'Powell's Vindication,' Part II
: Hub Blog has been quoting Peggy Noonan a lot these days on Iraq, in fact I did so earlier today
, linking to one of her columns from September. But I missed this Noonan column from yesterday
(via Dan Kennedy
and Mickey Kaus
). Some excerpts from Noonan's latest piece:
"... Mr. Bush's passion is well-established. Too much so, actually. Last summer, when Mr. Bush told Bob Woodward's tape recorder that he personally loathes Kim Jung Il, when he spoke of his disdain in startlingly personal tones -- and when the world heard it on television, for Mr. Woodward apparently provided the tape to publicists when he was selling his Bush book -- well, that was not a great moment in the history of diplomacy. Mr. Bush's father was often accused of allowing himself to express too little. George W. Bush may be remembered in part for allowing himself to express too much. ...
"But one of the problems with the strategy, if it is a strategy -- and one certainly hopes it is for if it's not there's a lot of messy swaggering going on at the White House -- is this: It leaves the world and the American people wondering if Mr. Bush isn't a little too hot, too quick on the draw, too personal in his handling of international challenges. In an odd way Mr. Bush's passion about Iraq is getting in the way of his message on Iraq. It's not carrying the message forth forcefully, which is what passion is supposed to do. At this point his passion seems to be distracting from the message."
Economy in limbo, Part II
: I’ve stopped trying to make sense of this local economy
. It’s throwing too many curves
, though residential real estate isn’t a very good indicator of economic/business activity. A more accurate measure can be found in commercial real estate.
I stand by an earlier assertion: We’re going to be in the doldrums for a while.
MBTA -- no reforms, no new taxes
: A few weeks ago, Hub Blog advocated a possible gas tax increase
in order to pay for much-needed transportation (re: rail) improvements. A reader quickly wrote back that I should apply my own mantra to the MBTA: “No reforms, no new taxes.” This story proves the point
: No reforms, no new taxes.
: He really does think he’s gubernatorial material
. What’s Tommy up to? Giving the Democrats’ version of the budget debate after Mitt’s televised address tomorrow night? Or explaining the legislature’s plans to work with Mitt? Or promoting himself? You decide. Hub Blog has its own suspicions. ... Meanwhile, current deficit estimates are back up to $650 million. Say what you will about Jane Swift, but she was unfairly knocked for all the wild budget estimates coming out of her office in the last days of her administration. Predicting incoming revenue ain’t easy in a recession. ...
... Mitt and Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall deserve a lot of credit for their performance in recent weeks, according to Wayne Woodlief
. “Whether it's his no-nonsense corporate sense or political skills he learned from his late father George, a popular governor of Michigan, Romney has scored well on several points.” ... Hub Blog has also been hearing a lot of positive comments about how Mitt has been showing up at all the National Guard send offs. A small, slam-dunk, patriotic thing for a governor to do, no doubt. But people are noticing and talking about it.
That’s how Andrew Sullivan
describes the U.N.’s damning report
on Iraq -- damning, that is, if you pay attention to the facts -- and Powell’s push to involve the U.N. in the process. But is it really a ‘vindication’? And, if so, who’s discredited/not vindicated in the administration? Names, please. The fact is this diplomatic route should have been tried a year ago. It was resisted by many in the administration. Now it’s being implemented at the very last minute, too late, probably, to sway any meaningful number of Americans and/or Europeans. Too many people have already made up their minds. ... One reader wrote to me the other day (and I’m paraphrasing, for I no longer have the email): The United States was never going to convince the hard-core anti-American Europeans who see nothing but evil in everything America does. But it could have swayed, say, 5 percent to 10 percent more of the European population. Modest numbers, to be sure. But, as the reader said, it might have been enough to change the outcome of the German election had we tried a more diplomatic, less bellicose strategy. ...
.... Joan Vennochi
has some good observations on roughly the same matter: “Ever since (Bush’s State of the Union address last year), he has marched the country toward another war. But we are not marching to one clear voice but rather to a jarring, confusing cacophony that starts and stops and starts again. Between the fits and starts, it is hard to hear Bush's voice over the voices coming from Iraq, North Korea, and the United Nations, not to mention the voices vying to be heard from inside his own administration.” ... Now there are certain things I disagree with in Joan’s column, such as the way she personally describes the president and her suggestion that he hasn’t made a clear case for war. Personally, I think the case for possible war was made a long, long time ago. The point of the U.N. approach was to convince others
about the possible need for war. But Joan is largely right about this administration’s zigzagging ways. ... Sorry to hammer away at the point, but maybe it’s time, now that some are giving Colin Powell credit, to once again reread Peggy Noonan’s column
from this past September on the mood of the country. ... And, oh, what the hell, while we’re at it, why not reread the Chruchill line sent in by Brighton Reader:
“As Churchill said, the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.”
'Going down north':
That’s a phrase some blacks outside the north sometimes use when a friend or loved one is about to travel to a northern city -- the use of the word ‘down’ intended to draw parallels with going down to the old South. ... Boston definitely has a major racial image problem, so the 2004 Democratic National Convention is going to be a big, big racial test
for the city. One of the things I liked about this article is how many out-of-town African-American delegates, interviewed by the Globe, freely admit that their opinions of Boston were shaped by the busing controversy of the ‘70s and that they’re open to the idea of dispelling those notions. ... Here’s a great passage from the piece: '' 'My friend who is coming to the convention told me the last time he'd even thought about Boston was the 1970s,' said Joyce Ferriabough, a black political consultant whose husband, Bruce Bolling, was the first black City Council president. ''I told him, `You've got a lot to catch up on, my brother.' I see that people just harp on the busing thing and, to be honest with you, it ticks me off. While I know that things still need to change here, the climate of Boston has changed dramatically.' '' ... The last sentence -- both clauses -- is quite true.
Throwing in the MCAS towel
: The state cuts haven’t even been announced and some are urging throwing in the towel on MCAS?
Seems a little hasty and drastic, not bold and decisive. Gutting it now in the face of tough economic times would mean that past efforts (and funds ) were simply wasted and sends a signal that no school reform can be touched. Of course, there’s another factor at play: A lot of people have been searching for excuses since Day 1 to gut MCAS.
Throwing in the towel on the Quinn Bill
: Now here’s a program
we should have thrown the towel in on a long, long time ago. Adrian Walker: “Given the political clout of its beneficiaries, the police unions, the Quinn Bill isn't likely to go away. But in the name of common sense it should be overhauled.” ... How about $100 million for schools?
Understanding the ‘groundswell of anxiety’
: So Colin Powell
is back to arguing in favor of a ‘great coalition’ to take on Iraq. Guess he’s got to keep trying, as futile as it may seem. We’ll have to go it alone, or with a minimal amount of allies, as things stand now. ...
has an interesting post today on the subject. Andrew: “I've been trying to understand better the groundswell of anxiety about the coming war. Leaving aside the extremists, it seems to me that the undecideds simply hold an assumption I don't share. The assumption is that 9/11 was an isolated event that portended nothing more than itself and only legitimized a police operation in self-defense targeted precisely at the group that perpetrated it.” ... Glad he threw in the line about ‘leaving aside the extremists,’ for I’ve gotten quite a bit of email recently suggesting that my criticism of Bush in recent posts somehow shows I’ve become ‘antiwar.’ I also appreciate the fact that Andrew is at least ‘trying to understand better’ the views of non-extremists. But that’s the problem: Bush and his supporters have done very little to try to understand better people with different views on how to reach the same goal: Disarming and/or removing Saddam. It’s not all about ‘anxiety’ or ‘ambivalence’ or ‘faux-hawkish multilateralists.’ It also has to do with a perception, based on reality, in my opinion, that this administration has regularly, consistently, adamantly turned a tin ear to those with different ideas and views on how to reach the same end. The administration and its supporters have been, at times, bellicose, contemptuous and disdainful towards people who would have gladly lined up behind him had he tried to better understand their doubts and concerns. I think it was Mickey Kaus who wrote, soon after Sept. 11, that the administration had to reach out to Democrats in order to reach a true national consensus. True, but I would add: The administration had to also reach out to Independents and even people within his own party. What did we get? Trial balloons (quickly shot down) about how the administration might not have to consult with Congress over going to war with Iraq. Initially dismissing attempts to rally international support through the U.N. (but later embracing this approach under pressure, when it was too late). Etc., etc., etc. Most of us non-extremists-- the lukewarm supporters of his general cause -- actually believe in building as strong a consensus and alliance as possible. Poll after poll has shown Americans prefer going into this war with as much support as possible. This hasn’t always been the attitude of the administration, as we all know. What we’re seeing now at the U.N. -- with the U.S., France, Germany at odds etc. -- is two unwilling dancers at the prom. None of them truly believe in the U.N. route. They’re just doing it for the appearance. ...
... so now we’re heading to war, with divisions in America and within our NATO alliance (which some in the administration have always pooh-poohed as a viable partner). We’re getting the unilateralist approach that some in the administration have always wanted and advocated. And that disturbs and depresses a lot of people. We could have done better. How much better, I’m not sure. But we could have done better. Brighton Reader has been sending me a lot of emails lately on this subject. One line he sent sticks out. Here it is:
“As Churchill said, the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.”
Well, I’m supporting Bush now. The stakes are too high. But I regret, even resent, the path we followed to get here.
Understanding the French
: A reader and friend emailed me to ask about a book on France I had recommended a while ago. The reader, reacting to all the news these days about France, Germany and Iraq, said he finally wants to “figure out what’s going through their f&*cking frog heads.” ...
... Here it is: William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940.”
I highly recommend it, though it’s long and dense. Having spent a lot of time in France and West Africa (France’s neocolonial, hypocritical stomping grounds to this day), it really gave me a greater understanding of the French mind and character. Shirer, best known for his classic “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” doesn’t just explore the immediate events leading up to 1940. He goes back to when the Third Republic was founded, how it survived through World War I, and the disastrous post-war military and diplomatic decisions by the French. Warning: It’s not as good as Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” What could be? But it’s still excellent. ...
... On the same subject, I’ve noticed that Josh Marshall
is a sort of military/diplomatic history buff too. There’s a newer book out, “Strange Victory,”
by Ernest May, also about the fall of France in 1940. Here’s Josh’s mini-review of the book
. I haven’t read it, but think I will. One thing about Josh’s review that caught my attention: How the French and English had more and better weapons facing Hitler in ‘40. Probably true. Recall Shirer saying the same thing. But Shirer makes clear -- and maybe May does too -- how many of those weapons were bought from the Americans at the last minute, just prior and after Poland’s fall in ‘39, and how the French didn’t have a clue how to use and deploy them properly.
-- Was over at Downtown Crossing and purchased a copy of "Strange Victory," written by Ernest R. May, who, by the way, is a Harvard prof and Cambridge resident. A blurb on the jacket praises the book as a 'splendid revisionist work.' Hmmmm. Now I'm really interested. A 'revisionist history' perhaps at odds with Shirer's conclusions? Should be fun. Get back to you on it later, probably in a few weeks.
‘Ambivalence on war shadows Kerry’
: Thomas Oliphant
, a multilateralist who has taken a consistently tough stand on Iraq, is taking Kerry to task for his have-it-both-ways stand on Iraq. From Oliphant: “Last weekend, in Iowa, he was the would-be antiwarrior, allegedly hamstrung in his dovish efforts in 2002 by more hawkish Democratic colleagues. Last week, he was the possibly reluctant warrior, decrying a headlong stumble toward war in the Persian Gulf but resigned and even supportive of it depending on the circumstances. ... The trick is in knowing at what point a question must be addressed with either a yes or a no. With Iraq that moment is fast approaching.” Oliphant concludes:
“Kerry has reflected the growing national ambivalence. That is not a sin, but it is not what presidents do. They have to choose before they can lead.”
A minor disagreement with Oliphant: The word 'ambivalence,' at least to me, implies you've given genuine thought to an issue and can't arrive at a clear answer. You're torn. You see both sides. The answer may lie in the harder-to-describe-and-defend middle. Etc. John Kerry is genuinely interested in international affairs and many aspects of his Georgetown speech were well thought out. But I'm not convinced he's truly 'ambivalent' about Iraq. One has a clear sense that Kerry, who can be so articulate about world affairs (as shown in his speech on Friday), is merely playing both sides of the fence. Hey, maybe I'm wrong. I've been all over the map on Iraq. I've been ambivalent and inconsistent, too. But Kerry's Georgetown speech and his flip-flopping sermons to different audiences indicate something else is at play. The word 'calculating' comes to mind. ...
... While you’re at it, check out Thomas Friedman’s column
this morning on Iraq and, of course, Hub Blog’s exciting, exhausting fisking of Kerry’s Georgetown speech
A reader responds
: Brighton Reader, in an email slugged ‘How do you like your eggs done?’, writes in response to the above post and my fisking post
“We multi-lateralists do not have eggs on our faces. The point was to try to get as broad a coalition to support disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. If not everyone signed on, so be it. This approach did succeed in getting the inspectors back in and the first UN resolution. The other aspect was the need to persuade the American public and public opinion among our allies why this was needed, that we did want their support, and that there was a way for war to be avoided, no matter how unlikely it was that Saddam would do it. If this had been the case from the beginning, I think the approach would have been more successful. But it seemed more of an add-on (by the Bush Administration), something done for PR purposes after the decision had already been made. ...
“... Even now we can't ignore the need for allies. What happens when other countries start to do the same as the French and Germans? If they do not believe Islamic terrorism is their fight, too, they may not put the resources into routing out networks on their home turfs. One of the main reasons that Reagan and Thatcher were so popular in eastern Europe countries is they didn't hesitate to assert what they were fighting for. These same countries may start to go French as well, as Tom Friedman put it, if the US takes them and their concerns for granted.
“Finally, as Churchill said, the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.”
Bill Belichick, NYT op-ed writer
: There I was, doing the usual rounds, poking around the NYT’s online op-ed material. Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman and ... Bill Belichick?
Read it. A funny ‘thirty-seven thoughts for the victorious coach on today's national holiday.’
‘An economy in limbo’
: A nice look at the current economic malaise
we’re going through, nationally and locally. Conclusion: ‘Waiting itself is the problem.’ Know the feeling. Find out why. ... I'm coming to the conclusion we're going to be in the doldrums for a while more. Still hearing reports from IT friends, who are tied into the high-tech sector, about how much software, hardware and other materials left over from the Internet frenzy of the '90s are selling for bargain prices at auctions. Repeat: At auctions.
Test day for Mitt
: Wednesday is a big day for Mitt
. In a locally televised address, he’ll be outlining his plan for tackling the state’s current deficit. The good news: Looks like the deficit might be smaller than expected and school-aid cuts might be avoided. But there's still next year's budget deficit, projected to be between $2 billion and $3 billion. Wednesday is a test for Mitt. The big test comes when he delivers his budget for next fiscal year. That's when the real shrieking and fighting begins.
Torture and Western standards
: Thought Jeff Jacoby
was about to embrace one of modern Western civilization’s great taboos -- torture. But then Jeff made clear: “No. The way to win this war is not to adopt our enemies' evil methods. Resort to torture could conceivably stave off a catastrophe. But at what price to our self-respect?” A good piece in his series on how to win (and not win) the war.
A multilateralist's 'Fisking' of John Kerry’s multilateralist's major foreign policy speech
: Ah, Hub Blog’s first public Fisking of an article or speech. I decided to do this because of: the international events of recent days (i.e., France and Germany’s decision on Iraq, Colin Powell’s somersault
on UN inspections in reaction to France and Germany’s moves); the large amount of email I’ve received on the issue since I posted some items on it a few days ago; and the fact John Kerry is from the old Hub, giving me the local peg I needed to justify this long item. A couple notes before the Fisking commences:
-- Those of us who favor resorting to war against Iraq as a last resort, but preferred a more multilateralist approach beforehand, definitely have egg on our faces these days. It’s now clear the U.N. route is not working -- and probably never would have worked, judging by France and others’ recent actions. The die is now cast. War is going to happen, unless Saddam is ousted first or some miracle happens. Powell knows this. Those of us who backed him and favored his multilateralist approach -- as opposed to those who favor a multilateralist approach in order to block any and all action against Iraq -- also know it. Reluctantly, we're seeing through the egg yolk.
-- Some conservatives (by the way, I consider myself a moderate conservative) are now chortling over these recent events. But I find it curious that these same people are not acknowledging George Bush’s role in agreeing with this U.N. approach. I maintain going the extra U.N. mile was the right move, diplomatically and for PR purposes, and it certainly appears Bush will probably string it
out even longer, for the same diplomatic and PR reasons. Despite what unilaterists say (Billy Kristol has mocked those of us who use the ‘u’ word as ‘faux-hawkish multilateralists’), this president seems to sense, from a gut instinct level, that some sort of multilateralism is necessary -- or at least the appearance of multilateralism. In my opinion, Bush should have tried the multilateralist U.N. approach much, much earlier, even if it was doomed to failure, for it would have taken the edge off his image as someone eager for war. As Peggy Noonan
wrote last September:
“Members of the administration, on the other hand, seem lately almost inebriated with a sense of mission. And maybe that's inevitable when the stakes are high and you're sure you're right. But in off-the-cuff remarks and unprepared moments the president and some of his men often seem to have missing within them a sense of the tragic. Which is odd because we're talking about war, after all.”
In other words, there are some of us ‘faux-hawkish multilateralists’ who believe in Winston Churchill’s famous axiom that it’s sometimes “better to jaw-jaw than war-war.” We defintely have egg on our face right now, but at least we tried the “jaw-jaw” before “war-war.” So, please, hold the chortling to a minimum, even though you were proven right in the end.
-- Lastly, this is going to be a different type of Fisking, to wit: Call it a 'disallusioned multilateralist's Fisking.' I still agree with many of Kerry’s multilateralist points. However, the singular failure of Kerry’s speech is that, although he clearly had time, he didn’t bother to address the critical events of the last few days in Paris, Berlin and Washington. The speech ultimately bogs down into a have-it-both-ways mush.
So here goes with the Fisking (FYI, I picked out what I thought were pertinent passages in the speech; you can read it in its entirety
here; my responses are in italics following each passage.):
“We need a new approach to national security - a bold, progressive internationalism that stands in stark contrast to the too often belligerent and myopic unilateralism of the Bush Administration...."
I don’t know about ‘bold, progressive’ (see rest of speech). I agree about the ‘often billigerent and mypopic’ administration part (see Noonan passage above).
“We should be proud: Not since the age of the Romans have one people achieved such preeminence. But we are not Romans; we do not seek an empire.”
We’re like imperial Rome and should be proud. We’re not like imperial Rome. Why even bring up Rome? Hmmmm.
“After all, what is today's unilateralism but the right's old isolationist impulse in modern guise? At its core is a familiar and beguiling illusion: that America can escape an entangling world. ...that we can wield our enormous power without incurring obligations to others. ...and that we can pursue our national interests in arrogant ways that make a mockery of our nation's ideals.”
Agreed. It is a form of isolationism. I’m against both Pat Buchanan’s Bunker America and Bill Kristol’s Pax America. Something in the middle is dealing with both our realities and ideals. Go on, Senator.
“I believe the Bush Administration's blustering unilateralism is wrong, and even dangerous, for our country. In practice, it has meant alienating our long-time friends and allies, alarming potential foes and spreading anti-Americanism around the world.”
I do believe the administration has been engaging in blustering unilateralism. I.e.: ‘We can go it alone, no, wait, let’s try the U.N. option with Iraq.' Or: ‘We won’t talk with North Korea, but, well, let’s talk.’ But I certainly don’t care about ‘alarming our foes’ and don’t believe the Bush administration has caused anti-Americanism. They have exacerbated anti-Americanism, but they didn’t cause it. If the Bush administration is guilty of anything, they’re not doing enough to stem or openly challenge rampant anti-Americanism. How about the president -- not the Secretary of State alluding to -- speaking out against European (and French) hypocrisy? Not to do so seems like an old-fashioned defensive, polite nod to multilateralsim to me. Just pointing it out.
“Too often they've forgotten that energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries. Leading the world's most advanced democracies isn't mushy multilateralism -- it amplifies America's voice and extends our reach. Working through global institutions doesn't tie our hands -- it invests US aims with greater legitimacy and dampens the fear and resentment that our preponderant power sometimes inspires in others. In a world growing more, not less interdependent, unilateralism is a formula for isolation and shrinking influence. As much as some in the White House may desire it, America can't opt out of a networked world.”
Tony Blair has been saying roughly the same thing. Good enough for me. ... Economic realities usually drive political realities. That's the great irony and wonder of capitalism: Give people economic freedom, they demand political freedom. George Bush understands this. And so: Globalization is unstoppable. And so: Our economies are becoming closer. And so: ... unilateralism or multilateralism? (Or a combination of the two, at the least?)
“We can do better than we are doing today. And those who seek to lead have a duty to offer a clear vision of how we make Americans safer and make America more trusted and respected in the world. That vision is defined by looking to our best traditions -- to the tough-minded strategy of international engagement and leadership forged by Wilson and Roosevelt in two world wars and championed by Truman and Kennedy in the Cold War.”
Leaving out certain key Republicans (such as, oh, Eisenhower and Reagan) seems a bit partisan and myopic, don’t you agree, Senator? Leaving out Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter is a little understandable. Bush Sr.? The Cold War was kind of all but over by the time he took office.
“For Democrats to win America's confidence we must first convince Americans we will keep them safe. You can't do that by avoiding the subjects of national security, foreign policy and military preparedness. Nor can we let our national security agenda be defined by those who reflexively oppose any U.S. military intervention anywhere...who see U.S. power as mostly a malignant force in world politics...who place a higher value on achieving multilateral consensus than necessarily
protecting our vital interests.”
OK, now we’re getting into interesting territory. Kerry should have called it like it is: The people he’s now talking about are largely on the left and to his left. Getting back to the Laborite Tony Blair, he waged (and still wages) an open battle against his own ‘loony left’ (his words, I believe). If Kerry is going to play the statesman-like figure who boldly attacks right-wing isolationists, he should also come out and attack the Democratic left-wing isolationists, for that’s what they are, at least in terms of clipping America’s powers. ... This was also a good point in his speech to more aggressively articulate how many multilateralists (such as Truman and Kennedy, if he had to stick with just those two examples) do believe in a form of American unilateralism when the nation’s safety is at risk. Kerry missed (or fudged) this opportunity.
“Americans deserve better than a false choice between force without diplomacy and diplomacy without force.”
Not a bad line.
“... the Bush Administration's erratic unilateralism and reluctant engagement.”
OK, I get the point. Bush has been erratic and reluctant. I also get this point: Kerry is running against Bush and is starting to come across as erratic and reluctant. Swipes like these by Kerry, while holding punches against those on the left, begin to diminish the seriousness and weighty tone of his speech. Not very Tony Blairish.
“We must drain the swamps of terrorists; but you don't have a prayer of doing so if you leave the poisoned sources to gather and flow again. That means we must help the vast majority people of the greater Middle East build a better future. We need to illuminate an alternative path to a futile Jihad against the world ...a path that leads to deeper integration of the greater Middle East into the modern world order.”
Kerry said this in the context of the need to go after terrorists first, before the root-out-the-causes-of-terrorism programs. So, agreed. But doesn’t most everyone generally agree with these points, at least in principle?
“The Bush Administration has a plan for waging war but no plan for winning the peace.”
Winning a peace would require ‘nation building’ and we all know what some on the right think about that. The events in post-war Afghanistan have been disappointing (the economic aid and security part, not the liberation part). Lots of zigzagging by the administration on the need for peace keepers, etc. Their plans for post-war Iraq, though, seem to have more coherency, albeit they’re more ambitious. Making a democratic nation out of feuding tribal and religious factions in Iraq ain’t going to be easy, for anyone, and it’s arguably unrealistic. We’ll see, apparently.
“NATO is searching for a new mission. What better way to revitalize the most successful and enduring alliance in history, then to reorient it around a common threat to the global system that we have built over more than a half-century of struggle and sacrifice? The Administration has tried to focus NATO on the Middle East, but it's high-handed treatment of our European allies, on everything from Iraq to the Kyoto climate change treaty, has strained relations nearly to the breaking point.”
Here were are. The beginning of true mush. NATO is definitely in search of a new mission. But are the French and Germans on the same page? Yes, the administration has been high-handed in treating just about everyone (that’s the mindset of go-it-alone, Pax America types, after all ), but -- there’s the old ‘but’ again -- the Germans and French just taught us a hard lesson that they will march to the beat of their own EU, NATO and domestic-policy drums. It isn’t all about us alienating them. ... P.S. I stand by a blog item I wrote a few days ago: If NATO does collapse as a result of the Iraq crisis, the president owes it to his countrymen to explain why Iraq was worth it, how we’ll get along without NATO, whether this was envisioned at the outset, what his long-term views are in general on future alliances, the U.N. and Security Council. Doubt we’ll get such an explanation.
“Destroying al Qaeda and other anti-American terror groups must remain our top priority. While the Administration has largely prosecuted this war with vigor, it also has made costly mistakes. The biggest, in my view, was their reluctance to translate their robust rhetoric into American military engagement in Afghanistan. They relied too much on local warlords to carry the fight against our enemies and this permitted many al Qaeda members, and according to evidence, including Osama bin Laden himself, to slip through our fingers. Now the Administration must redouble its efforts to track them down. ...”
Stop right there. The Bush administration’s handling of Afghanistan (during the war, not the peace) was astounding. Remember all the talk on TV -- before the war began there -- about how the Soviets got bogged down in those horrible Afghan mountains and gorges? How Afghanistan was the Soviet’s own Vietnam and how a certain NYT ‘analyst’ brought up the ‘quagmire’ word just prior to the Taliban’s fspectacular fall? The swift victory in Afghanistan was the result of imaginative, bold and brilliant tactics and strategy. It was the Bush administration’s shining moment. The failure at Tora Bora was disappointing. No doubt. Think it had more to do with the modern military’s aversion to risk, not the administration’s aversion to risk
. Failure to capture Osama has been a cheap-shot argument for Dems for a while now. Question: Could they have done better? Doubt it. ... The administration had a legimate reason to move to the next phase after the fall of the Taliban about a year ago.
“Second, without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. We all know the litany of his offenses. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. He miscalculated an eight-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. ....”
“...That is why the world, through the United Nations Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose its weapons programs and disarm.”
No mention about France and Germany’s unilateralist actions, here or elsewhere in the speech. They’re both members of the Security Council.
“So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but it is not new. It has been with us since the end of the Persian Gulf War. Regrettably the current Administration failed to take the opportunity to bring this issue to the United Nations two years ago or immediately after September 11th, when we had such unity of spirit with our allies. When it finally did speak, it was with hasty war talk instead of a coherent call for Iraqi disarmament.”
Actually, I’m glad they didn’t bring up Iraq immediately after Sept. 11. It was initially pushed by neo-conservatives and debated in the administration, and then shoved to the backburner, and appropriately so. The initial target became Afghanistan, and appropriately so. As for going to the U.N. a year ago after the Axis of Evil speech, true. That was the time. But we’re not dealing with a year ago. We’re talking about today. Think: France and Germany -- and Powell’s somersault -- and how this was an undeniable blow to the multilateralists' hopes, as much as we hate to admit it.
“In U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, the United Nations has now affirmed that Saddam Hussein must disarm or face the most serious consequences. Let me make it clear that the burden is resoundingly on Saddam Hussein to live up to the ceasefire agreement he signed and make clear to the world how he disposed of weapons he previously admitted to possessing. But the burden is also clearly on the Bush Administration to do the hard work of building a broad coalition at the U.N. and the necessary work of educating America about the rationale for war.”
Maybe I missed it somewhere in the speech (my apologies if I did), but maybe now is the time for Kerry to mention that, oh, he voted for the resolution authorizing Bush to take action, if necessary, against Iraq. ... And don’t bring up Security Council Resolution 1441 without mentioning the events of recent days: France and Germany. The burden is on them, too. Powell and people like moi had to learn this the hard way.
“As I have said frequently and repeat here today, the United States should never go to war because it wants to, the United States should go to war because we have to. And we don't have to until we have exhausted the remedies available, built legitimacy and earned the consent of the American people, absent, of course, an imminent threat requiring urgent action. The Administration must pass this test. I believe they must take the time to do the hard work of diplomacy. They must do a better job of making their case to the American people and to the world.”
Again, the Bush administration has done a lousy job of lining up support, domestically and internationally. Multilateralism wasn’t their first option. Many in the administration despise the word, as we all know. But are we or are we not -- as much as we multilaterists hate to admit it -- close to exhausting our diplomatic remedies? At what point, exactly, do we call it quits and go alone without U.N. and Security Council support? Kerry doesn’t say. ...
... And now, following, is the clincher passage and sound-bite sentence that’s been played on TV over the past 24 hours:
“I have no doubt of the outcome of war itself should it be necessary. We will win. But what matters is not just what we win but what we lose. We need to make certain that we have not unnecessarily twisted so many arms, created so many reluctant partners, abused the trust of Congress, or strained so many relations, that the longer term and more immediate vital war on terror is made more difficult. And we should be particularly concerned that we do not go alone or essentially alone if we can avoid it, because the complications and costs of post-war Iraq would be far better managed and shared with United Nation's participation. And, while American security must never be ceded to any institution or to another institution's decision, I say to the President, show respect for the process of international diplomacy because it is not only right, it can make America stronger - and show the world some appropriate patience in building a genuine coalition. Mr. President, do not rush to war.”
True, Bush has not shown a truly sincere ‘patience in building a genuine coalition,’ like his father did in Gulf War I. But it’s reached an ‘appropriate’ point to start challenging Democrats
about what their definition of ‘rush’ is. Timetables and deadlines, please. Be specific.
“And I say to the United Nations, show respect for your own mandates. Do not find refuge in excuses and equivocation. Stand up for the rule of law, not just in words but in deeds. Not just in theory but in reality. Stand up for our common goal: either bringing about Iraq's peaceful disarmament or the decisive military victory of a multilateral coalition.”
Yes, France and Germany, stand up.
“Third, as we continue our focus on the greater Middle East, the U.S. must look beyond stability alone as the linchpin of our relationships. We must place increased focus on the development of democratic values and human rights as the keys to long-term security. If we learned anything from our failure in Vietnam it is that regimes removed from the people cannot permanently endure.They must reform or they will finally crumble, despite the efforts of the United States. We must side with and strengthen the aspirations of those seeking positive change. America needs to be on the side of the people, not the regimes that keep them down."
We all seem to agree on this point. Just disagree on the methods to achieve those goals. Actually, no, I should say ‘all reasonable’ people agree on this point. There are more than a few antiwar protesters -- and a few odd right wingers or so -- who obviously think leaving Saddam and other dictators in place is OK.
“In the 1950s, as the sun was setting on European colonialism, a young Senator named John Kennedy went to the Senate floor and urged the Eisenhower Administration not to back France against a rebellious Algeria. He recognized that the United States could only win the Cold War by staying true to our values, by championing the independence of those aspiring to be free. What's at issue today is not U.S. support for colonial powers out of touch with history, but for autocratic regimes out of touch with their own people.”
Like that last sentence. Don’t like the JFK-mentioning-JFK part. Could have used a much better example: Eisenhower saying ‘no’ to British and French attempts to seize the Suez Canal in the '50s. The forced JFK references get worse later. Keep reading.
“I believe we must reform and increase our global aid to strengthen our focus on the missions of education and health --of freedom for women -- and economic development for all. ... I propose the following policy goals: We should build on the success of Clinton Administration's Jordan Free Trade Agreement. Since the United States reduced tariffs on goods made in ‘qualifying industrial zones,’ Jordan's exports to the US jumped from $16 to $400 million, creating about 40,000 jobs. Let's provide similar incentives to other countries that agree to join the WTO, stop boycotting Israel and supporting Palestinian violence against Israel, and open up their economies. We should also create a general duty-free program for the region, just as we've done in the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the Andean Trade Preference Act. Again, we should set some conditions: full cooperation in the war on terror, anti-corruption measures, non-compliance with the Israel boycott, respect for core labor standards and progress toward human rights. Let's be clear: Our goal is not to impose some western free market ideology on the greater Middle East. It's to open up a region that is now closed to opportunity, an outpost of economic exclusion and stagnation in a fast-globalizing world. These countries suffer from too little globalization, not too
Fine. Completely agree. Free trade is good, when it’s not weighted against Third World countries.
“We must have a new vision and a renewed engagement to reinvigorate the Mideast peace process. This Administration made a grave error when it disregarded almost seventy years of American friendship and leadership in the Middle East and the efforts of every President of the last 30 years. ...”
Might want to mention all the Islamic terrorist groups operating there, Senator.
“(Israel’s) frustration is that they do not see a committed partner in peace on the Palestinian side. Palestinians must stop the violence - this is the fundamental building block of the peace process. The Palestinian leadership must be reformed, not only for the future of the Palestinian people but also for the sake of peace. I believe Israel would respond to this new partner after all, Israel has already indicated its willingness to freeze settlements and to move toward the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a comprehensive peace process.”
He’s now alluding to Islamic terrorism, but he’s still not mentioning it explicitly. ... By the way, Hub Blog is no big fan of Israel’s settlement policies. They are colonial by nature and an obstacle to peace. Period. Hope the Bush administration is stressing this behind the scenes to Israel. Terrorism must go. Then the settlements.
“There (in North Korea) the Bush Administration has offered only a merry go-round policy. They got up on their high horse, whooped and hollered, rode around in circles, and ended right back where they'd started. By suspending talks initiated by the Clinton Administration, then asking for talks but with new conditions, then refusing to talk under the threat of nuclear blackmail, and then reversing that refusal as North Korea's master of brinkmanship upped the ante, the Administration created confusion and put the despot Kim Jong Il in the driver's seat. By publicly taking military force, negotiations, and sanctions all off the table, the Administration tied its own hands behind its back. Now, finally, the Administration is rightly working with allies in the region - acting multilaterally -- to put pressure on Pyongyang. They've gotten off the merry go round - the question is why you'd ever want to be so committed to unilateralist dogma that you'd get on it in the first place.”
Love the first two sentences of that passage. They’re so true! Another classic example of the administration’s unilateralist Talk tough/Put away big stick after it doesn’t work. Now they’re talking again with the North Koreans -- and using a multilateralist approach, too. I do NOT believe in the antiwar crowd’s criticism of the administration’s current policy (talk, while shoving the issue to the backburner) approach toward North Korea. As Lincoln once said when pressed during the Civil War to take action against Britain, one war at a time, gentlemen. Makes perfect sense to me. Wish the Bushies were capable of such devastating quips. Wish Bush critics could understand such devastating quips.
“One of the clearest opportunities missed is the environment. America has not led but fled on the issue of global warming. President Bush's declaration that the Kyoto Protocol was simply Dead on Arrival spoke for itself - and it spoke in dozens of languages as his words whipped instantly around the globe. But what the Administration failed to see was that Kyoto was not just an agreement - it was a product of 160 nations working together over 10 years. It was a good faith effort - and the United States just dismissed it. We didn't aim to mend it. We didn't aim to sit down with our allies and find a compromise. We didn't aim for a new dialogue. The Administration was simply ready to aim and fire, and the target they hit was our international reputation.”
Obviously aimed at the environmental vote. But still partly true. I recently read how many people in the administration now regret, deeply, how they handled the rejection of the Kyoto treaty. It was needless bluster and rudeness. But Kyoto still deserved to be dumped and/or seriously modified. It’s just not workable.
“Let me offer one last example: The threat of disintegration and chaos rises steadily in Africa as the continent is increasingly devastated by HIV/AIDS. More than 29 million people there are afflicted with that disease. Africa has 11% of the world's population but 70% of all the people in the world living with HIV/AIDS. ...Yet the Bush Administration, intent on appeasing its right wing, assails population control while it neglects AIDS control even as that disease threatens to destroy whole populations.”
Not quite sure what this has to do with the thrust of his speech. Yet Hub Blog feels strongly about the issue of AIDS and Africa. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations did/have failed miserably in doing something about this. It’s a shame it took Christian missionaries to convince Jesse Helms to fund anti-AIDS programs in Africa. Kerry should have mentioned Clinton’s weak effort on this front, too. ... The last line in the above passage is pretty damning of the current administration -- and rightly so.
“Taken together, I believe these proposals, that I have put forward today, present a far better vision for how we deal with the rest of the world - a better vision for how we build relationships - and how doing so will make America safer. But there are other things we must do as well. I also believe there is a better vision for military transformation; a better vision for intelligence gathering; and a far more effective way of achieving homeland security and domestic preparedness. I intend to lay out detailed proposals on each of these areas in the coming months.”
Taken together, I think Kerry made some terrific points about multilateralism and its inevitability, but he pulled a lot of punches and omitted some important facts when it came to the necessity of Truman/Kennedy-style unilateralism. Don’t think he has a firm grasp on his own line: ‘Americans deserve better than a false choice between force without diplomacy and diplomacy without force.’ ... No mention of France and Germany. ... Also, he was talking too much to Democrats, not to all Americans, and the 'statesmen' like tone of it is hurt as a result. Lots of have-it-both-ways mush. Verdict: Earnest but flawed.
Kerry's concluding line:
“America's resolve to bear the burdens and pay the price of leadership so that we may, as President Kennedy said on a cold January day long ago, ‘assure the survival and success of liberty.’"
Go ahead. Shake your head. He just can’t get away from him. Not exactly a ‘new’ and ‘bold’ way to end a speech.
More on Kerry
: Tom Keane
doesn’t understand why Massachusetts isn’t lining up to support its junior senator, John Kerry. “It wouldn't hurt if we could cheer the guy along.” You cheer, Tom. The rest of us, though, are still trying to figure the guy out, as Keane alluded to in his column: “When it comes to Kerry, our response is sort of ho-hum. It's been that way for most of Kerry's career: Massachusetts may elect him but it's the other 49 states that actually like him.” ... But that’s the problem: Most of Kerry’s supporters are only ho-hum about him. Most of his critics are also only ho-hum about him. (They prefer juicier targets, like Billy or Tommy.) Why this widespread ho-hum attitude? Pull on the old ho-hum thread -- and all you get is more ho-hum explanations about why we feel ho-hum about him. Maybe the answer is: When you put his good points and bad points together, Kerry might be just ho-hum. ... And don’t forget the last time we cheered for a local pol running for president. ...
... An interesting discussion took place over at Instapundit
last night on John Kerry and Heinz Ketchup. ...
Kerry and Joseph Lieberman
are catching flak from the left and African Americans for their previous statements about affirmative action. Another example of people insisting affirmative action is a clear-cut issue and there’s no middle ground. Kerry and Lieberman are caving (sort of). Derrick Jackson
weighs in on the issue. Derrick doesn’t see much middle ground, but his column is excellent because he quotes people who feel squeamish about affirmative action but still support it, such as former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, the conservative African-American Republican, who said: ''Look, in principle, I don't agree with affirmative action. But in practice, we still don't have a level playing field.'' ... ‘I don’t agree ... but in practice.’... Hub Blog will now drop the subject. Beat up on it too much in recent days. Yet I’ll leave with this overly reiterated point of mine: It’s OK to have a moderate position on affirmative action, believing it’s flawed and gone too far but still defensible.
James Freedman, a long good-bye
: He infuriated you when you disagreed with him. He inspired you when you agreed with him. James Freedman
, the retired president of Dartmouth who recently took on campus critics of Israel, is slowly dying of cancer (and he knows it) and the Globe’s profile of him is definitely worth the read.
Using the reserve funds
: More groups are calling on Mitt to dip into the state’s reserves
to avoid spending cuts. Mitt is wisely resisting. His position (as paraphrased by the Globe) is: “He has noted that using reserves to close the deficit this year would make the problem worse next fiscal year, since the gap between spending and revenues would remain unaddressed.” ... Yes, using reserves now is only forestalling the inevitable -- and it will arguably make things worse. ... Wasn't it only yesterday that we were talking about a mix of cuts and taxes?
The stock options game, alive and well at Tyco
: Tyco International Ltd.
, New England’s very own contribution to the list of disgraced corporations of the ‘90s, has given its new CEO, less than six months on the job, a $4 million bonus and stock options now valued at $49 million. Echoing Warren Buffett’s criticism of the use of stock options, one expert is quoted in the story: ''If Tyco were charging its earnings for this kind of compensation, they'd think twice about giving a grant of that size because their earnings can't bear much loading as it is.'' ... Can’t find Warren Buffett’s past criticism of corporations that don't count stock options as a bottom-line expense. But here’s his Berkshire Hathaway
site. Buffett’s annual reports to shareholders, as you probably know, are classics. Read some of them when you have a chance.
Update - 1:20 p.m.
- TC sends in this link to a Warren Buffett op-ed
that originally appeared in the NYT. Thanks.
: The Globe’s editorial ('Yellow Alert'
) nails it on the Hotel Commonwealth debacle: “The city must make sure the building matches the design as originally approved, even if it means a total refinishing of the facade, not just a paint job. To demand less would tempt other developers to cut corners in the expectation that the city will bend its design requirements once a building is finished.” ...
... Steve Bailey
is advocating a sort of ‘trust but verify’ approach toward the proposed $400 million Columbus Center, which would straddle the Massachusetts Turnpike between Clarendon and Berkeley streets. After what happened at the Hotel Commonwealth, it’s a sound idea. More numbers and facts before construction, please. ...
And Cosmo Macero
takes a look at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s plan for enclosed, glass-covered gardens at Dewey Square after the Big Dig. Cosmo’s conclusion. “With 12 years behind them, it's not unfair to say Mass. Hort squandered time and opportunity.” Exactly. It’s a great idea. People love it. But the society has lost a lot of credibility in recent years. No one wants a 15-year ‘temporary’ garden there once the Central Artery comes down. They want and deserve the real thing. The society better get cracking or else ...
‘Blog Day for Venezuela’
: Local blogger Politica Obscura
has been getting much deserved attention in recent days for his coverage of events in Venezuela, specifically his ‘Blog Day for Venezuela’ campaign. Check him out.
Weighty International Issues, Part III:
Is no one interested in my 'Frank Salemme, murderous slimeball done good'
item? I'm hurt. Still, have gotten lots of emails on my weighty international and geopolitical items (see directly below to 'Weighty International Issues, Part II and Part I,' and the links that link to links). First, Brighton Reader
, and then my response, followed by other responses and links in other items etc. From Brighton Reader:
"So far as I know, neither you nor William Safire has any foreign policy experience. Mr. Safire was a speechwriter in the Nixon White House (I believe he coined ‘nattering nabobs of negativism,’), not a foreign policy apparatchik. Gotta defend Hub Blog from unfair criticism!
"Overall , I agree with your comments.
"Right now the most cogent voice on the threat of terrorism and Iraq is Tony Blair. His arguments are compelling, thoughtful and realistic. I lean to the need for a regime change in Iraq, by war if neccessary, althought am still not persuaded on the timing. I wish it was Bush who had been making this case to the UN and allies, and from the beginning, rather than at the end. It was disturbing that the administration seemed to initially ignore the most successful alliance in history, one that had given us -- and still does -- a huge amount of security. Anti-Americanism has existed since 1776. Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior, along with other post-war U.S. presidents, set out their objectives and found ways to win support and overcome it. I think George W. could have done the same. We may not need allied assistance in a war against Iraq but we absolutely need it in the war on terror."
Hub Blog's response
: Nation building? Remember that? Rejecting international help on overseeing/guarding Afghanistan after our triumph? Bush’s response a year ago: Nation building? Help? You’ll just get in our way! We can do it! A year later: Wish we had more help. ... A year ago: Asking the UN for permission to take on Iraq? Forget it! We can do it! A year later: Ask the UN’s permission and whine afterward that France (France! As if we didn’t know) is betraying our secret UN agreement! ... The blustering, blundering, bombastic Bush policy (Speak toughly/Put away big stick after it doesn’t work/Grab big stick again) approach to foreign policy is leading toward historic disaster: Isolationism. Unilateralism. Empire. Bunker America. Fighting to promote democracy. Pax America. Whatever you want to call it. ... Not making excuses for the French. God, they’re such vile, immoral, ammoral, selfish, undependable pricks. (Join NATO, quit NATO, rejoin NATO, threaten NATO. ... The French had the nerve to call us ‘arrogant’ today? The French!) But do we literally have to lower ourselves to the French level? We can rhetorically and gently swat them away like flies. ... Apparently the Bush folks can’t talk around it. Think around it. Rationalize around it. No, they have to bluster around it. Ugh. ... Suppose I’ll be accused of anti-Americanism. ... In his State of the Union address, Bush needs to make one thing clear: all steam ahead with Pax America, or all steam ahead with cooperating with the rest of the democratic world. (The latter, preferably, with snide and digging remarks at the two twits of Europe, France and Germany -- with oblique Vichy France and Nazi Germany references, while he’s at it.) But, please, no more straddling the fense. Make up your mind, George. Powell or Rumsfeld, to put it simply. Or at least put a stop to adminstration leaks about policy coherency/incoherency, if that’s how you view it in a PR way. Do something! ... Hoodwinked by the French. That’s how bad these guys are.
Update - 01-24-03, 8:45 a.m.
-- Without making any comments, reader BK sent these links in response to my tirade directly above. I get his message. Here are the links: Charles Krauthhammer’s
‘No going back’ piece from this morning; the second on how the French have taught us
a painful diplomatic lesson and how we can’t back down now; and another from NRO on ‘The Tyranny of ‘Buts.’
Hub Blog’s response
: A.) If the NATO alliance indeed collapses because of the Iraq crisis, the president owes it to the country to fully explain why it was worth it, how we’re going to get by without NATO after Iraq, his vision of a post-Iraq world with potential enemies (such as China) taking advantage of divisions within the West, and his long-term vision in general of world alliances, the UN and the security council, etc. B.) Yes, there probably is ‘no going back,’ for the die is indeed cast. That’s obvious from the second link above. But a lot of us are wondering how we got to the point of no going back; whether the possible break up of NATO was envisioned when we set off on this course and whether we just bumbled into it by walking into a French trap; C.) I don’t like the overuse of the word ‘but’ either, ‘but’ nuanced qualifiers are often necessary when arguing with people you sort of agree with ‘but’ disagree with on certain details because you don't accept their no-gray-area, no-buts views. ... Thanks to BK for all the input.
Weighty International Issues, Part II
: Week after week, month after month, Hub Blog slaves away, trying to carve out a unique niche and stick to Hub related issues. And what’s the No. 1 topic (and email getter) in recent weeks? My geopolitical views on the implications of France and Germany
parting ways with the US. (Actually, it’s quite flattering; I knew my Modern European History major at Tufts would come in handy one day.) Anyway, I originally updated my earlier item on the subject, but now I’m moving all the responses up into this separate item. Here goes:
Update 1-23-03, 12:10 p.m.
-- Someone just emailed me a William Safire column
, with the following comment, ‘He has more experience than you” in foreign policy and berating me, gently, for my criticism of US unilateralism. Well, first, Safire is more experienced than me on foreign matters. No argument there. But I maintain my point, coming from one angle, is not entirely different from Safire’s point, coming from another angle. The angled lines intersect at this point: “The Iraq issue is not war vs. peace. It is collective security vs. every nation for itself.” ... Germany and France (in particular) are playing a very dangerous ‘every nation for itself’ game. And the US, with its dismissive Pax America talk of going it alone, is playing its own dangerous ‘every nation for itself’ game. Who started the fight? I think you’d have to trace it, first, to anti-Americanism and, in France’s case, its envious attempt for 19th Century ‘balance of power,’ etc. (As for Deutschland
, what can one say?) Anti-Americanism predates George Bush, Jr. But the Bush administration’s blustering unilateralism, while not the cause of anti-Americanism, is certainly exacerbating the problem. Tony Blair has it right, but not too many people are paying attention to his warnings.
Update II, 1-23-03 -- 12:40 p.m
.: Reader BK sends along this piece from historian Robert Kagan
. Opening lines from Kagan:
“It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power — the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power — American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant’s 'Perpetual Peace.' The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus....”
Hub Blog’s response
: Well, Safire and I are at least on the same page: We’re bemoaning the divergence Kagan is writing about. ... And thanks to everyone who's been writing in. As they say: Great stuff.
‘A mix’ of taxes and cuts
: Well, at least Mitt’s critics are talking about a mix of cuts and taxes
to solve the budget crisis. It’s a start. Suggestion: Will they kindly give Mitt a list of proposed cuts, rather than shrieking from the sidelines each time someone actually does something about spending? ...
... OK, Mitt isn’t accepting a salary. His press boss is consolidating government’s communications offices. Now they’re going after SUVs
. Fine. But can we have something more substantive in the next few days or weeks? Know Mitt will probably outline new ‘restructuring’ ideas in his budget address. Etc. But, really, the symbolic moves are getting a little trite. ...
Ambivalence and affirmative action, Part II
: After Brian McGrory
took a whack at the subject the other day, now Joan Vennochi
makes a lot of sense about race in America-- to a point (as usual). What I like about Joan’s column is the way she portrays the small, daily indignities blacks go through each day. The anecdotes are terrific and telling, especially the one about Greg Moore. But, typically, Joan takes it too far, portraying opponents of her views in the most extreme way, similar to her outburst against those who dared to vote for Question 2 in November: Joan: “That is the unspoken goal of affirmative action opponents. They pretend that it's about their commitment to a meritocracy when it is really about retaining their superior status. Affirmative action programs are flawed and frustrating. But without them, the power elite would never unlock the door to the powerless.” ... No hint that some (many) people who oppose affirmative action are not pretending and might actually be taking a principled stand against a ‘flawed and frustrating’ institution. Nope. Gotta portray them all as villains. No middle ground. No elaboration on the ‘flawed and frustrating’ part because that might lead to ambivalence and ambiguity in thought and prose. Can’t have that, on the left or the right.
Economic and business tidbits
: Hub Blog likes the free market. Hub Blog doesn’t like centralized, overly regulated economies. But there are times when corporations act abominably and need reining in, such as the Wall Street hucksters of the ‘90s and the Enrons of the world. Now, here in Massachusetts, we’ve faced the same thing on a smaller scale, such as the monopolization of the dairy industry and, it now appears, the monopolization of the electric industry
. Read the article carefully. Look at the name of the Chicago-based company, its control of the market here (70 percent of the local generating capacity) and wince, dear consumers. And note how the energy companies are not talking about lack of electric plants in the region to justify their proposed rate increases. It’s all about a lack of competition. Pay close attention to this one. These type of characters screwed consumers in California and they’ll do it here, if given the chance. ....
... They’re still working out changes to the dreadful-looking Hotel Commonwealth at Kenmore Square
, which didn’t exactly turn out as planned (deliberately, as one strongly suspects). And, no, Frank, it’s still not about the colors. ...
, for whatever thankful and eccentric reason, decided to poke around the issue of the Worcester Airport. So, whadda ya think, Adrian? “If someone is filming a disaster movie and needs an airport that can be blown up without being missed, I have one to recommend.”
Frank Salemme, murderous slimeball done good?:
There has to be some crazy, selfish, cover-up angle the feds are playing on this one
. Just haven’t figured it out yet.
Hub Blog on weighty international issues!:
Excellent piece in this morning’s Globe by John Donnelly and Robert Schlesinger on Germany and France’s stance
on the coming war against Iraq. From the article: “Charles A. Kupchan, a European analyst at the Council of Foreign Relations, said he believed the split between the United States and France and Germany was
potentially a 'historical watershed.’ ... ‘Assuming we are where we are today, which is in a massive gray zone, I believe an attack by the US really does hit at the underpinnings of the international order that has emerged since World War II. Effectively, it would bring the Atlantic alliance to an end. It would send a strong message to the Europeans that they are on their own, and vice versa.’ ''
And we all know what happened the last time when the Europeans were on their own, and vice versa. Unfortunately, there are some who would cheer a U.S.-go-alone-it policy in foreign matters, such as Jeff Jacoby
and others. But, despite what critics say, I happen to believe in the UN and NATO, as flawed as they are, and it’s a very dangerous game the US, Germany and France (in particular) are playing right now. Neo-conservatives love quoting Tony Blair, a staunch supporter of the US, on most issues, usually when he’s talking tough against a common foe or anti-American critics. But they usually don’t quote Blair when he warns of disunity, anti-Americanism and
U.S. unilateralism. Here’s what Blair also said
earlier this month: “Warning of the causes and consequences if the ‘common threat of chaos’ overwhelms us, Blair said: ‘It can come from the world splitting into rival poles of power; the US in one corner; anti-US forces in another. It can come from pent-up feelings of injustice and alienation, from divisions between the world's richer and its poorer nations.’ ” ... And there’s this column from the CSM
this morning. ... And that’s Hub Blog’s lame foray into foreign affairs for the day.
‘He is hot; he is real hot’:
Ah, well, no, it’s not what you might think. It’s actually Mayor Menino
, interviewed for the CSM’s ‘Morning Breakfast,’ on John Kerry’s candidacy. Before running the quote, note how many people (including Kerry
) now acknowledge his shortcomings in past years. Now the questions are: Do we really know this man yet? What has he changed into? And when, exactly, did he change? Again, this kind of backhanded compliment (no, really, he’s ‘changed’ -- look how many times Menino refers to him changing
) isn’t exactly reassuring. Forget about Kerry’s womanizing (when he was a single man, FYI) in the past. God bless him. Wish I had the U.S. Senator rap to throw at chicks. (And I’d use it, too, believe me.) But these are some of the words people are hinting at but not saying when describing the ‘old’ Kerry: opportunistic, selfish, distant, arrogant, enigmatic, plastic etc. Here’s the quote from the mayor:
"Oh, he is really warm. He is hot; he is real hot. Honestly I tell you, Senator Kerry has come a long way. He did have the appearance several years ago of being standoffish. He is reaching out to more folks than he has in the past.... Senator Kerry has been out there listening much better than he has in the past. He has a wealth of knowledge and the team that he is putting in place ... is a good team. He is more responsive than he has [been] - and not just this year, last year and the year before. I have seen over the last four years a real change in his attitude."
Despite all of this, I still think Kerry's one hell of a candidate in a tough fight. Anyone who saw him against Bill Weld knows he’s damn good in a political brawl. But, again, look at all the references to 'change' ... He's made it a legitmate question to ask: Has he really changed? And to what? Just like it was legitimate to ask George Bush Jr. and Richard Nixon the same questions.
The Atlantic (sort of) Monthly buzz
: The Boston-based Atlantic Monthly
is getting more positive attention
, this time in the Hartford Courant via the Chicago Tribune via Romenesko
. ... For the record, I read the RFK Jr. piece (not online) on the Michael Skakel trial. I wasn’t convinced. But I was impressed. I already had doubts about the verdict, as did a lot of other people. The article confirmed and heightened those doubts. Pooh-pooh the author -- and whether you think it’s an appropriate piece for the august Atlantic to run (other mags had rejected it before the Atlantic picked it up) -- but RFK Jr. handled it quite well. Read it before criticizing it. It deserves the buzz. ...
... The magazine has seen a boost in circulation, advertising, and attention since the recent ownership change. But it still isn’t making a profit. In my January/February issue, there’s this note from the editors at the bottom of page 12:
“With this issue of the magazine we begin publishing two double issues a year -- one in January/February, and one in July/August. Readers can expect that the amount and the variety of the writing that appears in the magazine will not change. -- The Editors
Make of it what you want, but the Atlantic Monthly is now published only 10 times per year (down from 11, apparently).
... Speaking of the local press, the Metro Boston paper has reportedly rejected an ad
by the New Repertory Theatre in Newton for its new play "No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs." The problem: Ah, the old ‘n’ word you see there. The Globe and Herald are reportedly still undecided about running the ad. (Also via Romenesko
: Local blogger John Farrell
has some interesting thoughts about celebrity activists and those writing about celebrity activists (re: Alex Beam).
Televised FBI/Bulger hearings? Can’t wait!: Howie Carr
is pushing for televised hearings of the Bulger/FBI investigation. Good idea. One of Howie’s first witnesses would be: “Francis X. Joyce, the corpulent boss of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) and one-time tin-whistle player in Billy Bulger's band. When the MCCA was set up, among Franny's first hires was the daughter (or niece) of Whitey Bulger's top hitman, John Martorano. Joyce also hired the daughter of Whitey's top girlfriend, as well as a plug-ugly named Goss who used to work for Steve Flemmi's first underworld boss, Wimpy Bennett.” ... Howie has more on the legislative shenanigans pulled off on Whitey’s behalf, though he's way too hard on Dukakis and Chet Atkins. They're not the issue. Hmmmm. Wonder who really
orchestrated the legislative maneuverings, not to mention all those convenient Boston Edison jobs etc.
Those tricky poll numbers
: Mark Jurkowitz
has a nice piece on all those polls showing varying degrees of support for war against Iraq. There’s something in here for everyone to love or hate. Want to prove that the anti-war movement is growing? Find a poll that supports your view. Want to prove that Americans support action against Saddam? Find a poll that supports your view. ... Still, there are some broad conclusions you can derive from all the polls (and stories on polls): 1.) The majority of Americans view Saddam as a menace. 2.) The majority of Americans will support war under the right conditions. 3.) Many, if not most, Americans, have “nuanced” or “ambivalent” views -- and have “reservations” -- about going to war, words you don’t often hear in the lexicon of hard-core leftists and hard-core rightists as they shout at each over the heads of the left-right weary citizenry. Thank God for the average American.
Immigrants and state aid and property taxes
: I don’t know about you, but MLK Day has turned into a real nice, oddly timed holiday that I appreciate and enjoy. Anyway, Brighton Reader
has some interesting observations on Boston-area immigrants and Mitt’s budget cuts/state aid/policy-wonk challenges ahead:
Immigration and the Boston economy
“There was an interview with this professor at Northeastern in Sunday's Globe magazine
. I knew immigrants had become a big part of the regional workforce, but I did not realize how important they were until I read this piece. Our workforce would have actually shrunk without them. He makes the additional point that the high cost of living is making people leave, particularly the better educated, although he does not provide any evidence of this. I think it varies quite a bit within New England, with some areas gaining, others losing. Seems to me the Boston area continues to have a huge number of people from outside who arrive to go to school and stay after they graduate.”
Local aid, state taxes and property taxes
“You are right, Mitt has some tough decisions to make in local aid
. There are so many variables at play. Is a town having a tough time because it overspent? Because it took an anti-growth tack and opposed new development, and thus limited its own revenue? Do they just have trouble attracting new business, or have a population requiring more services? Poor people have to live somewhere.
“The reason localities are so dependent on state assistance is Proposition 2 1/2. Most cities and towns simply cannot operate on their property tax revenues. 2 1/2 works pretty well, I think. Limits on taxes, incentives for allowing new development, and it tends to lessen reliance on a tax that is regressive. The value of your home and what you make often have no relationship at all, especially in the boom-and-bust real estate market of the last twenty years. Any changes to 2 1/2 could cause lots of political problems; it was the original Massachusetts tax revolt (not including the Boston Tea Party, of course). People really feel it when their property taxes go up, more than an increase in the amount the state takes out of their weekly paychecks.”
The tortoise and the hare
: Interesting article by D.C. Denison
over the weekend about the economic plight of Silicon Valley and Route 128 in the current recession. Verdict: We’re better off. My question: But what about during an economic boom? Hands down, Silicon Valley, an old-fashioned, boom-or-bust economic agglomeration. The Economist published a piece a year or so ago about Silicon Valley and Boston’s high-tech rivalry. (Didn’t know there was still a rivalry, but they wrote about it anyway.) It was a very flattering article about both regions. Can’t find the link now, obviously; it was pre-Hub Blog. But the point: They’re the risk-taking, pay-the-price, look-at-me hare. We’re the more conservative, sweating, plodding-to-the-goal-line tortoise. I’ll take the comparison any day.
‘88 and ‘04:
This is not the spin the Kerry folks want out there, even though they’re indeed carefully following the Duke’s handbook, as Joan Vennochi
says: “It really does look like 1988 in 2004. Mike Dukakis is running for president with longer legs, more expensive hair, and an even greater penchant for equivocating about being a liberal from Massachusetts.” ... One quibble: George Jr. is much more politically astute and focused than his dad. Underestimate him at your peril.
Ambivalence and affirmative action
: Until I read Brian McGrory’s column
this morning, I never heard of someone making a distinction like this: Affirmative action in the workplace is dubious, but affirmative action in education is defensible. I’ll let Brian explain. ... As for my own views on affirmative action, this is one of those issues -- along with abortion, the death penalty, gay rights, no-new taxes -- where I part with most conservatives, to wit: I’m ambivalent about affirmative action. Intellectually and morally, affirmative action is a hard position to defend. I respect conservatives’ views on the issue. But African Americans have been getting screwed in this country for a long, long time. Please, don’t tell me how it’s all about ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘color blindness.’ It ain’t. Each and every day, African Americans are subjected to both overt and subtle racism, from getting pulled over by cops to some yahoo rejecting a job application of a black male because he looks ‘scary.’ What I like about McGrory’s argument -- one that I’m sure will be denounced as ‘having it both ways’ and being ‘all over the map’ -- is that, well, it’s having it both ways and it’s all over the map. Specifically, I like the part about concentrating on access to education, historically the great equalizer in American society. Returning GIs after WWII were given the GI Bill as a reward for their service. Why a GI bill? Because far-sighted leaders understood the vital importance of education in giving vets an extra leg up as they tried to reassimilate back into society. ...
Ptech and al-Qaeda update
: Let me get this straight
: Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis; most of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist money comes from Saudis; Ptech’s original backers were Saudis, one of them tied to the financing of Osama’ al-Qaeda network; Ptech makes sensitive software used by our national security agencies; some of Ptech’s sensitive software programs have been sent to Osama’s half brother; funds controlled by some Saudi connected with Ptech have been frozen by the U.S. and Saudi governments following Sept. 11. Even before Sept. 11, some Ptech employees were so nervous about selling software to Osama’s half brother, the company’s CEO had to intervene and called the State Department. ``They laughed at us,'' Ziade said. ``They told us there is no problem with selling to the (Saudi) Binladin Group or the family.'' ... And now they're investigating the company. Hmmmmm. Question: Are they still laughing?
Centralization usually doesn’t work, Mitt
: Wayne Woodlief
takes the Romney administration -- and Eric Fehrnstrom, a former Herald reporter, in particular -- to task for its new communications strategy
. The delicious irony: Someone leaked the memo about not leaking memos.
-- Where are Mitt's other restructuring plans? Just asking.
Yawn. The anti-war protests
: Can’t get too excited about yesterday’s anti-war protests. All very predictable -- the ‘we’re really patriotic,’ ‘we’re growing in numbers,’ the same signs, slogans, blah, blah, blah. No major complaints about the coverage by either the Globe
. A few snippets:
-- The Herald on an activist at a Watertown rally: “Palomba said many motorists honked their horn in a gesture of support. But some horn blowers eschewed giving a thumbs-up signal to the protesters, instead opting for a middle finger.”
-- Also from the Herald: “A current Newsweek poll indicates that overall support among the American people for military action against Iraq remains steady at 63 percent, in line with the 64 percent recorded at the end of October 2002. However, 81 percent of Americans support military action against Iraq if the U.S. joins together with its major allies and has the full backing of the U.N. Security Council.” ... Count Hub Blog among those hovering between the 63 percent figure and the 81 percent figure. As for the leftovers, well, they’re truly leftovers. But they’re growing!
-- ‘60s nostalgia alert: ``We stand here today, a new generation of anti-war activists,'' said Peta Lindsay from International Answer, the main organizers behind the protest in Washington.
-- The award for “Tying It All Together In One Big Bow” goes to actress Jessica Lange. ''All this talk of war, all this rhetoric, has been an excellent cover, an excellent camouflage, to turn back the clock on civil rights, on women's rights, on social justice, and on environmental policies.''
-- Check out Instapundit
. Glenn is having a grand old time covering the protests. He even dropped this dead skunk into their party: The UK’s Guardian has endorsed the use of force against Saddam
. The Guardian. Who would have thought?
The German question
: The Globe’s 'Ideas’ section has an excellent story this morning that tackles the current debate (and focus) in Germany on the Allies’ aerial bombing campaigns
of World War II. Christopher Hitchens
tackles the same subject in the current issue of the Boston-based Atlantic Monthly. No one seriously disputes the fact that the Allies’ campaigns against German cities were A.) Prompted by a war of aggression (including an air war) initiated by the Nazis. B.) horrific, as the campaigns were intended, and C.) arguably unnecessary in some circumstances (such as the late-war fire bombing of Dresden). Here and in Britain, the debate over our aerial strategy has been both healthy and welcome. We’re still debating the aerial-combat issue -- a debate that has led to, among other things, a refinement of our tactics in order to minimize civilian and friendly fire casualties.
However, the controversy takes on an entirely different meaning when Germans
debate the issue. Are the Germans trying to portray themselves as sufferers or as victims? If it’s the former, fine. They did suffer. If it’s the latter, then it’s scary. The main question: Are some Germans trying to turn the debate into a moral relativist argument (i.e., we killed and you killed during World War II -- and therefore we’re all the same)? Unfortunately, one gets the very disturbing feeling that, yes, they are trying to turn this into moral relativist debate about Nazi atrocities versus the Allies’ war tactics. As quoted in the Globe article, here’s Jrg Friedrich, the German author of a book on the subject and described as a ‘jovial, aging left-winger’: “The idea for the book, he says, evolved from his work on the Holocaust, which led him to examine the Nazi war-crimes trials. ‘One of the military commanders accused of civilian massacres in the Ukraine asked the question, 'What's the difference between lining people up against a wall and dropping bombs on them?' I tried to find an answer and couldn't, other than the fact that the one killing took place horizontally, and the other vertically.’ " .... ‘I tried to find an answer and couldn't.’ ... Wow. This is not good. ... Combined with the strong whiff of self-righteous anti-Americanism coursing through the subject matter and through German politics today, it becomes even more disturbing.
Ah, Mitt ...
: This isn’t exactly the type of ‘restructuring’
we were talking about.
‘I have very good news’
: Saw this Howie Carr column
and I thought to myself, ‘No, no, no! No more broken-record Howie columns about hacks!’ Than I read the part about Tommy getting a job for his daughter. Keep at ‘em, Howie.
Off to war they go
: As the antiwar protest in Washington gets under way, remember this extraordinary NYT article about U.S. naval ships
leaving San Diego for the Gulf (via John Ellis
). What a story. So much is in it: the sadness, the stoicism, the patriotism, the common-sense world and national views of the sailors and Marines, the ‘modern American military,’ the social-economic makeup of the personnel, the opinion of an Afghan taxi driver as he transports crew and family members to the docks. The reporter who wrote it is Charlie LeDuff.
‘Class war’ and policy-wonk hell
: Policy-wonk observation of the day: Wouldn’t want to be in Mitt’s shoes right now
. Do you cut local aid across the board, opening yourself up to charges of ‘class war’? Or do you ‘cherry-pick’ who gets cut at different rates, opening yourself up to charges of favoritism? The other day, I said ‘no means testing’
when it came to cutting local aid. Stand by that statement. Sort of. Let me explain: Boston is, technically, in worse financial shape than its across-the-river sister city, Cambridge
, which is in surprisingly good financial shape. If you ‘means tested’ the two, Boston should be spared the budget ax more than Cambridge, right? I mean, Boston can’t absorb across-the-board cuts as well as Cambridge ... But Boston’s spending from ‘94 through 2002 (the Menino years) increased by a whopping 50 percent. Cambridge, saddled for years with the image as a big-spending utopia wannabe, actually kept its overall spending increase to less than 3 percent and built up a hefty reserve. An astounding difference. Should Boston get rewarded for its overspending in the ‘90s while Cambridge gets punished for its penny pinching? No. ‘Means testing’ sounds fair and noble on paper, but in reality it can be unfair and irrational. ...
... But, ah, such simple comparisons fall apart (a bit) in the current budget debate because there are cities and towns that are now more reliant on state aid, such as New Bedford, Lawrence, Brockton and rural communities. One can argue whether the state should have been subsidizing them so much, but the fact is it has. These poorer communities depend upon -- one can also say they’re addicted to -- state aid. Across-the-board state-aid cuts would really hurt these communities. Where does this leave us? In Mitt’s shoes -- and, as I said, I wouldn’t want to be in them right now. Some sort of compromise formula has to be worked out. Perhaps, say, the first $50 million of state-aid cuts can be based on the percentage of state aid a given city receives on an annual basis. (But NOT on whether they have adequate cash reserves or not.) The rest of the cuts would be across the board. ... And, please, don’t tell me evil suburban towns like Lincoln should be paying more. They already have been. And they will continue to do so. Who’s been paying for the subsidies to the New Bedfords and Lawrences of Massachusetts? Where did the money magically come from? The suburbs.
Big Dig, big applause for Fred
: Frederick P. Salvucci
, the former transportation secretary, got the biggest round of applause yesterday during the historic opening festivities of the new Turnpike tunnel. Fred richly deserved it. Salvucci ranks right up there with William F. Callahan and Ed Logue as one of the giants of modern urban planning in Massachusetts.
: When Theo was appointed the Sox’ GM last year, Hub Blog guffawed along with other cynics. I was then taken to task by some readers who said I was being too rash. Know what? They’re right. Gerry Callahan
had a superb piece yesterday that argued Theo has admirably resisted the sports talk-show mob’s call to to do ‘something’ to counter the Yankees. Callahan’s argument: Wasn’t doing ‘something’ the Duke’s strategy and do we really want to return to that?
A Bostonian living in Quebec writes on Boston’s ‘inferiority complex,’ anti-Americanism, the ‘Daisy’ ad, and the NHL:
Got a long and interesting email with observations on various items I’ve posted lately. Take your pick. And pay attention to her views, not necessarily mine. Here goes:
“I thought I would share a couple quick thoughts about some recent bloggings. ...
1. “On Boston and the 'inferiority complex’
: With regards to your recent post on Tom Keane's article
lamenting the fact that Boston is no New York, I can't remember how many times people have said to me how much they ‘adore’ Boston (read that with a French accent!). Keane makes it seem like Boston is such a fuddy-dud place to be. I've lived and traveled in several different countries and people around the world often remark how much they love the city's history, architecture, waterfront, universities, etc. A lot of people really like the city because it has a European feel to it. It's classy, it's charming. This doesn't mean that they don't appreciate New York. I don't think they really even compare the two cities. They are just so different.”
Hub Blog’s response
: I’m beginning to think people with a New York inferiority complex are just plain stupid. Those without an inferiority complex -- the ones who recognize that New York is one of the truly great cities of the world, while Boston is one of the truly great cities of America -- are not so stupid precisely because they can accept NYC and Boston for what they are. Next time you hear someone in Boston bemoaning how Boston ain’t NYC, turn to them and say, ‘You are truly stupid
2.) “On anti-Americanism
: There was an interesting piece in the Ottawa Citizen
the other day about the rise of anti-Americanism by Robert Sibley, a member of the paper's editorial board. This was different because it was not another US-bashing article but rather one that expressed dismay at how the ‘anti-Americanism we see now ... seems particularly virulent and widespread.’ The author notes that ‘many nations would rather take out their frustrations on the all-powerful United States, instead of admitting their own shortcomings,’ and even takes a poke at his fellow Canadians: ‘ ... the sanctimoniousness of Canadians who, even as they pretend to be a moral superpower, shelter beneath the US military and economic umbrella.’ Ouch!”
Hub Blog’s response
: There are lots of other excellent observations in Sibley’s piece, so read it. ... Don’t fully believe in his American unilateralist argument (though I appreciate his general support) because I don’t believe in Pax America. But his anti-American points are dead on target.
3.) “On the ‘Daisy’ anti-war ad
: Did you see an article the other day, in the Times I think, about how Republican businessmen published a letter/ad to express their discomfort with the prospects of going to war? It discusses the point that anti-war advocates are not unpatriotic and are not all left-leaning liberals. These businessmen feel that the Bush administration has not made a strong enough case for going to war.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Didn’t see (nor find) the NYT piece/ad, but did notice this story
the other day in the Christian Science Monitor. OK, I’ll concede the point: There ARE reasonable people with deep reservations about the coming war with Iraq. Among them, me. I certainly wouldn’t put myself in the “not important” category in the CSM poll cited in the story. I’d put myself in the “somewhat important” category about the need to take on Iraq, though I’m definitely moving toward the “very important” category with each passing minute. The same poll shows that the “not important” opposition to the war has risen from 20 percent to 27 percent. The interesting figure is ‘20 percent.’ I’ll bet, though I can never confirm it, that the 20-percent figure is overwhelmingly made up of hard-core, automatic anti-Bush, blame-America-first members of the “the liberal left or the theological left or the political left.” We all know it to be true. Such people were long ago preprogrammed to their views. The Republican businessmen weren’t. There’s a difference in temperaments that I respect in one group but not the other.
4. “On the NHL:
Of course, here in Hull/Ottawa, a lot of the news is on the financial problems of the NHL
and the Senators. It's a big deal in any city about to lose a major league team but hockey in Canada is practically sacred so it seems that it would be a real blow, especially the nation's capital, to lose theirs. There are some who feel that the city and hockey fans should try to ‘pitch in’ to bail them out (presumably with taxes, increased prices for tickets, etc.), but then there are others who do not feel too sorry for players with multi-million dollar contracts. There is also the worry about the debt that the city took on as part of the negotiations to get the team here. If the team leaves, the city is stuck with a stadium, the Corel Center, and millions of dollars to pay off -- with little chance of finding another popular revenue-generating tenant like the Senators. It kind of reminds me of a couple years ago when the Patriots were thinking of leaving Foxboro for Hartford or Providence (or even the issue of replacing Fenway Park for the Red Sox) -- different situations, of course, but the fears of losing a beloved team and not being a ‘world class’ city ...”
Hub Blog’s response
: The dreaded ‘world class city’ mantra/inferiority complex hits Ottawa.