October 03, 2007
Bush To Kids: Drop Dead
As expected, President Bush today vetoed a proposed expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). By now, faithful readers of this website are familiar with the administration's arguments--and the many flaws they contain. (If not, see here and here.) But I can't help but seize on one of the statements Bush just made while making a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: "the policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage." Really?
If Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were liberal and University of Chicago English Professor Richard Stern were conservative, the latter's ugly little missive on Open University would already have been loudly denounced as racist by all the right people. But such are the double-standards of our political discourse. Stern's post is patronizing throughout (he refers to "young Clarence"), and doesn't really say anything until the end.
I'll Be Watching You
Some of you may recall that I have several times (here and here) urged (in this space and at public meetings) that Mahmoud Ahamdinejad be a put on a "watch list" that would prevent him from entering the United States. All it takes is a declaration by the U.S. Department of Justice and one wonders why the administration has refrained from issuing one. A sitting president of a foreign country has already been placed on such an interdict, and that was Kurt Waldheim when he was president of Austria. Of course, Waldheim had been a Nazi...but a small time one.
Clarence Thomas is back in the prints, and so is Anita Hill. Before you rush to Hill's corner, let me call your attention to the sympathetic review of a Ken Foskett's book, Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas, that appeared in the October 25, 2004 issue of TNR. The review was written by David J. Garrow, that great chronicler of the civil rights movement and the author of Bearing the Cross, a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. It surprised readers then, and it will surprise readers now.
October 02, 2007
Campaigning in Iowa yesterday, Fred Thompson explained the wisdom of the Iraq war thus, according to CNN: "We can't forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, [Saddam Hussein] clearly had had WMD," Thompson said. "He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program, and in my estimation his intent never did change."... "Saddam Hussein, today, had we not gone in, would be sitting on this [powder] keg and be in control of the whole thing," Thompson predicted. "He would have been the new dictator of that entire region in my estimation.
A Question For Justice Thomas
In his Washington Post op-ed today, Eugene Robinson makes this key point about the suddenly ubiquitous Clarence Thomas: Thomas said in the interview that the scorched-earth battle over his confirmation wasn't really about him, it was about abortion. Yet at other points he made clear that the whole thing was about him, specifically his commission of the ultimate sin: He is (drum roll, please) a black conservative. The interview in question was the one Thomas gave to Steve Kroft during 60 Minutes on Sunday.
Politico has the text. Before he gets to the nuclear abolition bit, he escalates his criticism of Hillary over her Iraq vote (though still without naming her--or John Edwards, to whom the same critique can apply): Some seek to rewrite history. They argue that they weren't really voting for war, they were voting for inspectors, or for diplomacy. But the Congress, the Administration, the media, and the American people all understood what we were debating in the fall of 2002. This was a vote about whether or not to go to war.
I'm a little late on this, but here's another comment that stood out when I went over the transcript of Bill Clinton's "Meet the Press" appearance this weekend: I think she's the best suited, best qualified nonincumbent I've had a chance to vote for for president for this moment in time. So I don't want to see her eliminated because, because we've been together for so long, and we've had a life we enjoyed immensely and--because I always thought, when we were going together in law school, I thought--I literally told her she shouldn't marry me because she was more gifted than me at politics.
October 01, 2007
The Military And Academia
The attempt by the country's leading law schools to ban recruiters from the military's Judge Advocate General Corps has long been a self-indulgent and, ultimately, futile effort. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (the ostensible reason for the schools' ban, something of a cover for these institutions' deeper and decades-long hostility to the military) came about via congressional statute and can only be repealed by Congress.
There's a fabulous article in the Washington Post today on the troubled history of our struggle against IEDs in Iraq. Two things stand out. When I think about IEDs, I tend to put mental emphasis on the word "improvised" -- and envision a box with frizzled metal wires sticking out of it, like something you'd see at a high school science fair. The Post piece details just how ingenious and flexible the bomb-makers can be, and how sophisticated the market for them has become.