Assume the Position

Friday, October 31, 2003
 
Happy Halloween, InstaPundit Readers

If I was on the ball, I'd have had a bowl of candy ready. Oh well, I'm glad you're here. I may find a few treats to drop into this bag later on. In the meantime, the next post down is the one you came to see, but feel free to look around and peek into the archives.


 
Bottom-Dealing Reporting On A Stacked-Deck 'Investigation'

USA Today's James Cox palms the jokers as he deals out ad copy for The Center for Public Integrity's latest stacked-deck study, "Windfalls of War." Cox basically transcribes CPI's press conference:

Big givers to President Bush and companies with political and military connections are getting most of the reconstruction work in Iraq and Afghanistan, a watchdog group said Thursday.

The Center for Public Integrity has done the first detailed analysis of $8 billion in contracts awarded to 71 U.S. companies by the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

"There is a stench of political favoritism and cronyism," says Charles Lewis, executive director of the center, a non-partisan group based in Washington.

How do I know CPI is dealing from a stacked-deck? As Marshall Brodien said, "It's easy, once you know the secret!" CPI only looked at companies that were awarded contracts, then examined the companies' political contribution history and any connections to current or former government officials. What CPI never looked at, and according to their methodology never attempted to look at, was the political contribution and governmental connection histories of the losing submitters. In other words, there is nothing against which their results can be compared. Businesses make political contributions — we know that. People leave government service and go to work in the private sector — we know that. Thus, no matter what major company wins a contract, it is likely that they have 1) made political donations in the past—CPI researched contributions all the way back to 1990—and 2) employ some former government officials. Unless CPI can show that the contract winners made larger political contributions and employed more or higher-level ex-government officials, their report cannot support Lewis' charge of "a stench of political favoritism and cronyism."

Cox then slips the misinformation joker into this statement of the obvious:

The Bush administration is relying heavily on private-sector companies to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, shattered during U.S. military actions there. Contractors are fixing roads, airports, power systems, oil infrastructure, schools and government buildings. They also are training police and armies, designing school curricula, advising farmers and planning economic reforms.

The major reason for Iraq's decrepit infrastructure is not that it was "shattered during U.S. military actions there." There are a host of reasons, including damage remaining from the Iran-Iraq War, the PUK-KDP fighting, Hussein's actions against the Shia in the south, and Hussein's looting and palace building instead of repairing damage during the sanctions period, that may well exceed any damage directly caused by "U.S. military actions."

And it should be obvious to every American that the government (at every level, not just "[t]he Bush administration") predominately relies on "private-sector companies" to provide nearly everything when it comes to goods and services. If a government office needs 100 computers they contract for them from a private company, they don't churn them out of People's Army Computer Factory #14. The US Army Corp of Engineers doesn't actually build dams, the Department of Transportation doesn't actually build interstate highways—the actual construction is almost always done by, egads, "private-sector companies." [The government (including the military) has some in-house construction and manufacturing capabilities, but they are not staffed or equipped to perform major projects any more than a school's maintenance staff is equipped add a new two-story wing to the schoolhouse.]


UPDATE: I should have known InstaPundit is already pointing out the other bloggers jumping all over this: Daniel Drezner, Steve Antler here and the immediately prior post, and Stuart Buck.


UPDATE II: Fixed a few typos. Plus, I guess I can add myself to the above list, thanks to this Instalanche producer.



 
Hollywood Babble-On

So Brad Pitt and crew are going to bring peace to the Middle East. Angie Schultz does the takedown…

Friends, I have seldom in my life seen a finer example of ActivistSpeak: The signatures are a gateway for engaging in a dialog which will result in proposals for overcoming obstacles. Why just do something, when you can discuss the tactics for approaching the strategies of the protocols for implementing the instrumentalities which...

…over here.


Thursday, October 30, 2003
 
One Wannabe Leader Of The 'Fraudulent Coalition'

Sen. John Kerry appeared on stage with the eight other Democrats running for President and said, "You have to take the target off of American troops." Less than two hours after the debate ended there was a suicide truck bombing of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) headquarters in Baghdad. It was quickly followed by bomb attacks on three Iraqi police stations, and an attack on a fourth was foiled.

At this point the narrative could go into Michael Moore/Cythia Mckinney mode and sling accusations via questions — Shouldn't there be a Congressional investigation? Don't the American public have a right to know what connections there are between Kerry and the Iraqi bombers? — or maybe have a Maureen Dowd/Atrios riff — This is why Kerry should be President, the Iraqi Baathists and Islamic resistance already listen to him. It won't. While it might be fun,* it isn't necessary because the full context of Kerry's remarks don't require indignant or satirical distortion:

This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition. He promised he would go through the United Nations and honor the inspections process. He did not. He promised he would go to war as a last resort, words that mean something to me as a veteran. He did not.

He broke every promise. He's done it wrong.

And he's even doing this wrong, because what he ought to be doing is internationalizing this effort -- going to the United Nations, asking the United Nations to take part in a larger way, which they would be willing to do if he was prepared to shift real authority to them.

You have to take the target off of American troops. You have to get rid of the sense of American occupation. And that's the only way to invite other countries to be part of this.

Turning Iraq over to the UN is no more of a plan than turning Afghanistan over to the UN was. What did the left say back then? Sure, kill a bunch of Afghan civilians and then dump the problem in the UN's lap. And they said that despite the fact that the removal of the Taliban regime was done with full UN and NATO — aka "international" — support from the beginning. Putting the UN in charge didn't have any positive results, unless you consider retarding reconstruction in Afghanistan as positive.

The enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq don't readily differentiate between Americans, Westerners, infidels or "collaborators" — they are all targets. Nor did "internationalizing" Afghanistan "get rid of the sense of American occupation" where it really matters — as can be seen in the current Balochistan Post:

Americanization of Afghanistan gets a setback
Afghan SC condemns Miss Afghanistan

KABUL: Even the puppet Afghan Supreme Court has rejected the Americanization of Afghanistan under the US occupation.

It doesn't matter how much Iraq is "internationalized," the enemy will still regard it as an "American occupation" because it makes a good slogan for them. They aren't actually fighting against occupation as much as they are against democratization. In Afghanistan the enemy are Islamists who want to put the Taliban back in power; in Iraq they are both Baathists who want to return to power and Islamists who want to create enough chaos that they might be able to fashion an Islamic state in some part of Iraq.

But at least under the UN, the coalition wouldn't be "fraudulent," right? Compare the "fraudulent coalition" in Iraq with the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan:

  Afghanistan
ISAF
1st Year
Afghanistan
ISAF
Current
Iraq Coalition
(excluding UK forces**)
Force Size~4,800~5,500~13,000
Countries
participating
223323+
Largest
Contingents
Turkey ~1,300
Germany ~1,100
Canada ~1,200?
Germany ~1,100?
Italy ~3,000
Poland ~2,500
Ukraine ~2,000
Spain ~1,300
Command Rotating every 6 months Permanently NATO from now on Multinational Division (South-Central): Poland

Multinational Division (South-East): UK

Others: US/UK

Coverage Kabul Authorization to extend beyond Kabul granted just this month, October 2003 Extensive
South-Central: Area south of Baghdad that covers Karbala, Babil, Najaf, Al Qadisayah and Wasit.

South-East: Basra, Umm Qasar and surrounding areas.

Earlier in October, Kerry stated, "We have a fraudulent coalition, and I use the word 'fraud.' It's a few people here, a few people there. It's basically the British, and, most fundamentally, the United States of America."

Kerry describes the coalition in Iraq as fraudulent, but doesn't describe the original and current ISAF (which appears to be his model) in the same way. The only reason for his description (besides it being a catchy sound-bite) is the lack of German and French participation in Iraq. Don't think for a minute that Kerry or any other Democrat would actually get more participation out of those two without first making some very detrimental promises. Germany's 1,000+ personnel can be in Afghanistan with the ISAF or in Iraq, but Germany doesn't have large expeditionary forces to deploy. And France is a joke; reading this diplomatic statement you'd get the idea that the international community was supposed to go into spasms of delight because France increased their ISAF contingent from 450 to 500. There are more South Korean forces in Iraq than French forces in Afghanistan. (Additionally, NATO is still heavily involved in the Balkans, the wars that Wesley Clark supposedly won.)

Sure, Kerry could promise France that the bulk of the $20 billion in US reconstruction money would be funneled to French companies and that might get them to send just enough forces to provide security at their construction sites. Of course, everybody would always have to worry that the crates shipped from France marked "sewer pipes" would contain should-launched SAMs instead. Or maybe French reluctance is rooted in very idea of the Bush presidency, as amply expressed by the European elites since the 2000 election. But anybody who thinks the next US president should be whomever is most palatable to the Gauloises and Gitanes smokers lounging in Left Bank cafes should probably vote for the Brown/Herbert ticket and ignore all of the Democrats.

Kerry's term, "fraudulent coalition," best describes one thing: the collection of special interest groups calling itself the Democratic Party that Kerry wants to lead. As Michael Totten recently wrote, "The Democratic Party is an unstable coalition of mutually hostile factions. The left-wing is in total denial. Implosion (at least in the short run) is a real possibility."

Eric Raymond went further and spelled out why that fraudulent coalition shows little sense when it comes to foreign policy and national security, "Why Howard Dean Won't Get My Vote:"

[…]

In fact, nobody on the list of Democratic presidential hopefuls appears to have any sense of the strategic stakes or possibilities, with the possible exception of Joe Lieberman. And supposing there were, no aspirant with a sane national-security program could make it through the gauntlet of the primaries to the general election. And why? Because the Democratic Party apparatus has been captured by interest groups who are incapable of taking the war we are in seriously.

I'm not actually talking about the inmates of the asylum that is today's loony left: the retread Marxists, the po-mo academics, the anti-globalization crowd — what conservatives call with some justification the Blame-America-First brigades. Expecting anything but toxic babble from these people was always doomed. No, the trouble is that the Democratic interest groups that aren't outright insane have no way to fit an anti-terror strategy into their model of how to do politics.

How can feminists, gays, or the various skin-color cliques in the racial-problem industry cope? For these groups, politics is all about identity and grievance and maybe who gets the biggest slice in the next round of redistributing the domestic wealth — they've actually lost the very *concept* of the 'national interest', and are no more capable of grappling with the implications of 9/11 than they would be of speaking Sumerian.

Or the people who are *really* calling the shots in the Democratic Party — trial lawyers and the public-employee unions. (Forget labor in general. The Democrats stopped listening to the AFL-CIO about a nanosecond after it became clear that the private-sector unions could no longer keep most of their people from voting Republican.) Again, nothing about their relationship to the political game gives them anywhere to stand in foreign policy.

The Republicans don't have this problem. All of their major factions have commitments that don't stop at the water's edge. The so-called "national-greatness conservatives", the ideological free-traders, small business, big business, the Christian Right, even the Buchananite isolationalists — they may disagree violently on what the national interest is, but at least there is a place in their normal discourse about politics where they know that concept fits.

Not so most of the the Democrat pressure groups — which means that the terms of internal Democratic debate about foreign policy are being set by the loony left, because the people some of my warblogger colleagues call "barking idiotarian moonbats" are the only ones in the Democratic Party who actually care! They're the only Democrats with a world-view that involves thinking about the rest of the world as anything other than a passive backdrop for domestic politics.

(I'm actually convinced that the reason most Democratic politicians suck up to the U.N. and the French so assiduously is that following "international opinion" relieves them of the intolerable burden of having to think about foreign policy.)

The parenthetical at the end seems like a perfect description of the John Kerry currently on the campaign trail.


* I think Frank, Scott, Laurence, or the Emperor could probably pull off something like that better than I.

** GlobalSecurity.org's US Forces Order of Battle - 21 October:

As of 20 August 2003 a total of 27 countries, in addition to the United States, had contributed a total of approximately 21,700 troops to ongoing stability operations in Iraq. These 27 are Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, El Salvador, Estonia, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. In addition to the 27 countries with forces already on the ground in Iraq, four others (Moldova, the Philippines, Portugal, and Thailand) have committed to providing troops. Fourteen other countries are currently considering whether to provide forces for Iraq.

Note: While this listing is dated, one should keep in mind that the page is often edited numerous times during a particular edition, sometimes daily. One should visit the page often to get the most up-to-date listing of the situation.



Tuesday, October 28, 2003
 
Why They Are Called 'Useful Idiots'

You don't have to read the whole article (I didn't) because the opening paragraphs are enough (via InstaPundit):

Allan Johnson, a high school English teacher and debate coach from Fairfax, Va., held a sign saying "U.S. Troops Out of Iraq. Bring Them Home Now!" at Saturday's "End the Occupation" rally in Washington. In fact, though, Johnson isn't sure he wants to bring the troops home now, or to end the American occupation of Iraq. At least, not yet.

"We've made a giant mess," said Johnson, a handsome man who wore his long snowy hair in a ponytail and had a sparkling stud in one ear. "I would hate for the Bush administration to halfway fix things and then leave, and then blame the Iraqis if things go wrong. Once you go to somebody's house and break all the windows, don't you owe them new windows?"

Why, then, was he marching at an End the Occupation rally? "I don't agree with all the people here, believe you me," he said. But his own sign? He glanced at it, startled, and explained that someone had handed it to him. "I didn't even look at it," he said. "I was just waving it."



 
Her Psychic Adventure

I had done lots of reading - not readings - to complete my research. The hardest part about this whole setup was going to the newage ("rhymes with sewage") bookstore. I bought some Tarot cards, and then I went to the used-book section and picked up books on palmistry, Tarot, astrology and graphology so I could be versed in the lingo. The Bhodi Tree Bookstore makes me sad. A place filled with dazed-looking losers, and there I was buying crap just like the rest of them. It would be so nice if everyone there was doing research for a Penn & Teller bit, but I don't think so. Ugh. I had to go home and shower.



Sunday, October 26, 2003
 
Every Breath You Take

Seems that some state actors are suffering from greenhouse generated pollution psychosis.

Twelve states, including California and New York, filed petitions this week in federal court in a bid to force the Bush administration to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

[…]

The agency issued an opinion in August, in response to a petition backed by environmental groups, indicating it believed it did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the act.

[…]

The current pollutants, designated as hazardous to human health and subject to EPA standards, are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulate matter and sulfur oxides.

[…]

"The U.S. EPA's decision that it has no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and that these emissions technically don't even count as air pollutants, is wrong, disturbing and dangerous to Californians' health, environment and economy," California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.

[…]

"Put simply the Bush administration's decision is an illegal, irresponsible sell-out of the people's basic right to clean air,' said Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney with the NRDC based in Santa Monica, California.

These folks think they should be able to label anything they don't like as a "pollutant" and then have it regulated. If they actually get their way, maybe the EPA will regulate the most abundant and potent greenhouse gas—water vapor—as well as lesser greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Since water vapor and carbon dioxide are the primary "pollutants" from animal respiration, I suggest Bill Lockyer and Joel Reynolds be fined $100 every time they exhale or otherwise open their mouths, and San Francisco be fined $100,000 a day every time the fog rolls in.


UPDATE - 27 October 2003: It just gets funnier. Today, twelve states sued the EPA to block changes to the new source rules.

Twelve states and several Northeast cities sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to try to block the Bush administration's changes to the Clean Air Act.

EPA's new rule makes it easier to upgrade utilities, refineries and other industrial facilities without installing additional pollution controls.

[…]

EPA said in a statement it does not believe this rule will result in significant changes in emissions and that it "preserves the public health protections" under law.

However, attorney generals for the 12 states … said the new regulations will weaken protections for the environment and public health.

They argued only Congress can make sweeping changes to such a bedrock law.

Eight states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont — are involved in both lawsuits which revolve on the EPA's statutory authority. In the first, they argue that the EPA has the authority on its own to regulate an entirely new class of "pollutants;" in the second they argue that the EPA does not have the authority to tweak regulations that it previously crafted.

If my admittedly cursory understanding of the Clean Air Act is correct, the states should lose both lawsuits.



 
Press Still Covering For ANSWER

The Marxists and their usual collection of useful idiots were out in Washington and San Francisco on Saturday. Anna of Belligerent Bunny has a load of pictures of these clowns (literally and figuratively [!]) on the Mall in DC. She's also got photos of Free Republic's counter-rally. (Via Amish Tech Support)

The headlines, size estimates, and characterization of organizers in the news reports:

BBC, "Thousands join US anti-war march"

In the capital, about 20,000 gathered at the Washington Monument, within sight of the White House, carrying posters calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

[…]

The protests on both coasts were organised by the group Answer (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and United for Peace and Justice.

vs

However, to counter the anti-war demonstrations, dozens of people attended a simultaneous rally in the capital organised by the conservative Washington chapter of Free Republic.

AP via Yahoo and AP via the Washington Post, "Thousands Rally to End Iraq Occupation"

The rallies on both coasts were organized by International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and United for Peace and Justice.

[…]

Organizers estimated that 100,000 people turned out for the demonstration, but police at the scene put the number much lower, from 10,000 to 20,000. Police no longer issue official crowd estimates, so the size of the protest could not be verified.

vs

The D.C. chapter of Free Republic, an independent grass-roots conservative group, gathered a few dozen people at the U.S. Capitol to show support for Bush and the troops in Iraq.

Washington Times, "Demonstrators march against Iraq occupation"

Organizers estimated that 100,000 people turned out for the demonstration, but police at the scene put the number much lower, from 10,000 to 20,000. U.S. Park Police no longer issue official crowd estimates, so the size of the protest could not be verified.

International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and United for Peace and Justice, which brought together about 600 groups, held similar demonstrations in San Francisco yesterday.

[…]

About 100 people held a simultaneous counterdemonstration on the other side of the Mall, near the Capitol.

The D.C. chapter of Free Republic, an independent conservative group, gathered to show support for Mr. Bush and the troops in Iraq.

And there is always Reuters, "Tens of Thousands Protest Iraq Policy in Washington"

United for Peace and Justice, which coordinated the protest with International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), estimated that 100,000 people from more than 145 cities attended the demonstration. Police on the streets put the number closer to 20,000 or 30,000. Washington police do not provide official crowd estimates at public protests.

vs

[No mention of counter protests.]




Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.