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Friday, February 14, 2003
Where's the Beef.. er, um, Pork? No, wait — He Said "Catfish"...
Tony AdragnaDon't feel like digging around in the Congressional Record, so here's McCain's press release with pork menu and quotage from his floor statement. I find this bit entertaining
Mr. President, let's talk about the lowly catfish and its heretofore unknown relation to the cow. In the emergency disaster relief section of this bill, a provision was included that would qualify catfish farmers for livestock compensation payments. As my colleagues know, the livestock compensation program is a federal farm program that compensates eligible livestock producers—such as owners of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, or certain breeds of buffalo—who have suffered losses or damages as a result of a severe drought.I think I eat more catfish than beef...
It's also kinda neat that this years list includes a provision "to combat 'feral hogs' in Missouri". Sheesh, don't these folks know that there's already a tried & true method of dealing with such critters? — Surely some congressional staffer coulda googled up wild hog hunting...
While I'm on the topic of pigs... Paul Berman says that " Joschka Fischer is wrong to resist the Iraq war. But he's not evil."
Fischer and a good many Europeans of his generation became militants of the New Left in the late 1960s and '70s because, among other motives, they considered themselves to be fighting a war against the lingering Nazism of German life and of Western civilization as a whole. This anti-Nazism of theirs turned out to be foolish in many ways—sometimes criminal, sometimes even Nazi-like at its most grotesque moments, which is why the New Left finally disintegrated. But the anti-Nazi motives were sincere, for all that. The impulse to go fight against totalitarian legacies had a large and (on balance) mostly positive effect on German and European society—or, at least, a great many Germans and Europeans believe that to be the case today. Fischer is by far the most popular politician in Germany right now, and that is partly because many people do credit him with having had moral and admirable motives in the past, even if they (and he) acknowledge that, in his youth, he went off the deep end from time to time.Unapologeticaly not buying it, pal...
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Let's Have a Pork Roast
Tony AdragnaSen. McCain just finished his annual decrial of pork barrel earmarking — pig's ears, anybody? — and it was a stand-up performance.
I'll link to the Congressional Record page when it becomes available...
It's Called "Dynamic Scoring"...
Tony AdragnaTAPPED quotes an article by Stan Collender in Government Executive Magazine — here's the link to "Secrets of S-3" that should went with TAPPED's item — criticizing the administration for saying things not supported by the budget documents.
Specifically, Table S-3[pdf] contradicts assertions from Mitch Daniels et al about the impact of the FY '04 budget.
How to reconcile the two? Easy — OMB doesn't use "dynamic scoring", so Table S-3, along with all of the other documents related to the budget submission, don't take into account the impact of above-baseline "growth" in revenue. But underlying the proposals is the "dynamic scoring" logic.
Of course the White House budget advocacy can't be reconciled with the OMB documents — they're proceding from different methodologies. That they don't reconcile is beside the point if Congress decides to adopt "dynamic scoring" in its approach to the budget.
Now, I agree with the criticism that the president's assumptions on revenue are problematic, and that the current proposals are a return to structural deficits — I said it first. But let's not confuse the debate by deliberately comparing apples to oranges....
Update: Stan Collender admitted in an earlier column that the logic of "dynamc scoring" applied to the revenue growth through economic expnasion via fiscal policy [tax cuts] argument — not the OMB projections — is what underlies the the White House's budget advocacy. Why now pretend that the administration is getting caught out for relying on a document using assumptions that they've never particularly cared for?
Does al Qaeda Support Saddam?(cont.)
Tony AdragnaWhen last I addressed this question several points were made: a ) the question is only part of the test on whether a nexus exists, b ) the historical record — Saddam's not unrequited support of Hamas' program, and bin Laden's tacit acceptance of western support during the Afghan fight against the Soviets — proves that the ideological divergence is no firewall preventing linkages. This doesn't prove an actual linkage between Saddam & al Qaeda, but it does mean that the "different interests" argument isn't as much a disproof as some argument wants to rely upon.
To wit: The response to Sec. Powell's presentation on that point can no longer rest on "those guys hate each other." So, why is Richard Cohen doing exactly that?
"Once again, he [bin Laden] speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorist states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored."Certainly Cohen is quoting bin Laden in support of the argument that they don't mix, but the quotation is highly selective. A fuller quotation of bin Laden speaks volumes on the points I've previously made
It's known that fighting to achieve victory for the infidels is not permissible. And you know the Muslim's belief should be clear when fighting that it should be for the sake of Allah. As the prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever fought to raise the word of Allah, then he's fighting for the sake of Allah."Cohen is correct — bin Laden does call the Ba'athist socialists "infidels". Nevertheless, bin Laden says "it doesn't harm in these conditions the interest of Muslims to agree with those of the socialists in fighting against the crusaders".
In other words, as I previously suggested, Saddam & bin Laden currently have a common interest that outweighs their ideological divergence, and both are willing to exploit the commonality for their own purposes — Saddam toward his own glorification, and bin Laden in the pursuit of "In Sha' Allah".
I don't know why Cohen doesn't grasp this point. Maybe he does — that would explain why he resorts to such an obviously disingenuous form as the selective quotation...
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Oh, That Wesley Clark...
Tony AdragnaJosh isn't following the script
According to the script of the day, we're supposed to be castigating the French, Germans, Belgians, Russians and the rest of Old Europe for betraying us, endangering NATO, hanging Turkey out to dry, appeasing Iraq, and generally being incomparable weenies. A lot of smart people in the US are saying just that. But they're being profoundly shortsighted. After 9/11, the Bush administration quite consciously marginalized NATO, resisting even the symbolic involvement of the alliance which could be paying substantial dividends today. I think it's quite possible that the damage we are doing to NATO right now will turn out to be the most profoundly damaging legacy of this administration. (And the competition is substantial.)Now, if you didn't click through the "marginalized NATO" link, here's another opportunity to read General Clark's "lessons of the Kosovo campaign". Can the class point out what's wrong with the lecture? Anybody?... Anybody?...
OK, I'll tell you what's wrong: Clark omits the fact that NATO had to be led toward action. This is no minor omission — Clark had previously admitted this point in an interview
The NATO defense ministers met in June, 1998. A lot of people have said that was a really important meeting. What did they ask you to do?Had it not been for Sec. Cohen's gasp drawing speech and U.S. leadership, might not the NATO ministers still be sitting 'round a table trying to "get a grip"? Let's turn to an interview with Cohen for a clue to the answer
One of my biggest concerns was whether or not the NATO allies were willing to invest in any kind of a campaign. I was absolutely convinced that the United States could not afford to take any kind of unilateral action from a political point of view, and certainly we were not going to recommend to the president and to the Congress that we intervene unilaterally without NATO consensus and support. There was a long debate for months, beginning in 1998, over whether NATO had any legal authority to take action.Sheesh, the Balkans were re-Balkanizing in a violent fashion, but NATO wouldn't act without "consensus" and a Security Council resolution.
Hell, even Pravda caught General Clark overtly admitting that action in the Balkans had to be "sold" to NATO
"By Spring of '95," stated Clark, "the UN mission in Bosnia was clearly in trouble. America prepared to put in 25,000 troops to help our allies... we went to Europe, we sold our allies on American leadership." Clark defended American dominance of NATO, saying, "The U.S. created NATO-(and so) it earns the right to put in the commander."
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Who Wrecked NATO?