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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Still here?

It's very nice of you, but Sadly, No! now has a new home, over here.

Come visit.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Welcome to democracy everyone!

The Washington Times reports:

Democracy starts to take shape in Baghda [sic]

BAGHDAD — L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, yesterday hailed the opening of the Interim City Advisory Council in Baghdad as a major step toward local and national government.

Sound good? Sadly, no.

The councils have "limited powers." This is an extremely accurate statement if by "limited powers" you mean no powers whatsoever:

  • The first order of business was to call for census in Baghdad

  • They ended with a lengthy argument over the date of the next meeting.

  • Mr. Bremer told the Baghdad councilors in his inaugural address that their powers would be advisory


  • Well, I'm sure everyone there feels extremely empowered. In other news, the occupying power announced that:

    U.S. advisers also announced an initial economic agenda, including establishment of an independent Iraqi central bank, and plans to rid the country of bank notes bearing the image of Saddam Hussein — after printing millions of new notes last month.

    Well, the division of labor seems pretty clear over there.
    The President's original statement was based on a large number of inaccuracies and lies

    If time is of the essence, there is no need to read Ari Fleischer's Monday press briefing (not yet online.) Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a large section of it available for your reading pleasure.

    Faced with a NYT op-ed piece from the former Ambassador that had debunked the uranium from Niger story, Ari Fleischer first tried to claim that:

    "Well, there is zero, nada, nothing new here. Ambassador Wilson, other than the fact that now people know his name, has said all this before."

    Well -- he had said it of course. But the White House, when first faced with this 'news' did not acknowledge the President's State of the Union reference to this non-purchase was a pack of lies. On April 29 (2003!) the White House issued a document titled "Disarm Saddam Hussein."

    "He recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

    This came 4 months after Niger's government denied the story, and one month after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the documents were forgeries.

    No news yet on the "other evidence" on which this "purchase" claim was made. There's something however, the White House says:

    ""There is other reporting to suggest that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa [...] However, the information is not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that attempts were in fact made."

    Let's see it.
    Nothing proves the existence of a weapons program like stuff that's been buried for 12 years

    That's the new spin over at Slate, courtesy of Christopher Hitchens. He complains that the discovery of the buried in 1991 centrifuge should have gotten more attention, because it is:

    evidence of a larger and wider design to fool the international community and to wait for a better day to restart Saddam's nuclear program

    Hitchens moves on quickly from there, but it's worth going back to the end of that sentence. Hussein is alleged to have been waiting for a better day to restart [his] nuclear program. Apparently, December 1998 wasn't a good time to restart this program. And why would it have been? The UN weapons inspectors were no longer there, the Clinton administration was distracted by impeachment matters, and Clinton had, many right wingers remind us, spent several years emasculating the CIA and the FBI, leaving America vulnerable and exposed to terrorists. Apparently, that wasn't a good time. Hussein was waiting for an even better time. It's not clear what that better time could have been, but Hitchens doesn't stop there. (How could he -- the headline of the article is "proof of Saddam's nukes" although what was discovered would be better called "parts of what is needed to build nuclear weapons provided one also has many other things Hussein had no access to found in Iraq.") Hitchens continues in fine form:

    "The wailers will settle for nothing less than the full-dress conspiracy theory. It's true that they have been helped in this, in some respects, by elements in both the Blair and Bush regimes that banged the drum a little too loud."

    In doing so he introduces the new euphemism du jour for lying and presenting forgeries and plagiarized Ph.D. dissertations as evidence: "banging the drums a little too loud." A little?!? How about a lot instead? (Extra bonus points to Hitchens for using the term "elements" of both administrations rather than say, oh I don't know, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld. They are not the US government -- only elements of it you see. What were the elements of the US government not involved?) (Perhaps he was thinking of Robert S. Martin, head of the Institute of Museum and Libraries?)

    The administration did not simply claim Hussein had hidden equipment twelve years ago that could (one fine day!) be dug up to make weapons -- it claimed Hussein had such weapons, and that the threat they posed was serious. Hundreds of tons of chemical and biological weapons. And what has been found so far? Two trucks about which even the most hawkish government report concluded were probably weapons labs. Producing hydrogen would have been inefficient. Well -- that certainly settles any doubts.

    Given that Hitchens repeats the bogus claim that Iraq expelled the UN inspectors in 1998, this latest rant is only par for the course.

    PS: Thanks to Roger Ailes for the pointer to the Hitchens piece.

    Monday, July 07, 2003

    How about not bringing it on for now?

    Much has been written about Bush's Bring them on comment. The response has ranged from anger that the President would taunt would-be attackers so to Andrew Sullivan's it's all part of an extremely well thought out and devious plan.

    The news this morning is that three more soldiers were killed in two separate attacks. It's clearly unfair to blame further attacks on Bush's comments. They had been taking place before, and will continue to do so for some time. What is entirely ludicrous in my view is to suggest that "we've got them (terrorists) exactly where we want them." So far, those who have endorsed Bush's taunt have equated Iraqi insurgents with terrorists, allowing them to suggest this is all part of the war on terrorism. Just like going to Iraq in order to destroy its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

    Whatever weapons are eventually found in Iraq, it seems unlikely at this point that they posed any kind of imminent threat. Iraq's ties to bin Laden remain extremely speculative (to put it kindly.) Hussein, a murderous tyrant to his people, had shown little proclivity to targeting Americans. Until (and unless) we can find clear evidence that would be terrorists who would otherwise not be in Iraq now are and that they are being apprehended by US forces, there is no basis for concluding that the war on terror is "helped" by having soldiers shot in the back of the head at close range.

    Otherwise, US forces are now battling an enemy that was otherwise occupied before the war. We are not fighting those terrorists that had the means and the ability to attack us. If that's what we want, shouldn't we be sending more troops back to Afghanistan? The place is a mess and bin Laden is alive. "Mission accomplished?" I fear not.


    Saturday, July 05, 2003

    It has not been done since!

    Rush opines:

    "All I know is that Jack Romanos was at Simon & Schuster when my book printed 2 million original copies. [It was the] first time in non-fiction it had ever been done, it has not been done since ..."

    Jack Welch's "Jack: Straight from the Gut" was published in September 2001. Its initial print run? 2 million copies.

    Sadly, No! has a new home here.
    New look, more features, no ads.


    Friday, July 04, 2003

    There is no difference

    Joseph Farah, commenting on: homosexual sex, group sex, consensual incest, sex with animals and polygamy.
    They're all liars -- all of them!

    How long does it take to determine how many copies of a given book have been sold in its first few days/weeks in the stores?

    Commenting on reported sales numbers of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Living History, Rush Limbaugh argues:

    "He's [Simon & Schuster CEO Jack Romanos] lying about how many copies they've sold – they don't know yet how many copies they've sold. It takes them six months to do audits to pay their authors royalties."

    But in 1993, we just knew how many copies of Limbaugh's "See, I told you so" were sold, after two days no less:

    "By its second day in the stores, Limbaugh's second book had the biggest early sales of a hardcover book in publishing history. That's what the man himself let slip on his radio show, and as he says, he purveys only the truth."

    PS: According to Amazon, the hardcover edition of Limbaugh's book was published in November 1993. The quote above is from December 1, 1993.

    Thursday, July 03, 2003

    I know I don't like it so why should I read it?

    In a July 2 column, Marian L. Tupy of the Cato Institute takes aim at the proposed European Constitution, calling it "the last gasp of European socialism." In the process, he reiterates (or simply copies from) his earlier writings on the subject, including a July 1 article, a June 26 Washington Times editorial and a March Cato Daily Commentary.

    Tupy doesn't make it clear whether he has read the document he loathes (and at 267 pages, one could understand,) but his critique betrays what is at best a cursory reading, misstates several facts, and is rife with internal contradictions. In articles that are almost entirely bereft of quotes from the Constitution he decries, Tupy alternates between lamenting the excessive powers of Brussels and the refusal of the Constitution's authors to reform policies that remain under the jurisdiction of the EU's member states. But the irony of such a critique is obviously lost on Tupy, who marches on labeling the Constitution "a politically correct [sic] proclamation of bureaucratic folly" written in "impenetrable legalese." Impenetrable -- indeed!

    It was with an eye towards its admission of 10 new member states next year that the EU called for a Constitutional Convention in order to draft a 'proper' Constitution that would streamline the EU's institutions and decision-making process, as well as bring it closer to its citizens. However short it may have come of these objectives, the convention did not have the authority to liberalize "the rigid European labor market" or ease "the weight of a plethora of high taxes," nor to reduce "the 97,000 pages of regulations." (All these "shortcomings" are neatly put together in a single paragraph!)

    On the labor market, the EU's main contribution is to guarantee the "free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, and freedom of establishment." Indeed, these freedoms (guaranteed to the EU's citizens) form the cornerstone of the EU's trade policy and the establishment of its common market. There is no doubt (in my mind at least) that the labor regulations of the EU's current member states are in many cases far too cumbersome. But blaming these on the EU is akin to blaming Washington for Homewood, IL's ordinance against solicitors.

    Taxes are very high in many of the member states, but again this item only shows Tupy's inability to focus on the appropriate target of his criticism. The EU does not have, nor does its (proposed) future Constitution call for, granting those pesky "Eurocrats" in Brussels the power to levy taxes. The EU's budget was 87,286 millions in 1999, equal to 1.11% of the GDP of its members (compared to 1.04% in 1988.) Regardless, it's rather puzzling to read that the proper way to address taxation levels is through a Constitution. In opting not to do so, the EU is in good company. In allowing its member states to resolve their tax and budgetary policies on their own, the EU is hardly acting like the bureaucratic monster Tupy conjures in his articles.

    Tupy continues with his confusion about the proper scope of a Constitution when he faults the convention for not dealing with the EU's "97,000 pages of regulations." When the Clinton administration addressed the US' own bureaucratic nightmares as part of Gore's Reinventing Government project, no one suggested this should be done by amending the US Constitution's concise 4,500 words. But attacking the convention allows Tupy to ignore the Commission's proposal to eliminate up to 35,000 pages of those regulations by 2005. Here Tupy is off the mark both as for the substance and target of his critique.

    "There are two ways to deal with increasing competition" intones Tupy, "one is to become more productive and the other is to form a cartel." A few months before the EU is to welcome 10 new members whose economic conditions make them fierce competitors to the current member states expensive labor force, Tupy inexplicably concludes the EU has opted to establish a cartel and a "United Fortress of Europe." But again, the proposed constitution contains no provisions on tariffs and duties (yet again a type of policies for which constitutions are extremely ill-suited.) The EU's 25 to be, as do the current EU-15, will continue to have the most integrated and most liberalized common market. The hopes of the straw men of European socialism Tupy decries notwithstanding, competition within the EU will only get stronger in the future. Given their openness to each other and their membership in the WTO, European countries are more, not less, vulnerable to competition. Increasing unemployment in the EU reflects (national) governments' stubborn refusal to deregulate, not the EU's "final gasp of [...] socialism."

    Not happy with the mere misrepresentation of EU efforts, Tupy also displays admiration for the United States' own constitutional order. The 18th century order that is. "The powers of the central government" he reminds us are "delegated, enumerated, and thus limited." "There are few loose ends" he adds, lest we overlook the point he is trying to make. Perhaps this reiteration is meant to distract his readers from the Supreme Court's existence. For if he were to acknowledge its presence, and the rulings it has issued, particularly in the area of interstate commerce, Tupy would be forced to see that the current powers of the federal government are not those as delineated in the manner he argues. The EU has not chosen to adopted the US' 1776 Constitution. It may be a "pity" as Tupy observes. The true pity is pretending the US is still governed by the Constitution as it was originally written, rather than how it has been interpreted since.

    PS: Thanks to EconoPundit for the link to the story.

    Wednesday, July 02, 2003

    Thought of the day

    Thomas Sowell: "There is no denying that the two things are different. Otherwise they wouldn't be two things."
    We are about to find out!

    Ezra Levant, in January of this year:

    A theory: Could it be that France and Germany are protecting Saddam because they have something in Baghdad to hide from any would-be U.S. liberators?

    Would a U.S. occupation show that France and Germany continued to help Saddam with his weapons of mass destruction after the first Gulf War, in violation of the UN sanctions? Could they be so amoral, so ungrateful to America?

    We are about to find out.


    Have we found out yet?

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