February 28 2003
MAKES NINE: Bob Graham
is officially in, raising the number of current candidates
for the Dem nomination to nine. It could go as high as eleven
or twelve in the next few months.
candidacy certainly makes the race more interesting. The conventional
wisdom is that Graham will probably hurt Lieberman the most by
sucking all the money out of Florida - including tapping into
Lieberman's otherwise uncontested reservoir of cash in the Florida
makes the race much tougher for Edwards. Even though Edwards will
probably run well to the left of him, Graham is a legitimate Southern
candidate (think Edwards minus the hairspray and plus some substance)
and should be able to mount an effective challenge in South Carolina.
latest poll shows Kerry with a strong lead in New Hampshire,
but that was before he hired
Bob Shrum to help "craft his message."
COOK: Stick with me while I backtrack to Tuesday to talk briefly
Cohen's knee-capping of Deborah Cook, President Bush's nominee
for the 6th Circuit. Cohen's piece is titled, "Deborah Cook
Is the Typical Bush Judicial Nominee — So Watch Out" and
it's a textbook example of how to write a hatchet job. Cohen highlights
certain facts and distorts others in an effort to mislead readers
years on the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Cook has been a steady
voice against injured workers, discrimination victims and consumers.
The court's most prolific dissenter, she frequently breaks with
her Republican colleagues to side with big business and insurance
companies. Often she reaches for a harsh legal technicality
to send a hapless victim home empty-handed.
Now, I don't
Cook and I'm not a lawyer. But after spending a couple of
hours reading the opinions Cohen cites as proof of Cook's propensity
to "protect corporations pestered by sick or fired workers"
v. Wal-Mart, Norgard
v. Brush Wellman, Mauzy
v. Kelly Services, Oker
v. Ameritech) it's hard to find any "there there"
- other than Cohen's willingness to stretch and bend the truth.
the fact that in two of the cases cited (Mauzy and Oker) Cook
was joined in dissent by another justice, making them 5-2 decisions.
In the Norgard case the decision was 4-3, more or less contradicting
the idea that the mean-spritied Justice Cook was out to protect
the corporation and stick it to the poor worker in the beryllium
It is true
that Cook was the lone dissenter in the Davis case and that her
argument rested on a technical legal argument involving the concepts
of tort spoliation and res judicata. For more on Cook's
dissent in the Davis case and how Cohen distorted her position,
I'll leave it to legal experts like Lawrence
B. Solum, visiting Professor at the University of San Diego
(via Eugene Volokh).
T. Bevan 7:55 am
February 27 2003
BUSH V. HUSSEIN: Last night was about as close to a debate
between George Bush and Saddam Hussein as we are ever going to
the American Enterprise Institute, President Bush laid
out a case for action against Iraq that rested on a much
larger and bolder philosophical premise: that American security
is inextricably linked to the spread of freedom and democracy
around the world. Bush argued that democratic governance in Iraq
and Palestine would be an inspiration and would lead to greater
peace and security in the region:
will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that
has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal
divisions, and war. It will be difficult to cultivate liberty
and peace in the Middle East, after so many generations of strife.
Yet, the security of our nation and the hope of millions depend
on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they
forward with confidence, because we trust in the power of human
freedom to change lives and nations. By the resolve and purpose
of America, and of our friends and allies, we will make this
an age of progress and liberty. Free people will set the course
of history, and free people will keep the peace of the world.
of hours later CBS aired Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein
III). The Iraqi dictator denied he possessed any weapons proscribed
by the United Nations (including the al-Samoud missiles Hans
Blix demanded be destroyed), spoke of how the Iraqi people
kept showing their support by "reelecting" him with
100% of the vote, and refused to admit that Iraq suffered a defeat
in the first Gulf War. Saddam argued that Iraqis:
defend ourselves, and defend our right to dignity, and to live
in peace and to live in dignity and freedom. What did Iraq threaten
the United States with? Iraq has not committed any aggressive
against the United States. Nor, nobody in Iraq. Neither an official
nor anybody in Iraq says that the United States is our enemy.
acceptable that anybody with power should go and destroy others?
Or anybody who is being pushed or urged by big companies or
multinational companies, should go to dominate others and destroy
For the sake
of argument, let's throw aside a few facts that contradict this
statement: 1) Saddam actually used the word "enemy"
to describe the U.S. earlier in the interview 2) he tried to assassinate
former President Bush after the first Gulf War and 3) he used
his superior power to invade a weaker nation just a few short
In the larger
context, the contrast of Bush's speech and Hussein's interview
crystallizes what this debate is all about: George W. Bush. It's
certainly not about a petty tyrant looking into the camera and
telling boldfaced lies for the umpteenth time. Even the most ardent
antiwar types admit Hussein is a liar, human rights abuser and
violator of international law - which is why they choose to shift
the focus back to the real target of their animus.
blind hatred of George W. Bush has many roots (he's a moron, a
cowboy, a corporate shill , a bigot, he stole the election, etc),
but collectively it runs so deep both at home and abroad that
it compels them to ascribe to the President - against all history,
logic and evidence - the most cynical and scurrilous motives for
action in Iraq. These range from oil to a personal vendetta to
world dominance and imperialism. They say the President is the
one who is lying, the one hiding things from the public, the one
manufacturing evidence against Hussein.
a reasonable case against action in Iraq can be made - though
I don't think it can be made honestly without addressing the possible
costs of inaction. Yet very few on the left actually argue against
Bush's policy, instead they argue against the man.
do this for two simple reasons. First, it's always easier to attack
the person than to attack the underlying merits of their policies.
Second, ever since Bush's popularity skyrocketed after September
11, the left has a vested interest in diminishing his personal
Democrats are desperate, not to find a way to insure Hussein's
full and complete disarmament but to energize their base to win
an election. Hence the incredible array of cognitively dissonant
rhetoric from major Democratic party candidates and officeholders.
France and Germany have for weeks been going to extraordinary
lengths to stem Bush's (and Blair's) influence around the globe.
This includes throwing NATO into a crisis and now, even as we
speak, contemplating the public repudiation of a resolution they
both signed onto just four short months ago.
As with most
debates, trust is a critical component of whether you are swayed
by someone's argument. The left doesn't like George W. Bush, and
they don't trust him. And to an unfortunately large number of
those on the left, that's pretty much all that matters. - T.
Bevan 10:54 am
February 26 2003
SECURITY TEST: This isn't exactly a new insight, but it became
more readily apparent this weekend while watching Meet the Press:
the Democrats have a big problem when it comes to national security.
The pundits and talking heads who talk about the first George
Bush's sky-high ratings post the Gulf War and their subsequent
collapse are very wrong to suggest something analogous might happen
today. Now, I'm not saying this President Bush's approval ratings
can't drop, but this war and the Gulf War 12 years ago are entirely
It all comes
back to 9/11. Iraq might be over, but this war will not be over
on election day next year. And the bottom line is the Democrats
will have no chance, irrespective of how bad the economy gets,
unless they nominate someone who passes the national security
The two Democrats
on Meet the Press this weekend dramatically underscored this point.
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich was a total embarrassment and
his election to President would pose a significant material threat
to the safety of every American. Read the transcript,
it's there in black and white. He has no chance. The same can
more or less be said of Howard Dean, Carol Moseley-Braun and Al
point I'm trying to make is about Richard Gephardt. After enduring
Kucinich for a half-hour, it was pleasant and reassuring to see
a leading Democrat who does get it.
RUSSERT: Let me start with Iraq because it’s very much on
people’s minds. October 10 of last year, this was the authorization
voted for by Congress, yourself, and the House. “The President
is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as
he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—(1)
defend the national security of the United States against the
continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant
United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”
About two-thirds of the Democrats in the House voted against
that. You voted for it. Many Democrats have suggested you gave
the president a blank check, and should not have done that.
Why did you vote for that authorization?
REP. GEPHARDT: Tim, first, we got to talk about what
we’re trying to do here. To me, this is about disarming Saddam
Hussein. And the reason I think that’s important is that we’ve
got to keep our people safe. If you’re worried about
terrorists getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction
or components of weapons of mass destruction, you first look
at Iraq as where they could get their hands on those components.
I told the president on 9/12, “We got to put politics out of
these terrorism issues and we got to try to work together
to do what’s right, to keep the people of this country safe.”
And that’s what I’ve tried to do every day since. I did urge
the president, beginning, I think, in the spring of last year,
to go to the U.N., to build an international coalition so that
we’re not doing this alone. And I got him to—I negotiated language
into that resolution that said that he would go to the UN and
they would try to build that international coalition and that’s
what he’s trying to do. That’s what he should do and I hope
he will accomplish that, but in the end, this is about the safety
of our people. We cannot have a weapon of mass destruction in
this society..... This is about the safety of our people.
We’re worried about a Ryder truck with an A- bomb in it
at the Washington Monument or in New York or in St. Louis.
We cannot have that happen. That must be avoided and we must
use every human effort to see that it does not happen......
And after 9/11 you look back on a lot of things that we did
or didn’t do, and maybe you’d like to do them better.
9/11 changed everything. You know, a lot of the
argument about Iraq is whether or not the inspectors can prove
that they have these weapons. It’s almost like setting up a
legal case in a court. Well, you couldn’t prove before 9/11
that 9/11 was going to happen. We just didn’t think that terrorists
were going to be able to do this in the United States. It
was a wake-up call, and we have a huge obligation to keep our
people safe, so we’ve got to do better than we’ve done
in the past.
changed everything." Gephardt gets it, and that's why
he could be elected President. The anti-war-no-matter-what, see-no-evil
Democrats don't get it and won't be trusted with the keys to the
take on the the currently announced field of Democrats is Gephardt
and Lieberman pass the national security test. Edwards' words
pass the test, but he just doesn't seem to look the part. Whether
you like them or not Gephardt, Lieberman and Kerry are legitimate
heavyweights, in this time of war Edwards is not (2004 is not
going to be 1992). Kerry is trying to have it both ways and is
hoping his service in Vietnam will give him cover on his pathetic
fence-straddling. If he was smart he would come out very publicly
in the next week in strong support of the war. Dean, Kucinich,
Moseley-Braun and Sharpton have as much chance of becoming President
as George McGovern in 1972. However, Howard
Dean does have a real shot at becoming the Democratic nominee.
That would bring a big smile to the face of Karl Rove. J.
McIntyre 7:58 am
February 25 2003
AMBIVALENCE: Check out the following excerpt from Howie
Kurtz's profile of Peter Beinart and his hawkish editorial
leadership at The New Republic:
is a full-fledged, talon-baring hawk on Iraq, a stance that
has led him to assail, among others, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
and the New York Times editorial page. He lambastes the Times,
which has urged the Bush administration to build an international
consensus for military action against Iraq, as a symbol of "the
intellectual incoherence of the liberal war critics," whose
real position, he contends, is "abject pacifism."
Beinart chides Kerry for making anti-war noises after voting
to support action against Saddam Hussein, saying Kerry's presidential
candidacy "is doomed to fail if Kerry keeps speaking so dishonestly
spokesman Chris Lehane sees the New Republic's criticism as
a "backhanded compliment" to the senator's political stature.
country is clearly ambivalent about Iraq," Lehane says.
"Kerry has been exactly where the country is. He thinks
Saddam is bad but has grave questions about how the administration
has handled the diplomacy." (emphasis added)
got that? The leading contender for the Democratic presidential
nomination is ambivalent on the single greatest question facing
the country today.
Just to clarify,
here is Webster's textbook definition of ambivalence:
n., uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by inability
to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two
This is not
- I repeat not - a quality you want in a President. It's not even
something you want in a candidate for the local school board.
Yet, as Mickey Kaus
and others have repeatedly shown, ambivalence is one of Kerry's
defining character traits, and it very well may be his downfall
in the end. - T.
Bevan 8:42 am
February 24 2003
BYE, BYE INS: As of midnight this Friday, the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) will
cease to exist. After 69 years of operation, the INS and its
36,000 employees will be absorbed by the new Department
of Homeland Security.
At the very
least, doing away with the INS is an important symbolic step that
signals to folks here at home and abroad that the U.S. government
is making changes to address threats to its security. Whether
the move will result in any tangible increase in the government's
ability to process, monitor and naturalize immigrants remains
to be seen. I suspect there will be some marginal improvements
in the short-term - bureaucratic shake ups usually have this effect
- but it's hard to foresee any real substantial increases in effectiveness.
Bureaucracies just don't work that way.
be good news to immigration activists like Cheryl Little, executive
director of the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center,
who is concerned that changes to the current, ridiculously lax
U.S. immigration system might have an adverse effect on immigrants:
a real fear that INS work will be less service-oriented and
more enforcement-driven than ever."
Am I the
one who has to break the news to Ms. Little? That's the whole
idea: more security, less customer service. If I have to stand
half-naked in the middle of Terminal B at O'Hare for a little
extra security, then we can ask people seeking the privilege
of visiting or living in this country to endure a few more minutes
in line so we can devote more resources to catching the bad guys
and lawbreakers. We're not talking jackboot oppression here, just
& DEAN: Helen Thomas, the woman who masqueraded as an
"objective" reporter for the Associated Press for the
last nine decades, is now one of the left's silliest (and angriest)
opinion columnists. Yesterday she put her foot down, calling for
Democrats presidential candidates to get
tough on the war:
Democratic presidential aspirants have been pussyfooting around
the Iraq question, wanting to have it both ways on whether to
support President Bush's rush-to-war.
time has come for them to show some backbone. They should declare
their position clearly and point to peaceful options that the
president has no time for. Speaking of clarity, I salute Bush
for his laser-focused campaign against Saddam Hussein, even
if he ignores facts and history.
disappointing that the Democrats don't have a leading candidate
to challenge that point of view with the force of moral clarity."
to this lack of moral clarity is, of course, former Vermont Governor
Howard Dean. Dean,
who in the last few weeks has picked up valuable endorsements
Sheen and Rob
Reiner, wowed the crowd at the DNC's winter meeting last week
with a passionate
call to liberal arms.
take a closer look at Dean's national
security speech last week (the one which Thomas rhapsodizes
about). Dean says:
with President Bush - he has said that Saddam Hussein is evil.
And he is.
a vicious dictator and a documented deceiver.
invaded his neighbors, used chemical arms, and failed to
account for all the chemical and biological weapons he had before
the Gulf War.
murdered dissidents, and refused to comply with his obligations
under UN Security Council Resolutions.
he has tried to build a nuclear bomb.
who believes in the importance of limiting the spread of weapons
of mass killing, the value of democracy, and the centrality
of human rights must agree that Saddam Hussein is a menace.
The world would be a better place if he were in a different
place other than the seat of power in Baghdad or any other country.
want to be clear. Saddam Hussein must disarm. This is not a
debate; it is a given.
questions are: how - when - under what circumstances - and by
whom he is to be disarmed.
Administration thinks the right answers to those questions are
war, now, regardless of the circumstances, and with most if
not all the fighting done by Americans.
for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.
This is fantastic
rhetoric. No wonder it rings in the ears of Thomas and the rest
of the antiwar crowd. The problem is that it lacks any hint of
logic or realism.
all of the terrible truths about Hussein (he is a liar, violator
of international law, and abuser of human rights) Dean articulates
not a single new method of forcing Iraqi compliance. Instead,
the former governor is content to offer as the centerpiece of
his prospective presidential foreign policy a reliance on an inspection
regime which has failed spectacularly over the last 12 years to
disarm Saddam Hussein.
also that inspectors wouldn't even be working in Iraq today if
it weren't solely for the Bush administration's efforts. Are we
to believe that inspectors would have returned to Iraq under a
Dean presidency? So much for moral clarity. - T.
Bevan 8:22 am
reader emails to correct me: Helen Thomas was a reporter
for UPI not the Associated Press.