October 17 2003
THE WATERSHED: We may look back at yesterday as the defining
moment of the 2004 election. Ted Kennedy framed the debate over
the vote on Iraq by delivering
a stinging indictment of the Bush administration on the floor
of the Senate. It was a full embrace of the most liberal views
within the Democrat party regarding Iraq: Bush took America to
war on a lie, the war is a complete and total failure, and we
need to turn everything over to the U.N. and get out now. Just
to provide some context to how far left Ted Kennedy is leading
his party on the issue, his speech is virtually
indistinguishable from Dennis Kucinich's position on the war.
has already taken the bait and probably crippled his candidacy
in the process. I spoke to a senior advisor to the Edwards campaign
a few days ago and their strategy is to try and make a respectable
showing in Iowa (third or fourth and within double digits of the
winner) and then use victories in the more conservative states
of South Carolina and Oklahoma on February 3 to become the delegate
leaders in the race. But after initially supporting the war, Edwards
is now tying
himself in knots to explain his position on Iraq:
Senator, if I could -- you know, it's very clear that the primary
voters in your party are very much against this war and it's
also clear that you voted for it. If we look at this in the
political sense, this looks like a way to kind of backpedal
this. You know, it was a war you were for. Why not step up to
the plate and say here's the money?
A very simple reason -- because this policy is failing. The
way this president is conducting this period of the work in
Iraq is not being successful. You know, we don't have a plan,
we don't know how long we're going to be there. We don't know
even an estimate of the longterm costs. When is the transition
from our security force to the Iraqi security force supposed
to take place? There are so many unanswered questions. And before
we just give this president a blank check going forward, we
need answers to those questions. More importantly, the American
people need answers to those questions. I have not backed away
one iota from the importance of getting rid of Saddam Hussein.
But I want this mission to be successful. And in order for it
to be successful, we have to change the course that we're on
for the mission to be successful you have to deny funding for
it? This makes no sense. To say you're going to deny our troops
in Iraq funding because you want to "send the President a
message" is bad politics and even worse policy.
may think he
can triangulate his way to the nomination based on polling data,
but he's mistaken if he thinks he can separate his vote on reconstruction
with his vote on the war resolution itself. Mort
Kondracke and James
Klurfeld get it right; this is a horrible mistake for John
Edwards and John Kerry.
Howard Dean has been consistent, even though this vote has taken
its toll on his candidacy as well. Dean has shown himself to be
far less than the "principled, straight-talking leader"
he's billed himself to be by engaging in a hypocritical kabuki
dance for the last two weeks and refusing to take a stand on the
issue because "he's not running for Congress, he's running
after being lambasted in the press for lacking leadership, yesterday
Dean announced he would oppose money for Iraq's reconstruction.
Last night he went on to tell
the audience at a Virginia fundraiser, ""People will
be attracted to you if you tell them what you truly believe."
Better late than never, I guess.
is most likely the big winner here (Lieberman got it right too,
but his campaign is on life support). He's already running well
in Iowa even though he's supported the war from the beginning.
This vote shouldn't change his standing. And Gephardt has offset
his support of the war by cranking up the Bush-bashing rhetoric
about 50 notches to try and keep pace with Dean. Now Gephardt
can still continue his harsh criticisms of Bush knowing that he's
got the national security issue in his back pocket for the general
election. Dean, on the other hand, has set the controls of his
campaign for the center of the sun.
Being an alumnus of the university that proudly harbors Paul
Krugman is somewhat of a sore spot for me. And even though
our basketball team isn't the
powerhouse it once was, there are still plenty of reasons
to be proud of the old alma mater. If you're one of the people
who thinks collegiate faculties are dominated by left-wing ideologues,
I urge you to read this.
- T. Bevan
October 14 2003
A TALE OF TWO RESUMES: Bobby Jindal and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria
are two of the brightest stars of the Indian-American community.
They're both currently running for office, and both doing so as
As you may
know, Jindal is a candidate
for Governor of Louisiana and just shattered conventional wisdom
by winning 33% of the vote in the primary on October 3. He's extremely
young (32), conservative, and boasts a resume that's out of this
world: graduate of Brown University and Oxford (Rhodes Scholar),
selected as Louisiana state health secretary at the age of 24,
directed a national commission on Medicare at 26, became the president
of the University of Louisiana System at 27, and was chosen as
a top health-policy adviser with the Bush administration at the
tender age of 29. The guy is by all accounts a prodigy.
who you may not know, is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois.
He's also fairly young (38), conservative, and boasts a resume
that is otherworldly: medical degree from Brown University, MBA
from Stanford, and, according to his resume, has "founded
and built businesses valued at a combined $1-2 billion."
These businesses include X-Stream (a free Internet service provider
in the UK), New World Telecom LLC (a wireless communications company),
Koshika Telecom Ltd. (an operator of cellular mobile telephone
services in India), HealthCite (a web site designed to deliver
medical information to consumers and physicians) Agatel, Inc.
(a developer or wireless LAN networks) and MirCorp (the well-publicized
joint venture that sent "citizen-explorer"/millionaire
Dennis Tito into space in 2001). Like Jindal, Kathuria has been
widely praised in the press both at home and abroad, and he's
repeatedly been referred to as a savvy businessman and a "tycoon"
of cutting-edge industries.
to a front
page article in Sunday's Chicago Tribune, Kathuria's resume
contains a bit of...let's see how to put this nicely....padding.
Actually, the Trib asserts that aside from Dr. Kathuria's academic
accomplishments, almost everything else on his resume is "highly
embellished". The Trib also reports that Kathuria is not
and has never been registered to vote. All in all, it's a pretty
in fact, that the Illinois
Leader reports that Kathuria will hold a press conference
today announcing a $100
million libel suit against the Tribune and its reporters,
Rick Pearson and Andrew Zajac. Kathuria says he will provide documentation
to substantiate many of the claims on his resume and prove the
Tribune was out to smear him with "malice aforethought."
to wait and see what Kathuria comes up with. I have to say I'm
a bit skeptical that one of the more respected papers in the country
would put its reputation on the line to attack a candidate who
is running close to last in a field of 7 candidates and has no
shot at winning the GOP nomination, let alone becoming the next
Senator from Illinois. It just doesn't make any sense.
BABY: Here's an
humorous piece from Texas State Rep Jim Dunham (D) in this
morning's Houston Chronicle bashing redistricting. I couldn't
put it up on the home page, of course, but it's certainly worth
a look - and a chuckle. Especially this part:
this new map has saddled Texas taxpayers with a costly and unnecessary
bill -- between $10 million and $20 million for a political
welfare check for national Republican Party, all because DeLay
can't figure out how to convince Republican voters to elect
Republican members of Congress in the current Republican-leaning
The reason "DeLay can't figure out how to convince Republican
voters to elect Republican members of Congress" is because
Democrats have - for something like 10 consecutive times over
the last 100 years - gerrymandered the districts so egregiously
that they've completely distorted Congressional representation
in what is now an overwhelmingly Republican state.
LEE'S BABY: This is another piece that I didn't want to put
up on the home page, and while it's equally misguided it's not
very funny at all. Barbara Lee, the well-known, ultra liberal
Congresswoman from Berkeley writes:
Bush and his advisers told the American public, Congress and
the international community time and time again that Iraq possessed
weapons of mass destruction. Now grave questions have arisen
regarding the interpretation of intelligence information presented
by the administration.
American people deserve answers. That is why I will be introducing
a resolution stating that Congress should not adjourn until
it establishes either a select committee or an independent commission
to investigate the origins of this war. And congressional Republicans
should respond to Americans' calls for real answers by refusing
to adjourn until such an independent body is created.
doubt the aforementioned Tom Delay will take Lee's advice.
on to say that we need to publish a "concrete timetable"
for withdrawing our troops and that getting out of Iraq is important
so that we can "take care of unmet needs at home."
the Congresswoman finishes with the "quagmire, full retreat"
misguided foreign policy is exacting real costs on the American
people. We need to know how we got into this quagmire, and we
desperately need to know how to get out. For all of these reasons,
I oppose this $87 billion appropriation. Congress must not blindly
sign another check that is simply the latest, but not the last,
installment on the president's doctrine of pre- emption.
I'm not questioning
Ms. Lee's patriotism, only her judgment. If I were a terrorist
(Note to Attorney General Ashcroft: this is a purely a hypothetical)
I would be ecstatic to read this op-ed and I'd be hopeful that
if I could just hold out long enough and cause enough mayhem,
Ms. Lee's ideas would catch on. - T.
Bevan 10:30 am
October 13 2003
TOLERATING RUSH LIMBAUGH: I was one of three panelists
on Bruce DuMont's "Beyond
the Beltway" radio/television show last night. Bruce
had planned on spending the first 20 minutes or so of the program
discussing Rush Limbaugh and then moving on to other issues like
the California recall election, the war in Iraq, and the 2004
Democrat presidential race.
minutes of mentioning Rush's name, the phone lines lit up like
a Christmas tree and stayed that way for the next 2 hours. Comments
from callers ranged all across the board: everything from "he's
a scumbag hypocrite who got what he deserved" all the way
to "liberals are liars and cheats with no moral standing
on which to judge others." Talk about your rollercoaster.
the only Republican/conservative on the panel, I ended up in the
somewhat unenviable position of trying to defend Limbaugh's alleged
drug habit. Actually, let me rephrase that. I really didn't defend
Rush's actions other than to say I thought that 1) he had a personal
problem that required treatment, 2) he made a courageous and poignant
effort in addressing the issue on Friday and 3) he should face
the consequences of his actions if he's convicted of breaking
the law. Maybe this will lead to Rush doing some time, maybe it
won't (I'm not a lawyer but I'd be surprised if a first offense
will result in Rush going to prison). The point is that Rush Limbaugh
shouldn't be above the law.
What I did
defend over the course of the show, however, is the predictable
argument that conservatives are all hypocrites because they dare
to discuss "values" and "morality" and then
have the nerve to defend people, including some of the most notable
leaders of the movement like Limbaugh and Bill Bennett, whose
own personal failings, vices, sins, etc. are exposed.
me say I will concede that, generally speaking, people don't like
to be "lectured to." I'll also concede that people have
every right to look at an individual's past actions to make a
critical evaluation of their positions and/or credibility on a
But the core
of the liberal argument is that in order for anyone to discuss
"morality" or "values" of any kind, he or
she must be an absolute paragon of virtue in every respect. This
is absurd on its face. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion
would result in a very small group of people having a very brief
discussion on morality in American life - probably somewhere in
the middle of Kansas.
I may decide
I don't want to take Rush Limbaugh's advice on drugs, Bill Bennett's
advice on gambling, or have Bill Clinton give me tips on marriage,
but that doesn't mean these men should be automatically disqualified
from discussing "values" or "morality" in
any way - especially as they relate to the formulation of public
policy in this country.
actually told me the difference between liberals and conservatives
is that "we preach tolerance, you preach morality" -
as if the two are somehow mutually exclusive. I almost laughed.
"That's it America! You can be either A) moral and intolerant
or B) tolerant and immoral. Make your choice."
In one sense,
though, the panelist was correct: the term "tolerance"
has become the all encompassing catchphrase of liberals and progressives
everywhere. It has, in effect, become their morality.
used to stand for the simple idea of religious and racial freedom
and equality. It used to stand for the concept that while we may
not necessarily agree with each other, we would strive to see
and respect each other as American citizens, equal in the eyes
of God and the law.
that's only a small part of what "tolerance" stands
for today. The word "tolerance" has now been expanded
to encompass a whole host of issues, from abortion-on-demand to
affirmative action to homosexual marriage to school choice. The
list is practically endless.
And by collating
all of these various issues under the umbrella of "tolerance,"
liberals have now defined any opposition to these policies - irrespective
of fact, debate or merit - as "intolerant." End of discussion.
This is one
reason why, I believe, a good number of liberals have come to
see conservatives not just as fellow citizens with a differing
world view, but as truly hateful, nasty people who want to roll
back the clock to the days of Jim Crow, child labor and back-alley
It's an astonishing
feat, really. Progressives have spent the last few decades carving
America up into tiny little pieces, nurturing and germinating
a multitude of hyphenated interest groups, and at the same time
they've managed to boil everything down to singular litmus test
an effective strategy - especially as practiced in the last decade
by Bill Clinton. But the result hasn't been such a good thing
for the country. We've now seen the concept of "tolerance"
turned on its head. Today "tolerance" is used as a bludgeon
to intimidate opponents and stifle debate, and its most devoted
practioners are really and truly the least tolerant people in
America. - T.
Bevan 10:34 am