Bush vs. Chirac
: I've been tempted for days to compare the two. They're strangely the same, when you think about it. Unilateralist vs. unilateralist, two peas in the pod, acting as if they're both multilateralists trying to save a multilateralist world and UN (and EU and NATO). Instapundit
, which tipped me over the edge to bring up this point (shame on me), has one slightly different view of the Iraq matter. I have another. ... But I will give Bush this credit: He's bumbled his way into the deft use of using unilateralism and multilateralism together, something the pure unilateralist and phony multilateralist Chirac hasn't figured out yet. Score one for the reluctant unilateralist/multilateralist Bush. Go, George! Go! Keep it up!
Clinton on everything
: James Fallows interviews Bill Clinton
over at Boston-based Atlantic. The interview was conducted last fall, just as the UN/Iraq process got under way. Only now was the interview published. Interesting thoughts on Bush, the UN, Tony Blair's tenuous postition, how he wants to be like Jimmy Carter in his post-president years. In other words, enough there to find something to love or hate. Typical Clinton. Here are some excerpts from Clinton on Iraq:
On Kosovo and Iraq
: "My model here (for Iraq) is Kosovo, where the Russians couldn't quite let us go. They're Slavs, they're Orthodox Christians... But then it was a bona fide emergency. You had NATO, you had the nonaligned countries, you had the Muslim countries, and then Russians could feel that they were part of a deal." [See note below.]
On meeting with Tony Blair late last year
: "He was somewhat bullish on our ability to have good things happen in Iraq. But he also was determined to pull for the moderates in the Bush Administration who wanted to do this, if at all possible, with broader Allies and in a way that strengthened the multilateral process and the UN. So I always thought Blair did not get enough credit within Great Britain for trying to bring the Europeans and Americans together, under the UN rubric, or as close as possible to it. That's what I hope will happen."
On Bush embracing the UN process
: "Furthermore I think President Bush has pretty good political instincts. I think his antennae are sharper than, you know, than the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz wing. I think he's got a sense of what the traffic will bear. But for whatever reason... And Colin, you know, Secretary Powell, he must have been weighing in. And he, after all, has more military experience than all those people counseling war. I just think they're coming to a place—and it might all be a ruse, but it looks legitimate. It looks like they're really trying to get this passed. It looks to me like it's a real straight-up deal."
Note: Tom Oliphant
in today's Globe notes how Clinton, when faced with a likely Security Council veto over Kosovo, simply yanked the resolution and went the NATO route in order to take action there. Clinton also mentions in the interview how, if Bush plays this out at the UN to the very end, he'll support him. He's on the record as saying it.
A Winter Wonderland?:
It’s not like the Blizzard of ‘78. Something’s missing. Maybe it’s peace. Whatever the mood, it’s still a beautiful pain-in-the-ass outside.
Those darn tax cuts did it:
Refereeing arguments between ideologues is tiring. Like weeding the old garden, you just have to yank them out, sadly knowing they’ll grow back. Never ends. Today’s installment of tax-and-spend versus no-new-taxes comes from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
, a liberal advocacy group. Their conclusion about the state budget deficit: Past tax cuts caused the current budget gap, not overspending by the legislature. Obligatory lip service is given to the (shhhhhhhhh! don’t say it too loud, for it will disrupt the ideological arguments on both sides) recession. Oh, the liberal policy center doesn’t come right out and say tax cuts were the cause, I should be fair. But they do come up with a list of past tax cuts that amount to about $3 billion -- or roughly what the projected worst-case budget deficit is for next fiscal year. What a coincidence! (Never mind if you add up all the deficits in the past two years -- the projected $3 billion deficit next year, the current $650 million gap, the hundreds of millions of dollars in past spending cuts enacted by the legislature and ex-Gov. Swift, the $1.5 billion in tax hikes already approved by lawmakers -- and they don’t add up to that near perfect $3 billion figure. The mathematical difference is the obligatory part that the center probably blames exclusively on the recession. Sigh.) But, ah, ...
... tucked into the Globe story (which was pretty well balanced, I might stress) there’s this passage: “The budget and policy center's study found that while personal income rose at a 2.6 percent annual average clip above inflation between 1991 and 2002, the budget rose just 2.3 percent above inflation on average.”... Now, throw out the “personal income” part. That’s
nothing but policy-wonk smoke; they’re comparing personal income growth to the inflation rate growth, i.e. comparing apples to oranges. I’ll address that in a bit. Until then ...
What do we have left? A little clause acknowledging that, each and every year, state spending “rose just 2.3 percent above inflation on average.” Don’t quite know what “2.3 percent above inflation” means, for it’s not explained. Does it literally mean 2.3 percent above the rate itself? Meaning: If inflation was 2.5 percent in one year, the legislature spent about .06 above that rate, bringing the overall spending growth to 2.56 percent for that theoretical year? In that case, the adjective “just” is deserved. Or, more likely, does it mean the legislature spent 2.3 percentage POINTS above the average inflation rate? If it’s the latter, the word “just” is ludicrous and indicates, if memory serves well, that the rate of spending was indeed well ahead, sometimes double, the rate of inflation during a low-inflation decade. That, in the policy-wonk world, is called a smoking gun. (Because Hub Blog isn’t paid for this blog, I’m not going to immediately fetch the inflation-rate numbers. Got other work to do. Also have a book on King Arthur I want to finish. I’m sorry. The commentary is free; the reporting is not. But you get the picture of what I believe the policy center is trying to obscure. ... )
... There is one other curious aspect to the center’s apples-to-oranges comparison: Unless I’m misreading the center’s intentions (and I don’t think I am), there seems to be an assumption that government spending is modest and therefore out of whack when the state isn’t taking all of your income increases above the inflation rate. Think about it. ...
... Where does this leave us? The state DID overspend in the ‘90s, sometimes comfortably and consistently above the inflation rate, and, therefore, spending is part of today’s problems. Now, we can argue and argue about whether Taxachusetts/Massachusetts is “overtaxed” or “undertaxed.” But, please, stop with the truly radical-liberal assumption that reducing spending isn’t an important part of the solution to the state’s budget woes. FYI: Hub Blog is on record as saying increasing taxes is part of the solution, too, despite Mitt’s no-new-taxes pledge on the deficit. But Hub Blog does have one caveat on taxes: No reforms, no new taxes.
: For the sake of argument, Hub Blog concedes the point about past spending increases going mostly to education and health, though one has a hunch that the liberal center ... oh, never mind.
Update on CPI and state spending
-- What the hell. An appointment was canceled and I’m not interested in reading about King Arthur. So Hub Blog had some free time to check out some Consumer Price Index stats. These are national numbers, not Massachusetts numbers (which I couldn’t find). Assume Massachusetts’ inflation numbers are higher because of housing costs here. But that would still prove my point about the size of overall state spending each year. National numbers will do. Keep in mind the center’s own assertion that state spending exceeded inflation by an average 2.3 percentage points (and I’m assuming points) per year. Here goes (with annual CPI averages and December to December CPI averages):
1991 -- Average: 4.2/Dec. to Dec. average: 3.1
1992 -- Average: 3.0/Dec. to Dec. average: 2.9
1993 -- Average: 3.0/Dec. to Dec. average: 2.1
1994 -- Average: 2.6/Dec. to Dec. average: 2.7
1995 -- Average: 2.8/Dec. to Dec. average: 2.5
1996 -- Average: 3.0/Dec. to Dec. average: 3.3
1997 -- Average: 2.3/Dec. to Dec. average: 1.7
1998 -- Average: 1.8/Dec. to Dec. average: 1.6
1999 -- Average: 2.2/Dec. to Dec. average: 2.7
2000 -- Average: 2.4/Dec. to Dec. average: 3.4
2001 -- Average: 2.8/Dec. to Dec. average: 1.6
2002 -- Average: 1.6/Dec. to Dec. average: 2.4
Whatever annual numbers you prefer to use (Average or Dec. to Dec.), what’s the common thread here if you assume state spending rose 2.3 percentage points on average per year above the inflation rate? You can generally draw the reasonable conclusion that in some years spending doubled or nearly doubled the rate of inflation or increased by more than 50 percent in other years. Don't have year-to-year state spending stats to make definitive comparisons. We're still talking generalities here. Also, if you assume that Massachusetts’ inflation rates were higher, the percentage increases aren’t as damning, but they’re still pretty damning.
Repeat: This is NOT to say tax cuts and the recession haven’t contributed to the state’s current budget woes. They have. But it does show, generally, that spending DID contribute if you measure it by inflation rate increases, which is a legitmate and widely used method of, well, measuring the rate of spending. Please, don’t tell me about how wise the legislature was to put money aside in emergency reserves. It was wise. And prudent. But they’ve now spent most of it in a desperate attempt to keep spending at increased levels you see above -- and so spending reserves is still a form of spending that has to be factored into figures.
‘When Boston was a theater hub’
: Why is the Herald writing this story?
Doesn’t matter. It’s a great, out-of-the-blue look at Boston’s once thriving theater district, thanks largely to Benjamin Franklin Keith, a New Hampshire native “whose Boston storefront spawned a nationwide vaudeville empire of more than 500 theaters.” ... Slap Mayor Menino around all you want, but one thing he deserves enormous credit for is helping to revive the theater district, though I’m still bummed about his decision on Hayward Place. Should have been housing, mayor. ... Postscript: There are a lot of ‘retro’ trends all around. With ‘reality’ TV and other gross junk posing as entertainment these days, do you think a modern version of vaudeville might work? Just wondering. Hub Blog thinks the ‘clean wholesomeness’ would be a big hit with parents and kids. Again, just wondering.
Phil Donahue, Oliver Willis wants your job
: Boston blogger Oliver Willis is chomping at the bit for a talk-show audition, here
. And Instapundit
is pushing it. Alex Knapp
is pushing it. And Hub Blog chimes in: Anyone but Phil Donahue would work. Give Oliver a try! (FYI: If Oliver does get an audition and/or job, it will be another sign of the blogosphere’s growing influence. I have good vibes about some blogger-reading executive at a TV or radio station/network actually giving Oliver a chance. Just a hunch. Hope it’s true. Stay tuned.) ... Postscript: Can Instapundit and other bloggers start a lobbying campaign to get Hub Blog a job anywhere within the media? (I prefer a foreign correspondent job covering food and wine trends in Tuscany, but I’m not going to be picky.)
Journalists and poets -- and Krugman on the Trans-Atlantic media
: The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen
has a few words about the holier-than-thou-poets issue. Cohen:
“They (poets) have become a sort of secular clergy, as fixated with ‘the word’ as some preachers and just as likely to confuse metaphor with truth. ...
“Those of us who were against the Vietnam War but who now find ourselves enlisted in Bush's Brigade are always looking over our shoulder, fearing history doing a reprise. (I have been re-reading Norman Mailer's wonderful ‘Armies of the Night.’) I scan the new poetry, as I do the placards at the peace marches, alert to the cathartic nugget of wisdom that would avert war while dealing realistically with Hussein. What I find, instead, is yesterday's wisdom about Vietnam misapplied to today's challenge of Iraq.”
Cohen also took a whack at journalists waxing poetry about poets. Wonder if he saw the editorial in the Globe
about the noble nature of poets. ...
... Ah, Paul Krugman.
I’m not one of those bloggers who’s usually on his case. Because I usually ignore him. But when he writes an entire column about media bias, Hub Blog’s journalistic bunny ears go up. Krugman writes about the differences between the American media’s coverage of Iraq versus the European media’s coverage of Iraq -- and which one better reflects reality. He ends the column: “So which is it? I've reported, you decide.” ... Gee, Paul, that’s a tough one. Where do you stand Paul? Could it be the side that best reflects your views? ... He makes no mention, by the way and needless to say, that most broadcast outlets in Europe are owned and run by the government.
The dot-com energy companies
: Charlie Stein
has a nice piece that sort of bumps into a pet-peeve of mine: The monopolistic local electric industry that emerged from our poorly implemented deregulation. Charlie isn’t talking about the local electric industry, but this quote about the national scene covers it well: “Surely a business as old and stable as the power industry couldn't have been seduced by the siren song of the new economy (of the ‘90s), could it? It turns out the answer is yes.” ... And we’ll be paying for the folly very soon and for a long time if something isn’t done.
The Keystone Hacks to the Rescue
: Don’t panic! Everything is under control! The Keystone Hacks have arrived! The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
is going to go after Bechtel to recoup the money that shouldn’t have been lost in the first place! ...
... Unbelievable, eh? What a news town! They’re like shooting fish in a barrel. This is the fall-off-your-chair-laughing part of playing follow-the-dots: As chairman of the Turnpike, Matthew Amorello
, described as a “former state senator who is fighting to keep the Turnpike Authority and his job intact,” rehires attorney James Aloisi, who is described as being “fired two years ago by former chairman Andrew Natsios after the Big Dig costs spiraled out of control.” Both Amorello and Aloisi, in turn, are described as having “close ties” with Senate President Robert Travaglini, who last week was described as “speaking in deeply personal terms
(and) stressing his working-class roots” when defending the Turnpike and MDC against planned reforms and/or elimination and ....
... Don’t panic! Everything is under control! The Keystone Hacks have arrived! The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is going to go after Bechtel to recoup the money that shouldn’t have been lost in the first place! ...
... Note to readers: In the second link above, you have to hack (no pun intended) your way through the first item about judges secretly plotting their anti-reform strategies before reaching the part about Amorello rehiring Aloisi and their connections to the deeply emotional Trav.
Some call it ‘The Maze’
: More reform ideas
from Mitt. More carping.
Why we should be helping Africa
: Their ‘thank you’
is enough to be moved to do the right thing. Good column. And can’t wait for President Bush’s AIDs program to kick in. More worthy lives will be saved, perhaps (probably) millions, if done right.
Wait! Maybe we need the UN!: Andrew Sullivan
(scroll down a bit to the ‘Saving Blair’ item), who recently said it was “over” for the UN, now says: “But this weekend changes one thing, I think. Blair may not survive politically if we go to war with no further attempt to bring the U.N. around, and the war is in any way complicated or prolonged. It makes no logical sense to go back to the U.N. But it makes a lot of political sense -- if only to show the world American reluctance to go to war and to shore up an absolutely critical ally. ... It would put the onus back on Saddam, help Blair, show a little flexibility on the part of the U.S., maybe bring around a few more Security Council members and not lose any significant time. Again, this isn't logical from the point of view of 1441. But it is a reflection of the political pressures on a key U.S. ally. Recognizing that political pressure is not surrendering to it. But ignoring it when we can still offer an alternative would be foolish. We can afford to be a little flexible. So let's be.” ...
... Let’s repeat those last four sentences: “Recognizing that political pressure is not surrendering to it. But ignoring it when we can still offer an alternative would be foolish. We can afford to be a little flexible. So let's be.” ...
... And let’s hope the administration, in Phase III of the post-Iraq portion of the war, remembers that we may not always need the UN, but some of our allies need and want the UN, and we just have to live with that. And Andrew’s right: It’s not always logical to go to the UN, but it is does make a lot of political sense now and then. So let’s junk this foolish talk about pure ‘unilateralism’ or pure ‘multilateralism.’ Again: You use them in conjunction with each other, like knives and forks
, and there’s no escaping the value of using both at the same time to achieve desired results. And I’ll stop making this point. Starting to feel like Ron Borges going on and on and on about Drew Bledsoe
... Speaking of the war: There are some who go when called to duty
; there are some who rush to the courts.
More on Mitt and reform
: Brighton Reader
sends along the following message. Haven’t read the Seth piece, but, if Brighton Reader vouches for it, so be it. From Brighton Reader
with added bonus comments:
“Here is a link to an article by Seth Gitell
of the Phoenix about Finneran. Thought it was pretty good. I think it ties in to how Romney's initiatives will fare.
“Romney is making the right move in putting his restructuring into one package with a big ‘reform’ label on it. Make them vote it up or down. What he needs to do next is what other governors, but not his recent Republican predecessors, did -- pick up the phone and ask legislators for support. The last time most of them were asked for their opinion it was by a telemarketer. Making the effort to woo the rank and file, especially in the climate after the strong support for income tax repeal, could get him the votes he needs. Getting out there, making his argument to the public will make a difference, too.
“I was amused, somewhat disgusted but not at all surprised by Trav's defense
of the MDC and the Mass Pike at the Boston Chamber of Commerce recently. It always comes down to patronage with him. Note the only passing reference to aid to schools. How about setting out some policy priorities, Bob?”
Iraq and ‘Intelligent Consensus Building,’ Part II
: Once again, thanks for all the email. Have gotten a lot. One humble request: No need to send me links to the photo with the left-wing protester holding the Chamberlain sign. Already know they’re idiots. Don’t send me the 10,000th article I’ve read about the Europeans being idiots. Already know. Don’t send me the 20,000th article about Saddam being evil. Already know. You’re preaching to the converted, which is kind of my point: Too many people on the right are preaching to the converted these days. Repeat: My beef with the administration is with the means, not the ends. But, ah, Reader No. 1
has returned! With an excellent retort on the original "Iraq and ‘Intelligent Consensus Building’" post below, which was based on musings of a friend, which, obviously, Hub Blog agreed with. From Reader No. 1
“1. I think it is dangerous to assume "Americans" or "the French" think as one. There are many different reasons to support or oppose the conflict. (Apologies in advance for violating this principal.)
“2. I humbly offer the most obvious reason why so many express at best hesitant support for the US government against Iraq: our country rarely initiates wars; we're primarily reactive. The most famous examples: September 11th and Pearl Harbor. And we NEVER go looking for fights for dangerous opponents who probably possess weapons of mass destruction that could kill us in large numbers. (This is a critical distinction from the adventures of the Clinton years, in which the US played a rescuing or peacekeeping role. One might argue the first Iraq war's efforts on behalf of the Kuwaitis served as a precedent -- although the prospect of oil-induced-economic catastrophe certainly loomed large in 1991 albeit not rhetorically.)
"3. Having said that we don't historically start fights with big dogs, let's also acknowledge that we have entered a period in human history where waiting for those aforementioned weapons of mass destruction to be used first should be construed as a dereliction of duty in assuring national defense.
"4. I will also submit that the "consensus-building" which my fellow HubBlog reader (talks about) is greatly overrated and terribly unlikely to have had any better outcome than where we are today. To the extent that lawyers have achieved greater prominence in US society and so dominate the legislative ranks and the political process, many have developed a tendency to think practically anything can be negotiated or if necessary, litigated to resolution. Tell it to Neville Chamberlain.
One reason to conclude that sweeter talk from Donald Rumsfeld wouldn't have made any difference: the response of foreign governments to the Blix reports which pretty unequivocally state that Iraq has lied and misled on its inspections. Those who have asked for more time all along are still asking for more time. Incidentally, has anyone suggested that the minimal progress Iraq has made so far is entirely because of the "swaggering" actions of the US in preparing for a war?
"5. What bothers me about Bush Administration bashing is that it lays the blame for European opposition at the US' feet when there is evidence for some number of years that many European governments don't share our interests. Anyone in doubt on this point should read the excellent December 2002 issue
of The American Enterprise, excerpt here:
"6. Lastly, I think it is entirely possible that the President does believe what he told the troops about the UN turning into a debating society. This is why it was so critical to have the case for forcible disarmament made there so powerfully by Secretary Powell (whose advice in 1991 is one factor leading us to today's juncture). I suspect the real problem, particularly for the diplomatic professionals and the reporters who cover them, is that this President like several of his predecessors doesn't value the UN's interests more highly than the US'. Nor should he."
Hub Blog’s response
: Since my friend can’t really defend himself and since I agreed, obviously, with many of his points, I’ll respond. Here goes, point by point: 1.) Agreed. Advanced apologies accepted. Always do the same thing myself. 2.) Agree, again. Just wish the Bush administration had better respected this obviously legitimate fear/concern from the outset, as well as the fact that many (not all) non-leftist Americans happen to have been raised on believing in the UN and NATO, as silly and naive as that may sound. It’s just a PR reality the president didn’t deal with. Again. 3.) Notice my emphasis in past posts about agreeing with the ‘goal’ of the administration. It’s the administration’s methods (the means) that I disagree with. And no one is asking him to neglect his duties. 4.) Ah, aren't we now involved in multilateralism? Up to our teeth. My repeated contention: We could have done better if we had tried it more deftly and differently. Again: The means. 5.) What bothers me about Bush cheerleaders is that they will never, ever, attribute even a tiny bit of blame to him. He’s Churchill, after all. If I had to lay blame for events of recent weeks as they apply to our affairs in Europe, I’d put about 20 percent on Bush, 60 percent on France and Germany, the rest sprinkled about. With that said, I’d love to hear, one day, somewhere, a true Bush believer acknowledging he’s at least partly to blame (10 percent, 15 percent, whatever) and that, well, yes, OK, he’s not perfect. Just partly. Details, please. By the way, that 10, 15, 20 percent matters. Could have swung the German election the other way, for instance. Hope he does better on the diplomatic front in the Phase III, post-Iraq portion of the war. 6.) I also believe he believes what he told the troops about the UN turning into a debating society. What I don’t believe is that he's trying to save the UN. Nor should you.
An aside note
: Sorry we disagree on this issue, Reader No. 1. One of the few where we do. Let's hear more on your views about, oh, Mitt. Welcome back!
Mitt and playing hard-ball reform:
Fascinating strategy. Hope the all-or-nothing plan
works. But I have my doubts. The Weld and Cellucci administrations tried similar ploys. I know Mitt -- by threatening to invoke the state’s Article 87 clause in the constitution -- says he’s willing to negotiate before putting the gun to the legislature’s head. Still, keep in mind: This is the same legislature that blocked Clean Elections, even to the extent of all but defying the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Then there are the other voter-approved referendums they routinely ignore. Etc. They don’t care. Meanwhile, Tommy and Trav are already talking about keeping the MDC. Others are threatening to kill MCAS, the new voter-approved English immersion law, charter schools, etc. etc. etc. and ...
... and look how deep the ‘permanent bureaucracy’
reaches. The politically connected judges are mobilizing to block Mitt’s judicial reforms and budget plans (when one of their own isn't getting busted on DUI charges). The Turnpike is mobilizing. They’re all mobilizing and maneuvering to kill off what? Reform.
... Seems like the only way to get rid of these guys is if we buy them off.
Literally. Favorite line from the same ‘Ki$$’ story comes from Lou DiNatale, a political analyst at UMass-Boston's McCormack Institute: “Joyce may end up as a poster boy for public-sector greed, but it's unlikely he will stick in the public's memory any more than any of the others have. ... It is certainly worth something to the state to have him out of the way.'' Think about that last sentence. We have to pull slimy pension-grab tricks to get these guys to go. Lordy.
... Here’s an interesting story about how Mitt’s press/message management style
is very similar to George Bush’s tactics. Good article.
A reader responds
: Mysterious S Reader responds to the Mitt press/message story directly above. Personally, I still think it was a good story, but here's Mysterious S' view:
"Was not going to drop you a line about that Stephanie Ebbert article today, but since you commented first... As with the previous Phillips piece, I feel like it's a bit of navel-gazing for the Globe to keep writing articles complaining about lack of access.
"I don't have empirical data, but wasn't one of the knocks on Jane Swift that she was never around (calling in by speakerphone, at home in W. Mass with the kids, etc.)? It seems like Romney is at least as available if not more.
"And the close of the article came right out of the 'growing in office' article-o-matic, (i.e.) The politician is doing more of what you want (being more accessible) and making it a 'significant development.'
"I know I hold the Globe to a high standard, but its seems to me that a paper which can digest 15 years of Big Dig paperwork can do better than turn out multiple thumb-suckers on Romney's process as opposed to his substance."
Iraq and ‘Intelligent Consensus Building’
: After hashing over the merits and flaws of the Atkins Diet while stuffing our faces with beer, wine and steak tips at a restaurant the other night, a friend and I had a most interesting conversation about Iraq. My friend, a regular reader of Hub Blog, was posed this question by yours truly: "Am I crazy for harshly criticizing the anti-war left while at the same time harshly criticizing the Bush administration’s clumsy swaggering on Iraq?" He said: No ... but.
Here goes with what my friend, who describes himself as drifting between libertarianism and conservatism, said about Iraq and Bush (and I’m mostly paraphrasing):
The American public is generally a conservative but idealistic bunch. For whatever reasons. But the Bush administration’s initial talk of “unilaterally” taking on Iraq was jarring to many Americans. It is in the best American tradition to seek to build an intelligent consensus for our actions-- to be unafraid of frank and democratic debate. Americans instinctively believe that when we’re right, we can marshal the facts, in plain view, to state our case, debate it, and gain the support we need. It can be argued that mouthing off about a desire to “go it alone” (with Britain in tow) before launching our case before the U.N. was pre-empting the necessary, intelligent consensus-building phase with our allies; it was poor diplomacy, it was ham-fisted, it wasn’t in the American “tradition” of clear-eyed, honest diplomacy. That’s why so many (including Hub Blog) register a preference for reasonable UN and NATO involvement for any armed action against Iraq – as poll after poll of Americans show. Hub Blog’s criticism of the administration’s “swaggering” tone is a legitimate area of debate. It’s a legitimate concern over methods and means. It isn’t a rejection of the issue at hand. ... It should be noted -- and can’t be overemphasized -- how utterly brutal my friend was on the political left. Their problem, he said, is that those on the hard-core political left are blinded by their knee-jerk anti-American, so convinced America is imperial in its aspirations, so willing to abandon traditions for a new utopian-like future, so out of it in terms of how the real world really works as Americans see it. And my friend added: "The French don’t understand the American approach." They don’t get the pragmatic side of American democratic consensus-building. They think it’s a trick that has to be thwarted, he said.
His verdict on Hub Blog and others’ with similar views on Iraq: “Criticizing the administration for its ‘swaggering tone’ is perfectly within the legitimate realm of debate over Iraq. I may not agree entirely, but at the end of the day we’re in agreement about the goals. You think we could have gotten to this same point in a better way with better results ... I'm in agreement."
-- My friend has seen this post and -- with some quick and small editing changes -- he says it accurately reflects what he said over multiple beers, wine and steak tips. ...
I should add that, personally, the gulf between the Bush administration and good old mighty Hub Blog began to widen not when Bush initially balked at the UN option, but when the administration actually suggested, in a trial balloon some time ago, that it didn’t need Congressional authority to move against Iraq, arguing that the original Gulf War resolution from 1990 (or ‘91 -- forget) was sufficient. It was at that moment I became convinced the administration wasn’t just interested in international democratic consensus-building, but also it wasn’t interested in genuine domestic
democratic consensus-building. Again, we’re arguing over methods here, not the goal. I just think the administration has blown opportunity after opportunity to garner more support for this cause. The methods have been ugly to behold. ...
... Count the Herald’s Wayne Woodlief
as one of those who isn’t impressed with how we got to where we are today, faced with “a war on Iraq that few people wanted but that many are being cajoled, convinced and, yes, even bullied into accepting as inevitable.” Wayne isn’t a knee-jerk leftist liberal, folks. Don't dismiss him. ... Anyway, Wayne raises yet another loose-talking/tough-talking peeve about the administration: Talk of possible use of nukes in Iraq. I know. I know. They’re doing it largely for deterrence reasons, but ... but it’s just another example of the administration’s talk-tough/backtrack approach, with Rummy now having to clarify the administration’s position. Why does the administration always find itself in this position? It’s not because of a left-wing conspiracy to misuse their words. They’re unnerving
a lot of people. Constantly. FYI: The nuke issue was debated on PBS’s “McLaughlin Group” the other week. You know, the “McLaughlin Group,” that beehive of left-wing anti-Americanism. And it’s slowly been seeping into the mainstream press, such as this op-ed
the other week in the Christian Science Monitor. Now it’s being aired in that left-wing commie newspaper, the Boston Herald. Wayne on if war breaks out: “How we fight that war and how we handle its aftermath - the necessary reconstruction of Iraq and its democratization - then become vitally important.”
... From an AP story
: “British and American diplomats conceded they would need to go home, consider the views of others (at the UN) and soften the tone of the draft.” ... Tough talk, back track. Again. Well, at least this time it involves the Brits. ...
.... Andrew Sullivan
says the U.N. approach (and probably the U.N. itself) is “over.” And he adds: “But (the UN approach) was still worth trying, even if only to give it one last chance.” And then he adds the U.S. has to reassess its future with the U.N.: “I'm not saying complete U.S. withdrawal (from the UN), although I'm beginning to think that now makes a lot of sense.” ... As they say, you can’t be half pregnant. Might as well go all the way, which leads logically to what a lot of hard-core conservatives have been advocating for a long, long time: The US out of the UN. Connect the dots, as they say. ...
But, ah, the president told troops recently: ``Free nations will not allow the United Nations to fade into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society.'' ... Does anyone really believe the president believes this?
I.e. “... not allow the United Nations to fade away.” Christ, he had to be dragged into the U.N. approach, and now he’s championing its noble nature and its need to exist? But the key phrase is “an ineffective, irrelevant debating society.'' Mark my words: That’s going to be the pretext to get the U.S. out of a UN that Bush says he won’t let fade away. Also mark my words: NATO already is, and probably will remain so at the end, in shambles because of the Iraq crisis. But will the Bush groupies accept even an ounce
of responsibility? Nope. None. It's all the fault of the evil French -- and crocodile tears will be shed as hard-core conservatives wave good-bye and say 'good riddance' under their breaths to both institutions. They're already doing it.
Mitt: No reforms, no new taxes, Part II:
A really good email just came my way from a regular Hub Blog reader, who raised a lot of interesting points about the subject matters raised in the original “Mitt: No reforms, no new taxes” below. From the reader:
“YOUR ASSIGNMENT -- Frank Phillips buries the most likely ongoing story of interest in the third to last column of his piece on business vs. environment in the Romney administration -- the Foy vs. Pozen angle. I don't have any hard facts here, but I think this will be one to watch. Given Foy's background in advocacy versus Pozen's in business, it is not hard to believe that Pozen is being outmaneuvered.
“ALL IN THE TIMIMG -- Remember that Finneran roast that was filmed earlier in the month to be shown sometime in March? Given that Romney's budget proposal is coming out Feb. 26 (and should start a huge wave of outrage), I think everyone involved is going to be sorry that a time capsule of this sort is being replayed.
“PET PEEVE -- I often feel that certain individuals throw ... (around) the term 'corporate interests' and 'big business' without doing any type of homework or follow through. Now that the Romney administration has proposed limiting certain loopholes -- REIT tax avoidance and tax avoiding corporate shells -- where are the articles in support?”
Hub Blog’s response
: 1.) You’re absolutely right: The Foy vs. Pozen angle is intriguing. And it’s cause for some concern, even though I’m relatively certain Foy, who may be outmaneuvering Pozen for now, is unlikely to outmaneuver Mitt. I just can’t see Mitt abandoning business. By the way, Mitt’s insistence on closing the Salem plant is the right one, even if Foy is pushing it and the business community is concerned about it. The damn plant is killing people. It goes without saying Mitt isn’t getting the credit he deserves for it. 2.) Time capsule indeed. 3.) No, Mitt’s not getting the credit he deserves for closing the loopholes, though Steve Bailey did give him a thumbs up. ...
... This entire day (or, more accurately, what transpired yesterday and came out today) is very, very discouraging and ominous. The Usual Suspects are banging their tax, tax, tax war drums. They’ve been banging away since Day 1 of the budget crisis. Now they’re turning their guns on corporations. I’ll repeat: If I was a business executive reading all these stories, I’d be nervous too about a return to ‘Taxachusetts.’ What we’re seeing unfold (and I hope Mitt understands it) is, I believe, the old extremist progressives/hacks alliance reforming again. I.e.: If the self-anointed extremist progressives like Jill Stein get their tax hikes, there won’t be any need for cuts. And, if there’s no need for cuts, there’s no leverage for reform. Which will make Trav and the boys very, very happy. And that will leave the electorate pissed: More taxes with no reforms. Remember Question 1. The clowns on Beacon Hill don’t think voters will pull the trigger. Next time, I think they will.
Home of the fools and the brave
: So they’ve filed a lawsuit
here in Boston trying to stop the war in Iraq, using a few local and other soldiers as cover. The fools who are using these soldiers might want to look at this local story
-- one of many, many such articles in recent months -- to find out the real sentiment of the thousands of Massachusetts Reserve and National Guard troops (as well as their family members) who have answered the call to duty without running to the courts. Pathetic.
Mitt: No reforms, no new taxes
: What a day. The state budget-deficit/Mitt stories are zinging in from all angles. ...
... The most laughable piece (not the reporter’s fault) is about the business community complaining
that Mitt -- Mitt
-- is not being pro-business enough and is tilting too much toward environmentalists. Now, over the past few weeks, Hub Blog has seen nothing but snide references to Mitt being a ‘CEO’ or to his ‘private-sector management style’ or to the fact he’s a CEO who likes to lay off people or the mockery heaped on him for using a PowerPoint in presentations. And now the business community is whining about Mitt not being pro-business? Mitt?
... But this story of business carping is more legitimate: Business leaders are worried about a return to ‘Taxachusetts,’
i.e. they’re resisting calls to roll back corporate tax incentives/deals enacted in the ‘90s. They’re making good points. Why? Not because every tax incentive/deal is defensible, though some surely are, as Steve Bailey
noted a week or so ago. Instead, they’re making good points because there are indeed many people who, in fact, believe in a return to ‘Taxachusetts.’ There’s this ‘soak the rich’
argument from Jill Stein and Chuck Turner. There’s this story from today’s paper
in which lawmakers, asked to cut programs, dodged their responsibilities (again) and are now patting themselves on the back for doing so. There are a lot of people out there who want to exclusively -- yes, exclusively -- get out of this fiscal mess through taxation. And, oh, they want to preserve the status quo. ...
Preserve the status quo? Absolutely. Look at this Howie column on The Trav and the MDC
. (Confession: Hub Blog once had a summer job with the MDC many, many moons ago. I can say this from personal experience: Howie is being way
too kind to the MDC.) ... And, oh, look at what Tom Keane
is writing about today. Tom tees it up and whacks the point 300 yards in the first three sentences: “School reform could well be a casualty of the commonwealth's fiscal crisis -- not because money is tight, but rather because tight money makes for a good excuse. Over the last few weeks we have seen calls to halt the MCAS graduation requirement and to delay voter-passed bilingual education reforms. Yesterday saw the kickoff of a major push to kill charter schools as well.” Notice, please, how the emphasis is on killing ‘reform.’ ...
And, oh, hey, while we’re at it, let’s look at Brian McGrory’s column
from this morning. Remember Christy Mihos? Turns out he was right about the Big Dig, as the Globe’s series on the status-quo management of the Big Dig proves. Mihos might be a true knucklehead in real life, for all I know, a genuine pain-in-the-ass complainer in general. But he was right about the Big Dig. Again: Notice how McGrory ends the column with a certain reference to ‘reform.’ All I can say is: Good-bye Mass Turnpike. And thanks for the $1 billion status-quo screw ups, you standard-political-protocol morons. ...
Where does this leave us? If I were a business executive looking at all these stories, I’d be damn nervous too about a return to ‘Taxachusetts.’
One last point
: Scot Lehigh
has an intelligent piece on borrowing to help in getting out of the fiscal mess. No objections here. One of many legitimate tools to use in times like these. We’ve borrowed before. We’ll borrow again. But
... but: No reforms, no new taxes. And now Hub Blog shall expand the mantra: No reforms, no new borrowing. Why not? If everyone else is using the fiscal crisis to block reforms, it’s time to fight fire with fire by using the fiscal crisis to promote reform.
Who is John Kerry? (or 'Oh, God, not again!'):
H.D.S Greenway has found the answer: He’s Irish again!
Just wish H.D.S. could have addressed the ‘epiphany’ episode a little more.
Derailing two good projects
: The Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s plan for a botanical garden
is great, but it’s time to pull the plug. They just can’t do it. Put a museum there
. ... But it’s not time to derail the Greenbush line
. We need more rail transit in Massachusetts. Period.
Kerry's post-recovery recovery?:
Mickey Kaus links to an interesting article over at The New Republic
on the subject of John Kerry. Mickey
: "(Kerry's) best hope, after what one hopes will be his speedy post-surgery recovery, may be that his many enemies press the obvious 'two-faced' charge so early and overzealously that it plays out before too many actual voters are paying attention." ... And while you're at it, check out Dan Kennedy's
take on Mickey's coverage of the Kerry-has-cancer story. Didn't see Dan's item from yesterday until just now. My own take was best summed up yesterday here at Hub Blog. I still say: Give the guy a break.
He just learned he has cancer. As for taking on other aspect's of Kerry's life and his presidential campaign, it's still fair game, obviously.
Housing sales, office woes
: An amazing economy
. But I won’t be convinced the economy is recovering until these type of $0 deals
A nation on alert
: It’s finally sinking in. People are stockpiling supplies
in case of an attack. And resolve is hardening. Joan Vennochi
has a solid piece on the inevitability of war. She doesn’t tip her hand too much on how she feels. Perhaps because it doesn’t matter at this point. The die is cast. Other pundits
are coming to the same conclusion, largely because of Colin Powell’s UN presentation last week, according to Mark Jurkowitz. ...
... Meanwhile, the Globe, which last week published this critical editorial
about the administration’s handling of European affairs (and France and Germany in particular), is now taking heavy-duty whacks at France and Germany
, which deserve it. The editorial rightly bashes the administration where it deserves to be bashed. But, if you judge the editorial based on who they go after first and hardest, this is a distinct shift. France and Germany. God, what a pair.
So zany, it’s intriguing
: Mitt’s non-gambling gambling proposal is so zany, it’s intriguing. But it ain’t going anywhere
. ... Howie
hates the idea. Hub Blog? I don’t know. Can’t get worked up over it. If we legally shake some money out of the deep pockets of people who legally pick the pockets of people, I say: Why the hell not? Again, though, it’s going nowhere. It’s an intriguing idea, but too zany. ...
... On the subject of gambling, Cosmo
has an interesting column on what’s wrong with the Lottery. The answer is partly this: Advertising. Or lack thereof. Very strange. They KNOW they can raise more money if they advertise more, but they won’t. ...
... The entire gambling issue doesn’t rev me up. I’m not against it for moral reasons, nor for it for economic reasons. There’s a part of me who says: Fine. Go ahead. The city needs a little more New Orleans-style decadence and naughtiness. Throw in a couple more high-class strip clubs, and out-of-town convention attendees will love it here. That’s how it works. Etc. But there’s another part of me who says: This is Massachusetts. I lived in Illinois when they introduced gambling there. Immediately changed the political landscape. The gaming industry became one of the biggest donors to politicians. Ex-lawmakers made a killing landing lobbying contracts with gaming interests. Nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, wives etc. of lawmakers suddenly started getting jobs with riverboat gambling outfits. Repeat: This is Massachusetts, a political kissing-cousin of Illinois.
Update - 2:35 p.m.
-- Reader M sent in a quick email on the item above about the Lottery and advertising, noting the Lottery can’t advertise because the Legislature, specifically Tom Birmingham, yanked its advertising funds. My response: I worded the item poorly. My use of ‘they’ refers to lawmakers. Cosmo does, in fact, explain the legislative angle in his column. The reader added: “Birmingham’s argument was always that spending tax revenues to induce the commonwealth’s citizens to place a sucker’s bet was inappropriate. I believe — with no evidence — it was also a nice way to take $10 million plus in advertising contracts away from Joe Malone’s friends.” My response: And with no evidence, but with this being Massachusetts, I agree with the Joe theory. Thanks.
‘The capital sluice fund’
: What the heck is the ‘capital sluice fund’
? I mean, I know the Herald described it as “an unrestricted pot of cash that governors have traditionally used to reward supporters with pet projects.” I know. I know. Repeat to yourself Hub Blog: This is Massachusetts. But now the governor’s office and lawmakers are arguing over the $40 million, with some lawmakers saying Mitt’s trying to spend it before lawmakers can get their hands on it. Well, yeah. Duh. Who wouldn’t gobble down the last cookies when they saw Fat Elmo walking toward the kitchen?
‘Friends rule roost in Menino’s world’:
Interesting column from Tom Keane
, who only a week or so ago was nominating Mayor Menino for the U.S. Senate. Now I understand the logic. He just wants him out
of City Hall.
Kerry and cancer
: There is no ‘right’
way or ‘wrong’
way to announce you have cancer. Give the guy a break. He just learned he has cancer.
: Joan Vennochi
, take a bow. He’s listening
. ... This is getting weird. He actually admits mistakes and/or subtly acknowledges bloopers. Is this Massachusetts?
Lame Journalistic Lovefest With Lame Poets Society
: Responding to Hub Blog’s appeal for help
, Reader WS kindly sent in the full text of the Feb. 1 Globe editorial about the White House poetry controversy. No permanent link, alas. Seems the editorial got sucked into the paid-archive vortex (there goes old Ezra Pound again) and we can’t link ya here. But WS’s suggested excerpts are enough to prove my point that there’s nothing more embarrassing than reading journalists waxing poetry about poets. From MS:
“Hello, Am sending along the text of the Globe editorial you were seeking re poets and the White House. Favorite excerpts (from the Globe editorial):
‘What a fine, crackling public debate it would have been if the first lady had said: Let the angry poets come. Let them bring their metaphors of outrage, their similes of despair. Let the poets' grievances clash with the passions of politics. Let poets explain the wisdom of wielding compassion against a man who murders his own people. ...
‘One day there should be a White House that admits that poets are a dangerous bunch, unwilling to let us settle into a pleasant afternoon. These poets poke, prod, and pester -- which is precisely why they can speak so eloquently the beauty of the American voice.’ "
Hub Blog’s response
: It’s as bad as I remember. ... As I was preparing this post last night, a friend and regular Hub Blog reader called up on another matter, so I took the opportunity to read him the excerpts from the editorial. After he listened, there was a long silence and he responded, “Is that a parody? Is this from The Onion?”
Bechtel and the ‘walrus list’ etc.:
Ah, it took a few days of mind-numbing (but necessary) prep work to get to this point in the Globe’s investigative series on Bechtel and the Big Dig. And ...surprise!
... Mitt, you’re a former CEO. Would you have liked it if Bechtel had treated Bain like this? I didn’t think so. Get ‘em!
(Though it may be too late, even if the legislature changes the liability limitations.) ...
... Tommy and the Trav say they’re worried about the rinks, the pools, the kids, the parks. And, gosh darn it, we should closely examine elimination of the MDC
. And don’t forget the ‘walrus list.’ ...
... Ah, Mitt. Someone
who usually doesn’t have nice things to say about you has some very good advice today. Postscript on this item: Hub Blog feels terrible. My head is hanging low. Over the past week, I’ve been spelling Eric’s last name wrong. It’s “Fehrnstrom.” With an ‘h.’ I’ll try to correct it in some of the other past items. My punishment? I will voluntarily not accept pay for Hub Blog for the next week. ...
: “It never ends. Another day, another boondoggle.”
Nobel laureates don’t like tax-cut spaghetti approach
: What? Ten Nobel laureates
are criticizing the Bush administration’s tax-cut spaghetti
plans? I’m shocked. ... Besides the good intellectual/economic cat-fight nature of this story, I also liked it, from a journalistic standpoint, for another reason. Notice how the reporter, Kimberly Blanton, A.) Puts into perspective who these laureates are and where they’re coming from in terms of their political/economic outlook and B.) How high up in the story she put that perspective. A fair, helpful touch that immediately put things into more, well, perspective. The most obnoxious quote in the story comes from Nobel laureate Daniel McFadden, who refers to the proposed tax-cut package as a ''weapon of mass destruction aimed at the middle class.'' ...OK, Hub Blog’s view on all of this? The Bush administration clearly is groping for an answer to the economy’s woes, shuffling around its economic team, coming up with new ideas, throwing tax-cut spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, etc. Listen, I like tax cuts. If they’re well thought out and targeted right. I also don’t mind tax increases now and then. If they’re well thought out and targeted right. I also like keeping a handle on spending and balanced budgets. And so does Andrew Sullivan
, who yesterday fired a conservative warning shot off of George's bow.
War and NATO
: As I noted yesterday in the item immediately below, we’re witnessing truly historic events these days. The future of NATO
, not to be too melodramatic, hangs in the balance. OK, let’s get it out of our system: Bush is not very deft at diplomacy and contributed, to a great degree, to the controversy in Europe. But that’s not the point now, as H.D.S. Greenway
noted the other day in the Globe. The point today is how Saddam is flaunting the UN and, as others have pointed out, how France and Germany are also flaunting the UN and NATO now that the US has embraced a more multilateralist approach toward the crisis. ... Read John McCain’s remarks
about anti-Americanism over at Instapundit. The Europeans are responsible for this mess, too, particularly France and Germany. Arghhhh. France, Germany, evil. ...
... Speaking of the multilateralism/unilateralism debate, check out Andrew Sullivan
(yeah, I’m quoting Andrew and Instapundit a lot these days, but, hey, there’s a war going on) and the ludicrous quote by Arthur Sulzberger Jr. about how this is about unilateralism vs. multilateralism. Yeah, right. And the Bush administration embraces multilateralism and ... and what? France, Germany and the NYT suddenly don’t want to play by the multilateralist rules. As I’ve said before, the entire multilateralist/unilateralist debate is sort of nuts, for there’s no such thing as pure ‘unilateralism’ and ‘multilateralism’ in the real world. You use them in conjunction with each other, like knives and forks
, each with their own distinctive strengths and weaknesses. The Bush administration, reluctantly and perhaps accidentally, discovered the dual use of both. Arthur Sulzberger et gang are now shell-shocked at the multilateralist turn of events. ...
... James Carroll
has a good idea. Carroll thinks we should haul Saddam before a world court for crimes against humanity. And then: “A forceful indictment in such a forum, followed by a trial, verdict, and world-enforced sentence, has an unprecedented potential for a laser-like release of transforming moral energy.” ... Wow. Wonder what he means by ‘world-enforced’? Maybe, after a trial, he means we can all stand up, all across the world, all at one time, and wag our fingers at Saddam and then huff and puff and blow Saddam down with a ‘laser-like release of transforming moral energy.’ You’ve been warned, Saddam.
Bush and Statecraft, Part II
: Got a surprising number of emails about my post yesterday
on this Globe editorial
criticizing Bush’s handling of European affairs -- specifically Rumsfeld’s ‘old Europe’ crack. I disagreed with the editorial. But that’s not the point. The point, now, is the truly historic events, in my opinion, that are now playing out in Europe: France and Germany are now blocking NATO support
for Turkey should that country be attacked by Saddam during war. The French and Germans are literally destroying NATO and the essence of its mission: cooperative security. Here’s a great William Safire column
on Germany. And here’s an interesting op-ed by a German editor
conceding that ‘Round 1’ has gone to “Mr. Big.” And, as usual, Instapundit has tons of material, such as on France’s role in NATO
and Colin Powell’s common-sense views
on the UN. What’s encouraging about the Instapundit items, in particular, is seeing people expressing appreciation for NATO and the UN, despite their obvious and serious flaws, and how we’re headed into truly turbulent waters if they disappear. ...
... An update on Hub Blog’s adapting (but not flip-flopping -- I hope) views on this: Clearly, I was and remain disappointed by the Bush administration’s handling of diplomatic affairs over the past year-- its blustering and condescending rhetoric, its go-it-alone mindset. I firmly believe that the German election ultimately hinged on an anti-Americanism exacerbated by (but not caused by) Bush’s belligerent rhetoric. (See Safire’s quote from the new German opposition leader, who says if her party had been in power, it would have signed the now famous letter by eight other European leaders supporting the US on Iraq.) ...
, we are where we are today -- and the issue is now, for the moment, not Bush. It’s France and Germany. They are now doing everything -- everything
-- that they would have howled at (and did howl at) when the Bush administration played its own unilateralist act. We acted in a unilateralist way, switched gears and went the more (but not entirely) multilateralist route -- and discovered the biggest proponents of multilateralism were hypocrites and preferred their own unilateralist self-interests. Fascinating. Amazing. Historic. After this all blows over (and I’m not convinced it will blow over), I hope three things happen: 1.) The Bush administration tones down its rhetoric and uses a more deft unilateralist/multilateralist mix of diplomatic tools, which it’s been employing with great effectiveness in recent months. 2.) We kick France out of NATO and 3.) We kick France off the UN Security Council. France is a great democracy and has a beautiful culture, but it has a toxic, disruptive, poisonous foreign policy. ... Postscript: Notice in the German editor's column above about how this is 'Round 1' in the match, meaning more is to come. And as usual:
“As Churchill said, the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.”
Soaking the rich, protocol and Eric
: Reader Steve II (not to be confused with Reader Steve of Arlington) writes in with the following:
“Just wanted to throw my two cents in on a couple of things --
“The Ridiculous 'Soak-the-Rich'
op-ed from today [also see Hub Blog item below on ‘Allegations of ..’] and many of the pieces decrying 'cruel' cuts: What I find intellectually dishonest about these pieces is that they fail to mention the 800 lb. (gorrilla) in the room: That 45 percent of voters who wanted to repeal the state income tax, followed by that recent UMASS poll showing 70 percent of voters don't want new taxes. My real fear is that an incremental tax hike now will provoke a backlash. If you don't like a $3b shortfall now, how will you like a $9b shortfall later? You can't argue for higher taxes (or retaining services) without at least acknowledging reality.
“The 'Mitt isn't playing the game' argument [see ‘standard political protocol’ within this linked item
]: I am on the fence on this one -- wasn't he elected to stop playing the game? Part of me really likes that fact that he has no need for approval from the traditional political class (unlike the complex that Weld developed later in his term). The other part of me says that Romney is going to have to play the game at some point.
“An Indirect Defense of Eric Fehrnstrom: EF is the Communications Director for Romney. Romney, from observing at least the first few days, is doing a far better job of communicating (meaning using public pronouncements, talk radio, newspaper editorial boards, etc) than Jane Swift did. Ergo, EF is doing a good job. His spat with that mayor was stupid and should have been put to rest earlier, but I would suggest that we wait before throwing him to the wolves.”
Who is John Kerry? Part (Who cares at this point):
OK, last one. Promise. Sort of. From Mickey Kaus
again, this time with an emphasis on the ‘epiphany.’ Still think Wayne Woodlief’s article
had it just about right on how Kerry could have handled this better. A quote from Wayne’s column last week: “‘He (Kerry) has to be very careful to let his newfound heritage speak for itself,’ not to appear to be exploiting it, said Boston University professor Tobe Berkovitz.”
‘Allegations of cronyism and political horse-trading’
of cronyism and political horse-trading in Massachusetts’ judicial system? Allegations?
In Massachusetts? What Bulger brother was a clerk of something or other in what court of something or other? Was there one or two of them on the court payroll? Forget. Well, OK. The Globe had to be fair in its story. But this is still great news
. Keep going, Mitt. Much, much, much more to be done. Question: When can we storm the Bastille? We’re all excited ...
... The Globe raises some legitimate concerns about making sure elimination of the MDC
doesn’t lead to poorer services. Fair enough. Doug Foy, get on it. ...
... Adrian Walker
gets it. Mitt’s reversal of his proposed mental health cuts showed that something different is happening in Massachusetts: “It involved an unusual act in government -- admitting a mistake.” Don’t want to put words in Walker’s mouth, but Hub Blog got the feeling he was also maneuvering and/or encouraging the governor to display more “disarming candor” on another issue, to wit: On taxes. Methinks he’s right, if that was indeed what Walker was hinting at. More on this later. ...
... Wait. Hub Blog just had a John Kerry-like epiphany: We don’t have to cut or reform or make hard choices or pay for our services. There’s a magic-wand easy way out. We can soak the rich!
Why didn’t we think of that? ...
... But Mayor Menino
is already doing that, in a different sort of way.
There are only 1,500 of them left
: A nice story on a 106-year-old WWI vet
who’s going to be honored by the French government. Just a change in pace. Can’t believe there are still 1,500 American vets alive from World War I. Time marches on. Sad. ... And this is sad
, too. Different war. Same duties.
Waxing poetry on the war:
A lot of other bloggers are having fun with the anti-war poets, such as Instapundit
and Andrew Sullivan
(scroll around until you find the various items). Hub Blog is still kicking myself in the ass for not posting a truly silly, embarrassing Globe editorial from a few weeks ago about the power of poetry to move, blah, blah, blah. (It’s always embarrassing to see journalists sucking up to poets, who otherwise couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag, though they can occasionally think their way into a mental institution, like Ezra Pound.) If anyone can find the Globe editorial, send it Hub Blog’s way. Anyway, Cathy Young
has fun with the holy-poets issue, which involves sanctimonious protests like this
‘The fox guarding the chicken coop’
: The Globe has come as close as anyone could ever hope or expect in getting its arms around the Big Dig’s finances
-- and the result is an ugly picture of arrogance, incompetence and chicken feathers sticking out of the mighty Bechtel's mouth.
‘Let’s solve - not complain’:
Cats and dogs are now sleeping together. Hell has just frozen over. The world has turned upside down. Eileen McNamara
is actually being fair to Mitt. I can’t believe it. Eileen asks some good (though obviously leading) questions that Hub Blog dares to answer: “But the generous individual gestures of the governor and the CEO also prompt a broader question: Is private philanthropy a reasonable or effective substitute for public policy?” Answer: No. They complement each other. “Couldn't new tax revenue be earmarked to preserve the social safety net while Romney mounts his assault on the prevailing political culture on Beacon Hill that so enrages the electorate?” Answer: Yes
-- with this qualification: How much ‘new tax revenue’ are you talking about? Suggestion: Split the difference on the looming $3 billion deficit. Give us $1.5 billion in genuine streamlining, reforms, sensible cuts to get a handle on spending and a good old-fashioned bloody storming of the Bastille for morale purposes etc., and we’ll make up the difference in new taxes to plug the deficit. But no reforms, no new taxes.
Who is John Kerry? Part VI: It won’t go away!
The hip ‘Ladder District’
: I don’t think I’ve ever read a story like this
. Kind of like trying to figure out where all those ‘sick jokes’ come from after a tragic calamity -- and actually discovering the answer. And so now we know how the trendy ‘Ladder District’ got its nickname. Know what? I think it’s great. It’s encouraging to see people, for whatever selfish motives, pushing the image of a neighborhood or region. ... Wait a second. Want to amend that last sentence. It should read: 'It's usually
encouraging to see ...' Remember the laughable attempt by some Lynn officials to rename the city to 'Ocean City,' or whatever? Or the silly and unfortunately somewhat successful attempt by the old Framingham News/Middlesex News/Metrowest Daily News (whatever) to recast the Framingham area as 'MetroWest'? Or the town of Manchester changing its name to the more pretentious but still cheesy Manchester By The Sea?
Bush and statecraft
: As anyone who reads this blog knows, Hub Blog is no fan of the president’s diplomatic skills. So there was a side of me, while starting to read this Globe editorial
on Bush’s handling of our European affairs, that thought I’d end up agreeing with the newspaper’s view. But I didn’t. And I don’t. The editorial is too Franco-German focused. Of course the Elysee Treaty of friendship and cooperation between Germany and France is important. Of course we should encourage greater European integration (as we’ve done, to our great credit, during the post-war decades). But France and Germany have their own selfish national interests at heart -- and, it can easily be argued, they’re now the ones thumbing their noses at the U.N. and the rest of the world, not to mention the rest of the European Union and NATO, all in the name of solidifying their power base within the EU. Bottom line: Donald Rumsfeld wasn’t too far off the mark with his ‘old Europe’ crack. It served a purpose and gave cover for other European leaders to stick it to France and Germany by openly siding with the United States. ... Update - 12:40 p.m.:
Just noticed this Instapundit item
with a link to Tom Friedman's column
about replacing France with India on the Security Council. Makes sense to me. ...Update II - 2:17 p.m. -
And again via Instapundit
, check out this column by the UPI's James Bennett
on the 'old' and 'new' and 'new old' Europe. ...Update III
-- And now look at this NYT article
on what France and Germany are doing to: A.) the UN and B.) NATO. They're treating both institutions like old-fashioned unilateralists. Why? For their own ends. ...
... Along the same lines, Tom Oliphant
writes about the ‘credibility chasm’ between Bush and Colin Powell. Tom: “This is not good cop, bad cop. This is effective leader [Powell], divisive leader [Bush].” Hmmm. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe they work well in tandem
? And, come to think of it, wasn’t it Bush who hired
Powell? And, after pushing for a U.N. role that should have been tried a year ago, isn’t it Powell who’s now scrambling back
to the president’s more hard-line view on Iraq? The president isn’t the Churchillian god that some on the right have portrayed him as in recent months. But he’s clearly been leading in this crisis. He could have done a much better job leading and building consensus. Absolutely. But he’s been leading and setting the agenda. Absolutely. ... (Jeez. I find myself defending Bush today. Odd feeling after weeks of bashing his idiotic rhetoric and extreme unilateralist instincts.)
True grits and junk food
: I still don’t want a McDonalds
on Beacon Hill, even if it sells Ye Olde Baked Beans, or in the North End, even if it sells Paul Revere Frappes. The sooner McDonalds collapses, the better.
Those ‘across the board’ cuts and other issues:
Some emails from readers ...
From reader BK
“Did you notice that this week's Boston Phoenix landed on Mitt regarding the ‘across the board’ percentages of his local aid cuts? Maybe Hubblog could speculate how the the conversational give-and-take might have gone like had Hubblog's favorite Legislative leader given the Governor the leeway to ‘customize’ the local aid cuts city by city, town by town. I bet Mitt would have cut most of the cities less severely and a made deeper local aid cuts to a good many of those towns that helped carry him to victory. As he said himself during the campaign: ‘[I'm not running to be the Governor for the rich.] Rich people don't need my help; they'll get along just fine. ...’ Giving Mitt the ability to adjust the percentages of the local aid cuts city by city, town by town for six months during this fiscal emergency could have been acknowledged as something like giving him a ‘temporary line item veto.’ Too bad for your friend Tom Finneran (Ooops-- did I just ruin your ability to paste my post onto your weblog? I guess I just want you to keep ‘own[ing] your own anger’ about the one legislative leader in America who makes even Tom DeLay appear to be about as tough as a Teletubby).”
Hub Blog’s response
: You didn’t ruin anything. ... Also, I’m assuming you’re referring to this Phoenix editorial
. Didn’t see a reference to ‘across the board’ cuts, but catch your drift. Thanks.
From Brighton Reader --
"Eric Fehrnstrom should not be getting more publicity than his boss. This is the guy in charge of the new communications office overseeing all state public relations? Does he rate being the highest paid member of the administration? He sounds like a jerk, and I have a suspicion he is getting whacked on this incident by reporters for past obnoxiousness."
Kennedy on the war
: As a public service, I throw this chunk of raw meat out to the blogosphere -- an op-ed piece by Ted Kennedy
on the coming war with Iraq. ...
... My own views on Kennedy’s op-ed: Clearly, Kennedy, whose position on Iraq hasn’t gotten the same local attention and scrutiny as John Kerry’s non-stand stand on Iraq, has a flat-out antiwar position, which includes, as one columnist has noted, constantly moving the goal posts. Maybe Kennedy’s gotten a relative pass because he’s, well, Teddy and we’ve learned to expect this from him. My position is more in line with H.D.S. Greenway’s op-ed
yesterday, in which he expressed regret about when, how and why we got to this point, but that we’re now nevertheless at this point -- and we had better deal with it sooner rather than later. I’d add that the future of the U.N. is now at stake. Some are willing to say ‘good riddance’ to the U.N. I’m not one of them. If the U.N. keeps issuing threats and ultimatums at Saddam and then does nothing, the U.N. is nothing. It’s over. It will have lost all credibility. And that will be a tragedy. The U.N. has to stand firm on this. ... About the only thing I agree with in Kennedy’s op-ed is the administration’s somewhat loose talk of possibly using nukes. Know some of that talk is necessary for deterrence reasons; George H.W. Bush’s administration sent similar signals to Saddam in Gulf War I, but ... saw the “McLaughlin Group” last night and the consensus of most of the panel, both conservatives and liberals, seemed to be, to varying degrees, that: A.) Nukes won’t/shouldn’t be used and B.) They agreed with Kennedy on that issue. There’s just a sense -- again -- that the current administration’s rhetoric has gotten out of hand.
: Howie Carr
is one of the few local pundits who has already feasted on Kennedy’s Iraq position. Example: “More and more, Ted sounds like his old man, circa 1939, when he was sending cables to FDR from London counseling appeasement of Adolf Hitler, complimenting Neville Chamberlain on the bang-up job he was doing selling out the Czechs.” ... However, this column is perhaps a classic example of why one should cite Howie with extreme care. Notice all the personal attacks and digs at Kennedy. (I mean, making fun of a 70-year-old guy’s shaking hand?) The last two lines are incredible. Why the racial reference? Why? In a way, this Howie column itself is also a chunk of raw meat thrown out to the blogosphere. ...
Update - 9:30 a.m. -
NYT columnist Bill Keller
, a wary warmongering baby-boom liberal, has just joined the 'The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club.' I'm not a member of his Vietnam-era club, nor do I consider myself a liberal. But there are a lot of moderates, moderate conservatives and even some conservatives who agree with many of the same points in Keller's piece.
‘This was a mistake. ...’:
Hats off to the Romney administration for listening and willing to reverse itself on mental health cuts
. ''We have pretty much decided this was a mistake. This was a core service,'' Health and Human Services Secretary Ron Preston said. ''I'm not embarrassed about whether mistakes happen along the line. The question is, are you going to reconsider what you've done.'' ...However, a few grafs later, the administration indicates it may have to cut this ‘core service’ next fiscal year. Go figure. ...
... This is NOT a hats off item on behalf of the administration. They have let go, fired, whatever,
a campaign aide who had landed a job within the administration, after the Globe, sensing the administration had again broken its own promise about not hiring campaign workers, started poking around her employment status. This is the second time
in the past few days when the administration has been caught toying around with its no-patronage/no-campaign workers pledge. Which leads to this question: Why the hell did he ever make such an unrealistic pledge in the first place? Every administration needs -- at the top-level and in other sensitive positions -- people who philosophically agree with its political views. Otherwise, it would be next to impossible to implement a philosophical/ideological agenda. As Hub Blog has noted before, the administration might want to take a gander at the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Rutan
, in which the court specifically spells out what is ‘legitimate’ patronage (for lack of other words) and what is illegal patronage (usually non-management positions). The governor should read Rutan
, spell out Rutan
to the public -- and announced that’s the way it’s going to be. Until then, he’s boxed himself in with a silly, unrealistic hiring policy that the press, inevitably and justifiably, is going to keep after.
Greater Boston and Joan's column
: I really hate to bring up the ‘Who is John Kerry?’ issue again, but I watched ‘Greater Boston’s’ Beat the Press program last night. (Yes, I was in full PBS mode last night.) They had a segment on Joan Vennochi’s much-publicized/praised/maligned column on Kerry
and the ensuing controversy. Joan, who didn’t appear on the program, relayed news that she’s received hundreds of emails, apparently most of them vile in nature, regarding her column. Don’t know what the emails said, but it was suggested some might have referred to alleged anti-Semitism in her column. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I heard it incorrectly. But let me quickly defend her column (which I liked) nevertheless on that specific point: There was no
anti-Semitism in her column. None
. Not an ounce
. If that’s what some or most of the email criticism was about, she’s getting a truly bum rap. Read the article for yourself. Forget whether you agree with the ‘no core’ part about Kerry. (I happen to agree with the ‘no core’ part, FYI.) Do you see any anti-Semitism? I don’t. ... So let’s drop the issue. It's ridiculous and grossly unfair.
Habib Koite, known here
: Habib Koite
is my favorite African musician and one of my favorite musicians, period. Beautiful, beautiful music. ‘Ma Ya’ is a classic CD. Koite and his band, Bamada, play here this weekend.
Mitt vs. the mayors:
It’s getting ugly. Really ugly. I don’t know who to knock first -- the obnoxious mayors or the obnoxious behavior of Eric Fehrnstrom for an incident that, unfortunately, is coming to symbolize the relationship between the mayors and the administration. OK, let’s start with the mayors, since I already I knocked Eric yesterday. We’ll take ‘em in numerical order:
I. The behavior and words of Salem Mayor Stanley Usovicz yesterday
were gross and child-like. The mayor yesterday, throwing cheap shots at Mitt for wanting to close a polluting plant: ``You know, if you're a wealthy CEO, I'm sure closing businesses and throwing people out of work is an easy decision.”
II. Read this line from the same Herald story about what’s really bugging Usovicz and other mayors: “Tensions have been simmering toward a boil since Romney took office a month ago, as local leaders stew over Romney's budget cuts and his refusal to subscribe to standard political protocol.”
OK, the mayors have a right to be upset about state aid cuts, though people like moi and others will argue the cuts are A.) Necessary and B.) Not nearly as devastating as mayors, who saw spectacular growth in local aid in the ‘90s, are asserting. ('No the sky isn’t falling.’
) Keep in mind: Lawmakers gave Mitt the power to make cuts, and some have even had the gall to moan
that he didn’t cut enough. ...
... But the part about subscribing to ‘standard political protocol’? A little trickier. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Mitt doesn’t/didn’t meet with individual mayors after announcing his local aid cuts. I know he made a great PowerPoint presentation at a meeting of mayors etc. Admire him for going into the lion’s den to give the bad news. But there’s nothing to lose -- nothing
-- by meeting with individual mayors to hear them out, even if the state’s fiscal crisis precludes Mitt from acting on many of their complaints regarding local aid. Just hear ‘em out. Ah, but let’s be careful about subscribing too much to ‘standard political protocol’ in this state. At times, it’s wise to say ‘screw’ to the standard political protocol of Massachusetts. It’s the ‘standard political protocol’ in this state that partly got us where we are today -- the Quinn bills, the Scam-o-ramas, the machine, the hacks, the petty power plays and bickering, the land deals, the judgeships, the pension games, the cozy contracts, the permanent bureaucracy, the late-night legislative anctics and the, well, general rancor that was here well before Mitt.
III. Mitt is mishandling
the Eric Fehrnstrom incident. Sure, he should stand by his aide. But he should also personally apologize to the mayor and make it clear he doesn’t condone Fehrnstrom’s actions -- actions, it should be noted, that Fehrnstrom now feels compelled to apologize for, which sort of verifies the general descriptions given about the incident, right?
IV. Bottom line: Mitt is making all the right tough decisions on the budget, but his administration is hopefully learning a lesson or two on common-sense diplomacy.
: I posted an ‘Eric, Eric, Eric ...’ item yesterday, but last night I noticed a problem on the Hub Blog site: There were two of the same ‘Eric, Eric, Eric’ items, both garbled and a mess. Figured it was a blogger glitch that mysteriously fixes itself after a few hours. It happens. But this morning, same thing: Two items, garbled etc. So I tried to fix the item(s) but ended up canceling it (them). Any ideas about what happened? Anyway, the gist of the item was: Eric was behaving like a jackass. Sorry if anyone linked to the item(s).
More on the budget front. ...:
Need a dose of sanity after reading too much about the antics of mayors and press secretaries? Read Steve Bailey’s column
this morning about going after the corporate-tax loopholes. Steve: “No one wants to go back to the bad old Taxachusetts days; well-crafted tax incentives are an important part of any economic policy. But closing tax loopholes, like the ones Romney is going after, should be a priority.”
More on the hack front ...:
Mitt has quietly rescinded
his rescinding of 27 appointments made in the final ‘standard political protocol’ days of the Swift administration. Turns out Mitt didn’t have the authority. Well, it was a noble effort. ...
Reilly, watch these guys
: As I’ve said before, pay close attention to deregulation of the wholesale electricity market
in New England. Hub Blog has very bad vibes about this. The problem is not deregulation. The problem is the monopolization of the market. Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly says the plan is “fraught with peril for ratepayers.” If he goes after these guys, it should be on the anti-trust front.
Europe, Iraq and past and future wars
: Nice piece by Charlie Sennott
on Europeans’ worries about the coming war on Iraq. I don’t think the World War II memories fully account for European opposition and anxieties. There’s also a lot of anti-Americanism, hypocrisy (especially among the leaders of France and Germany) and geopolitical jealousy at play, etc. Nonetheless, the article reminded me of a book I read a few years ago, called “Aftermath: The Remnants of War,” by Donovan Webster. There’s a chapter in there about how the French are still cleaning up -- and blowing up -- huge quantities of unexploded mines, shells, grenades etc. from the war. Oh, not from World War II, but from World War I. Vast portions of northeast France are still uninhabitable because of the dangers. ... So, yes, World War II memories are still quite vivid in Europe, but ...
... H.D.S. Greenway
writes a compelling piece about the compelling case for war against Iraq. Noting how he’s argued before that “pursuing Iraq at this juncture was a mistaken priority,” he nevertheless concludes: “The choice today is containment or war. My fear is that containing Iraq is a failed policy and that if we choose containment over war, we will still get war, and a worse war when Saddam has achieved his clandestine weapons goals.” ... Perhaps a mention here of a review of the new ‘Quiet American’ movie
isn’t logical, but it sounds like a great movie and, yes, appropriate, in its own way, as we talk of liberating other lands from tyranny. Hub Blog also is a big fan of Graham Greene.
-- Hey, just noticed this article in the Christian Science Monitor
, also about Europeans' views on Iraq, past wars and America. It ends with these quotes:
" 'Europeans will be happy to see the end of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, but they don't want to expend the blood and treasure themselves,' adds Joffe. 'Call it chicken, or call it moral, but it's a mixture of cold, calculated realpolitik -- staying out of harm's way -- and keeping the moral superiority of having overcome the atavism of war.' "
‘Call it what you will’
: The past few days have been very strange and traumatic for Hub Blog. First, I found myself praising a Joan Vennochi column. Then I saw someone who might usually defend a Joan Vennochi column criticizing a column that I had praised. It was as if the local blogosphere had gone mad -- mad I tell you! Anyway, the world is returning to normal. Joan is back to her half-baked ideas
. And I do mean half-baked. ... Joan on Mitt’s local aid cuts and how they impact Democratic-led cities more: ‘That political payback or reality -- call it what you will -- is not entirely Romney's doing. When state legislators voted last month to allow the new governor to cut local aid, they set rules. One was that Romney could not change the local aid formulas established when this year's budget was passed. That meant Romney could not direct the cuts, he had to make them across the board.” ... But then she adds: “These two facts are true about the residents of these cities: They supported O'Brien over Romney. They also make up the state's neediest, most diverse populations.” ... So when you can’t pin down with facts
that Mitt was trying to screw Democratic cities, you drag in two other facts in order to support the thumb-sucking conjecture and innuendo. Or call it what you will.
Who is John Kerry? Part V
-- And now Wayne Woodlief
is getting in on the fun. Read on until you find the bonus ‘like an epiphany’ quote. And the John Kerry ‘voyage of self-discovery’ continues. ... See other 'Who is John Kerry?' posts below, as well as the above item, for more context and texture.
No, no, no -- wrong direction
: C’mon, MBTA. Keep the ‘night owl’ service
. It’s popular. Mitt should definitely intervene. This has nothing to do with the state’s budget deficit, so his no-new-taxes pledge doesn’t apply. We should be expanding MBTA services, not reducing them. The MBTA is in debt. No doubt. It’s also in need of reform. Also no doubt. So: Reform, raise revenues, expand services. However: No reforms, no new taxes, no new services.
Colin Powell’s U.N. home run
: It was a great but sad day for those of us who believe in the deft use of both unilateralism and multilateralism diplomacy
. Powell was great. The news he presented was sad. And war draws closer, inevitably, unless a miracle occurs, like Saddam being deposed. How can those who saw yesterday’s presentation and who have repeatedly asked for a U.N. role to resolve the crisis now back down from the realities we saw yesterday? But they are.
Kennedy’s reaction wasn’t a surprise. He’s been pretty consistent in his antiwar stand. But look at, um, John Kerry’s position: ''Convincing evidence of Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction should trigger, I believe, a final ultimatum from the United Nations for a full, complete, immediate disarmament of those weapons by Iraq. Over the next hours, I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to fully examine the evidence offered by the secretary for a complete and close reading. But, on its face, the evidence against Saddam Hussein appears real and compelling.'' ... More tough-talking gobbledygook. ...
Check out Margery Eagan’s column
on the same subject. Margery: “By noon the specter of war and images of another terror attack -- images stored away if not forgotten in the 16 months since the planes left Logan -- they were back again, front and center, full color, constructed methodically, compellingly with numbers and details and aerial photos and intercepted conversations. All this was rolled into a speech 80 ominous minutes long by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Surely, he is the lone man in Bush's administration who could pull off what he did. ... ‘This is evidence, not conjecture,’ Powell said. ‘This is true,’ he said. My guess is that when polling data comes in, most of America will think so, too.” ... I think so, too. ...
... Margery also has a quote from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin: ``It makes you feel like something has to be done. It (the U.N. presentation) was powerful. ... My only worry still is if (Saddam's) cornered. Wouldn't he then as his last gasp use all (this weaponry)? I can't imagine him going happily into the sunset.'' ... It’s my worry, too. It’s everyone’s worry. ...
... Finally, Brighton Reader
sent in the following letter last night, tackling the issue of ‘unilateralism’ vs. ‘multilateralism.’ It was written, he says, last week and may be a little outdated. In a way, it is. The Bush administration is now showing a great effort (and skill and patience) at balancing the unilateralist and multilateralist knives and forks. I’ve been impressed. But I still think Brighton Reader
has some good points. Here goes:
“Since the Second World War, foreign policy in both parties has been dominated by what I would call ‘internationalists,’ people who believed the United States had to take a leadership role in the world, politically, militarily and economically. There were differences between and within the Democrats and Republicans, but there was an assumption that we and the world were better off because of this involvement. One principle that the internationalists practiced was that it was better to operate with our allies and within multilateral organizations, than without them, providing it was consistent with our overall goals and interests and the various groups functioned in a rational, orderly way. It wasn't a prerequisite to action, but allies were seen as assets. What disturbed me about the Bush administration's initial push for Iraqi disarmament is that there seemed to be an assumption that working with anyone else was a sign of weakness, something to be avoided. Accept the use of foreign bases, some troops, ships and airspace, but only as needed or as a bit of tokenism.
“After September 11 other countries wanted to assist us. The other NATO members offered to vote in favor of invoking the clause that called an attack on one an attack on all. This would have been the first time this part of the treaty had ever been activated.
“This is all going to make our work more difficult in policy areas outside of Iraq. Trade, the environment, nuclear proliferation, you name it and we are going to get smacked. And cruise missiles are not going to be of any use.”