Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Gary Hart Has a Blog

It looks like Hart is posting on alternate days. Here’s a sample:

I’ve been meeting with students and activists in Durham, Manchester, Hanover, Boston, Amherst, and New Haven and I have been hearing some common themes…Heidi Brooks, a business school student, asked me “how will we know when the war is won?” We’ll know the war is won when we withdraw the last of the American forces from the region.

This link is not an endorsement of Hart (I don’t think he can win, which is perhaps unfortunate since Hart has–or should have–substantial credibility on the subject of anti-terrorism). As far as I can tell, the principle flaw with Hart’s blog is the blogroll, which is at least one link short. It would be nice if more of the field added blogs, assuming they are not vacous and ghost-written statements, press releases disguised as blogs. Just for fun, ponder briefly what blogs by G. W. Bush and John McCain would have looked like in the spring of 2000 (say, during the South Carolina primary); even better, consider Gore and Bush blogs between the 2000 election and the final Supreme Court ruling.
AB

P.S. Taking cheap shots might be viewed by some as somehow giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy so I probably shouldn’t, but I try as I might I can’t stop myself from suggesting www.hungrycaterpillar.blogspot.com [for Bush’s campaign blog].

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Angry Bear Back from Vacation

I guess the headline says it all. Europe was great and the people were friendly to Americans–at least to us. Unfortunately, I didn’t talk much to the locals about war views. I guess I wasn’t real anxious to approach people and say “Hi, I’m American, what do you think about the war?” Here’s one exchange, which occurred in a pool hall in Brussels:

European: You’re American? How do you feel about the war?

AB: We’re against, she (“Honey Bear”?) is entirely, and I am against without UN and NATO being on board. [pause]…I suppose you’re against?

European: Why? Because I’m Muslim?

AB: No, because you’re European.

European: Yes, I’m against.

Then we played snooker. AB won.

More interesting were the conversations with Americans upon my return. Here’s an unfortunately typical exchange:

American: How was your trip?

AB: I had a great time.

American: Good. Were they mean to you because you are an American?

AB: No, they were quite nice, even the French.

American: You spent money in France?

AB: Yes, lots.

American: I hate the French.

AB: Don’t you see the contradiction in supporting a “war for democracy and freedom” while hating countries that are actual democracies when the leaders of those countries follow a course that reflects the will of 80 to 90 percent of their citizens?

American: I hate the French.

AB: Another beer, please.

In any event, I have to catch up on (1) real work, (2) the news, and (3) my favorite bloggers. Normal posting should resume tomorrow.

AB

P.S. In the meantime, there’s this for your consideration: Is this the second dip? Recent economic numbers show contraction has already begun.

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Paris Scenes

We caught the tail end of a protest in the Place de Concorde last night. It ended at 5:00 and we didn’t get there till around 5:30, so the pictures below don’t show the full turnout. The most notable aspect was the lack of any overt anti-Americanism…the signs were all peace oriented as opposed to “bush=hitler” and things along those lines. “No war for oil” was about as extreme as it got. We were speaking English and got no dirty looks or comments, which was a nice surprise. Here’s a few shots from the protest:

1. The crowd:

2. The police:

3. More crowd:

4. A sign left at the plaza (about as anti-American as it got):

AB

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London Dispatch

For the most part it seems like business as usual in London, with scattered sightings of protesters here and there, and some anti-war signs on buses. Upon arriving in Picadilly Square, I did see a group of people with “Shag Iraq” T-shirts–which could really be either a pro or anti-war message…in this case, I think it was anti. Saturday, we saw a group of several hundred sign-waving protesters on their way to a rally in Hyde Park that drew around 100,000 people, which is impressive, but 1/10th the turnout at the last pre-war protest.

Finally, reading the London Times this morning, I skimmed an editorial and in the process thought to myself “what moron wrote this?” Looking to the byline, it was none other than the transplanted Londoner, Andrew Sullivan. You can’t get away from him.

AB

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Angry Bear on Vacation

I’ll be out of the country, in the UK and France Freedom, on a personal vacation that was booked some time ago and is completely unrelated to anything geopolitical in nature.

I do hope to post perhaps on alternate days or perhaps every third day. Hopefully, I’ll get some interesting European perspectives and sentiment about the war from the random people we meet. And if I can get my new digital camera to work, there will be pictures as well.

Normal posting resumes around 4/2.

AB

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Roundup

  • Ampersand has an excerpt worth reading from a letter Rachel Corrie wrote to her parents, shortly before her death. (Regardless of which side you take on Israel/Palestine, there is unarguably much suffering in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Rachel Corrie first gave up comfort and then her life to do what she thought was right).

  • Via ArgMax, Forbes has a poll on the question “Which do you think is the best blog about the economy?” Right now, “None of the Above” is leading with 59% of the vote. Perhaps a sea of AB readers are protesting my exclusion from the list? (In fairness to ArgMax, his blog is much more closely focused on the economy than mine). And while we’re on the subject of ArgMax, read this “Do Deficits Matter?” post (if you don’t have time, the answer is yes).

  • Kos says it well: “In yet another stunning victory for Bush and his economic team, first-time jobless claims remained above the magic 400,000 mark for the fifth straight week. In the week of March 15, 421,000 lost their jobs. Even better news for Bush (and bad news for his enemy — the American working people) was the more salient 4-week moving average [also above 400,000]”. See this for more.

  • A lot of you have seen the Clear Channel Funded the Pro-War Rallies, notably the Atlanta one, stories moving around the web and Chicago Tribune. Credit to Digby who last Thursday (3/16) looked at a picture from one of the rallies and asked presciently “Where did all those exact same sized flags come from, anyway? Who paid for them?”.
  • I’m already very tired of hearing about “embedded” reporters. I believe that is code for “shown what the Pentagon wants them to see”.

  • Mortgage rates are up. Car and home buying–fueled by low rates–are two important sectors propping up GDP these days.

  • And if you didn’t read it before, read this post from yesterday.

  • Also, if you missed them, you should really see the re-captioned ready.gov safety posters.

  • Via Joe Conason, this BBC piece on Blix, who said, “We had made rapid start. We did not have any obstacles from the Iraqi side in going anywhere. They gave us prompt access and we were in a great many places all over Iraq…[the Americans] lost patience some time at the end of January or the beginning of February…I somewhat doubt that when (the Security Council) got the resolution last November they really intended to give under three-and-a-half months for inspections.”

AB

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Nobody likes us, but there’s some optimism on Iraq

This Pew Report, America’s Image Further Erodes, Europeans Want Weaker Ties…But Post-War Iraq Will Be Better Off, Most Say, is worth reading. Here’s a good graph, but there’s a lot more there.



Another interesting quote from the report: “More than seven-in-ten of the French (73%) and Germans (71% ) see the Iraqi public benefiting from the end of the war. Only in Russia and Turkey is there significant pessimism that war may worsen conditions in the region.” Here’s hoping the French and Germans are right. Another fairly optimistic sentiment: Russia and Turkey are the only two countries that see the war destabilizing the Middle East.
AB

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias points out that it’s a bit hard to understand how, given the quote above, France and Germany could still oppose the war. I also think it’s a bit odd and spent some time pondering the question. Upon reflection, it’s not entirely inconsistent. Here’s the actual survey question: “If Iraq is disarmed and Saddam Hussein is removed from power by the U.S. and its allies, do you think the people of Iraq will be better off or worse off in the long run than they are now?” Whether or not the French and Germans are contradicting themselves depends on how long the long run is, and also what the responders took “and its allies” to mean. If accurate, though, these 70+% numbers suggest that more–and more deftly handled–statesmanship may well have been able to win UN, or at least NATO, approval for a second resolution with “automaticity”.

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Angrier Bear

Not so long ago, I echoed CalPundit’s sentiment that “… the Standard really a more interesting, more unpredictable, and basically more honest conservative magazine than National Review?”. Well all it takes is the impending start of war for the Standard to go off the deep end. Here’s a typical hyperbolic quip by the author: “the United Nations, which is now a theme park for anti-American hatred”. Of course the writer is Austrailian, making him a member of one of the “group of 30” nations supporting–but not committing troops to–the U.S. (ok, I’ve read somewhere that the Australians will send either 100 or 1,000 troops, but I don’t consider either of those numbers to be “support”). Fortunately, Ezra Klein is here to give a thorough Fisking to this silly essay.

This is important, people. Repeat this until it sinks in: opposing the war with Iraq is not the same thing as hating America. Failing to grasp this makes you an idiot. It’s the classic syllogism mistake:

Correct:


All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.

Incorrect:


All men are mortal.
Ann Coulter is mortal.
Therefore Ann Coulter is a man.

So while those who do in fact hate America likely oppose the war, opposing the war does not mean that you hate America. Use some logic, damn it. Similarly, those who support the war don’t ipso facto hate Muslims.

AB

Note: why do I say “likely”? Well, even many on the Right argue that bin Laden’s objective was to start a Holy War between the West, primarily the U.S., and the Muslim World, so some of those who hate America may support the war. Assume OBL’s objective was in fact to start such a war. This makes him pro-war, but it really, really, doesn’t make make him pro-American.

UPDATE: The syllogism mistake nearly perfectly describes House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert, who in response to criticism of the president by Tom Daschle said “[Daschle’s] comments may not undermine the president as he leads us into war, and they may not give comfort to our adversaries, but they come mighty close.” I like Josh Marshall’s take on Hastert: “Almost needless to say, Senator Daschle is a Vietnam vet, Air Force intelligence, if I remember correctly. Hastert, during the same years, was otherwise occupied.”

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