Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Saturday, March 13, 2004
That's Rapid Response! As Calpundit chronicled, Anthony Raimondo, the Bush administration's pick to be the nation's first "manufacturing czar," was forced to withdraw from consideration last week.

The withdrawal came after the Kerry campaign managed to turn him into the poster child for outsourcing -- revealing that the company he owns had laid off 75 workers at its Nebraska factories in 2002, "four months after investing $3 million in a new Beijing plant."

The company, Behlen Manufacturing Co., says the two moves are unrelated, but the appearance stunk. More worthy of note is the Kerry campaign's agility in responding -- their press release was issues two hours before Raimondo was officially introduced. The timing sent the White House into a panic mode.

They cancelled the announcement, putting the entire nation's press corps on alert that something was wrong, and leaving no wiggle room to try and explain away the layoffs. That, combined with some rumored opposition from Raimondo's home-state Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, (who apparently was not consulted on the pick), meant Raimondo was toast.

On the substantive point ... Leaving aside the Beijing investment for a moment (and Hagel's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Bill Nelson, supports Raimondo's claim that the moves were not an example of outsourcing) why would you choose a manufacturing czar whose company has been engaged in layoffs on your watch? At least if they were in 2000 or earlier, Bush could have blamed them on Clinton policies.

Who's next? Donald Trump? He knows a thing or two about firing people!

Thursday, March 11, 2004
If This Be Winning (Part II)...

MSNBC reports:

A wave of bombings that killed at least 190 Madrid train commuters and left 1,240 injured Thursday could have been the work of Muslim extremists, Spanish officials said after finding a van with detonators and an Arabic-language tape containing verses from the Quran.

In London, the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi said it had received a claim of responsibility for the bombings issued by a self-proclaimed "Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri" acting in the name of al-Qaida.

It also appears that Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria may have to retract last week's optimistic column:
That Islamic extremist groups are now targeting Shiites is surely a sign of desperation. Unable to launch major terrorist attacks in the West, unable to attract political support in the Middle East, militant Islam is searching for enemies and causes. [emphasis added]

It has been two and a half years since the World Trade Center bombings. When will those responsible be brought to justice?

The Buck Stops Where? Here we go again -- the Republican Party's irresponsible fiscal policies have pushed their opponents into an equally extreme response.

Deficit hawks have been increasingly concerned by the debt-fueled bacchanalian festival of tax cuts and spending hikes that is the Bush Administration's fiscal policy. They got their revenge yesterday, when the Senate narrowly voted to approve a rule requiring a 60-vote "supermajority" to approve "any tax cuts -- or spending increases -- in the next five years ... unless supporters are able to find spending cuts or other tax increases to make up for the money that would be lost."

This is a bad idea, although I can understand how, in the face of Bush administration fecklessness, it might look attractive.

On the one hand, supermajority ideas are anti-Democratic on principle, and they are too often the refuge of scoundrels -- until very recently, they've primarily been used by anti-tax zealots to block needed public investment (see: California, State of).

On the other, the idea that the administration's response to the current low-job-creation environment is to call for regressive tax cuts in 2010 (that's what we're talking about when the president says "make the cuts permanent") is even more repulsive, and anything that makes it harder for him to do that can be seen as a good thing.

The problem is that this proposal ties government's hands too tightly. Economically, there's a big difference between the current deficits, which come at a time of virtually no inflation and subpar economic utilization, and the long-term, "permanent" deficits that will drive interest rates up and crowd out private, productivity-enhancing (and lifestyle-improving and job-creating) investment. We should be talking about cutting taxes and increasing spending now -- but we can't be tying ourselves into permanently lowered revenues in the future, and that's all that the administration is willing to do.

But in the absence of economic sanity at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the residents of the other end of the street seem reduced to shouting: Race you to the bottom!

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Fun with Auto-Editing The "High-Speed Central" section of Cablevision's Optimum Online homepage is currently promoting video of testimony by CIA Chief George Tenet. The clip is described thusly:
CIA's Tenet Questioned on U.S. Rhetoric

CIA chief George Tenet said Tuesday he doesn't believe the Bush administration...

Methinks the excerpt was cut off just a smidge too early. Although one could certainly understand why Tenet might feel that way...