Friday, January 23, 2004

Don't you hate it when good-for-nothing social parasites sponge off the welfare state? Stefanie Murray does. Though she has a different idea of who those people are than some of the other folks who usually make that kind of argument:

And as long as we’re discussing entities who take advantage of government largesse, let’s point our fingers in the right place: [the penniless Caroline] Payne is living in state-subsidized housing and getting health care through Medicaid while she is working as a cashier. That means that taxpayer money is going to subsidize the substandard wages of that bloody store, which otherwise would have to pay its employees enough to pay rent, have health care, and buy food. We are not subsidizing Ms. Payne, we are subsidizing Wal-Mart.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday urged nations that rallied against terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001, to unite again to fight corruption, which is costing the world economy more than $2 trillion every year.

In a speech to the World Economic Forum, Ashcroft attacked government officials who pocket payoffs and deprive their people of money for better roads, cleaner water, and more modern schools.


Oil services company Halliburton Co has told the Pentagon that two employees took up to $6 million in kickbacks for awarding a Kuwaiti-based company with work supplying U.S. troops in Iraq, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

But of course, that isn't depriving the Iraqis, or Kuwaitis, of anything. Since Halliburton's activities are funded by cost-plus contracts from the US government, they're ripping off us.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Bob Novak, in 2001:

Three and half-years ago, I reported that a veteran FBI agent resigned and retired after refusing a demand by Attorney General Janet Reno to give the Justice Department the names of top secret sources in China. My primary source was FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

Disclosing confidential sources is unthinkable for a reporter seeking to probe behind the scenes in official Washington, but the circumstances here are obviously extraordinary. The same traitor who delivered American spies into the Kremlin's hands was expressing concern about the fate of intelligence assets in China. ...

...why break a reporter's responsibility to keep his sources secret? I wrestled with this question for months and finally decided that my experience with Hanssen contributes to the portrait of this most contradictory of all spies. Furthermore, to be honest to my readers, I must reveal it.

Bob Novak, this week, when asked whether Senate Republicans had been feeding him confidential memos electronically pilfered from the Democrats:

Novak declined to confirm or deny whether his column was based on these files.

"They're welcome to think anything they want," he said. "As has been demonstrated, I don't reveal my sources."

Some people look at this juxtaposition, and see only naked partisanship. But I discern adherence to a single, consistent principle. The consistent principle is this: Novak will never burn a source, no matter how criminal or egregious the conduct of that source, not even if (as in the Valerie Plame case) tipping off Novak was itself a transparently criminal act -- so long as that source stays in a position to feed him more illicit dirt down the line...

The point, of course, has also been made elsewhere...

After a long hiatus, Isabella is blogging again, featuring among her new entries a meditation on solo flying at dusk, and a reminisce on how hard it can be to tell which goodbye is really the last. She's so far more coy about her day-to-day situation than she's been in the past -- which, given the family situation she describes, would surely be all to the good. ("Things are different now and so I must act differently"). But no matter how much of her writing you choose to believe, she certainly does it well. It's very good to have her back.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I find I have nothing at all to say about the State of the Union address which isn't already being said better elsewhere. (Well, not quite -- what was a quarterback with a game to prepare for doing there, exactly? And is he to blame for that bit about steroids? -- but nothing interesting). So here, instead, are a couple of quotes instead that I've been meaning to cite for a while now. Here's one:

Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.

-- Israeli historian Benny Morris, justifying the expulsion of Arabs from Israeli land.

And here's another:

Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?

-- Adolf Hitler, justifying his projected extermination of the Poles.

By and large, I support the State of Israel. But, as someone recently said on another topic entirely, if this isn't over the line, then there is no line.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

So, the surprise winner in Iowa is Diana's fave rave, my junior Senator. Which makes this as good a time as any to say once again why (well, beyond what Patrick said) Kerry won't be getting my primary vote.

First off, unlike Clark, he actually has waffled on the Iraq war. In fact, his confusion goes back before the war, when he "explained" his vote for giving Dubya unconditional authority for use of force by trying to pretend there were conditions attached. This is no small thing.

Beyond that, he is, unquestionably, an East Coast Establishment Washington Insider, of precisely the type that Karl Rove loves to run against. You can point out all you like that he has taken courageous stands in the Senate during Reagan years, and before that in Vietnam Veterans Against the War (which makes his latter-day wishy-washiness all that much more of a disappointment), but none of that changes the facts that he is from the East Coast Establishment, nor that he is a Washington Insider.

Bill Belichick's Patriots don't win football games by playing into the other team's strengths...

Late edit: Added the word "primary" in the first graf. Any of the Democrats running would be a better President than Bush at this point, once we get to the general election...

Monday, January 19, 2004

Speaking of modern labor standards (as we were)...

One of the tragedies that made American labor unions respectable was the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, in which 146 women died because factory management had locked them into their factory to reduce pilferage, and they were unable to force the locks when the building caught fire.

Well, it looks like someone at WalMart likes the idea of going back to the good old days. There have already been several incidents where workers locked into buildings on the night shift have had to wait for hours to get out because no one around had a key.

In response, not so much to an outcry from the employees as to the bad publicity which it has engendered, the company now says it is instituting a policy that when workers are locked in, there should always be a manger on site with a key. I guess they had formerly thought that making managers work the night shift would be inhumane...

And for more back-to-the-future stuff, check out Jeanne D'Arc on how Dubya honored Martin Luther King's birthday....