960s consensus. People do not want a return to old prejudices and ugly discrimination. But they do want rules, order and proper behaviour. They want a community where the decent law-abiding majority are in charge.Tony Blair, the leader of the Labour party, said this last week.
And I think that's a proper role for the federal government, to help people.Those are from Bush's recent speech at the Urban League. Now I'm no libertarian, but I am a federalist, and I know there was a time when Republicans talked about getting rid of the Department of Energy and the Department of Education.
We've increased federal funding for K through 12 by 49 percent from 2001.
[T]he role of government is to stand there and say, 'We're going to help you.' The job of the federal government is to fund the providers who are actually making a difference.The "providers" are marriage counselors. Goldberg complained about this in The Corner and got an email, from no less than the (Or is it "an"?) assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, saying that
By offering marriage-education services — on a purely voluntary basis — to interested couples whereby they can develop the knowledge and skills necessary to form and sustain healthy marriages, we will help reduce the need for more intrusive government interventions later on.Read the whole column for Goldberg's response. The bottom line, as Goldberg correctly puts it, is that "at the end of the day, I would still trade every dollar of creative social policy for a dollar of budget cuts."
While I still think it would be bad for America if Bush lost the election to Kerry — and terrible for Republicans — it's less clear it would be bad for the conservative movement.20040724 "The Real Reasons Why An Iranian Bomb Matters." Perhaps a more accurate title would replace "Real" with "Realist." The reasons in this article are the floor, not the ceiling, for reasons to be concerned. I believe one thing that is being overlooked in this article is the significance of Iranian efforts to sabotage us in Iraq. If this sort of stuff gets worse, we might not be to appropriately respond to a nuclear Iran. Recall that in the Korean war, we didn't attack China directly for fear of provoking World War III. During the Cuban missile crisis, we didn't invade Cuba for the same reason.
Last Labor Day [in 2003], George W. Bush told a crowd, "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move."
Some conservatives are now claiming that Bush's conservatism isn't about "big government" so much as "strong government." Others are complaining — or cheering — that conservatism is flying under the flag of religion more than liberty.
But most are simply suspending needed conversations until after the election, because a Republican victory at the polls and/or an American victory in the war on terror take precedence. It's an understandable impulse. I just hope there's enough of the Reagan legacy to build on after the election.
ON a sultry night in late June, when the school term was nearly over, two dozen parents gathered in a church basement in Brooklyn to talk about what a waste the year had been. Immigrants from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, raising their children in the battered neighborhood of Bushwick, they were the people bilingual education supposedly serves. Instead, one after the other, they condemned a system that consigned their children to a linguistic ghetto, cut off from the United States of integration and upward mobility.One of the more egregious examples of a lousy public school bureaucracy and dissatisfied parents without recourse. If this doesn't scream "vouchers," then I don't know what does.
Listening to this litany, I experienced the sensation that Yogi Berra memorably called "déjà vu all over again." Five years earlier, in the rectory of another church only a few blocks away, another group of immigrant parents voiced the identical complaints about bilingual education - that the public schools shunted Latino children into it even if those pupils had been born in the United States and previously educated in English, and that once the child was in the bilingual track it was almost impossible to get out. An association of Bushwick parents, virtually all of them Hispanic immigrants, had gone as far as suing in State Supreme Court in a futile attempt to reform the bilingual program in local schools.
Parent after parent in the church basement last month remembered receiving, and then naively signing, a letter from school that apparently constituted their agreement to having a child put into bilingual classes. The letter, recalled these Spanish-speaking parents, was written only in English.
NOW, as in the days of Iran-contra, the CIA is front-page news. Odds are Tenet and his Agency will get hammered for all the wrong reasons.What needs to be done?
When you stack up the Agency's assessment of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during the Clinton administration and under Bush, the continuity of Tenet's positions is compelling. It is most unlikely that either he or politically ambitious CIA managers below him ginned up intelligence on Saddam Hussein's WMD programs.
Historians will probably view CIA reporting on the Iraq WMD threat as no less responsible than Agency analysis of the WMD threat from the former Soviet Union.
It is also absolutely true that George Tenet's CIA failed to penetrate Saddam Hussein's inner circle.... But it is also true that the CIA failed to penetrate Moscow's inner circle in the Cold War and that the great agents we did have (the most valuable were probably scientists) were all volunteers.... one simply cannot judge the caliber of a Western espionage service by its ability to penetrate the power circles of totalitarian regimes. The difficulties are just overwhelming.
One can, however, grade intelligence services on whether they have established operational methods that would maximize the chances of success against less demanding targets--for example, against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, which is by definition an ecumenical organization constantly searching for holy-warrior recruits. It is by this standard that George Tenet failed and the CIA will continue to fail, assuming it maintains its current practices.
The abysmal espionage apparatus that William Casey presided over was decades in the making. It was in great part structurally foreordained: Not only the promotion system but also the decision to deploy the vast majority of case officers overseas under official cover--posing as U.S. diplomats, military officers, and so on--set in motion a counterproductive psychology and methods of operation that still dominate the CIA today. (emphasis mine)
The entire system for finding, training, and deploying overseas case officers of this type needs to be completely overhauled. The "farm," the legendary training ground for case officers in the woody swamps of Virginia, ought to be abandoned. It has never had much relevance to the practice of espionage overseas. It is a symbol of the Agency's lack of seriousness. This new cadre needs to be a breed apart. Their operational half-life in the field might be at most ten years. It is hard to imagine them married and with kids. It is also hard to imagine their coming into being unless these jihadist moles are well paid. A starting salary of a quarter of a million dollars a year would be reasonable. Outsiders will know such a change is afoot when there are rumors of case officers' regularly dying abroad.20040714 National Review has an interesting article on the origins of the vice-presidency. In every election through 1800, the electors each cast two ballots for the presidency, with each elector forced to choose candidates from two different states. The whole point of the vice-presidency was to discourage electors from the strategy of casting one vote for their first choice and throwing away their second vote on a fringe candidate so as not to help their second choice defeat their first choice.
In accusing the CIA and its top leaders of engaging in a "group think dynamic," the committee said analysts and senior policymakers never questioned their long-held assumption that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the committee reported, the CIA had no undercover agents in Iraq since 1998 to help gather reliable information and failed to tell policymakers of "the uncertainties of both the reliability of some key sources and of intelligence judgments."And, of course, there is the partisan questioning of the administration:
"The debate over many aspects of the U.S. liberation of Iraq will likely continue for decades," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the committee. "But one fact is now clear: before the war, the U.S. intelligence community told the president, as well as the Congress and the public, that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and, if left unchecked, would probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade. Today we know these assessments were wrong."
While the committee's nine Republicans and eight Democrats voted unanimously to release the report, they expressed some differences about whether the Bush administration exerted undue political pressure on the intelligence community to provide assessments that supported a decision to go to war in Iraq. And Democrats lamented that a second phase of the committee's investigation -- into how the administration used the intelligence it received -- will not be completed until well after the November elections.I believe it's prudent and important to make sure the intelligence was used wisely; what angers in the questioning of motives by the more, er, outspoken Leftists. I remember the days when the news was saturated with all matters Clinton and Lewinisky and Starr. One day, seemingly out of the blue, Clinton announces that he has just launched cruise missiles against a chemical weapons factory in Sudan and a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Wag the Dog was on the tip of everyone's tongue, but at least for the first few days, not even Rush Limbaugh was willing to question the President's motives. As time went by, Limbaugh and other did question motives, and it bothered me. To say the president used the lethal force of our awesome military for devious reasons is to say he has blood on his hands. That's not a charge to lob like another political talking point. You may call me naive, but until proven otherwise, I assume my government goes to war in good faith.
America's military commander in Iraq ordered British troops to prepare a full-scale ground offensive against Iranian forces that had crossed the border and grabbed disputed territory, a senior officer has disclosed. An attack would almost certainly have provoked open conflict with Iran. But the British chose instead to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels.Update: Mark Steyn is blasting Blair for the pusillanimous British response to the kidnappings.
An omnibus health insurance bill would be the first legislation sent to Congress in a Kerry presidency, he says. But while the centrist Kerry still advocates shrinking the budget deficit, a bolder Kerry, less noticeable so far in the campaign rhetoric, adds that if the deficit threatens to rise rather than fall, well, so be it - he'll go ahead with his health plan anyway.That leaves Congress. I won't waste words considering the Democrats. As for the Republicans, I expect there will a backlash against their love for big-government, but I doubt that it will be big enough to tip the balance.
"Health care is sacrosanct," Mr. Kerry said in a telephone interview, offering the most explicit commitment to date to a program that he estimates would cost $650 billion. That is an amount greater than the cost of all his other economic proposals combined.
"Listen," he said, "if worse comes to worst, you make adjustments accordingly in other priorities."
And not in health care? Mr. Kerry says that he will not have to face that choice, and that in his overall economic plan there is leeway for deficit reduction and expanded, subsidized health insurance. But if a choice has to be made, deficit reduction will have less priority. "Health care is too important," he said.
The AU, a pan-continental body, is to send a 300-strong protection force to Darfur to support 60 AU monitors who began work last month.It also notes that Britain is threatening an arms embargo while Colin Powell is cryptically threatening "further measures." Meanwhile, France opposes sanctions.
But the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said the force would not now limit itself to the protection of the monitors and saw its role as also protecting civilians.
The Sudanese government said the force had to stick rigidly to its remit of protecting the monitors, and protection of civilians remained a matter for the Sudanese government alone.
If we could see exactly what happened we should find ourselves in the presence of a theme as well founded, as inspired, and as inalienable from the inheritance of mankind as the Odyssey or the Old Testament It is all true, or it ought to be; and more and better besides. And wherever men are fighting against barbarism, tyranny, and massacre, for freedom, law and honour, let them remember that the fame of their deeds, even though they themselves be exterminated, may perhaps be celebrated as long as the world rolls round. Let us then declare that King Arthur and his noble Knights, guarding the Sacred Flame of Christianity and the theme of world order, sustained by valour, physical strength, and good horses and amour, slaughtered innumerable hosts of foul barbarians and set decent folk an example for all time.20040706 An interesting problem that never occurred to me before:
Some secrets shouldn’t be taken to the grave—such as computer passwords needed to access bank accounts, e-mail, or hard drives. Families and employers often have to scramble to find personal and professional passwords after a death. If passwords for critical computer files or financial records are lost, the execution of wills and final requests can sometimes be delayed.So how does one keep a secret while alive but ensure the secret passes on to others after death? This is trickier than just delaying the publishing of a secret for a fixed time period, for only God knows the number of our days. I can't think of any way to do it without a trusted third party. A poor-man's solution would be a password list in a safe deposit box.
“It’s becoming a very common occurrence,” John E. Kuslich, a professional password cracker, told the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve had families of people who have committed suicide, for example, and they’ll call me and say all these files are encrypted and they want to get into them. In those cases, especially, people call back and are so thankful for what they were able to read. It’s really something else.”
The Court today holds that the habeas statute, 28 U. S. C. §2241, extends to aliens detained by the United States military overseas, outside the sovereign borders of the United States and beyond the territorial jurisdictions of all its courts. This is not only a novel holding; it contra-dicts a half-century-old precedent on which the military undoubtedly relied, Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U. S. 763 (1950). The Court’s contention that Eisentrager was somehow negated by Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Ky., 410 U. S. 484 (1973)—a decision that dealt with a different issue and did not so much as mention Eisentrager—is implausible in the extreme. This is an irresponsible overturning of settled law in a matter of extreme importance to our forces currently in the field. I would leave it to Congress to change §2241, and dissent from the Court’s unprecedented holding.An interesting thing about these cases is the ways the justices were split. In Hamdi, Scalia's dissent was actually more in favor of Hamdi than the plurality opinion, which only required Hamdi be given some form of due process, not the full habeas corpus. Guess who joined in Scalia's dissent? Stevens - not what you'd expect if you were thinking in terms of the usual left-right political spectrum. In Rasul, Scalia's dissent was less-surprisingly joined by Rehnquist and Thomas.
As we have repeatedly said: “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree....
On June 25, by an astonishing vote of 326 to 88, the GOP-controlled body rejected the Family Budget Protection Act, which would have removed the bias toward greater spending inherent in the current Congressional budget process. Even among Republicans, the bill lost 131 to 88. The Members also nixed the Spending Control Act, a less ambitious bill that Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle championed to impose spending caps, by a vote of 248 to 146.The willingness of these porkophilic Republicans to go on the record like this demonstrates total contempt for their grassroots. Mark my words, this will come back to bite them in the 2006 primaries. The fratricide will be especially intense if Bush loses.
Most of the credit for this repudiation of GOP principle belongs to the so-called College of Cardinals, the chairmen of the 13 Appropriations subcommittees and protectors of sacred pork, who threatened their fellow Republicans with legislative excommunication if they voted for the reforms sponsored by some very brave GOP backbenchers. Specifically, they vowed to zero out all pork projects for their districts.
Since Islamists have typically understood Western writers and researchers to be in league with the enemy, it is logical to assume that Islamists will generally not cooperate with them unless it is to their own advantage. In fact, Islamists and others will often use Western journalists and academics to carry their message.I think at least a partial antidote to this sort of thing is resources like MEMRI, which provide translations of what folks in the Middle East here from their own media in their own language. It needn't tell us the truth, but it allows us to spot spokespeople that say one thing in Arabic and another in English.
Meanwhile, Bush has also inherited, and retained mostly unchanged, the Clinton-era plan for procuring new weapons, a plan that also counts on major long-term spending increases. Overall, by the same CBO figures, the Defense budget is on track to grow from $383 billion in fiscal 2004 to $439 billion in fiscal 2009 -- above the peak of either Vietnam or the Reagan buildup, in constant dollars. And CBO warns that its estimates do not include likely weapons overruns or the supplemental bills for funding the global war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.I'd gladly support a $500 billion defense budget, but it's not politically feasible. The deficit has probably reached the ceiling of political acceptability (and certainly passed my personal ceiling), and I can't think of any sufficiently potent combination of spending cuts and tax increases that could actually get through Congress.
Thanks to Congress's generous supplementals, "the Department of Defense has not really been asked to absorb any of the costs" of Iraq, said CSBA's Kosiak. But historically, defense spending rises and falls in cycles, Kosiak warned, and "if we're not going to see budgets of $450-plus billion a year for the next decade, we're not going to be able to afford everything in the administration's plans."
The U.S. Agency for International Development estimated that at least 350,000 people will die of disease and malnutrition over the next nine months.Read the rest.
The travelers entered Fallujah first through a checkpoint operated by the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, a U.S.-trained paramilitary unit meant to add muscle to the American-led occupation. The men in black berets distractedly waved cars past, onto the city's main street.Combining the article of the last link with our resorts to airstrikes fully convinces me that Fallujah remains a haven for terrorists.
Then it became apparent who was really in charge. A few yards in, wild-eyed young men in masks pulled cars over at will, searched them and demanded identification documents. No one could leave or enter without passing muster. Other groups of fighters in masks roamed side streets and alleys, brandishing rifles at all sorts of angles.
A few weeks ago, masked insurgents, apparently religious Sunnis, paraded four men through town who had been caught selling beer and whiskey along the banks of the Euphrates. The men were shirtless, and their backs were bleeding. They had been savagely whipped for selling alcohol, which is legal in Iraq. There have also been reports of masked men running checkpoints in the city and enforcing a strict Islamic code in which dominoes, videos and Western-style haircuts are banned.Next, consider what Fallujah has done to our credibility. We said we would find the killers of the four contractors and bring them to justice, which is kind of hard when the insurgents still control the city (see last link). From the same NYT article as the above quote, we learn that,
Mahmood Othman, a Kurdish politician who sat on the governing council, called Falluja ''another Taliban'' and complained that the deal the Marines made set a bad example. ''This could be a model for the rest of Iraq,'' Othman said. ''Whenever you want your own rule, you fight the Americans, and they'll back off.'' Othman pointed to Karbala and Najaf, two Shiite holy cities where Americans are contemplating granting some form of local control to the very militiamen they were just fighting. ''See,'' he said. ''More Fallujas.''You'd think, given the perception of this administration as incredibly hawkish, that this sort of self-defeating halfheartedness would be only be heard of in recollections of administrations past.
An American military commander responded to that concern by saying that nobody should be complaining about Latif [leader of the Fallujah Brigade]. He was the best option they had, the commander said, short of invading the city and putting a marine on every street corner.Granted, the alternative of victory would have been costly both in blood and publicity, but - and I strongly suspect this is because we gave our enemies such a haven - we still face a loss of blood and publicity in the form of more terror attacks from al-Zarqawi's network. Hopefully, as Iraqi security forces mature, they will properly deal with our common enemies. The new Iraqi prime minister has made a point of talking tough, but actions speak louder than words. We must wait and see.
Half a million people have been uprooted, with their villages burned to the ground, and 100,000 (the lucky ones) have taken refuge across the border in Chad. Ten thousand, and perhaps far more, have been murdered outright. Rape is ubiquitous; victims are often scarred or branded to make their shame permanent. Wells are poisoned to make sure the survivors will not survive long. When those uprooted are unable to plant crops in the rainy season, which has recently begun, starvation will threaten the region's entire population of 5 million. And this is not, as the Sudanese government insists, the work of mere rogue militias; government jets have been seen strafing villages in support of the marauders.This is isn't even close to the first article I read about Darfur, but it's the straw that broke the camel's back. Stopping this atrocity is a cause worthy of Western military might. Sudan needs to be given an ultimatum. If threats don't work, then threats must be carried out, ideally with troops from countries that aren't militarily stretched thin in Iraq.
North Korea wants 2,000 megawatts of power per year -- about one-fourth of its current total consumption -- in exchange for freezing work on its nuclear program, the Kyodo news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources, on the second day of talks in Beijing. In the United States, a megawatt can supply power to about 1,000 homes.Ooh, what a great deal. They freeze their nuclear program - at least the parts of it we know about - until they think they can extract a bigger payment from their neighbors. I realized there are no good military options when it comes to North Korea, but wouldn't a standoff be better than paying tribute? North Korea's neighbors differ on this point, and I'm sure they have reasons; I just can't fathom what they are.
It was unclear whether U.S. officials would discuss such a request since the United States said North Korea must commit to dismantling the program, not just freezing development.
Japan and South Korea said they would consider giving North Korea fuel oil if it freezes its nuclear program as a step toward its eventual dismantling.
Under the plan, South Korea and possibly other countries could begin providing heavy fuel oil to the North's battered economy immediately if the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, promises to dismantle the country's plutonium and uranium arms programs, U.S. officials said.Why are we going along with this? The NYT explains:
Once North Korea began to display and secure its materials and weapons -- and its claims have been verified by U.S. intelligence -- the United States and the other nations at the negotiations would issue provisional security assurances.
North Korea would be given only three months to halt and disclose all of its nuclear activities, including a secret uranium enrichment program that it says does not exist, and to begin securing and destroying nuclear materials under the supervision of international monitors, the officials said. Otherwise, these preliminary benefits would be halted.
Mr. Bush's critics say he waited far too long to make his offer; Mr. Kerry argues it should have happened early in 2001, and others say right after the American invasion of Iraq. Hawks inside the administration believe it is still too early.You all can probably guess what I think of this. What if North Korea doesn't meet the three-month deadline? This situation has occurred before in the 90s. Back then North Korea's neighbors were willing to give her another chance. I expect they will again.
But China, Russia, South Korea and Japan said they were willing to provide North Korea with fuel oil, which the United States cut off a year and a half ago, forcing Mr. Bush's hand.
Belarus's dictatorial president, Alexander Lukashenko, made Hussein such a key military, political and economic partner that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in testimony to Congress a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, singled out Belarus as the country most likely to accept Hussein if he were to flee Iraq.20040621 Interesting. The Russians thought Iraq was planning attacks against the United States, and warned us of this before the war. I hope more details about this come out, if only to satisfy my curiosity.
Ominously, Belarus has not only reportedly sold weapons to six of the seven countries on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism but has also continued to defy Washington in doing so -- even with the war on terrorism in full swing. In the case of possible Belarusan involvement in weapons sales to Syria, Lukashenko has not even attempted to conceal his military assistance. "No matter how severely we are admonished for it," he has been quoted as saying, "we'll continue to help Syria militarily, because they have promised to help us in the same way."
Over the past eight years, two U.S. administrations have halfheartedly tried to convince Russia of the need to change the situation in Belarus. Russia, however, has chosen not to use its overwhelming leverage on Lukashenko to improve his dangerous behavior. As a result, the Belarusan regime has become more belligerent and increasingly dictatorial, and it now openly provides economic and military assistance to state sponsors of terrorism.
why didn't the information change your mind about the war? You have intel saying that one sovereign state is planning to commit acts of aggression against another sovereign state in violation of the laws of war.20040616 Science confirms common sense (though they say common sense isn't that common):
If that's not a justification for preventive action, what is?
Initiative states spend less than non-initiative states. Initiative states concentrate more of their spending at the local level. And initiative states raise a greater portion of their revenue through fees rather than through taxes. The subversion hypothesis, however, gets no support from Matsusaka's research. In each case, the initiative states move public policy in a direction that it consistent rather than inconsistent with popular will. Voters tend to want their state governments to spend less money, etc. Hence, instead of subverting the true popular will, the initiative process appears to be giving that popular will a means with which to influence public policy.20040610 Surprise, surprise. Bush asks for troops in Iraq and France say no. Why did we even bother asking for NATO troops in Iraq? Surely we knew such an idea would be vetoed. Perhaps I don't understand the finer points of diplomacy, but it seems to me we are wasting our time and giving ourselves bad publicity by going around asking for help when we know the answer is "no." Realistically, almost all countries are already helping in Iraq to the extent they wish to, and we can't significantly change that extent. This is not a diplomatic failure, and it's not something that can be fixed by electing a new president. This is simply a manifestation of the divergent interests of nations.
The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq's transition. At every stage, the United States has gone to the United Nations -- to confront Saddam Hussein, to promise serious consequences for his actions, and to begin Iraqi reconstruction. Today, the United States and Great Britain presented a new resolution in the Security Council to help move Iraq toward self-government. I've directed Secretary Powell to work with fellow members of the Council to endorse the timetable the Iraqis have adopted, to express international support for Iraq's interim government, to reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people, and to encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort. Despite past disagreements, most nations have indicated strong support for the success of a free Iraq. And I'm confident they will share in the responsibility of assuring that success.I think Bush and Kerry are both far too patient with the U.N. I thought Bush was wasting his time going to the U.N. a second time before invading Iraq, and I really hope to think he only did it to help Blair politically. Jed Babin now points out the folly of our newest dance with the U.N.
President Bush is — again — submitting to wishful thinking by making his plan for Iraq subject to the goodwill of the U.N. The proposed Security Council resolution introduced Monday will achieve the same success as the previous handful: none at all, and for the same reasons the others have failed.It's simple. The U.N., even if we restrict to the Security Council, has member states with interests very much opposed to ours. Thus, we will never succeed in this war entirely or even substantially under the U.N.'s blessing. Anytime we actually make an agreement with the U.N., I am deeply suspicious of what we have agreed to, given the states that comprise the U.N.
First, the new resolution proposes that the Iraqi Development Fund — the follow-in scam to the U.N. Oil-for-Food swindle — be subjected to some level of control by the new Iraqi government, and not left solely to the U.N.
Second, the proposal also says that the "multinational force under unified (i.e., American) command" that remains in Iraq, "...shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance and security in Iraq including by preventing and deterring terrorism...." That language — the most important in the resolution — would allow us to deal with Iran and Syria from our strength in Iraq. Those words are a guarantee that the resolution will not pass in this form, if it passes at all. Relying on the U.N. is, as it has been since the 1991 Gulf War, a sucker bet. If — as is most likely — the U.N. resolution fails to pass in this form, Bush's plan will not have failed. But the perception will be that it did. And the panic will resume.
That is what President Bush has been saying all along. But Bush himself is the great mystery in this mounting debacle. His commitment to stay the course in Iraq seems utterly genuine. Yet he continues to tolerate policymakers, military advisers and a dysfunctional policymaking apparatus that are making the achievement of his goals less and less likely.National Review has recently had a few articles strongly denouncing the State Dept's Iraq occupation policies. I'm not sure the alternative occupation envisioned by Pentagon would have worked any better; I suspect it would have lead to another Afghanistan, essentially run by local warlords. But there is no doubt the State Dept. has made lots of mistakes that they haven't been punished for. Likewise, after 9-11, heads did not roll at the CIA and FBI. They should have. Bush takes personal loyalty too far. As this article by Jacob Levy argues more thoroughly, our government officials must be accountable for their failures.
They [mid-East nations] may make a handful of token police raids on locals which are then claimed to be "militants", whether they actually were or not, as a way for them to try to relieve the diplomatic pressure. Implementation of token reforms is another kind of smokescreen.Other examples: Our immigration system has not been reformed, nor has Social Security. Also, we remain at an impasse with North Korea, yet we haven't even tried things like economic sanctions. If we succeed in Iraq, I will forgive Bush for the majority of his inaction on other problems, but I'd really like to know what Bush's major goals are for his second term. Are they really just success in Iraq and keeping the tax cuts? These are all I can discern from his election campaign thus far. At the very least, I demand entitlement reform and that we apply a whole lot more pressure on our Islamist foes outside Iraq.
This is where I think that the Bush administration has failed. In an SOTU speech, Bush famously (or notoriously) said to the leaders of the world, "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." But he no longer seems to be following through on that.
The truth is, if the goal is stability, that the alternatives are no easier to carry out and no less costly in money and lives than the present attempt to create some form of democracy in Iraq. The real alternative to the present course is not stability at all but to abandon Iraq to whatever horrible fate awaits it: chaos, civil war, brutal tyranny, terrorism or more likely a combination of all of these -- with all that entails for Iraqis, the Middle East and American interests.There is no easy way out of Iraq. A lot of people don't want to face this. Some are grasping at straws like the U.N. and "allies" that wouldn't help us in Iraq before and realistically won't ever nontrivially help us in Iraq, no matter how nice we are to them. Such people have already given up. They want to cut our losses, e.g., Nixon's "peace with honer," which was the halfway house to our complete abandonment of South Vietnam in 1975. I'm willing to forgive a lot of Bush's faults on other issues because I don't believe he will give up in Iraq.
Well, maybe we don't hear enough about far-reaching implications for the nature of matter and structure of the universe, but is it really worth $700 million of taxpayers' money to gain an increment of abstract knowledge regarding minute distortions in space-time?This a valid point, which I shall return to. Then Easterbrook wonders off into ignorance.
Einstein made his breakthroughs via thought experiments, using a chalkboard; the cost of deriving the two theories of relativity was extremely small, and that's appropriate, since the practical benefits of the theories are small.Easterbrook should consider GPS-guided smart bombs, which allowed the U.S. military to avoid civilian casualties to an unprecedented degree in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. GPS would take a big hit in accuracy if we didn't know of relativity:
To get accuracies of order 10 m, light travel times with an accuracy of order 30 ns (nanoseconds) have to be measured. Special relativistic time dilatation (caused by the velocity) and gravitational redshift corrections in these satellites are of order 30000 ns per day.Actually, according to this book that I used in a class a few years ago, it's 39000 ns per day. To observers on the ground, the GPS satellites' clock appear to gain 39000 ns each day. This correction has two parts. First, clocks at higher altitudes appear to run fast to observers at lower attitudes. For GPS, altitude difference leads to a 50000 ns daily disparity. However, the satellites are moving relative to us, and, according to special relativity, moving clocks appear to run slow. This reduces the daily disparity to 39000 ns.
"Iraq," Mr. Bush said at his news conference last week, "Iraq will either be a peaceful democratic country or it will again be a source of violence, a haven for terrorists, and a threat to America and to the world."I had to pinch myself to make sure, but yes, I agree with a paragraph from an NYT editorial.
Mr. Kerry now argues that there is a third option. But what would that be? "I can't tell you what it's going to be," he said to reporters covering his campaign. "That stability can take several forms." True; in the Middle East, there is the stability of Islamic dictatorship, the stability of military dictatorship and the stability of monarchical dictatorship. In Lebanon, there is the stability of permanent foreign occupation and de facto ethnic partition. None is in the interest of the United States; all have helped create the extremism and terrorism against which this nation is now at war.
Virtually every immigrant to America wants to remain as they are, most of them want their children and grandchildren to remain loyal to their language and culture, and many of them plan to return home someday. Very few - almost none before WWI and very few now - arrive with any particular loyalty to America or desire to integrate.I think there's something to this. A bigger challenge than Huntington's "Hispanic Challenge?"
In that past, this lack of personal loyalty to America didn't make much difference. Third generation German monolingual Americans didn't have another country to be loyal to. Immigration in the 19th century was a once - or at most twice - in a lifetime experience for all but the super-rich. Even native born Mexican-Americans lived too far from the population centres of Mexico to feel strongly connected to the old country.
That is something that has changed.
In the 21st century, moving to the other side of the world doesn't even mean having to miss your favourite soap opera. The Internet will bring you your hometown paper in real time, no matter where you live. Satellite TV keeps you as well informed in the new country as you were in the old. And, even a quite low income can purchase the airfare for an annual pilgrimage to take the kids to see the grandparents. The numbers and concentrations of Mexican immigrants is not new. Their proximity to Mexico isn't even terribly important. What is new is that immigrants need no longer be completely cut-off from their old country.
White House officials declined to discuss the intelligence reports, saying through a spokesman that the subject was "too sensitive." But Vice President Dick Cheney was briefed on Dr. Khan's assertions before he left for Asia over the weekend, and he is expected to cite the intelligence to China's leaders on Tuesday to press the point that talks over disarming North Korea are going too slowly, administration officials said. They expect him to argue that the Bush administration is losing patience and may seek stronger action, including sanctions.Maybe I'm just grasping at straws, but I'd like to think that someday we're going to do something about North Korea beyond verbal criticism. It's been way too long already, and, as is becoming ever clearer, we won't be able to wait until we're less tied down in Iraq in order to make military threats more credible, for we're going to be tied down in Iraq for a long time.
As the hegemonic stability theorists also would have predicted, the Bush I and early Clinton policies reflected a tendency to enlist multilateralism in the service of unipolarity.If you're not sure whether you want to read the whole article: the author's thesis is that multilateralism is a tool used by both stronger and weaker powers, and that the axes of multipolarity and multilateralism are orthogonal properties of the international affairs--great stuff for all you policy nerds and Machiavellis out there.
Not surprisingly, beginning gradually in the early 1990s and gathering strength during Clinton’s second term, an increasing number of international actors began to resist American hegemonic multilateralism, less by outright rejection of U.S. initiatives than by assertive counteractions, the eventual effect of which was to deprive Washington of the multilateralist high ground and place it on the unilateralist defensive.
The most triumphalist phase of U.S. policy in the 1990s thus rather awkwardly coincided with the strengthening of external and especially European determination to use multilateral agreements to check U.S. power.
If there is any similarity between Vietnam and the current war, it is not 1963, when his late brother convinced us to commit troops to stop Communist aggression. A better year for comparison is 1974, when Kennedy and other senators began to cut off funding for air support promised to enforce the Paris peace accords, resulting in the collapse of South Vietnam, mass murder in Southeast Asia, and over a million boat people, with more still sent to the Communist reeducation camps.At least Kennedy is in the minority today.
Hong Kong, which is much richer and more Westernized than the Chinese mainland, had been widely expected to become a local democracy — although under Beijing's oversight — by 2008. That is the earliest date permitted in the Basic Law, or miniconstitution, for free elections for all legislative seats and for the chief executive, the top official in the territory.20040406Michael Rubin brings troubling news from Iraq: Iranian money is pouring in, and you can guess where it's going to:
But after public demands for more democracy intensified in Hong Kong in the past few months, China asserted a prerogative to interpret two key clauses in the Basic Law that set out the process for introducing and implementing changes to the electoral system.
In the ruling issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress today, the central government decreed that it has the right to decide whether there is "a need" to introduce democratic changes.
One February evening, a governor from a southern province asked to see me. We met after dark at a friend's house. After pleasantries and tea, he got down to business. "The Iranians are flooding the city and countryside with money," he said. "Last month, they sent a truckload of silk carpets across the border for the tribal sheikhs. Whomever they can't buy, they threaten." The following week, I headed south to investigate. A number of Iraqis said the Iranians had channeled money through the offices of the Dawa Party, an Islamist political party, led by Governing Council member Ibrahim Jafari. On separate occasions in Baghdad and the southern city of Nasiriya, I watched ordinary Iraqis line up for handouts of money and supplies at Dawa offices. The largess seems to be having an effect: Polls indicate that Jafari is Iraq's most popular politician, enjoying a favorable rating by more than 50% of the electorate.Rubin faults the CPA is being strictly neutral between political parties. I'm not sure if we should be neutral or not. CPA funding of an Iraqi political party might take away that party's legitimacy in the eyes of many Iraqis. The ideal, albeit impractical, solution is covert funding of the parties we like. However, if you think the CPA should be funding liberal Iraqi parties, then don't just complain; take matters into your own hands. In America, we privately fund our political parties. Who is to say we can't privately fund Iraqi political parties? American donors could match the Iranians, and then some. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that all we need is publicity and a PayPal account. I looked around on the web for something like this and haven't found anything yet, but I can't be the first person to have thought of this. Somebody with the right connections needs to make this happen.
Announcer: While jobs are leaving our country in record numbers, George Bush says sending jobs overseas “makes sense” for AmericaI don't see how Bush could possibly go left enough on trade to neutralize the issue without repudiating the majority (sadly not the entirety) of his trade policy for the past three years. Bush may have thought steel tariffs were good for him in the months before the midterm elections, but now he's singing a different tune:
Announcer: His top economic advisors say “moving American jobs to low cost countries” is a plus for the U.S.
The 57-year-old Bush holds up the creation of U.S. jobs by companies from abroad as an example of the benefits of free trade. In a speech in Cleveland on March 10, he said 10 percent of Honda's worldwide workforce lives in Ohio. Honda has two vehicle-assembly plants in two Ohio towns.20040405This strikes me as a really good idea:
"About 16,000 Ohioans work for Honda, with good, high-paying jobs, and that's not counting the people who work at 165 different Ohio companies that supply Honda with parts and material," Bush said. "When politicians in Washington attack trade for political reasons, they don't mention these workers, or the 6.4 million other Americans who draw their paychecks from foreign companies."
Inglewood voters go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to turn over 60 acres of barren concrete adjacent to the Hollywood Park racetrack to Wal-Mart to create a megastore and a collection of chain shops and restaurants.Another fight against the abuse of zoning laws has been long overdue.
Company officials say that Wal-Mart adopted this aggressive new tactic only after it became clear that Inglewood officials — backed by allies in organized labor, church groups and community organizations — would never approve the complex.
The only city official vocally supporting the project is the mayor, Roosevelt F. Dorn. He said the complex would bring more than 1,000 new permanent jobs, add $3 million to $5 million a year to the distressed city's tax base and provide a revenue stream to finance as much as $100 million in new bonds. "We're talking about a new police station, a new community and cultural center, a new park in District 4, upgrades for every park and recreation area in Inglewood," Mr. Dorn said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's a no-brainer."
There are two main hypotheses for the decline in the aptitude of public school teachers since 1960: improved job opportunities for females in other occupations and the compression of teaching wages owing to unionization.... The evidence suggests that compression of teaching wages is responsible for about three-quarters of the decline in teacher aptitude.20040401Jerry Taylor reminds us of all the damage OPEC has done. He also zings the environmentalists who keep demanding a "sustainable" (i.e. planned) energy economy:
Someday, of course, oil stocks will indeed begin to dwindle. When that might be, however, is unknowable because new technologies continue to emerge that make finding and producing oil cheaper than ever before.20040401The bad news about Russia is overhyped, says this NBER paper:
Regardless, we don't need OPEC to manage the future. When depletion becomes a real problem, oil prices will rise of their own accord and economies will adjust because prices today reflect expectations about prices tomorrow.
Russia’s economic and political systems remain far from perfect. However, their defects are typical of countries at its level of economic development. Both in 1990 and 2003, Russia was a middle income country, with GDP per capita around $8,000 at purchasing power parity, a level comparable to that of Argentina in 1991 and Mexico in 1999.4 Countries in this income range have democracies that are rough around the edges, if they are democratic at all. Their governments suffer from corruption, and their press is almost never entirely free. Most also have high income inequality, concentrated corporate ownership, and turbulent macroeconomic performance. In all these regards, Russia is quite normal. Nor are the common flaws of middle income, capitalist democracies incompatible with further economic and political development-if they were, Western Europe and the US would never have left the 19th century.This sounds about right to me. Of course, the biggest difference between Russia and, say Mexico, is several thousand nuclear warheads. Thus, holding Russia to a higher standard makes sense, so as we don't let this skew our perception of her.