March 31, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 PM


US invented air attack on Pentagon, claims French book (Jon Henley, April 1, 2002, The Guardian)
The Frightening Fraud, by Thierry Meyssan, sold out its original run of 20,000 copies within two hours of going on sale. "We've sold 2,500 copies in 10 days, when a blockbuster novel sells maybe 1,500 in a month," a spokesman at Fnac Les Halles, one of France's biggest bookshops, said. "It's a phenomenon."

Mr Meyssan's conspiracy theory argues that American Airlines flight 77, which killed 189 people when it smashed into the headquarters of the US defence department, did not exist, and that the whole disaster was a dastardly plot dreamed up and implemented by the US government.

The French media has been quick to dismiss the book's claims, despite the fact that Mr Meyssan is president of the Voltaire Network, a respected independent thinktank whose left-leaning research projects have until now been considered models of reasonableness and objectivity.

Apparently, in Paris it's selling even faster than copies of Mein Kampf did in June 1940.

NB : Check Ed Driscoll for more on the conspiracy theory.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 PM


Bush Strikes Religious Note in an Address for Holidays (ELISABETH BUMILLER, March 31, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Bush was raised an Episcopalian and became a Methodist after he married. In 1986, the year he stopped drinking, he joined a men's Bible study group and said he was recommitting his heart to Jesus Christ. Evangelicals call Mr. Bush's commitment to Christ a "born again" experience, although the president does not use that term to describe himself.

Mr. Bush often mentions God and faith in his speeches and public remarks, but rarely as emphatically as he did today. As if mindful of that, Mr. Bush took care to point out in his remarks, however briefly, that "many good people practice no faith at all."

Mr. Bush once again cast the war against terrorism as a struggle between good and evil, overseen by a god who had long ago taken sides.

"In this season, we are assured that history is of moral design," Mr. Bush said. "Justice and cruelty have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. His purposes are often defied, but never defeated."

Mr. Bush concluded, "I hope that this holy season will bring renewal of faith to those who seek it, and comfort to those who need it."

Lost in the storm of indignation that greeted Edmund Morris's admittedly odd bio, Dutch, was his up-close assessment of how the failed assassination attempt and the president's faith combined to give Ronald Reagan a sublime sense that he had been saved for a purpose and that the purpose was to oversee the final victory over the Soviet Union. That seems like a pretty significant story for the White House press corps to have completely whiffed on, but when you get right down to it, the press generally does an abysmal job of covering religion and shows very little understanding of how religious beliefs may inform the lives of public figures.

To the best of my recollection, most of the stories about George W's religious beliefs came out around the time he said that Jesus Christ was his favorite philosopher and they were uniformly contemptuous. But when you hear language like this you would think that intelligent people whose job it is to cover the president would at least make an effort to understand what he's saying. Most stories on the war and on the Palestinian situation continue to focus on rather mundane political calculations, as if once we know bin Laden is dead or once the November elections or the '04 re-election bid are done with, he can move on to other things. If the things we hear periodically both from the President's own mouth and from those who know him best (Don Evans and others) are true and he does understand what's going on in stark Manichean terms, then such inside baseball type analysis seems very shallow and is likely to prove entirely wrong.

If the President understands himself to be a vessel of God's will, leading the forces of good in a struggle with evil, as he has, I think, said or at least implied, then journalists, pundits, and Democrats who think that the whole war is a Karl Rove production designed to drum up good poll numbers are profoundly deluding themselves. And in the process they are more than likely misserving their readers (or constituents). Personally, I'm untroubled by the idea of the war as a holy crusade, but it's hard to imagine that everyone else, especially the liberal elites of the press and the Democratic Party, would greet this prospect with the same equanimity. Maybe they should be paying more attention to what the President is saying.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 PM


Citizen Clinton Up Close : On the Fly: He’s still in crazy motion—buckraking at the speed of sound, running for history and trying to make peace with past sins. An exclusive portrait of his new life (Jonathan Alter, March 31, 2002, NEWSWEEK)
‘Life is Fleeting, Man’ : Interview: Bill Clinton speaks his mind—on the Marc Rich pardon, the ‘permanent right-wing establishment,’ his own hunt for Osama bin Laden and the world without Buddy (Jonathan Alter, March 31, 2002, NEWSWEEK)
ALTER : Through historical fate, you missed the leadership challenge of your generation. It has to be something you’ve mused about.

CLINTON : I have a totally different view of that. I think 30 years from now when people will look back on it, that the things that we did to deal with the domestic and foreign issues we dealt with—with Russia, with China, with NATO, with NAFTA, in the Balkans, what we did in getting rid of the horrible fiscal problems of the country and a lot of the domestic things we did—I think that it will be just fine. I do not believe this will be viewed 30, 40, 50 years from now in the same light as World War II. And we did a lot of work on terrorism and we’ve been working on it for years.

That’s not to say I don’t think this was very important. This is something we’ll have to deal with from now on. But if we can keep them from getting weapons of mass destruction, I think we will prevail.

Until we get access to an awful lot of classified data, years down the road, that will tell us exactly what the Clinton White House knew or should have known about bin Laden and al Qaeda, I'm actually inclined to cut him some slack on the terrorism angle. After all, it's not like the current administration was locked and loaded on September 10th. But what makes Clinton such a disappointing president is something he's still not faced up to; it's the failure to address the sea change in American government following the Cold War, a sea change which he acknowledged when he said : "The era of Big Government is over."

Had he been a serious and responsible person he would have done an "only Nixon can go to China" deal and really tried streamlining government to see if it can de made it work for people, reduced the tax burden, and reformed entitlements. Even had he done all that he'd still be vermin (he did after all rape Juanita Broadrick), but his presidency would have at least served a useful purpose.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:55 PM


As Israel undertakes the necessary but horrific task of destroying the Palestinian threat to Israeli citizens, its leaders, military and civilian, would do well to recall the words of Machiavelli (as translated by Harvey Mansfield) :

Someone could question how it happened that Agathocles and anyone like him, after infinite betrayals and cruelties, could live for a long time secure in his fatherland, defend himself against external enemies, and never be conspired against by his citizens, inasmuch as many others have not been able to maintain their states through cruelty even in peaceful times, not to mention uncertain times of war. I believe that this comes from cruelties badly used or well used. Those can be called well used (if it is permissible to speak well of evil) that are done at a stroke, out of the necessity to secure oneself, and then are not persisted in but are turned to as much utility for the subjects as one can. Those cruelties are badly used which, though few in the beginning, rather grow with time than are eliminated. Those who observe the first mode can have some remedy for their state with God and with men, as had Agathocles; as for the others it is impossible for them to maintain themselves.
-Chapter VIII, Of Those Who Have Attained a Principality through Crimes

It appears that at least one Israeli understands that lesson, though he's unfortunately (and in part due to Bill Clinton's meddling) not in power right now : End game (Binyamin Netanyahu, March 29, 2002, Jerusalem Post)

First, we must immediately dismantle the Palestinian Authority and expel Arafat. Second we must encircle the main Palestinian population centers, purge them of terrorists, and eradicate the terrorist infrastructure. Third, we must establish security separation lines that will allow Israeli armed forces to enter Palestinian territory, but prevent Palestinian terrorists from entering our towns and cities.

The choice we face today is not between military victory and a security separation. Rather, we must do both together. Only by combining the two can we stop the terror, restore a deterrence that has been dangerously eroded in the last two years, and enable a realistic and moderate leadership to emerge among the Palestinians with which we can pursue a political settlement in the future.

Like a partial dose of antibiotics that is not sufficient to cure the disease, the partial actions of the government and the fitful changes between a policy of restraint and half-hearted military action has not and will not achieve anything. Our excessive concern about the international community has also borne bitter fruit. Israel's refusal so far to act as would any other self-respecting nation heightens the doubts in the minds of our friends of our belief in the justice of our cause and encourages our enemies to increase the bloodshed.

The only way to win international understanding for our position, especially in America, is to steadfastly assert our basic right to defend ourselves and achieve a quick and decisive military victory that will stop the terrible massacre of our citizens.

Israel has a window of opportunity here where American popular opinion is so anti-terrorist that they can act in Palestine with near impunity. But they need to act extremely ruthlessly and very quickly to, in effect, depopulate Palestine. The more young Palestinian men they kill the more secure their own future will be. This is a terrible thing to consider, the intentional slaughter, even near genocidal slaughter of a people, but it is yet another crime that should be laid at the door of Palestinian/Arab leaders like Yasar Arafat. After all, what alternative have they left the Israelis?

The great lesson that Machiavelli teaches is that when faced with such a prospect you can succeed and flourish, despite the horror of it, if you do it all in one fell swoop. It is a long drawn out repression that destroys your moral stature and undermines your rule. Mr. Netanyahu seems to get it. Let's hope Mr. Sharon does too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM


Bush Insists Responsibility for the Bombings Is Arafat's (DAVID E. SANGER, March 31, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush said today that he held Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, personally responsible for the waves of suicide bombings in Israel, and strongly sided with the Israeli government even while warning that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should temper military action to preserve a "path for peace."

Breaking a two-day silence on events in the Middle East, Mr. Bush summoned reporters to the gates of his ranch here during a driving rainstorm. He had just received news of yet another deadly bombing, this one in Tel Aviv, he said, and he pointedly made no effort to sound evenhanded about who was to blame for the rising violence.

Several times he sidestepped opportunities to assess Israel's decision to raid Mr. Arafat's compound, and he made no mention of the United Nations resolution that today called on Israel to pull its forces back from Ramallah, where the compound is situated — even though the United States had voted in favor of the measure just hours before Mr. Bush spoke.

Instead, he focused most of his comments on Mr. Arafat, suggesting that the suicide bombing attacks "aren't just isolated incidents" and maintaining that Mr. Arafat has the power to slow them down, if not turn them off.

"Yasir Arafat should have done more three weeks ago, and should do more today," Mr. Bush said, speaking in the glorified trailer where he conducts his daily national security briefings with principal aides in Washington via a secure videoconference facility set up on the Texas prairie. At another point Mr. Bush said of Mr. Arafat, "I believe he needs to stand up and condemn, in Arabic, these attacks," and use his security forces to stop the bombers before they strike Israeli citizens.

Mr. Bush's strong statement went beyond similar comments on Friday by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. They were also striking for their clear association of the Palestinian leader with almost daily acts of terrorism, exactly the kind of comments the White House has tried to avoid in recent weeks for fear of further undercutting the chances of resuming peace negotiations.

This should at least calm the hysteria of Blogdom's nervous nellies, who've been wringing their hands over our "abandonment" of Israel. The closer things come to all out war the more obvious it will become that we aren't actually neutral, but are pretending to be for purposes of brokering peace. Once Israel itself abandons all hope of peace we will be right by their side in war.

What's most remarkable about President Bush's comments yesterday is that they came in response to pleading from Arab and European leaders that he speak out. They, of course, meant that he should urge Israel to pull out of Palestine and they were apparently stunned by how forcefully he placed the blame on Arafat and exonerated Sharon. Apparently they (for all their supposed diplomatic sophistication) don't understand our role either; thankfully, Bush does.

Appeasing Arab Dictators : The road to peace in the Middle East runs through Baghdad, not the Arab League. (Reuel Marc Gerecht, 4/08/2002, Weekly Standard)

Bush looks lost in dealing with Mideast (ROBERT NOVAK, March 31, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 AM


On NPR : Weekend Edition Sunday just now, they were talking to a guy who said that our behavior in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict had to be influenced by our need to get a new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq before we attack Saddam. He said in order to get it through we need to make sure that China doesn't veto it and that France and Russia vote for it, and that means appeasing (he probably didn't use that exact word) those governments as regards the future of Palestine.

So, if I understand his point correctly, both Israel's future and ours should depend on the opinions of a Communist dictatorship (China), a neo-fascist former enemy (Russia), and a notoriously feckless former European power that shipped its own Jews to Germany for extermination during WWII and is now almost totally dependent on Arab immigration for its own future economic health (France). And people wonder why conservatives are so adamantly opposed to international institutions...

Instead of sucking China's hind teat we should be changing their barbaric regime and destroying their nuclear capacity. All Russia really wants is the billions of dollars that Saddam owes them--let's give it to them. And, not to put too fine a point on it but : f*** France.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 AM


In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, I couldn't stop playing the haunting Jeff Buckley version of this song (you might recognize the very different version they use in Shrek). It's a downbeat song and I don't even know what all the lyrics mean, but it's strangely compelling and I think it's ultimately an affirmation. It seems well suited both to Easter and to our times :
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

NB : Anyone know where there's an online version of the song? I'll link to it.

March 30, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


Pro-bush states viewed as key to control of Congress : Democrats target South, West races (Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/30/2002)
The three Republican incumbents that Democrats consider most vulnerable all are running in states Bush won: Senators Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas, Bob Smith of New Hampshire, and Wayne Allard of Colorado. So are two of the three incumbent Democrats viewed as targets for defeat: Senators Jean Carnahan of Missouri and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. The one exception is Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, a state Gore narrowly carried.

Retirements are forcing the GOP to defend four open Senate seats, which could lead to Democratic gains. But all those seats are in Southern states Bush won handily: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

In all, of the 20 Senate seats Republicans must defend this year, 17 are in states Bush carried (the exceptions are Maine, New Mexico, and Oregon.) Democrats are defending only 14 seats, but half of those are in pro-Bush states.

The trend isn't as pronounced in the House. But the largest concentration of Democratic opportunities may be in states that supported Bush.

You'd think the GOP would have learned the lesson of the Contract with America : put together about five popular issues that they haven't won on yet (private Social Security accounts, etc.) and turn it into a national election with, in effect, a popular wartime President leading the ticket. Not only might they keep the House and maybe (though not likely) take back the Senate but they'd have their agenda all laid out for next year.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


At least 10 killed as Muslim militants storm Hindu temple in Kashmir (March 30, 2002, Yahoo! News)
Four civilians were among 10 people killed when heavily-armed Muslim guerrillas stormed into a revered Hindu temple packed with worshippers in Indian Kashmir, officials said.

America, Israel, Turkey and India (perhaps even Russia) are already being forged, almost unwillingly, into an anti-Arab/anti-Islamic military alliance. Yet how does the Islamic world react? By blowing up and shooting Israeli and Indian civilians. It's almost as if the Jews trapped at Masada had decided to attack the Romans. It's starting to seem like the Arabs not only have a death wish, but can't die fast enough, so they're intentionally provoking us into killing them.

Tom Rose of the Jerusalem Post was on Imus in the Morning yesterday and said that Israeli intelligence estimates that it takes about 70 people to execute a suicide bombing. That means that 70 Palestinians, including her family, helped send that 16 year old girl to her death yesterday. If they are hell bent on killing us, how long can we in the West afford to place a higher premium on Arab lives than they do?

There's a great scene in To Kill a Mockingbird (one among many in this outstanding film), where a rabid dog shows up on the Finch family's street. Scout and Jem run for the housekeeper, Calpurnia, and she summons Atticus, who arrives shortly, Sheriff Heck Tate in tow. The bloodthirsty kids watch eagerly, anticipating that Tate will shoot the dog, but to their bewilderment he asks Atticus to do it. Atticus, who in their eyes is a sort of effete intellectual, turns out to have been the best shot in the county, though he dislikes hunting. Atticus puts the dog down as his children stare at him, mouths agape, a newfound awe and respect evident in their adoring eyes. Humbly, Atticus hands back the gun and heads back to work, an unpleasant duty done.

The situation between the West and Islam increasingly reminds me of this scene. The aged West has grown rather effete and prefers to avoid ideological confrontation. But the Islamic world seems to be in the grip of a disease, a murderous/suicidal mental derangement that makes it surpassing dangerous. Sooner or later, when no other choices remain, we too may be forced to put them down, to defend ourselves and our families, no matter how unpleasant the task, to demonstrate once again the potent and efficient but humble lethality that we possess, though we try very hard not to use. And yet the rabid dog keeps staggering down the street towards us...


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM


Chris Kerstiens notes an ommission from the Brothers Judd conservative film list.
I was checking out the Brothers Judd website, and found this list of conservative films. Surprisingly, nothing by the Coen Brothers made it in. The Coens have a few films that could reasonably be considered conservative - ethically if not politically.

Barton Fink : A veritable indictment of socialism and limousine liberalism. Barton is a leftist writer who believes he speaks for the common man and praises the life of the mind. However when talking with the common man from the room next door, he can't be brought to listen to him - the writer continually trying to steer the conversation in the direction he wants it to go. And, clearly, this common man prefers the rougher and more carnal pleasures of the life of the body. Rather than insulting the working class, it makes a statement that the common man is as full of faults as anyone - not to be stepped on or put on a pedestal.

Raising Arizona : If you take it seriously, a very old-fashioned movie thematically. Pro-family, pro-marriage, and all about trying to do the right thing and become a good citizen. The bad choices come back to haunt everyone and the good ones reward with a happily ever after ending - sorta.

Fargo : A line from the policewoman protagonist Marge shows the most direct judgement yet on their felonious characters. Directed to the greedy murderer in the back of her squad car:

There's more to life than a little money, ya know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are. And it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it.

The quiet, calm (you could argue boring) life of Marge and her duck-painting husband contrasts sharply with the frenzied, stressful life of the criminals of the film.

Overall, I'm not sure I'd call the Coens conservative, but I'd say they avoid some of the more patronizing treatment that Hollywood tends to give stories about everyday people. While the Coens characters are often cartoonish, they're also sometimes more real.

As I mentioned to Chris, we'd consider Blood Simple to be conservative too because it is a film noir. Folks often mistake noir for nihilism or existentialism, but they are actually fiercely moralistic : a basically decent guy does something stupid or even evil, mostly because of his lust for a smokin' hot babe, then the world caves in around him. They're practically advertisements for monogamy, fidelity, and honesty.

March 29, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 PM


Ben Domenech alerts us to an essay he wrote in regard to pedophilia and academia,The Fraternity of Hollow Men (Ben Domenech, Boundless), specifically about the different reactions to Michael Bellesiles's fabrications in Arming America and to admissions of child molestation by Antonio Lasaga, a professor of geophysics at Yale. Please read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt :

[E]ven as the academy has vilified Bellesiles en masse for his falsehoods, it has risen in defense of another colleague, Professor Antonio Lasaga.

Unlike Bellesiles, Lasaga does not dispute his crimes. He has admitted to sexually abusing and molesting a young boy from the age of 7 to 13. He has admitted to videotaping the abuse, and amassing an immense collection of child pornography. He has admitted to meeting his victim through a New Haven school-mentoring program.

Instead of condemnation and rebuke, Lasaga has received enormous amounts of sympathy from the academic community. Indeed, even after Lasaga pled guilty in a federal court to the crimes of which he was accused, more than nine months passed before Yale decided to revoke his tenure. During his sentencing hearing, colleague after colleague argued for leniency.

'[Lasaga] is in his most productive years,' argued Pennsylvania State University Professor Hubert Barnes, former head of the prestigious Geochemistry Society. 'When you penalize Tony for his indiscretions, you also penalize society.'

'I don't believe Tony had any sexual interest in boys,' said Princeton Professor Hiroshi Ohmoto, suggesting that the abuse was merely a misunderstanding.

'All of us in science are expendable, but the loss of the most capable are felt the most strongly,' said Prof. Heinrich Holland, who has taught at Harvard and Princeton. Holland suggested that Lasaga be punished with no more than a six-year sentence, or some form of counseling. His suggestion was not accepted, and Judge Roland Fasano sentenced the professor to 20 years in prison.

Lasaga's defenders have pointed out that no one has impeached Lasaga's academic work, either in his role an associate editor of the American Journal of Science and editor in chief of Chemical Geology, or as the author of several important books on geophysics and kinetic theory. Frank Podosek, the editor of the academic journal of the Geochemical Society, has tried to prevent Lasaga from publishing more work, but has been overruled by his board. From the perspective of the academy, Lasaga's personal failings are apparently a matter for the man to deal with in his own private way, and in no way prevent him from living as a respected member of the scientific community. Moral outrage does not outweigh professional respect, and thus Lasaga's sins are washed away by his enlightened reason.

"Indiscretions"? "Misunderstanding"? Calling the dean's wife a fat sow at a cocktail party is indiscrete; raping a child is a heinous crime. Or was...

I recall the essay of several years ago, Pedophilia Chic (Mary Eberstadt, June 17, 1996, Weekly Standard) which argued that the sexualization of children was becoming an accepted part of the culture. She followed up several years later with "Pedophilia Chic" Reconsidered : The taboo against sex with children continues to erode. (Mary Eberstadt, January 8, 2001, Weekly Standard) Ms Eberstadt's assertions were predictably dismissed out of hand as the lunatic ravings of a rightwing sexual bigot. Who today--when even priests are buggering little boys and Woody Allen, who married his step-daughter, gets a standing ovation at the Academy Awards--would so cavalierly dismiss her concerns or Mr. Domenech's?

NB : Here's the text of the T. S. Eliot poem that Mr. Domenech derived his title from; it's one of my favorites.


Mistah Kurtz-he dead.
A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rat's feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without color,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other kingdom
Remember us - if at all - not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is the cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they recieve
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go 'round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go 'round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existance
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is Mchildren continues to erode. (Mary
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (via InstaPundit):

Having apparently caught the most dread disease that can afflict a pundit, Eric Alterman today displays disturbing symptoms of Dowdiness, that unfortunate tendency to write a supposedly serious column that your readers are unable to distinguish from self-parody : Intractable foes, warring narratives : While much of the world sees Mideast conflict through Palestinian eyes, in America, Israel’s view prevails (Eric Alterman, MSNBC)

The point of the piece appears to be that when it comes to Israel vs. Palestine, almost all of the smart and responsible voices in America are on one side, while Mr. Alterman finds himself stuck in a bunker with the cranks, anti-Zionists, anti-Semites, and unreconstructed Leninists-Stalinists on the other side. Here's how he divides up the teams :

George Will, The Washington Post, Newsweek and ABC News
William Safire, The New York Times
A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Daily News, formerly Executive Editor of and later columnist for, The New York Times,
Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, PBS, Time, and The Weekly Standard, formerly of the New Republic.
Michael Kelly, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, National Journal, and
Lally Weymouth, The Washington Post and Newsweek
Martin Peretz, The New Republic,
Daniel Pipes, The New York Post
Andrea Peyser, The New York Post
Dick Morris, The New York Post
Lawrence Kaplan, The New Republic
William Bennett, CNN
William Kristol, The Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, Fox News, formerly of ABC News
Robert Kagan, The Washington Post and The Weekly Standard,
Mortimer Zuckerman, US News and World Report
David Gelertner, The Weekly Standard
John Podhoretz, The New York Post and The Weekly Standard
Mona Charen, The Washington Times
Morton Kondracke, Roll Call, Fox News formerly of The McLaughlin Group, The New Republic and PBS
Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard, Fox News, formerly of The New Republic, The McLaughlin Group, and The Baltimore Sun
Sid Zion, The New York Post, The New York Daily News,
Yossi Klein Halevi The New Republic,
Sidney Zion, The New York Post, formerly of The New York Daily News
Norman Podhoretz, Commentary
Jonah Goldberg, National Review and CNN
Laura Ingraham, CNN, formerly of MSNBC and CBS News
Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe
Rich Lowry, National Review
Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic
Seth Lipsky, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Sun, formerly of the Jewish Forward
Irving Kristol, The Public Interest, The National Interest and The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
Chris Matthews, MSNBC
Allan Keyes, MSNBC,
Brit Hume, Fox News
John Leo, US News and World Report
Robert Bartley, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
John Fund, The Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
Ben Wattenberg, The Washington Times, PBS
Tony Snow, Washington Times and Fox News
Lawrence Kudlow, National Review and CNBC
Alan Dershowitz, Boston Herald, Washington Times
David Horowitz,
Jacob Heilbrun, The Los Angeles Times
Thomas Sowell, Washington Times
Frank Gaffney Jr, Washington Times
Emmett Tyrell, American Spectator and New York Sun
Cal Thomas, Washington Times
Oliver North, Washington Times and Fox News
Michael Ledeen, Jewish World Review
William F. Buckley, National Review
Bill O’Reilly, Fox News
Paul Greenberg, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,
L. Brent Bozell, Washington Times
Todd Lindberg, Washington Times
Michael Barone, US News and World Report and The McLaughlin Group
Ann Coulter, Human Events
Linda Chavez, Creators Syndicate
Cathy Young, Reason Magazine
Uri Dan, New York Post
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, morality maven
Rush Limbaugh, radio host
The New Republic (Martin Peretz, Michael Steinhardt, Roger Hertog, Owners)
Commentary (American Jewish Committee, Owner)
US News and World Report (Mortimer Zuckerman, Owner)
The New York Daily News (Mortimer Zuckerman, Owner)
The New York Post (Rupert Murdoch, Owner)
The Weekly Standard (Rupert Murdoch, Owner)
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page (Peter Kann, Editor)
The Atlantic Monthly (Michael Kelly, Editor)
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times
Richard Cohen, The Washington Post and New York Daily News
Avishai Margolit, The New York Review of Books
David Remnick, The New Yorker
Eric Alterman, The Nation and
The New York Times Editorial Board
The Washington Post Editorial Board
Robert Novak, The Washington Post
Pat Buchanan,
Alexander Cockburn, The Nation and New York Press
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation and Vanity Fair
Edward Said, The Nation

Now, personally, if I found myself on Team Alterman I'd try to make sure as few people as possible knew about the company I was keeping. Mr. Alterman seems instead to be intent on making a fool of himself. Let's help him. Imagine you can choose either Team Alterman or Team Will to govern the United States (and those are your only choices all you libertarians*); which team would you choose?

Please vote in the Comments section below.

If anyone cares to set up a poll somewhere we'll link to it.

I think I know how Rand Simberg will be voting. Read his response to Alterman here

*NB : We are mindful of William F. Buckley Jr.'s famous statement that he'd rather be governed by the first thousand names in the Cambridge phonebook than by the Harvard Faculty. But we're not granting you that option.

ADDITIONAL NB : Chris Matthews should be listed with Team Alterman, which Mr. Alterman would know except for the fact that no one is watching Hardball anymore.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM


If you are being brought here from the gay marriage discussion at Quasipundit, you can find the full review here Virtually Normal : An Argument About Homosexuality (1995) (Andrew Sullivan) and I'd just make a couple of points in response to Mr. Adragna :

(1) To the best of my knowledge, the Court has never overturned its own precedent in Bowers v. Hardwick which held constitutional a Georgia antisodomy statute. It seems obvious that if a state may criminalize homosexual conduct it can not be required to give an official imprimatur (marriage) to a homosexual relationship.

(2) I don't believe, though I admit to being out of practice at reading these things, that Loving v. Virginia is a marriage case. It is rather a race case, a 14th Amendment Equal Protection case. If we trim Justice Warren's statement of the case, we get the following :

*This case presents a constitutional question never addressed by this Court: whether a statutory scheme adopted by the State of Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

*While the state court is no doubt correct in asserting that marriage is a social relation subject to the State's police power, Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888), the State does not contend in its argument before this Court that its powers to regulate marriage are unlimited notwithstanding the commands of the Fourteenth Amendment.

*There can be no question but that Virginia's miscegenation statutes rest solely upon distinctions drawn according to race. The statutes proscribe generally accepted conduct if engaged in by members of different races...There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.11 We have consistently denied [388 U.S. 1, 12] the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.

*These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

And if we refer back to Skinner v. Oklahoma we find :

Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race. The power to sterilize, if exercised, may have subtle, far-reaching and devastating effects. In evil or reckless hands it can cause races or types which are inimical to the dominant group to wither and disappear. There is no redemption for the individual whom the law touches. Any experiment which the State conducts is to his irreparable injury. He is forever deprived of a basic liberty. We mention these matters not to reexamine the scope of the police power of the States. We advert to them merely in emphasis of our view that strict scrutiny of the classification which a State makes in a sterilization law is essential, lest unwittingly, or otherwise, invidious discriminations are made against groups or types of individuals in violation of the constitutional guaranty of just and equal laws. The guaranty of "equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws." When the law lays an unequal hand on those who have committed intrinsically the same quality of offense and sterilizes one and not the other, it has made as invidious a discrimination as if it had selected a particular race or nationality for oppressive treatment. Sterilization of those who have thrice committed grand larceny, with immunity for those who are embezzlers, is a clear, pointed, unmistakable discrimination. Oklahoma makes no attempt to say that he who commits larceny by trespass or trick or fraud has biologically inheritable traits which he who commits embezzlement lacks. We have not the slightest basis for inferring that that line has any significance in eugenics, nor that the inheritability of criminal traits follows the neat legal distinctions which the law has marked between those two offenses. In terms of fines and imprisonment, the crimes of larceny and embezzlement rate the same under the Oklahoma code. Only when it comes to sterilization are the pains and penalties of the law different. The equal protection clause would indeed be a formula of empty words if such conspicuously artificial lines could be drawn.

It seems apparent from the language of these cases that marriage is a creature of the state, but one which, if it is to grant to anyone, it must grant equally to people who are similarly situated. The 14th Amendment is, of course, one of the post-Civil War amendments, designed specifically (though inartfully) to protect blacks from discrimination, so it would clearly be unconstitutional to restrict access to marriage on the basis of race.

Skinner appears to be more of an overreach by the Court, as there is nothing in the 14th to suggest a concern with equal treatment of different classes of criminals. But setting that aside for the moment, the most that can be said of the ruling is that if a state grants access to marriage (the case actually involves sterilization of criminals) to one class of criminals it would have to grant it to all others. It's important to note that it appears the state could simply ban marriage for all criminals, or perhaps, given the subject of the case, even sterilize all criminals, so long as it did so equally.

In sum, these cases do not appear to create any "right to marriage" nor do they recognize one in the Constitution. Rather they require states, once they have sanctioned the institution, to grant it equally to people who are similar and the 14th Amendment requires that we recognize that race is not a category that makes human beings dissimilar. States are still allowed to restrict marriage for reasons of age of the parties, consanguinity, polygamy, gender, etc. This rather thorough scheme of regulation would be incompatible with anything that was truly a constitutional right. Imagine for instance if the state tried to limit you from speaking to the same types of people it forbids you to marry--this would clearly be an unconstitutional abdridgment of the right of free speech.

To date there is no constitutional amendment akin to the 14th requiring us to recognize that sexual preference is not a category that makes human beings dissimilar. Such an amendment, though I would find it abhorrent, would nonetheless create the type of right to marriage for homosexuals of which Mr. Adragna speaks. In the meantime, for the reasons stated in the review, I would oppose any expansion of marriage to other than heterosexual, monogamous, unrelated, adult couples. On the other hand, it seems like some lesser provision could be created for gay couples, perhaps just state recognition of a contractual obligation between the two parties.

March 28, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 PM


University of Minnesota Press book challenges anxiety about pedophilia (Mark
O'Keefe, Mar 26, 2002, Newhouse News Service)
Sex between adults and children has been a societal taboo so strong that it's considered one of our few unquestioned moral principles.
But arguments have emerged in academic journals, books and online that at least some such sex should be acceptable, especially when children
consent to it.

Those making the case aren't just fringe groups, such as the North American Man-Boy Love Association, but a handful of academics at mainstream

It's easy and fashionable to express outrage at some of the comments by the Reverend Jerry Falwell and the Reverend Pat Robertson that at least imply
that America deserved what it got on 9-11. Of course, the people who were killed did not deserve to die and their families and friends did not
deserve to lose loved ones. Nothing can justify what happened and to find some kind of solace in it as a confirmation of your worldview is rather
childish. But when you read a story like this you can't help feeling that our society has a sickness at its core which must be attacked vigorously or else
maybe the entire culture really should be euthanized.

(via Enter Stage Right's Musings)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM


Scoopsville (Michael Sneed, 3/28/02, Chicago Sun-Times)
Whispers inside the Oval Office: Sneed hears the big buzz in the White House is . . . veep Dick Cheney may not run again!

If fact, rumor is Cheney might become President Bush's next secretary of state.

Given Cheney's ill health and the fact that W doesn't need adult supervision to reassure voters any longer, this seems inevitable. The columnist touts Ridge or Guiliani but given the Bush/Rove/Hughes operation's clear intention to transform the Party and American politics, it seems more likely they'd play the gender or racial angle : Powell, Rice, Watts, or a Latino.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM


Oh no! Bill McKibben's said too much. He's said it all. (Chris Mooney, 3.28.02, American Prospect)

[This] brings Bill McKibben and the philosopher-academics -- they're that at least as much as environmentalists -- in his coalition. In his Times op-ed, McKibben wrote that "cloning of any kind is a step toward genetic engineering...toward leaving the natural world behind." "Nature," incidentally, is the keyword if you want to know where someone really stands in the therapeutic cloning debate. With remarkable consistency, its usage demonstrates when therapeutic cloning opponents have gone beyond science, which tells us certain things about the natural world, in the direction of prescriptive, philosophical statements about the way they believe the natural world ought to be.

The problem, of course, is that the dichotomy between "natural" and "unnatural" is a spurious one; humans are part of the natural world and all their activities, science, cloning, and otherwise, are therefore hardly unnatural, even if they may be unprecedented. McKibben tries to draw a distinction between his defense of the "natural" and "liberalism's faith in the onward march of science," but there shouldn't be any daylight between these two things. It's not good for science or for liberalism.

Of course, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with finding yourself in new coalitions, as McKibben has. But such alignments can only be assessed by weighing the strength of the arguments that have brought them into being against their more negative consequences. That's why it's so troubling that philosophically weak worries about the "unnatural" have prompted leading liberal minds, like McKibben's, to ally themselves so closely with anti-choice religious rightists like Brownback.

One of the surest signs that someone is uncomfortable their own intellectual position comes when they try to redefine words. It's quite often an indicator that they recognize they can not respond to the opposing argument effectively if words are allowed to retain their true meaning. We see this kind of unfortunate tendency to bastardize language for political purposes on display in Chris Mooney's distortion of the meaning of the word "natural".

He argues that because Man was created by Nature, nothing he does can ever be unnatural. But take a gander at the dictionary definition of "natural" :

nat·u·ral Pronunciation Key (nchr-l, nchrl) adj.
1. Present in or produced by nature: a natural pearl.
2. Of, relating to, or concerning nature: a natural environment.
3. Conforming to the usual or ordinary course of nature: a natural death.
a. Not acquired; inherent: Love of power is natural to some people.
b. Having a particular character by nature: a natural leader.
c. Biology. Not produced or changed artificially; not conditioned: natural immunity; a natural reflex.
5. Characterized by spontaneity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or inhibitions. See Synonyms at naive.
6. Not altered, treated, or disguised: natural coloring; natural produce.
7. Faithfully representing nature or life.
8. Expected and accepted: "In Willie's mind marriage remained the natural and logical sequence to love" (Duff Cooper).
9. Established by moral certainty or conviction: natural rights.
10. Being in a state regarded as primitive, uncivilized, or unregenerate.

Obviously, "natural" means something which precedes human manipulation. Contrary to Mr. Mooney's assertion, at the point where human activities are brought to bear on something it ceases to be natural. Now, we may wish to give Mr. Mooney the benefit of the doubt and assume that he simply didn't understand the words he was using, because the only alternative is to conclude that he was being dishonest, and trying to escape from the bounds of language because he could not otherwise answer Mr. McKibben's argument. We'll leave it to you to decide.

The broader point though is that what separates Man from the rest of Nature is precisely the fact that we alone are capable of going beyond natural limits. We do not have to accept the world as it exists around us, but instead can bend it to our own purposes. This is an awesome and terrible power. It has been a great benefit to us in most instances, but it does frequently have negative consequences, some intended, some unintended. Those of us who propose that we go slowly on things like cloning are really only saying that we as a species need to take responsibility for all of the consequences that will follow, intended and unintended, when we move beyond the natural and experiment with the unnatural. This requires that we carefully consider what the consequences might be, rather than marching (a probably accidental but entirely apt metaphor from Mr. Mooney, suggesting as it does a certain measure of thoughtlessness) blindly into a future that might not seem so much like "progress" once we get there.

(via Instapundit)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM


France Warns It Opposes Death Penalty in Terror Trial (PHILIP SHENON and NEIL A. LEWIS, March 28, 2002, NY Times)
The French government has warned the United States that it might end its cooperation in the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen who is the only person charged so far in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, if the United States seeks the death penalty in the case, American officials said today.

French Mass Murderer Leaps to Death From Cell (Reuters, 3/28/02)

Richard Durn, held by police for shooting dead eight councilors in a Paris suburb, committed suicide on Thursday by leaping from a window while in custody, French police said.

He jumped to his death from a window in the main police detention center on the Ile de la Cite, the island in the center of Paris, where he had been taken for questioning before he was due to face a judge on Thursday afternoon.

Heck, if the French are willing to heave Moussaoui out a window, we'll just deport him. While they're at it, they can have Mumia Abu-Jamal too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM


The Population Slowdown (NY Times, March 28, 2002)
The danger is that the good news about the drop in fertility may cause policy makers to relax their population efforts, when the reverse is necessary.

No greater crisis faces the developed world than its rapidly declining population. We know of no instance where a society has long sustained a growing economy while its population went down (witness the mess that Japan has become) and it will be impossible for ever fewer workers to pay for the aptly named "golden years" of longer lived retirees. Yet the Times remains oblivious, calling for the rest of the world to emulate us. Thus does the Left's birth control ideology trump common sense.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 AM


Bomb Kills at Least 19 in Israel as Arabs Open Beirut Meeting (JOEL BRINKLEY, March 28, 2002, NY Times)

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded hotel dining room here tonight just as more than 200 people gathered for their Passover holiday meal, killing at least 19 and wounding more than 100 others, many of them children.

Here's the most inexplicable thing about all of this, that the Palestinians specifically and Arabs generally think they are winning. Look around the web today and you'll see any number of columnists, pundits, and bloggers who have thrown up their hands and see no solution to this mess except for Israel to liquidate (and I use the word advisedly) the Palestinian Authority, if not the Palestinians.

Just for example, William (Blithering Idiot) Sulik, who had begun the week discussing Holy Week, ended yesterday with the following :

Posted 3/27/2002 03:45:10 PM by William Sulik
Kill them. I get out of bed and check the news today -- another Palestinian terrorist strike on innocent civilians. My reaction is the same as General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson after re-entering Fredericksburg: "Kill them; Kill them all."

And you read those words and you think : I couldn't agree more.

Here's the question though, do the Arabs even begin to comprehend the eventual consequences of what they are doing? The most massive killings in history have been preceded by a process of dehumanizing and demonizing the eventual victims. In his book Hitler's Willing Executioners, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen talks about how anti-Semitism was a kind of persistent, low-grade infection in Christendom, but in Germany it was converted to an eliminationist anti-Semitism in part because propagandists portrayed Jews as subhuman, disease carrying, vermin. Here in America, slavery required that we believe blacks to be not fully human, as did the slaughter of Indians, and it is surely no coincidence that the atomic bomb was used on the Japanese, who had been portrayed as monkeys for years prior to the bombing (which is not to say that the bombing was unjustified [I believe it was justified] or that we would not have used it on Nazi Germany [I believe it would have been, though perhaps not as blithely]--but the fact remains it has only ever been used by one race against another). We can easily understand that treating those you intend to kill as less than human will take the moral edge off your own actions and make what might otherwise be unthinkable entirely doable.

How demented is it then that the Palestinians are engaged in the process of dehumanizing themselves in the eyes of the West? For surely it is antihuman to behave as they are behaving, to kill yourself, to murder innocents, to destroy and murder indiscriminately and incoherently. And at that moment, which may already have come, when the Israeli people and we in America come to see the Palestinians as truly less than human, then, make no mistake, we will kill them or countenance the Israeli killing of them in significant and horrifying numbers.

We are wont to engage in moral posturing and disclaim any understanding of how mass slaughter and genocide can occur, but which of us can look upon the scenes of devastation in Israel and not feel some visceral instinct poking at us and urging us to : "Kill them all. Kill everyone who had anything to do with this. Kill anyone who supports this. Kill them all"? And if some innocents die, as surely they will, we've always got the cold comfort that : the Lord knows them that are His.

The Palestinians are sowing the wind; are they prepared to reap the whirlwind?

I am sorry if I left the impression in readers' minds that I equate the use of atomic weapons against Japan with the German Holocaust. My point is that both require a prior dehumanization of those who are killed and that we do well to take note of the fact that the bomb has only ever been used by one race against another. But, more importantly, that the Palestinians are doing the dehumanizing themselves, creating the impression in all of our minds that they are barely even the same species as we are. This kind of dehumanization has in the past had catastrophic results and they might do well to reconsider their current course of action before we treat them as less than human, as a people whose lives are less significant than our own.

Meanwhile, perhaps my review of The Lessons of Terror : A History of Warfare Against Civilians: Why It Has Always Failed and Why It Will Fail Again (2002) (Caleb Carr 1955-) will clear up any questions about my views on the morality of attacking civilians in wartime.

Thanks to everyone who has commented or e-mailed about my lack of clarity. Please continue to criticize me; it's very helpful.

Billy Wilder (1906-2002) is dead. Milton
(1908-2002) is too. And Dudley Moore (1935-2002). That's great if you think
famous people die in threes or that a big name dies at every holiday. On another day it might seem fairly amusing to see these utter coincidences
proven once again. Today it seems to pale in comparison to the realization that Jews die in groups of twenty on their way to celebrate their holidays.

March 27, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 PM


Cities share protester files : Police departments call practice proactive (Sean Kelly, March 13, 2002, Denver Post)
"We're not necessarily out there watching them. We're out there protecting everyone," said Sgt. Chris Ehalt, head of Aurora's intelligence division. "If you want to be in a public forum, if you want to draw attention, why be afraid of people knowing who you are?"

Say what you want about the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, at least when they set out to change their societies through civil disobedience they were serious about it. They understood that in a decent society you can shame people into changing a morally bankrupt system by being willing to go to jail for your beliefs and making everyone face up to the injustice of your punishment. That so few of today's protestors are willing to be treated like criminals suggests that they realize how little support there is for their various lunatic causes and that society at large is unlikely to view their punishment as unjust.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM


Indian forces to train in Alaska (Shyam Bhatia, March 28, 2002, Deccan Herald)
Joe Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC commented, "There are several levels on this. The level of co-operation is certainly solid evidence of the change in the relationship. The US only conducts these kinds of training exercises with its allies and very close friends.This is significant, it definitely marks new levels of co-operation. However I'm not sure the US has considered all the political and diplomatic implications of joint training in this environment. It's very likely that Pakistan will have a strong reaction. The same might be said of China. What's the purpose of this training and who are they training against ?"

I think you just answered your own question Mr. Cirincione. The Arab world is basically surrounded by Israel in the West, Turkey in the North and India in the East, with the US controlling the skies and waters. There's a lot of handwringing over how this Arab Summit might turn anti-American. Aren't the wrong people worried? A war between the Democratic League (Israel, India, Turkey, US) and the Arab League would make the Six Day War look like a quagmire.

And the effective alliance of India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, the US, etc, leaves China surrounded too. It's not looking like a particularly opportune time to be a tyrannical regime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 PM


The great game : "Nash's equilibrium", the brilliant legacy of an unstable mind (Simon Singh, 25th March 2002, New Statesman)
Game theory, put simply, is the mathematical study of the strategies used to win games. It began with the study of such games as noughts and crosses and chess, which are relatively easy to analyse because they are games of "complete information" - in other words, each player can see the other's position.

Then mathematicians became interested in games such as poker, which is much more interesting because players cannot see each other's cards. Poker is a game of "incomplete information", so more subtle elements such as bluff come into the analysis.

Eventually, mathematicians attempted to analyse more important games, including economics, warfare and divorce settlement. In each case, you have two parties competing over money or territory; each party develops a strategy based on its own strengths and objectives, and on the perceived mindset and skills of their opponent. Game theory is maths plus a dash of psychology.

And the man who did more than anyone else to apply game theory to the real world was John Nash. Between 1950 and 1953, Nash published four papers that revolutionised game theory. Still in his early twenties, he conducted a deep analysis of a special set of games that were said to be non-zero sum.

In most games, including chess, there is a zero sum, which means that if I win, then you lose, or vice versa. But in a non-zero-sum game, both players can win . . . or both can lose. For example, pay negotiation between management and a trade union can be a non-zero-sum game. The result can be a long strike that hurts both sides, or a fair agreement that benefits both sides.

Nash enshrined his theory in mathematical equations; in particular, he identified a situation, later known as the Nash equilibrium, in which both players have a perfect strategy that results in stability. Players maintain this strategy because anything else will only worsen their own position.

Granted I'm mathematically illiterate, but that just seems dubious. I'm more inclined to believe that the next moment of stasis in human affairs will be the first.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM


As stoplight cameras spread, drivers see red (Craig Savoye, 3/19/02, The Christian Science Monitor)
In Oxnard, Calif., red-light running dropped 42 percent citywide after a program began there. In Washington, D.C., the police reported a decrease of 24,000 red-light-running violations monthly in the two years after 39 cameras were installed in 1999.

"The whole basis of our program is to change the behavior of the red-light-running driver," says Sergeant Richard Carlson, program manager for the Sacramento County red-light camera program. Last year the Sheriff's department videotaped one approach to what had been designated one of the 10 most dangerous intersections in the country. The camera caught 62 violations in a 24-hour period. Since red-light cameras were installed at the intersection last spring, the average number of violations has dropped to 13.

The argument of opponents, that the real problem is inconsistency of the duration of yellow lights, is too laughable to be taken seriously and a camera that is triggered only when it detects a violation of the law seems to allay privacy concerns.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM


Forgotten founder Mason to be memorialized on National Mall (Matthew Barakat, Associated Press, 3/27/2002)
Mason's greatest contribution, scholars agree, is the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, in which Mason wrote ''that all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights ... among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.''

Thomas Jefferson borrowed liberally from Mason in writing the Declaration of Independence a few months later.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Mason was one of three delegates who refused to sign the pact, fearing that the lack of a Bill of Rights would erode individual liberties. Notes taken by James Madison during the convention indicate Mason said ''he would sooner chop off his right hand than put it to the Constitution.''

Mason's refusal to endorse the Constitution ended his friendship with George Washington, who later referred to Mason as his ''former friend.''

Eventually, Mason's arguments for individual liberties persuaded others to add the Bill of Rights shortly after the Constitution was ratified.

Ultimately I think we'd have to conclude that the Bill of Rights was actually a mistake where pure liberty is concerned. It would probably have been better for the Antifederalists to argue that Congress had only the powers quite specifically delineated to it in the Constitution itself.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM


Documents Show Energy Official Met Only With Industry Leaders : The energy secretary did not meet with environmental organizations or consumer groups as he helped the Bush administration write its national energy report last year. (DON VAN NATTA Jr. and NEELA BANERJEE, NY Times, 3/27/02)
Congressional Democrats and environmental groups have long argued that the administration relied on advice from industry leaders while spurning environmentalists who were arguing for conservation, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures. Today, the groups said that Mr. Abraham's calendar has proved that suspicion.

"The documents indicate that great deference was given to energy industry executives and lobbyists and almost none was given to the environmental industry and the concerns of consumer groups," said Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel of Judicial Watch, the legal watchdog group and one of several groups that sued executive branch agencies for the documents' release.

If you've ever noticed, when the Bears play the Lions, they don't invite players from the Lions to join their huddle.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 AM


Unlikely Allies Against Cloning (Bill McKibben, March 27, 2002, NY Times)
There are already voices on the left excoriating environmentalists and feminists for aligning themselves with conservatives in questioning the use of cloning and urging them to get back to fighting climate change and defending abortion clinics. Conservatives will doubtless feel the heat from libertarians who want no government interference in markets or medicine. Such clashes will remain politically important. But the surge of new technology makes new issues - and new alliances - inescapable.

Mr. McKibben here takes note of what may be an important shift in the politics of environmentalism, the recourse to arguments about the sanctity of nature by conservatives. Yet there's an even more important and somewhat related change coming in the area of reproductive politics that no one is writing about yet : the inevitable shift by women towards pro-life positions.

To perceive the reasons why this sea change is coming it is necessary to look at abortion not as a moral issue, but purely as a political issue (my apologies to anyone who is offended by such Machiavellian calculation). From this perspective we can see abortion as an exercise of naked political power rather than as a "rights" issue. The most awesome power that the state wields is the power of life and death. Whether exercised in the deployment of men into combat or through the execution of criminals, we have traditionally allowed only the state to send people to their deaths. And since government has been dominated by men, this terrible prerogative had effectively been reserved to men.

It seems unsurprising then that when women were given the vote they would seek to flex their newfound political power, and what greater assertion of this power could there be than to seize the opportunity to exercise the power of life and death over someone else. And so we ended up with the odd situation wherein women, whose primary concern in other areas of politics seems to be with physical and economic security, are perversely the advocates in just one area for absolute "freedom". Similarly, the opposition of men to abortion should be seen as at least partly reactionary, a response to the female assertion of power, which explains why the appeal to "freedom" and "rights", which typically resonates with men, has not been more effective in this one area.

But now we are arrived at the point in history where the unintended consequences of this political anomaly are becoming clear and they are potentially catastrophic for the species but especially for women. This is the case because the horrific, but little mentioned, result of easy access to abortion has been to significantly reduce the proportion of female births to male births. In fact, as we look at the numbers, it seems fair to say that a holocaust is being visited upon female fetuses across the globe.

Setting aside for the nonce all of the other implications of this phenomenon, let us consider only the impact this could have on the long-sought and hard-won political power of women. The one great advantage that women have in a democracy is that there are more of them. It is no coincidence that the rise of the Social Welfare State, which vindicates female concerns, tracks almost precisely with the expansion of suffrage to women. But suppose that women were to become a minority in society, what then? One can not look at the fate of minorities throughout history and be quiescent about the chances that women will be well served politically by becoming a minority.

It is therefore very likely that we will gradually see women turn against abortion, both because opposition more accurately reflects their natural predisposition in favor of security and because it is in their political self-interest to return to a natural gender birth ratio. The first steps along this path may well come during the public debate over cloning and will explain much that currently seems unusual about the alliances that are being forged over the issue

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 AM


Chasing the Republicans, Empty-Handed (John Balzar, March 27 2002, LA Times)
[S]o muddled are the Democrats and so stubborn their insistence on group loyalty that Antonio Villaraigosa could not resist a sloppy punch when the party handed him the microphone Saturday: "The president's trip this weekend to Latin America is part of an orchestrated strategy to curry favor with Latino voters."

(A) Perhaps, and (B) just what's wrong with that?

Wouldn't it be a better question to ask: Is it a good idea for the president of the United States to travel south? To shake hands with the heads of states in our own hemisphere? To hash out the neighborly things we share such as economic investment, immigration and the criminal fallout of the drug trade, as well as reestablishing the Peace Corps in Peru?

Or you can ask it this way: You mean George W. Bush should ignore Mexico, Central and South America? As Villaraigosa, the onetime state legislative leader and defeated candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, put it: "The Republican pursuit of Hispanic voters is a calculated political strategy. For us, it's an extension of our values."

I'm not Latino, except to the extent that we all are shaped by the cultures around us. But I do know the feeling of being left out by our government. I'd be
happier to see the president toss off old ideology and curry more favor, cross more boundaries, speak more languages, play more consensus politics across the whole field of our national disagreements.

Thankfully political parties learn slowly. Otherwise, the Democrats might have noticed that when Republicans accused Bill Clinton of stealing conservative ideas it only had the effect of making him seem more conservative and acceptable to their own constituents. Instead, here they are lashing out at President Bush for doing the bidding of Latino voters. When even John Balzar is making fun of them, the Democrats really must be lost.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 AM


Stranglehold on Speech (Robert J. Samuelson, March 27, 2002, Washington Post)
*Free speech is not selective speech, respectable speech or popular speech. Free speech does not exist unless it can include speech that you -- and perhaps most
people -- despise. People must have, as individuals and as groups, the routine right to express themselves, even if their expressions offend. Somehow these truths
escape the supporters of "campaign finance reform," whose crusade threatens free speech.

*Politics is about interest groups -- of both left and right -- cooperating with sympathetic candidates and officeholders. But close cooperation erases the
distinction between a contribution and campaign spending. If an interest group runs a political ad at a candidate's request, then the money for the ad amounts
to a donation to the candidate. Contribution limits become meaningless. The cure is to outlaw cooperation. But that destroys free speech. People can't talk to
senators, representatives, candidates or their staffs without flirting with illegal cooperation. Groups can't lobby without running the same risk.

*Only the Supreme Court can end the charade. When it considers McCain-Feingold, it should declare most campaign finance regulation unconstitutional. The
alleged evils of money in politics are now overshadowed by the evils of strangling free speech.

Free speech must be a concept that ordinary people can grasp in most ordinary circumstances. It must not become a lawyerly collection of qualifications,
footnotes and regulations, and that is where the campaign finance crusade is leading.

Mr. Samuelson is bang on, again. But the real point here is that W should veto the law since it is unconstitutional. Failure to do so represents a violation of his oath of office.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM


Storm over Nobel Prize laureate's Auschwitz comparison : Portuguese author Jose Saramago commented that Israeli actions in the territories were a crime comparable to what happened in the concentration camp. (Israeli Insider)
"We must ring all bells in the world to tell that what is happening in Palestine is a crime, and it is within our power stop to this," Saramago said, when a delegation of members of the International Parliament of Writers (IPW) met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. "We can compare it to what happened in Auschwitz," the author continued. "Even if we consider the differences in place and time, it is still the same thing. From the military point of view... Ramallah is the barracks of the camp, and the Palestinians are the prisoners inside."

Whatever else you believe about the Middle East situation, it is necessary to acknowledge that Israel is trying to create a Palestinian state but that the Palestinians refuse to accept the offer. You may feel that the Palestinians deserve more, you may feel that they deserve all, but you can't deny that basic fact : Palestinians have been offered a state of their own. Hitler tried exterminating the Jews.

Here's what George Orwell had to say about this kind of abuse of language :

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because out thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.

Well, we aren't professionals and we're quite fond of "sentimental archaisms", so let me just say this : Jose Saramago's comparison of the current situation in the Middle East to the extermination of Jews at Auschwitz is foolish and he ain't much of a novelist either.

March 26, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 PM


Summit Goes on Without Key Players (Sam F. Ghattas, March 26, 2002, Associated Press)
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah prepared Tuesday to present his plan for ending a half-century of Mideast conflict, but two key players – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – won't be attending an Arab summit to endorse the proposal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 PM


Oscars TV Ratings Hit Low Mark (David Bauder, March 25, 2002, AP)
ABC estimated the telecast drew 41.8 million viewers, down from the 42.9 million people who watched in 2001.

The viewership figure was the lowest since 1997, when just over 40 million people were watching as "The English Patient" was named best picture. The rating was smaller this year, even though the viewership figure was higher, because there are more homes with televisions now than in 1997.

Earlier Monday, Nielsen's preliminary measurements of the 53 biggest media markets were up 2 percent over last year. But the numbers sank when smaller cities and rural areas were taken into account.

"This had, obviously, less appeal in the heartland than in recent years," said Larry Hyams, ABC's chief researcher.

Here's an idea, try finding a host whom the heartland doesn't hate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 PM


GOP Targets Democratic Rift (Ethan Wallison and Susan Crabtree, March 25, 2002, Roll Call)
"There is a multitiered conflict going on among national Democrat leaders. No one leader speaks for the party, and confusion has never been greater," Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (Okla.) wrote in a memo distributed to GOP colleagues before they left for the spring recess last week.

The strategy memo, also sent from Watts' American Renewal PAC, suggested that Democratic leaders in both chambers were no longer thinking in terms of 2002 but about 2004 and the impact of presidential politics. Leadership term limits and the likelihood that Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) will run for president have given rise to a spate of leadership contests, each with its own subplots and distractions.

"I didn't think anybody could be as good at fighting with themselves as Republicans are," Watts said in an interview Friday. "They are about to take our crown."

A Republican leadership that once found itself beset with rivalries and saddled with a sinking economy is now seeing the reverse image of its former self in the Democrats, who face an array of leadership contests and a brightening economic picture, which has undermined their message. Although the GOP has its own leadership holes to fill, those contests are all but wrapped up.

So Gephardt is running for President if the Dems don't take the House. That sets off a fight for his job and for the whole series of jobs lower on the totem pole. Meanwhile, Daschle is an inevitable presidential candidate, which sets him in effective opposition to Gephardt and triggers the same rivalries behind him in the Democratic Senate leadership. This could be the most fun we Republicans have had since the Battle of Stalingrad.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 PM


Spinning the Military Tribunals : 'A Mere Pretense of Legal Process' (Nat Hentoff, 3/25/02, Village Voice)
Where did the evidence come from originally? Whose hands did it pass through before being used against the defendant in a military tribunal? Could the so-called evidence have come from a person tortured by police in one of those countries where torture is a customary form of persuading prisoners to say what the authorities want to hear?

Mr. Hentoff raises a series of objections to the tribunals, but it's probably sufficient just to look at the problems with his arguments where evidence is concerned. He objects that the tribunals do not require the "chain of evidence" rules that obtain in our domestic courts. But how could these rules be maintained? Suppose a GI raided a cave in Afghanistan and found papers that show a defendant was involved in Al Qaeda terror planning. He handed the papers to a buddy who had gathered other papers in a different cave who gave them to his commanding officer, who gave them to his, who gave them to someone in JAG. In a criminal case you would have to authenticate every step of this process with carefully kept records, etc. How do you do this with such papers? Can the guys even remember which cave they were in? Do they remember which guy found them originally? Did they keep different papers from different caves segregated? Who the heck knows? Are we really going to exclude evidence for these reasons? That would be idiotic. Is it required by the Constitution? Absolutely not; in fact, it isn't constitutionally required in American courts; it's just an accretion of overexpansive criminal rights rulings.

Suppose the Pakistani secret services did torture a guy and he revealed where a cache of papers were; are we going to exclude the evidence because it might have been excluded in an American court if the police had tortured someone? This too seems ridiculous. There may be some reason to exclude evidence that domestic police acquire in this fashion, because it may have some deterrent effect. Can anyone argue that our excluding this evidence will deter torture in a foreign nation? Not with a straight face.

Suppose our forces captured an Al Qaeda member and interrogated him. He confessed. But he wasn't read the Miranda warning. Should the confession be excluded? Do American soldiers, in battle, really need to warn prisoners not to talk when getting them to talk might reveal information that could save those soldiers lives? Is this proposition even sane?

Justice Arthur Goldberg famously opined that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. To allow terrorists and enemy soldiers to potentially go free just because soldiers in the field were not able to observe every nicety of our elaborate scheme of criminal procedures seems to me to border on the suicidal. By itself, the skirting of these unnecessary evidentiary rules more than justifies the use of military tribunals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 PM


Two Ounces of Neo-Fascism
The new two-ounce stamp at left (follow link above) has been released by the US Postal Service which is apparently trying to get in tune with our post-constitutional times. The warrior eagle was a major symbol of Nazism as shown in the museum exhibit at right. The eagle on the stamp has its talons grasping the fasci, a bundle of rods that has been described as symbolizing "the power of many united and obeying one will and the authority of the state, which was the supreme source of law and order and all national life." And, notes Al Martin, "The color of the stamp used to be called Nordic or Aryan Blue - before the war. After the war, when those words became politically incorrect, the name of the blue was changed to the more neutral-sounding Icelandic Blue. . .The seven pediments on the eagle’s chevron shaped breastplate represent the seven hills of Rome. The three Ionic columned perch represents Order, Discipline and Obedience, which was the pledge undertaken by the Obsidian Order. Any philatelist would recognize this eagle and any numismatist, who collects Third Reich or Caesarian coins, would also know it." Fortunately rates are going up, so this stamp probably won't be around for long.

Here's a little exercise that might be helpful as you read this deranged little story and check out the picture of the stamp. Take out a quarter, it needs to be an older one, not one of the state commemorative jobs. Look at the eagle on the back. Note that it too has a fasces grasped in its talons. The symbol is based on the idea that you can take one arrow and snap it fairly easily, but bind them together and they're unbreakable. Obviously, for a republic, like ours, which is based on a federalism wherein many states are forged into one nation, this symbol has a special resonance. We even derive our motto from a similar sentiment : E Pluribus Unum, or Out of Many, One.

It is, of course, necessary to hate the Nazis, but it hardly seems necessary to surrender our own national symbols just because they used some of them too. Though our grandfather (a Mason and former merchant marine) did have a swastika tattoo burned off in the '30s when Hitler corrupted that ancient emblem.

On the other hand, I suppose we may truly be descending into a dark nightmare of neofascism and the stamp is a secret indicator to the faithful that plans to extinguish liberty proceed apace. You decide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:53 PM


U.S. Facilitated Ransom to Abu Sayyaf (Bret Baier, March 25, 2002, FOX News)
News that the government facilitated the ransom payment comes just one month after State Department officials announced a change in longstanding U.S. policy of not paying ransoms to kidnappers. At the time, officials said the new policy reflected the possibility such payments could be used to help track down the hostage takers.

Yeah, yeah, I know...everybody thump your chest and declare how we should never negotiate with terrorists and how this shows the Administration has gone soft, blah, blah, blah... Okay, feel better? Now let me ask : why not?

Why not pay them some money, get our folks out and then hunt everyone associated with the kidnappers down like dogs, as the Israelis did to the murderers of their Olympic athletes? Then we take the money and give it to a kibbutz or something. Seems like we'd only have to do it once or twice before the kidnappings stopped, but in the meantime we'd have saved a few innocent Americans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:39 PM


Cheney Trips Up : The vice president's Middle East expedition didn't help the war on terror. (William Kristol and Robert Kagan, 03/22/2002, Weekly Standard)

WE UNDERSTAND perfectly well the sophisticated defense of American diplomacy last week. It's all tactical, we're told. Never mind what the vice president says, and never mind what the Arabs say. In order to win Arab acquiescence in an attack on Iraq, the Bush administration needed to quiet things down in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The president needed to look like he cares about Arab sensitivities. And absent some U.S. effort to revive the peace process, we'll never get Arab leaders on board for an assault on Iraq.

It's a clever argument, but we think it's wrong. The Arabs will not be so easily bought. Nor is it possible to build up Arab goodwill with a few gestures here and there. Even now, it looks like Cheney's improvisational diplomacy has put the administration in a no-win situation. Either Cheney goes ahead with the meeting with Arafat in Cairo--in which case he will be sending a clear message that the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists under Arafat's authority is of less concern to the United States than appeasing Arab opinion. Or the meeting is canceled. The Arab summit will then become an anti-Israeli and anti-American free-for-all.

How's that for calming things down? The administration could actually be worse off than before Cheney's trip. Arafat will have gotten a new lease on life, but the conflict will be no closer to a resolution. Meanwhile, having accepted the central Arab claim--that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the issue of Iraq are inseparable, and that the former must take precedence--the administration will have to persist in the hopeless effort to bring peace to the Middle East. Either that, or it will have to reverse course and make clear to the Arab leaders that Iraq is our top priority, not the peace process.

Hawkish critics of the administration seem to be making a fairly basic error where peace talks are concerned; they apparently think that the US should be taking a harder line than Israel. When last we heard, Israel had not yet declared war on Palestine but was instead trying (futilely) to get a peace deal. We're in the region trying to broker such a deal. That requires us to, at least to some degree, remain an honest broker, which, in turn, requires that we say and do some things that aren't necessarily in Israel's best interest from time to time. There are, as far as I can tell, only two other alternatives : (1) Israel could declare war, in which they'd likely have our full though reluctant support; or (2) Israel could ask us to openly side with them in peace efforts, in which case a new, more impartial, broker would need to be brought in. The obvious question as regards option two is : who? Who has the leverage over both sides to apply where needed, the money to fund the deal, and the power to enforce it? Answer : only the U.S. So the only real choice is between continued peace efforts or an immediate declaration of war. Until Israeli decides it's time to go to war, it seems absurd to ask American negotiators to be more Zionist than Zion is itself.

Meanwhile, what would be so terrible about an Arab summit that turns into "an anti-Israeli and anti-American free-for-all"? This might actually provide a welcome moment of clarity in which the US and Israel are forced to accept that war is the only viable option in the Middle East. The outcome of such a war is surely not in doubt, so let's get it on.


An uneasy Iraq awaits US move : Recent defectors describe a 'siege' mentality in Baghdad and demoralized, ready-to-jump troops. (Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor)

[T]hey also speak of a deep demoralization within the armed forces that could lead to mass defections and a popular uprising in the face of any concerted US military action - a critical ingredient to any Pentagon strategy to carry out Washington's policy of "regime change" in Iraq.

Poll: Americans want Saddam out, but split on how (Richard Benedetto, 3/25/02, USA TODAY)

Most Americans consider removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq to be a high priority, and they strongly support the use of United States air power to oust him, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM


In the Political Party Ring, It's Fearless Frodo vs. Pathetic Piggy (Ronald Brownstein, March 25 2002, LA Times)
It's not as tangible an asset as money or good poll numbers. But for a political party, confidence--in its message, its ideas, even its mission--is usually a critical ingredient of success in an election year. Right now, the confidence gap may be the biggest difference between the parties. Just over seven months before the midterm elections, Republicans are swaggering. Democrats look lost.

Republican candidates for the House and Senate already appear to have settled on the central messages they'll trumpet in this fall's campaigns: Defend President Bush's tax cut; endorse his call for big spending increases on defense and homeland security; and, above all, link themselves to Bush's popularity, particularly the public support for his handling of the terrorist threat.


Democrats don't have nearly as much direction. In theory, they have settled on a two-part election-year strategy: embrace Bush on the war and challenge him on domestic issues.

The Democrats task here seems impossible--to, on the one hand, say they support the president and believe in the importance of the war, while on the other hand asking the American people to hamstring him by removing his party from power in Congress. It is not helpful in this regard that their putative leader, Tom Daschle, has made several incoherent statements that, while they may be perfectly acceptable expressions of dissent, call into question whether Democrats really do support the vigorous prosecution of an expansive war.

One would expect that the GOP can't actually gain seats because that would violate historic trends for the party in power in mid-term elections. But there is real danger here for Democrats, especially their incumbent Senators from states that Bush carried two years ago. To the extent that the national party succeeds in separating itself from a president who's riding at over 80% in the polls and probably higher in these battleground states, they will necessarily be separating their most vulnerable candidates from their own constituents. The typical reaction of politicians in this situation is to in turn try to separate themselves from their party. This is always disastrous, as witness the efforts of various now-retired Republicans to distance themselves from Newt Gingrich and impeachment. These efforts create a dissonance that ends up doing more damage to their own candidacies and to the party in general.

Compounding their problem is the sad fact that the post-Clinton Democratic Party doesn't seem to have any core beliefs. Bill Clinton's Triangulation, or Third Way, which involved co-opting Republican issues and opposing Democratic orthodoxy, proved an effective way of putting himself in power and staying there, but not surprisingly leaves the Party with almost nothing to differentiate itself from the Republicans. After eight years of sucking up to business and embracing free trade, while pronouncing the end of the era of big government, what is left of the great liberal Democrat agenda other than environmentalism (where they're challenged by the Greens), racial quotas (though they've already secured the black vote, seemingly in perpetuity), permissiveness on social issues, and an addiction to high taxes? These positions may well serve to lock in the Democrat base but would appear to make it extremely difficult to appeal to the vast American middle.

Navigating the treacherous course ahead would require some extraordinarily adept leadership. The Democrats are led by Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt and Terry McAuliffe. 'Nuff said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 AM


Reader Ted Welter writes with a couple of criticisms that we receive here frequently, the first accurate but I think explicable, the second I think just wrong. But he states both more literately and with fewer swear words than many of our correspondents so I asked if I could reprint them here. Mr. Welter kindly consented :

From: TedWelter
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 12:11:12 EST
Subject: a nit, a disagreement, and an author suggestion.

Mr. Judd,

I must say I'm enjoying your site, but I do have one nit you might want to take care of :

"it's" (the contraction for "it is") vs. "its" (the possessive pronoun).

It's one thing to confuse them on a message board, quite another to confuse them all over the place in archived *literary reviews. It chips away at your credibility, especially when you criticize other writers for lack of professionalism.

That being said, I must disagree with your assessment of Joyce's Ulysses. Without Joyce, their would be no Vonnegut, no Heller, etc. He practically invented the voice of the modern novel. Nabokov thought so too, including it in his Cornell University course on The Masterpieces of World Literature, along with Kafka's Metamorphosis. Sorry, but you're completely misunderstanding these writers. I suggest you get a copy of N's Lectures on Literature, not only because Nabokov is funny and wise, but it might give you clue on a different aesthetic for judging a novel, going beyond "identifying with the characters."

Also, I was looking for your take on David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest," one of the more challenging (and rewarding) books of the last decade. For a shorter sample of Wallace, check out the etext-version of The Depressed Person.

Ted Welter

To which I responded :

Dear Mr. Welter

Thanks, I very much appreciate constructive criticism; we tend to get more of the "You're an idiot kind"

Unfortunately, I have no editor and perhaps the most frequent error on these pages is the "it's" vs. "its" snafu. I even did it in my review of Strunk & White's Elements of Style review--I thought one English prof was going to go into cardiac arrest. I deeply regret these errors, and have tried very hard to avoid them over the past couple years (I think most occur in the first year of reviews) but realistically the time it would require to hunt them down and fix them is beyond my capacity. It is unprofessional, but sadly I do not get paid, and so am in fact not professional.

I actually went to the absurd lengths of reading Biely's Petersburg (which no one has ever read) because it too was chosen by Nabokov as one of the four masterpieces. And then, as is
necessarily the case with such things, it turned out being the only one of the four I liked. I understand perfectly well why Kafka, Joyce, and Proust were influential, but I believe the influence was pernicious. I believe that literature must be universal to be great and that they are all too much engaged in navel-gazing. I believe that I "understand" them, but I disagree with them. It is entirely possible though that you are right and I completely fail to comprehend them. Even if the latter is so, I have no desire to, as Joyce suggested we do, devote my life to just the task of understanding one of his books.

I have received more email about those three (and the James brothers [Henry and William]) than any other authors and am well aware that they are accepted as geniuses by a great many people, most of whom, unlike you, have probably never actually finished the books. I take the point, but I respectfully disagree.

I hope neither my disappearing apostrophes nor my disregard for the modern masters will prevent you from enjoying the rest of the site and I hope you will continue to disagree with me where you see fit. I'm not terribly fragile; I can take a difference of opinion.


Hopefully, that will save a few of you the time and effort required to explain to me that I'm a philistine, but if you must dogpile on the rabbit, your comments are, of course, welcome.

March 25, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:05 PM


The Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web notes this story of a typically idiotic public appearance by Gloria Steinem : Inequality breeds violence, feminist says (Ron Hayes, March 23, 2002, Palm Beach Post)
"Let's not forget that Hitler was elected from a society with a strong, patriarchal, authoritative structure," she said. Such societies create boys who grow up with an expectation of control over women and children.

"We can't begin to know how much less violence there could be in the world if one generation of children was raised without violence," she asserted.

Perhaps it's also helpful to note that the totalitarian phenomenon followed close on the heels of female suffrage. Nor is this necessarily a coincidence. History and public polling both amply demonstrate that men tend to place a higher priority on freedom than women, who tend to favor security. Thus men typically favor parties that seek to minimize government involvement in our lives while women favor parties that seek an expansive role for government. In the wake of votes for women (and the Depression) the West experienced a long period of rapid government growth which at its most benign gave us the economy killing programs of the New Deal and Great Society and at its worst gave us the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. These trends were only reversed with the rise to power of conservatism in the US under men like Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich. The much-discussed gender gap simply reflected the fact that they were politicians whose distinct appeal was to men. Not coincidentally they defeated the USSR (Reagan) and began the process of dismantling the Welfare State (Gingrich).

Before Ms Steinem wrenches her arm out of joint patting herself on the back, she might want to consider whether greater political power for women has led to greater freedom or more repression in the West.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM


Librarians to argue that blocking online porn is censorship : Court to hear case against 2000 federal law tied to tech grants (Associated Press, 03/25/2002)

What a bizarre constitutional principle this would be, that the government, which after all is under no obligation to fund libraries in the first place, can not control what they provide to the public. If librarians want to be purveyors of filth, they should privatize their libraries. If they want our money, they need to follow our rules.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:52 PM


The road to Baghdad (Chris Matthews, SF Chronicle)
It will take 200,000 U.S. troops to invade Saddam Hussein's capital and effect the "regime change" demanded by neo-conservative policy wonks and backed by oil-patchers George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The question America needs to answer now, while there's still time to stop this road trip, is whether a war justified by ideology and energy economics is truly in this country's interests.

Patrick Ruffini is right, These are the final days of the Chris Matthews show, Hardball, on MSNBC. How can we be so sure? Because he's making the same mistake that Geraldo Rivera made during the Clinton scandal, turning against his audience.

Geraldo Rivera became a cable hit by beating OJ Simpson like a rented mule. This made him a hero to middle Americans, sick of the mainstream media pussyfooting around the issue. Then he decided to defend Bill Clinton and has never been heard from since. He was supplanted during Impeachment by Chris Matthews, who despite impeccable liberal credentials, simply couldn't stomach Clinton's myriad outrages. But now, whether reverting to type or genuinely alarmed, Mr. Matthews has turned against the expansion of the war on terrorism and thereby risks losing his audience.

Don't get me wrong, I'd acknowledge that there are perfectly honorable reasons to oppose a war in Iraq, from true pacifism to principled isolationism. But if you read his column you'll find that Matthews, like several other commentators and the British Foreign Office, is arguing that the case hasn't been made that Saddam needs to be removed. I'd just ask this question : what kind of mental calisthenics must one do in order to reconcile the notions that Bill Clinton should have been removed from office but that Saddam Hussein shouldn't?

Look for Mr. Matthews to join Mr. Rivera in a yurt in Afghanistan soon...

Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash : The Iraqi leader's payments to the families of dead Palestinian terrorists means more trouble for Yasser Arafat (Paul McGeough, March 26 2002, Sydney Morning Herald)

The hall was packed and the intake of breath was audible as a special announcement was made to the war widows of the West Bank - Saddam Hussein would pay $US25,000 ($47,000) to the family of each suicide bomber as an enticement for others to volunteer for martyrdom in the name of the Palestinian people.

The men at the top table then opened Saddam's chequebook and, as the names of 47 martyrs were called, family representatives went up to sign for cheques written in US dollars.

Those of two suicide bombers were the first to be paid the new rate of $US25,000 and those whose relatives had died in other clashes with the Israeli military were given $US10,000 each.

If you look up "state sponsored terrorism" in your Funk & Wagnall's, you might well see this story there.

The Times even has a story that casts doubt on Mr. Matthews's over-confident assertion that the anthrax attack was entirely domestic in origin : Report Linking Anthrax and Hijackers Is Investigated (WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID JOHNSTON, March 23, 2002, NY Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


I'm not sure where this whole dustup started but Patrick Ruffini has an interesting take on the issue of dual citizenship : WHO DO I CALL to undo my Italian citizenship? If Josh Marshall gets his way, I might need to. (Patrick Ruffini, 3/24/02)
The opponents of dual citizenship who argue that it's impossible to be completely loyal to two different countries at once are basically right. This I don't dispute. However, what puzzles me about their arguments is the utter lack of faith in America that they imply. Historically, the United States has always benefitted from such divided loyalties. I am vividly reminded of this by numerous examples furnished in Thomas Sowell's Ethnic America, a history of immigrant groups in the United States that I'm currently reading. Take the fact that Italian immigration throughout history has been highly transitory. When Italians immigrated to other countries, the vast majority of them returned to Italy within a few years. But this wasn't true about America - they stayed and became loyal Americans. Looking at the list of those fallen on September 11, I couldn't help but notice the abundance of Italian surnames among the victims, although I'm sure that their families, along with the families of the Irish, West Indian, Latino, or Asian victims would reject their being characterized as anything but Americans. During World War II, not a single act of sabotage against the United States by Japanese-Americans, and three-hundred thousand Japanese-Americans fought against the Axis in the European theater, with many more in the Pacific theater intercepting Imperial Japanese communications. My point here is that immigrants, and especially immigrants who go through the trouble of becoming U.S. citizens, will tend to embrace America over their country of origin.

I don't recall which of Sowell's books I read it in, they're all good by the way, but he actually makes a somewhat different point. Amongst at least the modern waves of immigrants, the first generation do in fact tend to be somewhat ambivalent about being American. Their children (the 2nd generation), however, are fiercely American. But then the third generation tends to try to reconnect to their heritage. So an immigrant might always consider himself Italian; his son consider himself an American; the grandson an Italo-American.

This is hardly a threat to the Republic, but I have to admit I find it troublesome. It would be one thing if succeeding generations drifted away from that kind of ethnic identification, but the whole trend of modern racial politics seems to be geared toward this kind of self-Balkanization. For this reason alone I'd require people to give up other citizenship when they become Americans. More than anything, more than ethnicity, more than geography, more than any of the things that typically define other nations, America is defined by a set of ideas : that Men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that the legitimacy of government depends on the consent of the governed; that the form of that government should be dictated and limited by a written document whose provisions are binding on all men; etc. Becoming a citizen really should, at a minimum, bind you to these propositions, which, let's face it, are unique in the history of the world. I am simply uncomfortable with the notion that someone can reconcile this distinctive Americanism with an allegiance to another state.

I would say this though, I'd remove the constitutional provision that bars immigrants from becoming President. I have no doubt that the next illegal immigrant to swim ashore can, and likely will, become just as American as me and mine and I have no doubt that after a number of years here they will be willing and able to uphold and defend the Constitution.

UPDATE : see Ben Domenech for more on this

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM


Evil (Jennifer Szalai, 18th March 2002, New Statesman)
Human beings push against the limits of the natural world, acting upon them rather than simply reacting to them; we believe that a "meaningful" life entails more than the necessary acts of sleeping and procreating, foraging and eating. In this, we differ from animals who live in response to their environment; when they take the life of another, they do so out of what John Updike calls "a joyless necessity" - for the purposes of survival or because of an evolutionary imperative. Although an animal's behaviour might be deemed ferocious or cruel, it would be difficult to use the word "evil" to describe what it does. Derived from the Old Teutonic ubiloz, meaning "up" or "over", the word "evil" implies something beyond necessity, some sort of excess.

Religious moralists think of this excess as something that comes from without, a satanic impulse that dooms the possessed. Moral relativists also think of it as something that comes from outside; but they see the source as something more worldly and less holy, be it a social structure or an abusive childhood. In other words, ordinary people do extraordinarily horrible things when their constitution compels them to do so; and while the moralists and the relativists may differ in the terms that they use, they share an unwillingness to address the role of individual choice, no matter how constrained or limited that choice might be. Evil - if applied to that dark space between necessity and excess - can only reside within the boundaries of the self. Its source lies in the very thing that makes us human: the impulse to transcend the reality that surrounds us, to abstract from our concrete experience and to free ourselves from necessity. As such, the human capacity for good is inevitably tied to the human capacity for evil: both account for those actions that lie beyond the necessary requirements of everyday survival.

I believe that she's mistaken and that religious moralists recognize that evil, like good, resides within us, not without. Still, the essay is interesting.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 AM


Evil (Jennifer Szalai, 18th March 2002, New Statesman)
Human beings push against the limits of the natural world, acting upon them rather than simply reacting to them; we believe that a "meaningful" life entails more than the necessary acts of sleeping and procreating, foraging and eating. In this, we differ from animals who live in response to their environment; when they take the life of another, they do so out of what John Updike calls "a joyless necessity" - for the purposes of survival or because of an evolutionary imperative. Although an animal's behaviour might be deemed ferocious or cruel, it would be difficult to use the word "evil" to describe what it does. Derived from the Old Teutonic ubiloz, meaning "up" or "over", the word "evil" implies something beyond necessity, some sort of excess.

Religious moralists think of this excess as something that comes from without, a satanic impulse that dooms the possessed. Moral relativists also think of it as something that comes from outside; but they see the source as something more worldly and less holy, be it a social structure or an abusive childhood. In other words, ordinary people do extraordinarily horrible things when their constitution compels them to do so; and while the moralists and the relativists may differ in the terms that they use, they share an unwillingness to address the role of individual choice, no matter how constrained or limited that choice might be. Evil - if applied to that dark space between necessity and excess - can only reside within the boundaries of the self. Its source lies in the very thing that makes us human: the impulse to transcend the reality that surrounds us, to abstract from our concrete experience and to free ourselves from necessity. As such, the human capacity for good is inevitably tied to the human capacity for evil: both account for those actions that lie beyond the necessary requirements of everyday survival.

I believe that she's mistaken and that most religious moralists recognize that evil, like good, resides within us, not without. Still, the essay is interesting.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM


The sad truth about child molesters (Johann Hari, 25th March 2002, New Statesman)
It seems, on this evidence, that Sigmund Freud might have been right after all when he judged paedophilia to be an intractable sexual orientation, entirely unresponsive to treatment. In the mid-20th century, we moved away from this view towards a belief that we could treat paedophiles sufficiently to release them into the community. There were honourable experiments conducted by people like Jan Evans. But judging by the available evidence, these experiments are shown to have failed.

Most paedophiles are, as the child abuse expert Dr W F Glaser of the University of Melbourne argues, "long-term recidivists. The oldest offenders in the clinic where I consult are in their eighties . . . Burglars, car thieves and brawlers all appear to give up in their thirties, but paedophiles just keep on offending." Combine this with the knowledge that sex offences against children have a negligibly low detection rate, and it becomes clear that the stakes, when a paedophile is released, are unusually high.

If we really can't get pedophiles to stop we need to face the prospect that we will have to incarcerate them...forever. You can listen long and hard to all the posturing about pedophile priests and not hear more than a word or two about what is to be done. The scandal is mostly being used to bludgeon the religious without any serious effort on the part of the bludgeoners to come to grips with one of mankind's most evil pathologies.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM


A black actor winning an Oscar? Cut! Hollywood is still racist and critics open their mouths at their peril (Bonnie Greer, 3/25/02, New Statesman)
Think of it - four black people on 24 March, posing together for the press backstage after the ceremony: Sidney Poitier with his Special Achievement Oscar; Halle Berry, Best Actress; Will Smith or Denzel Washington, Best Actor; and past Oscar winner and compere Whoopi Goldberg.

In your dreams.

Here's one of the worst effects of affirmative action : it's awfully hard to believe that the awards last night to a couple of fine actors--who, however, were appearing in relatively obscure films--weren't a function of articles like this more than they were recognitions of the actual performances. Thus does racialism diminish the achievements of people of color.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM


The Future of Tony Blair (New Statesman, 3/25/02)
There are four problems at the heart of Mr Blair's leadership. First, new Labour was always a marketing concept, an attempt to rebrand the party without necessarily coming to grips with its substance. (Clause Four itself, which Mr Blair so dramatically and successfully challenged, was important only because it was part of the old brand; it had never, for most party members, been a guide to policy and action.) But because brand and image are so fundamental to new Labour, it is peculiarly vulnerable to being tarnished by an Ecclestone, a Mittal or a Hinduja; a point Mr Blair implicitly acknowledges when he implores us to have faith in him as a straight, honest kind of guy. Second, Mr Blair has never put down any deep roots in his party; he has no instinct for its heartbeat and no affection for it; if anything, he and his allies seem to despise the mass membership. Third, many of his own inner beliefs remain obscure. Does he, for example, fail to defend the comprehensive school system because he himself believes in selection? Or because he believes that comprehensives are too associated with the old Labour brand? Does he support President Bush because he truly believes that we should go to war against Iraq? Or because he doesn't want his brand tarnished by any hints of pacifism or anti-Americanism?

Several years ago, one of the British papers ran a profile of Blair in which a friend said that they key to understanding him is that he loathes Labour. The reforms he's undertaken are, like Clinton's, intended to make the party significantly less statist and labor dominated. But one assumes this is impossible in the long run. So why not switch to the Tories and really try out some of these free market ideas?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 AM


A scar on the Senate (Nat Hentoff, Jewish World Review March 25, 2002)
I challenge Sen. Leahy to find in the Constitution, in James Madison's notes on the debates as the Constitution was being written, and in the Federalist Papers, any justification for allowing a single committee, no matter which party is in the majority, to veto a federal judicial nomination.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says clearly that the president shall nominate judges "with the advice and consent of the Senate." There is no footnote giving the final authority to the Judiciary Committee. Its veto power is the result of Senate rule. A constitutional amendment is not required to change that rule. All it requires is enough senators who believe in a process that is democratic.

It is often necessary to disagree with Nat Hentoff, but always worthwhile reading him. He's everything a civil libertarian should be : reasonable; fair; and consistent.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 AM

RINO's? :

Conservative Group Picks Republicans For Dubious Honor (Juliet Eilperin, March 25, 2002, Washington Post)
The conservative Club for Growth has bestowed its first-ever Republican in Name Only (RINO) awards, mocking "Republican office holders around the nation who have advanced egregious anti-growth,
anti-freedom or anti-free-market policies."

Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist's attempts to enact a state income tax made him the RINO of the year, and Rep. Greg Ganske (Iowa) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) took honors in the House and Senate,

They are Republicans; they just aren't conservatives. Hard to see how these purity tests help.

March 24, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM


Ridge Stands Firm, Will Not Agree to Testify (Leigh Strope, March 24, 2002, Associated Press)
At a time when the Administration has just done a couple of unprincipled things, steel tariffs and CFR, it's nice to see them go to the mat on this one and on Cheney's meetings.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM


Give Bono's Money Away (Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events)
The Irish rock singer Paul Hewson—who insists the world call him Bono—visited Washington last week to demand more U.S. foreign aid. He even enlisted President Bush in the cause.

Here’s a suggestion for the President: Slap a 100% tax on all income earned here by foreign rock stars to offset the cost of foreign aid.

Bono—who writes lyrics like "Alright alright, alright, alright, alright/It's alright, it's alright, it's alright, it's alright"—sees himself as a poet. The Bono Tax would be such an act of poetic justice you have to believe he’d love it.

Paul Hewson?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:20 PM


Scott Cunningham found this little gem : For God So Loved the World : Call them God's Greens. Armed with Scripture and a righteous respect for nature, a host of religious groups have taken up the environmental fight and are waging holy war on behalf of an embattled creation. But, critics ask, is this a truly divine cause—or the devil's work? (Bruce Barcott, March 2002, Outside)
Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), the nation's largest interdenominational coalition—member groups include mainline and African-American Protestants, Jews, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox and evangelical Christians—believes the current eco-faith activism reflects a profound shift in religious belief. "This isn't just another issue for us," he says. "We're not interested in being the shock troops for the Green Party. Care for creation has become a central element of religious life. It goes to the heart of what it means to be a faithful Jew, Christian, or Muslim."

Does Eric Alterman know about this warm embrace? Christan conservatives and evironmentalists working together? Say it ain't so...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM


Tonight on Booknotes : Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson (C-SPAN, 8-9pm & 11pm-12am EST)

Every Sunday night, for over ten years now, Brian Lamb sits down for an hour-long talk with one author about his/her recent non-fiction book. David Brooks, who was on for is own book, Bobos in Paradise, wrote a nice paean to Lamb several years ago. If you don't watch the show, you're seriously missing the best program ever put on television and tonight's book looks particularly interesting.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:01 PM


Bob Greene ( is asking : What are your five movies for a desert island? (Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2002)
Here's the question:

If you were stranded on a desert island for the rest of your life, with no chance of being rescued and taken back to civilization, and you had no companions with you, no books, no radio, no television set, no computer with satellite uplink capabilities . . .

If you were stranded on that desert island, and you were given a chance to choose five movies to have with you — five movies and only five movies, to watch for the rest of your life . . .

What would those five movies be?

Here at Brothers Judd, we've recently been compiling a list of best conservative films and reviewing them. Charles Murtaugh, the bioblogger, and Eve Tushnet have taken a crack at the task too. It would seem that conservative films would be particularly important to this scenario with their messages of faith, self-reliance, and unyielding defiance of fate.

Here are my five picks (this week anyway) :
*It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
*Lagaan : Once Upon a Time in India (2001) (directed by Ashutosh Gowariker)
*A Man Escaped (or The Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth) (1956) (Directed by Robert Bresson 1901-99)
*Field of Dreams (1989)
*Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Please feel free to use the comments section to nominate your own picks or to dis' mine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:59 PM


'We're Here to Take Back the World' : Rolling Thunder tour attracts thousands of liberal Central Texans (Dick Stanley, March 24, 2002, Austin American-Statesman)
It wasn't all fun and games. Workshops included: Stealing Elections 101, Culture Jamming: Pranks With A Purpose, and Radiation in Our Food & Community.

Six weeks from now, organizers said, the tour will move on to bigger game in a dozen more cities, including Atlanta and Chicago.

"This is not just an affair to complain about the world," Jim Hightower said. "We're here to take back the world."

Geez, we conservatives are behind the times again, we're just working on taking back Vermont.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 PM


Eric Alterman apparently has a problem with Andrew Sullivan (Sullivan's Travails, The Nation) Among other things, Mr. Alterman objects to the vainglorious nature of, which I must admit has led me to read it less often in recent months (but one notes that it certainly hasn't affected his popularity with other readers), and to the stridency of Mr. Sullivan's support for the war, which doesn't bother me one bit. But most of all, Mr. Alterman seems bothered by the fact that someone can be gay and still proclaim themselves to be a conservative :
Andrew Sullivan cannot have an easy life. A Catholic gay man who is also HIV positive, his political views have led him to attach himself to a party, a movement and a church that believe him to be practicing an abomination. Influential Republican power-brokers blame America's sexual tolerance for the attacks of 9/11. The military he reveres is kicking gays out at a rate unseen since the presidency of Ronald Reagan--another Sullivan hero. And his church offers a warmer embrace for pedophile priests than for honest homosexuals.

This strikes me as an issue that is worth debating. Let me first confess that I'm one of those prehistoric conservatives who thinks that homosexuality is a sin and that, while there's no divine judgment nor even cause and effect, the unpreparedness of the West for the conflict with Islam was by and large a function of the moral relativism and excessive multiculturalism that we also see at work in the sexual revolution. Just as we have lost the moral confidence to condemn certain practices within our own culture, we have lost the moral confidence to defend and assert the superiority of that culture generally.

Yet, as a conservative, it is necessary to acknowledge that we are all sinners. And, since homosexuality is at least somewhat consensual and it seems to do its primary harm to those who indulge in it, there seems to be no need to punish them, and a great need to love them. So, to the extent that we can incorporate them into the conservative movement (hell, they're here already and always have been) without compromising our own core values, which means primarily that we continue to oppose the acceptance of homosexuality as a mere life-style choice, I would welcome them.

This will, of course, mean tht we will disagree about issues that gays may feel reside at the very core of their being, and that may prove to be too much to ask. Still, we frequently hear pleas that both parties be more tolerant of differences of opinion on abortion (and now on cloning and euthanasia, etc.); if we can respectfully disagree on issues that involve life and death, surely we can withstand some disagreement when it comes to sex, right?

Mayn't conservatism, like Whitman (Walt, not Christie Todd) say :

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 AM


Here's a very interesting review of The God of Hope and the End of the World by John Polkinghorne (Freeman Dyson, NY Review of Books)
I am myself a Christian, a member of a community that preserves an ancient heritage of great literature and great music, provides help and counsel to young and old when they are in trouble, educates children in moral responsibility, and worships God in its own fashion. But I find Polkinghorne's theology altogether too narrow for my taste. I have no use for a theology that claims to know the answers to deep questions but bases its arguments on the beliefs of a single tribe. I am a practicing Christian but not a believing Christian. To me, to worship God means to recognize that mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of our universe in a way that altogether surpasses our comprehension. When I listen to Polkinghorne describing the afterlife, I think of God answering Job out of the whirlwind, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?... Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.... Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?" God's answer to Job is all the theology I need. As a scientist, I live in a universe of overwhelming size and mystery. The mysteries of life and language, good and evil, chance and necessity, and of our own existence as conscious beings in an impersonal cosmos are even greater than the mysteries of physics and astronomy. Behind the mysteries that we can name, there are deeper mysteries that we have not even begun to explore.

I enjoyed Dyson's essay too much to make much fun of it, but I would note this one line seems absurd : "The science of cosmology is largely concerned with collecting tangible evidence of things that happened billions of years ago, going all the way back to the beginning." How is it even theoretically possible to believe that the Big Bang was THE beginning? Something had to precede it, right?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 AM


Marriage it's difficult but still the ideal state (Patricia Redlich, 3/24/02, Irish Independent)
"Being married, rather than single, separated, widowed or even remarried, has a more powerful impact on well-being for both men and women than either income or employment. These benefits take the form of greater happiness, better health, longer life, more and better sex, higher income and better outcomes for children."

Compare Ms Redlich's column to this one from the American Prospect, which admits her point, but surrenders the battle Nostalgia as Ideology (Stephanie Coontz, American Prospect)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM


Ford stopped for light, but he's running (Susan Adler Thorp, March 24, 2002, Memphis Commercial Appeal)
There's no need to ask Harold Ford Jr. whether he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2006, when Bill Frist is expected to vacate his seat. The Memphis congressman will give you one of two well-rehearsed answers.

One has to do with Tennessee's need for a new kind of leadership, by which Ford means he is young and energetic and the state's Democratic establishment is aging and stuffy.

The other answer is that the thought of running for the Senate motivates Ford, since moving from the House to the Senate would give him more national exposure and take him one step closer to his ultimate goal, the White House.
Until now, through the functioning of the "Only Nixon Can Go to China" Rule, it has been the paradoxical case that the only black politicians whom it was possible to imagine reaching the White House were all Republicans : JC Watts, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, etc. But Harold Ford Jr. is a Republican's worst nightmare : a relatively conservative black Democrat. Every time I've seen him speak he's been fair, reasonable, and respectful of other opinions. These qualities are unusual enough in a modern Democrat, but unheard of in a black Democrat.

Running statewide in TN will force him to stake out positions that are well to the right of the national Democrat Party, potentially making him kind of a black Sam Nunn or Al Gore ('92 version, not '00 mutation). It's way to early to know whether he could win statewide, let alone do well in Democrat presidential primaries, but it's easy to see him as a VP pick down the line. If the GOP is smart, they'll offer him a cabinet post in '05 and try to bring him into the fold (a la John Connally, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Bill Bennett).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM


We Cannot Turn Away (Jesse Helms, March 24, 2002, Washington Post)
It is my intent to offer an amendment with Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill to add $500 million -- contingent on dollar-for-dollar contributions from the private sector -- to the U.S. Agency for International Development's programs to fight the HIV-AIDS pandemic. The goal of this new money will be to make treatment available for every HIV-positive pregnant woman. As President Bush would say, we will leave no child behind.

There is no reason why we cannot eliminate, or nearly eliminate, mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS -- just as polio was virtually eliminated 40 years ago.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the most hated conservative in America, a man who liberals do not hesitate to call a racist, ends up saving millions of black lives?

March 23, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 PM


A nuclear threat - Labour's biggest surprise so far (John Keegan, 24/03/2002, Telegraph uk)
IT is not only Labour members of Parliament who are puzzled and perturbed by the warning last Wednesday by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, of the Government's willingness to use nuclear weapons "in the right conditions" against "the states of concern" by which he meant Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. He appeared to imply that, if that threat failed to deter, Britain might use its nuclear weapons in a first strike. Not only to deter the use of nuclear weapons against us, moreover; the use of chemical or biological weapons, he seemed to suggest, would also invoke the action.

If you're from Texas they're the "axis of evil". If you're from London they're "states of concern". Still, it's nice to here even Labourites talking the talk (or some staid British variant thereof).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM


Apropos my letter to the editor in a prior post, here's a review of a new book Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society, Edited by Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti (Richard D. Kahlenberg, American Prospect) that makes some of the same points.
Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti, professors at New York University who support voucher programs, have produced an edited volume of essays, Making Good Citizens, that challenges the conventional view that public education is vital to the nation's civic health. The collection includes an impressive array of authors, not all of whom are explicit advocates of private-school choice, but whose essays, taken as a whole, make an audacious three-part argument that public support for private schools will strengthen democracy in America. The argument's components are that (1) public schools do not produce the populace of critical thinkers that a democracy requires; (2) public education no longer does a good job of assimilating diverse students; and (3) private schools do a better job than public schools of promoting the vibrant civil society that is so important to democracy's success.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 PM


Not the People's Choice : How to democratize American democracy (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., American Prospect)
I expected an explosion of public outrage over the rejection of the people's choice. But there was surprisingly little in the way of outcry. It is hard to image such acquiescence in a popular-vote-loser presidency if the popular-vote winner had been, say, Adlai Stevenson or John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan. Such leaders attracted do-or-die supporters, voters who cared intensely about them and who not only would have questioned the result but would have been ardent in pursuit of fundamental reform. After a disappointing campaign, Vice President Gore simply did not excite the same impassioned commitment.

Interesting that he includes Kennedy, who stole IL and TX, in this analysis. Of course there was fairly little outcry then either. In elections that are as close as 1960 and 2000, what is the will of the people?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 PM


Jackson to party with Clinton (Ed Vulliamy, March 24, 2002, The Observer)
Fresh from Liza Minnelli's nuptial freak show, ageing boy wonder Michael Jackson's next public appearance will be even more curious: headlining on stage with Bill Clinton, saxophonist.

Fathers, lock up your sons, daughters, and primates...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM


I was tortured by US troops, says Taliban American (Peter Beaumont, March 24, 2002, The Observer)
'He was held in a room in which the only window was blocked, making it difficult to discern whether it was night or day'

Lawyers say stuff like this. That's why I'm not one.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 PM


Castro's rebellious daughter leads vitriolic radio attack from Miami : As Cuba's communist regime enters its twilight years, a family feud is fuelling democratic hopes (Ed Vulliamy, March 24, 2002, The Observer)
Disgusted with Cuban politics as a young woman, Fernández joined the opposition, only to find herself persecuted by her father's government. She defected to the US in 1993, travelling on a false Spanish passport and heavily disguised via Madrid, before introducing herself to the Cuban exile opposition - literally, across a table in its unofficial headquarters, the Versailles restaurant in Miami's Little Havana.

Speaking of the axis of evil, why do we allow Castro to continue in power?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:43 PM


U.S. Nuclear Arms Stance Modified by Policy Study : Preemptive Strike Becomes an Option (Walter Pincus, March 23, 2002, Washington Post)
Immediate contingencies, which require pretargeted weapons, "include an Iraqi attack on Israel or its neighbors, a North Korean attack on South Korea or a military confrontation [with China] over the status of Taiwan," the review says.

I have no problem with nuking Iraq (or Syria or Saudi Arabia), North Korea, or China if they jump ugly with Israel, South Korea, or Taiwan. On one side are the most vile, repressive, and murderous regimes around; on the other are democratic allies. Calling Colonel Tibbets...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:30 PM


Rebel MPs plot Blair challenge (Michael White, March 23, 2002, The Guardian)
A hardcore of leftwing Labour MPs are privately pressing for some form of public challenge to Tony Blair's leadership of the party as a means of reining him in and - if necessary - replacing him with Gordon Brown. They believe an attitudinal sea change is under way, reflecting the disappointment of activists, unions and voters.

We still see Blair doing a Churchill : bolting Labour (with Churchill it was the Liberals) for the Conservatives and leading the Party back to power.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:25 PM


Picking on Pickering (Jason L. Steorts, 03/22/2002, Harvard Crimson)
Tom Daschle should meet my parents. Like most members of their species, my parents have a language entirely their own, and of its many expressions, one in particular would be appropriate for the Senate Majority Leader's ears. It goes like this: "If you want to be treated like an adult, you have to act like one first."

Last week, by killing Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Daschle and his sidekick, Judiciary Committee Chair Pat Leahy, proved themselves to be this nation's most politically powerful adolescents.

Memo to Mr. Daschle : When the kids in Cambridge can see through you, you're in big trouble.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:20 PM


Democrats Assail Bush Trip to Peru (ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 23, 2002)
In the Democratic radio address aired Saturday, Antonio Villaraigosa, speaker emeritus of the California State Assembly, said the trip is an act of pre-campaign anxiety.

``The president's trip this weekend to Latin America is part of an orchestrated strategy to curry favor with Latino voters in the United States,'' Villaraigosa said.

Am I missing something here? How does it help Democrats to say that the GOP wants Latino votes so badly its willing to pander for them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:15 PM


Doctors Call For Pedophilia Research (GARRET CONDON, March 23, 2002 , Hartford Courant)
The alcoholic used to be "the bum in the gutter" until society developed a more enlightened view of the disease. Dr. Fred Berlin, a major figure in research and treatment of sexual disorders, hopes that pedophilia will someday be viewed in much the same way as alcoholism - as a psychiatric illness, not simply as a moral failing.

Can't you just see it five years from now when only we puritans on the Right still regard pedophilia as evil? Looks like we're definitely homeschooling the kids.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM


Bush's Education Reform Leads to Free Transfers for Georgia Students in Failing Schools (Barnini Chakraborty, Mar 22, 2002, Associated Press)
Like many parents in poor neighborhoods around Atlanta, Shankia Towers is frustrated with her children's chronically failing school, but she can't afford to send them anywhere else.

Next fall, Towers and other parents at 436 low-performing Georgia schools will get federal help.

Their children will be able to transfer to another school in the district at the failing school's expense in one of the first attempts by a state to take advantage of President Bush's education reform package.

Brought to you by that "bigotted" Christian right (see previous entry).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:45 PM


In an otherwise bland analysis of the first 400 days of the Bush era, The Soul of George W. Bush, NY Times Columnist Bill Keller drops this little beauty on us, as he describes what W is not :

Nor can Mr. Bush be claimed by the culture warriors of the Christian right, although he gave them John Ashcroft and occasionally throws them a steak. The president is not a bigot, or a pessimist.

Pause a moment, reread that, digest. Now ask yourself : of what other group in America might such an offensive characterization by made? Answer : none.

I'm always amazed that the Left gets their panties in a twist if anyone on the Right refers to a "Culture War", but little notes when their house organ, The Times, use demonizing tactics that would have made Goebbels proud.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 AM


Ill Thatcher Curtailing Appearances (Robert Barr, March 22, 2002, Associated Press)
LONDON –– Margaret Thatcher, the indomitable "Iron Lady" who led Britain through 11 tumultuous years, is retiring from the public stage after a series of small strokes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM


If you happen to be in the Upper Valley today--for you benighted flatlanders the "valley" is the Connecticut River Valley between VT and NH, and the "upper" is the area around Hanover/Lebanon and White River Junction/Norwich--and you accidentally buy the wretched Valley News, I've got a letter in there today :

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 AM


Several decades ago, Russell Baker coined the term "The Great Mentioner", to describe the Washington ritual whereby journalists would breathlessly report that "so-and-so has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate." A politician could know that he had made it when he began to be "mentioned" by The Great Mentioner. Here in Blogadelphia we have our own version of The Great Mentioner : Professor Glenn Reynolds, aka : Instapundit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 AM


Charles Murtaugh, our favorite bloggin' biologist, calls our attention to this piece from NRO : Walzer's Razor : Is a reasonable, responsible Left possible?
(Steven Hayward, March 22, 2002, National Review)

March 22, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:24 PM


Same-sex marriage, with a twist : The Kansas Supreme Court enforces a ban on gay marriage and clears the way for -- gay marriage. (David Link, March 22, 2002, Salon)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:11 PM


Robert D. Kaplan has a new essay out The World in 2005 : Hidden in plain sight (Robert D. Kaplan, March 2002, The Atlantic Monthly) and it seems that as in his recent book, Warrior Politics, he's just mailing it in. For the most part he merely recites his usual laundry list of coming horrors and calls for increased pragmatism in our dealings with the world, but he closes with a deeply disturbing notion :

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 AM

REHMING STARR : This morning's surreal moment from NPR comes from the The Diane Rehm Show's News Roundup. Susan Page was guest host and had the fair and balanced panel of Clarence Page, Martin Walker, and Eleanor Clif

Even setting aside the credible claims against Bill Clinton that were never adjudicated, his own admissions seem to disprove this conclusion. Besides apologizing to the nation for his wrongdoing, he was forced to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit and to give up his law license as part of a plea bargain with the Special Prosecutor. We might also note that he was impeached, though not of course removed from office.

I don't know what kind of monetary value we should place on all of that (personally, I think vindicating the principle that "trailer park trash" and presidents are equal before the law would be cheap at twice the price), but it seems hard to reconcile these admissions and the impeachment with the notion that he'd done "nothing."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 AM


Thanks largely to the play Copenhagen, and the release of some letters by Niels Bohr, the questions surrounding Werrner Heisenberg and his commitment to the cause of Nazism are once again in the news. Our local NPR affiliate had a nice interview with his son last night, who's a professor at UNH: A Father and Son Bonded by Science : Jochen Heisenberg (John Walters, 03/21/2002, The Front Porch).

I'm agnostic on the issue of whether Heisenberg intentionally sidetracked the Nazi bomb program or just hadn't figured out some details, but there's one aspect of the story that's always caught my fancy. Former major league catcher and Princeton graduate Moe Berg, a truly fascinating character whose adventures read like the stuff of dime-novel melodrama, was sent by the OSS to a Heisenberg lecture in Zurich in 1944, with instructions to shoot him if it looked like he understood the workings of the atomic bomb. Berg had also been placed on a team of ballplayers who were barnstorming Japan before the war with instructions to obtain photographs of potential bombing sites. They were later used in the Doolittle raids. Nicholas Dawidoff wrote an excellent biography of Berg called, The Catcher Was a Spy. It's very entertaining.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


Campaign Reform: The Next Steps (E. J. Dionne Jr., March 22, 2002, The Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM


Moulin Rouge Sucks : No, really, it does. And don't let its eight Oscar nominations fool you into believing otherwise. (David Skinner, 3/21/2002, Weekly Standard)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


Debunking The Digital Divide : It's spontaneously shrinking-and with it, the exaggerated popular notions of the harm it did. (Robert J. Samuelson, Newsweek)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM


They Splutter Through The War (Charles Krauthammer, March 22, 2002, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 AM


Inflation remains quiet, keeping pressure off the Fed : Lack of price hikes suggests policymakers can keep interest rates low through spring. (Ron Scherer, 3/22/02, The Christian Science Monitor,

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:31 AM


Pakistan sounds border warning (Julian Borger, March 22, 2002, The Guardian)

March 21, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 PM

MY TV, MY FRIEND : The (Todd Gitlin, 19 March 2002, OpenDemocracy)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 PM


In tonight's mind-boggling moment from NPR, during their report on what has now been officially ruled to be the...

Now, I know of no reason to doubt that Islam does contain such teachings, yet a quick survey of events of the last six months suggests that not all young Muslim men are heeding this prohibition. In fact, if you look at the stated reasons for the 9-11 attacks and the suicide bombings in Israel and the reactions to them in the Muslim Middle East, it would seem difficult to avoid noticing that suicidal mass murder is something of a fad in the Islamic world. That seems like something you'd include in a report on a young male Islamic pilot who crashed his jet into the ocean, don't you think?

Or, let me put it this way, if NPR were doing a story on a Boston priest who is charged with child molestation and the Vatican spokesman said they refused to believe the report because the Church teachings forbid paedophilia, do you think the reporter would fail to mention the current scandal that's rocking the archdiocese?

And they wonder why so many of us assume the "P" in "NPR" stands for Palestinian...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:54 PM


Europeans redraw political map
(Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, March 20 2002, The Age au)
Europe is turning its back on benevolent socialism and voting for free-market reform and tough curbs on immigration.

Italy, Denmark and Norway have all swung sharply to the right during the last year.

Now Portugal has joined the club, opting last weekend for the conservative leader Jose Manuel Durao Barroso. An admirer of Margaret Thatcher, he has promised to cut taxes and take a machete to his country's bloated public sector, selling off parts of the health service in a large-scale privatisation drive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM


Today is apparently my day to be humbled by the kindness of others. Some of you will have noticed that we've got a snappy new logo, which (with all due respect to the other Brother, who did the first one) looks phenomenal. This is thanks to the artistic talent and great generosity of David "Wingnut" Burt, proprietor of Wingnut Graphics. It almost frightens me to realize that Wing and I have been friends for 22 years now, but I'm damn glad to know him. Thank you, David.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:22 PM


Fredrik Norman is the kind of thoughtful young man that the world could use more of, and Europe could use an awful lot more of. As a teenager (he's now all of twenty) last year he played a key role in getting the blog rolling. His new project,, is well worthy of attention and here's a conversation we all had in January on the topic of euthanasia. It nicely illustrates (if I say so myself) some of the differences between libertarians and cultural conservatives.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:03 PM


Rove to Group: Bush to Press For Conservative
(Alan Cooperman and Amy Goldstein, March 20, 2002, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM


Campaign Finance Bill Wins Final Approval in Congress (ALISON MITCHELL, March 21, 2002, NY Times)
'The reforms passed today, while flawed in some areas, still improve the current system over all, and I will sign them into law,' Mr. Bush said in a statement tonight.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 PM


Iain Murray has posted and rebutted this column from Britain--There is no justification for waging war against Iraq (John Casey, 21/03/2002, Telegraph uk)--in which Mr. Casey concludes :
The very name of Saddam Hussein is enough to bring blood to the eye - but that should not be a guide to policy. Neither on grounds of reason nor justice - let alone our national interest - has the case for war been made.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 AM

BORKING KASS : Moralist of Science Ponders Its Power (NICHOLAS WADE, March 19, 2002, NY Times)

Dr. Kass in person is much warmer and more accommodating than the stern moralist of his writings. In a bare new office overlooking
Pennsylvania Avenue, amid aides fussing over how many fax machines to order, he talked recently of his past writings and future plans for the

"Much of my writing has been polemical," he said. "Sometimes I argue for things because they are the weaker side and haven't had their share of
attention. But once these things are on the table and one has responsibility for their discussion, the need for polemic disappears. I'm not
apologizing for what I've written before, but this is not a body that exists to ratify my previous writings."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


A great deal of pure nonsense has been written about the transformative power of the web, yet it is impossible to deny the ways in which it is changing all of our lives. At their most utopian, folks claim that it will provide an interconnectedness that will reshape humanity, to which we must say : hogwash. On the other hand, something quite unexpected and very pleasant happened yesterday. Perry de Havilland, with whom I've enjoyed bickering over the last few months, bought out the ad that used to appear at the top of this page. We've never met and are rather unlikely to do so. Heck, he even lives in one of the forbidden timezones (which includes all of those that aren't on the Eastern Seaboard of the US). We have significant political disagreements. Yet, this simple, gracious gesture...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM


Federalist Chic : John Adams, Superstar (Jeffrey L. Pasley, Common Place)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM

YEARNING TO BREATH FREE : Rich Bond, former head of the RNC, has some sound advice for the, unfortunately far too numerous, nativist idiots of the Republican Party. Comments

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM


NOW president warns of conservative agenda : Alumna returns for Loyola speech (Bruce Nolan, 03/21/02, The Times-Picayune)

Gandy sketched a vision of conservative federal appellate courts quietly dismantling legislation protecting the environment, employee rights and workplace safety standards.

The reversals are occurring in bits and pieces in complicated cases largely below media radar, she said.

"I'm scared to death, and I can't figure out how to make this into a sound bite," she told a warmly receptive audience.

Gandy mentioned abortion only briefly, warning that if the Bush administration gets three appointments to the Supreme Court, the 1973 abortion decision Roe v. Wade might be overturned.

Okay, so it seems only fair to take a look at NOW's agenda, right? Well, I couldn't find the National's but did find the NY State chapter's :

NOW-NYS Legislative Priorities

NOW-NYS Support Memos

Women's Health & Wellness Act
Dignity for All Students Act
Emergency Treatment of Rape Survivors
Comparable Worth Legislative Package
Expanding Education on Female Genital Mutilation
Raising the Minimum Wage
Sweatshop Prohibition Act

NOW-NYS Oppose Memos

Using the Toxicology Report of a Newborn
The Misleading Women's "Right to Know" Act
Presumption of Joint Custody
Changing "Visitation" to "Parenting Time"
"Parental Education" Programs for Divorce and Custody Litigants
Fetal Rights Legislation
D&X Late Term Abortion Bill
Eradication of Medicaid Funding for Abortion
Unborn Victims of Violence Act
Women's Health 2001 - Smoke and Mirrors

Loathe as I am to generalize, it seems they want just a few things : unrestricted abortion, special rights for the differently oriented, and socialist economic legislation. Now tell me--who should be afraid of whom?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM


Bush Approval Showing Only Slight Decline Six Months After Record High : Ten-point drop low by historical standards (Jeffrey M. Jones, March 21, 2002, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM


Is 'she' outdated? London shipping paper thinks so (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, March 21, 2002)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM

Pledge wouldn't be the only time schools impose values (D.J. TICE, 3/20/02, Pioneer Press)

Just two months ago, a federal judge issued a final ruling that Woodbury High School violated a student's free speech rights last year. School officials had prohibited a conservative Christian pupil from wearing a "Straight Pride" sweatshirt. The shirt expressed the student's dissent from what he and his parents considered the school's promotion of a "homosexual agenda."

Also in January of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a case from Faribault, Minn., letting stand the school district's decision to restrict what a science instructor can teach. Schools officials had denied a religious Faribault biology teacher permission to explore in class his disbelief in the theory of evolution.

These well-publicized cases illustrate that issues of free expression become a bit complicated in public schools. The Faribault case shows that schools have broad powers to decree what students shall be taught. The Woodbury case shows that schools cannot deny students' individual rights to dispute what they are taught.

But there's one thing neither of these cases suggests. Neither suggests that our schools are particularly shy about pushing some ideas and discouraging others, even when doing so collides with deeply held beliefs of some students and teachers.

Schools exist to teach values. The real argument isn't over whether they should, but over which values they should be teaching. I'm thinking good citizenship and patriotism should be the minimum we expect of them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:08 AM


Dark days for the Democrats : While most of the American public support George Bush in the 'war on terrorism', the Democratic majority leader in the Senate has a difficult task ahead. (Julian Borger, March 20, 2002, The Guardian uk)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 AM


Study Suggests Racial Gap in Speeding in New Jersey (DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI, March 21, 2002, NY Times)

The study involved photographing tens of thousands of drivers on the turnpike last spring while clocking speed with a radar gun. It found that black drivers sped much more than other drivers, according to three people who have reviewed the unreleased report. The racial gap was far wider than officials had expected and, in the politically charged controversies over profiling, the data could be used by defenders of the state police to argue that one reason black drivers are stopped more often than whites is that they are more likely to speed.

When asked why he robbed banks, notorious outlaw Willie Sutton responded : 'Cause that's where the money is.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM


A governor's race better than Sox tickets : The governor-mom exits the fray, an Olympic 'hero' enters, and Mass. Democrats quiver. (Seth Stern, 3/21/02, The Christian Science Monitor)

March 20, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 PM


OUR ANONYMOUS CORRESPONDENT REBUTS (see below for the earlier entries):

I'd be interested to know whether you think that humans'
visceral reactions to good and evil events are intrinisically rooted in the
Judeo-Christian tradition, or can they exist as natural human reactions
outside the realm of religion. When we saw those planes crashing into the
Twin Towers, were we revulsed because we had been schooled by the
Judeo-Christian tradition to abhor evil acts, or is there a visceral factor
at play here, that even without any specific religious knowledge, our hatred
of suffering led us to that reaction. If an agnostic watched these events
with horror, was his reaction a natural human reflex, or "free-riding" on
religious tenets of right and wrong? A good book on the natural human
tendency towards Good is James Q. Wilson's The Moral Sense.

In my opinion, the notion that atheists just "download" the Judeo-Christian
moral code is open to the counter-argument that we are just projecting our
natural moral tendencies onto a Biblical edict that is above humanity. I
don't think the debate here is whether God is or isn't responsible for
implanting morality into humans. The real question is how He does it. I
think it is more likely that a moral code is implanted in us at birth. The
"free-riding" elements of morality, the visceral negative reactions we
assign to actions universally accepted as immoral or evil, and the positive
reactions to good deeds, seems to be too deeply implanted to have come from
later learning about religion. That's just my sense of it, however. The
argument that we are naturally amoral, and that we come to be taught
otherwise by religious learning isn't something that completely washes with
me. This would be more of an error in perfect Design than the former option
would be.

And by the way, I don't deny evil. There is a distinct minority of
recidivists, perhaps 5 or 10 percent of the population -- who are evil. This
group includes everyone from Osama to the street thugs of the world. I don't
believe this to be a natural human condition, or how we would all be if we
weren't taught otherwise. These are deviants, and an extra "push" is
required to make them evil. How do we deal with them? Incredible force must
be brought to bear on them by the rest of society. At a minimum, our
rationale for acting this way should be as follows: you cannot have a
self-perpetuating human society unless such behavior is eliminated. The
secular impetus behind this is self-preservation. The debate about whether
humans themselves can set rules ensuring their continued survival and
progress is moot. Yes, we can -- as a bunch of people in Shar-i-Kot
mountains just found out.

Your point about the failure of Godless ideologies is well-taken, and may
well be a reason to revere the Judeo-Christian tradition. I can only suggest
that the main reason these ideologies failed was because of they were
programmatic. Even Randism, the classic Godless ideology of the Right, is
too damn programmatic. None of these ideologies would truly let people live
according to their nature, and that's why they collapsed. Communism blamed
the world's problems not on those who actually were evil, but on a bunch of
businessmen whose financial activities had nothing to do with good or evil.

Human nature doesn't strive for a selfless utopia, but is profoundly rooted
in enlightened self-interest, the great insight of Adam Smith. In most
cases, it is in our self-interest to cooperate with others. The only time I
have an interest in taking your stuff is if I know that you won't retaliate,
or if I disappear completely from human society. Because we have to continue
to live with the people whom we have done wrong against, it is not in our
interest to do wrong. "Love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved
yourself" isn't an abstract ideal, but very practical advice about how the
world is actually structured. I say this with the caveat that I'm excluding
that implacable of 5 or 10 percent group I described earlier.

Ultimately, I say all this because I *am* a conservative who is struck by
how well the world actually works on a day to day basis. I wouldn't change
a thing about how our self-interested economic system works. I wouldn't try
to manipulate nature by indiscriminate cloning. And I think that a good
moral life is pretty attainable by most people who try hard enough. What a
great system God has designed for us.


Good points all, yet I believe they boil down to one essential question : is
Man naturally good? Obviously it would be nice to think so, to believe that
morality arises naturally, that evil is an aberration that afflicts the very
few and that at our core we are enlightened beings, who behave rationally
and selflessly self-interestedly. Unfortunately, it is the great insight of
Judaism and the very basis of Western Civilization that Man is instead
Fallen, is characterized by the propensity for evil (for our purposes
perhaps we can agree to define evil as : disregard for others?), and is but
a faint and imperfect reflection of the divine.

Now, nothing could be more fruitless than to speculate about what Man must
have been like in the state of Nature, before the rise of religion and
government, but surely the fact that they did rise suggests that they were
needed. If Man truly was a placid and cooperative creature then why would
he have needed moral systems and police powers to control his behaviors?
Does it not seem more likely that life was insufferable when each was left
to his own devices?

So now we arrive at the question of whether the morality that rose grew out
of human nature or was imposed from above. You mention the horror that we
all felt on 9-11. I tend to believe that such horror may be fairly innate.
But the reaction of horror is much different than the sense that something
is evil. We've seen this difference play out around the world and in pockets
of our own Left, where people have been incapable of describing the attacks
as evil, have even treated them as legitimate responses to American
arrogance or Middle East meddling or whatever. Though it appears that the
intentional slaughter of innocents provokes a general revulsion, it does not
seem to provoke a similarly generalized moral response. May we take this as
some evidence that morality is learned, rather than biological?

In fact, we may have stumbled into one of the keys to morality here, the
process by which mere repugnance becomes moral judgment. Consider some of
the hot button moral issues of the day : abortion, infanticide,
homosexuality, cloning, euthanasia... (Note that all are cases where we
objectify fellow humans, treat them as objects rather than fellow beings
given full human dignity by God, and dispose of them for our own purposes).
Each repulses us, by which I mean that we would not discuss the details of
each in polite company or ever a meal, yet our moral responses to them
depend on our moral conditioning. Leon Kass has written of the "wisdom of
repugnance", of how we should listen to that repugnance and use it to shape
our ethical regime, yet this is exceedingly rare.

In actuality it is typically only believers who combine their repugnance
with the moral judgment that these things are wrong, or are at least
troublesome, and mostly only Judeo-Christian believers at that. Aboriginal
beliefs, Eastern philosophies, and the like tend to be quite fatalistic
about such things--accepting them as fate. Modern liberalism, atheism
broadly understood, requires that we not judge such things. It seems to be
only the monotheistic, biblical, decalogue-based religions that take the
step from being repulsed to forbidding these behaviors and holding people
morally cuplable for engaging in them. We've added the vital notion that
these behaviors are not just unfortunate but are sinful.

Here it is important to note that Judeo-Christianity teaches us that we are
all sinners, are all sinful and sin-filled, and acknowledges that sin is
paradoxically attractive. In the Garden after all the serpent does not need
to trick Man into disobeying God, he tells Adam and Eve the truth, that they
can become gods themselves by eating of the two trees, and this, of course,
appeals to them. You suggest that while evil does exist but that it is
contained within a tiny fraction of the population. To the contrary, the
Bible teaches us that evil resides within each of us, that sin appeals to
all of us, and that in the end none of us can resist this dark side of our
nature entirely. We all succumb at various times and to various degrees to
the desire to place our own concerns, needs, and desires above our
consideration for our fellow men, and so we sin.

And yet, we in the West had by the late 18th Century achieved relatively
decent and free societies, which improved steadily into the late 20th
Century and which may well still have their best days in front of them.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world, absent the improvements they borrowed from
us or had forced upon them, has either been stagnant or has even declined.
If we look for what has separated us from the pack it seems difficult to
ignore our religious-moral system and the political system (democracy) and
economic system (capitalism) to which it gave birth. You seem to assume
that capitalism would have sprung full-blown from Zeus's head even without
Judeo-Christian morality, but we face the stubborn fact that it exists only
in the West. You suggest that it is a kind of self-regulating system, yet
it exists only where a universal and absolute morality makes people's
behavior fairly predictable and where liberal-democratic governments are in
place to lightly enforce certain basic business rules. It is perhaps even
fair to say that capitalism itself freeloads on the back of

At the end of the day, we are left with the stubborn fact that the world is
dominated today by its most decent societies, those of the Judeo-Christian
West. Perhaps you are right and we could remove the religious foundation
upon which our progress has been based and would suffer few adverse
consequences. I do not believe that it is true and I'm certainly not
willing to gamble on the proposition. But I also wish to point out that I
do not feel like we have to do anything to the unbelievers. The foundations
are more than sturdy enough to bear a few freeloaders. A few...

Thank you for your provocative thoughts,

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:36 PM

WHEN YOUR ENEMIES ARE SHOOTING THEMSELVES, SIT BACK AND ENJOY : Alas Poor Evolutionary Psychology: Unfairly Accused, Unjustly Condemned (Robert Kurzban, Human Nature Review, 14 March 2002)

Nothing so warms the heart of an evolution skeptic as watching the Darwinists and the psychological evolutionists (PEs) go hammer and tongs. The most appealing aspect of this greatest of modern bloodsports is that the classical Darwinists rely on the same arguments that we skeptics use against them when they go after the PEs. This reviewer laments the situation. We rejoice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM


The inconvenient ally (Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., March 19, 2002, TownHall)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:44 PM

ONCE UPON A TIME OUT WEST : McCain in victory: Blunt, dogged, willing to offend even supporters (DAVID ESPO, 3/20/02, AP)

Gather round kids, and I'll tell you a scary story... Once upon a time in the Golden West, there was a really ambitious politician. In fact, he was so ambitious that he fell in with a crowd that included such notorious filth as Senator Dennis DeConcini, Senator Howard Metzenbaum and S&L baron Charles Keating. In exchange for some bags of loot, our ambitious hero was more than willing to don ethical blinders and he got himself in a heap o' trouble, nearly derailed that fine career.

So what did our hero do? Did he acknowledge that he'd let his dreams get the better of him? Well kinda... But then he had an even better idea : he decided that it hadn't been his fault at all! No way! It turns out that the whole system is corrupt. Not his fault?, heck, he's darn near a victim.

So he got together with a bunch of other heroic politicians and he wrote a bill that "cleans up" the system and will redeem his sins. Isn't that a happy story? Oh wait, I told you it was a scary story didn't I? Okay, here's the scary part--in order to assuage our hero's guilt, almost 300 million Americans will lose a portion of their constitutional right to free speech. Ain't that a kick in the head?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM

$2,100,000,000,000 : Senate Democrats Push 2003 Budget (AP, March 20, 2002)

Look at all those freakin' zeroes! (Stephen, did I write it right?) I fondly recall the Reagan presidency when the budget first hit one trillion, for God's sake, and it seemed like a sign of the apocalypse. A nation that spends that kind of money on itself is fundamentally unserious.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM

WE RECEIVED AN ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL RESPONSE TO ORRIN'S THOUGHTS (see below) ON ATHEISM AND MORALITY (for now they are unattributed, but we've asked permission to cite the author) :

Sent: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 00:35:24 -0500
To: "Orrin Judd"
Subject: Re: Beinart

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 AM

A POLITY WITHOUT A LEFT IS LIKE ABBOTT WITHOUT COSTELLO : Searching for a Better Left : Since September 11, a handful of leftists have undertaken the project of looki

Human history can, in fact, largely be seen as nothing more than the struggle between this urge and the equally vital desire for freedom (which is represented by the Right). In America, at least, we have been well served by having two (and only two) political parties that enunciate very distinct political visions based on these two competing principles. For most of our history the Right has prevailed, but the Left has offered a clear and coherent counterargument and eventually came to power in 1932. Just because the Left failed so completely in its attempt to govern (FDR to Carter) it does not follow that it should merely recast itself as Right Lite, as Clinton tried to do.

The Left needs to go through the same kind of return to first principles that the Right underwent in the late 50s--leading to the rise of Goldwater and Reagan. They need to boldly rearticulate their core philosophy : a vast social welfare net; extensive government regulation; redistribution of wealth; etc. That may not be the path back to power, but it will once again offer voters a clear choice of governing philosophies, rather than the current choice between full-throated conservatism and a kind of grudging conservatism. We need a Choice, not an Echo.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 AM


Thousands Buy Fightin' Whites T-Shirts (Jim Burns, March 20, 2002, CNS) My alma mater, Colgate University, has an Indian mascot; we're the Red Raiders of the Chenango Valley (as Howard Cossell was so fond of saying). Well, we had one. We're no longer "Red" and instead of an Indian we have an enormous maroon toadstool for a mascot. I think my idea of several years ago was much better. The school was founded as a Baptist seminary, so why not : The Scrappy Baptists? After all, there's no PC rule against honoring Christians.

March 19, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:53 PM


Supreme Court Seems Ready to Extend School Drug Tests (LINDA GREENHOUSE, March 20, 2002, NY Times)
The justices appeared unusually snappish. When Justice Souter was invoking the small number of positive drug tests to question the district's need for drug testing, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist offered a helping hand to Ms. Meoli. "The existence of the policy might be expected to deter drug use, wouldn't it?" he asked the district's lawyer.

"Then we'll never know, will we," Justice Souter said with some asperity.

"Let her answer the question," the chief justice said sharply.

But most surprising was Justice Kennedy's implied slur on the plaintiffs in the case. He had posed to Mr. Boyd the hypothetical question of whether a district could have two schools, one a "druggie school" and one with drug testing. As for the first, Justice Kennedy said, "no parent would send a child to that school, except maybe your client."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 PM

FIRST A DISCLAIMER : The Brothers first wish to acknowledge that we are not impartial when it comes to Ireland, since the natives lynched one of our ancestors. Nontheless, we'd sorely like to see this [expletive deleted] get his comeuppance :

GERRY ADAMS has been summoned to appear before a Congressional hearing into the IRA’s involvement with the terrorist group Farc, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Mr Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, has been told to attend a hearing on Capitol Hill next month and prepare to answer the question: 'What did you know and when did you know it?' The hearing has been called after outrage in the United States over the discovery last year of three IRA suspects in the area of Colombia controlled by Farc.

As if he didn't soil the place enough with his other hijinks, the fact that Bill Clinton let Gerry Adams and Yassir Arafat enter the White House is sufficient reason to loathe him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 PM

WITH US IT'S JUST LOVE : New Labour's hate-love relationship with Thatcher : Blair's MPs are bored of compromise and yearn for conviction politics (Alice Miles, March 20, 2002, Times of

The Tories are gearing up to relaunch themselves as a new, caring sharing Conservative Party (again) this weekend, without being sure whether to transplant new organs or simply buff up the old skin.

If Tony Blair is serious about this Third Way business--which, as Clinton showed, essentially means governing conservative while mouthing liberal platitudes--and the Tory Party is as intellectually moribund as it seems from across the pond, then how hard is it to imagine Blair bolting to the conservatives? If a Blair-led Tory Party recast itself as a party of free-markets, alliance with the US rather than with Europe, and significant reform of government services, they might remain in the wilderness for a while, but they'd be poised to pick up the pieces when old Labour screws up the country (even further).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 PM

THE BORROWED MORALITY OF THE UNBELIEVERS : Patrick Ruffini notes a column from the New Republic in which Peter Beinart complains that the Bushies aren't sufficiently respectful of the views of atheists :

Many cultural conservatives equate secularism with relativism, and they genuinely believe that religion is the only source of morality. I think that's theoretically simplistic and empirically absurd--I doubt atheists and agnostics lie, cheat, steal, or fly airplanes into skyscrapers any more than anyone else. But if Bush and Ashcroft really think that, then they should have the courage to say it, and open up their arguments to scrutiny and rebuttal. What they are doing instead is worse: implicitly writing atheists and agnostics out of America's moral community. When they describe the country they love, they describe a place where people of different faiths live in harmony and equality, and where people who follow no faith simply do not exist.

Unfortunately, Beinart begs the question. It is not, as he seems to be suggesting, just a bizarre theory of conservatives that unbelievers can not construct a coherent moral system without God; this is actually widely understood. The pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty has even called himself and others on the Left "freeloading atheists", because they want to be able to deny God, on the one hand, but to maintain Judeo-Christian moral standards on the other. It is simply a truism that secularism is relativistic.

And the point is not (as Beinart suggests conservatives believe) that atheists don't exist, but instead that they may in fact be less deserving of our respect and that their ideas may be unworthy of our consideration, may even be dangerous. After all, suppose they were to prevail and society were to become genuinely Godless, wouldn't it also necessarily become amoral?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 PM

SOMETIMES CONTEMPT JUST ISN'T ADEQUATE : Parents Sue Doctors for 'Wrongful Birth' of Disabled Child (Wendy McElroy, March 19, 2002, Fox News)

"In 'wrongful birth,' the parents of a disabled child initiate a lawsuit, typically against a doctor who is accused of not performing proper genetic screening or not adequately counseling prospective parents. The essence of wrongful birth is that the defendant's negligence resulted in the birth of a disabled child whom the mother would have aborted had she received adequate medical information.

In 'wrongful life,' the disabled child or those acting on the child's behalf sues for being alive. Sometimes, the parents become defendants. In essence, the child claims he/she was damaged by being born and should be compensated."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 PM


Like a crack addict who has accidentally lit his hair on fire repeatedly, but keeps firing up, NPR is hard for a conservative to resist. The two stroke inducing moments on tonight's All Things Considered were the snippet from the steps of the Supreme Court where the current Dartmouth student who is pursuing the highschool drug testing case said something to this effect : "Just because you're a student doesn't mean you aren't a citizen with full constitutional rights!" As Antonin Scalia said during oral arguments (again I paraphrase) : "That's ridiculous. They're minors. You can imprison your kids for not doing their homework" and the report from France where people are refusing to help the US investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, because he faces the death penalty. One of the interviewees actually had the gall (gaul?) to say that they refused to "collaborate". Ah yes, the proud French, they can't load Jews on boxcars fast enough when the Hun rolls into town, but they refuse to help convict a terrorist.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM


The Fox News All-stars [Britt, Mort, Fred & Mara tonight] discussed the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Court of Appeals, a nomination that Democrats are bottling up because he's their worst nightmare : a bright, young, conservative Latino. They simply don't want him to be in the on-deck circle for a Supreme Court slot. This is the kind of issue that W needs to seize with full-throated partisan vigor if Republicans are going to rehabilitate their standing with Latino voters in places like CA.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM

FIGHTING THE LAST WAR : Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged, but Signals Possible Change in Future (THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 19, 2002) One of the problems with the Fed is that they tend to co

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:41 PM


School bans playing cops and robbers (Mar. 17, 2002, Contra Costa Times)
The temporary ban was set on the game, in which kids shape imaginary guns out of their fingers and pretend to be officers of the law and criminals, while school officials decide whether it is dangerous.

Officious bureaucrats' work is never done...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:35 PM


Channel 5 in Boston is reporting that Jane Swift will bow out of the MA gubernatorial race, leaving Mitt Romney the presumptive GOP nominee. That's very good news. Romney's from a political family, has run in MA before, and comes off of a by all accounts stellar performance running the Olympics. That said, it's awfully hard to see him actually holding MA for the GOP. If he and Simon manage to run competitive races into the fall, be prepared for a really shocking mid-term election. If they fall behind by the summer, we'd expect classic form to hold and the GOP to have fairly bad midterm losses.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM

IMPEACH 'EM ALL; LET GOD SORT THE DEAD : Campaign Bill's Chief Foe Hints of a Short Debate (ALISON MITCHELL, March 19, 2002, NY Times)

The campaign finance legislation, which would become effective after the November elections, would make the most comprehensive changes in
the campaign finance law since the Watergate era. Besides banning the acceptance of soft money by the national parties, the bill would put
restrictions on thinly veiled campaign commercials by outside groups 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM


Bush to propose tax breaks for small businesses(AP, 3/19/02)
The important thing to keep in mind is that the GOP wins no matter what tax is cut, because it drains the swamp (Washington) of money to waste. He should call in McCain, Gephardt, the Black and Hispanic Caucuses, etc. and tell them all to put every tax break they can think of on the table. Then wrap them up with a big bow and pass them. It looks bipartisan, even though it ultimately serves partisan purposes. It looks like he's "for the little guys" (in other words, huge Democrat special interest groups, instead of huge Republican ones). It would pass, giving him an even greater record of accomplishment to run on (Congressional Quarterly has already done a study showing that he's had the most successful legislative record [his position winning] since LBJ at the height of The Great Society). But most of all, it takes money away from the Federal government and returns it to people. To quote Martha Stewart : "It's a good thing"
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Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM


Seeking Death: Capital Punishment Will Be Sought for Alleged '20th Hijacker' (AP, 3/19/02)
Earlier this winter, my old law professor, Michael Mello, argued that we shouldn't seek the death penalty against Zacarias Moussaoui, because the case is flimsy. Here's how I responded : To the Editors of the Valley News (1/16/02)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM


You're likely to either love Baz Luhrmann or loathe him. The wife and I saw Strictly Ballroom (available March 19th on DVD) in a Chicago cinema filled with elderly couples and men whose love dare not speak its name (given the choice, I guess we were an elderly couple). A preview came on for that awful piece of dreck with Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Robert Redford where Redford buys the favors of Moore for a night. One old lady behind us, with an irreproducible combination of a growl and a lisp [I suppose it melded something of Tom Waits and Richard Simmons respectively] turned to her husband and rumbled : "Wobit Wedfid, I'd **** him fow a miwwion dowwahs." Even if the movie had stunk, which it didn't, how can you not a love a moment like that?

Here's a great review of his latest : Seducing the Underworld : Christian's story in Moulin Rouge. (Douglas Jones, March/April 2002, Christianity Today)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 AM


In his interview on Booknotes, Michael Novak cited George Washington's letter : To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island which contains these great lines :

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM


from East Coker (Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot)

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 AM


The lady turns (Financial Times, March 18 2002)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:46 AM


Mass. Governor Likely To Face Strong Primary Challenger (Christine Hall,, 3/19/02)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 AM


Charles Murtaugh has recently been assembling a list of best conservative films and he's been advocating for The Limey (1999) (directed by Steven Soderbergh 1963-). We agree

March 18, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 PM


Here's a review of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World. By Robert P. Kraynak (Damon Linker, First Things)

I took a couple of courses with Mr. Kraynak at Colgate twenty years ago and he was the best professor I ever had, either there or in law school. In this provocative book he argues that "modern liberal democracy needs God, but God is not as liberal or as democratic as we would like Him to be."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 PM


Brian Lamb interviews Michael Novak about his new book On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding (C-SPAN Booknotes, March 17, 2002)

With the possible exception of the Pope, no one has done more to reconcile Catholicism and capitalism than Michael Novak . In this book and in the interview he seeks to restore our understanding of the central place of religion in the Founding.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 PM

Nothing on God's green Earth makes less sense to me than the fact that she's apparently the only conservative left in Britain. But here's more good sense from the blessed Iron Lady.

Thatcher: Britain must start to quit EU (Philip Webster, March 18, 2002, Times of London)

"It is frequently said to be unthinkable that Britain should leave the European Union. But the avoidance of thought about this is a poor substitute for judgment."

She's right, of course, and could go further--until the Party calls for Britain to get out of Europe and join in a trade and military alliance with her former colonies (US, Canada, Australia, India, etc.); calls for genuine reform of sclerotic bureaucracies like National Health; and calls for a return to traditional British values; it is awfully hard to see why anyone would vote Tory, except as an anti-Labour reflex.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM


Bush Traveling Campaign Trail and Warpath

WASHINGTON, March 17 - Determined not to allow the expanding war on terrorism to distract him from politics at home, President Bush has plunged into the
2002 midterm elections so aggressively that many Republicans say he is rivaling Bill Clinton in his intense focus on electoral campaigning. [...]