Saturday, March 22, 2003


Derived in part from this New York Press item.


The right never rests:

Donald Luskin, writes in the National Review Online an article entitled: Meet the Krugman Truth Squad, which is an essay about Krugman "fact checkers". These "checkers" include Luskin himself.

Here's an example of how these folks operate:
Krugman writes:
"The members of the Bush team don't seem bothered by the enormous ill will they have generated in the rest of the world. ... Victory in Iraq won't end the world's distrust of the United States because the Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn't play by the rules. Remember: this administration ... mortally insulted the Turks ..."
Luskin-approved "fact checker" Hoystory writes:
"Insulted the Turks? They don't sound too insulted to me."

[That's a link to a brief AP wire story, "Turkey races for vote on U.S. troops", about Turkish leadership moving for a vote on basing troops. Which in the end, wasn't granted.]
That's the quality of "Krugman fact checking" these days.


Letter to Bush:

At this site, you can read congressman Henry Waxman's letter to president Bush regarding the "evidence" that Iraq was seeking to obtain uranium from Africa. It contains detailed accounts of who knew (and said) what, and when. Interesting reading.


Friday, March 21, 2003

Humor impaired:

Andrew Sullivan posts this:
UPDATE: This photo appears to be a hoax. I apologize.
The picture that Sullivan thought might be legit, is this:


Following in the footsteps of Arthur "Bomber" Harris:


Thursday, March 20, 2003

Dead or alive?

Left photo from 17 July 2002. Right photo from television address 20 March 2003.

Looks like the same guy to us.


Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Daschle: "I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."

  • House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert: "Those comments may not undermine the president as he leads us into war, and they may not give comfort to our adversaries, but they come mighty close."

  • New York Post Editorial: In point of fact, they do give comfort to America's enemies.

    The American people are rightly incensed by the Democrats' outrageous rhetoric.

  • House Majority Leader Tom DeLay: "Is Tom Daschle the official Democrat hatchet man or just a taxpayer-funded pundit?"

    "Fermez la bouche, Monsieur Daschle." (That translates roughly as "Shut your mouth, Mr. Daschle.")

  • Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican: "I think Senator Daschle clearly articulated the French position ..."

  • White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: "He's essentially blaming President Bush for the fact that we may be on the verge of war."

  • Rush Limbaugh: [That was] Senator Tom Daschle's vicious attack - the "politics of personal destruction" - against President George W. Bush ...

    If I were Daschle, I'd be ashamed to act this way. Every politician in Washington said "we are now united" after those attacks [of 9/11], but it seems some of them were only mouthing words.

  • Jonah Goldberg: [Diplomacy failed when] French showed their cards: opposing Bush is more important than their integrity. It's sad to say, but it looks like Daschle is holding the same cards.

  • National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez: You know, I found the lack of partisanship right after Sept. 11 uncomfortable. But Tom Daschle isn't being partisan. The guy's just lost his mind.

  • Hugh Hewitt (in the Weekly Standard): SENATOR TOM DASCHLE'S attack on President Bush on Monday was unprecedented for the leader of the opposition party in Congress, but high-profile Americans have a long history of getting it wrong on matters of war and peace. Most famous among these is Charles Lindbergh ...

    Lindbergh's efforts were not without harm.

    [Historians deal] with Lindbergh in a footnote. A future historian of the war to liberate Iraq may not be so generous with Senator Daschle.     ...     At some point the American public deserves to have the proponents of vulnerability at home and indecision abroad rebuked.

  • Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot: [Called Daschle's remarks] "divisive and brazen political posturing."

    "It is disheartening and shameful for Senator Daschle, who has previously advocated and authorized the use of force in Iraq, to now blame America first."

  • Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: "Our men and women literally are in a countdown before fighting is initiated, and any remarks that their lives in some way have been compromised by the president of the United States is irresponsible."

  • Tucker Carlson (CNN Crossfire co-host) : According to Tom Daschle we are going to war not because Saddam possesses and has used weapons of mass destruction, not because Saddam has trained and harbored terrorists, not because of Saddam's existence threatens the entire civilized world. No. American troops will die because George W. Bush couldn't convince France and Germany to what? Daschle didn't even say. Maybe he'll explain further the families of fallen American Soldiers.
    [Carlson reads a letter to Crossfire] "As a U.S. Army retiree and war veteran, I was furious when I heard what Daschle had to say yesterday. He would say or do anything for his party's political gain and to make President Bush look bad. Yesterday, Daschle did it by spitting in the face of our sons and daughters who serve and are ready to fight a war."
  • Sen. James Inhofe (R - Oklahoma): "I call on Senator Daschle to apologize."

  • Michael Barone (USN&WR): Like a vulture hovering over the battlefield, Daschle is seeking gains from deaths in war.

NOTE: We're still waiting for Andrew Sullivan to weigh in on this issue.


Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Will this be an easy war?

We were struck by the following statements made by Bush last night:
  • Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours.
  • It is not too late for the Iraqi military to act with honor and protect your country by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces ...
  • Our forces will give Iraqi military units clear instructions on actions they can take to avoid being attacked and destroyed.
  • I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services, if war comes, do not fight for a dying regime ...
  • And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished.
Now some of that is standard-issue talk, but we think that if the Iraqis do fight, it won't be be the cakewalk everybody is expecting. That's why Bush was promoting the notion of Saddam-in-exile and Iraqi troops throwing down their arms.


What did we learn?

In the past several weeks we've been hearing about how September 11 "changed everything", that "we learned something important" on that day, and that Bush is taking "the lesson of September 11 to heart". However, nobody has said exactly what it was that had changed, or what we had learned. For the most part "September 11" was an empty slogan used to promote the notion of invading Iraq. But before dismissing it entirely, we took a hard look to see what, if anything, the attack taught us. As far as we can tell, there were two discoveries:
(1) That there is a non-state sponsored group out there that wants to kill many civilians (as opposed to government officials or a government's security apparatus),


(2) that - despite limited resources - somebody figured out a way to do it.
But that's all. Some analysts have made the mistake of equating an attack that caused mass destruction with actually having the means to inflict mass destruction (or being close to getting them). Al Qaeda doesn't have gunboats or bombers or missiles - even though that's what you'd normally need in order to bring down the twin towers. By confusing results with means, al Qaeda is perceived as being mightier than it really is.

We diagram the various flavors of terrorism, their resources and limitations, levels of threat, and approaches to contain them below:


Monday, March 17, 2003

Happy St. Patrick's day!


Sunday, March 16, 2003


There has been a lot of talk from pro-war circles about how France shouldn't have a veto: It was never merited; France is a medium power at best; its glory days are well over; etc. But take a look at how France stacks up against the rest in terms of military spending. It's pretty substantial (and a bigger percentage of GDP than most). [Shaded cells = permanent Security Council member.]

country GDP military
U.S.A. $10.082 trillion $276.7 billion
China $5.560 trillion $55.0 billion
France $1.540 trillion $46.5 billion
Germany $2.184 trillion $38.8 billion
Russia $1.200 trillion $33.0 billion
Gr. Britain $1.470 trillion $31.7 billion
Italy $1.402 trillion $20.2 billion
Saudi Arabia $ .241 trillion $18.3 billion
Brazil $1.340 trillion $13.4 billion
India $2.660 trillion $12.0 billion
Australia $ .465 trillion $9.3 billion
Israel $ .119 trillion $8.8 billion
Spain $ .828 trillion $8.6 billion
Canada $ .875 trillion $7.8 billion
source: CIA World Factbook. Expenditures are from budgets in 2000, 2001, or 2002 (varies by country)

NOTE: Figures for China and Russia are hard to come by. Even the CIA won't give a number for Russia, and has a wide range for China (e.g. "$20.048 billion (2002); note - this is the officially announced figure, but actual defense spending more likely ranges from $45 billion to $65 billion for 2002")



The Toronto Star publishes a tough anti-Bush OpEd entitled Pliable Bush puppet of hawks
And there is this critical profile from the Globe and Mail, The dubious genius of Dubya


This is really ugly:

From the New York Times:
Bush Pushes Plan to Curb Medicare Appeals

The Bush administration says it is planning major changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for beneficiaries to appeal the denial of benefits like home health care and skilled nursing home care.


In the last year, Medicare beneficiaries and the providers who treated them won more than half the cases — 39,796 of the 77,388 Medicare cases decided by administrative law judges.     ...     Under federal law, the judges are independent, impartial adjudicators who hold hearings and make decisions based on the facts. They must follow the Medicare law and rules, but are insulated from political pressures and sudden shifts in policy made by presidential appointees.

President Bush is proposing both legislation and rules that would limit the judges' independence and could replace them in many cases. The administration's draft legislation says, "The secretary of health and human services may use alternate mechanisms in lieu of administrative law judge review" to resolve disputes over Medicare coverage. Under the legislative proposal, cases could be decided by arbitration or mediation or by lawyers or hearing officers at the Department of Health and Human Services.


That would be a significant change. Administrative law judges are now required to follow Medicare statutes and regulations, but not the agency's policies. As a result, the judges often grant benefits previously denied by the Medicare agency or its contractors.