Daily Archives: November 18, 2003

Blogosphere Round-Up: Bush Won’t Face Parliament in London

Ezra at pandagon:

Murdering terrorists attacking our troops?Bring it ON!

Heckling by old white men?

Um, I’d rather not bring it on, if it’s all the same to you.

That’s the problem with the Bush Administration. When it comes to them, they never “Bring it ON!”, preferring instead to bury the offending report, release the unpleasant news on Friday night, or ignore the British Parliament. I want to see more of this stuff brought on…

Kieran at Crooked Timber:

One might have thought that a leader with thicker skin might have told the begrudgers to “Bring it on.” Bush’s aversion to explaining himself to people who might talk back is well known, of course, but it seems insulting to treat the representative body of your staunchest ally in this way. Some Tories appear to think so, too, though most of the anglospheroids seem content to bash Red Ken instead.Needless to say, the spin on the visit — see the same ABC news story — is that Bush is in London to “address” and “confront” those who doubt his policy in Iraq. He’ll just be doing this without, you know, addressing or confronting anyone.

Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom:

Does it matter that George Bush won’t address the British parliament during his current visit? Of course it does. If the President is willing to launch wars and involve other nations in that adventure, the least he can do is explain himself to their elected representatives and hell, take a bit of verbal flack. It won’t kill him, which is more than you can say for many of those who marched off to fight his war for him.****************

Then again, I don’t agree with those who say it is a particular snub to the British parliament: it’s not like he opens himself up to hostile questioning at home. Presidential press conferences, especially ones where the questions aren’t vetted, are as rare WMD in Iraq.

I also don’t think it is a matter of cowardice on Bush’s part – it is simply arrogance. And that’s ultimately the point, I guess. Nothing underlines the haughty arrogance of this guy more than his unwillingness to explain himself at length in front of the democratic institutions, at home and abroad. Even in Austalia, where he actually did make one of his trademark charm-bracelet speeches of interlocked platitudes he was well-protected from the very mild interjection by an overly protective Speaker of the House and thuggish members of the government.

And so having experienced that little bit of turbulence in Australia, he has seen to it that he doesn’t experience anything like it in Britain.

Bush Won’t Meet with Troop Families Who Think He’s Wrong

Via BUZZFLASH, London’s Daily Mirror is claiming that while Bush will meet with some families of British troops killed in Iraq, he won’t meet with any who think he’s wrong

White House aides were still locked in dispute over which relatives of dead British troops will meet the president amid fears he may be met with hostility.*****************

Downing Street admitted the president would meet relatives, and soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, on Thursday.

But asked if that included relatives of troops killed in this year’s Iraq conflict, Mr Blair’s spokesman replied: “The precise composition is still being worked on.”

It implied Mr Bush will not meet those bereaved families who believe the public was misled into conflict.

Wouldn’t surprise me if they’re right, After all, he’s refused to meet with the familes of any Americans killed in Iraq, or even acknowledged their deaths, for political reasons. And it’s typical of him that he would refuse to meet with the families of dead soldiers who disagree with his policies for fear “he may be met with hostility.” Junior is a serious weenie–it appears he can’t brook disagreement even from the families of people who have died for him.

But then, shameful behaviour is becoming routine for the Bushies. Tom DeLay’s using a children’s charity to do an endrun around the soft-money financing laws; Billy Tauzin and Pete Domenici got a so-called “energy bill” passed which is little more than a gift package of protection from lawsuits, yet more tax breaks, and obscene subsidies to the oil and gas gang; and the Publican Congress as a whole is busy “supporting our troops” by cutting their pay, benefits, and health care, and making them buy their own equipment.

Make you proud to be an American, don’t they?

Judge Roy Beaned

A woman named Mary Schulken who is the editorial page editor for something called the Greenville Daily Reflector (good name for a paper) does some reflecting on Judge Roy Moore in a guest editorial in today’s AJC. It’s worth reading both for what it says and the clarity in the way she says it. It ends:

When a judge flaunts the law and wraps that act in God, it tells us what we need to know. The controversial slab of granite in Alabama is nothing more than a monument to arrogance.But when he becomes a folk hero, it suggests a perilous ignorance of the fundamental principle that safeguards religious freedom in America. For the good people who measure the worth of their souls by the Ten Commandments, those words are a source of constant hope and inspiration.

Yet freedom of worship requires more than the vigorous practice of one’s own faith. It demands, without fail, we exercise respect, tolerance and sensitivity toward differing beliefs.

Those acquainted with the teachings of Jesus Christ recognize that philosophy.

“Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them,” he says in the book of Matthew.

Funny, Judge Roy Moore didn’t say anything about that

James Madison couldn’t have said it any better.

Addendum: I posted the above before reading the other editorials, and look what else I found: a smart, acidic take on Moore and other Christian theocrats written by a Georgia high-school senior, JC Boyle. Here’s a sample:

Moore must have been attending an abstinence rally the day they covered the First Amendment in law school, because two tons of Judeo-Christian religious law sitting in a courtroom constitutes an establishment of religion.Even his argument that Mosaic law influenced the American legal system is absurd. The first four commandments are clearly religious in nature and serve no other purpose, and only three of the commandments (murder, theft and bearing false witness) are established law.

Moore’s supporters are guilty of a peculiar hypocrisy. When a federal judge ordered “Roy’s Rock” away from the courthouse, an angry supporter of theocracy shouted before the television cameras to the movers, “Take your hands off my god!” thus violating the fourth commandment against “graven images.”

Good point, JC.

Terrorist Futures Market: Place Your Bets

This little gem was brought to my attention by Kryton over at ChristopherLydon.org. I don’t know whether to thank him or wish he had minded his own business.Remember John Poindexter’s flyer at the Pentagon a couple of months ago? The one where he was going to create a Terrorism Futures Market so rich investors could bet on when and where the next bombing or kidnapping was going to be? Remember how shocked and outraged we all were? Remember how the reaction was so negative, appalled as we all were, that the Pentagon was forced to kill the project? Bet you thought, “Well, that’s the end of that bad idea.” I did.

Well, we were wrong:

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – A U.S. government plan to create a market allowing traders to bet on the likelihood of terror attacks and other events in the Middle East has been revived by the private firm that helped develop it.The market, called the Policy Analysis Market (PAM), will allow traders to buy and sell contracts on political and economic events in the Middle East, including assassinations, the overthrow of regimes and terrorist attacks. The market is scheduled to start trading next spring.

Yup. To quote Kryton, “It’s ba-a-ack!” Only this time it’s going to be run by only one of the original private partners:

The Pentagon’s partners in the venture would have been San Diego-based market technology firm Net Exchange and the Economist Intelligence Unit, publisher of the Economist magazine. The Economist is no longer involved, and Net Exchange is pursuing the venture alone, according to its president, Charles Polk.In response to the highly charged criticisms that ended the Pentagon’s association with the project, Polk noted the market is designed mainly as a research tool, not unlike the Iowa Electronics Markets, which have done a pretty good job of predicting the outcomes of presidential elections.

“It is potentially an interesting alternative to Gallup polls or to specialists reporting from the region,” Polk said. “It’s a way of going directly to individuals in the region or outside who have knowledge or interest in the political and economic events in the area.”

Polk said Net Exchange would initially limit the amount of money traders could invest in the market, so that people won’t be profiting from violence or upheaval in the region.

What’s more, the futures contracts would be based on general questions, such as the likelihood that the King of Jordan will be overthrown at some point during the second quarter of 2004, for example, rather than on specific acts or events, which could lend themselves to manipulation by terrorists.

“There are no financial incentives for nefarious activities,” Polk said.

No? Then how are your investors going to profit, Polky? Hmmmm? I mean, isn’t “what’s the likelihood that the King of Jordan will be overthrown at some point during the second quarter of 2004?” a fairly specific question? You so naive that you think disallowing use of an actual date will deter bettors from trying to fix the game? All that does is widen the window of opportunity:

“Hurry, Habib–we only have until the end of the second quarter to foment rebellion!”

“Calm yourself, Zayed. I am lining up the last of the disaffected Colonels now. We’ve plenty of time–the end of the quarter is still six weeks away.”

“You move too slowly, Habib. It’s a good thing the market is so open-ended. If we were tied to a specific date, you’d probably sleep through it and our $100K investment would go down the camel’s chute.”

And btw, what does “limit the amount of money traders could invest” mean? I can readily believe that a limit of $10 wouldn’t yield enough reward to justify assassinating a public figure or blowing up a hotel. But then, it wouldn’t be enough to draw the kind of people they need to make the market fly. We have to be talking a fairly high 6-figure maximum at least. Maybe Mr. Polk from his Central Ave penthouse wouldn’t kidnap an American Consul’s kid for a mere $50,000, but I’ve got a flash for him: there are plenty of others who would. Form a syndicate and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

It was a bad idea then, it’s a bad idea now.

And while we’re at it, could we shut down those obscene Iowa “Electronics”(?) Markets?

Jeezum crow….