I've Got Issues
Thursday, April 17, 2003
If Michael "Big Baby" Kinsley would get a snarkectomy, he'd be able to make his points a little better. As it is, his latest article, which deals with possible favoritism in the awarding of contracts to rebuild Iraq, makes a really good point. Some people may argue that contracts to rebuild Iraq should go to American and British companies, since America and Britain fought the war. As Kinsley points out, reserving contracts for American and British companies just screws American and British taxpayers, because then these taxpayers don't necessarily get the most bang for their buck. Kinsley is dead on with this point. We owe it to the American taxpayer, who footed the bill for this thing, and the Iraqi people, who suffered under Saddam, sanctions, and war, to stretch every dollar we spend in Iraq as far as it can go. If that means a German road company gets a contract because they can build a better road for a lower price, then fine. Anything less than that is just crony capitalism. My hope is that Bush will eventually open all rebuilding contracts to competitive bidding, but is holding out on these contracts for now in order to get Russia, France, and China to forgive Iraqi debts. There's a time and a place for settling some diplomatic scores, but Iraq right now is neither the time nor the place.
But I don't really trust that Bush understands the difference between good free-market capitalism and ugly regulatory-string-pulling crony capitalism. Bush's business history does not bespeak of a self-made businessman. Not one of his many, many thin dimes seems to have been made through any sort of business acumen. Worse yet, Bush was general manager of the Rangers when they tried to use the Arlington city government to steal land from Arlington property owners for their stadium. So I'm going to cast a gimlet eye at Dubya until he actually shows that he can distinguish between actual capitalism and tossing money at politically connected firms.
For a guy who's so sis-boom-bah about freedom for Iraqis, Dubya sure doesn't seem to be a big fan of freedom for Americans. No, I'm not going to go all self-important-lefty and call El Shrubbo a Nazi or claim he wants to see all dissenters jailed. I leave that to celebrity pea-brains like Alec Baldwin.
But I am saying that Patriot II is just pure evil. As the intrepid Matt Welch points out, this god-awful pile of freedom-killing dung lets Federal bureaucrats revoke your citizenship, lets the Federal Government spy on you at the request of any foreign government, lets the Federal Government build a DNA database and take a DNA sample from you without even a court order, permits secret arrests, and lets the government wiretap you and snoop through your email without a warrant. And that's just the highlights, boys and girls. I had some hopes for John "the Anointed" Ashcroft when Bush first selected him for Attorney General. Hell, even them lib'rals at Salon had nice things to say about Ashcroft's record on privacy issues. But hoo boy, now Ashcroft has me yearning for the restraint and cool-headedness of Janet "the Inferno" Reno.
Of course it gets worse. The days when you could count on mainstream Democrats to give a rats ass about civil liberties have gone the way of Billy Beer. First we have Democrat Joe Biden, Senator and noted plagiarizer, sneaking his idiotic burn-the-country-in-order-to-save-it RAVE Act into the Amber Alert Bill. The RAVE Act makes any club owner, concert promoter, even homeowners legally responsible for any harms resulting from drug use at their club, concert, or venue. Intelligent conservatives and liberals oppose this terrible idea, and this act was so obviously stupid that it wasn't even going to pass on its own. Heck, even two of its co-sponsors begged off once their staffers actually read it. So Biden, employing the honesty and decency that characterized his scandal-plagued run for the Presidency, snuck this bad and unpopular law as a rider onto the enormously popular Amber Alert Bill, which is designed to deal with child abductions and kidnappings and has nothing to do with drug policy. And it doesn't stop with Biden. Democrat Chuck Schumer's joining the Domestic Axis of Evil, trying his darndest to let your Federal Government spy on you for countries like France, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and China. All of this is very, very bad.