Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Closer and Closer to the Iger Sanction

And still closer ...
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FURTHER UPDATE: Newsmax continues to have TIME by the tail on this one.

Link via Croooow Blog.


Kenneth Adelman says in his Fox News article that the recent TIME anti-Bush hatchet piece was a carefully crafted piece of Clinton spin that TIME bit and swallowed whole:

"Listening to Clinton on Iraq now impresses. Learning what Clinton did on Iraq then depresses."

UPDATE: Newsmax:

Flatly contradicting Time magazine's claims this week that his administration turned over workable plans to capture or kill Osama bin Laden to the Bush White House, ex-President Clinton confessed earlier this year that his administration's plans had a "high probability" of failure. Clinton made the stunning admission during a February address to a New York business group, which, apparently, Time declined to cover.

And the've got the audio to prove it. Mullings also helps show Mr. Berger for what he is.

Links via Croooow Blog

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African American Republicans

From the 1860's through the New Deal, African-Americans were pretty Republican - with the big divergence coming only in the 1960's. There is a growing number or reports that the traditional values of African-Americans - which harmonize with such GOP priorities as building the business/middle class and supporting school vouchers, welfare reform and strong family values - are leading more back to the Republican Party.

It's interesting that the linked report above comes from Milwaukee, where the school-choice through vouchers issue has been so prominent, and the voucher program so successful.

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Big Mo's Guide to St. Alban's (Columbine) Populism

Sheesh. Maureen ("Big Mo)" Dowd writes about Al Gore (bullet points):

... old sport ... your favorite fat cats ... sit on their checkbooks ... no one wants you to run again ... grim night... you are not popular .... Without ... Big Money, you'll have to rely on the support of Big Labor and Big Media ... you have to know the right people ... an angry manifesto ... Wave the Cross of Gold at the golden ... You have worked so hard to cultivate media bigwigs, with extended meals and endless calls tattling on your rivals... aristocracy of the mind. ... Average Americans ... don't have the brains to read a butterfly ballot ... you are entitled to save people from themselves ... hedge, straddle, fib ... Your political birthright, your Ivy schooling, your upbringing in the corridors of power certainly entitle you to govern. If you need to pretend that the people are sovereign in order to become sovereign ... you are one of the entitled, then you are entitled to knock entitlement ... Andover Guide to Populism ... When political dynasties are in trouble, patrician leaders must hobnob with hoi polloi, like rescued miners and unemployed factory workers ... The problem with Knowing It All, dear boy, is that some of the little people may find you insufferable ... hold their hands over their little, average American ears ... Cling to your faux populist fury ... you are entitled to always be right ... proclaim you are retreating, like Scarlett, to draw strength from the red dirt of Carthage ... Do not mention that you are really holed up in a Washington suburb writing a book ... Do not talk about being the vice chairman of an L.A. financial services company.... you are entitled to any money you can get ... If you want to get bailed out in bidness, cash in on your famous name.... Hillary and Bill kowtow to the party's pro-business moderates... Putting Gore First is a way of Putting People First ... And if you are one of the entitled, you are entitled to be first.

Once, I read a story about a man who shot and killed his entire family. Shocked, I asked the person I was with whatever could make someone do something like that. He thought for a moment and responded: "They must have annoyed him."

Guess so. The way Al Gore must have annoyed Big Mo.


UPDATE: And just imagine the savage frenzy destined to overetake Big Mo when she finds out that Mr. Gore tried to get free Springsteen concert tckets - AND FAILED! And then the Springsteen people TALKED about it!


FURTHER UPDATE: After the initial softening up of the Gore position with directed artillery from Big Mo, the Times now rolls out the front page troop transport: "Wounded Party?"

What's next? Oprah weeping on the air over the tragedy that has befallen - nay, that has become - the Democrats at the hands of Al Gore?
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It seems that there are serious Australian physicists who believe that either the charge of a single electron varies over time (which would invalidate the present formulation of the second law of thermodynamics) or the speed of light varies over time (invalidating the long accepted assumption that its speed is constant). Forced to choose between invalidating the second law of thermodynamics or accepting a varying speed of light, the scientists suspect that it is more likely that the speed of light is inconstant.

Paul Davies of Sydney's Macquarie University, says: "When one of the cornerstones of physics collapses, it's not obvious what you hang onto and what you discard."

That last part certainly makes sense.

Davies says that accepting variations in the speed of light "means giving up the theory of relativity and E=mc squared and all that sort of stuff. ...But two of the cherished laws of the universe are the law that electron charge shall not change and that the speed of light shall not change, so whichever way you look at it we're in trouble."

Davies also says that the reevaluation is based on new observations indicating that the structure of atoms emitting quasar light was slightly but significantly different from the structure of atoms in humans. The discrepancy implies that either the electron charge or the speed of light has changed over time.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2002

The Quick and the Should-Be-Dead

And - as a special bonus - the Yale Pundits hilariously demolish Helen Thomas on the same topic!

UPDATE: Kevin Holtsberry brings a lot of worthwhile thoughts to the table.
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Suddenly This Summer

Today's Paul Krugman offering resembles the sad, urgent scramble of a Galapagos Island sea turtle hatchling to the relative safety of the ocean as the waiting flock of circling, carnivorous blogs led by The Minute Man and KausFiles swoop down for an impromtu snack.

Mr. Krugman writes "I'm sure that lots of history is being falsified as you read this."

And he should know! In his ongoing war with the truth he has a lot in common with a functionary of Oceania, which in Orwell's classic 1984 was eternally at war with one of two other vast entities, Eurasia and Eastasia. At any moment, depending upon current alignments, all existing records in Oceania showed either that Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, or that it had always been at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia.

Similarly, a substantial and growing portion of the New York Times letters-to-the-editor space is being occupied by missives pointing out serious factual errors in Mr. Krugman's columns, as described in today's KausFiles. This appears to be the newspaper's way of providing cover to Mr. Krugman, who otherwise would have an unvarnished obligation to confess error in his own space. Or perhaps Mr. Krugman's contract with the Times includes an easement over the letters-to-the-editor space for this purpose.

But an even more extensive ongoing comparison of the real world with the parallel universe about which Mr. Krugman writes can be found, thanks to More Than Zero, in the entertaining Krugman Truth Squad.

The cumulative effect of reading the Truth Squad exposés is remarkable, as Mr. Krugman's world gradually emerges from its own primordial mists as a kind of paranoid, dystopian version, not so much of the real world, as of some third place - Narnia, perhaps.


UPDATE: Hoystory has more. And more. And still more.

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Monday, August 05, 2002

Article III Judges and the Return of FISA

The United States Constitution is divided into "Articles," where Article III deals with the federal judiciary. Only one federal court is required by the Constitution: the United States Supreme Court. The Constitution also permits "such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish," but Article III imposes certain restrictions if those inferior courts are created (which, of course, they have been). For example, Article III federal judges must be appointed for life, their salaries cannot be reduced and they cannot be removed from office while they maintain their "good behavior." All federal district court judges and federal appeals court judges are and must be "Article III judges."

There are also so-called federal "Article II courts." Article II of the Constitution pertains to the Executive (that is, the President and persons and administrative bodies under the President). The "judges" who preside over "Article II courts" are really administrators. They need not be appointed for life and they do not enjoy the other benefits of "Article III judges." The most famous "Article II courts" were the bankruptcy courts until the Supreme Court invalidated them in 1982, holding that Congress must either restrict their powers or make bankruptcy judges full Article III judges.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is a special federal court, one of those "inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish," on which a rotating group United States District Court judges sit. Every person sitting on that court is required by statute to be an Article III judge.

I rehearse all this here because the National Legal Aid & Defender Association does not seem to understand it. The National Legal Aid & Defender Association, in a very eccentric summary of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, asserts:

Wiretaps or other surveillance can be obtained for any criminal investigation under the lower standards of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) if the FBI certifies that “a significant” purpose of the surveillance is to gather intelligence information (i.e., though the primary purpose is for a criminal case). Instead of showing probable cause before an Article III judge, the required showing would be just “reasonable suspicion” before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret, with no notice to suspects. Similar secret procedures are extended to warrants for production of documents and things, under sec. 215. Evisceration of probable cause requirement for searches raises Fourth Amendment questions. Sunsets in four years.

It seems unwise, to say the least, to rely on this summary of a complex law in a difficult area where it is apparent that the author of the summary, and whoever else edited it, does not understand that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges are and must be Article III judges. Nor is the standard for issuance of a warrant under FISA "reasonable suspicion" - it is "probable cause." The USA Patriot Act did not change the FISA "probable cause" standard.

If John Lewis, former assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Division, which has oversight on counter-terrorism, thinks that to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under FISA "[t]he standard is ‘reasonable suspicion’ the person may be involved in undermining national security," then he is quite simply wrong. Or, possibly, he has been misquoted. For example, the very article in which Mr. Lewis is quoted as making this statement also quotes a report of the National Commission on Terrorism as asserting that the Justice Department Office of Intelligence and Policy Review (OIPR) "does not generally consider the past activities of the surveillance target relevant in determining whether the FISA probable cause test is met."

That is why Congress is now holding hearings on a bill that would replace the FISA probable cause test with a reasonable suspicion standard where non-US persons are concerned, exactly as has been suggested by the Man Without Qualities in a prior post. Nor would such an amendment of FISA raise serious Constitutional issues, as also pointed out here in that same prior post. Congress is not holding hearings to consider a redundant amendment of FISA - the people under the dome aren't that out of it.

So why does Tony Adragna have so many difficulties with all this?

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UPDATE: TIME'S UP! ... Notes From All Over!

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: CyberAlerts has still more, and Crooow Blog also writes to say that Sean Hannity is showing a video of Mr. Clinton's confession noted by Newsmax. [CORRECTION: Hannity played an audio of Mr. Clinton's address on the radio show, not a video.]


FURTHER UPDATE And now this.


There seems to be a growing number of problems with reporting behind the most recent TIME anti-Bush hatchet piece.

Foxnews reports (link via Croooow Blog):

The Clinton administration had no "plan" outlining detailed assessments of the threat from the terrorist network and offering ideas on how to counter Al Qaeda ... White House spokesman Sean McCormack said. "We were briefed on the Al Qaeda threat and what the Clinton administration was doing about it. These efforts against Al Qaeda were continued in the Bush administration." .... [Present] Administration officials said they moved as quickly as possible to assemble a plan for eliminating Al Qaeda. The review took eight months to complete and was finalized only a week before the Sept. 11 attacks, for which Al Qaeda is blamed.


Officials said that action items given to the Bush administration were proposed to the Clinton administration in 1998. The Clinton White House had two years to come up with a plan encompassing the proposals but did not.

The suggestions offered to the Bush administration, according to an administration official, proposed a three-to-five-year plan to "roll back" the threat coming from Al Qaeda.

Furthermore, a senior official told Fox that it would have been irresponsible not to take a fresh look at any proposals left on the table by a previous administration. The last time an administration blithely adopted an existing plan without a fresh analysis, this official argued, was the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Croooow Blog also finds this Newsmax reminder that from 1998 on, Mr. Clinton had personally declined to order a plan drawn up to accomplish the same set of action points which seem to be the basis of the TIME report, and that Mr. Clinton has personally admitted as much.
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Out You Go!

There is a scene in the original movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in which the vampires attack the Beverly Hills High School gym where the prom is in progress. In response, the students inside buy some time by tossing some of their weaker friends out the school windows for the vampires to devour.

This scene came to mind recently when I was thinking about the relationship between Bob Iger and Michael Eisner.
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Bush Ratings Bounce Back

Unheralded by the mainstream media, Bush's approval ratings are again back up above 70%.

Via Croooow Blog - who also has perceptive thoughts on the most recent TIME magazine goofiness and lots of other good things today.
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Well, it turns out that Mickey Kaus IS a Rhino!

Not the Eugene Ionesco political parable Rhinoceros sort of Rhino.

No. It turns out that Kaus is actually the "O-MY-GOD-THAT'S-A-WILD-RHINO-ON -THE LOOSE-AND-HE'S-HEADING-RIGHT-AT-US" sort of Rhino!

Or at least that's the way Kaus probably appears to Paul Krugman today, as Kaus digs his bloghorn into Krugman's soft and fleshy mass of pretensions, errors and attempted obfuscations, and sends him flying!


UPDATE: An astute and clever reader quips that Kaus isn't so much a Rhino as a DINO: "Democrat In Name Only."

Ah, go on! The Dems have a bigger tent than that! Kaus is a Democrat just as surely as Pluto is a planet!

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Sunday, August 04, 2002


Is it just a coincidence that as AOL-Time Warner's own financial reporting problems are mounting, that TIME magazine's political reporting is getting increasingly goofy and irresponsible?

Today's example, via DRUDGE REPORT:

TIME is now reporting that after about many years of ineffective noodling following the first al Qaeda bombing of the World Trade Center, the Clinton administration had prepared a major, magic strike again al Qaeda, which the Bush Administration delayed!

Why didn't the Clinton Administration itself actually DO anything with this "plan"?

Well, the Clinton Administration was reportedly largely clueless, apparently reaping the rewards of years of liberal neutering of the American intelligence establishment. TIME has Mr. Clinton scribbling on one memo: "We’ve got to do better than this. This is unsatisfactory."

And, yet, it was on the basis of this same "unsatisfactory" product of the Clinton intelligence apparatus that Clinton administration officials - including Sandy Berger - are now suggesting through TIME that the Bush Administration could have, and should have, moved. Yes, indeed, send in those Afghan tribal leaders with submarine support (see below) for what the Clintonites now call a "A bold plan"! Damn the burkas, full speed ahead!

But lack of intelligence (in at least two meanings of that word) was not all that stymied the Clintonites. A former senior Clinton aide also told TIME:

"If we had done anything, say, two weeks before the election, we’d be accused of helping Al Gore."



[UPDATE: An astute reader writes to point out that with just a little prodding Bradford DeLong can probably be induced to blame everything on the nefarious Katherine Harris, on the theory that if she'd just called the 2000 Presidential election for Gore on November 8th, then Mr. Clinton would have said "bombs away!"]

But TIME also reports that Richard Clarke presented a strategy paper to Berger and the other national security "principals” only on December 20, 2000. We are not told what rift in the space-TIME continuum allowed the Clinton Administration to make a decision not to act on the plan in the two weeks before the early-November, 2000 election, where the plan was first presented about six weeks after the election, in late December, 2000. Perhaps TIME should have interviewed the team behind the "Back To The Future" movies on this point.

In any event, Berger and "the principals" say they decided not to act on the plan because they did not think they should launch a major initiative against Osama bin Laden in their last four weeks in office. "We would be handing [the Bush Administration] a war when they took office on Jan. 20."

Setting aside the details of time, space, causation and political reality that all seem to make the TIME story impossible, what the Clintonites say certainly amounts to a putative explanation as to why the plan wasn't put into effect in the two weeks before the 2000 election and the four weeks following its December 20 initial presentation. Clinton's failure to take effective action during the other four hundred and ten weeks of his Administrations is not addressed.

What did the Clinton "plan" entail? TIME says:

FIRST: Submarines were ready to attack bin Laden: For all of 2000, Clinton ordered two U.S. Navy submarines to stay on station in the northern Arabian sea, ready to attack bin Laden if his coordinates could be determined.

How big a role did submarines play in the Afghan war? Perhaps I missed it, but I don't recall bin Laden being driven from his deep Tora Bora mountain redoubt by cruise missile poundings from American submarines floating far away. Maybe Sandy Berger can write and tell me what I missed. We now DO know that the original Clinton cruise-missile bombing of Afghanistan drove al Qaeda and the Taliban into closer alliance more damaging to American interests - although the Clinton bombing was completely ineffective as a military effort:

[T]hen came the 1998 lethal bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, to which the U.S. replied by raining down cruise missiles on a bin Laden camp in Afghanistan. The retaliation had fateful consequences. It turned Mr. bin Laden into a cult figure among Islamic radicals, made Afghanistan a rallying point for defiance of America and shut off Taliban discussion of expelling the militants. It also helped convince Mr. bin Laden that goading America to anger could help his cause, not hurt it.

It is also worth noting that many people across the political spectrum viewed the 1998 bombings as motivated by Mr. Clinton's putative desire to distract attention from the perjury he had committed as a result of the consequences of some of his Oval Office submarine races. Given the Clinton track record in this area, a policy review of the new plan appears to have been in order. Yet here, with no apparent sense of irony, TIME reports that Clinton was already challenging bin Laden with submarines! The ex-President surely knew his relative strengths.

Submarines as more than relatively minor back-up in Afghanistan? A completely land-locked country? With present technology? TIME does not report whether the Clinton Administration had secured support for its plan from the Swiss Navy.

SECOND: CIA attempted to recruit tribal leaders in Afghanistan. Given what we know about those Afghan tribal leaders and the amount of military support they required from the United States, this prong of the Clinton "plan" seems about as effective a strategy as launching those cruise missiles in 1998.

THIRD: [T]he U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost "several hundreds of millions of dollars." In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11."

So the "plan" contemplated that the U.S. military would start planning an eventual invasion. The Clintonites hadn't actually themselves planned such an attack or invasion. And they weren't advocating such an invasion. In fact, Mr. Clinton had simply failed to put much less radical measures into effect for years. Even now, after the ghastly events of September 11 and with considerable intelligence indicating that Iraq's intent to acquire weapons of mass destruction, there is growing Democratic resistance to an invasion of that country - including Al Gore's recent skeptical questioning of the timing of such a move ("No. Thursday's out How about never- is never good for you?"). It is ludicrous that members of the past Democratic Administration would suggest that the kind of invasion actually launched by Mr. Bush would have been permitted by the likes of Mr. Gore and Congressional Democrats prior to September 11, and still more amazingly disingenuous that they suggest the Clinton Administration had any such serious plan or intent.

One of the stranger aspects of the TIME report is that the quotes actually directly attributed to Mr. Clarke do not seem to support ther thrust of the article, even though the "plan' supposedly originated with Clarke. Clarke told TIME that the Bush Administration "policy review" moved "as fast as could be expected." Clarke says that dealing with al-Qaeda "was in the top tier of issues reviewed by the Bush Administration." But the article attempts to present Mr. Clarke as a frustrated hero, without really stating whether he agrees with the conclusions of the article. Such agreement seems unlikely, since Mr. Clarke is still employed at the White House under Condi Rice.

Predictably, the Bush Administration says they were never handed a plan, anyway, and implies that the ex-Clintonites are making it all up. In any event, the plan addressing al Qaeda eventually actually approved by the Bush Administration was more ambitious that even what the Clintonites are now saying they had "proposed." And any thoughtful person will question why this story and the Clintonites’ “revelations” are appearing without questioning of Mr. Gore, without clear indication of Mr. Clarke's take on its conclusions, and just weeks before the upcoming election - but almost two years after Mr. Clinton and these "senior officials” left office.

On the other hand, given the inconsistencies in the story and how ridiculous and obviously ineffectual the “plan” details make it appear, perhaps the Bush Administration should credit the Clintonites with their claimed efforts anyway.


UPDATE: Bill Quick has some insightful things to say on this.

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