The administration is of course right to want to be able to fire H______d Security employees -- the balance throughout government is tilted way too far in the employees' direction now, and if the hindsight-driven investigations of pre-9/11 dot-nonconnecting showed anything it was that some people need firing. But if the ability to hire and fire is good for the H______d Security agency, why isn't it equally good for the Department of Defense, or Health and Human Services? ...
This is the sort of crucial legislative detail that the real H______d Security fight will be about, while the press reports on all the grander rhetorical positioning. In particular, Democrats (and Republicans from Northern Virginia) can be expected to resist "flexible" and "contemporary" labor provisions as if they were defending the Alamo, while doing everything to avoid drawing too much attention to the issue. Some things are more important than the fight against terrorism! ...Majority Leader Tom Daschle -- who seems to be trying to strangle this baby in its crib -- gave the following patriotic statement to WaPo on behalf of his fellow Democrats:
"I think it's safe to say that there is unanimous opposition to the administration's proposal to circumvent the civil service laws of the country .... We can't do that."
Bush might benefit by keeping a spotlight on this issue, and on the screw-ups that merit firings. But his strategy, at the moment, is apparently to sweet-talk the proposed department's 170,000 workers while he sneaks civil-service reform past them. It's hard to believe this approach will work. ... P.S.: WaPo's story does contain get one genuinely patriotic, un-slippery quote, worth reprinting here:
"I'm a union man, no question about it," said customs inspector Bill Ball, NTEU chapter president in Kansas City, Mo. "But you've got to put your priorities in place. If we lose our union protections for national security, so be it."
Here's to you, Bill Ball. Is that NTEU headquarters on the line? ...[How do you know "the balance .. is tilted way too far in the employees' direction" in government?--ed. I worked there.] ... Update: The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is behind the "secretive" group that is running issue ads attacking Bush. Now we know a big reason why. If there's anything AFSCME cares about more than the rules for firing government employees, I don't know what it is. It's certainly not corporate accounting and insider trading (the "issue" in the ads). ... More: AFSCME gave a list-topping $5.9 million in soft money to the Democrats in the 2000 election cycle. And another $3.4 million so far in the current cycle. ... 9:50 P.M.
Das Gloat: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is entitled to a bit of schadenfreude, but generalizing from the U.S. accounting scandals to the general inferiority of U.S.-style shareholder-oriented corporate governance seems a leap. ("Now it has been revealed that egotism practiced at the top under the catchphrase 'shareholder value' is worth less in macroeconomic terms, but also as far as the companies themselves are concerned ....") What's Germany's unemployment rate again? Oh, yes -- 9.5 percent. [Thanks to kf reader A.E.] ... Update: As an anti-Eurogloat measure, Instapundit links to this study (which seems to show that the U.S. has relatively honest corporate reports compared with those in other countries) and to a (non-free) David Ignatius story on a hearteningly large French corporate scandal involving accounts that concealed a "chain of fraud and bribery." Meanwhile, the Hauser Report argues that only the unemployment rate in West Germany should count. ... 9:00 P.M.
Tuesday, July 9, 2002
France's Islam Problem: Chris Caldwell delivers by far the best American article I've seen on France's Islam problem, which includes the growth of an American-style underclass of Muslim immigrants. ("Fifty percent of France's unemployed are Muslims.") Among other points--this isn't a SkipperTM!--1) Caldwell makes it clear why it's not crazy or racist for French voters to conclude (as 63 percent concluded in one poll two years ago) that there are "too many Arabs" in the country. Islam, unlike Catholicism, Judaism, etc, has "confounded every governmental attempt to assimiliate it into Frances' sternly secular order;" 2) Caldwell offers yet more evidence of the connection between welfare and terrorism -- French welfare subsidizes a macho Arab ghetto culture that supplies Islamic fundamentalism with angry young men; 3) Saudi Arabia subsidizes the most important Muslim organization, extreme in its religious conservatism; 4) "Of the country's 230 major imams, none is French." 5) France is following America's steps in dealing with its underclass, as predicted by political scientist Larry Mead. The French have just discovered affirmative action, for example....Caldwell doesn't offer much of a solution, and seems to argue that France's secular order, in which religion is kicked out of the "public square," is vulnerable because it can't be defended with the same ardor as America's version of church/state separation, in which public life is permeated by religion. ... But what about welfare reform? Just a thought! ... 2:00 A.M.
A group of Scott Shuger's friends joined his widow and daughter Saturday evening to scatter his ashes in the Pacific Ocean, off his favorite diving spot. Those present included several of his friends from the women's self-defense center where he'd worked -- a whole part of Scott's life I hadn't known about. We watched in silence as the rose petals and Scott's remains floated away. Some dolphins jumped out of the sea. We drank some German beer in his honor, then headed home. 12:30 A.M.
Monday, July 8, 2002