July 31, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 PM


After Roll-of-the-Dice Rescue, a Mine Town Rejoices (FRANCIS X. CLINES, July 29, 2002, NY Times)
In their darkest hours down in the mine, the nine trapped men, bedeviled by rising floodwaters, could hear the steady drilling of rescuers above them. But they still thought it imperative to jot down private thoughts and seal them in a lunch bucket as a parting word to family survivors.

"They formed a barricade, and they wrote their wills, and they put them in one of the lunchboxes," said Leslie Mayhugh, tearful this morning through her happiness at the survival of her husband, Harry, known to everyone as Blaine, her father, Thomas Foy, and the seven other men who had to face their worst thoughts along with chin-high water before the rescuers finally reached them.

"They heard all the drilling and they knew they were trying, but the water just kept coming," Mrs. Mayhugh said of the miners, who initially thought they would drown as they pushed their faces from the water searching for scraps of air.

"And they were ready--they tied themselves together," she said, weeping at that desperate image, even after embracing her husband, alive and well, early today in the hospital. [...]

This blue-collar, Bible-friendly southwestern Pennsylvania town, 60 miles from Pittsburgh, did not hesitate to use the word "miracle" today in describing the intricate roll-of-the-dice rescue operation that freed the men.

At its essence, engineers had to guess accurately in the first hours of the disaster where the men might have fled on Wednesday night, when a torrent of water suddenly burst in on them from an abandoned mine thought to have been a safe distance away.

"We tried to outrun it, but it was too fast," Blaine Mayhugh said of the roaring, rising flood in the mine's honeycomb of paths. At times the waters flowed over the miners' heads as they scrambled for survival in the cold darkness. [...]

The miners fought despair, Mr. Mayhugh said, when the drill fell silent for 18 hours because of a snapped shaft just as the water closed in once more.

Mr. Mayhugh decided it was time to borrow a pen to write a final word to his family on a scrap of cardboard.

"You know, tell them I loved them," the strapping miner said, fighting back tears in the daylight as he described the men's fierce unity in facing the worst even as they prayed for deliverance.

"My father-in-law tied us all together so we wouldn't float away from each other," Mr. Mayhugh said, fairly shaking with emotion in the fullness of life above ground.

The other day our five year old asked me when I was going to die. I told him I'd probably be around to bug him for awhile, but you never know. He told me : "Fine, just if you're going to die, go somewhere else. I don't want to see you dead." We talked a little bit about death and I told him that we all die and none of us know when we'll die, so all you can really do is try to be the best person you're capable of being. I told him you've got to take advantage of every day that your alive and appeciate it and the people around you. That phrase Mr. Clines uses, "the fullness of life", is perfect. Why worry about the prospective emptiness of death when the fullness of life is with us here and now? Carpe diem, baby.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM

My weblog owns 6.25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM


THE TAO OF BUGS (Mark Goldblatt, 7/31/02, NY Post)
The news that Bugs Bunny heads TV Guide's list of Top 50 cartoon characters is welcome, but it fails to acknowledge the waskallywabbit's status as one of the leading intellectuals of his time.

For example, after caging a runaway circus lion, Bugs turns to the captive beast and says, "Iron bars do not a prison make . . . but they sure help, eh, doc?" This one-sentence demolition of postmodernism is the first and final riposte to a half century of Continental Thought which insists that reality is a construct of language.

People may think I'm merely being argumentative when I say this, but seriously, what art did Western Europe produce in the 20th Century that can compare to the brilliance of Bugs, who was a mere children's cartoon here during our childhoods (though they'd originally been movie shorts)? No music, no painting, a couple movies and a very few authors (Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Waugh, Orwell, a couple others), but that's about it. And with a few British exceptions (mainly involving Alec Guiness and John Cleese) there's no comedy. The French worship Jerry Lewis for cripes sake and the only thing the Germans find amusing is marching on the French (well, there they have a point). The rest of the countries seem to exist for the sole purpose of being the objects of humor--Poland, Italy, all of Scandinavia, the Dutch--they don't tell jokes; they're the punchlines.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:10 PM


Here are two related stories from USA Today :

Officials: War plans still in flux (John Diamond, 7/30/02, USA TODAY)

Bush administration officials have told key lawmakers not to expect a U.S. attack on Iraq before the fall elections, allowing time for
Congress to debate the possibility of war. Senior administration officials gave the assurances in private conversations with senators planning a series
of hearings that begin today into a possible U.S. attack on Iraq. The officials said there would be no "October surprise" — a sudden attack before the
Nov. 5 congressional elections to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The assurances square with Pentagon estimates that it would take until early next year to have the weapons, intelligence and forces in place to take on
Iraq's 375,000-man army. One key factor: U.S. soldiers can't fight in Iraq's summer or autumn heat wearing protective gear against chemical or
biological weapons attack.

Today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing is the first of several on Iraq. But the White House has decided it's too early in the
decision-making process to participate and won't send witnesses until the sessions resume after the August recess.

Iraq invasion wouldn't look like '91 Gulf War (John Diamond, Andrea Stone and Dave Moniz, 07/31/2002, USA TODAY)

As his war planners develop a strategy for invading Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been getting a clear message from some architects of the 1991 Persian Gulf War: Don't fight the next war with Iraq the way we fought the last one.

[A] clear set of options has emerged from intensive planning by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and generals at the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., the military headquarters responsible for the Persian Gulf region. Many of the plans build on lessons from U.S. military actions going back to World War II. Examples:

* An attack should be swift and sudden, as in the surprise 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama that ousted President Manuel Noriega. In 1990, the USA telegraphed its intention to liberate Kuwait five months before attacks by building an international coalition and moving tons of equipment and half a million personnel to the Gulf region.

* The invasion should come from multiple directions, raising the possibility that U.S. forces may try to use neighboring Turkey in the north, Jordan in the west and Kuwait in the south.

* The invasion should rely principally on small teams of special operation forces of the type deployed recently in Afghanistan to root out the Taliban. The goal would be to decapitate Saddam's command and control structure. Key missions would involve assaulting Saddam's more than 50 fortified "palaces."

* To aid a surprise attack, invading forces would use supplies already being pre-positioned, in some cases secretly, in countries in the region. In a nod to political reality, the USA would not acknowledge help from some countries.

* U.S. forces would work to turn the 300,000-strong Iraqi regular army and the population against the Iraqi government. Some strategists think a successful quick strike could induce most of the regular army to sit out the fight or even turn on Saddam. After the war, the United States would mount a psychological operation designed to undercut any residual pro-Saddam sentiment in Iraq.

* A successful invasion would be followed by deployment of a substantial peacekeeping force, as in Bosnia. Pentagon officials are considering an occupation force of 25,000 to 50,000 troops that might stay for as long as a decade.

Now, at first blush, this seems to queer talk of an October Surprise. But consider two things. First, having Congress debate the war beginning in September is functionally the same thing as an October Surprise. That is it freezes electioneering, forces the Democrats to wear their bipartisan hats or face charges of disloyalty, and keeps Congress in washington, rather than out campaigning in their districts. Second, the anniversary of the original Kuwait invasion is coming up and Iraq, which celebrates it as a holiday. has built up its forces in the South. The Kuwaitis are as nervous as kittens. This first article would be exactly the type of disinformation you'd plant if you wanted Saddam to think he could take some risks right now because we're not ready to go. A provocation of nearly any type would give us the pretext for an attack and it would be entirely reasonable for the
administration to try to lure him into doing something suicidal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM


Just a quick message to the person who was brought here by the following Google search--http://google.yahoo.com/bin/query?p=free+incest+two+brothers+young+incest+u--while I love my brother dearly, you've come to the wrong place. We are uptight WASPs of such ancient vintage that we've never even seen each other disrobed, let alone gotten our freak on together. Neither are we young. Try the Baldwin Brothers site.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:41 PM


BUSH: NOT A 10 (R. Aex Whitlock, , July 30, 2002, RAWbservations)
I'm not sure where Judd is coming from on this one. He gives ten pillars of modern conservatism and gives Bush a 10/10 ranking. I disagree. [...]

(3) Pro School vouchers
Bush sold us out on this one. His education bill has been passed. I wouldn't expect another overhaul this term. I can't give it to him.

(4) Pro Free Trade
Steel Tarrifs and Farm Bill. On one hand he creates a new tarrif cause the Europeans are subsidizing their steel, then he subsidizes our agriculture. He wants Fast-Track, but is he going to use it? I'm not convinced.

(10) broadly anti-government
7/10. I can't think of the last thing he did to be faily called anti-government since the tax cut, which doesn't count twice.

7 out of 10 is a reasonably impressive score, but hardly a paragon of conservatism worthy of the Pat Robertson comparison Judd makes.

One fears that the normally perspicacious Mr. Whitlock here makes the ideal the enemy of the very good. On Education, the President had a choice between turning a Democrat issue into a Republican issue, or holding out for vouchers and getting bupkus. On Trade, by proving his willingness to protect US industries that face unfair competition from the Europeans he's convinced everyone, including Mr. Whitlock apparently, that he's going to need to be sold on Free Trade. This got him trade authority, which he otherwise would have been denied, and puts him in the best baragaining position imaginable because it creates the false impression that he'd walk away from the table unless the Euros make concessions. As for #10, the rebankrupting of government is a great achievement for any Republican; creating pressure to cut government is always a good thing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:23 PM


Wombat the size of a Mini unearthed (Barbie Dutter, 31/07/2002, Daily Telegraph)
A remarkable cache of prehistoric marsupial remains, including giant lions, 10ft-tall kangaroos and a wombat the size of a Mini, has been unearthed in remote caves in the Australian outback.

Scientists described it as "the find of the century" amid growing excitement that the fossils, entombed in perfect condition for up to 1.5 million years, may include previously undiscovered species of Australian megafauna.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:08 PM


Summit of far-Right parties at Haider lair (Michael Leidig in Vienna and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels, 31/07/2002, The Electronic Telegraph)
Europe's leading far-Right parties have held secret talks at the mountain lair of the Austrian populist politician Jšrg Haider to forge a pan-European movement.

The gathering at Mr Haider's power-base in Carinthia, described as a "private event", included the two leaders of Belgium's Vlaams Blok, Filip de Winter and Frank Vanhecke, and Mario Borghesia, a former Euro-MP for Italy's Northern League.

The talks centred on proposals for a far-Right list for the European Parliament elections in July 2004, copying tactics already adopted by Left-wing parties.

The first meeting went so well that the group plans fresh strategy sessions, with a Belgian summit in December to work on a joint manifesto.

Shortly before the gathering, Mr Haider visited President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, leading to claims that Baghdad has been financing the creation of a"Haider list" as a way of destabilising Europe.

Does anyone else feel like it's the 1930s all over again in Europe?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM


Economic Growth Slows to 1.1 Percent (Jeannine Aversa, July 31, 2002, Associated Press)
The U.S. economy lost momentum in the second quarter of this year, growing at an annual rate of just 1.1 percent. New government figures Wednesday also showed that last year's recession was worse than previously thought and the economy actually shrank in three quarters of 2001.

Could someone tell Andrea Mitchell to check the tub & see if Al drowned, 'cause he sure isn't paying any attention to the economy. Cut rates, now!
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 AM


This man wins new cars hands down : Professional ‘hand-a-thoner’ prospers as last man standing (Anna Wilde Mathews, 7/30/02, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
More than 134 hours into a popular local endurance contest, two hollow-eyed men at a Volkswagen dealership here still had their hands plastered to a pale-green Beetle. Whoever lasted the longest would win the $20,000 car.

THE TWO HAD outlasted 41 other hopefuls who began the competition six days earlier. Then, the morning DJ from Toledo’s K100 radio station delivered a 5:30 a.m. update on the last men standing: “This will be the first time since the first Hands-On Marathon that a rookie will win the car!”

But “Brian Root of Perrysburg,” as the announcer introduced one of the two remaining men, is no rookie. Mr. Root, who is actually from Mobile, Ala., is a professional hand-a-thoner. He travels around the country entering competitions.

By his own count, the tall 44-year-old has won or tied for first in 16 hands-on contests, collecting about $160,000. He doesn’t do much else. He lives with his mother and hasn’t held a long-term job since the mid-1980s, soon after he discovered that in one 97-hour span, he could win a truck worth half his annual pay as a produce manager in a health-food store.

When the wife sends you this story is she trying to tell you she thinks you're underemployed?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 AM


Jackson to meet with Hamas founder (Washington Times, July 31, 2002)
Civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, in a move certain to anger Israel, plans to meet today with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, founder of
the Muslim militant group Hamas, which has killed scores of Israelis in suicide attacks.

Imagine for a moment that a foreign "civil rights leader" came here and asked to meet with the guys who dragged James Byrd to his death. How would Jesse react?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM


Be Careful About Calling In the Cavalry in the Struggle for Homeland Security (Stephen Dycus, a professor at Vermont Law School, is lead author of "National Security Law", July 26 2002, LA Times)
Last week, President Bush called for reexamination of the 1878 law that limits the role of the military in law enforcement activities. This call was echoed over the weekend by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, head of a new military command that would direct the Pentagon's response to another terrorist attack at home.

Congressional authority for such a response is already extremely broad, and expansion of that authority would challenge a revered American tradition of keeping the military out of domestic affairs except in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Efforts to further weaken the law--known as the Posse Comitatus Act--are ill-advised and unnecessary.

When I had him for Property, he was known as "D-Minus Dycus", but I liked him. Unfortunately, the premise of this essay is that these are not "the most extraordinary circumstances". That seems simply wrong.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM


The Upside of the Down Market : Corporate corruption has its advantages. (P.J. O'Rourke, 08/05/2002, Weekly Standard)
[C]orporate corruption gives al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other Muslim radicals second thoughts about messing with the United States. If we'll screw our own grandmothers in the stock market, God knows what we'll do to them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM


With each war, civil liberties are curtailed less (Terry Eastland, July 31, 2002, Jewish World Review)
The belief that the government is engaged in a substantial and unjustified curtailment of civil liberties - by monitoring attorney-client phone calls, detaining Muslims on immigration violations, denying Americans who fought with the Taliban access to counsel, etc. - is not a majority sentiment but certainly one that has its adherents, especially in the mainstream media and the legal academy. Just the other today the New York Times opined that "the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties reached a new low." It's a safe bet that the Times will see more "new lows."

What the Times and company typically fail to offer is historical perspective. For that, I recommend an essay by Jack Goldsmith and Cass Sunstein, both professors at the University of Chicago law school. Their paper is "in progress" but thankfully available at www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/goldsmith/resources/60.doc.

Noting the particulars of the civil-libertarian complaint against the administration (but declining to judge them), the authors observe that "compared to past wars led by [Abraham] Lincoln, [Woodrow] Wilson, and [Franklin] Roosevelt, the Bush administration has diminished relatively few civil liberties." If they are right about that, as I think they are, the question arises as to why the civil libertarians are so upset by the administration's war effort. Messrs. Goldsmith and Sunstein offer analysis that helps with the answer.

It's interesting, and somewhat frightening, to think that the civil liberties of potential enemies within are better protected now than at any other time of war in our history, even though, for really the first time, they may present a large-scale lethal threat.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM


The Anti-U.S. Tide Turns (Michael Kelly, July 31, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
The conventional (post-Sept. 11) view holds that we live in a formerly bipolar world increasingly driven, and riven, by passions of faith and tribe, in which the United States may expect to be Enemy No. 1 for the foreseeable future. Batten down everything and get ready for a long, painful, bloody haul.

There is some obvious truth in this. The old order is gone; the passions of tribalism and nationalism are resurgent; the United States has many enemies, including among its putative friends.

But what if all of this does not represent something near the beginning of a long run of troubles but the chance (at least) for the beginning of a long run of relative peace? What if the market for violence against the United States is not rising but actually bottoming out?

The most obvious and powerful reason why this should be so is that the implosion of the Soviet empire was not, overall, an impetus for destabilization but rather for stabilization.

Many people wished to see the events of September 11th as a definitive refutation of Francis Fukuyama's End of History thesis, and they may eventually be proven right, but the instability of virtually ever Middle Eastern nation sure makes it seem doubtful that Islam is a serious challenger to liberal democratic capitalism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM


Those who curse the Jews and those who bless them . . . (Dennis Prager, July 31, 2002, Jewish World Review)
In 1973, during the Arab embargo on oil exports that followed the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt, many Americans had to deal with embargo-induced hour-long lines at gas stations, gas rationing, and various setbacks to the economy. As a result, some called for our abandonment of Israel for the sake of oil.

Those voices were not heard among evangelical Christians.

In fact, in a television broadcast from his church to his many followers, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said that he would sooner give up his car and ride a bicycle than yield to Arab blackmail. Citing Genesis (12:3), he explained that G-d "will bless those who bless the Jews and curse whoever curses the Jews."

Look at who most blesses the Jews and who most curses them, and you decide whether the verse in Genesis has validity.

It wasn't called the Moral Majority for nothing...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM


Hooray for Hillarywood! (MAUREEN DOWD, July 31, 2002, NY Times)
Tinseltown may not recover from its Clinton exhaustion until it's time for another Clinton run. Senator Clinton is on the move. She made a boffo keynote speech Monday at the Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York, bashing the president's economic record compared with her husband's. The Clintons have asked the government to pay millions in legal fees incurred by the Whitewater investigation; Hillary sees the reimbursement as a vindication.

She recently got into a rumble with her party's Mr. Clean, the campaign finance reformer Russ Feingold. In Hillary's world, the soft money that Mr. Feingold wants to see banned forever is what elects and re-elects the Clintons. Like Terry McAuliffe, the party chairman and Clinton bagman, Hillary pays lip service to cleaning up the money-in-politics sewer, but knows her presidential ambitions would be sustained by the big checks Mr. Feingold wants to outlaw from Hollywood and Wall Street.

Democratic strategists think Bill has smiled on John Edwards's candidacy because he and Hillary want Mr. Edwards to lose to W. in 2004, thus diminishing him and clearing the way for a Hillary run in 2008.

Hollywood prefers actresses under 40, but doesn't mind women over 40 running studios, Senate offices or the country. In the new futuristic Eddie Murphy movie set in the year 2087, Mrs. Clinton was a beloved president long ago. In space, $10,000 bills have her face on them and are known not as dollars, but as Hillaries.

In the strange netherworld that is Mo Dowd's mind, it's a good thing to be asking the taxpayers to foot your legal bills, to be associated with Hollyweird and Terry McAuliffe, and to behave like a stormtrooper when you disagree with a Jewish Senator, and Eddie Murphy movies predict the future. Of course, in the Universe according to Mo, the fact that Hillary is female excuses all sins--corruption, anti-Semitism, etc., be damned.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 AM


U.S. fears downfall of Saudi regime. (Michael Petrou, July 31, 2002, National Post)
''The Saudis hold the key to whether the United States wins or loses the war on Islamic militants,'' said Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project, a Washington-based counterterrorism institute.

''Most of the monies for Islamic militants are generated from Saudi Arabia. They could shut them down if they wanted to, or open up the faucet even more.''

The House of Saud funds madrassas and Muslim schools across the world. Many of these preach an extreme and intolerant brand of Wahhabi Islam.

James Reilly, a history professor at the University of Toronto, notes that the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is founded on an 18th-century alliance between the Wahhabi religious movement and the House of Saud.

''The Wahhabi doctrine is the legitimizing ideology of the Saudi family. It has been an important factor in the legitimizing ideology of the Saudi state. And it has been a trademark of the extension of Saudi influence among Muslim communities and countries elsewhere,'' he said.

It would seem that the Sauds have far outlived their usefulness.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 AM


Second Law of Thermodynamics Violated (Sarah
Graham, July 24, 2002, Scientific American)
It seems that something odd happens to the second law of thermodynamics when systems get sufficiently small. The law states that the entropy, or disorder, of the universe increases over time and it holds steadfast for large-scale systems. For instance, whereas a hot beverage will spontaneously dissipate heat to the surrounding air (an increase in disorder), the air cannot heat the liquid without added energy. Nearly a decade ago, scientists predicted that small assemblages of molecules inside larger systems may not always abide by the principle. Now Australian researchers writing in the July 29 issue of Physical Review Letters report that even larger systems of thousands of molecules can also undergo fleeting energy increases that seem to violate the venerable law.

I don't even understand this but always enjoy seeing science flummoxed.

July 30, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 PM


SOUTH OF THE BORDER (Michael Barone, US News)
Two years ago, Vicente Fox was elected president of Mexico in a blaze of hope-the first time the ruling PRI had been defeated in 71 years. The conventional wisdom today is that Fox has been a disappointment. He spent much of his first year dealing with the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, only to have his settlement rejected by the Zapatistas. He has failed to get his tax plan and reform of the state oil company, Pemex, through the Congress, in which neither his PAN nor the PRI nor the leftist PRD has a majority. In recent weeks he has had to deal with violent protests of plans for a new Mexico City airport. "Changes in Mexico are not taking place at the intensity and with the velocity that some people expected," admits Communications Director Rodolfo Elizondo.

But this is not the whole picture. Economic growth has slowed in Mexico-inevitably, given its close ties with the United States. But the peso remains strong, the banking system is solid, and Mexico has gone through its first election cycle since the 1970s without a currency devaluation. As Elizondo says, "I think the government has succeeded in maintaining macroeconomic and fiscal discipline. In spite of the crisis in the U.S. and around the world, we are doing well when we are compared with the rest of Latin America."

Even more important, Fox seems to be making progress in changing the culture of corruption in law enforcement.

Forget Europe, here's a country that has a future and that matters to ours, so long as reformers like Vicente Fox can succeed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 PM


Check out the "Search" icon at the Cairo Times.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 PM


Israeli cabinet backs budget cuts (Barbara Plett, 30 July, 2002, BBC)
The Israeli cabinet has narrowly approved the biggest cuts in public spending in the country's history. [...]

The measures are meant to push the country out of a debilitating recession brought on by the Palestinian uprising and a global downturn.

If approved by parliament, it would be Israel's biggest budget cut - around $1.8bn. [...]

Critics said this was the nail in the coffin of Israel as a welfare state.

It's a coffin that's long needed to be nailed shut.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 PM


Franco-German pledge on farm aid (BBC, 30 July, 2002)
Franco-German friendship is at the heart of the EU

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 PM


The Destructive Romance of the Intellectuals (David Horowitz, July 30, 2002, Jewish World Review)
This is Martin Amis on the adventure of creating the Soviet Union: "The dictatorship of the proletariat was a lie; Union was a lie, and Soviet was a lie, and Socialist was a lie, and Republics was a lie. Comrade was a lie. The revolution was a lie."

Question: How many intellectuals believed and spread this lie and thereby colluded in the enslavement, death, and generalized social misery of hundreds of millions of socialist citizens?

This is Martin Amis's answer: "The overwhelming majority of intellectuals everywhere."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 PM


Mentoring Group's New Rule Demands Gay Inclusion (Adam Housley, July 29, 2002, FOX News)
Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America Inc., the organization that for nearly a century has provided adult mentors to help kids from single-parent families, has imposed a new rule that demands that all 500 U.S. affiliates sign up for homosexual mentors or risk being kicked out of the program.

"It's another case of political correctness gone wild," said Peter Sprigg, Senior Director of Culture Studies at the Family Research Council.

Sprigg said sexual preference must be taken into account when considering role models for children.

"They don't allow adult men to serve as mentors for young girls and presumably that is in large part because of the risk those mentors might view those children as potential sexual objects. So it makes no sense whatsoever to allow homosexual men to serve as mentors to young boys," he said.

Glad to see we all learned a lesson fron the Church's sex scandals.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


W sapped '90s econ gains - Hil (JOEL SIEGEL, 7/30/02, DAILY NEWS)
Previewing an expected Democratic campaign theme in the fall elections, Sen. Hillary Clinton said yesterday that President Bush and congressional Republicans have squandered the economic gains made when her husband was President.

"It's harder to imagine a faster, more heartbreaking turnaround than the one we've seen," she said. [...]

"If all of the arrows that were pointing up are now pointing down, and those that were headed down are going back up, blame cannot and should not be placed at the feet of those who led our nation during one of the greatest periods of prosperity and progress in our nation."

Bill Clinton's performance on the economy wasn't too bad, but it's worth noting that the boom began before he took office and ended before he left. It would have been helpful if he'd taken advantage of the good economic times to cut government and taxes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM


A friend, with whom I caddied, sent this joke:
Golfer: "You've got to be the worst caddy in the world."

Caddy: "I don't think so sir. That would be too much of a coincidence."

A guy once fired me on the third hole during the Member/Member tournament, because I couldn't find a ball he hit into the gorse. He was later shotgunned to death at a golf club in Oklahoma and my fellow caddies apparently suspected me for years. Just for the record, I didn't do it. Supposedly it was a mob hit.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 PM


Norway's Nazi children : During World War II, German soldiers serving in Norway fathered some 12,000 children by local women. Today these Tyskerbarna or 'German Bastards' are demanding compensation - not from Germany, but from Norway. What is the nature of their grievance? (The Week, 7/28/02)
You've got to read this one to believe it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:11 PM


Getting off the dime (Mort Zuckerman, July 30, 2002, Jewish World Review)
The federal government has gotten back into deficits, and the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates to the lowest levels in decades. This is not nearly enough. So here are four ideas: First, the United States should embark on a one- or two-year program to aid distressed states so they can avoid cuts in employment, public-works spending, and essential programs. Alternatively, Washington could offer federal guarantees to help states and cities through bond financing that might otherwise be unavailable because of their deficits. Second, the Fed must cut interest rates more-now. This is no time for the Fed governors to keep their powder dry. Third, Congress must support trade-promotion authority for the president so that we can expand exports. Lastly, President Bush must move more convincingly to restore confidence in the way business is run. The federal government must ensure accuracy and fairness in our financial markets.

Two and Three are definitely true. Four's fine if just as a psychological matter. One is a no go.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 PM


On this date in 1619, in Jamestown, Virginia, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World--the House of Burgesses--convenes in the choir of the town's church.

Ah, that great American tradition of building a wall between Church & State.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM


Fear over European Kosher bans : Trend of countries outlawing ritual slaughter in name of animal rights tied to 'a hatred for Jewish life,' says Israeli minister. (Adam Dickter, Jewish World Review)
When Holland imposed a ban recently on a type of kosher slaughter, international Jewish leaders worried about far more than the difficulty observant Dutch Jews might face in obtaining rabbinically certified steak or cholent meat.

Noting that such a ban was an early step of Hitler's Third Reich, some fear the action is part of a growing assault on Jewish life linked to the spread of anti-Semitism sweeping across Europe.

The production of kosher meat, known as shechita, has long been illegal in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. And in Switzerland, attempts to lift a century-old ban caused an anti-Semitic backlash earlier this year. [...]

Rabbi Melchior, the former chief rabbi of Norway, noted that during the initial debate in that country, where shechita has been banned since the 1930s, a parliamentarian noted that if Jews didn't like it, "let them go somewhere else."

"It's ominous," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the Kosher administrator for the Orthodox Union, the largest kosher-certifying organization in the world. "This kind of legislation in Europe has to be understood in the context of European history. A person would have to be extremely naive not to think that this is linked to anti-Semitism."

The more you think about it, the more you realize that being hated by the Europeans puts Americans in pretty good company.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM


Cuban Youths Defect During Pope's Canada Visit (Reuters, July 29, 2002)
At least 23 young Cubans from a group who traveled to Canada for Pope John Paul II's visit have decided not to return to the communist-ruled island, Roman Catholic Church officials said on Monday.

About 200 youths had been selected to go to Canada to attend Sunday's World Youth Day with the Pope, who made a historic visit to Cuba in 1998. [...]

"The reason they are doing this is to escape the oppression in Cuba," Sambra said. "They are asking for freedom."

Kind of embarrassing for the Canadians who I believe have full relations with Cuba, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 AM


Noel Erinjeri writes :
In response to your essay about Liberalism and evil (Evil but Smart), I said:
Your comments are a bit overwrought. Your equating "liberalism" and "evil" probably proves Krauthammer's point. Hitler was evil. Stalin was evil. People who molest children are evil. Someone who disagrees with you about, say, Social Security might be mistaken, but he's not evil. This exact sentiment is what destroyed the Far Left in the Sixties and then the Far Right in the Nineties.

And you replied:

Hitler and Stalin were, of course, socialists. And the "Far Right", last I checked, is governing America. Glad you liked Russell Kirk.

Stalin was indeed a socialist. Hitler was not, exactly, but I'll stipulate he was for the purposes of this argument. You're still ducking the main point, which is that the genocide and oppression caused by those two is not in the moral universe as support for support for Social Security or favoring one tax policy over another. At worst, liberals are mistaken. But, to call them "evil" cheapens the word. A liberal might be evil, but he's not evil BECAUSE he's a liberal.

For that matter, if Stalin and Hitler were socialists so was one of your "10 Greatest Men of the 20th Century." Having read most of your Orwell page, I suspect you would claim Orwell was not a socialist but a conservative. But As long as we're discussing Kirk let's see which of his six principles Orwell agreed:

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."

-Orwell did not believe in God. He did believe in morality (He called it "common decency") but as for "divine intent," zip.

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."

-Maybe. He had a respect for "variety of life," but he was certainly an egalitarian. The two aren't necessarily exclusive, though.

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."

-Orwell would find this odious. If there was anything he railed against, it was the British class system of which Burke was so fond.

4) "Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic levelling is not economic progress. Separate property from private possession and liberty is erased."

-Problematic. He often argued for the government take over of private property like a good socialist, but he was smart enough to realize the horrors it would (and had) led to, as evidenced by his line about dissent and starvation. He didn't like the idea of private property, but saw no way around it without ending up in 1984.

5) "Faith in prescription and distrust of 'sophisters and calculators.' Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite, for conservatives knowman to be governed more by emotion than by reason. Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man's anarchic impulse."

-The distrust Orwell certainly had. As to "faith in prescription," he wasn't a fan of traditional institutions but certainly believed in traditional morality and respect for law.

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."

-Orwell didn't believe in Providence. One might make the argument that Animal Farm and 1984 were anti-revolutionary, but you've got to set that against the passage in "Homage to Catalonia" about his first visit to Barcelona and his joy that "the workers were in control."

Finally, perhaps most importantly, Orwell said he was a socialist, all the way to the end of life. I make his final score on Kirk's litmus test 2 (maybe 3) out of 6. Was Orwell evil, too?

One last thing, about the "Far Right governing America." Bush is hardly one of the far right. I was using the term to refer to the Pat Buchanan/Pat Robertson crowd. Buchanan's out of the party, the Christian Coalition is not the force it was, and the last real attempt to reduce the size of government seems to have been with Robert Taft. I'm not a big fan of the President's, but no matter what Left-wingers say this is is hardly a Far Right presidency.

-Noel Erinjeri

This a dastardly trick, turning one of my heroes against another, but it's also quite effective and deserves both kudos and a response.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM


Our Banana Republics (PAUL KRUGMAN, 7/30/02, NY Times)
The fact is that in recent years many states have been run like banana republics. Responsibility gave way to political opportunism, and in some cases to mob rule. When Tennessee considered a tax increase last year, legislators were intimidated by a riot stirred up by radio talk-show hosts. Only when lack of cash forced the governor to lay off half the work force did the state, which has the second-lowest per capita taxes in the country, face up to reality. [...]

State governments turned into banana republics in part because voters didn't realize that a charming, personable chief executive can also be an irresponsible opportunist, seeking political advantage through policies that ensure a fiscal crisis on someone else's watch. Now the same governing style has moved to Washington. And this time there's no safety net.

What a disappontment--this column gave such promise of being excellent. Mr. Krugman is, of course, right that the reason there are fiscal crises in some states and with the federal budget is because of the mob. People want government to do stuff for them and they don't care what it costs someone else or whether it's good for their fellow citizens or the state or country as a whole. This is the conservative critique of government--the greed of the masses must eventually swamp the ship of state. Bravo, Mr. Krugman! You've seen the light!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM


Washington Whispers (Terence Samuel , 8/5/02, US News)
Recount redux

A plan born in the wake of the 2000 Florida election crisis, when the GOP sent a strike force to the state for George W. Bush, will be dusted off for the fall House elections. Republicans are working on a "72-hour strategy" of sending Hill aides, lawyers, and lobbyists to the 20 to 40 key House districts to get out the vote for GOP candidates. "It used to be," said one planner, "that the Republicans worked hard all week and kicked back with a martini on the weekends. But that's when the Democrats and unions go to work and we lose. This time, we're fighting back."

Gotta run

Hill leaders are considering putting government spending on cruise control and quitting in September to campaign. Insiders say the move is the result of panic about having to vote on controversial spending hikes just weeks before facing voters. Under the plan, few appropriation bills would go to the House or Senate floors before the election. Instead, members would keep spending at current levels. Then, after the election, a lame duck Congress would do the heavy lifting.

The dark force

Steve Cambone, a top aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is famous for knocking heads with the Pentagon brass over the pace of reform. So some uniforms were delighted when Cambone was reassigned from the front office. But their joy was short lived. Carbone's new job is to evaluate major weapons, like those Rummy wants axed. "It's like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars," says one official. "You think he's dead, but he's only been made stronger."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM


US 'suffers global image problem' (Greg Barrow, 30 July, 2002, BBC)
A new report by an influential policy group in America says the US Government needs an urgent public relations overhaul to improve its image in the international community.

The report by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations says the Bush administration has significantly underperformed in its efforts to capture the hearts and minds of non-Americans.

The report says that in trying to sell its foreign policy and values, the administration needs to much more, and it needs to do it fast.

It says that part of the problem has been a dramatic decline in funding for government departments that were once dedicated to promoting US policy and values overseas.

Heard about this on NPR yesterday and it sounded like a pitch by a lobby group for more spending on Foreign Affairs. Implicit in much they say is that we need to improve our image by doing what the "international community" expects us to do. But what evidence is there that the world would
be a better place if we were more like it, instead of it more like us?

July 29, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM


Throwing heat and taking heat (Marvin Olasky, 8/03/02, World)
"Now I know that whether I win or lose, God loves me just the same. Doesn't mean I won't put all my effort into the pitch--God wants us to compete, hard. But being a baseball player is not who I am, it's a product of who I am, so I don't have to worry about losing my identity. Without fear of losing, I can concentrate all my attention on the moment, and that makes me win more often. Makes sense?"

It did to the Chicago batters. Mr. Smoltz struck out the next Cub and encouraged the one following to ground into a game-ending double play. Another save for "Smoltzie," his 15th in a row. A successful starter for a decade until arm trouble sidelined him for almost two seasons, he became this year only the fourth pitcher in major-league history to record at least one season of 20-plus wins and another of 20-plus saves. But more than that, he became (to my knowledge) the only current major-league player who is playing a key role on the board of directors of a successful Christian school start-up. [...]

"Many Christian schools don't want to be known for athletics. That's a mistake. We have bodies given us by God, and God didn't call us to be soft. Sports teach us how to compete. They teach perseverance."

You often hear people, especially the idiots on Sports radio shows, talk about whether being religious might be bad for an athlete, might make him "soft". If the example of Eric Liddell doesn't convince you otherwise, this profile of Smoltz might.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM


Jesus walked that lonesome valley,
He had to walk it by Himself.
No body else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself

You got to walk this lonesome valley.
You got to walk it by yourself.
no body else gonna walk it for you.
You got to walk it by yourself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 PM


When Color Should Count (GLENN C. LOURY, July 28, 2002, NY Times)
[R]ace-blindness is a narrow, technical aspiration and not a genuinely moral end. In matters of race, the most fundamental moral question is not about blindness at all. It is about what I call "neutrality." Race-blindness means having no information about a person's race, while race-neutrality means having no interest in the racial aspect of a social disparity. Blindness asks about what a public decision-maker can know; neutrality deals with the goals that a decision-maker can rightly pursue. Mr. Connerly and his opponents are arguing over whether we should be race-blind. But a question of far greater consequence is whether we should be race-neutral. Although a majority of voters may find race-blindness to be an attractive ideal, I believe many fewer are prepared to endorse race-neutrality because, in light of our history, race-neutrality is not a very attractive moral stance.

The single-minded adherent of race-neutrality would see no problem in the fact that black Americans are vastly overrepresented among those going to prison and among those infected with the AIDS virus. If one begins seeing the race of an inmate or AIDS victim as a matter of no moral relevance, one might conclude that we should pay no heed to the racial dimension of such problems. But racial inequality in the United States is a problem that profoundly affects the entire society regardless of whether it is due to current racial discrimination. I believe a great many Americans, even those who firmly oppose racial preferences, would agree with me about this. They want race-blind law enforcement, but they also worry that some 13.4 percent of black males age 25 to 29 were in prison or jail in 2001, compared with 1.8 percent of whites in the same age group. They endorse the race-blind provision of health services, but are disturbed to learn that blacks, about one-ninth of the population, were over one-third of Americans living with AIDS in 1999. They may want to use non-discriminatory college admissions rules, but are not indifferent to the racial composition of the entering class.

The distinction between blindness and neutrality becomes clear when one considers that often a choice must be made between alternative race-blind policies, some of which ameliorate and others that exacerbate the social disadvantage of blacks. While a race-blind public policy explicitly intended to harm blacks would never be acceptable, race-blind policies adopted for the purpose of reducing racial inequality are commonplace and well accepted.

To ask that results of racially neutral policies be likewise neutral is in itself racist. Suppose the government gives Ed $50,000 to start a company and Joe $50,000. Three years later Ed runs a multimillion dollar enterprise and Joe is broke. if both were black or both were white, this would be sad for Joe but none of our business otherwise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


The Value Of Great Expectations (William Raspberry, July 29, 2002, Washington Post)
Rod Paige and I, both black Mississippians of a certain age, over lunch were pondering the differences between the education we received as children and the education poor children are receiving today.

"One difference," the secretary of education said, "is expectation. Too many teachers accept as a fact that certain students can't learn, and therefore they set low levels of expectation." [...]

When Paige and I were boys, explanations of black disadvantage were so obvious as to be pointless. The thing our people needed, our leaders reminded us, was to do well in spite of the disadvantage, to become productive, to make ourselves necessary. Today's leaders put less emphasis on what we must do and more on what is done to us. They aren't wrong. But the unintended consequence of their emphasis is to makes us feel more like powerless victims of circumstances we can't control and less like individuals capable of significant achievement.

Suppose Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were to spend the next several years telling black children and parents that white folk don't want them to succeed and don't think they can, but that working together this generation of black kids can seize control over their own educations and their own lives and achieve magnificent things. Suppose they made that their mission, their dream, if you will. Suppose the NAACP and CORE and PUSH and the Black Caucus at Black Entertainment Television and Jet and Ebony turned their full focus to education and to saving just this one generation of kids from crappy schools. Suppose William Raspberry and Clarence Page and Bob Herbert and Thomas Sowell and Armstrong Williams and Shelby Steele and Ward Connerly and every other black pundit, Left, Right, and Center, devoted themselves to the issue of the inferior quality of education that too many black kids get in America today. Suppose Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg and Harry Belafonte and every other black entertainer used their bully pulpit to demand that blacks educate themselves and that politicians give them the tools to get good educations. Suppose there were no more important issue in the public and political discourse of black America than education, education, education. Could anything serve to empower blacks more?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM


Bush's Credibility Gap (Sebastian Mallaby, July 29, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
If anti-market populism gains momentum, we'll need leaders with the credibility to fight back. That means people who can make the pro-market argument
without being accused of shilling for business cronies or of knee-jerk anti-government instincts. Both parties have such leaders. The Clinton economic team embraced expanded government in areas such as health care, but it frequently rejected dumb anti-market policies. In the Republican Party, Sen. John McCain is a scourge of cronyistic lobbies, which makes him all the more credible as a staunch pro-market advocate.

Yeah, let's here what Mr. McCain (R, Keating) has to say about banking and what Bob Rubin has to say about Enron.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM


Democrats Preview 2004 Strategy (Will Lester, July 29, 2002, Associated Press)
Democratic presidential hopefuls offered a preview Monday of the economic debate they hope will dominate the 2004 race for the White House.

They contrasted the booming stock market, federal surpluses and job growth of the roaring 1990s with the tax cuts, volatile stocks and shrinking economy since Bill Clinton left office.

"In just eighteen months, this administration has unraveled the fiscal discipline it took us eight years to build," said Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who spoke to the Democratic Leadership Council's annual policy meeting along with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. [...]

Kerry and the other Democrats said the nation's economy has undergone a dramatic transition under Bush's leadership.

"In the span of a year, this administration has turned fiscal responsibility on its ear," Kerry said, "turning a budget surplus into a budget with endless deficits spurred on by an irresponsible and unfairly structured tax cut." [...]

Leaders of the group told the party's candidates that it's good to call for corporate accountability but not to take an anti-business approach.

Remember how the issues in July 1994 were a preview of the 1996 Presidential election?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 PM


Bin Laden's eldest son 'takes over al-Qaeda' (Sydney Morning Herald, July 30 2002)
Osama bin Laden's eldest son, Saad, has taken over the command of the al-Qaeda terror network blamed by Washington for the September 11 attacks, the Saudi pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported yesterday.

Saad bin Laden has been in charge of the organisation "since the US offensive against al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan," which began in October, and al-Qaeda's pullout from its main hideouts in the country, the paper quoted "informed sources" as saying in a London-datelined dispatch.

This disclosure "substantiates the theory that bin Laden was killed or seriously wounded" in the US-led military campaign, the paper said.

Bin Laden's second son, 20-year-old Mohammad, had previously been expected to succeed the suspected terror mastermind in case of his death or incapacitation, Asharq Al-Awsat said, adding that Saad was "unknown" outside al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden has some 20 sons from various wives, the paper said.

It will be a great pleasure to hunt down all twenty.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:11 PM

Charles Murtaugh's new book review is up. It's of The Knox Brothers by Penelope Fitzgerald, whose Offshore I was unimpressed with. He makes this one sound well worth reading.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:02 PM


Just heard a really interesting ad for Rep. Charlie Bass (R, NH). He's running against Katrina Swett, daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D, CA) and wife of the improbably named former Rep. Dick Swett (Against whom, I always thought the GOP should have used the slogan : "We want a congressman, not a body function"). Apparently she's raised 95% of her campaign dollars from out of state. So the ad is an imitation game show where NY and CA are trying to see who can give most, as the liberals on the coasts buy another congressional seat. The interesting part is that they "accuse" her of receiving money from Steve Spielberg and David Geffen. If you ever wanted to understand the difference between Red and Blue states there it is in a nutshell. In a Blue state you'd want those guys appearing in your ad, in a Red state their support is a badge of shame.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:52 PM


Here's the best moment from last night's Booknotes (Beppe Severgnini, Ciao America! An Italian Discovers the U.S.) :
LAMB: You say that Italians don't copy the important things in American life, patriotism, optimism, and a sense of personal responsibility. Instead, they copy vocabulary, soft drinks, jeans, hairstyles, film, songs... [...] Why do they copy one thing and not another in your opinion?

SEVERGNINI: The answer is easy because the things that you mentioned first, personal responsibility, patriotism, good patriotism, sense of your duty, commitment. They need effort. You really have to work hard to achieve those.

The other things that America sells extremely well, not only to Italy, but to all over the world and some of them, not all of them, some of them are not appreciated everywhere but nonetheless sold extremely well from Japan to Africa, from Southeast Asia to South America. Those things are easy. All you need is a credit card or your currency and you buy those things, easy.

Unfortunately, those hard things are the very aspects of the culture that the Left most consistently attacks, precisely because thay are hard to achieve and not everyone can measure up. What a shame it would be to sacrifice them on the altar of equality and become like Europe.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:50 PM


A Failure of Democracy, Not Capitalism (BENJAMIN R. BARBER, July 29, 2002, NY Times)
The truth is that runaway capitalists, environmental know-nothings, irresponsible accountants, amoral drug runners and antimodern terrorists all flourish because we have diminished the power of the public sphere. By privatizing government functions and refusing to help create democratic institutions of global governance, America has relinquished its authority to control these forces. Within the United States, we foolishly think we possess a private liberty that allows us to work and prosper individually, not together or in conformity with a social contract. In the international realm, we seem to believe that our claim to national sovereignty allows us to operate unilaterally--America first and foremost, not together or in conformity with a global contract.

On Sept. 11, no one looked to Bill Gates or Michael Eisner, let alone Kenneth Lay or Martha Stewart, for national leadership. On that day Americans remembered the true meaning of words like citizen and public servant and relied upon firefighters, mayors, Congress and the president. Why then today do we expect corporate executives or "market professionals" to cure the disorders of anarchic market capitalism--which, as Theodore Roosevelt understood, responds only to democratic oversight? And how do we expect a go-it-alone superpower to depose terrorists who exploit the global interdependence America is reluctant to recognize?

These ends are public, the res publica that constitutes us as a common people. To secure them is the common task of every citizen--as well as the principal responsibility of the president and Congress, whose problem is not that they may have once been complicit in the vices of capitalism, but that they are today insufficiently complicit in the virtues of democracy.

This is even more insipid than Mr. Barber's usual fare. In point of fact both the private sector and the public sector did the jobs they are designed for in these two circumstances. After the nation was attacked militarily, our government responded militarily, in the way that only government can. It has routed al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, killed Osama (presumably), toppled the government there that supported al Qaeda, and has the remnants of the group on the run across the globe. That's a pretty impressive performance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:02 PM


Regime Change in Iran? : Applying George W. Bush's "liberation theology" to the mullahs. (Reuel Marc Gerecht, 08/05/2002, Weekly Standard)
Stepping away from the "realist" world of his father--where a vision of regional stability, not a belief in individual liberty and democracy, drove foreign policy--George W. Bush has sliced across national borders and civilizational divides with an unqualified assertion of a moral norm. The president declared, "The people of Iran want the same freedoms, human rights, and opportunities as people around the world." America will stand "alongside people everywhere determined to build a world of freedom, dignity, and tolerance. . . . America affirms . . . its commitment to helping those in captive nations achieve democracy." These are, at least to Iranian ears, truly revolutionary words for an American
president. One has to go back to Woodrow Wilson to find an American leader who so clearly directs his message far outside the West. And Wilson's call for self-determination, made in the declining years of European empire, addressed collective, "national" ethnic aspirations more than the liberal rights of individuals.

Though the president's "liberation theology" is obviously a work in progress (as, if we remember, was Reagan's), the philosophical borders of the president's views are sufficiently clear that it will be difficult for those in his administration and in the media who are disturbed, if not terrified, by Bush's creed to walk back the policy. They will, no doubt, try. The State Department of Colin Powell will endeavor to introduce a bit of opaqueness into the discussion, striving to keep open the possibility, deeply cherished, it strongly appears, by the director of policy planning, Richard Haass, that U.S. and Iranian officials can somehow sit and talk. For State, sitting and talking with foreign dignitaries is usually an end in itself, imbued with a non-negotiable moral goodness. (Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer will, of course, have the unenviable task of articulating the contradictory public truces between State, the Pentagon, and the White House, which will make it appear that the president is trying to alter his original language, if not his intent.) And the president may well be lazy, cautious, or somewhat confused about turning his ideals into a consistent, effective policy. For
example, preaching liberty, the rule of law, and democracy for Palestinians on only one bank of the Jordan river is an odd, if not unsustainable, rhetorical position. Yet despite the unorthodox, public way foreign policy is being made, and unmade, in this administration, it seems clear that the president isn't going to stop his Reaganesque approach. The possible contradictions in the president's actions are unlikely to blunt the revolutionary edge and appeal of his message in the Middle East.

You have to wonder--once the process of liberalization gets started, as it did in Afghanistan--how long any of the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East can withstand persistent pressure, both rhetorical and military, from the United States. We always underestimate the power of the call of freedom, which is why the rapid collapse of the Iron Curtain came as such a shock to people. But on the second anniversary of 9/11 it seems entirely possible that more liberal regimes will be in place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine and even in Syria and Saudi Arabia. In twenty years we may understand the events of 9/11 to have been nothing more than the final wild death thrashes of a venomous snake. And just as Afghanistan was the burial place of Soviet dreams of world domination so may the Islamic Revolution have expired there.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM


Lieberman Critical of Gore for Moving Campaign Off Center (ADAM NAGOURNEY, July 29, 2002, NY Times)
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut said last night that during the campaign for the White House in 2000, Al Gore drifted away from the centrist Democratic appeal that had been at the core of both men's political identities. [...]

"Al said some things in the campaign that were not the logical continuation of things--his voting record in the Senate and his career in public service," Mr. Lieberman said. He noted that Mr. Gore had initially campaigned on what he described as a "pro-growth" platform that emphasized fiscal discipline, the importance of business and curbing the deficit.

"The people versus the powerful unfortunately left that track and gave a different message, which may have been caused by the pressure that the Nader campaign was giving us," Mr. Lieberman said, referring to Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate. "But I think it was not the New Democratic approach."

This is just silly. They won (or as good as won) the election by pitting people against each other and getting their base to turn out. If they hadn't had that big turnout--and if Bush's drunk driving arrest hadn't come out--they may well have lost by 5%.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:05 PM


U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike as Iraq Option (DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER, July 29, 2002, NY Times)
As the Bush administration considers its military options for deposing Saddam Hussein, senior administration and Pentagon officials say they are exploring a new if risky approach: take Baghdad and one or two key command centers and weapons depots first, in hopes of cutting off the country's leadership and causing a quick collapse of the government.

The "inside-out" approach, as some call this Baghdad-first option, would capitalize on the American military's ability to strike over long distances, maneuvering forces to envelop a large target. Those advocating that plan say it reflects a strong desire to find a strategy that would not require a full quarter-million American troops, yet hits hard enough to succeed. One important aim would be to disrupt Iraq's ability to order the use of weapons of mass destruction. [...]

Officials say it may be possible to paralyze an Iraqi command-and-control system that is highly centralized and authoritarian. Under such a system, midlevel officers are not taught to improvise, should they be cut off from commanders. It is also possible that those midlevel officers, if they fear that Mr. Hussein has been killed, would not bother to fire weapons of mass destruction.

If that can be accomplished with a smaller invasion force than the 250,000 troops suggested in early drafts, the approach could appeal to skittish gulf allies whose bases would be required for a war. [...]

Baghdad is ringed by Mr. Hussein's most elite forces, and the city itself is filled with antiaircraft batteries. While officials declined to discuss details of any new operation in detail, it would probably include intense air attacks followed by a combined airborne and ground assault on strategic targets. [...]

In concentrating its attention on an air campaign and ground action, the military and administration officials have been weighing troop deployments ranging from 70,000 to 250,000. The new plan under discussion could conceivably be carried out at the lower range of that spectrum.

Why don't we just use some serious munitions to take out Saddam even at the risk of significant civilian casualties in Baghdad? It's not like we're worried about Arab opinion anymore.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 AM


Ancient chess history unearthed (BBC, 27 July, 2002)
A team of British archaeologists have unearthed evidence suggesting that Europeans were playing chess as early as the sixth century.

An ivory chess piece, excavated at a Byzantine palace in what is now southern Albania, is more than 500 years older than any previously discovered. [...]

Until now chess historians had agreed that the game only became popular with the European elite during the 12th century, 700 years after it was invented in China, India or ancient Persia.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM


Why psychiatry has failed : We can fly to the moon and tap genetic secrets, but human beings are as badly behaved and as miserable as ever. Is it because shrinks rely too much on words? (Peter Watson, 1st July 2002, New Statesman)
According to Kagan, the brain (he prefers to call it the mind) contains psychological structures, to which he gives the ungainly word "schemata". We hold these schemata in our heads, Kagan says, just as those babies held the concept of "animal" long before they had a word for it. We hold visual experiences, olfactory experiences, taste, touch, auditory and emotional experiences somewhere inside us, which enrich the words we use but are separate from them and individual to each of us. And they cannot be related directly to brain activity.

[K]agan becomes even more controversial when he applies his theory to everyday life. Take the moral development of children. Kagan says that, for them, concepts such as "good", "bad" or "truth" are not just verbal ideas; they embody schemata. Children and adults respond more quickly to concepts that are, as he puts it, "rich in schemata". That is why adults are faster to answer "false" to the statement "Carrots are blue" than to the statement "The function of vitamins is social justice": they have a clearer and more vivid experience of carrots than they have of social justice.

So a child will learn the concept of "bad" more fully if it is not just a semantic notion. The parent should not just tell the child what is bad but burn the idea into its experience: through frowning, scolding, withdrawing privileges (Kagan avoids the question of whether one should add smacking). The more schemata are involved, the richer the child's concept of "bad" will be. [...]

This is all grist to the traditionalist's mill. But that is not Kagan's main aim, which is to rethink psychology and psychiatry from the bottom up.

Only in a completely deracinated age would the idea of teaching morality to children be controversial and groundbreaking.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM


The Case Against Moussaoui: Internal Doubts Evidence against the "20th hijacker" mostly circumstantial (Michael Isikoff, 7/28/02, NEWSWEEK)
Sources familiar with tens of thousands of classified FBI documents that have been assembled for the case tell NEWSWEEK there's nothing that shows Moussaoui ever had contact with any of the 9-11 hijackers. Some documents even suggest internal FBI doubts over whether Moussaoui really was supposed to be the "20th hijacker," as Justice officials have suggested. "There was a lot of skepticism about this case," said one high-level source. Moussaoui has openly admitted his allegiance to Al Qaeda, and prosecutors do have some compelling circumstantial evidence: Moussaoui received $14,000 in money orders from Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a fugitive Qaeda operative and former roommate of hijacker ringleader Mohamed Atta, in August 2001. The money arrived just weeks before Moussaoui was arrested when instructors at a Minneapolis flight school reported his suspicious interest in learning to steer large jetliners. But, backed by a team of more than 50 assistants, Moussaoui's lawyers have been crafting a circumstantial counterargument: while the other hijackers met repeatedly with each other, Moussaoui is conspicuously absent from any of their gatherings. "It's like the reverse of `Where's Waldo?' " said lawyer Ed MacMahon.

Okay, I'll bite : what's the non-conspiratorial reason that an al-Qaeda sympathizer gets paid $14k by an al-Qaeda operative with ties to Mohamed Atta to learn how to turn a jumbo jet but not land it? Did he think he was going to work for bin Laden Airlines?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 AM


Should you redshirt your child? (Steve Sailer, 7/25/02, UPI)
Jamie Horowitz, a Washington, D.C., father of three small boys, faced a dilemma increasingly common among parents, especially middle-class families with boys. Should he and his wife "redshirt" their oldest son so that he spends a second year in pre-school and then finally enters kindergarten at the age of 6, rather than the traditional age of 5?

It's a family decision that is beginning to have a broader social impact as the number mounts of parents voluntarily holding back their children for an extra year before starting kindergarten.

Redshirting was a major question for the Horowitzes because it would mean their boy would be older than most of his classmates for the rest of his educational career. "We had to consider it because we knew so many children who were being held back," Horowitz said. "There's a big difference between a child who is 5 years and a day and a child who is 5 years and 11 months. The older child is just much more advanced and, in theory, ready to learn. Some kids, however, if you hold them back, they may be bored."

Thus continues the war against boys...

July 28, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM


Counsel approached Justice aide for advice to get Clinton to plead (Frank J. Murray, 7/28/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Former independent counsel Robert Ray has acknowledged asking President Clinton's own Justice Department for guidance at a critical juncture of his investigation in the hope of nudging Mr. Clinton into a plea bargain deal while still president. [...]

"A maximum amount of pressure was applied to make sure that it happened before he left," Mr. Ray said. "This was part of that." He broke his silence about why an independent counsel would take the unprecedented step of posing two crucial strategic questions to Attorney General Janet Reno's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

Mr. Ray's questions led to formal opinions prepared by Assistant Attorney General Randolph D. Moss, who ruled:

*On Aug. 8, 2000, that it would not be double jeopardy for a grand jury to indict an ex-president acquitted by the Senate after impeachment, a circumstance that applied to Mr. Clinton.

*On Oct. 16, 2000, three weeks before the presidential election, that the law creating the office of independent counsel did not nullify the constitutional barriers to indicting a president still in office and that a sitting president, therefore, could not be indicted. [...]

"[Deputy Attorney General] Eric Holder picked up the phone and informed the White House," Mr. Ray told The Washington Times, an assertion that Mr. Holder contradicted in a separate interview.

it will surprise no one but partisan Democrats to learn that Bill Clinton's plea bargain was produced by a threat of prosecution.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:33 PM


Britons left in jail amid fears that Saudi Arabia could fall to al-Qaeda (Martin Bright, Nick Pelham and Paul Harris, July 28, 2002, The Observer)
Saudi Arabia is teetering on the brink of collapse, fuelling Foreign Office fears of an extremist takeover of one of the West's key allies in the war on terror.

Anti-government demonstrations have swept the desert kingdom in the past months in protest at the pro-American stance of the de facto ruler, Prince Abdullah.

At the same time, Whitehall officials are concerned that Abdullah could face a palace coup from elements within the royal family sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Though this will give the State Department and the Europeans the vapors, it may well be for the best. If the Islamic Middle East is going to need a Germany-and-Japan-in-WWII style defeat before it reforms then the sooner we administer that defeat the better. It would be far worse in the long run to allow the Sauds to continue to foster radicalism throughout the region in an effort to take the heat off themselves on the domestic front.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 AM


...for them that honour me I will honour...
1 Samuel 2 : 30

There's a scene in the movie Chariots of Fire where the devout Eric Liddell is explaining to his concerned sister why he's willing to leave aside missionary work, even if only for brief stretches, in order to continue his running. He tells her that : "God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." That is, when he runs he feels like he is glorifying God just as surely as when he preaches the Word. It's an exceptionally good moment in a generally fine film. No one, I think, will begrudge Mr. Liddell this feeling, nor his pursuit of what turned out to be a remarkable career, including several Olympic medals and World Records. It may well have pleased God to watch him run. Other gifts though, we may wish that folks would leave under a bushel.

In particular, those who are blessed with greater than average intelligence seem to have an enormous capacity for causing mankind trouble. This is especially the case when they decide that it would be unfair to humanity to keep their intelligence to themselves. Then they tend, with the best intentions I'm sure, to want to tackle many of the problems that have plagued men for years. The results are, without exception, disastrous. A few examples may suffice to illustrate the point. Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud were undoubtedly smarter than most of their contemporaries. Between them they tackled the intractable questions of where we came from, where we're headed, and why we act the way we do. Each wove a metaphor that was so lovely and so compelling that we lesser mortals were mesmerized and bought them wholesale. But today, a bloody century later, Darwinism, Marxism, or Freudianism are understood to have been tragic mistakes. Each was used by adherents, if not by the founders, to deny the existence of God and of free will and to portray human existence as wholly determined. Taken together they minimized the value of human life, excused immorality, and convinced Man that they understood far more of the world than he truly did, leading to wars, revolutions, genocide, social experimentation, and a near extinguishing of freedom in the Western world. Thus did the gifts of these men become a nightmare for the rest of us.

Here in America the effects were somewhat contained, largely because of the skepticism of a God-fearing populace. The Scopes Trial, the Red Scares, the Blacklist, and the like represented the healthy contempt of the average American for these newfangled theories and the intellectual elites who sought to impose them. But even here, it must come as little surprise that the New Deal was dreamed up by the Brains Trust or that our most meddlesome presidents have been the smartest ones--Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon--or those who surrounded themselves with the smartest people, like FDR. Perhaps we might say that like Eric Liddell such intellects simply feel compelled to share their gifts with us. And in their cases that means trying to solve our problems for us. At any rate, it can hardly escape our notice that these men, our best and brightest, were uniformly liberals.

This is why we must take exception to Charles Krauthammer's column in the Washington Post today : No-Respect Politics (Charles Krauthammer, July 26, 2002, washingtonpost.com). Therein he states :

To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.

Though he rallies later in the essay, Mr. Krauthammer is quite wrong here. There's a famous story, more than likely apocryphal, about a Republican intern who was giving a tour of the Capitol to a group of foreign dignitaries. As the tour progressed they asked him questions about American government. One of the notions that bewildered them was that we are not bedeviled by the chaos of a multiparty system. The intern assured them : "Here in America we have just two parties; my party, the Republicans are the stupid party; the Democrats are the evil party." This is what conservatives really believe. We recognize that Democrats are smarter than we are. We recognize our own limitations and know that we can't solve your problems for you. They, on the other hand, know that they are smart and, therefore, think they can heal all ills. That's precisely what makes them dangerous; that's why they're evil.

Of course, it's not just that they think they're smart enough to run all our lives that makes them evil. Equally important is that they deny the very existence of evil. Liberalism flows from a deeply flawed utopian understanding of human nature. As Mr. Krauthammer puts it once he gets back on track :

Liberals tend to be nice, and they believe -- here is where they go stupid -- that most everybody else is nice too. Deep down, that is. Sure, you've got your multiple felon and your occasional war criminal, but they're undoubtedly depraved 'cause they're deprived. If only we could get social conditions right -- eliminate poverty, teach anger management, restore the ozone, arrest John Ashcroft -- everyone would be holding hands smiley-faced, rocking back and forth to "We Shall Overcome."

Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything.

Liberals suffer incurably from naivete, the stupidity of the good heart. Who else but that oracle of American liberalism, the New York Times, could run the puzzled headline: "Crime Keeps On Falling, but Prisons Keep On Filling." But? How about this wild theory: If you lock up the criminals, crime declines.

Mr. Krauthammer is correct that liberals are utterly wrong here, but that does not make them stupid. Their problem is not stupidity but that their entire worldview is based on an error. Now, admittedly, it's a huge error, but an erroneous belief is very different from actual stupidity.

Nor is it readily apparent that liberals should be blamed inordinately for this error. The belief in Man's innate goodness is after all an error that is shared by most non-Judeo-Christian cultures, by libertarians, and even by most of Mr. Krauthammer's fellow neo-conservatives (it's what the "neo" really stands for, the lack of adherence to that social conservatism which proceeds from a Biblical worldview). Indeed, we might rather say that the contrary belief in Man as a Fallen and flawed creature represents the peculiar genius of conservatism and of Judeo-Christianity. Perhaps conservatives need not be terribly bright because in their stubborn dullness they cling to a belief system that flows from that one fortuitous assumption, that Man is naturally sinful.

At any rate, it is useless to deny that conservatism is based on a recognition by its believers that they are none too smart. It is in fact quite explicitly premised on the assumption that our ancestors were smarter than we are. Here's how Russell Kirk--whose wisdom in these matters I think no Conservative will gainsay--defined conservatism :

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. [...]

I think there are six canons of conservative thought--

(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 levelling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation. [...]

(4) Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic levelling is not economic progress. Separate property from private possess

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM


In Oversight We Trust (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, July 28, 2002, NY Times)
I don't blame President Bush for any accounting fraud at WorldCom or Enron. I blame him for something more important. You see, what really distinguishes American capitalism from most other countries' is not that we don't have C.E.O. crooks, but others do, or that we never have bogus accounting, bribery, corruption or other greedy excesses, but others do. No, we have all the same excesses that other capitalist nations have, because fear and greed are built into capitalism.

What distinguishes America is our system's ability to consistently expose, punish, regulate and ultimately reform those excesses - better than any other. How often do you hear about such problems being exposed in Mexico or Argentina, Russia or China? They may have all the hardware of capitalism, but they don't have all the software - namely, an uncorrupted bureaucracy to manage the regulatory agencies, licensing offices, property laws and commercial courts.

Indeed, what foreigners envy us most for is precisely the city Mr. Bush loves to bash: Washington. That is, they envy us for our alphabet soup of regulatory agencies: the S.E.C., the Federal Reserve, the F.A.A., the F.D.A., the F.B.I., the E.P.A., the I.R.S., the I.N.S. [...]

[C]ount me among those naïve fools with a fundamental belief in the federal government - not because I have no faith in ordinary Americans, but because I have no trust in ordinary Big Oil, ordinary Enron or ordinary Harken Energy to do the right thing without proper oversight.

While the folks at Enron, Worldcom, etc. systematically cooked their books, defrauded investors and raked in millions, our bureaucracies gave them all clean bills of health. Then the functioning of the free market caught up to and gutted these companies, reducing them to penny stocks. The situation got so bad that even bureaucrats could figure out something had gone wrong.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM


A Growing Gap in American Democracy : Felony disenfranchisement, coupled with very high incarceration rates, has become a major challenge to our democratic values. (SASHA ABRAMSKY, July 27, 2002, NY Times)
On July 18, Judge James Lawrence King of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed a lawsuit against Florida's disenfranchisement laws. [...]

The recent court decision neglected two important factors. The first is that Congress amended the Voting Rights Act in 1982 to remove "intent" as a necessary precondition for a finding of racial discrimination, and to replace it with a results-based test. A voting qualification that interacts with social conditions to cause an inequality in voting opportunities violates the Voting Rights Act. Because nonwhites are more likely to be arrested and convicted than whites, relative to their participation in criminal activity, felony disenfranchisement cannot but disproportionately affect African-American and Latino access to the ballot box.

The second neglected factor is that, since the 1974 ruling, America's prison population has quintupled. A recent study estimated that disenfranchisement laws now deprive as many as five million Americans of the right to vote. Numbers this large really matter. At the last election, if even a small proportion of Florida's disenfranchised population had voted, and if they had broken 60-40 in Al Gore's favor - a highly conservative estimate given the demographics of this group - George Bush would not have won an Electoral College majority. Felony disenfranchisement, coupled with very high incarceration rates, has become a major challenge to our democratic values. In a self-confident democracy, such laws simply have no place. The Brennan Center is appealing Judge King's decision. Meanwhile, state legislators must speedily abolish these vestiges of Jim Crow.

The problem with this argument is obvious enough. Jim Crow punished blacks for being black, something over which they had no control and which there is no need or justification for sanctioning. Black felons are being punished for being felons, something over which they had complete control and for which they deserve sanction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM


Defend Civilization Itself (Mark Helprin, May 24, 2002, Hillsdale College)
If civilization can be attacked on many fronts, it can also be defended on many fronts, and to do so you need not necessarily drop into Afghanistan by parachute or found a political party. Last summer, in Venice, I was walking from room to room in the Accademia, which, unlike timid American museums, throws its windows wide open to the light and air of day. As if to bring even further alive the greatness and truth of the Bellinis and the Giorgiones on the walls, the galleries were flooded with music. As is most everything in Italy, it was unofficial. It came from a guitarist and a soprano on a side street. He played while she sang--gloriously--Bach, Handel, Mozart, and anonymous folk songs of the 18th Century. Because it was music, I cannot properly convey to you how beautiful it was, but it was accomplished, precise, and infused with the ineffable quality that lifts great art above that which merely aspires to or pretends to be great art. I could not see them from the windows, but when, several hours later, I went outside, they had neither ceased, nor skipped a beat, nor produced a single false note.

They were impoverished Poles, who appeared to be in their late twenties. She was thin, sharp-featured, and hauntingly beautiful. Most people simply passed them by, some dropped a few coins in a basket at her feet, and the visitors to the Accademia had no idea who they were, but she sang as if she were bathed in the footlights of La Scala, where she should have been, and where someday she may be. It did not matter that they were unrecognized, that they sang on the street, or that they were desperately poor, because that day in Venice they rose above everyone else, except perhaps the saints. In this they shared a brotherhood with the American soldier who made the first parachute jump, in the dark, into Afghanistan. For they and he were defending the civilization of the West, and they and he are inextricably linked. Without the soldier, they could not exist except in subjugation, and without them, he would not have enough to fight for.

I ask you to join this brotherhood, and, in your own way, whatever that may be, to defend and champion the sanctity of the individual, free and objective inquiry, government by consent of the governed, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit--rather than the degradation and denial--of truth and of beauty. I ask you to defend a civilization so buoyant with the presence of God that it need never compel others in His name. I ask you to defend a civilization that rather than deliberately obscuring the difference between combatants and non-combatants, struggles to maintain and respect it. I ask you to defend a civilization of immeasurable achievement, brilliance, and freedom. I ask you to defend civilization itself.

Mark Helprin seems incapable of writing except beautifully.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM


China sentences Catholic priests to labour camp (Reuters, July 27, 2002)
China has sentenced three Catholic priests to three years in a labour camp for "cult" activities it says threaten social stability, a U.S.-based religious rights group said.

Fathers Pang Yongxing, 30, Ma Shunbao, 50, and Wang Limao, 32, all underground Roman Catholic clergy members in Baoding city in the northern province of Hebei, were sentenced on July 7 for "disturbing the peace of society", the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation said.

Police arrested Wang as he delivered mass on Palm Sunday in March, Ma while offering Easter Sunday mass a week later, and Pang in his home on December,
2001, it said in a faxed statement received on Saturday.

It said the three were being held at the Balizhuang labour camp in Baoding, around 150 km south of Beijing.

Nothing can excuse the Church's current homosexual scandals, but this too is a portrait of the priesthood and obviously a better example of what it means to be a Christian.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 AM


In funds, Bush was clear victor : He raised four times as much as Gore during Florida recount (Associated Press, 07/28/2002)
When the 2000 presidential election ended in a virtual deadlock, George W. Bush quickly raised nearly $14 million for the Florida recount fight, taking in money so quickly it surprised even his own staff.

"I think we were a little bit stunned by the amount we received," said Benjamin Ginsberg, a Bush attorney for the recount.

One of the greatest general weaknesses of Republicans is that because they are disposed to be hostile to government they tend not to fight for the opportunity to wield its power as fiercely as Democrats do. The one exception to this rule came in the battle for Florida, when the GOP seemed to finally realize just how far Democrats were willing to go to seize the reigns of government. The best illustration of this came on the day that one of the Election Boards tried closing their deliberations and a gang of suited Republicans began wilding through the halls and pounding on doors until the officials relented. These suddenly radicalized conservatives looked like nothing so much as Ward Cleaver on crack. It's no surprise to see that money came pouring into the Bush campaign's coffers from fellow Republicans across the country who were likewise confronted with the specter of the election being stolen.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 AM


While I'm clearing up my own errors, here are some links to filmographies and recommended film by John Milius and John Boorman (who I iconfused last week), and for Powers Boothe, who's worked with both :

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 AM


Here's a commentary from Black Sabbath on biotechnology and techno-meliorism generally :
Computer God (Black Sabbath, Album: Dehumanizer)

Waiting for the revolution
New clear vision - genocide
Computerize god - it's the new religion
Program the brain - not the heartbeat

Onward all you crystal soldiers
Touch tomorrow - energize
Digital dreams
And you're the next correction
Man's a mistake so we'll fix it, yeah

Take a look at your own reflection
Right before your eyes
It turns to steel

There's another side of heaven
This way - to technical paradise
Find it on the other side
When the walls fall down

Love is automatic pleasure
Virtual reality
Terminal hate - it's a calculation
Send in the child for connection

Take a look at the toys around you
Right before your eyes
The toys are real


Midnight confessions
Never heal the soul
What you believe is fantasy

Your past is your future
Left behind
Lost in time
Will you surrender

Waiting for the revolution
Program the brain
Not the heartbeat

Deliver us to evil
Deny us of our faith
Robotic hearts bleed poison
On the world we populate

Virtual existence
With a superhuman mind
The ultimate creation
Destroyer of mankind

Termination of our youth
For we do not compute
No !

July 27, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 PM


Having been duly chastised by both Annoying Old Guy and Jeff Paulsen, I now officially concede what many have suspected all along : I frequently have no idea what I'm talking about. Black Sabbath appears to be about more than biting heads off bats, as reflected in the lyrics below, which Jeff kindly pointed out. I offer a thousand apologies to Black Sabbath and their fans and will study the site that has the samples of covers of Black Sabbath tunes in 14th Century style with Latinized lyrics before I shoot my mouth off about this fine Christian band again.
"After Forever"
Have you ever thought about your soul - can it be saved?
Or perhaps you think that when you're dead you just stay in your grave
Is God just a thought within your head or is he a part of you?
Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were in school?

When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope - do you think he's a fool?
Well I have seen the truth, yes I've seen the light and I've changed my ways
And I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of our days

Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believe in God above?
They should realize before they criticize
that God is the only way to love

Is your mind so small that you have to fall
In with the pack wherever they run
Will you still sneer when death is near
And say they may as well worship the sun?

I think it was true it was people like you that crucified Christ
I think it is sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced
Will you be so sure when your day is near, say you don't believe?
You had the chance but you turned it down, now you can't retrieve

Perhaps you'll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that he's the one
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it's too late.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM


Holding Cell : WHY THE CLONING DECISION WAS WRONG. (Jerome Groopman, 07.25.02, New Republic)
An early-stage zygote is crucially different from the disabled, the deformed, the fragile young, or the fragile old. Before 14 days--the legal cutoff Britain has established for scientific research--the zygote has developed no organs, no nervous system, nor even the precursor to a nervous system. This absence of the most primitive neural anatomy means that biologically the zygote cannot receive any form of stimulation related to the senses, cannot perceive or cogitate, and thus cannot be hurt or suffer.

But, for the council's majority, this biological fact is irrelevant "[b]ecause the embryo's human and individual genetic identity is present from the start." But if potentiality alone conferred sanctity, then the single adult nucleus, which holds the genetic program of the later zygote, would also be worthy of protection. No human cell could be discarded--ever. No biopsy. No tube of blood. No vial of frozen sperm or egg. Absurd? Of course. But this is where the majority's logic leads.

One of the things you learn in Law School is that half the battle in winning an argument is framing your example or hypothetical in a way that makes it necessary to agree with you. That's what Mr. Groopman has tried here, but his example is too dishonest to serve the intended purpose. What he's doing is comparing a seed to a sprout. A bean seed contains all that will evenbtually be a bean within it. But as a seed it is mere potential. But now add water and sunlight and you get a sprout. You've initiated the process of creating a bean plant No one would argue that to leave the seed in a desk drawer is to kill it. But who would argue that to take the sprout and puree it in a blender does not kill it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM


US to host anti-Saddam talks (BBC, 27 July, 2002)
The Bush administration has invited six Iraqi opposition groups to Washington for talks on how to remove President Saddam Hussein.

This story is less interesting for its words than for its pictures. Check out the headshots they chose for Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush and you tell me which is a democratic ally of Britain and which a brutal and murderous dictator.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


The Sunny Side of the Street (BILL KELLER, July 27, 2002, NY Times)
What I'm about to propose reminds me slightly of the final scene in "The Life of Brian," in which the faux messiah and his followers, hanging crucified on a row of crosses, burst into happy song: "Always look on the bri-ight side of life!" But you don't really have to be in a Monty Python mood to think that the cascade of grim tidings from Wall Street is, in many ways, good for us.

I know the accounting scandals, bankruptcies and vaporized stock values have caused real pain. With deep sympathy for the victims, though, it seems to me this is one of those inevitable, chastening moments from which the country may benefit in important ways - is, in fact, already starting to benefit. [...]

There is no reason voters' wrath should be reserved for Republicans. Democrats like Tom Daschle and Joseph Lieberman and Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer, for example, have helped smother important corporate reforms, and there are plenty of Congressional Democrats who act like wholly owned subsidiaries of special interests.

But the Democrats enjoy the distinct advantage of running against a party and a president that put the lazy in laissez-faire, the party of the post-Enron shrug, the party of Harken and Halliburton, the party of the Enron-tainted Army Secretary Thomas White. The Democrats get to run against Harvey Pitt, who, whatever his skills as S.E.C. chairman, must be the most politically tone-deaf man to serve in Washington since Earl Butz, who memorably justified junk-food school lunch programs by declaring that ketchup is a vegetable.

In addition to making the absurd claim that declining wealth is worthwhile because it teaches us a good lesson--in much the same way one supposes that the Depression was a beneficial rebuke to Smoot-Hawley or famine in Africa a valuable commentary on Marxist economies or that AIDs teaches healthy lessons about sexual behavior or , as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were roundly condemned for saying, that 9-11 taught us about God's judgement on the decline of our culture?--I believe that Mr. Keller whiffed on the Earl Butz bit. As I recall, it was during the Reagan administration that the Ketchup hullabaloo exploded. Mr. Butz was Secretary of Agriculture under Gerald Ford and told a racist joke about blacks during a plane ride and it was revealed by a journalist. I assume Mr. Keller confused the two. If anyone edited the Times any more they might have caught that.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


Costs of Targeting Civilians : In an age when global public opinion is of dramatically increased importance, killing citizens only undermines a nation's force in both the field and the international arena. (CALEB CARR, July 27, 2002, NY Times)
The Israeli government's decision to launch an assassination raid on the Gaza City residence of Sheikh Salah Shehada, leader of the military arm of the Palestinian group Hamas, brought immediate and widespread condemnation not only from Muslims but from Western leaders (including the Bush administration) and even elements of the Israeli government. The reason was not Mr. Shehada's death - he was a senior participant in suicide attacks against Israel - but the fact that the Israeli military and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon understood that the attack in a densely populated neighborhood, at night, would result in many civilian deaths. The raid was nonetheless ordered - and the world received its clearest demonstration yet that the Israeli government is prepared to knowingly inflict substantial civilian casualties in its response to Palestinian suicide attacks.

But the Israeli strike in Gaza has proved terribly self-defeating. The Sharon government is more diplomatically isolated than ever, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two Palestinian groups widely reported to have been considering a trial cessation of attacks against civilians, now say they will step up their assaults. Should more suicide attacks take place, however, they will in turn further undermine the Palestinian cause.

Mr. Carr has gotten this bee in his bonnet and can't seem to get rid of it. But his book on the topic is flawed by terrible inconsistencies and this column makes little sense. One would first of all note that both Israel and Arafat's Palestine are the products of terrorism. The Jews drove the British out of the region with terrorism and the Palestinians got their "Authority", which is a state in all but name, by killing innocent Jews. It is particularly odd then to argue that terror is self-defeating between two entities which owe their existence to it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM


Bush Wins Victory as House Passes Trade Legislation (ALISON MITCHELL, July 27, 2002, NY Times)
The House early this morning delivered a major victory to President Bush, voting 215-212 to approve a broad trade package that would give him the authority to negotiate trade deals that he has called essential for economic growth. [...]

The vote was largely along party lines with 190 Republicans and 25 Democrats voting for the bill. 183 Democrats and 27 Republicans opposed it.

Once again we see which is the party of Free Trade. And in a related story : U.S. Proposes to Cut Global Farm Subsidies (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 26, 2002)
The Bush administration, criticized overseas for supporting a huge increase in American farm subsidies this year, said today it was prepared to seek reductions worldwide as part of a global trade agreement.

The proposal was included in a negotiating package the administration unveiled in advance of World Trade Organization farm negotiations to resume next week in Geneva.

"This plan is a win for America's farmers, ranchers and consumers and also a win for the global economy," the United States trade representative, Robert B. Zoellick, said at a news conference.

The administration will seek a ban on export subsidies, payments provided to increase foreign sales, and sharp cuts in domestic support provided to farmers to raise production.

Having proven himself willing to protect Amrerican interests, President Bush has allayed fears of Republican lawmakers that trade agreements might punish American goods and put the fear of God in Europeans who thought they could get away with subsidizing their own farmers and industries because we are so committed to free trade for ourselves. Having waved the big stick, we can now talk softly in ensuing negotiations
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM


Obituary: Salah Shehada : Military leader. Died in his late 40s. (New Zealand Herald, 27.07.2002)
To the Palestinians, Salah Shehada was an Islamic hero in life and a martyr in death.

To the Israelis, he was a master terrorist who sent his men to murder hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers over more than a decade. He topped Israel's list of most-wanted men. [...]

Shehada served as the commander of Hamas fighters in the northern Gaza Strip, but Israel also held him responsible for deadly operations within its borders and on the West Bank.

These included suicide bombings of a pizza parlour, a coffee shop and a pedestrian precinct in Jerusalem, a Tel Aviv discotheque, and the Passover-eve attack on a crowded Netanya hotel dining-room.

The Israelis say he was also behind the killing in March of five students in Gaza and of 19 passengers on a Jerusalem bus in June.

Palestinian sources confirmed the scope and lethal impact of his activities. He saw civilians as legitimate targets.

This is what conservatives mean when we complain about moral relativism. The author of this execrable obituary is apparently unable to draw any conclusion about whether the Israeli view or the Palestinian view of Shehada is correct despite his actions and his view that it's okay to kill civilians. Implicit in the author's "evenhandedness" is the notion that intentionally murdering innocents for no other reason than to spread terror could indeed be heroic. To call him a "military leader" is to do a disservice to everyone who has ever donned a uniform and fought for their country against the combatants of another country.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 AM


The Private Interest (PAUL KRUGMAN, July 26, 2002, NY Times)
[G]eorge W. Bush still wants to party like it's 1999. On Wednesday he insisted that he continued to favor partially privatizing Social Security. [...]

Mr. Bush first proposed privatizing Social Security back when people still believed that stocks only go up. Even then his proposal made no sense; as I've explained before, it was based on the claim that 2-1=4, that you can divert the payroll taxes of younger workers into personal accounts and still pay promised benefits to older workers. But now even the nonsensical promise that individual accounts would earn stock market returns looks pretty unappealing. So why does he keep pushing the idea?

If Mr. Krugman wants to oppose things like the free market on political grounds that's fine, but isn't he supposed to have some negligible comprehension of economics as the premise for his column?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 AM


Gore Questions Iraq Invasion Timing (WILL LESTER, July 25, 2002, Associated Press)
Al Gore told young Democrats on Thursday that he supports the overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein but questioned whether it is a good idea to invade Iraq now.

Well, let's see, he decided to support the first Gulf War after bargaining with Republicans for a prime speaking spot during Senate deliberations. Presumably if President Bush let him address the nation Mr. Gore would think the time is now right.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 AM


Independent Rep. Goode Switching to Republican (Reuters, 7/26/02)
U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, a former conservative Democrat turned independent, formally announced on Thursday he will switch party affiliation on Aug. 1 to Republican.

On the one hand, the loss of Goode, Traficant, and Condit--and maybe Jim Moran--doesn't affect voting in the House much, because all three (or four) were moderate or even reasonably conservative. But it's still a terrible thing for the Democrats. They continue to shed conservatives and moderates, making for a party that is really nothing more than the sum of its leftist special interest groups and therefore obligated to vote in certain prescribed ways on most issues, with no freedom of thought or dissent allowed. We see this particularly on things like abortion, affirmative action, socialized medicine, school choice, and saw it on impeachment.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 AM


Quebec to Force Doctors Back to Emergency Rooms (Reuters, July 25, 2002)
A desperate Quebec government prepared on Thursday night to pass legislation to force angry doctors back from holidays to ease the chronic staff shortages in emergency rooms. [...]

The Parti Quebecois government is hoping on Thursday night to pass legislation that will alienate the powerful doctor federations in the Canadian province of 7.3 million people.

Furious doctors demonstrated against the proposed law in Quebec City on Thursday and said it would only increase tensions with the government. They have threatened to challenge the law in the courts and resign en masse. Four doctors working in the Shawinigan area resigned on Thursday in protest.

This is the health care system that Democrats want to impose here? Thank God for the Buchanan voters of Palm Beach.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:03 AM


Jails to release hundreds of worst inmates (Richard Ford, July 27, 2002, Times of London)
NINE hundred of the worst troublemakers in prisons in England and Wales are to be set free after a European Court of Human Rights ruling.

Jail officials ordered emergency action amid fears that the Home Office faces multimillion-pound compensation claims from inmates held beyond their release date after their sentences were increased for bad behaviour inside. [...]

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: ³The European Court of Human Rights . . . found unanimously that a punishment of additional days breached Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a fair trial) because cases are heard by a prison governor without legal representation.

The court ruling destroyed a key part of the procedures under which governors acting as judge and jury in the 138 jails in England and Wales punish prisoners for breaches of discipline.

Presumably even the deracinated Brits will eventually get tired of this kind of loss of sovereignty. After all, what was the point of the last thoiusand years of British history if their just going to be run by French and German bureaucrats anyway?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:48 AM


Ruling may mean end of Mojave cross : The ACLU convinces a judge that a religious symbol has no place on public land. (JOHN WELSH, 07/25/2002, THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE)
A 6-foot cross in the Mojave National Preserve must go, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union argued the cross violated the Constitution because it was a religious symbol on public land, and U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Timlin of Riverside ruled in their favor.

The cross atop an outcropping 11 miles south of Interstate 15 between Barstow and Las Vegas dates to 1934.

A prospector, John "Riley" Bembry, raised a cross to honor World War I veterans and asked a friend, almost as a dying wish, to make sure it remained there.

earlier in the week we asked : No pledge, no flag, no...?. well, here's the answer. Presumably we'll now have to rip out all the religious headstones at Arlington?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:43 AM


Bush and Blair agree terms for Iraq attack : Military hatch new option for invasion (Simon Tisdall and Richard Norton-Taylor, July 27, 2002, The Guardian)
Tony Blair has privately told George Bush that Britain will support an American attack on Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to accept resumed UN weapons inspections.

President Bush's "understanding", based on conversations with the prime minister, is that he can count on Mr Blair, according to well-placed Bush administration officials.

The agreement between the leaders comes as diplomatic, military and intelligence sources revealed details of a new plan for the invasion of Iraq, which could take place sooner than had previously been presumed.

The plan involves a slimmed-down force of around 50,000 troops, which could be deployed within a matter of days.

It had been widely assumed that the US could not deploy sufficient numbers of troops needed for the task before the end of this year at the earliest.

Now senior officials are saying a sudden military strike could be launched as soon as October.

It certainly doesn't hurt that such an invasion would coincide with crunch time in the midterm elections here in the States.

July 26, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 PM


Black Sabbath Songs Recorded in Latin (MICHAEL TARM, July 26, 2002, Associated Press)
An Estonian record company has released an album of Black Sabbath songs played by a quintet specializing in music from the Middle Ages and singing in the main literary language of that era, Latin.

"If you take away the massive wall of sound from many Sabbath songs, what you have is pure 14th century music," producer Mihkel Raud claimed Friday. "Really."

The 12-track album - called "Sabbatum," Latin for "sabbath" - includes "Wheels of Confusion" ("Rotae Confusionis") and "War Pigs" ("Verres Militares") in slow, minimalist versions that wouldn't seem out of place at mass in the Sistine Chapel.

Other than the presence of an enormous number of buboes, what similarity does Black Sabbath bear to the 14th Century.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:08 PM

THE TIGER'S IN THE TANK (via Glenn Dryfoos, once-proud Princetonian) :

Yale Accuses Princeton in Hack Attack (JESSICA GARRISON, July 26 2002, LA Times)
Yale University told the FBI on Thursday that fellow Ivy League institution Princeton hacked into its online admissions notification system and looked through student files during the peak college admissions period in April.

Princeton apologized for the snooping, suspended its director of admissions and promised to conduct an internal investigation and cooperate with other investigators.

Yale said Princeton admissions officials used students' birth dates and Social Security numbers, apparently gleaned from the students' Princeton applications, to see confidential admissions decisions on 11 students who applied to both universities.

What the heck has happened to Princeton? It used to be the best college in the world, now they're hiring that mau-mauing embarrassment to the intellect, Cornel West, and trying to pilfer students from Yale, of all places. Yale should be a safety school for Princeton applicants, not a rival.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:04 PM


Lawyers target Omagh bomb suspects (Kevin Smith, 26 July, 2002, Reuters)
In a landmark legal case, lawyers acting for relatives of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing have served writs on the men they blame for the bloodiest single attack in Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict.

In the opening steps in a civil action believed to represent a first in legal history, and that has already attracted attention from Israel, Spain and the United States, writs were served on five men in the Irish republic on Friday.

Twenty-nine people died, including a woman pregnant with twins, and 200 were injured when the Real IRA -- the dissident republican group opposed to the province's peace process -- detonated a 500lb (225kg) bomb in the market town of Omagh on a busy Saturday afternoon in August 1998. [...]

Early on Friday, writs were served at the homes of Seamus Daly and Seamus McKenna in Dundalk, County Louth, close to the Irish border. While the men did not answer the door, a solicitor in the case said he was satisfied the writs had been served.

Later, writs were served on three prisoners at Portlaoise jail, south of the Irish capital Dublin -- Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, and Colm Murphy who is the only person so far to have been convicted of an offence in connection with the blast. [...]

The Omagh attack came just months after the signing of the Good Friday peace agreement aimed at ending three decades of bloodshed. More than 3,600 people were killed in the conflict.

In an exquisite irony it was this contemptible attack that finished off the IRA for good as a political force. Hopefully lawsuits like this one will bankrupt them too. There's no difference between them and Hamas.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM


Top Democrats Disagree on Trade Bill Deal (DOUG PALMER, 7/26/02, Reuters)
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on Friday backed a compromise agreement that would boost the White House's ability to negotiate new trade pacts, but the House of Representative's top Democrat said he would work to defeat it. [...]

[H]ouse Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat, said the final trade package "still contains many of the problems it contained" in an earlier House bill. He said House Democrats would attempt to defeat the measure when it comes to a vote, which could be as early as Friday. [...]

The White House has not had the negotiating authority since 1994 mainly because of Democratic Party concerns over the effect of trade agreements on workers and the environment.

There's been a great deal of inane talk that President Bush's politically motivated steel tariff decision meant an end to GOP support of free trade. But, as the trade authority voting shows, it continues to be Democrats (with the notable exception of Bill Clinton) who oppose trade. This bill, which could essentially extend NAFTA to the entire Western Hemisphere, is more important than any of the stock market stories of the last several weeks. But don't look for our headline on the NY Times tomorrow, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM


The Dangers of an Unexplained War (Richard Cohen, July 25, 2002, Washington Post)
Now we are in the planning stages for another war -- the one to topple Saddam Hussein. I happen to support that goal, for reasons that seem obvious. Hussein may be developing nuclear as well as chemical and biological weapons. He has already used chemical weapons against both Iran and Iraq's Kurdish population. It would be folly to sit around and wait to see what he will do with nuclear weapons.

But my position, arrived at in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, is a lot less firm that it once was. Partially that's because the threat of terrorism has receded some. But mostly it's because the Bush administration has yet to make a clear case for war with Iraq. In fact, the more it talks about Hussein and Iraq, the more confused I get.

I agree with Perle and, by extension, Bush in their goals. A world without Saddam Hussein is going to be a better place. And I agree also that toppling Hussein might be easier than some expect. He rules by terror, not with popular support. Maybe his army won't fight. Maybe his chums will turn on him.

But just as Vietnam got harder and harder, so might the war against Hussein prove harder and more brutal than we expect. The United States can take casualties, but only if it understands why. War plans are being drawn up in the Pentagon. But explanations are lacking at the White House.

So let's see if we have this straight, the reasons for toppling Saddam are "obvious" but the "United States" doesn't understand "why" we should do it and the White House hasn't offered "explanations"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 AM


Questions on Bush's war on Iraq (James Carroll, 7/23/2002, Boston Globe)
We Americans find ourselves in the extraordinary position of witnessing our government's slow but certain movement toward a major war with Iraq.

Such open maneuvering, with clear statements of intention from the Bush administration, the leaking of war plans from the Pentagon, and the acquiescence of Congress, could not have happened when US power was balanced, and therefore checked, by the Soviet Union, nor when that power was mitigated by Washington's regard for world opinion. Now the only conceivable check on the sole superpower is the will of its own people, manifest through politics, which is why we must urgently take up the subject. [...]

The obvious difference between Iraq and the United States is that this nation is a democracy. That means that we US citizens are responsible for the behavior of George W. Bush in ways that the people of Iraq are not responsible for Saddam Hussein. There is good reason to believe that Bush, in his highly personal, irrational, and thoroughly Manichaean campaign against Hussein, has set the very world on a course toward disaster. No one can change that course but us.

What's most interesting about this column, which is otherwise just a rather stale defense of a brutal regime by someone who's used to defending them, is that Mr. Carroll seems utterly incapable of grasping his own message. He is absolutely right that, in a democracy, when we go to war it will be a war of the American people against Saddam Hussein and his government. We will all bear responsibility for it.

July 25, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 PM


The cost of home loans tumbles as interest rates keep heading lower; is the bottom near? (CNN/Money, July 25, 2002)
Thirty-year mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in 31 years as interest rates have fallen along with stock prices, but economists warned Thursday that rates may be nearing a bottom.

Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year mortgage loan rates averaged 6.34 percent this week, with an average of 0.6 of a point payable up front to the lender. This is the lowest level for 30-year fixed-rate loans since the firm began tracking mortgage rates 31 years ago.

Here's further evidence--if we needed any--that the Fed has interest rates way to high.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 PM


John Entwistle died when the drug caused a heart attack (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 7/25/02)
John Entwistle, the 57-year-old bass player for the rock band The Who, died from a heart attack caused by cocaine use, the Clark County coroner said Thursday. Coroner Ron Flud ruled the death accidental and said it was not an overdose.

Entwistle was one of the band's founders. Another original member, drummer Keith Moon, died in 1978 of a drug overdose at the age of 32.

A quarter century later and he dies alone in a hotel room, age 57, from drug use. That's pitiful. Wouldn't it have been better to just grow up?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 PM


Daly injured hand during British Open (Reuters)
John Daly is so determined to play in this week's Dutch Open on the European Tour, the former double-major winner is defying medical advice and using Superglue to bond a wound on his hand.

Daly also revealed on Wednesday that he played 13 holes at last week's British Open one-handed. [...]

"I played the last 13 holes at Muirfield basically one-handed. It might have been one of the best rounds I ever played. I was hitting it solid, even though it was pretty hard to get feeling on chip shots.

"The piece of glass was stuck in the bone and it had been there for years. I must have jarred it and dislodged it."

That's just freakin' cool...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 PM


The Cheney Innuendo : The media and Democrats gin up a phony Halliburton scandal. (Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2002)
Once upon a time reporters tried to distinguish real crooks from political targets of opportunity. And as we inspect the evidence, or rather the lack of it, Halliburton clearly has been swept up in the media and political dragnet solely because Dick Cheney worked for it from 1995 to 2000. The only substantive issue is a change Halliburton made in 1998 in how it accounted for cost overruns on multiyear construction projects. In olden days it would have counted up its profits when the work was done. But that method would hardly satisfy the IRS, which wants profits counted quarterly so it can tax them. Nor would it work for investors and creditors, who need to know if projects are proceeding profitably.

The standard solution is "percentage of completion" accounting. Companies keep a running estimate of their costs and profits on work that has not yet
been paid for or even billed. Halliburton's ostensible sin was including in revenues those cost overruns that it expected clients eventually to agree to pay.

But if you understand the accounting method, it's hard to figure what the critics are going on about. All revenues and profits booked under percentage-of-completion are necessarily provisional. The IRS even mandates a "look-back" when a project is finished to substitute final numbers for the
estimates. And treating overruns as 100% uncollectable would be as cavalier as assuming they'll all be paid in full. The numbers here are small in relation to Halliburton's overall revenues in any case, only $89 million in 1998 out of $17 billion total.

The numbers are naturally larger in relation to profits, though like any accounting system, percentage-of-completion depends on management being
motivated to paint an accurate picture. A company can basically report a profit simply by incurring a cost--a temptation that produced the Frigitemp fraud of the mid-1970s. But 10 of the 15 largest construction companies use the same accounting method as Halliburton adopted in 1998. And according to an annual survey of the Construction Financial Management Association, so do half of the companies in the industry. Are they all crooks?

So why doesn't Cheney demand the hearings and go by himself to testify? He can clear this up, score big political points and start restoring confidence in our corporate leadership?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 PM


Conservative "Dismay" at the Times : The New York Times says religious conservatives are unhappy with John Ashcroft. Which is news to them. (Jonathan V. Last, 07/24/2002, Weekly Standard)
WEDNESDAY'S New York Times carried a front-page article by Neil A. Lewis headlined "Ashcroft's Terrorism Policies Dismay Some Conservatives." Lewis asserts that Attorney General John Ashcroft is becoming unpopular with religious conservatives who fear that their organizations may be investigated under new anti-terror legislation. Can this possibly be true?

To make his case, Lewis quotes Grover Norquist, the Washington lobbyist and head of Americans for Tax Reform, as saying, Ashcroft's "religious base is now quite troubled by what he's done." [...]

For several years, [Grover] Norquist has been trying to convince Republicans that Muslims are a natural GOP constituency (see Franklin Foer's informative New Republic piece on Norquist, Fevered Pitch. September 11 threw a spanner in the works of Norquist's project, especially as American Muslim groups reacted with ambivalence, if not hostility, to the fact that the war on terrorism, of necessity, would focus on Arabs. In the ongoing struggle between these groups and the Justice Department, Norquist has been a consistent critic of Ashcroft. This is also in keeping with Norquist's longstanding, anti-government brand of conservatism--his so-called "leave-us-alone coalition," which has been a harder sell since last September. Not that Norquist has relented. After the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, he kept his powder dry for less than a week. By September 17, he was denouncing Ashcroft's plans for the war on terror as "a real danger for civil liberties."

So Norquist has an Islamo-libertarian axe to grind. Bully for him. But that makes him doubly unreliable as a guide to the feelings of "religious conservatives"--unless by that phrase the Times means Norquist's American Muslim allies, who are, indeed, dismayed by Ashcroft's policies.

It must suck to work at the NY Times now and have people actually check your stories. Of course, the Times no longer has editors apparently, but out in the ether, folks are watching.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


EUROPE AS A WACKY ALIEN CULTURE (Alex Whitlock, 7/25/02, RAWbservations)
Somewhere in the massive collection I amassed a few years back, there is a Superman comic book where Supes was recruited to protect an alien culture from an aggressive neighbor. The culture believed that violence was wrong, but was baffled as to what to do when confronted by a violent enemy. Since they were incapable of fighting back, they called on Superman because they had heard he was good at that sort of thing. Superman being Superman, he selflessly agreed to go out there and put the meanies in their place. After he had won, the aliens did not show him a bit of gratitude. He asked them if he had done something wrong, they answered that he had used violence. They abhored violence. It was time for him to leave. He would not be welcome back.

Alex Whitlock uses this terrific reference to explore European attitudes towards their own defense, or lack of any, though he tails off badly at the end. :)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:00 PM


Falling Dollar, Rising Debt : The market is crumbling, accounting's a mess -- and we owe the rest of the world about a quarter of our GDP. (Jeff Faux, 7.18.02, American Prospect)
The fundamental problem is that for the past quarter-century, we Americans have been spending more on imports than we have been earning from exports. And given our shop-till-we-drop culture, we do not save enough out of our national income to cover the difference. So in order to raise the money to buy their goods, we've been borrowing more from foreigners (by selling them American bonds) and selling them our assets (U.S. stocks and other property). The result has been a growing annual deficit in what's called the "current account" -- the net amount we owe to foreigners for goods, services, interest and dividends over what they owe us. By the end of last year, our accumulated current account deficits -- our total foreign debt -- amounted to 23 percent of our gross domestic product. Economists at Goldman Sachs predict that if we continue on our current trajectory, our foreign debt will amount to 40 percent of GDP by 2006. Like any enterprise whose debt payments are mounting faster than its income, we cannot go on like this.

I don't get it. Ed Johnson down the street just borrowed $125,000 to put his kid through college. Ed's got a job that pays $50,000 a year. He's about half way done paying off his home mortgage (120k house). He owes $5,000 on a credit card. He has $100,000 in in his 401k. He's got no savings account. So if I'm following Mr. Faux, Ed is in catastrophic shape because his current account deficit is about four times his GDP. I'd better go tell him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:28 PM


The other day Maureen Dowd wrote a column, about how all liberal politicians imitate JFK, that was so stupid that just reading it nearly drained my will to live, and certainly killed any thought of responding. But thankfully there are stronger men than I in the Blogosphere and the indispensable H. D. Miller has risen to this challenge : J.F.K. Envy (H.D. Miller, July 24, 2002, Travelling Shoes)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM


Earlier in the week we posted a blurb from a Nicholas Kristof op-ed in the NY Times and our (my) reaction. As is not uncommon here, the comments about what I'd written were significantly better than the original and were uniformly thoughtful and interesting. So if you feel a sense of deja vu, don't worry; the following is a repeat of the original post and then the text of the comments it provoked. [Editor's Note : some of the comments were rearranged or deleted but none were altered, neither genetically nor phonetically.]

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:33 PM

EU DELUSIONS (via Barry Meislin) :

Iran's dialogue of deceit (Michael Rubin, July 22, 2002, Jerusalem Post)
Many European officials like to work under the illusion that the Islamic Republic is moderating, but the truth is actually quite the opposite.

Proponents of critical dialogue with Iran base their optimism upon the lofty rhetoric of officials such as Iranian President Muhammad Khatami, often labeled a reformer by the Western press. Much of what Khatami says does sound good. Addressing the Italian parliament in March 1999, he declared, "Tolerance and exchange of views are the fruits of cultural richness, creativity, high-mindedness and harmony. One must recognize this opportunity."

Unfortunately, like Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Khatami reserves his conciliatory tone for gullible foreign diplomats, parliamentarians, and academics. He speaks with a far different voice in Farsi to his domestic audience. In a televised address on October 24, 2000, for example, he declared, "In the Koran, God commanded to kill the wicked and those who do not see the rights of the oppressed... If we abide by human laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic World for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime... If we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill." [...]

On April 15, France, Belgium and four other EU members endorsed a UN Human Rights Commission resolution condoning "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a Palestinian state. With billions of dollars of trade at stake, European foreign ministers and commentators seek to excuse Iranian-funded anti-Israel terror as a "liberation struggle," despite the deliberate targeting of civilians. Such self-delusion is made easier because Khatami projects a gentle image of Iran with lofty rhetoric of a "Dialogue of Civilizations."

Sometimes, though, action speaks louder than words. There has been no decline in Iranian terrorism; under Khatami, it has surged, although often outside the spotlight of the West. Teheran has interpreted Europe's engagement as a license to conduct business as usual. If Europe's rapprochement
with Iran continues, not only will Israel remain a victim of an unrepentant Iran, but also Jordanians, Turks, Kurds, and Iranians living abroad will have a very real reason to live in fear.

Europeans like to think of themselves as mature and sophisticated elder partners in the North Atlantic Alliance, riding herd on the impetuous and unenlightened Americans. But it may be time to start asking whether the Europeans--who refuse to even face up to their own domestic problems--any longer understand, if they ever did, the geopolitical problems in the world or whether, like our own State Department, they are so wedded to the status quo that they always choose stability, no matter how awful the situation. These are after all the same folks who have been caught off guard by every revolution in Western history and who thought the USSR was eternal. Similarly, they now think that radical Islam and Communist China are going to endure, that billions of people will choose oppression over freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING (via the great Patrick Ruffini):

Bush Continues to Back Privatized Social Security (Amy Goldstein, July 25, 2002, Washington Post)
The White House yesterday stood firmly behind President Bush's plan for workers to divert some of their Social Security payroll taxes into the stock market, despite the dramatic drops Wall Street has suffered in recent months.

[White House press secretary Ari] Fleischer made clear that Bush continues to favor permitting Americans to take a portion of the taxes they ordinarily contribute to the Social Security trust fund and invest it on their own. "That would include markets," Fleischer said. "Nothing has changed his views about allowing younger workers to have those options." [...]

The White House's reminder that Bush wants to overhaul Social Security comes as the administration is redoubling its efforts to draw attention to strong points in the economy. The remarks about the retirement system, on a day when the stock market rose after nine weeks of historic declines, typify an administration that has prized consistency in its policy positions, rather than shifting with changed circumstances. [...]

For now, the White House essentially is speaking into a legislative vacuum. Republicans, fearing that the volatile issue could prove damaging in the elections this fall, persuaded Bush last winter that Congress should not consider any Social Security reforms until 2003. Now some in the party are suggesting that debate should be deferred until after the 2004 presidential election.

House Republicans have distanced themselves from Bush's ideas -- at least rhetorically -- by passing a bill that promised not to "privatize" the retirement system, although many in the party still favor what they now call "individual investments." House Democrats are trying to force a vote on the president's proposal, believing that a debate may prove politically advantageous during a season of investment losses and corporate scandals.

Republicans should accept this challenge from the Democrats and ram it down their throats. Have a full vote in both houses on privatizing the system and let people see which party believes in capitalism, free markets, people being responsible for themselves, etc. Then crank up the ads about the current state of the system, ghow much more people could realize in returns if they invest themselves, and as the market starts rallying put up one of those little charts with the arrow showing how much a simple index fund has gone up since the day of the vote.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 AM


Is Fighting Iraq Worth the Risks? (MICHAEL E. O'HANLON and PHILIP H. GORDON, July 25, 2002, NY Times)
A military operation to remove Mr. Hussein, however, would be the most momentous use of force by the United States since the Vietnam War. If President Bush undertakes such a mission, it will dominate the remainder of his term, radically reshape the politics of the Persian Gulf and Middle East, and have major repercussions for the global economy. Yet there has been little debate about the pros and cons of such a war. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings planned for next week will be a start, but only a start.

The track record suggests that the United States can continue to contain Saddam Hussein without war, just as we deterred the Soviets during the Cold War and just as we have contained North Korea for half a century.

Since the authors chose the examples, it also seems worth asking whether America, the Middle East, and the Iraqi people can better afford a fifty year standoff in Iraq. We're fond of patting ourselves on the back over our cost free, bloodless victory over the USSR in the Cold War, but in fact while we dithered millions died at the hands of the Soviets. Even worse from a selfishly American perspective, the expense of maintaining a virtual war footing from 1945, when we could have decommissioned most of the military as we had after every prior war, until the 1990s, when the USSR ceased to exist, did enormous damage to our economy, consuming trillions of dollars to no good end and saddling us, perhaps permanently, with a leviathan social welfare state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:06 AM


Blind Cuban presses fight for human rights : They've taken his cane and dark glasses but not his resolve (TRACEY EATON, 07/19/2002 , The Dallas Morning News)
His dark glasses and cane are gone. So is his Braille Bible.

Juan Carlos Gonz‡lez, a blind political activist jailed in March, doesn't have much left. Not even his health, he tells his wife in letters from his jail cell.

But, he writes her, he'd "rather be insane or dead" than give up his fight for human rights in Cuba.

Mr. Gonz‡lez, a 37-year-old lawyer, is among the scores of dissidents working to bring change to this country even after Cuban lawmakers in June voted to make socialism "irreversible." [...]

Mr. Gonz‡lez says he'll continue seeking reforms, even if it kills him.

"If I die, I will die content knowing that I was defending the cause of God," he wrote. "I do not fear death."

In the post-Socialist, post-Castro Cuba, may schoolchildren recall those words as we here in NH recall John Stark's : "Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils."

July 24, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 PM


Rumsfeld not taking homeland security post (United Press International, July 24, 2002)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not head the new Office of Homeland Security, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Wednesday.

She quoted a brief hand-scrawled note sent quickly down from one of Rumsfeld's top advisers, Chief of Staff Larry di Rita.

"On the secretary, no truth to the rumor at all, exclamation point," she read aloud.

Geez--we don't even get to speculate overnight? The speeded up news cycle stinks, huh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 PM


Rumsfeld may quit Pentagon to take on top Homeland role (The Hill)
White House insiders say President Bush may ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to assume command of the new Department of Homeland Security when Congress completes work on the massive government reorganization plan in the months to come.

Under this scenario, Rumsfeld's Pentagon post would go to his top deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, a veteran administrator who has also held several key diplomatic posts.

This would be a homerun. You'd put someone who has extensive experience running massive operations in charge of Homeland Security which is going to be even more of a bureaucrat nightmare than the rest of our bloated government while all the agencies try to integrate themselves. Meanwhile, you'd get continuity at Defense and a guy who's a real hawk in the Middle East. Hard to see why Rumsfeld would do it though, unless he is just a supreme patriot, which shouldn't be ruled out.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM


The End of Herstory (Kay S. Hymowitz, Summer 2002, City Journal)
The difficult truth is that the very economy that stirs the imaginations and ambitions of young people-that makes them work 80 hours a week in a start-up business, that makes them want to learn new skills or take on extra duties so that they can get promoted or start their own businesses-is the same economy that will never be especially family-friendly and that often leaves even ambitious working mothers behind. Those who long for the Western European model, with its shorter workweeks, longer vacation times, and generous maternity and paternity leaves, fail to see that those more regulated economies also produce less excitement, less creativity, less opportunity, less money, less of what I've called 'ecstatic capitalism.' Western European workers don't work as hard; they also don't have as many opportunities to create new businesses, develop new skills, and get rich.

Many women seem to understand this reality. A number of those I interviewed said that their crisis-driven jobs made part-time hours either impossible or a sure route
to less interesting assignments. They did not blame their employers; they were quick to admit that if you tell clients that the person handling their case or account won't
be in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you're going to lose them. All of the co-parenting fathers in Levine's book have had to give up not just Saturday golf
but also dreams of writing a novel or of making partner. In such marriages, women are not the only ones who can't have it all. To these couples, everybody wins-Levine's male subjects appear pleased with how close they are to their children; but everybody loses, too.

The more immediate point, however, is that while younger women are struggling with how to balance work and family, they have said good-bye to the radical dreams of

In effect, Feminism declared war on Biology, on the idea that women should have and raise children and will want to. It should come as no surprise that Biology won the war. The wisdom of thousands of years of human tradition could have predicted the outcome for you.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM


Bush drops Iran reformists and backs dissidents (Toby Harnden, 24/07/2002, Daily Telegraph)
President George W Bush has abandoned attempts to woo reformist elements in the Iranian government and is now publicly backing dissidents determined to overthrow the regime.

The decision follows a fierce battle between Washington hardliners and Colin Powell, the secretary of state, who had argued that President Mohammad Khatami's reform programme should be encouraged.

This hardening of attitude towards Iran is another divergence between Britain and America on foreign policy. Tony Blair has argued privately that lines to Mr Khatami should be kept open.

The most interesting thing about this story is really that the rest of Europe and most of the "smart people" here think it's a waste to even back Khatami, because they don't think reform can happen and would err on the side of stability. Yet Mr. Bush has moved well beyond Khatami to support a genuine counterrevolution in Iran. People continue to underestimate just how potent a force freedom can be once the idea is in the air.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:55 PM


Uganda may be on its way to wiping out AIDS by using a strategy based on chastity and fidelity, according to findings in a Harvard University study. The Harvard study credits abstinence education with "significant effectiveness in reducing AIDS in Uganda ... with the HIV infection rate dropping 50 percent between the years 1992 and 2000."

Uganda uses billboards, radio announcements, and chastity-based curricula to promote abstinence and faithfulness. The result has been a gradual, steady drop in HIV infection rates. If the report is welcomed honestly and with a real commitment to reduce suffering, then Uganda could become a model for worldwide AIDS prevention.

Harvard's study found that from the late 1980s to 2001, the number of pregnant women infected with HIV dropped from 21.2 percent to 6.2 percent
By contrast in Botswana, where condoms are officially promoted as the solution rather than part of the problem, 38 percent of pregnant women were HIV-positive in 2001.

"Much of the program's success," reports said, "is due to the nation's willingness to look beyond the sexual revolution to the past, before the adoption of corrupt Western sexual mores." The study found Ugandan adults were less promiscuous from 1989 to 2000: of women 15 and older, those reporting multiple sexual partners dropped from 18.4 percent to 2.5 percent.

Who'd a thunk it? You can reduce the spread of a sexually transmitted disease by restoring traditional sexual teachings. Revolutionary. Well, actually, counterrevolutionary.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:13 PM


A subaltern or a general? : European leaders are as uneasy as their citizens about their role vis-a-vis the US. Soon, they must make a choice--and their decision will change the world for ever. (John Lloyd, 22nd July 2002, New Statesman)
For the past decade, since the end of the Soviet Union, we have been confused about the shape of the world and about the strategic role that Europe can play. But now, as the US begins to clarify its own stance, the options become more apparent. There are four in all.

The first option is to be a willing subaltern to the US. Many say that is what the UK - even the European Union - already is. But it isn't seen that way from the US, and it certainly isn't an overt choice - rather, the European role is more one of unwilling subaltern, who recognises, even on his own continent (Bosnia and Kosovo), that he cannot do much without the US. [...]

The opposite of the willing subaltern is the captain of his fate. That option is available in either the united or disunited Europe option. The first involves a European military structure with command and control, multinational forces and joint defence procurement. The European military superpower would then have the size, resources, intelligence and leadership to counterbalance the US military. It would not oppose it: initially at least, it would try to complement it, running joint exercises and preparing to fight common foes. [...]

What of the disunited Europe option? This would involve the maintenance of national defence postures that would go every which way - though not, one would assume, against each other. The larger, nuclear-armed states (Britain and France) would presumably keep the remnants of a global role and would intervene to protect their interests or citizens, or perhaps for humanitarian reasons. The smaller states would remain as now - largely decorative, though sometimes part of an international project. This option would leave Europe painfully conscious of the gulf between each individual force and that of the US. And it could only watch as the Chinese built up their power (some analysts believe the real Chinese defence expenditure is double the official level), as the Russians recovered their strength, and as countries such as India extended their nuclear capabilities.

The fourth and best option - best from the point of view of amour-propre and avoidance of conflict - would be to take up the position of the comrade-general. He would be in charge of a force strategically committed to the US, as US forces would be strategically committed to Europe. In other words, it would be a new kind of Nato - except Europe would have the capability to do many, if not all, of the tasks that the US military currently does.

None of these options is wholly pleasant. But they will have to be faced. Europe risks irrelevance if it does not make the consequences of America's unprecedented military superiority clear to its own citizens, and seek their consent for a clear strategy of living with it, beside it or under it.

The most amusing thing about essays like this is the blithe assumption that it matters to anyone what Europe decides and that the decision could be put into effect. In the first place, if Britain and America, with all they have in common, are headed in the direction of no longer being allies, what is the basis for believing that the various nations of Europe, with their divergent cultures, can act as a coherent unit? Second, with the demographic problems that Europe faces in the coming years and the already rising tide of immigrant hatred, aren't these countries' own internal problems likely to overwhelm any concern about external matters? And with aging populations and declining workforces putting an unbearable burden on the social welfare net, where would Europe get the money to build a serious military force? Are the French really going to work that 36th hour of the week to help pay for the tanks that can then be sent to Bosnia, never
mind work a 40 hour week so that Europe can have a Missile Shield? It's been obvious since WWII, but gets more so with every passing year, that Europe just doesn't much matter anymore.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:51 PM


And Now for a Hot Flash : Who’s to blame for hormone therapy? (Anna Quindlen, July 29, 2002, Newsweek)  
By deciding to willy-nilly prescribe hormones to every female patient, from those who had dry skin to those tormented by hot flashes from hell, doctors were just doing what was easiest. By deciding to sell that medication by overstating its benefits and understating its risks, pharmaceutical companies were just doing what was most profitable.

Both groups are culpable, but so are patients, who need to take responsibility for their decisions, or for deciding not to decide and letting doctors and the marketplace decide for them. The case of hormone therapy is particularly glaring in this regard. How could the most ostentatiously self-aware generation of women in the history of this country allow themselves to be led like lemmings to a “cure” for a condition that is not a disease and a “remedy” for symptoms that were originally described largely in terms of how they inconvenienced men?

It is easier to simply take the pill, whatever it is, instead of studying up on diet, exercise, alternatives, the risk-benefit equation of surgery or drugs. What an orderly world it would be if the pill always did what it ought to, with no ill effects, no downside. But that’s sci-fi, not reality. “I understand that medicine is not an exact science,” it says on one surgical consent form. Where does that admission leave us? With choices, preferably informed ones, not the “yes, doctor” of years past. The day of the MDeity should be over; doctors have acted like little gods because patients have treated them as though they were. The woman who looks to a doctor to dictate rather than advise may wind up with treatment that she lives to regret. Or perhaps doesn’t.

The usually loathsome Ms Quindlen very nearly writes an insightful column here. She's right that female patients deserve much of the blame for the whole hormone replacement mess but wrong about the reason. It's not that they simply took doctors' advice but that women demand medical care at levels that are absurd and expect treatment for even the most ridiculous "ailments". Doctors told them to take this stuff because they knew it would shut them up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM


Put Away the Rope in the Iverson Case (Gar Anthony Haywood, July 18 2002, LA Times)
A lot of us are sickened by the zeal with which Iverson and the like (yes, even O.J. was an example) are nailed to the cross. No matter how guilty of a crime the accused might turn out to be, a lynching is still a lynching.

Criticizing a man in the open court of public opinion is one thing, but virtually hanging him in the town square without a trial is quite another.

Generations of unenviable experiences have taught us African Americans how to recognize the difference.

When talk-show hosts and media commentators take to the task of attacking a black individual accused of a crime--even something as alarming as that which Iverson may indeed have committed--with a vitriol that should be reserved for white-collar sociopaths like Enron's Kenneth Lay and WorldCom's Bernard J. Ebbers, whose misdeeds affect the lives and futures of millions, no one should be surprised when black people either rush to the defense of the accused or refuse to add their voices to that of the mob calling for his head. [...]

Iverson's defenders aren't really debating his qualifications as a thug as much as they are asking his eager-beaver, would-be executioners a simple question: Aren't there bigger monsters in the world more deserving of such unbridled passion?

Of course, here are a few big differences. White people have jumped on these crooked executives with both feet. Pick up a paper and you'll see them being lynched in the public square from page 1-A to page D-52. Here's another, those executives were summoned to appear before our lilly-white Congress where they were asked to testify about matters for which they may well be criminally liable. Oh yeah, and these white executives will be tied up in court for years where they'll face criminal charges brought by white prosecutors and where their predominantly white stockholders will sue them civilly. In short, exactly the same mob is calling for their heads as is calling for Mr. Iverson's head. It's not about race; it's about wrongdoing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM

"NOTED" ? :

Barbarism Runs Rampant in the Holy Land : Atrocities are now a tactic accepted by both sides. (Hussein Ibish, July 24, 2002 , LA Times)
The latest atrocity in the Middle East, in which an Israeli F-16 jet fired a missile into a civilian neighborhood in Gaza in a successful attempt to kill a noted Palestinian, is emblematic of the degree of barbarism that has come to characterize this hideous conflict. Inevitably and predictably, the attack took the lives of many innocents, including at least nine children, two of them infants.

Personally, I believe Israel may have acted against its own best interest in conducting this operation at just this moment in time. But let's call a spade a spade. Salah Shehada was murdering scum and richly deserved to die. "Noted"? What kind of value-neutral label is that? The kind of moral equivalence that Mr. Ibish uses here--comparing a targeted assassination of a terrorist, which accidentally killed some of the civilians among whom he hid himself, to that terrorist own intentional murdering of civilians--reflects poorly on his own cause and makes it near impossible to take him seriously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 AM


India's children of Israel find their roots (RASHMEE Z AHMED, JULY 20, 2002, Times of India)
More than 2,000 years after they first claimed to have set foot in India, the mystery of the world's most obscure Jewish community - the Marathi-speaking Bene Israel - may finally have been solved with genetic carbon-dating revealing they carry the unusual Moses gene that would make them, literally, the original children of Israel.

Four years of DNA tests on the 4,000-strong Bene Israel, now mainly based in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Ahmedabad, indicates they are probable descendants of a small group of hereditary Israelite priests or Cohanim, according to new results exclusively made available to the Sunday Times of India. [...]

The name Bene Israel literally means Children of Israel and their unsubstantiated legend of origin holds their ancestors to be Jews fleeing persecution in Palestine in 175 BC.

According to the legend, seven men and seven women survived a shipwreck near Navgaon village on the Konkan coast. Their descendants became thoroughly Indian except for observing Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, as a weekly holiday. The practice led them to be known as Shanwar Teli, Marathi for 'Saturday oilpressers'.

It was only in 1964, that the Israeli prime minister declared they were genuinely Jewish and should be allowed to return home (to Israel) and inter-marry.

But now, the new study goes one better. By studying certain genetic markers on the DNA chain, found only in male descendants of Aaron, Moses' elder brother, who founded the line of Jewish priests, the Bene Israel could well claim to be the purest of the pure.

One of the most noble moments in Judaism's long history came with Operation Solomon, when a similar lost tribe, the falasha of Ethiopia, were airlifted to Israel. How few times in history has a society gone to such effort to import a minority?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 AM


The trail of political Islam (Gilles Kepel, 03 July 2002, openDemocracy)
In the mid 1990s, when I was Visiting Professor at Columbia University, a rather simple question arose which, in spite of its simplicity, was still unanswered at the time: "Why did Islamist movements succeed in seizing power in places, such as Iran, whereas in the majority of cases, such as Algeria, they failed?" [...]

Islamist movements are in fact clusters of different social groups with different social agendas. They are strong when they manage to mobilise or coalesce these different components, until they actually seize power. Wha thas interested me is their capacity to mobilise different social groups with different social agendas, to keep them united, to reconcile them. There might be violence or even the "semi-Islamicisation" of a society, but the Islamist groups will never seize power if they cannot unite these social groups.

Interesting look at what terrorism tells us about the weakness of the Islamists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 AM


Laundering the 'Truth' : 'The Nation' Defuses a French Bombshell (Cynthia Cotts, July 24 - 30, 2002, Village Voice)
According to the back cover of Forbidden Truth, a bestseller published in France last fall and released in this country last week, a round of "secret diplomacy between the Bush administration and the Taliban" may have provoked Osama bin Laden into launching the September 11 attacks. [...]

With an outrageous premise like that, it's no wonder that chapter six of Forbidden Truth has been touted as the smoking gun that proves Bush's indirect responsibility for 9-11—or that Nation Books, the publishing arm of The Nation, has just published the book in English. What's really interesting is that after The Nation's hard-nosed Washington editor, David Corn, denounced the authors as conspiracy theorists, Nation Books neatly excised the smoking-gun allegations from the text.

The smoking-gun claim first appeared in the foreword of the book's original edition, in which the authors dubbed the 9-11 attacks "aforeseeable" and "tragic" "outcome" of the UN initiative. But the foreword in the Nation Books edition merely states that the 9-11 attacks were "possibly the outcome" of the UN initiative, and soberly calls for "further investigation." A similar text massage was performed at the end of chapter six. [...]

A few months ago, after reading a preliminary translation of the book, Corn wrote an internal memo critiquing it and opposing its publication. In May, he wrote a piece for The Nation that debunked what he calls the 9-11 conspiracy theorists. Describing Forbidden Truth, Corn later wrote, "I have rarely seen such shoddy and lazy journalism," adding that the book is "almost entirely unsourced" and that the authors gave "no sense that they had interviewed any single player in their tale." For The Nation to promote such a book is "just plain exploitative," he told the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the dispute.

David Corn makes for an unlikely hero in these parts and it's a shame that in this day and age just standing up for intellectual honesty passes for a heroic act, but he nonetheless deserves kudos for doing the right thing even though it's brought him into conflict with his publisher.

July 23, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 PM


REVIEW : of Why Do People Hate America? by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (Richard Gott, New Statesman)
Behind the debate about anti- Americanism that has featured so prominently in the British media since 11 September (and is now appearing increasingly in book form) lies a genuine fear within the political establishment that the Atlantic split may soon be too wide to be bridged. For the first time since the Atlantic Charter was issued more than 60 years ago (in August 1941), European politicians are beginning to think the unthinkable: might not the western alliance be coming to an end?

As usual, the politicians are way behind public opinion. Most Europeans had washed their hands of the Americans and their Israeli ally long before the events of last September. Indeed, the horror of the atrocity may actually have slowed the anti-American tide for a brief moment rather than speeded it up.

Now that tide is in full flood again (to be witnessed on any television show or radio phone-in), given added momentum by the unflinching US support for the present leadership of the Zionist state, by corporate scandals on an unimaginable scale, and by the excesses of the Christian fundamentalist right on issues such as abortion and Darwinism - issues that were sorted out and settled in Europe years ago. Why people hate America is all too obvious, and should need no extended analysis.

So, Europe hates us because we defend Jews, capitalism, babies and Judeo-Christianity? No wonder we've decided they're beyond redemption--they aren't even part of Western Civilization anymore.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 PM


The Sox just announced that long time broadcaster Ned Martin died, supposedly on the shuttle bus taking him from the airport to his car after doing the Ted Williams tribute yesterday.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 PM


Jordan prince touted to succeed Saddam (Brian Whitaker, July 19, 2002, The Guardian)
As US officials and Iraqi opposition groups squabble over possible successors to Saddam Hussein, Prince Hassan of neighbouring Jordan is emerging as a surprise contender.

The idea, which has support in the Pentagon and among conservative thinkers in the US, envisages the prince rising above Iraqi factionalism as a compromise figurehead, or even as king. [...]

Hassan, 55, was crown prince of Jordan for many years and effectively ruled the country during the terminal illness of his eldest brother, the late King Hussein. [...]

Speculation has been heightened by the fact that the Jordanian royal family is related to the Iraqi royal family, whose last king, Faisal II, was deposed and assassinated in 1958.

No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the Hashemite restoration is only a motion away...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 PM


Chaim Potok, the Author of 'The Chosen,' Is Dead at 73 (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 23, 2002)
Chaim Potok, the rabbi-turned-author whose Orthodox upbringing inspired ``The Chosen'' and other best-selling novels that explored the clash between religious and secular life, died Tuesday of brain cancer. He was 73. [...]

Like Herman Wouk, Potok was highly regarded within the Jewish community, but less so within the general literary community, especially compared to more secular Jewish-American authors such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth. [...]

He was born Herman Harold Potok in the Bronx, the eldest son of Jewish immigrants from Poland. Raised in the Orthodox tradition, Potok embraced Conservative Judaism as a young adult and was eventually ordained a Conservative rabbi in 1954.

The Chosen is a truly great American novel, far superior to anything Bellow ever wrote and only Roth's last few novels are even worthy of mention in the same sentence.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 PM


U.S. Values Will Be on Trial With Moussaoui : Justice is crucial even for a lunatic filled with hate. (Jonathan Turley, July 19 2002, LA Times)
Crimes require not only evil intent (which Moussaoui easily possesses) but evil acts. The actual case against Moussaoui is extremely thin and circumstantial. He does not fit the pattern of any of the other hijackers and cannot be tied to any of the preparations for the attacks. He could very well be a simple terrorist wannabe who has found himself on a world stage where he can rant about casting non-Muslims "into the fire" and killing Jews.

Mr. Turley, though I often disagree with him, seems like a stand up guy, but this assertion is simply wrong. Here's what we know just from news accounts about Mr. Moussaoui :
He has been under investigation since 1994, when French authorities began looking into his links to extremist Islamic groups and his trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. When Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who was originally to have been the 20th man, was denied a visa to travel to the United States, Moussaoui was substituted and came to America with over $30,000 in cash, moving to Norman., OK, where he began flight training lessons and bought two knives. Once there he was wired money by Ramzi Binalshibh, who had lived with the gang's leader Mohammed Atta. Moussaoui purchased flight instruction videos from the same store in Ohio as did the other hijackers. He was arrested after flight instructors reported that he was only interested in learning how to turn a jumbo jet, not how to take off or land. He inquired about and his personal computer contained information on crop-dusting technology and techniques. When he was arrested he was found to have, in addition to a Boeing 747 flight manual, papers relating to Global Positioning Systems. Six days later one of the other hijackers bought such a GPS device. His mother and brother, rather than deny his involvement, have said that he must have been "brainwashed" by Islamic extremists. He originally chose for his attorney the woman who defended and has since become engaged to Carlos the Jackal. Her fiancé has told the newspapers that he felt a sense of "relief" on September 11th, and several years ago publicly wished Osama bin Laden good luck when he was indicted for the African embassy bombings.

Now Mr. Turley is correct that this evidence is circumstantial but he's obviously wrong when he says that Mr. Moussaoui does not fit the pattern of the other hijackers. He fits it precisely and the fact remains that the 20th hijacker was unable to participate on September 11th. It seems at least possible, maybe even probable, that he was that 20th man.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM


Labor's farewell symphony (Moshe Arens, July 24, 2002, Ha'aretz)
An event unparalleled in the history of modern democracies is taking place before our eyes in Israel. The Labor Party--for many years the country's largest political party--seems to be going out of existence.

While one can understand the glee of Mr. Arens, this is hardly so unique an occurence as he suggests. Unfortunately, just to our north the Conservative Party has imploded similarly in Canada.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM


OBITUARY : Death of Gen. Forrest (THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 30, 1877)
Of late years, his views had undergone a considerable change. The guerrilla chieftain had softened down into the retired veteran, anxious, apparently, only for peace with everybody. He was in favor of promoting good feeling between the two sections, and by the terms of his address to his old comrades in arms, asking them to join in decorating the graves of the dead Union soldiers. His last notable public appearance was on the Fourth of July in Memphis, when he appeared before the colored people at their celebration, was publicly presented with a bouquet by them as a mark of peace and reconciliation, and made a friendly speech in reply.

I was sent this article which appears on the New York Times website as part of an On This Day feature and was immediately struck by a glaring ommission which, while not too surprising in the original obit, it seems astounding that today's Timesmen did not repair. Mellow old Bedford Forrest is today revered by white racists because he was the founder of the original Ku Klux Klan. Now, this may not be as black a mark as it first sounds, since in its initial iteration the Klan was apparently not specifically directed at blacks and since Forrest ordered the Klan disbanded when it proved impossible to control them. Still, you'd think it worth mentioning, wouldn't you?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:26 PM


Gray Davis a reluctant governor; would Bill Simon be any better? (Dan Walters, 7/23/02, Sacramento Bee)
"On [Gray Davis'] watch, California has careened from crisis to crisis," Davis' Republican challenger, Bill Simon, said Monday, quite accurately. But, irony upon irony, Simon said it while demonstrating the same tendency himself.

Simon announced that after many weeks of saying he wouldn't reveal his personal income tax returns, he had changed his mind.

Were the tax return debacle the only instance of Simon's procrastination, one might be inclined to cut him some slack -- perhaps accepting his
explanation that he was just trying to protect the privacy of his familial co-investors. But on many other occasions, Simon has waffled when pressed by
reporters on particular issues, often insisting that he would "get back" at some later, undefined point.

California does need more decisive political leadership. We have many germinal problems ready to sprout into crises. But so far Simon is acting more like a Gray Davis clone than a ready-for-prime-time governor.

Mike Daley sends this one along as evidence of the GOP blowing an opportunity in CA. I'd beg to differ. First, Simon never had a realistic shot in CA--it's a Democrat state at this point, no matter how badly Gray Davis has run it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:58 PM


Britain Appoints Canterbury Archbishop (ROBERT BARR, July 23, 2002, Associated Press)
Welsh archbishop Rowan Williams, a renowned theologian and outspoken opponent of U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq, was chosen Tuesday to be the 104th archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans. [...]

Williams, 52, has been praised in some church quarters as an orthodox Christian and a deep thinker. Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, describes Williams as "the leading theologian in our communion." But some conservatives have been alarmed that he admitted ordaining a priest whom he suspected of living in a homosexual relationship.

Williams, who was in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11 as terrorist strikes brought down the World Trade Center, has criticized the U.S.-led war on terrorism, and has condemned sanctions against Iraq and the American threats of military action against Saddam Hussein.

Writing recently about the war on terrorism, Williams said, "It is just possible to deplore civilian casualties and retain moral credibility when an action is clearly focused and its goals are on the way to evident achievement.

"It is not possible when the strategy appears confused and political leaders talk about a war that may last for years."

He sounds like the perfect leader for a church in post-Christian Britain. Is it possible to be less morally serious than to suggest that a cleric's sexual behavior is immaterial and that a war on evil can only be justified if it's short? This is the cheap faith of those who believe in nothing more than immediate personal gratification and the path of least resistance, rather than the via dolorosa.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 AM


I Spy : Now Let's be Fair, the USA Ain't East Germany! (Jerre Skog, July 18, 2002, Counter Punch)
Let's take a good look at the contrasts:

First, naturally, East Germany had the Berlin Wall to keep people on the inside. USA doesn't have a wall stopping its citizens from escaping the country. Anyone is free to leave. Lack of monetary means to do so and the difficulties, on a vastly bigger scale than those confronting an escapee from East Germany, to start a new life elsewhere, is probably less limiting than the Wall was.

We can also note that unlike USA, East Germany has never invaded other countries or even bombed them and never had a military with a might even close to USA's. Leadersm Ulbricht and Hoeneker, because of Soviet's supremacy, were not free to pursue their own policies and could never on their own effect more than marginal changes to the system. Completely different from the situation in US.

The East German media was censored and unable to critizise the leadership, while American media is free and freely abstains from critizising the leadership. The East German population was well aware of the shortcomings of their state in spite of above media situation. Most Americans still belive they live in the greatest and most decent democracy, thanks to the media situation.

And, unlike US:

East Germany had a well functioning and free health care system, health insurance and a pension system that included everyone.

East Germany had free education on every level including university, and the population was, in general, well aware and informed.

East Germany had jobs and housing for all and though luxury food was scarce and expensive, the basic needs were cheap and in abundance. Bread was so cheap that many bought the feed for the pigs and hens at the bakery.

The social fabric between the citizens in East Germany was good because the differences in income was held at reasonable levels.

The crime level was low and violence crimes unusual by international standard.

The luxury mansions were few and far between.

Pro Wrestling was unheard of.

Okay, it's probably not even fair to pick on someone this stupid, but here's a quick quiz :

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM


Snakehead Fish in 7 States, U.S. to Ban Them (Tom Doggett , July 22, 2002, Reuters)
The land-walking snakehead fish that is native to Asia has been found in seven U.S. states and the Bush administration will announce on Tuesday a ban on U.S. imports of the predatory fish.

The snakehead, which can grow up to 3 feet long, eats other fish and can walk across land to find new sources of food in other lakes and streams. The fish can stay out of water for up to three days.

The fish came to light this summer after several snakeheads were found in a Maryland pond. The so-called Frankenfish were dumped there by a local resident who had initially imported them to make soup.

Snakeheads have been found in six other states: Hawaii, Florida, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to the Interior Department.

A recipe for watercress soup with snakehead fish can be found at Chinese food recipe Web site: http://www.foodno1.com.

McDonald's is reportedly going to add that soup to their $1 menu.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM


Urban Chick : Urban and Suburban Residents Take on a New Kind of Pet (Amanda Onion, 7/23/02, ABC News)
They don't bark, bite or require daily walks. They even offer tokens in return for their care.

 More and more urban and suburban elite are moving beyond keeping poodles and cats and adopting another kind of animal to coddle: the chicken.

"They're just so relaxing to watch," says Robin Fox, a Miami resident who began keeping chickens in her apartment in the late 1990s. "They're friendly birds, they're fluffy and they give you eggs. Dogs don't give you eggs."

While immigrants have long recognized the benefits of keeping chickens in urban lots (free fresh eggs and chicken breasts) the concept appears to have taken flight, so to speak, among urban yuppies and suburban elite who build elaborate coops for their flocks. [...]

Steven Keel, the owner of Egganic Industries in Ringgold, Va., says that sales of his elaborate $1,500 Henspas — low-maintenance, high-comfort homes designed for urban and suburban chickens — are up 15 percent. The McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa, reports they're sending more mail-order chicks (ranging in cost from about $1 to $5 per chick) to addresses in upper-class suburbs.

And the City Chicken Workshop sessions at the Seattle Tilth Association have been filled to standing-room only. The two-hour classes held four times a year teach new chicken owners the basics in building coops and keeping their animals healthy. Director Pamela Burton says they'll soon be adding classes.

"The demand is too great," she says. "We're thinking we'll have a beginning chicken class and then add intermediate classes."

Ours has beaten me in 436 straight games of Tic-Tac-Toe.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM


Interview With a Humanoid (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 7/23/02. NY Times)
Biotechnology faces crippling obstacles, including a drought of venture capital that will kill off plenty of companies. But eventually, genetically modified pigs (perhaps slightly human in their genetics) will be able to produce livers, kidneys, hearts and pancreases for ailing patients.

These technologies could help the 80,000 Americans now on waiting lists for organ transplants. But there are also ethical and philosophical questions about whether it is wise to blur the distinction between what is human and what is not.

Francis Fukuyama, in his brilliant new book on cloning, "Our Post-Human Future," warns that we could face a future "in which any notion of `shared humanity' is lost, because we have mixed human genes with those of so many other species that we no longer have a clear idea of what a human being is."

My instinct is that the benefit in saving lives outweighs the risks.

That's a staggering statement. It's one thing for folks who are in denial about the possible effects of biotechnology on our sense of a shared humanity to dismiss the concern as the raving of Luddites, but for Mr. Kristof to acknowledge the possibility and then to say he'd accept the risk in exchange for tacking a couple of years onto peoples' lives is truly frightening. Do we really believe that we can blithely dispose of the delicate strands that tie us together, however tenuously, and not face horrific consequences? The history of human interaction where one group is considered other than human--the Jews of Europe, African blacks, etc.--does not give us cause to be sanguine about this kind of thinking.
Posted by Stephen Judd at 4:51 AM


Beyond the Rubber Bullet (Lev Grossman, 7/21/02, Time)
The U.S. armed forces don't do much shooting anymore. Even in Afghanistan, they engage in more advising and guiding than gunplay. Soldiers today are asked more often to keep the peace or defuse demonstrations, and the last thing they want in those situations is to fire a lethal weapon. That's why the Pentagon is spending more and more research-and-development dollars on weapons that stun, scare, entangle or nauseate--anything but kill.

The U.S.'s nonlethal-weapons programs are drawing their own fire, mostly from human-rights activists who contend that the technologies being developed will be deployed to suppress dissent and that they defy international weapons treaties. Through public websites, interviews with defense researchers and data obtained in a series of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by watchdog groups, TIME has managed to peer into the Pentagon's multimillion-dollar program and piece together this glimpse of the gentler, though not necessarily kinder, arsenal of tomorrow.

Because of my personal experiences with the issue, Orrin requested that I weigh in on this one. While I'm not an expert in military affairs, my opinion is informed by several years of military service as an infantry officer. When I was deployed in Bosnia, as a Public Affairs officer, US soldiers were involved in several confrontations with angry mobs of Bosnian Serbs (most of them paid to turn out for the protests.)

July 22, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 PM


In a shocking turn of events, it appears that Steve Earle, whose new song "John Walker's Blues" is being hailed from Baghdad to Mogadishu, has also written a new version of his hit song, "I Ain't Ever Satisfied" :
I Have Been Osamafied (Cat Stevens Earle)

My arms sport some serious tracks
And my brain's been fried by horse and crack
Spent some hard time in the man's prison
where I felt the pain of my brother Muslim

I have been Osamafied
I have been Osamafied

Now I know nothing about the world
And I'm mostly a mindless, leftist churl
But what W says could not be true
bin Laden's right we're bein' run by the Jew

I got an empty feeling deep inside
I'm going over to the other side

Last night I dreamed I made it to the promise land
expected milk & honey & a mess a virgins
but instead I found 3000 'mericans
they said "sorry Steve keep moving along"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 PM


There are two good posts up at Travelling Shoes (by which we mean even better than the usual fine fare) : Axis of Evil Plus One (H.D. Miller, July 22, 2002) and Scott Ritter Off the Deep End (H.D. Miller, July 21, 2002). The latter details how Scott Ritter has turned into a Saddamite. The former calls for the destruction of Syria's rather limited military power and serving Bashar al-Assad the comeuppance that he deserves, but which his father deserved even more. One would actually assume that as Mr. al-Assad looks around him--and sees Turkey and Jordan forging ties to Israel, the PLO and the mullahs in Iran losing popular support and Saddam about to get his head handed to him--he must feel like the Tenth Indian.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


From Oslo to Ground Zero (RUTH WISSE, July 18, 2002, Jerusalem Post)
On September 2, 1993, I got a call from Richard Bernstein of The New York Times, asking me to comment for an article on the "peace agreement" that was about to be signed by Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, and Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization. [...]

My foreboding was registered in the next day's paper: "Ms. Wisse's concern is that in dealing with Mr. Arafat, the Israelis are, in effect, intervening in Arab politics, choosing the PLO chief, whom she called 'a killer,' to be the leader of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

If things go wrong and she believes there is a good chance they will it is Israel that will bear responsibility, she said. 'It's the first time that an Israeli government is doing something for which I, as an American Jew, would not like to bear moral responsibility.'"

Bernstein's gentle summary barely conveyed my anguish. The reestablishment of a Jewish state was, to my mind, the most hopeful achievement of the 20th century, and the noblest proof if proof was necessary of the high worth of Jewish civilization.

Because of the many difficulties the country still faced, I believed that Israel had the right to ask of Jews like myself who lived outside its borders every kind of economic, political, and spiritual support.

However, I did not believe that Israel could claim my support for putting into power a mob of professional murderers and extortionists. As a non-citizen, I could do nothing to stop the leaders of Israel from carrying out this plan. But as a citizen of the world, I knew that this was the worst possible move they could have made. [...]

Although placing Arafat in charge of a Palestinian Authority was hailed as a "peace initiative," it actually opened the door for anti-Western propaganda and conspiracy on an unprecedented scale. The terrifying spread of suicide bombers signals the creation of an Arab-style Hitler youth that is being trained to sacrifice itself for a murderous ideal. Just as the Jews were merely the first, but by no means the only intended victims of German conquest in the 1930s, so the Jews are merely the first, but by no means the only intended victims of those who have declared war on Western civilization. The perceived capitulation of Israel to Arafat endangered democracy no less than it endangered the country itself, for it seemed to prefigure the way any democracy might act if confronted by terrorism for long enough.

It is not pleasant to think back on a political blunder that could have and should have been avoided. No one wants to pour salt into Israel's open wounds. Foresight would have been an advantage only if the opponents of Oslo could have prevented catastrophe. Yet we must face up to the damage of what the American columnist Charles Krauthammer rightly called "the most catastrophic, self-inflicted wound by any state in modern history." As the current government of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces try valiantly to undo some of the disaster of the "peace process" that brought Arafat and the PLO into power, the most important task facing champions of democracy is to examine and weigh the false premises that allowed for the false promises of Oslo.

Barry Meislin sent along this terrific essay about the catastrophic mistake that Israel made in allowing Arafat to assume power in the Palestinian Authority that was created at Oslo. Of course, we should have arrested him as soon as he set foot on American soil and tried him for the many PLO attacks on Americans.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 PM


Israel kills Hamas founder in Gaza in air strike (Amos Harel, 7/23/02, Ha'aretz)
In what military sources called one of the most significant strikes since the start of the intifada 20 months ago, an Israeli warplane blew up a house in Gaza in the early hours of Tuesday morning, killing Salah Shehada, the head of the Hamas military wing in the Strip and the No. 1 man on the Israel Defense Force's wanted list in the last two years. [...]

Shehada, 40, was the commander of Izz a-Din el-Kassam, the military wing of Hamas, and served as a close personal aide to the movement's spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. In addition to his extensive involvement in terror activity, he had gradually developed his reputation as a leader with religious authority and was seen as a possible future heir to Yassin. [...]

According to Shin Bet officials, Shehada was one of the movement's most extreme members and rejected any talk of limiting suicide attacks. He was in contact with Hamas officials abroad. According to military sources, he challenged Yassin's leadership on several occasions, and was considered more radical than the movement's spiritual leader.

Even assuming this was totally justified, which I do, it seems like the worst possible moment to whack one of Yassin's top aides, unless, of course, Yassin green-lighted it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 PM


The word is that Terry McAuliffe, that charmer, is doing a great job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is recruiting more good men and women to the party, collecting more money than his predecessors, and is getting a good deal of credit for some surprising local victories in the 2001 elections.

And he should be fired or retired tomorrow -- if not today.

Let's say that corporate corruption is going to be the big issue of this year's mid-term elections, which is exactly what many Democrats are saying. And let's say that Republicans are seen as the party voters "blame" for the fact that chief executives now earn more than 400 times as much as their companies' hourly employees make -- and what they don't earn they steal from the employees, or shareholders, or from the government, taking anything they can get their greedy little hands on.

All by himself, McAuliffe neutralizes that issue. Instead of Democrats exploiting the traditional business image (and reality) of Republicans, and Democrats benefiting from their tradional image as the friend of the little guy, the McAuliffe story will make the blame game and the issue of corporate greed a bipartisan affair. A wash.

It's only Monday but Mr. Reeves has aggressively staked a claim for silliest column of the week. To begin with, no one, but no one, in America has any idea who Terry McAuliffe is. If his name recognition is over 25% nationally I'll send him a check. (Quick, here's a test : Who's the GOP Chairman and who preceded McAuliffe?) Second, while the notion that Democrats care about maintaining ethical purity is rather quaint and touching (and impossible to reconcile with either his initial appointment or the Clinton presidency), the notion that they'd jettison a fund-raising deity over it is simply delusional. Third, there's no way on God's green Earth that the press will let Republicans make an issue of the Democrats' ties to business scandals. Just take a look at their failure to go after Tom Daschle, whose wife is a lobbyist and who is himself implicated in a scandal involving a fatal airplane crash, and you can imagine how little they'll care about the DNC chairman. Which may make sense, because, fourth, Democrat corruption by big business just doesn't fit the storyline. We all know that the GOP is in bed with business and Democrats are the mortal foes of evil corporations. That this no longer reflects reality doesn't much matter--it's what we all believe and the press isn't going to waste time digging into the real story when the spadework is already done on the easier-to-tell caricature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM


A theory evolves : How evolution really works, and why it matters more than ever (Thomas Hayden, 7/29/02, US News)
Darwin proposed his theory of evolution based on extensive observations and cast-iron logic. Organisms produce more young than can survive, he noted, and when random changes create slight differences between offspring, "natural selection" tends to kill off those that are less well suited to the environment. But Darwin's evidence was fragmentary, and with the science of genetics yet to be invented, he was left without an explanation for how life might actually change. [...]

Scientists have confirmed virtually all of Darwin's postulates. For example, Ward Watt of Stanford University has demonstrated natural selection in action. In a hot environment, he found, butterflies with a heat-stable form of a metabolic gene outreproduced their cousins with a form that works well only at lower temperatures. "Darwin was more right than he knew," says Watt. Darwin also held that new species evolve slowly, the result of countless small changes over many generations, and he attributed the lack of transitional forms-missing links-to the spotty nature of the fossil record.

By now many gaps have been filled. Dinosaur researchers can join hands with bird experts, for example, their once disparate fields linked by a series of fossils that show dinosaurs evolving feathers and giving rise to modern birds. And last year, paleontologists announced that they had recovered fossils from the hills of Pakistan showing, step by step, how hairy, doglike creatures took to the sea and became the first whales.

But new research also shows that evolution works in ways Darwin did not imagine. Many creatures still appear quite suddenly in the fossil record, and the growing suspicion is that evolution sometimes leaps, rather than crawls. For example, the first complex animals, including worms, mollusks, and shrimplike arthropods, show up some 545 million years ago; paleontologists have searched far and wide for fossil evidence of gradual progress toward these advanced creatures but have come up empty. "Paleontologists have the best eyes in the world," says Whitey Hagadorn of Amherst College, who has scoured the rocks of the Southwest and California for signs of the earliest animal life. "If we can't find the fossils, sometimes you have to think that they just weren't there." [...]

The central discovery of evo-devo is that the development and ultimate shape of animal bodies are orchestrated by a small set of genes called homeotic genes. These regulatory genes make proteins that act as master switches. By binding to DNA, they turn on or shut down other genes that actually make tissues. All but the simplest animals are built in segments (most obvious in creatures like centipedes, but also apparent in human vertebrae), and the Hox family of homeotic genes interacts to determine what each segment will look like. By simple genetic tinkering, evo-devo biologists can tweak the controls, making flies with legs where their antennae should be, or eyeballs on their knees.

This might seem like little more than a cruel parlor trick, and the resulting monstrosities would never survive in nature. But small changes in these master-switch genes may help explain some major changes in evolutionary history. This past winter, evo-devo biologists showed that an important animal transition 400 million years ago, when many-legged arthropods (think lobsters) gave rise to six-legged insects, was due to just a few mutations in a Hox gene. In the past few months, researchers have found that a change in the regulation of a growth- factor gene could have resulted in the first vertebrate jaw. And, incredibly, researchers reported in the journal Science last week that a single mutation in a regulatory gene was enough to produce mice with brains that had an unusually large, wrinkled cerebral cortex resembling our own. (No word, though, on whether the mutant mice gained smarts.)

This hilarious essay reads almost like a parody of Darwinism as filtered through the objections of skeptics. Mr. Hayden cites mostly carefully controlled interventions by humans as evidence than evolution must occur randomly in Nature. From the first example with butterflies, which suggests nothing about speciation; to the circular logic of the absence of fossils being just as conclusive evidence as their presence would be; to a demonstration that intelligent beings can force mutation fairly easily but which fails to explain why we don't see such mutations occur frequently in the absence of human intervention; it's almost as if he were trying to prove his opponents' case.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:58 PM


Arabs in U.S. could be held, official warns : Rights unit member foresees detainment (NIRAJ WARIKOO, July 20, 2002, Detroit Free Press)
A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said in Detroit on Friday he could foresee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for ArabAmericans if Arab terrorists strike again in this country.

If there's a future terrorist attack in America "and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights," commission member Peter Kirsanow said.

The reason, he said, is that "the public would be less concerned about any perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting their own lives."

Kirsanow, who was appointed to the commission last year by President George W. Bush, said after the session that he personally doesn't support such camps and the government would never envision them. He said he was merely saying public opinion would so strongly favor the idea that it would be difficult to prevent. There would be a "groundswell of opinion" for the detainment, he said.

While it is undoubtedly true that should we begin to lose our war against Islamic Fundamentalist terror there could come a day when Arab-born aliens would be interned, we are so far from that day that this kind of talk is foolish. A far greater concern should be Europe, where such measures may be just a few years away unless Europeans significantly boost their birth rates, do a much better job integrating their immigrants into Western Culture, root out the anti-Semitism endemic in their own societies, and join us in seriously debilitating the sources of Islamic extremism in the Middle East.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:05 PM


Hamas sets conditions to stop attacks against Israeli civilians; PA arrests senior finance ministry official (Al-Bawaba, 22-07-2002)
The founder of Hamas said Monday it would consider halting suicide attacks on Israelis if Israel withdrew from West Bank cities and took other measures.

"Basically what I would say to the occupation army is to leave ... the Palestinian cities in all the West Bank that were occupied ...," Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told reporters in the Gaza Strip.

"And stop your aggression, demolishing homes. Release prisoners and stop assassinations. Once the occupation and all those measures against our people stop, we are ready to totally study stopping martyrdom operations, in a positive way." [...]

Commenting on these remarks, Sheikh Hamad Bitawi, a Hamas leader in Nablus, said he could, in theory, support the call made by Yassin to stop killing civilians. However, "as long as Israel kills thousands of Palestinian women and children, we have to use the principle of reciprocity," Bitawi said.

Look, I don't trust these guys any farther than I can throw them, but statements like this are genuinely startling. It is truly remarkable to see the changes in atmospherics that are resulting from our bowing out of the peace process. If Israel can just suck it up and declare a settlement on its terms, this may be a moment when things can change radically and for the better in Palestine. By bowing out, Israel woiuld turn up the heat on Hamas and the PLO to offer their visions of how the new state will govern itself and what they'll do for their own people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM


Forest Service orders removal of poles flying American flag (Audrey Hudson, July 22, 2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
David Knickerbocker, an Army veteran and retired police officer, has been ordered to remove his flagpole, which has flown the American flag for more than two decades outside his summer cabin in the Eldorado National Forest.

"I feel it is at times like these our country needs to be showing our unity and patriotism, not promoting ill-thought decisions, which prohibit flagpoles on United States soil," Mr. Knickerbocker said in a letter to Rep. Richard W. Pombo, California Republican.

The "no-flagpole order" came from Debbie Gaynor, recreation forester, who said in a letter to Mr. Knickerbocker that "flagpoles are not authorized for recreation residences and must be removed" for him to continue leasing the land.

"My flagpole has been up for more than 23 years, and like many in our cabin tract I am a patriotic American who has a flagpole," Mr. Knickerbocker said.

What's next?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 AM


Debate on Court Nominee Centers on Abortion (NEIL A. LEWIS, July 22, 2002, NY Times)
The White House is heading toward a confrontation with Senate Democrats and their allies in liberal advocacy groups over President Bush's effort to give a federal appeals court seat to a conservative state judge from Texas with a strong judicial record opposing abortion.

When Justice Priscilla Owen of the Texas Supreme Court appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, her confirmation hearing will be the latest display of the the continuing battle between Mr. Bush and the Democrats who control the Senate over the ideological shape of the federal courts. [...]

Justice Owen is expected to be closely questioned about her dissenting opinions in cases interpreting a Texas law that allows teenagers to seek a judicial bypass; that is, a court's permission for an abortion without having to tell their parents. The law provides that a minor can obtain a judicial bypass if she demonstrates that she is well informed, mature and would suffer if she informed her parents.

This is a great fight for the GOP to pick. First, the nominee is a woman. Second, it puts Democrats in a position of defending one of the most objectionable abortion practices--letting teens get abortions without parental permission. This is a fight Republicans can win and should eagerly emnbrace.

July 21, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM

R.I.P. :

OBITUARY : Alexander Ginsburg(Daily Telegraph, 22/07/2002)
Alexander Ginsburg, who has died aged 65, was one of the architects of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

A constant irritant to the KGB and its political masters, Ginsburg served three terms of imprisonment for his activities. From 1960 to 1962 he was incarcerated in a labour camp. He was again arrested in 1967, and sentenced to five years.

Then, in February 1977, the authorities finally lost patience, interrogating him for 17 months before he was tried and convicted of "anti-Soviet agitation", and sentenced to eight years. In the event, however, he and four fellow-dissidents were exchanged in New York for two Soviet citizens who had been jailed in America for spying. [...]

Alexander Ilyich Ginsburg was born in Moscow in 1936. He studied journalism at Moscow University from 1956 to 1960, and at the Moscow Historical Archive Institute from 1966 to 1967.

But his career as a dissident began in 1959, when he edited the first of three issues of samizdat (self-published) poetry for Sintaksis, the first "underground" magazine in Soviet Russia. He also participated in demonstrations, and in 1960 he was expelled from university and sentenced to two years in a labour camp.

In 1966 he published The White Book, a collection of material on the trial in 1965-66 of the dissident writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuly Daniel (the English version appeared under the title On Trial: The Case of Sinyavsky and Daniel). After his second term of imprisonment (1968-72) Ginsburg was forced to reside at Tarusa, 50 miles from Moscow and his family. Meanwhile, he had become a close friend of Solzhenitsyn, and worked as secretary to Andrei Sakharov.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM


Tips Led to Fast Arrest in Runnion Killing (Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2002)
It was late Wednesday morning, and the army of detectives investigating the kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion was still at square one.

A day and a half after her kidnapping and nearly a day after her body was discovered, a massive dragnet had checked out scores of sex offenders, pulled over dozens of green cars and fielded hundreds of tips--but still produced little to go on. FBI profilers privately predicted they were in for a long search to identify the killer.

Then, about noon, a caller provided a name that transformed the investigation. Check out Alejandro Avila, the caller said. Within a few hours, two more people had called with the same advice.

So began a frenetic two days of police work that ended with Avila's arrest Friday. The quick result contrasts sharply with other high-profile abduction cases around the country, some of which remain under investigation.

Police officials Saturday said three factors were crucial in making a speedy arrest: a clear description of the suspect supplied by Samantha's 6-year-old playmate, finding the body within a day and the phone calls pointing them in Avila's direction.

"If his name hadn't come up, we'd still be checking every sex registrant in California, polygraphing them, checking alibis," said one law enforcement source, adding that the trail would ultimately have proved fruitless because Avila wasn't a registered sex offender.

If the Bush Administration is allowed to impose its TIPS program, this is the kind of thing we could see. Do we really want to become the kind of country where citizens inform on each other, rather than minding their own business? This poor guy might still be out walking the street, a free man, if only people would follow the Mafia's code of silence.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 PM


Go on, call Bush's bluff : If Iraq lets the arms inspectors back in, America's case for war will be exposed as fiction (Hans von Sponeck, July 22, 2002, The Guardian)
Is it really too far-fetched to suggest that the US government does not want UN arms inspectors back in Iraq? Do they fear that this would lead to a political drama of the first order since the inspectors would confirm what individuals such as Scott Ritter have argued for some time, that Iraq no longer possesses any capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction? This indeed would be the final blow to the "war against Iraq" policy of the Bush administration, a policy that no one else wants. The Iraqis would be well advised to seize this opportunity and open their doors without delay to time-limited arms inspectors, thereby confirming that they indeed have nothing to hide.

Why don't we offer to let Saddam have a free and open election--with a free press, opposition parties, universal suffrage--and if he's elected we'll leave him alone. What European can oppose that idea?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 PM


US traitor killed in fall at dacha (Tim Reid, July 22, 2002, Times of London)
EDWARD LEE HOWARD, the notorious American traitor and the first CIA officer to defect to the KGB, has died after breaking his neck in a fall outside his Russian dacha.

Though would it really have been too much to ask that he die a slow, lingering death?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 PM


UN report: Most Arab youth want to emigrate to Europe, U.S. (WORLD TRIBUNE.COM, July 21, 2002)
A United Nations report warns that a majority of older Arab young people want to leave their homelands in favor of the West.

The report by the United Nations Development Program said most Arab young men and women plan to leave their countries and emigrate. They said the favorite destinations are Europe and the United States, Middle East Newsline reported.

Only 13 percent of those wishing to emigrate sought to move to another Arab country, the report, entitled Arab Human Development Report 2002, said. The UN agency said this preference indicates how young Arabs regard their societies.

The report cited lack of education, freedom and job opportunities as the major reasons for emigration. The report said out of seven world regions, the Arab countries had the lowest level of freedom during the late 1990s.

"Remarkably, 51 percent of older youths expressed a desire to emigrate to other countries, clearly indicating their dissatisfaction with current conditions and future prospects in their home countries," the report said.

At the end of the day they just aren't much different than us, no matter what hate their elders spew.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


Palestinian anger builds over leaders' alleged corruption : Officials are afraid full rebellion may erupt (Mary Curtius, 7/21/02, Los Angeles Times)
 "We are poor, we are critical, we are angry, and also we have a cause," said Ziad abu Amr, a Palestinian legislator and academic. "This is a small society, and cases of corruption are highly visible. People believe that we are supposed to be clean, because we are fighting for our rights. So, objectively speaking, in relative terms, our corruption may be less than people think, but it doesn't matter."

Palestinians, Abu Amr said, are fed up with seeing "an official whose salary is $1,000 a month who buys property worth millions. There was a lot of stealing, extortion, bribery."

"Where have the millions gone?" shouted thousands of unemployed workers who poured into the streets of Gaza City in a demonstration against the Palestinian Authority this month. It was a not-so-subtle question about how millions of dollars in aid from Arab countries and the international community have been spent by the authority since fighting erupted in September 2000.

"Soon, the situation will become so dangerous that people will start accusing everybody, including people like me, of being the symbol of destruction, of defeat," said Abbas Zaki, a Palestinian legislator from the West Bank city of Hebron and veteran leader in Arafat's Fatah movement.

This generation of leaders, Palestinian critics charge, has failed dismally both at making peace and at making war.

"For the people, they're finished," said Salah Abdul Shafi, a Gazan economist. "People now even talk about Arafat, and this is completely new."

Abdul Shafi said he worries that unless Arafat institutes the top-to-bottom reforms he has promised, "there will be a wave of internal assassinations." Palestinian ministers, the economist noted, no longer attend the funerals of Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli troops, "because they are afraid of the people."

Once again, after an American leader gave an inherently unstable situation a push, things are happening far faster than anyone dreamed they could.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM


Ballad Honors Taliban John (AP | July 21, 2002)
American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh is glorified and called Jesus-like in a country-rock song to be released soon by maverick singer-songwriter Steve Earle.

The controversial ballad called "John Walker's Blues" is backed by the chanting of Arabic prayers and praises Allah.

Earle's lyrics describe the United States as "the land of the infidel." Those fighting Usama bin Laden's declared jihad against the United States and Jews are said to have hearts "pure and strong."

The song says when Lindh dies, he will "rise up to the sky like Jesus."

I'm a big Steve Earle fan, despite the many troubles he's had in his own life. But one assumes that stupidity like this flows from some bitterness he feels at being sent to prison during his drug addict days. Maybe he should watch Midnight Express before he decides he got a raw deal here.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


Dynamite loaded horse explodes (AFP, July 21, 2002)
EIGHT people were wounded today after a horse laden with dynamite exploded today in Guadalupe, in the province of Antioquia, northwestern Colombia, police said.

In a statement, the Equine Liberation Organization said that : "After thousands of years of oppression, we've finally been driven to these desperate measures".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM


The Other Dolly Parton, the Songwriting One (BILL FRISKICS-WARREN, 7/21/02, NY Times)
Since moving to Nashville in 1964, Ms. Parton, now 56, has published more than 3,000 of her compositions. Dozens have become hits, not only for her but for singers ranging from Emmylou Harris to Whitney Houston. Ms. Parton has written vivid odes to her hardscrabble childhood in Appalachia ("Coat of Many Colors"); gripping studies in Southern gothic ("Jolene"); feminist anthems ("9 to 5"); and tender ballads ("I Will Always Love You"). Her catalog of original material isn't just one of the deepest and best in country music; last year, the National Academy of Popular Music deemed it impressive enough to elect Ms. Parton to its Songwriters Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael and Bob Dylan.

"Writing's just as natural to me as getting up and cooking breakfast," said Ms. Parton, who lives on a farm outside Nashville with her husband of 36 years, Carl Dean, a contractor. "I ain't never far away from a pencil and paper or a tape recorder. I write every day, even when I'm on a plane, in the tub or on the bus. It burns in me. Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn't get some of that stuff out. Not everything I write is good, but it's all good for me — like therapy."

If you've never given any consideration to Ms Parton as a serious music talent, give this one a listen : The Grass Is Blue.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM


Chaplin knighthood blocked (BBC, 21 July, 2002)
Confidential Foreign Office papers just released by the Public Record Office reveal how for years Charlie Chaplin was denied a knighthood.

The papers are being put on the Record Office website from Monday, 22 July.

They include a hostile report on Chaplin by the Foreign Office research department in 1956.

This drew attention to his "communist" sympathies and to his morals - his marriages included two to girls aged sixteen and he had once lost a paternity suit.

Great, a communist child-chaser. Can George Michael be far behind?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM


Iraq: The Day After (Robert Kagan, July 21, 2002, Washington Post)
Talk in Europe of a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq has been shifting lately. The panicked incredulity of a few months ago is turning into nervous resignation. Europeans increasingly consider an American invasion all but inevitable, whether they like it or not. And if the United States stubbornly insists on going forward, European officials privately acknowledge, their governments probably won't protest much. (The "European street" is another matter.)

More than that, there's some chance key European governments will participate in the military campaign: Italy by providing access to air bases, for instance, and Turkey by providing even more. And don't be surprised if British and French forces show up in the battle in or over Iraq. Not because they will have been persuaded that invasion is a good idea -- probably nothing will convince them of that -- but simply because they don't want to be left out. The only thing Europeans fear more than the United States invading Iraq is the United States invading Iraq alone, leaving the once-great powers of Europe standing impotently on the sidelines, unable either to stop America or to help it.

Does doing whatever we tell them to do really enable them to share the glory?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 AM


The Boy Genius and the Mogul: The Untold Story of Television by Daniel Stashower (C-SPAN Booknotes, July 21, 2002, 8pm and 11pm)
I heard him on the Todd Mundt Show--it's a pretty cool story.

July 20, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 PM


Thundersbirds are go! (Perry de Havilland, July 21, 2002, Libertarian Samizdata)
Thunderbirds was far and away my favourite programme when I was young and this was long before I appreciated the shows astonishing libertarian political message... These guys were like the real world RNLI only with guns and spaceships!
'International Rescue' were shown as a benevolent but armed covert high tech para-military search and rescue organisation, privately controlled and funded by a philanthropic American businessman's multinational company (Tracy Construction and Aerospace Industries), run secretly by his family and loyal friends. IR was completely independent of any government! What is more, International Rescue's 'muscle' was provided by British aristocrat Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, cruising in a pink six-wheeled armoured Rolls Royce, capable of travelling at 200 mph complete with a hidden front grill mounted auto-cannon. No anti-capitalist or anti-private ownership of weapons vibe here!

What began with Steve Martinovich over at Enter Stage Right, has now spread to three nations as grown Canadian, American, and British men reveal their geeky love of the Thuunderbirds and some none too subtle crushes on that smokin'-hottie Lady Penelope.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 PM


America will depend on Iraqi rebels to overthrow Saddam (John Simpson, 21/07/2002, Daily Telegraph)
[B]ritish and American agents are being infiltrated into Iraq, and particularly Shia southern Iraq, in order to raise a rebellion against Saddam.

Then, it seems, the Americans and British will start bombing Iraq heavily, as they did in January 1991, and at some stage in the resulting confusion the locals will rise and do the job for the Americans.

There is no real alternative. Mr Bush doesn't have the appetite for a long war, and the Pentagon doesn't feel that the United States army should be used nowadays to take on a determined enemy in the field.

Air power, yet again, will have to do the main part of the job: with all the ugly loss of life for Iraqis which that will involve.

The more you read this scenario in the papers the more you tend to think there's something else going on....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 PM

Evidence Against Suspect From 9/11 Is Called Weak (DAVID JOHNSTON and PHILIP SHENON, July 20, 2002, NY Times)

Since December, when the government indicted Zacarias Moussaoui as the first man charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, an unusual gulf has opened between what prosecutors have charged in court and what investigators are saying privately about what they can prove about him.

Prosecutors have charged that Mr. Moussaoui played a direct role in the Sept. 11 hijackings, and some officials have said they believe he was supposed to be on one of the four planes. But investigators now say the evidence is not so clear. In fact, they say they believe he may been in the United States to take part in a different plot.

It is almost impossible to reconcile this story with this one : FBI Examines Moussaoui's Life Investigation Reveals Many Parallels With Alleged Hijackers (Susan Schmidt and Lois Romano, December 12, 2001, Washington Post)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM


Study reveals city employees' racism, reverse discrimination concerns (Brittany Wallman, July 20, 2002, Florida Sun-Sentinel)
Comment No. 834: "Racism is alive and well."

The written remark on Fort Lauderdale's recent poll of employees was not surprising. But it went on: "Promotions are done by race. White males are overpassed."

The survey, released publicly this week, is the first large-scale inquiry into the minds of city employees since racial tensions in the work force erupted into rallies and lawsuits. Strikingly, many of the comments employees volunteered at the end of the survey dealt with discrimination against whites, or "reverse discrimination."

Employee after employee complained that racism fever had spread through the workplace, causing supervisors to ignore infractions of minority-race employees and to sway promotions their way, for fear of being branded racist.

City officials are disturbed, wondering how to interpret the findings.

Wondering how to interpret them? Did I miss something? Were those comments in Sanskrit or Esperanto? They seem pretty clear.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:17 PM


Judge throws the book at pimps : 'Sir Charles' gets 30 years, 'Batman,' 40 (Jane O. Hansen, July 20, 2002, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Two of Atlanta's most notorious pimps, convicted of prostituting children as young as 10, were told Friday they would spend nearly the rest of their lives in federal prison. National authorities called the sentences among the harshest of their kind.

Charles F. Pipkins, who at 57 has been called the "granddaddy" of Atlanta's pimps, stood with his hands clasped behind his back and stared straight ahead as U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester sentenced him to 30 years in a federal penitentiary.

Dammit! In High School, I was voted Most Likely To...become Grandaddy of Atlanta's pimps.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 PM

Research Suggests More Health Care May Not Be Better (GINA KOLATA, July 21, 2002, NY Times)

"If there are twice as many physicians, patients will come in for twice as many visits," said Dr. John E. Wennberg of Dartmouth Medical School, where much of the new work is being done.

The Dartmouth researchers acknowledge that their findings are unexpected, and some experts say more work is needed to sort out cause from effect.

"These relationships are very difficult to disentangle," said Dr. Rodney Hayward, professor of health policy and management at the University of Michigan. Patients in some regions may be demanding more care, either because they are sicker or because they have come to expect it, Dr. Hayward said; doctors cluster in areas where there is more demand.

Still, Dr. Wennberg and his colleagues say the disparities are too stark to be explained entirely by such factors. In a paper published in February in the journal Health Affairs, they wrote that Medicare's typical lifetime spending for a 65-year-old in Miami is more than $50,000 higher than for a 65-year-old in Minneapolis. In a further analysis, they found that in Miami, where medical services are particularly abundant, the federal Medicare program pays more than twice as much per person per year as it does in Minneapolis: $7,847 in Miami, $3,663 in Minneapolis.

Nor can the gap be explained by regional differences in medical costs, said Dr. Elliott S. Fisher, an author of the paper who is co-director of the Outcomes Group at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt., and a professor of medicine at Dartmouth. Older Miamians simply went to doctors and hospitals more often. In their last six months of life, they had more than six times as many visits to medical specialists as those in Minneapolis, spent twice as much time in the hospital and were admitted to intensive care units more than twice as often.

Life expectancy is no greater in regions that have more intensive medical care, the researchers find, and Medicare surveys find that their quality of care is no better.

"What increased spending buys you is generally unpleasant interventions like intensive care units and feeding tubes," Dr. Wennberg said.

Considering that health care, particularly for seniors, is no longer a free market, it makes sense that an infinite amount of money will chase any amount of medicine you make available. Of course, the problem is that the money only seems infinite because it's coming from the government.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:37 PM


A spreading menace : By forging new alliances and strategic agreements ostensibly to fight Islamic terrorism, the United States has, post-9/11, spread its military presence even to hitherto inaccessible areas in Asia. (RAHUL BEDI, July 20-August 02, 2002, Frontline : India's National Magazine)
The September 11 attacks on the United States have, ironically, proved to be a strategic bonus for Washington in extending its military presence across Asia. Through a complex web of alliances, ostensibly to fight the scourge of Islamic terrorism, and backed by economic sops and clever strategic agreements, the world's lone superpower has manoeuvred itself not only to exploit the vast energy resources of the Central Asian Republics (CARs), but also to encircle China, its potential economic and military rival.

Ten months after 9/11, U.S. military presence is palpable not only in Kabul, Islamabad and strategically located CARs such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - vital to U.S. oil conglomerates, anxious to begin laying pipelines to the Arabian Sea - but in varying degrees in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and to a lesser extent in Myanmar. Further east, the U.S. military is combating Al Qaeda cadres in the Philippines and bolstering its presence in Indonesia and the South China Sea.

You have to be somewhat ambivalent about all this, particularly if this massive projection of power were to continue for a period of years. But it does provide some perspective against which to judge the absurd claims that the EU and/or China can conceivably rival our military and geopolitical might.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:27 PM


A bounty hunt for bin Laden yields heads, ears (Paul Bedard, 7/20/02, US News)
Federal and private rewards offered for the capture or death of Osama bin Laden and his henchmen have prompted a wave of mercenaries to flood into the Afghanistan area, and now they're bragging about delivering heads and ears as proof of success.

Stuck in the Middle With You (Stealers Wheel)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:50 PM


Why Republicans Should Be Afraid : A lot can go wrong for them this fall. (David Brooks
07/29/2002, Weekly Standard)
Liberal blogger Joshua Micah Marshall (www.talkingpointsmemo.com) recently published the leaked results of a Tarrance Group study commissioned by the National Republican Campaign Committee. The Tarrance recommendations make for disconcerting reading for Republicans. "Democrat attempt to label GOP position on Social Security as favoring 'privatization' presents serious threat. GOP, Members, and candidates must fight back against this label," the study reported. "AARP is a dangerous adversary in this debate. They have greater credibility than any entity on this issue and are not viewed as partisan," the consultants continued. They recommended that Republicans respond to the issue by declaring, "Social Security is a sacred trust. It must be saved." They suggested that Republicans not try simply to change the subject or laud themselves for having the courage to tackle the entitlements issue.

The Tarrance Group offers effective recommendations on how Republicans can portray themselves as fervent anti-privatizers and so neutralize the issue. And Republicans may be able to neutralize other Democratic issues. But that's cold comfort, because there are few issues that offer significant Republican upside. The political benefits from the war on terror have been reaped. Domestically, the Republican party is as bereft of plausible policy ideas as at any time in the past quarter century. How exactly do Republicans respond to the current moment? With cuts in the capital gains tax rate? With the flat tax? With deregulation? With a crusade to shrink the size of government? With entitlement reform? These ideas, admirable on the merits, are as politically implausible now as any that can be imagined. Worse, many of them have the feel of a bygone era.

This seems exactly wrong. You can't run away from your own core philosophy. Go ahead and run on balancing the budget (by cutting programs), the flat tax, school choice, privatizing Social Security, and social issues like cloning, the Pledge and partial bitrth abortion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:35 PM


Simon asks national GOP leaders for their help (John Wildermuth, July 20, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
Republican Bill Simon prides himself on being a successful businessman, but his selling ability was tested Friday when he worked to convince national GOP leaders that the party's future is in California.
"Think of the shock waves" a win over Democratic Gov. Gray Davis would send through the political community, he told members of the Republican National Committee, which is having its summer meeting in San Francisco.
"I'm absolutely convinced we're going to win on Nov. 5," he told the lunchtime gathering.

I'm absolutely convinced he's going to lose, but so what? The GOP can't just give up on California, can it? California is rich in House seats and Electoral votes--what could be more important to the National Party than to become competitive there again?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM


'Blair echoing his American masters' (News International, July 20, 2002)
Iraq on Friday blasted British Prime Minister Tony Blair, with an official newspaper accusing him of 'moral degeneration' for echoing American threats of war against Iraq. 'It seems Blair has reached such a level of moral degeneration that he not only justifies total subservience to Bush but also justifies lying to and misinforming the British public opinion '' the ruling Baath party Al-Thawara newspaper said in a front page editorial.

Now we know where George Michael gets his news.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM


Hillary, Dem shout it out at Capitol (TIMOTHY J. BURGER, NY DAILY NEWS)
Sen. Hillary Clinton got into a closed-door shouting match in the Capitol yesterday with the top Democratic backer of campaign finance reform, sources told the Daily News. Clinton (D-N.Y.) faced off with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) during a luncheon discussion of a landmark fund-raising law set to take effect Nov. 6.

When Feingold dismissed warnings that senators could face legal challenges on unpredictable grounds under the new law, Clinton exploded.

"Russ, live in the real world," a tight-faced Clinton shouted at Feingold, sources said.

"They will be all over you like a June bug," a source quoted Clinton as later saying, in a reference to Republicans and their allies.

This seems unlikely to quell the rumors that she's an anti-Semite.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM


President Salutes Troops of the 10th Mountain Division : Remarks by the President to Troops and Families of the 10th Mountain Division (Fort Drum, New York, 7/19/ 02)
Saw a blurb on FOX News last night and at one point, when the President paused to look down at his speech, one of the guys yelled out something to the effect of : Let's get Saddam! President Bush's smirk may bug people, but it's never looked more appropriate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM


Alan Lomax, Who Raised Voice of Folk Music in U.S., Dies at 87 (JON PARELES, July 20, 2002, NY Times)
Alan Lomax, the legendary collector of folk music who was the first to record towering figures like Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, died yesterday at a nursing home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 87.

Mr. Lomax was a musicologist, author, disc jockey, singer, photographer, talent scout, filmmaker, concert and recording producer and television host. He did whatever was necessary to preserve traditional music and take it to a wider audience.

Although some of those he recorded would later become internationally famous, Mr. Lomax wasn't interested in simply discovering stars. In a career that carried him from fishermen's shacks and prison work farms to television studios and computer consoles, he strove to protect folk traditions from the homogenizing effects of modern media. He advocated what he called "cultural equity: the right of every culture to have equal time on the air and equal time in the classroom."

July 19, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:10 PM


We here at Brothers Judd are big fans of Libertarian Samizdata and have the highest regard for Perry de Havilland. But today he wrote something, in regard to our post about using school vouchers to preserve Jewish identity, that seems terribly silly :
But maybe it is just that Jews in America (and Britain for that matter) have just grown up and evolved away from a narrow tribal collective mindset. They realise that their identity is not primarily I am a Jew, but rather I am David Cohen. In fact, perhaps the reason for this Jewish 'problem' is that due to hundreds of generations of being free from the limiting delusion of 'blood and soil' has made Jews uniquely suited to embrace individualistic notions of identity. Jews have a Jewish nation state in Israel now if they want it... and it is just another messy nation state like any other, better than some and worse than others. Few people are better placed psychologically than the world's Jews at this point in time to see the world for what it really is: the 'Promised Land' is Jewish again and the world still sucks.

Perhaps the only thing that made the Jews a collective 'tribe' at all was being forced together by the hostility of host societies who despised them for not being part of their 'Volk'. The Jewish 'problem' of a loss of identity in the larger cosmopolitan society is not a problem at all... it is a blessing! Just as 'everyone can be Irish on St. Patrick's Day', there is nothing wrong with letting Jewish identity (and every other limiting ghetto-of-the-mind) become little more than a bit of cultural spice of only passing significance. As other people have stopped regarding Jews as a people apart, it is not surprising that Jews have started to do the same.

Now Perry and I have in the past had an entire discussion over whether Libertarianism would even exist in the absence of the Judeo-Christian tradition and whether it is tenable as a political system in a society where Judeo-Christian morality does not obtain. This all may cause your eyes to glaze over, but, especially in light of yesterday's other discussion with href=http://englandssword.blogspot.com/2002_07_14_englandssword_archive.html#85257587>Iain Murray, concerning whether manners can be restored in post-Christian Britain, it seems worth resurrecting.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:02 PM


Dear Bros,

I will have to read up on moralistic libertarianism, which does not appear to be the variant that most American Libertarians are espousing. It appears to offer an easy out. because it allows you to believe in traditional morality (Judeo-Christianity) precisely because it is traditional, has evolved.

I am really not sure which flavour of libertarianism you are referring to. Generally it is not society or morality that libertarians rail against but rather literal civil coercion, manifest most prominently in the modern state's endless smothering spew of regulations regarding every aspect of civil society.

I'd not realized that there was such a heavy reliance on evolutionary psychology in some Libertarian thought.

That is the essence of Hayek's views of society and it is hard to overstate his influence in most libertarian circles (and conservative circles too, of course).

It remains unclear to me how morality would arise or be maintained in the absence of our religious teachings.

Libertarian morality is the consequence of a critically rational objective understanding of the nature of the world, but morality itself arose because it serves a social need. Moral societies prospered better than ones which did not develop (or acquire) the memes of a progressively more sophisticated objective moral basis for what we do.

Hence the hostility found in libertarian circles to subjective moral relativists like Chomsky or Marx, to name but two. Societies which are steeped in moral subjectivism are societies whose philosophies are based on subjective epistemological foundations, trapped in an endless spiral of philosophical infinite regression, seemly irrefutable yet meaningless solipsism and stunted by the subjective values that negate the very concept of truth.

To put it crudely, libertarians support morality because it works and it works because valid morality is objectively correct, which is why it evolved in the first place! Ultimately memes based on subjective fantasies tend not to come out on top in the long run.

but it's certainly a significant step up from the kind of extreme individualism that characterizes much of the libertarianism you find online. Unfortunately, from what I find online (which may well be skewed) it would appear that Rothbard is in decline among libertarians generally.

With regard to 'on-line libertarianism', I would say objectivism (Ayn Rand) is probably the largest single (though not majority) influence and she was certainly an advocate of objective morality. But I think you are quite incorrect that Rothbard or the other advocates of libertarianism on an entirely moral basis are in retreat. Quite the contrary.

A key essence of libertarianism is an objective epistemological approach to knowledge. Certainly, I realise that many libertarians would be hard pressed to spell, let alone describe objective epistemology. Like all political/philosophical movements, some people, maybe even the majority, fall into supporting them via a purely deontological appeal to intuition... they believe something just because 'it seems right'. I do not expect to see thousands of members of the US Libertarian Party marching down the streets of Peoria waving copies of 'The Ethics of Liberty' any time soon. Yet regardless of the fact I doubt all the libertarians with NORML, and their ilk, are thinking in those terms, the libertarian theorists that one meets across the world, from New Zealand to Sweden, from the Czech Republic to Los Angeles, from Havana (yes) to London, do indeed quote Rothbard's and Rand's ethical ideas at each other. The fact is, it is a profoundly moral centred view of the world, not nihilism, that drives people from both the socialist left and conservative right, into the arms of libertarianism. Examine any of libertarianism perpetually re-branding variants and at their core, you will find an objective world view staring back at you from behind all the complex verbiage. For example, although I have not got around to reading Virginia Postrel's book 'The Future and its Enemies' yet, I detect a strong influence of Karl Popper's conjectural objectivity in her on-line remarks and in 'Dynamism' generally from what I have seen thus far (Dynamism is her form of hyphenated-libertarianism).

To obey a law simply because it is the law is not to take a moral view at all: that is just the acknowledgement that law is backed by force. To act morally as a Christian, one must have free will to not act morally or else we are just God's marionettes: God playing with himself. Christian morality says that we are given free will and thus must exercise that free will in an ethical manner. Libertarians are saying exactly the same thing. If I want to kill a person whom I detest but do not do so purely because I fear I will be caught and go to jail, that is not a moral action on my part, merely a utilitarian exercise in cost-benefit analysis. If I decline to murder them because I regard it as an immoral act, THAT is a moral choice. Yet by following that logic, libertarians are accused of being nihilists! By that logic, then so are Christians, regardless of their politics!

Like conservatives but unlike socialists, most libertarians are not willing to just reject 'traditional' morality just because it is traditional. Rather they understand that much of it is objectively true and evolved for precisely that reason. They will only wisely reject it if it is objectively untrue. However this means that unlike conservatives,whilst there may be a presumption of deference to tradition, there is no presumption of that deference being required by law in most cases.

Theorising on morality along these lines is pretty much what Hayek did and he is almost as influential with conservatives as with libertarians (Hayek did not regard himself as a conservative, however). Personally I subscribe to the 'falliblist' approach of Popper and Bartley, taking views of rational critical preferentialism (or to use Bartley's equally ungainly term 'Pancritical Rationalism') when evaluating not just morality but pretty much everything from aesthetics to quantum theory.

If you are interested in a painless introduction to Bartley, the lest well know of that trio, and who was most certainly a Christian, let me recommend the excellent Rafe Champion's remarks.

Likewise, your embrace of social solutions would alleviate many of my concerns. I think you would have to acknowledge that there is, at least among some (many) libertarians, such hostility to religion that they tend to reflexively denigrate the very religious institutions that have provided such social assistance and will again in the future, if we are successful in reducing government.

It is certainly true that many libertarians are atheists or agnostics, yet that is *far* from being a defining characteristic of libertarianism. Many are also Christians, Jews, Muslims (yes) and just about everything under the sun. To be honest, I have not met many libertarians who have a problem with faith based charities as they are in many ways the concretisation of the sort of social community alternatives to the dependency infantilism of state aid. I have a profoundly atheist libertarian chum here in London who works as a volunteer at a Servite Charity several hours a week and has nothing but admiration for this Catholic organisation, based as it is on non-coercion, freely given charity and genuine free association.

I was using liberal in the modern American sense, which as you point out is really just a form of statism. Conservatives here often write plaintively about the appropriation of the classic term Liberal by the Left, but it seems futile to fight about that at this late date. Since at least the 1950s and Russell Kirk's seminal book The Conservative Mind, what was once Liberalism has become Conservatism here in the States. Of course, we find it appalling that the Tories are called the Conservative Party, since with the exception of Margaret Thatcher, we would consider them, with their failure to oppose the EU and National Health and other forms of big government, to be a party of the Left.

I think the whole 'left' and 'right' thing, whilst it has some utility, can also be profoundly misleading. To me, 'conservatism' is often 'statism-lite' and thus differs from socialism only in degree rather than essence (no, I am not equating the two, just putting them on the same continuum, as I would with assault and murder).

I hope I didn't seem to be dismissing Man's selfishness out of hand. We conservatives too believe it to be a useful characteristic and the driving factor in the success of capitalism. I merely meant to note that this selfishness is so powerful that it has to be restrained, either by government or morality or both, else we would all be at each others' throats.

My view is that self interest is actually best served by NOT being at each other's throats. And for those who insist on that anyway... well I never said I was a pacifist (which is itself just 'nihilism-without-balls'). Libertarians do not believe in chaos (even the anarchist flavour) but rather a more spontaneous order.

I'd defend, to the death, your right to walk around your house naked, but at the point where you want to wander around my children's playground naked, I'd either stop you myself or have the police remove you. And, as you suggest, I'd hope that social reproval and pressure would suffice to get you to dress before you left the house.

Quite so. Libertarianism is about the liberty to make choices and reap the consequences of those choices. Any 'libertarian' who acts in a threatening way to other people (such as wandering around your children's playground naked) is not just missing the point, he is about to discover the 'consequences' half of that equation. No rational libertarian would have a problem with that concept. Of course every philosophy has its fair share of irrational adherent, even ones predicated upon critical rationalism!

It sounds like many of our disagreements actually arise from the surprising (to me, at least) differences in our cultures. Britain (I assume you are British?) does not appear to have a serious conservative opposition anymore, and your kind of libertarianism (classical Liberalism) is a critique of both Labour and the accomodationist Tories.

There is some truth to that. However I am the very embodiment of what Marx called a 'rootless cosmopolitan', though in reality I have very deep roots indeed... they just do not happen to stay in the convenient national boundaries so beloved of control centred states and socialists of both 'left' and 'right'. I am English on my fathers side and American on my mothers side, with extended family in Britain, Australia and North America. I have lived and worked in Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, California, South Africa and Ghana. I am 40 something.

But, here in America, this critique pretty much defines the Republican Party--minimal government, free market capitalism, personal liberty, traditional morality, strong social institutions.

You describe a party which must then have reduced the size of government during the Reagan and Bush(x2) administrations. The figures suggest otherwise alas. If you seriously think the Republican party is done more than just slow the rate at which Leviathan is putting on weight, methinks you are kidding yourself. Dick Armey et al (i.e. libertarian leaning conservatives) are not the party's mainstream by any stretch of the imagination. Just how many federal departments have actually closed down under the Republicans? To which party does the president who has agreed to corporate welfare payments to the structurally unsound parts of the US airline industry belong?

That said, I have often felt the US Libertarian Party is a mistake (Dale Amon, one of my co-editors on the Samizdata disagrees with me strongly on that. Although he lives in Belfast at the moment, he is American and an LP member). I think that if libertarians are going to participate in what I regard as a fundamentally illegitimate democratic process of proxy theft, they would be better off subverting the Republican Party into more libertarian ways (i.e. trying to take it back to America's radical Jeffersonian classical liberal roots).

For me, I take the view that the job of political libertarians is not to drag the name of libertarianism through the mud of party politics in order to achieve an improbable top down American 'perestroika' (i.e. what the USLP is trying to do) but rather to work to make much of the state's apparatus of coercion simply irrelevant.

Every time you pay cash or use the Internet in order to avoid taxes, every time you break the speed limit on an empty road, every time you use the Internet to download 'illegal munitions grade' encryption software, every time you arbitrate a dispute rather than involve the state, every time you open an off-shore bank account, or set up an off-shore company or transfer money via a fei qian (or hawala) rather than via a regulated banking system, every time you refuse to register a firearm, every time you build on YOUR property out-of-code, every time you hire someone's freely given
labour 'off the books', you are making a statement that you will simply not cooperate with laws that have no moral basis. By refusing to blindly pay your taxes, register your weapons and accept the state as a super-owner of your property (which is the heart of fascism, by the way) you are refusing to finance and acquiesce in your own oppression. THAT is the sort of thing I advocate libertarians doing. Thus the most widespread unconsciously libertarian practice in the United States is the humble, and untaxed, yard sale.

On the other hand, that doesn't leave much room for American libertarianism, so it actually tends to end up opposing even morality and non-governmental institutions as unfairly coercive.

Which non-governmental institutions did you have in mind that have attracted libertarian ire? And what sort of morality are you referring to?

Perry de Havilland

Dear Perry :

*Well, libertarianism is no different than conservatism in its opposition to government regulation. The question is really whether libertarianism is premised on a belief that in the absence of any state law enforcement mechanisms human beings would be decent towards one another. From what I've read, it appears this is the position of many libertarians.

*Evolutionary Psychology : setting aside the question of evolution itself, doesn't evolutionary psychology tend to merely validate things as they are? Libertarianism, like the dodo bird, exists nowhere. It has been selected out in favor of big government. If you believe in evolution of even human institutions, then why fight the inevitable?

*Morality : I think you are begging the question. Of course libertarians support traditional Western morality; after all, it makes libertarian idealism seem feasible. The question is, once you undermine the religions that created that morality and the government institutions that enforce it, how do you get people to behave morally?

*For a believer in God, it is wrong to kill not merely because God says not to, but because the lives of other human beings have absolute value. What is the purely objective libertarian basis for me valuing someone else's life?

*I see a rather extensive common ground developing here around two big issues : reducing government and cultivating voluntary social organizations. Have you read any of the stuff by communitarians (Etzioni, Benjamin Barber, Robert D. Putnam, etc.)? Unfortunately, they tend to depend on government to develop the community organizations they are talking about, but they are very good on the need for such community-based institutions.

*The difficulty that conservatives (Reagan, Armey, George W., etc.) have had in reducing government is hardly an indicator that they aren't serious in their beliefs. Rather, it tends to confirm that the great mass of people have little interest in liberty. They willingly choose to be unfree in exchange for having government take care of them.

Two quotes in that regard :

One from Sir Alex Fraser Tytler (1742-1813). the Scottish jurist and historian, who said that :

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.

and one from Albert Jay Nock's Memoirs of a Superfluous Man :
Considering mankind's indifference to freedom, their easy gullibility and their facile response to conditioning, one might very plausibly argue that collectivism is the political mode best suited to their disposition and their capacities. Under its regime the citizen, like the soldier, is relieved of the burden of initiative and is divested of all responsibility, save for doing as he is told. He takes what is allotted to him, obeys orders, and beyond that he has no care. Perhaps, then, this is as much as the vast psychically-anthropoid majority are up to, and a status of permanent irresponsibility under collectivism would be most congenial and satisfactory to them.

*The specific fights that are cropping up here between conservatives and libertarians tend to revolve around issues like drugs, abortion, euthanasia, cloning, sexual practices, etc. These all implicate the questions of human dignity and the value of human life, with conservatives believing that life has absolute value and libertarians suggesting that each of us is free to define the value of life as we will and to treat others in any way that they will accede to. And because the main opposition to these practices tends to come from religiously/morally based conservatism, libertarians here are fond of comparing such religious and moral objections to a kind of Talibanesque totalitarianism.

Thanks again for your responses. I'm finding them very helpful and I've got the whole discussion, in hopes that others may also find it useful.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM


The end is nigh (David Warren, July 19, 2002, Jewish World Review)
Iran has come to the boil. Against the background of huge public demonstrations, the reformist party that controls the largest block of seats in the elected but largely powerless Iranian Parliament yesterday threatened to walk out, if the ayatollahs continued to stall measures for social and political change. [...]

Last Friday afternoon, while the media were checking out for the weekend, the U.S. president, George W. Bush, delivered his most under-reported speech. It was timed to land Friday morning in Iran, Islamic sermon time, and this was part of the intended effect. The White House was delivering a "maximal" affront to Iran's "maximal" Shia fundamentalist regime. The speech deviated from the previous U.S. policy, which had been re-enunciated earlier in the week at a State Department press conference, of having nothing to say about Iranian demonstrations. It was fed to Iran in Persian ("Farsi" to the snobs), by a private, Iranian-exile satellite TV station in Los Angeles.

Mr. Bush weighed in with the demonstrators who had taken to the streets, by the hundred thousand in Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, and by the ten thousand in Meshed and elsewhere -- huge events that also went almost unreported in our mainstream media.

Without naming names (as he also had not in his June speech disowning Yasser Arafat), he showed the U.S. no longer makes subtle distinctions between the "moderate reformist" President Mohammad Khatami, and the "hardline" theocratic regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; just as the demonstrators in Iran have ceased to make this subtle distinction, now observed exclusively by the ethereal types in Europe's foreign offices. [...]

The students first, and now every part of Iranian society except the people whose livelihoods depend on the tyranny, demand re-admission to the modern, explicitly Western, world. (Several of the Persians I correspond with have emphasized this point: "We are a Western people. We are not part of the East.")

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I'm afraid that I, like so many others, misinterpreted the inclusion of Iran in the Axis of Evil as a rhetorical flourish.
But it seems that, as we're all having trouble getting used to, the President means what he says and has a pretty good case to back him up here. Moreover, it looks like he's serious about effecting regime change there. I'm happy to have been wrong and look forward to welcoming the Persian people back to the West.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:20 PM


Poll Finds Concerns That Bush Is Overly Influenced by Business (RICHARD W. STEVENSON and JANET ELDER, July 18, 2002, NY Times)
Americans worry that President Bush and his administration are too heavily influenced by big business, fear that Mr. Bush is hiding something about his own corporate past and judge the economy to be in its worst shape since 1994, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows.

The survey suggests that the unfolding revelations about corporate misconduct and inflated earnings hold considerable peril for the White House and Mr. Bush's party in this Congressional election year. Not surprisingly, Democrats sounded particularly troubled about the administration's handling of the corporate issue, but even Republicans shared many of the concerns.

By more than two to one, the poll's respondents said the administration was more interested in protecting the interests of large companies than those of ordinary Americans. That concern was expressed by more than a third of Republicans and an overwhelming majority of Democrats.

Two-thirds of all respondents, and slightly more than half of Republicans, said business interests had too much influence on the Republican Party. Slightly less than half of all those polled said business exerted too much influence over the Democrats. Many Americans also expressed concerns that Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had not been sufficiently forthcoming about their own past business dealings.

With the stock market falling, concern about the economy intensifying and the United States facing the continued threat of terrorist attacks, the poll found a surge since the start of the year in the percentage of people who think the country is on the wrong track. It also found that Americans' trust in government, which climbed after Sept. 11, has slid significantly.

Here's a little game for you. Go read this story from today's Times on President Bush's poll numbers. When you get to this point in the story, stop, and guess what his approval rating is. I'll give you a clue about how your guess should go--notice it's now five full paragraphs into the story and they haven't mentioned the number yet?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM


Journalists' donations raise question of conflict (Bill Dedman, 7/18/2002, Boston Globe)
All the candidates are fighting to get favorable coverage from the press in the intensifying governor's race. But Democrat Robert Reich is collecting something else from the media: campaign contributions.

Nineteen journalists have made donations to candidates in the governor's race, according to public records, and 15 of them wrote their checks to Reich, the former US labor secretary from Cambridge. [...]

Some of the journalists say they are drawn to Reich's liberalism, while others know him personally. The journalists say they don't see any conflicts of interest.

Will the last ethical man out of America please turn out the lights when he leaves.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:46 PM


THUNDERBIRDS ARE...NO! (Steve Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
Reuters reports that Jonathan Frakes, best known for playing William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, will direct a live action version of the famed British puppet/model show "Thunderbirds".

Among my proudest possessions is my set of Thunderbirds on DVD. When we were kids, Thunderbirds was only shown very irregularly. The local Hispanic channel used to show it though and I'd watch in Spanish, not getting the dialogue but easily grasping the lingua franca of Supermarionation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Below the Beltway : Unilateralism Revisited (John B. Judis, 8.12.02, American Prospect)
Except for a brief respite after September 11, the Bush administration has supported what conservatives call "unilateralism" but really a variant of 1920s isolationism. The isolationists of the 1920s did not reject overseas intervention; they just rejected intervening through alliances or on behalf of concerns that didn't reflect the most narrow and immediate definition of the national interest. Bush's unilateralism was on display before September 11 in his withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and in his infatuation with national missile defense.

Bush's new doctrine is a rejection not only of multilateral diplomacy but of diplomacy itself. It reflects the administration's skepticism that it could ever win diplomatic support for its aims, and its confidence that it can achieve through its military superiority what it cannot accomplish through diplomacy. The Bush administration could still be proven correct in Iraq, where it faces a leader with a long record of diplomatic incompetence and military miscalculation. But it could also be courting disaster. On one hand, if Bush decides to invade against the advice of his own military and in the face of opposition from Europe and America's Gulf allies, he could be taking needless chances with American lives and with the stability of the
entire region. A Bush invasion of Iraq, combined with the administration's tilt toward Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the pro-occupation Likud Party, could plunge the Mideast into chaos and hand Islamic radicals a victory previously denied them by the United States. On the other hand, if the Bush administration, faced with opposition, finally forgoes an invasion and settles for the kind of partial measures the Clinton administration embraced, it will have squandered animportant chance to pressure Saddam into allowing arms inspectors back into his country. Either way America loses.

Bush's unilateralism can have even more dire consequences in the long term. The administration's disdain for international treaties will make it impossible for the world's nations to meet threats such as global warming or the spread of disease that can only be addressed through international accords. American unilateralism will also encourage the emergence over the next decades of rival power blocs in Asia and Europe. There are already stirrings in Europe, although any action would have to await the completion of European Union enlargement. If Europe and a China-led Southeast Asia arrayed themselves against the United States, that could bring back the international disorder that prevailed before World War I. The result would not necessarily mean a world war, but regional trading blocs and bitter proxy disputes that could lead to regional wars in those parts of the world that remain mired in autocracy and poverty.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this essay is that Mr. Judis seems to be disfavorably comparing the peaceful, inexpensive isolationism of the 1920s with the bloody, prodigiously expensive and counterproductive internationalism that prevailed under Woodrow Wilson and from 1941 to 1989. The period during which America engaged the world, wrapped itself in international organizations and treaties, and pursued the foreign policy goals of its allies instead of itself was one of the most murderous in human history. One has trouble imagining that Mr. Judis seriously considers that to have been a good thing, though his avowed fear of a united Europe and, even more bizarre, of a China-led Asian Axis seem of a piece with the kind of short-sighted paranoia that gave us WWI, WWII, and the Cold War.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 AM


Nitty-Gritty Music Straight From the Heart (Richard Brookhiser, NY Observer)
After hearing Will the Circle Be Unbroken? I was enamored of Roy Acuff, an old Nashville star who showed up for the recording session (the photos on the liner notes reveal) in a white shirt and a short necktie, and stood out-even in this group-for his passionate delivery. So I went to my neighborhood Barnes & Noble and got The Essential Roy Acuff (1936-1949), and discovered that he got a lot better as he got older. The songs recorded in the 30's were light and croony-a young man trying to charm. By the late 40's, when the album ends, the vinegar is beginning to enter his voice. By the time the long-haired West Coast boys sought him out, he had lost the capacity, or the desire, to please and is just singing. That may be the final test of good music: Older men and women can sing it. The test for Britney: Will we listen when your navel is covered?

It is perfectly understandable why masses of new and lousy music are generated. People have to try something different, and people want to make money. (And why not, since audiences have the surplus to give them?) That explains the new music. But most people have no talent, some people have some, and a few have a lot. That explains the lousy music. But in the witless clamor that is the world, there will be a few gems about life and death. Listen; they are for you.

Not content with being a terrific biographer, essayist, and now TV host, Mr. Brookhiser turns music critic, and does equally well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


A Mandela for the Palestinians (Charles Glass, 15th July 2002, New Statesman)
Born in June 1959 in the village of Kafr Kubr near Ramallah, [Marwan Barghouti] was a street activist from his early teens. He took his high school diploma while in an Israeli prison and his many terms in detention while at Bir Zeit University caused him to take 11 years to earn a degree in history and political science. By 1987, the year of the first uprising, or intifada, against Israeli occupation, he had been deported to Jordan. Two years later, Fatah appointed him as the youngest-ever member of its revolutionary council.

In 1994, when he and other deportees came home under the Oslo accords, Barghouti became an enthusiastic advocate of that peace process, urging Israelis and Palestinians to embrace a new era of co-operation. But soon he was speaking against the Israelis for grabbing more Palestinian land for their settlements and criticising Arafat's government for corruption and autocracy.

I don't know about Barghouti, but when the next deal is struck the Palestinian signatory will have been a terrorist. The great advantage of President Bush's speech, saying that we wouldn't deal with Palestinians who are tainted by terror, is that it may allow us to determine which of them is acceptable and which isn't.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 AM


Power to the poor people? (Stephen Pollard, 15th July 2002, New Statesman)
It may be a cliche to point out that what happens in the US happens here about five years later, but, like most cliches, it's true. Education vouchers, for instance, which give parents a sum equivalent to the money spent on sending their child to a state-run school, are usually dismissed in Britain. They have had a very different history in the US and, thanks to a decision a fortnight ago by the Supreme Court, are now poised to transform American schools. Give it a few years and the same may well happen here - not least because, although few have noticed, the government has already introduced the voucher principle into the NHS.

Although the American left, including the teachers' unions and the bulk of the Democratic Party, oppose school vouchers as firmly as their British equivalents, by far the most vocal advocates are the poverty lobby - and especially the black poverty lobby. The Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies, an African-American think-tank, found in a poll in December 2000 that 75 per cent of blacks under 35 support vouchers.

There's something delightful, though it will repel many Republicans, about the concept of our making common cause with the "poverty lobby".

July 18, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 PM


Officials: Arab leaders to urge end to suicide attacks (Andrea Koppel and Elise Labott, July 17, 2002, CNN)
In an effort to kick-start Palestinian security reform, Arab leaders have agreed to use their influence behind the scenes with various extremist groups to urge an end to nearly two years of relentless suicide attacks against Israel, senior U.S. officials and Arab leaders told CNN.

Officials admit they have little leverage to use with these groups -- including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, all designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

But nonetheless they plan to argue that terrorist attacks are "not going to help" win a Palestinian state and instead will only "add to the misery of the Palestinian people," in the words of one senior Arab official.

It's amazing to see all the things like this that have begun happening since George W. Bush effectively removed us from the "peace" process. It is not that this statement can have any effect on the bombing--it almost certainly won't--but that we may be able to begin to change the atmospherics so that the bombings are no longer accepted as a logical consequence of the confrontation with Israel.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 PM


Playing the Yeshiva Card : National Review appeals to Jews on school vouchers, but it won't work. (Richard Just, 7/198/02, The American Prospect)
America was the first modern country to offer Jews the opportunity to be secure in their identity while participating fully in an open, democratic, pluralistic society. That is why since 1948, Jews have immigrated to Israel en masse from Europe, Russia, the Arab world and Africa -- but not from America. It's not that American Jews don't support Israel; they do. But America in 1948 was already offering what Zionism was promising: a normal life among nations. And one could argue that America was offering a better version of it: For Zionists, a normal life among nations meant the ability of Israeli Jews collectively to play a role in a pluralistic world, but it still meant living their physical lives primarily among each other. In America, a normal life meant Jewish children going to school and sitting in classrooms alongside Catholics and Protestants, Asian Americans and African Americans.

To be sure, American Jews have always believed that Israel needs to exist; but they also believe that to be Jewish while being fully, unapologetically and patriotically American is to participate in the greatest experiment in pluralism the world has ever known. So yes, there are Jews who would like to shut themselves off from the rest of America and live in places such as Kiryas Joel and Borough Park and send their children exclusively to Jewish day schools. But they mangle the spirit of Judaism as surely as Christians who seek to withdraw from American life mangle the spirit of their own faith. And if National Review and friends think the path to secular Jewish votes lies in lining the pockets of Hasidic schools with taxpayers' money, they should think again: Most Jews are pluralists at heart.

That's why conservatives are going to continue to experience frustration with mainstream Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, both of which oppose vouchers. Leibsohn and Finn lay into these groups, but they fail to understand how deep the American Jewish commitment to pluralism runs. Having Ralph Reed as a temporary ally on Israel may be convenient enough, but that does not undo decades of Jewish experience in America and centuries of Jewish experience in the world. This experience teaches Jews that they benefit from living in pluralistic societies. As a result, they are likely always to see the defense of pluralistic principles as being in their self-interest, broadly defined.

Mr. Just avoids the much deeper and more problematic issue here. He concedes that "American Jews have always believed that Israel needs to exist", but he fails to consider whether they think Judaism needs to exist. That is the question that will face them in the not too distant future.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM


U.S. To Hold Joint Maneuvers in Jordan in August (IslamOnline, July 18, 2002)
U.S. and Jordanian troops are to hold joint exercises in August 1, a Jordanian official said Thursday, July 18, stressing the war games were "not connected in any way" to U.S. threats to attack Iraq.

Apparently the new king has no intention of making the same mistake his craven father did in the first Iraq war.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM


U$ BULLYING AT G8? (National Post, 14.07.2002N)
Canadian officials say George W. Bush's entourage at last month's G8 summit in Alberta behaved like bully-boy Texas cowboys as they tried to take control of the agenda set by Jean Chrétien. [...]

Just before the summit began, Mr. Chrétien dismissed the President's trade subsidy policies as "stupid" and said he would never let him push Africa from the top spot on the G8 agenda.

It has been reported Mr. Bush refers to Mr. Chrétien as "dino" -- as in dinosaur -- and that he has not forgiven him for derogatory remarks he made about his father, George Bush Sr., the former president, when Brian Mulroney was in power.

Canada is one of the few major U.S. allies whose leader has never been invited to stay at either Blair House, the U.S. government's official residence reserved for world leaders visiting Washington, or at the President's ranch in Texas.

You can take the man out of France, but you can't take the France out of the man.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:36 PM


Spotlight John (Richard Cohen, July 18, 2002, The Washington Post)
I couldn't care less that John Walker Lindh, agreeing to a plea bargain, is going to get 20 years in jail for fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He's just a screwed-up young man, that's for sure, but the jails are full of such types and, mostly, I feel no sympathy for them. I have only one regret in this case. Lindh's attorneys should have bargained for John Ashcroft's resignation as attorney general.

Such a demand would have been unprecedented, but Lindh and his lawyers held some pretty good cards. They might have insisted on a jury trial, at which it would have become clear that Lindh was not a monster terrorist, connected in some vague way with the death of CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann, but just a jerk who happened to be in the neighborhood when Spann was killed.

Happened to be in the neighborhood? That neighborhood just happens to be thousands of miles away and the guy traveled there to fight with a bunch of anti-American filth. There he fought with them against forces allied with America. Then, while his fellows plotted an attack on their captors, including two Americans, he did nothing to warn his own countrymen of what was happening.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:42 PM


More on crime, juries and culture (Iain Murray, 7/14/02, Edge of England's Sword)
A general breakdown of cultural norms has removed inhibitors against violent behavior. Rational cost/benefit analysis is secondary to the presence or absence of cultural norms that regulate behavior on a primary level. These norms seem to be much more important in the case of violent crime, dealing as it does with people rather than property. It is therefore my contention that British crime reduction efforts need to move away from the economic one size fits all approach and look at how cultural change has affected violent crime rates. Can government do anything about this? Yes, but it needs significant community and personal involvement too. Fiats from central government won't do anything. It is therefore unlikely to be an attractive option for the current government. [...]

[W]e are left with three possible solutions to the criminal justice problem in the UK:

1. Restoration. Ensure a "reformation of manners," as Wilberforce termed it. Use the tools of education and genuine debate to restore a level of trust and sense of shared endeavor in British society that has been lost. This should reduce crime and put public opinion back in step with the justice system.

2. Revolution. Throw off the old system that has grown irrelevant to the wants of the people. Install a new system that reflects current norms. "Grassing" becomes the ultimate crime and theft, violence and depravity are accepted up to certain limits (eg "messing wif de kids").

3. Paternalism. Recognize the disconnect between the people and the system, but try to uphold the system in an effort to avoid chaos. Abolish any institution that relies on popular involvement and replace with experts appointed by and from the elite. Increase the number of tools law enforcement has to enable them to do their job effectively by use of laws, regulations, permits etc.

(There is also a fourth: Replacement. Completely replace the British justice system with one that works in Continental Europe. Ignore the fact that the disconnect between British norms and that system is even greater than the one that currently exists).

Option 2 is clearly ludicrous, and was abandoned as an option in 1983 (I originally said 1979, then I remembered The Longest Suicide Note in History). Option 3 is the one that has been pursued by governments since then. It has not worked. The disconnect has grown wider and the option has been teetering on the edge of tyranny for some time. If it falls off, as I am sure it will, option 2 will probably result, although some will call for option 4.

No-one has really tried Option 1. John Major, of all people, toyed with the idea but screwed it up so badly with his sex-based "Victorian values" and "back to basics" campaigns that it was discredited before being given a chance to work. Nevertheless, I think it remains the only hope for a democratic, liberty-loving Britain.

This is just part of an interesting discussion of British crime problems, and what appears to be a kind of jury nullification there, that's going on now between Iain Murray and Chris Bertram. I wonder though if Option 1, which I too think is the only possibility that is compatible with democracy, is any longer possible as outlined by Mr. Murray. Stated in its baldest terms, the problem with Option 1 as applied to England (or to Western Europe generally) is that there may no longer be much of a foundation upon which a "reformation of manners" can be built. It may be that Options 2 and 3 are already so far along that Option 1 is a dead letter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


Crop Circle Confession : How to get the wheat down in the dead of night (Matt Ridley, July 15, 2002, Scientific American)
I made my first crop circle in 1991. My motive was to prove how easy they were to create, because I was convinced that all crop circles were man-made. It was the only explanation nobody seemed interested in testing. Late one August night, with one accomplice--my brother-in-law from Texas--I stepped into a field of nearly ripe wheat in northern England, anchored a rope into the ground with a spike and began walking in a circle with the rope held near the ground. It did not work very well: the rope rode up over the plants. But with a bit of help from our feet to hold down the rope, we soon had a respectable circle of flattened wheat.

Two days later there was an excited call to the authorities from the local farmer: I had fooled my first victim.

You know, if crop circles really are all part of some extraterrestrial plot to take over Earth, shouldn't we expect them to plant stories like this one, just the way they pretend that there are both an Eric and a Julia Roberts?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


U.S. government doesn't trust Americans (Joseph Farah, July 17, 2002, WorldNetDaily.com)
The latest example of the government's alarming plans to target the entire population for more scrutiny is the Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS. Interestingly, the program came to light not through the reporting of any U.S. press outlets, but through a report in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia and linked by WorldNetDaily.

Under plans outlined on the government's Citizen Corps website, a pilot program launching next month will enlist some 1 million domestic informants in 10 cities to spy on the people. That could mean, if the plan is carried out nationwide, there will be a government snoop for every 24 Americans.

No matter how friendly a face the government attempts to put on this program, it is not going to fly in the USA. Let the word go out now to one and all who might be tempted to participate in such a program - we don't like domestic spies in the United States. We don't like rats. We don't like snitches. We don't like snoops. We don't like them and we don't need them - not here. Not in America. Not now. Not ever.

Mr. Farah is unfortunately correct about our attitude and the results of this have been uniformly disastrous for America. From Whittaker Chambers to Frank Serpico to Linda Tripp, Americans have revealed a vehement hatred of informants. Many people even questioned the decision of the Unabomber's brother to turn him in, as if the fact that someone is your brother is more important than the fact that he's a serial killer. As a nation, we have adopted the ethos of the Mafia, and believe that remaining silent in the face of a criminal conspiracy conveys a certain honor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM


Denzel as Afrocentrist Hannibal? (Steve Sailer, 7/16/02, UPI)
Press reports that 20th Century Fox is considering making an epic movie starring Denzel Washington as Hannibal -- not the cannibal, but the North African general who led his war elephants over the Alps to surprise ancient Rome by attacking from the north -- are reviving controversies over Afrocentrism and just how "ethnically correct" movies need to be.

Washington is one of Hollywood's most honored and consistently profit-generating leading men. Washington can "open" a movie big. and with the kind of budget this costume war movie would require, that's a crucial consideration.

Washington is black. But, what was Hannibal?

After many decades in which white actors played non-white characters, such as John Wayne's curious portrayal of the Mongolian Genghis Khan in 1956's "The Conqueror," should non-whites like Washington now play ancient figures who were probably Caucasian, such as Hannibal? How important is it for actors to racially match their characters?

There's a famous story about the torture scene in the Marathon Man. To prepare for it, method actor Dustin Hoffman had stayed awake for hours, starved himself, run around the reservoir a qabillion times, etc. So he walks on the set looking like a zombie and Olivier, bewildered by his antics, turns to him and says : "Try acting, dear boy".

July 17, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 PM


True Confessions : Two simple measures could go a long way toward ensuring that findings of criminal guilt are genuine (Margaret Talbot, July/August 2002, The Atlantic Monthly)
Experts have come up with two very good ideas for making wrongful convictions less likely. One is to improve the standard police lineup by letting witnesses see only one purported suspect at a time, so that they can make an absolute judgment about each one. When witnesses see six people at once, they make relative judgments, comparing the six and picking whoever looks most like the person they remember from the crime scene, rather than evaluating each individually. Conducting lineups sequentially seems like a minor change, but research by Wells and others has shown that it reduces the number of mistaken identifications-by as much as one half-without significantly reducing the number of correct ones. Ensuring that the detective running the lineup does not know who the real suspect is, and so does not make leading comments (Don't you want to look at number three again?), helps too, for the same reason that good clinical research is double-blind: otherwise it's easy to contaminate the results with intentional or unintentional bias.

The second proposal is to videotape all police interrogations, so that a reliable record exists of the questioning that produced a confession-how leading, how coercive, how open-ended-and of the suspect's comportment during it.

Several years ago George Will wrote a column, Innocent on Death Row (George F. Will, April 6, 2000, Washington Post), and made an argument that it seems to us that death penalty supporters have a particular obligation to take seriously : that the criminal justice system, which is after all just another governmental operation, must routinely make mistakes and we must therefore approach with trepidation the idea of taking lives based on its verdicts. This is not necessarily to say that the death penalty may never be warranted nor that we can never be confident that the person we're executing is guilty, but it is to say that we, conservatives in particular, have a heightened duty to try to maximize the certainty of findings of guilt.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 PM


The Future Is Later : The cloning fight comes down to abortion--and down to earth. (Chris Mooney, 7.15.02, American Prospect)
[T]he intellectual collapse of the Kass-Fukuyama-Krauthammer secular argument against therapeutic cloning -- which was clearly designed to extend the position's appeal beyond the antiabortion crowd -- remains the key to the Brownback bill's weak showing. Writers such as Krauthammer (and, for that matter, Republican Senator Bill Frist) repeatedly express support for the president's stem-cell decision but opposition to research cloning. That logic baffles even many anti-abortion intellectuals. As National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in response to a vast Krauthammer New Republic cover story opposing therapeutic cloning: "Krauthammer believes that [b]ecause [an embryo] is not a mere thing, it cannot be created for the sole purpose of using it in a way that destroys it. If it's already been created for some other purpose, though, as the leftover embryos in IVF clinics have been, it can be destroyed. If there's a point of principle that underlies this set of positions, I can't see it." [...]

The people who aren't confused or inconsistent in opposing cloning, though you may disagree with them, are the anti-abortionists. And as the secular anti-cloning argument collapses under its own weight, it becomes increasingly clear that, at its base, the cloning issue boils down to abortion politics by other means. As one therapeutic cloning advocate puts it, "In some offices in the Senate, this whole issue has not even been handled by the health [legislative assistant]." Rather, it was kicked upstairs because of the abortion implications. pessimistic about the species to believe this likely, but isn't it

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, a Pew Research Center survey in April found that "religious commitment is the most important factor influencing attitudes of opponents of stem cell research." Why cloning opponents would be any different is hard to figure, given that both debates center on embryos.

Mr. Mooney's analysis is reasonably good here, though his attempt to make a Waterloo out of conservatives' unsurprising inability to move a cloning ban through a Democrat led pro-abortion Senate is just silly. But one wonders whether his glee over the incoherence of the secular anti-cloning position is wise. It is, of course, possible that those who don't believe in the human soul and human dignity will realize that their argument against cloning implicates both and will therefore abandon their opposition to cloning. But isn't it equally possible that they'll begin to question their secularism? If Leon Kass is right about the "wisdom of repugnance", that there are some things we need not even reason upon, we simply have a visceral feeling that they are wrong, and if people, as polls continue to indicate, do feel that things like cloning and partial birth abortion and the like are wrong, then mightn't they begin to contemplate their first principles, about the nature of human life? Mind you, we're far too pessimistic about the species to think this likely, but isn't it at least possible?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 PM


Call her Mrs. (Ann Coulter, July 17, 2002, Universal Press Syndicate)
In 1964, [Phyllis] Schlafly wrote "A Choice, Not An Echo," widely credited with winning Barry Goldwater the Republican nomination for president. The book sold an astounding 3 million copies. (The average nonfiction book sells 5,000 copies.) Goldwater lost badly in the general election, but the Republican Party would never be the same.

Ms Coulter may slightly overstate the role of A Choice Not an Echo in Barry Goldwater's winning of the 1964 nomination, but she does not overstate Mrs. Schlafly's pivotal role in the times of her life. There may not be another woman in recent times who has achieved so much in the eternal fight for human freedom and dignity and there's certainly no one who fought harder to prevent the disastrous social pathologies that feminism has unleashed. She's a genuine American heroine.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM


The Mobile Web (Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., 07/17/2002, Tech Central Station)
Millions of people already telecommute from home. But if people like Arturo Pereyra, general manager of WiFi Metro, Inc. have their way, they soon can telecommute -- or do homework, chat online, send e-mail, or about anything else you can do on a computer -- not just from home but everywhere they go. They'll be able to take advantage of what Ray Oldenburg once described as "a Third Place" -- not the home or office, but a place that combines the best features and the familiarity of both locations, and allows anyone with a properly equipped laptop to have a portable office, complete with high-speed Internet access.

Friend Driscoll loses me a bit when he starts flinging around "802.11b" but it sounds like it lets you do cool stuff.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM


Say It Isn't So : How Not to Broaden the Jazz Canvas (Gary Giddins, July 3 - 9, 2002, Village Voice)
The unceremonious booting of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band from Carnegie Hall is old news, but hasn't been much addressed in or out of the jazz press, perhaps because George Wein, whose baby the CHJB was, capitulated without a fight to the hall's new executive director, Robert J. Harth. The public excuse, and it's a beaut, is that the hall wants to expand its presentation of jazz by looking to a wide variety of artists rather than one ensemble. Oh joy!-I so look forward to eating the words I'm about to deploy. Harth, the son of two concert violinists who was previously in charge of the Aspen Music Festival, where presentation of jazz was nonexistent, has told CHJB conductor and music director Jon Faddis that he intends no artistic slight. He just wants to broaden the jazz canvas. Apparently, the CHJB's four evenings a year were getting in the way. So much jazz, so little time.

This lament by jazz critic Garry Giddins prompted a letter from our friend Glenn A. Dryfoos, the official jazz correspondent of the Brothers Judd. It appears in the print version of the Voice this week :
To Gary Giddins:

Your article about the demise of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band struck a nerve. First, because I lived in NY when the American Jazz Orchestra launched, and one of the most memorable concerts I've ever attended was the night of Benny Carter music. (Benny is not only a great hero of mine, but I've had the pleasure of knowing him for over 20 years.) After that concert, I was sure that all of the great cultural institutions (such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center) would see the artistic value in supporting full-time (or at least semi-regular) large jazz bands, which could play repertory and new compositions in the big band configuration, or break up into interesting smaller groups. Of course, with only a few exceptions, that hasn't happened on any wide scale basis.

The second cause of my consternation was that the death of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra mirrors the loss of patronage that last year befell another great band, with, coincidentally, the same initials: the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. I lived in Los Angeles from 1987 until 2000, and one of the driving forces in the jazz scene there is the Clayton-Hamilton band. For about 10 years now, the band's roster has remained remarkably stable (although death and relocation has changed things a bit), and John Clayton is talented arranger and charismatic leader.

A few years ago, the LA Philharmonic hired a new, forward-looking general manager. He was a jazz fan and wanted to add jazz to the Phil's mission. Plus, the Philharmonic operates the Hollywood Bowl, and he thought having a "house band" would provide some grounding for the Bowl's summer jazz series (which used to consist of nights where 3 or 4 "big names" would come on stage, one after the other, and play a handful of numbers and then get off to make room for the next big name).

Of course, having the CHJO supported by the Phil was wonderful. It gave the guys about 12-15 regular gigs a year (which made it easier to hold the band together) and gave John Clayton some cushion (in time and money) so he could write new tunes and arrangements. And the concerts were great: the band really added to whoever the guest artist was (whether Milt Jackson or Ray Charles or Diana Krall....come on, they had to sell tickets). And, over the course of the season, the audience began to learn who some of the guys in the band were. I couldn't believe it when a friend I had taken to a couple of concerts actually remembered the names and sounds of Snooky Young, Jeff Hamilton and Ricky Woodard.

Anyway, of course after one season, the forward-looking g.m. got into a fight with his Board and was fired. Although the band got to play out its summer run at the Bowl (Clayton had a 3 year contract) all of the grander plans for jazz via the LA Philharmonic's various programs and venues went unfulfilled.

Happily, the Clayton-Hamilton band is still together...in fact, they're even playing at the Bowl this summer. But L.A. really missed a chance (as Carnegie Hall is doing now) to support jazz in a way that is commensurate with the merit of the music and the people who play it.

Dryfoos and I were in a jazz band together--he was first saxophone; I was third bass drum.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:26 PM


Teachers make plans for lesson on Sept. 11 (Dana Hull, Jul. 16, 2002, San Jose Mercury News)
In less than two months, the United States will observe the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- and teachers are already thinking about how to mark the day in their classrooms. [...]

The National Council for the Social Studies recently created a lesson plan about ``Osama,'' a young boy from Iraq who immigrates to the United States and is teased at school because of his name.

Suppose, for just a moment, that, to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, The National Council for the Social Studies created a lesson plan about a boy named James Earl, who has just moved to a black neighborhood and is teased about his name.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:24 PM


The sad saga of Rep. Jim Moran (David Keene, The Hill)
Jim Moran was elected mayor in spite of the fact that some years before he had been forced to resign from the City Council by a judge who put him on probation for a serious 'conflict of interest.' The alternative threatened was a trial and probable conviction on bribery charges. Few thought his political career could survive.

But it did. He confounded most observers by coming back to be elected mayor and went on to win election to Congress in 1990. He's been reelected ever since in a heavily Democratic district, has emerged as something of a leader within the Democratic Leadership Council and is often seen on various TV networks as a Democratic spokesman.

But there's still something wrong with the guy. Since threatening my intern more than a decade ago, he's threatened congressional colleagues and assaulted one on the House floor. He also attacked an 8-year-old child whom he claimed tried to steal his car, and the police had to be called to his house to break up a domestic fight that sent his wife scurrying off to the nearest divorce lawyer.

So the temper's still there, but so are the ethical lapses that forced him out of politics once before. Since arriving in the House he's played fast and loose with ethics rules as well as campaign finance laws. He's apparently always lived beyond the means of a congressman and gotten himself into financial binds that have forced him to seek help wherever he might get it.

All too often this seemed to be from lobbyists who were courting his vote on legislation of interest to them or their clients. Instead of simply taking and pocketing cash, however, the feisty Moran has worked out ways that allow him to at least claim that he isn't really doing anything wrong.

Well, at least he voted to impeach Bill Clinton...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 AM


HIV/Aids: Condoms have not made much difference (Maximillia Muninzwa, 7/17/02, East African Standard)
The Population Division of the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs has concluded that condoms have failed to solve the Aids pandemic. That the availability of condoms has not significantly altered individuals’ sexual behaviours. This revelation follows an exhaustive analysis survey in developing countries.

The report further asserts that even though much effort has been spent in promoting the prophylactic use condoms as part of the HIV/Aids prevention, the condom has not become more popular among sexually active men and women. This is in spite of widespread knowledge about HIV/Aids and easy access of condoms. [...]

I have no quarrels to pick with the condom, but I believe that those who do not approve of this c-word as a prophylactic simply and purely bring forth an ethical context to the beauty of sexuality and sexual intercourse aesthetics aside.

If we were just a little more honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that the c-word has left us with a world of absolute sexual licence. A world where everyone is encouraged to be faithfully promiscuous because “everyone belongs to everyone else.”

Otherwise why would we dismiss with such disdain those who sound the warning trumpet?

Even less discussed is the fact that condoms have a significantly higher failure rate during anal sex, which is obviously germane to the prevention of AIDs. Advocacy of condom use, in the face of all we know about its failure to prevent the spread of AIDs, represents the triumph of the politics of liberal sexuality over the science of disease prevention.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 AM


Saddam vows to defeat United States (United Press International, 7/17/2002)
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Wednesday vowed to defeat any U.S. attack on Iraq, urging his people to stand fast and fight for the independence and sovereignty of their country.

"Fight with eagerness and vitality and patience whenever you are forced to defend yourself. ... Your faith is the source of prosperity, freedom, independence, stability and justice to which you aspire," Saddam said in a speech broadcast on official television on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the Baath Party's taking power in Iraq in a 1968 military coup.

"Your country will remain unbeatable by the enemy and will come out victorious despite the roaring and boisterousness of the foreigners," Saddam said in allusion to U.S. threats to attack Iraq and topple the Baghdad regime.

"Iraq will be victorious, victorious, victorious. ... All the foreign roaring you are hearing will be withered away by the wind, because the enemy is a greedy oppressor and enemy of God," Saddam said in the 40-minute speech.

As a great nation we at least owe him the courtesy of a chance to prove his words.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM


Corzine tied to stock scheme (Dave Boyer, July 17, 2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Sen. Jon Corzine, whose Wall Street expertise plays a key role in Democrats' strategy on corporate responsibility, led an investment banking firm that is being accused of inflating stock prices in the 1990s and contributing to the market crash.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle lately has kept Mr. Corzine at his side frequently as Democrats call on President Bush to get tougher with corporate executives who fraudulently inflate company earnings to boost stock prices.

"I think he's made a stellar contribution," said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat and author of a bill approved Monday by the Senate that would increase the penalties for corporate wrongdoers.

But Goldman Sachs, the firm that Mr. Corzine left as chairman in May 1999, has been a target of class-action lawsuits and accusations by a former broker who complained to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the investment house engaged in a scheme to force unwitting investors to pay artificially high prices for certain stocks.

Mr. Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, said he knew nothing about such schemes when he ran the firm from 1994 to 1999.

"I don't believe there is ever going to be anything that sticks about us at Goldman Sachs forcing anybody to buy anything," Mr. Corzine said in an interview. "Goldman Sachs never forced anyone to buy anything when I was chairman, I can tell you that."

Several years ago, when the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were grilling Robert Bork, it was especially maddening because his inquisitors included Joe "Plagiarism" Biden; Ted "Chappaquidick" Kennedy; Dennis "Keating 5" DeConcini; and Howard "The Valet" Metzenbaum. By what right could this collection of criminals and degenerates sit in judgment on a better man's judicial temperament?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM


Bush's simple brand of politics must embarrass black friends (Clarence Page, July 17, 2002)
Bob Hillman, of the Dallas Morning News, asked Bush about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group, which was holding its annual convention in Houston. There had been some criticism at the NAACP, the reporter noted, that Bush had not attended one of their conventions since the 2000 campaign. Hillman asked for a response to this and “generally to suggestions from some critics that your civil rights record in the administration is not a stellar one.”

Bush looked down, pondered the question for a moment, then said, “Let's see: There I was, sitting around . . . the table with foreign leaders, looking at (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and Condi (National Security Advisor Condoleezza) Rice.”

And . . .? Yes . . .?

No, there was no need to wait for a further response. That was all he said. He cast a glance, a smirk and a shrug and, ka-zoom, called on the next questioner. If you want to know about his civil rights record, in other words, hey, just remember that he listens to two blue-ribbon blacks on his foreign policy team every day.

Or, to put it another way, some of his best friends are nonwhite. What more do you need to know?

Welcome to the age of Bush brevity. Compared to his predecessor, who could muse and rattle off a five- or six-point proposal in response to a question about the weather, “W” is the concise president, just as happy to give a few words as a lot when the questions get into a ticklish area.

If I understand Mr. Page's point here, it is that he would prefer that Mr. Bush go kowtow to the NAACP than that he actually have blacks in vital leadership positions in his government. He seems to think the black community better served by having a Bill Clinton shuck and jive them at a convention than a George W. Bush treat them like equals at the highest levels of government. Maybe I misunderstand the meaning of the word "Advancement"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM


Get a whiff of this (Sydney Morning Herald, July 17 2002)
The world's biggest and stinkiest flower is in full bloom in Southern California - something that's happened only 15 or so times in the United States.

The 1.35 metre amorphophallus titanum or titan arum, considered by some the plant kingdom's superstar, is drawing crowds to Quail Botanical Gardens curious to smell the odour that gives the plant its nickname, the corpse flower.

"It's the worst thing I've ever smelled," said nine-year-old Todd Fritz, who dropped to his knees yesterday and writhed on the ground in mock agony when he caught a whiff.

Dennis Gulyas, a self-described admirer of bizarre things, said the odour reminded him of an unventilated high school gym locker.

"It's the farthest I've gone to smell something that bad," said the San Diego man, who made a 32 km trip to the garden.

Native to Indonesia, the titan arum blooms only a few times in its life span and rarely blooms in cultivation. For eight hours, it emits a nauseating odour to attract pollinating, carrion-eating beetles.

I think we had one growing in our fraternity one year.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


Hamas waits over horizon (Neill Lochery, Jewish World Review, July 17, 2002)
It is correct to try to isolate Arafat and the Palestinian Authority on both moral and political grounds. Too much attention, however, has been given to Arafat's likely successors from within the ranks of the Palestinian Authority. To a degree, this is natural as many of the personalities are relatively unknown outside their respective constituencies.

Worryingly, however, scant attention has been given to groups such as Hamas that could exploit the deepening divisions within the secular Palestinian movement and seize power.

It is important that Western leaders ensure that the price of getting rid of Arafat is not an acceptance of Hamas as the major Palestinian political force. Such a scenario would be disastrous not only for the Arab-Israeli conflict but also for the Palestinian population, who would likely become immersed in a brutal civil war.

Which is, presumably, why President Bush was careful to state that we wouldn't deal with any leaders who are tainted by terrorism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM


To Dance on a Dugout, a Guy's Gotta Eat (ALEX WITCHEL, July 17, 2002, NY Times)
As Mr. Haber led the way into Adelman's last Wednesday, he said, "Me and my mother and father used to eat here all the time." He seated himself at a front table next to framed sheets of uncut Topps baseball cards hanging on the wall. "On the back of each one are the stats my father used to write," he said proudly. "Baseball was basically tattooed on my life by him. He was an incredible master of human knowledge."

"I also have a phenomenal memory," he went on, reminiscing about James Madison High School, where he pitched for the baseball team, and Hofstra University, where he did the same. "But I never took my studies seriously, which was a shame," he said. "My fondest memory was the camaraderie with the guys." Then, with a logic Yogi Berra could love, he added, "When you're in college, you just don't think."

Mr. Haber ordered matzo ball soup, pastrami on rye and Dr. Brown's black cherry soda. "You want the sandwich juicy or lean?" the waiter asked. "A little flavor?" Mr. Haber opted for flavor. He shunned mustard for his sandwich, which was indeed flavorful, moist and not at all fatty. Instead, he dunked it in the soup. Amazingly, it was terrific. A French dip, only Jewish.

This guy has Red State written all over him. He eats stuff 'cause it tastes good not to display good taste. Of course, he'd have to drive to a Blue State to find the food...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM


Bush would beat Daschle at home in '04 (CHUCK RAASCH, 7/17/2002, Gannett News Service)
[P]resident Bush still remains a formidable candidate against likely Democratic challengers in 2004, even in their home states.Only Sens. Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd in Connecticut and John Kerry in Massachusetts had advantages over Bush in their home states, according to nine state polls released Tuesday by the political Web site Hotline, a feature of the National Journal.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle trailed Bush by 18 percentage points in his home state of South Dakota, and Al Gore had a 16-point deficit in Tennessee, according to Hotline polls taken in late June and early July.

Those who know them best...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 AM


French Group Forms to Back Moussaoui (AP, July 15, 2002)
Several French associations have formed a support committee for Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged as a Sept. 11 conspirator, the suspect's former lawyer said Friday.

Because Moussaoui risks the death penalty in the United States, the associations felt that more support should come from France, said Francois Roux. [...]

France abolished the death penalty in 1981, and many French human rights organizations oppose its use in the United States.

It's fine by me if France and Britain don't think that killing French and Brits warrants the death penalty, but it's unclear to me why that gives them the right to say that the Frenchman who helped murder 3,000 Americans or the Brit who helped execute Daniel Pearl don't deserve capital punishment. We value life more highly; why should we have to yield to their lower standards when we seek justice for our honored dead?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 AM


Patrick Buchanan as Deep Throat? Why It's Not Such a Mystery After All (Stephen Mumford, 7-15-02, History News Network)
[W]hen Bob Woodward appeared on CNN's Larry King Live on February 13, 1996, he reported that Buchanan believed early on that Nixon must resign and was very active in his removal. How could that be? A clue to the mystery lies in Buchanan's ultraconservative Catholic outlook. [...]

Patrick Buchanan was certainly motivated to drive Nixon from the Presidency. Buchanan's writings are everywhere. He is sufficiently brazen and arrogant and has the passion and commitment to his church and Pope John Paul II, as he described in the interview in Our Sunday Visitor, to undertake the "Deep Throat" role. His ultraconservative Catholic views are widely known. His presidential campaign fund raising letters read as if they were written by the Pope. He referred to abortion as the slaughter of children and murder. He called for the passage of a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the penultimate political goal of the U.S. bishops and the Vatican. He even said he was at war :

"I believe we are engaged in a war - a battle for the lives of the unborn. It is a cultural and religious war, and America's soul is at stake. . . How do we win this war? We start with a pro-life President. We need a President with conviction who will never compromise, barter, or negotiate on the issue of life."

Richard Nixon was not such a President. In fact, his Rockefeller Commission and NSSM 200 study recommendations, if implemented, would have given great legitimacy to the widespread use of abortion and would have helped the very forces Buchanan subsequently declared war on. Just as Woodward reported on Larry King Live, Buchanan recognized early on that Nixon must go and was very much an activist in his removal - but for reasons very different from those professed to Woodward. Hence, this history reveals that Patrick Buchanan's commitment to his religious beliefs may have played a key role in the removal of President Nixon.

Mr. Mumford's repeated references to Pat Buchanan's "ultraconservative" Catholicism are based on Mr. Buchanan's belief in papal supremacy and the sanctity of human life. One would think that both are actually consistent with mainstream Catholicism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 AM


Did J. Edgar Hoover Really Wear Dresses? (Ronald Kessler, 7-15-02, History News Network)
Hoover was more familiar to Americans than most presidents. The director of the FBI simply could not have engaged in such activity at the Plaza, with a number of witnesses present, without having it leak out. The cross-dressing allegations were as credible as McCarthy's claim that there were 205 known Communists in the State Department, yet the press widely circulated the claim without further investigation. That Hoover was a cross-dresser is now largely presumed to be fact even by sophisticated people.

You'll have to follow the link to find out about what supposedly went on at the Plaza.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:43 AM


Turn Tragedy Into Opportunity : An open letter to the people of Pakistan. (JUDEA PEARL, July 17, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
Now that the first trial is over and a verdict is out, I would like to tell you a few things about my son, Danny, including things that have not been made explicit in the press. In particular, I would like to explain who Danny was, why the world has been so shocked by his death, why he has become a symbol, and what he is a symbol of. [...]

He showed that a journalist need not be considered a "spy," because honest and accurate information can benefit both providers and receivers. He showed that being Jewish does not mean being anti-Islam. For the past seven years, Danny's articles in The Wall Street Journal served in fact as Islam's best advocates; they showed readers the hardships and aspirations of people in Islamic countries, as well as the intricate nuances of their religion. Thus, when he declared to his captors: "I am Jewish!" what he said in fact was: "I respect Islam precisely because I am Jewish, and I expect you to respect me and my faith precisely because you are good Muslims." In short, Danny personified tolerance, humanity and dialogue, and his death turned him into a symbol for these values. [...]

The loss of Danny will forever tear my heart. But I can think of no greater consolation than seeing your children some day pointing at Danny's picture and saying: "This is the kind of person I want to be."

Is there a greater tribute we can pay someone than to say that they were the kind of person we'd like to be?

July 16, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 PM


Gored American faces second charge (BBC, 16 July, 2002)
Criminal charges are pending at a United States national park, after a visitor was gored by a bison.

But it is Paul Jocelyn, who suffered a puncture wound in his right thigh, who is facing a court summons, rather than the bison.

The 37-year-old visitor, from Albertville, Minnesota, faces prosecution for harrassing wildlife, after he allegedly came too near the animal, at Yellowstone National Park.

It is against the law to come within 25 metres of wildlife.

Mr Jocelyn was with a group of visitors, who allegedly went within five metres of the bull bison, as it was grazing near the park's most famous attraction, the Old Faithful Geyser.

He then made the additional mistake of walking around the bison to see if it would raise its head for a photograph.

The bison's response was to pursue Mr Jocelyn into a nearby wood, where it tossed him in the air.

Shortly afterwards, the bison resumed grazing.

You can pretty much bet that this guy considers himself an environmentalist and thinks it's deplorable that people hunt and fish. No experienced hunter would be this stupid--they respect animals rather than fetishize them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 PM


Astronomers Hope to Find E.T. in Next 25 Years (Belinda Goldsmith, July 16, 2002, Reuters)
Scientists searching the stars for aliens are convinced an E.T. is out there -- it's just that they haven't had the know-how to detect such a being.

But now technological advances have opened the way for scientists to check millions of previously unknown star systems, dramatically increasing the chances of finding intelligent life in outer space in the next 25 years, the world's largest private extraterrestrial agency believes.

"We're looking for needles in the haystack that is our galaxy, but there could be thousands of needles out there," Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at California's non-profit Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. [...]

Shostak said he is convinced there is intelligent life out there -- but don't expect to find a loveable, boggle-eyed E.T..

He said if any aliens share the same carbon-based organic chemistry as humans, they would probably have a central processing system, eyes, a mouth or two, legs and some form of reproduction.

But Shostak thinks any intelligent extraterrestrial life will have gone light years beyond the intelligence of man.

"What we are more likely to hear will be so far beyond our own level that it might not be biological anymore but some artificial form of life," he said. "Don't expect a blobby, squishy alien to be on the end of the line."

Of course, Mr. Shostak's theory bumps right up against Fermi's Question : if these aliens exist and they are that much more advanced, why haven't they contacted us?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 PM


Roy Rogers Museum leaving California for Missouri (AP, July 15, 2002)
The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum is bidding farewell to California, hoping it will be happier trails in this Midwestern city known for its dozens of music theaters.

The museum, featuring cowboy and Western heritage exhibits, will open next spring in Branson, in the heart of the Ozarks, city officials announced Monday. [...]

"Although this landmark has been located in Victorville for 26 years, attendance has continued to decline since the deaths of its founders, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans," Rogers' son, Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., said Monday.

Mike Daley sends this further evidence of the decline of the once great state of California. I suppose it's too much to wish for that they relocate the Ronald Reagan Library to New Hampshire.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM


OBITUARY : Major-General Benjamin Peled (Daily Telegraph, 17/07/2002)
Major-General Benjamin (Benny) Peled, who has died aged 74, was the Commander of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) from 1973 to 1977, leading it during the traumatic days of the Yom Kippur War.

On October 6 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel simultaneously, catching her unprepared and off guard. With war on two fronts - Egyptian troops crossing the Suez Canal, and Syrian tanks rolling into the Golan Heights - and with no reserves mobilised to face the enemy, the task of stopping the Arab invasion was left to the small regular army and the IAF. Defence Minister Moshe Dayan phoned Peled, saying: "It is all on your shoulders now."

But the Syrian and, particularly, the Egyptian system of surface-to-air missile defence of SAM-2 and SAM-3 was efficient; dozens of Peled's planes and pilots were shot down. As the situation during the first day of the war became more desperate, and with 14 new Egyptian bridges being built over the Suez Canal, the Israeli High Command started planning a temporary withdrawal in the Sinai to the Giddi and Mitla passes.

Peled was so against this that he confronted his colleagues at the General Staff. He later recalled: "I told them that if they continued to plan a retreat I would return with a Uzi submachine gun and shoot them all." Then he left, slamming the door so hard that the plaster cracked.

Back at his headquarters, Peled ordered a concentrated air strike on the Egyptians. "I ordered them to attack the [Egyptian] bridges [over the Suez Canal]," he later remembered. "They were all destroyed by my planes for the price of three Phantoms." There was no Israeli retreat from the Suez Canal and, eventually, forces led by General Ariel Sharon were able to cross the Canal into Egypt proper. [...]

Peled was a controversial figure who often criticised Israeli governments. He was vocal in his belief that the territories seized by force in wars were rightfully Israel's: "We don't have sovereignty over a single square inch here," he said in an interview. "The fact that we bought the land from the Arabs is meaningless. Those who oppose us are welcome to fight us. If they lose, the territory is ours. If we lose, it's theirs."

Benny Peled is survived by his wife and three children, two of whom are pilots. On Saturday July 13 he called his close family to his bedside, telling them his last wish: "Take to the streets with bells, and shout out that the madman who thought the Jews could build a state has died." He did, 10 minutes later.

The sentiment he expressed--"Those who oppose us are welcome to fight us. If they lose, the territory is ours. If we lose, it's theirs."--is, paradoxically, the key to a lasting peace.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 PM


Gunless Britain is now the crime capital of the West (Sophie Goodchild, 07/16/2002, Times of London)
The UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute reveals that people in England and Wales experience more crime per head than people in the 17 other developed countries analysed in the survey.

Boy, it's like they're trying to prove true the old bumper sticker : "When guns are criminal, only criminals will have guns".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 PM


Irish Republican Army apologizes for deaths it caused in last 30 years (Associated Press, 07/16/02)
The Irish Republican Army issued an unprecedented apology Tuesday for the deaths of "noncombatants" over 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

The IRA made the apology in a statement marking the anniversary of Bloody Friday, when it set off more than 20 bombs within an hour in Belfast on July 21, 1972, killing seven civilians and two soldiers.

Although the outlawed organization has stated its regret in the past for individual acts, it has not previously issued so sweeping an apology. The statement said the step aimed to improve the atmosphere in the territory's peace process.

Pointing to Bloody Friday, the statement said that "while it was not our intention to injure or kill noncombatants, the reality is that on this and on a number of other occasions, that was the consequence of our actions."

"It is, therefore, appropriate on the anniversary of this tragic event, that we address all of the deaths and injuries of noncombatants caused by us," the statement said.

"We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to their families."

The wife and I watched a PBS program on the Northern Ireland peace talks this weekend. My reaction every time Gerry Adams came on screen was the same as when I see Yassar Arafat--visceral hatred.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:35 PM


Washington masks deficits using accounting tricks (USA Today, 07/15/2002)
Lost in all of the political posturing over a worsening federal deficit and spreading corporate scandals is one ugly fact: The accounting tricks used by U.S. companies are nothing compared with Washington's bookkeeping circus.

Congress and the White House, under both parties, have long played games to exaggerate income, disguise liabilities and cover up troublesome budget realities. As with corporate accounting tricks, the tactics allow lawmakers to hide true financial situations, and their own irresponsible behavior, from "shareholders."

Except in this case, they're the taxpayers who foot the bill.

In the government's latest restatement, the Office of Management and Budget acknowledged this past weekend that the deficit for the current year is going to be more than 50% bigger than previously acknowledged: $165 billion instead of the $106 billion optimistically claimed five months ago.

Here's an idea, why don't Dick Gephardt and John McCain co-sponsor a law that would apply to Congress all these new corporate accountability gimmicks that they're ginning up. Anyone who knowingly votes for, and any president who signs, a budget that doesn't follow accepted accounting practices does hard time in a Federal pen.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:27 PM


Is homosexuality to blame for church scandal? (Marilyn Elias, 07/15/2002, USA TODAY)
Many Americans — including some officials of the U.S. Catholic Church — see a connection between homosexuality and the current crisis of child sexual abuse by priests.

Several bishops and cardinals have referred to a link, and 40% of Catholics think there is one, according to a Le Moyne College/Zogby poll last month. [...]

About 79% of those who allege sexual abuse by clergy are male, according to a USA TODAY review of data on more than 1,300 victims.

What do the other 60% of Catholics think is going on when men have sex with other males?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM


The New York Times on the Web
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
For news updated throughout the day, visit www.nytimes.com [...]

Steps to Wealth
George W. Bush's business dealings foreshadow many characteristics of his administration, such as its obsession with secrecy and its intermingling of public policy with private interest.
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/16/opinion/16KRUG.html?todaysheadlines [...]

Steps to Wealth
George W. Bush's business dealings foreshadow many characteristics of his administration, such as its obsession with secrecy and its intermingling of public policy with private interest.

Don't know how many of you get the NY Times headlines e-mailed to you every day, probably quite a few. But you may have noticed something strange today : if you read that description of the news article that seems to appear in Politics today, it sounds like it has a harsher edge than you might expect. But then as you go further down the mailing you come to the exact same headline and description, only this time it includes a by-line and you realize it's not a news story at all, but another opinion column by liberal Democrat Paul Krugman. Not only do they link to it twice they also have it masquerading as journalism rather than mere punditry in one of the listings. And people wonder why conservatives say the Times is biased...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM


GOP foray into Spanish TV: savvy or pandering? (Todd Wilkinson, July 16, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor)
[T]he creator of "Abriendo Caminos" isn't a major network, or CNN, or PBS. This half-hour "news magazine" is produced inside the plush studios of GOP-TV in Washington.

It is paid political programming broadcast once a month in Spanish to television stations that reach potentially millions of Hispanic viewers in select cities. Debuting in May, the half-hour program is part of an ambitious $1 million bid by the Republican National Committee (Comite Nacional Republicano) to woo ambivalent Hispanic Democrats and appeal to unregistered voters.

It represents the rise of a new kind of political programming. Yet behind the initiative lies an enduring question about messages targeted at specific ethnic groups: Will it will be viewed as effective communication or a form of pandering?

Certainly, Republicans have good reason to try something new. Americans of Latino heritage represent the nation's fastest-growing voting bloc. Estimates put the number of voting-age Latinos at 23 million nationwide.

I don't get the supposed dichotomy here. Suppose the GOP gets a reputation for pandering to the desires of Hispanic voters, how's that hurt? And suppose Hispanics figure out that they can play Democrats and Republicans off against each other if they just put their vote up for grabs, instead of voting always for Democrats, which has been disastrous for black; how's that bad for Hispanics?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM


Europeans: From Venus? (Daniel Pipes, July 16, 2002, New York Post
Americans are from Mars; Europeans, from Venus. Europeans spend their money on social services, Americans continue to devote large sums to the military. Europeans draw lessons from their successful pacifying of post-1945 Germany; Americans draw lessons from their defeat of Nazi Germany and of the Soviet bloc. Kagan's insights have important implications:

* U.S.-European differences are not transitory, but long-term.

* They are likely to grow with time.

* Europe is highly unlikely to develop a military power to rival America's.

* As Europe settles into strategic irrelevance, Americans need pay it less and less attention.

* Contrarily, because Washington so predominates, it should make gestures to win European goodwill.

* NATO is little more than a shell.

* Americans should look increasingly to countries outside Europe - Turkey, Israel and India come first to mind - for meaningful military

That last bit is probably the most important thing we need to realize about Europe, that our military and strategic future depends more on the newer democracies than on the old. NATO has served its purpose and we should quietly withdraw. Better now to form a new alliance with Israel, Russia, Turkey, India, and some of the other pro-Western nations that surround the Islamic world and China. And membership in the alliance should be offered to countries like Jordan, Iran, and the like as a reward for liberalizing their governments and abandoning support of radical Islamic terror. It may not be surprising that we remain trapped in a North Atlantic mindset, but it is dangerous.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM


Stocks' Slide Is Playing Havoc With Older Americans' Dreams (KATE ZERNIKE, 7/14/02, NY Times)
As the owners of an Atlanta advertising agency that billed $40 million a year, Jim and Jan Pringle were featured in a cover article in Inc. magazine asking, "What's the best time to retire?"

In January 2000, with the Dow well above 10,000, they were confident they had picked the right time. They took more than $2 million they had made from selling their company and bought stocks. Their broker encouraged them to take a month in Europe; instead they moved to South Carolina, where they began building a dream house on the beach.

The Pringles have since lost about 75 percent of their investment. Far from taking any trips to Europe, they have done what they vowed never to do: mortgaged their house and gone back to work.

"I thought I would at least be able to take a break and think about what to do with the second half of my life," Mr. Pringle, 63, said. "But I didn't have a lot of options when the market went south."

With all due respect to the Pringles, who are probably perfectly decent people, they behaved foolishly and have no one to blame but themselves. The time to crank money into stocks is not when you are in your mid-60s and looking to retire. That's when you play it safe. I'm sure someone else can do the math, but I think if you found an almost completely safe investment that had a really minimal return, thanks to the decreased risk, of say 2%, you'd get $40k a year and never touch a penny of your principal. Since at that age you've likely retired all your education debt and own your own home, you could live quite comfortably on that amount plus your Social security. I'm sorry these folks lost their nest egg, but perhaps they should
have done more to protect it?

July 15, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM


Voucher backlash (Thomas Sowell, July 15, 2002, Jewish World Review)
It was particularly painful to read an outburst by Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, from whom better things might have been expected. According to Ms. Tucker, "Conservatives have been using poor black and Latino children as mascots in the voucher crusade for a decade."

If black and Latino children are only being "used," then what is the real ulterior motive? If you are not really concerned about minority--and other--children who are being shortchanged in our failing public schools, then what are you after? Is there fame, fortune or a political bonanza to be gotten by being for vouchers?

The great Thomas Sowell takes on the opponents of the proponents of vouchers.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM


UK urges leniency for Pearl killer (CNN, July 15, 2002)
The UK government says it opposes the death sentence handed down to a British-born man convicted in Pakistan for the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Former London School of Economics student Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, believed to be the mastermind of Pearl's kidnapping death, was convicted on Monday along with three other Islamic radicals of kidnapping for ransom and acts of terror, defence lawyers said.

Daniel Pearl was 38 years old. He left behind a wife and a then unborn son. He was in Pakistan doing his job, nothing more. His murderers videotaped themselves cutting Daniel Pearl's throat. Daniel Pearl's last words were : "My father is a Jew, my mother is a Jew, and I am a Jew". Because he was a Jew and because he was an American these men executed him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:05 PM


Watts Offers Parting Advice to GOP Leaders (Jim VandeHei, July 15, 2002, Washington Post)
House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (Okla.), the only black Republican in Congress, is offering some blunt warnings to his party on his way out the door.

Watts, who recently announced that he's retiring from Congress, is imploring the GOP not to revert to the conservative rhetoric it used to win control of the House in the 1994 elections and urged Republicans to elevate women and minorities to positions of power. [...]

Watts said it was "critical" that his party understand that "if J.C. Watts gets elected conference chairman, they will get accused of tokenism. And if he doesn't, they will get accused of being racists." So, "Get over it."

If nothing else, Watts said the GOP should showcase minorities and women at events to show that the party includes more than middle-aged, white males. Watts said he often goes to news conferences because Republicans simply want an African American in the shot, which he, too, believes is important.

"I just wanted people to see my black face on camera," Watts said. "It's just a reality of the atmosphere we operate in."

One of the hardest lessons to teach Republicans is that shameless and hollow symbolism is quite effective in politics. Show people a face of the GOP that is always and only middle-aged, white, male and most often Southern and that's what people will think a Republican has to be. Show them blacks and women and Latinos and Asians and whoever else and you at least increase the chance that when someone looks at a group of Rebublicans they'll see someone they can identify with in the picture and maybe even think that they could be a Republican themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:33 PM


State of Embarrassment : An American journalist is detained because he questioned Foggy Bottom's Saudi policies. (Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2002)
Now we know: The State Department can get tough when it wants to, if only against fellow Americans.

National Review writer Joel Mowbray had the temerity at Friday's press briefing to question State spokesman Richard Boucher about "Visa Express," a program that has made it easier for Saudi Arabian citizens to enter the U.S. without interviews. Mr. Boucher had denied that the U.S. ambassador to Riyadh wanted to terminate Visa Express, even though a classified cable had clearly said otherwise. Mr. Mowbray called the spokesman on his spin, and when the reporter went to leave the building he was detained and questioned by security officers for about 30 minutes.

State's line is that Mr. Mowbray was detained because he'd quoted from classified material, as if that's any justification. It's no crime to report such news, only to leak it, and the cable's contents were reported in both National Review and the Washington Post. Mr. Mowbray's reporting has embarrassed State, and its officers were clearly engaging in intimidation to dig up the source. It's the kind of thing they do in, well, Riyadh.

While no fan of the State Department, here's the question I think we need to ask : Had a young Arab man revealed that he had seen a classified document and revealed this while he was on the grounds of the government building where it originated, would the National Review, Wall Street Journal and other voices of the Right be howling about the injustice of detaining him just long enough to see if it could be determined who'd leaked it to him?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:19 PM


Many Palestinians Want Reform, but on Their Terms : Critics of U.S. Plan Say Change Can Come Only From Within (John Ward Anderson, July 15, 2002, Washington Post)
On the face of it, virtually everyone in the Gaza Strip and West Bank seems to agree with President Bush that the Palestinians need to elect new leaders, reform every segment of the government, end corruption and revamp their security services.

But although the words are the same, when Bush and the Palestinians talk about reform, elections and leadership changes, the meaning is entirely different. And even if the goals sound similar, Palestinians say changes need to come from the heart of their leadership and cannot be mandated from outside, or they will never take root.

"It's ironic to see the demands of your enemy become your demands, but we do not have the same perspective and understanding," said Ismail Abu Shanab, a top political leader in the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas. "The Palestinian concept of reform is totally different from the concept suggested by Bush or imposed by [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon."

The huge disconnect has raised doubts here that the Middle East peace initiative Bush outlined in a major speech three weeks ago will ever get off the ground. In his proposal, Bush offered support for a provisional Palestinian state after Palestinians hold elections for new leaders and implement a host of reforms.

This article outlines a series of pretty legitimate objections by and concerns of Palestinians about trying to conduct reform without having an actual state and while Israel controls so much of their territory. It also demonstrates why Arafat walked away from Barak's offer and why there are bombings every time peace talks that might lead to statehood look imminent : when statehood comes the PLO is doomed. Indeed, it seems quite possible that the biggest obstacle to peace in Palestine is Israel's (and thereby America's) failure to just recognize a Palestinian state and tell them to govern it themselves.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:49 PM


Democrats Speak Up on Foreign Policy Reluctance to Criticize Bush Fades (Dan Balz, July 15, 2002, Washington Post)
After months of hesitancy, leading Democrats have begun to challenge President Bush directly on his conduct of foreign affairs, offering pointed criticisms of his policies on the Middle East, U.S. relations with key allies and even the war in Afghanistan. [...]

Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Gore have sharply questioned the administration's commitment to nation-building in Afghanistan. Gore charged recently that Bush's policies threaten to bring a return to chaos and control by regional Afghan commanders.

On the Middle East, Democrats have criticized the administration's initial decision to disengage from the region, and some said Bush's most recent speech, in which he called for Palestinians to replace Yasser Arafat and others in the leadership, set out conditions that would be so difficult as to be impractical. But they have been reluctant to offer public pressure on Israel to alter any of its tactics, either in combating terrorist attacks or halting settlement activity.

Beyond that, Democrats have challenged the administration's tendency toward unilateralism in its approach to foreign policy.

"One of the things the Bush campaign said was it was going to carry itself humbly in the world," said Leon Fuerth, who was national security adviser to Gore when he was vice president. "But if anything, the administration has shocked the rest of the world because of its disregard for the opinions of the rest of the world, its sense that trusted alliances have become irrelevant, its projection of the idea that the United States can go it alone and will go it alone unilaterally."

There's a winning strategy : Vote Democrat for nation building in Afghanistan, increased support for Palestine, and kowtowing to the Europeans.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM


The Promised Land (Jordan "Gorf" Garfinkel, Jewish World Review)

July 14, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 PM


Putin Lectures Ambassadors on Policy (Andrei Zolotov Jr., Jul. 15, 2002,
Moscow Times)
Having summoned all of his ambassadors to Moscow, President Vladimir Putin on Friday explained his new pro-Western foreign policy
and laid out his vision for a more modern and economically savvy diplomatic corps.

Formally dedicated to the Foreign Ministry's 200th anniversary -- in 1802, Tsar Alexander I for the first time called the foreign service a "ministry" --
the meeting of more than 130 ambassadors at the ministry was more than just an office party.

The only previous time a similar meeting was called was in 1986, when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev appointed Eduard Shevardnadze as foreign
minister and the policy of bringing the Cold War to an end was inaugurated. The last Soviet foreign minister, Boris Pankin, said in an interview
Friday that the 1986 meeting brought a "turning point" in Soviet foreign policy.

Putin re-oriented Russia's foreign policy in reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, and the new pro-Western stance has been a hard sell to the country's military and diplomatic establishment.

He told the ambassadors Friday that the new, closer relationship between Russia and the United States was the result of a "new reading of both countries' interests and a similar perception of the very character of modern global threats."

Though I like the book very much, it's always seemed that one of the real errors in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) (Samuel P. Huntington) (Grade: B+), was Mr. Huntington's failure to anticipate that the Christianity and culture of places like Russia and Latin America would tend to push them towards identifying with the West, rather than clashing with it. Mr. Putin certainly recognizes, and President Bush picked up on this immediately, that Russia's future lies in friendship, maybe even partnership, with America, not confrontation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM


French dump elderly at hospitals over holidays (Samantha King, 14/07/2002, Daily Telegraph)
French families have been dumping elderly relatives at their nearest hospital to avoid the expense of putting them into care homes as they head off for the summer holidays.

The situation is so acute that the French Hospital Federation (FHF) has appealed for an end to the practice, saying that overstretched medical staff can no longer cope with the large influx of abandoned pensioners.

"Rather than taking them on holiday or placing them in an appropriate home, they are simply dumping them at hospitals and picking them up again when they get back," an FHF statement said. "We have to ask for people not to abandon their relatives in emergency wards, we just don't have the room anymore."

Can someone with a scientific background please answer a question for me? Would the impact of an asteroid large enough to destroy all of France also knock the rest of the Earth out of its orbit or would we be okay? Just curious....
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:42 PM


A Dangerous Lull (Washington Post, July 14, 2002)
ON MONDAY, three weeks will have passed since President Bush presented his latest ideas for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the surface, little has happened since then, either on the ground or in diplomacy. That is good news, in part: With Israeli troops occupying most Palestinian towns and enforcing tight restrictions on movement, there have been no suicide bombings or other major incidents of violence in Israel or the Palestinian territories. But it is also worrisome. Behind the scenes, American, European, Russian and U.N. officials have quietly been seeking to flesh out plans for overhauling the Palestinian Authority, the starting point spelled out by Mr. Bush for launching a new peace process. But the work has been slow; only on Tuesday are the discussions due to reach the level of Secretary of State Colin Powell. The bottom line is that the practical road map for taking action that was so conspicuously missing from Mr. Bush's speech has yet to appear.

That there is so little movement is highly dangerous, because it risks the breakdown of the nascent homegrown Palestinian reform movement and a new explosion of violence. It also offers ammunition to those, including many in the Arab world, who saw in the president's speech not a serious commitment to brokering Middle East peace but a thin and one-sided artifice that abruptly stopped at the points that would have required tough or politically difficult calls. In particular, the administration's spokespeople still have not made clear how they intend to promote the democratic selection of a new Palestinian leadership while simultaneously ensuring that Yasser Arafat -- the probable winner of any straightforward presidential election -- is not a part of it.

Boy, they just don't get it, do they? In the first place, President Bush's last idea was that we would bow out of the "peace process" until the Palestinians demonstrated, through elections and governmental reforms, that they were serious about living in peace with Israel. Three weeks hasn't exactly been enough to show that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:16 PM


By ignoring AIDS, blacks dig own grave (Cynthia Tucker, July 10, 2002, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
[A]IDS is wreaking more havoc on black America than racial profiling, assaults on affirmative action or Republicans in the White House--all of which remain popular targets for the outrage of so-called black leaders. African-Americans continue to contract the deadly infection at an alarming rate; in 2000, blacks, only 12 percent of the American population, accounted for 43 percent of the new AIDS cases.

The stigma AIDS carries in black America has only increased since researchers became aware of the prominent role played by bisexual black men in transmitting the virus. (Previously, researchers had focused largely on IV drug use, especially among women victims.) The discovery has highlighted the shadowy world of gay and bisexual black men who refuse to openly acknowledge their sexual orientation and live dual lives of risky behavior.

In his invaluable book, The Myth of Heterosexual AIDs, Michael Fumento discusses how in many minority communities the stigma of homosexuality remains so fearsome that the best epidemiogical researchers learned how to approach the topic of a patient's sexual history more obliquely, in order to elicit somewhat more truthful answers. By so doing they were able to determine that many cases that would otherwise be classified as involving heterosexual transmission of the disease from a woman to a man were in fact a result of male/male contact. But the political pressure for AIDs to be considered a universal problem, especially one that can affect straight men, largely prevents intelligent discussion of such topics. And so, rather than acknowledge that AIDs simply does not threaten straight men, we continue to lie to ourselves, and people sicken and die because of these lies. The very people charged with controlling the spread of this dire disease continue to pretend that straight men are at risk and that it is fine to have any amount and any variety of sex so long as you use a condom, instead of focussing their attention on the communities that are genuinely at risk and counseling them to abstain, especially from anal sex.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:03 PM


Jordan says it was "surprised" by prince attending Iraqi opposition meeting (The Associated Press, Jul. 13, 2002)
Jordan distanced itself Saturday from an Iraqi opposition meeting in London, saying a Jordanian prince's participation in the forum was an "individual act."

More than 200 former Iraqi military officers and opposition leaders attended an open forum in London Friday to discuss how to bring down Saddam Hussein's regime and secure democracy in the Arab state.

Prince Hassan, the uncle of Jordan's King Abdullah and a one-time heir to the throne, attended the meeting, saying he was there as an observer.

Like sands through an hourglass, so do Saddam's last days in power slip away...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM


Courting minorities : A GOP challenge (W. James Antle III, July 8, 2002, Enter Stage Right)
There appear to be two schools of thought on what Republicans can do to rectify this situation [their failure to win the votes of minorities]. The most popular one is to cease being Republicans. This would entail adopting Democratic positions on affirmative action, bilingualism, multicultural education, immigration (particularly amnesties for illegal immigrants) and perhaps even social spending and moving to their left wherever possible. The problem with this strategy - aside from small matters like principles - is that the presumption is always in favor of the Democrats on these issues. To counter this would require a lengthy, concerted effort to promote these initiatives as central to the party that would consistently meet or exceed the inevitable Democratic attempts to take them back. This can only be done at the expense of virtually the entire conservative base that currently makes up the GOP.

The second school of thought is to present an activist conservative agenda as something beneficial to minorities. Liberals have trapped minority children in failed government schools and refuse to allow them to escape. In these government schools, many children receive bilingual education that interferes with their ability to learn English. The creation of jobs and wealth among minorities can be encouraged through capital gains tax cuts, Social Security privatization, estate tax relief and enterprise zones. Tax-free enterprise zones and tenant ownership of public housing are policies that can be promoted as solutions for the urban poor.

I was once a fervent exponent of this school of thought. Experience, however, has not been kind to it. Other than school vouchers, none of these issues seem to have much resonance among minority voters. There has finally emerged a younger generation of minority political leaders willing to resist their older counterparts and the teachers' unions in fighting for school choice - mainly, from within the Democratic Party. Advocacy of vouchers has gained Republicans little support from minority voters, but has alienated other voters who already have the economic means to effectively exercise school choice. There are a few bright spots where you can find GOP candidates who took this approach and did better than usual among minority voters, but it has produced no clear advantages in general.

Though he soft-peddles the point somewhat, Mr. Antle is suggesting, quite accurately, that school choice hurts the GOP with white voters. They are, for the most part, satisfied with their public schools and are fearful of what a large influx of black and other minority students might do to those schools, so they generally oppose vouchers. To which, we say : tough!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 AM


Special ed is mostly for boys (MARK SKERTIC AND ROSALIND ROSSI, July 14, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Boys are handily beating girls in a troubling statistic in classrooms throughout Illinois: From first grade through high school, boys are placed in special education twice as often as girls.

In Chicago and statewide, on average, boys make up 66 percent of the public school students in special education, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of federal data found. Those numbers mirror the national average.

In this case, being average is troubling, some experts say. They argue boys too often are given the special education label as a way to remove demanding students from the classroom.

Not to worry, a few years from now, after the biotech folks have worked their wonders, you'll be able to have your sons programmed to behave. We won't need stuff like this and Ritalin anymore.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 AM


E.T. Ambassador Honors George Michael (Associated Press, July 11, 2002)
The head of an extraterrestrial movement on Earth has just bestowed the title of "Honorary Guide" to pop star George Michael.

The 55-year-old man who goes only by the name "Rael" founded his movement in 1973 when he claims he was visited by E.T.s who take credit for creating the human race.

Rael heads an ambassador program of 55,000 humans worldwide awaiting the return of the "creators," which will be anywhere between now and 2035.

In the meantime, Rael has awarded George Michael the title of "Honorary Guide" because the aliens find Michael's new music video "Shoot The Dog" appealing, since it speaks out against using force to deal with Iraq.

Only the words of the great man himself suffice for this one :
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.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:08 AM


Man Fires Shot as French President Passes; Arrested by Police (Jacques Brinon, July 14, 2002, Associated Press)
A man pulled a rifle out of a guitar case and fired at least one shot as French President Jacques Chirac passed Sunday during the annual Bastille Day military parade. The man was arrested and no injuries were reported.

Cries of alarm from the crowd lining the parade route apparently alerted police to the gunman, standing near Paris' Arch of Triumph. The gunman fired just before he was wrestled to the ground. Agents stood him up, searched him and took him away in a van.

The Paris police said in a statement that the man was 25 years old and was a member of "neo-Nazi and hooligan" groups. France 2 TV reported that he had confessed to wanting to shoot Chirac and told police he suffered from emotional problems.

Didn't he know how the story ends?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


The Called Shot (H.D. Miller, Travelling Shoes)
We here at Brothers Judd are of the belief that the world of pundits and blogs is most useful not so much for the information it provides--traditional media is and will remain the best source for the raw information and the background on stories--but for the way it can help us to organize that information into a coherent framework. Especially powerful in this regard is the apt metaphor which allows you to take a new or unfamiliar situation and place it within the context of that which you know and comprehend.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM


Birkenstocked Burkeans : Confessions of a granola conservative. (Rod Dreher, July 12, 2002, National Review)
[David] Brooks told me that conservative writers just have to live with the fact that we share certain tastes with the predominantly liberal intellectual class. But if there's nothing to it, and the consumer choices people make are purely a function of social determinism, then it leaves no room for the person who purchases certain products simply because the products look good, taste good or offer superior value, despite costing more. It means accepting bad beer, lousy coffee, Top-40 radio, strip malls, and all popular manifestations of cheapness and ugliness as proof that One Is Not an Effete Liberal. And that's just as phony as anything the Bobos stand for.

Charles Murtaugh takes perverse pleasure in contrasting Mr. Dreher's opinion with ours, expressed last week, in I KNOW WHAT AMERICA'S THINKING, THE GARDENER TELLS ME that :
[A]t the NY Times, populism means getting together for group Sex in the City viewing parties and talking to all the real folks who drive your cabs or cut your lawn in the Hamptons and having a French impressionist ballet poster on your wall, just like all your friends have. But out here in America we watch NASCAR, wrestling, Baywatch, and baseball. We cut our own lawns. We drink canned beer, not wine. . . We think SUVs should be bigger. We own guns. We think Maxwell House is gourmet coffee and you should drink it black. We like Marty Stewart, not Martha Stewart. We salt our melons, butter our steaks, and drink whole milk. . . And, yes, we think singing fish are a hoot.

We accept his riposte and note the seeming contradiction. And were it the case that our taste for such things were merely affected in order to distinguish ourselves from liberals, he would have an entirely valid point. But Mr. Dreher is talking not about Red State conservatives here, but about that most unfortunate of creatures, the Blue State conservative, and not just any Blue State conservative, but an even more unlikely subset of intellectuals who happen to be conservative and to live in those Blue States :
The Granola Conservatives I know tend not to be wealthy, but labor in the creative and intellectual vineyards as writers, professors, and artists.

This being the case, Mr. Dreher appears to be precisely wrong--his tastes are socially determined--for the society he inhabits is not a conservative society, but a liberal one. Folks like Bill Buckley, Jonah Goldberg, John Derbyshire, John Podhoretz, Rich Lowry, and Mr. Dreher are residents of New York City or the surrounding metropolitan area. Heck, Mr. Buckley ran for mayor of New York and Mr. Lowry nearly did and New York is one pole, the other being LA, of the Axis of Blue. We can hardly be surprised then that they mostly share the tastes of those with whom they share a society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:09 AM


Rub-a-Dub in the Hot Tub (MAUREEN DOWD, 7/14/02, NY Times)
Dick and Rummy are in the Jacuzzi at Camp David.

The two masters of the Bush universe have had a lousy week. [...]

Junior jogs over to the Jacuzzi and tries to get Vice's attention.


Dick waves him off [...]

But the Kid has finally lost patience. He jumps into the Jacuzzi, barely missing Rummy's cast, and sloshes right over to Vice, leaning into his ear and wailing plaintively: "Where's Karen?"

In her eagerness to whack George W. Bush, Ms Dowd unfortunately gets her storylines thoroughly tangled. On the one hand, we're to believe that W. is the savvy business exec who essentially stole $800K in that Harken stock sale. On the other, we're supposed to believe that he's really a nonentity and that the administration is secretly run by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Then, on the third hand, we're supposed, in that final line, to realize that it was really Karen Hughes who ran things, but that without her wily feminine hand at the tiller, W. is lost. I don't know about you, but I ran out of hands in there somewhere.

July 13, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM


The Eagle Has Crash Landed : Pax Americana is over. Challenges from Vietnam and the Balkans to the Middle East and September 11 have revealed the limits of American supremacy. Will the United States learn to fade quietly, or will U.S. conservatives resist and thereby transform a gradual decline into a rapid and dangerous fall? (Immanuel Wallerstein, July/August 2002, Foreign Policy)
The United States' success as a hegemonic power in the postwar period created the conditions of the nation's hegemonic demise. This process is captured in four symbols: the war in Vietnam, the revolutions of 1968, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Each symbol built upon the prior one, culminating in the situation in which the United States currently finds itself-a lone superpower that lacks true power, a world leader nobody follows and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global chaos it cannot control.

You really have to read the whole essay to get a flavor for its completely nonsensical nature. it will have to suffice for now to point out that Mr. Wallerstein argues both that Vietnam was a disaster because of the damage that paying for it did to our economy and that we did not want the Cold War, which as a whole had obviously done far more damage, to end. In what can only be described as a Lewis Carroll moment, he describes the U.S. as losing ground in the economic race with Japan and describes the U.S. economy as relatively weak. In reality, there is not a single advanced nation whose economy is doing as well as ours. If Europe and/or Japan were actually capable of rivaling America as an economic power, the past two years were the time to show it. The Fed induced deflation, the bursting of the dot.com bubble, and the events of September 11th dealt a series of hammer blows to the U.S. economy and provided an opening for these other developed nations to exploit. Instead, their already feeble economies tumbled still further without us buying their products at the customary rate. More importantly, the American economy has shown its incredible resilience by not even going into recession despite these setbacks and is now growing again at rates others can only dream of.

Completely ignored in Mr. Wallerstein's essay are the many demographic and systemic problems that make it utterly unlikely that America's rivals can survive for very long into the future, never mind dominate that future. He goes prattling on about the Japanese challenge at a time when they face real population decline. Forget whether a country can pay for a modern social welfare state with a constantly declining workforce, the more general question is : has any nation in human history had a growing economy at the same time that it had a falling population? I'm unaware of any.

He likewise ignores the realities of what it truly means to be a hegemon :

The United States faces two possibilities during the next 10 years: It can follow the hawks' path, with negative consequences for all but especially for itself. Or it can realize that the negatives are too great. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian recently argued that even disregarding international public opinion, "the U.S. is not able to fight a successful Iraqi war by itself without incurring immense damage, not least in terms of its economic interests and its energy supply. Mr. Bush is reduced to talking tough and looking ineffectual." And if the United States still invades Iraq and is then forced to withdraw, it will look even more ineffectual.

Let's assume he's right, which seems highly dubious, and that our invasion of Iraq turns into a bloody and ineffective campaign, just like Korea and Vietnam were and like a land invasion of the Soviet Union would likely have been. Guess what? It doesn't matter. unlike those three earlier scenarios we can now just nuke the living daylights out of Baghdad and no one can say boo. This is what it really means to be the world's only superpower. The problem for the world is not that we are too arrogant now; we've really behaved quite decently despite the unprecedented amount of power we find in our hands. No, the problem is that there is absolutely nothing to stop us from behaving in arrogant, tyrannical, even monstrous fashion if we decide we want to. Mr. Wallerstein's image of the U.S. meekly withdrawing from Iraq is a left over from the Cold War. It does not reflect the situation as it obtains today. American supremacy, in the truest sense, the sense of the supreme ability to determine which nations survive and which don't, is only now, for the first time, becoming unlimited. Since the fall of the Soviet Union the American people had served as the sole limitation, their desire to be left alone and to bask in their unimaginable wealth effectively limiting what the government could do in the world. But that changed rather significantly on September 11th, in ways that Mr. Wallerstein seems not to have begun to comprehend. The American people, who were the only effective brake on the exercise of American power, now have their collective foot poised just above the gas pedal. As Ronald Reagan used to say : You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:18 PM


Democrats See Scandals as Chance to Attack Privatizing Social Security (ALISON MITCHELL, July 13, 2002, NY Times)
Seizing on the Wall Street scandals to press their agenda on Social Security, Democratic leaders in Congress demanded today that President Bush and his party renounce efforts to shift part of Social Security into private investment accounts.

With investor fears dragging down the stock market, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the majority leader, aimed at Mr. Bush, who advocated in his presidential campaign that workers be able to shift part of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts similar to 401k's.

"President Bush campaigned on a promise to privatize Social Security," Mr. Daschle said at a news conference. "He was very clear about it. He wanted to end Social Security as we know it.

"A lot of us thought that idea was a bad idea two years ago, when the Dow was going up every week. After what's happened to the stock market in the last few weeks, we think it's a terrible idea." [...]

About half of American households own stock. Perhaps even more important for the midterm elections, David Winston, a Republican pollster, notes that 71 percent of those who voted in House races in 2000 held stock.

Republicans seem poised to stage their usual craven retreat on Social Security. Instead they should leap on privatization with both feet. This is the time to explain that there is no ten year period in the last forty years during which stocks have declined and that we have been presented with a once in a lifetime buying opportunity. Privatize now and the entire country gets to buy in on a dip in the market and reap the windfall of its impending rise. Of course, you can imagine how fast the market would rise regardless of the fundamentals if any significant portion of social security suddenly went into the market, so, even beyond the predictable functioning of the normal business cycle, this is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The sheer audacity of insisting that even now (yes, let's pretend that this correction is some kind of catastrophe) it is necessary to move our retirement funds into stocks will be so breathtaking to the uneducated and to the fear mongers of the Left (but I repeat myself), that it might actually be taken seriously, finally.

And what do we know, just as surely as we know that the sun will rise tomorrow? We know that, even without privatization, stocks will shortly head upwards again. It takes no great genius to intuit this; it is simply the way the world works. So while Democrats doomsday and denigrate the market, the GOP will emerge as the optimistic champions of the rising tide. It isn't often that your opponent seizes the inevitable losing side of an issue in a deathgrip and races towards a cliff, but when he does, it's wisest not to join him. We need not play Louise to the Democratic Thelma.

Democrats are on the wrong side of the entire history of the stock market; let them have that side to themselves. Run on privatization now. Make it and vouchers the focus of the Fall campaign : "Republicans trust you to make the choices that matter in your life." The pundits will perceive it as courageous and it's the right thing to do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:42 PM


Mark McGarrity, author of mystery series under pen name Bartholomew Gill, dies at 58 from fall (AP, July 5, 2002)
Author and columnist Mark McGarrity, who wrote mysteries under the name Bartholomew Gill featuring the witty, shrewd Irish detective Peter McGarr, died Thursday when he fell from a stairway. He was 58.

Though he was born and raised in Holyoke, Mass., McGarrity's works drew on his Irish heritage and his knowledge of the country's history. He had earned a master's degree in literature from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, after graduating from Brown University in 1966.

I will be eternally grateful to Mr. McGarrity/Gill for his book The Death of a Joyce Scholar: A Peter McGarr Mystery (1989), which contains the most useful analysis of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett that you'll ever find.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

DANGLING MEN (for Charles Murtaugh):

Iraq talk fuelled by Kosovo pull-out
(Judy Dempsey, July 12 2002, Financial Times)
Britain is to withdraw most of its 2,400 troops from Kosovo, fuelling talk it is preparing to provide support to any US military attack against Iraq.

A senior Nato official in Brussels said the Ministry of Defence in London "was mentally preparing for new challenges". When asked if this would involve Iraq, he retorted: "Well what do you think?" suggesting that the British Army was readying itself for a possible war in the Middle East. A British diplomat agreed that there would be speculation about future deployments - "plans further east - but not too far east", indicating that he himself was surprised by the suddenness and scale of the withdrawal.

Sounds like the phony war may be nearing its end.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 AM


Killing of White Deputy Quiets Protests Over Police Shootings of 2 Blacks (TIMOTHY EGAN, July 13, 2002, NY Times)
After the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer last spring, community leaders here planned a chain of demonstrations to follow a rush-hour shutdown of the freeway through downtown.

The aim of these "surprise strategic strikes," the organizers said, was to change the way the police treated African-Americans in Seattle. At the same time, city leaders were preparing new regulations for police officers, intended to determine whether race was a factor in whom they stopped and arrested.

But the protests and the regulations were abruptly put on hold by the killing three weeks ago of a white King County sheriff's deputy by a black man who had a history of run-ins with law enforcement. The deputy, Richard Herzog, was shot after he tried to restrain the man, who had been running naked in traffic. Deputy Herzog used pepper spray, but he was knocked to the ground, lost his weapon to the man and was repeatedly shot in front of nearly 50 people.

The killing has generated a backlash against efforts to make officers more sensitive to race, with officers saying they feel inhibited from fully protecting themselves because of fears of racial recriminations.

So called civil rights activists have gotten an awful lot of mileage out of the Rodney King incident. Unfortunately, it is one of the most misreported stories of modern times : OFFICIAL NEGLIGENCE : Lou Cannon dissects the Rodney King case and the LA riots. (Online Newshour, April 7, 1998).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


Maryland Suffers Setback in War on Invasive Walking Fish (Hillary Mayell, July 12, 2002, National Geographic News)
The news keeps getting worse for Maryland wildlife officials. Biologists sampling the lake captured more than 100 juvenile northern snakeheads, confirming their worst fears: The air-breathing, land-crawling, voracious predator found in a pond in Crofton, Maryland, is multiplying.

Finding that many doesn't provide scientists with enough information to estimate the overall number of northern snakeheads now living in the pond.

"You only expect to get a small percentage of the fish when you're sampling," said Steve Early, Maryland's freshwater fisheries manager, who conducted the survey. "But I'm worried if I have 100 or if I have 1,000 in the pond; I've still got too many."

Finding the juveniles means the northern snakehead is now an established population in the Crofton pond, said Walter Courtenay, professor emeritus of zoology at Florida Atlantic University. "All it takes is the ability to successfully reproduce to be defined as an established population," he said.

How long until PETA shows up and demands that these things be protected?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM


Turkey's Fever (July 13, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
Mr. Ecevit, whose health has been failing along with his political support, manifestly lacks the strength to deal with these multiple challenges. Hardly anyone believes his government can endure until the next scheduled election, in April 2004; the question is how and by whom it will be replaced. Some of the possibilities are unnerving -- these include right-wing nationalists who oppose EU membership or political liberalization, and Islamicists whose success in any new elections would raise the risk of another political intervention by the Turkish military.

Yet one of the strongest possibilities is also the most encouraging one. Yesterday in Ankara an alliance of pro-Western liberals, including just-resigned foreign minister Ismail Cem, announced the formation of a new political party dedicated to carrying out political and economic reform and leading Turkey into the EU. If Mr. Ecevit can be removed from office, the reformers have a chance to assemble a majority in the current parliament and push through reforms before holding elections. The result could be a decisive shift by Turkey toward the West, at a crucial moment in the region. The Bush administration should do its best to encourage this outcome; it can do so both by pressing Turkey's pro-Western forces to unite and by urging European governments to respond quickly and favorably if they do.

Here's the question : if Turkey, after decades of Ataturkism can't be kept in the West's orbit, then can any Islamic nation truly be expected to reform in the ways we all believe they need to?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 AM


Clinton accused of fathering secret love child (David Cox, july 11, 2002, The Scotsman)
The paternity battle began when Paul Pearson, a retired lawyer, from Dallas, Texas, demanded to know if the famously unfaithful former president is the real father of his son, Anthony, 20.

Paul Pearson's ex-wife, Dolly Kyle Browning, a friend of Mr Clinton since childhood, admitted to a 17-year affair with the former president prior to giving birth to Anthony in 1981.

The best part isn't the scandal, it's that the kid could be entitled to money. That's what will really get the Clintons.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 AM


U.N. Passes Deal on War Crimes Court (EDITH M. LEDERER, Jul. 12, 2002, Associated Press)
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to exempt U.S. peacekeepers from war crimes prosecution for a year Friday, ending threats to U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The vote culminated one of the most contentious disputes between the United States and its closest allies as well as countries around the world that support the International Criminal Court.

"It offers us a degree of protection for the coming year," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. But he warned that it was only "a first step" and the U.S. government would never permit the detention of any American by the court.

Looks like the brother-in-law gets his $10k.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 AM


Dog Attacks Owners On Home Sofa Couple Taken To Hospital (Local 6 News, July 12, 2002)
A Brevard County, Fla., couple was injured Thursday when their pet rottweiler attacked them as they were watching television in their living room.

Apparently, the dog's lawyer is saying the attack was justified because the couple was watching the new Phil Donahue show.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 AM


Wilentz's Fabricated Scalia : The Princeton historian outdoes himself. (Peter Berkowitz, July 11, 2002, National Review)
Wilentz, who directs Princeton's American Studies Program, centered his attack around remarks that Justice Scalia delivered in February at a conference on the death penalty at the University of Chicago, subsequently published under the title "God's Justice and Ours" in the May 2002 issue of First Things. According to Wilentz, "Justice Scalia's remarks show bitterness against democracy, strong dislike for the Constitution's approach to religion and eager advocacy for the submission of the individual to the state." Yet while he insists that Justice Scalia's "writings deserve careful attention," almost everything Wilentz writes about Justice Scalia's published remarks is wrong. In fact, Justice Scalia shows respect for democracy by identifying some of its self-destructive tendencies and suggesting remedies; embraces the Constitution's approach to religion, as opposed to the condescending and uncomprehending approach to religion that he finds rampant among contemporary intellectuals; and, far from advocating submissiveness, insists that citizens engage in politics to change laws they think immoral, and if ultimately necessary, revolt.

Qiao Yang found this excellent defense of justice Scalia from the inane and antihistorical attack by Sean Wilentz that we mentioned on Monday.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:49 AM


Arafat: It's not only up to me whether I run in PA elections (Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz)
In an interview with Israeli Channel 2 news aired Friday, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that the administration of President George W. Bush had reached the conclusion that the entire Palestinian Authority leadership should be replaced, and not just chairman Yasser Arafat, after determining the Palestinian Authority hadn't done enough to fight terror.

"This is not about Chairman Arafat, this is a political system that needs to change so that you can have accountability in institutions, financial transparency and accountability, security services that are accountable," she said.

"Never again should one man hold sway over the lives of the entire Palestinian population," she said.

One of the things that Richard Brookhiser talked about on his PBS program on George Washington is how rare a moment in world history it was when Washington turned in his commission and went back to Mount Vernon after the Revolution was won. Then, as if that were not sufficient, he also refused to run for a third term as president, even though he certainly would have won.

Men like George Washington don't exactly come along every day, and we can hardly be surprised that Yassir Arafat turns out to be no Washington, but mightn't we ponder for a moment whether Israel did not make a significant mistake several years ago when they failed to just grant the Palestinians a state. In addition to the variety of reasons we've outlined here in the past, this would have given Arafat the opportunity to be the "Father of his Country" and its first ruler and he could now be prevailed upon to surrender the stage so that the next generation of leaders could take over. As is, even if you think he's evil, as I do, it is easy to see why it would be difficult for him to step aside when he's come so close to winning an independent Palestinian state.

July 12, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 PM


In Defense of John Norman (Hank Parnell, The Texas Mercury)
Perhaps the best, and certainly most controversial, works of science fiction to have been inspired and influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs are the novels of a Princeton-educated professor of philosophy and history named John Frederick Lange, who writes under the pseudonym "John Norman."

As Norman, he is the author of the much-derided "Gor" novels, about an earthlike planet on the other side of the sun that exists in a kind of barbaric Greco-Roman splendor, where women are the absolute slaves of men. [...]

There are those who maintain that the first six books of the Gor series, along with Ghost Dance, are the only books Norman wrote that are worth reading. They are certainly the best reads. But over the years I have stuck with Norman. I have many times disagreed with him, and have been exasperated by him, but I have never given up on him, nor shall I. Norman and I not only agree on the biological superiority of the human male over the human female, but Norman is also one of the very few and perhaps only openly Nietzschean science-fiction writer in existence.

To be perfectly honest, Hank Parnell is starting to scare me, but he can be forgiven much for his willingness to treat what is often dismissed as mere pulp fiction with the seriousness that, given its massive readership, it deserves. I have to admit, I'm one of those who could never get past about Book 6 of the Gor series, but those six got me through puberty.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:30 PM


Voucher Nation? : Why school choice could demolish national unity. (Richard Just, 7.11.02, American Prospect)
Forget the Pledge of Allegiance ruling. The real legal blow of the last few weeks to American patriotism was delivered not by an eccentric panel of Circuit Court judges, but by the U.S. Supreme Court -- in its 5-to-4 decision declaring school vouchers constitutional. For years, libertarian conservatives and the religious right have, for different reasons, touted vouchers as the savior of American education. That they still do should come as no shock. But far more surprising is that no segment of the post-September 11 right has risen to question vouchers on the grounds where they are most vulnerable: that they undermine the foundations of American unity -- indeed, of American nationalism. You would expect members of an intellectually consistent right wing to be up in arms over any development that threatened our shared sense of national purpose. Unless, of course, mainstream conservatives are deeper in ideological debt to religious nuts and libertarian zealots than to their own principles of patriotism. [...]

In failing systems -- the kind that vouchers are supposed to help -- the primary alternatives to public schools are often religious ones. So the inane logic of vouchers would leave us with a stark choice: Either become a country that pays religious institutions to proselytize to children of other faiths, or become a country that educates children of different religions separately. One option undermines the spirit of the U.S. Constitution. The other undermines the spirit of American patriotism. Conservatives have long clung to the notion of an American melting pot. But what kind of melting pot will our society be if Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims are educated separately in their own schools? If ever there was a sinister way to weaken American patriotism borne of pluralism, this is it.

If Americans are unified on any issue in public life it is that the removal of religion from our schools over the last forty years has been a mistake. Polls consistently show that Americans, by large majorities, wish to see religion reintroduced to the educational process, from prayer before the school day to teaching creationism along side evolution. But the Left's assault on religion has made it nearly impossible for America to achieve this unified vision and so today we see a growing movement asking the government to return our educational tax dollars to us, in the form of vouchers, so that we can send our kids to non-public schools which at least for now are beyond the reach of the Left's anti-religious hegemony.

If Mr. Just were serious about saving public schools and preserving national unity, all he'd have top do is look at these poll results to see what people want, Most Americans Support Prayer in Public Schools : Also express widespread support for religious extracurricular activities (Mark Gillespie, July 9, 1999, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE) :

(1) Making public school facilities available after school hours for use by student religious groups : Favor 78%
(2) Allowing public schools to display the Ten Commandments : Favor 74%
(3) Allowing students to say prayers at graduation ceremonies as part of the official program : Favor 83%
(4) Using the Bible in literature, history, and social studies classes : Favor 71%
(5) Allowing daily prayer to be spoken in the classroom : Favor 70%
(6) Teaching creationism ALONG WITH evolution in public schools : Favor 68%

Note that these numbers are several years old and reflect neither the emotions raised by the Pledge ruling nor the possible additional support that may be expected now that the Court has ruled that tax dollars may go to parochial schools without violating the Constitution. Nor do they reflect the rapproachment between Jews and conservative Christians and the heightened sense of the threat to Israel and to Judaism which may have affected Jewish feeling, historically hostile, on these issues.

There is no ambiguity in these numbers. They indicate a nation that is unified in its belief that religion belongs in our public schools. It now appears that they may be so desperate to achieve this goal that they are ready to contemplate dismantling the public education system and moving towards a privatized education system. This is their radical response to the wall of separation that Mr. Just and his ilk have erected. For him to blame conservatives for somehow disuniting America, when it is in fact he who opposes that which unites America, is an act of unmitigated gall.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM


The Conservative Bubble Boys (Robert L. Borosage, July 9, 2002, washingtonpost.com )
Greed and the desire to get rich quick are constant in capitalism.

There, in one sentence, is the entire difference between conservatism and leftism. The Left believes that Man is essentially good but that his decency has been corrupted by the malefic influence of various beliefs and institutions, chief among them capitalism. Conservatives harbor no such delusions about human nature, knowing that Man was sinful from the start (Adam and Eve) and greedy from the get-go (Cain and Abel).

As this fundamental difference in philosophy plays itself out in human affairs, the Left proposes economic systems--like socialism--that are predicated on men being angels, willing, even eager, to share the wealth. Meanwhile conservatives support capitalism, which seeks to balance one self-interested man against another.

The Left's vision is sweet and appealing and unsurprisingly appeals mainly to women. Conservatism is dark and stern and, equally predictably, predominates among men. Historically Leftist socialism has been ascendancy since women were given the vote, because they outnumber men. This advantage has only been offset by the fact that capitalism actually works, while socialism is a disaster. However, the growing tendency to utilize abortion for the purposes of weeding out female fetuses augurs ill for the Left. It is one of the great ironies of history that just as men's adherence to their own principles led them eventually to extend the vote to women, even though it redounded to their own political disfavor, so too it is men who are most opposed to abortion, which might, were they willing to compromise their morals, swing power back their way. Thus do we see that in the final analysis it is actually conservatism that is selfless and humane.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM


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Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 AM


Blind Psychic Gropes Buttocks to See Future (Nick Tattersall, July 9, 2002, Yahoo)
Forget palm-reading. A blind German psychic claimed Tuesday he could read people's futures by feeling their naked buttocks.

Clairvoyant Ulf Buck, 39, claims that people's backsides have lines like those on the palm of the hand, which can be read to reveal much about their character and destiny.

Big deal. When we were growing up we had a batchelor neighbor who could do the same thing. And he'd give us candy to keep it secret.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM


In defense of a Mideast moderate (ADAM B. KUSHNER, July 12, 2002, Miami Herald)
[T]he closing of Palestinian Sari Nusseibeh's office by Israeli Public Security Minister and leading Likudnik Uzi Landau did mark a regrettable moment in the Middle East conflict. Nusseibeh is president of the Palestinian Al Quds University in East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and easily the most outspoken moderate Palestinian leader. [...]

Notwithstanding [a] minor infraction, Nusseibeh's credentials as a friend of peace are impeccable. The Harvard-educated Jerusalemite has long extolled liberalism and tolerance; he openly criticized Yasser Arafat's rejection of the generous Camp David offer, calling it ''a major missed opportunity''; he condemned the immorality of suicide bombings and beseeched Palestinians to abandon them as counterproductive; and he repudiated the right of return as a painful delusion. With enemies like Nusseibeh, who needs friends?

He is, in short, everything the Israelis and Americans hope for in a successor to Arafat. Nusseibeh is the kind of leader President Bush had in mind when he called for ''leaders not compromised by terror.'' That's why the closure drew criticism from center and left ministers and the White House, which said that the ``action does not contribute to the fight against terror.''

I'm with Mr. Kushner on this one, for a change. As he points out, some have speculated that the Israeli action is really intended to make Mr. Nusseibeh appear less suspect in the eyes of Palestinians, one hopes that's what's going on. If, instead, they are cracking down on one of the few voices of moderation for a relatively minor, even if troubling, breach of the interim peace accords, which are nearly a dead letter anyway, then they seem to be making a significant mistake.

Though we'd welcome a revolution or a reformation, we have to expect that progress towards peace and democracy in the Middle East will be fairly haphazard and frequently no more than incremental. The leaders who may be able to move the Arab world in that direction will not be 99 & 44/100ths% pure. Just as the movement towards markets and democracy in other parts of the world has necessitated our acceptance of imperfect folks like Franco, Pinochet, etc., so will we have to accept some dubious characters in the Middle East. Mr. Nusseibeh sounds at least like the best of a bad lot and maybe better than that. If we (the Israelis and Americans) remove the best options that the Palestinians have, then we leave them no other choices but the current wretched leadership of Arafat or the even more heinous option of Hamas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM


2 Marlins stars . . . going, going, gone : Cliff Floyd traded to Montreal; Ryan Dempster dealt to Cincinnati (CLARK SPENCER, Jul. 12, 2002, Miami Herald)
Floyd, the cog of the Marlins' offense, was traded to the Montreal Expos for journeymen pitchers Carl Pavano and Graeme Lloyd, utility infielder Mike Mordecai, and three prospect pitchers. Dempster, 5-8 with a 4.79 ERA in 18 starts this season, was sent to the Reds in return for outfielder Juan Encarnaci—n.

Mr. Spencer, in a truly astonishing feat of linguistic malfeasance, manages here to say the exact opposite of what he intended. Here's the definition of "cog" :
cog :  Pronunciation Key  (kg, kôg)
1. One of a series of teeth, as on the rim of a wheel or gear, whose engagement transmits successive motive force to a corresponding wheel or gear.
2. A cogwheel.
3. A subordinate member of an organization who performs necessary but usually minor or routine functions

One assumes that Mr. Spencer didn't seriously mean to say that Cliff Floyd, who was easily the best offensive player on the Marlins, performed a minor and routine function for the team.

July 11, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 PM


Mother Says Girl at Center of Pledge of Allegiance Fight Is No Atheist, Doesn't Mind Pledge (David Kravets, July 11, 2002, Associated Press)
The 8-year-old girl whose father successfully sued to have the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional has no problem with reciting the pledge at school, her mother said Thursday.

"I was concerned that the American public would be led to believe that my daughter is an atheist or that she has been harmed by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words 'one nation under God,'" Sandra Banning said in a statement. "We are practicing Christians and are active in our church."

...and one very happy group of judges can now dismiss the case because of lack of standing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 PM


Another pilot caught drunk at Miami airport (South Florida Sun Sentinel, July 11 2002)
An AeroMexico pilot has been fired after being caught drunk while getting ready to fly a passenger flight out of Miami.

The move to arm airline pilots is a Democratic moment for the Republican Party and one which they should snap out of post haste.

There hadn't been a successful hijacking in the United States in about 20 years prior to 9-11. Arming pilots is a knee-jerk response to a problem that does not exist, based on our pro-gun fanaticism, rather than on any genuine need for guns in the cockpit. This is the kind of thing Democrats do--emotional, impetuous, useless, ill-considered, groveling before a constituency group, placing ideology above cold reason....

I will bet any taker twenty dollars that the first gun discharged onboard a U.S. flight will not be wielded by an embattled fly-boy hero fending off maniacal Ayrabs, but by a drunken idiot like this one, at an annoying passenger or at a stewardess who won't date him.

Armed Pilots? Many Travelers Are Gun-Shy (MICHAEL JANOFSKY, July 11, 2002, NY Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 PM


British spies in Iraq to incite revolt (Toby Harnden, 12/07/2002, Daily Telegraph)
British and American agents are on the ground in Iraq fomenting revolt among opposition groups and potential traitors in Saddam Hussein's inner circle as part of a covert campaign to topple him, senior officials disclosed last night.

The admission, on the eve of a conference of Iraqi opposition figures in London, is powerful evidence of a renewed determination in Washington and London to overthrow the Iraqi dictator.

Can you say October Surprise?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 PM


Brian Lamb's Flock : The Unassuming C-SPAN Founder and Host Has a Faithful Audience (Mark Leibovich, July 11, 2002, Washington Post)
People see things in Brian Lamb that may or may not exist. That's part of his genius, or his phenomenon. He is a cultural white board, a screen for ideological projection. Likewise, as C-SPAN has grown into a franchise that includes three TV stations, a radio station and nine Web sites, the relationship between the network and its followers has grown more complex and multifaceted than when C-SPAN was created, in 1979, to provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House of Representatives. The advent of 24-hour news channels -- with their personality-driven lineups -- has brought C-SPAN's dry approach, and appeal, into a sharp relief.

C-SPAN -- which stands for Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network -- is a lifestyle brand for the bookish and civic-minded. Its viewers are fervent, and their devotion is personified by Lamb. Conversations with C-SPAN fans yield awe and wonder at the network's founder, CEO and best-known host. On the surface, the cult of non-personality is easy to grasp: Lamb, 60, brims with low-key accessibility. "Viewers either love or hate Bill O'Reilly," says Maura Clancey of Statistical Research Inc., who has studied the C-SPAN audience since 1984. "But they feel as if they have a friendly relationship with Brian."

Not only is this a great profile of the man who will become our greatest living American upon the Gipper's death, it also recounts two genuine comic highlights :
There was one appearance on the Don Imus radio show, when Lamb was discussing the last words uttered by U.S. presidents.

"I think one of the more interesting ones is Franklin Delano Roosevelt," Lamb said. "I have a terrific headache."

"You do?" Imus said.

"No," Lamb said, and he explained that these were FDR's last words.

The Imus people laughed, and Stoner calls this one of the funniest things he has ever heard -- purely because it was Lamb.

...which was far funnier live on the radio, and :
"What is buggery?" he asked the author Martin Gilbert.

...which in the context of Booknotes was about the funniest moment in television history (with the possible exception of Woody and Sam kissing).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM


Idiot Time (Alan Wolfe, 07.09.02, New Republic)
As Lord Bryce noted in 1888 in The American Commonwealth, the American way of choosing presidents rarely produces politicians of quality. Subsequent events vindicated his point: in the half-century after his book appeared, Americans elected to the presidency such undistinguished men as William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. An era that included two wars, the assumption of an empire, a stock market crash, and the beginning of our greatest economic crisis was also marked by as mediocre a political leadership as we have had in our history.

Two features stand out in this roll call of incompetence: the presidents with the lowest reputations over the past hundred or so years were all Republicans, and they were all guided by the conviction that their job was to side with the powerful in any potential conflict with the poor.

There's a nearly sublime shallowness to Mr. Wolfe's sentiment here. McKinley, Taft and Coolidge are, after all, at the very worst considered to have been mediocrities. Harding's administration was a tad corrupt, but he didn't really do anything that was detrimental to the country. Hoover is a legitimate target, but not for the reasons Mr. Wolfe probably thinks. Folks like Mr. Wolfe and the editors at the New Republic, those intellectuals who have helped to shape the historic standing of all these men, presumably think that Hoover should have cranked up the New Deal immediately and thereby ended the Great Depression earlier. The problem with that is it's pretty much what he did. Hoover was an Atari Democrat before his time, an engineer who thought plying the right levers of government would cure most ills. As David Kennedy wrote in his terrific history of the Period, Freedom from Fear : The United States, 1929-1945 (Oxford History of the United States, Vol 9)(1999) (David M. Kennedy), Hoover began the explosive rise of the Social Welfare state well before FDR ever took office, with similarly disappointing results.

That, of course, is another problem for Mr. Wolfe's analysis. The New Deal, as Mr. Kennedy also showed, was an expensive flop. It was only the coming of WWII that finally pulled the American economy out of the Depression, not all the wasteful spending and ill-conceived government programs that Hoover and FDR larded America with. So by any objective measure, FDR deserves the same judgment in at least his first two terms as Hoover gets for his one. We'll not quarrel here with FDR's subsequent handling of WWII, we'll assume he deserves full credit for our partial victory. But the failure to prepare for and prosecute war with the Soviet Union is a major black mark, leading as it did to the fifty year Cold War. And, of course, the low moments of FDR's career, and two of the worst in American history, came with his decisions to break the precedent set by George Washington and seek a third term and then the monumentally irresponsible fourth term, even though he was dying and had paid no attention to the choice of a Vice President. All in all, we'll give him a mixed rating, but with the bad predominating.

Not so fortunate are three other Democrats who likewise expanded government ("sided with the poor") and who unfortunately all combined that with pursuit of wars that they failed to win : Wilson (WWI), Truman (Korea), and LBJ (Vietnam). Only yeoman-like work by liberal historians has served to refurbish the reputations of these three who were roundly despised by the time they left the White House, two of them even forced to retire rather than seek another term after being humiliated in the NH primary.

Finally, on our list of great presidential failures, we'd have to give the absolute lowest mark to Richard M. Nixon, who Mr. Wolfe must be gratified to note is a Republican, but who he likely left out of his calculations because Mr. Nixon was too a big government liberal. Many are disturbed on first hearing that accusation, but Tom Wicker amply proved it in One of Us : Richard Nixon and the American Dream.

All of which leads us to the somewhat startling realization that Mr. Wolfe has history almost completely backwards. The strongest correlation between a failed presidency and the politics of the executive seems to be not with support of big business--a policy which several great successes, including Ike, Reagan, and Clinton, all followed--but with support of big government at home, in the form of high spending and taxes, and abroad, in the form of war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:11 PM


Bush Panel Has 2 Views on Embryonic Cloning (Rick Weiss, July 11, 2002, Washington Post)
The mix of viewpoints in the final report, to be released by the President's Bioethics Council today, reflects the quandary that has stymied the Senate for months as it has debated whether to ban the cloning of human embryos for research. Advocates on both sides of the Senate debate yesterday maintained that the report offered support for their respective positions, a rhetorical crossfire that only added to the uncertainty of whether Congress will pass any cloning legislation this term.

Supporters of the research argue that cloned embryos appear to be ideal sources of potentially curative stem cells and could serve as valuable research tools for the study of genetic diseases. Opponents say they believe it is unethical to create human embryos with the express intention of destroying them, and that alternative avenues of research should be pursued. Bush has said repeatedly that he opposes the cloning of human embryos and he has urged Congress to ban the practice.

In January, Bush named experts in science, philosophy, ethics and law to look into cloning and related issues. Council members have said they oppose the creation of cloned babies. But rather than making a single recommendation to the president on the ethics of making cloned human embryos for research, the council's report offers two competing opinions, according to committee members and others familiar with its contents.

One opinion, supported by 10 of the committee's 18 members, calls for a four-year moratorium on the creation of cloned human embryos. The other, favored by seven members, calls for the research to go forward with appropriate oversight. One council member abstained.

We've already amply rehearsed the reason why we think such research is unwise. But, in light of the fact that the panel was unanimous that reproductive cloning, which is indistinguishable from other forms of cloning, should be banned and that even the dissenters argue for strict control over that research which they would allow, isn't it necessary for these cloning supporters to endorse a moratorium until a legal framework is in place that satisfies at least their own moral concerns? To oppose such a pause, even after having identified forms of research that you think are unethical, is to give tacit support to this immoral science.

*Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry (The President's Council on Bioethics, July 2002)

*Charles Murtaugh, Beantown's bio-blogging Bush-basher, who has been consistently fair and thoughtful about the issues surrounding cloning, even though we often disagree with him, has posted his thoughts. He has the great advantage of actually understanding the science involved instead of talking out of his hat, like moi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:49 PM


Bridge renamed for Homestead Grays (Jeffrey Cohan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 11, 2002)
The Homestead High-Level Bridge was officially renamed the Homestead Grays Bridge at a ceremony this morning at Chiodo's Tavern, which sits next to the bridge.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey signed a resolution at the ceremony to rename the county-owned bridge in honor of the National Negro League baseball dynasty.

The Grays were led for years by the tandem of catcher Josh Gibson (who supposedly once hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium) and first baseman Buck Leonard, who were known as the black Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In addition, they had center fielder James "Cool Papa" Bell--who, if memory serves, was the player that Satchel Paige said was so fast he could turn out the lights at a wall switch and be in bed under the covers before the room got dark--third baseman Judy Johnson, and the great pitcher "Smokey" Joe Williams.

Nothing can ever repay such men for the injustices that were done to them, but the bridge is a marvelous tribute.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:13 PM


U.S. Backs Down From Immunity Demand (Associated Press, 7/10/02)
The new draft U.S. resolution asks the court for a 12-month exemption from investigation or prosecution of peacekeepers and "expresses the intention to renew the request ... for further 12 month periods for as long as may be necessary."

Let's try a brief thought experiment : suppose you have a brother in law who thinks he deserves special treatment and he asks you for ten thousand dollars a year for the rest of his life. You're pretty outraged and you complain to your wife (his sister), who tells you it's okey just to refuse the request. The next day he says : okay, forget that, give me ten thousand now and I'll come back every year to ask for the next ten thousand.

What do you say to your wife? :

(a) Hey, your brother folded like a house of cards. All we have to do is pay him off now and the rest of the argument gets pushed back to next year.


(b) Listen to what that snake tried pulling now.

Please note, for purposes of this admittedly imperfect analogy, America is the snake.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:54 PM


Church And State: Another Chip In The Wall : High Court Vouchers Ruling Damages Individual Freedom (Helen Thomas, July 11, 2002, Boston Channel)
Since he took office, President George W. Bush has been promoting an agenda that chips away at the constitutional wall between church and state. [...]

Given Bush's track record, it is reasonable to assume that he will try to tinker with other long-standing traditions upholding the separation of church and state. He reads the Bible every day for divine guidance. I wish he would also find time to read the U.S. Constitution once in a while.

Here's an idea Ms Thomas, why don't you try picking up a copy of the Constitution and if you can show us where it says anything about a "wall" between church and state, I'll personally eat the document.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 AM


Oldest member of human family found : New-found skull could sink our current ideas about human evolution. (JOHN WHITFIELD, 11 July 2002, Nature)
After a decade of digging through the sand dunes of northern Chad, Michel Brunet found a skull 6-7 million years old. He named it Touma*.

Touma* is thought to be the oldest fossil from a member of the human family. It's a dispatch from the time when humans and chimpanzee were going their separate evolutionary ways. A thrilling, but confusing dispatch.

Sahelanthropus tchadensis - Touma*'s scientific name - was probably one of many similar species living in Africa at that time. "There must have been a group of apes knocking around between 5 and 8 million years ago for which there's a very poor fossil record," says anthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University in Washington DC.

Touma* is the tip of that iceberg - one that could sink our current ideas about human evolution. "Anybody who thinks this isn't going to get more complex isn't learning from history," says Wood.

"When I went to medical school in 1963, human evolution looked like a ladder," he says. The ladder stepped from monkey to man through a progression of intermediates, each slightly less ape-like than the last.

Now human evolution looks like a bush. We have a menagerie of fossil hominids - the group containing everything thought more closely related to humans than chimps. How they are related to each other and which, if any of them, are human forebears is still debated.

The fanatic refusal of Darwinists to acknowledge the evidentiary problems with their theory reminds us of the guy whose wife busted him, getting his freak on with a neighbor lady. While he swore he'd always been faithful and was merely demonstrating the Heimlich manuever, his wife said : "But I saw you!" To which he replied : "Who ya' gonna' believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"

A Fossil Unearthed in Africa Pushes Back Human Origins (JOHN NOBLE WILFORD, July 11, 2002, NY Times)

In studying the skull, Dr. Lieberman recognized a third reason, besides the specimen's age and location, for scientists to be excited and challenged by the discovery. That is the skull's mosaic of primitive and advanced characteristics.

"You expect something that age to be very chimplike," Dr. Lieberman said. "But this one's face is the face essentially of a Homo habilis, at two million years ago, and yet this face is almost seven million years old."

This is all the more puzzling because Australopithecus afarensis, the Lucy species that lived 3.2 million years ago, has a decidedly chimp like face. What's happening? Reversing evolutionary patterns and trends, Dr. Lieberman said, is "extremely rare, if not impossible."

Several scientists said the discovery thus seemed to undermine the simplest linear models of hominid evolution. If the earliest hominids like Toumai were directly ancestral to australopithecines like Lucy, Dr. Lieberman pointed out, there would have had to have been two reversals to reach the advanced characteristics of the Homo lineage.

Ivan Bostock has called our attention to some amusing essays on Darwinism at the Royal Institute of Philosophy :
A New Religion (David Stove, Royal Institute of Philosophy)
So You Think You Are a Darwinian? (David Stove, Royal Institute of Philosophy)
I Rather Think I Am A Darwinian (Simon Blackburn, Royal Institute of Philosophy)
Stove's Anti-Darwinism (James Franklin, Royal Institute of Philosophy)

There are also many more links to essays--both pro and con--at our Evolution reviews page.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM


The Other Case Against Vouchers : Forget church and state. Vouchers are bad for a gazillion secular reasons. (Adam B. Kushner, 7.10.02, American Prospect)
To begin with, the stipends that most voucher programs grant their students aren't enough to pay for a good private school. Florida's program offers about $4,000 for students, for example, while Ohio's offers $2,250. Although vouchers won't pay for the best secular private schools, they generally do pay for inexpensive, inner-city parochial schools -- which explains why so many vouchers go to religious schools. Pushing public-school students toward a religious education may not be against the law, but it certainly is bad education policy. Some parents argue it grants them choice, but a choice between a failing public school and a mediocre parochial school is an unenviable one. [...]

Conservative economists claim that schools will materialize to cater to these students [those not accepted by or unable to afford current private schools], in accordance with basic supply-and-demand market principles. But schools designed to accept voucher-students will inevitably be profit-making ventures. These voucher mills would be forced to put revenue drives and cost-cutting ahead of education, just like any other for-profit organization. [...]

And still, there are other reasons to be skeptical of vouchers. For instance, they undermine the teaching of pluralism because voucher users will naturally gravitate toward schools that represent their own demographic. In fact, The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University recently found that 48 percent of black students in Catholic schools and 44 percent in other religious schools encounter a heavily segregated educational experience, meaning that fewer than 10 percent of students in their schools are white. While public schools have used busing programs for years to desegregate the schools, religious institutions have been unable to overcome the patterns of residential segregation. The situation is likely to worsen with the promulgation of vouchers.

So let's see if we have this straight : Mr. Kushner seems to think that parents would not prefer that their children get at least mediocre educations, instead of the non-educations they are sentenced to now. Of course, if this were the case they wouldn't use the vouchers in the first place and we'd not see black mothers in Cleveland and Milwaukee sobbing joyfully after the Supreme Court approved the vouchers their children use.

He also thinks that profit making ventures don't actually produce a worthwhile product--in this case educated students--but instead just cut costs and
cook the books. Tell it to all the companies that are belly up now because they thought similarly. Of course there will be private schools that are poorly run and that cut corners, but like Enron and Global Crossing and other businesses that thought they could outwit the market, it will catch up to them. This makes them completely different from public schools which can be, and have been, run badly for decades on end. And if all of this does not alleviate Mr. Kushner's concern, let parents insist that the private schools they send their kids to be not-for-profit. In fact, let the folks at American Prospect and the NAACP and the NEA open schools of their own. Privatizing education does not have to mean turning it into the kind of rough-and-tumble market we have in say the dot.com industry. Choice means just that, choice among many different opitions--some public, some private, some parochial, some for profit, some not. Let the good succeed and the bad wither away.

His third point, about pluralism, seems premised on a belief that "diversity" in the educational experience is more important than the quality of the education itself. This brings us back to those parents we mentioned to begin with--suppose you offered them a choice of getting a crappy education in a thoroughly diverse school or a decent education in a homogenous one, which do you think they'd choose? Which would you choose for your child? Which would Mr. Kushner choose for his child? Are we talking about educating kids here or are we talking about serving the Left's political ideology? If the latter, fine, but let's explain this to black parents, that we're perfectly willing to leave your child ignorant in order to protect union sinecures, deny money to religious schools, prevent anyone from making a profit on education, and realize our integration fetish. This will at least let American blacks now what the true priorities are of their supposed allies in the Democratic Party. And, guess what, as has too often been the case in America, black kids come last.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:03 AM


George W's 'scandal' (Robert Novak, July 11, 2002, Town Hall)
The dominant subject at President Bush's rare press conference Monday evening was not new corporate scandals that threaten America's capitalist economy. It was a 12-year-old stock sale by private citizen George W. Bush. That caused a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official, who long ago gave Bush a clean bill of health, to ponder the wondrous ways of Washington.

That official was not, as National Public Radio suggested Tuesday morning, then Republican SEC Chairman Richard Breeden (appointed by the elder President George Bush). It was SEC enforcement chief William McLucas, now a partner in one of Washington's most prestigious law firms -- and a Democrat. He recently produced the report that revealed the Enron scandal. McLucas told me, "I can see no reason" to replay his 1990 Bush inquiry. [...]

The major new accusation against Bush has been that he was eight months late filing a confirming report of the stock sale, though he earlier had alerted the SEC as required by law. The tardy report was in McLucas's hand when he ruled. "If you went to court against every late filing with us," McLucas told me, "we would be in court on 2,000 cases."

Washington is notorious for stories like Harkengate. In the dog days of Summer, when there's nothing much else going on, it's just easier to whip up a fake story than to do any actual reporting.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 AM


Bush Calls for End to Loans of a Type He Once Received (JEFF GERTH and RICHARD W. STEVENSON, July 11, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush received two low-interest loans to buy stock from an oil company where he served as a board member in the late 1980's. He then benefited from the company's relaxation of the terms of one loan in 1989 as he was engaged in the most important business deal of his career.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush called for a halt to those types of insider transactions, challenging corporate directors to "put an end to all company loans to corporate officers."

The Other (Quieter) Brother nails this one as he asks : "Where was the headline: McCain Calls for End to Campaign Money of a type He Received for his Entire Career"

July 10, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:07 PM


WERE THE BUSH V. GORE JUSTICES' VIEWS REALLY POLITICAL AND NOT PRINCIPLED? : A Recent Supreme Court Opinion On States' Ability To Regulate Judicial Candidates' Speech May Prove The Cynics Wrong (JULIE HILDEN, Jul. 09, 2002, Find Law)
On June 27, the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 decision in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White. There, pursuant to the First Amendment, the Court struck down restrictions that the Minnesota Supreme Court had imposed limiting the ability of candidates for elected state judgeships to voice their views on disputed legal and political issues.

In White, a conservative majority held, in effect, that a state does not have unlimited discretion to decide the way elections within that state will be held. Instead, the Bill of Rights stringently controls how it can do so.

The decision was dwarfed in the press by several other extremely significant end-of-Term opinions on school vouchers and the death penalty. However, it is significant and, indeed, stunning in its own right.

Why? In part, because the Justices' respective opinions in White suggest that their opinions in Bush v. Gore may have been principled and heartfelt - not opportunistic and political, as many have claimed. And that, in turn, suggests that the Court's action in deciding Bush v. Gore--and thus resolving the 2002 election--may have been far more legitimate and properly judicial than is commonly thought.

Hold the presses--you mean the Constitution precedes elections?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:55 PM


Gov. Jeb Bush Names First Hispanic to Florida's Supreme Court (Jackie Hallifax, July 10, 2002, Associated Press)
Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday named a grandson of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista as the first Hispanic on the Florida Supreme Court.

Raoul Cantero III, a Miami attorney and Harvard Law School graduate, replaces Justice Major Harding, who is retiring after 11 years.

"I have named a person who is the of the finest appellate lawyers in the state," Bush said. "Above all else, Raoul is a man of exceptional character."

Here's how you end run the Democrats who refuse to seat any conservative Hispanic judges on the Federal bench.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM


Privatized Primaries? : Some Leading Democrats May Eschew Public Funding in '04 (Thomas B. Edsall, July 10, 2002, Washington Post)
Leading Democratic presidential hopefuls are contemplating a significant break with party tradition: Financing bids for the Democratic nomination with private donations rather than public funds.

George W. Bush pioneered the idea two years ago when he won the Republican nomination, and several Democrats wonder if they can follow suit in 2004. They hesitate, however, because Democrats historically have found far fewer donors willing to give $1,000 or $2,000 each. That will become a crucial funding level once the nation's new campaign finance law takes effect in four months.

Bush's potential Democratic challengers will soon face a difficult choice. They can accept roughly $15 million in public funding, but they will have to abide by spending limits that might leave them strapped for cash while Bush spends freely in the summer of 2004. Or they can reject the money in hopes of recruiting thousands of new, generous donors who can keep them competitive with Bush throughout the campaign.

Boy, it's hard to imagine that this kind of hypocrisy wouldn't hurt them in Deomocratic primaries.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 AM


Slouching Toward Populism (MAUREEN DOWD, July 10, 2002, NY Times)
And they are hounded by the same old question they have designed their lives to avoid: Can a Bush--born on third base but thinking he hit a triple--ever really understand the problems of the guys in the bleachers?

There are few more enjoyable spectacles than that of a middle-aged, single, childless, New York Times columnist lecturing a politician--who on his worst day got 49% of the nation's vote and is currently at 70% in the polls--on how he can't understand peoples' problems. There's a revealing passage in Frank Bruni's fine campaign memoir, Ambling Into History, where he talks about how out-of-it George W. is culturally because he'd never heard of Sex in the City, let alone seen it; because he thinks that Billy Bass singing fish is hilarious; and because the only Broadway show he likes is Cats. Likewise, Mr. Bruni and other press mavens find it odd that W. likes to go to his ranch and cut brush, much as Ronald Reagan used to do.

You see, at the Times, populism means getting together for group Sex in the City viewing parties and talking to all the real folks who drive your cabs or cut your lawn in the Hamptons and having a French impressionist ballet poster on your wall, just like all your friends have. But out here in America we watch NASCAR, wrestling, Baywatch, and baseball. We cut our own lawns. We drink canned beer, not wine. We have spouses and kids. We like soccer because even the girls and the spastic boys can participate, but we find the notion of grown men playing it to be troublesome. We think Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were guilty. We think the blacklist was too short. We rooted for the Guard at Kent State and for the Chicago cops at the 1968 Democrat convention. We think Jerry Lee Lewis was a rambunctious genius and Woody Allen is nothing more than an unfunny incestuous pedophile. We think O.J. did it. We think Ted Kennedy did it. We think Clinton is a criminal. We like Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft, but Barney Frank and Janet Reno scare us. We don't think our moms are descended from monkeys. We think drugs should be illegal. We're glad Columbus found America. We'd bomb Hiroshima all over again if we had to. We think JFK lost the Missile Crisis worse than the Bay of Pigs. We think Vietnam was a noble cause and that we should have stayed to finish what the liberals started. We think Reagan won the Cold War and Gorbachev lost. We think SUVs should be bigger. We own guns. We think Maxwell House is gourmet coffee and you should drink it black. We like Marty Stewart, not Martha Stewart. We think Seinfeld was stupid. We've never even seen Friends. And the network that carries Ellen is parental-locked on our TVs. We salt our melons, butter our steaks, and drink whole milk (out of the jug, if the wife isn't watching). We think a son of a president, who's himself run a business, owned a baseball team, been governor of Texas, and been elected President (or close enough) probably understands Americans a little better than someone who writes a snarky column for that elitist piece of Manhattan fishwrap. And, yes, we think singing fish are a hoot.

We actually sit in the bleachers and stands for games in April, like W. did when he ran the Rangers, not in corporate boxes (and only at playoff time) where waiters serve shrimp and Chablis.

And if, by some chance, our wives manage to batter us into submission and we end up having to visit that godforsaken den of iniquity y'all live in, what we really want is to hit a few ballgames and maybe, albeit grudgingly, allow the old lady to drag us to Radio City to see the Rockettes. (We used to could at least go to the Lone Star, but now even that's closed). But, should we fold, and get hornswoggled into going to a Broadway show, we don't want to watch four hours of that leftist nitwit Kevin Spacey mouthing Eugene O'Neill's life-denying nonsense. We want to go to the show where smokin' hot chorus girls are dressed up like Julie Newmar, crawling around stage on all fours--we want tickets to Cats. That, my Pulitzer-Prize winning friends, is populism. Welcome to the Red State world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM


Maybe Milwaukee baseball is jinxed. (Sean Hackbarth, 7.10.2002, American Mind)
People like Brewer great Robin Yount can comfort Selig by thinking that people will understand his decision in time, but they don't put this snub in perspective. The All Star Game isn't about player accolades. It isn't about showing off a city to the rest of the country. The All Star Game is a treat for the fans. It's the one opportunity of the year to have the game's best players all in one spot. It wouldn't be much for a player to take a small risk and give the fans a winner.

Personally, I think All-Star games are fairly silly. The only one you can conceivably watch is baseball, because it's the only one where they actually play defense (in other words, they have pitchers). But, truthfully, even the baseball all-star game is mostly just an annoying three days break in the middle of the season where we're deprived of the two things that make baseball God's gift to man : games on the radio and boxscores. The only All-Star moment I can even recall is when Ronald Reagan called Bo Jackson's leadoff homerun (maybe in '88?).

On the other hand, if you're going to play the thing, finish it. Or, as I suggested in derisory jest during the World Cup, why not have Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi come out after 11 innings and have a HomeRun Derby for the whole enchilada. It would have been like the final shootout scene in Shane or High Noon. Sure, it would have been gimmicky and pointless, and traditionalists (like me) wiould be squealing like stuck pigs this morning, but so's the all-star game itself; at least you would have had drama and a winner at the end.

And, if that ended in a tie too, why not have the Polish Sausage and the Hot Dog race, each representing a League, to see who wins. Now that I'd pay money to see.

For Baseball, a Tie That Fits Like a Noose (Thomas Boswell, July 10, 2002, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:12 AM


The Last Defender of the American Republic? An interview with Gore Vidal (Marc Cooper, LA Weekly)
So what was all this about? It was about the Taliban being very, very bad people and that they treated women very badly, you see. They're not really into women's rights, and we here are very strong on women's rights; and we should be with Bush on that one because he's taking those burlap sacks off of women's heads. Well, that's not what it was about.

What it was really about -- and you won't get this anywhere at the moment -- is that this is an imperial grab for energy resources. Until now, the Persian Gulf has been our main source for imported oil. We went there, to Afghanistan, not to get Osama and wreak our vengeance. We went to Afghanistan partly because the Taliban -- whom we had installed at the time of the Russian occupation -- were getting too flaky and because Unocal, the California corporation, had made a deal with the Taliban for a pipeline to get the Caspian- area oil, which is the richest oil reserve on Earth. They wanted to get that oil by pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan to Karachi and from there to ship it off to China, which would be enormously profitable. Whichever big company could cash in would make a fortune. And you'll see that all these companies go back to Bush or Cheney or to
Rumsfeld or someone else on the Gas and Oil Junta, which, along with the Pentagon, governs the United States.

We had planned to occupy Afghanistan in October, and Osama, or whoever it was who hit us in September, launched a pre-emptory strike. They knew we were coming. And this was a warning to throw us off guard.

With that background, it now becomes explicable why the first thing Bush did after we were hit was to get Senator Daschle and beg him not to hold an investigation of the sort any normal country would have done. When Pearl Harbor was struck, within 20 minutes the Senate and the House had a joint committee ready. Roosevelt beat them to it, because he knew why we had been hit, so he set up his own committee. But none of this was to come out, and it hasn't come out.

Is there a worse gene pool in America than the one that produced Gore Vidal and his cousin,Al Gore? No wonder Tennessee doesn't teach evolution.

July 9, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 PM


Bush's strategy to win black votes bypasses NAACP (JULIE MASON, July 9, 2002, Houston Chronicle)
For the White House, sidestepping the more politically grounded, traditionally liberal civil rights groups like the NAACP is a key part of the strategy for narrowing the gap among black voters.

In search of a more receptive audience, Bush is taking his message of home ownership, welfare reform and faith-based initiatives directly to the African-American churches, service providers and others who may be more likely to embrace it.

This is great but he's got to sell these plans hard and often. He should be going to black churches, neighborhoods, fraternal organizations, business groups, etc., etc., etc. on every trip he makes. The GOP should run ads on black radio stations and print ads in black papers. They should be recruiting black candidates for office and for judgeships and for staff jobs.

It would be great for the party if it could just get up to about 30% of the black vote. But it would be even better for blacks, who could actually become power brokers, with the two parties courting them, instead of marching in lockstep behind the Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 PM


Freakish Fish Causes Fear in Md. : Carnivore Moves on Land, Can Survive 4 Days Without Water (Anita Huslin, June 27, 2002, Washington Post)
At first, reports of the strange-looking creature with the head of a snake and a gaping saw-toothed maw were dismissed as just another fish tale. A bowfin, most likely. Or some other kind of exotic fish that outgrew its tank and was tossed into the pond by its owner.

But two weeks after an unidentified angler caught the thing in a drainage pond behind a Crofton shopping center, state officials solved the mystery. An exotic fish expert in Florida identified the creature from a photo as a northern snakehead, prized as a delicacy in China and Korea where it originates, but a nasty Frankenfish, as far as U.S. officials are concerned.

It grows to nearly three feet, eats whatever it wants -- mostly other fish -- can live through icy winters and survives even in oxygen-deprived waters.

But there's more: It can crawl out of the water and wiggle across land, surviving up to four days.

Dreaded by fish biologists, it is capable of clearing out a pond of all living creatures and then wriggling on to new hunting grounds on its belly and fins. [...]

Investigators are looking into reports that it may have been released as a religious offering, a practice by some eastern religions.

Which raises the question : even if it is one of His creatures, why would God want it back?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 PM


No Quick Crucifix (Steven Waldman, July 8, 2002, Slate)
Mr. Waldman writes that school vouchers may not benefit Christians because of three factors :

"1. Mission Dilution"
"2. Growth of Minority Religions"
"3. Tuition Inflation"

The first is a serious concern and it is why a voucher program should be as neutral as possible. Parents should be given their voucher for $2500 or $4000 or whatever and told that it can be redeemed for educational costs in any form of their choosing. They can buy a computer, hire a tutor, pick a school, etc., but the government role stops once the voucher is cashed. We might want to test all students periodically, but beyond that there should be no governmental interference with curricula, teaching methods, hours, etc.

The second is really none of our concern. If Mormons or Muslims or Wiccans or what have you can do a good job teaching kids and parents choose to give them money, then so be it.

The third is a valid concern, that once a kid has a voucher that covers the entire cost of his Catholic school education the school will be tempted to raise the tuition. However, the beauty of the market is that there'll presumably be people who will step in and undercut the tuition hikers. And it's not as if the cost of public school education has been steady or falling over the last forty years while it deteriorated. Costs have skyrocketed even as the quality of education has declined. In fact, there's arguably a direct correlation between the amount we spend on education and the decline in quality. Hard to believe it will get worse once market forces are brought to bear.

Finally, so what? Despite how the Left and the media have portrayed the issue, the point of this whole exercise is not actually to benefit Christians. The point is to give parents choices about where and how their kids are educated. If those choices end up helping Christianity, that's great. If not, big deal. The real question will be not are Christians better off but are kids better off.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 PM


HE-E-E'S BACK! (Paul Greenberg, July 9, 2002, Jewish World Review)
Who says Bill Clinton isn't still making history? He's just had an article/essay/speech published in the Arkansas Law Review, the scholarly quarterly put out by the University of Arkansas' law school at Fayetteville.

In the movie "Hud," the old man, played so beautifully by Melvyn Douglas, says you can tell the way the country is going by the kind of man it produces. You can also tell the way a profession is going by the kind of man it chooses to honor. "It was just an honor and a thrill," explained Erron Smith, 24, the law review's editor-in-chief, "to have a former president of the United States write on an issue of such international importance." Bill Clinton has still got some of us snowed, and the younger, the more snowable.

Actually, a piece by Bill Clinton on the law and how to get around it might have been of considerable interest. Much like a piece by Willie Sutton in a banking journal. It would have had a True Confessions kind of appeal.

But those turning to The Talented Mr. Clinton's article hoping it would provide some insight into the mind of a serial liar and how he got away with it ("The Finer Points of Perjury and How to Barely Avoid It, Maybe") will be disappointed.

Paul Greenberg has had Mr. Clinton's numbers for more years than he probably cares to remember, so it's no surprise to see him just tatoo the former perp in chief. But what raises this column to the level of brilliance is that one dig : The Talented Mr. Clinton.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM


Bermuda's Roman Candles (Russ "Mugger" Smith, NY Press)
If there's a postseason, and the Yanks play the A's, how cool would it be if Lilly one-hit his former team?

Amen, brother.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM


OBITUARY : Ward Kimball, 88 (Reuters News Agency, July 08, 2002)
Pioneering animator Ward Kimball, who helped modernize Mickey Mouse's look in 1938 and created the character Jiminy Cricket for the Disney classic Pinocchio, died Monday at age 88.

Mr. Kimball, a member of Walt Disney's trusted cadre of cartoon artists known as the "nine old men," died of natural causes at at a hospital in Arcadia, a suburb northeast of Los Angeles, the Walt Disney Co. said in a statement.

During a Disney career that stretched from 1934 until his retirement in 1973, Mr. Kimball animated or served as directing animator on such feature classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.

Naturally, as cultural conservatives, Mr. Cricket is our favorite Disney character.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:54 PM


Oscar Winner Rod Steiger Dies at 77 (AP, 7/09/02)
Rod Steiger (1925-2002) joins the lengthening list of big names to die in recent weeks. He made a career out of playing tortured souls. Some of our favorites : On the Waterfront (1954); Oklahoma! (1955); Run of the Arrow (1957); Doctor Zhivago (1965); and In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Given the context of the times, I'd argue that Waterfront and Heat of the Night may be the best film of the 50s and 60s respectively.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:38 PM


Listening to NPR, and the President and all the Congressional leaders trying to one-up each other on corporate crime, when it occurred to me there's only one logical place for this to end up. So beginning today we're on Javert Watch, waiting for the first pundit or pol to call for making corporate shenanigans a capital offense. This is a moment that cries out for Bill Clinton.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM


Reno Dances for Her Supper (FOX News, July 08, 2002)
The "Janet Reno Dance Party" isn't just a comedy skit anymore.

Reno, the former attorney general who wants to become Florida's next governor, will be holding a dance party fund-raiser July 19 at Level, a trendy club on Miami's South Beach.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 AM


After spending millions, Fosset finally got a lot of hot air : Floating around the world was pointless, self-indulgent, and dumb (Jonathan Lewis, July 10 2002, Sydney Morning Herald)
Let's look a little more closely at what Steve Fossett has done.

He's circumnavigated the globe, which, let's face it, is hardly a groundbreaking achievement. After all, the first circumnavigation of the globe took place between 1519 and 1522 when Ferdinand Magellan led an expedition that sailed around the world. Magellan was killed en route when he managed to start a religious war in the Philippines, which is something that Fossett has managed to avoid doing. (We can be thankful for small mercies.)

Second, he has achieved this earth-shattering breakthrough in a hot-air balloon. Now, hot-air balloons are not exactly new technology either. The Montgolfier brothers were the first to successfully fly a hot-air balloon and they managed that way back in 1783.

So what Steve Fossett has done, in effect, is use 219-year-old technology to do something that was first done 480 years ago, an analogous situation to, say, contracting bubonic plague while listening to a Mozart opera. This would lead me to think that perhaps there's a reason why Steve Fossett has become the first to do what he's done, and the reason is that it's a really stupid thing to do.

Personally, I'd rather he'd gone to the opera.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 AM


Kurds, Secure in North Iraq, Are Cool to a U.S. Offensive (JOHN F. BURNS, 7/06/02, NY Times)
As the United States considers ways of accomplishing President Bush's call for an end to Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq, Washington's goal of a "regime change" in Baghdad is running into strong reservations from Iraqi Kurdish leaders who would be crucial allies in any military campaign.

These leaders, interviewed in their strongholds in northern Iraq in the last week, say flatly that they would be reluctant to join American military operations that put Kurds at risk of an onslaught by Iraqi troops of the kind they suffered after the Persian Gulf war in 1991. A Kurdish uprising then that was encouraged by the first President Bush was brutally suppressed by Mr. Hussein, and American forces failed to intervene as thousands of Kurds were killed.

No group has suffered more from Mr. Hussein's 23-year-old rule than the Kurds, who lost tens of thousands of lives to Iraqi offensives in the 1980's and 90's. The most brutal attacks, cited by the present President Bush recently as part of the justification for toppling the Iraqi ruler, involved Iraqi use of poison gas at Halabja and dozens of other towns and villages in the northern Kurdish districts during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ended in 1988.

Still, no Iraqis have benefited more from Western support in the last decade than the Kurds. Protected by a "safe haven" declared by the United Nations and a "no-flight zone" patrolled by American and British warplanes, the Kurds, with barely 40,000 troops and only light weapons, have built a 17,000-square-mile mini-state that arcs across a 500-mile stretch of Iraqi territory bordering Syria, Turkey and Iran.

The threat of Western airstrikes has kept Iraqi armored battalions immobilized to the south, often within artillery range of Kurdish strongholds like Erbil, a sprawling city of 750,000 people 250 miles north of Baghdad. In this "liberated area" of soaring mountains, fertile foothills and semi-desert, the Kurds have built a society with freedoms denied to the rest of Iraq's population.

This is silly. Give them a choice--either help us or we stop helping you.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM


Biographer of an Art Historian and Spy Finds Duplicity a Fascinating Subject (MEL GUSSOW, July 9, 2002, NY Times)
Her curiosity about Blunt was aroused in conversations with her mother, who worked at the Tate Gallery in London. She told her daughter about people who had studied with Blunt and cried when he was revealed as a spy. Then one day, sitting in a pub with her husband, the novelist John Lanchester, Ms. Carter brought up the possibility of writing a biography of Blunt. At first, she had serious misgivings, but became increasingly tantalized by the ambiguities in the case, as she said, "the drama between good boy and bad boy, crime and remorse--or lack of it."

Although John Banville had written a novel, "The Untouchable," about Blunt, and Alan Bennett had made him a character in his play "A Question of Attribution," the field was still clear for a biography. After writing a long proposal, she signed a book contract and won the cooperation of John Golding, Blunt's executor, who gave her access to Blunt's papers. She then spent an intensive six years on her project.

During the first six months of research, Blunt remained a distant, elusive figure, she said. People who had worked with him for 30 years said they
never knew him well. "But I kept persevering and persevering," she said, "and gradually this portrait built up. I would get these tremendous
contradictions. Some thought he was the coldest, chilliest man they ever met. Others found him extraordinarily generous." Her conclusion was that
there were many truths about Blunt.

This is a very bad book. Ms Carter portrays Blunt as a man of extraordinary complexity, who lived several different, wholly compartmentalized and contradictory, lives.  She labors mightily to make the duplicity that defined his character seem unique and fascinating.  It is anything but.  It is fitting that Blunt's name will always be tied to those of men like Burgess because, despite inevitable individual peculiarities, they were all of a type : drawn from the privileged classes of a privileged nation, educated at the best schools, communist, homosexual, amoral, etc..  Ms Carter speculates that the fact that homosexuality was illegal in Britain may have made Blunt especially prone to duplicity, but here is how the writer Andrew Sullivan describes the formation of the gay male character generally in his fine book, Virtually Normal:
The homosexual learns to make distinctions between his sexual desire and his emotional longing--not because he is particularly prone to objectifications of the flesh, but because he needs to survive as a social and sexual being.  The society separates these two entities, and for a long time the homosexual has no option but to keep them separate.  He learns certain rules; and, as with a child learning grammar, they are hard, later on in life, to unlearn.

It's possible, I think, that whatever society teaches or doesn't teach about homosexuality, this fact will always be the case. No homosexual child, surrounded overwhelmingly by heterosexuals, will feel at home in his sexual and emotional world, even in the most tolerant of cultures.  And every homosexual child will learn the rituals of deceit, impersonation, and appearance. Anyone who believes political, social, or even cultural revolution will change this fundamentally is denying reality.  This isolation will always hold.  It is definitional of homosexual development.

Given this perspective, Blunt's distinctiveness quickly evaporates into sameness and we are left with the fact that where most gay men apparently have little trouble remaining loyal to their countries, even serving them with honor, Blunt and his cronies chose to betray theirs.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 AM


Jackson raps Bush, Ashcroft (Steve Miller, 7/09/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Mr. Jackson also called the president's comparison of a recent Supreme Court ruling favoring school vouchers in Cleveland to the 1954 desegregation order in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas "unliterate" and "fuzzy history."

The crowd of about 3,000 in a ballroom at the George R. Brown Convention Center cheered Mr. Jackson's attacks, the second day of snipes at the Bush administration.

Mr. Jackson's remarks followed those Sunday night by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, who accused the president of selling "snake oil" and asserted that Mr. Bush was part of a "right-wing conspiracy."

How does this differ from a David Duke telling the NAAWP that they're being threatened by a Jewish conspiracy?

People like Julian Bond and Jesse Jackson may be the most despicable men in American public life. Mr. Jackson in particular has grown fat and rich while mau-mauing the Democrats into making much of the black community dependents of the state. He has just one message : hatred. Blacks should hate whites and whites should hate themselves for the historic wrongs that were done to black folk in America. We can never move beyond these facts. Whites just need to keep paying and paying to expunge their genetic guilt and blacks never have to take any responsibility for what they make of their own lives. With "leaders" like these is it any wonder that the plight of black America remains so discouraging?

Think back a couple weeks to those pictures in the newspaper after the Court's school voucher decision--what did you see? You saw ecstatic black women hugging each other because their beloved children would continue to get a quality education instead of being sent back to flounder in wretched public schools. Who's really conspiring against blacks, the racist crackers of the GOP who want to help those mothers realize their dreams of better lives for their children or the NAACP which wants to shatter those dreams and protect teachers' unions?

The story is told of how Jesse Jackson, who'd been elsewhere at the time, raced to the fallen body of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and smeared some of the great man's blood on his own shirt, so that he could bask in the martyrdom. This is an apt metaphor for his whole career--everything is always about what's good for Jesse and the fate of other blacks doesn't much matter so long as their sweat, tears, and even blood serve his own selfish purposes.

July 8, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM


How His Party Frustrated Watts : 'Robot-like' allegiances drove him out-but was there more? (Howard Fineman, 7/03/02, Newsweek)
[D]eLay & Co. tended to emphasize the abstractions of conservative dogma more than the possibility of pragmatic compromise. That was especially true, he felt, on the issue of affirmative action. "Making opposition to affirmative action a test of ideological loyalty is as wrong as making support a prerequisite of political authenticity in the black community," he writes. "We can't promote diversity by demanding a robot-like allegiance to conservative views even when they are divisive."

Some conservatives never forgave Watts for his support of affirmative action, which he regards as a necessary but temporary stopgap. His analogy, not surprisingly, is to football: Affirmative action is like the NFL draft, in which the weaker teams are allowed to pick first. The goal: to level the playing field. To Watts, it seemed to be a matter of common sense. [...]

The last straw for Watts was the administration's decision to cut funding for the Crusader artillery gun program, based in his home state and district in Oklahoma. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was adamant, and Watts's pleas were ignored. It was one thing to be ignored on "message" issues, but humiliating to be unable to protect federally funded jobs. "I think that did it," said an administration official who knows Watts well.

First, it's entertaining to compare this column to the nearly deranged screed by Earl Ofari Hutchinson below. Second, the more apt analogy would of course be if you required NBA teams to draft white players, thereby costing blacks jobs. No matter how passionately Mr. Watts believes in affirmative action, at the end of the day it is racist. It may be well intended but it says to one person "you get the job because you are black" and to another "you don't get the job because you're white". Third, At the time they were making the decision it was noted that the Bush Administration was demonstrating that it's serious about cutting wasteful military spending by beginning with a project in a squarely Republican state, instead of trying to shaft a Democrat state in the process. Mr. Watts wasn't exactly bucking for a Profile in Courage award by insisting that this boondoggle be restored.

*A Black Republican Wises Up and Opts Out : At last, Watts saw the GOP power brokers' duplicity. (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, July 8 2002, LA Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM


Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm. (Charles Murtaugh)
Today's free advice to Tom Daschle (apart from trying harder to get John McCain to switch parties): Harkengate should spell the end of Bush's Social Security privatization plan, even if it doesn't end his presidency.

The normally sensible Charles Murtaugh today strays into Cloud-Cuckoo land, having apparently drunk at least one too many glasses of water from the Charles River. We've already spelled out some of the problems with his Harkengate as Whitewater theory, so we'll not run through them again. But the sentence above raises two other issues. First, what conceivable bearing can President Bush's Harken dealings from thirteen years ago have on the privatization of Social Security today? This is like saying Republicans can kill car emissions standards because of Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick scandal. Harken and privatization both involve stocks and politics just as Chappaquiddick and emissions both involve cars and politics, but what else does one have to do with the other in either case?

And here's the other thing, maybe the free advice should go to someone other than Senator Daschle if we're going to start looking into old scandals. Because Mr. Daschle himself is implicated in a more recent scandal that's far sexier than Harken, though less sexy than Chappaquiddick, because he too appears to have been responsible for accidental death and to have tried covering it up, Tom Daschle Covered up Deaths in Pals Airline (NewsMax.com, January 4, 2002) :

[E]ven the ethically lethargic GOP may not be able to resist examining a far more riveting imbroglio: Daschlegate, the 1994 deaths of three government doctors in the crash of a plane owned by one of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's close friends who had just gotten a free pass from FAA inspectors.

Predictably, the Clinton Justice Department and the then-Democrat-controlled Senate Ethics Committee didn't give allegations of Daschle influence peddling, wrongful death and cover-up a second look--despite a blockbuster "60 Minutes" expose where greiving widows expressly blamed the South Dakota Democrat in spades.

Heightening the Daschlegate intrigue, an FAA office manager at the time said she was ordered by superiors to destroy documents relevant to the fatal crash to protect the Senator's wife, Linda, who was then second in command at the agency.

The three government physicians were killed when a plane operated by B&L Aviation crashed in Minot, N.D., on Feb. 24, 1994. B&L was owned by longtime Daschle crony Murl Bellew, who, before the crash, had asked his senator friend to help when the Forest Service found numerous safety violations with his aircraft.

According to the New York Times, the Senator then began "a two-year effort to strip the U.S. Forest Service of authority to inspect air charter companies." What's more, it appears Daschle tried to cover up his attempt to undermine the Forest Service.

Add to this the ongoing scandal of his wife being an active lobbyist--including for the airlines, which just received that huge 9-11 bailout--while he's the deciding voice on most legislation and one suspects you've got a guy who'd just as soon not start yanking skeletons out of closets, or out of the North Dakota soil as the case may be.

Old Business in New Light (RICHARD W. STEVENSON, July 9, 2002, NY Times)

By 1989, Mr. Bush's business efforts were focused on acquiring and running the Texas Rangers baseball team. He began selling some of his other investments, and in June 1990, he received a call from a broker asking if he was interested in selling 212,140 Harken shares.

He did so on June 22, 1990, receiving $4 a share, or a total of $848,560.

At the time, Harken was struggling. It had had big trading losses, it was having trouble with its banks, its long-term debt had more than doubled, and it was trying to sell some of its assets.

In August 1990, Harken reported that it lost $23.2 million in the second quarter, a far worse performance than investors had expected. The stock plunged from $3 a share to $2.37 in a day before rebounding.

The next winter Mr. Bush filed--34 weeks late--a required form with the S.E.C. about his sale of Harken stock. The commission then began investigating whether Mr. Bush had sold on the basis of inside information. It ultimately concluded that while he knew about many financial problems at Harken, he did not know at the time of the scale of the loss that would be announced two months after his stock sale.

Given that by the time the folks who bought his shares could sell them they'd have gotten $8 a share for them, it's awfully hard to see how you can make this dog hunt. Not that Democrats won't try. We would note though that, apropos our note about Tom Daschle's own ethical problems, they trotted out Harry Reid (D, NV) to attack the President yesterday instead. Mr. Reid, though he seems like a nice enough fellow, is decidedly the B Team and, despite being the Democrat Whip, is about to lose even his own members on the Yucca Flats nuclear waste site vote. It's kind of like having Barney Fife lead an investigation in Mayberry.

*Daschle Intervened With FAA on Behalf of Sleeping Pilot Crony (NewsMax, , Jan. 10, 2002)
*Tom Daschle's Hillary Problem : If the Senate Majority Leader runs for president what will voters think of his lobbyist wife? (Stephanie Mencimer, January/February 2002, Washington Monthly)
*Mrs. Daschle, Big Business Lobbyist (David Freddoso, 5/20/02, Human Events)
*Daschle: No Conflict, Won't Release Tax Returns (Human Events, 5/20/02)

*The Democrats' Latest Hit Job : They're trying to portray George W. Bush as a corrupt corporate CEO. (Byron York, July 3, 2002, National Review)
*Everyone Is Outraged (Paul Krugman, July 2, 2002, New York Times)
*Investigstive Report : Bush Violated Security Laws Four Times, SEC Report Says (Knut Royce, July 8, 2002, Center for Public Integrity)
*G.W. Bush = Ken Lay (SETH GITELL, JANUARY 24, 2002, Boston Phoenix)
*W's Corporate-Improvement Plan: Breaking with an Enron-ish Past (David Corn, 03/14/2002, The Nation)
*Bush's Insider Connections Preceded Huge Profit On Stock Deal (Knut Royce, April 4, 2000, The Center for Public Integrity)
*How George W. Bush Scored Big With the Texas Rangers (Charles Lewis, Jan. 18, 2000, Center for Public Integrity)
*The Harken-Bahrain Deal: A Baseless Suspicion (George Lardner Jr., July 30, 1999, Washington Post)
*Bush as businessman : How the Texas governor made his millions (Brooks Jackson, May 13, 1999, CNN)
*THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION : Corporate Connections (OpenSecrets.org)
*George W. Bush : The Making of a Candidate (Washington Post)
*The Bush Files (Texas Observer)
*FRONTLINE : The Choice 2000 (PBS)
*Harken Energy Corp.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM


If you'll pardon a brief indulgence, our grandfather, Orrin Grimmell Judd, died on July 7, 1976. It seemed in retrospect almost as if he knew it was coming, having taken me to his 50th reunion at Colgate, Stephen on Operation Sail in New York Harbor, and our sister to the ABA convention in Aspen, CO (where he was when he died, having apparently disobeyed doctor's orders to avoid high altitudes).

He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn when he was 13, then PGed for two years at the Peddie School, where he learned Esperanto. After Colgate he went to Harvard Law School where he graduated first in his class and then clerked for the great Learned Hand. During his professional career he was Tom Dewey's Solicitor General, a partner at Goldstein, Judd and Gurfein--which was one of the first mixed religion law firms in New York City (and, according to the Web, a CIA front), and then a Federal judge for the Eastern District of New York.

To the best of my knowledge he never swore, drank or smoked in his life. He kept the Sabbath holy, though he worked like a dog the rest of the week. He was so proper that he always wore a suit and a hat and garters to hold up his socks. One night when someone tried stealing his car but only got a few blocks, the cops asked him to come put it away and he dressed right down to the cuff links in the middle of the night to do so. He was kind and generous, though distant in that WASPy way. He had a wit so dry that people often missed his comments. I remember one time we were theoretically headed to Howard Johnson's for dinner and our grandmother yelled at him :

Grandma : Orrin Judd, you're going the wrong way just as fast as you can.

Grandpa : I can go faster.

He was quite the most remarkable man I've ever known and I've missed him every day of the last 26 years.

Here's a snippet from an article that's online which, though I'd never heard of it, sounds typical of him :
Broadcast Reform Revisited: Reverend Everett C. Parker and the "Standing" Case (Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ v. Federal Communications Commission) (Robert Horwitz, The Communication Review 1997)

With $17,000 from the Board for Homeland Ministries (and later another $10,000 from the Committee for Racial Justice Now -- both United Church of Christ organizations), Parker approached Orrin Judd, a prominent Baptist layman and an attorney who had represented one of the parties in the legal controversies at the founding of the United Church of Christ. A respected and able member of the New York bar, Judd knew nothing of communications law, but he had worked with Parker previously, and agreed to become counsel. Between Parker's knowledge of administrative law and the Communications Act, and Judd's knowledge of lawyering, the two devised a strategy to get past the huge first hurdle of the Office of Communication's lack of standing.

If a citizen had a problem with a broadcast station, the FCC's normal procedure was to have the individual file a complaint with the Commission against the station. The citizen, because s/he had no standing, technically could not argue before the Commission. The Commission in effect facilitated an interchange between the citizen and the station in question. The Commission would forward the complaint to the station. The station typically would reply that the citizen's allegations were untrue (or untrue now) and the whole thing would be buried in a file that might be examined at station renewal time. The Commission had never acted on a complaint from the public at license renewal time, so the complaint system was essentially a way of smothering problems via bureaucratic procedure. The operative presumption was that unless a station violated FCC rules in a repeated and egregious manner, its license would be renewed.

Parker and Judd's gambit was to devise a strategy to catch the station in a direct lie. WLBT was coming up for license renewal, and Lamar Life filed its application with the FCC on March 3, 1964. Parker and Judd had met with FCC Chairman E. William Henry to get his sense of things and to alert him as to what might be coming down the line. Henry encouraged them to file against the stations (Parker, interview by author, September 29, 1991). Instead of filing a complaint, Parker and Judd submitted a petition in the form of a "bill of particulars," in which they challenged the station's license renewal application on the basis of evidence the station had failed to serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity. Though it was a petition, the document was presented in the form one would present if one entered an application for a suit in a district court, asking the Commission to hold a hearing on the basis of evidence that the petitioners would present at that hearing. Parker maintained that federal regulatory agencies stood in the same legal position as did a federal district court. Judd, though a bit dubious, admitted his ignorance of regulatory law and deferred to Parker. In Parker's retelling, Judd said, "Everyone would like to make new law. Let's try it" (Parker, telephone interview by author, August 31, 1995). No one had ever filed a petition to deny a license without asking for the station. Asking for the station established a property right claim and hence gave one standing. But the petitioners did not want the station; they wanted the FCC to hold a hearing and find a new licensee.

Formally called a "Petition to Intervene and to Deny Application for Renewal," the document charged that WLBT had discriminated against Negroes in the presentation of news and announcements and the selection of program material. The station had failed to serve the interests of the substantial Negro community in its viewing area (which represented approximately 45% of the total population within the station's prime service area), and had further failed to give a fair presentation of controversial issues, especially in the field of race relations. In addition, WLBT provided a disproportionate amount of commercials and entertainment, with very little attention devoted to public affairs, education, or information. Because the station's performance violated the public interest provisions of the Communications Act, the petitioners asked that they be permitted to intervene and be heard in the license renewal proceeding and that the matter be set down for an early hearing (Petition to Intervene and to Deny Application for Renewal, April 8, 1964).

And here's another that involves him :
JUSTICE HUGHES' APPOINTMENT--THE COTTON STORY RE-EXAMINED (Frederick Bernays Wiener, Supreme Court Historical Society 1981)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM


The Man They Called 'The Kid' : Goodbye, Ted. (Geoffrey Norman, July 8, 2002, National Review)
My father took me to see one of the first games Ted Williams played after the Marine Corps had released him from active duty during the Korean War. My father was a Navy pilot, himself, and not really much of a baseball fan. He was a Ted Williams fan, though. There were a lot of ballplayers around for kids like me to idolize; players like Mickey Mantle, whom I had seen play. But there was a quality in Ted Williams, something greater than his athletic gifts, that grown men and fellow fighter pilots recognized and respected a lot more than home runs and batting titles.

He was good with kids - especially sick kids - and not so good with women. Next to hitting a baseball, what he liked to do most was fish. He was a legendary angler, among the pioneers of salt-water fly-fishing for bonefish and tarpon on the flats around the Florida Keys where his eyes and his reflexes paid off just like they had in the cockpit and on the baseball diamond. A Keys guide I know likes to tell stories about Williams and Jack Brothers, one of the men who frequently guided him. Brothers was a gifted guide, an Irishman of very little patience. When a client was having trouble getting the fly to a fish, Brothers would yell helpful things, such as, "Just throw the goddamned thing to him, will you." He was loud and profane and when he and Williams were in a boat together, "You could hear them all the way to Miami," my friend says. "And the language? The way those two talked, my God, it would melt the wax in your ears."

Fighter pilot, hall-of-fame baseball player, and world-class angler. It seems almost predictable that Williams would have had trouble staying married. Even grace has its limits.

Thought we were done with Ted, but Geoffrey Norman is a terrific private eye novelist who writes about sports and Vermont politics far too infrequently for National Review. This essay reminds me of the ESPN Outdoors fishing show where they took Ted Williams to Russia to salmon fish on the 50th anniversary of the year he hit .400. They took along Bobby Knight too. You could barely see them on screen because of the fog of testosterone they were exuding. The host looked scared.

In answer to a question asked earlier today :
Say Hey, Kid! (Wired News, April 22, 1999)

For years, Joe DiMaggio held the title of baseball's greatest living player. As of 8 March that was no longer possible, so the Denver Post surveyed ex-players, managers, and sportswriters to anoint a successor. Their choice: Willie Mays. While a quick look at the stats is impressive (the Giants outfielder was the ultimate "five-tool" player: He could hit, hit for power, run, field, and throw), many believe what separated Mays from the others was his sheer baseball intelligence. In topping the survey, the Say Hey Kid beat out some pretty fair competition: Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, and Sandy Koufax, in that order.

I'm actually inclined to put Mike Schmidt on any list like this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:08 PM


The Ugly Lie About Vouchers (Jane Ehrenfeld, July 8, 2002, Washington Post)
The voucher system promises choice to parents who often are the victims of American neglect and failure. But for many children, that choice is an illusion.

Yes, you have a choice, if your parents can read. Yes, you have a choice, if your parents have time to make such decisions -- if they have time off from their jobs, or are working only one job instead of two, or work during the day as opposed to working at night and needing to sleep during the day.

Yes, you have a choice if your parents have the desire to take advantage of it. Yes, you have a choice if your parents have the money to pay any tuition or other costs that the voucher does not cover. Yes, you have a choice if you are bright and well-behaved and likely to be admitted to private school. Yes, you have a choice if it is feasible for you to go to a school with no free breakfast and no free lunch and no after-care program and possibly no special education.

But otherwise, you have no choice. You are stuck in your local public school no matter how dismal it may be, and you must suffer there while the false promise of vouchers tricks the people who could help you into looking the other way.

So, in other words, you're no worse off under a choice system than you are now, right? And you did have a choice; it was just exercised poorly, right? And despite liberalism's fondest wishes, we just can't prevent people from screwing up their own lives.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:09 PM


America, with relish, spits on Britain : As far as the US right is concerned, new Labour is now on a par with other whingeing Europeans. Time has run out on the Blair-Bush alliance (John Lloyd, 8th July 2002, New Statesman)
How can new Labour, with its policies on Northern Ireland, acquiesce in the US demand that Yasser Arafat, the democratically elected leader of the Palestinians, must go? How can new Labour, with its overt commitment to develop international justice, agree that US soldiers be exempt from the attentions of the ICC? How can new Labour, whose leader electrified his party conference last September with a speech that committed his movement to saving the poor, look kindly on a US administration that refuses to rise to the African challenge, and thus compromises Blair's commitment?

Britain is now considered, by the right-wing US commentators, to be of a piece with the other whingeing Europeans. In an important essay, "Power and Weakness", just published in the Hoover Institute's Policy Review, Robert Kagan writes that the European states have, since the war, become progressively concerned with their own construct - the European Union - and with their material well-being. The US, meanwhile, became the only state capable of dealing with the realities of a nasty, brutish world. "Because they are so powerful, [Americans] take pride in their nation's military power and their nation's special role in the world . . . Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise . . . it has become dependent on America's willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics."

The lines are drawn. For many on the US right, it seems they are drawn with relish--as if they could at last tell Europe where to stick its moral superiority and its wonderful traditions. For Blair, however, the challenge is larger: it is to find a way of convincing the US that it remains great by allowing its greatness to be constrained by law and hobbled by observation of democratic choice. Forty years ago, the British prime minister, Harold Macmillan, compared his role with President John Kennedy to that of a Greek with an impatient Roman. Are the Americans prepared to trust, or even listen to, Greeks, when they bring advice they don't want? It seems increasingly unlikely.

A nearly great column until that unfortunate bit of delusional Euronostalgia at the end; for the sad truth is that today America is both Greece and Rome. We alone defend, though in a too desultory a manner, the great Western traditions and values (making us Greece) and we alone have the might to maintain that defense (making us Rome).

If you happened to see the PBS Frontline on Northern Ireland last night you'll recognize that there's not a whits difference between dealing with Gerry Adams and dealing with Yassar Arafat--both are blood-soaked butchers and evil men. Each should be dangling at the end of a rope, not sitting across a bargaining table. If you've followed the misadventures of the Europeans and their War Crimes prosecutions you'll have noted that they've gone after Milosevic, not for his despicable socialist tyranny, but for fighting Islam in a tad too rough a manner and they've gone after Augusto Pinochet for disposing of socialist tyranny and making Chile a vibrant capitalist democratic nation. And if you look at what Europe's Labour parties have done to "save the poor", which is nothing more than put them on the dole, you'll wonder whether Africa really needs that kind of "help".

As these examples show, the Europeans still haven't even come to grips with the reasons that we became Rome and surpassed them. Nor do they yet comprehend that they are in a state of quite precipitous decline. They persist in the belief that because the majority will continually vote itself ever greater government benefits and because their parties will cravenly allow them to do so that they remain a shining exemplar to the world, displaying the glory of democracy. In fact, as they could easily learn from us, if they'd get over their utterly inappropriate superiority complex and their love affair with socialism, it is America that is uniquely great precisely because it has a system and a culture that are profoundly distrustful of the "democratic" impulse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:30 PM


Hurt Feelings Aren't Enough Of A Reason (Stuart Taylor Jr., July 8, 2002, National Journal)
In his intolerant urge to stop more than two centuries of government sponsorship of innocuous bows toward religion, Newdow typifies the hypersensitive, illiberal attitude of more than a few crusaders for strict separation of church and state -- an attitude that has infected some Supreme Court opinions. And in his desire to make not being offended a constitutional right, Newdow has something in common with campus multiculturalists bent on censoring as "harassment" the uttering of political opinions that offend members of politically preferred groups.

Newdow's pseudo-constitutional objection to being "made to feel like an outsider" draws undeserved plausibility from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's dubious contention, in opinions since 1984, that the Constitution forbids any governmental endorsement of religion that "sends a message to non-adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community." Someone should tell O'Connor that lots of folks are made to feel like outsiders every day, in many ways; the burden of hearing people go on about God at public events does not rank high on the scale of oppressiveness or deserve a constitutional remedy. I say this as one who doubts the wisdom (but not the constitutionality) of the 1954 law that put "under God" in the Pledge.

Stuart Taylor--aka : the thinking man's liberal--with a good exposition of when folks on the Left should and shouldn't be concerned about the comingling of church and state.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:24 PM


Political equation holds up well for state governor races : And formula says it looks like Gray Davis will be re-elected for a second term (JAMES DOTI, July 8, 2002, Orange County Register)
A forecasting equation we recently developed accurately predicted 14 of the 15 gubernatorial elections in California since 1950. [...]

Given the explanatory variables in the equation, it should be clear what it's saying about the upcoming election between Gray Davis and Bill Simon. Davis will be helped by all three factors. First, he's running for re-election.

That largely explains why Davis is expected to accumulate a war chest estimated at $50 million for his re-election drive. Second, his party's not running for a third consecutive term, and, third, the bigger-than-expected victory of Davis over Lungren in 1998 will help Davis in 2002. When all of these factors are put together, the equation calls for Davis to receive a winning 56.3 percent of the vote in November.

Republicans are looking at Gray Davis's problems and getting starry-eyed about the possibility of beating him. But they underestimate the difficulty of winning in a statewide race in what has essentially become a one party state.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM


Earth 'will expire by 2050' : Our planet is running out of room and resources. Modern man has plundered so much, a damning report claims this week, that outer space will have to be colonised (Mark Townsend and Jason Burke, July 7, 2002, The Observer)
Earth's population will be forced to colonise two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate, according to a report out this week.

A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to be released on Tuesday, warns that the human race is plundering the planet at a pace that outstrips its capacity to support life.

In a damning condemnation of Western society's high consumption levels, it adds that the extra planets (the equivalent size of Earth) will be required by the year 2050 as existing resources are exhausted.

The invaluable H. D. Miller, of Travelling Shoes, has already debunked this nonsense far better than I could, so let's try a different angle.

Grab a roll of Reynolds Wrap, foil up the old noggin and let's pretend we believe this bunkum for the nonce. Earth is doomed and we have to head for new planets. Well, guess who's going to lead us there? Not some eco-friendly, avacado-growin', patchoulli-stinkin', hemp-wearin', crystal-danglin, snail darter-huggin', tree-worshippin', vegan co-operative, but the big, dirty, nasty industrialized West, and not just the West generally but the prime offender of all that Gaia holds dear : The U. S. of A..

Guess what else; we're going to need a heck of a lot of natural resources to transport 10 billion people to New Arcadia. So crank up the strip mining operations and the crop dusters and the oil drills--Man's getting off of this dying hell hole and there's no need to leave it neat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM


A charmed life : a review of Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life By Carlo D'Este (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
D'Este's account of Eisenhower's life is a sprawling effort that required a heroic amount of research, as evidenced by the extensive footnotes he provided. Despite that, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life is not a pedantic exercise in biography. Almost playing the role of a journalist on the spot, D'Este adopts the approach of showing and not telling the reader about the man behind the image. Where many military biographies are reworded after action reports, D'Este's only becomes more gripping as he chronicles the rising stakes Eisenhower faces right up until the final battle of the war.

Mr. Martinovich--who if we understand Canadian employment practices correcty, only has to edit ESR for about three more days before he becomes editor-for-life--has a good review of the massive summer read I'm in the middle of now.

Correcting a miscarriage of reporting : a review of No Gun Ri : A Military History of the Korean War By Robert L. Bateman (Steven Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)

In September 1999 an explosive Associated Press story broke which alleged that beginning on July 26, 1950, soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment slaughtered hundreds of South Korean civilians beneath a railway trestle near a village called No Gun Ri. According to AP, the story was buried for decades until survivors and some soldiers began speaking out about the horrors they lived through. [...]

Unlike My Lai, however, No Gun Ri may have never happened, or at least the claim of a deliberate massacre is false. That's the conclusion that Robert L. Bateman, a former officer with the 7th Calvary Regiment reached after investigating both the AP's Pulitzer Prize winning story and the sources the news organization relied on to build its case. Although AP maintains that its facts are accurate, Bateman has built an strong case that while civilians were killed at No Gun Ri, the numbers and the reality of what really happened are significantly different from AP's story.

He's also got a review of what looks like a helpful corrective to a book that I thought was way over-the-top when I reviewed it : The Bridge at No Gun Ri : A Hidden Chapter from the Korean War (2001) (Charles J. Hanley, Sang-Hun Choe, and Martha Mendoza) (Grade: D) .

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM


From Justice Scalia, a Chilling Vision of Religion's Authority in America (SEAN WILENTZ, July 8, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Scalia seems to believe strongly that a person's religious faith is something that he or she (as a Roman Catholic like Mr. Scalia) must take whole from church doctrine and obey. In his talk in Chicago, Mr. Scalia noted with relief that the Catholic Church's recent opinion that the death penalty was very rarely permissible was not "binding" on Catholics. If it had been, Mr. Scalia said, this teaching would have led the church to "effectively urge the retirement of Catholics from public life," given that the federal government and 38 states "believe the death penalty is sometimes just."

Mr. Scalia apparently believes that Catholics, at least, would be unable to uphold, as citizens, views that contradict church doctrine. This is exactly the stereotype of Catholicism as papist mind control that Catholics have struggled against throughout the modern era and that John F. Kennedy did so much to overcome. But Mr. Scalia sees submission as desirable--and possibly the very definition of faith. He quotes St. Paul, "For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

"The Lord," Mr. Scalia explained in Chicago, "repaid--did justice--through His minister, the state."

This view, according to Mr. Scalia, once represented the consensus "not just of Christian or religious thought, but of secular thought regarding the powers of the state." He said, "That consensus has been upset, I think, by the emergence of democracy." And now, alarmingly, Mr. Scalia wishes to rally the devout against democracy's errors. "The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible," he said in Chicago.

Mr. Wilentz is, of course, precisely wrong about John F.
Kennedy and American fear of a Catholic president. The concern was not that JFK would resign the presidency if his Catholicism came into conflict
with democratic principles--this would have been entirely honorable and reasonable on his part--but that he would seek to impose Catholic doctrine in the place of ideas arrived at democratically.

In fact, it's hard to see why Mr. Scalia's essay gave Mr. Wilentz such a case of the vapors. Here's what the Justice wrote in God's Justice and Ours (Antonin Scalia, May 2002, First Things) :

[W]hile my views on the morality of the death penalty have nothing to do with how I vote as a judge, they have a lot to do with whether I can or should be a judge at all. To put the point in the blunt terms employed by Justice Harold Blackmun towards the end of his career on the bench, when he announced that he would henceforth vote (as Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall had previously done) to overturn all death sentences, when I sit on a Court that reviews and affirms capital convictions, I am part of 'the machinery of death.' My vote, when joined with at least four others, is, in most cases, the last step that permits an execution to proceed. I could not take part in that process if I believed what was being done to be immoral.

Capital cases are much different from the other life-and-death issues that my Court sometimes faces: abortion, for example, or legalized suicide. There it is not the state (of which I am in a sense the last instrument) that is decreeing death, but rather private individuals whom the state has decided not to restrain. One may argue (as many do) that the society has a moral obligation to restrain. That moral obligation may weigh heavily upon the voter, and upon the legislator who enacts the laws; but a judge, I think, bears no moral guilt for the laws society has failed to enact. Thus, my difficulty with Roe v. Wade is a legal rather than a moral one: I do not believe (and, for two hundred years, no one believed) that the Constitution contains a right to abortion. And if a state were to permit abortion on demand, I would--and could in good conscience--vote against an attempt to invalidate that law for the same reason that I vote against the invalidation of laws that forbid abortion on demand: because the Constitution gives the federal government (and hence me) no power over the matter.

With the death penalty, on the other hand, I am part of the criminal-law machinery that imposes death--which extends from the indictment, to the jury conviction, to rejection of the last appeal. I am aware of the ethical principle that one can give 'material cooperation' to the immoral act of another when the evil that would attend failure to cooperate is even greater (for example, helping a burglar tie up a householder where the alternative is that the burglar would kill the householder). I doubt whether that doctrine is even applicable to the trial judges and jurors who must themselves determine that the death sentence will be imposed. It seems to me these individuals are not merely engaged in 'material cooperation' with someone else's action, but are themselves decreeing death on behalf of the state.

Now suppose, for a moment, that instead of capital punishment, he were talking about a fugitive slave act, which called for the Court to help send escaped slaves back to their masters. Can we not easily perceive how someone's moral and religious duties would make it impossible for them to enforce this law, even though it were a legal and proper statute? In such a case wouldn't it be appropriate for a judge to resign when he was called upon to betray his moral self? What kind of person--believing blacks to be equal human beings, despite a political consensus that they were not--could enforce such a law? And if the Catholic Church taught that blacks were indeed fully human, could a judge ship them back into slavery and still consider himself to be a good Catholic? More importantly, could he consider himself to be a decent person?

Meanwhile, we'd do well to recall that Mr. Wilentz was one of the organizers of the gang of 400 liberal historians who published an open letter during the Clinton Impeachment in which they argued that even perjury and obstruction of justice were not impeachable offenses, so it seems fair to wonder whether the good professor feels that there's any room for morality in public life. Mr. Wilentz expresses his fear of Justice Scalia's ambivalence about democracy--an ambivalence that the Framers actually wove into the Constitution. But isn't Mr. Wilentz's own willingness to have public figures check their morality at the door of the polling place and the legislature a far more frightening prospect?

Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World (2001)  (Robert P. Kraynak  1949-)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM


Bush demand spurs criticism of Arafat (Patrick Bishop, 07/08/02, LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH)
"I haven't made a penny for nearly two years," said Mohammed Attar, 36, who has a wife and eight children to support and who previously worked as a chef inside Israel. "My family tried to help, but they have run out of money."

Mr. Attar blames Israel for closing the border. But he is also angry with the Palestinian Authority, which has paid him the equivalent of $190 in the time he has been jobless. Last week he joined tens of thousands of workers who marched in Gaza to demand work or dole money.

Mr. Attar's view of Mr. Arafat is simple: "If he can solve our problem he is welcome to stay. If not, he should go."

Sooner or later, and it may still be quite a bit later, don't we have to assume people would rather live well than die spectacularly?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM


US liberals uneasy at rise of gay right : 'Homocons' credited with success of same-sex bill (Duncan Campbell, July 8, 2002, The Guardian)
They are the "Homocons", a new force in American politics which is helping to force the right to take up the issue of gay rights. [...]

"They're here, they're queer - they're conservative!" the cover of the latest Nation magazine, the traditional organ of the liberal left, exclaims. Inside Richard Goldstein, author of The Attack Queers: Liberal Society and the Gay Right, examines the rise of the conservative gay movement.

"If the very concept of an out-and-proud conservative seems like an oxymoron, you haven't been following the gay right's march across the American media," he writes, naming Andrew Sullivan, Camille Paglia and Norah Vincent as the conservative writers he sees as the "hot gay pundits".

Goldstein's argument is that the gay liberation movement is in danger of being taken over and made "virtually normal"; gay people being encouraged to have a lifestyle that comes as close as possible to that of heterosexuals with gay marriage a main goal.

I preferred the working title of Mr. Goldstein's hysterical book : The Protocols of the Elders of Fire Island.

July 7, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 PM


Here are some Ted Williams photos.

Son 'freezes dead baseball star to sell DNA' (Matthew Engel, July 8, 2002,The Guardian)

Mystery surrounded the whereabouts yesterday of the body of Ted Williams, one of baseball's greatest players, whose death on Friday has opened a bizarre and macabre family feud.

Two of his daughters accused their half-brother, John Henry, of sending the corpse to a cryogenics foundation to be frozen, allegedly in the hope of selling his DNA in the future.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 PM


Congressional leaders: Handle Iraq with care (CNN, July 7, 2002)
Congressional leaders Sunday questioned the priorities of the Bush administration's Middle East and Arab policies, particularly in regard to rumblings about a first strike on Iraq.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said there too many "unanswered questions" exist for her to support an attack on Iraq. She urged the administration to put its muscle behind the United Nations' efforts to get weapons inspectors back into the country.

"I think that our efforts have got to focus on supporting the U.N. and isolating Saddam Hussein," Pelosi, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition." "Every country in the world that has a relationship with Iraq ... should be demanding that, rather than going to the next option which is putting our young people in harm's way."

You've got to wonder how long folks who wish to hold power within the Democrat Party can support the war. At some point their personal ambitions are best served by reverting to form and opposing the President's war on terror. But that could be catastrophic for the Party's fortunes in the next couple general elections.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:26 PM


Not resting on its laurels : Renewed NAACP says civil rights fight isn't over (LORI RODRIGUEZ, July 7, 2002, Houston Chronicle)
When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last convened in Houston 11 years ago, white Americans were retrenching and blacks were in crisis.

Rodney King had been beaten by Los Angeles police that spring. Liberal stalwart Thurgood Marshall was being replaced on the Supreme Court by the conservative Clarence Thomas. Congress was debating civil rights legislation under threat of executive veto.

This embarassing article reads like an NAACP press release--from its title, to this deranged picture of life in America in 1991 to its fellating of Julian Bond. Imagine, if you can, a similar article headlined "NRA not resting on its laurels".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 PM


In the Court Of Secular Fanaticism (Rabbi Marc Gellman & Msgr. Thomas Hartman, July 6, 2002, NY Newsday)
We Americans believe our rights come from God -- not from the state.

Jefferson made that point in the Declaration of Independence with "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." The state acts as the political instrument to affirm and protect those God-given rights. This is the genius of America's notion of rights.

If God is not the source and guarantor of our rights, then our rights would have to come from the state -- and what the state gives, the state can take away.

What God gives, no state can take away.

In fact, the famous phrase in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident,” was not Jefferson's original. It was "We hold these truths to be sacred", which makes sense leading up to "endowed by their Creator". It is not at all self-evident that we are endowed with rights by our Creator. That is a religious belief. It is the unified belief of all the Abrahamic faiths -- including Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- and, with some theological nuances, also the belief of Hindus and Sikhs and most Buddhists.

There must be some power higher than the state, or there's no way to critique the state. By believing that God is the source of human dignity and human rights, our founders, and those of us who say the Pledge with attention, affirm something mysterious and inspiring.

We affirm that the only reason for a state to exist is to preserve the rights given by God, and when any state violates these sacred rights, it must be changed and the people must have their rights restored and be lifted up.

Imus listeners will recognize the by-line of the God Squad. Good column from two untruculent men.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM


BILL CHARMS KIWI BABE (New York Post - Page Six, 07/07/02)
The press down under has been working overtime since Bill Clinton was seen last week sneaking away from a speaking engagement in Auckland with Charlotte Dawson, the hottie hostess of the TV show "How's Life." "Dawson looked stunning in an outfit flown over from Sydney for her date with former American President Bill Clinton," reported New Zealand's Sunday News. Another New Zealand tab, Women's Day, followed up with a story about the pair's "secret late-night rendezvous." But Dawson firmly denied pulling a Lewinsky on the Horndog-in-Chief. "He was a really nice bloke, and very charming, but nothing went down," Dawson told Women's Day.

It's incredible how blithely papers now report who Clinton is dating, with no pretense at all that he still has a viable marriage.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 PM


Farrakhan to Launch Anti-Israel Lobby (MICHAEL FREUND, Jul. 7, 2002, Jerusalem Post)
Louis Farrakhan, controversial head of the Nation of Islam, a US-based black Muslim group, plans to establish an anti-Israel lobbying organization to pressure the Bush Administration on its Middle East policy, the Libyan News Agency Jana reported over the weekend.

Given his penchant for numerology Mr. Farrakhan is expected to name his group the Fourth Reich.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:43 PM


The Decline of Secularism : Is the judicial attack on the Pledge of Allegiance the end of an era? (Jeffrey Bell, 07/15/2002, Weekly Standard)
The finding of unconstitutionality for the words "under God," by a three-judge panel of the liberal California court, has an almost antique ring to it. The decision was quickly and universally criticized as untenable and unsustainable by elected officials and legal commentators alike. Such jurisprudence is of a piece with the strict secularism that appeared headed for triumph in American politics a couple of decades ago, but is now in clear retreat. By contrast, the Cleveland decision, closely divided as the vote was, has the feel of a watershed moment in a broad shift toward a different, more favorable vision of religion's place in the public square.

For a sense of how far the political debate on religion has come, recall the "religion in politics" controversy of the 1984 presidential campaign. In a speech to several hundred clergymen in Dallas the day after the Republican convention ended, Ronald Reagan urged people of faith to become politically active, to avoid defensiveness about their right to bring a religious perspective to the national political debate.

Democratic nominee Walter Mondale instantly jumped on the speech with both feet, accusing Reagan of intolerance. He likened Reagan to an"ayatollah."

Does life offer a more entertaining spectacle than all the congressional Democrats denouncing these judges who they'd have been praising if the ruling had come on September 10th?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:29 PM


Serendipitously, several of the films mentioned here today are on AMC this week :

The Machurian Candidate directed by John Frankenheimer (AMC, 3:25am and 12:40pm on 7/08/02)

Boys from Brazil (AMC, 2:50pm on 7/10/02)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM


Detroit Urban Renewal Without the Renewal (JODI WILGOREN, July 7, 2002, NY Times)
Like a gardener pruning rosebushes, Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick wants to tear down this city to save it.

Not the whole thing - just the rotten parts. The burned-out facades and shattered windows, caving porches and crumbling rooftops that mar the landscape from the crux of
downtown to the city's outskirts.

But what sets the mayor's project apart is not the pace at which buildings are coming down or the scale of the effort - other cities have become more aggressive about demolishing abandoned buildings as part of revitalization - but the high likelihood that little will go up in their place.

I've been having a discussion via e-mail with a Temple University professor who was quite upset about the generalizations I made in my review of The City in History (1961) Lewis Mumford (1895-1990). He's specifically upset with the suggestion that cities are obsolete. Maybe he ought to visit Detroit or Los Angeles which is about to disintegrate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


Do the Dew, Davey : Davey and Goliath creators say the only way to bring the show back is through merchandising and endorsements. (Ted Olsen, Christianity Today, June 10, 2002)
Long before Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, animated moralizing was left to young Davey and his talking dog, Goliath. Now the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's show, which originally aired from 1962 to 1977, is staging an unlikely comeback. But before the duo can go back to teaching about loving your neighbor, they are promoting the elixir known as Mountain Dew. [...] The 26 new episodes will begin early next year.

Sunday mornings used to be primo TV watching :

Sunrise Semester
Agriculture Today
Davey & Goliath
(Dash out to church to watch Dad's sermon--then home in time for : )
Roller Derby
Abbott & Costello Movie

Then outside to play the rest of the day.

Does life get any better?

*Official Davey and Goliath Web site

*Tractor Safety PSA

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 AM


Toronto troubled by Canada's largest-ever city worker strike (Associated Press, July 06, 2002)
Toronto is offering lifetime employment to any full-time, permanent, unionized city worker with at least 10 years on the job.

City employees want that guarantee to begin after eight years.

As the wife said : Geez, in Canada the garbagemen get tenure.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 AM


Capitalism Depends on Character (JEAN STROUSE, July 7, 2002, NY Times)
Asked by the lawyer for a congressional investigating committee in 1912 whether bankers issued commercial credit only to people who already had money or property, J. P. Morgan said, "No sir; the first thing is character." The skeptical lawyer repeated his question and Morgan, in Victorian terminology, elaborated on his answer - "because a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom."

This too is what we mean by "under God". Capitalism seems to be dependent on a shared Judeo-Christian morality in order to function effectively, otherwise business transactions come to depend on such oppressive government regulation and law enforcement mechanisms that the resulting system can hardly be called a free market.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM


To Revive Agenda, Bush Courts Blacks : Support Sought for Welfare Reform, 'Faith-Based' Charity, Homeownership (Dana Milbank, July 3, 2002, Washington Post)
African Americans as a constituency are singularly suspicious about President Bush and his policies. Yet Bush, as he tries to revive his domestic legislative agenda, is making a flurry of appeals to black voters. [...]

The effort to appeal to African Americans faces long odds. On Monday, the only black Republican in Congress, Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.), announced that he will retire. Only 10 percent of blacks supported Bush in the 2000 election, and though Bush is far more popular since Sept. 11 among all groups, a similar pattern continues.

In a new Washington Post poll, 40 percent of African Americans voiced support for Bush and 40 percent expressed disapproval. Among whites, 73 percent approved and 16 percent disapproved. A Gallup poll last month showed a plurality of black Americans still disapproving of Bush.

"They've got a lot of work to do," said Robert Woodson, a black conservative who consults with White House officials. Bush, Woodson said, is making a "concerted push" to drive a wedge between ordinary, church-going black Americans, who have conservative instincts, and civil rights leaders, who are more liberal. "Civil rights leaders are inalterably opposed" to Bush on vouchers, welfare and religious charities, Woodson said, but "those in the pews" feel otherwise.

Republicans had to be staggered by the results of the 2000 Presidential campaign, when George W. Bush, who had courted the black vote more assiduously than any GOP candidate in recent memory, received a lower percentage of the black vote than even Bob Dole had in 1996. But hopefully they'll not be deterred by this lack of results.

President Bush should make a point of campaigning on conservative issues--school vouchers, abortion, divorce, crime, home ownership, Medical Savings Accounts, Social Security privatization, etc.--in the black community, even if he is greeted with skepticism or outright hostility. Conservatives need to demonstrate that they are serious about using these ideas to transform the lives of all Americans, even if blacks do not initially support them. In fact, a willingness to pay a short term cost could even reap a greater long term gain. If, as we suspect, such programs do begin to improve the day to day lives of America's poor, do empower them and do restore a sense of pride and responsibility, then eventually the courage Republicans demonstrate in supporting such ideas will surely pay off politically. And if it doesn't, the GOP will still have done the right thing.

A Campaign Plan for Conservative GOP Candidates (Martin Knight)

Can a true-blue all-round Conservative win in a Left-leaning state like Maryland? Judging from what happened to Bret Schundler last year in New Jersey, the conventional wisdom would suggest a strong "No". But ... I believe that Bret Schundler could have won that race in November.

Intteresting essay from Mr. Knight, who one assumes is a black Republican.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM


Bring Back the Draft : President Bush keeps saying America is involved in a new kind of war. Now it's time for a new kind of draft. (Zev Chafets, 7/07/02, NY Daily News)
It has been more than nine months since the Islamic sneak attack on America, and it is abundantly clear that the government can't find and train a sufficient number of high-quality personnel to fight back. So Washington will have to do what it has done in times of national emergency since the Civil War: conscript qualified young people. [...]

The first task of the proposed Department of Homeland Security should be to ask Congress to pass a civilian Selective Service Act, mandating two years of compulsory duty for vital personnel--starting with the best and the brightest young men and women in the country. They should have a choice of being inducted after high school or going to college, but any educational deferments would come with an ironclad commitment to future duty.

It seems like it would be worthwhile to have them go through military basic training too. A draft has several things to recommend it : (1) it's the only time many Americans will ever truly mix with peoiple different than themselves; (2) it will train young people to participate in the kind of vigilant national security we may need in the coming years; and (3) it restores the notion that citizenship carries with it certain responsibilities.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM


The Mau-Mauing at Harvard (John H. McWhorter, Spring 2002, City-Journal)
The dustup between Summers and Harvard's black superstars provoked a flurry of articles and op-eds earlier this year, but most of the coverage missed its true import. In how it played out, the controversy cast a cold light on how today's black academic experience-for students and teachers alike-remains faithful to two destructive orthodoxies: that for blacks, victimhood is a moral duty; and that, because of their history of oppression, blacks should get an exemption from the standards that apply to others. If Summers really intends to stand down these truly disrespectful and insulting notions, he's Doing the Right Thing. [...]

What may first have raised the antennae of the university's black professors was Summers's inaugural address as Harvard?s president. On the face of it, the talk included a ringing endorsement of racial equality. 'A century ago this was an institution where New England gentlemen taught other New England gentlemen,' Summers intoned. 'Today, Harvard is open to men and women of all faiths, all races, all classes, all states, all nations. As a result we offer a better education to better students who make us a better university.' Summers urged that the university offer full scholarships to all students who needed them, as opposed to the more selective current policy-a change that would help many black students.

But Summers committed a big no-no in the eyes of diversity fans: he strongly defended the ideal of educational excellence. 'We will also need to assure that we do not compromise our high standards,' Summers said. 'Our goal will be to extend excellence without ever diluting it.' According to the diversity paradigm, any such talk of standards and excellence is elitist-and thus anti-black. The tacit belief underlying the racial preferences regime is that blacks just can't compete, regardless of class or circumstances.

Ward Connerly spoke to this notion in his excellent book, Creating Equal :
I celebrated July 4 1995 with a heightened awareness of the personal freedom at the core of nationhood. When the Founding Fathers said that we were all created equal, they were proposing an audacious theory that ultimately inflamed the rest of the world. By fits and starts, Americans had tried to make that theory into a reality, with abolitionism, the Emancipation Proclamation, and, of course, the civil rights movement, which instituted sweeping revisions of the law that have brought us ever closer to the fulfillment of the promise of our national life. I felt in my heart that race preferences--by whatever name--were not a continuation of that progress, but an obstacle in the road to freedom and equality. At best a diversion, and at worst a giant step backward, affirmative action preferences caused us to lose sight of the task we inherited from the Founders--creating equal as the only category that counts in America.

And two of the towering figures of the Civil Rights movement did as well--Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board of Ed (1954) :
Distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary and insidious that a state bound to defend the equal protection of the laws must not allow them in any public sphere.

and The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in his I Have a Dream speech (Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963) :
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

How odd then that in this dispute between a college president who is white and one of the "leading" black professors in America, it is the president who remains committed to the dream and the professor who is the racialist.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 AM


The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein by Sandra Mackey (C-SPAN Booknotes, July 7, 2002, 8pm & 11pm Eastern)

*REVIEW : of THE RECKONING: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein, By Sandra Mackey (ANDREW COCKBURN, LA Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM


A G.O.P. Primary Strains Party Ties and Bush Loyalties (PAM BELLUCK, July 7, 2002, NY Times)
Like no other election in the country, the New Hampshire Senate race has placed the president and his political advisers in the delicate position of juggling loyalty, personal connections and pragmatic politics.

On one side is Mr. Sununu, a three-term congressman and son of John H. Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor and chief of staff to the first President Bush, who credits the elder Mr. Sununu with his 1988 presidential victory in New Hampshire.

Mr. Card, deputy chief of staff to Mr. Sununu in the first Bush administration, is loyal to the Sununus.

"The Sununu family is as close to the Bush family as anybody in the country," Mr. Black said.

On the other side is Senator Smith, who in 1999 made a short-lived bid for president and bolted the Republican Party to run as an independent. At the time, Mr. Smith delivered a 55-minute speech to the Senate that savaged the party, saying, "Maybe it's a party in the sense of wearing hats and blowing whistles, but it's not a party that means anything."

But four months later, Mr. Smith became a Republican again, and the timing allowed him to ascend to the chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee. [...]

Few Republicans have forgotten that episode, and in this campaign some Republican leaders and especially New Hampshire voters seem unwilling to forgive Mr. Smith for it.
Mr. Smith got a modest boost from an endorsement by former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York. Dick Bennett, of the American Research Group, said Mr. Smith's education commercials helped him advance in the latest poll. He has also raised more money - $1.4 million at the end of this year's first quarter, compared with $661,000 for Mr. Sununu.

A few months ago you'd have said that John Sununu was going to win this fairly easily just because Bob Smith had alienated the Party faithful by switching and because Sununu has consistently beaten Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in the polls by a significant margin, while Smith runs neck and neck with her. But the Guliani endorsement ad is really powerful, if somewhat inexplicable. Did John Sununu Sr. screw Rudy out of a job in Bush I? Why's Rudy endorsing, and forcefully endorsing, the most anti-abortion member of the Senate, a man who's almost equally conservative on other social issues?

The other thing about the race is that Sununu has been invisible. You never hear his ads or see his signs or see him for that matter. Bob Smith is running like he means it, while John Sununu seems to be awaiting a coronation. The other strange dynamic at work in this race is the low level grumbling about Sununu's ethnicity. The Sununus are Lebanese and, apparently, ethnically Palestinian and the Congressman has been oddly quiet about Palestinian terrorism and about our Israeli allies. If he's not careful he could turn this into the prototype race where Jewish support ends up paradoxically going to a culturally conservative Republican who's seen as a friend of Israel, whatever his other views.

In the end, Senator Smith may have done too much damage to himself, with his party flip-flop, to recover, but he's been left for dead before and managed to survive. In his last race for this seat his challenger Dick Swett (no snickering please) was even declared the winner by some news organizations, before the final vote tallys came in. It's conceivable, though highly unlikely, that he can pull off one more upset, especially if Mr. Sununu doesn't start trying.

*Senators Endorse Colleague's Challenger : Abandoning Tradition, Four Support N.H. Incumbent's Primary Opponent (Helen Dewar, May 27, 2002, Washington Post)

*New Hampshire Spyglass : "Your focus on NH politics"

*The Union-Leader

*Concord Monitor : Politics

*NH.com : Politics

*UNH Survey Center

*Politics 1 : New Hampshire

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 AM


Dispute arises over body of Ted Williams : Estranged daughter says son wants to freeze Hall of Fame father for cloning (NBCSPORTS.COM NEWS SERVICES, July 6, 2002)
A day after the death of baseball great Ted Williams, a dispute has already arisen over what to do with his body, as Williams' estranged daughter says her half-brother plans to freeze the Hall of Famer's body - possibly in hopes of selling his DNA in the future for cloning purposes.

"My father's body was put on a plane yesterday with people from Alcor," Ferrell said, referring to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a provider of cryonics services.

This is the primrose path down which fans of biotechnology are leading us--with visions of immortality and duplicability dancing in our heads. But John Henry Williams might want to watch The Boys from Brazil before he clones his dad. Those old enough to remember the film and Ira Levin's novel will recall that it was not sufficient merely to clone Hitler; it was also necessary to have the resulting boys raised in an environment as similar as possible to that which produced the Fuhrer.

As best we can determine, biology is not destiny--men are still a product of their own will and of their upbringing. In Ted Williams's case, he was driven to excel, to be the "best hitter that ever was" and his drive led him to the playgrounds of his childhood home in San Diego, where he hit and hit and hit some more. Crank out a billion clones of Ted Williams and unless you raise the boy in San Pedro de Macoris, or some other setting where baseball excellence is the be all and end all of existence, you aren't likely to end up with any more than an eerily hollow version of the man, a seeming Ted Williams but one who isn't a terribly good hitter. And that would be an abomination.

*Our Greatest Hitter Ever (George F. Will, July 7, 2002, Washington Post)

Late in life Williams said that often he fell asleep hearing in his head three songs -- "The Star-Spangled Banner," "The Marines' Hymn" and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." An American life.

The most amazing statistic from his amazing career is that he hit for a higher average than Joe DiMaggio during Dimaggio's 56 game hitting streak.

*'Can you smell the bat burning?' (Peter Gammons, 7/05/02, ESPN.com)

When I was driving Ted and Wade Boggs to Clearwater for a dinner of hitting talk with Don Mattingly in spring training of 1986, Ted asked Boggs, "Have you ever smelled the bat burning?"

"What are you talking about?" Boggs replied.

Ted didn't reply.

At dinner, Ted repeated the question to Mattingly.

"People think I'm crazy, but yes," replied Mattingly. "It takes a perfect rising, four-seam fastball, a perfect swing, a foul straight back ... and you can smell the burn of the seams and the bat."

"Only the guys who whip that lumber have smelled it," said Ted.

July 6, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 PM


Have You Seen This Fish? (MAUREEN DOWD, July 7, 2002, NY Times)
In what can only be described as an admission that she has nothing interesting or entertaining to say about politics anymore, Maureen Dowd today sucks up to her editor, Howell Raines, with a fishing piece. Of course, considering the number of Google searches that have brought folks here looking for Northern Snakehead stories, it'll probably be her best read column of her career, which seem sad but fitting.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:11 PM


Director John Frankenheimer Dies (ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 6, 2002)
John Frankenheimer, director of such Hollywood classics as ``The Manchurian Candidate'' and ``Birdman of Alcatraz,'' died Saturday. He was 72.

He's probably best known for The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May, but The Train is excellent too.

*FILMOGRAPHY : John Frankenheimer (1930-2002) (Imdb.com)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:04 PM


'Godfather' of animal rights out to counter Christianity : Belief that humans are superior to all other beings is promoted through Bible teachings, ethicist argues (David Stonehouse, July 05, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
Fundamentalist Christian views promote a view of human superiority that is detrimental to animals and an obstacle to animal rights activism, a Princeton University ethicist says.

Peter Singer, the "godfather" of animal rights activism and a controversial figure for advocating euthanasia for disabled infants, says he is on a mission to counter Christian teachings that animals do not have the same standing as people. [...]

Judeo-Christian teachings that animals do not have souls, that humans were created in the image of God and are granted dominion over animals creates "a very negative influence on the way in which we think about animals," he told an audience at the Animal Rights 2002 conference, organized by a coalition of groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Legal Defence Fund.

Christians, he said, are interpreting the Bible too literally and are promoting "speciesism" -- a belief that humans are superior to any other being.

Though this seems like lunacy now, you'd have to say it's likely to be mainstream within a few decades, especially in the rest of the West, if not here. Whatever else he may be--and I believe he's evil--Mr. Singer is pretty smart and here he's merely extending the logic of atheism to its necessary end. If Man is not Created in God's image then why should we get to lord it over other animals? Why aren't we all equals?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM


A Promise Long Deferred : Voucher verdict decides an issue as old as King George. (Daniel Patrick Moynihan, July 1, 2002, The Washington Post)
As a member of the subcabinet I was asked if I could work out some language for the 1964 Democratic Party platform. I was joined by the inventive commissioner of education, Francis Keppel, and the irrepressible Msgr. Francis T. Hurley, later bishop of Alaska. Our text went into the platform unchanged:

"We believe that education is the surest and most profitable investment a nation can make. Regardless of family financial status, therefore, education should be open to every boy or girl in America up to the highest level which he or she is able to master. . . . New methods of financial aid must be explored, including the channeling of federally collected revenues to all levels of education and, to the extent permitted by the Constitution, to all schools."

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson on April 9, 1965. Federal funds began to flow. But Catholics in Catholic schools got nothing but an occasional trailer for St. Agnes or whatever, where students could learn physics without papal meddling. But little else. We broke our word.

But that is behind us! Ahead are troubles, to be sure. Our country has all manner of religions; Arlington Cemetery has 33 denominational headstones. But at least the Democratic Party can claim to be prophetic and support school vouchers.

If they weren't so beholden to the Teachers' Union and the godless, this would be a great issue for Democrats. It's interesting to read Moynihan's history of the idea.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


In the U.S. Nowadays, Little Love for France (EMILY EAKIN, July 6, 2002, NY Times)
Since the beginning of the year, Edward I. Koch, former mayor of New York City, has signed off most of his weekly radio broadcasts with a declaration of war loosely inspired by Julius Caesar: "Omni Gaul delenda est!" ("All Gaul must be destroyed!")

Which reminds us of this : The Red Balloon [Le Ballon Rouge](1956) (directed by Albert Lamorisse 1922-70)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 AM


Farrakhan visits Baghdad (AP, 07/06/2002)
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan arrived in Baghdad for a two-day visit Saturday to discuss steps that could be taken to avert a possible U.S. military campaign against Iraq.

Couldn't we revoke his citizenship and let him stay in the Middle East with his dictator pals?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 AM


Tuskegee Airmen leader Davis dies (Associated Press, July 6, 2002 )
Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the leader of the famed all-black Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and the first black general in the Air Force, has died.

Who can help but be humbled by the brave and noble service rendered to America through the years by men it treated as second-class citizens, or worse. God's gathered unto Himself a couple remarkable pilots over the last few days.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 AM


Julia Roberts Weds Cameraman (Associated Press, July 04, 2002)
Academy Award-winning actress Julia Roberts married her cameraman boyfriend Daniel Moder early Thursday at her 40-acre estate outside Taos.

Longtime readers of Brothers Judd will be struck by the same thing we were in these stories, the absence of Eric. This will only add fuel to the rumors that Eric and Julia Roberts are really the same person.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM


Armstrong: Is in His Solitude : Alone on Top, He Eyes 4th Tour Title (Keith R. Richburg, July 6, 2002, Washington Post)
Some who have spoken with him recently have described Armstrong's mood this year as serene. He doesn't dispute that description, which he attributes to the period he has reached in his life, personally and professionally. He and his wife Kristin have twin daughters and a son. And last year he marked his five-year anniversary of being cancer-free.

"I certainly feel tranquil and ready," Armstrong said.

If possible, and there has to be considerable doubt on this score, bicycle racing is even more boring than soccer (except that one-on-one thing they do on the oval in the Olympics, which is fairly cool). But if they're going to run the races and if it's the national sport of France, you'd just as soon an American win the thing.

Here's a nice profile of Lance Armstrong, who's book is actually pretty good, by Keith Richburg, whose book is very good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM


The Williams Deal (Red Smith, January 11, 1952)
It was fourteen years ago that he made his first trip to a Boston training camp. In his only full season of professional baseball he had caused some Pacific Coast League pitchers to wake up screaming in the night, but his talents as an outfielder had not been polished to a dazzling brilliance.

In fact, the representative of one major league team had watched him play for San Diego and shuddered violently. "He's another Buzz Arlett," the man said, employing a standard of comparison that still causes strong men to turn pale, although it has been many years since the muscular Buzz plodded across major league outfields.

Anyhow, Boston was taking a chance and the kid was bound for Florida with several other players. Al Horwitz, a Philadelphia baseball writer visiting the camps, encountered them on a train and sat down to chat. They talked, naturally, about hitting. "You'll see some pretty fair hitters with the Red Sox," Horwitz said, "Joe Cronin, Mike Higgins, Jimmy Foxx -- "

Young Williams said he'd already seen some good hitters, out on the Coast.

"I know," Horwitz said, "but wait till you see Jimmy Foxx hit." The rookie gazed out the window dreamily. His fingers gripped the handle of an imaginary bat.

"Wait," he said, "until Foxx sees me hit."

There's a famous line in The Natural, that--like much of his book--Bernard Malamud actually borrowed from real-life. The young Roy Hobbes utters a bit of braggadocio that echoes Ted Williams who had said that his goal in life was that when he walked down the street people would say : "There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived".

Well, there goes the greatest hitter who ever lived. Godspeed, Ted.

And, for folks too young to remember, here are John Glenn's reminiscences about Ted Williams as a military pilot in the Korean War and more...

*SPECIAL COVERAGE : The Boston Globe
*COVERAGE : Boston Red Sox Official Site
*COVERAGE : Ted Williams (1918-2002) (ESPN Classic)
*COVERAGE : CBS Sportsline
*Ted Williams.com
*OBITUARY : Baseball Loses Its Last .400 Hitter Ted Williams: 1918-2002 (Richard Pearson, July 6, 2002, Washington Post)
*OBITUARY : Ted Williams, Last Baseball Player to Hit .400, Dies at 83 (RICHARD GOLDSTEIN and ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr., July 6, 2002, NY Times)
*TRIBUTE : Softened Splinter, Splendid Goodbye (Thomas Boswell, July 6, 2002, Washington Post)
*ARTICLE : Boston Tips Its Cap on the Day Legend Dies (FOX BUTTERFIELD, July 5, 2002, NY Times)
*Salon's Brilliant Careers : Ted Williams : Almost 60 years ago, the greatest hitter who ever lived hit over .400 and no one has done it since. (Mark Miller, Oct. 24, 2000, Salon)
*ESPN's Sports Century : He had a science all of his own (Larry Schwartz, ESPN.com)
*BOOK : My Turn at Bat (1969) (Ted Williams)
*BOOK : The Science of Hitting (Ted Williams with John W. Underwood)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM


Life, Liberty, Ashcroft (Mary McGrory, July 4, 2002, Washington Post)
No blow dealt by the court was heavier or of more moment than the ruling on school vouchers for students in failing public schools. The majority, as Justice John Paul Stevens observed in his dissent, "has removed a brick from the wall that was once designed to separate religion from government." The majority who favored the removal seemed to derive a gimmicky satisfaction from the fact that the checks would go not to any religious school but to the parents of the children who would go to those religious schools. Justice David Souter seemed exasperated by such evasion. In an uncharacteristically vehement dissent, he wrote, "I hope that a future court will reconsider today's dramatic departure from basic Establishment Clause principle." It is difficult for devotees of public education, who believe a democracy can never be relieved of its duty to teach all its children.

The Signers and Framers were men of faith. The Declaration began and ended with a reference to the Almighty. But they fervently believed in separation of church and state, and they never felt called upon to fall into the paroxysms of piety such as overtook their modern-day successors when they heard a court say that the Pledge of Allegiance with "under God" was unconstitutional. It may well be, but with John Ashcroft playing Savonarola was this the time to say so? If comparable fury and outrage were directed at the Supreme bench for its cavalier treatment of the First Amendment, with its guarantee of church-state separation, it might be more seemly.

Do I have a defective copy of the Constitution or something? People like Ms McGrory and the Court's minority keep referring to "Separation" of church and state and the "wall of separation". But no matter how many times I read it, even under a black light or after waving it over a candle, I just can''t find those words or concepts anywhere in the text. All I can find is : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". That's it. No walls. No separation. Just concern over "establishment".

Is there some secret codicil to the Bill of Rights that's accessible only to liberal activists, jurists, and columnists?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Israel's best friend in the White House (Jonathan Rosenblum July. 4, 2002, Jerusalem Post)
While his speech caught everyone by surprise, it should not have. As Jeff Ballabon, a leading Jewish Republican activist, points out, Bush has been remarkable in his consistency. He has never met with Arafat. While sympathizing with Palestinian suffering, he has never used that suffering to "explain" Palestinian terrorism. And in the face of repeated calls to become more involved in Middle East peacemaking, he has remained ever mindful that the years of intense American involvement resulted only in unprecedented carnage. Those who missed these essential lines were simply too busy listening to State Department officials trying to force the president into the traditional patterns of thought.

Finally we have a man in the White House who really does believe in something other than triangulating according to the latest polls. Bush is no moral relativist nor a student of realpolitik. The most striking thing about his speech was his insistence on seeing the Middle East through the lens of his own deepest values. For Bush, terrorism cannot be evil when directed at Americans, but justifiable when directed against Israelis. Democracy cannot be good for Americans but not for Palestinians.

The clarity of vision President Bush displayed last week makes him truly Israel's best friend ever in the White House.

Though no fan of Harry Truman's presidency, there are two things for which he does get credit; integrating the armed forces and recognizing the state of Israel. The first was particularly courageous because it was against his political interest; the second because it was against our national interest and was opposed by the man he respected above all others General Marshall. But on both issues Truman did the right thing and one wonders if many other presidents would have. So he can rightly be considered the best friend Israel's ever had in the White House.

A close second would be Ronald Reagan who was not only so steadfast a supporter as to likewise act against our own interests by getting involved in the Lebanon but who, by ending the Cold War, saved Israel from a demographic crunch--via an influx of Eastern European emigrees-for at least a generation.

George W. Bush has a ways to go before he enters this lofty company, but well begun is half done.

M Ali Choudhury calls our attention to the following :
No schmooze with the Jews : However entwined the sentiments, the national interest comes first (The Economist, Apr 4th 2002)

All American presidents have happily crushed the Jewish lobby whenever they think the national interest demands it.

Ronald Reagan, a pro-Israeli president, sold AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia over strong objections from AIPAC. He was so infuriated by Israel's invasion of Lebanon that he put a picture of a Palestinian child on his desk. In 1991 George Bush senior brushed aside AIPAC's objections when America threatened to withhold loan guarantees if Israel continued to expand its settlements in the occupied territories. Successive American administrations have declared Jewish settlements in the territories illegal and counterproductive. AIPAC, like all ethnic pressure groups, is good at getting its way on things that presidents don't much care about. But when it tries to butt its head against issues of national interest, it ends up with a headache.

The current administration is a particularly odd candidate for the role of cat's-paw to the Jewish lobby. Jews are the only group of rich white people who habitually vote Democratic—and many of the Jewish commentators who are credited with such influence over American policy would rather dress up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit than endorse the current president.

The Jewish lobby has a particularly testy relationship with the Bush dynasty. Jewish organisations regarded George Bush senior as the most anti-Israeli president in recent years—a man who saw the Middle East in terms of oil supplies rather than Israel's destiny. James Baker, the elder Bush's secretary of state, is credited with a memorable line on the Jewish lobby: “F*** the Jews. They don't vote for us anyway.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Intifada fatigue hits Palestinians : More Palestinians are openly criticizing the strategy of suicide bombings and voicing mixed feelings about Arafat. (Cameron W. Barr, 7/05/02, The Christian Science Monitor)
After 21 months of open conflict, many Palestinians are rethinking two key elements of their struggle against Israel: their leader and the use of violence against Israeli civilians.

Decades of backing Yasser Arafat and years of fighting Israel with suicide bombers have not produced any positive gains, a growing number of Palestinians now say.

Wasn't it just a week a ago we heard that President Bush was a naive moron for thinking Palestinians would ever give up on Arafat and terror?

July 4, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM

Tonight on PBS--it's at 9:30pm here but check local listings--there's a special : Rediscovering George Washington. George Will says it's terrific<

And here's my favorite story about the General :
The Rise and Fall of the Newburgh Conspiracy: How General Washington and his Spectacles Saved the Republic (George L. Marshall, Jr., Early America)

A big thank you to Ed Driscoll who sends word that C-SPAN'S American Writers will feature Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, & the Conservative Movement on July 5th starting at 8pm. I've not yet dug down to the box of books that has God and Man at Yale, which made Mr. Buckley notorious at an early age. But we do have a review posted of my favorite of his books : The Unmaking of a Mayor. It recounts his run for mayor of New York in 1965 and should be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand American conservatism, the 1960s or just the strange dynamics of a political campaign, but it is sadly out of print. It's one of those books that I buy every time I see it used and then give away, like samizdata in the old USSR.

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.

Kirk put paid to that foolish nation and the many like it with an immensely readable style and a happily quirky survey of the thought of conservative authors and politicians through the decades. (This book is in print in a very nice edition, though it looks like the Hardcover is back-ordered.)

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.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM


Bold Men in Ruffled Shirts (DAVID McCULLOUGH, July 4, 2002, NY Times)
When we see them in paintings, with their ruffled shirts and powdered hair, they look a little like fops, softies. But life then, at best, was tougher than we know, and they were, too, and the women no less than the men. John Adams predicted a long, costly struggle. "I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain their Declaration," he told Abigail. "Yet through the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see the end is more than worth all the means."

It's common enough for the Right in general and cultural conservatives in particular to bemoan the creeping statism of our age and the corrosive effects of moral relativism. The recent asinine ruling on the Pledge seems Heaven sent for a rip-roaring denunciation of a nation on the road to Sodom. But we tend to forget that the Founders were men much like us, men who worshipped freedom but who did not truly expect it to last. The Constitution, with its careful system of checks and balances, amply demonstrates the low estimation in which they held the species.

Yet, we our independence survives. We are less free than we should be, in some ways less free than they were, but we are nonetheless as free as any people on Earth. And we are free in ways--mostly economic--that their fellow countrymen were not.

Our society is less good in too many ways than theirs was--chiefly in the lapse of our moral standards and the loss of the sense of honor that they held so dear. But it is infinitely better in many too--if for no other reason than that their words "All Men", now truly apply to all men, no matter their race, creed, or color and to women as well.

Our generation is less tough than theirs, but our lives have been less tough--in good measure thanks to them. And when called upon, as in the wake of 9-11, we certainly seem to contain the same moral and spiritual toughness in some untapped reserve. Who's to say that we would not rise to as great a cause as theirs was with equal valor and maybe even establish as enduring a legacy.

One suspects that if Adams could see this far he'd not be too displeased with what he saw. No doubt he'd rage against our dependence on government and our abdication of moral responsibility for our own actions, but mightn't he also marvel at what we've made of America in material terms, the wealth and power we've accrued. No doubt he'd mourn the racial tension that remains a disturbing facet of our society, but surely he'd marvel at a Colin Powell, a Condeleeza Rice, an Alberto Gonzales, a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and think that there's hope for us still.

Most of all, one supposes that he'd look at the worst of our blemishes--from a $2 Trillion government to divorce to abortion to euthanasia and so on--and see that, however unpleasant to behold, they are products of our free choice. He'd surely not be surprised that that which is worst in us, like that which is best, comes to the surface when we are free. But we are in fact free and that is no small thing. It is a freedom that we should use better, to make a truly good society, but it may be that we never will. It may be that, being merely men, this is the best we can do--though I hope not. Still, if that is the case, then we have in fact done our best. The light we cast may not quite be ravishing, but surely the light he glimpsed came from this almost-shining city on a hill, and surely this "end" justifies the means that he and his fellow patriots were called upon to employ and to endure. And surely, he'd remind us that we are not at an end, are instead in the midst of becoming the America he envisioned, but are well on our way if we only have the courage to make ourselves that nation.

And even if that's all a load of hooey, perhaps he'd consider the sacrifices that they made to be worthwhile just because nearly 230 years later there are almost 300 million Americans who fiercely believe, even if they agree on little else, that :

...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Maybe just that much is enough. Maybe it's quite a bit.

God Bless America. And God Bless you and yours on this Independence Day and every day.

July 3, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 PM


"Harken!" the scandal angel sings. (Charles Murtaugh, 7/03/02)
[H]ere's the beauty part for the Democrats: it doesn't matter whether or not Bush broke the law in his insider trading. The scandal here is moral, rather than legal: Bush was intimately connected with a corporate accounting scandal precisely akin to those now in the headlines, and costing tens of thousands of jobs. If the Democrats focus solely on the legalistic question of how Bush made his eight hundred large, they'll be making a Starr-esque error. It really didn't matter whether or not Clinton lied to the grand jury about his affair, the real Lewinsky scandal was that he'd been having the affair at all. The conservatives were right: character matters.

In Harken-gate, it makes little difference whether Bush broke the law by waiting thirty weeks to alert the SEC of his stock sale, instead of the required two or three (yawn... eyes... glazing... over... must... follow... the money...). What will be harder for Bush to shake off between now and 2004, particularly if the corporate accounting scandals continue to drag down the economy, is his guilt-by-close-association with a book-cooking energy company.

The estimable Mr. Murtaugh seems to make the same errors here that we Republicans made in regard to Bill Clinton and Whitewater and to combine them with the ways in which the Democrats misunderstood the Clinton scandals :

(1) Assuming "guilt by association" will work :
There's little difference between this current book-fixing scandal and the Savings and Loan scandal. You've got the nexus of big money and politicians and shady dealings. Republicans assumed that Bill Clinton would pay the price just for being associated with an S&L, but he didn't. Hard to see why things should be tougher for Bush, who people generally think is honest, than they were for Clinton, who even his supporters knew was a cheat and a thief. Mr. Murtaugh seems to disassociate the Clintons from the S&L policy question, but this seems wrong for two reasons, first that the Democrats made an issue of S&Ls, even dragging Neil Bush into the campaign, and, second, because for a Democrat to be involved in fleecing the little old ladies who had their life savings in S&Ls was a jarring idea, while the notion of a Republican oil man doing well in the stock market is kind of ho-hum.

(2) It doesn't matter "whether or not Bush broke the law" :
Democrats will go to their graves believing that Bill Clinton didn't actually break any laws. That's fine. But they also believe that Republicans don't believe that Clinton broke any laws and that the GOP was just using the investigations as a way to "get" Clinton. So now they think they can just whip stuff at a wall and sooner or later something will stick.

Unfortunately Slick Willie dodged prosecution, so we'll never know the extent of his wrong-doing, but a few things we do know. His business partners in Whitewater all went to jail. In turn, they either testified against him (Jim McDougal) or refused to testify because they didn't want to incriminate him (Susan McDougal). Mr. Clinton himself was stripped of his license to practice law for his actions in the Lewinsky matter (Mr. Murtaugh more or less concedes the perjury charge). And he has never denied raping Juanita Broaddrick. It takes a pretty massive effort of self-delusion to convince yourself, even after all of those facts are in, that there was nothing "illegal" in the Clinton scandals and that it was all just partisan politics.

In the end it does actually matter whether you did something wrong or not. If there is a crime buried somewhere, evidence and accusations keep bubbling to the surface. If not, the well runs dry fairly fast. Democrats in this case have to try to show that a member of a company's board of directors truly knew what was going on with its books--which the current scandals suggest is manifestly untrue in most cases. Before they head out after this one, they'd better convince at least themselves that there's a crime here to be gotten to eventually

(3) It's the character, stupid :
Other than Carville, Begala, and Hilary, no one's left who says that Clinton was not receiving favors from Ms Lewinsky--even Clinton himself conceded it. We know with the greatest degree of certainty to which man can aspire that Bill Clinton behaved immorally.

On the other hand, there's no allegation here that George Bush knew anything that prompted him to sell his stock (a full two months before the negative report that Mr. Murtaugh mentions), nor any accusation that his late reporting of the sale was intended to hide anything. That does not mean that he didn't do something immoral. But it does mean that we're a hell of a long way away from anyone proving anything. And since the case has already been investigated and already raised against him during the presidential campaign, there has to be some question of whether there's any fire here or only smoke.

(4) Someone cares :
Even with everything we knew about Bill Clinton no one cared. As long s stock prices stayed high and people sort of liked the guy, in that lovable rogue kind of way, the scandals could never touch him. We've a certain sense in today's society that our public figures, and likely ourselves, are so corrupted that just about any evil is to be expected of them (and us). And Democrats lowered the bar so far during the Clinton years that it seems fair to wonder just how heinous a crime, especially one that occurred before the President took office, would suffice to alienate supporters and voters enough to do him real harm. The Democrats have won--we've defined deviancy down so far that our presidents are free to rape women; our clergy are raping kids; our corporate executives are little more than dapper thieves; etc., etc., etc.

If the current accountancy scandals leave us with a battered economy in 2004, President Bush will lose because the economy is bad, not because of any financial shenanigans. But if the economy is okay, none of this will mean much.

(5) Scandal politics works :
Democrats look at their loss of the Senate and House in 1994 and their failure to regain either electorally and think to themselves that the GOP rode scandal to power. For them to acknowledge that the Republican Revolution was about ideas would be to contradict everything they believe about themselves (they're good), the voters (they like liberalism), and conservatives (they're evil reactionaries). Even though Bill Clinton served his full eight years, Democrats think the GOP won the last six of them by using scandal as a whip to keep him in line.

Conservatives know, on the other hand, that the focus on scandal threw Republicans off message and ended up eventually costing them the Senate and nearly the House. The 1998 midterm election is an object lesson in what happens to a party that forgets its ideas and runs on scandal. Instead of propounding a new Contract with America and letting the scandal take care of itself, the GOP thought it could coast on just Bill Clinton's problems and by historical standards the election was a disaster. They lost seats in an election where they should have made out like bandits.

This story could similarly distract Democrats at just the time, four months before a midterm, when they should be presenting core Democrat ideas. They could fail to drive home government health care, government Social Security, government schools, taxes on the wealthy, etc., at the precise time that those positions have the most appeal to voters, an economic downturn. Instead, by focusing on scandal, they'd be asking voters, who they just spent eight years telling everyone does it and it's no big deal, to suddenly turn around and take this rather old, rather bland story seriously. That seems a recipe for disaster too.

(6) Bush can be put on the defensive :
There's one huge difference between the Clinton years and the Bush years and Democrats underestimate that difference at their own grave peril. The 90s were a time of fatuous peace and plenty. The 00s are a time of war. The greatest political danger that the GOP faced when it attacked Clinton was that the stock market might not like it and investors might get pissed. The greatest danger that Democrats face, and we've already seen it play out a few times, is that they'll attack President Bush at the same time that al Qaeda does or at the same time that he attacks Iraq. And most important from a purely political standpoint, he controls the timing of the latter possibility. When Bill Clinton lobbed a few cruise missiles at Osama bin Laden Republicans may have been skeptical but they saluted and lined up behind the President. Imagine that the Democrats get on a roll with charges and accusations about Harken and then a few truck bombs take out the George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. Here's your sound bite : "The Democrats can go ahead and dig into these stories from the 80s, we've got a 21st Century war to fight and a country to defend in the here and now." End of scandal.

(7) Republicans will defend Bush because they don't care about corporate accountability :
Until a few years ago--specifically until the day those Republicans went on a rampage in Florida when one county election board tried closing its doors--I'd have said that Republicans could even be counted on to assist in an investigation of wrongdoing by one of their own, so long as credible evidence was presented. After all, Republicans played active and constructive roles in Watergate and Iran-Contra even though their own were implicated. Republicans aren't just the moralizing party because they think it's fun to preach at people, they moralize because they're moralists.

But it seems possible that out of the crucible of the Clinton scandals and the 2000 elections a different kind of Republican party may have emerged, one that's more comfortable playing naked power politics in order to keep power. Looking back a few years from now, we may well say that the willingness of the Supreme Court's conservative wing to use a judicial theory it despises in order to seat George W. Bush in the White House marked the beginning of an epoch when Republicans started fighting just as dirty as Democrats always have.

If that is the case, then don't look for many Howard Bakers, Lowell Weickers, Bill Cohens and Warren Rudmans in this investigation, the kind of Republicans who thought integrity mattered more than power. The final vile effect of the Clinton years may well be not that he made Democrats into Republicans on the political issues but that he made Republicans into Democrats where ethical issues are concerned.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 PM


In addition to Independence Day, this is the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, so memorably recounted in The Killer Angels (1974)(Michael Shaara 1929-1988) (Grade: A+). Several years ago,TNT made a pretty good movie version of the book, called just Gettysburg, and they used to show it on the 4th (I don't know if it's on tomorrow, but rent the movie or buy the DVD at Borders for $15). If you can watch it without choking up when Joshua Chamberlain orders the men on Little Round Top to fix bayonets, you're one tough cookie.

Another flick you could bring home, though it has its flaws, is Mel Gibson's The Patriot. Just the cinematography, by the great Caleb Deschanel, is worth the price of admission.

Harder to find, but a better Revolutionary War film, is The Devil's Disciple, with one of those great pairings of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:51 PM


Ovitz Lashes Out at Hollywood (Variety, 7/02/02)
Was it an interview or a psychotic episode?

Industryites are still trying to come up with an apt description for the public self-immolation of onetime Hollywood titan Michael Ovitz.

In a stunning profile in Vanity Fair's August issue, which hits newsstands Wednesday, the dethroned boss of Artists Management Group adds to his considerable woes by, among other things, accusing Hollywood's "gay mafia" of ruining his business and his reputation. [...]

Ovitz's statements about a "gay mafia" left even the battle-hardened players named in the piece speechless.

"You're not serious," Vivendi Universal Entertainment CEO Barry Diller told Burrough. "Wow. He said that on the record? Wow ... Wow. I'm stunned. I'm stunned."

During Watergate that was called a "non-denial denial".

Gerard Vanderleun, of American Digest, has gotten ahold of the secret transcript of "Ovitz's 'apology meeting' with the movers and shakers of Dreamworks, Disney, and other essential players." It's very funny, though not appropriate for all ages.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:45 PM


Barbecue Boot Camp : Basic Training in 'Beer-Can' Chicken and Other Grilling Essentials (Alex Chadwick, July 3, 2002, NPR)
Watch Alex Chadwick "beer-can" a chicken.

If you don't find that intriguing, you're beyond help. This story nearly justifies our tax dollars going to these folks. Nearly...

The Joys and Perils of Barbecue Boot Camp (Candy Sagon, July 3, 2002, Washington Post)

Oh no! Mr. Beer Can is on fire!"

Steven Raichlen looked stunned. Just minutes before, the man Oprah calls the "Gladiator of Grilling" had shown 10 of us how to rub seasoning over a whole chicken, spread its legs, shove it tush-down onto a half-filled can of beer and place it upright on a hot gas grill to cook. Behold "Mr. Beer Can" sitting on his aluminum throne, Raichlen crowed, a technique he calls "darn near the perfect way to cook chicken."

Except that 10 minutes later, Mr. Beer Can was threatening to become Mr. Briquette. Angry orange flames danced around the poor bird, scorching its pale skin. From the look on Raichlen's face, though, it was the grilling guru himself who was really feeling the heat.

"Who's supposed to be watching the chicken?" he barked.

The Post was there too. This guy seems a tad tightly-wrapped.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:22 PM


In Alabama Politics, How New Kid Won the Bloc (MICHAEL WILSON, July 3, 2002, NY Times)
The support of the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition, the most powerful local organization of black Democrats, once all but guaranteed the victory of its chosen candidate, from coroner to congressman.

On Saturday, though, the group met for an increasingly common ritual, an election post-mortem on why someone else won. Members discussed why a 34-year-old black newcomer named Artur Davis had beaten an Alabama institution, Earl F. Hilliard, 60, Alabama's first black congressman since Reconstruction.

They said Mr. Davis had too much money in his campaign for the June 25 Democratic primary runoff. They said they could not answer all the attack
advertisements, financed by contributors from out of state angered by Mr. Hilliard's criticism of Israel. They said they did not get out enough black voters to offset votes in "white boxes"--precincts--that were more supportive of Mr. Davis.

Then they looked at the returns. Their voters got out, all right. They just weren't theirs anymore. [...]

In unseating Mr. Hilliard, Mr. Davis, who faces no Republican opposition in November, has called into question the future, and relevance, of the traditional black political machine built by leaders of the civil rights movement.

The civil rights generation did great things for black people, but stopped being helpful to them over 30 years ago. Since then they've made the black vote a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party in exchange for social welfare programs that have pretty much destroyed black communities, families, and a generation of young black men. It is long past time for new voices to emerge, voices that are not always raised to demand more from government, but instead demand more from the people themselves. Perhaps folks like Mr. Davis and Cory Booker in NJ can be those new voices.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:12 PM


Thank You, America (Jan Nowak, July 3, 2002, Washington Post)
This July 4, many Americans may feel baffled and disappointed by the waves of anti-Americanism sweeping through countries that, not too long ago, were either saved or helped by the United States. Allies such as France and Great Britain and former enemies such as Germany and Japan benefited greatly from America's generosity and support in their time of need, as did Belgium, Holland, Italy, Russia, Poland, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and others. Without the United States, some of these countries might no longer exist.

Those of us who remember and remain grateful should no longer remain silent. For people like me--and there are millions of us--this Fourth of July is a good opportunity to say, "Thank you, America." [...]

In the spring of 1998, I watched from the public gallery of the U.S. Senate as it ratified the admission into NATO of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. For the first time in its history, my old country was not only free but also secure.

Thank you, America.

Of course these countries hate us; their best citizens, like Mr. Nowak, came here--it was mostly the detritus that was left behind.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:04 PM


Aloft on Bozoloft (MAUREEN DOWD, July 3, 2002, NY Times)
As psychopharmacology becomes more and more highly targeted, we will be able to tweak molecules to soothe any specific unpleasantness in life. We can't be far away from such customized antidepressants as : [...]

Ashcroxx: Combats irritability and sleep disruptions brought on by unfathomable color-coded charts, politically timed terror warnings and dismantling of civil liberties. Side effects: compulsive love of Second Amendment, compulsive aversion to First Amendment, inexplicable affection for capital punishment.

Ms Dowd explains much, though unintentionally, with this column that reveals her obsession with antidepressant drugs. WARNING : side effects of the ones that she must be taking since Bill Clinton left office include loss of humor, perspective, and relevance and may be accompanied by verbal incontinence and a strange tendency to write like Mary McGrory.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM


Jazz Bassist Ray Brown Dies at 75 (AP, 7/03/02)
Ray Brown, a legendary jazz bassist who played with giants such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, died Tuesday at 75.Brown died in his sleep in Indianapolis where he was concluding the U.S. leg of a tour, said John Clayton, a friend and fellow bassist.

Brown had played golf earlier in the day and went to take an afternoon nap, Clayton said.

Glenn Dryfoos, our jazz correspondent, remembers : "A great bass player and a great guy. Like Bing, he went happyÉi.e., after a round of golfÉthe few times I met Ray at Catalina's, he was telling anyone who would listen about that afternoon's roundÉ.I'm sure Dizzy was waiting for him at the Pearly Gates.

According to a story I heard on the radio today, Brown left Pittsburgh for NY when he was 18 (1945)É.on his first day in the City, he fell into a jam session with Parker, Gillespie and Bud PowellÉ.nice startÉ.."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 AM


SUBURBIA: A CELEBRATION (Patrick Ruffini, 07.03.02)
For the first time in my adult life, I'll be voting in a precinct that gives — now, get this — at least 40% of its votes to Republicans! (2000 percentage for George W. Bush, 43.28%; percentage for George Allen, 40.67%, and for kicks, here's a map of how the entire D.C. area voted for President in the 2000 election.) I will no longer have to endure the stifling conformity of Dupont Circle, where polos and khakis are so unwelcome. I will no longer have to stand people, with their 'Taxation Without Representation' sloganeering, who think that Eleanor Holmes Norton's right to cast procedural votes is tantamount to their right to breate. (Relax. I agree with you guys on the No Taxation part.) And most of all, I won't miss those smarmy goateed urbanites prancing around with their 'Martin Sheen is My President' buttons and exuding their pukish version of Francophilia. Not for one minute.

Here's our prediction : a few summers of listening to Orioles games in suburbia and Mr. Ruffini will drink Maxwell House (black, of course), will think French is just the dressing you marinate flank steak in, and won't even notice the next World Cup thing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM


Bush Gets Colonoscopy: Doctors Find His Head (Paul Krassner)
See, now that's funny and some might even argue that it's liberal humor. However :
(1) It is based on another person's misfortune and discomfort.
(2) It is basically an amusing way of saying someon's an idiot. In calling attention to this person's idiocy it violates several tenets of liberalism, among them belittling someone who's handicapped.
(3) There's a whiff of homophobia about it.
(4) It nowhere points out that Bush stole the election of 2000.
(5) Despite mentioning doctors and a medical procedure, it nowhere points out that 35 million Americans (give or take 250 million) have no health care.
(6) It nowhere points out the injustice of colonoscopies for men being done routinely, while women have to beg for mammograms and gays plead for AIDs screening.
(7) It omits a potential comparison of the colonoscopic procedure to drilling in ANWAR (funded by Enron).
(8) It doesn't mention soccer.
(9) The grammar's a little sketchy--whose head is found, Bush's or the Doctor's? This kind of mistake is symptomatic of Republicans who were all business majors at state schools, not of Democrats, 72% of whom are teachers or professors and all of whom majored, or at least minored, in English.
(10) Like we said, it's funny.

In short, this merely represents further proof, if any was needed, that all humor is, by it's nature, conservative.

July 2, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:37 PM


9th Circuit Judge Unfazed by Storm Over Pledge Ruling : Judge sees critics as 'superficial' (Jason Hoppin, 07-01-2002, The Recorder)
"I never had much confidence in the attention span of elected officials for any kind of deep thinking about important issues," Goodwin said. "When they pop off after what I call a bumper strip headline, they almost always give a superficial response."

He just threw out 200+ years of nearly uniform understanding of what the Constitution allows and he thinks other people have short attention spans?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM


Can the Arabs build a normal political order? (FOUAD AJAMI, June 27, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
The Palestinians are now truly at the crossroads: President Bush has held out to them the prospect of political deliverance--a break with their maximalist history, a chance to step back from the brink and to walk away from this terrible war of terror that they are destined to lose. For all the false consolations of this cult of "martyrdom" that has taken hold in their world, the Palestinians must know that the failure that has stalked their history is upon them yet again. The commitment by President Bush that America will support the "creation of a Palestinian state" is a chance for the Palestinian national movement to return to the world--and the work--of nations.

National movements are about rescue, and for once the Palestinians are being given an opportunity to build a normal political order free of deadly legends, knowing of the things that can and cannot be had in this world of nations. No exemption is offered the Palestinians this time from the imperatives of decent governance. They can have Pax Americana on their side but they must first have decent rule.

Unfortunately, you have to wonder if most of the Fouad Ajamis aren't here in the West.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 PM


Cruise Kids to Live 'Far and Away' (Michael Y. Park, July 01, 2002, FOX NEWS)
"I think the U.S. is terrifying and it saddens me," he told the British paper the Daily Express. "You only have to look at the state of affairs in America."

At the Minority Report premiere Cruise, who is known for his role in the Mission Impossible flicks as a slick superagent for Truth, Justice and the American way, said his adopted children Isabella, 9, and Connor, 7, will grow up outside the United States. They will probably be raised in Australia, his ex-wife Nicole Kidman's homeland.

Cruise, whose character became similarly disillusioned with America in Born on the Fourth of July, said raising children in the U.S. is a risky business. He said he could no longer keep his 'eyes wide shut' to America's terrorism threat, crime, faltering financial status and corporate corruption.

"I do worry about my children. As a parent you are always concerned," he told the paper. "I just want them to be in a place where they are going to be strong enough to make the right choices. Unfortunately, we're in a position where people are so irresponsible that human life holds such little value to them."

In fact, they're so irresponsible that some of them even walk out on their wife and kids.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 PM


The Elephant in the Sacristy : Beneath the scandals now consuming the Catholic church is a cluster of facts too enormous to ignore. (Mary Eberstadt, 06/17/2002, Weekly Standard)
In the end, one must believe one of two things about the offenders: Either they were born with a sexual "orientation" toward molesting children; or somehow, just maybe, the experience of being molested themselves affected their future sexual feelings. If one holds to the "orientation" view, one faces the serious problem of explaining away as "coincidence" a broadly shared experience of childhood or adolescent molestation--one out of proportion to the general population. But if, on the other hand, sexual predators are made, not born, a currently forbidden hypothesis suggests itself: that other "sexualities," too, may be affected by experience.

Today, the few researchers and clinicians who dare touch this subject are treated as professional lepers. Think only of the calumny that has come the way of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which provides counseling to homosexual men and women who believe that sexual "orientation" is susceptible to change. Public opprobrium has also been the fate incurred by groups like Courage, a ministry to homosexuals from the perspective of traditional Catholic teaching. There is no doubt that the experience of groups like these--similar to those of the few writers who have dared dissent from the contemporary secular articles of faith about homosexuality--has had a chilling effect on public discussion, including discussion that could help identify, diagnose, and treat offenders in the future.

And here is where a contemporary secular taboo--that of questioning the ideology of "orientation"--crashes head-on into the greater public good. What the priest scandals demonstrate beyond argument is that what we need, right now, is in-depth study of the victim-to-perpetrator causal chain. We need answers to questions that, properly understood, will help prevent other boys from being preyed upon in the future--for example, why some children who are abused do not go on to become abusers themselves; why others become compulsive offenders whose victims number as high as the hundreds; and how institutions of all sorts might better screen and thwart and help the adults tempted by this profound evil. Today, however, because the ideology of "orientation" has effectively foreclosed discussion of just these issues, there is a tragically short supply of such theoretical and clinical exploration--and likely an even shorter supply of personal will and fortitude among potential researchers. As the JAMA article cited earlier noted suggestively--in a review, recall, of the clinical literature on the sexual abuse of boys--"No longitudinal studies examined the causal relationship between abuse and gender role or sexual orientation." There should be such studies. Interestingly, among the proposed reforms the bishops will discuss in Dallas, one promises that "we offer to cooperate with other churches, institutions of learning, and other interested organizations in conducting a major research study in this area"--namely, "the problem of the sexual abuse of children and young people in our society."

Such information would not only be useful to the bishops and the rest of the public in contemplating the matter of deterrence. It might also shed light on human sexuality more generally. In particular, it might help explain the prominence of the theme of man-boy seduction--which I have documented in two essays in these pages--in gay literature, journalism, and culture.6 It is now over 20 years since gay eminence grise Edmund White observed that "sex with minors" was one of two features of gay life "likely to outrage the straight community" (the other, he believed, was "sex in public places"). In the wake of the priest scandals, a few other gay voices have acknowledged just such a homosexual/heterosexual divide on the question of minors. As a writer for the Washington Blade put it with surprising candor, "These cases--where the 'victim' lies somewhere in between childhood and adulthood, and the 'abuser' may or may not also have a gay adult sexual life--prove far murkier than either the Catholic Church or many gay rights advocates seem willing to admit." But no gay writer has sounded a more poignant note than the unnamed man who wrote in a letter posted on Andrew Sullivan's website--which contribution Sullivan deserves credit for publishing: "I must disagree with your disavowal of any homosexual complicity in the Church scandal. . . . Until all queers are able to face the fact that we have created for ourselves a culture that values youth and beauty above all else, and to realize that this obsession creates, in at least some gay men, a deviant and abusive tendency toward sex with minors, we are doomed to continue to create victims as surely as the atrophied Church."

What this letter clarifies is why public gay reaction to the scandals has been an exercise in moral dissonance. It is incoherent to excoriate the Church for its child molesters, as all leading gay newspapers have done, and simultaneously to print an interview with a gay man saying (to take an example from the Blade) that "he doesn't think the older men who had sex with him [when he was a child] were ephebophiles or predators. . . . 'I personally hold them completely blameless.'" It is incoherent to denounce offending priests, as just about every gay-activist and activist-friendly source has done--and meanwhile run soft-core personal stories by gay men thanking the priests who allegedly molested them as teenagers. And finally, to take a particularly striking example of the same contradiction, it is preposterous to thunder piously against the Church, and on the other hand to hail as a "gay icon" the likes of assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn--which is exactly what some libertarian gay writers have been insisting upon since his death. Fortuyn's writings in favor of man-boy sex, including but not limited to a column in Holland's largest newsmagazine in praise of the "vision" of a famous convicted pedophile, are a matter of public record.7 Nor is that record obscure. Those writings have been brought to public attention by several authors in English these last few weeks, among them National Review's Rod Dreher (twice). In fact, precisely because of his soft spot for pederasty, Fortuyn is also mentioned favorably in pro-pedophile publications.

To observe all this is not, of course, to accuse Fortuyn's admirers of sympathizing with pedophilia. But it is to emphasize that for reasons we may never fully understand, on the subject of sex with minors, the dissonance issuing from the gay community is simply deafening. What most other people call "sexual abuse," some significant part of the gay counterculture knows as "initiation." What the criminal law calls a "perpetrator," the gay counterculture calls a "troll." And what parents and the rest of the world know as a human child is dubbed in that other world with the unspeakably inhuman designation, "chicken." That dissonance, which will continue in North America even if the Catholic church is razed to the ground tomorrow, is something the bishops should not hesitate to point to as they try to prevent anything like today's crisis from happening again.

This extraordinary piece raises any number of issues that people simply refuse to recognize and take seriously in the paedophilia crisis and the Pim Fortuyn story.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 PM


A New Questioning of the War (David Broder, June 30, 2002, Washington Post)
...a realization that was slowly dawning during a two-week swing that took me from Madison, Wis., to Lansing, Mich., to San Francisco and finally to Des Moines, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Much of my time was spent with Democrats, ranging from a mayors' convention to interviews with candidates for legislative and statewide office in all four states. And what I heard convinces me that the nine-month moratorium on dissent from Bush's war on terrorism is coming to an end.

I am not talking about a shift in overall public opinion, where support for the president as commander in chief remains high. Madison and San Francisco were notorious as centers of anti-Vietnam War sentiment, and the peace movement also has been a long-standing element among Iowa Democratic activists. The late Harold Hughes, Iowa's governor and senator, was one of the first Democrats to break with Lyndon Johnson over the war.

The fresh questioning of the war on terrorism is also a phenomenon of the Democratic left. But if I have learned anything in four decades of covering politics, it is to pay heed when you hear the same questions -- in almost the same phrases -- popping up in different parts of the country.

Perhaps nothing is more central to the mythology of the modern Left than that they were responsible, in the 60s and 70s, for getting us out of that awful war in Vietnam and that this righteous action will redound to their credit through the ages. No number of boat people and no killing fields will ever convince them otherwise.

This represents a great danger to the Democrats in the current context because there are so many party activists and elected officials who still feel this way and who would welcome the opportunity to relive their youth. We can already see cracks and fissures in the House, where members of the Black Caucus and a few others are resistant to our support of Israel. We could see much more vocal opposition to the war develop once we get busy in Iraq. That's all well and good. Democrats opposed the last war with Iraq and it didn't hurt them at all.

But there's a huge danger here. Suppose they do begin to agitate against the war, or defense appropriations, or security measures, or whatever, and then there's another significant terrorist event? It's easy enough to bad mouth a war when it's thousands of miles away and doesn't much implicate our own national security, but it would be a disaster for the Democrats if their Left develops a head of steam against the war and then the war explodes (literally) here at home again.

Democrats Moving Warily on Iraq (Ethan Wallison, July 1, 2002, Roll Call)

With military operations against Iraq's Saddam Hussein seemingly inevitable, House Democrats have plunged into a thorny internal debate over whether and how strongly to challenge President Bush as he presses ahead with the war on terror.

The discussion is essentially taking place in the gray area between Congressional prerogative in war matters and the genuine wariness - even dissent - at the left-liberal end of the Democratic Caucus about the president's aims, particularly in Iraq.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 PM


Intimations of America's Mortality (James Carroll, July 2, 2002, Boston Globe
[T]o acknowledge that the United States of America has a beginning, and is thus bound by the rules of time, is implicitly to recall that this nation will equally have an end. What the Fourth of July celebrates at bottom is American mortality. Like every birthday celebration, it defies the human temptation to imagine oneself as living forever. There is a time past when we did not exist, and there is a time future when again we will not exist. To remember the one is to anticipate the other. And everything America accomplishes and signifies must be measured, finally, against this radical transience within which it all occurs.

Having eviscerated two of his books--Constantine's Sword and American Requiem--few things have surprised me more than how much I like this column.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 PM


Falwell Hopes to Give New Meaning to 'God's Country' : Conservative pastor envisions cradle-to-grave services in a master-planned Christian community. (CHRIS KAHN, 6/29/02, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The Rev. Jerry Falwell pulls the wheel hard right, sweat budding across his cheeks as he guides the Chevy Suburban around potholes in the dirt road.

It's a rough drive to the mountaintop overlooking his 4,300-acre property. But the view, he promises, is worth the trip.

Sprawled below is the red brick of Liberty University and his beloved Thomas Road Baptist Church. Now imagine golf courses, recreation centers, apartment complexes, he says. Maybe a ski lift up the mountain; maybe one of those revolving restaurants on top. At 68, Falwell thinks often about what will remain when he's gone. If he gets his way in federal court this summer, the conservative pastor will leave his most visible legacy twinkling below--a master-planned Christian community where members of his flock can live from "birth to antiquity."

It's easy enough to make fun of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, but as you read this story ask yourself how many of us are likely to leave such good works behind us when we depart this vale of tears. If you like nothing else about the man, you can still admire him for establishing a university, can't you?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM


Flag of Convenience (Jonathan Cohn, New Republic)
[W]hatever the timing, the Ninth Circuit's decision certainly seems plausible on its face. The Constitution is pretty clear on church-state issues: Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Having schoolchildren recite a pledge that America is "one nation under God," certainly sounds like an establishment of religion. As Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote in his ruling, "The Pledge is an impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders."

Critics of the decision may think otherwise, and perhaps they're right. But it's incumbent on them to make a reasoned, legally persuasive case as to why. And on the Sunday shows, the critics didn't do that.

Consider George Will's disquisition on the ruling: "The Ninth Circuit thinks that [the pledge] is an unconstitutional establishment of religion, even though the first Congress, which included some of the constitution's authors, itself hired a Congressional chaplain," Will explained mockingly. "Unless the Ninth Circuit is reversed, today's house and senate chaplains will have to go." It's an interesting point, but not necessarily correct and not all that relevant. Whether members of Congress choose, on their own, to employ spiritual advisers and to profess their own faith is a far cry over whether school children across the country should be made to recite a pledge recognizing that America is a nation under God. More important, the founders' determination to keep a rigid separation of church and state has been well-chronicled. Indeed, as David Greenberg noted in Slate last week, "When Benjamin Franklin proposed during the Constitutional Convention that the founders begin each day of their labors with a prayer to God for guidance, his suggestion was defeated."

Boy, this Pledge ruling is really bringing out some of the worst writing we've ever seen on the Left. In the first place, what religion is established by having kids say the Pledge? Judaism, Hinduism, Episcopaleanism? The very impossibility of naming one means that there is no Establishment.

Second, Judge Goodwin's statement is not a Comnstitutional standard. The First Amendment says establish not endorse. Congress could pass a resolution every day saying that religion is good for you and never run afoul of the Constitution.

Third, it's not individual members but the Congress itself that employs chaplains and has since the first Congress sat. That the Founders considered it appropriate for the Federal legislatureitself to employ clerics is a powerful argument that they were not trying to erect any wall of separation.

Fourth, well, we've already noted the problems with Mr. Greenberg's Slate piece.

Perhaps this is such a bad issue for liberals that it requires this level of open dishonesty for them to even argue their side. But, if so, maybe they should just acknowledge they're wrong and move on to one they can win, like keeping school vouchers out of the hands of poor black families.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM


Assignment America: Literary blackface? (John Bloom, 6/24/2002, UPI)
Was Hannah Crafts really a black woman? Was she really a slave? How do we know she wasn't a tea-sipping housewife in Morristown who wanted to help abolish slavery? I'm just not as convinced as everyone else seems to be that this "new" slave novel is authentic. [...]

[Henry Louis] Gates is, of course, the chairman of Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department and probably the most famous scholar of black history and literature in America. And it was Gates, in fact, who purchased "The Bondwoman's Narrative" from Swann Galleries last year. So obviously, as a literary event, this has as much to do with Gates as it does with the quality of the lost novel.

Gates even tells us in his introduction that he felt a thrill when he found the manuscript in the auction catalog. "If the author was black," he says, "then this 'fictionalized slave narrative' -- an autobiographical novel apparently based upon a female fugitive slave's life in bondage in North Carolina and her escape to freedom in the North -- would be a major discovery, possibly the first novel written by a black woman and definitely the first novel written by a woman who had been a slave."

He buys the manuscript even before reading it--he was the only bidder--and then sets out to find out who Hannah Crafts was and authenticate her race. When you think about it, this alone is a strange thing to do--as if proving she was black is more important than finding out what her thoughts, dreams and aspirations were, or, more to the point, whether she wrote anything of lasting value.

At any rate, Gates sets out on his quest, and here's what he finds...
This just a hoot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 PM


Arab world lags behind in human development, report says (NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, July 2, 2002, Associated Press)
The entire Arab world is suffering deficits in three critical areas: freedom, women's empowerment and knowledge, a regional human development report released on Tuesday said.

"Out of the seven regions of the world, Arab countries had the lowest freedom score in the late 1990s," according to the first Arab Human Development Report.

"The Arab region has the lowest value of all regions of the world for voice of accountability," particularly in regard to political processes, civil liberties, political rights and media independence. [...]

Arab scholars spent 18 months writing and researching the report, which was commissioned by the United Nations Development Program. Its findings were discussed at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday.

Freedom, as the West has amply proven, is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, freedom does not suffice to create a good society and can create rotten ones, as witness the current decline of Japan and Europe. On the other hand, without some significant measure of freedom your society is unlikely to develop much at all. What remains to be seen is whether the Arab world has the courage to even pick up the sword.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 PM


Everyone Is Outraged (PAUL KRUGMAN, July 2, 2002, NY Times)
Now to the story of Harken Energy, as reported in The Wall Street Journal on March 4. In 1989 Mr. Bush was on the board of directors and audit committee of Harken. He acquired that position, along with a lot of company stock, when Harken paid $2 million for Spectrum 7, a tiny, money-losing energy company with large debts of which Mr. Bush was C.E.O. Explaining what it was buying, Harken's founder said, "His name was George Bush."

Unfortunately, Harken was also losing money hand over fist. But in 1989 the company managed to hide most of those losses with the profits it reported from selling a subsidiary, Aloha Petroleum, at a high price. Who bought Aloha? A group of Harken insiders, who got most of the money for the purchase by borrowing from Harken itself. Eventually the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that this was a phony transaction, and forced the company to restate its 1989 earnings.

But long before that ruling - though only a few weeks before bad news that could not be concealed caused Harken's shares to tumble - Mr. Bush sold off two-thirds of his stake, for $848,000. Just for the record, that's about four times bigger than the sale that has Martha Stewart in hot water. Oddly, though the law requires prompt disclosure of insider sales, he neglected to inform the S.E.C. about this transaction until 34 weeks had passed. An internal S.E.C. memorandum concluded that he had broken the law, but no charges were filed.

He's right. That deal sounds dubious on its face and Democrats should try to make some hay with it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM


Tycoon completes global balloon trip (Rob Griffith, July 2, 2002, AP)
American adventurer Steve Fossett drifted into aviation history Tuesday, becoming the first person to fly a balloon solo around the world. [...]

As an official fax from Fossett's capsule rolled into his mission control at Washington University in St. Louis, applause broke out and team members finally exchanged hugs.

Mission control put the time of his crossing the finish line at about 9:38-9:39 a.m. EDT.

Fossett has spent the past two weeks in a capsule seven feet long, 5 1/2 feet wide and 5 1/2 feet tall, living on military-like rations and using oxygen cylinders. His toilet is a bucket.

The NPR reporter actually introduced this story by saying that (the quote may not be precise) : Like Charles Lindbergh, aviation pioneer Steve Fossett has ties to St. Louis. Only then did he go on to mention that Fossett faxed news of his crossing, talked over his satellite phone to his "mission control", and spent the two weeks in a capsule. All of which make the comparison outrageous.

Mr. Lindbergh doesn't have much of a reputation left to besmirch, which is a crime. Try reading his own book or A. Scott Berg's terrific biography or, when you go the video store to stock up for the weekend, grab Billy Wilder & Jimmy Stewart's excellent : The Spirit of St. Louis. Mr. Fossett hardly deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM


The Market Can Transform Our Schools (MILTON FRIEDMAN, 7/02/02, NY Times)
The state of Ohio provided vouchers worth up to $2,250 to low-income parents in Cleveland who chose to send their children to private schools that charge them tuition of no more than $2,500 per child. The voucher was offered as an alternative to government schooling costing nearly three times as much per student. Yet some 4,000 low-income parents still found the private alternative preferable - enough so to pay 10 percent of private school tuition out of their own pockets. What an indictment of government schools.

Most schools that accept vouchers are religious for a simple reason, and one that is easily corrected. That reason is the low value of the voucher. It is not easy, perhaps not possible, to provide a satisfactory education for $2,500 per student. Most private schools spend more than that. But parochial schools are able to accept that low voucher amount because they are subsidized by their churches.

Raise the voucher amount to $7,000 - the sum that Ohio state and local governments now spend per child in government schools - and make it available to all students, not simply to students from low-income families, and most private schools accepting vouchers would no longer be religious. A host of new nonprofit and for-profit schools would emerge. Voucher-bearing students would then be less dependent on low-tuition parochial schools.

In the words of the Chairman : Let a thousand flowers bloom.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 PM


143-Year-Old Problem Still Has Mathematicians Guessing (BRUCE SCHECHTER, July 2, 2002, NY Times)
The Riemann hypothesis, first tossed off by Bernhard Riemann in 1859 in a paper about the distribution of prime numbers, is still widely considered to be one of the greatest unsolved problems in mathematics, sure to wreath its conqueror with glory--and, incidentally, lots of cash. Two years ago, to celebrate the millennium, the Clay Mathematics Institute announced an award of a million dollars for a proof (or refutation) of the hypothesis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 AM


Panicky reforms from a sinking regime (Danny Rubinstein, July 02, 2002, Ha'aretz)
In East Jerusalem, they joked this weekend that the delivery of Bush's speech was delayed because it took time for the White House to find a translator from Hebrew to English.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM


Pledging Allegiance To Fundamentalism (David Corn, June 28, 2002, AlterNet)
At the [G-8] summit, [George W. Bush] opened a press conference with Russian president Vladmir Putin by saying, "We need common
sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God and those are the kind of judges I intend to put on the bench." That is a
major--and stunning--policy declaration. Bush was announcing a new litmus test for judges. It's not just whether you're a conservative or
constructionist (or meet the political needs of Karl Rove, Bush's uberstrategist). The question is, do you believe in God and believe that secular law follows the law of God? In other words, there are no atheists--or agnostics--in Bush's chambers.

Did Bush realize what he was saying? Is he going to ask all potential judicial nominees to tell him their view of God and the derivation of rights? How is this fundamentalism--only believers need apply--different from that of America's enemies?

The more important question is : do they believe in the rights and the system of government delineated in the Constitution? If they do, and they don't believe that they derive from God, then it's incumbent on them to explain where they are derived from. Since all attempts to derive them from other sources have failed, it seems fair to question whether we'd want such people trying to uphold a Constitution that they don't really believe in and swearing an oath that can't bind them. What Mr. Corn doesn't seem to realize is that this fundamentalism, unlike that of our enemies, undergirds the system of laws and government of our nation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM


In response to a post below about how thoroughly the U.S. economy has outperformed Europe, several folks questioned whether our economy was really that superior and why they don't feel better off than their parents. Here's a really good essay about how such progress should be viewed :
THE NEW WEALTH OF NATIONS (Christopher DeMuth, Summer 1997, Center for Independent Studies)
That we have become very rich is clear enough in the aggregate. That we have become very equal in the enjoyment of our riches is an idea strongly resisted by many. Certainly there has been a profusion of reports in the media and political speeches about increasing income inequality: the rich, it is said, are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle and working classes are under the relentless pressure of disappearing jobs in manufacturing and middle management.

Although these claims have been greatly exaggerated, and some have been disproved by events, it is true that, by some measures, there has been a recent increase in income inequality in the United States. But it is a very small tick in the massive and unprecedented leveling of material circumstances that has been proceeding now for almost three centuries and in this century has accelerated dramatically. In fact, the much-noticed increase in measured-income inequality is in part a result of the increase in real social equality. Here are a few pieces of this important but neglected story.

First, progress in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and other key sectors of economic production has made the material necessities of life - food, shelter, and clothing - available to essentially everyone. To be sure, many people, including the seriously handicapped and the mentally incompetent, remain dependent on the public purse for their necessities. And many people continue to live in terrible squalor. But the problem of poverty, defined as material scarcity, has been solved. If poverty today remains a serious problem, it is a problem of individual behavior, social organization, and public policy. This was not so 50 years ago, or ever before.

Second, progress in public health, in nutrition, and in the biological sciences and medical arts has produced dramatic improvements in longevity, health, and physical well-being. Many of these improvements - resulting, for example, from better public sanitation and water supplies, the conquest of dread diseases, and the abundance of nutritious food - have affected entire populations, producing an equalization of real personal welfare more powerful than any government redistribution of income.

The Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Fogel has focused on our improved mastery of the biological environment - leading over the past 300 years to a doubling of the average human life span and to large gains in physical stature, strength, and energy - as the key to what he calls `the egalitarian revolution of the 20th century' (here and elsewhere I draw heavily on Fogel, forthcoming). He considers this so profound an advance as to constitute a distinct new level of human evolution. Gains in stature, health, and longevity are continuing today and even accelerating. Their outward effects may be observed, in evolutionary fast-forward, in the booming nations of Asia (where, for example, the physical difference between older and younger South Koreans is strikingly evident
on the streets of Seoul).

Third, the critical source of social wealth has shifted over the last few hundred years from land (at the end of the 18th century) to physical capital (at the end of the 19th) to, today, human capital - education and cognitive ability. This development is not an unmixed gain from the standpoint of economic equality. The ability to acquire and deploy human capital is a function of intelligence, and intelligence is not only unequally distributed but also, to a significant degree, heritable. As Charles Murray and the late Richard J. Herrnstein argue in The Bell Curve, an economy that rewards sheer brainpower replaces one old source of inequality, socioeconomic advantage, with a new one, cognitive advantage.

But an economy that rewards human capital also tears down far more artificial barriers than it erects. For most people who inhabit the vast middle range of the bell curve, intelligence is much more equally distributed than land or physical capital ever was. Most people, that is, possess ample intelligence to pursue all but a handful of specialized callings. If in the past many were held back by lack of education and closed social institutions, the opportunities to use one's human capital have blossomed with the advent of universal education and the erosion of social barriers.

Furthermore, the material benefits of the knowledge-based economy are by no means limited to those whom Murray and Herrnstein call the cognitive elite. Many of the newest industries, from fast food to finance to communications, have succeeded in part by opening up employment opportunities for those of modest ability and training - occupations much less arduous and physically much less risky than those they have replaced. And these new industries have created enormous, widely shared economic benefits in consumption; I will return to this subject below.

Fourth, recent decades have seen a dramatic reduction in one of the greatest historical sources of inequality: the social and economic inequality of the sexes. Today, younger cohorts of working men and women with comparable education and job tenure earn essentially the same incomes (Furchtgott-Roth and Stolba 1997). The popular view would have it that the entry of women into the workforce has been driven by falling male earnings and the need `to make ends meet' in middle-class families. But the popular view is largely mistaken. Among married women (as the economist Chinhui Juhn has demonstrated), it is wives of men with high incomes who have been responsible for most of the recent growth in employment.

Fifth, in the wealthy Western democracies, material needs and desires have been so thoroughly fulfilled for so many people that, for the first time in history, we are seeing large-scale voluntary reductions in the amount of time spent at paid employment. This development manifests itself in different forms: longer periods of education and training for the young; earlier retirement despite longer life spans; and, in between, many more hours devoted to leisure, recreation, entertainment, family, community and religious activities, charitable and other nonremunerative pursuits, and so forth. The dramatic growth of the sports, entertainment, and travel industries captures only a small slice of what has happened. In Fogel's estimation, the time devoted to nonwork activities by the average male head of household has grown from 10.5 hours per week in 1880 to 40 hours today, while time per week at work has fallen from 61.6 hours to 33.6 hours. Among women, the reduction in work (including not only outside employment but also household work, food preparation, childbearing and attendant health problems, and child rearing) and the growth in nonwork have been still greater.

There is a tendency to overlook these momentous developments because of the often frenetic pace of modern life. But our busy-ness actually demonstrates the point: time, and not material things, has become the scarce and valued commodity in modern society.

There are few more specious complaints in American life than the Democrats mantra that middle class living standards have declined.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM


Freedom vs. Security : Delicate balance: The case for `smart profiling' as a weapon in the war on terror (Fareed Zakaria, 7/08/02, NEWSWEEK)
I will always remember July 4, 2001, because a week earlier I became an American citizen. It was a different America one year ago. The country was bathed in peace and plenty, calmly contemplating a mild recession and a sinking stock market.

BUT UNDERNEATH THE SURFACE, Americans were searching for purpose.

The rest of this essay is a reasonable exploration of how far we should be willing to go in trading liberties for security. This opening bit though taps into a too little remarked upon phenomenon. When the Reverends Falwell and Robertson spoke of 9-11 as a kind of judgment upon a people who'd lost their way they were shouted down so vociferously that other, less tendentious, folks seem reluctant to broach the topic. It's interesting that Mr. Zakaria touches on it, however lightly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 AM


The end of the affair? : For years, about half of Britain seems to have been in love with Tony Blair. But there are signs that the famous smile may at last be turned against him. (John Kampfner, 1st July 2002, New Statesman)
[T]he NS commissioned a poll from YouGov on what voters think of Blair personally and how this might affect policy. It goes beyond the usual headline question about trust, and it does not make good reading for the PM or his people. More than two-thirds of Britons believe Blair "often twists things to tell people what they want to hear". Well short of a third see him as "basically straight and honest". Women, the 30-50 age group and ABC1s are more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but only marginally.

Some of the other results are no more than mildly troubling. Although just over half the respondents agree that "Blair does not really know where he is heading", as many as 44 per cent think that he "has a long-term vision for Britain". But another result will be depressingly familiar to Downing Street strategists. Ask people in the PM's office to pinpoint the public mood, and they often use the word "disappointment". That is borne out by our poll. The biggest group of voters is disappointed in Blair (40 per cent), followed by those sympathetic with the problems he faces (35 per cent). A mere 4 per cent are proud to have him as their Prime Minister, but 20 per cent (rising to 25 per cent among the over-fifties) are angry that he is Britain's leader.

These results seem surprisingly similar to what you might have gotten for Bill Clinton had the Monica fiasco not blown up in his lap. One wonders if maybe this isn't a function of the politics the two men espouse as much as anything. The "Third Way" or "New Democrat" way requires that they run almost as conservatives and, if the opposition is in a sufficient state of crisis, allows them to get elected. But then it comes time to govern and their own party won't let them do most of what they talked about during the campaign. (Clinton was lucky, at least in this regard, to have Republicans win the Congress so that he could govern as a conservative.) They are then left in the awkward position of having been elected on a platform that their fellow party members loathe and having to govern as something other than what they presented to the voters. It's almost inevitable that they come across as somehow untrustworthy and as "disappointments". If Tony Blair believes all that he has said in the past--with the glaring exception of his support for the EU--shouldn't he head the Tories, not Labour?

July 1, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 PM


Voucher Decision Divides Blacks (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, July 1, 2002, AlterNet)
In an impassioned opinion backing the U.S. Supreme Court's majority ruling-endorsing school vouchers, Clarence Thomas called vouchers the path to educational emancipation for poor and minority parents. Thomas drove his point home by evoking the revered name of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Thomas's over the top comparison of vouchers to the titanic anti-slavery battle drew the ire of established civil rights groups. They have been virtually unanimous in condemning vouchers. But many black parents agree with Thomas. They regard vouchers as their children's ticket out of miserably failing public schools.

The massive chasm among blacks on public education is yet another example of how mainstream black leaders often march to a far different tune than poor and working class blacks. These leaders are mostly liberal, middle-class business and professionals. Their kids are safely nestled in private schools and escape the ravages of bad public schools. Poor and working class blacks have no such luxury.

That's why poorer blacks have always called it the National Association for the Advancement of Certain People.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 PM


The Pledge of Allegiance : Why we're not one nation "under God." (David Greenberg, June 28, 2002, Slate)
It's an old shibboleth of those who want to inject religion into public life that they're honoring the spirit of the nation's founders. In fact, the
founders opposed the institutionalization of religion. They kept the Constitution free of references to God. The document mentions religion only to guarantee that godly belief would never be used as a qualification for holding office--a departure from many existing state constitutions. That the founders made erecting a church-state wall their first priority when they added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution reveals the importance they placed on maintaining what Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore have called a "godless Constitution." When Benjamin Franklin proposed during the Constitutional Convention that the founders begin each day of their labors with a prayer to God for guidance, his suggestion was defeated.

A number of folks have pointed to this essay as somehow proving the wisdom of the recent Pledge decision. But a brief reference to just this one paragraph reveals the author to be self-contradictory and either purposefully lying or merely wrong on several points.

(1) He begins by saying that the Founders opposed the institutionalization of religion but in the next sentence acknowledges that their own state constitutions required belief in God as a qualification for holding office.

In fact, they did oppose establishment of a National religion--they were after all writing a Constitution that would form a nation--but precisely so that the Federal Government could not dictate what religion should be established in the several states. They were of course forced to make many compromises to keep the various states on board and the specter of losing their own established religions might have led certain states not to adopt the constitution. But this is nothing like a generalized opposition to "institutionalization of religion".

(2) He next says that they "made erecting a church-state wall their first priority when they added the Bill of Rights". it hardly seems necessary to cite the actual language once again, but it reads : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Note three things : (a) Congress is covered, not any State; (2) we're back to that same rather limited concern with "establishment"; (3) what wall? Answer : there is no wall. This wall metaphor is simply not the language or the intent of the Founders or the Constitution, but instead represents mere dicta from a letter that Jefferson wrote years later.

(3) His characterization of the defeat of Franklin's prayer proposal is so misleading as to call into question the author's very honesty. The stated reason for the failure to pass Franklin's proposal was, that coming as late in the Convention as it did, it might lead people to believe that they were growing desperate. Even those who spoke against it said it would have been appropriate at the beginning of the Convention. Instead it was decided to ask that a sermon be preached on the 4th of July--several days hence--to which George Washington is reputed to have led a number of the delegates. Moreover, one of the first acts of the first Congress was to hire chaplains for the House and Senate, where they continue to be employed (though not the same ones) to this day. How bizarre to imagine that the Founders thought it okay to begin each session of the Federal legislature with prayer by clergy, but that they would frown on a pledge with a generic reference to God being said by children.

Whether this essay is as dishonest as it seems or is just the product of ignorance, it is almost entirely worthless except as an example of the lengths you have to go to pretend that the Founders favored godlessness.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM


Kile signed boy's glove the day before his death (Associated Press, 7/01/02)
A boy who got an autograph and had a photo taken with Darryl Kile the day before the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher was found dead plans to send the items to Kile's family.

Sean Zak, 10, had his baseball glove signed by Kile and then posed for a photo with him while attending the Cardinals' game in Chicago on June 21.

"He was thoughtful enough to take the time to give something to us, and we would like to give him some respect back," Troy Zak, Sean's father, said. "We'd just like to thank the family and let them know that he touched a young boy's life."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:13 PM


Putting Lipstick on a Pig (P.M. Carpenter, 6-24-02, History News Network)
Much of what passes for serious policy proposals today would have been laughed out of the political barn yesterday. Privatize Social Security? You may recall that when Barry Goldwater in 1964 suggested something similar--making it "voluntary"--national reaction was unmistakably clear: the man must have a screw loose.

But here we are, treating these particulars of madness as acceptable, run-of-the-mill politics. How, indeed, did things get so far?

A comprehensive answer would require whole teams of sociopolitical historians working around the clock on uppers for years. The short and fundamental answer, however, points in all its simplicity to a politically indifferent citizenry--one that, when it's paying attention at all, seems incredibly susceptible to incredibly superficial claims made by incredibly deceptive political leaders. Want more money in your old age? No problem. Simply divert part of those pesky Social Security taxes to a private account, which in no way will do injury to the in-place retirement system. (For heaven's sake dear colleagues, said a recent Republican Party memorandum, don't admit to "privatization"; that would play into "Democratic demagoguery" on the issue.)

Such is the lipstick put on the pig of public contrivances these days.

Here's an explanation that probably hasn't occurred to Mr. Carpenter : perhaps we bedded down with that pig forty years ago when LBJ told us that
we could just keep transferring more and more money to ourselves in the form of higher and higher Social Security benefits. And today we've woken up, rolled over, and found ourselves next to that hog but minus the pretty makeup that the Democrats had applied. Maybe the point is not that citizens were smart enough then to catch on to Barry Goldwater, but that experience has taught them that he was right all along.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:08 PM


Danes justify harshest asylum laws in Europe : The United Nations is questioning the legality of Denmark's immigration rules to be passed on Monday (Andrew Osborn, June 29, 2002, The Guardian)
Denmark may long have been perceived as the small, friendly country which gave the world Lego, Hans Christian Andersen and the beauty of Copenhagen. And it still gives more of its wealth in aid to the developing world than any other country and has welfare benefits that are among the most generous in the industrialised world.

But on Monday Denmark will acquire a less friendly image when it introduces the toughest immigration laws in Europe.

On the same day as it takes over the EU's prestigious rotating presidency and begins to broker a common EU asylum policy, the new laws will turn Denmark, overnight, into one of the world's most hostile places for asylum seekers.

In the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller :
When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church--and there was nobody left to be concerned.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:36 PM


The Brothers grew up in NJ, first in East Orange, until we and our sister were the 1% of our school that was still white. At that point our Mom became one of the first parents to practice choice when she paid taxes in West Orange even before we moved there so that I could go to their Middle School rather than to the new high rise in East Orange where I would have likely been killed (even at the elementary school one of the favorite playground games was "Get Whitey").

When we moved to West Orange we lived in "the valley". The kids "down the hill" were predominantly Catholic and Greek Orthodox. The kids "up the hill" were predominantly Jewish. We in the valley were Protestants, well-to-do Catholics, and the poorer Jews (including a significant Orthodox community).

For chorus we had to learn a variety of songs--including Christmas and Hannukah tunes--lest anyone be left out. One that we learned is one of the greatest songs from the Colonial period and the Revoltion--it's called Chester and it's by William Billings. Here are the original version : Chester

Let tyrants shake their iron rod
And slavery clank galling chain
We'll fear them not; we trust in God
New England's God forever reigns.

When God inspired us for the fight
Their ranks were broke; their lines were forced
Their ships were shattered in our sight
Or swiftly driven from our shore.

The foe comes on with haughty stride
Our troops advance with martial noise
Their veterans flee before our youth
And generals yield to beardless boys.

...and the one adapted by the rebels around their campfires and on the march during the
Revolution :
Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And slav'ry clank her galling chains,
We'll fear them not;
we trust in God,
New England's God for ever reigns.

Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too.
With Prescott and Cornwallis join'd,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal league combin'd.

When God inspired us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc'd,
Their Ships were Shatter'd in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our Coast.

The Foe comes on with haughty Stride,
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their Vet'rans flee before our Youth,
And Gen'rals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful Off'ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Hallelujahs let us Sing,
And praise his name on ev'ry Chord.

The Michael Newdows of the nation would try to stop kids from learning this song in school. More importantly, they seek to deny the sentiment of the song, that the Revolution and American freedom are products of a belief in God, with all that entails. Any education that fails to at least acknowledge, and I would argue celebrate, the religious wellspring of our Republic represents a denial of reality and serves history, children, and the fate of the nation poorly.

A fellow West Oranginan writes :

For what it's worth, you've got the demographics slightly wrongÉ."down the hill" (which was the old, colonial part of WOÉTory Corners and all that) was predominately Irish Catholic; the "valley" was mostly Jew and Italian (with some GreeksÉall, apparently blood relatives of Ben Carfagnini's dadÉand Protestants); and up the hill was mostly richer Jews and ItaliansÉ.

In fact, the great rivalry in WO was not Jew v Catholic, it was Irish v ItalianÉ.they lived in different neighborhoods, so went to different parish churches and schools (since you got there in 8th grade, you wouldn't know that a number of the Catholic kids went to parochial elementary school and started public school in 7th grade)É.

I'd only add that at our High School graduation one of the Catholic thugs came up and apologized for giving me such a hard time for four years : "I just found out you're a Christian, not a Jew." I told him how flattered I was.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:34 PM


How to Rig a Democracy (SUSAN SACHS, June 30, 2002, NY Times)
PRESIDENT BUSH'S blueprint for an acceptable Palestinian government--a vision he outlined last week as he demanded the replacement of Yasir Arafat as the Palestinians' leader--would be the envy of Arabs everywhere. It was a vision of an open democratic society with clean elections, a parliament that is more than a rubber stamp and "a vibrant economy where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government."

Such a utopia does not exist in the Arab world, where pro-democracy advocates risk arrest and the kings, sheiks and presidents vacate power only in the event of death or coup. Given the state of the neighborhood, many Palestinians are understandably skeptical, to say the least, about the possibility of creating the full-blown democracy that Mr. Bush demanded as the price of American support for a Palestinian state.

But the president's blunt ultimatum to the Palestinians raised a tantalizing question.

What if the United States were as serious about saving the Arabs from corrupt autocrats and radical Islam as it once was about saving the world from communism? What if the tools of the cold war--selective propaganda, open support for dissidents, covert support for opposition political movements and sanctions--were put to use to promote Arab democracy and moderation?

Ms Sachs's question is an excellent one.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:09 PM


As Face of War Changes, Our Tactics Change, Too (Richard Brookhiser, NY Observer)
What a difference a war makes. My only dealings with the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. (the Army's equivalent of a postgraduate institution), occurred three years ago, when I sat in on the taping of a seminar there, for a documentary that is finally being aired July 4. The colonels and lieutenant-colonels were discussing President George Washington's decision to send 12,000 men (five times as many as he commanded at the Battle of Trenton) to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. One of the colonels referenced Colin Powell and, implicitly, the Gulf War by arguing that overwhelming force is the most effective--and most humane--way of the getting the job done.

Even as the colonel spoke, Osama bin Laden had lodged himself in his Afghan puppet state. Between the colonel's remarks and the air date, Mr. bin Laden struck-and we struck back, not with overwhelming numbers ˆ la Desert Storm, but with drones, native levies and Special Forces riding on horseback. We used much less manpower than we had in the Gulf War-or, for that matter, during the Whiskey Rebellion or the Battle of Trenton. But what we used was equally overwhelming.

Mike Daley sent this piece, by the excellent Mr. Brookhiser, at right around the same time that this piece came out, Fight Small! It's the True American Way of War : In this new (old?) world, an allergy to small, aggressive deployments may be literally self-defeating (Jonathan Rauch, 6/18/02, Atlantic Monthly) :
The opening shot in the war launched by Al Qaeda was fired not on September 11 but two days before. On September 9, two Tunisian Arabs, posing as journalists and carrying forged Belgian passports, insinuated themselves into the presence of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. As they began their questioning, they detonated a bomb hidden in a television camera. Massoud died a few days later.

With ample reason (though wrongly, as things turned out), Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies believed that taking out the charismatic Massoud might cripple the Northern Alliance. The bold, clever assassination seemed a case study in the kind of asymmetric warfare-that is, warfare aiming at key enemy vulnerabilities rather than at the enemy's main force-that had flummoxed American forces in Vietnam and might soon flummox them again in Afghanistan.

Here is something that Al Qaeda didn't know: For a century or more, the United States made a specialty of fighting small wars against elusive foes that used asymmetric tactics. And no one ever did it better.

As both pieces show and as Victor Davis Hanson has written, one of the greatest strengths that democracy provides to a military is a greater likelihood that it can be flexible. When the stories were recently leaked about how the Pentagon was saying we weren't ready to invade Iraq because we couldn't deploy the hundreds of thousands of men it would require, many understood this to be disinformation, meant to hide the fact that we were even then planning the invasion. Instead it is likely that the latter part of the leak was the true disinformation, that we have no intention of mounting a massive ground invasion but rather will use something like the unconventional methods that we utilized so brilliantly in Afghanistan. While Saddam plans for a replay of Desert Storm, we seem likely to be planning a war that's like nothing he's ever seen.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:49 PM


Europeans Courting International Disaster (Robert Kagan, June 30, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
Europeans, along with many other less influential and less worthy nations, are trying to advance their vision of international civilization, with a web of international laws and institutions assuming authority over individual nation-states. Not surprisingly, the world they're trying to create looks an awful lot like the European Union, where rules and laws are more important than military power. And not surprisingly, they're none too happy about the militarily dominant United States placing itself above or outside their new international legal system before it'seven begun.

Americans are hardly hostile to international law -- the United Nations was their idea. But the United States has a special problem, one that its European allies ought especially to appreciate. As the world's most powerful democratic power, the United States is called upon--yes, called upon--far more frequently than any other nation to dispatch its troops overseas for any number of purposes.

Does anyone seriously doubt that we'd have been indicted over Vietnam, Cambodia, El Salvador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, etc.?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 AM


Making U.S. More Like Europe : The war on our economy. (Daniel J. Mitchell, 7/1/02, National Review)
Two years ago, politicians and bureaucrats at the European Commission announced their intention to turn the 15 nations of the European Union into "the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010." This is a tall order. Smothered by oppressive tax rates and burdensome regulations, Europe trails the United States by a wide margin.

Thanks in large part to the Reagan tax cuts and other free-market policies, per-capita national income in America is now 50 percent higher than it is in Europe. Our growth rate over the last decade has been about 60 percent higher, and our unemployment rate is about 50 percent lower. Tax policy is America's biggest advantage. Taxes consume about 29 percent of economic output in the United States. This is too high, but America is like the Cayman Islands compared to Europe, where tax collectors seize 42 percent of gross domestic product.

The whole article is worth reading but those numbers just jump off the page. They make it even more difficult to understand why people would pull money out of our stock market and dump it down the Euro rat hole.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:38 AM


Vandevere's House Mark Helprin, 12.03.01, Forbes ASAP)
A year or two before Melissa left, Vandevere had fallen into the rhythm of making the house better, day by day. At first it had seemed that merely buying such a house would have been sufficient, splendid as it was in itself, but little things called out.

For its Winter 2001 issue, Forbes ASAP got a bunch of folks, including Andrew Sullivan, Reynolds Price, Barbara Ehrenreich, and all the living presidents, to contribute pieces about the "Pursuit of Happiness". Among them was this particularly fine short story by Mark Helprin--it's available on-line--who I was recently chastised (by a correspondent who shall remain namesless) for calling one of our best current novelists. The story strikes me as a metaphor for America and the discomforting upside of September 11th.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


'Under God' Iconoclast Looks to Next Targets (EVELYN NIEVES, July 1, 2002, NY Times)
There is so much about society that Mike Newdow would like to change.

He does not understand, for example, why the English language allows itself anything so cumbersome and awkward as masculine and feminine pronouns. The Mike Newdow dictionary would replace "he" and "she" with "re," "his" and "hers" with "rees" and "him" and "her" with "erm." [...]

Despite the outpouring of outrage from politicians and pundits over the pledge ruling--not to mention the death threats on his answering machine--Mr. Newdow still plans to challenge the use of "In God We Trust" on currency. He would like to see an end to prayers at presidential inaugurations. "At President Bush's it just went on and on," he says, clearly annoyed. "I said, `Holy smokes, they can't do that!' " As an atheist, he plans to ferret out all insidious uses of religion in daily life. "Why should I be made to feel like an outsider?"

Eric Hoffer may as well have been describing Mr. Newdow when he wrote :
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by
minding other people's business.

If you've ever been to an AA meeting or some other Twelve Step Program you may be familiar with the idea that one of the ways in which a family becomes dysfunctional is that rather than requiring the person with the problem to meet social norms everyone else starts warping their own behavior to try to minimize conflict with him. Soon you have a solar system where the previously normal planets revolve around the diseased star, which exerts an unhealthy gravitational pull on the whole family. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has referred to how this is happening on a national level with the felicitous phrase : "defining deviancy downward". (Thanks to Ed Driscoll who found an on-line text of the essay)

I've got no problem with Mr. Newdow not saying the pledge or not letting vis daughter say it. Re and rhe are free to do as they please. The problem arises when a healthy society starts changing its standards to meet those of such deviants. You can't help feeling that folks like Mr. Newdow want to play out this scenario.