of the Web Today, by James Taranto (part of the Wall Street Journal
OpinionJournal.com Web site, which is open to the public without a
on National Review Online
From the Desk
of Jane Galt, Asymmetrical Information
(a site by the Wall Street Journal that does to require a
subscription to view)
Clear Politics, T. Bevan
Live to see it!
Points Memo, by Joshua Marshall
Is Rumor Control
Archives for Harry's Blog
the blog Everything
I Know Is Wrong:
Dear Viet Nam Vets,
I mean the
"dear" part, it's not just a word. I'm listening to John
Kerry's concession speech and I want you to realize what this moment
is for you. The man who said the worst things about you that a person
can say about anyone, has been rejected by the American people. They
have rejected him, not entirely, but in good measure, because of what
he did to you.
Americans we know that you were treated unfairly, wrongly, and we wish
that you had not had to live through it. Especially after you served
so nobly for us.
You are vindicated. You can put it behind you now. America knows who
you are and what you gave to us.
thank you for it.
Iraq the Model, a
blog by an Iraqi dentist:
The race to the white house is about to end and the results will remain
unknown till the last moment. Many readers have asked for our opinions and
I still see that it's not important whom would we favor, as it's the
Americans' decision and we respect that and trust that they will make the
right choice, for their own nation and also for the world. Instead, I
decided to put some of the opinions of Iraqis and Arabs who responded to a
poll in the BBC
Arabic web site asking the Arab readers how do they expect the
elections to go and what would be its effect on the Arab world, especially
Iraq and Palestine:
I expect the elections to take a course similar to what happened in 2000
because the support to both candidates is close, and no doubt Mr. Bush's
victory would have a positive effect on Iraq and Palestine, as he had made
solemn commitments about this.
Ahmed Talib Al Ta'ai, Baghdad, Iraq.
wish with all my heart that Bush lose, not because I like Kerry but
honestly out of hatred for Bush.
Mohammed Al Mansour-Madina, Saudi Arabia.
the American presidents are faces for one coin! Any one of them gets
elected starts approaching Israel without any consideration for the rest
of the world. This is their policy, and their train always travel on the
Zionist railways regardless who the president was.
Sabri Anas-Al Jeeza, Egypt.
not very informed about Bush or any other candidate but logic says that
this is the president who will save the world from terrorism and fanatics.
President Bush is always serious in his words and does not back off if he
sees in it the common interests of his country, like what he did in Iraq.
By God's will he will win, and I'll be the first one who congratulate all
who wish him to win.
Al Muhannad Al Baka'a, Baghdad, Iraq.
Posted November 3, 2004, 7:30 p.m.
From the Desk of Jane Galt (Asymmetrical Information
the prestigious Jane Galt endorsement goes to . . .
What a long, agonising trip it's been.
Throughout the process, I've been subjected to approximately 8 zillion
exhortations along the lines of "How on earth could you consider
voting for that son-of-a-bitch?" People who bemoan the increasing
partisanship of our society will be pleased to hear that both parties
seem to be thoroughly united in the belief that anyone who is not
voting their way is either a drooling moron or a venal hatemonger, out
to destory All That Is Good and Fine in This Great Nation of Ours.
I give you my endorsement, I thought I'd run you through the metrics
I've been using to weigh the election, and how I ultimately came out
Environment: Kerry wins by a hair here, but
only a hair, because he supports moronic CAFE standards instead of
sensible emissions taxes. He's made idiotic promises about getting to
20% of our energy from alternative fuels, a promise which is made as
predictably as the rising of the sun by presidential candidates, to
little effect. Bush is better on nuclear energy, but not much. Kerry
gets the bonus here because he cares more, though not a whole hell of
a lot more, about the negative externalities of various economic
activities, than does Bush. Warning to Dems, though: you almost lost
this over his grovelling to the coal industry.
Bush by a landslide. The Democrats are simply too hostage to the
teachers' unions to be even marginally credible on education: any
attempts to reform the system end up being captured by the unions and
do little more than funnel extra money into teachers' pockets. (An
approach I'm all in favour of if it gets us better results, which so
far it manifestly hasn't). I'd prefer that Bush go further, with
vouchers for example, but I've been pleasantly surprised by NCLB. As
Gerard Baker said about Bush, NCLB has made all the right enemies.
Care: In a normal year, I'd look at Bush's terrible,
horrible, no good, very bad Medicare prescription drug plan, and be
tempted to call it a wash. However, John Kerry has managed to scare
the bejeesus out of me with his health care plan. Play semantic
games all you want; when you've got a plan that would qualify half the
families in America for Medicaid, that's what I call a government
takeover of the healthcare system. I'm against it. Reallly really
really against it. Bush easily gets my vote here.
Marriage: Kerry. I'm against the FMA;
regardless of what you think about gay marriage, writing the damn
thing into the constitution is, in the words of PJ O'Rourke, pinning a
"kick me" sign on the backside of the majesty of the law.
However, since the thing has not a snowball's chance in hell of
passing the state legislatures, I can't say this swings my vote much
one way or the other.
Supreme Court: Bush. A number of commenters
have tried to convince me not to vote for Bush by trying to scare me
with dire tales about another Scalia or Thomas appointed to the bench.
Folks, this is like trying to scare me with a free Porsche. I'd be in
heaven with nine Clarence Thomases on the bench. Why am I supposed to
be so scared, again? Oh, right, abortion. News flash: libertarian does
not equal pro choice, and pro-choice does not equal pro-Roe. As it
happens, I'm pro-choice (reluctantly), but I'm against Roe v. Wade; I
think the matter should be decided at the state level, and NARAL can
use all the money it raises to lobby to provide bus tickets and nice
hotel rooms to women wanting abortions in states where it is illegal.
Economy: I don't think the president has much,
if anything, to do with how the economy runs, unless he's one of those
disastrous tinkerers, like FDR and Richard Nixon. Neither of the
current candidates is such a lackwit, meaning that their impact on the
economy will be minimal indeed. Neither candidate gets my vote here.
George Bush. Yes, he did steel tariffs,
but the way I look at it, he enacted something he knew was going to be
overturned in order to get important concessions from Congress, on
fast-track, trade promotion authority, and the Free Trade Area of the
Americas. Now we have freer trade and no steel tariffs. Trade is an
area where the president is really important. There's a lot an
unwilling president can do to scuttle trade, and there are big talks
coming up at the WTO. Kerry's advisors are going around telling people
he's lying about trade, and he may well be; his record in the senate
seems to be pretty good. But George Bush's record seems to be pretty
good as well, and he's not making anti-trade noises, or nominating a
protectionist to his ticket.
Welfare: Kerry. The recent tax bill, which was
supposed to provide adjustment assistance to exporters who lost a
subsidy that was ruled illegal by the WTO, turned into a shameless
giveaway to every business interest with a lobby and a dream. Not that
George Bush could stop Congress from larding the bill up with
anti-market tax favours, but he could veto the bill, which he won't.
Kerry might; he gets my vote on this issue.
Policy: George Bush. Not because I'm one of
those super-gung-ho supply siders who are committed to Bush's rate
reductions with their dying breath. I'm in favour of the rate
reductions, but it's not one of my primary issues. Lucky for George,
he hit one of my primary issues: mitigating the adverse effects of the
tax code on capital formation. I'm hugely in favour of equalising the
treatment of cap gains and dividends; definitely in favour of lowering
the tax rate on cap gains (at least until we eliminate the corporate
income tax); and pretty much in favour of getting rid of the estate
Policy: Liberals will scream, but George Bush
gets this one. Kerry has one plan I like--increasing the Earned Income
Tax Credit--but the rest of his programme is just standard Democratic
same-old, same-old. I think raising the minimum wage is a moderately
bad idea and will have at best a trivial effect on welfare policy
(most former welfare mothers already make above what John Kerry is
proposing to raise the minimum to; the hike will disproportionately
benefit middle-class teenagers.) I wrote a piece on poverty recently,
and what struck me is how excited the Republicans were about
eradicating poverty, compared to the Democrats; Republicans are
actually trying to change the environment in which poor kids grow up,
rather than just raising the amount of money they spend. Education is
a major piece of this, and there also George Bush has won my heart.
George Bush. For all the hysteria, Bush's plans for Social Security
and Medicare are excessively modest. But he's a dynamic go-getter
compared to Kerry, whose plan for Social Security is to stand there
watching while it collapses around our ears, and who wants to make
Medicare more insolvent. Democrats are screaming that Bush's plan will
be expensive, but of course, if we actually showed the country's
current liabilities, rather than keeping the country's books on the
weird, not-quite-cash-basis our government uses, privatising would
come out as at worst neutral. Meanwhile, it would keep the government
from making more promises to people it can't fulfill . . . people who
will be badly hurt when the system goes bust. And it would take money
from the government, which spends it on things that are at best
economically neutral, and redirect that money into investments that
will increase future productivity, helping us to bear the burden of an
Liberties: Neither. I used to think that Janet
Reno was the embodiment of all evil, after she helped gut the fourth
amendment and pioneered the use of the paramilitary force to resolve
child custody issues. Now I think that whoever becomes attorney
general is driven mad by dreams of all the good they could do if only
they had a lot more power. Both sides endorse the execrable drug war,
which has done more to destroy civil liberties than any post-9/11
Budget: I'm against running deficits, not
because of the economic effects, which I think are pretty small, but
because we shouldn't buy things for ourselves by writing IOU's for our
children to pay. But both candidates are pretty much equally bad on
this measure; the deficits they're promising are within a couple
hundred billion of each other over ten years, depending on which party
you believe. I suspect that if Kerry passes his plan that number will
be higher, because health care plans always seem to cost many times
what they were promised to cost. But I'll give him the benefit of the
doubt, and call it even-steven.
Policy: Here it is: the big ticket. Which way
do I go?
outline what I think about the way the administration approached Iraq.
I think we
chose to go to Iraq, we didn't have to. But I'm okay with that, unlike
a lot of libertarians.
that the decision to invade Iraq had a lot of reasons behind it, of
which only a few were discussed with America. And I'm also okay with
that, unlike a lot of libertarians. The government, unfortunately,
can't have a secret closed-door meeting with the entire country in
which it tells us what it is thinking. It has to conduct its
discussion by press release. Imagine how much information you'd get
from your family and friends, much less your boss, if the only way
they could talk to you was to broadcast their words to a world
listening with bated breath. Make the negotiations on the house you're
buying a little complicated, hmmm? Think your boss would give you the
quarterly sales numbers, what with the competition breathing down your
that there were people in the administration who were obsessed with
Iraq, and that that drove the decision making to some extent. That
doesn't mean the invasion was a bad idea, but it does worry me about
the administration's decision making.
that Iraq was not necessary to the war on terror, but I still think
it's possible that it could be a successful battle in it. A democratic
Iraq would be a major victory in the region. Even an Iraq run by a
Mubarrak would help, by making the region more stable, and denying
terrorists a base; and it would be much better for the people of Iraq.
It gets US troops off Saudi soil, which can only help.
unconvinced by anti-war people screaming about screw-ups in the early
weeks of the war, including the latest explosives flap. As a project
manager, I know too well that when you operate in a tight time frame,
no matter how much you plan, nothing goes according to plan. Something
comes out of left field and makes half your planning obsolete, and the
other half irrelevant.
that the administration drastically underestimated the popular
resistance to our invasion. This allowed the insurgency to grow, which
in turn has steadily eroded our popularity, as we are blamed for the
sabotage-induced decline in infrastructure, and the growing
insecurity. I think the administration failed to act decisively against
the insurgency, betraying a stubborn unwillingness to admit when they
are wrong, or change plans even when the plans are clearly failing. I
am deeply troubled by this. I think the administration was unwilling
to take the political risk of asking for more troops, and has thus
brought greater political risk upon themselves. This is my biggest
concern with the administration.
that the administration's plans worked very well on state actors:
Libya, Syria, and Pakistan, to name a few, seem to be more cooperative
now that they know we really might invade. Iran and North Korea are
working on nuclear weapons, but they've been working on nuclear
weapons since long before we invaded Iraq. I think they have had the
opposite effect on non-state actors: I'm pretty sure we're making
terrorist recruiting easier.
But I'm not as sure as anti-war types that
this makes us less secure. The biggest threat we face is nuclear or
biological terrorism, and that's the kind of terrorism that requires
cooperation from state actors. Moreover, right now at least, all the
new recruits are fighting soldiers in Iraq and not civilians in
America. That could change, of course, but the only existential threat
we face is nuclear terrorism. And nuclear terrorism is constrained not
by the supply of recruits, but the supply of nukes, which terrorists
wanted long before 9/11. The administration's actions certainly
haven't increased the supply of nukes, and they may have decreased
them. But I would like to see the administration pay more attention to
Abu Ghraib was a disgrace to the name of America, and Don Rumsfeld
should have resigned. I don't think that he caused it in any way, but
I do think that when something this bad happens, high heads have to
roll to show how deeply we regret the stain on our honor.
that retreating from Iraq would be a disaster. Even if it turns into a
quagmire, I would far rather see us stay too long than bug out before
we have to.
that George Bush has cost us a lot of goodwill in Europe. I am less
convinced that Europe's governments left us much choice.
that the greatest revelation of the Iraq war has been that we lack the
military force to invade a smallish country with terrain that provides
easy surveillence and movement. That's a big problem; whether or not
we should have invaded Iraq, I think it's pretty important that the
world's last superpower should be able to, if it needs to. I also
think that neither candidate has credibly addressed this issue, the
administration because it doesn't want to admit failure, and the Kerry
team because they're still wallowing in some fantasy where the UN
sends us troops it doesn't have and wouldn't commit if it did.
Kerry? He's been on the wrong side of pretty much every foriegn
policy issue he addressed before he began running for president, from
nuclear freeze to the first Iraq war. He's been a borderline
incompetent as a senator. I like Joe Biden, who is advising him on
foreign policy, but that's about all he has going for him. His votes
since 9/11 have been so coldly opportunistic that I, the ultimate
political cynic, actually feel a little tinge of disgust. So though
liberals keep telling me that 9/11 changed everything, I have no way
of knowing whether they changed John Kerry. Columns telling me to
listen to what he's saying elicit only a hollow laugh, since John
Kerry has already made it abundantly clear that he'll say pretty much
anything to get elected. Not that this is exactly surprising behaviour
in a politician.
matter? There's a pretty compelling argument to be made that the Bush
administration has screwed up so badly that it's practically
impossible that the Kerry team could be worse. I have two problems
with this argument. The first is that the people who've been making it
to me mostly hated Bush before Iraq, before 9/11, and indeed before he
got the Republican Party's 2000 nomination. Bush could have been
running the greatest foreign policy since Machiavelli, and they would
still be arguing for me to take Kerry's prospects on blind faith. And
second, I'm not sure it's true. Pulling out of Iraq would be worse
than leaving a blundering administration there, and as Mickey
Kaus said of The Economist's Kerry endorsement "it's always a
shaky moment in these non-peacenik endorsements when the writer tries
to convince himself or herself that Kerry won't bail out on Iraq
prematurely, isn't it? (Kerry has been 'forthright about the need to
win in Iraq,' but do you trust him and if so why? Because Andrew
Sullivan's blogging will keep him honest?)" Still, the
administration has screwed up in some major ways, leaving me wrestling
with the question: how bad could Kerry be?
end, it comes down to how much risk the candidates will take. The
Democratic policy on foriegn policy risk has been pretty much the same
since McGovern: they won't take any. They bug out at the first sign of
casualties, and go in only when the foe is so tiny that we can smash
them without committing ground troops.
Republicans take risk. Bush took on a lot of it -- and with it, the
possibility that something could go wrong.
the country need now? Someone risk averse, to shepherd us through, or
someone who will take bold action and possibly land us in a disaster?
I think a lot of people have concluded, from the fact that Bush's
risky move has gone wrong, that risk aversion is therefore the
superior strategy. But that doesn't follow. Jimmy Carter running right
now would to my mind be inarguably worse than George Bush for all his
screw ups. On the other hand, Bush I would certainly be preferable to
I have neither Bush I nor Mr Carter on the stump to make my choice
easy. I have the choices I have: between someone whose foriegn policy
has been so risky as to be foolhardy, or someone who will not take the
political risk of voting his conscience (whatever that may be) on the
war; between someone whose commanding ability to chart a course and
stick to it veers into pigheaded refusal to admit he's wrong, and
someone who takes four weeks to decide on a campaign bumper sticker
design. Above all, I have to guess how Mr Kerry will be in office,
because the president doesn't have the luxuries of a senator or a
campaigner; he has to decide what to do without the other senators to
hide behind, and he cannot just go out and talk about his never-never
plans when action is required. He doesn't get to skip a vote, and
dithering could be fatal to a lot more than his political career. When
something goes badly wrong in Iraq, will Kerry stay the course,
because it's important, or will he take counsel of his fears, and his
party's left wing, and cut and run as soon as he decently can? Daniel
Drezner advocates a minimax
strategy, but it's not clear to me that Kerry represents a win.
there's the question of what message electing Kerry would send. Does
it make the world love us, because we got rid of the president they
hate, or does it make them despise us, because we've just held a
referendum on the Iraq war, and Bush lost?
I've decided to take the advice of a friend's grandmother, who told
me, on her wedding day, that I should never, ever marry a man thinking
he'd change. "If you can't live with him exactly the way he
is," she told me, "then don't marry him, because he'll say
he's going to change, and he might even try to change, but it's one in
a million that he actually will."
record for the first fifteen years in the senate, before he knew what
he needed to say in order to get elected, is not the record of anyone
I want within spitting distance of the White House war room. Combine
that with his deficits on domestic policy -- Kerry's health care plan
would, in my opinon, kill far more people, and cost more, than the
Iraq war ever will -- and it's finally clear. For all the
administration's screw-ups -- and there have been many -- I'm
sticking with the devil I know. George Bush in 2004.
Posted November 2, 2004, 7:30 p.m.