Several years ago [actually, it now appears to have been thirteen years, but I wrote this a while ago]...
My friend Charlie and I had been out somewhere all day--I believe beer may have been involved.
We come stumbling back to his apartment in Hoboken (a 5th floor walk up, to my cardiovascular system's horror) and Sue (his wife) had been extraordinarily gracious, not only renting a movie, but getting what was theoretically a guy flick--Everybody's All-American.
We watched in dumbfounded silence as one of the most excrutiating pieces of dreck ever committed to celluloid unfolded before our glazed eyes.
Finally (or after 5 minutes), I begged to shut it off. Chuck hesitated, but when Sue said it wasn't that bad, he agreed to continue the audio-visual crime.
He came over to my side about 10 minutes later, but Sue held fast.
At last the movie reached it's emotional climax, Randy Quaid and Tim Hutton have a huge confrontation at the LSU Homecoming game, during which they happen to be directly in front of the LSU mascot's cage. We see a tiger pacing back and forth in back of them as they mewl about 20 years of emotional wounds that no straight man would ever suffer, let alone admit to in front of another man.
And, like Saul on the road to Damascus, it came to me:
"The only way to save this movie is to let the Tiger out and have him maul everyone"
By then even Sue waited with baited breath, hoping against hope that the Tiger would make it a Blockbuster night.
Since that time, we've referred to shutting off an awful movie as "Letting the Tiger out".
A pop video depicting George Michael apparently trying to have sex with Cherie Blair is reportedly to be released with his new single.
Shoot The Dog, out this week, depicts the singer dressed in a leopard-print thong, trying to approach the Prime Minister's wife.
Tony Blair is also depicted in the video portrayed as a poodle to President George W Bush.
Michael told the Daily Mirror he is concerned about the growing relationship between the Prime Minister and President Bush.
Am I missing something here? What part of President Bush's speech on the preconditions for a Palestinian state don't the Europeans understand? Bush clearly said that a regime compromised by terror and corruption cannot be trusted to give birth to a state next to Israel, and therefore a new leadership, free of terrorism and corruption, is required before a Palestinian state can be recognized by the United States and before such a state should be recognized by the rest of the world. What part of that was ambiguous? He did not mention Arafat by name, but his mention of the terms "terror" and "corruption" left no doubt about whom he was talking. [...]
The President's policy is simple. There must be new leadership, one that is not compromised by terrorism and corruption. Is that "setting the bar too high" for the Palestinians, as the Europeans have suggested? It may be difficult jump for an Arab regime, but it is the lowest civil denominator for the security of Israel, and the world will just have to wait until they can handle this minimal height. Annan suggests that Arafat might be replaced by a worse regime, and this is a reason to keep him. The logical flaw in that reasoning is that it assumes that Oslo is still alive. Wake up and smell the coffee, Kofi. Israel has been forced to re-enter the West Bank. Things can only get worse under a new Palestinian regime if Israel withdraws, which it is not about to do, nor is it required to under the UN resolutions until there is a substitute for the chaos that already reigns. Under Bush's policy, the Palestinians will get a state when they prove by their selection of leadership that they deserve one. They don't have the right to a terrorist and corrupt regime simply because they elect one, even if Jimmy Carter himself counts the votes.
The United States is at war. This has been repeated by President George W. Bush and members of his administration on several occasions. What has not been made clear is the nature of the war. There has been no formal declaration that clearly sets out goals and objectives.
Why is this so worrying? In 1987, the Yale University historian Paul Kennedy described the rise and fall of empires. He analyzed how all imperial powers arrived at a point of overreach that eventually destroyed the empire. Too much concern for security and disproportionate spending on defense were endemic to the fall of all previous empires he studied. The United States appears at this time to be marching into a situation that fits Kennedy's description of imperial decline.
But Mr. Warner's warning about the current crisis seems a tad overblown. There's no reason to believe that our current war against radical Islam will require anything like the spending levels of World Wars II and III, nor does the conflict seem likely to last for more than a few years. Most important to keep in mind is that unlike the Cold War where the balance of terror restrained the U.S. from using much of its military superiority, there are no similar restraints now. Should the war become too burdensome or should it begin to go poorly, one would anticipate that we'd just trot out our nuclear capability and put an end to it on our own--very ugly, but reasonably cost effective--terms.
About three months ago Prof. Arnon Sofer sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. the subject was the need for separation from the Palestinians. "Most of the inhabitants of Israel realize that there is only one solution in the face of our insane and suicidal neighbor - separation," wrote Sofer. "You should have known this months before they did, as the grave demographic data were put on your desk many months ago. In the absence of separation, the meaning of such a majority (of Arabs - L.G.) - is the end of the Jewish state of Israel. You should remember that on the same day as the Israel Defense Forces is investing efforts and succeeding in eliminating one terrorist or another, on that very same day, as on every day of the year, within the territories of western Israel, about 400 children are being born, some of whom will become new suicide terrorists! Do you realize this?" [...]
According to figures presented by Dr. Yitzhak Ravid of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, in 2020 the population of the land of Israel will reach 15.1 million, of whom 6.5 million will be Jews. Sofer says that in 2020 the number of Arab citizens of Israel will reach 2 million, and the Jewish majority will shrink to 65 percent. According to Ravid the number of Arabs will come to about 1.9 million. Prof. Sergio della Pergola presents identical numbers. According to demographic assumptions that are accepted throughout the world, a minority of more than 30 percent defines a state as binational. There are also demographers who are following the foreign workers, as well as the non-Jews, particularly among the immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States. Certain demographers put these in the category of "Others," as an additional demographic threat to the Jewish majority; others see them as reinforcements for the Jewish majority, as they are "non-Arabs."
The US has threatened to pull out of the Balkans if the United Nations fails to grant its peacekeeping troops blanket immunity from prosecution when the treaty for the new international criminal court comes into force on Monday.
Amtrak should be dismantled for practical reasons, not ideological ones about the size and purpose of government. Our intercity passenger rail system works exactly the opposite way that our other systems of intercity transportation work, notes Anthony Perl, author of the book New Departures: Rethinking Rail Passenger Policy in the Twenty-First Century. With air travel and road travel, the government provides the infrastructure, and the private sector moves the passengers. The government runs the airports, and the private sector flies the planes. The government builds the highways, and the private sector handles the cars, trucks, and buses. But with passenger rail, we've got it backward. The government (Amtrak) runs the trains, and the private sector (the freight railroads) owns the rails, except in the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. That creates a double whammy--the private companies don't have the deep pockets or the interest in maintaining the infrastructure needed for a viable passenger rail system, and the government doesn't have the market incentives to be entrepreneurial or customer-focused. The result is a lot of decrepit tracks and routes that respond to political, rather than consumer, demands.
[J]ames Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, who is touring the Mideast, reports despair and devastation among moderates in both Palestine and Israeli and Arab circles. "They were looking to the U.S. to back them, and they got nothing," he says. "Bush is backing the Sharon government, which wants an Indian reservation type of governance on the West Bank, with the Palestinians all subdued and submissive."
Attitudes towards Jews vary across the five countries surveyed with Belgians, Germans and the French "most likely to hold a prejudiced view of Jews". Denmark and the UK are said to be the least prejudiced. But attitudes in the UK show a worryingly high level of anti-Semitic sentiment.
Mr. Bush's position that Mr. Arafat must go and that not much else can happen until he does is a significant gamble by the president, one offering the Palestinians the carrot of strong American support for Palestinian statehood. To many, it seems a long shot, though a prominent Palestinian columnist in the London-based (and Saudi supported) newspaper Al Hayat called for Mr. Arafat to step aside.
With the abrupt shift in strategy, some administration officials, Arab leaders and Middle East experts are wondering whether the United States is in effect disengaging, putting its policy on hold while Mr. Arafat remains defiantly in place. [...]
Until this spring, the White House had shunned any idea that it would undertake risky peace initiatives like the ones that President Bill Clinton tried in his final year in office. Mr. Bush's national security team considered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a brutal sideshow, not one that involved America's strategic interests.
If you missed President Bush's speech on the Middle East conflict, it's not hard to find out what's in it. You can read the full text on the White House Web site. But to assess the long-awaited policy statement, it's actually more important to look at what isn't in it. The short answer is hope. For those who live in the Mideast and for Americans who care about what is happening here, the speech contained almost nothing that could lead to a peace initiative with a chance of succeeding.
A vast majority of Americans say "under God" should remain part of the Pledge of Allegiance in the wake of a court ruling that said the pledge is unconstitutional, a Newsweek magazine poll said on Saturday.
The survey showed that 87 percent support the phrase and 54 percent think the government should not avoid promoting religion. Additionally, 60 percent think that government leaders making public expressions of faith in God is good for the nation.
Even if Mr. Arafat went away, and even if a majority of Israelis were ready to give his successor all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the security requirements and limitations on Palestinian sovereignty that Israelis would insist upon - in the wake of the total breakdown in trust over the last year - would probably be so high that no Palestinian leader would be able to accept them.
If that is the case, it means that a negotiated two-state solution is impossible and Israel is doomed to permanent occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. And if that is the case, it means Israel will have to rule the West Bank and Gaza permanently, the way South African whites ruled blacks under apartheid. Because by 2010, if current demographic patterns hold, there will be more Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem than Jews. And if that is the case, it means an endless grinding conflict that poses a mortal danger to Israel.
Because there are three trends converging in the Middle East today. The first is this vicious Israeli-Palestinian war. The second is a population explosion in the Arab world, where virtually every Arab country has a population bubble of under-15-year-olds, who are marching toward a future where they will find a shortage of good jobs and a surplus of frustration. The third is an explosion of Arab satellite TV stations, the Internet and other private media.
Basically what's happening is that this Arab media explosion is taking images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and beaming them to this population explosion, nurturing a rage against Israel, America and Jews in a whole new Arab generation. [...]
The only hope for Israel is to get out of the territories--any orderly way it can--and minimize its friction with the Arab world as the Arabs go through a wrenching internal adjustment to modernization.
Everywhere you look these days, you see situations that are absurdly contradictory and circular and self-defeating. Reality has turned into one huge, self-consuming loop. Call it Catch-2002. [...]
On Monday, the president declared that he would deal only with a democratic leader of Palestine--Abu Jefferson--even though he deals with the region's kings, autocrats, tyrants and military dictators stalling on democratic elections. Catch-2002.
Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.
I call upon them to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.
If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.
And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.
In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable and I'm confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation.
A Palestinian state will never be created by terror. It will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.
Today the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government.
The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.
The United States, along with the European Union and Arab states, will work with Palestinian leaders to create a new constitutional framework and a working democracy for the Palestinian people. And the United States, along with others in the international community, will help the Palestinians organize and monitor fair, multiparty local elections by the end of the year with national elections to follow.
Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government.
The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development. The United States, the EU, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are willing to oversee reforms in Palestinian finances, encouraging transparency and independent auditing. And the United States, along with our partners in the developed world, will increase our humanitarian assistance to relieve Palestinian suffering.
Today, the Palestinian people lack effective courts of law and have no means to defend and vindicate their rights. A Palestinian state will require a system of reliable justice to punish those who prey on the innocent. The United States and members of the international community stand ready to work with Palestinian leaders to establish, finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary.
Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing terrorism.
This is unacceptable.
For another thing he's not even remotely saying that elections will suffice. He's laid out an entire range of reforms that Palestine will have to embrace before peace will be agreed to--from elections to institution building to a crackdown on terror to economic development. Most of these are actually better accomplished by a military dictatorship--witness Spain, Chile, etc.--but in the absence of a military capable of imposing order over Palestinian society it will be necessary for people to exercise some control over themselves and to take control over their own leadership. The prospect for this happening is fairly slim, but it is in no sense "absurdly contradictory and circular and self-defeating" to demand it.
Reality isn't a loop--it is a straight line. Palestine now is a corrupt and backwards society in love with death and murder. It must reform itself and renounce violence. Then it may have peace and economic development. Does that really seem as convoluted to you as it does to the dizzy Ms Dowd?
Good, but not great is how I would rate David Liss's historical thriller, set in 1719 London at the height of the South Seas bubble (and written, not coincidentally, at the height of our own stock market bubble -- the parallels are laid on pretty thick, but are still enjoyable). As a good historical novel must do, Liss admirably conveys the (imagined) sights, sounds and smells of 18th-century urban life, both splendid and squalid. The main character moves smoothly between both worlds: the estranged son of a Jewish stockbroker, Benjamin Weaver has lived on both sides of the law and now makes his living, more or less, as a private detective. Weaver's many double lives -- Jew and Englishman, criminal and law enforcer, son and outcast -- are masterfully drawn, with the help of a vivid supporting cast of characters.
One word of warning, nothing has excited more negative comment about our reviews than the letter grade at the end of each. We're continually accused of presumptuousness.
Although vouchers have been a bedrock conservative issue, suburban voters support their public schools, and Republican candidates may find support for vouchers politically risky. [...]
Roman Catholic lobbying groups immediately began to focus their attention yesterday on the Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Legislative Caucus in Albany. "A lot of our advocacy really must be geared toward minority communities, to begin to apply pressure on the Black and Hispanic Caucus, who in turn can apply pressure on both houses to get something going," said Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference.
The biggest obstacle to minority legislative support, Mr. Poust added, is probably the state teachers union, whose large membership and get-out-the-vote money are critical. "So that puts legislators in a very uncomfortable position," Mr. Poust said.
The black studies scholar Cornel West, who may be best known for recently cutting a rap album and for feuding with the president of Harvard University, is also the author of a well-regarded book on American pragmatism that includes a section on the philosopher Sidney Hook. So he seemed a natural choice to invite to a conference on Hook that the Graduate Center at the City University of New York is planning to hold in October.
Yet when a group of prominent conservatives--the political essayist Irving Kristol, the art critic Hilton Kramer and the historians Gertrude Himmelfarb and John Patrick Diggins--who had also been invited heard that Mr. West would be attending, they abruptly withdrew. [...]
For his part, Mr. West seemed strangely unaffected by the furor. Reached by telephone on Thursday, he said he had no memory of being invited to the conference and learned of the boycott only when a reporter contacted him last week. Still, he said he was eager to attend. "I have learned much from the art criticism of Kramer, the fine historiography of Himmelfarb, the intellectual history of Diggins and some of the essays of Kristol," he said serenely. "I just see through their nonsense."
Into the dazzling light : In his quest to produce the perfect novel, Jonathan Franzen spent four years writing in the dark, wearing earplugs and a blindfold. Judging by the critics' response to The Corrections, it paid off (Emily Eakin, November 11, 2001, The Observer)
[S]uccess has not entirely agreed with Franzen. When Oprah Winfrey selected The Corrections for her book club last month--a decision virtually guaranteeing millions of dollars in additional sales--he publicly questioned her judgment, suggesting to more than one interviewer that his novel's 'high-art' literary qualities made it a dubious choice for a programme normally associated with middlebrow fiction. His remarks started a national scandal. Winfrey disinvited Franzen from appearing on her show, and the literary community rallied to her defence, calling Franzen arrogant and ungrateful. 'That pompous pr*ck' was how one powerful agent referred to him.
Franzen is now busy trying to explain his way out of the gaffe, telling the New York Times last week: 'Mistake, mistake, mistake to use the word "high". Both Oprah and I want the same thing and believe the same thing, that the distinction between high and low is meaningless.'
Whatever his true feelings on the high- versus low-brow debate (and one suspects he was not being entirely honest with the New York Times), Franzen's book is much clearer on this point. The Corrections is as clever as the brainy postmodernists Franzen admires but infinitely more accessible.
Not to put too fine a point on this but while Mr. Franzen is a decent novelist who made himself appear somewhat foolish by demonstrating that he was afraid that being seen as "popular" would make others take him less "seriously", Mr. West is simply a buffoon, who no self-respecting scholar should appear on a panel with. One would think that for mere consistency sake it would be the conservatives who would be the heroes of Ms Eakin's piece in the Times today, as they valiantly defend serious scholarship from popular debasement. Wouldn't one?
Here are some links and responses to points made in the comments section, but they seem of general interest :
Here's the Salon article referred to :
Right-Wing Blacklist : Conservatives tell Cornel West to go to the back of the bus. (Sam Tanenhaus, June 20, 2002, Slate)
As that story indicates, Cornel West is a disciple of Richard Rorty, who notes that fellow philosophers don't read either of their books, and the one academic analysis of Mr. West's philosophy work that's mentioned (mightn't we assume it's nearly the only one that exists) is by a Harvard colleague of both men--that's kind of a closed loop of people who think he has anything worthwhile to say isn't it?
Here's Hilton Kramer's own assessment of Mr. West :
Harvard’s black comedy (New Criterion, February 2002)
Here's the piece from the Voice, a reliably Leftist publication, which shows how West and company cash on their race :
Spinning Race at Harvard : The Business Behind the Gates-West Power Play (Thulani Davis, January 16 - 22, 2002, Village Voice)
Here's a note from The American Prospect, another liberal source that we might expect to support West if he were a serious scholar :
The Associated Press reports that Cornel West has finally decided to leave Harvard to join the faculty at Princeton. This caps a short, glorious period during which someone -- namely new Harvard president Larry Summers -- finally noticed that West hasn't produced a serious work of scholarship in years, yet continued to be accorded the same level of respect as far more serious and important colleagues, such as Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson. (The Village Voice, believe it or not, actually produced a memorable and critical article on how West made out like a bandit at Harvard.) At Princeton, West will no doubt continue to write self-important popular books (like Race Matters), produce lame attempts at cultural engagement (another rap CD?), and retreat ever closer to the political fringe (Now that he's rallied his vast following to Al Sharpton's banner, we're thinking he'll start showing up at Mumia rallies). Harvard will breathe easier tonight.
Here's the view from another Left bastion, The Washington Post :
A Harvard Education (Fareed Zakaria, January 8, 2002, Washington Post)
[T]he high drama of [Larry Summers's] presidency so far has been the recent controversy over his discussions with Cornel West, a leading member of the Afro-American Studies department. Whatever they talked about -- and there is some dispute about the specifics -- clearly the conversation went badly, with West feeling he had been attacked and insulted.
Summers told me that he "felt bad about the misunderstandings that arose from that first meeting and value the mutual respect that came out of the second one." But he did confirm that he had "encouraged Professor West to write a major academic book." Is this so scandalous? Over the past several years West has done little other than produce a CD of rap music and advise Al Sharpton on his "bid" for the presidency of the United States. West's earlier work is not that impressive, either. In a long review in the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier concluded of his books: "They are almost completely worthless . . . noisy, tedious, slippery . . . sectarian, humorless, pedantic and self-endeared." I have read some of West's work, and Wieseltier's judgment sounds about right.
And here is the final word, the Leon Wieseltier profile of West, that makes it impossible to take the good professor at all seriously :
All and Nothing at All: The Unreal World of Cornel West (Leon Wieseltier, March 6, 1995, The New Republic)
It may be predictable that we on the Right would be so dismissive of Mr. West's racist ravings, but the fact that The Voice, The Post, TAP and TNR are all equally contemptuous leads one to wonder if anyone outside his own circle and the NY Times, though that may be redundant, really pays him any attention. Perhaps more to the point, it seems fair to ask whether anyone at all would listen to him if he weren't black or whether he is a mere quota hire. It certainly seems unlikely that any white professor could quit Harvard just because he was asked to do some work and then be courted by other Ivy League schools.
Jason Mendonca, a newly minted MBA, owes $27,000 on education loans. It's a situation facing recent graduates across the country, whether or not they're ready to start paying. ''It's kind of bittersweet, because the job market is a little sour,'' Mendonca said.
But the 27-year-old, who is a financial aid coordinator at Northeastern University, isn't worried. He knows that after July 1 he can lock in the lowest-ever interest rates on student loans, as low as 3.46 percent.
[The] inclination to act unilaterally, stemming from the traditional American preference to define the national interest without the constraint of allies, has only been strengthened by America's economic and military prowess. With such power undergirded by a belief in America's moral exceptionalism, the most dangerous threat to American omnipotence may very well come about as a result of the alienation of Europe and Japan, and the wariness of China and Russia. The duration of the American imperium will thus depend on our ability to seek common ends with potential rivals. In this respect, we have more to fear from our own mistakes than from those enemies who are now determined to bring us down.
A British theatre company has reportedly dropped the word hunchback from its stage adaptation of the classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame to avoid offending disabled people.
Oddsocks Productions has renamed its touring production The Bellringer of Notre Dame.
The original title of the novel by Victor Hugo was Notre Dame de Paris - the name of the ancient Catholic cathederal where the story takes place.
The story ends with Esmerelda's execution and entombment, but in the concluding chapter, The Marriage of Quisimodo, Hugo revals that:
About a year and a half or two years after the concluding events of this story, when search was being made in the pit of Montfaucon for the body of Olivier le Daim, who had been hanged two days before, and to whom Charles VIII granted the favour of being interred at Saint-Laurent in better company, there were found among these hideous carcases two skeletons, the one clasped in the arms of the other. One of these skeletons, which was that of a woman, had still about it some tattered remnants of a garment that had once been white, and about its neck was a string of beads together with a small silken bag ornamented with green glass, but open and empty. These objects had been of so little value that the executioner, doubtless, had scorned to take them. The other skeleton, which held this one in so close a clasp, was that of a man. It was observed that the spine was crooked, the skull compressed between the shoulder-blades, and that one leg was shorter than the other. There was no rupture of the vertebræ at the nape of the neck, from which it was evident that the man had not been hanged. He must, therefore, have come of himself and died there.
When they attempted to detach this skeleton from the one it was embracing, it fell to dust.
...to defend the security of Europe and uphold the values of the Union.
A furious President Bush yesterday warned corporate chiefs to stop "trying to fudge the numbers"--and the White House said he wants "bad apples" to go directly to jail.
Bush will come to Wall Street to personally deliver that stern message to the titans of industry on July 9 as he copes with escalating corporate scandals that could spell political and economic trouble. [...]
"Corporate America has got to understand there's a higher calling than trying to fudge the numbers, trying to slip a billion here or a billion there and hope nobody notices," Bush said at a GOP fund-raiser yesterday.
Four South Korean sailors were killed and 18 wounded in a clash with North Korean patrol boats on Saturday in waters off the west coast of the divided peninsula, South Korea said.
The defense ministry said one South Korean vessel was sunk in the clash in the Yellow Sea at a point 170 km (105 miles) west of Inchon International Airport, through which tens of thousands of World Cup soccer visitors entered the country this month.
"This provocative behavior by North Korea is a blatant armistice violation for which North Korea bears full responsibility," South Korean Lieutenant General Lee Sang-hee told a news conference at the defense ministry in Seoul.
In a major policy shift, I have decided that George W. Bush is irrelevant and must be replaced as leader of the United States. Every week, an American somewhere murders, rapes, or brutalizes a foreigner. I hold the president personally responsible for every such attack.
With American citizens continuing to kill and attack people in other nations, Bush is clearly irrelevant to the world?s search for peace. I am ceasing all contacts with him, immediately. And I am calling upon the people of the United States to elect new and more effective leadership, right away. [...]
All joking aside, no leader can control the actions of all people in his nation. It is always counterproductive to treat a nation's leader as irrelevant. And no nation has the right to tell another nation whom it can or cannot choose as its leader.
''I've been in this business for 20 years,'' the officer said, ''and I've never encountered such a vicious and cruel terrorist as Qeis Adwan.''
It was an astonishing claim regarding such a young man barely out of college, given the long list of his predecessors--among them, Yahya Ayyash, the prototype of the Hamas ''engineer'' (typically a bomb maker with an engineering degree) and originator of Hamas's suicide bombers.
The Shin Bet officer shook his head. Ayyash had a family, he said, but Adwan had no personal life whatsoever--no wife, no interest in his family. He was, he said, a ''terror machine.'' [...]
Over the two days I spent in the Jenin camp, I watched and occasionally talked to a 13-year-old girl who was staying with Jamal's family because her house had been destroyed and her father killed. She had an encyclopedic brain and an uncanny memory. She remembered what I wore in the camp a month before, though we had never met. She remembered conversations with her father from eight years ago and knew what all the politicians were saying or had said. She never smiled and told me that her father wanted her to be a doctor. She said she would prefer to study nuclear physics so she could blow up America. ''When someone comes to fight you in your home, you have to fight him back, isn't that true?'' she asked.
Of course, these are the words of an angry, hurt child. But in the mind of Serraj, the psychiatrist in Gaza, they may express a potentially terrifying illness, the fruits of 15 years of unending violence. ''We have seen the children of the first intifada become suicide bombers,'' he had said. ''You only have to wait and see these children of today, what kind of horror they will bring to the world.''
Yasser Arafat is a "let down" in the Middle East, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.
In an attack on the leader of the Palestinian Authority he said: "The difficulty is, and I say this frankly, with President Arafat, is that it's not just the Israelis and Americans who feel let down by him, but so does virtually every foreign minister that I personally have ever spoken to."
Capitalizing on Thursday's Supreme Court decision in favor of school vouchers, House Republican Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) introduced legislation to provide education scholarships to disadvantaged children in the nation's capital. [...]
The bill would provide families with incomes below the poverty line, scholarships of up to $5,000. Students with family incomes up to 185 percent of the poverty level, which Armey says is at $33,226, may receive up to $3,750 in tuition assistance.
(2) Suppose you just disband the Education department and every education program in the federal government and give every school age kid in America a voucher for $5000. Let them give it to any school or teacher they choose. If states or cities or whoever wants to supplement this amount, that's fine. But assume they each have "just" $5000.
Now consider this. In the case that was before the Court the kids are being educated at parochial schools for less than $2500 a year. So this amount seems ample to secure a decent education. Further, the average teacher salary in America for the 2001-2 school year was a little under $45k. A teacher could take on just 9 students and match their current salary. It'd be class size reduction on a monumental scale. These are just a couple of the choices that such vouchers would provide.
Okay, so take a wild guess at what Washington DC actually spends per pupil right now (actually in 2000-1)? How about : $12,345! Let the District voucherize some of what they're spending and a teacher could take on just four or five students and make what they are now.
Besides all the other benefits that would flow from bringing market forces to bear on the system, just imagine the retirees (military guys, former teachers, business people--with a wealth of experience and a lifetime of learning to share) who could supplement their income by taking on one or a few kids.
There are just so many exciting possibilities in all this it would be a real shame not to experiment with the idea of school choice.
The Supreme Court yesterday struck down restrictions on what candidates for judicial offices can say during their campaigns, moving the process of electing state judges toward the rough-and-tumble world of everyday politics and the types of political campaigns that are waged for other elective offices.
In a 5 to 4 decision in which the justices expressed conflicting opinions about the wisdom of electing judges, the court ruled that a Minnesota restriction that says a judicial candidate may not "announce his or her views on disputed legal or political issues" violated the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech.
"We have never allowed the government to prohibit candidates from communicating relevant information to voters during an election," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. [...]
"Judges are not politicians, and the First Amendment does not require that they be treated as politicians simply because they are chosen by popular vote," Ginsburg said.
pol·i·tics Pronunciation Key (pl-tks) n.
1. (used with a sing. verb)
a. The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
b. Political science.
2. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
a. The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party: "All politics is local" (Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr.). "Politics have appealed to me since I was at Oxford because they are exciting morning, noon, and night" (Jeffrey Archer).
b. The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government: The politics of the former regime were rejected by the new government leadership. If the politics of the conservative government now borders on the repressive, what can be expected when the economy falters?
3. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Political life: studied law with a view to going into politics; felt that politics was a worthwhile career.
4. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power: Partisan politics is often an obstruction to good government. Office politics are often debilitating and counterproductive.
5. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Political attitudes and positions: His politics on that issue is his own business. Your politics are clearly more liberal than mine.
6.(used with a sing. or pl. verb) The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
[I]f liberals want to be intellectually honest and not just political in defending the use of "under God" in the pledge, they need a more robust argument than "ceremonial deism." If you think the 9th Circuit was wrong, you have to believe on principle that it's wrong to obliterate every public reference to God, whether on the currency or at the opening of Supreme Court sessions. The doctrine underlying such a view cannot be that public references to religion are unimportant. That takes neither religious people nor their critics seriously.
There is only one viable principle for upholding the reference to God in the pledge. It would assert that we need to strike a balance between the rights of believers and the rights of nonbelievers. That means that the public arena should not be godless, but neither should it be dominated by religion.
Before the 9th Circuit panel's ruling, we thought we had achieved an implicit, awkward but workable equilibrium. We did so by combining sharp limitations on religion's role in government institutions with at least some permission for its expression. Politicians are angry with the two judges not because they are "nuts," but because their unfortunate yet principled decision has forced us to decide explicitly if this is what we really want.
To object to such a pledge would be to object to the very idea of the American Republic itself. That's not to say that people would not so object, but at least the terms of the debate would be clarified--you either believe in those words or you don't believe in the foundation upon which America is constructed. In which case, let's hear what you believe instead.
For two days in a row, President Bush has inveighed against irresponsible WorldCom Inc., executives -- an aggressive response that reflects the potential danger a wave of corporate scandal represents for Bush and the GOP. [...]
The urgency of the matter was reflected in the distraction it caused Bush while attending the meetings of the Group of Eight industrial nations in Canada. During separate news conferences with Britain's Tony Blair and Russia's Vladimir Putin, Bush angrily criticized "corporate leaders who have not upheld their responsibility," calling WorldCom's actions "outrageous" and vowing to "hold people accountable" for fooling employees and investors.
We have discovered that who we are is more important than what we have. And we know we must renew our values to restore our country.
This is the vision of America's founders.
They never saw our nation's greatness in rising wealth or advancing armies, but in small, unnumbered acts of caring and courage and self-denial.
Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was "to occupy the land with character."
And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal ... to occupy the land with character.
In a responsibility era, each of us has important tasks -- work that only we can do.
ENRON, WorldCom and Martha Stewart just proved that America's financial and accounting systems work. Despite the monstrous cheating and mad-dog greed, the good news about all the scandals we are suffering is that the bad guys--and gals--got caught.
Behind the appalled headlines, the deeper message is that the United States isn't India, or China, or Brazil--or even France.
In any of those countries, well-connected corporate scoundrels would have been shielded by the system. Hell, in plenty of countries, the scoundrels are the system.
Here, in the world's largest economy, unscrupulous CEOs and CFOs have nearly unlimited opportunities to cheat investors, banks and their own employees. But they get caught in the end.
The heads of the world's wealthiest nations yesterday pledged a ''new beginning'' for inhabitants of the earth's poorest continent, signing a historic agreement to increase development aid by billions of dollars in return for a commitment from African leaders to eliminate corruption, despotism, and human rights abuses.
The pledge, made at the close of a two-day summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies, marked the first time that aid to the beleaguered nations of sub-Saharan Africa has been made contingent on promises by African leaders to take responsibility for economic and political reform. Supporters called it a turning point in relations between Africa and rich donor nations, while critics dismissed the agreement as empty rhetoric--noting that the G-8 nations failed to make hard commitments on promises of new cash.
“I didn’t think much of Bush’s speech,” insisted Ghazi Ghreib, an Arab journalist in Jerusalem. “What does he think he’s doing ignoring our interests?” he added.
The UK economy was barely growing during the first three months of the year, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
(The economy) still looks slightly weak and the services sector growth, in particular, is weaker than survey evidence would suggest
David Page, Investec The ONS said UK gross domestic product (GDP) was up just 0.1% in the January to March period, and had risen by 1.1% over the year as a whole.
Growth in the last three months of 2001 was also revised up to 0.1%.
It had previously said that GDP was flat in the first quarter, after also recording zero growth in the last three months of 2001.
The revision means the economy is not officially in recession, but it has recorded its lowest growth for two successive quarters since 1991.
In the case of Okies, I can actually claim a certain amount of first-hand knowledge, you see, I'm an Okie. Or at least, I'm a third-generation California Okie. My maternal Granny was born in the Okalahoma Territory in 1903, and grew up in a tiny West Texas town just south of the Oklahoma border. In the mid-1940s, my grandparents upped stakes and moved to Garden Grove, California, so my grandfather could find work in the Los Angeles defense plants. They weren't Dust Bowl refugees, rather they followed a more common migration pattern, one [Keith] Windschuttle identifies in this passage:
"The real mass migration of Okies to California actually took place in the 1940s to take advantage of the boom in manufacturing jobs during World War II and its aftermath. In this period, about 630,000 of them went to the west coast. It was not the Depression of the 30s but the economic boom of the 40s that caused an abnormal increase in Okie migration."
With Israeli troops controlling seven of the eight main West Bank cities and towns, the Palestinian leadership issued a statement on
Friday condemning the Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas as "an attempt to sabotage peace efforts."
It obliges our moralistic streak to try to replace Mr. Arafat, and it would be great if the Palestinians did get a better leader. But Mr. Bush's harrumphing does nothing to achieve better leadership in Palestine; if anything, it strengthens Mr. Arafat and boosts Hamas as well. One poll of Palestinians has already found that a solid plurality expects Mr. Arafat to be elected in a democratic vote. Another poll found that nearly three times as many Palestinians trust Mr. Arafat as they do the next highest contender.
So by calling off our plans for a Middle East conference and simply insisting that Mr. Arafat leave the scene before we come out to deal, Mr. Bush is signaling that we are disengaging from the Middle East, returning to his earlier failed policy of looking the other way. That was a catastrophic mistake that helped create today's mess.
Early this month, Major-General Amos Yaron, director-general of Israel's Defence Ministry, flew in secretly twice to meet his counterparts in New Delhi. [...]
Jane's reported that India wanted to "buy or borrow" Israel's newly-launched Ofek-5 spy satellite. Yaron said Israel needed to keep it on an Iran-Syria-Iraq orbit, that it could not, even temporarily, be sent over Kashmir at the present time--as New Delhi wanted.
Yaron also turned down India's request for the Arrow anti-missile system--but only because the weapon was not yet ready. [...]
Diplomatic sources say the long-term obstacles to the sale of the Arrow and the Phalcon, both of which have US technology, are sections of the State Department and Democratic senators who still hope to revive the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Pentagon and the White House are more favourably inclined.
A day after he shocked the nation by declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, a federal appeals court judge put his ruling on hold Thursday.
After the resounding defeat of Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.) on Tuesday marked the end to a contest that strained relations between black and Jewish Democrats, observers said the same tensions are all but certain to erupt in other races in this cycle. [...]
The Alabama race gained national attention in recent weeks in part because of the amount of out-of-state money funneled to the candidates in the majority-black district, one of the poorest in the nation. Although Davis has maintained throughout that the race was a referendum on the incumbent's lack of legislative accomplishment and poor constituent service, donor interest in the race was fueled largely by Middle East politics.
Davis was heavily supported by the Jewish community, while Hilliard got considerable support from Arab-Americans and affiliated interest groups. Hilliard voted against a resolution passed by the House earlier this year that condemned Palestinian suicide bombings.
Eulanda Johnson, 37, of Cleveland was overjoyed at the ruling.
"Thank you lord!" she said. "I thought I was going to have to work a second job."
Johnson's daughter, Ebony Williams, is entering sixth grade at St. Mary's Catholic school. Based on her income, Johnson pays 25 percent of the school's $2,250 annual tuition and the voucher program pays the remainder.
"Now I can be able to afford to send her to the school," Johnson said.
Second, what really leaps out there is that this school educates kids for about 1/4 of what New York City spends per pupil in its atrocious school system.
President Bush concluded his Rose Garden speech about the Middle East on Monday by calling the moment "a test to show who is serious about peace and who is not." Given how na•ve his plan is--how astonishingly far it is from any foreseeable reality--he may have failed his own test. It's not that Bush's goals aren't noble or correct, but real diplomacy takes more than wishful thinking.
Bush's fuzzy logic, to borrow a term, is weakest with regard to what he calls the "Palestinian leadership." By refusing even to name Yasir Arafat, the president showed that he's just not ready for an honest attempt at peacemaking.
But then look at that second paragraph. Mr. Kushner refers to what he calls the "fuzzy logic" of the Bush speech. The logic is apparently fuzzy because the only conclusion you can draw from the speech is that we aren't interested in the "peace" process and Mr. Kushner can't believe that's the point of the speech. After all, this is diplomacy. Even if peace negotiations would be ignoble an incorrect you can't let that stop you, can you?
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should book himself a place in history and stand down, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday, backing a U.S. call for a change in Palestinian leadership.
Berlusconi, who has forged close ties with the Arab world since taking office last year, told reporters the international community was ready to help Palestinians as long as they set up a transparent democracy.
"Many people are convinced that Arafat, a winner of the Nobel peace prize, should make a generous gesture and move aside," Berlusconi said on the final morning of a two day meeting of major power leaders.
"If I were President Arafat I would make a grand gesture that would enable him to go down forever in history as the man who gave everything for the freedom of his country," he said.
Still, the statement is a reminder of how potent a force it may be for Europe to be swinging Right while Republicans hold the U.S. White House. This is the alignment that was required to finally win the Cold War too.
In a pair of TV ads debuting today, GOP businessman Bill Simon lampoons Gov. Gray Davis as the denizen of a dusty office jammed with campaign cash, visited by a parade of dollar-laden constituents.
The new 30-second spots use parody to stick in the minds of voters while skewering Davis -- the Democratic incumbent who has raised more than $30 million for his re-election campaign -- on the fund-raising issue, where Republicans believe he is most vulnerable. [...]
The commercials were shown on a day the Simon campaign announced they had added as senior advisers veteran GOP consultant Ed Rollins--who managed President Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign--and Lyn Nofziger, who worked for Reagan in California and Washington.
The move, GOP insiders say, is an effort to help Simon's campaign become more aggressive against Davis.
The National Education Association pledges to continue to fight for children and public education--and oppose divisive and counterproductive proposals to divert energy, attention, and resources to private school tuition vouchers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Cleveland private school voucher case. Just because vouchers may be legal in some circumstances doesn't make them a good idea.
Actor Michael Nouri--who recently starred in a six-month, 26-city road production of "South Pacific"--yesterday presented Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim with a check for $181,041.01, representing the dollars, dimes and pennies collected from audiences at each performance for various Sept. 11 victim relief funds.
"He was very emotional," Zakheim told us after the Pentagon ceremony. "This was something he obviously had put his heart and soul into."
Nouri told us: "Absolutely, I was emotional. The terrorist attacks happened when we were in rehearsal for 'South Pacific' in New York. We were on 18th Street and I saw the second plane strike the tower."
[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
The Constitution allows public money to underwrite tuition at religious schools as long as parents have a choice among a range of religious and secular schools, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The 5-4 ruling led by the court's conservative majority lowers the figurative wall separating church and state and clears a constitutional cloud from school vouchers, a divisive education idea dear to political conservatives and championed by President Bush. [...]
``We believe that the program challenged here is a program of true private choice,'' Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for himself and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.
The Cleveland program goes too far toward state-sponsored religion, the dissenting justices said. It does not treat religion neutrally, as Rehnquist contended, wrote Justice David H. Souter. The majority is also wrong about the question of whether parents have a true choice among schools, Souter wrote for himself and Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
``There is, in any case, no way to interpret the 96.6 percent of current voucher money going to religious schools as reflecting a free and genuine choice by the families that apply for vouchers,'' Souter wrote.
Conservatives need to seize on this ruling, the Pledge ruling, genetic manipulation, abortion on demand, corporate misconduct, and the war on radical Islamic terror and tie them all together as a defining struggle over what kind of culture we want to be. Does it suffice to be wealthy, even if amoral, as we were in the Clinton Era? Or do we ask something more of ourselves? Is mere "freedom" purpose enough for America or do we want to create a decent society with that freedom? Is it enough to do good (as in having a rising stock portfolio and no social responsibilities) or should we strive to be Good?
It seems that this is a nearly unique moment in our recent history and that people are begging to be challenged, to be asked to give more of themselves. Why doesn't the GOP just ask?
In the context of the Pledge, the statement that the United States is a nation “under God” is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism. The recitation that ours is a nation “under God” is not a mere acknowledgment that many Americans believe in a deity. Nor is it merely descriptive of the undeniable historical significance of religion in the founding of the Republic. Rather, the phrase “one nation under God” in the context of the Pledge is normative. To recite the Pledge is not to describe the United States; instead, it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and — since 1954 — monotheism. The text of the official Pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God. A profession that we are a nation “under God” is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation “under Jesus,” a nation “under Vishnu,” a nation “under Zeus,” or a nation “under no god,” because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion. “[T]he government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.” Wallace, 472 U.S. at 60. Furthermore, the school district’s practice of teacher-led recitation of the Pledge aims to inculcate in students a respect for the ideals set forth in the Pledge, and thus amounts to state endorsement of these ideals. Although students cannot be forced to participate in recitation of the Pledge, the school district is nonetheless conveying a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of, the current form of the Pledge.
As the Declaration makes clear, the very basis of our assertion of political rights flows from the idea that we were Created with such rights. Unpleasant as it may be for the irreligious to contemplate, in the absence of God (and by that we do mean the God of Abraham) there simply is no coherent basis for human rights (nor for morality, for that matter). Adding the phrase "under Vishnu" to the Pledge would not be unconstitutional--it would just be wrong. Whereas this truly is, or was, a nation "under God". We've addressed these issues more fully in this review, and can't recommend the book under review highly enough.
But setting even this fundamental question aside, there is nothing in the First Amendment that prohibits such a voluntary pledge. The language of the text could not possibly be clearer : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... . Given that several states actually had established religions at the time the Constitution was adopted and were allowed to keep them, it seems obvious that all the provision was meant to do was to prevent the establishment of a single national religion. All of the drivel about separation of church and state is merely the opinion of unelected judges and its application to our laws is antidemocratic.
It will be argued that the First is at least applicable, in whatever form, to the States because of the doctrine of incorporation. This too is judge-made twaddle and antidemocratic. Are we such inartful drafters that we couldn't explicitly incorporate States under the Bill of Rights if we so chose and give them an opportunity to determine whether they choose to be bound ?
Finally, no matter how many judges believe something to be unconstitutional, that which 280+ million American citizens believe to be constitutional and which belief they have by long tradition and practice demonstrated, is, therefore, constitutional. Two hundred years of praying in public schools and reciting the pledge is not a tradition to be lightly discarded. It is some sense must be considered to be part of the structure that undergirds our nation. One should kick at such structural supports only with great trepidation. When the courts intervene in these kinds of quintessentially moral matters they have in almost every instance done our society harm. Such interventions represent nothing more than the desire of intellectual elites to circumvent democratic processes in order to impose their will. It is this tendency that makes the judiciary the most dangerous branch of government. This ruling should simply be ignored. As Andrew Jackson said of Justice Marshall, and as we all should have said many times since : they've made their ruling, now let them enforce it, if they can.
A few folks over the last few days have said that this ruling, though annoying, pales in importance in comparison to the war on terrorism--this is precisely backwards. Al Qaeda poses no threat to our republic. They are a temporary phenomenon, associated with a failing civilization, destined to be little more than a footnote in the history books. The far greater threat to our society is that we continue to distance ourselves and our political system from the religious beliefs that are required for a healthy democracy and a decent culture.
Perhaps that's just our inevitable destiny. Maybe the conservative critique is right and a political system that is structured to gratify the debased desires of mass men is doomed to a kind of cultural suicide, as we see occurring throughout post-Christian Europe.
Perhaps, as Albert Jay Nock believed, we will simply grow bored with our own hideousness and seek annihilation. When the bell tolls for American democracy, it won't be rung by crazed Arabs, but by a people who have become so detached from the Judeo-Christian morality that once supported the republic that death will appear preferable to a continued deracinated existence.
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, a citizen approached Benjamin Franklin and asked him : "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" He responded : "A republic if you can keep it". Maybe we can't.
On the other hand, Patrick Ruffini says it's good for Republicans!
These are the rough guidelines for the choices :
(1) It should be big. Five-hundred-pages-or-better big. You should be able to only take two books from the list and still have enough reading to get you through a week.
(2) It should be readable. No note-taking needed. Not a whole lot of names to remember. You should be able to pick it up and put it down again without having to reorient yourself. Most of all, you should enjoy it.
(3) Ideally it should be a book that you've been meaning to read but you've put off, probably because of its size. But now, when it's the only one, or one of the only ones, you have with you, you'll be "forced" to read it. At the same time, it should be good enough that you won't regret having brought it. No experiments.
So here are a few suggestions (with links to our reviews where applicable)(please add your own suggestions in the comments section) :
What it Takes : The Way to the White House (1992) (Richard Ben Cramer)
[A whopping 1051 pages, but you won't even notice. Available in a nice paperback edition.]
Mr. Cramer's account of the 1988 presidential campaign is an amalgam of both The Right Stuff and Moby Dick. It may be the quintessential book about America.
The Power Broker : Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974) (Robert Caro)
[1246 pages. Available in hardcover]
Mr. Caro writes biography in order to understand political power. He's in the middle of his acclaimed four volume Lyndon Johnson series, but for a
one volume masterpiece this one can't be bettered. Along with Mr. Cramer's book and All the King's Men it forms my personal triumvirate of great American political books.
Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943) (Albert Jay Nock 1872-1945)
[Not 500 pages, but I never miss a chance to plug it. Hard to find, but looks to be available in paperback.]
An idiosyncratic thoroughly charming book by a conservative writing at a time when conservatism appeared dead.
The Last Hero (1990) (Peter Forbath)
[729 pages. Hard to find (though I have four copies and might be convinced to
send you one.)]
Maybe the best historical novel ever written, based on Henry Morton Stanley's expedition up the Congo to relieve the embattled Emin Pasha.
Sweet Soul Music : Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom () (Peter Guralnick)
[448 pages (Close enough). Available in paperback.]
There's no better music writer in America and no better book about American music. If you take this one, you'd better bring some Solomon Burke cds too. His Elvis bio is excellent too.
All the King's Men (1946) (Robert Penn Warren 1905-1989)
[531 pages. Available in a fairly cheap hardcover.]
You might have had to read it for a class and thus ended up hating it. But it is an amazing political fable of good intentions corrupted by political power.
The Pity of War : Explaining World War I (1998) (Niall Ferguson) (Grade: A+)
[608 pages. Available in Paperback.]
I'm especially partial to authors who argue against the conventional wisdom. Mr. Ferguson takes on nearly everything you think you know about WWI.
Falls the Shadow (1989) (Sharon Kay Penman)
[580 pages. Available in paperback.]
Churchill mentions Simon de Montfort as an early hero of democracy in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Ms Penman takes the ball and runs with it. Went to Spring Training one year with married friends. Players went on strike. The couple fought over who got to read the book all week.
The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 (Michael R. Beschloss)
[Looks to be out of print.]
Though Mr. Beschloss is more impressed by the handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis than I, this is a terrific, nearly novelistic, account of the utter hash that a drug-addled and sexually compromised JFK made of American Soviet relations.
The Conservative Mind : from Burke to Eliot (1953) (Russell Kirk 1918-94)
[Clocks in at 535 pages. Nice paperback edition available.]
Kirk is such a good writer that though the topic may appear dry you'll be captivated. Written in sections so if you find you're not particularly interested in one of the authors he's discussing, you can easily skip without losing anything.
Witness (1952) (Whittaker Chambers 1901-61)
[Roughly 800 pages. I'm not familiar with the edition that's available.]
Lost in the controversy between Hiss and Chambers, an understanding of which is central to comprehending mid-Century America, is the fact that Mr. Chambers was a great writer. This book is a psychodrama, a spy thriller, a courtroom story, and a testimony of faith all rolled into one.
Parting the Waters : America in the King Years (1989) (Taylor Branch)
[1064 pages. Available in paperback.]
America has no greater tale to tell than that of the successful and largely peaceful struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Branch tells it well.
A Man In Full (1998) (Tom Wolfe 1931-)
[727 pages. Available in Hardcover.]
One assumes everyone has read The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, but the mixed reviews on this one seem to have turned many folks off. Don't be one of them. It's a terrific satirical social novel that offers a sweeping panorama of America in the 90s.
Coming of Age in the Milky Way (1988) (Timothy Ferris)
[495 pages (so sue me). Available in a nice paperback.]
Mr. Ferris is one of the best popular science writers going--take it from someone who hates science. His history of Cosmology is a thrilling intellectual adventure.
Tai-Pan (James Clavell)
[730 pages. Available in a mass market paperback that might not be ideal for older eyes.
King Rat, Shogun and Noble House are excellent also, but Tai-pan is my favorite. A great anti-anti-colonial novel.
The Russian Revolution (1991) (Richard Pipes)
[944 pages. Available in paperback.]
As Daniel Pipes is to the war on terror, so his Dad was to the Cold War. He was the scourge of fuzzy thinking about the Soviet Union and this great history of the Revolution--from showing why it was not necessary to showing Lenin to be the father of the Terror--is unparalleled.
How Green Was My Valley (1939)(Richard Llewellyn 1906-1983)
[512 pages. Available in paperback.]
Heartbreaking look back at life in a dying Welsh mining village. You won't want it to end and won't ever forget it.
Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001) (Rick Perlstein 1969-)
[671 pages. Available in Hardcover]
The book's worth buying just for the cover. Mr. Perlstein, though a self described "European-style Social Democrat", gives a fair and wonderfully readable account of the rise of grassroots conservatism, culminating in the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater.
Lindbergh (1998) (A. Scott Berg)
[628 pages. Available in paperback.]
All any of us remember is that he flew, he lost a child and he was a Nazi. The last is untrue. The first is far more remarkable than we realize any more. The second is heartbreaking.
And the Band Played On (1987) (Randy Shilts)
[672 pages. Available in paperback.]
Fairly even-handed history of the early years of the AIDs crisis, by one of its victims.
Modern Times : The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (Paul Johnson)
[880 pages. Available in paperback.]
Takes on the convential wisdom decade by decade.
Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories (1992)(Joseph Mitchell 1908-96)
[716 pages. Available in paperback.]
Mr. Mitchell was later to become a staple of fiction himself, as the writer's-blocked old fellow wandering the halls of the New Yorker, but before his pen went dry he wrote some of the best essays--mostly about New York City and its characters--that you'll ever read.
A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and the Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam (1999) (Lewis Sorley 1934-)
[528 pages. Available in Hardcover.]
It's a major rethinking of whether even if we weren't going to "win the Vietnam War we might have at least salvaged South Vietnam and our honor.
The Great Bridge : The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (1972)(David McCullough 1933-) (Grade: A+)
[640 pages. Available in a very nice Hardcover edition.]
Remarkable story about the building of an engineering marvel that the rest of the skyline eventually dwarfed, but never diminished.
Dune (1965)(Frank Herbert 1920-1986) (Grade: A+)
[528 pages. Available in Hardcover.]
An intensely political science fiction novel. I never liked any of the sequels, but this first is terrific and stands alone quite nicely.
Ulysses S. Grant : Soldier & President (1997) (Geoffrey Perret)
[560 pages. Available in paperback.]
Mr. Perret, who writes wonderfully, challenges the caricatures of Grant and refurbishes his tarnished reputation.
Independent People (1946)(Halldor Laxness 1902-98) (Grade: A+)
[480 pages. Available in Hardcover in an excellent translation.]
If you pick this one, take two more. But if you're willing to trust me, it's just an amazing book, in which an Icelandic sheepherder becomes an "epic" hero.
Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (1994) (Gerald Posner)
[600 pages. Available in paperback.]
One of the great feats of debunking as Mr. Posner just shreds every last bit of the JFK conspiracy theories.
Don Quijote (Part 1--1605, Part 2--1615)(Miquel de Cervantes 1547-1616)(translated by Burton Raffel) (Grade: A+)
[Available in a Norton Critical edition paperback.]
For years, you'd start this book with every intention of reading it but be defeated by the translation. That all changed with Burton Raffel's masterful work. It's now very accessible and quite wonderful.
Possession: A Romance (1990)(A.S. [Antonia Susan] Byatt 1936-) (Grade: A+)
[608 pages. Available in a nice Modern Library hardcover.]
A seeming chick book that none of the women I've recommended it to have much liked--just a good literary mystery.
With Fire and Sword (1899) (Henryk Sienkiewicz 1846-1916)
[1135 pages. Hard to find and it's imperative to get the Kuniczak translation (not Curtin)]
The Polish names can make for tough sledding, but once you get into it you'll fly. Sienkiewicz won the Nobel prize and richly deserved it. You might want to start with Quo Vadis? (1896)(Grade: A+) instead.
And, for teens, see :
Mr. Doggett's Suggested Summer Reading for Students
N.B. : Wild Weasel says he's had uniformly good experiences shopping for used copies of books at ABE.
Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow said Wednesday he was trying to restore the Pledge of Allegiance to its pre-1954 version because no one should be forced to worship a religion in which they don't believe. [...]
Even though his daughter wasn't forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, it was wrong to require her to listen to it when she doesn't believe in it, he said. [...]
But Elk Grove parent Kathleen Doncaster, whose daughter attends the school said the Pledge of Allegiance isn't promoting religion.
"It's about being American. He needs to get a hobby," she said.
[U]ndeniably, the terrorist actions of Osama bin Laden have reinvigorated civilizational identity. Just as he sought to rally Muslims by declaring war on the West, he gave back to the West its sense of common identity in defending itself.
John Steinbeck performed a rare feat for a writer of fiction. He created a literary portrait that defined an era. His account of the "Okie Exodus" in The Grapes of Wrath became the principal story through which America defined the experience of the Great Depression. Even today, one of the enduring images for anyone with even a passing familiarity with the 1930s is that of Steinbeck's fictional characters the Joads, an American farming family uprooted from its home by the twin disasters of dust storms and financial crisis to become refugees in a hostile world. Not since Dickens's portrayal of the slums of Victorian England has a novelist produced such an enduring definition of his age. . [...]
Unfortunately for the reputation of the author, however, there is now an accumulation of sufficient historical, demographic, and climatic data about the 1930s to show that almost everything about the elaborate picture created in the novel is either outright false or exaggerated beyond belief.
Analysis of the American experience over the past 40 years shows just how much damage can be done, not by fascism or extremism directly, but by the corruption of the discourse of mainstream politics. A backlash against black migration to the northern cities set off a chain reaction that has frightened even liberals into deriding government, and into looking to corporate business to undertake many of the proper functions of government. In Britain, new Labour is imitating this mistaken strategy.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the American political landscape was transformed by a wave of immigrants. The political failure to handle the fierce resentments set off by that migration has affected not just civil society, but public philosophy as well.
I do not have in mind the 30 million or so immigrants, more than half of them from Latin America, who have settled in the United States as a result of the Kennedy administration's reform of the previously racist immigration law. The migrants I mean are the more than four million black men and women who poured out of the rural south into the slums of northern cities. The reaction to that mass migration has largely (and unjustifiably) discredited the liberal consensus that did so much to civilise American society from the time of the New Deal to that of the Great Society.
WorldCom Inc. said last night it had improperly accounted for $3.8 billion in expenses and would restate its financial results for the last five quarters. The company fired a top financial officer and accepted the resignation of another, and sources said the Justice Department had begun a criminal investigation.
One interesting thing about this current cycle of scandal is that the Right always has a blind spot about business. They think spending programs are all evil, but tax breaks are all great. They rage against any concentration of government power but think monopolies are swell. They want to send welfare cheats to prison, but think Mike Millken is some kind of hero. Usually though you can count on the Left to counteract this tendency somewhat.
Will today's Democrat Party, which is so firmly entrenched in the pockets of business that you can barely see Dick Gephardt's carrot top sticking out, be able to play the role of enforcer on this one? Or are they so compromised that the abuses we're finding will go unrepaired? Has the party of Eleanor Roosevelt become so completely the party of Martha Stewart that they'll be shamed into silence?
These are the kinds of problems we confront now that liberalism has ceased to function as a counterweight to conservatism. The Clintonification of the Democrats served no one but him well.
A Corporate Crisis? No, Just Business As Usual (John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, June 23, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
As we try to make sense of the current corporate meltdown, history suggests three important lessons. First, many of the previous scandals have, by most measures, been rather more serious than today's fuss. Second, the longer-term significance of the scandals is not the wrong-doing of the villains but the remedy society applies. For instance, Tarbell's muckraking journalism helped pave the way for modern antitrust law, and eventually, the dismemberment of Standard Oil in 1907; Insull was often cited as a reason for the regulation of the 1930s. Third, the backlash against corporatemalfeasance can sometimes do more damage than the malfeasance itself.
California's $1 billion-a-year experiment with class size reduction isn't producing the monumental benefits lawmakers had hoped for, according to a study released Tuesday.
The Public Policy Institute of California found that while many schools across the state boosted test scores, other schools appeared to benefit little, if at all, from the class size reduction law that passed in 1996.
Overall, schools that reduced their average class size by 10 students saw the number of third-graders with test scores above the national median jump by only 3 percent to 4 percent, according to the report released by the institute, a San Francisco-based think-tank.
U.S. tennis great Martina Navratilova criticized her adopted homeland in a German newspaper on Wednesday, saying money is the only thing that matters there. [...]
"The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another," said Navratilova, 45, who fled Czechoslovakia at the age of 18 to go to the United States. [...]
"The Republicans in the United States manipulate public opinion and sweep any controversial issues under the table," Navratilova said.
"It's depressing. Decisions in America are based solely on the question of 'how much money will come out of it' and not on the questions of how much health, morals or the environment suffer as a result."
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1954 act of Congress inserting the phrase "under God" after the words "one nation" in the pledge. The court said the phrase violates the so-called Establishment Clause in the Constitution that requires a separation of church and state.
"A profession that we are a nation `under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation `under Jesus,' a nation `under Vishnu,' a nation `under Zeus,' or a nation `under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.
It is hard for me to to believe that America wouldn't be a better place if we turned al Qaeda loose in the 9th Circuit's chambers for about an hour.
Here's Professor Volokh's take.
Your remarks are indeed rational : "Have them attack you and then respond."
I will reiterate that we should realize by now what "rational" means in this neck of the woods. We're not exactly in "win-win" land.
Your point, however, raises several serious questions:
1. If it is practically certain that Israel will be attacked, why should she create conditions that will abet the attacker? (By the way, Charles Krauthammer addresses this more eloquently than I ever could in a recent column in the Washington Post, if you haven't seen it already.)
Should she do this merely to kill more people? To raise the heat a bit more? To waste more of her resources? To further guarantee her status as "pariah state" (as well as the US, her "sponsor")? To be sure, the Palestinians will continue attacking because they have been encouraged to continue. I am convinced that their attitude goes something like this: "We will destroy you because we don't believe that you have the will to destroy us. And if you do have the will to destroy us, our friends and allies in the Arab/Moslem world and in Europe, in Russia and in China, will not allow you to destroy us. And even if you succeed in destroying us, you will in the process be destroying yourselves." (This, by the way, could be a paraphrase for Al Qaida too, vis a vis the US)
Attacks will continue because nothing Israel grants the Palestinian Authority (short of agreeing to disappear) will appease them. Attacks will be by "terrorists" or "freedom fighters" what have you. They will likely be with whatever weaponry they can get, Katyusha missiles, artillery, (gas?) etc. Following the most effective model of Hizbullah in Lebanon, the missiles will be concentrated among civilian sites (i.e., cities and towns). How do you expect that the "world" will accept an Israeli response to this when they don't even now accept Israeli attempts to curb attacks on its civilians, referring it to "retaliation" and "illegitimate" (or "excessive") use of force.
2. What about pre-emption? As a sovereign nation, Palestinians will attempt to build up their arsenal as fast as they can. To prevent this build-up (which already started, it seems, as soon as Olso was signed--and aided by Israeli "donations" of automatic weapons "to help the Palestinian Authority "fight terrorism"--not bad as jokes go), Israel will be forced to pre-empt, but she will not be able to so easily (look at the situation in South Lebanon). Once again, as time marches on (our Arab brothers have learned patience, alas) and Israel is further weakened, as the squeeze gets tighter, you don't have to be too too imaginative to figure out the next move.
What I think you're saying, Orrin (and you may be right--I'm just expressing reservations), is: "They'll attack you, as certain as the night follows day, but you'll be able to whack 'em for it. And you'll be supported in it."
1. Why should more Israelis have to be killed for this "privilege" and why more Palestinians too (though they'll benefit for sure from the sympathy)? I guess this is a dumb question, for 'tis the way of the world?...
2. Why should Israel so obviously further endanger herself?
3. What if people get so tired of the events in this sorry region that they just "turn off" (especially if the US has its hands full with Al Qaida) and tell Israel to solve its own problems? Or even worse, for if Israel, in the words of the French Ambassador to England, is "That sh[odd]y little country that stands in the way of world peace" (I'm paraphrasing), why not just come to the conclusion that the world will be better off without her? Sounds reasonable to me, according to that line of thinking....
4. And what happens when you will get countries like Syria, Iraq, Iran and likely Egypt saying, "Any attack on Palestine is an attack on all of us," even as Israel is being herself attacked?
5. Besides, your view on the difficulty of fighting terror because it's stateless (i.e., it's easier to fight it when it's part of an actual country), seems to be disproved by the Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is part of the government.
Why should the ante have to rise before people wake up? It's just the Oslo accords all over again, except that the stakes for Israel are way higher. And there's no reason at all to believe that the Palestinian response to the concessions offered in 2001 will be any different the next time. There's every reason to think they will try to exploit their opportunity to destroy Israel to the fullest.
Anyway, thanks again for your time,
Tel Aviv, Israel
Thanks, Mr. Meislin for your questions and comments. I fear I've been unclear here. Let me try to rectify that :
(1) As a starting point, I don't believe there is any situation under which America would abandon its support of Israel--which means that Israeli security is guaranteed. Nor do I think there is any scenario one can envision in which Israel could lose a war with Palestine or, in fact, with the entire Arab world. I believe you are right that radical Islamic terror strategy is based on the assumption that Western democracy is fundamentally effete and will not do what is needed even to guarantee its own survival. But this belief is obviously mistaken as our atomic bombing of Japan, our firebombing of everywhere from Dresden to Tokyo and any number of bombing tactics used in Vietnam should have amply demonstrated by now. As Victor Davis Hanson has most capably written, democracies are actually the most bloodthirsty and destructive war-making powers the world has ever seen when once roused to self-righteous anger. No political system is more willing to target civilians, perhaps because no system gives citizens greater power and responsibility. If necessary, does anyone doubt that Israel and maybe even the U.S. will use nuclear weapons on the Islamic world rather than lose such a war?
So what we are discussing here is really just the terms of Palestine's loss. They get their state sooner or later. What is being decided is now is how the defeat is administered and how many of them are still alive when they get it. If they could grasp the olive branch today it would be all of them, but they can't. So they will in all likelihood have to be brutally crushed by Israel first. This brings us to the question of whether it is in Israel's best interest to crush an occupied people or to defeat a rival sovereign nation.
(2) It is our contention that Israel would be better served by creating a Palestinian state itself, with American connivance, so that when the final conflict comes it is waged against the state of Palestine, rather than against Palestinian occupants of Israeli territory. The analogy we'd make is to America's own conflicts with Indians, on the one hand, and with blacks, on the other. Because blacks were an integral part of American society and the body politic, Southern (for the most part) oppression of them was a festering sore for hundreds of years. It led to immense guilt and a kind of psychoses on the part of the white oppressors, which continues to this day as we try to buy off our consciences with everything from affirmative action to talk of reparations for slavery.
Contrast this with the relatively guilt-free way in which we look back at our annihilation of the Indians and our conquest of their territory (or of Mexican territory for that matter). This difference in national psychology may be a function of dubious moral reasoning--perhaps it shouldn't matter that we called one group a nation and the other fellow citizens--but it is nonetheless real and has significant political consequences. It simply is the case that you can exterminate the Maori as long as you treat them as a foreign power, but you can't treat minorities within your own state harshly without provoking international indignation.
But the reasons for our assertion that statehood serves Israel go beyond mere appearances. For one thing it seems likely that at least some of the attention and energy of Palestine's leadership would be consumed by the massive task of administering a state. And it seems that statehood would take some of the passion out of the Palestinian cause. "Live Free or Die" is an easier cause to rally folks to than "54-40 or Fight". Reduce the conflict to a dispute over borders and you may be able to suck some of the air out of a balloon that's near bursting right now.
In addition, it's fairly easy for terrorists to hide within a civilian population. It will be much harder for the leaders of a nation to hide themselves. And, once out of hiding, they are ready and easy targets. The IDF hesitates now before putting a rocket down Arafat's gullet. But make him the leader of Palestine. Tell him that further attacks are acts of war. And then when the next attack inevitably comes, kill him. What was an assassination becomes a mere response to provocation. He's just as dead either way, but there is a difference between the two situations in the eyes of the world.
Suppose instead that the Palestinians manage to (mostly) reign themselves in for a while and try to develop a real military. This would be ideal. Let them collect their young men of fighting age and their armaments into central locations. what more inviting targets could the Israeli military ask for? At that point seize on any provocation or create one and then launch a pre-emptive strike which would truly cripple the Palestinian ability to continue a campaign of violence against Israel.
In short, Israel should announce today that it recognizes the state of Palestine, its borders being the territory that the PLA now administers. The U.S. would likely join in such a declaration, along with several other Israeli allies. Tell Arafat that if they want more land they have to take it but that any further violence against Israel or its citizens will be considered an act of war and will be responded to as such. I fail to see how this negatively impacts Israeli security. In fact, judging from the timing of terrorist attacks, one suspects this is the worst nightmare of the PLO and Hamas. So let's cram a state right down their throats.
Wicked anti-Semitism is back. The worst crackpot notions that circulate through the violent Middle East are also roaming around America, and if that wasn't bad enough, students are spreading the gibberish. Students! As if the bloc to which we have long looked for intelligent dissent has decided to junk any pretense of standards.
A student movement is not just a student movement. It's a student movement. Students, whether they are progressive or not, have the responsibility of knowing things, of thinking and discerning, of studying. A student movement should maintain the highest of standards, not ape the formulas of its elders or outdo them in virulence.
It should therefore trouble progressives everywhere that the students at San Francisco State are neither curious nor revolted by the anti-Semitic drivel they are regurgitating. The simple fact that a student movement -- even a small one -- has been reduced to reflecting the hatred spewed by others should profoundly trouble anyone whose moral principles aim higher than simple nationalism -- as should be the case for anyone on the left.
[C]hickens are playing tic-tac-toe against gamblers at the Tropicana Casino Resort. Chickens sit in glass boxes playing tic-tac-toe against us, and they win. Happens all the time. The casino unleashed the chickens upon the gaming public last September, and they've won all but three matches. In the unlikely event that you beat the chicken, the house pays $10,000.
Pressured by Israel and a suspicious United States, Syria is taking steps to build a loose-knit regional alliance by turning its immediate neighbors from potential enemies into useful allies.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is reversing decades of hostility and mistrust with Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. With military and economic delegations dispatched to Ankara and Baghdad in the past week, Syria and its neighbors are also preparing for the potential ramifications of a Washington-led drive to unseat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, analysts say.
If these two countries have decided that their future lies with Syria and Iraq instead of with the West then maybe we are headed toward a semi-apocalyptic clash of civilizations. In the face of such an alliance I would have no trouble admitting that I've been wrong and that Islam may be irredeemable.
The possibility of such a widening of the axis of evil would seem to offer ample reason to depose Saddam sooner rather than later, before such relations can develop too much further.
(Well, okay, just one, and not a fellow blogger [you know who you are] but a Timesman. Here's a piece by Frank Rich that was merely dim-sighted when he wrote it but in retrospect is obviously dim-witted : The Bush Doctrine, R.I.P.. Okay, one more, the obligatory dose of Kristol meth about Bush wobbling : Lost in the Wilderness : The Middle East gets worse and worse for the administration.)
Instead, let us celebrate the perceptive among the cognoscenti. Rare were the voices of reason raised in the administration's defense, but Tom Friedman's was one :
President Bush's speech last week was particularly important because he put America in exactly the role it should be playing: restoring clear lines. He drew a clear line for Israelis - that no matter how many settlements they've built, any peace deal has to be based on the 1967 lines. He drew a clear line for Palestinians - that suicide bombers are not "martyrs, they're murderers."
But Mr. Bush did not draw the line down the middle. He was more critical of Mr. Arafat than Mr. Sharon because he knows something the Arabs have consistently tried to ignore: Ariel Sharon did not come from outer space. He was elected only after Mr. Arafat walked away from the best opportunity ever for creating a Palestinian state: the Clinton plan. Mr. Arafat deliberately chose to use military pressure, instead of diplomacy or nonviolence, to extract more out of Israel, and Israelis turned to Mr. Sharon as their revenge. This context is critical, and Mr. Bush has refused to ignore it.
A firm U.S. hand in redrawing all the fudged lines is our only hope. Otherwise the distinction between the sane center and the extremists, in both communities, will become totally blurred, with the hard-liners calling all the shots.
Here's another, from the day of that speech, that we here are kinda proud of :
FORCING THE CONTRADICTIONS (Thursday, April 04, 2002) :
This was the President's strongest statement since the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 bombings, as he issued an ultimatum to Palestine, Syria and Iran ordering them to choose sides in the war on terrorism. His requirement that Palestinians cease attacking Israel and that Syria and Iran cease aiding terrorists confronts them all with choices that may have terrible consequences. There may still be time for the other two nations to draw back from the brink, but by drawing a line in the sand at a point where it is almost inevitable that the Palestinians will cross it, President Bush seems to have laid the groundwork for a full scale American tilt towards Israel.
Yasar Arafat has always had a genius for saving his own skin, but one doubts that the Palestinians are any longer capable of accepting this final offer of peace; they seem too much in love with death. So the further terror attacks that they will almost certainly launch, or permit to be launched, will in effect make it their own fault that the U.S. sides with Israel. Even more important, by speaking out so forcefully against Hamas, which seems the only potential successor organization to Arafat's PLO, the President basically warned that the next Palestinian leadership is already part of the axis of evil. Palestine's only options appear to be immediate peace or a future war with both Israel and America, a war that they can't conceivably win. Pretty grim prognosis, eh?
If you heard the speech it was really striking how much the language and the tone in which the President delivered it resembled those earlier speeches in which he declared war on al Qaeda. We certainly don't view the suicide bombers as legitimate warriors, but the Palestinians and many others in the Islamic world do; yet the President referred to them as "murderers". That's very harsh, though entirely appropriate, and indicates a real disregard for Palestinian popular opinion and desires, as does his statement that the situation Arafat finds himself in his largely of his own making. It sure sounded like the President is prepared to consider this conflict to be the next front in the war on terror and Palestinian terror organizations, including the PLO, to be the next target.
ONE TRICK PONY :
Bush's Speech : Yesterday the president cut through the diplomatic double-speak and expanded on his bold vision for American foreign policy. (William Kristol, 06/25/2002, Weekly Standard)
President Bush rose to the occasion yesterday. As he did in his speech to Congress on September 20, in his State of the Union address on January 29, and in his West Point speech on June l, he rose above the morass of diplomatic double-speak and the in-fighting of his own administration, left behind the tired and failed formulas of the past, and charted a new course for American foreign policy.
UPDATE II :
IF YOU AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE, YOU DON'T NEED A MAP :
Making Bush's Vision Realistic (DENNIS
ROSS, 6/26/02, NY Times)
The vision Mr. Bush outlined in his speech on Monday is forceful, but it is far more an exhortation for reform than a plan. Even as
exhortation it faces significant problems. What happens, for example, if Yasir Arafat, still an important symbol for many Palestinians, is re-elected in
free and fair elections early next year? How will President Bush go about making his vision of transformation a reality? Will he give the Palestinian
people a way to achieve what they need to achieve? Will his statement this week have any more effect than Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech
last fall or his own speech on April 4?
I hope so, but I am doubtful. The words are right, but I do not see the mechanism for connecting diplomacy to the realities on the ground. Secretary Powell has been asked by Mr. Bush to work intensively with others "on a comprehensive plan to support Palestinian reform and institution building." Who on the Palestinian side will he work with? In the period before elections and the creation of new institutions, who other than the remnants of the Palestinian Authority can Secretary Powell find to stop the violence? And make no mistake: no diplomatic effort, no reform process, no political talks will have any chance of success if the violence continues, because the day-to-day situation of terrorism and reprisals is a force that will continue to overwhelm any plan.
President Bush's long-awaited speech Monday marked a decisive break with his administration's on-again, off-again approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Never again can he pretend, as he did for months, that the United States can conduct a war on terrorism and at the same time remain aloof from the spiraling Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
With his speech yesterday, President Bush disengaged from the Palestinian problem and gave Israel carte blanche to do whatever it deems necessary. He did so by setting the bar to further negotiations so high that the Palestinians can't clear it. No leader can come to power there who doesn't bear the taint of having been involved in terrorism, so there's no one for us to negotiate with. Israel will have to settle this militarily and then dictate terms to whatever is left of the Palestinians. That's where this has always been headed, but it would be better to follow this course against a Palestinian state than against an occupied territory, solely for reasons of appearance.
Leading congressional Democrats are increasingly concerned that party critics of Israel are helping drive Jewish voters, donors and opinion leaders toward the Republican Party, according to Democratic strategists and leaders.
While support of Israel is strong among most Democrats and their leaders, a small but significant faction is openly questioning whether the Bush administration has tilted too far in favor of Israel. They include some of the most senior members of the House, as well as a sizable number of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Sitting at my desk last week, preparing to write a column about the Black Rod affair, I found myself leafing through Ian Kershaw's massive biography of Adolf Hitler.
Something had stirred in my mind - something to do with Tony Blair's assertion that his officials had made all those phone calls without his knowledge. What was it?
Ah yes. Here it was. Page 529. A speech made in 1934 by the chief civil servant at the German ministry of agriculture, trying to explain to his colleagues how they should cope with the country's charismatic new leader: "Everyone with opportunity to observe it knows that the Fuhrer can only with great difficulty order from above everything that he intends to carry out sooner or later.
"On the contrary, until now everyone has best worked in his place in the new Germany if, so to speak, he works towards the Fuhrer."
Professor Kershaw believes this phrase is crucial to understanding what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945. Ambitious officials fell over one another to "work towards the Fuhrer", trying to give the Boss what he wanted before he even asked for it, and in this way the whole sophisticated system of Prussian government, far from acting as a brake on Hitler (as most observers had expected) became an accelerator.
The United States first began wooing Chile as a free-trade partner more than a decade ago, only to back away when it came time to commit. Now the courtship has resumed, but American negotiators are finding to their chagrin that not only are they just one of many suitors, but they may no longer even be the preferred partner.
Reflecting the new pecking order, President Ricardo Lagos went to Spain in May to sign a sweeping accord that establishes the European Union as Chile's closest economic and political ally. From start to finish, the negotiations took less than three years.
"We always thought an agreement with the United States would come before one with Europe," said Ronald Bown Fernández, president of the Chilean Exporters Association. "Europe, after all, is 15 countries trying to speak as one. But after a dozen years of promises and nothing more from the Americans, both the government and the private sector here are disillusioned."
In many ways the president's new policy is a vindication of Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, who left Prime Minister Ehud Barak's government on the eve of the July 2000 Camp David peace summit on the grounds that Arafat's word could not be trusted.
Bush's speech yesterday echoed Sharansky's call for democratic reforms inside the Palestinian Authority as a precondition for ending terror. Calling for new and democratic political and economic institutions, Bush said: "The Palestinian state will never be created by terror. It will be built through reform, and reform must be more than cosmetic change or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo."
The Oslo "peace process" was born on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993. It died yesterday in the White House Rose Garden. [...]
For years, the US acted as if the real obstacle to peace was Israel's reluctance to give up land. The great breakthrough in this speech was the unmistakable shift in the US interpretation of the "root causes" of the conflict. The concept of land for peace has been relegated to where it should have been all along: a reflection or ratification of peace, rather than its source or cause.
In all history, no two mature democracies have ever warred with each other, an axiom that applies to the Middle East no less than to Europe or the Americas. Now the President has noted this fact, and embraced its wisdom.
For this alone, he stands at the cusp of greatness.
[I]n 1998, Labour decided to set up extra speed surveillance cameras in eight areas. The results were significant, sometimes spectacular: in Northamptonshire, for example, the numbers killed or seriously injured fell by 30 per cent. Moreover, surveys showed majority public support for the cameras. Yet, after a shameful press campaign, egged on by the Tories, ministers agreed that, when the scheme went national, its effectiveness should be reduced.
Yasser Arafat, the seemingly immortal leader of the Palestinian national movement, was politically assassinated Monday by President George W. Bush.
His role as Israel's prospective partner in any future diplomatic process was effectively snuffed out by a stern-sounding American president, delivering his verdict on two years of violent intifada and his recipe for a turnabout towards peace in this war-torn region.
Bush's verdict: Arafat is the guilty party. [...]
Bush's sentence was brutal and unequivocal: "Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership," he pronounced.
George J. Tenet, the American director of central intelligence, came to Morocco in February on a special mission, to secure the kingdom's help in quelling any future terror attacks, Moroccan and Western officials said.
He had scraps of information gleaned from suspects being held at Camp Delta at Guant·namo Bay, Cuba, those officials said, and was pursuing tips about Al Qaeda operatives in Morocco and their possible plans for attacks.
He brought up his concerns in a meeting with King Mohammed VI and the country's intelligence chief, and he was promised full cooperation, Moroccan officials said.
Within days, Moroccan intelligence agents were at Guantanamo Bay, helping question Moroccan prisoners and drawing a sketchy portrait of a mysterious senior Qaeda operative believed to be orchestrating a plot in Morocco.
The initial result of that unusual cooperation came last week. Moroccan authorities charged three Saudis and four Moroccans with plotting to use explosive-packed boats to attack American and British ships in the Strait of Gibraltar.
What this president desperately needs is a few more geeky, scholarly analysts with thick glasses and shameful physiques, poring over memos and intelligence feeds at the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A.
Toned bodies are well and good. But how about some toned minds?
Maybe it's time for a new set of Fourth of July orations. Only at first blush is there silliness to the idea of the United States--the nation of the Minutemen, John and Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson--becoming a hereditary economic aristocracy. When you think about it, there is evidence for serious concern.
If we ignore the politics and the achievements of all these men and look only at the likelihood of corruption as a function of socio-economic birth status, it seems fair to say that nothing is a better predictor of personal corruption in office than having been born poor and chosen politics as a career. On the other hand, there's no better predictor of honesty than hereditary wealth.
Sen. John McCain vowed Monday to block confirmation of all Bush administration nominations until a replacement is installed for a lame duck Federal Election Commission member who helped approve controversial campaign fund-raising rules.
In a letter to Senate leaders, the Arizona Republican pledged to object to action on "any nominee" unless Ellen Weintraub is confirmed by early August or President Bush agrees to bypass the Senate and make the appointment on his own.
When Otto von Bismarck said that, "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America", he may as well have meant that God would not allow such a self-absorbed, tempermental, autocrat to become president with a crisis coming.
Though Bush's embrace of an interim state is highly conditional, his plan will be harmful to him nonetheless--morally, strategically, and politically. The moral angle is quite simple: He's rewarding Palestinian terrorism. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has failed to deliver a promised speech denouncing suicide bombings, and he hasn't arrested any Palestinian terrorists either. Yet his regime would suddenly be moved a large step closer to full statehood. And Bush would also weaken his brave and lonely support of Israel as it suffers relentless terrorist attacks.
(1) Will it be a state five to ten years from now?
The answer is unequivocally, yes. In fact, it will likely become a recognized state by the end of 2003.
(2) Is Israel (and thereby the U.S.) better served by a Palestinian state that can be held accountable for violence and treated as harshly as any other sovereign state or by a Palestine that is occupied territory, with its people under the nominal control of Israel and, therefore, able to claim the status of civilians?
The answer to this one seems obvious too.
After five years of mismanagement and deception, Amtrak's new and highly touted management has unwisely raised the stakes beyond credibility. [...]
The Bush Administration should meet this challenge head on and implement a strategy to keep Amtrak's profitable service lines in operation. The administration should seek whatever legal or administrative strategy available to bring Amtrak under control. Either bankruptcy or a form of federal administration, under which a trustee would continue to operate trains and undertake the financial reforms that have so long been avoided by Amtrak's management and board of directors. Whether they know it or not, Dave Gunn, the Congress and the Bush Administration are embroiled in a game of brinkmanship and Mr. Gunn has raised the stakes well beyond what he or Amtrak can sustain. Neither Congress nor the President should blink.
Even libertarians typically pay lip service to the need to have a transportation system that the central government has some legitimate role in maintaining. Why not railways? Can anyone help here?
President Bush, revealing a long-awaited new Middle East policy, called on the Palestinian people this afternoon to choose new leadership, as a step toward coexistence with Israel and eventually the creation of a Palestinian state.
"Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born," said Bush, who was flanked by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in the humid Rose Garden. "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror."
The situation is inexact but, suppose that the Brits had told us after Yorktown that we could have our own country so long as no one who had fought against the Crown led our government. Is that an offer we could have accepted?
I used to be bothered and embarrassed when strangers mistook me for a man, especially when it happened in public restrooms. I felt left out by what Foucaultians and other leftist intellectuals like to call "gender norms." I didn't fit, and to me the fault lay with--to borrow another radical's pet phrase--the heterosexist hegemony, the insidiousness of which had made me into a pariah among my own sex and a virtual Medusa in the eyes of the opposite sex. And all this because I had a boy's wardrobe, short hair, masculine features and a deep voice. Go figure. If the world couldn't see me through my disguise, I thought, it was the world, not I, who was going to have to change.
And that, in a nutshell, is what leftist gay politics is all about. Making the world change to suit the outcast. Not an ignoble cause on the face ofit. Everyone deserves respect, after all, as well as a certain degree of recognition. This is no less than the founding principle of our Bill of Rights. All libertarian-minded folk are in harmony with left liberals on this point--even gay conservatives, whom Village Voice Senior Editor RichardGoldstein has dubbed "homocons."
Any informed conservative is reluctant to condense profound and intricate intellectual systems to a few portentous phrases; he prefers to leave that technique to the enthusiasm of radicals. Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the time. As a working premise, nevertheless, one can observe here that the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions. Conservatives respect the wisdom of their ancestors...; they are dubious of wholesale alteration. They think society is a spiritual reality, possessing an eternal life but a delicate constitution: it cannot be scrapped and recast as if it were a machine.
Not so long ago, in 1999 and 2000, Bill Clinton was hosting conferences of "third way" center-left politicians, including the heads of government of the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy. Today only one, Tony Blair, is still securely in power; another, Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, is trailing in polls in the run-up to the September election; all the rest are out of office, replaced by parties of the right. The right has also recently ousted the center-left in Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, and Austria, and conservative governments were handsomely re-elected in Spain and Australia. At one moment, the "third way" seemed to be sweeping all before it with a Goldilocks formula of not too much government and not too much free market; now it seems to be losing everywhere. Are we seeing a worldwide trend to the right?
If even you say that the other guy's basically right and your argument is reduced to nothing more than we might be able to implement his ideas a little better, why shouldn't the voters choose the true believers instead of the Johnny-Come-Latelys? Sure, every once in awhile, particularly during an economic downturn, you can sneak through an Ike or a Clinton, but most of the time you end up trotting out a Wendell Willkie or a Tom Dewey to say "me too". Me-tooism is a singularly unappealing political; philosophy. It is the doctrine of a follower, not a leader.
Al Gore's nostalgic New Deal class warfare candidacy may have been based on policy that would have been disastrous for the nation, but it represented a genuine attempt to lead the country in a different direction than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had agreed on. This may well be one of the major reasons why he "won".
Today, the Left finds itself stuck not only accepting the free market argument but also, and more problematically, the cultural case that conservatism has made for two centuries. The spectacle of Democrats and European Socialists defending Western Civilization may be more than voters can bear, the dissonance too much for them to handle. It's one thing for Bill Clinton to say the era of big government is over, but one assumes that even he couldn't have gotten away with leading what amounts to a crusade on behalf of Judeo-Christendom. It remains to be seen whether a politician of the Left can enunciate such a conservative social program and be taken seriously. And considering the difficulty that Tony Blair is having keeping his Labour Party in line as he helps lead the crusade, one has to question whether such a candidate can appeal to his own party to a sufficient degree to win its nomination. How would Democrats feel, after all, if one of their own gave a speech as overtly religious in tone as the one President Bush gave at the National Prayer Service after 9-11, particularly since such an introduction of religion to the national conversation by a Democrat would tend to legitimize the more ambitious religiosity of Republicans?
The Left seems to be helping to erect a tightrope that it's not entirely clear anyone can safely walk. What Mr. Barone calls a "Goldilocks" approach on the economy is now necessary on geopolitics and social policy too. That's a lot of porridge to keep at just the right temperature.
In all of American history, only two men -- Warren Harding and John Kennedy -- have gone straight from the Senate to the White House. Bob Dole in 1996 was the last sitting senator to win a party nomination (though he resigned his Senate seat a few months before the convention) and, like most of his predecessors, he was whomped in the election.
In 2000, two men who had spent most or all of their public careers as senators, Al Gore and Bill Bradley, and a sitting senator, John McCain, were in the race -- and all three lost.
In a state as big and diverse as California, one broadcast ad will not make or break a political campaign. Still, the ad Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon Jr. began running last week is both noteworthy and praiseworthy.
It is noteworthy because it was the first ad that Simon's campaign broadcast in an uphill effort to unseat Gov. Gray Davis. The better-funded Davis campaign has been hammering away at Simon with its own TV ads for weeks now.
Even more intriguing, however, is the language that Simon's campaign team opted to use in its first ad--Spanish. The new Simon ad will be used on both radio and TV stations to "introduce" the GOP candidate to a group of voters he has made only a minimal effort to woo thus far, California's more than 400,000 newly enfranchised Latino voters.
It is also noteworthy that a California Republican would make such a dramatic, and potentially controversial, gesture to seek Latino voters' support.After all, most political analysts trace the GOP's current weak position in California to 1994, when then-Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, linked his reelection campaign to Proposition 187, the ballot initiative to bar illegal immigrants from schools and other publicly funded services.
[I]n a state where the Democratic Party is large and liberalism strong, Michael Wissot proves the ideological home of Ronald Reagan remains brilliantly alive.
Wissot proves the GOP is still California's party of optimism and growth because of an idea -- recited like an engraver's seal, before images of Reagan's heroic actions -- that motivates all voters: the idea that public schools must improve, taxes lower and independence thrive. These ideas are the same principles that will not only energize California's Republican Party, but inspire voters from other political persuasions.
The New York Times on the Web
Monday, June 24, 2002
QUOTE OF THE DAY :
"I cannot tell you how serious this is. This is like a freight train coming at us."
-GOV. JANE DEE HULL, on the wildfires in Arizona.
The Republican-controlled House faces a politically painful decision in the coming week about whether to give in to increasingly urgent demands from the Bush administration for action to avert a government financial crisis, the latest example of the White House economic agenda's becoming trapped in partisan gridlock.
The administration is likely to succeed in its efforts to persuade the House to support an increase in the legal limit on the national debt, because failure to do so would leave the government unable to borrow enough money to meet all its obligations starting at the end of the week.
The reluctance of House Republicans to take up the issue, and the eagerness of Democrats in both chambers to emphasize it, is the newest skirmish in the fight over whether the tax cut pushed through Congress last year by President Bush has proved to be too expensive.
As we now know from various reports in the media and internal reviews, part of the reason that al Qaeda was able to strike on our shores on September 11th was because even our national security services have grown bloated and wasteful to the point where their effectiveness is diminished. Meanwhile, the failure to seriously reduce the federal budget after the end of the Cold War has left us with an overall government that costs in excess of two trillion dollars ever year.
If you started reading the Federal Budget on January first and you did continued to read it for eight hours every day, as if just the reading of it were your full time job, never mind understanding it all or making judgments about what you're reading, you could not finish your task by the end of the year. No one in the executive knows what all's in the budget when we propose it. No one in the Congress knows what's in the budget when they pass it. We just keep piling money higher, hoping to demonstrate that we care, yet we have no idea as a nation how our money is being spent. We just know that many of the problems we originally targeted the money at--from education to health care to the environment--remain, most of them no better, or even worse, than they were when we started.
And so tonight, I ask the American people to make a tremendous sacrifice, one worthy of them and of a great nation at war. Tonight we ask Congress to pass legislation that will sunset, end, every program, agency, position, and tax provision of the federal government over the next five years--20% each year, with the specific budget items to be decided by a small working group from the respective congressional budget committees and the OMB.
Over the next five years, let's not kid ourselves, many of these departments and jobs and tax breaks will simply be reapproved--such is the nature of democratic politics. But we will give ourselves a unique opportunity to examine the massive Federal Government and to make cuts where they make sense. Our goal and the end of that five year period should be to reduce--in absolute, not relative, terms--the expenditures of the Federal government by 10%. As a part of this overall effort, and to demonstrate that the commitment to streamlining government begins here--we will be introducing plans to reduce the size of the executive branch down to six, or less, cabinet level positions--with only Interior, War, National Security, and Finance absolutely required.
This endeavor does not mark any lessening of our commitment to friends, neighbors and fellow citizens in need. It marks, instead, a moment we must all ask less of government and expect more of ourselves. It will be up to each of us to not only pick up the slack in our own financial situations but to lend a helping hand, through local churches, unions, citizens groups, and the like. It is a chance, perhaps our last, to restore a sense of community in America and to revitalize our civil society.
Since September 11th, we've received tens of thousands of letters from citizens asking what they can do to help. We've seen a spirit reborn that many thought was long dead in America, a spirit of giving and caring and sharing. Tonight I ask the American people to join together to make sure this spirit does not fade again, but instead resumes its place at the heart of our nation. Thank you and God Bless you and the United States of America.
Six distinct calls for Palestinian reform and elections are being uttered now: five of them [Sharon, the United States, Arab leaders, the Europeans, and Yasser Arafat and his circle of associates] are, for Palestinian purposes, both useless and irrelevant. [...]
Sixth, finally, is the Palestinian people who are now justifiably clamouring both for reform and elections. As far as I am concerned, this clamour is the only legitimate one of the six I have outlined here. [...]
We have never faced a worse, or at the same time, a more seminal moment. [...]
[O]ur society has been nearly wrecked by poor leadership and the insanity of thinking that suicide bombing will lead directly to an Islamic Palestinian state.
Leftist parties have always focused on economics in general and income redistribution in particular. Indeed, most modern social-democratic parties were founded as a political expression of the labor movement's demand for industrial fairness. When such parties existed before the age of the unions, labor has taken them over, as with the Democratic Party in the mid-20th century United States.
But economics no longer work as a key political issue. Globalism determines the winners and losers of the economic game much more than any national policies. International bankers are replacing nation-state presidents and premiers as the key movers and shakers in the markets. The left's agenda is a fantasy. Voters realize that a promise to raise incomes is as serious as one to change the weather. (Indeed, with the saliency of global warming and climate change as issues, perhaps the weather is more amenable to political intervention.) [...]
Can the left come back? Absolutely. [...]
The enterprising Social Democrat will find a plethora of values positions on which to run in place of the traditional bread-and-butter issues. Global warming, pollution, education standards and healthcare reform, for example, are great issues for any liberal candidate.
Having greeted their theses with derision when they were propounded, we all now embrace the two most profound conservative cultural critics of recent decades, accepting, as Samuel Huntington, said that this is a Clash of Civilizations and, as Francis Fukuyama said, that the West's form of liberal capitalist protestant democracy represents the "End of History", the ideal system of human governance. And, combining the two, we demonstrate a growing willingness to hasten other civilizations towards that end. After nearly a century of liberalism, humanism, anti-imperialism and the rest, a time during which intellectual elites had little difficulty dismissing conservative warnings about the erosion of Western Culture, there's suddenly a mammoth lurch back to the Right, an eager defense of the traditional culture that must now be seen as having uniquely provided the basis for the End of History and as having given us the wherewithal to triumph in the Clash. It must come as no surprise that in concert with this megatrend there's been a rise in the political fortunes of political parties of the Right and a precipitous decline of parties of the Left, who have after all been busy for a century telling us that culture doesn't matter and that our civilization is no better than any other. As the great Malcolm X said : "the chickens have come home to roost".
And how does Dick Morris believe the Left can latch onto this phenomenon? By advocating environmental issues, education spending, and greater social welfare benefits. Is it possible to more completely misunderstand the world around you? Dick Morris, like his vile acolyte Bill Clinton, is an unserious man who was well-suited to an unserious time--the 1990s. The Reverend Jerry Falwell and the Reverend Pat Robertson were roundly condemned when in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 they suggested that it might represent an angry God's judgment upon a people and a culture that had debased themselves. Yet, who among us did not feel a surge of some inchoate emotion that told us that at last we had a serious purpose to pursue as a nation? Who in those heady days and after did not feel that America and her people were better on the 12th than they had been on the 10th? Who in these months has not hugged a child closer, been nicer to a neighbor, thought more deeply about our place in the universe, been, quite simply, a better, more worthy, person than they had been? Who did not hear and respond to President Bush's summons to be once again a great people and to be steadfast in our defense and vindication of our too degraded culture?
And Dick Morris thinks that what we want right now is environmentalism, socialism, and the like? Dick Morris looks out across the vast American vista and he sees a people coming toward Washington with hands outstretched. A child of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s he knows them to be coming to make demands on government, to declare, like Bellow's Henderson the Rain King : I want, I want, I want... But the world has shifted out from under him. Those outstretched hands belong to people saying : I have, I have, I have, I have so much more than I need and I want so much to share. Some of the hands bear bread and some bear arms, but all seek, as Americans have so often before, to do for others, either to free or to feed the people of Afghanistan and beyond. They wait to be summoned to some great task, to be asked to go beyond themselves. It's unlikely this moment will last. It's unlikely they'll be asked to be great, to, for example, give up their dependence on government. But the opportunity is here. And all the Dick Morrises of the world can think to do is offer them a pay off?
Thank God the Age of Morris and Clinton is over. Good bye and good riddance.
In greater numbers than ever, China's villagers are using inexpensive prenatal scans and then abortion to prevent the birth of unwanted daughters and to ensure that they will bear a son, recent studies and census data show.
Through the last decade, a time of rapid economic growth, the gap between male and female births only widened, giving China the largest gender disparity among newborns of any country in the world. In pockets of the countryside the imbalance is staggering, with births of as many as 144 boys recorded for every 100 girls. [...]
Demographers predict serious practical effects for Chinese society as a result of the growing imbalance. The abduction of women in remote areas, for sale to villagers desperate for a wife, is already a chronic problem and could intensify.
Social scientists also speculate about the disruptive effects another decade or two from now, when there will be tens of millions of excess men in a country with a population of more than 1.3 billion, unable to marry and likely to be concentrated on the bottom rungs of society.
Mickey Kaus has shown why welfare supports terrorism. But could it be that Europe's over-regulated labor markets do the same?
Conservative magazines such as National Review and The Weekly Standard would have us believe that by remaining indifferent to soccer, Americans are heroically resisting the onslaught of a sport that is "for bureaucrats, socialists and overbearing mothers." As Stephen Moore wrote in National Review in 1998, "I am convinced that the ordeal of soccer teaches our kids all the wrong lessons in life. Soccer is the Marxist concept of the labor theory of value applied to sports -- which may explain why socialist nations dominate the World Cup."
This type of analysis may be lent a superficial plausibility because of the well-known political gulf between the U.S. and Europe. Thus, The Financial Times recently attributed the new transatlantic divide to Bush's inability to communicate with European leaders when it comes to sports, namely soccer. But lo and behold, even the famously disinterested President Bush called U.S. coach Bruce Arena and the team just hours before they faced Mexico, telling a surprised squad, "The country is really proud of the team... A lot of people that don't know anything about soccer, like me, are all excited and pulling for you."
Indeed, Moore must be eating his words as his United States advance to the quarterfinals against those commie Germans, surrounded by other perennial reds like the South Koreans, the Spanish, and the Brits. In fact, to hear the right tell it, it would seem that the leader of the capitalist world has betrayed its values by engaging in a sport that -- like hockey or football -- could, god forbid, end in a tie.
With a little work, even a mediocre marketing mind could save American soccer from its Volvo-driving friends and give it street cred with Joe Six Pack. Some American exceptionalists suggest anything that didn't come across the Atlantic from Europe with the turn-of-the-century migration will never catch on with blue-collar America. But if that were really true, the British monarchy wouldn't dominate American tabloids, nor would there have been a British pop invasion. And if multinational corporations like Nike and Budweiser are bringing basketball to Europe and baseball to Latin America and Asia, there's every reason to believe that with their corporate investment in soccer, they could brand the game for the American working class. It would be a delicious, perverse twist on the caricature of the global market--not the Americanization of the world, but the
reverse. Let the honeymoon begin.
Now humor is a difficult thing to define, but one would hope we could all agree that it by and large consists of our taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Comedy occurs, always, at someone's expense. This is difficult enough for liberals, with their more tender hearts to accept--with their greater empathy they are naturally more deeply affected by the pain of others. But even worse, even as the fact that the bad things happen serves as a challenge to their utopianism, the fact that we all enjoy it when these bad things happen to others serves as challenges to their benevolent view of our nature. If we were truly "good" would we take such pleasure in observing the sado-masochism of the Three Stooges?
On the other hand, for a conservative these things serve merely serve as a confirmation of our dismal view of Man and of life. Pop in a Porky's movie and then try to tell us that mankind is perfectible. Heck, try to tell us that God wouldn't be justified in scrapping the whole mess and starting over.
And so, all great comedy is fundamentally conservative. There simply is no such thing as liberal humor.
All of which is by long way of bringing us to the great American soccer wars. Soccer has had a notoriously difficult time gaining a foothold in the American popular imagination. Despite millions of dollars invested, despite several attempts to start professional leagues, despite apparently hosting the World Cup (I read that somewhere, but I don't recall it happening), despite the participation in youth leagues of millions of our kids, despite Pele's personal ambassadorship to the U.S., despite all of this, we just don't care. Oh sure, there are many immigrants who still root for their native countries. For the common mass of Americans though--soccer just doesn't register.
But wait, there is another exception to this rule--liberals seem, one would assume because of their general Europhilia, to like the game also. Not only do they like it, but since they are disproportionately represented in the media, they keep telling us that we ought to like it to. And this has turned what would otherwise be a healthy conservative indifference to the matter into a perhaps overheated loathing of the game and everything it represents. Here's a little secret though, one that has, typically, gone right over the heads of the dour and pedantic Mr. Spocks on the Left. They're so serious about everything that they think we're serious, that we actually care enough about soccer to let it raise our ire. They don't even get the seemingly obvious point of the whole exercise--we're just yanking their chains.
Now, I've no inclination to try to excavate the whole tawdry episode, but I believe that one irony of the current cycle of psychic violence against the beautiful game is that it was actually initiated by a passionate defense written by a humorless geek (and I assure you I mean that as a term of affection) of our own. Writing in the pages of National Review, poor Robert Zeigler merely tried to convince conservatives that we should give soccer a chance. Of course, on its face this may seem a harmless enough thing to do, but Mr. Zeigler made one significant mistake; he tried to cast it as a political issue, even as an issue of American pride. That slander simply could not stand.
I'm sure many others must have done the same, but I know for sure that I picked up the cudgel and laid into this nonsense, which it seems should really be characterized as a thought crime. My own effort (SOCCER--NOT AMERICAN AND NOT CONSERVATIVE), inadequate as it was and focussed entirely on the political aspects of soccer, rather than on any general judgments about the game itself, still excited some of the most hostile reaction we've ever seen here. One somehow felt that one had blasphemed the Virgin Mary during the Inquisition.
The gently chiding, almost avuncular, quality of our remarks was soon demonstrated by the far harsher and much, much funnier essay that H. D.
Miller at Travelling Shoes soon posted : The Unified Field Theory of World Entertainment. I defy anyone to take what we'll call the Travelling Shoe challenge. Try reading that essay while eating your morning bowl of cereal, as I did. If you can get through it without laughing so hard you spit Cap'n Crunch all over your keyboard, I'll personally help set a car on fire when we lose to Germany, or whatever it is you soccer folk do for "fun".
But did these soccer fans and Eurocentric liberal policy wonks (but I repeat myself) appreciate the humor? Did they look upon it as good-natured ribbing? Please... The next liberal or European who can have a hearty chuckle at his own expense will be the first. Instead, they descended upon poor Mr. Miller like the wrath of Godot, with name calling, threats of EU sanctions, you name it. And now, in some kind of Soviet social realist counterattack, we get these twinned pieces in The American Prospect and The New Republic (the duplicative nature of the essays just the latest example of the two magazines morphing into one), telling us in deadly earnest of the real mistake that Americans in general are making by ignoring the sport and that conservatives and sports writers (again I repeat myself) in particular are making by attacking a game so beloved by the rest of the world. They warn, with the same historical determinism that foresaw the inevitable victory of communism, that conservatives stand like King Canute on the beach, roaring at the tide to stop. They see a future where we are engulfed by soccer fever and it is we opponents who are ajudged Un-American for resisting assimilation. With the crystal clarity of a Five Year Plan they forecast an America with futball regnant, the Right having sold FIFA the rope with which conservatism was hung and NFL football smoldering on the ash heap of history.
Boy, it looks like we really got their goat this time. And they wonder why we find them and life in general to be hilarious, rather than tragic?
Relax fellas. Put down your Little Red Books, kick off your Birkenstocks, grab a mineral water, and belly up to the bar. We want to beat the stinking Huns today just as much as you do. Somewhere in our cold, uncaring hearts we've got some yob in us too. It's time to put our foolish differences behind us and unite in that quintessential soccer emotion : hatred of the other guys. If, God forbid, the Fourth Reich should cheat their way to an unjust victory over those heroic American boys in short pants today, let conservatives and liberals alike gather in front of Pat Buchanan's house, where we'll torch his Mercedes. Let football be our common ground, not the new battleground of a house divided.
One of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebel group in the Philippines may have been killed in fighting with troops, military officials say.
They said reports from soldiers suggested Abu Sabaya was among several rebels killed in a clash in Sibuco, in the southern province of Zamboanga del Norte.
(Abyu Sabaya was responsible for the kidnapping of American missionary Martin Burnham, who was killed last week in a Phillipine Army rescue attempt.)
Regular readers will know, and likely be tired of the fact, that I revere Russell Kirk. His The Conservative Mind : from Burke to Eliot (1953) was one of the seminal attempts to demonstrate that there is a coherent, substantial and enduring body of conservative thought. The book came out at a time when not only was conservatism thought to be dead, some claimed it had never even existed. Emblematic of the Left's dismissal of what it saw as mere reaction was this passage from Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination :
[I]n the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.... It is the plain fact [that] there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation...[only]...irritable mental gestures which seem to resemble ideas.
There's much to recommend the book but I found two aspects of it particularly gratifying. First, there is an awesome consistency to conservative thought over the last two hundred years (he dates conservatism from Edmund Burke) and to an extraordinary, and somewhat depressing, degree, the concerns expressed those two centuries ago are identical to those of conservatives today. Moreover, the conservative critics have been consistently right (no pun intended). Their (our) message remains the same not because they are stuck in a rut but because liberalism just keeps trotting out new bad ideas to try and then watch fail, while conservatives warn them against the attempt. The other thing that one notices is that, contrary to popular (i.e., Left) opinion, the quality of the literature produced by the Right is every bit as good that which the Left cranks out, though admittedly less voluminous.
At any rate, with Kirk having laid the intellectual groundwork and Buckley beginning the nuts and bolts work of building a movement (National Review was founded in 1955), conservatism was launched as a fast rising force in American politics. Within ten years, as Rick Perlstein so brilliantly chronicles in Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001), conservatives had nominated their first presidential candidate. Though the rise to power from there was rather choppy, it seems fair to say that since 1976 it is conservative ideas that have completely dominated Republican politics and since 1980 it is conservative ideas that have dominated American politics. It is impossible to overstate the influence that these two men, especially Buckley, had on causing this about face.
A divided Supreme Court reversed itself Thursday and ruled that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutionally cruel.
The most immediate effect of the ruling will be in the 20 states that allowed execution of the retarded up to now. Presumably, dozens or perhaps hundreds of inmates in those states will now argue that they are retarded, and that their sentences should be converted to life in prison. [...]
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Even worse is the majority's stated belief that these executions should be banned because they are becoming unusual and because there's a developing public consensus against them. This effectively untethers the 8th Amendment provision against "cruel and unusual" punishment from history and from objective judgment and turns it into a kind of free-floating standard that means little more than what 51% of people say in an opinion poll. This essentially cedes a portion of the Bill of Rights to the Gallup Organization and is unworthy of a serious system of justice
There's a flip side to all this too. The mainstreaming of the retarded into society has gone way too far if we're allowing people who we can not hold morally accountable for their actions to roam the streets. For a society to function it is necessary for each citizen to accept responsibility for himself and his actions. If you can't do so, it seems fair to say that you can't be a full citizen with full civil rights. In order to protect such people and ourselves from the dire consequences that may flow from their uninformed actions--for instance, the defendant in this case, Daryl Renard Atkins, had "20 previous felonies on his record" when he committed the murder for which he was sentenced to death--it may well be necessary to incarcerate them in some way, shape, or form--most likely in state-run medical facilities--not as punishment but as a way of supervising them.
Here are :
FURTHER UPDATE :
William Sulik, who actually practices law, has some typically cogent comments on the Court's ruling.
FURTHER UPDATE :
Personal Problems : The Supremes ignore the Constitution in Atkins. (Richard W. Garnett, June 20, 2002, National Review)
I oppose the death penalty. To be clear, I accept the idea that the death penalty can serve as a deterrent; I am convinced that retribution is the justification and proper purpose of punishment; and I continue to believe in the reality and facticity of evil. Nevertheless, I have come to believe that the abolition of the death penalty could be an important step in building what Pope John Paul II has called a "Culture of Life," and that opposition to capital punishment can serve as a powerful witness to the transcendent dignity of the human person.
All that said, as a lawyer, law teacher, and citizen, I can only shake my head at Atkins v. Virginia, today's Supreme Court's decision outlawing the execution of persons with severe developmental disabilities. The Court's holding — an abrupt about-face from its 1989 Penry decision — means that even when such a person has been found competent to stand trial, convicted of capital murder (i.e., found beyond a reasonable doubt to have caused another's death with a culpable state of mind), and condemned to death by a sentencer who was given a fair opportunity to consider the moral relevance of the killer's disabilities — even then, the "standards of decency" currently embraced by a slim majority of Supreme Court Justices trumps the judgments of legislators, prosecutors, jurors, and voters.
Now again, I like this result. It strikes me as humane, if not democratic. I would vote for it as a legislator and campaign for it as an activist. But I also live under a Constitution.
The government argued yesterday in a legal filing that U.S. citizens who are declared enemy combatants have no right to an attorney and that federal courts have no right to interfere.
The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in Norfolk, Va., allowing Yaser Esam Hamdi — a U.S.-born Saudi suspected of being a Taliban member — to meet with a public defender.
"There is not right under the laws and customs of war for an enemy combatant to meet with counsel concerning his detention," the Justice Department wrote in a 46-page document filed yesterday.
The filing goes on to say, "The court may not second-guess the military's enemy combatant determination."
"This is really an astounding assertion of authority," David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor, told The Washington Post.
A South Korean's game-winning World Cup goal against Italy has set off a furor between his Italian club team and the Asian Football Confederation.
After Ahn Jung-hwan scored the overtime goal to eliminate Italy on Tuesday night, the owner of Perugia of the top Italian division said Ahn would be cut.
While President Bush reworks drafts of a new Mideast plan, his agenda is being yanked from under him by delusional young Palestinians. For the second day in a row, Jerusalem yesterday witnessed the numbing routine of suicide bombing. And for the second day in a row, Mr. Bush's spokesmen said he was forced to delay his speech.
It makes sense for him to wait now, since the impact of the address would be lost amid the funerals, rage and retaliation. But the fact that the president delayed until this month to prepare to act has facilitated the ongoing descent into killing and the mutual infliction of pain.
Over Fifty years ago, George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" was first published in The New Republic. Since then the article has become the most widely reprinted essay in our language. [...]
For a set of rules for plain talk and clear writing, it would be difficult to better these six offered in "Politics and the English Language." If we all followed these guidelines, our prose might not be as good as Orwell's, but it would certainly be to the point:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
As per M Ali Choudhury, here's a link to our Orwell Page, with more links than you can shake a stick at.
In 1995 Donald Foster, a professor of English at Vassar College, made a startling case for Shakespeare's being the author of an obscure 578-line poem called "A Funeral Elegy." After a front-page article about his methods of computer analysis in The New York Times--and after his reputation was further burnished by unmasking Joe Klein as the author of "Primary Colors"--the poem was added to three major editions of Shakespeare's works.
Now, in a stunning development that has set the world of Shakespeare scholarship abuzz, Professor Foster has admitted he was wrong. In a message dated June 12 and quietly left last Thursday on the Internet discussion group Shaksper (www.shaksper.net), he said that another poet and dramatist was the more likely author of the poem. He was joined in his recantation by Richard Abrams, a professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, who has been his close associate in the Shakespeare attribution. In their messages, both conceded the main point of an article in the May issue of The Review of English Studies by Gilles D. Monsarrat, a professor of languages at the University of Burgundy in France, a translator and editor of Shakespeare's works in French, and a co-editor of "The Nondramatic Works of John Ford."
The article compares the text of the poem with Ford's known work and concludes that the writing is Ford's. Professor Montserrat's method seems to derive from a close reading of the texts, rather than the kind of computer analysis Professor Foster uses.
President Bush, continuing his effort to erode Democrats' historical hold on labor unions, spoke yesterday to a cheering convention of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, where he was saluted for being more concerned about the members than about politics.
The carpenters group is one of several unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, that the White House has been courting throughout Bush's term. White House strategy documents list labor unions as one of the constituencies -- along with Latinos, suburban women and Catholics -- where Bush is working to "grow" his support.
Setting the rules for fund raising under the nation's new campaign finance law, the Federal Election Commission is applying a ban on lawmakers' raising of large corporate and uniondonations so narrowly that even its top lawyer warned it would be easy to evade.
With one Democratic member joining three Republicans, the Federal Election Commission voted 4-1 late Wednesday that the only way a federal candidate or officeholder could violate the ban on raising soft money that takes effect in November would be by explicitly asking for such contributions.
"We had a good conversation with Senator Lott yesterday," Daschle said Wednesday, referring to Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), "but we want to have a conversation with the White House to avoid further confusion."
Senate Republicans were more certain that a deal was in hand, so much so that some aides and Senators privately confirmed the deal's basic framework: 14 pending judicial nominations would be quickly confirmed, most likely before the Fourth of July recess, in exchange for the speedy confirmation of Jonathan Adelstein, a Daschle aide who has been recommended to fill a commissioner's spot on the FCC.
Raising unprecedented questions about the role of media war correspondents, attorneys for John Walker Lindh asked a judge Tuesday to bar as evidence from his trial an incriminating, widely seen interview Lindh gave to CNN in December.
The San Francisco-based attorneys for the 21-year-old Marin County man charged with terrorism argued that the interview with CNN contributor Robert Pelton was coerced out of a frightened, wounded and dazed Lindh.
Also, mustn't there be some assumption that when you speak into a microphone and a camera that your communication will become public and is not protected?
A wildfire burning in Alaska's interior was ignited by state biologists using firecrackers to ward off an aggressive cow moose, officials said on Tuesday.
The 92,000-acre wildfire, which started last month and is burning spruce forest south of McGrath, was inadvertently started during a field study into elevated calf mortality.
The firecracker shells were being used to protect a staff member from an approaching moose, said Cathie Harms, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Black and Jewish congressman are planning to meet today in Washington to discuss a joint action plan that aims to halt the erosion of support for Israel by black congressmen.
Last month, a series of congress votes expressing support for Israel revealed how deep the erosion has gone when 20 members of the black caucus voted in favor--but 11 voted against and the rest abstained.
Rove's message in recent weeks has been an interesting one. He is telling Republicans that, as the party gears up for 2002 congressional and gubernatorial elections, its candidates must stop sounding so mean and greedy. At a May appearance before Republicans in Wisconsin, he explained that Republicans must "raise our sights and lower our voices."
Astute political observers will recognize this as a return to the "compassionate conservatism" that Rove used in 2000 to make Bush's right-wing stances more palatable to a country that stands well to the left of the GOP on most issues. With mid-term elections posing challenges and opportunities for the Bush White House, Rove is buffing up the mantra, suggesting that "compassionate conservatism" is now about shaping "a different kind of politics" that eschews the "blame culture" for a "responsible culture."
The message is that Republicans aren't about cutting needed programs in order to give tax breaks to the rich, said Rove. Rather, he explained, the point is "not to spend more or spend less, but to spend on what works."
If it wasn't Rove talking, that would be dismissed as the incomprehensible gobbledygook of pop psychology and political spin that it is.
The pattern of these terrorist horrors is becoming familiar, frighteningly so. It is not as if Hamas is not trying to strike at any target, at all other times. But again and again, large-scale operations designed to exact a heavy price in civilian lives, and thus push the levers of further escalation have been timed by the organization (which takes pride in planning its terrorist activities in line with its strategic vision) to coincide with major American moves.
Neither Arafat nor Assad, indeed, see much to hope for in the current American plans (which, in a sense, would bypass them both). In all likelihood, they see them as part of the effort to make the region less volatile, while the US gets serious about the business of deposing Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Hence their common interest, despite their visceral and mutual dislike, in keeping the fires of destabilization burning.
[T]hough it lives on many a veteran's bookshelf as a stirring monument to the grandeur of the American socialist and labor movements, The Jungle may also be read today as a primer on the versatility of the capitalist system.
In a major development that holds ominous overtones for Pakistan and seeks the attention of foreign policy makers, Afghanistan has formally sought help from Israel for combating terrorism, The News has learnt. The request was put forth by newly elected Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, a fortnight ago.
Abortion. The word alone causes civil conversation to flee the room. This is largely because the pro-choice and pro-life positions are being defined by their extremes, by those who scream accusations in lieu of arguments.
More reasonable voices and concerns, on both sides of the fence, are given short shrift.
For example, pro-life extremists seem unwilling to draw distinctions between some abortions and others, such as those resulting from rape or incest with an underage child. They would make no exception in the recent real-life case of a woman who discovered in her fifth month that her baby would be born dead due to severe disabilities.
On the other hand, pro-choice extremists within feminism insist on holding inconsistent positions. The pregnant woman has an unquestionable right to abort, they claim. Yet if the biological father has no say whatsoever over the woman's choice, is it reasonable to impose legal obligations upon him for child support? Can absolute legal obligation adhere without some sort of corresponding legal rights?
The only hope for progress in the abortion dialogue lies in the great excluded middle, in the voices of average people who see something wrong with a young girl forced to bear the baby of a rapist.
On abortion this means that compromising in those areas that Ms McElroy mentions, like rape, incest and life of the mother, where support for abortion is strongest even among those who are generally opposed, can serve as a way to limit abortion in other areas, later term, sex selection, for birth control purposes, where opposition is the strongest. And the reality is that the situations that Ms McElroy expresses concern over are almost completely insignificant as regards the overall numbers of abortions. By giving some on these hot button issues, pro-lifers might be able to win legislative victories that would reach the far more common types of abortion.
If you can gain so much by giving up so little, yet find yourself unable to do so, aren't you in danger of becoming precisely the kind of unreasoning fanatic you're caricatured as?
Rather than engage in holier than thou absolutism, pro-lifers could become the kinds of democratic heroes, the free men, that Eric Hoffer tallked about in The True Believer :
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.
"He didn't do this on purpose," Maureen Decaire, whose son Cpl. Brian Decaire was injured in the attack, said from Winnipeg.
"He may have not followed procedure and quite possibility deserves to be punished for that. But do I want to see him
US pilots will face friendly fire tribunal (Nicholas M. Horrock, 6/19/2002, UPI)
A joint military investigation has recommended that two members of the Illinois Air National Guard face a formal military hearing in connection with the deaths of four Canadian soldiers killed by a U.S. bomb while training in Afghanistan, government officials said Wednesday.
About your score:
Respondents with the most points (40) are 100 percent conservative; those with the least (0) are 100 percent liberal.
Take note: A higher number of points is not meant to imply a higher level of political consciousness! The system of accumulating points for conservative answers is simply a practical method for assigning politically left-to-right slots on the spectrum.
About the authors:
Victor Kamber is a veteran Democratic consultant and the president of The Kamber Group, a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Bradley S. O'Leary is a Republican consultant. Together they write the Kamber/O'Leary Report, a political newsletter.
The eleventh hour campaign revelation that then-GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush had been arrested in Maine in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol gave then-Vice President Al Gore the boost he needed to win the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, Gore's former campaign spokesman Chris Lehane admitted late Tuesday.
"Obviously, I think it did have an impact on the election," Lehane told WABC Radio's John Batchelor and Paul
The great, familiar, famous voice has gone silent now. For decades, Jack Buck provided the soundtrack of the St. Louis summer. He brought baseball to life for generations of Cardinals fans. Each season he took us from April to October. He was our companion, our tour guide, our historian, our friend, the man we entrusted with this precious St. Louis tradition of baseball.
McCain-Feingold, with its restrictions and bans on political speech in the form of a 30 or 60 blackout period in advance of an election, its burdensome disclosure requirements, and its registration and permit requirements, is clearly unconstitutional and will be quickly quashed by the Court.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was a blockbuster book, spawning blockbuster sequels and a blockbuster movie. Next month, it will achieve that mark of a true classic: the publishers of SparkNotes, a CliffsNotes knockoff, will publish a study guide--also known as a cheat sheet--to the tale of the little boy with the lightning-bolt scar.
Moving far beyond "Macbeth" and "The Mayor of Casterbridge," Cliffs and a new generation of competitors are now racing to be the first to publish notes to contemporary titles like "All the Pretty Horses," "Snow Falling on Cedars," "Angela's Ashes" and "Cold Mountain."
The new selections reflect a change in the kind of books being taught in high school and college literature classes. But they also reveal a new kind of Cliffs user. The guides are now being produced for people who want to brush up before their book club, keep up in conversations with colleagues or at cocktail parties, or read the book--at least, some version of it--before they see the movie.
Like bleary-eyed students, some new readers are using the books as a supplement; others, as a substitute. [...]
The purists warn of missing out.
"The beauty of reading is coming away from it with an interpretation that you own," said Diane Waryold, executive director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University. "When you're getting that through CliffsNotes or SparkNotes or whatever, you're not really taking the book and reflecting on it, and really reading it for what the author intended it to be read for."
Jack Buck, who in nearly five decades behind a microphone became a St. Louis institution on par with the Gateway Arch and the Cardinals, died late tonight, son Joe Buck said. He was 77.
Buck started calling Cardinals games on radio in 1954, teaming first with Harry Caray, and for the last three decades with former Cardinals third baseman Mike Shannon. [...]
Throughout the Midwest, Buck's calls of Cardinals games made him a beloved figure. With each final out of a victory, he wrapped things up with his tidy, "That's a winner."
Buck chose to pause -- not speak -- when slugger Mark McGwire tied Roger Maris's single-season home run record in 1998. Then, he said, "Pardon me for a moment while I stand and applaud."
One of the reasons that baseball has such a sense of continuity is because over the course of a lifetime you hear the same guy describe the exploits of successive generations of players. Last year I turned on a Mets game on the radio (we just barely get WFAN, at night only) and there was Bob Murphy, who's been doing games for every year the club has been in existence. Adding to the effect, they'd brought back the old Rheingold ads (My beer is Rheingold the dry beer...). It was like being displaced in time. For all I knew, I could have been picking up stray radio waves from 1969, when I used to sneak a radio to bed so I could listen to games from the West Coast. When he began talking about players it became obvious it was 2001, but it's the same voice and he's just as enthusiastic about Benny Agbayani as he was about Ron Swoboda, so the games, the players, and the years seemed to flow together. Thus does baseball, unique among sports, pluck at the mystic chords of memory.
When we lived in Chicago, we not only got Harry Caray on WGN-TV, but you could just barely tune in the Cards, Tigers and Brewers (with Bob Uecker) on the radio. You could twirl the dial and get some of the greatest voices in sports history. What a privilege it was just to listen.
We'll never listen to another Cardinals game without thinking about Jack Buck. He leaves us with a great gift because the memories we summon will tie us to our past in a way that too few aspects of modern life are capable of doing. Pardon me for a moment while I stand and applaud.
[T]he playwright Wendy Wasserstein's famous pregnancy seems to be the very model of what Hewlett warns against: it was preceded by seven years of medical treatment, severely compromised Wasserstein's health, and necessitated a lengthy maternal hospitalization and an extremely premature cesarean delivery. The resulting baby girl weighed less than two pounds at birth and was hospitalized for ten weeks, during which she required a blood transfusion. But these miseries are presented not as cautionary tale but as triumph: Wasserstein was "remarkable and valiant" for never giving up the fight to become pregnant. Indeed, the most obvious question that such a pursuit prompts-whether it is in a child's best interest to have a mother who will be facing the challenges and travails of old age just as her offspring is entering adolescence-is never mentioned. Why? Because this is a book from the perspective of "high-achieving women," and the main impression we get of the type is that they are going to get exactly what they want, and damn the expense or the human toll.
According to my sources (whom I hope are mistaken), administration lawyers are preparing to argue that the military has virtually unlimited power to detain, virtually incommunicado, for as long as the president chooses, not only these two but also you, me, the Muslim cleric down the street, and anybody else whom the president declares to be an "enemy combatant." In this view, the courts have no power to order a detainee to be released even if the detainee has compelling evidence that his arrest was a terrible mistake.
If that is the administration's position -- and it would be consistent with its so-far sketchy statements about the military detentions of Abdullah al-Muhajir (aka Jose Padilla), the Brooklyn-born suspected dirty-bomb plotter; and Yasser Esam Hamdi, another U.S. citizen -- the courts should reject it. But they should also recognize that presidential decisions on military matters are entitled to great deference. And the availability of the military-power option paradoxically reinforces the need for Congress to make the president's other option -- the civilian justice system -- more amenable to preventing terrorism.
The first reason to adopt new legislation is that, as I argued in my June 8 column, the current legal restraints on the government's investigative powers are unduly stringent, and are partly responsible both for our failure to prevent the September 11 hijackers and for our unnecessarily great vulnerability to future attacks. The second reason is that such legislation may be the only way to prevent the administration from drifting into ever-more-sweeping use of military power on American soil, perhaps including warrantless military searches, wiretaps, spying, and detentions.
12. Nobody has ever seen a new species evolve.
Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr's Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations--sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organisms isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists therefore usually use organisms' physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.
Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection--for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits--and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William R. Rice of the University of New Mexico and George W. Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.
When he's not knocking down pure straw men, Mr. Rennie's responses are pretty much all this woefully inadequate. We can break this answer down this way :
(1) Well, no, they haven't.
(2) Or, they might have and we just don't know it.
(3) But suppose we take an absurdly cramped definition of speciation, one based on behavior rather than biology. If we use that as our standard, then scientists have been able to force some organisms to speciate. Which proves that evolution is a naturally occurring process, not guided by an intelligent being or beings.
President Bush deserves praise for proposing to create a new architecture for homeland security, a reversal of his earlier position. And he will win acclaim if--in reversing his previous hands-off stance on the Middle East conflict--he settles differences within his team and produces a solid plan for that conflict. Too many presidents in the past have stubbornly clung to their ideas, refusing to adjust to changing circumstances and forcing the country to pay a cruel price. Remember Woodrow Wilson? Hoover? L.B.J.? [...]
Demands for sacrifice and a vision of what can come afterward are fundamental to wartime leadership. Mr. Bush can still demonstrate that leadership by linking present sacrifice with a better future in several ways. He can, for example, roll back his tax cuts and propose that the savings be redirected toward a broad social cause like improving the lives of children. If the war is about securing their safety, after all, why should we not be equally concerned about securing their health and education? Why not seize this moment to make the war about something positive, instead of allowing it to be focused exclusively on how we ward off the negative?
The new and evocative commercial for General Electric's 4D Ultrasound imaging system, which has been appearing across broadcast and cable networks, opens with a saccharine rendition of Ewan McColl's 1965 love ballad "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." The song serves as background music for a slow motion close-up of a blonde-haired, green-eyed pregnant mother's loving gaze. Still in slow motion, the ad then cuts to the object of her adoration, a GE computer monitor displaying the three-dimensional real-time movements of a golden-hued fetus. Shifting back to the awe-filled mother, the camera pans out and her thirty-something, waspish husband's anxious face appears. The next cut reveals a medical technician running the ultrasound transducer over the pregnant woman's stomach, as the GE monitor in the foreground highlights the movements of the fetus.
The clincher comes when a soft male voice enters over the music: "When you see your baby for the first time on the new GE 4D ultrasound system, [pause] ... it really is a miracle." The ad then closes by juxtaposing the fetal profile with the profile of the newborn infant as the parents hold the baby joyously in their arms.
It's not difficult to understand why pro-life conservatives are using the word "miracle" to describe the free political advertising that GE has so generously provided.
Besides his support for programs created during the Clinton administration, conservative lawmakers have criticized Mr. Bush for not standing up to Democrats and liberal Republicans in Congress on issues such as campaign-finance reform. [Rep, Robert] Barr, who insisted that "the Bush agenda is basically good," nonetheless said the president's failure even to threaten to veto campaign-finance regulation "was probably the greatest disappointment of the last year and a half."
After more than three decades of waiting, of wondering what and where and how, his daughters buried Lt. Col. Donald E. Parsons on Friday with full military honors. They walked behind a horse-drawn caisson for the final journey to his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. They stood for the
sharp report of 21 gunshots and the moving simplicity of taps. They received from a commanding officer the American flag that had been draped over their father's casket, now folded into a sharp, taut triangle of mourning.
The casket contained little, though: A green Army uniform with all the appropriate bars of rank. And underneath the uniform, placed carefully within an Army blanket, two teeth.
Yet for those teeth, Stacy Parsons and Donna Willett were profoundly grateful. At last, they knew, their father was home.
Not until six years ago were the two meager and badly discolored relics recovered from the dense jungle where Parsons and six other soldiers had gone missing in action during the height of the Vietnam War. The discovery by a military search team was part random luck, part persistent investigation, part hard-sweat work. But confirming their identity took several more years, and so not until late 2000 did Willett pick up the phone one day in North Carolina to hear, "We have found your father's remains."
Maybe I missed it. Where are the greenies? Where are the Gaia worshippers? Where are all the tree-hugging wackos? Where are all the eco-nazis? There are huge fires burning out west and the Earth-firsters have been pretty quiet.
All these kooks race to stand in line and shout louder than each other whenever a human being even thinks of intruding on the "pristine" wilderness areas that are now ablaze. They believe we should return these areas to their "natural" state -- let Nature take its course.
But now that Nature has chosen to burn these forests, I don't hear any complaints that human beings, as in real men and women, are interfering. No idiotic protests. No vapid news releases. Nothing.
President Bush has rejected a proposal from several key advisers who urged him to name White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security if Congress approves the administration's plan, administration officials said.
So this Card trial balloon was most likely an attempt by the conservatives to move Card out of the way so they could put a Rove ally in as Chief. But the speed with which it was shot down amply demonstrates that Andy Card is, contrary to his own reports of his imminent demise, still firmly in charge.
America may well be a safer place because Jose Padilla has "disappeared," to use the lexicon of Latin American death squads. But the manner in which this American has been stripped of his citizenship rights -- to a lawyer, to a speedy trial, to apply for bail -- is reminiscent of such totalitarian states as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. What the Bushies are doing to Padilla is an outrage and it could happen to any of us.
The legal basis for this action is a twisted joke. "Citizens who associate themselves with the military arm of the enemy government, and with its aid, guidance and direction enter this country bent on hostile acts, are enemy belligerents," ruled the Supreme Court in a precedent-setting case in 1942.
Today, on the 30th anniversary of the infamous break-in, the mysteries surrounding the event that led to the resignation of an American president are every bit as tantalizing.
After all the hearings, all the headlines and all the cover-up, we still don't know whether Nixon actually knew about the break-in in advance.
But another mystery might be cracked much sooner: that 18½-minute gap in one of Nixon's infamous tape recordings at the White House
"We have decided that the time is right and appropriate to determine whether that conversation can be retrieved or recovered," said Karl Weissenbach, a Nixon tape archivist at the National Archives. The tapes were last examined in 1974. But since then, the technology used to decipher recordings has improved dramatically.
The 18½ minutes in question is part of Nixon tape 342, recorded on June 20, 1972, three days after the Watergate break-in. On the tape, Nixon discussed the incident for the first time with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. It is unknown whether the tape was deliberately or inadvertently erased for those 18½ minutes.
It seems to me great rather for the things that are in it than for its success as a whole. It is almost as if in distending the story to ten times its natural size he had finally managed to burst it and leave it partially deflated. There must be something wrong with a design which involves so much that is dull--and I doubt whether anyone will defend parts of Ulysses against the charge of extreme dullness.
"This alliance shows the depths of perversity of the [U.S.] position," said Adrienne Germaine, president of the International Women's Health Coalition. "On the one hand we're presumably blaming these countries for unspeakable acts of terrorism, and at the same time we are allying ourselves with them in the oppression of women."
This is not to say that all abortion is immoral or that it should be illegal in all cases. There's really no point in making the moral argument anymore. But there's a major geopolitical argument against our current abortion regime, one which directly implicates women and their righhs and which, paradoxically, finds "Women's Groups" essentially opposing women. This argument is that abortion is having a disproportionate impact on female fetuses because of the use of abortion for gender selection purposes. We are, in effect, using abortion to create a world in which women will be an ever decreasing minority. This must eventually result in a corresponding decline in their political power.
So as for Ms Germaine's analogy, of Christain and Islamic conservatives to the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks, I believe it's unfair and inappropriate. A comparison to the Taliban, which was trying to impose a religious moral code would be closer to the truth, though maybe still a bit hyperbolic. If we seek to compare al Qaeda to one side in the abortion debate, it seems more accurate, though needlessly provocative, to choose the side that supports killing. And if we're going to discuss abortion in the context of the oppression of women, it seems only fair to judge more harshly the side that is actually specifically targeting females for death and thereby making their future oppression a near certainty.
I don't particularly mind being called Talibanish, so long as the caller recognizes their own kinship to Osama bin Laden.
Multiple Tongues : Who Was Watergate's Deep Throat? John Dean Nominates Four Candidates. (Howard Kurtz, June 17, 2002, Washington Post
The political scandal that began 30 years ago with a break-in at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., and that culminated in the1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon, is still familiar to a majority of Americans, and is by and large viewed harshly.
When given the choice of two ways to describe the Watergate affair, 51% of Americans in a June 7-8 CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey opted for the more critical perspective: that it represented "a very serious matter" because of the corruption it revealed in the Nixon administration. A somewhat smaller number, 42%, chose the more forgiving option: that it was "just politics" of the kind "both parties engage in." These attitudes have changed little since Gallup first measured them on the 10th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, in 1982.
Americans' current judgment of Watergate is also very similar to what it was during the height of the controversy. A June 1974 Gallup survey asked the public virtually the same question as that described above and found 48% viewing the situation as very serious and 43% viewing it as "just politics." Only at the very beginning of the publicity surrounding the break-in did a majority of Americans believe Watergate was a case of run-of-the-mill political treachery.
Meanwhile, the other interesting numbers from the poll are the ranking of the recent presidents. The JFK number is, of course, idiotic--if not for Lee Harvey Oswald he'd be ranked below LBJ. But the rest are spot on. George Bush, Sr. should be significantly lower than Reagan, but most of the respondents probably meant Jr. :
RETROSPECTIVE PRESIDENTIAL JOB APPROVAL
2002 Mar 18-20
(sorted by "approve") Approve--Disapprove
John F. Kennedy 83--7
Ronald Reagan 73--22
elder George Bush 69--26
Gerald Ford 60--19
Jimmy Carter 60--28
Bill Clinton 51--47
Lyndon Johnson 39--34
Richard Nixon 34--54
The estimable Dr. Weevil, who when last we heard from him was questioning the existence of the other Brother, goes inside these numbers and offers some fascinating perspective. Hard to believe he's from the People's Republic of Maine.
Conservative U.S. Christian organizations have joined forces with Islamic governments to halt the expansion of sexual and political protections and rights for gays, women and children at United Nations conferences.
The new alliance, which coalesced during the past year, has received a major boost from the Bush administration, which appointed antiabortion activists to key positions on U.S. delegations to U.N. conferences on global economic and social policy.
But it has been largely galvanized by conservative Christians who have set aside their doctrinal differences, cemented ties with the Vatican and cultivated fresh links with a powerful bloc of more than 50 moderate and hard-line Islamic governments, including Sudan, Libya, Iraq and Iran. [...]
The alliance of conservative Islamic states and Christian organizations has placed the Bush administration in the awkward position of siding with some of its most reviled adversaries -- including Iraq and Iran -- in a cultural skirmish against its closest European allies, which broadly support expanding sexual and political rights.
U.S. and Iranian officials even huddled during coffee breaks at the U.N. summit on children in New York last month, according to U.N. diplomats.
But the partnership also has provided the administration an opportunity to demonstrate that it shares many social values with Islam at a time when the United States is being criticized in the Muslim world for its continued support of Israel and the nine-month-old war on terrorism.
Teaching Tolerance: Tunisia School Offers a Moderate Exegesis of Islam (YAROSLAV TROFIMOV, June 17, 2002, The Wall Street Journal)
Youssouf Savane had a clear and common opinion about his faith when he came to study religious law four years ago at Zeitouna, an Islamic university that bills itself as the oldest in the world. Only Islam is the truth, he thought, and all other teachings are false.
Now, Mr. Savane is carrying back a different message to his native Mali, a predominantly Muslim West African country. "I know I was wrong," says Mr. Savane, a jeans-clad 24-year-old who studied such topics as comparative religion, Darwin's theory of evolution and Freudian psychoanalysis at Zeitouna. "Other religions are just as valid and have their own proofs."
Mr. Savane's words may be considered heresy in much of the Islamic world. But Zeitouna's 2,000 students, most of whom are preparing to become preachers at mosques or schoolteachers of Islam, are encouraged to think such tolerant thoughts. A rare but prominent exception to the fundamentalist trend sweeping the Arab world, Zeitouna is trying to bring Islam in line with modern society.
Zeitouna is at the center of the authoritarian Tunisian government's push to become a pioneer of pro-Western secularism in the Arab world -- and to keep home-grown, militant Islamist opposition at bay. Unlike in most Islamic countries, hardly any women in this nation of 9.6 million people wear a veil -- in fact, veils are prohibited in schools and government offices. Alcohol is widely available, mosques are locked up outside prayer hours, and birth control is actively encouraged. An army of topless European tourists -- a major source of revenue for the government -- occupies Tunisia's Mediterranean beaches.
CNN founder Ted Turner won raves yesterday from an aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after the billionaire AOL-Time Warner vice chairman accused Israel of terrorism.
"The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers, that's all they have. The Israelis, they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. ... So who are the terrorists?" he told the Guardian newspaper.
The right strategy has been clearly enunciated by President Bush. America must speedily build a ballistic missile defense system which will afford protection against missiles launched from anywhere in the globe. The president has made progress in winning the argument for this policy. He deserves the fullest cooperation from all who stand to gain from it, including Britain.
We also have to isolate those rogue states that are seeking to develop (or have developed) WMD, and eliminate the threat they pose. Sometimes this will be possible by a mixture of diplomatic sticks and carrots. Iran, for example, was quite rightly classed by the president as part of the "axis of evil." It has a missile program which poses a threat to Israel's security--a threat that Iran's support for terrorism against Israel only magnifies. But this is part of a more complex picture. Iran is a theocracy which is edging toward democracy. At a certain point, the continuing growth of civil society in Iran may require its rehabilitation.
North Korea, on the other hand, is beyond reform. Diplomacy has little value. Indeed, North Korea has already been appeased too much. It is in the grip of a psychotic Stalinist regime whose rule is sustained by terror and bankrolled by those who buy its missiles. It is one of the few states that could launch an unprovoked nuclear strike. The regime must go, and I fear that it may not go peacefully.
Between Iran on the one hand and North Korea on the other, the list of rogue states will be the subject of continuing revision and debate. And in each case there will be a mix of policies appropriate to achieve our goal of removing the threat which these states pose.
That is also true of Iraq. I have detected a certain amount of wobbling about the need to remove Saddam Hussein--though not from President Bush. It is not surprising, given the hostility of many allies to this venture, that some in Washington may be having second thoughts. It is, of course, right that those who have the duty to weigh up the risks of particular courses of action should give their advice--though they would be better to direct their counsel to the president not the press. But in any case, as somebody once said, this is no time to go wobbly.
Saddam must go.
So far, Lieberman, the most overtly ambitious of the bunch, doesn't appear to be causing fellow Democrats any heartburn -- at least the ones not eyeing the presidency. Much of his work is before the microphones and cameras, either delivering speeches with a campaign flare or announcing new legislative ideas, few of which will be considered anytime soon. There's a common theme to virtually all of his legislative proposals: They contrast sharply with Bush's.
Often he plays to the party's base of union members, environmentalists and trial lawyers, three groups any Democratic presidential candidate must woo to be nominated. This was true with his speech in May calling for a repeal of some of Bush's most expensive tax cuts, in which he accused the president of a "leadership deficit."
He's playing to independents, too.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, reviewing the history of civil liberties during wartime, said Friday the courts are inclined to bend the law in the government's favor during a time of hostilities.
"One is reminded of the Latin maxim inter arma silent leges. In time of war, the laws are silent," Rehnquist said in a speech to federal judges meeting in Williamsburg, Va.
He cited as examples President Abraham Lincoln's suspension of the right to habeas corpus during the Civil War as well as the Supreme Court's willingness to uphold the internment of Japanese Americans and the secret military trial of eight Nazi saboteurs during World War II.
After the Civil War, the Supreme Court unanimously overruled the Union's use of a military trial to condemn several Confederate sympathizers in Indiana. And Congress later apologized for the Japanese internment, but long after the war was over.
"These cases suggest that while the laws are surely not silent in time of war, courts may interpret them differently then than in time of peace," Rehnquist said.
To baby boomers, he's the name on their or their favorite guitarist’s instrument (as his recent commercial for Coors Beer made light of). To the previous generation, he’s a musician with a string of pop hits in the 1950s. And there are lots of older folks around who still remember his days from the 1930s, playing in Fred Waring’s Orchestra, and backing up Bing Crosby.
Clearly, while most people would be happy with one successful career, Les Paul is a man who can look back on several simultaneous lives.
Born Lester William Polfus on June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, he began to teach himself not only the guitar, but electronic engineering when he was just a child. He later shortened his name to Les Paul (after a brief spell known as Rhubarb Red!) and played with big bands in the 1930s, such as Fred Waring’s outfit in the 1930s and with Bing Crosby in the 1940s.
Simultaneously, he also did much developmental work on the concept of the electric guitar. His electrical engineering skills led him to finally develop the electric solidbody guitar, designed initially to reduce feedback and increase the sustain of notes and chords.
Pinochet's brand of freemarket capitalism--whatever the human cost--would prove particularly alluring to Margaret Thatcher. By the mid-1970s, with Britain looking increasingly fragile, admiring Right- wingers looked towards Chile as an example of how to revive a moribund economy. Thatcher's election in May 1979 introduced Britain, Beckett writes, "to the harsh Chilean formula of economic shock treatment, cuts in the welfare state, privatisation and anti-trade union legislation". And, come the Falklands War, the relationship was so robust that Chile gave support to Britain in the form of communications, information and refuge for its armed forces, a fact publicly acknowledged by Thatcher during Pinochet's arrest.
Not to mention that though the Left may promise freedom it invariably delivers even greater oppression than the Right nor that, as Jeane Kirkpatrick explained twenty years ago in Dictatorships and Double Standards : Rationalism and Reason in Politics (1982) (Jeane J. Kirkpatrick 1926- ), Right wing regimes tend to evolve towards greater democracy on their own, because they leave in place the traditional institutions that democracy requires :
Traditional autocrats leave in place existing allocations of wealth, power, status, and other resources, which in most traditional societies favor an affluent few and maintain masses in poverty. But they worship traditional gods and observe traditional taboos. They do not disturb the habitual rhythms of work and leisure, habitual places of residence, habitual patterns of family and personal relations.
Best line I heard from the gallery on Saturday: at 12, Craig Stadler chili-dipped a wedge shot from heavy rough short of the green...he slammed his club down in anger, taking out a huge chunck of sod that went flying onto the fairway.....the crowd went silent....when neither Stadler nor his caddy made a move to pick up the divot, someone behind the green yelled, "Don't worry about that Craig, it's just a public course..."
* "A good part of the world's economy will be bankrupted trying to 'forestall' a nonexistent problem: 'global warming.'" [...]
* "Starvation and hunger will increase worldwide as bans on genetically-modified foodstuffs are enacted."
* "Mortality rates will rise and lifespans begin to shorten as medical advances, especially those in the areas of stem-cell and cloning research, are
outlawed because of the fears of technophobes and religious fanatics." [...]
* "Government will become increasingly more invasive and intrusive." [...]
* "Finally, the "global economy" will collapse as governments go bankrupt from entitlement programs..."
[W]hile I believe humans are by nature delusion-prone, I also believe human delusionality has an adaptive survival value, else it wouldn't have evolved. To reiterate: all behavior, of plants, animals and humans—life itself—is selfish. The key question of human psychology was, to my mind, not asked by Freud, but rather by Nat Branden: "What is this belief/behavior doing for me?" And this is especially true of our delusions. Ridiculous, idiotic, or even insane as they sometimes (and often) appear to be, they are in the end doing something for us. Otherwise we wouldn't have them.
Personally, I believe the latter to be the case, but more than that, I believe that we must try to behave as though the latter were the case. Maybe someone will prove one day, as the science requires, that each letter that appears on this page appears not because my mind wills it so but because my selfish genes require it for their survival, in some way as yet unfathomable to our meager brains. But until that day, it seems to me a worthwhile endeavor to try to hold ourselves to certain moral standards to try to make our behavior conform as closely as possible with what we believe it should be rather than to assume that any way we behave can be excused because it reflects how things must be.
It also seems imperative to me for advocates of this kind of biological determinism to face the full implications of their beliefs. It was, for instance, an inability to accept such implications that turned Stephen J. Gould into a pariah within the evolutionary set. One implication that is a particularly bitter pill for us to swallow, and the one that Mr. Gould seems to have choked upon, is that genocide, rather than being one of the most horrific and evil acts of which humankind is capable, is instead a benefit to the species. For genocide to occur it must indicate that some ethnic subset of homo sapiens has become so diseased or debased as to represent a threat to the continued health and survival of the rest of us. The wholesale slaughter of the Jews by the Germans must not be freighted with unjustified moral significance, it should be seen merely as one gene pool taking prophylactic measures to prevent contamination by another. Ah, but it's here that things get really confusing, for what are we to make of the fact that the Americans, the British and the Russians then stepped in to preserve the last of the Jews, even at the expense of the Germans? Were the selfish German genes mistaken or did they serve their purpose, which must ultimately be our purpose, by reducing the Jewish population? Can both the exterminationist German genes and the preservationist American genes have been acting in the best interest of the survival of the species? Well, of course, there's the rub--the theory would require that yes indeed they both were.
In fact, when pushed to its final absurd limits, the theory requires that both a prospective murderer and the hero who takes a bullet for the intended victim be acting in the best interest of their genes. Both the killing and the saving of the target must be commanded by genes. And if the hero dies instead of the target, this too must be the work of the genes, for genuine altruism is an impossibility. The gene can never act against its own interest and its only interest is the survival and spread of its particular genetic code. The truest of the true believers are reduced to arguing that in that fraction of a second our "hero" was not thinking of saving the life of another, was not sacrificing his own life, but instead his genes recognized something about the target that made it likelier that they would be preserved if the hero died than if the target died. Perhaps they recognized a long lost cousin or a bastard brother or something. We may never know, but we can trust the science. The gene determined behavior can not lie.
Like the theory of free will which it replaces, the theory that all behavior is biologically determined is unfalsifiable. It explains everything. Every behavior is simply understood to contribute, in whatever unfathomable way, to survival. Like Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss we may say that this is the best of all possible worlds--because it is the one our genes have created. Man is simply along for the ride. This worldview is elegant, irrefutable, and I will readily confess (as perhaps I must) that it fills me with dread. But even if it is true, even if life is one vast Matrix or Truman Show, I will continue to cling to my delusions, to the hope that man can better his own lot, that we are moral beings, and that we are answerable for our behaviors--answerable to ourselves, to each other and to God. Quite honestly, I prefer a beautiful delusion to an ugly truth.
It's true that male seahorses never play catch with their children or help them with their homework. But they do outdo human dads on one count: Male seahorses undergo pregnancy and give birth to their sons and daughters.
Happy Fathers' Day to those of you for whom it's applicable.
[W]hat could have been a cakewalk for Woods has become a formidable challenge. Woods and Garcia will be paired together in the final group of a major championship for the first time, a pairing that will be both charismatic and a potential lightning rod for controversy.
Garcia became a target for the galleries today after his round on Friday, when he appeared to make an obscene gesture toward hecklers and complained later about the wet playing conditions. Garcia even suggested after Friday's round that had Woods been on the course that afternoon - he had teed off in the morning - the United States Golf Association would have halted play.
Although Garcia left a note of apology in Woods's locker today, hecklers do not always forgive and forget. But with a major championship at stake, both Woods and Garcia hoped that nothing outside the ropes would affect what happened inside them.
"I've said all week, there's nothing wrong with the fans showing enthusiasm, just as long as they're respectful," Woods said. "Sometimes, the fans have crossed the line, and that's unfortunate.
"It's also unfortunate Sergio made a mistake yesterday, and I think he's probably the first to admit that. That's the way it happens. The fans are charged up. The players are charged up. I just hope tomorrow the fans are excited but respectful, not only to myself and Sergio, but to all the players."
(1) That's the worst Tiger is capable of playing in a Major and he's still ahead by four. He'll win by ten.
(2) After all the rigamarole about the "People's Open", could these golfers and announcers stop whining about the "unruly" crowds. Hey fellas, grip it and rip it. The ball isn't even moving for cripes sake. Can you imagine Barry Bonds stepping out and asking the crowd to quiet down so he can concentrate on a 97mph fastball from Randy Johnson?
Spain always suffers in the World Cup, and usually quite early, but tonight, at least, its suffering was not in vain.
Giving up a goal on a penalty kick in the 90th minute after a foolish foul by its captain, Fernando Hierro, Spain hung on to defeat Ireland, 3-2, on penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 tie in the first 120 minutes.
Consider an ebonics reader used by Profs. John and Angela Rickford:
"This here little Sister name Mae was most definitely untogether. I mean, like she didn't act together. She didn't look together. She was just an untogether Sister.
"Her teacher was always sounding on her 'bout day dreaming in class. I mean, like, just 'bout every day the teacher would be getting on her case. But it didn't seem to bother her none. She just kept on keeping on. Like, I guess daydreaming was her groove. And you know what they say: 'don't knock your Sister's groove.' But a whole lotta people did knock it. But like I say, she just kept on keeping on.
"One day Mae was taking [sic] to herself in the lunch room. She was having this righteous old conversation with herself. She say, 'I wanna be a princess with long golden hair.' Now can you get ready for that? Long golden hair!
"Well, anyway, Mae say, 'If I can't be a princess I'll settle for some long golden hair. If I could just have me some long golden hair, everything would be all right with me. Lord, if I could just have me some long golden hair.'"
Note that the foregoing lesson, which would be inappropriate for children of any age, was designed for seventh-graders!
There is a philosophical debate going on in Spider-Man that no one has addressed much in the reviews. Some critics have argued that the film resonates with a mass audience because of post-9/11 longings for a hero. That longing is stressed in the TV ads, in which a terrible sub-Journey anthem bays away as Spider-Man wraps himself around a flagpole.
Steven Winn of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "It's hard to watch Spider-Man's high-flying stunts ... and not register the vulnerability of those mighty Manhattan towers." Fair enough, and the New York locations function like a little vacation in themselves.
What's more interesting is the question of Spider-Man putting duty ahead of his own desire for riches and happiness, a choice that goes back to the origin story in the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. The incidents of the comic-book story are all there in the movie, with special attention given to doomed Uncle Ben, who tells his surrogate son that "with great power come great responsibilities."
This origin story was co-written by cartoonist Steve Ditko, and you wonder what he'd think of Uncle Ben's admonition today. Ditko, Spider-Man's reclusive co-creator, has been called the "J.D. Salinger of comics." The Los Angeles Times' Jordan Raphael recently profiled Ditko, who, as usual, refused to talk to the media. Ditko, a Pennsylvania-born cartoonist, illustrated and co-wrote 38 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. In 1966, he quit the book, walking out on Stan Lee, the better-known writer and editor of Marvel Comics.
Recent communiqués from Ditko--as Raphael notes--show his current obsession with the mediocre masses dragging down the heroes of our world. "According to friends and former collaborators," Raphael writes, "Ditko's life has been heavily influenced by objectivism, the philosophy of rational thought and individual free will sketched out in Ayn Rand's novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
There are just two things about the World Cup that prevent Americans from caring: it involves soccer and the rest of the world. We could get over the soccer part eventually--after all, it's kind of like the soccer we make our suburban children play, only without the goal scoring. But the global part just isn't going to happen. When I hear that Tunisia is playing Belgium for the crucial Group H runner-up spot, all I want is a map. The only way Americans are going to learn another country's name is if it attacks us.
The federal deficit probably will soar beyond $100 billion this year, Congress' top budget analyst says, escalating a problem that both parties hope to capitalize on in this November's elections.
In its latest monthly review of Treasury Department data, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday that this year's shortfall should ``end up well above $100 billion.'' The red ink for the fiscal year running through Sept. 30 would be the first since 1997.
Dan Crippen, director of the nonpartisan office, said the shortfall could near $150 billion. That is similar to expectations of Republican and Democratic analysts and of private forecasters.
In March, the budget office projected the cumulative surplus from 2003 through 2012 would total $2.38 trillion. With rising spending and reduced revenue, however, that figure now looks likelier to fall between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, Crippen said.
Opening A Trillion- Dollar Hole (David S. Broder, June 16, 2002, Washington Post)
Hey, David Broder just figured out where that extra Trillion dollars we're collecting is coming from : the estate tax. So we can give it back now and the budget will be balanced in those out years. (Though that doesn't seem to be the point of his essay.)
[Andrew] Card has been White House chief of staff from Day One. But until now he has had an unusually low profile for someone in such a lofty position. Three events changed that. One: Bush Best Buddy Karen Hughes announced that she is leaving, heading back to Texas for family reasons. Two: Card was quoted in the new issue of Esquire lamenting Hughes's departure, worrying aloud about the burdens he would have to shoulder and the turf battles he would have to fight with the other Bush Best Buddy, Karl Rove. Third: The president has shifted gears and proposed to create a Department of Homeland Security, a plan that had its genesis in Card's office, and that Card will now have major responsibility for shepherding into existence. All of which puts Andrew H. Card Jr. (everyone calls him "Andy") at center stage.
Card's profile is rising at a crucial time. Though Bush's approval ratings still float in the 70s, a run of popularity unprecedented in modern polling, he now faces a decisive moment in his tenure, when attention to detail is going to matter more than the basics of imagemaking and speech-giving, both of which Bush has taken to more expertly than critics (even friends) imagined when he took office in 2000.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz calls Jose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah al Muhajir, "a very dangerous man," and perhaps he is. But by locking him up indefinitely without bringing charges, the government is setting a precedent for preventive detention of any U.S. citizen whom the president decides to put on the country's enemy list. [...]
[T]he Justice Department never charged Padilla with a crime. After detaining him for a month as a "material witness," the government decided he was actually an "enemy combatant," so he was turned over to the Defense Department, which is now holding him at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C.
According to The Washington Post, the transfer was necessary because prosecutors did not have enough evidence to indict Padilla. Now "investigators can continue seeking information from him with relatively little interference from a defense attorney."
It's hard not to see Mr. Sullum's kind of absolutist position as fanatical to the point of absurdity.
President Bush early this year signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive, covert program to topple Saddam Hussein, including authority to use lethal force to capture the Iraqi president, according to informed sources.
The presidential order, an expansion of a previous presidential finding designed to oust Hussein, directs the CIA to use all available tools, including:
* Increased support to Iraqi opposition groups and forces inside and outside Iraq including money, weapons, equipment, training and intelligence information.
* Expanded efforts to collect intelligence within the Iraqi government, military, security service and overall population where pockets of intense anti-Hussein sentiment have been detected.
* Possible use of CIA and U.S. Special Forces teams, similar to those that have been successfully deployed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Such forces would be authorized to kill Hussein if they were acting in self-defense.
The administration has already allocated tens of millions of dollars to the covert program. Nonetheless, CIA Director George J. Tenet has told Bush and his war cabinet that the CIA effort alone, without companion military action, economic and diplomatic pressure, probably has only about a 10 to 20 percent chance of succeeding, the sources said.
One source said that the CIA covert action should be viewed largely as "preparatory" to a military strike so the agency can identify targets, intensify intelligence gathering on the ground in Iraq, and build relations with alternative future leaders and groups if Hussein is ousted.
The basis for my economic philosophy rest between two Biblical pillars: the desire to help the poor and the acknowledgment of man's sinfulness. [...]
Helping the Poor- It's fairly clear that God wants the needy looked after. This leads many godly people towards a more socialist worldview, as they strive to help the poor by enlisting the government in the process. Jesus did say, "The poor you will always have with you," but the context was of worshiping Him while He was still here, not of the futility of helping the needy. Some level or redistribution of wealth is needed, and I'm not quite ready to go the libertarian route of letting charity and the private sector handle everything. We may debate how to help the poor and how much, but whether to help at all is not a valid question for the believer.
Yet the modern social welfare state allows us to fulfill this obligation at several removes. It allows us to "care" for our neighbors without love ever entering the equation. After all, what am I paying taxes for if not to house the poor, feed the hungry, etc? Haven't I shown myself to be concerned? Aren't the needy being looked after? And in paying these taxes, haven't I fully discharged my obligations, regardless of whether this system is, in the long run, in the best interest of the poor? Why need I be personally involved with the needy having already given them my money?
As in so many things, the clearest vision of the dangers of such a system belonged to Alexis de Tocqueville, who said the following in his brilliant Memoir on Pauperism :
[I]ndividual alms-giving established valuable ties between the rich and the poor. The deed itself involves the giver in the fate of the one whose poverty he has undertaken to alleviate. The latter, supported by aid which he had no right to demand and which he had no hope to getting, feels inspired by gratitude. A moral tie is established between those two classes whose interests and passions so often conspire to separate them from each other, and although divided by circumstance they are willingly reconciled. This is not the case with legal charity. The latter allows the alms to persist but removes its morality. The law strips the man of wealth of a part of his surplus without consulting him, and he sees the poor man only as a greedy stranger invited by the legislator to share his wealth. The poor man, on the other hand, feels no gratitude for a benefit that no one can refuse
him and that could not satisfy him in any case. Public alms guarantee life but do not make it happier or more comfortable than individual alms-giving; legal charity does not thereby eliminate wealth or poverty in society. One class still views the world with fear and loathing while the other regards its misfortune with despair and envy. Far from uniting these two rival nations, who have existed since the beginning of the world and who are called the rich and poor, into a single people, it breaks the only link which could be established between them. It ranges each one under a banner, tallies them, and, bringing them face to face, prepares them for combat.
I know, I know, I could go work at a shelter or a soup kitchen and see that I have neighbors in need. But don't I pay taxes so that someone else will do that for me? I recognize how selfish this is of me, how un-Christian. And I know that there are many good people, far better than I , who are out there every day doing good works. But how many of you, even the church goers among you, have any time recently come in significant contact with a poor person and helped them, with your own two hands? I suspect the answer may be : not too many.
Nor do I seek to needlessly condemn myself, nor the rest of you, for I do not think we're uncaring in this. We are merely men after all and having worked our three or four months of the year to pay our taxes, who's to say we aren't entitled to say we've done enough. We do not do less than for the poor than those who came before us. We are not cheap--we are more generous than any people have ever been. We are not become bad people. Rather, we are all of us products of a social structure that, under the guise of charity, has created a tremendous distance between ourselves and those we are commanded to love. And this is of course only one manifestation of how modernity establishes these barriers. Others include the break down of the nuclear family and of the extended family, the decline of churches, neighborhoods and voluntary associations, etc. Our lives are generally more atomized than they have ever been before; this just may be particularly noticeable as regards our interaction (or lack of such) with the poor. We share readily of our wealth; it is our selves that we are loathe to share. But, it is the self, not the purse, that is implicated in the commandment to love each other.
If we are too live up to the obligation that God imposes then, we will have to reverse this trend, will have to become less dependent on government and more dependent on one another. And note, it is not just the poor but the wealthy too who have become dependent. We too consume unemployment benefits and retirement monies and send our parents off to retirement homes and the like. And we get all of these benefits without so much as a please or a thank you, as largesse to which we're entitled. No one is grateful for a Social Security check; they think, perhaps rightly, that they earned it. And if they will receive more than they ever put in, well so be it. They paid their taxes--they want their money. And when I got my student loans, did I pause to consider how blessed I was or what duties it imposed on me? Not on your life. And when I lost my job and applied for unemployment, did I think : thank you, fellow citizens, for making this money available to me? Pshaw. I thought : finally I get back some of what I'm owed.
But imagine a different world, an older world : where our parents live with us in their later years; where I help my neighbor when his house burns down; where we don't just write our checks to the government and feel our obligations are fulfilled, but are thrust back upon each other and must help each other deal with life. Imagine that when I need help I have to ask for it and you have to either say yes or no, to me, knowing that next week it may be you who need help. Imagine the moral obligation this kind of interaction places upon me as the recipient and the moral weight you must reckon with if you say no. Imagine that the assistance the poor receive came from their friends and neighbors and fellow church members and other local institutions, all of whom were there offering help but at the same time keeping an eye open--imposing a duty on the recipient to do their best and to be equal to the assistance they've received. Imagine that you and I actually had to see how the other half live, the challenges they face, the hardships they have to overcome.
This world, let's be quite honest, is repellent to us. We don't particularly want a house full of family--we want our "space". We don't want to have to ask for help--we want someone to have to give it when told to. We don't want to be asked for help by some smelly homeless person or some white trash unwed mother--we want some agency with an acronym to deal with it. We don't want to have to go to church and to neighborhood groups and to PTA meetings and to Masonic Lodges and Bowling Leagues and all the rest, just to re-develop the network of community that once served where government now stands. We want to pay our taxes and be left alone, so very alone, in our own splendid isolation..
But as we look around us, at the nation we've become and at the kind of people we're becoming, mightn't it be time to ask ourselves if we're really well served by our distance from each other? Isn't it possible that the psychic and physical violence we increasingly find ourselves perpetrating against one another--from divorce to abortion to euthanasia to road rage to workplace and classroom shootings and all the myriad little ways in which our society has become routinely profane and abrasive and discourteous--is a function of this distance that we maintain from one another and that our current social structure, which enables us to depend on government instead of on each other, is a major contributor to the problem? Would I treat you in such a manner if I needed you, which, thanks to government programs, I don't?
Finally then, this leaves us to consider the possibility that both axes upon which we might graph the Byron Curve may in reality represent detrimental effects of government on our society. If every additional dollar we spend on social services ends up not merely being ineffective in alleviating the suffering of the poor but also distancing us further each from the other then we may have to reconsider the whole thing. If the overarching effect of social spending is to create a social structure in which the primary relationship is between the individual and his government, while destroying the sinews of pre-existing non-governmental relationships, we're in real trouble. Our best intentions (as reflected by the willingness to transfer money from the wealthy to the poor through the medium of government) may turn out to lead us into a world in which there is a high level of well-being (defined as a purely socio-economic matter) but where there is no love, for each of may depend solely on the government for our care and sustenance and one can't love a government. We may create a world that's filled to overflowing with joytrons, but which is devoid of Joy. Is not such a world the very approximation of Hell?
Afghans lined up behind microphones for a second day Saturday to air gripes, grievances and ideas about their nation's future as the tribal council to select a new government evolved into more of a national conversation than a decision-making body.
With the election of Hamid Karzai late Thursday as president of an 18-month transitional government, the loya jirga, or grand council, turned its attention to choosing a Cabinet and a 111-seat legislature.
But by midmorning, those subjects had not come up. Instead, delegates spoke on a variety of topics, and their message rang clear: Listen to us. [...]
"At the end of the loya jirga, you should not go home. Don't go to your provinces. Just stay here and have meetings and talk with me - three or four provinces at a time," Karzai said. "I have things to say to you, and I am sure you have things to say to me."
That's no small thing for one people to give to another.
The idea of using Navajos to conceal the content of Marine messages came from Philip Johnston, a missionary's son who grew up on their reservation speaking the language. [...]
But Mr. Johnston saw that the 50,000-member Navajo tribe offered a sufficiently large pool of English- and Navajo-speaking young men. And he knew that no Germans, Japanese or Italians had studied the language, whose complexities defy both interception and interpretation. It includes sounds that don't exist in German, Italian, Japanese or English. For example, the word doc pronounced with a low tone means "not"; with a high tone, it means "and." And while English and Navajo distinguish between unvoiced and voiced consonants (f is unvoiced, v is voiced), Navajo also has ejective consonants, expressed with a burst of breath. An enemy wanting to decode messages in Navajo would first have to transcribe those unfamiliar sounds. But would the decoder know what to listen for and how to notate them?
Moreover, Navajo verbs have different grammatical modes to denote different points in time, among other things. A speaker must use one form if he himself was aware of the start of rain, another if he believes rain was falling for some time in his locality before he noticed it, and so on. The Navajo verb, one anthropologist has said, is "like a tiny imagist poem." Thus na'il-dil means "You are accustomed to eat plural separable objects one at a time." This linguistic and phonetic complexity makes the language not only difficult for non-Navajos to understand but almost impossible to counterfeit.
Mr. Johnston persuaded the Marines to let him demonstrate his idea. On Feb. 28, 1942, four Navajos living in the Los Angeles area were given five messages to send in Navajo. Although there were inaccuracies when a Navajo misheard the message, Maj. Gen. Clayton B. Vogel, commander of the Amphibious Force of the Pacific Fleet, realized the potential of the Navajos. He recommended to the commandant of the Marine Corps that they be recruited and trained for secret spoken communications.
By the beginning of May, the first 29 had been inducted, and they received basic training and were sent to Camp Elliott, Calif., to prepare as codetalkers. [...]
During the first 48 hours of the Iwo Jima landing, the signal officer of the Fifth Marine Division operated six Navajo radio nets, whose codetalkers sent more than 800 messages without error. It was a codetalker message that reported that the Marines had reached the summit of Mount Suribachi, where the famous flag-raising took place. The Japanese never interpreted a single message.
The Iron Law of American Politics is that the rightward-most candidate in any federal election will be demonized as an extremist by his rivals and by the liberal press.
A corollary is that it doesn't matter how far left the rightward-most candidate sits. If Leon Trotsky were running against Josef Stalin for President of the United States, Stalin would accuse Trotsky of being a rightwing extremist and the New York Times would echo the judgment.
As the 30th anniversary of Watergate nears, student investigators at the University of Illinois have concluded that Deep Throat, the White House source
who helped journalists unravel the greatest political scandal in American history, was most likely conservative commentator Pat Buchanan.
Since 1999, journalism professor William Gaines and his students have set about unmasking the elusive informant. Building on the work of their predecessors-and examining information ranging from thousands of pages of FBI records to interviews with members of the Nixon administration-this year's class unanimously fingered Buchanan, a White House speechwriter during the Watergate era.
A report of the University of Illinois investigation, "A Finders Guide to Deep Throat," was posted on the Internet late Friday.
Martin Burnham was killed last week during a firefight between the Philippine army and Abu Sayyaf rebels, who had been holding him and his wife hostage since May 27, 2001. Gracia Burnham, 43, was shot in her leg during the rescue and remains in a wheelchair. She returned home to Rose Hill on Monday.
A public memorial service for her husband is expected to draw more than 4,000 people Friday to the Central Christian Church in Wichita.
In the weeks before his death, Burnham asked his wife that his funeral feature a sermon by a Kansas City pastor, Clay Bowlin, and a special song, "Ashokan Farewell."
The sun is sinking low in the sky above Ashokan.
The pines and the willows know soon we will part.
There's a whisper in the wind of promises unspoken,
And a love that will always remain in my heart.
My thoughts will return to the sound of your laughter,
The magic of moving as one,
And a time we'll remember long ever after
The moonlight and music and dancing are done.
Will we climb the hills once more?
Will we walk the woods together?
Will I feel you holding me close once again?
Will every song we've sung stay with us forever?
Will you dance in my dreams or my arms until then?
Under the moon the mountains lie sleeping
Over the lake the stars shine.
They wonder if you and I will be keeping
The magic and music, or leave them behind.
In addition, here's a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), written while he was in a Nazi prison, CHRISTIANS AND UNBELIEVERS :
Men go to God when they are sore bestead,
Pray to him for succour, for his peace, for bread,
For mercy for them sick, sinning or dead:
All men do so, Christian and unbelieving.
Men go to God when he is sore bestead,
Find him poor and scorned, without shelter or bread,
Whelmed under weight of the wicked, the weak, the dead:
Christians stand by God in his hour of grieving.
God goeth to every man when sore bestead,
Feedeth body and spirit with his bread,
For Christians, heathens alike he hangeth dead:
And both alike forgiving.
In a letter of July 18, 1944, Bonhoeffer offered his own analysis of the ideas he was trying to develop in these verses. He explained to his correspondent :
The poem about Christians and Unbelievers embodies an idea you will recognize: 'Christians range themselves with God in his suffering; that is what distinguishes them from the heathen.' As Jesus asked in Gethsemane, 'Could ye not watch with me one hour?' That is the exact opposite of what the religious man expects from God. Man is challenged to participate in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world.
He must therefore plunge himself into the life of a godless world, without attempting to gloss over its ungodliness with a veneer of religion or trying to transfigure it. He must live a 'worldly' life and so participate in the suffering of God. He may live a worldly life as one emancipated from all false religions and obligations. To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to cultivate some particular form of asceticism (as a sinner, a penitent or a saint), but to be a man. It is not some religious act which makes a Christian what he is, but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world.
When Bonhoeffer spoke of a godless world he meant something to the effect that God is not an immediate presence to be turned to when we have problems, as He had seemed in earlier times, but that instead we must learn to help ourselves. Mightn't we also say that the world is godless in the sense that we are not willing to participate in the suffering of others in the here and now, but are so consumed with the self that we seek only an escape of some kind from this reality? Bonhoeffer summoned us to live in this world, filled as it is with sin and wickedness, rather than to pine for the next, to lift our gaze from our own navels and to see and feel the suffering of others around us.
The Burnhams obeyed such a summons and Martin Burnham gave his life. This must seem a tragedy to some people, a waste to others, maybe even crazy to a few. But turning again to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, he said : When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die. For people with the courage of the Burnhams, the summons is no less compelling for the fate that may await. And for that we honor them and the memory of Martin Burnham.
Here's a poem by Geoffrey Hill in honor of Bonhoeffer that speaks to us of Martin Burnham too :
Bonhoeffer in his skylit cell
bleached by the flares' candescent fall,
pacing out his own citadel,
restores the broken themes of praise,
encourages our borrowed days,
by logic of his sacrifice.
Against wild reasons of the state
his words are quiet but not too quiet.
We hear too late or not too late.
N.B. : Black Robe (1985)(Brian Moore 1921-1999) is an exceptionally good novel and film about Jesuit missionaries in French Canada. There's also a good film about Bonhoeffer : Agent of Grace (2000) (directed by Eric Till 1929-).
U.S. Dismantled by Poland, but Makes Round of 16 (Steven Goff, June 14, 2002, Washington Post)
(1) Any "sport" where you advance to the next round after a loss is inherently evil.
(2) No one will tell me the official rules for wilding. We just lost a World Cup game, right? Aren't I supposed to go out and kill one of the players or beat a convenience store owner or light a car on fire? Do I have to take out my anger on only Poles? Or will any minority do? Will no one tells us the ettiquette of Yobbism?
So the next time you hear some nitwit talking head rambling on about how Americans borrow too much and don't save enough, by all means take a look at your too large credit card debt and consider paying it down, but then take a look at your mortgage and your 401k statement and then throw something at the TV. Even if you break it, you can afford a newer, bigger, and better one. You're an American; you've got savings out the wazoo.
N.B.--the foregoing should be considered even more unreliable than the usual sketchy ranting posted here. I'm actually not at all sure that the numbers crunchers haven't yet compensated for their home ownership oversight, but I know that several years ago they hadn't. If I'm wrong please feel free to let me have it with both barrels.
In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 66 percent of lesbians and gay men called themselves liberal and only 7 percent said they were conservative. Yet the loudest queer voices belong to homocons. Andrew Sullivan, Camille Paglia and Norah Vincent are the hot gay pundits, and they owe their success to liberal publications. Though Sullivan now claims he has been barred from writing for The New York Times Magazine (allegedly because he makes the new executive editor, Howell Raines, "uncomfortable"), for the past four years he has been the signature of that paper's interest in the gay community. Paglia regularly makes the rounds of hip publications, from Interview to Salon. Vincent is a creature of the
alternative press; she leapfrogged from the Village Voice to the Los Angeles Times. Though the gay left survives in progressive journals, and though some liberals (such as Detroit News columnist Deb Price) can be heard in the heartland, radical queers can't compete with homocons when it comes to major media. As a result, gay and lesbian commentary in America is skewed sharply to the right. It's as if the press had designated a foe of affirmative action like Ward Connerly to be the spokesman for his race.
Secondly, since this seems to be my week to defend conservatism from its friends, while we on the Right can value the assistance of able commentators like Andrew Sullivan and Camille Paglia, and can easily share the Republican Party with them, it is simply absurd to refer to them as Conservatives. Morality is a vital component of Conservatism. In the words, once again, of Russell Kirk :
[T]he essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity. Conservatives respect the wisdom of their ancestors...; they are dubious of wholesale alteration. They think society is a spiritual reality, possessing an eternal life but a delicate constitution : it cannot be scrapped and recast as if it were a machine. 'What is conservatism?' Abraham Lincoln inquired once. 'Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?'
At any rate, I've addressed some of these issues more fully in a review of Mr. Sullivan's marvelous book, Virtually Normal. For now let us just assure Mr. Goldstein that the gay Left is still swinging the bigger microphones and he need not fear that the "homocons", as he so charmingly puts it, are taking over the public debate. We can only pray for the day when Andrew Sullivan's audience is the size of Rosie's, and vice
There is no issue involving confidential sources. [Jonathan C. ] Randal argued instead, according to the ruling, that "journalists' independence would be undermined and journalists would have fewer opportunities to conduct interviews with officials with superior authority," and that "journalists would as a collective profession be put at risk of greater harm and danger."
Randal, now living in Paris, maintained that reporters should enjoy a qualified privilege against testifying in such tribunals, and that his account was of little importance in the trial.
But the prosecution contended that Randal's article "goes directly to the heart of the case against Brdjanin" and that the retired reporter is in "no danger."
In U.S. court cases, such disputes are sometimes resolved with a statement by the journalist that his article was accurate, which allows it to be introduced as evidence.
In this case, though, Randal's interview was conducted through a journalistic interpreter, identified only as "X." Brdjanin's defense team contends that Randal must be cross-examined.
In this column, Washington has generally played the role of the Great Satan. It is both the antithesis and the nemesis of New York. My favorite explanation of the New York-Washington relationship, not to mention the history of urban civilization, is the economist Brad DeLong's theory of merchants versus princes.
Cities have always been created by merchants, the peaceful deal-makers who flourish under the protection of a relatively hands-off prince. The city becomes cosmopolitan as the merchants import money and talent: entrepreneurs and artisans to create industries; artists and entertainers to serve the new class of patrons.
But the city's growing wealth and glamour eventually attract the age's most ambitious princes. Once these conquerors add the city to their empire, their taxes and decrees drive away the merchants and artists. [...]
Dr. DeLong's study did not include New York, but it is easy for a non-economist to spot a similar trend here in the last century. The city's population grew rapidly for the first three decades, doubling to nearly 7 million by 1930. But as Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert Moses consolidated their power and allied themselves with the rising New Deal princes in Washington, the growth slowed, and the population stagnated at 7.8 million from 1950 through 1970. It fell by 800,000 during the 1970's, when Washington's princes were working especially hard to rescue urban America.
Congress's "urban agenda" was scrapped by its Republican princes during the 1980's and 1990's, and Washington's benign neglect coincided with a rebound in New York's population. The merchants gained power, and today one of them is prince. If Michael R. Bloomberg is anything like Lorenzo the Magnificent, the city will prosper.
Second, Mr. Tierney is a notorious thought-criminal, the libertarian in the NY Times' woodpile. In one hilariously hysterical profile, Libertarian Rhapsody, Chris Mooney, 9.10.01, American Prospect), it was even suggested that Mr. Tierney is some kind of ideological cancer growing on the Gray Lady :
What is this man doing at the Times? In seven years of writing "The Big City," Tierney has built a reputation as a provocateur whose journalistic sallies tend to target New York City's liberal elite. Underneath the urbane, whimsical-prankster sensibility, however, is a fairly straightforward ideological mission. Despite its title, Tierney's column is not entirely a reporter's notebook of random musings about Gotham. It's closer to a series of briefs for laissez-faire.
Traveling to Wisconsin,...former vice president [Al Gore] was pulled aside for random security screening at Reagan National Airport before boarding the 7:15 p.m. flight to Milwaukee on Friday.
Passengers sharing Flight 406 were startled to hear Gore being told, "Sorry, sir, you have to go through extra screening," and to witness security personnel rifling through his briefcase and suitcase, a witness said.
"You're looking out and seeing Al Gore's unmentionables in his big, carry-on suitcase," said Mark Graul of Green Bay. "You could tell he was thinking, 'This is not happening to me.'
"He did not have a happy look on his face. Basically the whole plane boarded before they got through looking through his stuff.
"He patiently went through it and then took a seat in the front row with, I assume, an aide," Graul said. [...]
On Saturday afternoon, when Gore was leaving Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport, he was taken aside for some extra scrutiny at a Midwest Express gate before boarding a flight to New York, said Gore spokesman Jano Cabrera, who accompanied him during both checks.
ABC's Peter Jennings gave the boot to country singer Toby Keith after deciding the lyrics of his hit song, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," were too controversial for the network's July 4th special celebrating America.
At least, that's the version from the roughneck Oklahoma native. ABC, on the other hand, has said logistics and "a number of other factors" prevented the network from booking Keith for its three-hour special, being hosted by Jennings, who is Canadian.
"If he can't run an S&L," Davis asks, "how can he run California?"
Simon's business record is fair game. But this commercial is a cynical attempt by Davis to mislead ill-informed voters. While it is true that the savings and loan failed, the business went down only after the government broke its word to the investors. Simon is not the villain here. He is the victim.
Here's what happened.
Some years ago, on a camping trip in the pine woods of northern Michigan, my friend Don brought along a copy of an outdoor cookbook that appeared on the best-seller lists at the time. This book contained many ingenious and easy-sounding recipes; one that Don especially wanted to try was called "Breakfast in a Paper Bag." According to this recipe, you could take a small paper lunch sack, put strips of bacon in the bottom, break an egg into the sack on top of the bacon, fold down the top of the sack, push a stick through the fold, hold the sack over hot coals, and cook the bacon and egg in the sack in about ten minutes.
I watched as Don followed the directions exactly. Both he and I remarked that we would naturally have thought the sack would burn; the recipe, however, declared, "grease will coat the bottom of the bag as it cooks." Somehow we both took this to mean that the grease, counterintuitively, actually made the bag less likely to burn. Marveling at the "who would have guessed" magic of it, we picked a good spot in the hot coals of our campfire, and Don held the sack above them. We watched. In a second and a half, the bag burst into leaping flames. Don was yelling for help, waving the bag around trying to extinguish it, scattering egg yolk and smoldering strips of bacon and flaming paper into the combustible pines while people at adjoining campfires stared in horror and wondered what they should do.
The number of Americans who believe the US supports Israel too much has climbed since last fall, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
Fifty percent of those polled said the US either supports Israel the right amount or too little. But 43% said the US gives too much support to Israel, a substantial increase from last October when the question was first asked. Then, only 29% said the US gives too much support to Israel and a larger majority 67% said support was about right or lacking.
"These figures represent a significant decline in a pro-Israeli point of view over the last eight months," an analysis put out by Gallup said.
When broken down by party affiliation, more of the Democrats polled (51%) than Republicans (36%) said US support for Israel is too great. Forty-two percent of Democrats said the support is about right or too little versus 59% of Republicans who said the support is about right or too little.
Interesting how Republican Americans are now the bulwark of Israeli support abroad.
A group of leading American writers, actors and academics have signed a statement strongly criticising their government's policies since September 11. It is an indication of a growing feeling that the administration is promoting its own agenda on the back of the attacks.
In a statement called Not In Our Name, the signatories say the government has "declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression". They also criticise the media for failing to challenge the direction the government has taken.
They include the musicians Laurie Anderson and Mos Def, the actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, the writers Alice Walker, Russell Banks, Barbara Kingsolver and Grace Paley, and the playwrights Eve Ensler and Tony Kushner.
Martin Luther King III, Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Rabbi Michael Lerner have added their names, making this the widest ranging group of opponents of government policy since September 11.
European governments have long suspected it. Environmentalists have long proclaimed it. But now there is clear evidence that President George Bush's environmental policy is indeed a load of crap.
For the United States is blocking an international plan to halve the number of people, two-fifths of the population of the planet, who have no sanitation. Some 2.4 billion people lack even a bucket for their wastes, and this is one of the main causes of world disease.
Conservatives, by definition, seek to conserve something from the past--institutions, cultural mores, values, political beliefs, traditions.
What happens when a society moves so far from righteous values and freedom principles that there is little left to conserve?
That is where I believe America finds itself in the early part of the 21st century. Let me give you some examples of why:
* the breakdown of the institutions of marriage and family;
* the inability of many to distinguish between right and wrong;
* the consolidation of power in Washington and in the executive branch;
* the breakdown in the rule of law;
* the usurpation of power by unaccountable supra-national agencies;
* infringements on personal freedoms
* increasing vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction and government's unwillingness or inability to address such a basic concept of defense; [...]
I'm not a "conservative" because I see precious little left in this world worth conserving. Conservatives, from my experience, do not make good freedom fighters. They seem to think a victory is holding back attacks on liberty or minimizing them. They are forever on the defensive--trying to conserve or preserve an apple that is rotten to the core.
His is the fanaticism that >Eric Hoffer described so well and set against the more moderate reasonableness of the healthy citizen of a free society :
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.
(via ESR : Musings)
At first glance, you'd think the two authors of You May Not Tie an Alligator to a Fire Hydrant: 101 Real Dumb Laws might be lawyers. But Andy Powell and Jeff Koon are actually 18-year-old recent graduates from a Georgia high school. In addition to the book, the guys have also created a Web site, dumblaws.com.
THE STORY THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. The Washington Post's James Grimaldi has put together a must-read story on how Enron operated in Washington to get $ 200 million in federal support for a 400 mile pipeline from Bolivia to Brazil through a pristine tropical forest. Turns out the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), which made the decision to support the pipeline, is actually charged with protecting the kind of forest that has now been all but destroyed.
Mr. den Beste says that : "[T]he terms 'Liberal' and 'Conservative' are nearly useless now. There isn't any consensus as to what they really mean, or rather the consensus for each has been created by their opponents as ugly caricatures. I gave up on both words a long time ago..." He chooses instead to call himself an Engineerist (we might call him a Pragmatist Libertarian) : "Engineerists are socially liberal, economically conservative and politically libertarian. " The Pragmatism is evident here : "We Engineerists are intensely pragmatic. We don't try to come up with overriding philosophies ("wealth is evil", "Government regulation is evil", "America is evil") and then judge everything based on it. Individual cases are taken as they come, and the only criterion for any given proposal is practical: will it work better than the alternatives?" The Libertarianism is evident here : "Social liberalism to me means tolerance of differences, a general attitude of leaving other people alone and not judging them just because they act in ways I would not. Social liberalism embraces the idea that left to themselves people will follow different paths, and this is a Good Thing."
He differentiates himself from Conservatives in one, all important, way : "I suspect that the majority of people would classify me as being more Conservative than Liberal, and that's part of the problem. There seems to be more than one kind of Conservative. In particular, there is a strain of Conservatism which is based on fundamentalist protestant Christianity, and as an atheist I find its policies intensely distasteful. A lot of the Eric's anti-knowledge, anti-liberty, anti-free-speech comes out of that lot, and I want nothing to do with them."
Now that's all well and good so far as eking out a personal political philosophy goes, but it reflects a serious failure to grasp the most fundamental tenet of Conservatism : all of Conservatism flows from the core belief that left to his own devices Man is sinful, acquisitive, and violent. Mr. den Beste refers to a strain of conservatism that is based on Christianity. This is far too parsimonious a claim. In fact, all of conservatism is based on the Judeo-Christian story of the Creation and of Man's Fall and the corresponding belief that Man, though he derives a certain dignity from his creation by and likeness to God, has a fatal flaw, a great predilection for evil.
To many people this makes conservatives seem overly pessimistic or anti-human. But what Mr. den Beste refers to as an "ugly caricature" of Conservatism is probably not a construct of its opponents at all, but is what Conservatives really believe. The glowering visage of Robert Bork proclaiming to people that we're on the road to Hell may seem deranged to non-conservatives, but for us it's Mother's milk.
It can come as no surprise then that most people prefer the Left's more comforting and flattering view of Man, expressed most ably in the writings of Rousseau and Marx, as having once lived in communal peace and harmony in the State of Nature and as capable of returning to such a blissful state if only the artificial structures of the capitalist economy--with its inherently unequal distribution of wealth--are removed. Libertarians too believe in Man as essentially "good", though they believe that it is the institutions of the State that have corrupted us--remove the State and return to paradise. The appeal of these philosophies is obvious, with their far more charitable views of mankind and their far more optimistic views of the future.
Mr. den Beste's belief that if people were left alone, to "follow different paths", it would be a "Good Thing", expresses just such a Utopian worldview. It is also utterly incompatible with conservatism in any of its various forms. In addition, it goes nearly without saying that an atheist can not be a Conservative, since atheism offers no basis for the human dignity and morality that inform conservatism. Those who would consider Mr. den Beste a Conservative do both him and Conservatism a disservice. Engineerism is not Conservatism. Mr. den Beste is not a Conservative. Why the confusion?
Diplomats here insist that even Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's hard-line spiritual leader, is no longer against relations with the U.S.--he can smell the mood here too and he knows how badly Iran's economy needs U.S. investment and trade--but he wants to find a way to do it whereby he, not the reformers, gets the credit and controls it, so that any U.S. opening doesn't end up as a boost to his political opponents. [...]
[I] don't know what the final outcome will be, but I do know this: If Secretary of State Colin Powell were to announce tomorrow that he was ready to fly to Tehran and put everything on the table--an end to sanctions, Iran's nuclear program, its support for Palestinian terrorists, diplomatic relations--he would light this place on fire.
Great leaders are defined by their ability to envision that which seems impossible at the moment and then to achieve it. Ronald Reagan, our most visionary president, could imagine the possibility of Iran and America reconciled, but he failed in his effort to bring it about. Does George W. Bush have that same kind of vision, that capacity for greatness?
Like it or not, and I expect most of the people reading this don't like it, the New York Times is one of the most important and influential institutions in the world. It doesn't seem to be too much to say that the editor of the Times has more power than the leaders of most nations and more than many government officials--any one of whose lives he can destroy if he so chooses. Not quite as powerful, but still players, are the columnists for the Times. When they start grinding their axes it has an undeniable effect. So the Bush national security team must have puckered a bit when they read the following from Maureen Dowd, ten days ago in an essay subtly called Dump Dem Bums :
If it were not for Coleen Rowley's courage, Mr. Mueller and other Bush officials would still be insisting they couldn't possibly have known or imagined or hindered the terrorists' grand plan. And, of course, two months ago Rummy and Ari Fleischer were insisting that Al Qaeda was crippled and on the run.
Now we know the truth: The 9/11 terrorists could have been stopped, if everyone in the F.B.I. had been as hard-working and quick-witted as Special Agent Rowley. Or if the law enforcement agencies had not been so inept, obstructionist, arrogant, antiquated, bloated and turf-conscious--and timid about racial profiling. As The Economist notes, "There is a big difference between policemen picking on speeding black drivers and spies targeting Arabs who might harbor plans to set off nuclear bombs."
So now comes John Ashcroft, saying that everything will be fine because the F.B.I. has begun Googling and dropping in unannounced at the SuicidePilots.com chat room.
So when the Feds, just a few days after the Times calls for their heads, catch an al Qaeda guy who's planning to detonate a dirty nuclear bomb, you kind of have to expect that they're going to trumpet their achievement don't you? Apparently not. Here's Ms Dowd's take Summer of All Fears (MAUREEN DOWD, 6/12/02, NY Times) :
John Ashcroft's announcement that the military has in custody a bona fide Al Qaeda operative who was exploring how to set off a dirty bomb in D.C. or elsewhere was designed both to make our teeth chatter and our gratitude well up. Weren't we thankful that the Bushies were finally catching somebody and protecting us?
To maximize the drama of the moment, Ashcroft aides went into the Justice Department in the pre-dawn hours to prepare the attorney general to give the news live by satellite from Moscow. [...]
It's bad enough that the terrorists are using fear as a device. Does the Bush administration have to do the same thing?
The Islamic enemy strums on our nerves to hurt our economy and get power. The American president strums on our nerves to help his popularity and retain power.
Both the bad guys and the good guys are playing with our heads and ratcheting up the fear factor.
Then again, does anyone edit the Times anymore?
1. Ashcroft never deserves credit.
2. Offering constructive solutions to problems, instead of whining endlessly about them, is a sign of weakness.
3. The People Magazine principle: all political phenomena can be explained with reference solely to caricatures of the personalities involved ("Dubya"
is stupid; "Poppy" is an aristocrat; Cheney is macho-man; etc.). Any reference to the common good or even to old-fashioned politicking is, like, so
4. It is much better to be cute than coherent. (Courtesy of VodkaPundit.)
5. Maureen knows best.
6. It is usually possible and always desirable to name-drop and name-call in the same sentence. (From, once again, the inimitable VodkaPundit.)
7. The particulars of my consumer-driven, shamefully self-involved life reveal universal truths. (From Sean Roche.)
[Golf] has long been an avid pastime of not just the rich and famous but the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. That's because, as the late economist Armen Alchian, an ardent golfer, liked to point out, golf is one of the most democratic--and capitalist--of games. Thanks to handicapping, everybody is equal on a golf course...
Culbert Olson's political career was marked by two milestones. He was the first Democrat to be elected governor of California in the 20th century and the last governor to be denied a second term.
Olson's 1942 defeat at the hands of Republican Earl Warren culminated several years of declining popularity -- most tellingly among his fellow Democrats -- capped by a widespread belief that he had bungled a serious state budget crisis.
Gray Davis was the fourth and last Democrat elected to the governorship in the 20th century, exactly 60 years after Olson's 1938 victory. And as he seeks re-election this year, Davis confronts two Olsonlike problems: unpopularity, including a substantial erosion in his own party, and an immense budget crisis.
Credit for the detente of the past few days must go to the Americans. The Bush Administration has been almost faultless in its handling of the most dangerous nuclear confrontation since 1962. Its envoys, notably the astute Richard Armitage, have bluntly warned Delhi and Islamabad of the dangers and won commitments to restraint. Co-ordinating their diplomacy with Europe, Russia and regional leaders, they have acted with calm and brutal insistence. The message has got through.
So then, please do not openly hate Mr. Bush or call him names or believe his decisions are all too often terribly detrimental to the progress of the human animal. He is too nice. He is too dumb. He is too nicely dumb, in a really smart way. Clever, isn't it? Aww, shucks.
If the Democrats though want us to believe that Bush is no smarter than Rickey Ray, then how can they convince us that he should be held responsible for the actions of his administration? And how can he be evil if he's that stupid?
Sometimes it's really hard to be so partisan, you know?
After five days of "positive" ads, Gov. Gray Davis unleashed the first in what will likely be a series of attack ads on Republican opponent Bill Simon--and with good reason.
There's a new poll floating around Sacramento that shows the embattled Davis trailing Simon by a whopping eight points.
The poll--which was of likely voters and paid for by the Democratic-friendly Service Employees International Union--found newcomer Simon at 42 percent to Davis' 34 percent.
Green Party candidate Peter Camejo came in with 5 percent.
America's history doesn't follow the normal life cycle of nations. American standards of living actually surpassed European standards of living around 1740. For about 260 years, in other words, America has been rich. And yet decline hasn't come; Gibbon would have nothing to write about here. American workers are still the most productive on earth, two-thirds more productive than our counterparts in Great Britain, for example. American technology is still the envy of the world, and her universities are the queens of learning. Three-quarters of the Nobel laureates in economics and the sciences over the past few decades live and work in the United States. Spending more on defense than the next 15 nations combined (while still devoting only around 3 percent of the G.D.P. to the military), America is now the undisputed great power of the globe. And as the Yale historian Paul Kennedy wrote recently in The Financial Times, never before in human history has the disparity between the world's greatest power and the next greatest power been so wide.
The reason America hasn't been corrupted by all its wealth is that in this country we have transformed the nature of money. If you have enough of it, and you are sloppy enough with it, and if you have a system that promiscuously sloshes it around from the deserving to the undeserving and back again so that there are great flows of wealth oozing all over the place and great tales of opportunity in every ear, then pretty soon money is no longer just a thing you hoard in the bank. Money has become the environment, and that changes the way it affects people.
Money in America has been transformed into abundance. In the realm of money, money is scarce. But in the realm of abundance, money is promiscuous. And this environment of abundance comes with its own psychology, morality, sins and virtues. It does not create the old corrupting patterns described by the philosophers. [...]
The environment of abundance accounts for the energy, creativity and dynamism that marks national life.
Sir Alex Fraser Tytler :
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:
from bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependency;
from dependency back again to bondage.
[I]t is easy to see that the richer a nation is, the more the number of those who appeal to public charity must multiply, since two very powerful causes tend to that result. On the one hand, among these nations, the most insecure class continuously grows. On the other hand, needs infinitely expand and diversify, and the chance of being exposed to some of them becomes more frequent each day.
We should not delude ourselves. Let us look calmly and quietly on the future of modern society. We must not be intoxicated by the spectacle of its greatness; let us not be discouraged by the sight of its miseries. As long as the present movement of civilization continues, the standard of living of the greatest number will rise; society will become more perfected, better informed; existence will be easier, milder, more embellished, and longer. But at the same time we must look forward to an increase of those who will resort to the support of all their fellow men to obtain a small part of these benefits. It will be possible to moderate this double movement; special national circumstances will precipitate or suspend its course; but no one can stop it. We must discover the means of attenuating those inevitable evils that are already apparent.
Burke touches [the] matter of patriotism with a searching phrase. 'For us to love our country,' he said, 'our country ought to be lovely.' I have sometimes thought that here may be the rock on which Western civilization will finally shatter itself. Economism can build a society which is rich, prosperous, powerful, even one which has a reasonably wide diffusion of material well-being. It can not build one which is lovely, one which has savour and depth, and which exercises the irresistible attraction that loveliness wields. Perhaps by the time economism has run its course the society it has built may be tired of itself, bored by its own hideousness, and may despairingly consent to annihilation, aware that it is too ugly to be let live any longer.
My thesis...is this: the very perfection with which the XIXth Century gave an organisation to certain orders of existence has caused the masses benefited thereby to consider it, not as an organised, but as a natural system. Thus is explained and defined the absurd state of mind revealed by these masses; they are only concerned with their own well-being, and at the same time they remain alien to the cause of that well-being. As they do not see, behind the benefits of civilisation, marvels of invention and construction which can only be maintained by great effort and foresight, they imagine that their role is limited to demanding these benefits peremptorily, as if they were natural rights. In the disturbances caused by scarcity of food, the mob goes in search of bread, and the means it employs is generally to wreck the bakeries. This may serve as a symbol of the attitude adopted, on a greater and more complicated scale, by the masses of to-day towards the civilisation by which they are supported.
But this idea brings us to the second important point of the conservative critique. The dire predictions above have basically come to fruition in most of the West--from Japan to Sweden--these countries have declining birth rates, swollen social welfare systems, high taxes, low productivity, rising crime rates, rising xenophobia, increased racism, etc., etc., etc. Rather than create permanently healthy societies, wealth (after a brief [200 years, as Sir Alex predicted] period of good times) has begun to destroy these nations--with much of Western Europe even sliding back toward racialist fascism. It is really only the U.S. that has resisted the downward pull of late stage democratic capitalism. So the question is why? And the answer obviously can't be its affluence.
Somewhere in some facet of our respective cultures, America diverges from the rest of the West. Something makes us fundamentally different. We still suffer many of the ills of the West--we too have a too large welfare state, though the smallest in the West; we too have too high taxes, though the lowest in the West; we too have population problems, though not as bad amongst the natives and we compensate by massive immigration; we too have experienced a decline in moral standards, but we remain deeply divided over manifestations of this problem like divorce, abortion, homosexuality, bio-engineering, cloning, etc.; we too have racial tensions and anti-immigrant sentiments, yet they have generally eased rather than gotten worse over the last two hundred years. It is not that we have escaped the worst effects of the revolt of the masses, but that we have put up a far stiffer resistance than the rest of the West. What is the source of this resistance?
The answer, the most obvious thing that differentiates American society from all the others of the developed world, is that unique among the nations of the West we have remained a profoundly religious culture. By most measures I'm aware of, America is in fact one of the most religious nations of the world, both in terms of belief and observance. For an astonishing look at why this matters, I'd direct you to the review of this book, Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World (2001) (Robert P. Kraynak 1949-) , but even more so to the book itself. Here is the core of Professor Kraynak's argument :
The difficulty is that modern democracy's need for a religious basis is no guarantee that one is readily available. As disturbing as it might be for modern believers to admit, the critics of religion have a legitimate point: Christian faith is derived from a revealed book, the Bible, and from church traditions that are not necessarily liberal or democratic in their teachings. The Christian notion of human dignity, for example, is derived from the biblical idea that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. But it is not clear if the Bible's idea of the divine image in man--the Imago Dei--entails political notions like democracy and human rights, in fact, many great theologians of the past understood it to be compatible with kingship, hierarchy, or authoritarian institutions. The Christian view of human dignity is also qualified by a severe view of human sinfulness and by other difficult doctrines--such as, divine election, the hierarchical authority of the church, and the priority of duties to God and neighbor over individual rights. These doctrines are not always easy to square with democratic norms of freedom and equality, nor are they easily discarded without removing the core of Christian faith.
Thus, we must face the disturbing dilemma that modern liberal democracy needs God, but God is not as liberal or as democratic as we would like Him to be. [Italics in original]
Of course, Mr. Brooks is not a conservative critic of America; he's a neoconservative, and, as such, probably doesn't believe any of this. But he seems to have gotten the warning of America's greatest critic exactly wrong. Alexis de Tocqueville famously said that :
America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
What America requires is not self-congratulations about how wealthy and wonderful we are, these are mere products of a system that is increasingly threatened by that very wealth. What is needed is a careful tending of the roots of that system : school vouchers; faith-based social services; a reinvigoration of morality--restrictions on divorce, abortion, and sexual license; massive re-privatization of government, so that we return to dependency on each other instead of on government; etc.. If we do not do such things, we may find that we have not avoided but merely delayed the sorry fate that is consuming the rest of the West. It may be, as Edward Skidelsky has written that :
[T]he fate of liberalism is-in the precise sense the word-tragic. A tragic fate is one that proceeds not from external and accidental causes, but according to an inexorable internal logic. This is precisely the situation of liberalism. It must sever itself from its historical roots in Christianity, yet in doing so it severs itself from the source of its own life. Liberalism must follow a course that leads directly to its own atrophy. It must extirpate itself.
On the eve of the fourth, and perhaps final game of the NBA Finals, one question floats naturally to mind. With all that he has accomplished in the last three years, with all the improvement he has shown throughout his 10 NBA seasons, how close is Shaquille O'Neal to being the greatest center in basketball history?
David Horowitz, whose provocative ad against reparations for slavery generated a firestorm on college campuses during the spring of 2001, assures
the readers of "Uncivil Wars," his self-serving account of that controversy, that the book's "subject is not me, nor is it the advertisement that provoked such a reaction." He claims that the subject of his book is an idea: the "dubious idea of reparations" and, in a larger sense, "the intellectual vulgarities of American universities in an age of 'political correctness.'" This is a misleading characterization of "Uncivil Wars," which is, in fact, all about Horowitz and his in-your-face brand of confrontation.
Horowitz is a master in the art of overstatement. He describes professor Charles Ogletree as exhibiting "hostility to America generally and to white Americans in particular." Now I may lack some objectivity with regard to this accusation because Ogletree is my colleague at Harvard Law School, but in all the years I have known him, both as a student and as colleague, I have never heard him express anti-American or anti-white sentiments. Nor does Horowitz quote or cite a single word uttered by Ogletree, beyond his support for reparations, that would justify such a defamatory characterization.
Precisely because "Uncivil Wars" is a book about Horowitz and his style of inciting divisive and emotional reactions, its implications are somewhat limited. He does succeed in demonstrating that many students have thin skins, many faculty members limited vision and many administrators little courage when provoked by insensitive speech--and that such speech must be fully protected. He is naive to expect polite responses to his provocations. Provocateurs should not expect--as he apparently does--civil libertarians to rush to defend the substance of their views. Provocateurs shouldn't whine--as he does--when they succeed in provoking irrational responses.
These guys remind me of the old joke, you're stranded on a desert island with David Horowitz and Alan Dershowitz and you have a gun but only one bullet. who do you shoot? Answer : yourself.
Today, very few people can recall a stirring observance of Washington's birthday, or even explain the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Labor Day and the Fourth of July.
In fact, one of the few universal associations with Memorial Day is its traditional role in marking the beginning of the summer movie season--a milestone all but obliterated by Hollywood's jump-the-gun eagerness to roll out its latest wheezy, breezy, recycled offerings.
Many Americans may not have observed Memorial Day this year, but all America paid attention to the Star Wars release day--and some of us even took off from work for the occasion.
In a fragmented culture, we eagerly embrace such reassuring icons. For Hollywood, familiarity doesn't breed contempt, but instead inspires reliable profits.
In recent days and weeks, Rush's consistency has been getting him some harsh admonishment from callers and correspondents - the reason for this article. People are upset when he agrees with the president (he mustn't), and when he disagrees with the president (again, he mustn't).
The likely reason is that people have lost their footing. With every passing day, it becomes more difficult to countenance the president's wholesale abandonment of Founding principles in the name of election strategy. Should conservatives advocate that the administration do the right thing for America now, or obey Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment? And it is easier to vent one's frustration on a radio talk show host, than on the . Perish the thought.
However, there is a price to be paid when the conservative media decides that a president is not "conservative enough" for them. Bill Clinton was elected president in large part because conservatives, and I know and shall never forgive several of them, decided that George Bush's was not a presidency worth saving. Instead they voted for Ross Perot or Clinton (as Bill Safire famously admitted) or just stayed home. That too is a right, but the exercise of that right had consequences and those who "sent a message" to George Bush in 1992 must accept the responsibility for the eight years of Bill Clinton they got in exchange. So what precisely was the point of that message?
Unfortunately, it is premature to assume that this flirtation is leading to a serious courtship. We say this not because the GOP lacks sincerity or passion; the depths of Republican commitment to Israel could not better be demonstrated than by the fact that Israel's best friends in the House and Senate are from states with virtually no Jewish electorate or influence. For at least two decades prior to September 11, 2001, it has been an axiom in Washington that the further to the right one goes in the Republican Party, be it in the Congress or in the Administration, the more rock-solid the support for Israel. Painfully, some of politics' most maligned Christian conservatives, in fact have been Israel's best friends, precisely because they support Israel out of high conviction, and not as a political calculation.
Depressingly, most American Jews still appear to believe in an image of Christian conservatives based on one of two stereotypes, and often (however inconsistently) both: One is the majoritarian oppressor of Old Europe, and the other the straw-man parodies of American conservative Protestantism served up by the popular culture. Neither stereotype has anything to do with the genuinely philosemitic community of politically active, patriotic, conservative Christians that comprise much of America. For many of our Christian neighbors, the only question about the Jews is why on earth we aren't more Jewish - for they see in the Nation of Israel the nation chosen by G-d to convey His message to all the world.
If only the Jews saw themselves that way. We have overwhelmingly replaced our proud tradition and profound worldview with faddish "isms". We have raised successive generations of American Jewish children to be ignorant and dismissive of our history and heritage. The resulting product is a Jewish community that rejects the most fundamental underpinnings of our religion and all but the most tepid degree of spiritual commitment outright.
But it would seem that if Judaism is to endure and if the Jews as a people are to endure that they will have to undergo a Great Awakening, which will involve returning to the core beliefs of the religion. Perhaps more importantly they need to start having children. Population trends suggest that Jewish birthrates are so low that Jews may cease to exist as a recognizable and measurable demographic group even in countries like America and Israel will eventually just be swamped by arabs.
Both of these, admittedly massive, changes would tend to make Jews far more conservative on social issues than they are now and would make for a more comfortable fit with the Republican Party.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer fessed up: President Bush didn't actually read that 268-page Environmental Protection Agency report on climate change, even if he said he did. [...]
"Whenever presidents say they read it, you can read that to be he was briefed," Fleischer said, producing laughter.
Much of Europe still sees [George Bush] as a unilateralist, the president who came into office determined to abrogate this or that treaty and who, either in word or manner, considered Europeans to be wimps.
What's more, the Continent is suffering from an inferiority complex. For years, it was so stingy with defense funding that its militaries were almost entirely ignored in the planning -- not to mention the execution -- of the war in Afghanistan.
Still, Europe cannot be ignored. Whether formally constituted as NATO (with the Russians?) or merely as a community of nations that shares our values, it has a role to play vis-ý-vis Iraq. Bush will never be able to assemble the alliance his father did for the Gulf War, but if only for appearances, America must not be seen as going it alone.
(1) It's not an inferiority "complex" when you actually are inferior. It's a simple recognition of fact.
(2) The European militaries which couldn't even be of assistance against Afghan tribesman is suddenly going to play a vital role against Iraq, which by current low world standards has a decent military.
(3) Europe share our values? They're post-Christian, socialist, anti-immigration, anti-American, and the like soccer Which values do we share?
(4) "America must not be seen as going it alone", yet Europe sees us as going it alone and we're doing just fine.
Maybe Mr. Cohen should transfer to the NY Times.
Psst! The anthrax-laced letters that killed five people last fall, were sent by a home-grown, American terrorist. In fact, the killer — a heterosexual, Christian, white male wacko, if you'll excuse the redundancy — is a scientist who was doing contract work for the CIA, and who murdered five innocents on orders from the CIA. The feds have covered it all up. Pass it on.
I know who did it, because Barbara Hatch Rosenberg told me. Rosenberg is not only a tenured professor of microbiology at the State University of New York's College at Purchase — which alone obligates me to accept her every statement in a spirit of blind faith — but she is also the chairwoman of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Working Group on Biological Weapons, and FAS has posted a report of hers on its web site. And thousands of journalists in America, and across the world, have echoed her pronouncements. Who am I to question her authority? [...]
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg appears to be the white, socialist equivalent of black supremacist "scholar," Leonard Jeffries — a chaotic, incompetent, political hack, who under cover of tenure and the protection of political academic organizations, seeks to cause hysteria. According to a March 20 expose by journalist Cliff Kincaid, the founder of America's Survival, when the anthrax terrorist's victims started dying, Rosenberg immediately sought to exploit the attacks, in order to discredit our biological warfare defense program, and ultimately get it shut down. To succeed, Rosenberg saw the need to pin the attacks on a rogue, American scientist — the proverbial, "home-grown" terrorist.
Depending on whom she is talking to at any given moment, Rosenberg has a direct line to the FBI or no contact to the Bureau, and has had to do all her "profiling" on her own; the anthrax killer was trying to kill as many people as possible, or didn't want to kill anyone, and was merely trying to warn people of the dangers posed by our biological warfare defense program. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg has changed her story more often than Jesse Jackson did, when he led the Florida Disenfranchisement Hoax, following the 2000 presidential election. And as in Jackson's case, seeing in her a political ally, the mainstream media have uncritically echoed her wild, contradictory claims.
The moment I heard Rosenberg's claim that the anthrax murders were sanctioned by the CIA, and that the federal government had since orchestrated a cover-up, an alarm went off in my head. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg had snatched her story straight out of the Chris Carter (of X-Files fame) TV show, Millennium (1996-1999).
If the past 18 months have been what policy looks like with Mr. Rove only partly in control, one shudders to think what comes next. For the most distinctive feature of Mr. Rove's modus operandi is not his conservatism; it's his view that the administration should do whatever gives it a political advantage. This includes, of course, exploiting the war on terrorism--something Mr. Rove has actually boasted about. But it also includes coddling special interests.
One of Bill Clinton's underappreciated virtues was his considerable idealism when it came to economic policy. The Berkeley economist Brad DeLong lauded Mr. Clinton's "record of being willing to take major political risks in order to do what he thinks is right for the country as far as international economic policy is concerned." What he had in mind was the way Mr. Clinton went out on a limb, defying the polls and reaching across party lines, to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, and the even bigger risks he took to rescue Mexico from its financial crisis in 1995. Like Mr. DeLong, I know some of the key players in both of those decisions, and I'm sure that they were taken on the merits: the Clintonites really, truly believed they were doing the right thing.
More surprising, since he's at least ostensibly an economist, is that Mr. Krugman fell for the idea of Brad DeLong as some kind of impartial observer of politics. The more obsessive political junkies among us fondly recall the humiliation Dr. DeLong brought upon himself when he posed as an expert witness for the Democrats during the Florida debacle. He was turned into a sweaty (I mean Spartacus levels of sweat), stuttering, laughingstock by Bush attorney Barry Richard. At one point, Dr. DeLong, who was proposing that absentee ballots be discarded in order to give Al Gore the lead, got off the memorable line : "Statisticians don't really like to deal with certainty." That's pretty bold for a statistician who was asking a court to disenfranchise voters.
At any rate, how much differently does Mr. Krugman's column read if you change this phrase "The Berkeley economist Brad DeLong lauded Mr. Clinton..." to this one "$500 an hour Gore advocate Brad DeLong lauded Mr. Clinton...". Somehow the centerpiece of Mr. Krugman's column seems less impressive, eh? It turns out that the disinterested second party to whom he turns for confirmation of his novel belief that the Clinton administration was bold, daring, and above playing politics with the economy is really just another paid political flak for the Democrats. Oops...
But wait, it gets better. If you check out Dr. DeLong's website, you find that he served in the Clinton administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury for Economic Policy, where he humbly describes his duties as follows : "I worked on a remarkably large share of what the executive branch did between 1993 and 1995." So, in effect, Dr. Delong's quote might read : "I have a record of being willing to take major political risks in order to do what I think is right for the country..."
Does anyone edit the NY Times any more?
The historical mutual sneering between America's soldiers and its universities is coming to an end.
One of the scars from Vietnam was this reciprocal contempt, leading each side to despise a caricature of the other: redneck, baby-killing, misogynous storm troopers with the ethical sensitivity of Nazis; and arrogant, long-haired America-hating rebels, all wimps and probably mostly gay feminist Communists as well. [...]
Boomers like myself are, belatedly, shedding a vision of the military shaped largely by Vietnam and are beginning to realize that almost no American institution has such humanitarian potential as the armed forces.
While ice-hearted hawks helped cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia in the 1960's, mush-hearted doves helped kill--by failing to push for military force--hundreds of thousands in places like Rwanda in the 1990's.
In the end he can't quite bring himself to shoulder the lion's share of the blame on this one. Note that the sneering and contempt were mutual and apparently mutually wrong, that both despised mere caricatures, and that the military is apparently solely responsible for the deaths that occurred in Vietnam, deaths which it is appropriate to compare to the genocide in Rwanda. All of this is ridiculous, if not slanderous.
As his own piece suggests, the liberals on campus richly deserved the contempt of the military, which has been perhaps the most important force for human rights in world history. He pretty clearly shows that the "caricature" of the Boomers was not a caricature at all but was accurate. They did hate America and its institutions, like the armed forces, did want the communist North Vietnamese to win, were feminists, and as he goes on to say later in the column, favored gay rights. The arrogance is evident in the column.
The comparison of Vietnam to Rwanda is particularly objectionable. In the first place, it was liberal icons like the Kennedy brothers and LBJ who started and escalated American participation in a shooting war in Vietnam. Second, though the war may not have worked out as we would have hoped, there's no evidence that those who pursued the war had anything other than good intentions--specifically, safeguarding the people of South Vietnam from a brutal communist takeover (here's a href=http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A18380-2002Jun8?language=printer>recent story about how those former allies actually feel about our military). The military was certainly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of these North Vietnamese aggressors and South Vietnamese terrorists, but it is liberals who must take exclusive blame for the hundreds of thousands of deaths which followed the North Vietnamese victory that they made possible. But most importantly, the people who perpetrated the Rwandan mass murders acted out of ethnic hatred. The nearly fifty thousand American military men who
died in Vietnam gave their lives for noble American ideals. What comparison can there be between the two?
Perhaps we would do well to consider Mr. Kristof to be embarked on the first tentative stages of a Twelve Step program :
1. We admitted we were powerless over liberalism - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [fellow liberals] and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Japan's domestic wholesale prices in May fell 1.2% from a year earlier for the 20th consecutive month of decline...
Population : there are less and less people in the developed world to chase goods, which makes them cheaper
Technology : we keep posting "surprising" productivity gains as businesses take ever greater advantage of computers and other technologies to accomplish tasks more efficiently.
Free Trade/Global Markets : the greater ease with which goods flow and the willingness of impoverished populations to work for little, put downward pressure on prices and wages respectively and the lower wages in turn help hold down prices.
Superabundance of Commodities : Malthus was simply wrong. We have more than enough food to feed the entire world and could provide more if prices weren't too low to make it worthwhile. We keep finding more oil, more precious metals, etc. For all the dire predictions we always hear from eugenicists, environmentalists, and the like, we never seem to actually run out of anything.
In sum, the specter of a prolonged downward spiral of deflation appears to be a far more likely problem than a surge of inflation. The Fed is fighting the last war (as it always does) and, in so doing, may be exacerbating the conditions that will lead us into the next.
A group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives plans to file a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging President Bush's decision to withdraw from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, according to the office of Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.
The United States is too unilateralist, too religious, too warlike, too laissez-faire, too fond of guns and the death penalty, and too addicted to simple solutions for complex problems. So goes the European indictment of American society, and much of the U.S. foreign-policy elite accepts it at something close to face value. But populist nationalists-Jacksonian Americans, that is-don't.
The twentieth century taught Europeans and Americans different lessons. Europe learned that nationalism could lead to destruction; Americans learned that nationalism could bring safety and prosperity. Europe learned that bureaucratic welfare states and powerful trade unions were the only alternatives to bitter class warfare; Americans learned that government and unions were, at best, necessary evils. Europe learned that Christianity was an exhausted religion that could play no serious part in the contemporary world; Americans learned that personal religious faith was more necessary than ever.
One result is that the United States today is a much more traditional society than Europe. Especially in the "red" states, most of us still believe in God, the family, the flag, and the death penalty. Jacksonians neither trust nor take seriously anybody who doesn't believe in these things. Europeans think that anybody who believes all that crap is too stupid to make good decisions.
[T]he new attack on business is not just about plutocratic greed. It is about the core principles of capitalism. Our system is supposed to reward people for producing stuff that others want. Enron and Adelphia and Tyco poison this system of meritocratic reward: Their bosses did well not because they served consumer needs, but because accountants lied about their records. When firms cheat like this, capitalism forfeits both efficiency and morality. [...]
Forget the dumb attacks on globalization and free markets. The real injustice is that firms are rewarded for lies and lobbying clout, rather than for producing honest goods and services. The scandal isn't capitalism, in other words. It's that capitalism has been corrupted.
A flood of corporate scandals--from Enron to Andersen to Tyco--plus more GOP tax cuts for the rich suggest that Democrats could profit this year by sounding populist themes.
Demagogic appeals to class warfare probably won't work any better than they have in the past. And Democrats have yet to link the Bush administration to any specific case of corporate malfeasance, even with Enron.
But polls persistently show that the public believes that Bush is too beholden to corporate America, and that Congressional Republicans are even more so. So there's every reason for Democrats to say: We can clean up this mess better than the GOP.
Polling by the Democracy Corps indicates an opportunity for Democrats if they employ populist themes. Eighty-five percent of voters agreed with the statement that "too many people in powerful positions are acting irresponsibly, hurting ordinary people, and they are not being held accountable for their actions."
The Democracy Corps is headed by liberals James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum, who urged Vice President Al Gore to emphasize "the people versus the powerful" theme in the 2000 race against Bush.
That's one option for Democrats in 2002, though it's been criticized recently by journalist Joe Klein as "aggressive, pessimistic and unsubtle."
The alternative I'd favor is being put forward by Lieberman, who identifies himself as "pro-business" but proposes to reform corporate America to
benefit "the new investor middle class" that's been "reeling in the ruins of Enron."
What if a woman ran for President who had great progressive politics except for one thing--she believed that any man accused of rape or sexual harassment should be castrated without a trial? How many progressive men would say to themselves, Oh well, she's got great positions on unions, the environment, the death penalty, and all the rest, and besides, women really like her, so she gets my vote! Ten men? three? two?
Of course, no progressive woman would ever put this crazy notion forward. Our hypothetical candidate would understand all too well that she couldn't propose to kick men in the collective teeth and expect them to vote for her. Back in the real world, however, this is precisely what some progressives apparently expect women to do for Dennis Kucinich, whose anti-choice voting record was the subject of my last column. Besides numerous e-mails thanking me for "outing" him and two or three upholding the "human rights" of the "itty bitty zygote," I heard from a few readers like Michael Sherrard, who urged "liberals" to "get over their single-issue abortion orthodoxy." Instead of asking women to give up their rights, why not pressure Kucinich to support them? To get that "broad based multi-issue progressive movement" Sherrard wants, Kucinich is the one who needs to get real, to face the demographic truth that without the votes, dollars and volunteer labor of pro-choice women and men, no Democrat can win the White House. His anti-choice votes may suit his socially conservative Cleveland constituents, as his supporters claim, but America isn't the 10th Congressional District of Ohio writ large.
What Kucinich's fans may not understand is that for pro-choice women, abortion is not just another item on the list. It goes straight to the soul. It is about whether society sees you as fully human or as a vessel for whom no plan or hope or possibility or circumstance, however desperate, matters more than being a nest for that "itty bitty zygote." As I've written before, despite the claims of "pro-life feminists" and "seamless-garment" Catholics, progressive social policies and abortion rights tend to go together: Abortion bans flourish where there are backwardness, poverty, undemocratic government and politically powerful patriarchal religion, where levels of education, healthcare and social investment in children are low, and where women have little power. Instead of asking women to sign over their wombs for the cause, progressives should demand that "their" politicians add abortion rights to their agenda. No progressive would vote for someone who opposed unions or wanted to bring back Jim Crow. Why should women's rights matter less? It's disgusting that the AFL-CIO supports anti-choice politicians--as if their members aren't getting (or causing) abortions in vast numbers--and it backfires, too. In Pennsylvania's Democratic gubernatorial primary, pro-choice centrist Democrat Ed Rendell trounced anti-choice labor-endorsed Bob Casey Jr., 56 to 44 percent.
Second, note the dismissive term she uses to describe the fetus : "itty bitty zygote". Whom we wish to kill we must first dehumanize.
Finally, she gets one big thing right. Abortion really has nothing to do with privacy or health or any of the myriad excuses that are offered for allowing it. Abortion is primarily an assertion of power on the part of women--a statement that they wield the power of life and death over someone. There is no greater power that we humans have over one another and the right to exercise it is an awesome thing. As such it must be the defining issue for "feminists", because it more than anything else conveys the sense of empowerment that is at the core of the movement. Presumably the insistence on the exercise of this power--which is so much at odds with the rest of women's politics and their general desire for physical and economic security for even the weakest members of society--is simply a function of the immaturity of the movement and will be relaxed and even reversed once they gain confidence that they are truly equal to men politically.
Parents who read to their children have always known that they could sit still for long stretches if a story interested them. But the realization didn't sink in with television programmers until the advent of the VCR, which showed that preschoolers could watch movies they liked over (and over) again. Newer shows like PBS's "Arthur" and "Clifford" and Nickelodeon's "Rugrats" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" became hugely popular, even with very young children, by relying on continuous stories.
Now "Sesame Street" has changed, too, in a recasting that is both subtle and radical. Big Bird, Elmo, the Count and Cookie Monster haven't had personality transformations, nor have they stopped counting, teaching the alphabet, singing and goofing around with famous guests. But since February, the start of the show's 33rd season, they are appearing in a much smaller number of longer and more comprehensive segments, usually 10 an hour.
Instead of dispersing one story throughout the hour, broken up by numerous unrelated sequences (the way commercials break into shows), stories are kept intact with an uninterrupted beginning, middle and end. The rest of the show resembles a kindergarten class schedule, with distinct subjects appearing at predictable times in a familiar way.
In the old format, a story about Telly's tuba getting broken might be 10 to 12 minutes long, but it would take 45 minutes to tell, with breaks for skits about the letter "M" or the number 3. Now the entire tuba tale is told in the designated "storytime" slot.
Less fun for parents, perhaps, but more appealing to preschoolers. "Children are able to understand a well-structured story a lot better than we believed they could in the late 1960's," said Daniel Anderson, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts, who has been a consultant to both "Sesame Street" and "Blue's Clues." In fact, he said, "having many short segments reduced interest in the show." So the charming but peripatetic skits on "Sesame Street," designed to keep children watching - and to entertain their parents - actually confused and ultimately annoyed preschoolers.
Another thing became apparent to researchers at "Sesame Street": many children don't mind watching alone - or at least they have grown accustomed to doing so. This undercuts another founding notion of "Sesame Street," that parents and children would be watching together. In the video age, parents have fewer qualms about popping in a tape to divert their children while they jump in the shower (or watch another show on the family's second or third television).
"Kids today are born into a media-saturated environment, so they're starting young with screen time," said Rosemary Truglio, the vice president of research and education for "Sesame Street." "Working moms have increased, so kids are watching while parents are getting ready for work or while they're already in day care. It's hard to imagine lots of co-viewing."
He says that one of the things that makes a fad take hold is the "stickiness" of the idea behind it. He discusses this stickiness factor in the context of children's television. He starts with Sesame Street, which was apparently developed to conform to every single inane child rearing and educational theory that had been dreamed up at the time of its creation. The show was then rigorously test marketed to kids to see of the theories worked. It will come as no surprise that they turned out to be mostly wrong. For instance, in the initial versions they segregated humans from the Muppets, having been told that children could not separate fantasy from reality. This would surely have been news to Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Stan Lee. So then they showed the program to kids and found that they only paid attention when the Muppets were on screen and completely ignored the segments with live actors. Duh? Or take the creators of Blue's Clues, who had the revolutionary insight that they could just take one episode of the show and then broadcast it every day for a week, because--are you ready for this ?--kids don't mind repetition. In fact, they like it and learn better from it. Have any of these people ever had a kid ? Do you know a kid who doesn't want to read the same book over and over and over again? Here again, this cutting edge, revolutionary, radical, whatever you care to call it, social science merely proves that the traditional intuition of conservatives is right : we've done things the same way for thousands of years because they work, and no half-baked theories dreamed up by a bunch of pointy headed intellectuals in a lab are likely to improve upon them.
John Gotti, who swaggered, schemed and murdered his way to the pinnacle of organized crime in America only to be toppled by secret FBI tapes and a turncoat mobster's testimony, died at a prison hospital Monday. He was 61.
When Gotti moved to take over the Gambinos, they were the biggest and most powerful of the city's five Mafia families, with 300-plus "made" members, 2,000 "associates" and fingers in every pie, including the garment district, garbage hauling, construction, extortion and loan sharking.
He took charge by murdering Castellano, who had angered Gotti and others with, among other things, his ban on drug trafficking. By some accounts, Gotti feared Castellano was plotting to eliminate him, so he carried out a pre-emptive strike.
Gotti and Gravano watched from half a block away as a hit squad in matching raincoats ambushed Castellano and his driver outside a Manhattan steakhouse on Dec. 16, 1985. They then cruised brazenly past the scene to make sure the pair were dead.
Which option ("A" or "B") represents your view?
"A. Biology teachers should teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it."
"B. Biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it."
Only 15 percent of adults nationally, according to a 2001 Zogby poll, agree with "A," while 71 percent agree with "B." (Not sure: 14 percent.)
Some, like Mindy Cameron ("Theory of 'intelligent design' isn't ready for natural selection" column, June 3), would prevent students from hearing scientific evidence that challenges Darwinism. Cameron suspects that critics of Darwinism — especially those that advocate the alternative theory of intelligent design — want to place "the Christian God in science classrooms in America's public schools."
Others — like Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, a Darwin-only advocacy group — deny the existence of any scientific debate. Scott states that "I don't know of any evidence against evolution."
Yet, last fall, 100 scientists, including professors from institutions such as MIT, Yale and Rice, published a statement questioning the creative power of natural selection. Many of these scientists see evidence that points to an intelligent design of life.
So what's going on? Is there scientific evidence challenging Darwinian evolution? Is there evidence pointing to intelligent design? If so, should public school science students learn about such evidence?
This blessedly honest headline sums up a good deal of what passes for punditry these days. George W. Bush could prove he's in control and a serious leader if he just nails a scalp to the wall. It doesn't much matter whose or why--Norm Mineta, George Tenet, Robert Mueller, would all do. Of course, such a firing would have absolutely nothing to do with 9-11 or with improving our security. It would just give the lynch mob a good old-fashioned visceral thrill.
President Bush's plan to create a Department of Homeland Security doesn't go far enough to prevent the kind of intelligence lapses that took place before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, leaders of the Senate intelligence committee said yesterday.
Bush's proposal to merge all or parts of 22 federal agencies into a homeland security structure does not give the head of the new department control over those who gather intelligence for the FBI, CIA and other agencies, the senators said. Instead, the department will be treated as a "customer" of the various intelligence agencies and use the information it gets to analyze threats and decide how to respond, they said.
"It doesn't address . . . the intelligence problems that we have," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), the committee's ranking Republican. "The homeland security director and his office will be a consumer of intelligence. Will they make some decisions? Sure. But I understand they will not be gatherers of intelligence. That's very key."
The committee's chairman, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), said that the CIA and FBI, which are not moving into the proposed department, "don't talk very well to each other" and that
When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrives here this week, he will have the ear of India's senior political leaders in a way that would have been hard to imagine for most of the past three decades.
Military cooperation between India and the United States has remarkably quickened since Sept. 11, with a burst of navy, air force and army joint exercises, the revival of American military sales to India and a blur of high-level visits by generals and admirals.
The fledgling relationship between American and Indian military leaders will be important to Mr. Rumsfeld in talks intended to put to rest fears of war between India and Pakistan.
"We can hope this translates into some influence and trust, though I don't want to overstate it," a senior American defense official said in an interview on Thursday. "I don't want to predict this guarantees success."
The American diplomatic efforts yielded their first real gains on Saturday when India welcomed a pledge by Pakistan's military ruler to stop permanently the infiltration of militants into Kashmir. India indicated that it would soon take steps to reduce tensions, but a million troops are still fully mobilized along the border--a situation likely to persist for months--and the process of resolving the crisis has just begun.
India has linked the killing of civilians in Kashmir to a Pakistan-backed insurgency there and has presented its confrontation with Pakistan as part of the global campaign against terrorism.
India itself made an unstinting offer of support to the United States after Sept. 11, and Washington responded by ending the sanctions placed on India after its 1998 nuclear tests. With that, the estrangement that prevailed between the world's two largest democracies during the cold war, when India drew close to the Soviet Union and the United States allied with Pakistan, has eased.
India, for decades a champion of nonalignment, seeks warmer ties with the United States in hopes of gaining access to sophisticated military technology and help in dealing with Pakistan.
From the start of President Bush's term, some influential officials in his administration saw India as a potential counterweight to that other Asian behemoth, China, whose growing power was seen as a potential strategic threat.
But since Sept. 11, the priority has been terrorism. The United States is hoping its deeper military and political ties with India will give it some measure of leverage to prevent a war between India and Pakistan that could lead to a nuclear holocaust and would play havoc with the hunt for Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
The legitimate desires of the Iranian people have been acknowledged by President Bush. Yet we still have no Iran strategy. There is no coordinated public policy, such as radio and television broadcast in Farsi, a sustained condemnation of the "mullahcracy" by our own leaders, and material assistance for those leading the freedom movement inside Iran. It is hard to imagine that the Iranian people require enormous support to rid themselves of their meddlesome priests, and, unlike the challenge in Iraq, one can readily envisage a successful regime change in Tehran without dropping a single American bomb or firing a single American bullet.
All we have to do is act in keeping with our national tradition of fighting tyranny. If the regime in Iran is brought down with our help, it will demonstrate to the Islamic world that radical Islamist regimes, whether Sunni (Afghanistan) or Shiite (Iran), ruin their countries and alienate their people, who prefer America to the mullahs. Is this not what the war against terrorism is supposed to accomplish?
It seems at least possible, maybe even likely, that we find ourselves in a similar position today, vis a vis Islam. Many tell us that the Islamic world is incapable of reform--their reasons for saying this are sound mind you, and grounded in the ideology of Islam--but it seems worthwhile taking a chance on the idea that if we just apply steady pressure the whole system can be transformed.
The cloud over the senator hangs so heavily that New Jersey's retired Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who had a rocky relationship with his former colleague, went on television to offer some advice on how to clear up the ethical questions: Take a lie-detector test. [...]
A poll conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee shows Mr. Torricelli with a five-point lead over Mr. Forrester, at 44 percent to 39 percent. Half of those polled said they would prefer a new senator.
But [David Rebovich of the Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics] doubts that such sentiments will be enough.
"It will really be tough to unseat Torricelli," Mr. Rebovich said. "New Jerseyans have become reconciled to his legal problems. It's a rough-and-tumble state, and voters may think it's just more of the same."
New Jersey has become increasingly Democratic in recent years — Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race since 1972 — and Mr. Torricelli is hoping to make party control of the Senate a central issue of his campaign.
On a cold March day, the bleak monotony of a North Korean prison work detail was broken when a squad of male guards arrived and herded new women prisoners together. One by one, they were asked if they were pregnant.
"They took them away in a car, and then forcibly gave them abortion shots," Song Myung Hak, 33, a former prisoner, recalled in a interview here about the day two years ago when six pregnant prisoners were taken from his work unit in the Shinuiju Provincial Detention Camp. "After the miscarriage shots, the women were forced back to work."
More and more escapees from North Korea are asserting that forced abortions and infanticide are the norm in North Korean prisons, charges the country's official Korean Central News Agency has denounced as "a whopping lie."
In 2000 and 2001, China deported thousands of North Korean refugees, with many ending up in North Korean prison camps. People who later managed to escape again, to China and South Korea, say that prisoners discovered to be pregnant were routinely forced to have abortions. If babies were born alive, they say, guards forced prisoners to kill them.
Earlier defectors from North Korea say that the prohibition on pregnancy in North Korean prisons dates back at least to the 1980's, and that forced abortions or infanticide were the rule. Until recently, though, instances of pregnancy in the prisons were rare.
China's deportations of thousands of illegal migrants from North Korean in recent years has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of pregnant women ending up in North Korean prisons. Defectors, male and female, are reviled as traitors and counterrevolutionaries when they are returned to North Korea. But women who have become pregnant, especially by Chinese men, face special abuse.
"Several hundred babies were killed last year in North Korean prisons," said Willy Fautre, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, a private group based in Brussels. Mr. Fautre said that over the last 18 months, he and his volunteers had interviewed 35 recent escapees from North Korean camps.
Of the 35, he said, 31 said they had witnessed babies killed by abandonment or being smothered with plastic sheets. Two defectors later described burying dead babies, and two said they were mothers who saw their newborns put to death.
"This is a systematic procedure carried out by guards, and the people in charge of the prisons — these are not isolated cases," Mr. Fautre said in a telephone interview. "The pattern is to identify women who are pregnant, so the camp authorities can get rid of the babies through forced abortion, torture or very hard labor. If they give birth to a baby alive, the general policy is to let the baby die or to help the baby die with a plastic sheet."
What ultimately can a natural rights libertarian say about Lincoln, secession and slavery? The South had the right to leave in peace; slavery is and was morally wrong; though force may be rightly used to end slavery - after all other means for ending slavery have failed - such force must be strictly limited to accomplishing that end and must not violate the rights of third parties by means of taxation, conscription or mass murder; the Union's invasion of the South, involving as it did taxation, inflation, conscription, confiscation, destruction and the mass killing of non-slave holders, and not having been initiated for any libertarian purpose widely understood at the time, must be condemned as a moral outrage; had an effort been made at the time to free slaves throughout the United States (including the District of Columbia, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland) that did not purport to violate the rights of innocent third parties, or accomplish any evil goals such as expanding the power of the central state, libertarians at the time should have supported it; alas, no such movement existed; thus, any attempt to pretend that the Union?s invasion of the South was a moral cause to end slavery and did not have numerous other and evil goals, the accomplishment of which plagues us today, is an absurd exercise involving the libertarian endorsement of illibertarian means and ends then and continuing.
Sean Hackbarth is curious about this phenomenon too
A teacher convicted of raping six elementary school students has been executed by firing squad, a court official in Vietnam's central highlands said Friday.
Nguyen Van Phu, 37, was sentenced to death in 1999 for raping six of his students, aged 8 and 9, over five days in 1997. He sexually molested another six students, the official said on condition of anonymity.
A simple hamburger barely a half-inch thick, slightly charred at the edges and rare inside, embellished with only ketchup and a neat slice of Bermuda onion on a four-inch bun, awakens in me memories as compelling as those aroused by Marcel Proust's famous madeleine. My hamburger, however, evokes not the salons of Paris but a lakeside shack in Maine at dusk amid the August hum of crickets. To recall the fragrant pine walls and the hand-lettered sign on the canoe paddle above an immaculate screen door, as if painted fresh every day, fills me even now with vivid longing.
Macnamara's shack occupied a well-lighted grass plot between the lake and the dirt road to Augusta in the village of Winthrop, where I spent a few boyhood summers during the war. That August we toiled until dusk in the hot fields picking snap beans that we stuffed into burlap sacks and tossed onto trucks for the cannery, which shipped them to the soldiers overseas. On Friday, when we were paid, still in our bib overalls and shoeless at the end of the day, we would paddle our canoes into town to spend our wages on hamburgers, Nehi and frozen Milky Ways. Our leftover nickels went into Macnamara's jukebox: Vera Lynn, Artie Shaw, Harry James. We were 14 that summer, our front teeth as yet too big for our sunburned faces, but we were old enough to paddle confidently home across the lake after dark. Convinced of our righteous cause, certain of victory and proud of our war work in the fields, we ate our hamburgers in the hazy twilight, under the bare bulbs strung over Macnamara's counter with its neat arrangement of ketchup bottles and pickle jars.
How could I have known then that my memory of those evenings would survive the century and provoke a lifelong search to recapture the fugitive joys fixed in mind's wandering by those hamburgers, joys that in the coarseness of youth I squandered as indifferently as the few dollars I earned in the bean fields? [...]
The Perfect Burger
3 pounds ground chuck, preferably chicken steak or blade steak, not more than 20 percent fat
6 four-inch Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse white rolls or Amy's Bread rolls
2 large sweet onions
2 ripe tomatoes
6 leaves of Boston or iceberg lettuce.
1. Heat a seasoned cast-iron grill pan over a high flame for five minutes. Meanwhile, place the meat in a bowl and knead lightly. (Disregard experts who warn that kneading will produce a dry burger. Kneading will not have this effect on chuck cooked rare or medium rare, but it will keep the meat from falling apart. Leaner cuts will be dry whether or not you knead them.) Divide the meat into six portions and shape burgers. Do not season.
2. Add burgers three at a time to pan leaving space between them. After four minutes lift burgers from pan with pair of tongs and turn by 90 degrees. After two minutes turn burgers over. The grill marks will form an attractive tick-tac-toe matrix. Meanwhile, toast rolls. In about five minutes meat will be medium-medium rare. Add sweet onion, tomato and lettuce on roll's bottom half. Add burger. Top with other roll half. Serve with ketchup.
NOTE: You may also broil burgers under a medium flame. The timing will be the same but you will sacrifice grill marks.
Yield: 6 servings.
Editor's Note: A generation ago Thomas Bailey proposed that the history profession maintain a computer database of historical myths so that scholars could avoid repeating hoary stories their colleagues had exposed as fakes. Alas, nobody took up Bailey's suggestion (which remains a good one!) and the myths continue to pile up like a long bad car wreck.
The latest writer to end up on this highway junk heap is Kevin Phillips. Just a few pages into his new book, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, Phillips regales the reader with a fabulous quotation from Abraham Lincoln that illustrates perfectly the theme of the new work. It's the kind of quote an author dreams of finding. You can just imagine how delighted Phillips was when he came across it. It's not just political parties that want to get right with Lincoln.
Unfortunately, Phillips was bamboozled--as was Paul Kennedy, who cited the quotation in a positive review of the book featured in the Los Angeles Times. The quote's long been known to be a fake, but as Matthew Pinsker pointed out in an essay published by the History News Service in 1999, it's taken in everybody from Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to Warren Beatty. And of course, it's made the rounds on the Internet. [...]
The bogus quotation reads as follows:
'The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace, and it conspires against it in times of adversity. It's more despotic than monarchy. It's more insolent than autocracy. It's more selfish than bureaucracy. . . . Corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed.'
The kingdom of Tonga is not amused. It entrusted its fortune--admittedly a meagre fortune--to the official court jester and promptly lost it in a string of bad investments.
The jester, a Californian investment adviser with a sideline in "wellness" cures, insists he made an honest mistake, but the Tongan government believes he has been laughing all the way to the bank, and is suing to try to recover the money.
Jesse Bogdonoff first became chummy with King Taufaahau Tupou IV as an account manager at the Bank of America in San Francisco. That was where the Tongan leader had parked $26m (about £18m) in government revenues.
Mr Bogdonoff was soon being wined and dined in the Pacific islands and given the official title of court jester. Entrusted with the kingdom's nest-egg, equivalent to half of Tonga's annual income...
Nancy Ahern, a New Haven alderwoman, abruptly resigned Thursday from her job as a constituent service aide in Gov. John G. Rowland's office after allegedly making what AIDS activists characterized as inappropriate comments about the spread of the disease.
Rowland's chief of staff, Dean Pagani, called Fred Hammond, executive director of the Interfaith AIDS Ministry of Greater Danbury, to apologize for the comments Ahern apparently made to Hammond during a phone conversation a day earlier.
It was during that phone call that Ahern blamed the spread of AIDS in Connecticut on minority men and homosexuals, Hammond said. She also said prevention programs are ineffective and would be eliminated, he said. Ahern was returning a call that Hammond's group made to Rowland's office regarding funding for AIDS prevention programs. [...]
"I am very happy she is no longer there so her views won't be affecting other people any longer," Hammond said. But what he would really like to see is more money put into AIDS prevention programs, Hammond said.
But here we are twenty years into the gay men's health crisis and you can still lose your job for stating the obvious? And we wonder why government bureaucrats walk around on eggshells when it comes to special interest and minority groups...
The FBI, working covertly with the CIA and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, spent years unlawfully trying to quash the voices and careers of students and faculty members deemed subversive at the University of California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. [...]
Reagan intended to mount a "psychological warfare campaign" against subversives, file tax evasion and other charges against them, and do anything else the state could to restore moral order, Herbert Ellingwood, Reagan's legal affairs secretary, told the FBI in a request for confidential information about people on campus. [...]
In 1985, when the FBI released some documents about Reagan, a Reagan spokesman said he had only a "very minor" involvement with the bureau when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild. But the records obtained by the Chronicle reveal who it was that Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman, named during a 1947 meeting with FBI agents: Larry Parks ("The Jolson Story"), Howard Da Silva ("The Lost Weekend") and Alexander Knox ("Wilson"). Each was later called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisted in Hollywood.
Dem and Gyik got lucky. They were away from home last February when the soldiers, the ones with the pistols and the electric batons, marched into their village in the lush central highlands of Vietnam.
Their luck gave them time. Time to slip soundlessly into the jungle. Time to run. Time to get out of Vietnam.
"We were like rabbits," said Dem, who spoke with the aid of an interpreter. "We crawled in holes."
Dem and Gyik, cousins from the village Plei Klan, joined an anguished and clandestine procession. They traveled through the jungle by night with 26 other Montagnards, a name meaning "Mountain People" given to indigenous tribes of the central highlands, tribes renowned for fighting alongside U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam War.
They fled a Vietnamese government crackdown on Montagnards who participated in demonstrations demanding freedom of religion and a return of homelands they say have been illegally seized for conversion into massive rubber and coffee plantations. The journey that began in Plei Klan led Dem and Gyik to a Cambodian refugee camp and finally, after months of diplomatic wrangling, to the international resettlement agencies that ferried them last week to North Carolina.
Montagnards have been settling in North Carolina since the mid-1980s, drawn by the high number of U.S. Special Forces officers who live in the state. More than 3,000 Montagnards now live in North Carolina, according to relief agencies, the largest concentration outside Vietnam.
But never have so many come at once. More than 900 Montagnards, including 200 children, are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks. Each night brings another planeload, greeted warmly by volunteers and crowds of their countrymen at airports in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro.
Their arrivals are bittersweet. For years, they fought to stay on their land; now they are resigned to leaving it behind.
For the second time in two years, an African-American minister from Houston took center stage Saturday at a Republican event.
The Rev. C.L. Jackson of Houston's Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church provided a show of support for Gov. Rick Perry by announcing at the Republican State Convention that he is switching parties.
To the cheers of some 8,500 party stalwarts, Jackson said that his two days at the convention convinced him that he now is a Republican after years of being a Democrat.
The poll also shows that the decline in Bush's approval comes from Democrats and independents, but not Republicans. Forty-nine percent of Democrats express approval, down 10 points from last week. Independents show a seven-point decline, from 75% at the end of May to 68% today. Republican approval is at 96% in the current poll, off one point from last week but just above the average level since March.
Recent polls suggest that [Republic Gov. Rick] Perry is winning handily among non-Hispanic whites but trails [Democrat businessman Tony ] Sanchez among Hispanic voters by 37 percent to Sanchez's 58 percent. So is it time for the GOP to give up on its Hispanic strategy? Certainly not -- but it could use some fine tuning, and the
Perry-Sanchez race will provide important lessons on the best way to attract Hispanics to the Republican Party in other states as well. [...]
Although Perry's Hispanic numbers don't match Bush's in 1998, they are still surprisingly strong. After all, Perry faces not only the first Hispanic to win the gubernatorial nomination of a major party in the state, but one who spent almost $20 million in the Democratic primary, which bought his opponent, Sanchez, nearly universal name recognition.
Yet Democrat Sanchez isn't doing as well as you might expect. In fact, he's doing better among black voters in the state than he is among Hispanics. Some 67 percent of black
voters indicated on a recent poll that they favor Sanchez, almost 10 percent higher than Sanchez's share of the Hispanic vote.
All of which suggests that maybe some Hispanic voters don't so much vote for Republican candidates as they do against certain kinds of Democrats, even if they happen to be Hispanic.
In almost every case where Republicans have done well with Hispanic voters, the Democratic candidate was left-leaning. Although Sanchez is frequently described as a
conservative businessman -- he donated heavily to President Bush's campaigns for governor and president -- he ran as the more liberal candidate against another Hispanic in the Democratic primary, former state attorney general Dan Morales. What's more, Sanchez especially tried to outflank Morales on the language issue.
Dee Dee Ramone married Barbara Zampini in 1997. He was found dead by his wife on Wednesday at the house they shared at Hollywood. Investigators at the scene said they had found "drug paraphernalia", and his death was being attributed to a possible drug overdose.
In an interview published 18 months ago, Dee Dee Ramone said: "I'm really lucky I'm still around. Everybody expected me to die next . . . But it was always someone else instead of me."
Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, is anguished over the announced departure of the presidential adviser Karen P. Hughes, saying she had been an essential counterweight to Karl Rove, a hard-charging and more ideological adviser, according to Esquire magazine.
In extensive remarks in the magazine's July issue, Mr. Card said Ms. Hughes's departure would deeply disrupt a tenuous balance of power among President Bush's closest associates. "Listen, the president's in a state of denial about what Karen's departure will mean, so is the first lady, and so is Karen herself," Mr. Card told Esquire.
"The whole balance of the place, the balance of what has worked up to now for George Bush, is gone, simply gone," he said. "My biggest concern? Want to know what it is? That the president will lose confidence in the White House staff. Because without her, we'll no longer be able to provide the president what he needs, what he demands."
Mr. Card's remarks are notable not only for what they reveal about the personal and ideological conflict within the senior White House staff, but also because so few Bush advisers have been willing to talk openly about internal matters in the highly disciplined Bush White House.
First, when you read a story in which someone within an administration reveals something hush-hush about the administration the most important thing to keep in mind is what purpose is served by the revelation. Who benefits from a story that says that ultra-conservatives now control the White House and that the only thing standing between the Republic and the reactionaries led by Karl Rove is Andy Card? The answer is, of course, that three men are served well by the story : Karl Rove, Andy Card, and George W. Bush.
After all, what are the main problems on the President's plate right now. The war is taking care of itself. The major domestic initiatives all passed. The economy isn't exactly humming, but it's at least waddling along. All the President really has to deal with right now is getting through this Fall's budget negotiations with the Democrat Senate and quieting some inside-the-beltway unrest on his Right flank. To do the first he needs Andy Card, to be seen as The Man. To do the second he needs Karl Rove to be seen as The Man. Mr. Card's interview makes both appear to be the case.
Mr. Card will, after all, be the one who negotiates the final budget deals, not the President himself and certainly not Karl Rove, a mere political advisor. And what do Mr. Card's comments do?--they put him in a position to tell the Democrats : "Hey look, my offer's the best you're gonna get. Turn me down and you're dealing with the real whackos back at the White House." In one fell swoop, Andy Card has become the most important man in Washington, as far as Democrats are concerned. He's their Great White Hope.
Meanwhile, even as he stands at 70+% in the polls, Mr. Bush faces criticism from neoconservatives, libertarians, and the most doctrinaire of movement conservatives for not being enough of an ideologue, for compromising on school vouchers and free trade and for not attacking Iraq on September 10th. The voices being raised against him are few in number, but they are influential in Party circles and, particularly in the cases of Bill Kristol and Rush Limbaugh, they are loud. So a story that "reveals" the White House to being falling into the clutches of a gang of crypto-conservatives serves to counterbalance these complaints. Suddenly, Karl Rove is no mere consultant, he's the eminence grise who will work his wily ways and secure conservative victories, regardless of the moderate public face of the administration.
And what of President Bush? He's got King Karl to keep the red-meat Republicans quiet and he's got Andy to deal with the Democrats. All this strategy requires is that he be more interested in the bottom line than what goes on above the fold. If all three of these guys just want the administration to succeed, the interview is explicable, even savvy, and this seeming breech of what has otherwise been remarkable message discipline and loyalty among the senior staff can be seen as a remarkable instance of that discipline and loyalty as the three key players take a short term press hit that yields long term strategic gains. Of course, if Card really was freelancing, and was serious in what he said, then it's time for the Night of the Long Knives.
If the latter, I'll be sorry for Mr. Card as he's led to the woodshed, but it will assuage some of my embarrassment. If the former, I must learn to live with the fact that I bought this con like a blue state yokel purchasing the Brooklyn Bridge from a red state hustler. Mea culpa...mea culpa...mea maxima culpa....
"WE JUST RUN THE PLAYS" :
Plan Was Formed in Utmost Secrecy : Final Proposal Came From 4 Top Bush Aides; Most Others Out of Loop (Dana Milbank, June 7, 2002, Washington Post)
Veterans of the Clinton administration expressed grudging admiration. Could this have been kept secret in the Clinton White House? "Quite honestly? Unlikely," said David Leavy, spokesman for the National Security Council under Clinton. "They have a very small loop in terms of top-line information, and that allows them to control news flow in a way you have to admire."
On [April 23], White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., Ridge, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. convened their working group to create the cabinet-level entity. They relied on a few other top aides, including Card deputies Joseph Hagin and Joshua Bolten. [...]
Even some of the most senior Bush aides, including counselor Karen P. Hughes, political strategist Karl Rove, Fleischer and speechwriter Michael Gerson, didn't join the process until last week, officials said. As of Wednesday, officials said, fewer than 20 aides had knowledge of the plan. [...]
[Deputy Communications Director Jim] Wilkinson said it was a triumph of the White House's no-leak strategy. "The president makes the news and calls the plays -- we just run the plays he calls," he said.
Every so often a presidential speech excites the Washington press corps and generates extravagant coverage. The West Point address did not. That distinction went to Bush's brief talk to the nation on June 6 proposing a vast, new Department of Homeland Security. The next day, the Washington Post had four front-page stories on the subject, plus tease lines pointing to two more pieces inside the paper. The West Point speech got one story. The problem was few reporters understood the message of the West Point speech or, in the jargon of Bush aides, "broke the code." Yet it was an extraordinarily significant speech, far more so than the TV address.
What was so important about it? A senior White House aide has a one-word answer: "Preemption." This is both a word the president had never used before and a strategic concept he hadn't fully articulated. Bush touched on it in his State of the Union address last January, saying he will not allow terrorists or nations that harbor terrorists to become a threat to America. "I will not stand by as peril grows closer and closer," he said then. The president told aides he wanted to be more "explicit" at West Point, and he was. "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," he declared in the speech. Instead, America will take "preemptive action when necessary." Bush didn't single out Iraq by name, but that's the country he believes already threatens to hand weapons of mass destruction to terrorists or to take action itself. So the speech had a message: Flare-ups may occur in other parts of the world, but the United States won't be distracted from the imperative of military action to remove Saddam Hussein in Iraq. [...]
A phenomenon of presidential speeches is that comments which begin as mere talking points sometimes wind up as policy. This is quickly becoming the case with Bush's belief that Islamic countries must inevitably embrace democracy. In his State of the Union address, he made a fleeting reference to America's support for people who advocate democratic values, "including in the Islamic world." Bush and his advisers were surprised this line drew little attention. He elaborated on it at West Point, and again the Bush camp was surprised at the meager press attention. "The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation," he said. "Mothers and fathers and children across the Islamic world, and all the world, share the same fears and aspirations." I doubt if Bush made this point when Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited him in April. But if he keeps saying it, it will become an issue he'll have to pursue with Arab leaders, probably after Saddam Hussein is ousted.
If the phrase "organized adult Wiffle ball" has a slightly ludicrous ring to it, that's because we invariably associate the white plastic sphere with childhood, backyard fields, and quirky ground rules. A one-hopper off the tool shed was a double, a shot over the boxwood hedge was a home run, and a foul ball into the fenced province of the neighbors' dog meant the game was over.
That version of the sport still exists, fostering, as one enthusiast's Web site puts it, "the ruining of America's backyards." But in the mid-1990s isolated groups of adult players-usually in their twenties or thirties-discovered on the Internet that plenty of others out there shared their passion. Adult tournaments have been around for years, particularly in the Northeast, where the Wiffle tradition runs long and deep, but competitive adult Wiffle ball has now grown into a thriving subculture of self-described "touring pros," structured competitions, cash prizes, and slick playing fields. Forget the boxwood hedges; these guys swing for low, Fenway-green outfield fences eighty to 110 feet from home plate. And forget those plastic Wiffle bats, too. "That little yellow bat just doesn't cut it today, especially against the pitchers you're facing," says Mike Palinczar, the organizer of two annual tournaments in Trenton, New Jersey, and one of the game's premier pitchers. "If you're up there with a yellow bat, you might as well give up." Today's players wield sturdier plastic or aluminum bats (including one manufactured by Palinczar) with names like Ledge Sledge, King Stick, and Wiffle Pro. A carbon-graphite model, the Moonshot, sells for $120.
Around 5,000 police will be present at the game South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has been advised not to attend his country's World Cup football match against the United States for security reasons.
Authorities are worried that anti-US protests may erupt at the game, especially if the South Korean side loses.
Mr. Stephanopoulos does have a clear advantage over many others in his chosen field. Unlike Mr. Donaldson and Ms. Roberts, he has experience--and rather recent experience at that--of working at the highest levels of government. This is not unlike having a former player or coach calling "Monday Night Football" in the announcer's booth.
Binyamin Jolkovsky is a man with a mission.
For five years the 33-year-old has produced his high-quality conservative Web site, Jewish World Review, from a Brooklyn attic on a wing, a prayer and three or four hours' sleep a night. Will he be able to make it financially viable before his health gives out?
Jolkovsky's wife, a systems analyst in Manhattan, has given him a deadline to pay himself a salary. Maybe some day he can even hire an assistant. Testimonials to Jolkovsky's editorial skills come from far and wide, but fundraising is another matter. [...]
"There's no ad revenue coming in, and that's the model we've been using," he said. "We're about to make an emergency appeal, and it depends on how the readers respond."
...union leaders who represent government workers announced they will oppose it...
Men and women differ not only in their physical attributes and reproductive function but also in many other characteristics, including the way they solve intellectual problems. For the past few decades, it has been ideologically fashionable to insist that these behavioral differences are minimal and are the consequence of variations in experience during development before and after adolescence. Evidence accumulated more recently, however, suggests that the effects of sex hormones on brain organization occur so early in life that from the start the environment is acting on differently wired brains in boys and girls. Such effects make evaluating the role of experience, independent of physiological predisposition, a difficult if not dubious task. The biological bases of sex differences in brain and behavior have become much better known through increasing numbers of behavioral, neurological and endocrinological studies.
It's just not in the Democrats' nature to feign a profoundly alien neocon foreign policy critique when what they'd really rather be talking about domestic policy. The only one who would is Joe Lieberman, and does anyone seriously think he'll be nominated, especially when Gore has shown he can skate through just fine pretending September 11 never happened? The protestations of Matt's misguided friend notwithstanding, most of the serious foreign policy ideas of the last decade have been thought out by conservatives working in the Bush Administration or near it. During the campaign, all Gore had a shadowy, reclusive foreign policy adviser named Leon Feurth. At least Gore has that. John Kerry and John Edwards have even less. Furthermore, Democratic primary voters don't vote on foreign policy, so this speculation all becomes highly academic once you step out of the bipartisan neocon-warblogger-Likudnik world we inhabit. By far the more likely scenario is that the Dems will just muddle through their foreign policy, hoping the war ends soon, rather than launching some grandiose right-wing attack on President Bush.
Here's all I'd add :
This last bit is particularly important as a domestic political consideration--and don't we all in the darkest secret parts of our hearts enjoy the domestic politics more than even the geopolitics?
Without being overly cynical, you have to wonder if last night's speech isn't in good part aimed at the midterm election. Debate and legislation of this new Department will suck all the air out of every domestic initiative and keep Congress tied up on what is fundamentally a Republican issue.
Democrats, as you say, don't have their heart in this but have to weigh in on it and be seen to be cooperating. Meanwhile, all the stuff they want to talk about--Social Security, Medicare, pensions, etc.--gets shunted to the side or else they look like they're blocking this "important national security issue". You can just see Trent Lott : Gee Mr. Daschle, we'd love to talk about parts per billion of chromiocyclamate being released into the air, but we were actually in the middle of "the most important government restructuring since the American Revolution"...
Even if that's not the intent, that's one of the effects, isn't it?
The cluster of Israeli F-16s took off in desert sunshine on one of the most daring missions of modern times. Flying low through Jordanian, Saudi and Iraqi airspace they reached Baghdad little more than an hour later. The gleaming dome of Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak was easy to spot. The Israeli pilots released their bombs and within 80 seconds the plant was a pile of ruins.
The world was outraged by Israel's raid on June 7 1981. "Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law," Margaret Thatcher thundered. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US ambassador to the UN and as stern a lecturer as Britain's then prime minister, described it as "shocking" and compared it to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. American newspapers were as fulsome. "Israel's sneak attack... was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression," said the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times called it "state-sponsored terrorism".
The greatest anger erupted at the UN. Israel claimed Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weapons and it was acting in self-defence, which is legal under Article 51 of the UN charter. Other countries did not agree. They saw no evidence that Iraq's nuclear energy programme, then in its infancy and certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency as peaceful, could be described as military, aggressive or directed against a particular country. In any case, pre-emptive action by one country against another country which offers no imminent threat is illegal.
The UN security council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Israeli raid. The US usually vetoes UN attempts to censure Israel but this time Washington joined in. The Reagan administration even blocked deliveries of new F-16s to its close ally. There was an element of hypocrisy in the condemnation of Israel, at least in the US. Reagan sent the F-16s a few months later. But policymakers and ordinary people around the world clearly sensed that Israel's pre-emptive strike took us all to the top of a slippery slope. If pre-emption was accepted as legal, the fragile structure of international peace would be undermined. Any state could attack any other under the pretext that it detected a threat, however distant.
Since then we have begun to slip down the slope.
A look at 10 states that could be critical in deciding whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate after the 2002 elections.
TOP DEMOCRATIC TARGETS
ARKANSAS: Incumbent Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson vs. Democrat Mark Pryor, state attorney general.
COLORADO: Incumbent Republican Sen. Wayne Allard vs. Tom Strickland, a former U.S. attorney
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Sen. Bob Smith or Rep. John Sununu vs. Governor Jeanne Shaheen
TEXAS: Democrat Ron Kirk vs. Attorney General John Cornyn
NORTH CAROLINA: Elizabeth Dole vs. Erskine Bowles
TOP GOP TARGETS
IOWA: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin vs. GOP Rep. Greg Ganske.
MINNESOTA: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone vs. Norm Coleman, former mayor of St. Paul
MISSOURI: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan vs. Jim Talent, a former member of Congress who narrowly lost the governor's race in 2000.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson vs. Rep. John Thune.
GEORGIA: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland vs. either Rep. Saxby Chambliss or state lawmaker Bob Irvin
In a normal mid-term election, you'd expect several of the weak GOP incumbents to get knocked off and the dubious Democrat incumbents to pull through. What the war does is make all the incumbents somewhat safer--because of peoples' more positive feelings towards government and a reluctance to rock the boat too much. So the really interesting races are the open seats and there you have to think that the fact that Texas is a Republican state will carry Cornyn through and the Clinton baggage may prove too much for Bowles to shake in what remains a conservative, though not necessarily Republican, North Carolina.
What remains to be seen is whether President Bush can translate his personal popularity into support for his party. In the past couple cycles where popular presidents had this kind of opportunity Reagan chose not to put his prestige on the line and Clinton, despite his poll numbers in 1998, was considered a liability by Democrat candidates. For Bush to make a decisive difference this time he'd have to first of all make the effort and second of all have a set of new proposals for which he could claim he needed GOP assistance in Congress. Both of these steps are far more daring than anything the President or Karl Rove seem willing to attempt. They seem willing to settle for winning re-election in 2004, which means that the significant portions of Bush presidency may effectively be over by the end of this year, just as the Reagan presidency (with the exception of tax reform) was over by the end of 1982.
It is still, of course, well worth retaining appointment power (particularly where the judiciary is concerned) and oversight of regulation and wielding the veto pen, so it is not a complete waste to simply seek to keep power. Yet, these ambitions are far too niggardly. They betray a willingness to settle for competent mediocrity. Even though there are real political dangers involved in such a course, it would be heartening to say Bush and company aim high and stake their careers on real reform : privatization of Social Security; Medical Savings Accounts; flat tax; school vouchers; drastic downsizing of government--to no more than six cabinet offices; etc. Aim high and try to win big. It worked in 1994, on the electoral level, if not the legislation level. If they tried it again and won Congress while retaining the presidency they could even get some of the stuff done. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
GOP Looks to Shift Power in Senate : Republicans Aim to Gain Power in Senate Contests, Where Democrats Hold One-Vote Lead (The Associated Press, 6/07/02)
Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a physician, says Republicans "have more patients" but Democrats "have more in intensive care" referring to Democratic incumbents in Minnesota, Missouri and South Dakota.
In addition to those three states, Republicans are looking at Democratic Sen. Max Cleland in Georgia. Democrats have their eye on Republican incumbents in Arkansas, Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon.
The battle for control has shifted, with Republicans adjusting their target states and Democrats looking forward to the retirement of four Republican incumbents in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Texas.
U.S.-trained troops raided a Philippine hideout Friday to end a year-long hostage crisis, freeing one American but triggering a gunfight that killed her husband.
A third captive was also reported shot, but soldiers on the scene said they had not found her body.
Martin Burnham, a missionary from Wichita, Kan., was killed by a gunshot during the raid near the town of Siraway, said Gen. Narciso Abaya, the Philippine deputy military chief of staff.
Gracia Burnham was being operated on in a military hospital in the southern city of Zamboanga, said Maj. Gen. Ernesto Carolina, commander of Philippine forces in the south.
"She's here already," Carolina told reporters. "She is being operated on. It's a gunshot wound. She's talking. She's out of danger."
Abaya said Ediborah Yap, a Filipino nurse kidnapped shortly after the Burnhams, was shot in the rescue operation and died of her wounds. However, troops at the site said they had not found her body.
Four of the kidnappers were killed and several soldiers wounded, Abaya said.
Philippine officers said U.S. helicopters, part of a 1,000-strong contingent of U.S. troops advising Filipinos fighting the Abu Sayyaf, were retrieving more wounded from the clash scene.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said no U.S. troops were directly involved in the raid and that the American counterterrorism training program in the Philippines would continue.
Still, this is good news from the larger perspective. Nine months ago we were all stunned to see that radical Islamic terrorism had a global reach--today we see that Western anti-terrorism has the same reach and a more powerful fist with which to strike.
Sen. John Kerry's only Republican challenger failed to qualify for the ballot Wednesday, leaving the incumbent Democrat with no major party opposition.
Something old. Something old.
Something old. Something old.
And, incidentally, something new.
That is what congressional Democrats have produced in the five-point plan they are taking to voters for this year's midterm election. In case you missed it, Democrats last month produced a five-point message card meant to show the priorities they would pursue if given majorities in the House and Senate this fall.
It's a document Walter F. Mondale would have felt comfortable distributing. [...]
Four of them are long-standing party priorities: protecting Social Security and opposing Republican efforts to partially privatize it; creating a prescription drug benefit for seniors under Medicare; increasing spending on education; toughening enforcement of clean air and clean water laws. The something (relatively) new is a pledge to "provide real pension protection" in the wake of the Enron Corp. collapse.
This is Samuel P. Huntington's moment. The world of cultural and religious strife anticipated by Huntington in his much-discussed (and widely excoriated) book, The Clash of Civilizations, has unquestionably arrived. Yet whether we might also someday see an alternative world - the global triumph of democracy envisioned in Francis Fukuyama's brilliant work, The End of History and the Last Man - is also a question that seems very much before us as we contemplate what it would mean to 'win' the war in which we are engaged. The question of our time may now be whether Huntington's culture clash or Fukuyama's pax democratia is the world's most plausible future. [...]
[T]he resolution between Fukuyama and Huntington is still in doubt. Huntington was right about a conflict in the offing between the Middle East and the West. But we still don't know whether that clash is just the beginning of a long-term civilizational stand-off or a stimulus to democracy's and capitalism's final and successful push to establish themseleves around the world.
In March of 1992, a sensational investigative report by an unknown journalist was published in a little-read magazine. Though it wasn't clear at the time, David Brock's article, "The Real Anita Hill," which appeared in the American Spectator, marked the beginning of one of the nastiest decades in American political history.
We'll set aside McCarthyism, the struggle between civil rights activists and segregationists, Vietnam, Watergate, Central America, the Bork hearings, etc. We'll even grant her, for the sake of argument, that the 1990s were especially nasty. But how, in the name of all that's holy, can you claim that the nastiness of the '90s begins with the expose of Anita Hill, rather than with the testimony of Anita Hill?
Let's recall, after all, that the entirety of Ms Hill's brief against Mr. Thomas was that he asked her out, admired her endowment, asked if she'd seen a particular porn flick, and quoted The Exorcist to the effect that there was a pubic hair on his Coke can (a pickup line that I've always found surprisingly ineffective). He never touched her. Never threatened her. Never retaliated against her. In fact, he wrote her recommendations and helped her find new positions. If everything she said is true it would leave us with a diminished impression of Mr. Thomas's manners and no reason whatsoever to believe he's unfit for the bench. Yet she, despite the help he had provided, participated in an attempt by liberal special interest groups to derail his nomination.
Still, Ms Mayer would have us believe that the nastiness began only when Ms Hill's own background became an issue the next year? This is self-pitying Left victimology at its most repellant.
The Organization of the Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security would have a clear and efficient organizational structure with four divisions:
Border and Transportation Security
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
SOME DETAILS MIGHT HAVE BEEN NICE :
Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation (Office of the Press Secretary, June 6, 2002, White House)
HERE THEY ARE :
Attacks-Bush Glance (The Associated Press, 6/6/02)
President Bush's proposed Department of Homeland Security, if approved by Congress, would draw from the budgets and jurisdictions of eight current
Cabinet departments or Cabinet-level agencies, including:
--Justice Department: ...would lose the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Office of Domestic Preparedness and the Domestic Emergency Support Team, as well as the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. [...]
--Treasury Department: ...would lose the Customs Service and the Secret Service. [...]
--Transportation Department: ...would lose the Coast Guard and the fledgling Transportation Security Administration. [...]
--Health and Human Services Department: ...lose all workers doing bioterrorism research, preparation and response. [...]
--Agriculture Department: ...lose the Plant Health Inspection Service and the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. [...]
--Energy Department: ... lose the nuclear incident response team and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [...]
--Commerce Department:...lose the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office. [...]
--Defense Department: ...lose the National Communications Systems division. [...]
--The General Services Administration: ...lose the Federal Computer Incident Response Center and the Federal Protective Service. [...]
--The Federal Emergency Management Agency, now an independent agency, would be folded into the new department's emergency response and preparedness division.
Several weeks ago, this column suggested that political insiders were noticing evidence that the 2002 election cycle might be much like the one of 10 years ago. The 1992 national election brought to the polls many voters who viewed the country as adrift.
Now top GOP political strategists reportedly are beginning to get seriously worried that the mistakes of elections past might be getting ready for a repeat performance now, in this age of more rapid and sophisticated political communications.
On Monday, Matt Drudge informed the army of visitors to his Web site what conservative icon Rush Limbaugh had already told his own loyal legions -- that conservatism had apparently been "hijacked." While Limbaugh's comments were primarily reserved for the Bush administration's apparent flip-flop on the issue of global warming -- Bush now says it's a man-made problem -- top Republican strategists reportedly have more to worry about than just a government report that spells out the believed human causes and future negative effects of an environmental phenomenon that Bush once refused to even acknowledge.
The Republicans are concerned that other Bush-led initiatives, such as his siding with Senate Democrats over amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, and his flirtation with a massive and aggressive build-up of the IRS, are new potential sources of alienation of the far right. [...]
Significantly, Bush's strong approval ratings have been coming not only from the traditional Republican voter, but also from moderate Democrats, whom this column identified last March as "Bush Democrats." The question now appears to be whether the administration's apparent move to the center -- or as some might suggest, left of center on issues such as global warming -- will further strengthen his appeal to these otherwise traditional Democratic voters, many of whom indicated in our March poll that they would likely support Bush in 2004.
Even if Bush continues to pick up crossover support from Democrats, will his recent actions keep Republicans excited about their party's congressional candidates this fall -- most of whom are unlikely to garner many traditional Democrat votes?
Now there's a chance, and only a chance mind you, that the GOP might be able to return to the majority party status that it enjoyed from the Civil War until the Depression. We might get a chance to undo some of the damage left over from the New Deal, the Great Society, and the Cold War. We might be able to reduce the size of government and return power and responsibility to individuals. We might...we might...we might...
But a really interesting phenomenon is taking hold within the party : its activists and ideologues seem to be more interested in maintaining ideological purity than in governing, more concerned with strict adherence to conservative dogma than with the types of compromises that could actually put into effect certain aspects of the conservative program. So rather than attract Hispanic voters, whose ethos of hard work, emphasis on the importance of family, and belief in Catholicism should make them natural conservative voters, the old liners in the party want to fight immigration tooth and nail. Rather than win the education issue, the zealots would rather have vetoed the Education bill because it didn't have vouchers. Etc., etc., etc....
A small but significant group of inside the Beltway operatives and pundits seems determined to enforce ideology even if it means Republicans remain a minority party. These people would rather be always right about their ideas and never achieve anything than to compromise on occasion and win great victories. They are horrified at the fact that the Party has begun to appeal to voters outside the Republican mainstream. They see poll numbers in the 70s and all they can make of it is that their previously private preserve is being infiltrated by unbelievers. (One is reminded of Yogi Berra's comment about a fashionable night spot : No one ever goes there anymore, it's too crowded.) Like the Jacobins of France or the Bolsheviks of the Soviet Union, these folks seem to want to see the revolution eat its own. And when the last tumbrel rolls away from the last guillotine and the last boxcar rolls away from the last reeducation camp, who will have won?--not the conservative/libertarian ideologues, but the Democrats. The lasting monument of this brand of Rightist fanaticism will be the authoritarian Welfare state, which they'll never have compromised with, but whose final victory they'll have assured. How odd.
Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, is anguished over the announced departure of the presidential adviser Karen P. Hughes, saying she had been an essential counterweight to Karl Rove, a hard-charging and more ideological adviser, according to Esquire magazine.
In extensive remarks in the magazine's July issue, Mr. Card said Ms. Hughes's departure would deeply disrupt a tenuous balance of power among President Bush's closest associates. "Listen, the president's in a state of denial about what Karen's departure will mean, so is the first lady, and so is Karen herself," Mr. Card told Esquire.
"The whole balance of the place, the balance of what has worked up to now for George Bush, is gone, simply gone," he said. "My biggest concern? Want to know what it is? That the president will lose confidence in the White House staff. Because without her, we'll no longer be able to provide the president what he needs, what he demands."
Mr. Card's remarks are notable not only for what they reveal about the personal and ideological conflict within the senior White House staff, but also because so few Bush advisers have been willing to talk openly about internal matters in the highly disciplined Bush White House.
Someone must tell President George W. Bush that there are reasons why the Founding Fathers separated church and state and that one of them was that they wanted to avoid the faith-based bickering that drenched Europe in blood after 1517 and eventually led to a conflict known as the Thirty Years' War.
[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
Iran now tops the State Department's list of seven terrorist-sponsoring states. After 10 days in Iran--four cities, 60 interviews--I have little doubt that the United States is better off engaging Iran, as it does China, rather than trying to isolate it, as it does Iraq.
Regrettably, it is also clear that President Bush's axis-of-evil speech stopped most Iranian reformers cold. Since that address, the reformers' often valiant struggle (some were in jail, some were shot) for a more liberal Islam suddenly seemed unpatriotic, as Iran expects to be attacked by the US sooner or later.
Although the reformers' support is widely based (they have repeatedly won more than 70 percent of the vote), the mainspring of their support is anticlerical, protesting the long list of dictates the unpopular mullahs have imposed on everything personal - from dating to drinking.
However, I did not find any among the scores of Iranians openly criticizing the hard-liners who did not view themselves as patriotic Iranians. Hence, for now, the reformers feel they must lie low. "We don't want to be seen as weakening our nation when under siege," one of their key leaders told an American visitor.
This is particularly disconcerting as Iran, a non-Arab country, was on its way to becoming easily the most liberal nation in the region.
"Are you an American first, or are you a journalist?"
Unfortunately, that question -- posed to a journalists' meeting in Salt Lake City in April by distinguished newsman Bill Kovach -- is necessary after Sept. 11, as the few who dared critique the rush to war were attacked for being insufficiently patriotic. Too many journalists responded to the post-9/11 hyper-nationalism by waving the flag, literally and figuratively.
In a future war involving U.S. soldiers what would a TV reporter do if he learned the enemy troops with which he was traveling were about to launch a surprise attack on an American unit? That's just the question Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree Jr, as moderator of PBS' Ethics in America series, posed to ABC anchor PeterJennings and 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace. Both agreed getting ambush footage for the evening news would come before warning the U.S. troops.
For the March 7 installment on battlefield ethics Ogletree set up a theoretical war between the North Kosanese and the U.S.-supported South Kosanese. At first Jennings responded: "If I was with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans."
Wallace countered that other reporters, including himself, "would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover." Jennings' position bewildered Wallace: "I'm a little bit of a loss to understand why, because you are an American, you would not have covered that story."
"Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?" Ogletree asked. Without hesitating Wallace responded: "No, you don't have higher duty... you're a reporter." This convinces Jennings, who concedes, "I think he's right too, I chickened out."
Ogletree turns to Brent Scowcroft, now the National Security Adviser, who argues "you're Americans first, and you're journalists second." Wallace is mystified by the concept, wondering "what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by North Kosanese on American soldiers?" Retired General William Westmoreland then points out that "it would be repugnant to the American listening public to see on film an ambush of an American platoon by our national enemy."
A few minutes later Ogletree notes the "venomous reaction" from George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel. "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans."
Wallace and Jennings agree, "it's a fair reaction." The discussion concludes as Connell says: "But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists."
Here's another version of the tale >from The Atlantic (courtesy of Mr. Ali)
The New Jersey Nets have used what they perceive as an overall lack of respect as fuel all season.
Now, with a best-of-seven meeting with the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals beginning Wednesday, New Jersey has more doubters to conquer. The Nets are playing in their first NBA championship series against the most dominant team of this era. Few give them a chance.
Forget everything you've ever been told about David as an underdog and think of him as Indiana Jones in the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the giant scimitar-wielding Arab confronts him in terrifying fashion, only to have Indy whip out a pistol and shoot the big lug. That's all the story of David and Goliath really boils down to is the resort to superior technology to defeat a seemingly more powerful foe. The sling was long recognized as one of the most lethal and, because of its range, effective weapons of ancient times. It is only the fact that the slingshot has become a plaything for growing boys that allows us to misunderstand this story so badly.
So now we are come to the NBA Finals. The point of the metaphor in this case is that where Shaq obviously calls to mind Goliath, because of his sheer size, the possibility also exists that the Nets are better armed, have superior weaponry in this battle, and should therefore be favored.
Or they might get swept--but, contrary to popular opinion, that won't be a case of Goliath beating David. It'll just mean that the Nets aren't very good.
The next presidential election is two-and-a-half years away, but White House insiders, led by political guru Karl Rove, have sketched the outlines for 2004 even now. [...]
In a controversial speech last winter, Rove said that Bush's much-lauded role as leader of the war on terror would help GOP candidates this fall. Little noticed was Rove's insistence that they'd have to sell a domestic agenda as well. In fact, the White House is pursuing a two-tiered strategy to keep the House, win back the Senate and set up Bush for 2004. At splashy campaign-trail events around the country, Bush woos swing-voting moderates by talking about education, child care and job training. Rove, meanwhile, works on the interests of the conservative base. The wish list for the rest of 2002: a welfare-reform bill that encourages marriage; new "faith based" charity legislation that would establish a fund to teach churches how to win federal social-services contracts, and Senate confirmation for 11 federal appeals-court judges-all of them conservative favorites of the cultural right.
Scientists revising a study of tiny pollution particles from diesel engines and power plants found a computer glitch that might mean less health risk than previously thought and could delay new federal rules.
Research by investigators at Johns Hopkins University's biostatistics department indicates the software used for the study of 90 large American cities was overestimating the rise in the typical mortality rate.
The study is just one of more than 100 the Environmental Protection Agency is examining as it prepares to issue regulations next year. But the software in question could be a problem because it is used by many of the studies, agency spokesman Joe Martyak, said Wednesday.
Last week, ABC officially announced what many industry watchers had expected for several months: The late-night talk show Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher would be canceled, and replaced in the fall by a new entertainment program hosted by Comedy Central's Jimmy Kimmel. When the news broke, most media reports pegged Politically Incorrect's demise on Maher's "unpatriotic" remarks in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Yet while there's some truth to the notion, this interpretation ignores other, more powerful market forces that have worked to replace an important televised forum of political dissent with the latest incarnation of "must-sleaze" TV.
The United States is drawing up extensive and detailed plans for a post-Saddam Hussein government in Iraq, intending to fund Iraqi exile organizations to draft legislation for a transitional regime and establish formal relationships with Arab governments.
Documents obtained exclusively by United Press International reveal the State Department plans to allocate $410,000 over the next year to the Iraqi Jurists Association. One aim of the group according to a State Department summary of their activities is to "focus on the drafting of key legislation and legal decrees, to be readily available to a post-Saddam administration."
The chairman of the organization Dr. Tariq Ali Saleh, a former civilian and military judge in Iraq, told UPI Wednesday, "Our organization has done a lot of work regarding many investigations into the many crimes of the Iraqi regime, for the next phase we will do transitional justice."
A State Department budget justification for an organization called the "Iraqi National Movement" -- formed this year -- says the group of primarily Sunni exiles intends to "liaison with governments in the region." Indeed, that document reveals that U.S. funding "will specifically support an INM representative in Syria, travel to the Middle East for meetings with the Iraqi expatriates and regional governments, and media outreach, focusing on Arabic language TV, radio and printed media outlets."
You can control the brain chemistry of large, unconsenting populations with less sophisticated technologies if you get enough government involved. In fact, we're already doing that at the behest of many in public schools, for what else is it when children, usually boys, who in a prior age were simply regarded as unruly are now given Ritalin and other medications intended to change their classroom behavior by changing their brain chemistry? While professional doomsayers and White House committees study the ethics of cloning, millions of American children are--and this is not alarmism, but literal truth--having their minds controlled by the government, with surprisingly little debate. Why the disparity in attention?
Actually, Mr. Reynold's libertarian distrust of government leads him astray in one important respect and it is perhaps an indicator of why he underestimates the dangers of cloning and genetic engineering. He treats the overprescription of Ritalin as some kind of attempt by government to control minds. In reality, it is not government, but we who are doing this. It is first of all parents, second of all pediatricians, and only third of all government--in its most benign form, that of teachers and principals--who
are engaged in this genuinely frightening process. These are, of course, the three groups in society that we would expect to be most protective of the young, but they are instead drugging them into submission. Mr. Reynolds' mistake here is the classic libertarian one of assuming Man to be basically good until his essential goodness is corrupted by government. (Similarly, the Left assumes Man to be basically good until corrupted by acquisitive urges and capitalist economic systems). But as Judeo-Christianity has been teaching us for thousands of years, we are born sinners and are perfectly capable of so treating even our own children. We should hardly be surprised that having aborted some 30 million kids over the past three decades, parents are also showing themselves willing to exercise neuropharmacological control over the ones they decide to raise.
Mr. Fukuyama also makes the point that this is a form of control that we seem all too eager to exercise over ourselves. He cites Prozac in particular, as a drug that people increasingly use to take the rough edges off of their own personalities and cope with the challenges of life. Some of the folks being prescribed drugs like prozac may be incompetent at the time, but many more are consciously and rationally choosing to have their brain chemistry altered. This is certainly no government action.
Cloning and genetic engineering and other non-drug related biotechnologies enter into this equation because it seems inevitable that what folks are trying to do with drugs they will try to do with genes and because these changes, unlike those induced by drugs, will be permanent. It's bad enough that adults are turning young boys into pliable zombies--imagine a future where males never snap out of this state. Mr. Reynolds is worried about the notion that people may not be consenting to these kinds of controls, but what of an age when consent is taken away from you before you're even born. You can stop taking Ritalin eventually, but where do you go when you are bred for a certain level of lassitude?
The most important thing to realize here is that there's something attractive about such a future. If much of the violence that surrounds humankind is a function of the way the male brain works and we can reduce that violence by changing those brains, many will find this an acceptable trade off. Similarly, advocates of genetic manipulation like to present a beneficent image of a mankind stripped of horrible genetic defects, but, given such power, aren't we also likely to engineer away other troublesome aspects of the human condition--first excess energy, violence, depression, stupidity and the like, but then homosexuality, laziness, fatness, and other traits that parents may simply not want in their children. After all, even Rosie O'Donell when it came time to select a sperm donor did not accept the first available tube; she selected that of a healthy, intelligent, blonde, athletic, white guy. For all the cant about accepting everyone the way they are, we all want our kids to be "perfect"--and perfect isn't likely to be like you and it sure as heck isn't me. Perfect may ultimately prove to be a kind of being that is so different from us that it won't even be recognizably human. And in that post-human future what happens to our social arrangements--especially our system of government?
Mightn't it be the case that we'll eventually succeed in creating that basically "good" being, one with no propensity to sin and violence, but in the process we'll have robbed him of the drives and desires that make freedom so precious to us? These post-humans could be free in ways that we can't, because they'll be far too docile to be a threat to each other. Theirs will be the freedom of the sheep--bland, boring, unproductive, meaningless. Government, which is fundamentally instituted to protect us from ourselves, will no longer be necessary. The libertarian utopia will be arrived. But the price we'll have paid will be too horrible to contemplate.
This is just one of the warnings that Mr. Fukuyama sounds in his book. Thankfully, Mr. Reynolds seems to have finally gotten past his own focus on cloning and he's apparently turning his attention to the broader threat being heralded by bioethicists--that we may destroy human freedom, and maybe even humanity, as we apply biotechnology to ourselves. Here is ground that conservatives and libertarians can defend together. Are we all Fukuyamists now?
Professor Reynolds responds, but appears not to comprehend the import of his own essay. On the one hand, he decries the use of Ritalin on school age boys (which he still seems to think is some kind of government plot--the kids must all be orphans) and suggests that such neuroscientific controls might easily be used to "make us love Big Brother", but on the other hand, in this response, he claims that "Neuroscience abuses, despite the lack of Ethics Establishment scrutiny, are largely nonexistent". What is the dosing of millions of non-consenting boys with a mind-altering drug if it's not an abuse of neuroscience? And what is Mr. Reynolds doing in sounding the alarm about this abuse if not joining Mr. Fukuyama in nattering nabobbery? He may find the company he's now keeping to be disconcerting, but he's still singing from the same Ethical Establishment hymnal as Mr. Fukuyama.
Unfortunately, Mr. Reynolds is correct that thus far the exclusively conservative nattering has been "useless". It's all to easy for libertarians and the Left to dismiss such ethical concerns as religious dogma, Luddism, and fear of science. As the Professor's column reflects, folks aren't either reading Mr. Fukuyama closely or listening to what he has to say. They've pigeon-holed him as the guy who's afraid of cloning and wants to stop science, which saves them having to actually address the political points he raises. But, perhaps, now that we see some common ground emerging, conservatives and libertarians can achieve together what conservatives have failed to accomplish on our own, sensible limitations on the use of science to affect fundamental changes in human nature, changes which pose a threat to the political freedoms that both camps treasure, whatever our differences on other issues.
The majority of the world outside of the United States thinks soccer is entertaining, thus proving that the majority of the world is populated by people who have diminished expectations of what entertainment should be. [...]
This entertainment gap is perfectly reflected in the differences between American and European sports. Football is plainly superior to Futbol. (Hell, Fooseball is clearly superior to Futbol.) Soccer is so boring that the fans have to resort to creating their own violence and mayhem in the stands as an anedote to the boredom induced by the glacial pace of the game. Yet when your basic English soccer hooligan is exposed to the controlled violence and mayhem of NFL football, he loves it, even as he behaves himself in the stands. How else to explain the fact that the annual NFL pre-season game in Wembley Stadium in London always sells out to 85,000 football-crazed Englishmen?
Everyone knows that the spectacle of a 300 pound, defensive end, hepped-up on pain-killers and anabolic steriods, bearing down on a multi-million dollar quarterback's blindside at a 4.4, 40-yard pace, with malice in his heart, is infinitly more entertaining than watching some wussified midfielder trip over his own feet and feign an injury in the hopes of getting a free kick. There should be a congressional investigation into the negitive effects of soccer on the youth of America. The sport teaches the worst sorts of values: always pretend you're hurt, someone may notice; always tattle on your opponents, they may get punished; always complain about the weather and the fans, it'll give you an excuse if you lose. The rest of the world should follow our example and make it mandatory that boys quit playing soccer as soon as girls are no longer able to compete on an equal basis, about age 13. Few American boys play soccer past age 13, and soccer is the quintessential tomboy's sport. Look at how American women have dominated the sport internationally.
A new book which claims that Christians are the victims of worldwide persecution has stirred controversy amid accusations that it minimises the Holocaust and demonises Islam.
The author, Antonio Socci, claims that the untold story of the 20th century is the murder of 45 million Christians, mostly at the hands of communist and Islamic regimes, and that massacres continue to this day.
When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.
Ralph Nader, the self- styled consumer advocate, multi-millionaire champagne socialist and Green Party presidential candidate that stole votes away from Democrat Al Gore, blasted the Bush Administration for supporting the “Microsoft monopoly” because Federal workers use Microsoft Office products.
Most Federal Government computer and software purchases were made in 1998-1999 during the second term of the Clinton Administration.
Nader, whose letter to the Office of Management and Budget, pressured the Bush Administration to require Microsoft to make its proprietary formats work smoothly with products from Apple, IBM and other rivals. This demand will probably be easy for the Bush Administration to meet since Microsoft Windows, Office and hundreds of their software products already run smoothly on Apple and/or IBM products. Nader’s major demand in the letter to the OMB was that the Bush Administration purchases the rights to Microsoft’s software and releases it into the public domain. Once in the public domain, the Microsoft code would be swallowed into the Linux software code, a free Unix-like operating system cobbled together over a period of ten years by students, hackers and other computer hobbyists.
The United States should not let heightened concern over national security since Sept. 11 accelerate the drive to base weapons in space, former astronaut Sally Ride said Tuesday.
That includes the space-based antimissile defense sought by the Bush administration as a shield against nuclear attack, Ride said during an interview after speaking at a conference of engineers at the Hartford Civic Center.
"You run the risk of creating more harm than good," she said. [...]
Although scores of nations have satellites in orbit, Ride said none has placed a weapon in space. But military strategists envision a new breed of weaponry that might someday use space-based lasers or particle beams against satellites or targets on Earth. In a just-released study for the Air Force, the nonprofit RAND Corp. think tank mentions possible development of space lasers, kinetic-energy weapons fired from space and space-based conventional weapons that would let an attacking nation strike more quickly and accurately.
The RAND study cautions that smaller nations might develop space weapons as a challenge to U.S. military strength.
By accepting the basic premise of extreme environmentalists, the president will ultimately be forced to accept the major content of the same treaty that he rejected a little over a year ago as "fatally flawed": the Kyoto Protocol, signed by then-Vice President Al Gore in 1997 but never ratified by the U.S. Senate, which instead rejected it before signing by a 95-0 vote.
Bush's about-face, however, fits a pattern. One by one, he has abandoned the principles that attracted conservatives to him in the first place : [...]
Free Trade: In order to protect inefficient steel producers and try to win votes in Rust Belt states, Bush agreed to protective tariffs against imports. At every turn now, his attempts to get Europeans and Asians to drop their trade barriers are being met with (accurate) cries of hypocrisy.
Farm Bill: [...]
Spending: [...] Surpluses have turned to deficits in the years ahead.
Campaign Finance: In the wake of the Enron scandal, Bush signed a new campaign-finance law that would hurt his own party, enhance the power of organized labor and liberal special interests and limit free political choice.
Education: To get his education bill passed, Bush dropped the most important reform: vouchers. [...]
Conservatives: Bush's base is becoming demoralized.
Let's go through his complaints :
Global warming : Mr. Glassman's assertion that President Bush "will ultimately be forced to accept the major content" of the Kyoto accords is nearly demented, as his own phrasing reflects. We can't pick and choose which parts of its contents we like. It's a treaty--we can sign or not sign. If we rewrite it in Congress then it has to be renegotiated with the entire world (which is the whole point of Fast Track authority). There is no way the treaty could get through the Senate as is--republicans will filibuster it. So let the Democrats propose their own version--with limitations placed on cars, drivers, nearly every industry, etc. There's a winning political strategy, eh? There's a reason the original vote was 95-0--it's political suicide to vote for it.
Free Trade : Sure, we'd all prefer that he not have imposed new steel tariffs but this action, already fairly minor, pales to true insignificance when you consider that he just won the "Fast Track" trade promotion authority that eluded Bill Clinton for eight years. You really have to be rigidly doctrinaire to be unable to look past the collateral damage and see that a major battle was just won.
Farm Bill : The farm bill sucks. It's also very popular. It's chump change in the overall budget. It was inevitable. It's good politics--since farm states are Republican by nature. and it's easily correctable if the GOP wins back the Senate.
Spending : we spend too much money. But our debt is the smallest of any developed nation and even if we run a deficit this year or next it will be an incredibly small proportion of our GDP. Most importantly, after almost 80 years of deficits, we still have no idea how much they affect the economy, or even if they affect it at all. The economy boomed while Reagan ran up deficits. It boomed while Clinton and Congressional Republicans did away with them. Then it tanked when we achieved surpluses. Interest rates (and inflation) plunged during the Reagan spending binge--then rates went up when we achieved the surplus. There's just no evidence that shows a brief period of deficit spending during a time of war has any deleterious effect on the economy.
Campaign Finance Reform : This is the silliest portion of Mr. Glassman's column. I'd agree if he made only a point about the principle involved--the CFR is unconstitutional and the president who signed it and every member of Congress who voted for it should be impeached. That's not going to happen though, is it? The bill, though vile, is popular.
But more than that, directly contrary to what Mr. Glassman says, it is a huge boon to the GOP in general and to President Bush in particular. It is going to lead to bloodletting among Democrats, who have trouble raising hard money. Accordingly it leaves the GOP with a huge fund raising advantage. And from the President's perspective, the spending limits it imposes means that his Democratic opponent in 2004 will have blown through a huge portion of their money by the end of the primaries and the National Party will not be able to spend soft money on ads during the summer. So he'll have months to himself, during which he can define his opponent and the race. Added to the greater ease with which an incumbent can engineer free press coverage, it means it is almost impossible for the Democrat to compete with him in terms of getting their respective messages out. Now, I'll acknowledge that this is an anti-democratic effect, but it's also what the Democrats demanded. Hopefully after the disaster of their 2004 race they'll be willing to scrap the law.
Education : As was reported several weeks ago, President Bush used the budget process to cut spending in this new bill that he didn't want in the first place and to fund voucher programs that the Dems don't want. Now that may not survive in the final appropriations bills, and it's somewhat dubious ethically, but it suggests he's got his eye on the ball.
As importantly, by just getting whatever bill he could through the Senate--which it may come as news to Mr. Glassman that we conservatives no longer control--Mr. Bush has erased the Democrats advantage on the issue of education--an advantage they've enjoyed for decades. Clearly somebody, be the Republican, Democrat, or Independent, liked the bill even if it was awful.
Conservatives : Here it might have been helpful if Mr. Glassman had looked at what Mr. Bush hasn't done. By this time in their presidencies, Reagan, Bush I , and Clinton had all raised taxes--Bush II hasn't. George W. Bush hasn't compromised on Cuba. He hasn't compromised on abortion. He hasn't compromised on cloning. He hasn't stopped talking about his religious beliefs. He hasn't been implicated in a scandal. On the core political issue--taxes--and the social/moral issues that drive conservatism--the principles by which conservatives measure him--Mr. Bush has kept the faith. This gives him enormous leeway to do things like tarriffs or bloated budgeting or whatever. He's yielding on issues that while they may upset libertarian purists, don't much bother conservatives. He's also holding firm on issues that keep conservatives very happy (though they too upset libertarian purists--for instance : cloning). No wonder Mr. Glassman is so upset. Many libertarians are upset; it's difficult to see why that's a problem for the president though, because they have nowhere to go. Their presidential candidate gets less than 1% of the vote and Democrats are much worse on all these issues. As always, when push comes to shove, most of the libertarians will grin and bear it. And to opine that Mr. Bush is in trouble with his base is just foolish. Conservatives have drunk the Kool-Aid on this one.
THE BIG SELL OUT...NOT! :
White House Warns on Climate Change (John Heilprin, June 4, 2002, Associated Press)
President Bush dismissed on Tuesday a report put out by his administration warning that human activities are behind climate change that is having significant effects on the environment.
The report to the United Nations, written by the Environmental Protection Agency, puts most of the blame for recent global warming on the burning of fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the environment.
But it suggests nothing beyond voluntary action by industry for dealing with the so-called "greenhouse" gases, the program Bush advocated in rejecting a treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 calling for mandatory reduction of those gases by industrial nations.
"I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," Bush said dismissively Tuesday when asked about the EPA report, adding that he still opposes the Kyoto treaty.
UPDATE II :
OR MAYBE IT'S ALL A NY TIMES PLOT :
Global Heat or Heavy Raines? : Yesterday's environmental disturbance may have been caused by human intervention (Mickey Kaus, June 4, 2002, Slate)
It certainly got the bloggers worked into a hot lather.
With his new plan to drive Cuba towards freedom with human rights demands, George W. Bush is taking a page out of the old cold war book. His support for the continued embargo, his requirement for freer trade unions and his demand for free elections resemble the carrot-stick approach laid out by the Helsinki Accords for the Communist east. But can the cold war's lessons also be applied to the west's central problem, the Middle East?
Yes indeed, says at least one party on the scene -- Natan Sharansky, Israel's deputy prime minister. Mr. Sharansky is pushing a reform plan for the Palestinians. Our great mistake in the Middle East over the past decade, he says, is failing to recognize the truths of the old superpower stand-off.
"The surprising thing is that after such a unique victory, this lesson was fully abandoned and ignored" when it comes to the Middle East, he says.
[Mr. Sharansky argues that] it is important not to underestimate the yearning for democracy among Palestinians and other Arabs. The subtext of the current western view, he says, is that Arabs do not necessarily want democracy. He recalls that the Nixon administration made the same sort of cultural argument: "that Russia is not built for democracy; that for 1,000 years we [Russia] never had democracy" -- except briefly -- and so on. This
argument is a convenient excuse for inaction. But Palestinians are like anyone else: given a chance at freedom, they will stop becoming suicide bombers. [...]
Yet Sharansky opposes instant elections for the Palestinian people. Instant elections in a society of fear such as that led by Mr Arafat would be a sham, he says, just as they were in the fearful Soviet Union of the mid-1970s. Instead, the US and those Arab states that recognize the state of Israel should establish a new democratic authority, with Israel's only input being a veto on documented terrorists' participation.
For three years, this coordinating body would work, dismantling refugee camps, teaching democracy, fostering a freer press. Just as Germany and Japan had to undergo a process of political and economic rehabilitation, says Mr. Sharansky, so must the Palestinians. "Elections are in the end of this period." [...]
The west is in part responsible for Palestinian despair and Arab suffering under dictators, he concludes. "We, the leaders of the free world, are betraying our own principles --- that all people are equal and that all people deserve to live in freedom and democracy." In other words, only if we learn the cold war's lesson of action can we avoid a conflict as long and terrible as that one.
This is the most worthwhile column I've read on the Middle East in quite some time.
No other issue is generating more scrambling in this year's Congressional elections than Social Security and what Democrats assert is the looming threat of privatization. Consider the House race in this slice of northern Indiana, where the Republican candidate, Chris Chocola, issued a solemn warning recently to the local Rotarians meeting at Honkers Restaurant.
The Democrats are plotting to "scare seniors," Mr. Chocola, a 40-year-old businessman, told the hushed breakfast crowd. He read from an intercepted e-mail message — circulated far and wide by top Republicans in Washington — that features one Democratic aide chortling to another that "bashing Republicans" on Social Security "is sooo fun." Mr. Chocola concluded, "This is everything bad about politics, part of the reason people are so cynical."
Around the country, Republicans are launching similar pre-emptive strikes, with remarkable intensity for this early in the campaign, against the attacks they know are coming. Democrats have reassumed, with gusto and more edge than they have shown in years, their favorite role in a midterm election: The Guardians of Social Security.
[G]un shows are incredibly common--there are 4,500 of them a year in the United States--and constitute one loophole in the war on terrorism that the Bush administration refuses to plug. [...]
Of course this isn't primarily an issue of international terrorism, but rather an urgent public health crisis: guns kill one American every 20 minutes. Even since Sept. 10, six times as many Americans have died from guns as from international terrorism.
Have you ever wondered about the way liberal columnists and activists view the lethality of guns as something that should trump their constitutional protection, but where the lethality of homosexuality (40,000 new AIDs infections per year) and of abortion (well over one million per year) are concerned suddenly our "civil rights"--though they're nowhere to be found in the written text of the Constitution--are paramount?
I'm perfectly willing to accept rational limitations on constitutionally enumerated civil rights, if the Kristofs of the world are similarly willing to accept limitations on the "rights" they fabricated.
Scientists have successfully used cloning technology to grow tissues for transplant in cows which will not be rejected.
A US team have been able to engineer miniature kidneys and small "patches" of heart tissue from cloned cells and successfully test them in cows.
They said that the fact that the sophisticated immune system of the cow did not reject the tissue provides hope therapeutic cloning could also be carried out on humans without rejection.
But the technique is unlikely to be used in humans because legislation prevents organs being removed from mature foetuses.
The core tenet of Gould's work on evolution remained simple: While natural selection explains much evolutionary change on every biological level from gene to individual organism to species, it can't explain everything that has happened to "life" since, so to speak, its birth. Chance and other factors also play a role. [...]
Readers curious about the logic of Gould's positions on evolution will find Kim Sterelny's Dawkins vs. Gould a brisk introduction. By pitting Gould against England's Richard Dawkins, perhaps his closest peer as a controversial public ideologist on evolution, Sterelny, a New Zealand philosopher, both exploits the real-life "punch-up" evolutionary biology
has become over the last 20 years and outlines its conceptual dimensions. The book's jacket copy understandably emphasizes the matchup's "tale-of-the-tape" clash.
"Dawkins," it asserts, "author of The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchman, conceives of evolution as a struggle between gene lineages; Gould... sees it as a struggle between organisms. For Dawkins, the principles of evolutionary biology apply just as well to humans as they do to all living creatures; for Gould, however, this sociobiology is not just ill-motivated, but wrong, and dangerous. Dawkins' views have been caricatured, and the man painted as a crazed reductionist, shrinking all the variety and complexity of life down to a struggle for existence between blind and selfish genes. Gould, too, has been falsely represented by creationists as rejecting the fundamental principles of Darwinism..." [...]
Dawkins, for example, argues that selection "fundamentally acts on lineages of replicators"--mainly genes--while Gould believes selection "usually acts on organisms in a local population." Gould believes that "there are important patterns in the large-scale history of life that have no selective explanation," while Dawkins thinks most evolutionary patterns "are accumulations over vast stretches of time of microevolutionary events."
Large parts of our economy would collapse, and we would be greatly impoverished, were we not managing to recruit huge numbers of workers from abroad. It follows that we should take pride, or at least a modest pleasure, in our ability to attract able and energetic people to our shores, especially since within a generation most of them become British. Yet this amazing success is reported as if it were a crisis, a desperate failure, a breakdown of law and order, a disaster for those of us who already live here.
Like most entertainments beloved of Baby Boomers, 'The Osbournes' pretends to challenge its audience while affirming the prejudices that its audience holds most dear. Leave aside the ancient 'Ozzie and Harriet.' A more instructive comparison is with a hugely popular documentary series, 'An American Family,' which aired in 1973 on PBS, in the backwash of the 1960s counterculture.
The show was a precise reversal of Ozzy's. It too depicted the day-to-day home life of a real family, the Louds, who by all outward appearances lived the American dream: prosperous, attractive, well-dressed, decorous -- what we used to call normal.
As the series unfolded, however, America watched this typical family dissolve in divorce, drugs and sexual dysfunction. The moral of the story was unmistakably countercultural: Bourgeois 'normality' was a sham, a flimsy cover for quiet desperation.
Thirty years later, 'The Osbournes' delivers the same countercultural message, from the opposite direction. Polite behavior, decorous speech, personal tidiness are all inessential trappings of bourgeois convention.
Having released themselves from such old-fashioned constraints, the Osbournes touch depths of familial harmony that more conventional families like the Louds could only pretend to. The Louds were 'normal' and suffered terribly. The Osbournes are 'abnormal' and live happily. So what's the point of being 'normal'?
That countercultural message was untrue in 1973 and it's untrue today. The old-fashioned constraints weren't signs of hypocrisy; they were markers of civilization, enshrining the best tendencies of human behavior and ennobling the common life.
When I had first called Wired's co-founder, Louis Rossetto, in the summer of 1993, I got through to him immediately, and he had, if anything, too much time to speculate about the shape of things to come. Several months later I had to go through a secretary and a publicist for my interview, and once I arrived, I was made to wait while more-urgent calls were put through. What happened in the interim is that the information highway became a hot subject. Rossetto was now every media journalist's and Hollywood agent's first call.
What I wanted from Louis Rossetto was his opinion on whether the rise of the computer culture that his magazine covered would end with the elimination by CD-ROMS and networked computer databases of the hardcover, the paperback, and the world of libraries and literate culture that had grown up alongside them. Was print on its way out? And if it was, what would happen to the publishers who had for generations put out books, and to the writers who had written them? Or was there something special about the book that would ensure that no technical innovation could ever supplant it? Would the book resist the CD-ROM and the Internet just as it has resisted radio, television, and the movies?
But a couple years ago they had a fascinating exhibit at our local library. It showed these computer displays that essentially duplicate paper. They're thin films that will hopefully one day feel feel like paper to the touch and will eventually have a kind of passive display that will be lit by available light, just like any page of a book or newspaper that you are reading. Of course, the great advantage is that with a little bit of memory connected, your one or several pages would allow you access to an unlimited amount of reading material.
Would these developments mark the end of the book? Only, in a strictly literal sense; in fact, we'd be making technology fit our desire for the traditional and the familiar. That was actually one of Mr. Naisbitt's trends :
From technology being forced into use, to technology being pulled into use where it is appealing to people.
Mobile homes are everywhere, although often subjected to slander and condescension. In Toby Young's recent memoir of Manhattan's club scene ("How to Lose Friends & Alienate People"), he notes that calling someone "trailer park" was a term of abuse during his time on the party circuit. And it isn't just urbanites who feel this way. "In
the popular mind," says John Fraser Hart, "trailers are synonymous with violence and sex. If a crime happens anywhere else, nothing is said. But when one is committed in a trailer, the media let you know."
Mr. Hart, a professor of geography at the University of Minnesota, has written a fascinating book, with Michelle J. Rhodes and John T. Morgan, called "The Unknown World of the Mobile Home," to be published next month by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Will it prompt a radical rethinking on this important subject? We can only hope so.
Mr. Hart and his co-authors visited parks and "single sites" from Delaware to California. They learned that the mobile-home landscape is as varied as humanity itself. "There was one trailer park in Florida I drove into and turned around and drove out of as fast as possible--I got a hunch that two or three rifles were pointed at me," Mr. Hart says in an interview. "But some parks are suitable for millionaires."
Mr. Hart's field of study (if you will) is the geography of rural areas, and he long noticed that mobile homes are ubiquitous. He and his colleagues found that their research and number-crunching support this view. Seven percent of Americans live in a mobile home; in 2000 mobile homes accounted for about 30% of new single-family dwellings sold, and
most of these (about 95%) won't be moved once they are in place. In 1990 it was estimated that 56% of mobile homes were single-sited on the owner's property or on rented land. The rest were in parks.
That's a lot of people luxuriating in the pleasures of mobile-home living. And yet the abuse continues. The 1980 Housing Act stipulated that "the term mobile home be changed to manufactured housing in all federal law and literature." But federal statutes can't change perceptions with the stroke of a pen. The stigma comes from the past.
The survey of donors, described by Clyde Wilcox of Georgetown University, John C. Green of the University of Akron and four others, found that 15 percent of the respondents said they would capitalize on the higher contributing limits.
These "expanded givers" were decisively more Republican -- including more men -- and were wealthier than the entire sample.
"Expanded givers tend to be wealthy, middle-aged businessmen" who support tax cuts, are disproportionately strong Republicans and strong conservatives. Their increased participation "is likely to intensify the existing, upper-status bias of the donor pool and reduce the representation of women," the authors wrote in the magazine Public Perspective.
Five percent of the donors surveyed said they will reduce the amounts they give, generally to voice their opposition to increased political spending. These "reduced givers" are far more Democratic than the expanded givers.
Saudi Arabia's top Muslim cleric has called on the Islamic world to unite against a worldwide conspiracy of Hindus, Christians, Jews and secularists threatening Islamic moral values.
Hillary is establishing her bona fides as a centrist, which is where elections are won when the country is as divided between the two main parties as we are today. She rebuffs all talk about a presidential run for now and is focused on New York. But watch what she does, not what she says. This is a woman who knows how to keep her options open, and she's doing it very well.
If India and Pakistan plunge into nuclear war, it would not only be an historic catastrophe--with millions of lives lost and the nuclear taboo broken--but it would also be an historic embarrassment to the United States.
The most-watched sporting event in the world has begun, and most of my fellow conservatives in America are going to miss it.
While some of you no doubt are thinking that the Super Bowl and World Series are both months away, the event I'm referring to is the World Cup of Soccer, watched by an estimated 3.5 billion people around the world, including millions in the United States, almost all of whom are apparently liberals.
As a movement conservative and rabid fan of the beautiful game (that's soccer, by the way), I find myself as something of a de facto missionary for the sport to the political and cultural right. What is it about soccer that makes it (in America) the nearly exclusive domain of liberal sports fans? [...]
The main drawback to soccer for "traditional Americans" is that it is a game requiring some patience to appreciate. Baseball, the thinking man's game, has been affected by this national attention-span deficit to some degree... [...]
Americans have typically come up with their own games to dominate. We invented football (even taking "soccer's" proper name and redefining it to an almost Orwellian degree), basketball, and baseball and made those our major sports. To the degree that these are played and/or followed elsewhere, they are American exports. While baseball is popular in Japan and parts of Latin America, and basketball in Europe and Australia, they are still "American" games first and foremost. Soccer will never be that. In fact, American football in part began, as legend has it, when a game of "soccer" became too boring, prompting a player to pick up the ball and begin running with it, and the rest is gridiron "pointyball" history.
Golf and tennis are also "foreign" in their origins, but they are not linked as closely to their international roots as soccer, and at any rate already had made deep inroads in the American cultural establishment by the early 20th century.
Here, for instance, is the great Russell Kirk's list of the qualities that characterize the Conservative Mind :
(1) Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of right and duty which links great and obscure, living and dead. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. [...]
(2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems. [...]
(3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes. The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts at leveling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation. [...]
(4) Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic leveling is not economic progress. Separate property from private possession and liberty is erased.
(5) Faith in prescription and distrust of 'sophisters and calculators.' Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite, for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason. Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man's anarchic impulse.
(6) Recognition that change and reform are not identical, and that innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it is a torch of progress. Society must alter, for slow change is the means of its conservation, like the human body's perpetual renewal; but Providence is the proper instrument for change, and the test of a statesman is his cognizance of the real tendency of Providential social forces.
(1) Divine Intent : when He made us in His image, he obviously intended that we use our hands.
(2) Variety and Mystery : In soccer you chase the ball--kick the ball--chase it again--score once in awhile--start over. So where's the variety and mystery? every game is identical.
(3) Equality : soccer is popular in schools precisely because it requires no skill. Every doofus on the school yard can run around and kick a ball. It's no surprise all the socialist countries love the game.
(4) Property : you can't even pick the stinkin' ball up so there's no such thing as possession. Even the fans don't get to keep the foul balls. All you really need to know about soccer is that little kids don't bring their mitts to the games.
(5) Tradition : American soccer tradition, is an oxymoron.
(6) Change and innovation : give it another two or three hundred years and maybe we'll accept the game. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are in first and all's right with the world.
In the words of Albert Jay Nock :
As a man of reason and logic, I am all for reform; but as the unworthy inheritor of a great tradition, I am unalterably against it. I am forever with Falkland, the true martyr of the Civil War,--one of the very greatest among the great spirits of whom England has ever been so notoriously noteworthy,--as he stood facing Hampden and Pym. 'Mr. Speaker,' he said, 'when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.'
Kevin James has posted an excellent response in defense of soccer from a Kirkian perspective.
UPDATE II :
WHO WANTS IT? :
We're Stealing Their Game (Robert J. Samuelson, June 4, 2002, The Washington Post)
I have bad news for everyone else: The United States will win the World Cup. Maybe not this year, but the triumph is closer than the rest of the world thinks. We are becoming a soccer-playing and, to a lesser extent, soccer-loving country. We may not convert others to our vocabulary -- our soccer is their "football" -- but we're going to beat them at their own game.
This will be shocking. It is one thing for us to flaunt our military and economic power, to spread McDonald's and Madonna around the world. It's quite another to trespass on everyone else's special preserve. After religion--or before it--soccer is the world's passion and obsession.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but political controversy, apparently, is worth a lot more.
To be specific, a minimum of $1.4 million, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The two GOP campaign committees touched off a political firestorm two weeks ago by offering donors a three-photo set of President Bush for $150--including one shot of Bush phoning Vice President Dick Cheney from Air Force One on the afternoon of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - if they contributed to an upcoming fundraising dinner.
Democratic leaders immediately slammed the decision by the two Republican campaign arms to use the Air Force One photo as a "grotesque"and "disgraceful " exploitation of a national tragedy, and government watchdog groups such as Common Cause denounced the move as a ploy to gain "partisan advantage" from the outpouring of public support for the President since the the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Initially stung by the outcry, the NRCC dropped Bush from its other ad and mail efforts, at least for the near term, and Senate Democrats suggested that any money raised through the use of the photo should go to charity instead of into Republican coffers.
But the resulting media melee also helped drive up demand for the photos, according to GOPofficials.
The NRCC and NRSC have sent out "thousands and thousands" ofcopies of the photo set, dramatically more than the roughly 1,000 they had originally planned on distributing.
One Republican source estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000 copies of the photo set have been sent out since the news of their availability first broke in mid-May.
The Bush administration acknowledged for the first time in a new report that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will increase significantly over the next two decades due mostly to human activities, but again rejected an international treaty to slow global warming.
The report released by the Environmental Protection Agency was a surprising endorsement of what many scientists and weather experts have long argued -- that human activities such as oil refining, power plants and automobile emissions are important causes of global warming. [...]
Environmental groups said the new U.S. report was a major reversal by Bush administration on the link between global warming and human activity.
"(The report) undercuts everything the president has said about global warming since he took office," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. [...]
The administration repeated in the report that voluntary measures to control emissions taken by polluting U.S. companies are the best way to slow the growth of emissions that are believed to cause the earth's atmosphere and oceans to warm.
Today we have a conservative president disguised as a moderate (or a "compassionate" conservative) and some conservatives seem determined to make the same mistake with him that liberals made with Nixon. Who the hell cares what the administration says about global warming and its sources as long as they refuse to join the Kyoto accords? The environmentalists are running around declaring victory after the administration announced it was still rejecting the global warming treaty--are conservatives just as incapable of distinguishing actions from words? Man, we really are the "stupid party", huh?
A key Iranian ruling cleric has warned that the Islamic republic is on the verge of a popular uprising that could topple the regime.
"The people are very dissatisfied, and they are right to be so, and I swear to God that the society is on the brink of explosion," said Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini, the deputy Speaker of the Assembly of Experts
The 72-member Assembly of Experts is regarded as the highest consultative body in the Islamic republic. It is the only group to which Khamenei is responsible, according to Middle East Newsline.
Amini urged the regime to listen to the people. The cleric said not even the Islamic republic can rule by force. "If this discontent increases, as is the case, society and the regime will be threatened. No regime can maintain itself in power by force."
Today's case in point would be fundamentalist Islam, which we suddenly see as a threat to the West even as it seems to have entered its final, though violent, death throes. Iran's revolution is twenty years old now and it is over--stick a fork in it--turn out the lights the party's over--get a toe tag--done. And considering the enormous advantages that Iran started out with--thanks to the modernizing and Westernizing of the Shah--it may represent the best case scenario for the radical Islamist experiment. These twenty years of precipitous decline and the angry demands of its people for a return to Western ways may be the best that the fundamentalists can hope for. Not much is it?
The attacks on 9-11 were enough to get any people riled up and move them to irrational action. Our threats and curses and demands were entirely understandable given the context of the horrific murder of 3,000 fellow citizens. But it is time to step back and take a more mature and realistic look at the Islamic world, which far from being a rising threat to our way of life, is a despondent and confused region facing massive disruption as it transitions, almost overnight and quite unwillingly, from an authoritarian and premodern culture towards liberal capitalist protestant democracy. It's hardly surprising that the prospect of this complete revolution in Islamic life should terrify the Muslim world. Many of the certainties by which people have lived their lives for fourteen centuries have been proven wrong and, in order to survive and thrive in the modern world, Islam will have to reform itself in previously unimaginable ways. But that process is already underway and we need to make sure that we help it along, rather than needlessly turn this whole mess into a contest of us vs. them and ruin the chances for a relatively peaceful reform from within.
We've obviously had a complicated and often fractious relationship with Iran over the course of the last fifty or so years. But it's time to let bygones be bygones and to stand ready to help if the people of Iran are willing to be helped.
This'll save you the trouble of buying the book.
Denmark's government says its controversial crackdown on immigrants will merely bring it into line with other EU nations and dismissed charges it was selling out to the far-right.
The Danish parliament, the Folketing, staged heated debate on the package of tough immigration laws on Thursday and is set to vote them through on Friday, with the centre-right government relying on votes of the right-wing anti-immigrant Danish People's Party (DPP). [...]
Meanwhile, in London on Thursday the British government announced a tightening of immigration laws, forbidding rejected asylum seekers from launching an appeal within the country.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883
A key Senate Democrat said yesterday that she's disturbed by President Bush's call for "pre-emptive military strikes" against nations or groups that threaten this country.
"I think this is a predicate for an attack on Iraq, and I'm very concerned about it," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "I think it would be a terrible mistake for the United States unilaterally to attack Iraq and to do so without any congressional authorization," she said yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
Mrs. Feinstein was responding to remarks by Mr. Bush Saturday in a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., when he said "unbalanced dictators" must be stopped before they develop weapons of mass destruction or provide them to terrorist groups. The president said the United States must "take the battle to the enemy, disrupt its plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge."
On CNN, Mrs. Feinstein said such a move would go beyond the authority Congress granted Mr. Bush after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
[R]ick Perlstein's new and delicious book about Barry Goldwater...begins with some of the now hilarious post-mortems after Senator Goldwater's landslide defeat in the 1964 presidential election. For anyone who savors political irony, they make a delicious smorgasbord of opinionation:
"He has wrecked his party for a long time to come," opined The New York Times' resident sage, Scotty Reston. Four years later, Richard Nixon would recapture the White House for the GOP. Mr. Reston was only continuing The Times' long-standing tradition of tin-eared political analysis, which persists to this day.
Then there was Richard Rovere in The New Yorker: "The election has finished the Goldwater school of political reaction." The New Yorker's talent for political prognosis hasn't changed much, either.
Japan's government debt was slashed to a lower grade than Botswana's yesterday, as its central bank stepped into the foreign exchange markets in a desperate bid to save its recession-hit economy. [...]
[Moody's] issued a statement saying that Japanese government debt, which hit 135% of GDP at the end of March, would soon "approach levels unprecedented in the postwar era in the developed world", adding that reformist prime minister Junichiro Koizumu's policies would not be sufficient to reverse the situation.
Meanwhile, America chose a different path--allowing what Joseph Schumpeter called capitalism's waves of "creative destruction" to wash through our economy, radically downsizing many industries and haphazardly letting the free market dictate a switch from a manufacturing economy to an information economy; resisting the extension and even contemplating the privatization of government services; adding to the population both by fairly steady birthrates and by massive immigration, etc.
And today America remains not only history's most successful economic and military power but the only developed nation in the world that is capable of balancing its budget. Are intellectuals ever right?
[P]arents seem to have discovered that when it comes to preventing the tykes from toking up, honesty is the best policy. Exhibit No. 1 in that new policy is Ozzy Osbourne.
"The Osbournes" is the top-rated show in MTV's history and probably the weirdest. If you've seen some of the music network's previous offerings--such as a leering, geriatric Jerry Springer hosting a spring break beach party -- you know the show had to beat a lot of schlock to take that title. The "reality" family series, which features the aging (and not gracefully aging, either) rocker at home, has thrust Ozzy back into the spotlight he shared 30 years ago when he was a drugging, boozing frontman for the heavy metal band Black Sabbath.
While most teens who watch "The Osbournes" may think they're simply viewing a funny, dysfunctional family -- a family that makes everyone else's look normal -- astute viewers will see the show for what it is: an hour-long anti-drug screed. That's what makes watching it so insidious if you're a teen and an act of genius if you're a parent.
New research shows that a woman is most likely to fantasize about someone other than her spouse or current sex partner during the brief period each month when she is ovulating. The hormones that surge through her body, telling her that she has become fertile again, also cause her to look about and see if there's a better source of good genes for her offspring than the guy who just sent her roses.
And men somehow sense that change, so they pick that time to send flowers, or call the wife to see if she's really at work, or wherever she's supposed to be.
If the spirited Nancy Drew had grown up, she would probably have ended up a dispirited whistle-blower.
That's what happens to women of ingenuity and integrity in macho organizations - from Sherron Watkins at Enron to Coleen Rowley at the F.B.I. - who piece together clues and ferret out criminal behavior and management cover-ups.
First, their male superiors tell them to shut up. And if the women point fingers anyhow, they end up being painted by their status-quo colleagues as wacky, off-the-reservation snitches with dubious futures.
As we gather around F.B.I. headquarters sharpening our machetes and watching the buzzards circle overhead, let's be frank: There's a whiff of hypocrisy in the air.
One reason aggressive agents were restrained as they tried to go after Zacarias Moussaoui is that liberals like myself--and the news media caldron in which I toil and trouble--have regularly excoriated law enforcement authorities for taking shortcuts and engaging in racial profiling. As long as we're pointing fingers, we should peer into the mirror.
The timidity of bureau headquarters is indefensible. But it reflected not just myopic careerism but also an environment (that we who care about civil liberties helped create) in which officials were afraid of being assailed as insensitive storm troopers.
So it's time for civil libertarians to examine themselves with the same rigor with which we are prone to examine others.
WHO'S THIS UPSTART? :
In Search of Makeovers (Mary McGrory, June 2, 2002, Washington Post)
I feel sure my old friend Elliot Richardson would salute Coleen Rowley, the general counsel of the Minnesota FBI office who blew the whistle on the constipated thinking of her superiors. Like Richardson, she risked a job she loved to tell the truth.
The Minnesota office was on to Zacarias Moussaoui, who is now in a Virginia jail awaiting trial as the "20th hijacker" in the September plot. The G-men were thwarted in their attempt to search his computer, Rowley wrote: Everyone phrased the request so obtusely that it invited rejection. This reluctance has struck Washington dumb: The FBI has slapped a phone tap on just about anybody whose views rankled.
Rowley couldn't persuade the CIA's terror specialists to give Moussaoui the once-over either.
Tony Oulai was caught up in the great dragnet that followed Sept. 11. He has been whisked around six U.S. prisons since the day he was picked up at a Florida airport and screeners found a stun gun and flight manuals in his luggage. In one jail, he alleges, he was beaten. The administrator of the Baker County (Fla.) Detention Center retorts, as a denial, that the facility has TV and microwave ovens in every cell. The Justice Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service are involved because Oulai overstayed his student visa. They refuse all comment, even on a secret document obtained by The Post that exonerates Oulai from any involvement in the events of Sept. 11.
UPDATE II :
HERE'S WHAT'S LEFT ONCE YOU REMOVE THE RACIAL PROFILING :
On closer look, Rowley memo ignores Constitution (JONATHAN TURLEY, May 31, 2002, Houston Chronicle)
Rowley's criticism of the FBI largely turns on disagreement over the meaning of probable cause. Rowley insists that there was probable cause to secure a search warrant for Moussaoui's computer and personal effects. FBI headquarters disagreed, and it was right.
On Aug. 15, 2001, Moussaoui was arrested by the Immigration and Nationalization Service on a charge of overstaying his visa. At that time, the Minnesota office only had an "overstay" prisoner and a suspicion from an agent that he might be a terrorist because of his religious beliefs and flight training. If this hunch amounted to probable cause, it is hard to imagine what would not satisfy such a standard.
Kurt Andersen and writer Robert Anasi look at the spectacle of boxing and the sport's fascination for choreographers, painters, writers, and filmmakers.
To anyone who's followed foreign affairs for the last couple of decades, the names of the neoconservative hawks will be familiar--or, if you're a
liberal, chilling. Their eminence grise is Richard Perle, who serves simultaneously as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, a heretofore somnolent committee of foreign policy old-timers that Perle has refashioned into a key advisory group. Of all the hawks, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz probably has the most powerful job inside the Bush administration. A dozen others hold key posts at the State Department and the White House. Most are acolytes of Perle, and also Jewish, passionately pro-Israel, and pro-Likud. And all are united by a shared idea: that America should be unafraid to use its military power early and often to advance its interests and values. It is an idea that infuriates most members of the national security establishment at the Pentagon, State, and the CIA, who believe that America's military force should be used rarely and only as a last resort, preferably in concert with allies.
The neocons have been clashing with the establishment since the 1970s. Back then, the consensus view among foreign policy elites was that the Cold War
was an indefinite or perhaps even a permanent fact of world politics, to be managed with diplomacy and nuclear deterrence. The neocons argued for
deliberately tipping the balance of power in America's direction. Ronald Reagan championed their ideas, and brought a number of neocons into his administration, including Perle and Wolfowitz. Reagan's huge defense buildup and harsh, even provocative, rhetoric contributed significantly to running the Soviet military-industrial complex into the ground.The president went for the Hail Mary pass--whatever the dangers--and it worked.
During the Gulf War, the hawks urged President George H.W. Bush to ignore the limits of his U.N. mandate, roll the tanks into Baghdad, and bring down Saddam Hussein's regime. Bush sided with the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell (the embodiment of the establishment, who had advised Bush against liberating Kuwait), and left Saddam in power. The neocons have been saying I told you so ever since.
In the 1990s, as the Balkans descended into civil war, this same establishment urged President Clinton to proceed with caution. After several years of carnage, Clinton finally broke with the experts and launched air strikes against Bosnia, then Kosovo. Many conservative Republicans criticized Clinton at the time, but the neocons, despite their loathing for the president, supported his efforts. And rightly so: American action ended the bloodshed and brought stability to a key region of Europe with practically no loss of American life.
Again and again, for more than two decades, the neocon hawks have called it right. But they've gotten a lot wrong, too. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, they portrayed the U.S.S.R. as a menacing giant about to overwhelm us, when in fact--we now know--it was already headed for collapse, and its downfall had more to do with its own terminal rot than anything America did. They cheered on (and in some cases aided) bloody proxy wars in Central America and Africa that did little to hasten the Soviets' demise, but plenty to brutalize entire populations and tarnish America's image abroad.
On the other hand, they were, of course right in urging the U.S. to renew its efforts in the Cold War in the 70s and this will eternally redound to their credit. Further--contrary to Mr. Marshall's assertion--the various proxy wars of the 1980s worked brilliantly and were instrumental in bringing the Cold War to an end. In the 50s and 60s the Soviet Union had sponsored proxy wars--Korea and Vietnam--that threw the US and her allies on the defensive and wreaked a tremendous cost in the American domestic sphere (even though we did manage to fight those wars to draws). But in the 80s, the US turned the tables--from Afghanistan to Angola to Nicaragua--and showed that it was equally as capable of putting the USSR on the defensive (and in fact the communist governments of Afghanistan and Nicaragua proved untenable). The great advantage of this policy is that it cost almost nothing in terms of US blood and fairly little in dollars--in effect, it exacted no cost at home and could thus have been pursued indefinitely.
But the neocons were again proven wrong in their fundamentals as the Communism proved to be a far weaker foe than they had anticipated (though their ally, Ronald Reagan had understood this quite clearly). They were surprised when the bonus to this policy proved to be that where American democracy had shown itself to be quite resilient even in the face of fighting these kinds of bloody stalemates, communist Russia proved incapable of handling such setbacks, perhaps for ideological reasons as much as anything (as Marxist historicism inexplicably reversed course). It seems fair to ask whether they aren't making exactly the same mistake again in regards to radical Islam. Just as they wildly overestimated Saddam's military capabilities in the run up to the first Gulf War, so too they appear to be overestimating the threat that Islam poses to the West in general--and once again their error seems to be related to an underestimation of their own ideas and an overestimation of their opponents ideology.
It seems increasingly evident that the American system of liberal capitalist protestant democracy, what Francis Fukyama referred to as the "final form of human government, is such a powerful and relentless creator of wealth that no other form of government can compete with it in the long term. Mere patience and a return to these principles would probably have sufficed to win the Cold War and would more than likely eventually triumph in a showdown with Islam, which, like communism, is incapable of satisfying the material desires of its populace. Further, again like communism, Islam interprets its own failures vis a vis the Judeo-Christian West as a historical impossibility--representing as it does a negative judgment upon Islam by Allah--and this will in all likelihood create an eventual breakdown of the authoritarian nature of Islam, just as a similar paradox has created the breakdown of Chinese communism.
All of this history offers us a few lessons which we seem determined not to learn. First, and most important, despite the feelings of vulnerability that were induced by the 9-11 attacks, we have never been in a stronger geo-political position. We have the strongest economy in the history of mankind and there may never have been a moment in human history when the mightiest military power enjoyed such an absurd technological advantage over its rivals, an advantage which continues to grow. Realistically, there are no significant external threats to the United States and therefore fairly few to our allies. The greater dangers are internal--from declining populations to burdensome social welfare nets to environmental Luddism.
Second, fundamentalist Islam (hopefully, as Rand Simberg and Tom Friedman suggest, it's just Wahhabism, the Saudi variant of Islam, that's the problem) is quite simply doomed. Under pressure from a burgeoning and dissatisfied populace; assaulted by the liberalizing pressures of globalization; incapable of competing in the global economy because of its totalitarian nature; authoritarian Islam may already be in the midst of its death throes. The relative success of more Westernized Islamic nations like Tunisia, Turkey, Bangladesh, etc., suggests that Islam may be compatible with more secularized government. Meanwhile, the failure, after just twenty years, of the Iranian Revolution and the rising demands of its people for economic and political liberalization and improved relations with America, suggest that Islam's future will be found in the West, not by turning further inward.
Third, these differences within Islam offer us a chance to pursue a variety of tactics, short of all out war against Islam. Obviously, our greatest priority should be to assist the already Westernizing nations of the Islamic world. Their success stands as testimony to the possibility that all of the Islamic world can enjoy higher standards of living without having to jettison their religious beliefs entirely. Our first step should be to remove all trade barriers with such nations and to offer them developmental assistance and political alliance. NATO is no longer worth a tinker's dam, but an Alliance of Mediterranean and Indian Ocean Nations (which would include non-Islamic nations like the US, Israel, India and Russia) could be an important bulwark of liberty and a model of Western/Islamic cooperation.
Next, we should encourage nascent democratic movements within countries like Iran, Palestine, Jordan, etc.--with a goal, not of making them just like us, but of getting them more firmly on the road to liberalization, even if they may ultimately settle on monarchies or Islamic republics, or whatever. Even where official government or the positions they take may be anathema to us, we need to be able to look beyond them to see what their own people are saying. So, though Yassir Arafat or the mullahs in Iran may be beyond the Pale, we need to see that the people of Palestine and Iran are themselves demanding reform and democratization and recognize that they may even by our allies against their own current governments.
Third, the rapid success of the Afghan battle plan along with those earlier models from the Cold War), suggests that where we determine that it is necessary to force a regime change, the most effective means of doing so may be by means of proxy war. In places like Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., where we find the dictators to be intolerable, we should be training and arming insurgencies, training and educating potential civilian leadership for the next regime, applying determined political and economic pressure, and preparing the way for the application of air power and use of Special Forces when push comes to shove.
Finally, we need to recognize that these different categories are inherently unstable and that different nations may move from category to category and need to be treated differently at different times. Perhaps most difficult, we must be mature enough to accept that failures along the way may be worthwhile failures. It may be that Islam is just incapable in the long run of the kind of Westernizing reforms of which we're speaking and that some kind of apocalyptic war between the Abrahamic faiths is inevitable. Even if this is true--and I don't think it is--the effort to avoid such a war and to redeem Islam is still worth making. Or, on a smaller scale, it might be that after aiding the reformers in Iran we'd see a clampdown by hard-liners and Iran would return to being a genuine enemy. So be it. But while we have an opportunity why not try to exploit it? Or it might be that an uprising against Saddam would fail utterly and we would be required to do the fighting ourselves, even to the point of a massive commitment of ground troops. Okay, we can do that. But why do it until it is proven necessary?
Certainly in the wake of 9-11 it was comforting to court the notion of declaring our ownjihad against Islam. But however viscerally satisfying this might be, it represents a disappointing lack of faith in our own beliefs. We celebrate the desire for freedom, the value of democracy, and the basic human urge to improve one's lot in life : do we really think that Muslims do not share these dreams? Before we decide that Islam is incompatible with liberty, let us join the struggle of those Muslims who are already fighting for the idea of freedom within Islam. The worst that could happen is we'll fail together and even then, there'll still be plenty of time to start killing each other.
ISLAM UPDATE :
War of Ideas (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, June 2, 2002, NY Times)
Frankly, I hope Saddam Hussein disappears tomorrow. But even if he does, that's not going to solve our problem. Saddam is a conventional threat who can be eliminated by conventional means. He inspires no one. The idea people who inspired the hijackers are religious leaders, pseudo-intellectuals, pundits and educators, primarily in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which continues to use its vast oil wealth to spread its austere and intolerant brand of Islam, Wahhabism.
But here's the good news: These societies are not monoliths, and there are a lot of ordinary people, and officials, inside both who would like to see us pressing their leaders and religious authorities to teach tolerance, modernize Islam and stop financing those who won't.
Too bad President Bush has shied away from this challenge. [...]
[A]merica and the West have potential partners in these countries who are eager for us to help move the struggle to where it belongs: to a war within Islam over its spiritual message and identity, not a war with Islam.
IRAQ UPDATE :
The Triangle Offense : How Bush is winning the war over going to war with Iraq (William Saletan, May 29, 2002, Slate)
For the past decade, hawks, doves, and moderates have debated whether to use force or persuasion to change the behavior of the Iraqi government. Last week, the moderates scored two apparent victories. Military officials disclosed that they had dissuaded the Bush administration from attacking Iraq until at least winter, and diplomats at the United Nations Security Council boasted to the New York Times that they were undercutting American hawks by pushing to resume weapons inspections in Iraq.
It looks like another triumph of triangulation: The doves want to lift sanctions against Iraq; the hawks want an invasion; and the moderates win by splitting the difference. But before you can triangulate, somebody has to set up the triangle. That's how the hawks, led by President Bush, are winning the war over going to war. They've pushed American and global expectations so far toward military conflict that those who want to dissuade or undercut them have to shift positions in order to keep up. The middle is moving to the right.
Roughly speaking, the last three presidencies offer three models for dealing with international conflict. In the Clinton model, the United States mediates disputes among countries pursuing their own agendas. In the George H.W. Bush model, the United States seeks support for its own agenda but ultimately accepts the limits of international consensus. In the Reagan model, the United States pursues its own agenda whether others like it or not. George W. Bush is basically following the Reagan model.
IRAQ UPDATE :
REVIEW : of The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein by Sandra Mackey (Paul William Roberts, Washington Post)
Far from being the indictment of Saddam Hussein that its author presumably intended, The Reckoning is ultimately a savage indictment of Euro-American exploitation of the Middle East, and the indefensible meddling in its affairs that continues and has no clear objective beyond self-interest. If for no other reason than this, the book is indispensable reading for anyone with an opinion on world affairs.
Patrick Ruffini has some further thoughts.
Every account, American or European, of this visit has highlighted the differences between the Russian episode and the time spent in Germany, France or Italy. Most of the explanations that have been put forward for this trip of two halves are, though, patronising and trivial. It is suggested that while fearless European leaders aired their disagreements with the President publicly, Vladimir Putin did so privately. It is claimed that Russia scored with the Americans largely because its protest movement is in its infancy. And it has been heavily hinted that once Mr Bush was obliged to stay up past his preferred bedtime for several nights running, a sense of irritation overwhelmed him.
There are three rather more relevant factors at work here. The first is that, after a period of considerable internal pain, Russia has come to acknowledge what the end of the Cold War implies for this continent. The second is that Russia, precisely because of its own experience, has a more acute understanding of what September 11 meant to Americans than most Europeans have mustered. Finally, again perhaps because of the recent past, Mr Putin can appreciate the scale of the change that is occurring in US foreign policy.
Europeans tend to regard the phrase 'American foreign policy' as an oxymoron. They dismiss it as incoherent and inconsistent and hold three elements responsible. These are the inexperience in overseas affairs of most incoming US Presidents (as if Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder and Jean-Pierre Rafarrin, the latest French Prime Minister, were all Professors of International Relations before assuming office); the institutional battles within the US executive between the State Department (good in Eurothink), the Pentagon (bad) and the White House (confused); and finally the malign impact of a Congress full of insular hicks beholden to lobby groups (Irish-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Polish-Americans) who serve to distort policy outcomes.
[W]hat Fleischer does, for the most part, is not really spin. It's a system of disinformation--blunter, more aggressive, and, in its own way, more impressive than spin. Much of the time Fleischer does not engage with the logic of a question at all. He simply denies its premises--or refuses to answer it on the grounds that it conflicts with a Byzantine set of rules governing what questions he deems appropriate. Fleischer has broken new ground in the dark art of flackdom: Rather than respond tendentiously to questions, he negates them altogether.
Today, there is no street or building named for McCarthy, no sign commemorating his birthplace or career. His likeness does not appear in a large mural of local celebrities that hangs in the public library (and includes Harry Houdini, the author Edna Ferber and John Bradley, one of the marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima).
Even the bronze bust was moved from the courthouse to the historical society after mild protests over the indignity of seeing McCarthy's face in a hall of justice. Like a figure from the Stalin era, he was airbrushed from history.
Bringing him back was a gamble, but museum officials were looking for something to lure visitors. Attendance at the Outagamie Museum had sagged during the late 1990's; Houdini was no longer a big draw. "We needed something fresh," said Kim Louagie, the museum's curator. "We wanted a local subject worthy of serious attention, something that was relevant to the community and likely to get people through the doors."
McCarthy was the obvious choice. Ms. Louagie said consensus quickly formed about taking a local angle. She researched the senator's life, gathered artifacts, and sent a draft of the script to numerous cold war scholars, including this writer, for fact-checking and comments. The exhibition emphasizes the regional connection, the story of McCarthy's Wisconsin roots. There are photos of him as a smiling farm boy, a high school student voted "most lovable man" in his class, a rugged boxing instructor at Marquette University, a hard-working circuit court judge.
Though careful to note McCarthy's reckless, often dishonest behavior in both Wisconsin and Washington, the exhibition's focus is on the personal tragedy of his squandered potential rather than the national tragedy he helped create. There is much here, for example, about the exaggeration of his military record during World War II and his mud-slinging campaigns for political office, but little about his role as a powerful Senate committee chairman and even less about the victims of his red-hunting abuse.
"Had I produced this exhibit in Chicago or New York, "I would have used a wider brush," Ms. Louagie said, explaining the emphasis.
So far, "Joseph McCarthy: A Modern Tragedy," which opened in January and is scheduled to run for two years, has avoided the backlash that undermined other recent exhibitions devoted to controversial subjects, like the National Air and Space Museum's atomic bomb fiasco, "Enola Gay." This may have as much to do with Appleton's physical isolation as the exhibition's remarkably evenhanded tone.
That said, the reason the exhibit doesn't stir controversy the way the Columbus and Enola Gay observances did is because it celebrates the values of middle America, which were anti-Communist and pro-McCarthy, just as they are (one would think unsurprisingly) pro-Discovery of America and even pro-Hiroshima. Controversy plaqued those earlier projects when the people putting them on tried to tell us that Columbus was evil and the atomic bombings immoral. Never mind the truth of those accusations--which seems minimal--folks just don't want to hear it. Bully for them.
Greg Scott had heard the rumors: Somewhere in northern New Jersey, a colony of angry, shotgun-toting midgets lives in tiny houses under a bridge overpass, wreaking their terrible vengeance on intruders.
So he did what countless others have been doing for years. He went to see it for himself.
"I heard that it was founded by Ringling Brothers Circus to harbor their performing midgets," Scott said.
Scott said he heard an apocryphal tale of a man who drove through the area in search of the elusive little people, but couldn't find any.
"He began to honk his horn, trying to coax one out, but then the unthinkable happened," Scott said. "All the midgets, naturally disgruntled from all the abuse they received, rushed the car from their houses, and trashed it with baseball bats."
It's been like this for decades on Norwood Terrace, a tiny crescent-shaped road where many of the houses are indeed smaller than usual. And although none of the residents are dwarfs, the tall tales continue to draw carloads of late-night joyriders who speed along the narrow roadway, usually with the headlights off and the horn blaring, tossing beer bottles and eggs at the tiny homes and screaming things like "Wake up, you ... midgets!"
Speaking before hundreds of thousands of people in a drenching rain Saturday, President Fidel Castro said the democracy President Bush wants to see in Cuba would be a corrupt and unfair system that ignores the poor.
Syria, which has been using its perch in the Security Council to keep a spotlight on Israeli attacks on Palestinians, assumes the council's rotating presidency on Saturday for the first time since 1970.
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. military to pay for the abortion of a fetus that was developing without a brain.
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner ruled Thursday that the government could not refuse to pay for the abortion on moral grounds. But the decision applies only to fetuses with anencephaly, a condition in which the baby has no brain and survives for only a few days.
[M]aureen M. Britell, whose husband was in the military when she had an abortion at New England Medical Center in 1994...was covered by the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Service, known as CHAMPUS. A 1970s law bans federal funding of most abortions, and CHAMPUS does not pay for abortions unless the mother's life is in danger.
Deep in the waters of Cabo de San Antonio, off Cuba's coast, researchers are exploring unusual formations of smooth blocks, crests, and geometric shapes. The Canadian exploration company that discovered the formations, Advanced Digital Communications, has suggested that they could be the buildings and monuments of an early, unknown American civilization.
Many scientists are skeptical of any theory that might tempt people to draw a parallel with the fabled lost city of Atlantis. Geologist Manuel Iturralde, however, has stressed the need for an open mind while investigations of the site continue.
"These are extremely peculiar structures, and they have captured our imagination," said Iturralde, who is director of research at Cuba's Natural History Museum. Iturralde has studied countless underwater formations over the years, but said, "If I had to explain this geologically, I would have a hard time."
In his report on the formations, Iturralde noted that conclusive proof of man-made structures on the site would reinforce some oral traditions of the Maya and native Yucatecos. These people still retell ancient stories of an island inhabited by their ancestors that vanished beneath the waves.
Iturralde makes it clear, however, that just because no natural explanation is immediately apparent, it doesn't rule one out. "Nature is able to create some really unimaginable structures," he said.
Further research is scheduled to take place over the summer. Data thus far has been collected using sonar scans and video. The structures are buried under 1,900 to 2,500 feet (600 to 750 meters) of water; collecting samples from the granite blocks and the sediment in which they are imbedded is the next step.
Such samples could yield the important clues to the origins of these strange structures, and perhaps alter our view of North American ancient civilizations, the researchers say.
A crucial ingredient in the economy's long-term vitality, productivity, turned in its best performance in almost two decades during the first quarter of the year as hard-pressed companies produced more with fewer workers.
Productivity--the amount of output per hour of work--soared at an annual rate of 8.4 percent in the January-March quarter, after a strong 5.5 percent growth rate in the previous quarter, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The latest figures show that last year's recession didn't derail healthy productivity gains seen in the late 1990s and bodes well for keeping the nation's economic recovery on solid footing, economists said. [...]
In the long run, productivity gains are good for workers, for the economy and for companies, whose profits took a hit during the slump.
Gains in productivity allow companies to pay workers more without raising prices, which would eat up those wage gains. Productivity gains also permit the economy to grow faster without triggering price inflation. If productivity falters, however, pressure for higher wages could force companies to raise prices and thus worsen inflation. [...]
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has said he remains bullish about the long-term prospects of productivity growth.
He and other economists have suggested that the strong productivity gains seen in the late 1990s were more than a passing fluke related to the economic boom and big investments by companies in productivity-enhancing computers and other high-tech equipment. Rather, those gains, may reflect a more lasting change involving how companies are managed and structured and put technology to use. [...]
With strong productivity growth keeping a lid on inflation, economists said the Federal Reserve has the luxury of leaving short-term interest rates unchanged at 40-year lows through the summer.