March 24, 2004

Law of Unintended Consequences: An Israeli writer believes that the big winner in the Israeli take-out of Sheik Yassin last week will be Hamas, the group Sharon intended to destroy. If there is any world leader who is less competent than George Bush in dealing with terrorism, it's Arik the Whale. [link via Tom Paine]
Any doubt that George Bush is unfit to hold the office of President was resolved this week, in the aftermath of the Richard Clarke revelations. His patent inability to admit error would be the envy of any fifteenth century papist. At some point, one would hope that a more rational head in the Administration would say to His Highness that having his flacks (or as one cartoonist says, his "flying attack monkeys") use every charge in the books to assasinate the character of his critics is not only immoral, but politically counterproductive as well. I suppose that's what you get for having a President who sees himself as God's Righteous General. As William Saleton writes in Slate this morning:
It's funny, in retrospect, that Bush ran for president as a uniter. To unite a country, you have to acknowledge and reconcile differences. Bush doesn't work toward unity; he assumes it. He doesn't reconcile differences; he denies them. It's his tax cut or nothing. It's his homeland security bill or nothing. It's his terrorism policy or nothing. If you're playing politics, this is smart strategy. But if you're trying to help the country, it's foolish. The odds are that 50 percent of the other party's ideas are right. By ruling them out, you start your presidency 50 percent wrong.

Some of the resulting mistakes may be inconsequential. Some may cost 3,000 lives. Some may cost 2 million jobs. "If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years … we would not have had the kind of job growth we've had," Cheney bragged three weeks ago. That's the way this administration thinks: We do things differently. But being different doesn't guarantee you a better result—just a different one.
Taken together with Mr. Clarke's testimony this afternoon before the 9/11 Commission, in which he did something that Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, et al., have refused to do, which is take responsibility, it is a damning portrait.

March 23, 2004

Every now and then I wonder how it is that the GOP has proven utterly incapable of receiving significant support from outside its white male base, and then I read a blogpost like this, and the answer becomes obvious. A white reporter joking that a team in the NCAA Tournament will lose a game because it has "too many white players" is not the same thing as a white pundit with a history of racial bigotry saying that a black quarterback who has taken his team to three consecutive conference championships is overrated because he is black.

Moreover, the comparison made between basketball and NASCAR is utterly bogus. Black racers were shut out of auto racing by the bylaws of the sport, which limited participation to members of the Caucasian race; today, that earlier exclusion means that there is less interest in NASCAR, both as a career objective for potential black participants and as a pastime to follow on the weekends. Either formally (as in golf) or informally, the same was true in almost every other sport. The fact that black athletes were able to take part in some college football and basketball programs north of the Mason-Dixon Line before the Jackie Robinson Era gave those sports added cache with African Americans. White players have never been shut out of basketball because of skin color or racial prejudice, no more than they've been shut out of football, baseball or hockey.

March 21, 2004

In case you were wondering, Joanna Kerns (TV's "Maggie Seaver" from Growing Pains) has sold her home in Brentwood. According to the LA Times, which broke the story Sunday, she intends to build a new house in the area, no doubt with the $3.5 million she got from the sale of her three bedroom, three and a half bathroom mansion. No word on the lucky sap who can now boast to friend and stranger alike that he owns the old "Joanna Kerns Estate".
The last word on Spain:
"Spanish voters weren't intimidated by the terrorist bombings — they turned on a ruling party they didn't trust. When the government rushed to blame the wrong people for the attack, tried to suppress growing evidence to the contrary and used its control over state television and radio both to push its false accusation and to play down antigovernment protests, it reminded people of the broader lies about the war.

By voting for a new government, in other words, the Spaniards were enforcing the accountability that is the essence of democracy. But in the world according to Mr. Bush's supporters, anyone who demands accountability is on the side of the evildoers. According to Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, the Spanish people "had a huge terrorist attack within their country and they chose to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists."

So there you have it. A country's ruling party leads the nation into a war fought on false pretenses, fails to protect the nation from terrorists and engages in a cover-up when a terrorist attack does occur. But its electoral defeat isn't democracy at work; it's a victory for the terrorists."
--Paul Krugman