Thursday, June 30, 2005

Exit145 heads to ....

The shore. Exit 63 for the initiated. Blogging will be light for several days. Happy 4th of July to everyone and congrats to Eric's brother and his new wife. This mick is off for his yearly sunburning.

--Frank

Noonan Strikes Again

A ways back Eric wrote a post comparing the recent efforts of his two arch nemeses, Peggy Noonan and Maureen Dowd. Using a deft maneuver mastered only by a true smart-ass, Eric was able to doubly insult Dowd of the NY Times while back handing Noonan of the Journal. The subject of Noonan's column that day was pompous politicians, specifically with regard to the infamous filibuster compromise. She was widely hailed by liberals and conservatives alike for that diatribe and, in the opportunistic fashion that defines DC lifers, has recycled the theme for yesterday's piece. Noonan saves her harshest vitriol for Sen. Joe Biden, a personal favorite of this side of Exit145. However, she is also particularly hard on freshman Senator Barack Obama, a personal favorite of the other half of Exit145.

This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. "In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles."

Oh. So that's what Lincoln's for.

Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery. Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities.

There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama's résumé, but it is a log-cabin-free zone. So far it also is a greatness-free zone. If he keeps talking about himself like this it always will be.

Mr. Obama said he keeps a photographic portrait of Lincoln on the wall of his office, and that "it asks me questions."

I'm sure it does. I'm sure it says, "Barack, why are you such an egomaniac?" Or perhaps, "Is it no longer possible in American politics to speak of another's greatness without suggesting your own?"

Oh, she's good. Somewhere in Maine Eric is canceling his free online subscription to OpinionJournal.

--Frank

Brits on Bush

Instapundit links to a great article and interview in the London Times with President Bush that comes days before a G8 summit in Britain. The money graph that Instapundit highlights:

In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media.
The article is interesting, if only for a glimpse into Bush's persona and conversation style. The interview, which Exi145 took the liberty of exerpting here, is more substantive.

Bush on aid to Africa:

First of all, the way I like to describe our relationship with Africa is one of partnership. That’s different than a relationship of cheque-writer.

In other words, partnership means that we’ve got obligations and so do the people we are trying to help . . . we have a partnership when it comes to African growth and opportunity. When you really think about how to get wealth distributed, aid is one way but it doesn’t compare to trade and commerce. And we’ve opened up markets and we’re beginning to see a payoff, more commerce.

Americans want to deal with poverty and hunger. Disease. But they don’t want their money spent on governments that do not focus attention on health, education, markets, anti-corruption devices. I can’t, in good faith, say, let’s continue to be generous but I can’t guarantee the money is being spent properly. It’s just not good stewardship of our own money, nor is it effective in helping people. Our approach, as well, has been when we see disaster, let’s move in to help people . . . I mean, I could proudly proclaim at the G8 that the US feeds more of the hungry than any nation in the world.

It is important for people to understand that the contribution of the citizens of the United States is made not only through taxpayers’ money but through private contributions. Our tax system encourages people to do this. My point to our friends in the G8 and to the African nations is that each country differs as to how we structure our taxes and how we contribute to help. And our contribution has been significant and there will be some more.
Bush on the 'idealist' label:

Frankly, I rejected the intellectual elitism of some around the world who say, “Well, maybe certain people can’t be free”. I don’t believe that. Of course I was labelled a, you know, blatant idealist.

But I am. Because I do believe people want to be free, regardless of their religion or where they are from. I do believe women should be empowered in the Middle East. I don’t believe we ought to accept forms of government that ultimately create a hopelessness that then can be translated into jihadist violence. And I believe strongly that the ultimate way you defeat an ideology is with a better ideology. And history has proven that.
Bush on Iran's nuclear ambitions:

(Iran) should not be able to develop the technologies that will enable the enrichment of uranium which will ultimately yield a nuclear weapon.

I say that because they tried to do that clandestinely before, which obviously shows that there’s a conspiratorial nature in their thinking. And secondly, that their stated objective is the destruction of Israel.

In diplomacy, it’s important to establish common goals. Once you establish a common goal and common objective, it then makes it much easier to work together to achieve diplomatic ends. Our common goal is that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon.
Bush on Blair:

The decisions we have made have laid the foundation of peace for generations. His decision-making was based upon what he thought was best for the free world, for Great Britain and the free world.

What doesn’t happen in our relationship is we sit down here and calculate how best we can help each other personally. Our job is to represent something greater than that.

I admire Tony Blair because he’s a man of his word. I admire Tony Blair because he’s a leader with a vision, a vision that I happen to agree with. A vision that freedom is universal and freedom will lead to peace. I admire him because in the midst of political heat, he showed backbone. And you know, and so he’s been a good ally for America.
The whole article (or at least the 5% that I didn't cut and paste here) is worth a read.

--Frank

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Celtic Tiger


Tom Friedman has an op-ed in today's Times on the surging Irish economy. Of course, if an economic surge lasts for over a decade, it's probably not a surge anymore, is it? Anyway, check out the article if: a) you have any interest in Ireland; b) you have any interest in European economics; or c) you want to take advantage of reading NY Times editorialists for free while it lasts. A teaser:
Here's something you probably didn't know: Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg.
Irish bloggers have picked up on the op-ed and have a few comments of their own, including some additional requirements for gaining Irish-like economic speed.
1) cut taxes – especially corporate taxes
2) be open to trade
3) join the EU, get loads of money from bigger, richer nations who hardly notice how much you've taken them for
4) at the same time compete aggressively against those same EU members for foreign direct investment and (a real plus here) ensure that other EU members adopt anti-competitive tax policies, which help make you even more competitive.
Either way, the Friedman piece is not groundbreaking, but worth a look all the same.

--Frank

I've got to be the only one blogging about this, but...

First of all, I'd like to point out that Exit145 had its 1,000 visitor today. Considering that more than half of those hits were likely from Eric and me this is not a huge event. Regardless, a heartfelt congratulations to....us.

That said, I'd like to make a few comments about the President's Iraq speech from last night. What's that you say? Everyone in the blogosphere is commenting on it? And they are all far more qualified to do so? Well, then turn the channel guy because it's coming anyway.

There was not much new information given by Bush, but my gut reaction to the speech was largely positive. A few points:

1) Among the American public, the President's disapproval numbers are at an all-time low. Far more importantly, however, support for the war has plummeted. This cannot be good for morale among the troops currently serving in Iraq, so a passionate call for support by their commander-in-chief, days before July 4th, is necessary and wise. The location of the speech (Fort Bragg, NC), the introduction of this website and the majority of the rhetoric were, one would surmise, aimed at improving levels of morale among very tested forces.

2) Bush avoided any 'last throes'-type comments and painted a less rosy picture of the Iraqi scene as compared to what others in the administration have done recently. While he obviously lauded the accomplishments of the past two years in Iraq (and elsewhere), he did begin to acknowledge the reality of a long road ahead. Surely his critics would have wanted Bush to admit that we're screwed indefinitely, but that was not going to occur last night.

3) Bush also laid down the law (once again) concerning any type of exit strategy. In classic Bush fashion ("not on my watch"), he left no room for interpretation on this front and anyone who heard the speech knows that the President will not be downsizing forces in the forseeable future. Perhaps his greatest strength shone here, as there is little doubt as to who the President is when Bush gives such a speech. Unbending and uncompromising for better or for worse.

4) Bush reiterated the connections between the war on terror/Islamic extremism and the present situation in Iraq. Drawing on comments made by Bin Laden and actions taken by Zaqarwi, he was able to remind the public that we are fighting not simply for the freedom of Iraqis from despotic rule but also against the Islamic extremists who were responsible for 9/11 and much of the violence against innocents in Iraq right now. Like much of what Bush said in the speech, this point has been made before. Seems as though people need to be reminded from time to time however.

5) Bush briefly addressed concerns from some quarters that as many as 100,000 additional soldiers are needed to, among other things, seal off the border with Syria to prevent additional jihadists from streaming across. Granted, we don't want to increase the size of our footprint in a country and region already skeptical of our presence. It seems to me, however, that a larger force would take less time to handle the situation and would be able to withdraw more quickly. At that point the logistics become an issue, but we'll save that argument for another day. Regardless, Bush (and Rumsfeld) have both put the decision in the hands of their military experts. Repeatedly and publicly doing so borders on abdication of responsibility. And considering that officials (Bremer) and Generals (Shinseki) who have expressed interest in more boots on the ground have been marginalized or worse, I have a hard time believing that honesty (read: subordination) in such matters is always appreciated. I'm not the only one who thinks so.

6) The delivery of the speech was better than average. For Bush. Forceful at times, but he's simply not the world's greatest orator. And I'm pretty sure I caught a smirk during the phrase 'carbombers and assassins.' But no matter how bad a speaker he is, I'm just glad I voted for the President instead of this guy.

Here's to another 1,000.

--Frank

Another Blogging Hiatus

I will be taking a break from blogging for a little while to attend my brother's wedding in Maine. Expect posts to resume after the extended July 4th weekend.
-- Eric