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8/31/2003

Dale Franks loses his patience, nails idiot 

Dale Franks, the man whose blog got me interested in the blogosphere, has eviscerated an economic idiot. It's not his first time.

His first line pretty much sets the pace:
Harold Myerson, writing in today's Washington Post, elegantly demonstrates that the Left hasn't had a new economic idea since 1887, when Das Kapital was first published in English.


It doesn't get much more forgiving:
Yes, Myerson is probably right that Wal-Mart's existence depresses wages for people who don't work there. But that's because people shop there for the low prices. Again, Wal-Mart is the largest US retailer because people prefer to shop there, and the reason they do so is because, when given a chance, people prefer to pay less for a thing than more. To keep prices low, Wal-Mart pressures suppliers to reduce their prices. Wal-Mart has no responsibility to subsidize high wages for their producers. Wal-Mart's responsibility is to provide its customers with the lowest prices possible for the goods they sell.

Myerson is implicitly arguing that Wal-Mart should charge higher prices to the 99% of consumers who buy there, so that the 1% who work in the textile industry can make more money.

And if life was all fuzzy kitties, that idea might just work.



Actually, this is pretty much par for Dale Franks course. Read him everyday.

Tom Maguire, on the Dems 

Tom Maguire, the always interesting, hard-to-nail-down, throrough researcher (yes, he is all of those) has posted an interesting analysis of the '04 Dems.

First, this idea that the Democrats need more candidates is silly - several of the current crop have admirable resumes, and appear to be perfectly Presidential. What is really happening is that the Democrats are trying to conjure up a candidate who can appeal to their base and sneak past the rest of us. A track record is a burden for this exercise; hence, the current muttering for new faces.


I have the impression that the rather large cast of Dems in the race is not due to an overwhelming belief that they are needed. On the contrary, much like the office pool, everybody has just said "yeah, what the hell, I'm in".

Hey, what's to lose? You get your name out there, you pontificate on your pet issue, you pick up good-will among core constituencies......none of which can hurt you in the future.


"OK, dream ticket - Dean-Clark? The fiscally responsible / socially irresponsible Governor, the General, two guys that gun nuts could love - why not?
We will no doubt think of reasons as the day approaches."



No doubt, Tom, no doubt. I can think of a few, already, but I don't think I'm their core constituency.
They've got a steep hill to climb (campaign financing, strong economic recovery, continued strong support for US troops in Iraq), but the President would be wrong to think they have no issues on which they can nail him (WMDs, nagging Iraq/Afghanistan issues, environment, and most importantly...the dramatic growth of govt).






Those 16 words 

Ok, I'm late to the party. Sue me. I didn't get a chance to comment at the time.

With regard to the 16 word debacle in the State of the Union.
The media seems to have completely flubbed this one, and then done a worse disservice by not acknowledging their mistake. Worse, because not correcting the mistake has allowed it to become a "foregone conclusion".

The meme:
"Of COURSE the President lied.....he said Iraq was getting uranium from Niger, and it turned out that the document he was talking about was false! Even the White House knew it was fabricated evidence! Condi had been told that it was false by Tenet! The VP had sent somebody to check on it, and they found that it was false! They knew all about it ahead of time, but still ran with it!"


If there were JUST the Nigerian document, this analysis would be more accurate.
Since there is more, it falls flat.

Point by point:

1: The WH did not "know it was fabricated evidence".
In fact, we STILL do not know that it is false. The Brits STILL stand behind that report. It certainly may *turn out* to be wrong.....but that doesn't change the fact that it was their assessment at the time of the speech.

2: On Condi: Let's not confuse the Nigerian document with the "British report", which was based on "other evidence", which they are not allowed to disclose, due to proprietary ownership by another country. (likely France, according to reports)

3: "The VP had sent somebody to check on it, and he (wilson) found that it was false!."

This has been one of the most frustrating themes, lately.
First, let's examine what he claimed.
He did NOT prove that the document was inaccurate.....he gave his OPINION that it was "unlikely" that such a transfer could take place. (for the record, Iraq did get much of their uranium from Niger during the 80s)
And what did he do to determine that? He talked with local leaders.
Uh huh. And they'd be suuuurrrrree to let him know if they were contracting with Iraq to sell uranium.

Fine. It's a data point. A part of the puzzle. It is, by no means, conclusive.

Second, there's a problem with the claim of what he reported.
Bear in mind that the President did NOT say that Iraq had GOTTEN uranium. He said that Iraq had SOUGHT uranium. Big difference, wouldn't you say?

Generally left out, in any discussion of what Wilson reported, is this little tidbit.
He actually did report that an official, in Niger, actually told him that an Iraqi trade delegation met with him in 99 to broaden trade relations. The official told him that he assumed that the Iraqi delegation had uranium in mind.
(after all, uranium IS their major export. Well, that and chickens. Sure, it may be a toss-up, but let's go out on a limb and assume that Iraq was not sending a trade delegation to import chickens from Niger with their oil-for-food program)

Is it conclusive? No. But it is a data point, and it potentially backs up the assertion that Iraq "sought" uranium.

4: The Nigerian document, not that it was the issue in the SOTU, was NOT known to be false until well after the SOTU.
Our intelligence agencies had dubbed it "dubious". That means "we cannot confirm it".
Fortunately, the President did not cite it.

Of course, his opponents have never missed an opportunity to pretend that he did.
And then they accuse Bush of dishonesty.

Ironic, isn't it?

US Seeks International Force in Iraq 

According to this story the US is, again, trying to get more nations to send troops into Iraq. Ensure world peace, save lives, fight for the right thing.
You know, give a brother a hand.

Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to do so. Or, at least, perhaps we should clarify which side we want them to send troops to support.

"The Netherlands and Italy are also thought to be in favor of a Hamas ban, while France and Austria have expressed doubts about it, according to reports."


In addition, I don't know that Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other regional neighbors have *quite* the same goals in mind.

While it's always appreciated when other nations help out, we must be VERY careful that they are actually helping out.
What we do not need in Iraq is reconstruction by committee.

The goal is to transition the power to local leaders and local militia. French/Syrian/Russian quibbling will only help ensure their OWN interests, and not the interests of Iraq. Or the Security interests of the United States.
That much has been made evident by the past year of debate and inaction.

If they want to line up behind the single goal of a free and self-governed Iraq, while actively eliminating terror and terror support in Iraq? Great. Sign that resolution and send those troops.
I see no reason to suppose that this is the case. On the contrary, it is pure balance of power politics.

Europe is well aware that the US is not only the only superpower, but is effectively operating outside the constraints of the traditional European game of "balance of power".
The US, with the elimination of the USSR, has now achieved, not just supremacy, but ascendancy.

This is both vital and dangerous for the US.
Vital, because we cannot allow our national security to be bound by the whims and interests of France, Syria and China. There is no question of whether they share our interests. They do not.

However, it is dangerous to achieve ascendancy. Rome did not fall, because another, stronger empire overwhelmed them. The Roman empire fell because it could not maintain that for which it had taken responsibility.

The danger in pursuing our raison d'etat, as posited by Henry Kissinger, is "when are the interests of the state satisfied"?
It is vital that we do not attempt to fight on every battlefield we find.
One fight at a time....and make sure that, if we invite allies, they have the same interests at heart, as do we.

The US can win a fight, in Iraq, against terrorists.
We cannot win on the quibbledick battlefield of committee politics. THAT is the lesson to import from Vietnam.






8/30/2003

Pejman catches the President in a Lie 

Pejman fact checks The West Wings ass into the wall.

Hm....Bartlet Lied, People had to redo their Genealogies.
It doesn't have a ring to it, does it?

Still, nice catch. I demand an investigation!




Give BlogWar a Chance 

I suppose I should note my affiliation in the BlogWar and disclose my reasons.

I side with Frank J, and the Alliance.
I'm working on a Geneva Convention, so that all participants will know the Rules of War, even if we don't quite know anything else about it.
For example....where's all the fighting? Wars don't consist of lies, taunting, and funny essays. (Perhaps they should? Perhaps)

Be that as it may, I'm joining the Alliance for three reasons.

1: Frank J makes me laugh, far more often than Instapundit.
Although a well-placed "Indeed" can be appropriate, I don't think it quite compares to nuking the moonfor pure comic effect.


2: Frank J has responded to my e-mails on a number of occassions.
Instapundit has only done so once, and that response was limited to less than 5 words.
While I appreciate the time and effort that each of them took, I'm gonna have to give the edge to Frank J. He's more likely to to respond personally.
I like that personal touch in a war-monger.


3: Linkage. Let's face it, my chances of getting linkage out of Frank J are dramatically higher than my chances of getting linkage from Instapundit.
As a newcomer, (and capitalist) I must look after my own interests, first.

I will publish the BlogWar Geneva Convention when, and as, I make progress on it.

Cry havoc and let slip the Blogs of War! Or whatever.




Where are the WMDs?  

Well, it appears now that there are no WMDs in Iraq.
I see three explanations:

1: They were not there. (I'll get back to this)

2: They were moved elsewhere. (possible, considering the "rush to war" took about a year)

3: They are hidden. (I'd say it's very unlikely that there are large quantities of WMDs hidden....but possible, I suppose)


Let's address all three, in reverse order:

3: Hidden:

It just doesn't make sense, given the relatively short lifespan of weaponized WMDs, to stockpile them for a long time.
It's inefficient to retain large stocks of produced WMDs, since, if they are not used within a relatively short period of time, they will "go bad". (ie: be useless)

It's worth remembering that this is exactly the problem Iraq had with the weapons they did produce in the 80s and 90s. They could never get them pure enough. It's not unlikely that this problem would have continued. In fact, based on the evidence of retained programs, and absence of stockpiles, it's quite likely.


2: Moved: Entirely possible, assuming he retained WMD stock.

However, I'd have to qualify that. It's probably unlikely that he's moved trucks full of barrels of VX, Sarin, anthrax, etc. If one has programs to produce that sort of thing, the actual perishable product is nothing more than a liability.

But.....to have those programs, you have to have seed-stock. Basic chemicals and biological samples that can be turned into the weaponized final product.
And *those* are ripe for shipping off to your local sympathetic dictator-terrorist type.

One certainly has to wonder, considering the pretty constant flow to the Syrian border, immediately following the war.
Why, it's as if they KNEW, ahead of time, that was a good place to go!

Additionally, there are reports of WMDs being (allegedly) stored in Lebanon, and god knows there's no end to the unexplored, and freely travelled, border areas with terrorist-sympathetic nations.


1: Not there: This, in my estimation, is the answer.
But it's not as damning to the administration as it may appear.

It appears, based on the testimony of Iraqi scientists and initial David Kay reports, that Saddam had done away with the incriminating stockpiled evidence and, instead, switched to a quickly revivable, but easily hideable, series of loosely connected scientists and programs.

In short, he had what we said he had.....except for the weaponized WMDs.
....and he may have had those, for awhile.

Only, instead of having factories, ready to produce WMDs, he had dual-use items (far more expensive and less efficient) that could be transitioned to a WMD effort, quickly and easily.
In the US, we call that "plausible deniability".

And what about the WMDs? Did we "lie"?
I doubt it. Where's the percentage in it? If the President, and his staff, KNEW that was a lie, it's hard to believe they'd work so hard to prove it was a lie.
One does not usually fight to let everybody know that your are lying.

To believe the President was "lying", one has to believe that he's very dishonest about matters of national security.....but very honest about revealing that dishonesty.
It just doesn't make sense.

Very likely, the WMDs were destroyed at some point in the last 3 years, during the period in which we were gathering intelligence data. They were nothing more than a liability for Saddam, and not terribly useful in any event.
That would explain how we had intelligence which placed them *in* Iraq, while not finding them there after the war.
It would also account for the reams of documents found in Iraq, which reference ongoing WMD programs, UN evasion and concealment methods. One does not have those without good reason.

Will this be enough to satisfy the critics?
Of course not. Nothing ever will. Don't be an idiot.

Rational thought is not a goal of many anti-war critics. If an argument can be made that it *could* be blamed on Bush, that is the argument they will accept, regardless of contrary evidence.

Actually, let's be clear.....they are not anti-war. They are anti-Republican.
Had this war been fought by a Democratic President, the protest would have been exceedingly minimal.

Is that an assumption? I think not.
How many of you remember the massive protests caused by the myriad morally justified but non-UN, non-threat, non-effective wars fought under the Clinton administration?
Funny, I don't remember them either.

There will always be a reason to oppose any given project, if you look hard enough.
People were also opposed to the 1st and 2nd World Wars, and the Gulf War.

Unfortunately, many of those who opposed this war were only looking for reasons to oppose it. It's no suprise that they found them.
It's also no suprise that they cannot grasp the reasons *for* the war, and explanations mentioned above.
"Truth", apparently, is not a valuable commodity, when it conflicts with Party Loyalty.





Republicans are EE-Vil! Chapter 1 

Criticism has already arisen about this story:

"Following the trend of major corporations across the country, the
Republican Party is outsourcing fund-raising jobs to India."



- - -Do you shop at Wal-Mart? Target? Cosco?

Then you support overseas people doing the job that americans could do, too.

I'm not sure why it is, but people seem to have the idea that it's ok for them to shop for the best value they can find, even if it means supporting overseas workers......but it's NOT ok for businessmen to do that.
And they don't notice that they are, de facto, supporting those businessmens decisions when they purchase the lower cost products.

Seems they want to have their cake and eat it too.
Or, rather, eat their cake.....and throw it at Republicans, too.

Fact is, costs for American workers are *substantially* higher than costs for some overseas low-skill workers.
Maybe you think it's ok to waste money on more expensive production.......I don't think the people who pay for the product think so.

Clearly, though, it was a bad political move.
People, who don't pay attention to their *own* habits, will think ill of them for it.
Clear thinking has not been a common attribute of Democracy.


8/29/2003

From the APWire:

"Consumers picked up the pace of their buying in July, armed with cash from the federal tax cut.
The Commerce Department reports personal spending rose eight-tenths of one percent, the best showing since March. The government says incomes rose two-tenths.
Consumers are responsible for two-thirds of economic activity.
The July picture reflects impacts of the president's tax cut, which lowered federal tax withholdings, boosted people's take-home pay, and provided cash rebates to some Americans."


- - -For the record, I predicted *exactly* this about 2-3 months ago.
Well, actually, I thought business spending would lag a bit more, but apparently they're spending in anticipation of, rather than in response to, consumer spending.

Stock market up about 15%, consumer spending remaining strong, GDP growth revised up to 3.1%, business spending up, factory capacity usage up, investment up, and so forth and so on.

It appears Paul Krugman has some splainin to do. We were *promised* that this would not happen.
I also recall something about "the tax cuts won't work".

Prediction:
Hiring will begin in time for the Christmas rush, and a strong christmas season will spur a job-recovery.

Now, if we can only get those Europeans to get their act together so they can start taking advantage of the weak dollar and buy some US stuff.

I'm in favor of "Better Mousetrap" Emperialism.
Hegemony by Demand!



Are you a Neo-Con?

I didn't think I was. I was right.

This Quiz purports to identify Neo-Cons.

Turns out, "Based on your answers, you are most likely a realist."

I can deal with this:
"Realists…
- Are guided more by practical considerations than ideological vision
- Believe US power is crucial to successful diplomacy - and vice versa
- Don't want US policy options unduly limited by world opinion or ethical considerations
- Believe strong alliances are important to US interests
- Weigh the political costs of foreign action
- Believe foreign intervention must be dictated by compelling national interest

Historical realist: President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Modern realist: Secretary of State Colin Powell


The Neo-Con description was pretty close to me, too, but I suspect I'm a bit more pragmatic.
Sometimes, patience pays off.

The problem with Neo-Conservative foreign policy, and the "Raison D'etat" theory of foreign policy in general, is the danger of overextension.

When are the "interests of the State" satisfied?
When do your security measures generate blowback?
When does a "little more" become counter-productive?


Were I President, those are the questions that would keep me awake at night.

This just across the AP Wire:

"(Baghdad, Iraq-AP) -- There are broadcast reports of at least 17 people dead after a car bombing outside a mosque in Iraq."


- - -You hate to see that happen, of course, but note something.

Sure, it's an explosion in Iraq, and people died.
But, what does it have to do with the US?

The Shi'ites are very factional and there's a great deal of in-fighting.
This is not evidence of "quagmire", but of the fact that, face it, they haven't mastered the concept of "democracy" just yet.

A free and national press could go a long way towards ending this sort of thing.
Acts like this occur to secure the political goals of extremists.......when those acts become publicized for popular criticism, they will become less productive.

In the meantime, of course, it's probably Americas fault.
How dare the US not position troops outside of their Holy Places?

I give it less than 24 hours, before somebody blames us.
Wait and see.







"Former chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix felt Washington was intimidating him to produce reports that would justify military action in the run-up to the Iraq war, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday."



- - -No kidding, Hans.
My boss pressures me, too.
When you're an employee, you can expect that sort of thing.

What did you expect us to do? Disgregard the intelligence information WE had, and accept that your trips to approximately .0001% of Iraq were The Final Word?


More to the point, your reports very specifically *did* justify military action.
Remember the wording of Res 1441.....

It was "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council"

Your reports, all of them, declared that Iraq was not complying.

Frankly, we wanted you to ackowledge that, rather than telling the world how accomodating Iraq was being.....
.....provided it didn't involve any question of substance.
Those, they weren't answering.

1441 warned that Iraq would face "serious consequences" if it did not comply.
As per your own reports, they did not.

So, the US pressured you to make that clear?
Well, no kidding.

I don't think we were terribly impressed with your plan to play hide and seek with Iraq......
......it's a game you have lost before.






Arrest Coming Today in Internet Attack:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A62735-2003Aug29?language=printer


"WASHINGTON - U.S. cyber investigators have identified a teenager as one author of a damaging virus-like infection unleashed weeks ago on the Internet and plan to arrest him early Friday, a U.S. official confirmed."



- - -And this seems to fit the mold for many internet attacks.

They're executed by, face it, kids.
That makes it hard to punish them.....the "aww, they're just kids" sentiment factors into sentencing and/or prosecution.

Question:
Is there a solution? A viable deterrent?







First Post Stress.

What to write?
Well, in the absence of ideas, I'll just duck the whole thing by posting this.

That's out of the way.




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