Copyright © 2005 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
K-Lo's mythology. Maybe mythology is overly sophisticated, maybe Kathryn Jean Lopez is really in the kind of simplistic world of "Goodnight, Moon." It seems she takes polarization as a given, and that rationality (or leadership) is an impossibility. It is assumed, she figures, that Democrats would have roundly voted, en bloc, against Roberts. That must be the underlying presumption of this post:
Putting aside the typos (I know, it's petty to even lead with
that, slap me down), why is confirmation of a nominee a "real
victory for the Bush adminstration"? It's not like he was as
controversial as many of the other nominees who have come up in
the last 20 years. Another Ginsburg smoked pot. Some nominees
(for other positions) have had problems with the nannies they've
hired. It's not like the Bush administration overcame incredible
resistence. No victories here; if it's a victory in K-Lo's mind,
she must be suffering from the soft bigotry of low expectations.
And if she exercises that upon the leader of her party, well,
then maybe she needs either a new leader or a new party.
"Top judge," like "Top Nation." Of course, if you've read "1066 and All That," you know that after World War I, when Britain was no longer "top nation" and the U.S. became "top nation," history came to a.
...and of course, Tom Delay's statement. You know what it was by now — his indictment was politically motivated, blah blah blah. And the conservative pundits over at Fox claim the DA is partisan, in spite of all the Democrats he's prosecuted.
You see, the Republicans really do want justice. They just won't believe it's truly here until there are no more Democrats left in office; only then will they be sure that the truth is not liberally biased.
We really need to hammer home that no "federal case" has been made and there is no suggestion that federal laws....or even rules.....were broken in this matter. Just as with the hurricane response, there is a world of difference between the professionalism of those involved in the federal and state processes. These are stupid things for DeLay's lawyer to argue --they should focus on his case, not the politics -- but the GOP nationally needs to be doing all it can to show that this really is all about politics.
So there you have it: because the indictment was brought on a local level, the GOP should question its validity merely because it is an indictment on a local level. Therefore, all local indictments are to be questioned merely because they are local indictments.
Are we to infer from this that there should be less respect for local authorities, and greater benefit of the doubt for the criminals who are convicted by the local authorities as a result?
Should the GOP pursue this emailer's recommendation, it would erode the respect for everything else the prosecutor in this case might brng up. After all, he is just some country bumpkin.
The funny thing here is that Tom "I am the Federal Government" Delay is, by implication, supposed to be so very professional.
But later, the article continues:
So what was it that they weren't thinking about? The actual name of the hurricane? What kind of cover is the New York Times trying to provide the House Republicans with the article's lede? "No one had the victims of Hurricane Katrina in mind." That couldn't be further from the truth:
Judging from past performance. Juan Cole, who is, Jonah, face it, an expert — now argues for withdrawal from Iraq. I don't want to misrepresent his argument, so I encourage you to click and read it, and tell me if I've gotten it wrong. Be patient as you read it, though, because Cole uses a painful rhetorical technique which really isn't suited for the impatient style of reading on the web. But get past the several arguments for withdrawal that he says are wrong, and you get to why he thinks we should. My impression is that his argument for withdrawal is based on past and current practices, not potential. For example, he talks about how soldiers have degraded themselves, how there isn't a mission, and so on. These arguments are what I alluded to in the post below, too much attention being paid to "sunk costs." I don't deny the reality that Cole sees, but I argue against the underlying illogic of "thus it has been, and thus it shall ever be." Like I said below, there are hurdles to believing a change will come in how we manage the war: Rumsfeld won't change, and the current Republican leadership are unlikely to admit their screw-up. But there are many politicians who aren't as embedded in this tar baby: and yes, getting out of Iraq itself is a tar baby, but there's room to change the way things are done in Iraq, making the process itself less of a tar baby.
In short, it doesn't have to be this way. Arguments that we need to get out are based on an assumption that it does.
So, let's give the Republican moderates — the RINOs, as the Right Wing extremists call them — a chance to exert themselves and display statesmanship and leadership and stop the madness as we currently know it. And if they do nothing, then I'll talk about withdrawal. I'm just not convinced yet that the majority party is mindless and/or so incpacitated. Yet.
Abhorring a vacuum in Iraq. Under the guise of "then all they'll have to do is wait us out," the President has not only avoided a timeline for withdrawal in Iraq but also avoided any schedule for progress. Reasonable people might look at the lack of a plan and conclude that we're going to be in Iraq forever; yet to do so would be to present the same false choice that Bush et al presented the world with in 2003: that giving the inspectors "more time" meant that Saddam Hussein would continue in power forever. We knew those weren't the only choices in 2003; are there other choices now?
Much of the concern over accelerated withdrawal is rooted in the idea that Iraq is basically at a point of civil war, and our presence may be the only factor stopping it coming full boil; we naturally hate death, and even though we've already caused a lot of innocent deaths from civilians, those deaths are — I regret to use an accounting phrase when it comes to human lives — "sunk costs." If you're unfamiliar with the term, it means you don't look at past expenses as wasteful and let your repulsion guide your actions, nor do you look at the past value which they've produced and let that "investment" guide your future plans. That is, your future plans shouldn't be guided by what's already happened, but by what's likely to happen in the future. True, sometimes the past is an indicator, but it's wrongheaded to adopt a perspective like "look how much we've already spent, we can't cut bait now." This is one of Bush's more recent rationales for continuing involvement: that to leave would not do honor to all those who have already died.
This is not an easy issue to grapple with (and if you read Billmon's post on how his sentiments have migrated away from vacuum and civil war fear to accelerated withdrawal, you'll get a sense of the pain a thinking person can go through when seriously confronting it; his sense is that he should have joined in yesterday's protests). You can even hear it at Horsefeathers: as early as February 2003, one of that blog's co-owners, Yale Kramer, wrote (emphases mine):
Now, regular readers know I like to point to Horsefeathers as an outpost of extremism, although I generally point to posts by Stephen Rittenberg in doing so, not Yale Kramer. (This may be the first time I've quoted Kramer, actually.) But presumably there is as much anguish over the human costs among conservatives as there is among liberals; liberals have no monopoly on compassion, they may just be better at integrating it into their political philosophy (or less effective at partitioning, take your pick). In fact, it could be that conservatives' anguish is greater, if it implies unresolved approach-avoid cognitive dissonance.
Now, as for the question I implied paragraphs ago before I'd cast my extensive view from China to Peru, I don't think we need to pursue either perpetual involvement or accelerated withdrawal. What we do need to pursue, however, is accelerated progress. Unfortunately the current Republican leadership (which controls the Presidency and both houses of the Congress) aren't likely to show the wisdom to pursue it. Think about it: we don't need to think hard about Bush, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has shown at the very least the lack of wisdom to sell stock in his family business shortly before its earnings were released; the earnings were disappointing, and he avoided a huge financial hit as a result. In all honesty, he shouldn't have been buying or selling his family stock. That's all there is to it. In addition, it looks like he may have pulled a bill dealing with prisoner abuse while having information that there was more negative information still to come out. And Speaker of the House Denny Hastert? Hastert told us early on that he intended to represent the majority of his party, not the majority of the House, and would block any majority-supported bill that was against the wishes of the majority of his party. And Tom Delay? See "Bush."
The Republicans could conceivably change this mess if the "RINOs" start to exert themselves. John McCain, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe — you know the list. They may not speak for the majority of active and vocal Republicans, but it could well be that their more moderate positions resonate with a broader group. And as the President's approval ratings sink and sink and sink further, it would seem that more and more of the country is distancing itself from Bush, and may be even more open to an alternative message.
The problem with this approach is that you have to ask yourself about the likelihood that this "middle way" might be pursued by Republican moderates. My own feeling is that the likelihood is low; yet humanity has the capacity to surprise, and if moderate members of the Republican party make themselves heard (as opposed to the idiots wearing the purple bandages in Madison Square Garden last year), these senators might be moved.
If they don't move, it's more fuel for my position that
the Republicans have given up all claim to being the Daddy Party.
The Democrats could fill the breach, but the midterms are too far
away to change the direction in Iraq any time soon.
A kinder, gentler country? I confess
I know little about the First Lady's politics — although
when she's spoken she's spoken with a voice that's distinctly
different from her husband's. She's articulate, and has sometimes
veered from the line. Over at The Left Coaster, Steve Soto reads
the fine print in a Washington Post article and notes that Laura
Bush may have trimmed her husband's sails. I'm willing to
experiment with this and see how this turns out; it won't be the
first time a wife has exercised her privilege to change a
husband's direction, and since it hasn't been going well for the
last five years...
The White House STILL doesn't get it right? Yesterday, I noted that Bush isn't really caught in a lose-lose situation regarding how he reacts to hurricanes, in spite of what the good folks at National Review Online would have you believe. This morning I woke to the news that Bush was not going to Texas to be in the storm afterall:
Hurray, I'm thinking, maybe they get. How foolish I was, I now see (sorry, no RSS link
yet, for now you have to register), (via AMERICAblog): it's not because they re-thought
whether or not Bush would be in the way, but that the storm
wasn't exciting enough where he was going to be, and the visuals
weren't right. Can't they just dress him up in a flight suit with
Got Tivo? Know what you've got? Tivo
appears to be leaning towards automatically erasing the shows
you've recorded after a certain date passes. I don't think it
defeats the purpose of those who are merely recording in order to
time shift, but since some people have been buying units with
bigger and bigger hard drives, they must know that a
significant portion of their market is archiving; and therefore,
Tivo has been playing a lot of them for suckers all the while
it's been selling the bigger units.
Now, you know the idea about false choices? National Review has presented itself with a false choice; Katrina was too little early, followed by too much too late; with Rita, Bush continues to go overboard. In National Review's eyes Bush "can't win" because they can't conceive of any other options (such as a middle way). Like, Bush didn't need to be in New Orleans the morning Katrina hit, but it sure would have been nice if he'd had Cheney doing his road trips to present McCain the birthday cake and talk up the prescription drug program. Bush can win by staying on top of it; he doesn't need to be there on the frontlines. If he puts the right people in place, making the right moves, then Bush wins.
Bush can win, he and his staff just haven't figure it out. And when they don't? Aw, blame it on the press, of course.
Congressional Democrats, signaling plans to become more assertive about Iraq, yesterday asked the director of national intelligence to brief senators on conditions there, including whether the conflict has strengthened Islamic terrorists rather than weakened them.
I may have a new hero. Ever heard of Giuseppi Petrosino? Neither had I,
until recently. In lower Manhattan there's a small triangular,
asphalt covered "park" labeled "Lieutenant Petrosino Park." I
googled his name, and it turns out this guy was the real thing,
with the Right Stuff coming out his ears. He was the first
Italian-American detective on the NYPD, and fought hard against
an Italian mob called the Black Hand;
according to a city web page, he and his department cut crime
against Italian Americans in half, and helped deport 500 crooks.
In 1909, he was murdered in Palermo while conducting an
investigation, and remains the only member of the force
killed in the line of duty outside the U.S. Yeah, there was a
funeral here in New York, and it says 200,000 attended it. Bernie
Kerik, are you humbled? Martin Scorcese, are you reading?
It takes a Katrina, unfortunately, to make America pay genuine attention to the plight of the poor; and even here, it's not a general awareness of the plight of the poor, but reserved for those who have been hit by Katrina. But the forgotten fact is that under Bush, the percentage of Americans in poverty has risen year after year: 2001 under Bush was higher than 2000 under Clinton; 2002 higher than 2001, 2003 higher than 2002, and 2004 higher than 2003. The growth in the economy which Bush has trumpeted has not been broad, and while some in the middle class have benefitted some, those who have benefitted the most come from the wealthier classes. Yet, this didn't stop Bush from proposing a budget with cuts in important programs like food stamps.
There is genuinely good reason to pay attention to the victims
of Katrina, but not to the exclusion of other poor. Katrina's
effects are going to be with us for a long time, and we need to
make sure that the plight of the poor in general improves, not
just those hurt by Katrina.
Fun with the English language (White House edition). I really hope that the national press corps will push back against what Scottie said today, and not just ignore what he said but actively point out how the White House is spinning:
Well, in terms of Katrina, that was a storm that was unprecedented in size and scope and devastation...
First, and foremost, Katrina may have been unprecedented in terms of devastation, but I don't think that's true regarding the size or scope. Remember, Katrina was a category 4 hurricane, not a category 5 hurricane. Read about Andrew and its intensity before you start talking about Katrina as "unprecedented."
What are the unprecedented aspects of Katrina? Well, the fact that New Orleans was in her path, and that the potential devastation from a hurricane of her strength upon New Orleans had long been predicted and apparently had long gone ignored.
McClellan has chosen the word "unprecedented," avoiding the
word "unanticipated." He knows that "unpredicted" would
not be true; "unprecedented" allows him a bit more wiggle room,
and helps the White House avoid blame. Katrina was
anticipated; McClellan wants to move the goal posts, and make you
believe that foresight is irrelevant, therefore their not
exercising it shouldn't be held against them.
Why I love living in Brooklyn, Part
1. Well, I guess you can figure a lot from the photos I take,
but in terms of the first reason I'll list — and it's only
today's reason, not the biggest — the fish markets
in Manhattan's Chinatown are on the way home. That's always the
case for me, working in midtown, and stepping out of the subway
system to buy shrimp and fried tofu for tonight's dinner was a
welcome break from a long trip home after a meeting near the
George Washington Bridge. Unless you work in the Financial
District, Manhattan's China Town is not on your way home
for other borough residents. And you can get off at Canal or
Grand, make a quick purchase, and easily be back on your way. (I
sauteed them in butter, garlic, pepper flakes, and rosemary,
since you asked.)