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Saturday, February 22, 2003

You've Heard of "Diploma Mills"?

Tony Adragna
Well, seems that the House GOP has been running an "Honors Mill" for at least five years
The call starts with flattery: You have been named businessman of the year, or physician of the year, or state chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Business Advisory Council.

Then comes the fundraising hook: a request for as much as $500 to help pay for a full-page Wall Street Journal advertisement, then a request for $5,000 to reserve a seat at a banquet thrown in your honor. Can't handle that? How about $1,250 for the no-frills package?
OK, reading the rest of the story makes clear that it's not akin the fraud you see in college degree scams, but it's still sleazy. I've never heard of an honoree being asked to pay the cost of attending the honors banquet — I've helped plan such events, and those people are usually comped.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Powell Getting Pushy

Tony Adragna
Powell Defends Work Style, Eschews 'Living' in a Plane

Secretary of State Colin Powell said "living in an airplane" is not the only way to be in touch with other governments.

"I think I am on the road a bit," Powell said at a news conference in response to suggestions U.S. diplomacy would be more effective if he went abroad more.

"Just for the record," Powell said, "I took 16 trips last year, to 41 countries, and I also receive a large number of visitors here."

Ultimately, Powell said, he had to judge where his time should be spent. "I'm principal foreign policy adviser to the president, and so I have to spend a goodly part of my time with the president," he said.[bold itals added]
Why would the Secretary of State need to say the obvious — unless it's not so obvious that Mr. Bush is relying on his "principal foreign policy adviser" for foreign policy advice.

For the record, though I support war against Saddam's regime, and I find within liberal tradition precedent for supporting war against such a regime, I'm not happy 'bout how this administration has handled the diplomatic assault — there's too much of "Talk [loudly] and carry a big stick." I think that's the right approach when addressing enemies, but when trying to bring allies aboard — even those viewed as only nominal allies — it's best to just agree to disagree, or engage the debate in private, rather than carry on a public disputation.

There are two reason why I think public disputation is best avoided, and both ought be obvious: a ) Slights, whether or not intentional, never go unrequited, and b ) these public disputes are a distraction from and a gift to the enemy we're supposed to be uniting against.

I've also a problem with all of the "unilateralist" talk. I know I've said this often enough, but I'm gonna say it again: The only U.S. unilateralism we've seen is rhetorical. This is just my gut feeling, but I'm of the opinion that had Mr. Bush reigned in the unilateralists sooner, then we might've gotten a stronger Resolution 1441.

Maybe the preceding grafs expose me as a naif — I've been charged with worse.

Nothing I've written should be taken as full agreement with the Powellite position, though. I fear that playing the game according to those rules would have us indefinately on deck instead of in the batter's box. Neither will I defend those governments that stand in opposition to "American Imperialism" & "unilateralism", or take umbrage at trivial offenses. While the Bush administration's rhetoric has oft been more blustery than I would like, it's nonetheless a long overdue wake-up call. The proper response would be to get out of bed and make ready for an active day — the wrong response is to ignore the alarm & go back to sleep.

Me & Kristol Agree? Sorta... Was watching Frontline last night and found a Republican who agrees with me on how the Clinton era GOP was a much different animal — read the transcript. Kristol also shares my own opinion that pre-Sept. 11 Mr. Bush was on foreign policy more influenced by the neo-isolationists & realists than by the neo-Reaganites [neo-conservatives].

And Kristol had some pointed criticism of GOP opposition to Mr. Clinton
A couple of things should be said about the 1990s. I think Clinton deserves a fair amount of criticism. But it's not as if Republicans were united in advancing a Bush Doctrine-type approach. Republicans were very badly split. The Republican Congress was quite isolationist. They were spending much more time opposing Clinton on Bosnia and Kosovo than encouraging Clinton to be tougher on Iraq. We were spending time worrying about American over-extension around the world, very nervous about the commitment of U.S. troops. Even in the Somalia debacle, Clinton deserves some criticism, and Republicans in Congress, their type of criticisms tended to be, "Why are we there in the first place?" Not, "We've got to go in and punish the people who just killed some Americans."...

Well, we're arguing against Clinton's policies as being weak -- letting dangerous things go on in various parts of the world, giving a sense of American weakness, not spending enough on the military. We're also spending a fair amount of time arguing against other Republicans and conservatives who have a much more limited view of what America should do, whose criticism of Clinton is often that he's doing too much, not that he's doing too little...

I'll give you an instance. ... When Milosevic was toppled by the sort of student uprisings in Belgrade in, I guess, the fall of 2000, September or October 2000, this was we thought a great accomplishment for American foreign policy, and for the people, obviously, for Serbia and Yugoslavia. ... As I recall, Dick Cheney then made some very grudging comment. "This did not prove that Clinton had been right to use American force in Kosovo." Bob Kagan and I wrote an op-ed criticizing Cheney, and sort of saying, "It's the Republican position that we don't celebrate a Democrat achievement here in the Balkans. We're such hardheaded realists and such skeptics about American engagement anywhere, and such skeptics about nation building, that we're going to deride a democratic popular uprising..."
I wonder, had there not been so much opposition from the GOP might Clinton actually have gotten something done? Well, he did in the Balkans, but that wasn't the only fight, and Mr. Clinton then was sounding like Mr. Bush now... Hmmm... Anyway, seems to me that much of the neo-isolationists opposition was less principled than opposition for its own sake — 'bout where the Democratic "anti-war" "progressives" are coming from in the instant case.

Neo-Reaganite? Really, I'm glad my t.v. viewage is done while in bed with my head propped up — I woulda hurt myself falling over laughing had I been standing up. Did Kristol actually link Reagan's name with a foreign policy that's about "We've got to go in and punish the people who just killed some Americans."? Is Kristol serious?

OK, I was in the U.S. Navy during Reagan's second term, and I was everywhere but out "punish[ing] the people who just killed some Americans." Reagan bowed to Congressional pressure when he withdrew U.S. forces from Lebanon — see Clinton & Congress in re Somalia.

Reagan's national security team got involved in the Iran-Contra guns-for-hostages market
The Iran Arms Sales

What we now know as the Iran arms sales, or the Iran initiative, was actually a series of related but distinct events that began in the summer of 1985 and continued through 1986. Israel sent U.S.-supplied weapons to Iran on three occasions in 1985. These shipments took place with U.S. approval, and, in one instance, with U.S. participation. They led to the release in September 1985 of one American held hostage in Lebanon. The United States delivered missiles and missile parts to Iran on five occasions in 1986, after President Reagan signed an intelligence ``Finding'' authorizing such shipments. These 1986 shipments led to the release of two more U.S. hostages, though terrorists seized two additional Americans in September 1986.

The first shipment of U.S.-made weapons from Israel to Iran took place August 20, 1985. But discussion and debate within the U.S. Government as to the desirability of arms sales to Iran had been going on for months at the time of the first Israeli shipment.
This happened even as "On June 18, 1985, President Reagan made a public statement that would prove to be ironic in light of the arms-for-hostages shipments that were to occur over the next eighteen months"
Let me further make it plain to the assassins in Beirut and their accomplices, wherever they may be, that America will never make concessions to terrorists -- to do so would only invite more terrorism -- nor will we ask nor pressure any other government to do so. Once we head down that path there would be no end to it, no end to the suffering of innocent people, no end to the bloody ransom all civilized nations must pay.
In fairness, Mr. Reagan did have his successes — we sure taught those Commie Grenadan's a lesson. Now back to some real threats: an Iraqi pilot "accidentally" fires two Exocet missiles at the U.S.S. Stark, killing 37 U.S. sailors, and we accept an apology. There's a war we were definitely on the wrong side of...

Thursday, February 20, 2003

A Good Reason to Support Pre-marital Sex & Pronography

Tony Adragna
'Cause if you don't, then the Communists have won...

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Tony Blair's Question Misapprehends The Argument

Or, how some anti-war folks are more wrong than they're given credit for
Tony Adragna
Tony Blair recently spake these words
There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand this.

I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this:

If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for.

If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started.
The PM seems to be missing something 'bout much of the anti-war argument — many of those folks refuse to accept that Saddam is The Problem. In March 2002 I wrote the following
The naifs and liars (collectively: apologists) assert that the Iraqi regime isn’t the problem. Instead, Saddam is presented as a defender of his people standing up to western arrogance and U.S. hegemony. The presentation continues with a recitation of specific charges of U.S. responsibility for innocent civilian deaths – especially the deaths of children – resulting from use of military force during and since the Gulf War. Don’t worry about debunking specific charges, because there’s a fallback position: U.S. foreign policy is the root of all evil – I mean, Iraqi children have been dying because of the sanctions, right?
See, what Tony Blair misses is that there are protests focusing on the humanitarian situation in Iraq and its effect on child mortality — check out the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. Though CASI claims "it does not take a position on the ongoing US/UK bombing of Iraq or on human rights abuses committed by the Iraqi government", it does provide a link under "American Motives" to an article titled "The Myth that all Iraq needs to do to lift sanctions is comply with weapons inspectors" — you can guess the point being made.

This is just one example of where "reasonable people" do... um... disagree with Tony Blair on where the onus rests. Besides blaming the the "deaths of children" on the U.S. — nevermind that the war and sanctions were approved by the U.N. — there are others who argue that we've no right to "impose" democracy on other peoples. Hey, it's their culture, and if they're happy with it, then under "self-determination" that's their busniness. Yeah, right...

Let's not credit the "anti-war movement" with at least agreement that Saddam is a muderous totalitarian despot — lotsa people really believe, as with Israel vis a vis the Palestinians, that it's actually folks like Tony Blair & George Bush [not Saddam Hussein] who are pursuing immorality. That's why you won't see them protesting against Saddam's regime.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Am I Dug Out Yet?

Tony Adragna
Official total so far — as official as my Stanley 25' Fat Max Tape Measure can make it — at The Hyattsville Hangout is 15". Don't usually mind snow 'cept that I'm home by meself — William went to work on Saturday morning & got stuck there. Even though the emergency restriction has been lifted, it won't do him any good to try driving home — won't be able to make it down our road what hasn't been plowed yet. The other housemate is in Florida.

Not that inclement weather is any real barrier to my own wanderings, nosiree. But, I've no tranportation at the moment — Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can't handle a bit of snow.

So, I went out front & shoveled the walk & steps. Hell, the way the snow was being driven at an angle I even had 4" on the covered patio. Jade dog still won't go outside, and I don't blame her — she knows the snow is 'bout 5" deeper than she is tall.

What's really got me out of action, though, is a wicked case bronchitis. Didn't watch any of the pundits over weekend, nor did I read a single paper. Been watching AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS instead, but only 'til DAZED AND CONFUSED comes on at 10...

Gonna go scrounge up a bowl of soup now...

Update 6:01 PM: William made it home! Hurrah!

Well, he made it two-thirds the way up the road 'fore he got stuck. Had to dig out his front wheels, then he went back & forth 'til he got over the hump. But, no matter, he's home safe...

Sunday, February 16, 2003

A Bad Day for Punditwatching

Punditwatch is up, minus Fox News Sunday, the victim of VCR failure, and This Week, victim of the desire of the local ABC affliliate to show pictures of slippery streets and explain why ten inches of predicted snow turned into two inches of sleet.

Enjoy this edition, held together by duct tape, Yogi Berra, and Ted Turner.