September 30, 2002
THE WISDOM OF MR. BUMBLE:France waves the stick and carrot (Jon Henley in Paris, Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow, John Gittings in Shanghai and Nicholas Watt, October 1, 2002, The Guardian)
France voiced its toughest opposition yet to the US-sponsored draft UN resolution threatening military action against Iraq yesterday, and warned Washington that any attempt to bring about a "regime change" would violate international law.
In a front-page article in Le Monde, the foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said France wanted Iraq disarmed but could not and would not support action that threatened to further destabilise the Middle East, without full UN approval. [...]
The French foreign minister also warned that the Bush administration's policy of regime change in Iraq was illegal. "Any action aiming for regime change would contradict the rules of international law and open the door to things getting out of hand," he said.
If international law really forbids ridding a people of a murderous dictator like Saddam Hussein then the law truly is a ass.
MACHINE DREAMS:HAL on Earth (Erin Aubry Kaplan, September 27, 2002, LA Weekly)
Perhaps because its military growth was curtailed after World War II, Japan has always embraced its technology and its machines, and robots are especially well-regarded -- Japanese comics consistently portrayed them as friends and superheroes, and gave them human names. Hence the Japanese dominate robotics, and their national obsession to produce a perfect humanoid is much like the international scientific race to crack the DNA code. The West, for all its innovations, has largely shied away from the idea, likely hampered by a Judeo-Christian wariness of playing God by creating robots -- or anything else -- in our own image. The very term robot is rooted in European pessimism: the Czech word for slave or "forced laborer," it was taken from a 1921 play by Karel Capek called Rossum's Universal Robots, or R.U.R., a cautionary tale about robots who rise up over time and destroy their human masters. The American cultural references to robots have been generally dark, especially in film -- HAL 9000 in "2001," the belligerent replicants of Blade Runner, the tortured man-machine hybrid of RoboCop. It may be that, after centuries of oppressing and exploiting others, Westerners are projecting in robots a fear of karmic comeuppance that may lie just around the corner. [...]
The folks at Evolution Robotics and elsewhere expect that one day soon the world will be set up for personal robots, which they view as not something up for debate but simply the way of productivity. It's this Zen-ish outlook that drives Bill Gross' sunny brand of American ingenuity; he made his money with Internet concerns like Citysearch.com, and he lost no time in determining the next technological big thing. Gross agrees there's a big cultural fear of robots, but doesn't expect that's going to stop anything. "You want a robot to be like a Palm Pilot, not a human," he muses. "Over the next 20 years we'll be having discussions about the morality of artificial intelligence just like we're having discussions now about the morality of cloning and genetics." Those discussions might still be going when we get around to robots, but McNally believes robots will prove their worth quickly in so many ways -- in hospitals, in homes, on the battlefield -- that ancient doubts about them will be largely dispelled. "We can't imagine the necessity of robots in our lives now, but look at the microwave," she says. "Look at where it ended up." Rodney Brooks, director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab, went a step further in declaring that "in the new millennium, we will become our machines." The unexpectedly heartening corollary is that our machines are becoming us.
One fails to see why that's heartening. There's a supremely creepy, though well-written, book that Professor Reynolds once suggested we cultural conservatives would dislike, Diaspora (1997) (Greg Egan 1961-). Indeed, it portrays a repellant future where Man has disappeared and the remaining beings are robots or computer programs. It's interesting to see how the beings' lack of mortality and morality robs their story of any drama, even though they achieve some remarkable things. Because they have no free will and no reason to fear death they are profoundly unsympathetic. Give me humans in all their tragedy, comedy, and occassional glory any day of the week.
TONY THE TORY'S NOT FOR TURNING:Blair suffers conference defeat (Nick Assinder, 30 September, 2002, BBC News Online)
Tony Blair has suffered an overwhelming defeat at the hands of his own conference over his programme of using private cash to run public services.
In an embarrassing but predicted setback, the conference backed a motion demanding a full independent inquiry into the effectiveness of the programme by 67.19% to 32.81%.
A motion backing the controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was also defeated as was a call to back the government's approach.
Blair's not for turning (Nick Assinder, 30 September, 2002, BBC News Online)
Tony Blair will on Tuesday face a hostile Labour conference in defiant and unbending mood. The day after he was defeated over his plans on financing the public services, and was widely attacked over Iraq, he will tell delegates he is not for turning.
His speech - widely billed as the most difficult of his leadership - will seek to win over the conference to both the private finance initiative and to his ultimate goal of dealing with Saddam Hussein.
But he will also make it abundantly clear that he is not about to change tack on either issue.
He is expected to get a rough ride from large sections of the conference, deeply concerned over the two issues which have dominated proceedings.
It's entirely appropriate that the Iron Lady's great phrase--"The lady's not for turning"--be used in regard to Mr. Blair who really is in the wrong party.
EXCEPT THAT WE AREN'T BOBBING WITH HIM (NOR WEAVING):Iraq's way: pledge and retreat: By meeting with UN arms experts, Iraq hopes to divide the Security Council. (Peter Grier, October 01, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor)
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is playing classic bob-and-weave diplomacy as he attempts to avoid or delay UN Security Council action against him.
By first saying that UN weapons inspectors could return with no preconditions, and then rejecting any new UN rules governing the inspectors' work, Mr. Hussein appears to be returning to the old pattern of strategic obfuscation that marked many of his actions both before and after the 1991 Gulf War.
In this instance, he is likely trying to widen existing political splits among the Security Council's big powers. If past actions are any indication, he may retreat and give in only when - or if - the UN can decide on a united plan of action.
NOT YOUR FATHER'S EUROPE (UNLESS YOU'RE TED KENNEDY):Muslim radicalism reshapes Euro-politics (David Frum, September 28, 2002 , National Post)
Curiously, the same British Muslim groups that plead for Saddam loudly support Yasser Arafat's terror war upon Israel. For them, the issue is not "peace" but power: They hate and fear American power -- and so they support Saddam, the one Arab leader strong enough and reckless enough to defy the United States.
Television pundits often claim that there simply cannot be an alliance between Saddam and al-Qaeda: Saddam, they say, is a secular nationalist; al-Qaeda is Islamic and fundamentalist. But as thousands of men and women in Islamic garb rally in support of Saddam, it's time to rethink. In a conflict between Saddam and the West, Muslim fundamentalists are backing Saddam: Why assume that Saddam would not back his local rivals against their joint enemy?
Is today's London demonstration a sign of things to come? Will the anti-American hard left in Europe make common cause with Islamic extremists? It has happened before. In the 1970s, the German Baader-Meinhoff gang collaborated with Palestinian nationalists in the Entebbe hijacking. The IRA received arms from Libya. This very year, the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn -- an outspoken opponent of radical Islam in the Netherlands -- was assassinated by an environmentalist fanatic.
Even when it does not turn to violence, Muslim radicalism is reshaping European politics. Gerhard Schroeder's anti-American appeal in last weekend's German election helped win Muslim votes for his Social Democratic Party. At a conference in Washington in June, leading French politicians explained that their country hesitated to join America's war on terror for fear of provoking terrorism inside France: In 1995, Islamic radicals detonated bombs all over Paris to deter France from supporting the Algerian government against its Islamist enemies -- and the French government feared more bombings if it joined America against the Sept. 11 killers.
The British government is stauncher than those of Germany and France. But even here, Europe's demographic realities are having an effect.
Sooner or later the media and the politicos, beyond the conservative fringe, are going to have to notice that the failure of Europe to assimilate and Westernize its Islamic immigrants and its growing dependence on those immigrant populations is fundamentally changing European politics in ways that do not benefit the United States.
SPEAKING OF SMALL FEET:Indian eunuchs gather in Bhopal (Mahesh Pandey, 30 September, 2002, BBC)
Eunuchs from across India have gathered in Bhopal, the capital of the central state of Madhya Pradesh to celebrate a unique festival. More than 2,500 eunuchs will sing, dance and make merry for several days in memory of their spiritual teacher, Haji Rahamatullah.
Strangely enough, it's indistinguishable from a Democratic Convention..
MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS::In Nod to Bush Administration, EU Agrees to Keep Americans Out of War Crimes Court (Robert Wielaard, Sep 30, 2002, Associated Press)
Defusing a trans-Atlantic spat, the European Union agreed Monday to spare American citizens the fate of standing trial on war crimes charges in the newly created International Criminal Court. The EU foreign ministers reached a deal among themselves effectively preventing them from extraditing U.S. soldiers or government officials to the ICC as long as Washington guarantees any Americans suspected of war crimes will be tried in the United States.
You ever notice how despite all the dire predictions from the striped-pants, cookie-pusher, Foggy Bottom crowd, so long as we keep moving forward the allies tend to fall in line?
SPUTTERING, BUT NOT EXTINGUISHED YET:Regarding today’s announcement by Senator Torricelli of New Jersey (Statement By Senator Bill Frist, M.D., Chairman, NRSC, September 2002 )
"The law in New Jersey is very clear: an individual may not pull his or her name from the ballot less than 51 days from the election. The National Republican Senatorial Committee will participate in any challenge to the effort by the Democratic Party to replace Senator Robert Torricelli on the general election ballot. If there were to be exceptions to the law, it is highly unlikely that fear of losing an election would be one of them."
Where Ms Carnahan when the Democrats need her?
OH, IT'S TOO LATE, BABY, YEAH, IT'S TOO LATE (via Patrick Ruffini):Re: New Jersey : Ballot Substitution (Politics NJ)
September 30, 2002
To: Senator Frist, Mitch Bainwol
From: Alex N. Vogel, General Counsel
Re: New Jersey : Ballot Substitution
You have asked for an analysis of New Jersey ballot statutes and regulations regarding a possible vacancy in connection with the upcoming election in New Jersey. New Jersey law explicitly provides that when a vacancy occurs among primary nominees, the state committee of a political party committee may select a replacementcandidate. N.J. Stat. ¤ 19:13-20. However, this ballot replacement is only allowed when the vacancy occurs more than 51 days prior to the election. Id. Inside of this 51 day statutory window, a replacement candidate can not be put on the ballot. The only exception ever recognized by a New Jersey court was in the case of the death of a nominee. Petition of Koegh-Dwyer, 106 N.J. Super. 567, 256 A.2d 314 (1969), affirmed 54 N.J. 523, 257 A.2d 697. It is worth noting that the time limit was raised from 34 days to 51 days in 1985. Legislative history from the original statute states that time limit was included "to afford election official sufficient time in which to attend mechanics of preparing for general election." Kilmurray v. Gilfert, 10 N.J. 435, 91 A.2d 865 (1952).
It seems pretty clear that the Democrats don't get to replace Torricelli on the ballot, but does anyone think that will stop them?
NORTHERN LIGHTS:May leftists see the errors of their ways (Robert Fulford, 9/28/02, National Post)
Ramsey Clark, who served president Lyndon Johnson as attorney-general and then moved drastically to the left, set out in 1994 to find a lawyer for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian who was charged with conspiring to bomb the UN and several New York bridges and tunnels. The story of Clark's search bears in a perverse way on what I wrote last Saturday about the left's affection for dictators and demagogues.
To defend Rahman, Clark recruited Lynne Stewart, a New York "movement lawyer" who often represents radicals. She knew little about Rahman's followers, Egyptian terrorists who prey on Coptic Christians and others. She was logically Rahman's enemy, since he's a religious fascist and she's a feminist and an atheist. But Clark told her (George Packer reported in a superb article in last Sunday's New York Times magazine) "that if she refused, the Arab world would feel betrayed by their friends on the American left." An amazing thought, with alarming implications.
She took Rahman's case, lost it, helped him appeal, then (the government charges) illegally transmitted his political instructions to his murderous followers. For that she'll be tried next spring, and perhaps imprisoned for life. But what astonished me was Ramsey Clark's argument. Who knew that eight years ago Arab terrorists already depended on the American left? Not me. Who knew that terrorists would feel betrayed if such help did not materialize? How did American leftists, such as Clark, connect with Islamists? The fever swamps of American left-wing politics turn out to be darker and more tangled than most of us guessed.
The left has supported so many vile causes that it can't hope for an honest and decent future till it understands and repudiates its own past. The Clark story gives an odd twist to that history. It suggests that when no leftish dictators and terrorists are available, the left will search among its natural enemies for villains it can support. This isn't an ideological mistake. This is a pathology.
Many readers responded with enthusiasm to what I wrote last week, but leftists reacted with irate defensiveness.
This is just a ritual drubbing and it gets even more gloriously ugly from here.
THE 11% SOLUTION:Down by Seven with a Quarter To Go: Davis, after delivering his best punches, sees Simon still within striking distance. (James Bemis, California Political Review)
Poll after poll confirms the race for governor remains close. Like the scrappy underdog refusing to quit against the bigger team and the hostile crowd, Simon finds himself down by only seven points — in the notoriously Democrat-friendly Field poll — with yet another quarter to play.
How is this possible? Well, for one thing incumbent Governor Gray Davis inspires little but loathing among Californians. Field reported his support at 39 percent, a pathetic number for any incumbent, and more so in a largely Democrat state. Davis looks eminently beatable despite his fat campaign treasury.
Though we've been skeptical and remain so about the possibility of a Republican winning a statewide race inn CA, we have to admit that one of the classic signs that an incumbent is going to lose is that they poll under 40%. A whole lot of Democrats are going to have to vote one-handed, because they'll be holding their noses with the other.
SNUFFED:Sen. Torricelli Might Resign, Drop Re-Election Bid (Reuters, 9/30/02)
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli, slumping in the polls amid a barrage of corruption allegations, is considering dropping his bid for re-election and resigning, a Democratic source said on Monday.
Torricelli was expected to hold a news conference later today [2pm] to announce his decision. [...]
If Torricelli resigned his seat, New Jersey's Democratic Gov. James McGreevey could appoint his replacement. While the deadline for being listed on the New Jersey ballot passed earlier this month, that deadline might be waived, although it could take a court ruling, a Democratic source said.
He's notoriously scummy, but at least he has a greater sense of shame and of honor than Bill Clinton did. On the other hand, he may just be doing it so he can keep his campaign funds.
US VS. US:The American conservative (Tony Blankley, September 25, 2002, Washington Times)
The American Conservative (AC, hereafter) is every bit as unbridled in its contempt for modern conservatism as National Review at its founding was for then-modern liberalism. In their mission statement, the editors of AC accuse "the array of conservative media outlets" of competing "over which can bray loudest for the widest war, the most ambitious expansion of an American imperium." The AC accuses modern conservativism of casting "aside every relevant American foreign policy tradition--from Robert Taft-style isolationism to prudent Dwight Eisenhower-style internationalism, in favor of go-it-alone militarism, where America threatens and bombs one nation after another, while the world looks on in increasing horror."
The magazine's editors will attack "the global free-trade economy, free the immigration debate from the prison to which it has been consigned . . . and reignite the conversation that conservatives ought to have engaged in since the end of the Cold War, but didn't." [...]
Neo-conservativism--which Mr. Buchanan correctly describes as the "dominant, nay, the only American conservatism worth talking about"--is overweaning in its hubris and yearning for an imperial America. Indeed, only a few months ago, Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard featured an argument for a new colonialism.
Moreover, both modern conservatism and modern Clintonian liberalism seem indifferent to the grinding, obliterating, effects of globalism on traditional cultures and values not only around the world, but here in America as well. While modern conservatism claims to champion traditional values, it cheers on a global economic process that--even more than liberal judges--is a mortal threat to those values. As the AC's mission statement observes: "We believe conservatism to be the most natural political tendency, rooted in man's taste for the familiar, for faith in god. We believe that true conservatism has a predisposition for the institutions and mores that exist." Understanding conservatism in those terms, the concept of radical conservatism ought to seem oxymoronic. Only a generation ago conservatives could credibly argue that conservatism constituted the absence of ideology. Conservatives used to argue that liberalism (even 19th century non-socialist liberalism) was fatally flawed because it exalted contemporarily created ideas over the long, evolving institutional wisdom of our civilization. It is a measure of the success of modern, ideological conservatism that the phrase "radical conservatism" seems to make sense. And it is a substantial part of The American Conservative's mission to try to yank back the conservative designation from a movement that has morphed from Bill Buckley's Catholic, principled conservatism into a collection of radical ambitions and schemes--some of which may be vitally needed, but arguably are not conservative.
An essential facet of genuine pessimistic conservative is the stubborn refusal to accept victory. So, for instance, the Buchananites and even Mr. Blankley, who's usually more temperate, can engage in the absurd notion that American conservatism is defined by the neoconservatives under Bill Kristol at a time when a genuine conservative, George W. Bush, is President of the United States. Sure, if you're inside the Beltway or reading the blogs you can be left with the mistaken impression that neoconservatism is regnant, but you'll find few in the Red States who've ever even heard of the neocons and if you look at the Bush agenda--from tax cuts to faith based social programs to privatization of Social Security and education to anti-cloning, anti-euthanasia, anti-drug, and anti-abortion regulations to waging the war on terror in explicitly religious terms--you see that there's little left of neoconservatism other than the elevation of Israel to a special relationship status on a par with Britain, and even here, the impetus has come as much from Christian fundamentalist millenarians as from the neocons.
BUILD NOTHING:Debating Ground Zero Architecture and the Value of the Void (SARAH BOXER, September 30, 2002, NY Times)
The topic was grand: "Monument and Memory." But the debate on Friday night turned out to be simple: Should there be something rather than nothing? Or nothing rather than something?
On the side of something was Daniel Libeskind, the architect who designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin. On the side of nothing were Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, and Sherwin B. Nuland, the author of "How We Die" (Knopf, 1994). It was the first Columbia University Seminar on Art and Society, held at the New-York Historical Society. And the men were fighting over architecture at ground zero. [...]
"There is something a little grotesque in the interpretation of ground zero as a lucky break for art," Mr. Wieseltier said. "Lower Manhattan must not be transformed into a vast mausoleum, obviously, but neither must it be transformed into a theme park for advanced architectural taste."
"The spiritual challenge of ground zero is plainly much greater than the architectural challenge," he said. And what can rise to this challenge? Mr. Wieseltier suggested a void and a flag. The flag should be there to say that "we were attacked because we are Americans." The void should be there to give a sense of finality and facticity, he said, to accommodate both "godfulness and godlessness, certainty and doubt, anger and hope."
In the Jewish tradition, Mr. Wieseltier said, one mourns and remembers not with buildings and things, but with words and rituals. "Those are its most powerful weapons against oblivion." Among the many things crushed on Sept. 11, Mr. Wieseltier said, was the worship of architecture.
We're pro-void. It seems inevitable that any monumental architecture they do there will be just grotesque and a businessplace would defile the site. Leave it a void to symbolize our loss and remind us what can happen when we fail to take our enemies seriously.
THE DEMOCRATS' LORD HAW-HAWS:Democratic Congressman Asserts Bush Would Mislead U.S. on Iraq (JOHN H. CUSHMAN Jr., September 30, 2002, NY Times)
Speaking of the administration, Mr. McDermott said, "I believe that sometimes they give out misinformation." Then he added: "It would not surprise me if they came up with some information that is not provable, and they've shifted. First they said it was Al Qaeda, then they said it was weapons of mass destruction. Now they're going back and saying it's Al Qaeda again."
When pressed for evidence about whether President Bush had lied, Mr. McDermott said, "I think the president would mislead the American people." But he said he believed that inspections of Iraq's weapons programs could be worked out.
"I think they will come up with a regime that will not require coercive inspections," Mr. McDermott said, anticipating meetings on Monday between Hans Blix, the leader of the United Nations inspection group, and Iraqi officials.
"They said they would allow us to go look anywhere we wanted," he said of the Iraqis. "And until they don't do that, there is no need to do this coercive stuff where you bring in helicopters and armed people and storm buildings."
"Otherwise you're just trying to provoke them into war," he added.
Mr. Bonior, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said: "We've got to move forward in a way that's fair and impartial. That means not having the United States or the Iraqis dictate the rules to these inspections."
They can say anything they want about the President, but negotiating for better terms for an enemy--from their soil, in a time of war--at least borders on treason.
September 29, 2002
JUST DO IT:Reagan's family await merciful release (Sarah Baxter, September 29, 2002, The Sunday Times)
"George W is closer to my father's ideology than he is to his father's," said Michael [Reagan], who believes that the September 11 attacks would not have happened under Reagan. "He responded to the Muammar Gadaffis. They knew where he stood." Despite backing Bush, he thinks his father would have disapproved of the "giant conversation" under way over Iraq.
Libya was bombed in 1986 after a terrorist attack on Americans in West Berlin. "Dad didn't hold a press conference saying what we'll do with Gadaffi. He just did it," said Michael.
Not to mention Grenada.
PRUNING THE SAVAGE GARDEN:Everthing You Think You Know About the American Way of War Is Wrong (Max Boot, September 12, 2002, Foreign Policy Research Institute)
The president's hostility to "peacekeeping" is based on the widespread belief that U.S. troops have not traditionally undertaken this kind of mission, and are not particularly good at it. This view, like many other common myths about the "American Way of War," has little basis in historical fact. For more than 200 years, the U.S. military has routinely violated every tenet of the Powell Doctrine --and done so with great success. To be specific, there is absolutely nothing novel about (1) wars without a "vital national interest," (2) wars without significant popular support, (3) wars without declarations of war, (4) wars without exit strategies, and (5) wars that force US troops to act as "social workers." All these great taboos of the 1990s are actually very common in American history. [...]
If there is one theme that emerges throughout my book it is that, though the reasons have changed over the years, the United States has always found itself being drawn into "the savage wars of peace." Economists describe this as a yield curve -- when cost is low, demand is high. For America the relative cost of intervening anywhere around the world is fairly low; therefore we're likely to intervene even when the cause might appear marginal in a realpolitik interpretation of our national interests. America's strategic situation today presents more opportunities than ever before for such entanglements. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, America has stood head and shoulders (and also probably torso) above all other nations, possessor of the world's richest economy and its most potent military.
In many ways the chaotic post-Cold War environment resembles that of the post-Napoleonic world, with the U.S. thrust willy nilly into Britain's old role as globocop. Of course, unlike 19th century Britain, 21st century America does not preside over a formal empire. Its "empire" consists not of far-flung territorial possessions but of a family of democratic, capitalist nations that eagerly seek shelter under Uncle Sam's umbrella. The inner core of the American empire -- North America, Western Europe, Northeast Asia -- remains for the most part stable and prosperous, but violence and unrest lap at the periphery -- in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, Central Asia, and other regions teeming with failed states, criminal states or simply a state of nature. This is where America has found itself getting involved in its recent small wars, and no doubt will again in the future. If history is any guide, and I believe it is, we have a lot more savage wars in our future.
One of the more depressing things about the fight over whether to overthrow Saddam is that this is one of the easier cases to make. What are the Democrats going to be like when it comes to forcibly democratizing a place like Syria, which most of them have never given a moment's thought to?
RIGHT FACE! BACKWARD MARCH!:Taking Sides (Christopher Hitchens, October 14, 2002, The Nation)
I am on the side of the Iraqi and Kurdish opponents of this filthy menace. And they are on the side of civil society in a wider conflict, which is the civil war now
burning across the Muslim world from Indonesia to Nigeria. The theocratic and absolutist side in this war hopes to win it by exporting it here, which in turn means that we have no expectation of staying out of the war, and no right to be neutral in it. But there are honorable allies to be made as well, and from now on all of our cultural and political intelligence will be required in order to earn their friendship and help isolate and destroy their enemies, who are now ours--or perhaps I should say mine. [...]
When I began work for The Nation over two decades ago, Victor Navasky described the magazine as a debating ground between liberals and radicals, which was, I thought, well judged. In the past few weeks, though, I have come to realize that the magazine itself takes a side in this argument, and is becoming the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden. (I too am resolutely opposed to secret imprisonment and terror-hysteria, but not in the same way as I am opposed to those who initiated the aggression, and who are planning future ones.) In these circumstances it seems to me false to continue the association, which is why I have decided to make this "Minority Report" my last one.
If any of you are old enough, imagine yourself in 1980 and someone tells you that in twenty years you'll agree more with Chris Hitchens than with Pat Buchanan. (Of course, the beauty of conservatism is that you can have stayed in exactly the same place while they reversed positions.)
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF:The Sunshine Warrior (BILL KELLER, September 22, 2002, NY Times Magazine)
The shorthand version of Paul Wolfowitz, however, is inadequate in important ways. It completely misses his style, which relies on patient logic and respectful, soft-spoken engagement rather than on fire-breathing conviction. The stereotype also overlooks a critical distinction in his view of the world. Unlike many conservative gloom-mongers, he does not see the world plummeting toward an inevitable clash of civilizations.
From a few months' immersion in the subject of Paul Wolfowitz, it seems to me he has brought at least three important things to the table where American policy is made, qualities that have made him, though he holds the rank of deputy, a factor in moving America this close to invading Iraq. One is something of a reputation as a man who sees trouble coming before others do, his long anxiety about Iraq being one example.
The second thing he brings is an activist bent. It is forged partly of humanitarian impulse, a horror of standing by and watching bad things happen. He often talks about Kitty Genovese, the New York woman murdered in 1964 while dozens of neighbors watched from their apartment windows without lifting a phone to call the police. His inclination to act derives, too, from his analytical style, a residue, perhaps, of the mathematician he started out to be. In almost any discussion, he tends to be the one focusing on the most often overlooked variable in decision making, the cost of not acting. On Iraq, that has now been taken up as a White House mantra.
The third striking thing about Wolfowitz is an optimism about America's ability to build a better world. He has an almost missionary sense of America's role. In the current case, that means a vision of an Iraq not merely purged of cataclysmic weaponry, not merely a threat disarmed, but an Iraq that becomes a democratic cornerstone of an altogether new Middle East. Given the fatalism that prevails about this most flammable region of the world, that is an audacious optimism indeed.
Wolfowitz's moralistic streak and the generally sunny view of the world's possibilities may explain the affinity between the born-again and resolutely unintellectual president and this man he calls ''Wolfie,'' the Jewish son of academia who dabbles in six foreign languages and keeps Civil War histories at his bedside. A senior official who has watched the two men interact says that Wolfowitz and the president have reinforced each other in their faith in ''a strategic transformation of the whole region.''
This last seems to be emerging as one of the major dividing lines on the issue of the war. The moralists, amongst whom we'd count ourselves, tend to believe that the mere fact that a country is oppressed by a dictator gives us sufficient cause to intervene if we so choose. The Left, which of course no longer believes in morality anyway, and the Far Right, which doesn't have much interest in foreigners, prefer peace and security at home to freedom abroad. One suspects that the majority of the American people agree with them.
THE SCHIZOPHRENIC ELECTORATE:War Talk Shapes Fall Elections: Democrats' Ability to Use the Economy Against GOP Wanes (Dan Balz, David S. Broder and Helen Rumbelow, September 29, 2002, Washington Post)
As they approach the November elections--in which control of both the Senate and House are at stake--voters appear torn by conflicting impulses. By a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, they said they had more confidence in Republicans than in Democrats to handle the country's biggest problems. But 56 percent said they preferred to see Democrats in charge of the next Congress to act as a check against the president, while just 34 percent said they preferred Republicans in charge to support Bush's agenda.
Bush's approval rating stands at 67 percent, down only slightly over the past month, and the poll found that three in five Americans (61 percent) favored using force to get rid of Hussein. But sentiment shifted significantly when voters were asked whether the United States should launch an attack over the opposition of U.S. allies, with 47 percent opposed and 46 percent in favor. Also, a majority (52 percent) said they were more worried that Bush would move too quickly to challenge Hussein, while 40 percent said they feared he would not move quickly enough.
Given numbers like these, there is no potential result in these mid-terms that would be surprising, from a Democrat landslide to a Republican one.
RUFFLED FEATHERS:Kidman Marches Kids Out of 'The Four Feathers' Screening (IMDB Celebrity News: 27th September 2002)
Australian beauty Nicole Kidman was so shocked by the violence when she took her children to see the movie The Four Feathers, she marched them out before the film even finished. The Moulin Rouge redhead, adopted mother of Isabella, nine, and Connor, seven, took her children to the Mann National Theatre in Westwood, California, on September 20 to see the flick starring Heath Ledger, the boyfriend of her best friend Naomi Watts.
We just like her more and more. Try the 1939 Zoltan Korda version instead: The Four Feathers
CAR TALK:Pete Davies, American Road: The Story of An Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age (Booknotes, 8pm & 11pm, C-SPAN)
A FRIENDLY MERGER:A big day out in Leftistan: Old and new radicals joined forces to make the Stop the War coalition feel more like the start of something. (Euan Ferguson, September 29, 2002, The Observer)
It was nice to see things back to normal. There were reports, after last Sunday's countryside march, that the police, for the first time in history, had agreed with the organisers about the number of marchers. Yesterday afternoon, as London limped to a halt because of the massive anti-war/pro-Palestine peace march, we were back in happy and familiar territory: 'He only fell down the three steps.' 'What bruise?'
Scotland Yard said at 2pm that perhaps 40,000 demonstrators had turned up. I was halfway along Piccadilly at the time, at the head of the march, phoning a friend at the back, in a crush at the Embankment, and she hadn't even started moving. The Stop the War coalition last night claimed the total was more than 350,000; the police reluctantly moved up from 'four men with beards and a small dog' to 150,000, and the truth was, if anything, even higher than either, given the number of Londoners slipping in and out of the stream before sliding off to shops and pubs. It was a big, big, important march, and quite angry, and quite mixed. [...]
It was back to the old days, too, in terms of types. All the oldies and goodies were there. The Socialist Workers' Party, leafleting outside Temple Tube station by 11 am. ('In this edition: Noam Chomsky in Socialist Worker !'). CND, and ex-Services CND. The Scottish Socialist Party. 'Scarborough Against War and Globalisation', which has a lovely ring of optimism to it, recalling the famous Irish provincial leader column in 1939: 'Let Herr Hitler be warned, the eyes of the Skibereen Eagle are upon him.' Many, many Muslim groups, and most containing women and children, although some uneasy thoughts pass through your mind when you see a line of pretty six-year-old black-clad Muslim toddlers walking ahead of the megaphone chanting 'George Bush, we know you/Daddy was a killer too,' and singing about Sharon and Hitler.
All the groups, the old Left and the new radical worried world of Islam, merged for the most part very easily...
This last is apparently said without a shred of irony, as Mr. Ferguson seems oblivious to the fact that the Left and radical Islam have merged at least in so far as their hatred of the West--of democracy, capitalism, Judeo-Christianity, Israel, American leadership, etc.. The war they are trying to stop features the world's two great democracies--Britain and America--taking on one of its worst dictatorships, and the Left is siding with the dictator.
SCHLOCK PILE:Think You Have a Book in You? Think Again (JOSEPH EPSTEIN, September 28, 2002, NY Times)
According to a recent survey, 81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them--and that they should write it. As the author of 14 books, with a 15th to be published next spring, I'd like to use this space to do what I can to discourage them. [...]
Why should so many people think they can write a book, especially at a time when so many people who actually do write books turn out not really to have a book in them--or at least not one that many other people can be made to care about? Something on the order of 80,000 books get published in America every year, most of them not needed, not wanted, not in any way remotely necessary.
I wonder if the reason so many people think they can write a book is that so many third-rate books are published nowadays that, at least viewed from the middle distance, it makes writing a book look fairly easy. After all, how many times has one thought, after finishing a bad novel, "I can do at least as well as that"? And the sad truth is that it may well be that one can. But why add to the schlock pile?
Mr. Epstein is delightfully brutal in the way that only someone who doesn't believe in equality can be.
INTIFADACIDE:In the ruins of the 'intifadah': After 2 years: Death, more poverty. "We didn't achieve anything," an Arab
says. (Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Sep. 28, 2002, Knight Ridder News Service)
Whether here, where Yasir Arafat is under siege; in Gaza, where 12-year-old Mohammed al Durah took one of its first bullets; or at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, where it began two years ago, the intifadah, Palestinians say, is sputtering. [...]
This weekend, as the Al-Aqsa intifadah, or uprising, begins its third year, popular resistance against Israel has faded. Ayosh Junction, once the front line of the intifadah, is deserted. No more do legions of Palestinians march in the streets with posters of their leaders, shouting slogans of martyrdom and the conquest of Al-Quds, as Arabs refer to Jerusalem.
What is left are a besieged Palestinian government, led by Arafat, that says it will continue to resist until Israel withdraws from Palestinian territories, and terrorist cells that continue to launch attacks against Israeli civilians that make Israeli withdrawal impossible.
Many Palestinians are bitter, having achieved only abject poverty, detention in Israeli jails, injury and death in the uprising. Israeli troops are firmly in control of most of the West Bank and lead daily attacks in the Gaza Strip to destroy militant cells that are still fighting the war. Western and Arab nations have largely lost interest in helping Arafat's government. Cynicism has grown to a point that many reform-minded Palestinians say privately that Arafat promoted the intifadah less to defeat Israel than to deflect domestic discontent over graft and corruption within the Palestinian Authority.
It's common enough these days for our political leadership to talk about the permanence of the war on terror and how terrorism is something we just have to get used to. But just as the Brits have defeated the IRA and the Palestinian terror movement appears to be losing steam, it seems possible that by refusing to meet the political demands of the terrorists and by meeting their violence with an unyielding resistance and a willingness to wield violence ourselves, it seems probable that we can at least deprive the radical Islamicists of their popular support, and thereby defeat them. It's really surprisingly easy to imagine the day when the attitudes of the Palestinian people, as reflected in this article--the bitterness toward their leaders; the sense of having been duped; the demands for reform--will prevail across the Middle East. That is, if we keep up the pressure and continue to hold out the prospect of a democratic revolution.
GET A ROOM:As Security Cameras Sprout, Someone's Always Watching (DEAN E. MURPHY, September 29, 2002, NY Times)
"There is the very deep notion of private property in our culture, that if you own it, you can do what you want with it," said William G. Staples, a University of Kansas sociology professor who has written two books about surveillance. "That has contributed to the proliferation of surveillance cameras on the private side. It is only since Sept. 11 that the public side has been catching up with what the private sector has been doing for a long time."
There has been much discussion since Sept. 11 of the growing role of government as Big Brother, with law enforcement agencies turning to tools like face-recognition technology at airports and closed-circuit television systems in public buildings. But Professor Staples and other surveillance experts suggest the general debate should include "Tiny Brothers," a term he and others use to describe the many private security cameras that most people quietly tolerate or do not think about.
Tiny Brothers might be less known, but they disturb people who worry about civil liberties.
"I don't know if we want to uncover everything that goes on," Professor Staples said. "The cameras function as a net-widening effect, catching all kinds of activities they may not have been intended to catch. Those cameras in the parking lot could zoom over someone in a romantic tryst in a car. Do we really want to know all of this?"
There's something wrong with a culture when you're more worried about the camera than about the couple getting their phreak on in a public parking lot.
THE PERILS OF THE PERSONAL:Nancy Reagan Fights Bush Over Stem Cells (ALESSANDRA STANLEY, September 29, 2002, NY Times)
Last year Mr. Bush sharply limited such research. At 81, the former first lady is obliquely but persistently campaigning - through friends, advisers, lawmakers and her own well-placed calls and letters - to reverse the president's decision.
Mrs. Reagan believes that embryonic stem cell research could uncover a cure for Alzheimer's, the disease that has wiped out her husband's memory. She was dismayed, friends say, when the White House took issue on Monday with a new California law that encourages embryonic stem cell research.
Her advisers say Mrs. Reagan's sense of decorum and party loyalty inhibit her from publicly challenging a Republican president. [...]
As first lady, Mrs. Reagan was not always popular; White House aides feared her, and even many Republicans were put off by her preoccupation with fashion, high society and astrology.
Her reclusive, unswerving devotion to her husband has mollified her detractors. Once Mr. Reagan fell ill, Mrs. Reagan stopped going to parties. She now rarely leaves her Bel Air mansion and allows no visitors. Mrs. Reagan told Mr. Wallace that her life was lonely.
"Because really, you know, when you come right down to it, you're in it alone. And there's nothing that anybody can do for you."
Her oldest friends, however, have joined her campaign against the disease that has stricken her husband.
A Republican legislator recently told Michael Deaver, a Reagan adviser and confidant, that some conservatives contend that Ronald Reagan would never have approved of embryonic stem cell research. Mr. Deaver said he retorted, "Ronald Reagan didn't have to take care of Ronald Reagan for the last 10 years."
While we can admire Mrs. Reagan her devotion to the President and sympathize with what she's been through, there's something repellant about the idea that Mr. Reagan would jettison his moral beliefs merely to help himself and his wife. No matter how excruciating the last decade has been for him and his beloved wife, precisely how many embryos does Mr. Deaver think Mr. Reagan would have been willing to sacrifice to make these years better: 1?; 10?, 10,000?; 1,000,000?; 10,000,000?. The very idea seems unworthy of the man.
APPEAL FROM THE NEW CONSERVATIVES TO THE OLD LIBERALS:Equality as a Conservative Principle (Harry V. Jaffa, Claremont.org)
In today's political vocabulary, Conservatism is contrasted with Liberalism and Radicalism. In this strange world, however, I cannot imagine Liberalism or Radicalism searching for meaning. Liberalism and Radicalism are confident of their meaning, and the world is confident of their confidence. Yet once upon a time, a Liberal was thought to be more diffident. He was someone who recognized the fallibility of human reason and its susceptibility to the power of the passions. He tended therefore to be tolerant of human differences. A liberal regime was one in which such differences were in a sense institutionalized. James Madison's extended republic embracing a multiplicity of factions, in which no faction might become a majority or impose its will upon a majority, is the classic instance in the modern world of such a regime. But the New Liberal is committed to policies which tend not to recognize the propriety of differences. Consider the rigidity of such slogans as "one man, one vote," "racial balance," "affirmative action," "guaranteed income," "war on poverty," "generation of peace." All these imply a degree of certainty as to what is beneficial, which makes those who doubt appear to be obscurantists or obstructionists, standing in the way of welfare either out of stupidity or out of a vested interest in ill fare.
The only significant differences I can see between today's Liberals and today's Radicals concern means rather than ends. How often during the "troubles" of the late 1960s did we hear the Liberals deplore the Radicals' violence, telling them that they should "work within the system"? How often did we hear these same Liberals praise the Radicals for their "idealism," asking only that they learn patience? But the Radicals made a great deal more sense. If their ideals were so praiseworthy, then a system which obstructed their fulfillment was blameworthy. And why work within a blameworthy system for praiseworthy ends?
Liberalism and Radicalism both reject the wisdom of the past, as enshrined in the institutions of the past, or in the morality of the past. They deny legitimacy to laws, governments, or ways of life which accept the ancient evils of mankind, such as poverty, inequality, and war, as necessary-and therefore as permanent-attributes of the human condition. Political excellence can no longer be measured by the degree to which it ameliorates such evils. The only acceptable goal is their abolition. Liberalism and Radicalism look forward to a state of things in which the means of life, and of the good life, are available to all. They must be available in such a way that the full development of each individual-which is how the good life is defined-is not merely compatible with, but is necessary to, the full development of all. Competition between individuals, classes, races, and nations must come to an end. Competition itself is seen as the root of the evils mankind must escape. The good society must be characterized only by cooperation and harmony. The Old Liberalism saw life as a race, in which justice demanded for everyone only a fair or equal chance in the competition. But the New Liberalism sees the race itself as wrong. In every race there can be but one winner, and there must be many losers. Thus the Old Liberalism preserved the inequality of the Few over and against the Many. It demanded the removal of artificial or merely conventional inequalities. But it recognized and demanded the fullest scope for natural inequalities. But the New Liberalism denies natural no less than conventional inequalities. In the Heaven of the New Liberalism, as in that of the Old Theology, all will be rewarded equally. The achievement of the good society is itself the only victory. But this victory is not to be one of man over man, but of mankind over the scourges of mankind. No one in it will taste the bitterness of defeat. No one need say, "I am a loser, but I have no right to complain. I had a fair chance." The joys of victory will belong to all. Unlike the treasures of the past, the goods of the future will be possessed by all. They will not be diminished or divided by being common. On the contrary, they will for that very reason increase and intensify. No one will be a miser-or a Conservative.
There seems fairly little point at this late date in arguing, as some conservatives insist on doing, that modern conservatism really is the successor to ancient Liberalism, and deserves the name, but Mr. Jaffa here shows why this is true.
IS THE OPPOSITE OF EXTREME NECESSARILY EXTREME?Judging Michael McConnell (NY Times, September 29, 2002)
The Bush administration has ceded its Justice Department to the extreme conservative wing of the Republican Party and has made ideology the primary
consideration in picking judges. Its goal is simple: to turn the federal courts into a force for a reactionary shift in society. [...]
The Senate must...be highly skeptical of nominees who do not acknowledge a woman's right to abortion. Mr. McConnell has not merely expressed abstract reservations about the Roe v. Wade ruling, but has also actively crusaded against it. He signed a statement arguing that fetuses deserved constitutional protection. Mr. McConnell has promised to follow established precedents in the area, and that is worth something. But that will not help in the many cases appellate courts decide in which there is no binding authority and a judge must seek his own counsel.
The Times would be on a little bit safer ground in suggesting that conservatives like John Ashcroft and Michael McConnell are extremist on abortion because they don't consider it a "right" if the American public did not broadly agree with their position. In fact, the Times itself seems to represent the extremist position on the issue, the idea that a fetus has no rights whatsoever. They might do well to note that a considerabl;e majority of Americans consider abortion to be murder and even larger majorities support limitations on the "right" to abortion. The conservative positions that the Times decries as reactionary are extreme only in the sense that, as Flannery O'Connor said: "You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you."
FOWL!:Why? Because We Can (MAUREEN DOWD, September 29, 2002, NY Times)
The Boy Emperor's head hurt. [...]
"I'm confused, Wise Rummy," he confessed. "Is the war pre-emptive, preventive or preventable? Is Saddam fissile or fissible? What in creation is counterproliferation? Everything's moving so fast. It's a puzzlement. Why are we mad at Saddam?"
"Because he wants to attack our country," the mandarin replied.
"Why?" the Boy pressed.
"Because we want to attack his country," the tutor said.
"Why?" The Boy was insatiable.
"Because Saddam tried to destroy your dad."
"Because your dad tried to destroy Saddam." [...]
"Why are we attacking Iraq, which may someday team up with terrorists, instead of Iran, which has already teamed up with terrorists?"
Ms Dowd or the Tic-Tac-Toe playing chicken who now appears to peck out her columns, commits a foul here. Having conceded that Saddam Hussein tried blowing up a president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, who just happened to be traveling with Laura Bush at the time, one does not get to then ask this final question. Saddam needn't be shown to be teaming up with terrorists when you've conceded he is one. Though we must note that Ms Dowd (or the chicken) seems to think the assassination attempt a legitimate response to our liberation of Kuwait.
September 28, 2002
MAN OVERBOARD:Campaign manager resigns over tape (THOMAS BEAUMONT, 09/28/2002, Des Moines Register)
Sen. Tom Harkin's campaign manager resigned abruptly Friday, becoming the second casualty in an unfolding controversy stemming from a tape-recorded meeting of Republican rival Greg Ganske and his financial supporters.
The departure of Jeff Link from the Democratic senator's campaign came as Harkin acknowledged a junior research staffer asked a former Harkin congressional aide to record the Sept. 3 Ganske meeting at the Hotel Savery in Des Moines. The aide then passed the tape and a transcript to a newspaper reporter.
Typically, if your campaign is going to unleash an October Surprise you try to avoid having it be your own self-destruction.
CIRCUS ACT:Westminster's odd couple (Nick Assinder, 28 September, 2002, BBC)
John Major and Edwina Currie were lovers.
No - not even writing it down makes it any less mind bending.
The man who tucked his vest into his underpants had a four year affair with the most outspoken and sexually interested woman of her political generation - a sort of Essex girl Margaret Thatcher.
It's like learning that Betty Boop had been doing it with Elmer Fudd all those years.
No wonder they kept it quiet for so long.
And it's still hard to decide which one of them should be the most ashamed.
People are idiots.
SELECT COMPANY:Debate on pesticides lingers: Book: Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," published 40 years ago, changed the way Americans think about the chemicals. (Timothy B. Wheeler, September 27, 2002, Baltimore Sun)
"More than any other [book], it changed the way Americans, and people around the world, looked at the reckless way we live on this planet," Philip Shabecoff wrote in his history of U.S. environmentalism, A Fierce Green Fire.
Yet modern-day critics, while acknowledging Carson's eloquence, contend that Silent Spring created a paranoia about pesticides that exaggerates their hazards and prevents their use in controlling deadly insect-borne diseases, such as malaria and West Nile.
"She does have some blood on her hands," says Alex Avery, director of research for the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues. Avery contends that research has never shown DDT caused cancer or any other human health problem. He contends that there are questions about whether DDT is to blame for the steep decline in eagle, osprey and other raptor populations in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
DDT remains one of the most effective tools for fighting mosquitoes in developing countries where malaria is rampant, Avery says. Yet the pesticide's bad reputation - popularized by Silent Spring - has kept international agencies and foreign leaders from advocating its use. People concerned about the spread in this country of West Nile virus also have blamed Carson for the government's reluctance to resort to widespread spraying of mosquitoes.
It's pretty staggering to consider that there have been thirty to sixty million malaria deaths in the world since the EPA banned DDT use in 1972. Not many authors can lay claim to that kind of influence. Happy Anniversary, Ms Carson.
WHERE'S WELLSTONE?:Chickens[ca]t, Interrupted: No one calls Paul Wellstone an outsider any more (David Schimke, 9/18/02, City Pages)
Preemptive military actions in a region where vast hordes of people already believe the worst of U.S. motives are bound to haunt us. At the very least, as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (not exactly a dove) argued in an op-ed piece last week, the U.S. should slow down long enough to broaden support, fine-tune military planning, develop a coherent blueprint for the post-Saddam era, and conduct diplomacy aimed at cooling tension in the Middle East.
So where's Wellstone? After all, this is the guy who told the New York Times a year after he was elected that "life is sacred, and my standard is to do everything you can to avoid loss of life, regardless of who the people are and the country they live in."
According to Star Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant, who chimed in last week with a piece entitled "Paul Wellstone is not an outsider anymore," it is simply a matter of maturity. Our senator, Sturdevant concludes approvingly, "appears to have concluded that playing the respectfully skeptical seeker of truth is more, well, senatorial."
No kidding. At any rate that's one way to put it, agrees a Democratic insider turned Green strategist I talked to last week. Especially if your definition of "senatorial" squares with the centrists who run the Democratic Party, fund campaigns, and convince candidates that public opinion polls are more important than principle: "The guy has a messianic complex. The party has convinced him that the future of the U.S. Senate rests on his shoulders. What does that mean? It means don't rock the boat. And yeah, that kind of makes you wonder: What's the point?"
At least losing will give him plenty of free time to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
A VICTIM OF LIFE'S CIRCUMSTANCES:THE TWENTIETH MAN: Has the Justice Department mishandled the case against Zacarias Moussaoui? ( SEYMOUR M. HERSH, 2002-09-23, The New Yorker)
In February, 2001, Moussaoui showed up at the Airman Flight School, in Norman, Oklahoma. He was now thirty-two, and had continued to travel in pursuit of fundamentalist causes. He had been in Afghanistan (where he is alleged to have spent time in an Al Qaeda training camp), in Pakistan, and in Malaysia, while maintaining a base of sorts at a radical mosque in North London. When he arrived in America, two weeks after returning to London from a trip to Pakistan, he told customs he had thirty-five thousand dollars in cash. His sudden interest in flying had led him to pay five thousand dollars, in advance, for a series of lessons that should have allowed him to earn a pilot's license. Over the next three months, Moussaoui took fifty-seven hours of flight instruction, far more than the twenty hours most students need before flying solo. But he left the school in late May without a license. [?]
The evidence that the government has presented thus far is largely circumstantial. The search of Moussaoui's computer-a warrant was granted on the afternoon of September 11th-apparently yielded nothing that would have foretold the attack or tied him to it. The indictment depicts Moussaoui as having followed a pattern of activity similar to that of many of the hijackers. Like them, he spent months in flight training, he bought flight-deck videos for commercial airplanes from a pilots' store in Ohio, and he joined a gym. Two of the hijackers are also said to have visited the flight school in Oklahoma the year before Moussaoui did. In the fall of 2000, Moussaoui had been given a letter stating that he was being retained as a "marketing consultant" by Infocus Tech, a Malaysian company; the company's managing director was later linked in press reports to some of the hijackers.
The most specific evidence in the indictment linking Moussaoui to the September 11th conspirators is that, in August, 2001, someone using the name of Ahad Sabet wired fourteen thousand dollars to him from train stations in Hamburg and Düsseldorf. Ahad Sabet is the alias of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a known Al Qaeda intermediary, who also funnelled money to at least one of the hijackers and was named as a co-conspirator in the Moussaoui indictment. He had sought four times before September 11th to get a visa to the United States, and, in a broadcast on Al-Jazeera on the day after the anniversary of the attacks, he claimed that he was meant to be the twentieth hijacker. The indictment also notes that Moussaoui and al-Shibh were in London at the same time, in December, 2000, just before Moussaoui flew to Pakistan. The government's theory is that al-Shibh's visa problems forced the conspirators to turn to Moussaoui. Through careful detective work, German police were able to recover al-Shibh's fingerprint on a Western Union receipt for a payment sent to Moussaoui in Ahad Sabet's name, helping to establish that the men were one and the same. [?]
If the government's case is built on the similarities between Moussaoui's activities and those of the known hijackers, it must account for the fact that, though he shared their allegiance to Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, his behavior in America was strikingly different from theirs. The government has found evidence of e-mails and meetings among the nineteen, but none between any of them and Moussaoui. The hijackers tried to fit in to American life-drinking in bars, for instance. Moussaoui, while in Oklahoma, remained largely aloof, although he was voluble about his Islamic beliefs. He criticized members of a mosque in Norman for not lowering their gaze when meeting women and for looking at lightly clad cheerleaders. "He went around making a nuisance of himself everywhere he went," Frank W. Dunham, Jr., the federal public defender in charge of Moussaoui's defense team, said. "He was not flying under the radar by any means." Another Moussaoui attorney depicted him as "wearing his fundamentalism on his sleeve," and said, "He was incredibly argumentative-always."
Perhaps Mr. Hersh could use Occam's Razor. Here is what one has to believe to accept the premise of his story, that Zacarias Moussaoui was not involved in 9-11:
I JUST KNOW THERE'S A PONY IN THERE SOMEWHERE:Analysis: US moderates eclipsed on Iraq: A tough UN resolution may be prelude to military action (Jon Leyne, 28 September, 2002, BBC)
The tough resolution proposed by the Americans on Iraq will have great difficulty getting through the Security Council.
Already, Russia, France and China have voiced their objections.
If this resolution is passed in anything like the form proposed by the Americans, it will be seen as an ultimatum to the Iraqis.
It is difficult to see how the Iraqis could accept these terms.
So it will be an challenge designed to lead to war. [...]
Once again, it looks as if the moderates in Washington have lost out.
Boy, people just don't get it, huh? There was never any chance of the U.S. supporting a resolution that called for anything less than Saddam Hussein effectively surrendering control over his own country. And, if anyone has been listening to him at all, Colin Powell, who one would assume is the imagined leader of the American "moderates", uses the phrase "regime change" more often than a Valley girl says "like".
DAMNABLE WAR-MONGERING TURKS:Turkish police seize smuggled uranium (Tabitha Morgan, 28 September, 2002, BBC)
Turkish police say they have seized more than 15 kilograms (34.5 pounds) of weapons grade uranium, which had been smuggled into the country from Eastern Europe.
Two men have been arrested for questioning in the south of the country, close to the Syrian border.
According to the Turkish state news agency, the uranium was being transported in a taxi, concealed in a lead container beneath the seats.
Isn't it awfully suspicious that this seizure comes just as Congress is debating a war resolution and George Bush is suggesting Democrats don't care about national security just because they say Saddam has no nukes and is no threat? Couldn't this just be an administration plot to embarrass Senator Daschle, President Gore, and the rest?
THE GHOST LIGHT'S ON, BUT NOBODY'S HOME:The Jack Welch War Plan (FRANK RICH, September 28, 2002, NY Times)
Even with little White House cooperation in its inquiry, this month's Congressional intelligence hearings presented a chilling portrait of the administration's efforts to cover up its pre-9/11 lassitude about terrorist threats. Exhibit A was Condoleezza Rice's pronouncement from last May: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." In fact, the committee reported, U.S. intelligence had picked up a dozen plots of a similar sort, over a period from 1994 to pre-9/11 2001, with some of them specifically mentioning the World Trade Center and the White House as potential targets. In the weeks before the attack the C.I.A. learned that in Afghanistan "everyone is talking about an impending attack."
The past cannot be undone, and the intelligence committee found no smoking gun to suggest that the administration could have prevented the horror. But as we ready our own attack on Saddam Hussein, that's not the issue. What we need to know now is if any of these catastrophic failings in preparedness have been corrected in the year-plus since. The Congressional report says that Al Qaeda learns from its mistakes, flexibly adjusting its organization and plans. Do we?
There's a peculiar logic to Mr. Rich's formulation here, which holds that the Bush team, must have known an attack was coming last September, should have warned us, and so we'd have avoided it together. Yet, on the other hand, when these same folks come before us now to warn of Iraq's plans and to ask the nation's help in avoiding the threat Saddam poses, Mr. Rich says they're inveterate liars. The lesson being learned now is that Administration warnings about an al Qaeda attack would have been met with derision by the Times.
MORE ON WHY PRO-LIFERS ARE PRO-W:Bush Rule Makes Fetuses Eligible for Health Benefits (ROBERT PEAR, September 28, 2002, NY Times)
The Bush administration issued final rules today allowing states to define a fetus as a child eligible for government-subsidized health care under the Children's Health Insurance Program.
"`Child' means an individual under the age of 19, including the period from conception to birth," the regulation says. [...]
Critics said the administration was trying to create a precedent for viewing a fetus as a separate physical and legal entity, with its own rights. By enhancing the status of the fetus, they said, the administration undercuts a woman's right to control her life and to obtain an abortion.
But the administration said the rule would not set up "an adversarial relationship between the mother and her unborn child." Moreover, it said, "there is no conflict, as the services to be provided benefit both mother and child."
When the Supreme Court recognized a right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, in 1973, it said that the word "person," as used in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, "does not include the unborn." The Bush administration said it saw no contradiction between that ruling and the new rule, which gives states "maximum flexibility" to include a fetus among those eligible for the child health program.
This is called sliding the camel's nose under the edge of the tent.
DO YOU EVER FIRE BOMB YOUR FRIENDS?GERMAN POISON (Michael Barone, 9/26/02)
"Between friends, there can be factual differences, but they should not be personalized, particularly between close allies," Schroeder said after his narrow victory became clear. But the differences are not factual; they are differences over policy, differences between a policy seriously arrived at and one adopted cavalierly amid the hurly-burly of a campaign. And by retaining in his government and standing for election with a minister who compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, Schroeder himself has personalized the differences. Germany will probably continue to cooperate in the war on terrorism. It has done admirable work rounding up terrorists in Germany itself and has expressed a willingness for German troops to take a lead role in peacekeeping in Afghanistan. But so long as Gerhard Schoerder is chancellor and George W. Bush is president, the United States will not consider Germany a reliable ally or even a reliable interlocutor. Schrder would do well not to sit around waiting for a telephone call from George W. Bush.
From whence arises the odd notion that Germany and America are friends? After all, in the last eighty years we've fought and defeated Germans in three world wars. Isn't the reason behind keeping Germany in NATO and the EU the old line from Don Corleone: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?
WHY TOM DASCHLE IS SO SCARED:Liberals Object to Bush Policy on Iraq (DAVID FIRESTONE, September 28, 2002, NY Times)
Liberal Democrats, led by Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, voiced reservations today about giving President Bush a free hand to attack Iraq before a new, tougher set of United Nations inspections is put into effect. [...]
Mr. Kennedy's position, in which he is joined by colleagues like Mr. Levin, Dianne Feinstein of California and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, complicates the task of Mr. Daschle. He and other Democratic leaders had hoped to move the resolution quickly through the Senate to focus on his party's core message highlighting economic distress before the November midterm elections. But now Mr. Daschle's office expects more than 50 speeches on the resolution after it is formally introduced early next week, meaning that a vote may not take place until late in the week of Oct. 7. Many of those speeches will probably come from dissenting Democrats, and several of the most vocal opponents may introduce amendments to change or narrow the wording that the White House wants in the resolution. [...]
"Senator Kennedy offered the most thorough and cohesive argument for complacency so far," said Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the Republican whip. "The U.S. seeks broad support in the war on terror, but subcontracting our national security to the United Nations, as Senator Kennedy recommends, would be a foolish blunder."
Gephardt's has problems with his own (Robert Novak, September 28, 2002, Townhall.com)
Anti-war Democrats in the House are so angry with Rep. Richard Gephardt's support of an Iraq war resolution that they privately are saying that he should quit now as House Minority Leader and devote himself to his presidential ambitions.
Opponents of the resolution constitute no more than 45 of the 209 House Democrats, and they have not publicly voiced their desire for Gephardt's resignation. He is not exerting party discipline on the issue.
The carefully staged explosion by Tom Daschle on the Senate floor this week and Dick Gephardt's NY Times op-ed, both bewailing the rise of Republican partisanship on the war issue, appear to have been something akin to the magician's wand, the showy distraction that diverts your attention while the trick goes on elsewhere. It seems unlikely that they'll be able to restrain their own caucuses for long and that, over the course of the next week or two, the Democrats will, against the wishes of their leaders, wear a public face of opposition to any further action in the war on terror. They want to declare victory over the Taliban and come home.
WHERE EVOLUTION LEADS, BUT YOU WON'T FOLLOW:Raging boffins: The nature v nurture debate has never been so fierce. Robin McKie and Vanessa Thorpe report on the bitter row between two leading scientists (September 22, 2002, The Observer)
In his book They F*** You Up British psychologist Oliver James argues family influences are critical. Neuroscientist Steven Pinker says nothing matters more than our genes. Both are openly abusive about each other's stance. Hence, the accusation of one of Pinker's allies that James is 'f'ed-up' while he has retorted in turn that his opponent is telling lies.
The extraordinarily angry row reveals the depth of the scientific battle that is emerging over the soul of mankind. On one side stand the followers of the fledgling science of evolutionary psychology, led by Pinker. They say studies of human evolution show that parents have little impact on their children's behaviour. Only their genes, and a person's interaction with peers and friends, matter in the shaping of violent personalities. Road rage and murder are in our DNA.
It's worth noting that Pinker isn't even the most extreme of the evolutionists, who would say that even your reading of this word is driven by your genes.
IT AIN'T THE MEAT; IT'S THE MERIT:Daily Philosophical Quotation (The Philosophers' Magazine on the net, 28 Sep 2002)
Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive.
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human
Which would go a long way to explaining why people hate America more than they hate the terrorists.
September 27, 2002
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH?:Two Killed in N.H. Plane Crash (STEPHEN FROTHINGHAM, Sep 26, 2002, Associated Press)
A law professor who served as counsel to the Warren Commission that investigated President Kennedy's assassination was killed in a plane crash during a training flight. His instructor also died.
Wesley J. Liebeler, 71, and flight instructor Alan Emerson, 58, were the only ones aboard the small plane when it crashed Wednesday in Lake Winnipesaukee.
One would merely note that Emerson is a synonym for Parallax in demotic Greek.
OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE:Harkin orders probe; 'mole' found (THOMAS BEAUMONT and JANE NORMAN, 09/27/2002Des Moines Register)
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced Thursday night that his re-election campaign had hired a lawyer to investigate what the attorney considered the legal but "unacceptable" conduct of Harkin's campaign staff.
The move came just hours after a former Harkin congressional aide emerged as the person suspected of recording a meeting between Greg Ganske, Harkin's Republican opponent, and two dozen of Ganske's supporters.
Taping suspect backed Harkin (Kathie Obradovich, Quad City Times)
A Des Moines Democrat who publicly supported U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has asked for immunity from prosecution before he talks to police about allegations that he taped a closed-door meeting of Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Ganske's Senate campaign.
Des Moines police Detective Bill Boggs confirmed Thursday that police are investigating allegations that Brian Conley of Des Moines was the person who claimed responsibility for the taping in an anonymous statement released Wednesday by a Des Moines attorney.
IOWA SENATOR TOM HARKIN COMMENTS ON SENATE PASSAGE OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM (March 20, 2002)
"I've worked long and hard for campaign finance reform. For years, Iowans have been telling Washington that campaigns go on too long, are too negative, and that special interests have too much influence. I couldn't agree more.
It's a great pleasure to see the sanctimonious Mr. Harkin hoist on his own petard.
SEGREGATION HERE; SEGREGATION NOW; SEGREGATION FOREVER:
"[Ehrlich] opposes affirmative action based on race," [Townsend] said. "Well, let me tell you, slavery was based on race. Lynching was based on race. Discrimination is based on race. Jim Crow was based on race. And affirmative action should be based on race."
The story doesn't have Mr. Ehrlich's response, but one would have liked to see him hammer her point home: "Yes, Ms Townsend, affirmative action does require exactly the kind of disgusting racism as we've rejected in slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow."
Her verbal construction, obviously thought out ahead of time, but poorly, begs one to note that all of these things are similar. And the rhythm is disturbingly reminiscent of George Wallace's infamous "segregation here..." with her repetition of race, race, race, race...
FLAME ON!:Prosecutors' Torricelli memo unsealed: Report to judge calls senator's donor helpful but unlikely to persuade a jury (JOHN P. MARTIN, September 27, 2002, Newark Star-Ledger)
A federal judge yesterday released a confidential government memo that offers few new details about the aborted federal probe of U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli but still adds fuel to what is already one of the nation's most heated elections.
In the memo, written in May, federal prosecutors said they had gathered "substantial" evidence to corroborate some claims by David Chang, the Bergen County entrepreneur who said he gave Torricelli tens of thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise for political favors.
According to the memo, the evidence included documents and accounts from shop vendors who backed Chang's contention that he bought appliances, jewelry and other items that Chang said were for the New Jersey Democrat.
But the memo included no names or specific details in connection with the Torricelli allegations. And while investigators called Chang "credible in most material respects," they noted that his erratic behavior and contradictory statements weakened his credibility so much that they decided they could not win a conviction against the senator.
This election pretty much comes down to whether New Jerseyans respect themselves and on that topic we're not sanguine.
NUMBERS GAME:10-State Election Tracking Survey Results: key elections in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas (MSNBC/Zogby International, September 24, 2002)
Based solely on the numbers here, you'd have to say Hutchinson (AR) and Allard (CO) are doomed unless there's an unlikely GOP tide. On the other hand, Wellstone (MN) and Toricelli (NJ) appear to be toast and Tim Johnson (SD) is in trouble. Meanwhile, just as Bill Simon never had a shot in such a Democratic state as California, take a look at the numbers in Republican Texas, where the Democrats thought they could be competitive.
A COLD DAY IN THE REPUBLIC:Editorial: War resolution / Postpone it until after election (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sep 27, 2002)
The only way Congress can do its job on this issue is by delaying passage of the resolution on Iraq until after the fall election. Both Democrats and Republicans should be free of campaign heat to ask the hard questions they must ask before the United States sends its young people into a deadly conflict.
The deranged notion here is apparently that politicians should be free of the pressure that their constituents only get a chance to apply at election time so that they (the pols) can oppose what even the Star Tribune obviously feels is the popular will to war. Why not just do away with elections altogether so that government officials never feel the "heat"?
HOLLYWOOD'S PRO-WAR MINORITY REPORTS:Cruise and Spielberg back war (BBC, 26 September, 2002)
The pair made their feelings known at a press conference in Rome, where they have been promoting the Italian release of the blockbuster Minority Report.
"If Bush, as I believe, has reliable information on the fact that Saddam Hussein is making weapons of mass destruction, I cannot not support the policies of his government," Spielberg said.
The director added that those policies were "solid and rooted in reality".
Cruise also spoke out in support of the US president.
"Personally, I don't have all the information President Bush has," said the star.
"But I believe Saddam has committed many crimes against humanity and his own people."
Interesting that it's two guys who are quite involved in defending their religions.
TOWARD A TORY REVIVAL:Internal Politics: Conservatives (Iain Murray, September 27, 2002, Edge of England's Sword)
The...Prospect magazine...has a great article by John O'Sullivan on the Tory party's continuing woes. He looks at the psychological problems besetting the party and then points out how its is systematically alienating all three of its natural consituencies: the "patriots" (by being equivocal about Europe), the moral traditionalists (by its emphasis on alternative lifestyles) and the economic liberals (by putting an emphasis on public provision of services). No wonder the party's in such doldrums.[...]
My suggestion is that the party try an over-arching approach...
Restoration of links with the Commonwealth...
Restoration of the family...
Restoration of local control of services...
I think this could work.
We too think it's at least a good start. It is inexplicable to us that England no longer has a conservative party, by which we mean no party that systematically pursues such a politics of personal responsibility, small government, traditional (Judeo-Christian) morality, and alliance with similarly Western nations. Though the Judds were tossed out of England nearly four centuries ago, we have an abiding affection for the place and its people and would like nothing better than to see it turn its gaze West and abandon the East. Britain does have far more in common with America, Canada, Australia, India, etc.--all her wayward children--than with continental Europe and one would hope that she'd cast her future with us, rather than with the French and the Germans.
THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF:Text: Gore Assails Bush's Iraq Policy (former vice president Al Gore's speech before the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Sept. 23, 2002)
[A]ll Americans should acknowledge that Iraq does, indeed, pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf region, and we should be about the business of organizing an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.
Now let's be clear: There's no international law that can prevent the United States from taking action to protect our vital interests when it is manifestly clear that there's a choice to be made between law and our survival. Indeed, international law itself recognizes that such choices stay within the purview of all nations.
I believe, however, that such a choice is not presented in the case of Iraq. Indeed, should we decide to proceed, our action can be justified within the framework of international law rather than requiring us to go outside the framework of international law.
In fact, even though a new United Nations resolution might be helpful in the effort to forge an international consensus, I think it's abundantly clear that the existing U.N. resolutions, passed 11 years ago, are completely sufficient from a legal standpoint, so long as it is clear that Saddam Hussein is in breach of the agreements made at the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.
Now one of the simple points I want to make here today is that we have an obligation to look at the relationship between our war against terrorism and this proposed war against Iraq.
We have a goal of regime change in Iraq; we have had for a number of years. We also have a clear goal of victory in the war against terror.
In the case of Iraq, it would be difficult to go it alone but it's theoretically possible to achieve our goals in Iraq unilaterally.
It's so hard to listen to Al Gore without grinding your teeth down to nubs that we'd missed this point, but his former National Security advisor, Leon Fuerth, was just on FOX News with Tony Snow and made the same point. This is essentially an argument against the need to get a new UN resolution or a new declaration of war from Congress for that matter. Even if he thinks it would be wiser to get both, it's interesting that Mr. Gore is conceding the legality of proceeding without.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT?:Fighting Street to Street (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, September 27, 2002, NY Times)
"The Americans are good at bombing," one Iraqi official mused. "But some day, they will have to come to the ground. And then we'll be waiting. Every Iraqi has a gun in his house, often a Kalashnikov. And every Iraqi has experience in fighting. So let's see how the Americans do when they're fighting in our streets."
That could be a nightmare. As the last gulf war showed, a bombing campaign can knock out bridges and barracks, but unless we're incredibly lucky, we won't kill Saddam, trigger a coup or wipe out his Republican Guard forces. We'll have to hunt out Saddam on the ground--which may be just as hard as finding Osama in Afghanistan, and much bloodier.
Our last experience with street-to-street fighting was confronting untrained thugs in Mogadishu, Somalia. This time we're taking on an army with possible bio- and chemical weapons, 400,000 regular army troops and supposedly seven million more in Al Quds militia. [...]
Perhaps the American invasion will be a breeze after all. The Iraqi army is less than half the strength it was when it crumpled in a 100-hour ground war a decade ago, and U.S. forces are much stronger now. But if we're going to invade, we need to prepare for a worst-case scenario involving street-to-street fighting, with farmers like Mr. Khal taking potshots at our troops.
Is America really prepared for hundreds of casualties, even thousands, in an invasion and subsequent occupation that could last many years?
It's probably futile to try to "understand" the mind of a psychopath--as well try to figure out Charles Manson and Helter Skelter as Osama bin Laden and the "jihad". But this much we can know, the street-fighting in Mogadishu looms large in the mind of the terrorists. Here's what bin Laden told John Miller of ABC, in the famous Nightline interview (recounted in the fine new book, The Cell):
THE FALL:Philosophical Quotation of the Day (The Philosophers' Magazine on the Internet)
Morality has no terrors for her who has risen beyond good and evil. And though Morality may continue to devour its victims, it is utterly powerless in the face of the modern spirit, that shines in all its glory upon the brow of man and woman, liberated and unafraid.
-Emma Goldman, Victims of Morality
This is the idea that lies at the center of the Left's repeated and often spectacular failures.
September 26, 2002
A HERO OF OUR TIMES:THE DESCENT OF GOULD: How a paleontologist sought to revolutionize evolution. (H. ALLEN ORR, 2002-09-23, The New Yorker)
[G]ould was perhaps at his best when on the attack. He warred relentlessly against what he viewed as bad science. His chief enemy was genetic determinism, the view that it's all in the genes. He battled this cant on two fronts. The first was sociobiology and its stepchild evolutionary psychology, and their often soaring speculations on the evolutionary basis of human culture. Gould charged the champions of these creeds with both a vulgar hereditarianism (they were given to saying things like "Consider a gene for gathering behavior in women"—even when no such gene has ever been found) and an addiction to untestable Just So stories ("Gathering behavior is favorable because . . ."). He went on to argue that all such "adaptationist" tales ignore the possibility that some features of animals and plants are simply by-products of how organisms are built, not the direct, designed products of natural selection. Such features, as Gould and his Harvard colleague Richard Lewontin famously put it, are like spandrels in church architecture—the triangular spaces that appear automatically between arches. Speculation about the "purpose" of these unplanned spaces is both futile and foolish. Likewise for speculation about the purpose of, say, the color of blood: as Lewontin and others have pointed out, blood looks red when it carries oxygen, but surely it's the oxygen that natural selection cares about, not the red.
The other front in Gould's war was the I.Q. industry. A large and apparently sophisticated literature claimed that I.Q. measured a single real thing called intelligence, and that this thing showed profound genetic differences across races. Over the years, these conclusions were invoked to justify a number of racist policies, including the Johnson-Reed Actof 1924, which ultimately barred entry to millions of Jews attempting to flee prewar Europe. In work that culminated in "The Mismeasure of Man," Gould levelled city blocks of this literature, exposing its appalling intellectual shoddiness. His book enjoyed enormous popular success and earned him a National Book Critics Circle Award. This was terrific stuff, and it's too bad we won't have more of it. [...]
The biggest of Gould's theories—and the one on which his scientific legacy will surely ride—is known as "punctuated equilibrium." Gould introduced punctuated equilibrium with Niles Eldredge, of the American Museum of Natural History, in 1972. Their starting point was simple: trust the fossils. The fossil record, they said, shows something surprising. Species look unchanged for vast stretches of time and then—suddenly—they morph. Certain species of African snail, for instance, look the same for millions of years and then abruptly change shell shape. The question was why. The traditional answer among evolutionary biologists was that species change gradually, by natural selection, and if the fossil record says different, so much the worse for the fossil record. This attitude isn't quite as cavalier as it sounds. Evolutionary biologists have always believed that the fossil record is abysmally bad. (Imagine trying to reconstruct Western history from two snapshots, one of Pontius Pilate and the other of Evel Knievel.) Moreover, biologists can see gradual adaptive change happening around them. (Think of antibiotic resistance.) So, the argument went, we're better off extrapolating from what we can see clearly now than trusting a fragmentary record of what allegedly happened then.
Gould and Eldredge believed otherwise. They said that the pattern of long stasis punctuated by sudden change is real. It doesn't reflect gaps in the data; it is the data. [...]
Echoing arguments made by the naturalist Ernst Mayr, [Gould and Eldredge] claimed that speciation involves "genetic revolutions," episodes of extensive genetic change that shake up much of an organism's genome. Going even further, Gould and Eldredge argued that only speciation—only passage through a genetic revolution—is sufficiently violent to break the binds of developmental constraints. The result is that all evolutionary change is restricted to rare moments of species-splitting. Lizards can't just go changing tail length; they can do so only when splitting into different species. So much for Darwinism. [...]
Gould's second defense is far more important. Early in the debate, he began to reassess just what was revolutionary about punctuated equilibrium. He came to think that the truly outrŽ aspect of the theory was something called species selection. In Darwin's account, natural selection acts at the level of organisms, not at the level of species. Some organisms are better adapted to their environments than others, and so have more progeny. Imagine, for instance, two kinds of moths belonging to the same species. One is white and easily seen by bird predators; the other is brown and often mistaken by birds for a dead leaf. The result is that the brown moths typically have more offspring: brown moths have a higher "fitness" than white ones. The percentage of brown moths will, consequently, increase with each generation. This is normal "organismal selection"—it yields organisms that neatly fit their environments.
The evolution skeptic reading this essay feels like a kid in a candy store--he hardly knows which sweet treat to grab off the shelf first. Surely one's eye is caught by the umpteenzillionth recourse to that specious case of the peppered moths. But on the other hand, how can one pass up the way Gould sought to save evolution from the damning testimony of the lack of a fossil record by simply proposing that the fossils actually reflected how things evolve--one day we were australopithecus the next homo sapiens (or however that famous wall chart went) with no messy need for gradual change. Truly, were he right, Darwin would have been dead. But as Mr. Orr points out, this theory was refuted as easily as pointing at the dog at your feet, which has obviously changed gradually from the ur-wolf he began as many moons ago.
HUH? :Daschle Was More Right Than He Knew About Bush: Demagogy about government reorganization is worse than demagogy about war. (Timothy Noah, September 26, 2002, Slate)
As it happens, Chatterbox thinks Bush is more right than the Democratic Senate about the bureaucratic constraints that continued civil-service protections are likely to impose. Bush is even right to argue that the Senate is allowing itself to be influenced on this matter by special interests--in this case, powerful government unions. But for Bush to say that this disagreement about a fairly abstruse personnel question shows that the Democrats don't care about U.S. security really is, to use Daschle's word, "outrageous." If Bush can't maintain a sense of proportion about the little stuff, what hope is there that he can maintain a sense of proportion about the big stuff?
Hold on! Bush is right that Democrats are trying to constrain what will be the main agency charged with protecting domestic security. He's right that they are doing so because they do union bidding. But he's wrong that they care more about the special interests than about U.S. security? And, he's lost his sense of proportion because he pointed out that Democrats are damaging our security? This is just incoherent.
IT'S MORNING IN IRAQ:Schroeder writes off the Iraqi people (David Frum, September 25 2002, National Post)
By coincidence, I happened to spend the evening of the German election in the apartment of Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the opposition Iraqi National Congress, and the likely leader of a democratic post-Saddam Iraq. Does it seem ridiculous to think of a democratic Iraq? Not more ridiculous than it would have, 60 years ago, to talk about a democratic Germany.
Chalabi showed me a photograph taken in Baghdad at that darkest year of Hitler's tyranny, 1942. Eight Middle Eastern men stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Western pin-striped suits: Three of them were Sunni Muslims, three were Shi'ites, one was Christian, and the last was Jewish. They were the directors of the Iraq Vegetable Oil Company -- a major exporter of farm products and the largest firm then listed on the Baghdad stock exchange. One of them was Chalabi's own father. That was what Iraq used to be: not a perfect democracy by any means -- but a society that might have evolved toward a better and freer future.
That evolution was brutally interrupted. Iraq's relatively benign monarchy was overthrown in 1958 -- since then, Iraq no longer grows enough grain to export. The men in the photo were driven into exile andtheir property confiscated. The stock exchange was closed. The Jews were robbed and expelled; the Christians oppressed; the Shi'ites massacred. Dictator followed dictator, each crueler and more dangerous than the last -- until we reach Saddam, the cruelest and most dangerous of them all.
Where would Germany be if the Western powers had not believed that it could be something different and better than it was in 1942? Why are we so determined to believe that Iraq can never be different and better than it is today?
For all the terror and horror of modern Iraq, it has produced an exile leadership that is more humane and decent than that of any any other Arab country. When the United States (and its friends and allies) fights Saddam, it will not be fighting against Iraq - it will be fighting for Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. America and its allies will be fighting against the Iraqi dictatorship. They will be fighting for the Iraqi people. That's a fight that the confident new united Germany ought to understand and support.
Though no fan of either Henry Kissinger or Madeleine Albright, both of whom served the cause of democracy poorly here and abroad, I did find it touching today when they began their Senate testimony by noting that each came from a nation (Germany & Czechoslovakia respectively) that had been freed from tyranny in large part by the efforts of the United States and that each became Secretary of State of the United States. I honestly don't know the answer to this, but I wonder if post-War Germany has ever had a foreign-born foreign minister, or anyone foreign-born in any other position of genuine power?
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LOGS:STREISAND MEMO TO GEPHARDT: 'TAKE THE OFFENSE!' (Drudge Report)
Barbra Streisand has reminded Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt in a blistering memo: "Sadam Hussein did not bomb the World Trade Center."
The Streisand memo, released by adviser Margery Tabankin, warns Democrats to "get off the defensive and go on the offensive."
The singeractressdirectorproducer took time out from rehearsals for a performance she's giving on Sunday for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to remind Gephardt [spelled "Gebhardt" in a faxed memo obtained by DRUDGE] not to "ignore the obvious influence on the Bush Administration of such special interests as the oil industry, the chemical companies, the logging industry... just to name a few."
Streisand notes: "Many of these industries, run by big Republican donors and insiders, clearly have much to gain if we go to war against Iraq."
In a related story, Paul Wolfowitz sent Ms Streisand a memo pointing out that she hit a C-flat rather than a C-sharp in the third bar of Evergreen.
REWARDING PROLIFERATION:Blair’s dossier on Iraq: an argument for peace (Paul Rogers, 25 September 2002, OpenDemocracy)
[T]he dossier demonstrates a paradox. It describes Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, yet, if taken at face value, the existence of such weapons and their availability for use means that any war with Iraq is likely to be extremely dangerous. It would certainly have the potential for the use of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq, and possibly by the US.
In a world in which political wisdom prevails, that ought to encourage the urgent search for effective alternatives to war. In its own way, the dossier is actually an argument against a war.
This is the most absurd argument against war, suggesting as it does that all a dictator need do is acquire weapons of mass destruction and his regime is home free.
DANCING WITH THE DICTATOR:THEY JUST CAN'T STOP THEMSELVES (Dick Morris, September 26, 2002, NY Post)
Day after day, Republicans will rise to defend action against Iraq and Democrats will express doubts. Driven by the wails of their liberal constituents, the likes of liberal Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will raise objections and reinforce the concerns of voters about Democrats' willingness to back action against Saddam.
And Saddam himself will wind up boosting Bush politically: If Saddam sneezes, the Democrats will get pneumonia.
The more the Iraqi dictator roars against the legitimacy of the U.S.-led invasion of his country, the more he drives the topic to the top of the national agenda - exactly what Bush wants and needs politically.
But should Saddam adopt the opposite tactic and continue to proffer concessions and appear more flexible on the inspections issue, he'll still drive a nail into the Democratic chances in November. Why? Because U.S. liberals will take up his cause and pressure their party to take a self-destructive tack in the leadup to the fall elections.
The American Left cannot help itself. It has learned the lesson of Vietnam; since then (as Tallyrand said of Louis XVIII), it has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Whenever war is discussed, the vision of bodies on a useless battlefield looms before them like a recurring nightmare.
The more Saddam offers concessions, the more he will catalyze liberals' angst and lead them to demand that their party fight the good fight against foreign intervention, however popular and however necessary the invasion of Iraq may be.
You'd think they'd have at least learned from the health care debacle not to hostage their fortunes to a sociopath.
FUHRERLIEDER (via Brian Boys):Springtime for Schrsder and Germany (Stefan Kanfer, 24 September 2002. The International Relations Follies of 2002!)
Remember Sir Noel Coward's wonderful song, “Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans?
Here's a modern update:
“Don't Let's Be Beastly to Gerhard:
We must be dupes
And with our U.S. troops
We must leap right through the hoops
We'll let the Germans know that when Iraq's defeated
They are not the ones we'll reprimand.
We must keep mum,
For Saddam needs a chum,
And Schrsder's rule of thumb
Is win regardless of the costs and quarrels;
Since when did politics have any morals? [...]
Don't let's be beastly to the chancellor
He is really rather something of a card.
For there's several million Muslims he has got to satisfy
And the Zionists in Deutschland are in very short supply.
Let's turn the other cheek again, and all play hide-and-seek again
While thanking him for his utter disregard.
He melded Socialist and Green, and wants Iraqi gasoline,
But let's not be beastly to Gerhard.
Sadly, this is a better analysis than you're likely to find in the newspapers.
BUY A Y :Parents pay to choose baby's sex: Doctor's gender clinic revealed: Will it be a boy or a girl? (Jo Revill, September 8, 2002, The Observer)
Using laser technology, the MicroSort company in Fairfax, Virginia, claims to be able to separate sperm into those bearing the Y-bearing male chromosome and those carrying the X-bearing female chromosome. They send it back to Belgium and the woman's eggs are fertilised with sperm carrying the sex desired. Under the 'family balancing' method, the mother is only allowed to have a child of the opposite gender from the child, or children, she already has.
Comhaire told an Observer journalist - who was posing as a 39-year-old mother of a daughter who now wants a boy - that the technique was successful in 91 per cent of cases where a girl is wanted and in 75 per cent of those wanting a boy.
He said a much greater chance of getting the desired sex was possible by carrying out a pre-implantation diagnosis on the embryo, to determine its sex. 'This can be done, but it's going to cost you another Û6,000 (£3,660). It's a delicate type of procedure. But the chances are much better because you are reimplanting an embryo where you know the sex.'
What do we suppose the percentages are for choosing the respective sexes?
SILENCE AS ASSENT:New Jersey's Dreadful Senate Race (NY Times, September 26, 2002)
So far, all voters have been told is that if they vote for Mr. Forrester they will be giving control of the Senate to a Republican Party that is far more conservative than most of them are; if they vote for Mr. Torricelli they will be rewarding an ethically challenged politician who has embarrassed them. There's considerable truth in both arguments, but that only increases the candidates' obligation to respond to them.
Mr. Forrester must very clearly explain how he differs with, or agrees with, the policies of the Republican leaders-in-waiting like Senators Trent Lott and Don Nickles. Mr. Torricelli can't excuse his behavior, but by discussing it frankly he might at least give the voters some assurance that he has faced up to his misbehavior, and changed his ways.
To date, both candidates have seemed to prefer obfuscation and selective focus. From a political strategy standpoint, maybe it makes sense. But from here it looks, sounds and smells like voter abuse.
Why is it not appropriate to interpret the silence of both as agreement with what their opponent is saying? Yes, Mr. Torricelli is saying, I'm an embarrassment. Yes, says Mr. Forrester, I'm a Republican.
REPUBLIC PICTURES:China Is Warming to Hollywood's Glow (RICK LYMAN, September 18, 2002, NY Times)
Nothing stirs Hollywood's covetous soul these days quite so much as the mention of China. With 1.3 billion people and only 5,000 movie screens--North America, with one-fourth the population, has more than six times as many screens--China looks to Hollywood much like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must look to the oil industry: vast, untapped and potentially fat. But the potential for profit is undercut by the flood of illegal DVD's into Chinese homes.
Many believe that the recent trickle of Hollywood films into Chinese theaters, along with those illegal DVD's, has played a role in spurring yearnings for accelerated change among ordinary Chinese citizens. Images of prosperous, independent Westerners--if not explicitly standing up for their rights, at least dressed in cool style and living it up--might have a fundamental impact on this huge, complex society as it emerges from its cocoon.
"I don't think there is any doubt that Western films have had a fairly large, popular impact," said Nicholas Lardy, an expert on the Chinese economy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He pointed to obvious changes in everyday dress and slang, as well as to what may be more subtle shifts. But others fear overstating the case.
"To the extent that there are hidden messages in popular culture, that is possible," said Catharin E. Dalpino, another China expert at Brookings. "But the problem with buying this argument is that it will be distilled into saying Hollywood is helping to democratize China. And the truth is, I don't think the Chinese people are relying on Hollywood to help them develop a social conscience."
How ya' gonna keep 'em down on the (collective) farm, once they've seen Porky's?
ANOTHER CONVERT:Put Arafat on trial (Alan M. Dershowitz, Sept. 23, 2002, Jewish World Review)
The rule of law requires that murderers be brought to justice. Yasser Arafat is a cold-blooded, premeditated murderer. It would seem to follow that he should be brought to trial.
Mr. Dershowitz is right, but one wonders why he wasn't saying this when President Clinton, for whom he flacked relentlessly, hosted the "cold-blooded, premeditated murderer" (and his partner in crime, Gerry Adams, for that matter) in the White House. Meanwhile, rather than leave this task to Israel, why not demand that the U.N., which chatters about Human Rights all the time, try him? Let's see if the War Crimes folks are serious or if they just want another forum in which to flog the West.
GORING YOUR OWN OX:Gore on War (Richard Cohen, September 26, 2002, Washington Post)
Bully for Al Gore!
Speaking in San Francisco the other day, the president of most of the people--he won the popular vote, remember--ventured where few prominent Democrats have dared and criticized President Bush's approach to a war with Iraq. Almost instantly, of course, Gore was excoriated for playing politics with such a serious matter and, worse--much, much worse--complicating his party's strategy for the midterm elections. [...]
As for the Democrats, many of them are so afraid of being labeled appeasers that they want to quickly give the president the war resolution he wants--so they can then turn to the weak economy as a campaign issue. Many of these Democrats happen to share Gore's misgivings, but, to put matters in their crassest terms, they seem quite willing to sacrifice the odd 19-year-old soldier for the odd congressional seat. [...]
So, bully for Gore. He has raised some important issues. This is the solemn obligation of the opposition party and its de facto leader. And the solemn obligation of the president and his supporters is not to shout appeasement but to provide some answers.
Ignoring Mr. Cohen's novel constitutional interpretation and his continuing argument with himself (he wrote several months ago that he supported war with Saddam but now that it seems likely he's gotten the vapors), he masterfully makes the case that Democrats are playing politics with the war, concealing their opposition from the voters even though it may mean American soldiers will die in a cause the Democratic Party does not believe in.
NEOPALEO:GLOBALTHINK'S PERILS (DANIEL PIPES, September 24, 2002, NY Post)
IN the debate over Iraq, the Democrats and most allied governments are demanding United Nations Security Council endorsement of a military campaign - or they are against it.
This is a strange position. The U.S. government, with an over two-century record of forwarding human rights and defeating tyrants, is to defer to the United Nations? The duly elected leaders of the United States should step aside and let assorted dictators make key decisions affecting American national security?
There is a reason for this strange idea, John Fonte of the Hudson Institute reveals in an eye-opening article in the current issue of Orbis magazine. In recent decades, the "progressivism" rejected by America's democratic institutions - the executive branch, Congress, the courts, state and local governments - has been gaining at the United Nations and other undemocratic international institutions. And many Western elites - even more so in Europe than here - have so internalized this change that they now see the United Nations & Co. as more legitimate on these issue.
This attempted end-run around American democracy, Fonte argues, represents a significant movement, which he dubs "transnational progressivism." I prefer the name "bureaucratic leftism," but whatever one calls it, Fonte establishes that, in the tradition of fascism and communism, this effort constitutes a significant "challenge to liberal democracy."
What a delight it is to find the neoconservatives sounding like their nemesis Pat Buchanan. Welcome, late, to the battle.
ABORTING RESEARCH:Stem Cell Research Is Slowed by Restrictions, Scientists Say (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, September 26, 2002, NY Times)
A parade of frustrated scientists told a Senate subcommittee today that research on human embryonic stem cells was moving exceedingly slowly because of the severe restrictions that President Bush has imposed on federal financing for the work.
"The field of human embryonic stem cell research is in a fragile state at best under the current presidential policy," said Dr. George Q. Daley of the Whitehead Institute in Boston, adding that the policy "threatens to starve the field at a time when greater nourishment is critical."
Charles Murtaugh often wonders what President Bush has done to keep pro-lifers happy: how about strangling human experimentation in its crib?
REHABILITATION AT THE HAGUE:Star Power in Serbia: Slobodan Milosevic's performance at his war-crimes trial has won him increased popularity at home (ANDREW PURVIS, Sep. 30, 2002, TIME)
For Slobodan Milosevic, old habits die hard. He has been away from home for more than a year now, held by the United Nations at its war-crimes tribunal in the Hague. But each morning he returns to Serbia via the airwaves, the familiar pink cheeks and silvery hair reclaiming their place on TV sets across the former Yugoslavia. For the president of the National Committee for the Liberation of Slobodan Milosevic, an organization of hard-liners, it's a welcome sight. "I am proud of our President," says Bogoljub Bjelica. "He is superior in every way."
That view is widely shared in Serbia. Approval of the ex-President, not long ago in the single digits, doubled in the first week of his trial earlier this year to 20% and stayed there. Approval of the international tribunal conversely continues to drop: now even the NATO alliance that bombed Belgrade, polls say, is held in higher public esteem.
The Serb nationalism that Milosevic rode to power, meanwhile, is enjoying a modest revival. Ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj, Milosevic's own pick for President in elections at the end of this month, now claims 12% support, up from 4% in May. Those who hoped that the spectacle of the former President in the dock would shock Serbs into recognizing the crimes done in their name are having to rethink. And worse may lie ahead. This week prosecutors begin the second part of their case against Milosevic — for his responsibility in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia and Croatia. In this phase of the trial, he is expected to dwell heavily on how Serbs are victims, not perpetrators, of the Balkan wars, a popular refrain at home. "Milosevic was politically dead before he was transferred to the Hague," says Dragoljub Zarkovic, a leading Belgrade editor. "The tribunal has given him the kiss of life."
We've long maintained that he should be on trial for his domestic communism, not for his over-rough actions on the border of the clash of civilizations.
September 25, 2002
STEALTH POLITICS:Candidate Daschle Would Have No Comment About Anything (Scott Ott, September 25, 2002, Scrapple Face)
Senator Tom Daschle said today that if he runs for president he'll have 'no comment' about anything.
"I just don't want to politicize the economy, foreign policy, social security, welfare, domestic security, and all these other issues that involve people's lives," the Senator said.
Mr. Ott has this one dead to rights. What is more political than a nation's decision of whether to go to war? And, as Clausewitz told us some years ago: "War is a continuation of politics by other means." How can you ever remove politics from such a matter?
THE DEMOCRATS VS. NATIONAL SECURITY:Floor Statement on Homeland Security Legislation ( U.S. Senator Zell Miller, D-GA, September 25, 2002)
When the civil service system was established well over a century ago, it had a worthy goal: To create a professional work force that was free of cronyism.
Back then it was valid. But too often in government, we pass laws to fix the problems of the moment and then we keep those laws on the books for years and year without ever following up to see if they are still needed.
The truth of the matter is that a solution from the 19th Century is posing a problem in the 21st. Especially when this country is threatened in such a different and sinister way.
Presently, we're operating under a system of governmental and personnel paralysis.
It offers little reward for good workers and provides lots of cover for bad workers.
Hiring a new federal employee can take five months - five months. Firing a bad worker takes more than a year - if it's allowable at all - because of the mountains of paperwork and hearings and appeals.
A federal worker can be caught knee-walking drunk on the job and can't be fired for 30 days and then he has the right to endless appeals.
Productivity should be the name of the game and we lose productivity when bad folks hold onto jobs forever and when jobs go unfilled for months.
Don't we realize there is another disaster looming just around the corner where American lives are going to be lost? And another one after that? And that these attacks against Americans - against our country - will occur for the rest of our lives?
Would anyone dare suggest that is not going to happen? Would anyone suggest that 9/11 was some kind of isolated phenomenon never to happen on American soil again? Surely no one - even the most naive optimistic - believes that. Surely no one in this body believes that.
Over sixty-thousand terrorists worldwide have already been identified. And terrorist cells in some unlikely places like Lackawanna, N. Y. have been discovered. They are everywhere.
And when these other attacks come - as certainly they will - do you not think Americans throughout this great land are not going to look back at the last three weeks of dilly-dallying in the U. S. Senate?
And when they do, do you not think that some hard questions and some terrible second-guessing will follow?
I can hear them now. The talk show lines will be clogged. The blame will be heaped on this body. Why was the U. S. Senate so fixated on protecting jobs instead of protecting lives?
The U.S. Senate's refusal to grant this President and future presidents the same power that four previous presidents have had will haunt the Democratic Party worst than Marley's ghost haunted Ebenezer Scrooge.
Why did they put workers' rights above American lives? Why did that 2002 U.S. Senate - on the one year anniversary of 9/11 - with malice and forethought, deliberately weaken the powers of the president in time of war?
And then why did this Senate - in all its puffed up vainglory - rear back and deliver the ultimate slap in the face of the president by not even having the decency to give him and up or down vote on his bill? This is unworthy of this great body. It is demeaning and ugly and over the top.
What were they thinking of? What could have possessed them?
Don't ask then for whom the bell tolls, it will toll for ... us.
The blessed Senator Miller gets to the merits of the argument that scares Tom Daschle so.
TAILS STRAIGHT UP:A Story Worth Celebrating: The Jews of Istanbul (Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer, Travel Watch)
We remembered a man we?d met in Curacao who, like Teri Meir, could trace his roots back to 15th century Spain. Only his ancestors went to Portugal, then Bayonne and ultimately the Dutch Caribbean island, suffering much persecution along the way.
When invited by the Spanish government to take part in the much publicized Quintcentennial Celebration of the expulsion of 1492, he angrily refused. "There is nothing to celebrate," he said.
Had his ancestors taken the route to the Ottoman lands, he could have celebrated half a millennium of sanctuary and freedom as many did in the Turkish events that marked that anniversary. Ironically, however, greater attention world-wide was paid to the expulsion from Spain than the ingathering to the Ottoman Empire. But the time for celebrating good deeds does not end. For Teri Meir the history of her family's life in Istanbul is a source of continuous celebration; for us - two Americans who spent a week in Istanbul -- the memory of an afternoon at a synagogue in the company of three Moslem men is one we will celebrate forever.
There's always the example of Turkey to keep hope alive in the Islamic world.
SEE NO EVIL, FEAR NO EVIL, ABET EVIL:Two Concepts of Anti-Terrorism: The party of fear vs. the party of goodwill. (William Saletan, September 24, 2002, Slate)
The party of goodwill, led by Gore, believes that the behavior of foreign peoples and governments toward the United States is driven by whether they like us. If we're nice to them, they'll be nice to us. If we're mean to them, they'll be mean to us.[...]
The party of fear, led by Bush, takes a different view. It believes that the behavior of foreign peoples and governments toward the United States is driven, as President Reagan put it, not by whether they like us, but by whether they respect us. [...]
Which party is right? Both are probably oversimplifications. For now, the important thing is to be aware of the dispute. They're completely different theories of psychology. Neither has been clearly articulated, challenged, or defended.
By defining the diferrences so narrowly and incorrectly, Mr. Saletan is able to correctly assert that these specific points have not been clearly articulated. In fact, the difference between conservatism and liberalism is far more elemental, it's that the Right believes in evil while the Left does not, and this is has been discussed frequently and fully--see for instance The Death of Satan : How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil (Andrew Delbanco).
ADD IT TO YOUR READING LIST:REVIEW: of Atonement, Ian McEwan (Charles Murtaugh, Blogcritics)
McEwan is often labeled a cold fish, and not without justification, but in this novel he makes us care more deeply about his characters than in any other that I've read. I personally found it hard to put down the book, I was so worried about the fate of his almost helpless dramatis personae.
Though dubious about Ian McEwan's prior novels, such plaudits from Brother Murtaugh are enough to at least pique our interest.
OUTRAGE!:In President's Speeches, Iraq Dominates, Economy Fades (Dana Milbank, September 25, 2002, Washington Post)
As he seeks to boost Republican candidates in the midterm elections, President Bush is increasing his emphasis on terrorism and national security, shedding his previous determination to demonstrate his concern about the flagging economy.
Four times in the past two days, Bush has suggested that Democrats do not care about national security, saying on Monday that the Democratic-controlled Senate is "not interested in the security of the American people." His remarks, intensifying a theme he introduced last month, were quickly seconded and disseminated by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). [...]
Mr. Milbank seems to have completely butchered this story, because here's a text of the President's comments:
I asked the Congress to work with me to come up with a new Department of Homeland Security, to make sure that not only can this administration function better, but future administrations will be able to deal with the true threats we face as we get into the 21st century. A homeland security department which takes over the hundred different agencies and brings them under one umbrella so that there's a single priority and a new culture, all aimed at dealing with the threats.
I mean, after all, on our border we need to know who's coming into America, what they're bringing into America, are they leaving when they're supposed to be leaving America. (Applause.) Yet, when you look at the border, there are three different federal agencies dealing with the border: there is Customs and INS and Border Patrol. And sometimes they work together and sometimes they don't -- they don't. They've got different work rules. They've got different customs. Sometimes they have different strategies. And that's not right.
So I asked Congress to give me the flexibility necessary to be able to deal with the true threats of the 21st century by being able to move the right people to the right place at the right time, so we can better assure America we're doing everything possible. The House responded, but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people. I will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that does not allow this President, and future Presidents, to better keep the American people secure.
Note that he refers to "the Senate" and not to Democrats. The statement may be objectionable for impugning the patriotism of all 100 Senators, a number that includes at least 49 Republicans, but it can hardly be said to single out Democrats and so is in no wise partisan.
THE GREENING OF THE RIGHT:Conservatism: Green vs. Crunch (Ben Domenech, 9/25/02)
The reason that I consider myself a Green Conservative has to do with my belief that man has two proper roles in relation to nature, both drawn from Biblical concepts. Mankind must be the Subduer of the Earth, and the Steward of the Earth.
Most conservatives like the Subduing part -- carving out a niche in the unforgiving rock, Man must make a path through the mountains and over the seas, harvesting the food and materials that God has given us. Manifest Destiny and all that.
The Stewardship part is where I break off from many conservatives. I believe that God also gave us a good deal of responsibility for caring for the Earth. We are to respect nature as a gift from God, and treat it as a farmer would treat his lifestock and crops. Any farmer worth his salt would know that we must plant as much or more than we harvest if we want to keep our crops healthy. And any hunter will tell you that just because you need to keep certain animal populations under control doesn't mean we should wipe them out.
Mr. Domenech offers some useful thoughts on the conservative environmentalism debate. What's most interesting about the topic, as evident in his comments and others, is that conservatives seem to be less anti-environment than anti-Environmentalist. It seems like there would be room on the Right for someone to develop a thoughtful brand of conservative environmentalism, that keeps Man at the center of Nature but recognizes the obligation of what Mr. Domenech rightly calls "stewardship".
CASEY JONES, YOU BETTER WATCH YOUR SPEED:Radical Conservatism (David S. Broder, September 25, 2002, The Washington Post)
Consider economics. The centerpiece of Bush's policy is his belief in the efficacy of tax cuts under any and all circumstances.[...]
Consider education. [...] Bush has pushed through the largest expansion of the federal role in education of any president since Lyndon Johnson, not just in dollars but in standards of performance and measures of achievement, backed by real sanctions.
Consider social programs. Bush has backed a continuing effort to shift the line on church-state relations, bringing civil and religious authority much closer together. [...]
Consider retirement security. In the face of cautions from members of his own party and strong criticism from the Democrats, Bush has kept on his agenda the proposal to change the Social Security program... [...]
And now Bush has put before the world, first in his West Point speech and last week in a formal state paper, a fundamental revision of American foreign and national security policy. [...]
[H]e asserts the right of the United States, as the only superpower, to judge the degree of potential danger itself -- and to take whatever action it deems necessary to eliminate that threat.
You may think any one of these changes is wise or foolish. What is remarkable is that all of them have come in so short a time from the hand of a man whose campaign seemed so bland and whose election was so narrow. Bush is redefining what it means to be a conservative.
If you can lift your eyes from watching the train wreck that Maureen Dowd has made of her reputation in recent months, you might want to check out the runaway David Broder on track two. In a sense, both seem to be suffering from the same odd failure, they've become completely deranged as a result of George W. Bush's success. Ms Dowd, who's always been partisan has ceased to be insightful or funny, while Mr. Broder has abandoned what had previously been a pretense of objectivity, which would be sad enough, but he's also lost the ability to perform dispassionate analysis, which is a catastrophe.
THE GLASS WOULD BE HALF EMPTY IF WE STILL USED GLASS:Conservatism and Progress (Paul Cella, September 25, 2002)
Reason alone is simply not a solid enough foundation upon which to build a civilization; it does not hold final sway over the minds of human beings; stronger elements must be employed: habit, prejudice, prescription. That was Burke's teaching, and I do not think it has been refuted, neither by argument nor by experience. Burke does not disdain reform. But it must be done with care for the organic thing that is human society, for the traditions into which men of genius and of modesty alike have infused their hard earned wisdom and lessons for posterity. Tradition should be venerated; that the past is full viciousness and injustice only strengthens the necessity for taking it seriously.
Mr. Cella weighs in on the issue of optimistic vs. pessimistic conservatism.
GEORGE O. VS. GEORGE W.?:Regime Change? (Joshua Micah Marshall, September 21st, 2002, Talking Points)
Among the more bizarre and troubling aspects of the 'regime change' debate is ... well, the phrase 'regime change.'
According to various neo-conservatives and Iraq-hawks, George Orwell is a dedicated Iraq-hawk and thoroughgoing supporter of regime change. This may well be the case. I'm never able to predict such things. But I would have imagined that were Orwell alive today the phrase 'regime change' itself would be one he would quickly set upon with a knife and a fork. [...]
Like many phrases Orwell had at, 'regime change' is one that comes with the evasion and concealment prepackaged within it. We all know more or less what the phrase means: the violent otherthrow of one government and its replacement with another, chosen by the power which overthrew the first one, or, in other words, by us. So why not say so? Using an abstract and antiseptic phrase like 'regime change' for a process which is neither abstract or antiseptic is corrupting. [...]
I don't pretend that the short-hand of 'regime change' is the end of the world in itself. But it is the exposed tip of an extremely dishonest public debate--one in which assertions which are widely understood to be false are stated and not corrected, in which important distinctions are clouded with obscuring phrases, and in which discussion of the long-term consequences of specific actions are trumped by slogans. And that's a very big deal.
Mr. Marshall seems here to have forgotten that language must also facilitate communication. Surely he's not proposing that every time one of us gets to the point where we are saying that we want Saddam gone that rather than using a reasonably direct shorthand like "regime change" we say instead that we support "the violent otherthrow of one government and its replacement with another, chosen by the power which overthrew the first one, or, in other words, by us"? Or maybe we could shorten this to its acronym: tvoogairwacbtpwotfooiowbu? Neither precisely trips off the tongue does it?
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE IVORY:U.S. Troops On the Way to Ivory Coast: American Children Holed Up in Boarding School (Clar Ni Chonghaile, September 24, 2002, Associated Press)
The United States dispatched troops to safeguard 100 American schoolchildren trapped in a cut-off, rebel-held Ivory Coast city, a U.S. official said Tuesday after heavy gunfire sounded overnight there and the West African nation's army claimed to have entered the city.
"At the request of the U.S. ambassador to the Ivory Coast, the U.S. European Command is moving forces to assure the safety of American citizens," Lt. Cmdr. Don Sewell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in Washington.
This is what happens when the American democracy is stolen by a clique of ivory industry robber barons.
SPEAK THE TRUTH
A Rally Backing Israel's War on Terrorism
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Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism on the campus and around the world
There is no moral equivalency between cold-blooded murder and self defense
Sponsored by the Interdenominational Rabbinic Committee for Israel
Rabbi Bruce Block
Rabbi Neal Borovitz
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Rabbi Shmuel Goldin
Rabbi David Kalb
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Rabbi Harlan Wechsler
Rabbi Avi Weiss
Anti-Defamation League-Long Island Regional Chapter, Americans for a Safe Israel, Five Towns Jewish Council, JCRC of the UJA Federation of Bergen County & North Hudson, Long Island Board of Rabbis, New York Board of Rabbis, Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council, Mothers Against Terrorism, Rockland Jewish Community Relations Council, Tagar Zionist Student Organization, Union for Traditional Judaism -Organizational committees in formation-
Please join us with your friends & family
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September 24, 2002
THANKS, TOM:Republicans, Hispanics lobby for judicial nominee (Associated Press, Sep 25, 2002)
Is this really the kind of headline the Democrats want to hand Republicans?
PARTNERS IN THE SAME PATTERN:
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance, and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand, only the barest touch is assign. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back - it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it. The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined.
When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.
THROWING A DROWNING MAN AN ANVIL:Gerhard's Generation: Why the new rift between the United States and Germany is for real. (Marc Fisher, September 24, 2002, Slate)
After the fall of the wall and the reunification of Germany, the country's leaders gingerly promised to take on more responsibility around the world, but the steps were tentative and tiny--a few peacekeepers here, a nice donation there. The world was not ready for Germany to become a political or military power, and neither were most Germans. Americans can grumble and mutter about wussy Germans refusing to carry their own weight, but the fact is that this is our own success in, you'll pardon the expression, nation-building: We helped mold a real democracy over there after World War II, and what the Germans have developed since then is the world's most heightened sensitivity to anything that smacks of nationalism, aggression, or cruelty to animals and trees.
There's another fundamental reason we may be to blame for the moral rot that is consuming Europe: the Marshall Plan. Though often lauded for "saving" Europe after WWII, folk seldom pause to consider what kind of Europe it saved. In making it possible to salvage the kind of proto-Socialist welfare systems that had grown up in Europe prior to the War, our aid may well have prevented the kind of complete collapse of European society that would have allowed a fundamental restructuring of state and society, forcing folks to abandon their dependence on government and look once again to each other. We rebuilt on rotten foundations.
BITTER MILES ON THE SUNSET JOURNEY:Nancy Reagan Not Sure Husband Recognizes Her (Reuters, September 24, 2002)
Former first lady Nancy Reagan says in a interview to be broadcast Wednesday on CBS that she is no longer sure that her husband, ex-President Ronald Reagan, recognizes her because of the deterioration he has suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
In an interview with Mike Wallace to be shown CBS's "60 Minutes II," Mrs. Reagan says that life with the 91-year-old former president has become sad and lonely but that she and her sometimes estranged daughter Patti have reconciled and that her husband may sense that.
Unlike many "great" men, the story of Ronald Reagan is also a love story. The exclusivity with which he and Mrs. Reagan love(d) one another was not perhaps a healthy thing, particularly for their children, but it was (is) a remarkable thing and one has to feel badly for her.
THANKS FOR THOSE KIND APPLAUSE:Weather Bird: Lionel Hampton, 1908-2002 After 75 Years Onstage, a Well-Earned Rest (Gary Giddins, September 23rd, 2002, Village Voice)
[I]t's no small achievement to monitor the pulse of musical fashion for nearly 75 years and ride it cowboy-like despite every twist and bounce. If he was ahead of the curve in the '20s, '30s, and '40s, he strutted alongside it it in the decades that followed, never really falling behind-as secure and eager with Chick Corea as with Hank Jones. Nothing musical fazed him. His willingness to extemporize at the drop of anybody's downbeat suggested a talent so natural as to be elemental, but his ear was acute enough to see him through every harmonic labyrinth. Think of another career as long and ardent and constant. You can't-there isn't any.
There aren't many left but it's staggering to realize how long some of these jazz greats performed at the top, or near it, of their craft.
KEN LAY SHRUGGED:Scandals lead execs to 'Atlas Shrugged' (Del Jones, 09/24/2002, USA TODAY)
After Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and other scandals that have created a public backlash against industry and its captains, the Kansas City group has fantasized of a modern-day strike of thinkers and creators, says Neal Patterson, a group member and CEO of Cerner, a big health care information technology company.
"We are the producers of society," says Will Koch, CEO of a development company that owns the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari theme park in Santa Claus, Ind. "We take resources that would be idle and put people to work."
Atlas Shrugged fans note that they despise illegal behavior. Fighting crime, foreign invasion and protecting property rights are the legitimate functions of government, and they welcome jail terms for white-collar criminals, says Ed Snider, chairman of the Philadelphia sports teams Flyers and 76ers and an Atlas Shrugged devotee. Indeed, Rand wrote, "Neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud."
But instead of punishing the guilty, Rand-fan executives say, recent scandals have unleashed an executive witch hunt.
An astonishing number of web denizens are Ayn Rand fans, including Steven Martinovich, who sent this. Indeed, one suspects that nearly every educated young white male in America has a Randian phase and I've no deep quarrel with her philosophy in general. But her writings do have an unfortunate tone, captured a little bit here, of the industrialist as somehow a superior being, as if taking risks with capital somehow converted them into geniuses. Even if it violates her theories, it's easy to see how those who believe themselves to be such geniuses, so far above their fellow men, wopuld come to feel that they are not bound by the rules that restrain we mere mortals. This worship of the technocrat is what is most off-putting about her work. It also sets up a disturbing tension in her novels between the general celebration of freedom and the particular celebration of the genius of an elite few. It's not fatal but it is hard to reconcile.
MOVING ON (via Mike Daley):Moving On From Ground Zero (Petra Bartosiewicz, NY Observer)
On Sept. 11, 2001, Abby Lindsay was pulled out from beneath the towers just in time. A cop named Nick with a gray mustache had found her huddled under two chairs propped against each other like a teepee, where she thought she wouldn?t be killed by the falling towers. He grabbed her and told her to run.
As it turned out, Abby didn?t go far. The next day, she had returned to Ground Zero and was busy behind a table of hot trays, feeding the firefighters. Her 5-foot-1 frame was tiny beside the men. She had outrun death by a few seconds-a matter of yards-and she had not staggered out of the haze looking for home or the nearest hospital. Instead, she?d shrugged off her cuts and scrapes and, less than 24 hours later, was a seasoned volunteer with a solid line on the surest place to find a flashlight, a spare sweatshirt, a carton of cigarettes. But with the dirt streaking her round cheeks, and wearing a pair of borrowed shorts that came to her ankles, she looked less like a gritty rescue worker than a child caught in a war zone.
"I?m not leaving till this is over," she told me. Behind the genial smile, her eyes were slightly wild.
Here's a review of an unusual piece of music that's been helpful in "moving on": Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1993) (Gavin Bryars 1943-)
LIFE IS A SUCCA:Man's smallness and greatness (Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, The Jewish Chronicle 1926)
The succa, the principal feature of this festival, points out a moral of inestimable value. Unless this is taken to heart, the effects of both the New Year and the Day of Atonement will have proved of but a transient nature. "The succa visualizes our life." For what is the succa? A frail, temporary structure intended only for seven days. This is life. The normal span of life, the Psalmist declares, is seven decades, seven periods of 10 each - yamei shnoteinu bahem shivim shana veim begvurot shemonim shana. Under favorable circumstances, we may prolong our stay in this succa into the eighth day - Shemini Atzeret. Only in exceptional cases can we exceed these limits.
How frail is our life! It is like the succa. In fine weather, in the sunshine of health and happiness, we imagine that we are under cover, that we are perfectly sheltered. How slender is the cover! How easily we are subject to all manners of mishaps, of accidents and misfortunes, which may upset our succa, or cause it to tumble down altogether! And in the best case our succa has its time-limit. What a simple thought! Nothing in the world is plainer. And yet how we are apt to lose sight of this and forget the inevitable end. Assuredly the man who lives, strives and acts under the delusion that this life is a dirat keva - a permanent home - and not a succa, will not easily submit to the notes of warning and alarm sounded by the Shofar, to the great lessons conveyed by Yom Kippur, and will often cast to the winds the most vital moral standards and values.
At last we begin to understand the point...
SON OF BOOKMAN (via Ed Driscoll):All Right Already: Alfred Regnery's Publishing House Goes for the Conservative Gusto, and Leaves The Left Behind (Linton Weeks, September 22, 2002, Washington Post)
[Ann] Coulter says that Regnery recognizes "what almost all mainstream publishers refuse to: That there is a wide swath of conservative intellectuals who read books and no comparable group of liberal intellectuals."
And Regnery is a leper to the left.
Eric Alterman, columnist for the Nation and author of the forthcoming "What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News," says it's entirely possible that Regnery's company has published some worthwhile books, "but they have destroyed their reputation with the mainstream by publishing so much crap."
"They're not really interested in convincing people who don't already agree with them," Alterman says.
The company was founded in Chicago in 1947 by Henry Regnery, Al's father. "It is our purpose to publish good books, wherever we find them," Henry wrote in his first catalogue. He also maintained that the books he published would be in "direct opposition to the dominant current of the time."
Over the years, Henry Regnery published such bibles of American conservatism as "The Conservative Mind," by Russell Kirk; the autobiographical "Witness," by Whittaker Chambers, about the dark side of communism; and "God and Man at Yale," by William F. Buckley Jr.
Their reputation with the mainstream? The point is that mainstream publishers won't, or didn't, publish books like these now classics. One award-winning, best-selling author who we're friends with here has an excellent novel that his publishing friends have lauded but which they refuse to publish because its themes are too conservative. He ended up having to publish it himself. That's the kind of ideological strangehold that the Regenerys broke to the great benefit of the public conversation in this country.
THOSE WHO CAN'T, TEACH:White Man's Burden (PAUL KRUGMAN, September 24, 2002, NY Times)
Of course the new Bush doctrine, in which the United States will seek "regime change" in nations that we judge might be future threats, is driven by high moral purpose. But McKinley-era imperialists also thought they were morally justified. The war with Spain--which ruled its colonies with great brutality, but posed no threat to us--was justified by an apparent act of terror, the sinking of the battleship Maine, even though no evidence ever linked that attack to Spain. And the purpose of our conquest of the Philippines was, McKinley declared, "to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them."
Moral clarity aside, the parallel between America's pursuit of manifest destiny a century ago and its new global sense of mission has a lot to teach us.
Mr. Krugman is right that the Philippines has a lot to teach us. Thanks to our imperialism it is in fact a Christian nation, one of the few democracies in the non-Western world and a historic ally. Such is the happy fate of most states where we "meddle".
PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST:The Fog of Peace: The evasions, distractions, and miasma of the anti-war left. (David Brooks, 09/30/2002, Weekly Standard)
The people in the peace camp attack President Bush's plan, but they are unwilling to face the implications of their own. Almost nobody in the peace camp will stand up and say that Saddam Hussein is not a fundamental problem for the world. Almost nobody in that camp is willing even to describe what the world will look like if the peace camp's advice is taken and Saddam is permitted to remain in power in Baghdad, working away on his biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs, still tyrannizing his own people, fomenting radicalism, and perpetuating the current political climate in the Arab world. And because almost nobody in the peace camp is willing to face the realities that a peace policy would preserve, the peace proponents really cannot address the fundamental calculation we confront: Are the risks of killing Saddam greater or less than the risks of tolerating him? Instead of facing the real options, they fill the air with evasions, distractions, and gestures--a miasma of insults and verbiage that distract from the core issue. They are living in the fog of peace.
Maybe this problem is really easy to solve and conservatives have just no given it enough thought. Suppose President Bush were to frame the case for the war against Saddam in a way that it might resonate with the Left: "I want you to imagine what it must be like to be a single black Wiccan lesbian mother in Baghdad, a state with no Hate Crimes laws, where your sex, sexual preference, race, and religion could each make you an enemy of the state; where you and your children have no access to health insurance, no Social Security, and inadequate schools; a state run by the oil industry, where you are even more disenfranchised than if you lived in Broward County, Florida and where the ruler got even less votes than I did."
GORE VS. GORE:Gore: Saddam must go (Jeff Phillips, 28 June, 2000, BBC)
US Vice-President Al Gore has told Iraqi opposition politicians that the United States remains committed to the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.
"There can be no peace for the Middle East so long as Saddam is in a position to brutalise his people and threaten his neighbours."
Meeting a delegation from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), he also reiterated the administration's view that the Iraqi leader should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Transcript: Iraq and the War On Terrorism (Al Gore, September 23rd, 2002)
I believe, therefore, that the resolution that the President has asked Congress to pass is much too broad in the authorities it grants, and needs to be narrowed. The President should be authorized to take action to deal with Saddam Hussein as being in material breach of the terms of the truce and therefore a continuing threat to the security of the region. To this should be added that his continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially a threat to the vital interests of the United States. But Congress should also urge the President to make every effort to obtain a fresh demand from the Security Council for prompt, unconditional compliance by Iraq within a definite period of time. If the Council will not provide such
language, then other choices remain open, but in any event the President should be urged to take the time to assemble the broadest possible international support for his course of action. Anticipating that the President will still move toward unilateral action, the Congress should establish now what the administration’s thinking is regarding the aftermath of a US attack for the purpose of regime change.
The Arabs have a saying for the kind of thinking that transforms a brutal "war criminal" into merely a potential threat: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Would that Al Gore and his ilk could get past their hatred of George W. Bush and return to clear thinking about our real enemies, the dictators of the Islamic world.
September 23, 2002
THE INTERCHANGEABLE NITWITS:The indispensable nation: From Prague to Pretoria, the United States is not popular. : a review of The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World by Mark Hertsgaard (Andy Beckett, September 21, 2002, The Guardian)
[A] third of the way through the book Hertsgaard's focus turns inwards, to the United States' actual deeds and psyche. The America he depicts has squandered its original promise as an outward-looking, free and egalitarian democracy, to become a harshly divided society where the government regularly overrides the liberties of its own and other countries' citizens, and most Americans are too introverted, ill-informed or apathetic to care. Many foreigners, Hertsgaard argues, are unaware of these changes, or do not want to believe they have occurred; therefore they are surprised and disappointed when the United States does not behave like the pure, enlightened republic declared by its founders.
Hertsgaard blames the 1980s, in particular, Ronald Reagan, "the most influential politician in America today, the man whose ideology still shapes the assumptions and policies that reign in Washington". Under Reagan, the balance between rich and poor, between business and other interest groups, between pragmatism and principle in American actions abroad, which had more or less held, in Hertsgaard's view, for 200 years, was decisively tilted in the wrong direction.
He is not short of evidence. He cites Reagan's welfare cutbacks and halving of company tax rates, his degrading of political rhetoric with half-truths and evasions, his military machismo, the Iran-Contra scandal ... And Hertsgaard notes how little the tone of American political life has changed since. Even under Clinton, he points out, cruise missiles were launched at Iraq with the memorable justification from the secretary of state Madeleine Albright, "If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation."
By citing an excess of the Clinton administration, however, Hertsgaard inadvertently exposes a weakness in his own argument. The history of American misdeeds cannot be convincingly confined to the Reagan presidency and those it has influenced. To take two obvious examples from the decade Hertsgaard claims as a lost golden era of sorts, the 1960s, it was President Kennedy whose government encouraged the illegal invasion of Cuba via the Bay of Pigs, and President Johnson who relentlessly prosecuted the war in Vietnam. At the same time, both administrations were initiating reforms at home against racism and poverty of which any progressive government would be proud.
Hertsgaard never quite says it, but it may be that America's benign and malign qualities actually come from the same source: its foundation during the western world's great explosion of self-confident rationalism in the 18th century. Another product of that time was modern France. A favoured theme of American foreign affairs commentators has long been the intertwining of arrogance and laudable achievement in that particular culture. More of that kind of ambivalence - and less innocence - in how the world thinks about the United States might be no bad thing.
It suffices to note that among the bits of evidence cited here for America seeking to override other people's liberties are our activities against Communist Cuba, the Communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, the Communist Sandinistas, and the radical Islamists in Iran. Aid to the Contras served to liberate Nicaragua, but the other three remain to this very day among the most oppressive regimes in the world. Ask any of the millions of Cubans, Iranians, and Vietnamese who fled their native lands to live in America what they think about our human rights record over the past few decades. Ask who's a bigger disappointment, the America which routinely, perhaps even too routinely, intervenes on the side of freedom and democracy, or the Europeans who have sat on the sidelines, suckling at the teat of bloated social welfare states and whining about the cowboy ways of the Americans, who, of course, intervened in Europe three times last century to save them from each other and then paid to rebuild their states.
WHAT DEMONSTRATION? :British Labour party support drops on Iraq fears (Jeremy Lovell, September 23, 2002, Reuters)
The popularity of Britain's ruling Labour Party is plumbing new lows as fears grow over a possible military move against Iraq, according to a poll in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday. [...]
The Guardian/ICM poll, distilled from telephone interviews of 1,000 adults between September 20 and 22, shows that support for Labour -- which has won two consecutive electoral landslide victories in 1997 and 2001 -- at just 39 percent.
It is the lowest level of support since domestic petrol price protests two years ago.
The poll showed that disapproval of a military attack on Iraq -- which dipped to 40 percent from 50 immediately after the first anniversary commemorations of the September 11 kamikaze attacks on the United States -- had climbed back to 46 percent.
It also showed 65 percent approval of an attack on Baghdad if there was sufficient proof that Saddam had developed new mass killing capabilities.
Yesterday 400,000 Brits, give or take a hundred thousand, marched on London to protest government's disregard for the way of life in England's non-urban areas. During the weekend of the march, a poll was conducted on the popularity of the governing party. That support was at its lowest level, despite general support for that government's imminent participation in a war. Reuters lookd at these facts and determined that the slump in support for Labor was a function of worries about the war?
WE RULE, KEEP IT UNDER YOUR HAT:Loud and clear: Bush claims to enjoy reading about Theodore Roosevelt but he ignored Teddy’s famous foreign policy maxim: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ (Jonathan Alter, 9/23/02, Newsweek)
White House aides told The New York Times that President Bush edited the new “National Security Strategy of the United States” heavily “because he thought there were certain sections where we sounded overbearing and arrogant.” Can you imagine how it read before he edited it? Like something out of Dr. Strangelove?
This is a blunt, straightforward document in the style favored by the president. Such clear language, free of nuance, can be refreshing, as it was at the United Nations on September 12. (And even in the West Point speech from which much of the new doctrine was taken). But diplomats have a reason, beyond fecklessness, to write gauzy prose that must be parsed and decoded: It helps their country’s diplomacy to write diplomatically. There’s a reason why, after hundreds of years, nations talk to one another with care: Too much clarity can be destabilizing.
Bush and his CEO brethren — conditioned to believe in clear, corporate vision statements and contemptuous of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo — cut straight to the chase. “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the United States,” the document says.
Now just because this is undoubtedly true doesn’t mean we should say it. In the past, the United States has always said we need the capacity to fight two big wars at once, deter aggression, stay strong, etc. But we’ve never quite rubbed the face of our competitors in their own inferiority before. If you sit on, say, the Chinese Central Committee and had been counseling better relations with the United States, would this help your cause? Or would it help the cause of hardliners who are determined to expand the Chinese military and catch up with us?
That one’s a no-brainer.
In an early and excellent book, Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (1986), Michael Beschloss demonstrated that one of the reasons that President Eisenhower was pretty laid back about the Cold War was that as a military man with access to surveillance photos and other intelligence, he understood just how inferior their military was to ours. Mr. Beschloss argues that Ike and Khruschev arrived at a kind of modus vivendi where in exchange for our not revealing that we had massive superiority the Soviets agreed not to even bother trying to catch up. This enabled Ike to largely ignore our own defenses and Soviet posturing, but, because he and Khruschev kept this information to themselves, it unfortunately had the undesirable effect of misleading the American people and the rest of the world into believing that the Soviets were our peers.
BR'ER FOX:Being there (David Carr, September 23, 2002, Samizdata)
Did I say there were so many marchers? That does not even begin to tell the story. It was HUGE. I cannot recall ever seeing any public demonstration in Britain of this magnitude (and I've seen a few). The official figures state over 400,000 marchers but, from where we stood, that would appear to be an underestimate.
It began in from two points in Central London early this morning; two start points being necessary because of the enormous numbers involved. Even so, from our start point at Hyde Park, the throng was so large that it was next to impossible to actually determine where it began or where it ended. Eventually we just melded in where we could.
The atmosphere was one of pure defiance though there was no violence or law-breaking at all. The marchers were loud, proud and spirited, blowing whistles and horns, chanting and waving back to the cheering onlookers. Not once did the palpable grim resolve compromise the joyousness. It felt like a victory parade.
Perhaps it's just a bit too early to stick a fork in the lime. But now they (particularly the Tory Party) have to build on this...
MUST SEE TV:BOOKNOTES: Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime by Eliot Cohen (C-SPAN, Sunday night, 8pm & 11pm)
LAMB: How do you personally feel about the situation?
COHEN: If I can again, the book is not about Iraq.
LAMB: But if you are going to any war, this book would be...
COHEN: It be, yes - absolutely.
LAMB: And our president is reading this book.
COHEN: Absolutely. No, I understand all that. It's just I've had, you know, I've gotten - one thing's been interesting about the book is, particularly, since the word came out the president's being reading it - the foreign president, in particular, has been all over it. And unlike American journalists who usually at least take some kind of look at the dust jacket and maybe even flip through a few changes, a lot of the international coverages, I don't think people even bothered to do that. And so they're -- and people saying things about the book, which aren't just true.
LAMB: Like what?
COHEN: That it's - well, there's one story that this is the case for invading Iraq. Pretty ludicrous. But it's - when a book, I guess, attracts publicity in this context, people feel afraid to say all kinds of things.
Absolutely if you missed this you should watch online or check out the transcript; it was a fascinating hour of television. There are any number of moments we could discuss, but let's start with this one, which reveals something about America vs. Europe that is seldom discussed intelligently. Europeans believe and we to a shocking degree accept as true, that they understand the world better than we bumpkins in the U.S. But is there any people on Earth who are more curious about the world around them than we are?
DON'T BOTHER US WITH THE FACTS:The absent professors (John Leo, Sept. 17, 2002, Jewish World Review)
It's not news that college professors are lopsidedly drawn from the political left. But American Enterprise magazine offers some numbers on how heavy the tilt has become. In eight academic departments surveyed at Cornell University, 166 professors were registered in the Democratic Party or another party of the left, with just six registered with Republicans or another party of the right. [...]
Campuses have become "ideological monopolies," as American Enterprise says. Graduate students who want to become academics know they can't rise within the system unless they display liberal views. Professors know they are unlikely to get hired or promoted unless they embrace the expected package of campus isms-radical feminism, multiculturalism, postmodernism, identity politics, gender politics, and deconstruction. Remaining conservatives and moderates can survive if they keep their heads down and their mouths shut. Dissent from campus orthodoxy is risky. A single expressed doubt about affirmative action or a kind word about school vouchers may be enough to derail a career.
Ideas are dangerous things, especially if you can't refute them. So it's no surprise that as the Left's dreams died in the rubble of the Soviet Union they chose to isolate themselves from reality.
THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS:The Ex-Billionaire Next Door: When an online vendor or a hardworking software executive loses 97% of his net worth, we all suffer a little. (Joe Queenan, 09.30.02, Forbes)
Americans feed off the psychic energy generated by other people's good fortune. There's a simple reason for this: Most Americans honestly believe they will one day be, if not rich, at least prosperous. And if not them, then their kids. Though spoilsport journalists intoxicated by schadenfreude, and grandstanding politicians casting around for a few extra votes, love to see the mighty humbled and the omnipotent brought low, average Americans do not bear any ill will toward the wealthy. They do not view wealth as a zero-sum game; there's plenty for everybody. As the old story goes, when an American sees a fat cat getting into a snazzy car, he dreams of the day he can own the vehicle. A Frenchman dreams of the day he can tell the guy to get out and line up for the bus like everyone else.
And the radical Islamicist dreams of the day he packs the car with explosives and blows up the bus.
AL QAE-DUH:Blast near U.S. facility in Indonesia: Target of the botched attack is under investigation (ASSOCIATED PRESS, September 23, 2002)
A hand grenade exploded Monday in a car just yards from a house owned by the U.S. Embassy, killing one passenger, police said. The embassy denied police reports that the house was the target.
THREE OTHER PEOPLE were in the car when the grenade went off in a residential neighborhood of central Jakarta, police and witnesses said. Police said the driver was detained but two passengers got away.
"No, you pig-loving fool of an infidel, wait 'til I roll the window down! AhhhhhhhhhhhhAiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!! Mommyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" BOOM!
CHECKMATE:Bush Moves Iraq Goalposts All Over Field (Molly Ivins, September 22, 2002, Common Dreams)
Don't you just hate it when the bad guys agree to do what we want them to? If that's not a good reason to go in and take out Saddam, name one.
But our Fearless Leader, not one to be deterred from war merely by getting what he wants, promptly moved the goalposts and issued a new list of demands Iraq must meet, including paying reparations to Kuwait.
If you step back and look at this debate, it just gets stranger and stranger. For one thing, all the evidence is that the administration has already made up its mind and we're going into Iraq this winter. President Bush went to the United Nations and demanded they back him, he's going to Congress to demand they back him, and there it is. This is not a debate, it's Bush in his "You're either with us or against us" mode. It is not a discussion of whether invading Iraq is either necessary or wise. [...]
The downside to taking on Hussein is not so much getting him out as what happens next. Diplomacy is often likened to chess — you have to be able to think several moves ahead. There's no evidence the administration has thought past Step One.
Ms Ivins has made a classic pundit's mistake: she thinks she understands George W. Bush because she's read her own columns about him. If she could step back for a moment and actually listen to what he says, she'd never have doubted that the point of all this is to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
FOURTH (REICH) AND LONG:German Greens Rescue Schroeder, Rack Up Historic Score (Agence France-Presse, 9/23/02)
The jubilant German Greens racked up their best score to date in a national election on Sunday, securing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a majority and cementing their status as the country's third biggest party. [...]
They also had a candidate directly elected to parliament for the first time in their history -- a Berlin leftist, Christian Stroebele, who in an open show of disapproval left parliament hall in May when US President George W. Bush addressed the Bundestag during a visit to Berlin.
It's hard to see how this election could have gone any worse for Europe. First it has to call into question the entire Europeanist project when one leader completely abandons the unified foreign policy front they're supposed to be offering in order to truckle to the extremists of his own nation. There's been much talk of the degree to which Schroeder, in playing to Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment, has estranged himself and his nation from Washington, but that doesn't really matter a whole lot; the German/American relationship has never meant much and is mostly based on our defeating the Imperialists, the Nazis and the Communists of Germany. But France and Britain which are also preparing for action against Iraq are at least
theoretically partners with the Germans in a unified Europe. At some point doesn't Schroeder become estranged from his putative allies Blair and Chirac?
WHO'S A ROGUE STATE?:French troops in Ivorian capital: Many residents' houses have been destroyed (BBC, 23 September, 2002)
French troops have reached the Ivory Coast's capital, Yamoussoukro, as they seek to protect French and other foreign nationals caught up in a coup attempt which began on Thursday.
The convoy of dozens of vehicles left the main Ivorian city of Abidjan late on Sunday, hours after France had flown up to 200 reinforcements, drawn from its other bases in West Africa.
France describes the move as a "precautionary measure", and it is thought the troops will set up a forward base to be able to stage evacuations, if necessary, from nearby Bouake, Ivory Coast's second city, which on Monday morning still remained in rebel hands.
Anyone care to take a crack at how this unilateral act against a nation which offers no threat to France's national security differs from our proposed action against Iraq? Did they seek EU and UN permission first?
RETURN TO SENDER:(via Stuart Buck)
Ramsey Clark Letter to UN: Do Not Support Attack on Iraq (Ramsey Clark, September 20, 2002)
General Clark long ago wrapped up the voting for grand marshall of the nitwit parade, so we'll not even bother to quote him. You know how itgoes already anyway: " The United States, focus of all evil in the universe, must be stopped from perpetrating war crimes against the singular man of peace (fill in the name of your favorite murderous dictator choice here). Previous "victims" of American aggression include Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Daniel Ortega, Manuel Noriega, all of the later leaders of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein in '91, the Taliban, etc., etc, etc., ad nauseum.
So rather than join in singing the victimology of the barbarians, let's just take a quick peak at why there is a United Nations in the first place:
PREAMBLE (United Nations Charter)
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
AND FOR THESE ENDS
to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS
Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.
There. That's pretty straight forward. And how does Saddam score out on that checklist?
(1) Save us from the scourge of war? Not too good considering he launched unprovoked attacks on Iran and Kuwait.
(2) Human Rights? Ouch. Even worse. He's the most repressive ruler currently in power.
(3) Justice? Respect for International Law? Strike three. Strike Four.
(4) Social progress, standard of living, freedom? Rats.
(5) Good neighbor? Oof.
(6) International peace? D'oh.
(7) Armed force not be used? You mean no gassing the Kurds or no attacking neighbors or no launching Scuds at non-belligerents?
(8) Economic advancement? Boy, the drafters of this document were redundant, eh?
That's looking like an 0-fer to me. Saddam Hussein does not run his country in accord with a single purpose of the United Nations. His is, by definition, a lawless regime. No international purpose can possibly be served by allowing him to flagrantly flout the revered UN Charter. By its very
terms he is an illegitimate figure.
September 22, 2002
HOW FAR THAT LITTLE CANDLE THROWS HIS BEAM::Blast victim's final gift (BBC, 22 September, 2002)
A Scots family whose son was killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv have donated his kidney to a young Palestinian girl.
The Maariv Daily newspaper says the seven-year-old girl had been waiting two years for a suitable organ.
The family of Yoni Jesner, a medical student from Glasgow, donated one of his kidneys to Yasmin Abu Ramila from east Jerusalem.
Yoni suffered serious head injuries in last Thursday's blast which killed six other people, including the Palestinian bomber.
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
FIND OUT WHAT THE PRESIDENT'S THINKING:Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime by Eliot Cohen (C-SPAN, Sunday night, 8pm & 11pm)
PAGING DAVID BOIES:German rivals neck and neck (BBC, 22 September, 2002)
Exit polls from the German general election suggest the tightest race in the country's post-war history, with both conservatives and social democrats claiming victory. [...]
According to ZDF television exit polls, the SPD and the Greens, have 46.6% of the vote, compared to 46.3% for the traditional pairing of the CDU/CSU and the liberal FDP.
It calculates that the SPD and the Greens will have 299 seats compared to 297 for the conservatives and liberals.
However, ARD television cited early results giving the conservative-liberal alliance 302 seats, compared to 296 for the SPD and the Greens.
Apparently David Duke got 2% of the vote in Bavaria...
WANNA VOTE? THEN JOIN:The Crossover Candidate: Did the GOP take down Cynthia McKinney? (Eli Kintisch, September 23, 2002, American Prospect)
[W]hite voters turned out at rates as high as 65 percent of registered voters, and in many areas they went eight- or nine-to-one for Majette. McKinney still might have won if she had hung on to nearly all of the black vote, but she didn't. Still, it would be a mistake to attribute McKinney's defeat either to a new politics of racial polarization or to the influence of outsiders. In the past, before expressing highly controversial views on volatile topics, McKinney had won enough white support to give her comfortable margins. In the end, McKinney lost because she gave her opponents plenty of grist. And though she was new and inexperienced, Majette won because she presented a competent alternative to McKinney, and because she benefited from a stealth Republican campaign. (McKinney got that part right.)
While diehard McKinney supporters may blame her defeat on the influence of outsiders, the lesson of all this seems to be a much simpler one: Regardless of race, candidates in closely divided seats would be wise to try to represent their entire districts.
The two major political parties should take back control of the primary process, letting only those who are actually registered party members determine their candidates. Perhaps they could only allow folks to vote in a primary if they were registered members of the party the last time they cast a vote in the general. Among other advantages, this should serve to drive up party membership. This would require alterations to some state laws, but between them they run the states, right?
THE DEMO-WHOS?Politics Over Principle (David S. Broder, September 22, 2002, Washington Post)
The party certainly has potential spokesmen, including the chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees and veterans of the Clinton administration Cabinet and National Security Council. Several things are going on, specific to Iraq. First, Saddam Hussein has no defenders in American public life. Almost everyone would like to see him gone. Second, there's a strong feeling he has been thumbing his nose for years at the United Nations and its inspectors. Third, no alternative strategy to reduce the threat of his using weapons of mass destruction is obvious. Fourth, the president, as commander in chief of the war on terrorism, has a standing that makes almost every politician wary of challenging him.
But there is something deeper -- and less justifiable -- at work. The Democratic leaders in Congress, in both the House and Senate, largely have abandoned principle and long-term strategy for the short-term tactics they think will help them in this November's election.
Of course it's worth noting that David Broder, who's been all over Republicans like ugly on an ape for several months now, is equally adept at reading polls, turning his guns on the poor Democrats as they retreat to the high grass.
SPURRED AND SPURIOUS:WHO'S SMARTER, ORRIN JUDD OR ARISTOTLE? (Patrick Ruffini, 09.22.02)
The individual who is starkly at odds with a properly functioning culture is almost always in the wrong. This assumption is conservative, but in no sense is it anti-modern.
A far more interesting test would be to compare our cultural norms from twenty years ago to those of today. I know there's some debate on this point, but I would submit that we've advanced significantly in our economic, political, and even cultural ideas. Ours is a free society, and free societies take their direction not from a leader at the top but from a multitude of trial and error experiments. Through this process, we're constantly refining our methods, promoting what works and discarding what doesn't. If our culture seems too finnicky sometimes, this is why.
This process is most acute in the economic sphere, where continual re-invention is the fountainhead of economic growth. Progress and growth are the rule, rather than the exception, in our conservative economic system.
And what about the culture? Hasn't it gone downhill markedly? Well, I'd grant that I'm standing on shakier ground in making the case that it hasn't, but the same framework still applies. The 1960s were an experiment, an experiment that succeeded in some ways (civil rights, women's rights) but failed spectacularly in others (the Great Society, drugs, and illegitimacy). By the 1990s, we came to a proper understanding of why the 60's failed, from a practical as well as a moral standpoint (in true conservative fashion, it took thirty years to come full circle). Had we known in 1955 what we knew in 1995 about the effects of loosening social norms on creeping illegitimacy, welfare use, and drug abuse, the 60s probably would have played out much differently. The 1950s culture did not defend itself properly against the 60s onslaught and got slaughtered, not undeservedly. We now know that overly loose social norms take a considerable toll and individual wellbeing and happiness, and because people ultimately don't want to live like this, we should expect to see a return to a more fulfilling family and spiritual environment. Here again, we see a process of trial and error at work, with a recovery from the 30-year cultural bear market taking hold in the mid-1990s.
It must inevitably seem churlish to quarrel with someone who's just compared you favorably to Aristotle, but such is not the aim here. Rather, let us think of it as an elder gently chiding a wayward youth. For if Mr. Ruffini is justified, and I think he is, in celebrating Joseph Schumpeter's notion that the creative destruction of capitalism is a welcome thing in the economic sphere, he is, I believe, dead wrong about the efficacy of large scale social experiments being carried out on the culture. More than that though, he's underestimated the power, persistence and pertinence of the conservative critique. He's also underestimated how unpopular this critique tends to be.
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, AUNTIE?:Culture War With B-2's (MAUREEN DOWD, September 22, 2002, NY Times)
The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq. This new fight isn't logical - it's cultural. It is the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America's sense of Manifest Destiny.
The Bush hawks don't simply want to go back in a time machine and make Desert Storm end with a turkey shoot. They want to travel back even farther to the Vietnam War and write a more muscular coda to that as well.
Extirpating Saddam is about proving how tough we are to a world that thinks we got soft when that last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975.
We can't prove it with al Qaeda. That's like grabbing smoke.
So former Nixon officials Cheney and Rummy are playing out their own "Four Feathers," rescuing the lost honor of the American empire in the sands of Arabia. They want to stomp on Saddam to exorcise the specters of Vietnam and Watergate - the ethical relativism, the lack of patriotism, the postmodern angst, the loss of moral authority, the feeling that America is in decline or in the wrong, the do-whatever-feels-good Clintonesque ethos.
Here's a very bad sign for a political commentator: you only sound intelligent when you're being sarcastic. For Ms Dowd in recent weeks this was true when she argued, one assumes tongue-in-cheek, that it is more important to reform Saudi Arabia than Iraq and last column when she sneered that the war in Iraq is about restoring civilization on the Euphrates and it's true here.
TO THE TUNE OF CHESTER:One Year (H. D. Miller, September 20, 2002, Travelling Shoes)
September 11, 2002
I woke up this morning angry, as angry as I've been in nearly a year.
I was in Manhattan on that morning a year ago, well uptown and away from the carnage and mayhem, yet close enough to smell the electrical fire and see the smoke, close enough to stand among the silent and shocked pedestrians walking home from their offices downtown. We, the uptown people, stood on the street and let the survivors, weary and footsore from a hundred block march, pass us by like a routed army.
But routed the city wasn't; the civilians had walked slowly uptown, while the firemen and cops had raced down, rushing to fill the breach, to plug, with their own bodies, the gaping hole torn in the wall of civilization. We weren't beaten, just shocked and scared and reeling from the first blow.
Above all from that day, the memory of the near complete silence of the city is still the clearest.
Let tyrants shake their iron rods
And slav'ry clank her galling chains
We'll fear them not...
H. D. Miller is back from a too long hiatus.
REFURBISHED GRANITE:The New Hampshire Poll (American Research Group, Inc., September 22, 2002)
Results from the September 2002 Quarterly New Hampshire Poll are now available.
John Sununu leads Jeanne Shaheen 47% to 38% for the US Senate, Craig Benson leads Mark Fernald 55% to 30% for governor, Jeb Bradley leads Martha Fuller Clark 40% to 33% in the First Congressional District, and Charles Bass lead Katrina Swett 51% to 33% in the Second Congressional District.
This is good enough news in itself, because this was thought to be one of the most vulnerable Republican Senate seats and the governorship will mark a GOP pick-up, but here are the really staggering numbers, It's certified: Benson won by 4,340 votes (TOM FAHEY, Union Leader):
[Secretary of State William] Gardner said the final statewide count showed the total number of ballots cast at the polls and through the absentee process was 234,902, exactly 37 percent of the 633,230 state voters registered in 2001. The previous record for votes in both primaries was 210,000, set in 1992, when 119,000 GOP ballots were cast, he said.
Republicans broke the GOP primary record with 162,221 regular and absentee ballots. Democrats cast a total of 72,681 ballots.
That's a good bit more than a 2-1 margin of GOP to Democrat voters, despite a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary. The numbers may be artificially inflated--there's anecdotal evidence of Democrats crossing over to vote against Bob Smith out of loathing--but it can't be too significant. After a couple disgraceful terms of Jeanne Shaheen and the humiliating loss of NH by George Bush, Sr. on 1992, the Granite State appears to be tending back towards solidly Republican.
IF NOT CONSERVATISM, VULPINISM!:Thousands march for countryside (BBC, 22 September, 2002)
Tens of thousands of people from across the country have begun marching through central London to highlight the needs of rural communities.
The main focus of the protest is opposition to a ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, but a wide range of other grievances from rural communities are also being linked with the demonstration.
Pressure group Friends of the Earth believes that focusing on fox hunting misses the point and there is a need to look at fundamental issues, such as protecting Britain's farming industry. [...]
Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith will be marching, as will celebrities including ex-footballer Vinnie Jones, actor Edward Fox and Weakest Link presenter Anne Robinson.
Robert Sturdy, MEP for the Eastern region and the European Parliament's Conservative spokesman on rural affairs, will be among the politicians on the march.
He said: "It isn't about hunting and field sports, but about all rural affairs and I have very strong feelings about the rural community as a whole."
This is a bit too inchoate to draw big conclusions from, but any sign of life on the British Right is welcome.
IDEOLOGY VS. FACT AND FACT VS. IDEOLOGY:Globalization, Alive and Well (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, September 22, 2002, NY Times)
"Globalization fatigue is still very much in evidence in Europe and America, while in places like China and India, you find a great desire for participation in the economic expansion processes," said Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Congress Party's top economic adviser. ". . . Even those who are suspicious now want to find a way to participate, but in a way that manages the risks and the pace. So we're finding ways to `glocalize,' to do it our own way. It may mean a little slower growth to manage the social stability, but so be it. . . . I just spent a week in Germany and had to listen to all these people there telling me how globalization is destroying India and adding to poverty, and I just said to them, `Look, if you want to argue about ideology, we can do that, but on the level of facts, you're just wrong.' "
This quote is a thing of beauty but the failure of globalization's ideals in nations that are at the point of late stage liberal democratic capitalism (Western Europe and Japan) deserves greater attention. As India globalizes (becomes more free, especially economically) it needs to try to avoid the development of massive social welfare programs that end up destroying the desire for freedom in the long run. To ignore the rising prosperity of an India, which is globalizing, is to ignore facts, but the same is true of ignoring the decline of Europe and Japan.
September 21, 2002
PRESENT AT THE FALL:Present at the Re-creation: The newest world order takes shape. (Noemie Emery, 09/30/2002, Weekly Standard)
Truman's war was against both traditional Russian expansionism and a radical movement that knew no national boundaries; a war of threats and rapprochements, in which American presidents walked a 50-year tightrope between risking Armageddon by being too aggressive, and inviting aggression by appearing too weak. America amassed a vast stockpile of terrible weapons, but the aim was never to use them. Great wars usually inflict great pain on their people; during the Cold War, Americans lived better than ever before in their history; there was great suffering for some (in Korea and Vietnam), but most were untouched. The Cold War brought five decades of low-key anxiety, broken by moments of breath-holding terror. It was a war in which provocations were met by a wide range of responses, based on refined calculations. Truman chose to circumvent the blockade of Berlin, rather than force a direct confrontation with Soviet power. Kennedy let the Berlin Wall rise without incident, but was prepared to face war over missiles in Cuba. In the early years of the Cold War, "liberationists" decried the containment doctrine as being too passive. But it was Ronald Reagan, a liberationist by temperament, who finally won it, by his aggressive use of containment tactics--economic, psychological, and political warfare, first recommended back in 1946.
Containment was the worst possible option then, as it is now. We should have either come home, on the assumption that communism would not be able to digest all of Western Europe, as it could not even digest Eastern Europe. Or we should have fought a war of libberation right then.
WAR IS EASILY AVOIDED:Saddam should be given the chance to avoid a war that seems inevitable: To be credible, a UN ultimatum has to offer Saddam's regime a genuine way out if he chooses to take it (Donald Macintyre, 22 September 2002 , The Independent uk)
For the casus belli to be clear, let alone legitimate, there has to be some hope, however modest, that the ultimatum can be met, even if that has not yet happened. And that may mean the odious Iraqi regime has to be given some reason for believing that there is some alternative, however unpalatable, to a war it almost certainly can't win; that "regime change", in other words, is not inevitable.
Mr. McIntyre appears to have confused two entirely separate issues here. War is avoidable but regime change is not. If Saddam wishes to spare his people a war he can step down now and call for elections. Which does the Left seek for Iraq, human rights or Saddam?
IT'S AS IF HE BELIEVES THIS STUFF!:Simon Bears Dissonant Message, Observers Say: Gubernatorial candidate's adherence to Republican dogma against big government is at odds with increased expectations after 9/11, according to experts. (MATEA GOLD, 9/21/02, LA TIMES)
As Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon Jr. campaigns to unseat Gov. Gray Davis, he has been skeptical--and at times even derisive--about what government can accomplish.
In the fashion of a true-blue conservative, Simon has argued that government should be doing less, not more. Want to make housing more affordable? Loosen land-use restrictions. Hope to rejuvenate poor neighborhoods? Eliminate the capital gains tax for companies that invest in those communities. Need to build more dams, power transmission lines and highways? Contract the projects out to private companies.
"California can be a state that stands for limited government and unlimited opportunity, and not the other way around," he tells audiences. In front of Republican audiences, the candidate often blames bureaucrats in Sacramento and state regulations for strangling the economy and school reform.
Simon's message, which sticks closely to traditional Republican orthodoxy, has surprised many political experts, who say it is jarringly dissonant in the current climate. The terrorism attacks of the last year, the recent string of corporate abuses and the failure of California's energy deregulation have made voters increasingly distrustful of big business and eager for more government protection, according to pollsters.
What's he supposed to say: "I envision a big government housing program that runs as well as airport security?"
DEPRESSING YOUR OWN TURNOUT:High anxiety for Democrats (GLORIA BORGER, 9/30/02, US News)
Democrats are deeply divided over whether to attack Iraq, with 52 percent favoring military action, according to a new Pew survey. No wonder party leaders are sweating: They have to find a way to support a war if they hope to win any of the closely contested races in the midterm elections–and do it without alienating their base. "A prolonged debate that ended with Democrats voting against the use of force would not bode well in swing races," says GOP pollster Bill McInturff. Translation: Democrats would lose.
If the only topic is the war and Democrats fold and vote in favor, they lose their own hardcores, often the determining factor in mid-terms. If they vote against the war they run the risk of firing up the GOP base. Nice strategy guys.
BY THE PRONOUN SHALL YOU KNOW HIM :Just a Party Pooper? No, Just Independent (Marshall Wittmann, September 15, 2002, Washington Post)
If it is true that life is a journey, then my political voyage has been the mother of all odysseys. [...]
As you might have detected, the one consistency in my long political journey has been my contrarian nature. Sadly, I shall have to give that up; there is no such thing as a contrarian independent. But I have simply had enough of the smelly little orthodoxies that too often animate our political life to remain with either party.
So here I am, neither a donkey nor an elephant, but a cheerful Bull Moose grazing in the vital center of the political plain.
And there's plenty of room.
Perhaps the main reason that conservatism will always remain in the minority is that it requires you to accept that your father may have been smarter than you, not specifically your father, but figuratively, our ancestors. Conservatism makes the thoroughly anti-modern demand that one recognize that our culture's ideas and traditions, having withstood the tests of time, contain a wisdom that our individual notions are unlikely to match. In the words of Russell Kirk, conservatives believe "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." Thus, we should be deferential, though not imprisoned by, to the past. Conservatism is the politics of We the People.
OPPOSITE!:Should We Scrap the Second Amendment? (Michael Manville, September 18, 2002, Freezerbox)
The Second Amendment enjoys a rather exalted place in American jurisprudence precisely because, it seems, no one can agree on what it means. A few days before Charles Andy Williams sat in the dock awaiting judgment for his crimes, I was given an article, written by the economist Robert Solow, about the proper place for "intellectual ancestors." Solow was talking specifically about the land reformer Henry George, but in the article he took some time to discuss the downfall of Marxist economics. Whatever promise Marxism had, Solow said, fell apart when its original form, which as an innovative and highly learned form of social science inquiry, was replaced by a political movement. When that happened, the ideas of Marx himself stopped being a framework to apply to the still-moving world, and instead became considered incontrovertible truths. "Das Kapital," Marx's signature contribution to political economy, stopped being a useful starting point for the analysis of current events, and started being a political Bible. Marxist scholars, as a result, are often stuck making two arguments: that first, what they say is consistent with what is in "Das Kapital;" and (only secondly), that what they say has a bearing on the real world.
The parallel here is obvious. [...]
How appropriate is it for us to decide the question of weaponry using a two hundred year-old document? One doesn't often compare the problems of Constitutional law with those of Marxist economics, but the parallels are again strong. Marxism failed to accurately predict the impact that technology would have on the industrial world. The Founding Fathers, it could be said, failed to do the same with firearms.
RALL VS. PATTON:Drop the Bomb: Why War Talk Is Cheap (Ted Rall, September 17, 2002, AlterNet)
Whenever presidents want to flex American muscle, they bomb. This has been particularly true when leaders don't care to justify the use of military force to the public, as with Ronald Reagan's bombing of Libya and Bill Clinton's cruise missile attacks against Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998. Both strikes hit the wrong targets -- the latter taking out a pharmaceutical plant, the former Col. Khaddafi's young daughter -- but a potential PR debacle was avoided by the fact that American lives were neither risked nor lost. This is precisely why bombs should be banned.
Don't laugh -- war can be made more civilized. [...]
If the people of a nation feel a strong moral compulsion to attack another nation, if they truly believe in the righteousness of their cause, the least that they can do to demonstrate that resolve is to send their young men and women into harm's way to fight. Those who seek to take the lives of others ought to be willing to risk their own. [...]
Ultimately, bombs make war too easy. Leaders are less likely to engage in military aggression if going to war will cost the lives of their own people. The risk of large-scale loss is a big political gamble. By their nature, bombs make "enemy" lives cheap and "your" lives expensive. We see this phenomenon as Americans discuss attacking Iraq; sure, we're willing to kill thousands of Iraqis, but only if we lose very few Americans in the process. It's all too cold and painless.
You have to give Ted Rall credit for consistency anyway, he's so far Left he even wants to impose egalitarianism on warfare. Of course, any decent person will find ridiculous the idea that Americans need to die to prove we're serious about fighting dictatorship. Perhaps Mr. Rall has forgotten General George S. Patton's dictum: "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." Crank up the Enola Gay and let the other poor dumb bastards die defending evil.
CLOUDS OF GLORY:On Sukkos, do we throw away the winning lottery ticket?: What is Sukkos' moral, its message? To help clarify the matter, I've devised five parables. They all have the same message. Hint: If you went to the synagogue or temple on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, you've either got the answer or glimpsed it. (Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, 9/20/02, Jewish World Review)
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the prayer; Sukkos is the answer to the prayer. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are prayful hope for Divine presence, mercy and kind destiny; Sukkos is the felt deliverance of Divine presence, mercy and kindness.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the pursuit; Sukkos is the goal.
Turn in your winning lottery ticket! Happy Sukkos!
Still not sure I get it, just remember folks in the neighborhood building sheds in their backyards, but...Happy Sukkos!
SARAH MCCLENDON AWARD:BUSH LEAGUE (Progressive Review, 20 Sep 2002)
RUSSELL MOKHIBER - Ari [Fleischer], this week marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla where 1,700 Palestinians were killed. Ariel Sharon was found by an Israeli Commission of Inquiry to be personally responsible for that event. Also, this year marks the slaughter in Hama, Syria of 20,000 Syrians by the Assad regime. My question is, why aren't we seeking regime changes in those two countries given the nature of those two leaders?
Though Mr. Mokhiber wasn't serious he's half right; we should change the regime in Syria next. However, it hardly needs stating that the regime in Israel has changed many times in the twenty years since Sabra and Shatilla. We call them elections. Iraq and Syria should have them soon.
THE TREATY AS TROJAN HORSE:The Legality of Using Force (BRUCE ACKERMAN, September 21, 2002, NY Times)
As Congress confronts the prospect of war, it should consider some constitutional fundamentals. The Bush administration would have us believe that international law contains only ambiguous or advisory requirements. In fact, the United Nations Charter was ratified as a treaty by the Senate after World War II, and the Constitution explicitly makes all treaties "the supreme law of the land."
The president has no power to pick and choose among the laws that bind him - unless Congress tells him otherwise. This is what makes the precise terms of any Congressional authorization for war against Iraq so important. According to judicial precedents, treaties like the United Nations Charter can be trumped only by subsequent legislation. The Charter would lose its status as governing domestic law if Congress explicitly authorizes the president to make war in violation of its terms.
This is anti-Constitutional nonsense. The UN Charter has been amended several times without (to the best of my knowledge) being resubmitted to Congress, so the treaty that was approved fifty years ago can no longer be said to exist. To allow a different result would be to invite presidents to submit treaties in a form that can win approval and then renegotiate them along less popular lines they may prefer while bypassing Congress. So, for example, Fast Track Trade authority would be unnecessary because after Congress made changes to a trade agreement the President could take the approved treaty to our negotiating partner and use amendments to strip out all of the congressional provisions and return to the original version. So much for checks and balances.
DON'T SHOOT! STARVE 'EM OUT:Iraqi-Americans want Saddam toppled, too. But not if it means more pain for their loved ones. A daughter's lament (Lorraine Ali, 9/23/02, Newsweek)
Believe me, I would like nothing more than to see Saddam's regime fall, but I do not want the Iraqi people crushed under the rubble-again. [...]
Since we implemented sanctions against Iraq in 1990, the child-mortality rate in this once prosperous state has doubled. The World Health Organization estimates that 5,000 Iraqi children die each month due to malnutrition and lack of medical care; by another estimate, the sanctions cost 250 lives a day. As for the economic fallout: the Iraqi people (not Saddam) became destitute overnight. In 1989 the Iraqi dinar was worth $1.25. Today it's 2,500 dinars to $1. That means a dozen eggs can cost a month's salary. It's hardly a tactic that's weakened Saddam's resolve. He's now had a decade to manipulate a starved nation that at one point was strong enough to rise up against him. We should have finished what we started in the gulf war, or at least backed the Iraqi people once we encouraged them to stage a revolution.
Though the statistics we hear quoted about the effects of sanctions are obviously ridiculous, let's assume for the sake of argument that they're accurate. Can opponents of regime change explain their notion that sanctions, which amount to little better than the slow starvation of the Iraqi people, are more humane than a quick war, however brutal?
ABANDONING BEAUTY?:Washed in the Sound of Souls in Transit (ANTHONY TOMMASINI, September 21, 2002, NY Times)
It's understandable that so far most American composers of note have avoided writing works that deal with Sept. 11. The event is still too close, too immense. But the need to come to terms with it artistically, at least in some manner, is also real. So give John Adams credit for trying. Mr. Adams's "On the Transmigration of Souls," commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, received its premiere on Thursday night at the first subscription concert of the Philharmonic's season, conducted by Lorin Maazel in his second appearance as the orchestra's music director.
Mr. Adams is reticent about calling this work a musical composition. His intent, as he wrote in the program note, was to create a "memory space" where "you can go and be alone with your thoughts and emotions." He wanted to make the concert hall something akin to a great cathedral, where you feel in the presence of generations of souls even as you are surrounded by other people: whispered voices, children whimpering, shoes scuffling on the stone floor. [...]
The music crests and swells and turns on itself; piercing dissonances make you wince, like the aural equivalent of staring into glaring light. Finally, the chorus sings almost hysterical repetitions of the word "light" as the orchestra music dissolves, breaking into squiggles, remnants and sputtering sounds. It's as good a guess as any at what the transmigration process must be.
Some listeners may find Mr. Adams's material to be insufficiently involving on a purely musical level. But this atypical concert work asks you to put aside typical expectations. And there is real musical method to its structure, for 30 minutes passed by almost too quickly.
Yeah, yeah, we get it, but isn't dissonance and hysteria too easy an out? If we wanted just an aural replica of the event we could listen to tapes shot by film crews. Is it too much to ask that modernist composers make music that communicates and sounds beautiful?
KICKIN' BACK IN THE BRIAR PATCH:G.O.P. Gains From War Talk but Does Not Talk About It (ALISON MITCHELL and ADAM NAGOURNEY, September 21, 2002, NY Times)
Senior Republican Party officials say the prospect of at least two more weeks of Congressional debate on Iraq is allowing their party to run out the clock on the fall election, blocking Democrats as they try to seize on the faltering economy and other domestic concerns as campaign issues.
At the same time, Republicans said that as they entered the final six weeks of contests in which control of Congress is at stake, they did not want to be perceived as exploiting the talk of war for political gain. They said they were urging candidates not to do anything that might give Democrats ammunition to turn the war issue against them.
The emerging dynamic has produced growing if quiet optimism among Republicans that they will be able to turn back the Democratic drive to take control of the House, if only because Democrats are running out of time to make their case.
It's awfully hard to feel bad for the Dems on this one because it's a trap of their own making. It was they who demanded a debate on Iraq, little understanding that the war option remained popular with an angry nation and badly underestimating the power of a president to use the bully pulpit to whip up war fervor. This midterm offered them a huge opportunity but they now need really bad economic news in order to regain their lost momentum.
TOWARDS A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM:There are a number of good posts up about the possibility of crafting a conservative environmentalism (our thanks to everyone who wrote):
FINE, NOW WALK THE WALK:Confidence in America is badly shaken (William Pfaff, September 21, 2002, International Herald Tribune)
It cannot be emphasized enough to Washington that in today's world the United States depends on Western Europe, above all on Germany; it is not Western Europe that depends on the United States.
We know that history is read only selectively in Washington, but someone should look up what happened in 1966, at a time when NATO's headquarters were at Fontainebleau in France and there were important NATO bases in the country.
General Charles de Gaulle abruptly decided to withdraw France from NATO's military committee, which meant an end to French military integration in the alliance, while maintaining France's alliance commitment to mutual defense. NATO had to move its headquarters to Belgium and close down its air bases and other facilities in France.
That betrayal of course provided LBJ with one of the few good moments of his presidency. When DeGaulle called and demanded that all U.S. military personnel be removed from French soil, LBJ asked: "Including the ones buried in it?"
NOBODY'S RIGHT, IF EVERYBODY'S WRONG:None of the above: A depressing German election campaign comes to a close (Times of London, September 21, 2002 )
Gerhard Schroeder opted to appear at his final major party rally in Dortmund last night alongside Gunter Grass, the Nobel prize-winning author, and Goran Persson, the Swedish Prime Minister. That choice was appropriate, for the Chancellor's campaign has been a work of fiction and if it has had any theme at all, it has been, like that of the soggy Swedish Social Democrats, an unthinking defence of the status quo. [...]
Edmund Stoiber, the Christian Democrat candidate for Chancellor, could and should have directed his fire squarely on economic stagnation. He has instead conducted himself in a staggeringly inept manner. He has provided no compelling sense of urgency on the questions that matter most to Germany's future and has too easily been seduced by the prospect of scoring cheap points by lashing out at unpopular minorities. In truth, he has not even done that effectively. Herr Schroeder's record is such that a neutral should have felt able to endorse the opposition if only on a 'time for a change' basis. The performance of the Christian Democrats means that this low hurdle has not been cleared.
One has to be pessimistic about the prospects for Europe not because of the Left, which has remained relatively unchanged for decades, but because of the absence of any American-style conservative parties. The parties of the Right in Europe make no argument in favor of reducing government and taxes, no case for a return to Judeo-Christian morality and beliefs, no attempt to address the precipitous decline in population growth; choosing instead to accept all of the pathologies that are destroying European culture from within and to try to blame immigrants for destroying it from without.
CAPRICORN ONE-TWO PUNCH:Ex-astronaut escapes assault charge (BBC, 21 September, 2002)
Californian authorities have decided against prosecuting former astronaut Buzz Aldrin after he punched a documentary maker who claimed his moon missions were faked.
Mr Aldrin, famous for his participation in the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, hit Bart Sibrel after he approached the former astronaut outside a hotel in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles and demanded he swear on a Bible that the landing was not staged. [...]
Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Ratinoff told Reuters news agency that a videotape shot by a cameraman hired by Mr Sibrel had shown the film-maker follow Mr Aldrin, calling him a "thief, liar and coward".
Prosecute Aldrin? Why don't they charge this Sibrel nitwit?
CLINTONISM COMES HOME TO ROOST:Duty-dodging Democrats deserve to lose (Cynthia Tucker, 9/22/02, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The Democrats just don't get it.
Running scared in a campaign season, they are turning away from one of their major responsibilities in a democratic republic built on a two-party system. So far, they have refused to act as the loyal opposition -- dodging their duty to stand up and resist President Bush's reckless warmongering on Iraq.
This is what happens when you have a Party that supports anything that hits 51% in the opinion polls; the true believers despair. The Democrats are in danger of becoming the 1970s Republicans at this point, a party that matters not to the governance of the nation.
September 20, 2002
DELIVER US FROM BIOLOGICAL DETERMINISM :Deliver Us From Evil (Michael Kinsley, September 20, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
If the great essential truth about terrorism is that some people just hate the United States, the obvious next question is: Why? But that is precisely the question that offends the All-About-Evil crowd, because it leads in two unacceptable directions. One is toward psychology, trying to understand how a human mind could plot the deaths of so many innocents and gladly die in carrying it out. "Root causes" is what this kind of thinking is called in the context of domestic social issues such as crime and welfare, and conservatives regard it as a major liberal disease, with symptoms that include coddling criminals and forgiving sloth. [...]
Using the word "evil" to resist any more complex understanding of terrorism is doubly philistine because of what the study of evolutionary psychology is learning about how much of human behavior is hard-wired into our brains.
Ordinarily conservatives are quite thrilled by the idea of a genetic basis for nearly anything, and eager to accuse liberals of refusing to face the truth. The whole subject appeals to their treasured sense of futility. In this case, though, it is conservatives who are hiding from science.
Advances in our understanding of the brain do indeed pose a challenge to the moral concept of blame or fault or guilt or, yes, even evil. But the challenge is not necessarily insurmountable. (Robert Wright explores and explains all this in his wonderfully lucid book "The Moral Animal.") In any event, wrapping yourself in the flag and burying your head in the sand is not an appropriate way to deal with an unwelcome philosophical challenge. It may not be evil, but it isn't very nice.
Even by Mr. Kinsley's embarrassingly low standards this is an awful column. One begins by noting that the case for the Left no longer believing in evil is hardly a Right-wing concoction. It has been put well by "America's best social critic", the liberal Andrew Del Banco, in his unsubtlely titled, The Death of Satan : How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil (1995).
EUROPEAN PREVIEW (via Kevin Whited):Impromptus (Jay Nordlinger, September 20, 2002, National Review)
It is significant that, as he’s losing late in the campaign, Germany’s Edmund Stoiber is playing the Muslim card — for that is what the immigration card is, a Muslim card. This is the great sleeping issue in much of Europe. It almost won election for the Right in Sweden, of all places.
Stoiber’s opponent, the incumbent Gerhard Schroeder, said darkly, “Whoever tries to create majorities at the expense of minorities” is a baddun. “Whatever has to do with hatred against minorities must be met with our decisive opposition.” Understand that this is how the Left talks: Any questions about immigration and assimilation must be dismissed as “hatred of minorities.” The Democratic party here does this, of course, constantly.
This is significant but Mr. Nordlinger seems to have missed its flipside, which is equally significant. Gerhard Schoeder pulled ahead of Mr. Stoiber by playing his own Muslim card: opposition to the Judeo-American war with Muslim Iraq. This divide between one party doing the bidding of Germany's rising Muslim population and the other representing the dimming interests of the "natives" is going to be a central feature of Germany's and of much of Europe's future. Demographic imbalances make it certain that the former will soon be in permanent ascendancy over the latter, at which point nations like Germany will face a difficult decision about whether to become a democratic but mainly Muslim country or to jettison democracy and retain ethnically European government by force. The important aspect of this for American purposes is that a dying Europe should no longer be considered a reliable ally in the effort to vindicate freedom, democracy, and Western Civilization.
"POVERTY AND STAGNATION, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT":Missionaries and marines: Bush, Blair and democratisation (Anatol Lieven, 18 September 2002, Open Democracy)
The real ‘line’ of the Bush administration on Iraq is ‘regime change’. A compliant not democratic Iraq is its objective, the aim being to secure a compliant Middle East. Now, in its rhetoric, the administration is calling for democracy in Iraq, and Bush academics are calling for, and explaining the US strategy in terms of, a desire to bring democracy to the entire Arab world. This is a stroke of malign brilliance. It is unbelievable to those who study what is actually happening. Nonetheless, it may prove highly influential in the US because of the way in which rigid, ideological paradigms dominate the public discussion here.
In origin, the commitment to Arab democracy is no more than a cynical cross between war propaganda (stressing the undemocratic, therefore barbarous nature of the Arab enemy) and a giant diversionary tactic intended to distract attention from Israel’s crimes and US complicity in them. However, it also has the capacity to co-opt and silence what might otherwise have been a good part of liberal opposition to the war in the US.
For in the US, a belief in the universal applicability of democratic institutions, and America’s right and duty to promote or even impose them, is so widely and unquestioningly held that it is part of what Richard Hofstader and others have called ‘the American Creed’, the core beliefs which define the American nation. So deep and universal is this creed that it is extremely difficult for liberal Americans to stand up against an argument presented in these terms – even when the argument is intended to justify a war of aggression and the flagrant violation of international law. The propaganda of ‘democratisation’ therefore is a way of enlisting the sickly pieties of the Clinton era in the service of the ruthless geopolitical ambitions of Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Perle, and of allying genuine sentiments of liberal universalism with vicious ethno-religious hatreds. [...]
As Walter Russell Mead and others have pointed out, there exists in the US a strong belief that, if wars are to be fought, they should be fought with the aim of the absolute and unconditional defeat of the enemy. Bred by annihilatory victories over the Native Americans, and comprehensive ones over the Mexicans and Spanish, and Sherman’s destruction of the South in the Civil War, this attitude was both reflected and strengthened by the Second World War, when the Americans (alone, as most of them see it) utterly defeated Germany and Japan, occupied them, completely reshaped their political systems and culture, and reduced them to geopolitical subservience to the US.
A war to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s regime is all too likely to spread, with disastrous consequences. But it could be contained. An approach to the whole Arab world, which combines compulsory regime change in the name of democratisation with acknowledged subservience to the US and Israel (as in the now notorious briefing paper to the Defense Policy Board advocating an ultimatum to Saudi Arabia), suggests a true clash of civilizations and a struggle without borders and without end between the US and the Arabs. This is precisely what some members of the Israeli lobby would like – but most American, indeed European and world citizens would recoil in horror. Not least because it would mean that the ‘war against terrorism’ would most likely be lost.
To begin with, we can probably dispose of most of Mr. Lieven's points about Israel, which seem to be little more than gratuitous anti-Zionism. A free and democratic Arab Middle East would more than likely remain anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American for at least a few decades or centuries, but so what? Its people would have to determine whether such hatreds were worth further humiliating and bloody defeats and even if they decided it was worth it, we'd just crush them again.
UNTO EVERY ONE THAT HATH SHALL BE GIVEN:Persistence on Iraq Pays Off for Bush : Strategy Mirrors Earlier Political Fights (Dana Milbank, September 20, 2002, Washington Post)
As President Bush sent his proposed Iraq attack resolution to Capitol Hill yesterday, his rout of congressional Democrats was virtually complete. The opposition party had all but resigned itself to passing the resolution with the wording Bush desired on the timetable he demanded.
A few short weeks ago, it appeared the administration was in disarray on Iraq, and the opposition at home and overseas to attacking Iraq was formidable. Now, bewildered opponents are studying how the White House apparently turned the situation on its head both in Congress and the United Nations.
The Bush White House's maneuver on Iraq was nothing new. It followed a pattern of hard-nosed politics similar to Bush's victories in winning support for a massive tax cut, trade promotion authority, withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and even, to some extent, success in the Florida election recount.
The pattern goes something like this: Bush finds himself in a jam, with heavy opposition to the position he advocates. After a sometimes painful period of stumbling, he casts aside all other issues so that he can focus his administration's attention -- and the public's -- on just one topic. Then, he hammers away at the issue, using the bully pulpit with numbing repetition and marshaling all arguments to make his case. When one rationale doesn't sell, he drops it and adopts a new one.
"It happens again and again: People on Bush's own side worry and get antsy, while critics become euphoric and think these guys aren't that bright," said GOP strategist Jeffrey Bell. "Once the tactical situation is clear to Bush, they start pounding and won't let up."
When something happens once, you can dismiss it as a freak occurrence. Twice or three times and you have to convince yourself it's just dumb luck. But when the same person achieves repeated victories in the same way each time, you might want to at least consider the possibility that it's a talent.
A MESSIAH NAMED BRUCE?:Pregnant Detroit Aquarium Shark Raises Eyebrows (Channel 4 Detroit, September 19, 2002)
Officials at the aquarium on Belle Isle are trying to figure out how one of their sharks got pregnant with no male shark around.
A white spotted bamboo shark hatched several eggs, but had not mated with a male shark, according to officials at the facility. The shark was in a tank with another female shark.
"We think it is a case of parthogenosis, virgin birth," said Doug Sweet, curator of fishes.
I've got the frankincense, if you've got the myrrh...
DEAD WOMAN WALKING:Democrats Preparing to Block Reorganization if Carnahan Falls (Mark Preston, 09/19/2002, Roll Call)
Senate Democrats are prepared to bring legislative activity to a screeching halt in a lame-duck session if Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) is defeated in November, an outcome that would temporarily give Republicans control of the chamber before the 108th Congress is sworn in. Democrats have already mapped out a strategy to defend against a quick takeover by the GOP during a lame duck if former Rep. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) defeats Carnahan in the midterm elections, several sources said. [...]
According to most readings of Missouri law, should Talent defeat Carnahan, he would be eligible to be sworn in to replace her immediately because she was temporarily appointed to the seat until an individual was elected to fill it. The most recent independent poll, taken in early September, showed the race in a dead heat.
Republicans said they would move for Talent's immediate swearing-in if he wins and the Senate is still in session mopping up the unfinished business of the 107th Congress. His victory would give Republicans 50 votes and the majority, while Democrats could have no more than 49 votes. [...]
But Republicans would not have full operating control of the chamber under such a scenario. Democrats plan to prevent the GOP from passing a new organizing resolution to give Republicans control of the committees if they seize power in a lame duck.
"You wouldn't do an organizing resolution for a month," said Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.). "We didn't do that in January  when I was the Majority Leader for 14 days, so you wouldn't do it for a few days either. But she is not going to lose, so that is not a question we are concerned about."
While Lott would be recognized as the Majority Leader on the floor, his committee chairmen would consist of liberal Democrats such as Sens. Edward Kennedy (Mass.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), who would still retain their one-seat majorities on the panels.
Folks sometimes wonder if it isn't over the top to refer to the Democrats as the "Evil Party", but, luckily, they regularly offer reminders like this one of how they earned the sobriquet. While John Ashcroft and the Republicans did the honorable thing and allowed Ms Carnahan to be seated, despite the dubious legality of the election and the appointment, Democrats seem hellbent on having her departure be classless, as well as illegal. As a Republican one is tormented by conflicting emotions of pride that our party tends to behave decently and anger that we continually behave like such rubes. It's not for nothing that we're known as the "Stupid Party".
September 19, 2002
SPRINGTIME FOR SCHRODER:German aide likens Bush tactics to Hitler's (Peter Finn, September 20, 2002, The Washington Post)
The anti-U.S. sentiment coursing through the German election campaign quickened Thursday when Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's justice minister said that President George W. Bush's "method" in pursing a confrontation with Iraq was similar to tactics employed by Hitler because both wished to divert attention from domestic problems, according to press reports of the remarks.
The comments by Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, who did not know there was a reporter in the room Wednesday when she spoke to a group of trade unionists, infuriated a Bush administration already bristling at Schroeder's strident rejection of even a United Nations-mandated attack on Iraq.
Ari Fleischer was justifiably furious about this at his press briefing today, but there's a much better way for the administration to handle the matter. How about this for an answer when the press asks about the appeasement campaign of Schroder and his party:
Neither the president nor his administration take this rhetoric seriously. Mr. Schroder is a desperate politician who's about to lose his tenuous grip on power and if Jew-baiting, America-bashing, and dictator-cuddling can get him to 33% in political polls, it's not too surprising to see him stoop to it.
But, if he should happen to win, we're confident that he'll discard all this nonsense--which was after all merely political cant intended to whip up extremist voters--abandon his newfound friend Saddam and come crawling back, begging forgiveness.
How do we think that would play in the beer halls?
THE 6TH & 7TH SIGNS:War is only feasible because Iraq isn't a threat to the US: A diplomatic fix will only be acceptable if it humiliates Saddam (Martin Woollacott, September 20, 2002, The Guardian)
The odd thing here is that the more overwhelming the evidence is that Saddam has usable weapons of mass destruction, the less of a case there is for going to war, because even the the fiercest hawks would presumably agree that nothing would be worth the damage their use would cause. War becomes possible, but less justifiable in strict terms, the less likely it is that he has such weapons or could acquire them in a very short time. The illogicality of the debate on "evidence" is that wholly convincing data would rule out war, while merely indicative evidence that Saddam is struggling to maintain or restore his weapons programmes is determined in advance to be insufficient by many critics of American policy.
It is precisely because he is not now a real threat to the US, nor a real ally of al-Qaida, and nor, probably, in possession of usable weapons, that war is feasible. This is why it was shrewd of President Bush, at the UN, to make the issue not one of "proof" of possession, or of a threat to neighbours or to America, but of Iraq's refusal to abide by the bargain which the regime made with the international community in 1991, and of what this continuing refusal might bode for the future.
It is not sufficiently recognised that in going to the UN in the way he did Bush has genuinely transformed the situation. He has changed the issue and changed the context. As long as the US was pursuing Iraq on its own, the majority of other countries, including America's allies, could avoid engagement. The persistent pattern of the last decade over Iraq, long before the Bush administration came into office, has been of wilfulness on one side and irresponsibility on the other. America and Britain were isolated in policies which other nations were happy to point out were not producing either full Iraqi disarmament or a change of regime.
Yet these others offered no solutions of their own - except ending sanctions - which would relieve the suffering of ordinary Iraqis, but was also unconvincingly proposed as a means of bringing down Saddam. In other words, two countries followed an ineffective course which arguably penalised the Iraqi people without bringing the change that many of them undoubtedly craved, while other countries abdicated, denied, or fantasised.
Who dares, wins (Pat Buchanan, September 18, 2002, Townhall.com)
Whatever one may think of the wisdom of invading Iraq and opening a third front in the war on terror, President Bush's address to the United Nations was a tour de force.
The president gave it to the Tower of Babel with the bark on, as "Cactus Jack" Garner used to say. With Kofi Annan seated behind him, Bush bluntly told the U.N. what it already knew: A decade of its commands had been treated by Saddam Hussein with utter contempt. Either the U.N. acts now to enforce its resolutions, or the U.N. becomes as irrelevant as the League of Nations in the 1930s when it failed to sanction Mussolini for his invasion of Ethiopia. [...]
When the president walked off the podium, the U.N. was left with this alternative: Send Iraq an ultimatum to open up its arsenals to U.N. inspections, and authorize force to back the ultimatum if Iraq balks, or America will go it alone.
Leadership creates consensus, and the president's address demonstrated that truth. The Security Council is now beavering away on an ultimatum to Baghdad.
Henry Hyde began today's House hearings on Iraq by quoting the Chinese adage/curse: "May you live in interesting times". Well, there's interesting times and then there are times in which both the Guardian and Pat Buchanan write columns portraying George W. Bush as touched by genius. Can the Rapture be far behind?
GOD DOES NOT PLAY DICE WITH THE UNIVERSE:Illegal labor aided Tancredo: Workers say they redid basement for immigration critic (Michael Riley, September 19, 2002, Denver Post)
In a fiery speech on the House floor late Wednesday, Tancredo said he didn't know whether the drywallers were legal immigrants.
"We know there are between 9 and 13 million people who are here illegally. I haven't the foggiest idea how many people I may have hired in the past as taxi drivers, as waiters, waitresses, home improvement people. I haven't the foggiest idea how many of those people may have been here illegally, and it is not my job to ask them."
In the speech, Tancredo also defended his recent stance in the case of Jesus Apodaca, an Aurora honor student who complained publicly that because he was an illegal immigrant, he would have to pay out-of-state college tuition.
After Tancredo read Apodaca's story in The Denver Post, he called the Immigration and Naturalization Service and asked that Apodaca be deported.
The Apodacas pose no threat, he said in the House speech, but in trying to personify the immigration issue through them, "what you do is ignore another face of illegal immigration that is much nastier," he said.
"It is the face of murder. It is the face of infiltration into the country of people who are coming to do us great harm."
This is just beautiful. Congressman Tancredo is the flavor-of-the-month on the Know-Nothing Right, with his race-baiting invective against the shadowy immigrant menace. Funny, Tancredo doesn't sound like a Clovis name to us.
OUR LAST EFFORT AT NATION-BUILDING:The German Problem (William Safire, September 19, 2002, NY Times)
At a meeting in the Axel Springer building in Hamburg on Aug. 27 with about 30 American friends of Germany, the defense minister who had been recently booted out of Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's cabinet for financial irregularities was asked why Germany was so loudly opposed to President Bush's campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.
Rudolf Scharping reported that he had answered that very question in a Schroder cabinet meeting: it was all about the Jews. Bush was motivated to overthrow Saddam by his need to curry favor with what Scharping called "a powerful--perhaps overly powerful--Jewish lobby" in the coming U.S. elections. Jeb Bush needed their votes in Florida as George Pataki did in New York, and Congressional redistricting made Jewish votes central to control of Congress. Germany, the discredited minister said proudly to his discomfited audience, had rejected such pandering.
The Turks can't take over Germany fast enough to suit us.
WHILE WE'RE TOSSING NPR PLAUDITS:
Two other especially good recent moments from NPR:
Terry Gross had Sarah Vowell on Fresh Air, talking about her new book: The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Ms Vowell is apparently a history buff, though she wasn't enamored of the subject in school. Ms Gross asked why that was and Ms Vowell responded (pardon the rough transcription from memory):
Well, they try to tell you to study history so you don't do that repeat it thing. But, frankly, that's just not useful to me--I'm not going to invade Russia in winter.
I think they should tell you that we study history because it's filled with really cool stories and it helps you to understand that you're a part of something larger and ongoing.
We couldn't agree more. There's a bizarre PC tendency to treat historical figures and events as if they were free floating. Thus, Columbus is condemned for not being sufficiently solicitous of Native Americans. But teach about him in context--what was there before him, what did he hope to achieve, what debt do we owe him, what behaviors of ours will likely be condemned in the future (whether abortion or being carnivorous)--and tell his amazing story and you can help kids realize that they are part of a great chain of being rather than mere atomized individuals.
*EXCERPT: Sing Loud from The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
*ARCHIVES: "sarah vowell" (Mag Portal)
Then, on Morning Edition today, Bob Edwards was talking to Frank Deford and asked him about soccer. There's a special dundgeon in Hell reserved for Mr. Deford and everyone else involved in the dreadful movie Everybody's All-American, which gave us the concept of "Letting the Tiger Out of the Cage", but he's very good on the topic of soccer (again pardon the transcription):
FD: It's not that I hate soccer, though I do, but that Americans hate soccer, and I've tried writing about why that is.
BE: Well, why is it?
FD: Americans don't want to see people kick a ball around. We want them to use their hands, which are what separate us from the beasts of the field.
Maybe that's why we're #1, why we're the world's only superpower.
Such sentiments nearly redeem him.
THIS WEEKEND'S RENTAL:Drawing on 'Spirited' world (Roger Ebert, September 19, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
'I love his films. I study his films. I watch his films when I'm looking for inspiration."
So says John Lasseter, director of "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life," about Hayao Miyazaki. Other animators agree that the quiet man from Japan with the mop of gray hair may be the best animation filmmaker in history. His films are so good, they force you to rethink how you approach the art of animation.
Lasseter is one of the most successful animators in Hollywood. That he would take time to personally shepherd "Miyazaki's Spirited Away" for an American release by Walt Disney Studios is a tribute to the older craftsman. ... Lasseter, who directed the English-language soundtrack for the film, joined Miyazaki at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.
"The very first screening of 'Spirited Away' outside of Japan was at the Pixar animation studios," he said, "and I was stunned at how amazing this film was. North America hasn't had a chance to discover Miyazaki's films. In the animated community, he's a hero, like he is to me."
We particularly recommend: Kiki's Delivery Service [Majo no takkyubin] (1989) Hayao Miyazaki (1941-) (Grade:A-)
FRENCH MORAL CALCULUS :Nazi Collaborator Freed in France (Associated Press, September 19, 2002)
Wartime collaborator Maurice Papon walked out of prison today and into a storm of criticism after judges ruled him too old and too sick to finish the 10-year sentence he received for helping send Jews to Nazi death camps.
To victims of France's wartime government and their families, the decision by appeals court judges to release Papon, 92, after he had served less than three years of his sentence erased the victory they won with his 1998 conviction.
Papon was convicted for complicity in crimes against humanity for his role in deporting 1,690 Jews to Germany as the second-in-command of police in the Bordeaux area. Most were sent to the Auschwitz death camp, and only a few survived.
Apparently the lives of 1690 French Jews are worth a mere three years of this scumbag's life. What leaps out at you is that he "walked out". He should only have left in a body bag, but that he could still walk on his own power is somehow especially galling/gauling.
AVOIDING THE NOT PREFERRED OPTION:NEWSMAKER: DONALD RUMSFELD (Online Newshour, September 18, 2002, PBS)
JIM LEHRER: [...] As Secretary of Defense, what would you say to the young men and women of America and their families as to why this is in the vital interests of this country to the point that they have to risk their lives for it? [...]
DONALD RUMSFELD: You say that to the American people. The first responsibility of government is to provide for the common defense. That is what our central government is there for very essentially. That's its principle task. And as one looks at the world and sees this new security environment and sees the nexus between weapons of mass destruction, terrorist states and terrorist networks and reflects on last September 11, reflects on our vulnerability as free people and how many people can come into our country and do things in our country and how available today biological weapons and chemical weapons and indeed elements of nuclear weapons are today, what one would say is that if we want to live in a more peaceful world, if we want to avoid that kind of a catastrophe, our country has to recognize that new security and recognize that absorbing that blow, waiting for it and absorbing it and then having the investigation afterward is not a preferred option.
He brings a certain clarirty to matters, eh?
THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLE DIXIE DOWN:Bid to lock Britain into EU (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, 19/09/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Britain could be forced to stay in the European Union against the will of Parliament and the wishes of the British people, under proposals gathering support in Brussels.
The Convention on the Future of Europe, which is preparing a draft constitution for the EU, is examining a clause that would allow member states to block the seccession of any country that wanted to leave.
Under the so-called "exit clause", the rebel state would have to secure the backing of three-quarters of the votes in the EU Council of Ministers, as well as two-thirds of the European Parliament, and ratification by the parliaments of every single country.
The mechanism would make it extremely hard for Britain ever to leave the EU by legal means.
Have the Brits taken complete leave of their senses? Does national sovereignty mean nothing to them anymore?
ALL THAT [JEFFERSONIAN] JAZZ:The Jazz Messenger: Wynton Marsalis' 10-year education crusade culminates in a new curriculum. (Samantha Stainburn, September 18, 2002 , Education Week)
As Marsalis sees it, America has stopped expecting a lot from its children, partly because adults no longer care enough to show them the way. "We need to wonder that we consistently give them trash to learn as a culture," he insists. "What does that say about us? It says that we suffer from a severe lack of leadership. And we don't understand what it takes to maintain a civilization."
But Marsalis thinks jazz can help fix all that.
The genre's unique musical characteristics--collective improvisation, call and response, solos, and unexpected rhythms--demand respect and patience as musicians listen to one another and collaborate, he explains. These traits teach people that those who communicate and cooperate well will get turns to express their individuality. "Jazz is an adult music," he notes. "It's something that makes children aspire to adulthood, which is what your culture should try to do, because an adult is the most productive human in your society, not a child. A child does not know. You have to teach them."
As Marsalis sees it, America has stopped expecting a lot from its children, partly because adults no longer care enough to show them the way. [...]
He's not alone in maintaining that jazz teaches students social skills. Marsalis has gone even further, describing the homegrown music as a sort of citizenship training. "Jazz is a prism through which we gain a better understanding of life as Americans," he states in a JALC press release. "Jazz teaches us democratic ideals. Like democracy, jazz requires personal responsibility and the ability to improvise with your available resources to come up with inventive solutions to new problems."
Over the years Mr. Marsalis has said some things about race and behaved in ways that have made him hard to like, but it's hard not to like what he's doing with this project. If jazz and a belief in jazz as both a uniquely black idiom and a uniquely democratic art form can serve to provide young black people with a stake in democracy that's all to the good.
SHADES OF YELLOWBush's resolve already has paid dividends (Jack Kelly, Sept. 19, 2002, Jewish World Review)
European journalists are fond of deriding Bush as a "cowboy." Usually, the analogy is far-fetched. But Bush's UN speech on Saddam Hussein eerily resembled the script of the greatest Western movie of all time, High Noon.
The Jewish World Review just gets better and better...
September 18, 2002
HUBRIS & HUMIDITY:Antarctic Ozone Hole Could Close by 2050-Scientist (Michael Perry, September 17, 2002, Reuters)
The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica may close within 50 years as the level of destructive ozone-depleting CFCs in the atmosphere is now declining, one of the world's leading atmospheric scientists said Tuesday.
Paul Fraser with the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) said he had measured a decline in ozone-destroying gases since 2000.
"The major culprit in the production of the ozone hole is CFCs and they have started to decline in the lower atmosphere," Fraser told Reuters in an interview.
"We think the ozone hole will recover by about 2050," said Fraser, from CSIRO's atmospheric division and a lead author on a U.N. report on the ozone layer released Monday.
(The following is even less well thought out than the usual fare here, but it involves a question that''s been nagging at me and I need your help. I'd very much appreciate hearing what other folks have to say, either in the comments or by email.)
SILENT RUNNING:They Know From Your Silence (Rick Heller, September 18, 2002, Smart Genes)
A brilliant blog entry from David Horowitz, quoting a letter from an anonymous academic:
"To never gain tenure-track employment, it suffices to remain silent before leftist ideology in universities today. You don't have to say a word. 'They know you from your silence.' "
I've gone to many literary events in Cambridge...where my centrist political views make me feel alienated from the leftist consensus. On this particular occasion, I spoke up, and as I was among people I've known for some time, they tolerate me. At other venues, I'll often keep silent.
Here are my observations about politics within the writers groups I've been involved in:
Though entirely understandable, there's something depressing about Mr. Heller's admission and the observations that follow. It's disgraceful to make people choose between their professional future and speaking their minds, yet it happens all too frequently now in settings dominated by the Left.
GOOD KITTY:Tamil Tigers 'do not want independence' (BBC, 18 September, 2002)
Tamil Tiger separatist rebels say they will only push for a separate state as a "last resort".
The statement was made by rebel negotiator Anton Balasingham after the Tigers and Sri Lankan officials concluded historic peace talks in Thailand.
"If our demand for regional autonomy or self-government is rejected, our people would have no other option and separation would be the last resort," Mr Balasingham said at a press conference.
"Our demand for a homeland is not a demand for a separate state."
It's hard to tell from this whether there's any real difference between autonomy and independence, but if they can agree to maintain one state it would be a great thing. The Wilsonian notion that race or religion or whatever other kind of distinctive trait a minority can claim entitles them to their own state has been a blood-drenched disaster. If, after the horrific violence between these two sides, they can learn to live in some kind of confederated state, they could provide the world with an example of how a multiethnic society can cohere and continue.
JUST BECAUSE:Haven't we been duped once before? (Clarence Page, September 18, 2002, Chicago Tribune)
"Is President Bush just doing this because Hussein tried to kill his father?"
I know a lot of people say that. But the UN seems to be impressed that President Bush has a bigger case than that. But, to tell you the truth, I'd be pretty steamed if somebody had tried to kill my dad, wouldn't you...
Isn't the fact that a dictator tried murdering one of our citizens, an ex-president at that, sufficient reason to topple him?
PAGING MR. FRIEDMAN:Iraq, Upside Down (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 9/18/02, NY Times)
Recently, I've had the chance to travel around the country and do some call-in radio shows, during which the question of Iraq has come up often. And here's what I can report from a totally unscientific sample: Don't believe the polls that a majority of Americans favor a military strike against Iraq. It's just not true.
It's also not true that the public is solidly against taking on Saddam Hussein. What is true is that most Americans are perplexed. The most oft-asked question I heard was some variation of: "How come all of a sudden we have to launch a war against Saddam? I realize that he's thumbed his nose at the U.N., and he has dangerous weapons, but he's never threatened us, and, if he does, couldn't we just vaporize him? What worries me are Osama and the terrorists still out there."
Public Supports Bush Positions on U.N. Involvement in Iraq: Presidential job approval rating back up to 70% in latest poll (Frank Newport, September 18, 2002, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)
The American public is strongly behind President George W. Bush's efforts to push the United Nations into taking a more forceful position against Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein. A just-completed CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly want the U.N. to take a tougher stance against Iraq, to pass a resolution demanding compliance with weapons inspections efforts, and to authorize military action if Iraq does not comply. More than seven in 10 Americans feel that Saddam Hussein will use weapons of mass destruction against the United States if military action is not taken. President Bush's job approval rating is now at 70%, marking the first time since late July that it has been at that level or higher.
We'll go out on a limb and say that the 70% who think Saddam will nuke us if we don't attack him actually do support a military strike.
THE CHOSEN CHOOSE THE GOP:Black-Jew Rift Widens After Southern Primaries (Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, September 18, 2002, FOX News)
Participants in this month's Congressional Black Caucus conference say the defeat of two black House members in bitter primaries not only suggests a widening rift with Jewish Democrats, but trouble within the Democratic Party itself.
"People were talking retaliation," said Ron Walters, the director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland, of last week's CBC events in Washington. "They were saying [presidential hopeful] Sen. Joe Lieberman is dead in the water, and so on and so forth."
Joe Lieberman will make a fine Republican too. He'll finally be able to reconcile his politics with his religiosity.
PROPHYLAXIS OF EVIL:If you're an Ann Coulter fan... (Charles Murtaugh, September 17, 2002)
... then please, please don't read today's "Savage Love". The rest of you (and I suspect "the rest of you" encompasses nearly all my regular readers) should go right ahead. Assuming he finds it funny, Orrin Judd is especially encouraged to explain how this column is also conservative.
First, let us direct friend Murtaugh to a review where we (and I believe it's safe to say that the Brothers Judd are conservative) use almost the same construction as Mr. Savage. I say almost because where Mr. Savage is merely being gratuitous, you'll note that the humor as we use it, though equally scatological, is organic, unforced, and, therefore, unlike Mr. Savage's tortured effort to be outrageous, quite funny.
MILHOLLIN'S DRIVE:Why Iraq Will Defeat Arms Inspectors (GARY MILHOLLIN and KELLY MOTZ, September 16, 2002, The New York Times)
Whatever one's stance on how best to handle Saddam Hussein, it is crucial to understand one thing: United Nations inspections, as they are currently constituted, will never work.
There are several reasons for this. Consider the record of the United Nations Special Commission, an agency that was charged with inspecting Iraq's weapons programs from 1991 to 1998. While Unscom did manage to destroy tons of missiles and chemical and biological weapons, it could not complete the job. Iraqi obfuscations prevented it from ever getting a full picture of the entire weapons production effort. The commission's replacement, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, which has not yet been allowed to enter Iraq, will have even less success given its structure and policies.
Mr. Milhollin was on the CBC show As it Happens last night [audio should be available later today] and in the space of about four minutes he just annihilated the idea of these UN inspections ever working. He lays out many of the problems in this editorial, ranging from the requirement that inspectors notify the Iraqis before they can visit a so-called "presidential site" and who's on the inspection team, to their lack of proprietary intelligence and the reluctance of sovereign nations to share precious data with them, to the advances Iraq has made in mobilizing their weapons program, so it can be moved around the country. [Meanwhile, if the report in yesterday's London Daily Mirror is accurate, the presidential sites may not even be included in Iraq's supposedly "unconditional" offer.] There's much more info on Iraq's weapons program at Mr. Milhollin's Iraq Watch website
September 17, 2002
MAUREEN DOWD VS. CIVILIZATION:Lemon Fizzes on the Banks of the Euphrates (MAUREEN DOWD, September 18, 2002, NY Times)
[W]hy should former C.E.O.'s Cheney and Rummy settle for mere Jack Welch-style perks when they can have the perks of empire?
They can restore civilization to the cradle of civilization. Lemon fizzes, cribbage and cricket by the Tower of Babel. A 36-hole golf course on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. ArabDisney in the hanging gardens of Babylon. Oil on tap at the Baghdad Hilton. Huge contracts for buddies in the defense and oil industries. Halliburton's Brown & Root construction company building a six-lane highway from Baghdad to Tel Aviv.
How long can it be before the empire strikes back?
So are we to take it from her column that Ms Dowd opposes the restoration of civilization in Iraq? Does she imagine that the good people of Iraq wouldn't be ecstatic if their country were to be made safe and stable and free enough that it would be a fit place for Disney and Hilton and tourists and golfers? Will the world not be a better place on the day that a superhighway connects Tel Aviv and Baghdad?
HOW'S IT HANGIN' ?:Woman Escapes Lynching Over Alleged Mans Penis Theft (Daily Trust [Abuja], August 6, 2002)
A middle-aged woman on Saturday escaped being lynched for allegedly causing the genitals of a male suya seller at Garki in Abuja to disappear.
Eyewintnesses told a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who was at the scene that the lady had approached the suya seller, popularly called Sani Maibalangu, and asked for suya steak N20 worth.
Maibalangu had told the woman that the least suya went for more than that amount, they said, adding that the lady then left the spot after she had seductively touched the man in his groin.
The man said he felt as if "a bucketful of cold water" had been emptied on his head and raised an alarm he felt his groin and discovered that his genitals had disappeared, he witnessed said.
...and people wonder why we've vowed never to leave the Eastern Time Zone again.
THAT CHANNEL'S PARENT-LOCKED IN OUR HOUSE:CNN: NO TIME FOR ISRAEL (Ed Driscoll, 9/17/02)
Found on the New York Post's Page Six section:
CNN is refusing to run ads promoting Israel as the Middle East's only democracy.
During the 2000 Election kerfuffle in Florida, the Wife took to asking people what news channel they watched before she'd discuss politics with them. FOX News viewers were assumed to be soulmates but CNN viewers were anathema. She wanted to write to Britt Hume and suggest that FOX come up with a secret handshake so we loyal viewers could all recognize each other more easily--sort of like Masons for the electronic age.
DEPENDS WHAT THE MEANING OF "UN" IS:West on brink of Iraq war (Joe Murphy, 9/17/02, Evening Standard)
The US and Britain returned to the brink of war today as Saddam Hussein's dramatic promise to allow unfettered weapons inspections turned out to have strings attached.
Iraq made a surprise offer late last night to provide "unconditional access" to United Nations inspectors, raising hopes of a peaceful outcome to the Gulf crisis.
But today it emerged that the offer only applied to military bases--which could let Saddam hide chemical and biological arms stockpiles elsewhere.
Maybe I'm misreading this definition?:
un con di tion al Pronunciation Key (nkn-dsh-nl) adj.
Without conditions or limitations; absolute
SELF-IMMOLATION:TORRICELLI'S TERROR PAL$ (Sam Dealey, 17 September 2002, New York Post)
NEW Jersey voters already concerned about Sen. Robert Torricelli's low ethical threshold now learn that he's been a paid shill for a group the government identifies as a terrorist organization. Called on this by his Republican opponent, Douglas Forrester, in a debate Thursday, Torricelli said the group had been pulled from the State Department's global terror list and given a clean bill of health. Not true.
Of course, Torricelli did lobby to have the National Council of Resistance pulled from the list. Senators (especially ones like Torricelli) do things like that for folks who've donated generously.
But the State Department has insisted for years that the council is just a front formed by the deadly People's Mujahedin of Iran in a bid for political legitimacy - the two groups' leadership is that entwined, for starters.
And when it came to the Mujahedin in all its aliases, the case was too strong. Despite Torricelli's near decade-long letter-writing campaign, the group remains among State's 28 targeted organizations, right up there with Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda. And with good reason.
At this rate, Forrester should just go into seclusion and let the Torch keep burning himself.
THE RACE IS ON:If Election Day Were Today (Charlie Cook, Sept. 17, 2002, NationalJournal.com)
Perhaps because the number of hotly contested House races is so small, with only 44 of 435 districts in play, the importance of each individual contest has risen dramatically. With just 50 days to go before the Nov. 5 election, only a dozen House races can be said to be true toss-ups at this stage, with 32 more leaning to one party or the other. More ominously for Democrats, 219 House seats currently can be said to be leaning, likely or solidly Republican, one more than a simple majority of the House. What that effectively means is that if the election were held today, Democrats could win every seat that was leaning, likely or solidly Democratic, plus every toss-up race, and still come up two seats short of a majority.
It is not yet clear if this will be a nationalized election, where economic issues dominate, or where foreign policy issues rule. It should be immediately emphasized that the election is more than a month and a half away, and many important questions about this election remain to be determined. For example, if this election is about the economy, about bread-and-butter domestic issues, that could give Democrats the advantage they need. Democrats do not need a gale-force wind to pick up the seats necessary to control the House, but they do need a good, stiff breeze.
Nothing would be so helpful right now as some good economic news. Unfortunately this tends to be the worst time of year for the stock market.
NICKELODIOUS:Study: Euro getting under people's skin (Steven Komarow, 9/17/02, USA TODAY)
The euro has been blamed for all sorts of ills since its introduction this year, including inflation and the loss of national pride among Europeans. Now it's being blamed for, well, illness.
Swiss scientists say the two-tone 1- and 2-euro coins release high levels of nickel when they are exposed to human sweat. Nickel against the skin can cause eczema, irritation or other allergic reactions.
Maybe we were just the canaries in the coalmine, but the Judds have been sickened by the Euros for going on four centuries.
ODYSSEY OF A FRIEND OF FREEDOM:
I was at a book sale on Saturday and bought Odyssey of a Friend: Whittaker Chambers Letters to William F. Buckley Jr. 1954-1961 (1969) for $1. I'm a huge Chambers fan so I didn't really even look at the book, which I knew I wanted, just dropped in my bag. But I took it out tonight to look at it and noticed there's a faceplate inside inscribed "To Mrs George Runnels Gratefully Wm F Buckley" and that the book was "Privately Printed by National Review". Kinda cool.
If you know Mr. Chambers only by his rather dubious reputation, he's someone you should really read more by and about. His memoir, Witness, is one of the best written and most important life stories of the 20th Century. That life is also told well in an excellent biography by Sam Tanehaus.
Chambers's essays and reviews, collected several years ago are marvelous. Here's one that especially good, his review of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, a review that demonstrates how you can be intellectually honest and even savage toward someone whose philosophy you may in part share should you find the rest of their philosophy unacceptable:
Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind, which finds this one natural to it, shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be
heard, from painful necessity, commanding: " To the gas chambers— go!" The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture— that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the differences between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.
That passage is so reminiscent of George Orwell in Coming Up for Air, in the scene where Fatty recognizes that the hysterical tone of an anti-fascist diatribe resembles nothing so much as a fascist diatribe:
I'd stopped listening to the actual lecture. But there are more ways than one of listening. I shut my eyes for a moment. The effect was curious. I seemed to see the fellow much better when I could only hear his voice.
It was a voice that sounded as if it could go on for a fortnight without stopping. It's a ghastly thing, really, to have a sort of human barrel-organ shooting propaganda at you by the hour. The same thing over and over again. Hate, hate, hate. Let's all get together and have a good hate. Over and over. It gives you the feeling that something has got inside your skull and is hammering down on your brain. But for a moment, with my eyes shut, I managed to turn the tables on him. I got inside his skull. It was a peculiar sensation. For about a second I was inside him, you might almost say I was him. At any rate, I felt what he was feeling.
I saw the vision that he was seeing. And it wasn't at all the kind of vision that can be talked about. What he's saying is merely that Hitler's after us and we must all get together and have a good hate. Doesn't go into details. Leaves it all respectable. But what he's seeing is something quite different. It's a picture of himself smashing people's faces in with a spanner. Fascist faces, of course. I know that's what he was seeing. It was what I saw myself for the second or two that I was inside him. Smash! Right in the middle! The bones cave in like an eggshell and what was a face a minute ago is just a great big blob of strawberry jam. Smash! There goes another! That's what's in his mind, waking and sleeping, and the more he thinks of it the more he likes it. And it's all O.K. because the smashed faces belong to Fascists. You could hear all that in the tone of his voice.
Interesting that their bitter experience as men of the Left prepared them to recognize the danger of dogmatism in whatever form it took. In both of these passages we hear the echo of the line from Orwell's 1984, when Winston Smith is being tortured:
If you want a picture of the future imagine a boot stomping on a human face-forever.
No wonder both fled to conservatism, which is sometimes said to be characterized by its "absence of ideology".
And here you can find the great letter to his children with which Chambers introduced Witness:
Much more than Alger Hiss or Whittaker Chambers was on trial in the trials of Alger Hiss. Two faiths were on trial. Human societies, like human beings, live by faith and die when faith dies. At issue in the Hiss Case was the question whether this sick society, which we call Western civilization, could in its extremity still cast up a man whose faith in it was so great that he would voluntarily abandon those things which men hold good, including life, to defend it. At issue was the question whether this man's faith could prevail against a man whose equal faith it was that this society is sick beyond saving, and that mercy itself pleads for its swift extinction and replacement by another. At issue was the question whether, in the desperately divided society, there still remained the will to recognize the issues in time to offset the immense rally of public power to distort and pervert the facts.
At heart, the Great Case was this critical conflict of faiths; that is why it was a great case. On a scale personal enough to be felt by all, but big enough to be symbolic, the two irreconcilable faiths of our time--Communism and Freedom--came to grips in the persons of two conscious and resolute men. Indeed, it would have been hard, in a world still only dimly aware of what the conflict is about, to find two other men who knew so clearly. Both had been schooled in the same view of history (the Marxist view). Both were trained by the same party in the same selfless, semisoldierly discipline. Neither would nor could yield without betraying, not himself, but his faith; and the different character of these faiths was shown by the different conduct of the two men toward each other throughout the struggle. For, with dark certitude, both knew, almost from the beginning, that the Great Case could end only in the destruction of one or both of the contending figures, just as the history of our times (both men had been taught) can end only in the destruction of one or both of the contending forces.
But this destruction is not the tragedy. The nature of tragedy is itself misunderstood. Part of the world supposes that the tragedy in the Hiss Case lies in the acts of disloyalty revealed. Part believes that the tragedy lies in the fact that an able, intelligent man, Alger Hiss, was cut short in the course of a brilliant public career. Some find it tragic that Whittaker Chambers, of his own will, gave up a $30,000-a-year job and a secure future to haunt for the rest of his days the ruins of his life. These are shocking facts, criminal facts, disturbing facts: they are not tragic.
Crime, violence, infamy are not tragedy. Tragedy occurs when a human soul awakes and seeks, in suffering and pain, to free itself from crime, violence, infamy, even at the cost of life. The struggle is the tragedy--not defeat or death. That is why the spectacle of tragedy has always filled men, not with despair, but with a sense of hope and exaltation. That is why this terrible book is also a book of hope For it is about the struggle of the human soul--of more than one human soul. It is in this sense that the Hiss Case is a tragedy. This is its meaning beyond the headlines, the revelations, the shame and suffering of the people involved. But this tragedy will have been for nothing unless men understand it rightly, and from it the world takes hope and heart to begin its own tragic struggle with the evil that besets it from within and from without, unless it faces the fact that the world, the whole world, is sick unto death and that, among other things, this Case has turned a finger of fierce light into the suddenly opened and reeking body of our time.
For Chambers, of course, the drama had to be specifically Communism versus Freedom, a conceit we can allow him given his own role in the former's eventual defeat. But history always casts up new "-isms" to challenge Freedom, new ideologies that, at their core, seek to provide men with a comforting certitude about themselves and the world around them. In the end there's a deadening (and murderous) sameness to all such ideologies. Eric Hoffer described well the exchange of freedom for security that goes on amongst each "-isms" adherents:
Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden...We join a mass movement to escape from individual responsibility, or, in the words of an ardent young Nazi, 'to be free from freedom.'
and again when he noted:
The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.
All three of these men, were they to be transported here today, would find Osama and Saddam and Arafat quite familiar. They'd have recognized, probably long before most of the rest of us, that Palestine and Islam and all the rest have fairly little to do with the jihad. They'd have recognized that these are merely men who wish to wear the boots that stomp on all our faces--forever. But they'd have also known how easily we could all succumb to the urge to don the boots ourselves and sink to the level of such men. This in particular, the way they prick at our own consciences even as they warn us what to watch for in others, makes these authors both timely and timeless. Particularly fascinating is Whittaker Chambers, who once aspired to wear the boot, but who, at great personal cost, chose to instead to join the cause of Freedom, a cause he believed to be doomed. By bearing witness to the true nature of communism he helped us avert that fate for at least a while. And, by reading him today, he can summon us once again to freedom's cause. What better legacy could a man leave behind when his own odyssey is done?
AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM:America vis-ˆ-vis past empires: Compared with past great powers, say the Mongols or Romans, America wields a light touch. (James Norton, September 11, 2002 , The Christian Science Monitor)
After World War II, the United States rebuilt its vanquished foes and cofounded multilateral institutions like NATO, the World Bank, and the United Nations. It turned Germany and Japan into democracies, and built a global alliance of nations, making itself the first among equals.
No other superpower in history has been so multilateral and modest about its status, says Donald Kagan, a professor of classics at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. "It's very important to understand that the ancients were very different from what we are today," he says. "I would say that [America] is the great exception in the history of the world. It hasn't been so long that everybody held the same view that the ancients did, which is: 'Empire is natural, empire is glorious; there's no reason to apologize, one should be very proud of it.' "
But even a modest superpower is not considered a force for good by all. In that sense, historians say, ambivalent attitudes toward the United States today echo the reputations of ancient empires.
Intellectuals like to flagellate us for how little we comprehend the rest of the world, when, in fact, it's astounding how little the rest of the world understands us, by any measure the most significant nation going.
FAT, HAPPY, AND VERY, VERY OLD:U.S. life expectancy hits new high: Americans are living longer than ever before, but they are overweight and physically lazy and spend far more on health care than any other country in the world, the government said on Thursday in its annual review of the nation’s health. (MSNBC, 9/12/02)
MEMORY'S MANSIONS:The New Jerusalem (Rich Galen, September 11, 2002, Mullings)
In a small churchyard in Alexandria, Virginia there is a humble monument to an Unknown Soldier of the Revolution. These are the words on his tomb:
"Here lies a soldier of the Revolution whose identity is known but to God.
His was an idealism that recognized a supreme being.
That planted religious liberty on our shores;
That overthrew despotism;
That established a people's government;
That wrote a Constitution setting metes and bounds of delegated authority;
That fixed a standard of value upon men above gold; and,
Lifted high the torch of civil liberty along the pathway of mankind.
In ourselves his soul exists as part of ours:
His memory's mansion."
Boy, are the kids gonna hate me and the wife when they're old enough to travel and we drag them to all these places...
E PLURIBUS UNUM:THEN AND NOW: MANSFIELD: Gwen Ifill speaks with Harvey Mansfield, a Harvard government professor, about how Americans have changed since Sept. 11, 2001. (Newshour Online, September 13, 2002, PBS)
GWEN IFILL: Harvey Mansfield came to Harvard 50 years ago as a freshman and never left. As a professor of government he's made a name for himself as an expert on de Tocqueville and Machiavelli. But he is also deeply involved in shaping modern conservative political thought. He has had the ear of Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, and from his perch at Harvard he has often been at the center of campus debate, arguing against affirmative action, multiculturalism, feminism and academic grade inflation. We spoke with him at Harvard.
GWEN IFILL: Here we sit on Harvard's campus, which is supposed to be a hot bed of debate-- cultural, intellectual, all kinds of debate. A year after September 11th, has that been the case?
HARVEY MANSFIELD: Not at all. There has been a great silence at Harvard this past year. For the most part, the students and the faculty have had nothing to say at all. There's been no anti-war outcry. I think that Harvard people are stunned and shocked. They are full of grief and anger. There's a kind of towering anger. I think both these sentiments they share with the rest of the American people, but they haven't found a way to understand this, and I think the reason is that our dominant opinion of multiculturalism doesn't seem to have worked out.
GWEN IFILL: Now, what do you mean by that? What does what happened on September 11th have to do with multiculturalism?
HARVEY MANSFIELD: Multiculturalism means that all cultures can be included in a community, and this attack on 9/11 seems to be a grand challenge to that happy notion. Here, these people are not just others whom we can understand if we look hard at them and see that underneath them they're really like us. No, they're different from us. They're our enemies.
There are three interesting ideas developed in this interview with Bill Kristol's mentor: the first, above, concerns multiculturalism; the second concerns the proper role of government; the third, the question of whether civil liberties should first and foremost protect the minority or the majority. On these questions Mr. Mansfield appears to be right, wrong, and right, respectively.
SOME ILL-CONSIDERED THINGS:Some Things Considered (NY Times, 9/17/02)
Every devoted radio listener has experienced it at some time or another--a favorite station changes its format. The effect is unsettling. Last year, National Public Radio listeners in Lake Charles, La., experienced something even more alarming. The two affiliates that provided NPR programming were crowded off the airwaves by a new station owned by American Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting network owned by the Rev. Don Wildmon, based in Tupelo, Miss.
Why is it that the switch from NPR to Christian broadcasting should be considered "even more alarming" than say a switch from Top 40 to all Sports talk? Why is Christian radio "alarming" at all?
ONLY THE FIRST STEP:America unmoved by Iraq offer: Inspections are only part of the solution for the US (Mike Wooldridge, 17 September, 2002, BBC)
Iraq's dramatic offer to readmit weapons inspectors is a climb-down by Saddam Hussein, but so far he has moved down only one step.
President Bush last week laid out an entire slope that the Iraqi leader has to go down.
Disclosing any weapons of mass destruction he has in his possession, or is developing, was only one item on the list.
Others included ending support for terrorism, ending repression of his own people and releasing prisoners still missing from the Gulf War.
Mr Bush has characterised Saddam Hussein as a tyrant.
And with regime change in Iraq the openly stated American goal, the pressure on Baghdad will clearly be maintained.
Here's a guy who listened to the President's whole UN address, not just the part on nuclear weapons. Far too many journalists are being betrayed by their own nuclear fetish into missing the broader implications of the speech.
September 16, 2002
AMERICAN BEAUTY:Floral Flag (Aerial photo courtesy of Bill Morson, City of Lompoc, CA)
The 2002 floral flag is 740 feet wide and 390 feet high and maintains the proper flag dimensions as described in executive order #10834. This flag is 6.65 acres and is the first floral flag to be planted with 5 pointed stars, each star is 24 feet in diameter; each stripe is 30 feet wide. This flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each for a total of more than 2 million flowers.
How much Miracle-Gro would it take to do that on our lawn?
GREAT, NOW WHEN ARE THE ELECTIONS?:Iraq Agrees to Readmit Inspectors, U.N. Says (AP, September 16, 2002)
Iraq unconditionally accepted the return of U.N. weapons inspectors late Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.
"I can confirm to you that I have received a letter from the Iraqi authorities conveying its decision to allow the return of inspectors without conditions to continue their work."
That's an excellent start, we should send them in by the hundreds and thousands immediately and inspect every corner of the country. Meanwhile, Saddam can tell us when he and his Baathist Party are surrendering power and how they plan to transition to the democracy that is required to fulfill UN Resolution 688.
COUNTING COUP:September 11 in Chile—clashes on coup’s anniversary (Bill Vann, 14 September 2002, World Socialist Web Site)
In Chile, September 11 was marked by violent clashes between demonstrators and Carabinero military police, resulting in over 500 arrests and scores of wounded.
While the media in the US and Western Europe concentrated exclusively on ceremonies marking the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Chile was rocked by protests in observance of the 29th anniversary of the US-backed coup that inaugurated 17 years of brutal military dictatorship.
That September 11, in 1973, also saw planes flying low over a country’s largest city, leaving one of its most important buildings in flames and its people in a state of shock. But in Chile it was the bombing of the La Moneda presidential palace, where the elected president, Salvador Allende, died. The attack inaugurated a bloodbath from which Chile has yet to recover.
Not recovered? Chile is today a free nation in political terms and one of the freest in the world in economic terms. It is actually the freest in Latin America, followed by El Salvador, where the U.S. likewise intervened, despite the protests of the Left. At the bottom of the list, you'll find nations like Cuba and Venezuela, which such people adore. We always do well to remember that not all those who despise freedom celebrated on 9/11/01, some still mourn 9/11/73.
CRY ME A FREAKIN' RIVER:INSIDE THE NEW CAMP X-RAY (RICHARD WALLACE, Daily Mirror)
THIS is the first glimpse of Camp Delta, the new Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Here 598 al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects from 38 countries - including seven Britons - are held without charge, without legal rights and for some, without hope.
For 167 of the 168 hours in a week their world is a cramped 8ft x 6ft 8in cell.
Their day-to-day existence in a remote corner of the US Naval Base on the south-east of the island is pitiful.
The strain of living in such conditions - condemned by human rights groups again last week - has taken a severe toll. The Daily Mirror has learned that more than 30 of the men have attempted suicide.
They never seem to have any trouble killing themselves if there's a Bar Mitzvah nearby.
THOSE WHO SERVE (via Tom Roberts):Rumor of war overshadows Fort Stewart deployment: On the day President Bush calls for action against Iraq, local troops head for a training mission in Kuwait. (Noelle Phillips, 9/13/02, Savannah Morning News)
As President Bush explained his position on Iraq to the United Nations on Thursday, thousands of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers prepared for a deployment to Kuwait.
Although the deployment is a regularly scheduled training exercise, the troops held a departure ceremony with heavy possibilities hanging in their minds.
They know they'll be in country for six months, and possibly longer if Bush decides an invasion is the only answer in dealing with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. [...]
[T]roops like Pfc. Michael Brooks of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor, say they're ready.
"I've done a lot of training to go and I'm prepared to do whatever," said Brooks, 21. "I'll be all right."
The unfortunate truth is that when we send troops into battle many will not come out "all right", yet still they go. In a country which, to its enduring shame, has an all volunteer military--even in times of war at this point--their willingness to fight for and defend our freedoms is even more humbling.
FORGET KABUL; WE'LL BOOST YOUR COLA:House Democrats Grapple With Iraq (Ethan Wallison, September 16, 2002 , Roll Call)
With Congress facing imminent debate on whether to attack Iraq, House Democrats find themselves confounded by the massive new variable that has imposed itself on the issue landscape, and with a strong impulse to change the subject as the party totters at the threshold of a majority in the chamber.
Inside the Caucus, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) is urging Democrats to "let the Iraq debate take care of itself," in the words of one source who listened to Gephardt at a meeting of the party's whip operation on Thursday morning.
Gephardt told Members in the room that Democrats will launch an intensive four-week effort - set to begin today - to move the debate back to issues that play to the party's presumed strengths, and called for the Members to show discipline in sticking to the game plan. The blitz will cover, in sequence, prescription drugs, pension reform, corporate responsibility and Social Security, sources said.
But Democrats are wary. Many privately doubt their issues will get a fair hearing in the clamor over Iraq, but also suggest the debate is too volatile at this point to project an impact this November.
"It has the potential of drowning out the issues that should be under debate," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a chief deputy whip, acknowledged.
But, she added, the debate could just as easily set those issues in stark relief, by underscoring that the costs of war could have "a potentially adverse impact" on such things as the economy and the future viability of Social Security.
That's an entirely legitimate argument and one which, if they believe in, they should take to the American people in that form: "Republicans think Social Security is secondary to National Security, but we Democrats will ignore Iraq and focus on your IRA."
MEMO FROM THE MORE FOOLISH TO THE REMEDIAL CLASS:Certain conservative webloggers (Joshua Micah Marshall, September 16th, 2002)
Certain conservative webloggers who happen to be former editors of the New Republic are crowing about how President Bush's assertive stand on Iraq is making former opponents into allies: the Saudis, the French, the Egyptians, et.al. Actually, this line of reasoning -- this interpretation of recent events -- is pretty widespread. But it could scarcely be more foolish.
The opposition of more or less all of these countries was explicitly tied to the president's eagerness to sidestep the UN Security Council and his indifference to the return of inspectors. Has the president bent these countries to his will? Or did they bend him to theirs?
Boy, some folks are amazingly slow learners. Mr. Marshall, for instance, still thinks this is about Saddam's weapons, a notion that President Bush's speech pretty effectively laid to rest.
THE UNBEARABLE LITENESS OF BEING CHUCK HAGEL:Republicans Try To Recruit Nelson (Mark Preston, September 16, 2002 , Roll Call)
Stepping off the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) congratulated Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) for casting "a good vote" that helped scuttle a Democratic attempt to require Senate confirmation for President Bush's homeland security director.
It was the latest in a long list of votes where Nelson has sided with Republicans over his Democratic colleagues, but GOP leaders are not satisfied with the conservative Nebraskan's occasional support.
For nearly two years, Republican leaders have tried unsuccessfully to convince Nelson to switch parties.
"I think Ben is somebody who would be more comfortable on the Republican side - I really do," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "He is from a state that is pretty conservative and pretty Republican." [...]
Notably absent from the efforts to try to woo Nelson to the GOP is Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R), who defeated Nelson in the 1996 Senate race. Since then, the two Senators have had a frosty relationship and Hagel is a close ally of Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R), who is expected to challenge Nelson in 2006.
"Any casual observer would notice there is tension between the two of them," said one Senate source. "Considering Hagel's rocky relationship with the Republican leadership, it seems unlikely they would seek his help."
Deb Fiddelke, a spokeswoman for Hagel, said, "Senator Hagel has not been involved in that effort."
There are several interesting things here, beyond just the GOP efforts to woo Nelson and Zell Miller. First, Phil Gramm is a leader in the effort and it would mark a final, great service to a party and a country he's already served brilliantly many times. He will be missed greatly.
NO WONDER THE DEMOCRATS ARE TERRIFIED:Across Nation, Critics of Bush Express Support for Iraq War (SONNI EFRON, September 15 2002, LA Times)
Interviews with Americans across the nation, as well as a spate of recent polls, indicate that support for military action against Iraq reaches well beyond those conservative Republicans most expected to back Bush. In late August, The Times Poll found that 59% of respondents believe the U.S. should take military action to remove Hussein from power. An even larger majority, 64%, said they would support a ground attack on Iraq if Bush decided to launch one, with 28% opposed.
The tallies indicate that a growing number of political moderates have concluded that there is no alternative to the use of preemptive force to prevent Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons or using its chemical and biological arsenal.
And Bush's move to shift the emphasis of his war on terrorism to Iraq from Afghanistan appears to be succeeding.
Asked whether Hussein or Osama bin Laden posed a larger threat to the United States, 40% named Hussein and 27% cited Bin Laden in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week. The poll of 1,011 adults was conducted from Sept. 3-5 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Moreover, 77% of poll respondents considered Hussein a serious threat; 58% thought that the U.S. was in a state of war; 84% agreed that the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks have their next attack planned or in the works; and 80% believed the United States should take military action to remove Hussein if it had evidence that the Iraqi leader is building or is about to build nuclear weapons. [...]
Stanley Wilson, 29, who works at a truck tire plant in central Florida's Oak City, thinks Bush "is out for the rich man." But when it comes to the need to fight America's enemies, with or without allies, Wilson is squarely behind the president.
"You get one terrorist, you got to get all of them and be done with it," he said. "Take, for example, you got two rattlesnakes in your yard. You want to get both of them or only one? You deal with it, and you don't have to worry about it coming back."
As for the lack of allies, he said, "They don't back us now, don't call us when you need us."
Wilson, a Democrat, expects that any war against Iraq would be over in about a month, and he is prepared for American casualties.
"Freedom is not a cheap crop to pick"...
Political parties that fall behind where the people are--even if the party is right and the people wrong, as was the case with the GOP opposing the New Deal and Great Society--quickly become minority parties and often remain that way for awhile.
AN ISSUE SO IMPORTANT IT SHOULDN'T BE DEBATED:Democrats Question Iraq Timing: Talk of War Distracts From Election Issues (Dana Milbank, September 16, 2002, Washington Post)
Though Bush is likely to win broad congressional support after Thursday's well-received speech, the hardball politics he exhibited Friday may cause doubts among would-be allies about the purity of his motives. Democrats contrasted Bush's stance with his father's decision 12 years ago to postpone a vote on hostilities with Iraq until after midterm elections.
Democratic leaders, though cautious in their public remarks, have voiced concerns. "I would say that the concerns we have about the politicization of this whole issue are ones that still exist," Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said Thursday. "I don't think that they ought to be minimized, and I think we'd have to work very hard not to politicize this series of questions and this deliberation."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) had similar worries. "Some issues are so serious, so important to the United States, that they should be taken as far out of the realm of politics as possible," Biden said. "This is one of those issues."
Earlier, former president Bill Clinton raised doubts, too. "We know [al Qaeda members] still have a terrorist network around the world," he said. "And we're already kind of changing the subject here, looking at Saddam Hussein, who's not going anywhere."
Bush aides angrily reject the accusation of a "Wag the Dog" attempt, after a Hollywood film that depicted a phony war to distract public attention from domestic trouble. "Even the suggestion that the timing of something so serious could be done for political reasons is reprehensible," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, using the same description Vice President Cheney used earlier. "Iraq presents a serious problem, and it's being dealt with seriously."
Whatever the White House motive, the emergence of Iraq as an issue before the election has spooked Democrats, who find themselves struggling for a response. Though there is no consensus for handling the matter, party strategists said the likeliest course is for Democrats to agree to votes quickly on a resolution authorizing force against Hussein -- in hopes of getting back to domestic matters.
Democrats brought some of the difficulty on themselves, administration officials say. In July and August, when it appeared there were divisions within the administration about whether to involve Congress and the United Nations, Democrats clamored for a full debate on Iraq. As Fleischer put it: "The Democrats, to their credit, asked the president to make his case. He's doing what they asked him to do."
"The Democrats responded to what they perceived as administration confusion in July and August, but they did not think out the consequences," said Hudson Institute analyst Marshall Wittmann. In a "massive blunder," Democrats demanded exactly what they got from Bush: a debate on Iraq that diminishes Democrats' issues.
As Brian Hoffman, who sent this, wrote: "Some issues, LIKE THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON FOR THE STATE TO EXIST, ought to be taken entirely out of the hands of the people--and that is suddenly defined as democracy. Surely Biden will make an impressive Member of the European Parliament."
WALKING AND CHEWING GUM--AT THE SAME TIME!:Singapore arrests 21 terror suspects linked to al-Qaeda (AP, 09/16/2002 )
Singapore has arrested 21 suspected Islamic militants, most of them members of a group that authorities say planned to attack the U.S. Embassy and has links to al-Qaeda, the government said Monday.
All the suspects were arrested in August and are Singaporean citizens, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.
The ministry said 19 of the men belonged to Jemaah Islamiyah, a group that Singapore authorities say is connected to Osama bin Laden's terror network and is active throughout Southeast Asia.
Last December, police arrested 13 Jemaah members. With those arrests, authorities said they had broken up a plot to attack the U.S. Embassy and other Western interests here.
Boy, with the focus shifting to Iraq over the last several weeks the effort to get al Qaeda has been almost forgotten, eh?
HOIST ON THEIR OWN PETARD:Chicago Writer Quits For Sex Conduct (AP, 9-15-02)
Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene resigned after acknowledging he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a teenage girl, the newspaper said Sunday.
In a note on the paper's front page, editor Ann Marie Lipinski said Greene, 55, acknowledged the sexual conduct with a girl in her late teens whom he met in connection with his column.
"Greene's behavior was a serious violation of Tribune ethics and standards for its journalists," Lipinski said. "We deeply regret the conduct, its effect on the young woman and the impact the disclosure has on the trust our readers placed in Greene and this newspaper."
To his credit, Mr. Greene did resign, rather try to defend the indefensible. On the other hand, the good folks at the Tribune owe their readers an explanation. Perhaps someone there can explain why Mr. Greene's case was so different than this one, No Case For Impeachment (Editorial by the Chicago Tribune, December 19, 1998):
From the beginning, our editorial concern in the Clinton-Lewinsky episode has been to see a sense of proportion maintained. "What's it worth to get Clinton?" we asked repeatedly, as Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr hauled in Monica Lewinsky's mother to put the squeeze on her daughter, as he subpoenaed Secret Service agents, as he challenged the posthumous validity of the lawyer-client privilege.
The issue, in our view, was never simply what it was legal to do in pursuit of Clinton, but what it was wise to do. And too much that has been done, we regret to say, has been terribly unwise. But nothing that has been done to this point is as unwise as what the House of Representatives will do if it votes to impeach the president.
That we stand this morning on the verge of a presidential impeachment -- for only the second time in our nation's history -- is evidence of how utterly the sense of proportion has been lost.
The first time a president was impeached -- Andrew Johnson in 1868 -- it arose out of actions he took in the wake of the Civil War, actions having to do with the terms of Reconstruction and the political status of newly freed blacks and rebellious whites in the restored union. Even if the case ultimately was meritless, it at least was about a matter of real moment.
In the current instance, the impeachment turns on whether Bill Clinton, in a lawsuit of dubious merit but indubitably mischievous intent, lied about a tawdry, illicit -- but consensual -- sexual affair with another adult.
The issues in the two instances are not even close to being of the same gravity, and any member of the House who dares suggest they are deserves the contempt of his constituents today and of history in the future.
What standard did they apply when they determined that one tawdry, illicit affair rendered Bob Greene unfit to continue in his job as a mere columnist and impacted the trust of readers in their newspaper, while Bill Clinton's tawdry, illicit affair was compatible with his staying in the presidency and did not have a similarly deleterious impact on the trust of their readers in his leadership? Does the failure of the Trib to see that Mr. Greene's transgression is of only the same gravity as Mr. Clinton's (perhaps lesser, if he didn't perjure himself and obstruct justice) warrant our contempt today and of history in the future? Or do they deserve contempt for that unfortunate editorial and owe an apology to those who sought to treat Bill Clinton as they themselves subsequently treated Bob Greene?
September 15, 2002
OUR NY TIMES TRY OUT:Iraq Calls for the Formation of Suicide Squads to Strike American Targets and Interests (MEMRI Special Alert, September 09, 2002)
An editorial in the Iraqi weekly Al-Iqtisadi [The Economist], which is owned by Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday, called for the formation of suicide [fidaiyoon] squads to launch broad-based sabotage operations against the United States, its friends, and interests.
Yeah, but there's nothing "new" here. Everyone's known for quite some time that Saddam funds the families of suicide bombers and we know he tried to kill the senior President Bush; this just kind of combines the two. If these facts weren't sufficient to send us to war a month ago, why are they now. I demand that the Administration produce new evidence, something never before seen by any human eye on the planet, to show that Saddam will have the capacity to destroy the planet by Wednesday and that he's actually given the orders to do so. Anything less would reveal George W. Bush (well, really Dick Cheney, his puppetmaster) to be nothing more than a warmongering adventurer who refuses to pay the UN proper obeisance and opposes the International Criminal Court because he knows he should be on trial there.
BOOKNOTES:Arnold Ludwig, King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership (Sunday on C-SPAN at 8pm/11pm ET)
GO AND TELL THE IRAQIS:The Guns of September (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, September 13, 2002, NY Times)
Contrast Mr. Bush's appearance with a legendary moment at the United Nations. On Oct. 25, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson denounced the new Russian missile sites in Cuba.
The Russians and Cubans scoffed that it was all a lie, so Stevenson brought in an easel and blown-up photos of the Cuban sites.
Where is the comparable evidence of urgency today?
It's the Bush administration that raised the parallel to the missile crisis, noting that Kennedy had considered pre-emptive strikes. Fair enough.
Yet it is the differences that are most telling. To begin with, Kennedy used the U.N. spotlight to offer specific, incontrovertible evidence of an urgent new threat - and then he opted not for an invasion of Cuba but for an internationally supported naval quarantine.
"Yes, Kennedy did consider a lot of alternatives, including military strikes," recalled Theodore Sorensen, a key aide to Kennedy during the crisis. "But after considering the innocent civilians who would be killed, considering the international law that would be broken, Kennedy rejected that possibility."
Since Mr. Kristof is going on about the Cuban Missile Crisis, it might be a good time to note that it was one of the signal defeats in US foreign policy history. Mr. Kennedy choked when we were offered the perfect pretext to remove a Communist dictator in our Hemisphere and so today, forty years later, Fidel Castro is still oppressing the people of Cuba.
WHAT WAR?:Politics with People, Reinvented: Paul Wellstone wants to win it clean -- with zeal, volunteers and a new-model, old-fashioned campaign. (Harold Meyerson, September 23, 2002, American Prospect)
For progressives, Wellstone has all too often been a prophetic tribune at least several years ahead of his Democratic colleagues. He was the one senator to go to Seattle in 1999, where he excoriated laissez-faire globalization; the one senator on the National Mall for a gay- and lesbian-rights demonstration in 1993, where he championed domestic-partner and right-of-adoption legislation; the one senator to consistently highlight the perils of corporate power in those market-mad pre-Enron days.
On the campaign trail today, Wellstone is a profile in prudent courage. Meeting one morning with a group of county and township supervisors in a rural area north of the Twin Cities, Wellstone pledges his continuing commitment to winning federal funds for a light-rail line connecting the area to Minneapolis. The supervisors are a bipartisan bunch; while they applaud Wellstone's efforts on behalf of the transportation corridor, many have little enthusiasm for the more global aspects of Wellstone's agenda.
Plainly, Wellstone's under no obligation to promote broader issues, but he does. The rail line, he says, is just one of a number of investments that the state and the nation must make to improve schools, housing and transportation. "But you can do just so much in investments as long as we have these tax cuts," he says. "Now, the Bush tax cuts have us running a deficit, and some people are saying there's no money for projects like this one. So we need to look at the tax cut again. I'm not saying I know what the proper balance between cuts and investments is, but I am saying we need more for investments."
Wellstone's tone is studiedly unpopulist, but he is calling for repealing the very large share of the cut that goes to the rich, even as most of his Democratic colleagues cheerfully support new programs without so much as mentioning the tax cut that aborts them. "I know consultants are saying we shouldn't be talking about this," Wellstone tells me, "but there's an old Yiddish proverb: You can't dance at two weddings at the same time. You have to be honest: Where else would the resources for the investments we support come from?"
That Wellstone is willing to push past the conventional wisdom on so controversial an issue in so close a race endears him to his activist base even more. "I believe in Paul's conscience," says Karen Jeffords, a mental-health worker who's supported Wellstone in his two previous outings but who this year, for the first time, is volunteering.
It might be a little easier to take Mr. Meyerson's portrayal of Paul Wellstone as a unique politician of conscience if the Senator had the stomach to speak about his views on the central issue facing America today: the war. If terrorism or Iraq is even mentioned in this essay I sure missed it. The silence is entirely understandable, but it puts paid to the nonsense about his conscience.
TRANSFORMERS, MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE?:Nothing New Under the Web (Jonah Goldberg, October/November 2002, American Enterprise)
The only thing growing faster than blogs is the hype over blogs. Bloggers talk about an ever-expanding "blogosphere" which will transform the way ideas and news are disseminated and consumed. Because a lot of journalists and academics spend a scandalously large fraction of their time surfing the Internet, and because bloggers tend to inflate the importance of established journalists--even when they are criticizing them--the mainstream media has largely fallen for the story. Newsweek, for example, recently asked "Will the Blogs Kill Old Media?"
The answer, of course, is no.
The most successful blogs--at least in the world of politics--are either produced by long-established writers like Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan, or they are
associated with major publications like National Review, the Wall Street Journal, or the American Prospect.
Should the marketplace show its appreciation by generating significant revenue for a blogger, you know what will happen? A big newspaper or magazine will offer him or her a job. That's why McDonald's sells fajitas now. And that's why bloggers aren't going to put serious media publications out of business.
Mr. Goldberg pulls a rather misleading bait-and-switch here. He starts out by, I think accurately, saying that many bloggers believe that they are part of a phenomenon that could "transform the way ideas and news are disseminated and consumed". He then seems to implicitly acknowledge that they have in fact effected such a transformation already: " [A] lot of journalists and academics spend a scandalously large fraction of their time surfing the Internet". And, as he notes, even he writes for a blog at National Review. Now, I don't know the circulation figures for the print edition of National Review, nor how many site visits they get a day, but we have to assume the second number is at least a factor of ten higher than the first. And from everything we've seen in various arguments between The American Prospect and other folks, it seems likely that The Corner, the blog at National Review, is probably the most popular feature at the site. So, if we consider opinion journalism for a moment only in terms of the impact it may have on public opinion, then Mr. Goldberg must be said to write primarily for the Web, even for the blog. His stuff just happens to get put on paper, for which he gets paid. Ask yourself a simple question: would Mr. Goldberg's influence (regardless of how much or how little that may be) on the national conversation be appreciably diminished if the magazine stopped printing his writings but continued to publish him at the website?
DODO RAMPANT:Bringing the dodo back to life (Jonathan Fryer, 9/15/02, BBC)
At first glance the Mauritian coat of arms looks like any other, until one notices that the creature on the left is a dodo rampant.
The concept of a rampant dodo is so deliciously absurd that it's hard not to giggle.
For all the evidence we have suggests that the dodo was singularly cumbersome and defenceless. Hence, maybe, its Latin name, didus ineptus.
The Judd family coat of arms features three boars, though critics have suggested it be changed to two bores.
LET'S GET IT ON:Lame-duck antics in Senate (ROBERT NOVAK, September 15, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
If Republican Jim Talent defeats appointive Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan on Nov. 5 in Missouri, the GOP is determined to seat him immediately--restoring a Republican majority for a post-election ''lame duck'' session.
Present polls show former Rep. Talent has overtaken Carnahan, the widow of Gov. Mel Carnahan who posthumously defeated Sen. John Ashcroft in 2000. Secretary of State Matt Blunt (son of House Chief Deputy Whip Roy Blunt) would immediately certify Talent as U.S. senator. It is considered unlikely that Democratic Gov. Bob Holden, who narrowly defeated Talent for the governorship in 2000, would block the certification from reaching Washington.
That would produce a bitter Senate confrontation, particularly if Democrats retained Senate control for the regular session beginning in 2003. A lame-duck session is probable because Congress will not approve funding for the government before the election.
Can you spell "government shutdown"?
GETTING THE DEFLATION VAPORS:Deflation Nation: Could falling prices send the U.S. into a Japanese-style recession? (Robert Shapiro, September 10, 2002, Slate)
[D]eflation also can be malignant, as Japan demonstrates. There, a collapse in stock and real-estate prices triggered falling demand and rising unemployment. Consumers cut back, and so did firms; and as the economy slipped into recession, normal inflation receded. The downward spiral continued as banks called in loans collateralized by the stocks and real estate now worth a fraction of their former value. Bankruptcies spread, demand and employment fell further, and prices and wages began to actually fall. And the Japanese government found itself virtually powerless. Even as the Bank of Japan cut interest rates to stimulate the economy, the deflation was increasing the real cost of borrowing and investing. (A 1 percent nominal interest rate is a 3 percent real interest rate if prices are falling 2 percent.) When nominal interest rates hit nearly zero, the economy found itself in a classic "liquidity trap," in which high real rates and stagnant growth continue to discourage investment and spending, and the central bank can't reduce nominal rates further to do anything about it. That left Japan in a spiral of rising debt and stagnation. [...]
We could elude deflation entirely with a resumption of strong growth, but that's hard to imagine in the near future. Consumers have taken a multi-trillion-dollar hit in the stock market, and their household debt as a share of GDP is the highest on record. Nor are we likely to get help from foreign demand: In Europe, Japan, and Latin America, growth is slowing--and in many of these places, prices are falling, too. Business investment, the engine of the '90s boom, is also unlikely to revive strongly.
Still, there's no reason to expect the United States to endure anything like the spiral of deflation, debt, and bankruptcy that has gripped Japan. U.S. stocks did experience a bubble, but there's little evidence of another one in real estate that could burst. Moreover, U.S. bank capital standards are quite strict, leaving no prospect here of a Japanese-style banking crisis. Deflation won't make us stronger, as price cutting did for Dell; nor will it drive us to a Kmart-type bankruptcy, as it nearly has in Japan. Rather, the mild deflation that seems most likely here will probably dampen growth in the short term, but maybe with some long-term benefits.
As is typical of most pieces where mainstream journals suddenly discover things like the threat of deflation and the demise of Japan, this one has some basic facts right but fails to comprehend most of the big issues and implications. Most importantly, Mr. Shapiro ignores or didn't notice a vitally important series of differences between Japan and America.
WE'RE WARNING YOU (AGAIN):Majority of Britons Back Bush Deadline on Iraq-Poll (Reuters, Sep 14, 2002)
An overwhelming 95 percent of Britons back a U.S. call for a deadline to be imposed on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein over letting U.N. weapons inspectors back in, a new poll showed.
But in the absence of a U.N. agreement, they were much less supportive -- The Sunday Times showed 49 percent were opposed to the U.S. launching an attack without U.N. backing.
Obey the law, or else, well...nothing....
NEVER MIND...:Ancient Antarctic ice challenges climate change theories (Agence France-Presse, Sep 13, 2002)
The new study indicates Antarctica could be the real driver of climate change or that changes in the two hemispheres are not connected at all, said Van Ommen, a senior research scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Cooperative Research Center.
Researchers said the findings underscored our lack of understanding of the exact mechanisms behind climate change and would force a rethink of computer models used to predict future environmental shifts.
Does anything better explain the conservative impulse than the sight of most of the world and half our own fellow citizens trying to make such sweeping changes as those in the Kyoto Treaty based on so little knowledge of what's going on, if anything?
A BOWL OF GRUFF:Soup's brimming with exotic flavor (LEZLI BITTERMAN, September 4, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Scotch bonnet peppers and fresh ginger root add just the right amount of spice to Akua's gingered goat soup. Onions, tomatoes and fresh goat meat are simmered to perfection until fork-tender and delicious. Lamb or beef may be substituted, but I highly recommend trying the goat. It is fantastic.
For an authentic side dish popular in Ghana, try spinach and agusi (A-goo-she) stew. Dried and crushed seeds from a melon-type plant (agusi) act as a thickener and give this vegetable dish body. Try your hand at preparing either one of these delicious recipes and I'm sure your family "won't send back the soup."
I'm not seeing Dinty Moore canning this any time soon.
WHERE THE ROCK MEETS THE HARD PLACE:BE A DATA POINT, CONT. (Patrick Ruffini, 09.15.02)
Allaying our fears that he'd become some kind of weird Big Ten Football version of a Deadhead, Patrick Ruffini reveals what he's been up to (and it's not just tailgating) by posting the results of his recent survey of the political attitudes of a remarkably large sampling of blog readers. The whole thing is interesting, particularly in so far as it confirms many a preconceived notion--we are overwhelmingly conservative white males; Republicans are the party of males, Democrats of females; cities are more liberal than rural and suburban areas; etc..
STEPPING ON THEIR OWN LINES:The Curse of the Dubya (DAVID E. SANGER, 9/15/02, NY Times)
By market measures, last week was a bad one for Mr. Bush. The president's powerful indictment of Iraq in the United Nations may have converted some to
his cause, but was followed by a 202 point drop in the Dow.
The White House shrugged it off, pointing out that the real measure of success is whether allies who had been skeptical of confronting Saddam Hussein are now re-thinking their position.
"The real question," one administration official said, trying his best not to sound defensive, "is how did the Iraqi market do?"
After Mr. Bush's last big speech, about corporate conduct, the Dow dropped 179 points. And after one at the Reichstag in Berlin it fell 112 points.
So, wait a second, after three years of telling us that Mr. Bush is the craven lapdog of big business is the Times now telling us that Mr. Bush's ideas are opposed by business? Shouldn't they be apologizing for approximately 472 previous editorials that they just now realize unfairly impugned his motivations?
FALLING UP:W.'s Conflicts of Interest (MAUREEN DOWD, September 15, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Bush gave a splendid speech at the U.N. He is right that Saddam is a scum with Scuds.
But there was no compelling new evidence. Mr. Bush offered only an unusually comprehensive version of the usual laundry list.
I honestly don't understand this latest line of argument from the Left. If you already believed in gravity. And I told you there is such a thing as gravity, but didn't offer any "new" evidence to back up this assertion, would you cease believing in gravity? How can she in one breath assert that someone is "scum" with ballistic missiles and in the next assert that the case for taking him out has not been proven? Should scum have ballistic missiles or was she lying a sentence ago?
September 14, 2002
HUN MEET THROAT:Fischer: Resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict before Iraq (Ha'aretz Service and Agencies, 14/09/2002)
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told the United Nations on Saturday that a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians should take precedence over war against Iraq.
That's German for: "Blame the Jews".
COULD THE WASHINGTON GENERALS BE NEXT?:Kournikova Reaches Shanghai Finals (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, September 14, 2002)
Anna Kournikova rallied from a big second-set deficit to defeat Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday and reach the finals of
the Shanghai Open.
Kournikova, who has never won a singles title on the WTA Tour, reached her fourth-ever finals and first in two years. She will face top seed Anna Smashnova of Israel on Sunday.
That sound you hear is the muttered prayers at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, as executives pray for a Kournikova victory, so they can pretend they're providing the coverage worthy of a champion rather than just exploiting her for purposes of titillation.
SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS:Baltic Soil Yields Evidence of a Bitter End to Napoleon's Army (MICHAEL WINES, September 14, 2002, NY Times)
When construction workers excavating an old Soviet military base for roads and apartments unearthed the first of their grisly discoveries last fall, the conclusion was obvious: here lay the handiwork of Stalinist death squads that spread terror throughout Lithuania in the 1940's and 1950's.
Then they found the buttons.
Scattered like pebbles among perhaps 2,000 contorted skeletons, the buttons were embossed with numbers, the last traces of military uniforms of the regiments of an earlier tyrant. What the workers had found, it soon became clear, were remains of the Grand Army of Napoleon, reduced to frozen, starving rabble after the retreat from its disastrous siege of Moscow in 1812. [...]
This is not the first mass grave to be uncovered in post-Soviet Vilnius. Five years ago, residents here stumbled across another one: a pit holding some 500 Lithuanians who had indeed been massacred by Stalin's henchmen in the purges that followed the Soviet invasion of Lithuania during World War II.
Another unpleasant reminder, this time that tyranny always leaves bodies stacked in its wake. Thus must it always be confronted.
A DECADE CAN'T REMOVE THE STENCH:Rabin and Arafat Seal Their Accord as Clinton Applauds 'Brave Gamble': Old Warriors Now Face Task Of Building Upon Foundation (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, Sept. 13, 1993, The New York Times)
In a triumph of hope over history, Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Yasir Arafat, the chairman of the P.L.O., shook hands today on the White House lawn, sealing the first agreement between Jews and Palestinians to end their conflict and share the holy land along the River Jordan that they both call home.
This is a reminder, first of all, of why history is always a smart bet. And second of all, that for all the awful things he did as president, perhaps the greatest shame Bill Clinton brought upon the White House was when he let terrorist scum like Yassar Arafat and Gerry Adams through its gates.
UNSPINNABLE? :Show Some Backbone', Bush Urges UN (Jane Merrick, 9/14/02, The Scotsman)
The UN was today given a stern warning by US President George W Bush to "show some backbone" and confront Saddam Hussein over Iraq.
President Bush said the UN should "show its relevance", adding: "Make no mistake about it. If we have to deal with the problem, we?ll deal with it."
His warning from Camp David was echoed in New York in a speech to the UN general assembly by Jack Straw, who said the UN must insist Saddam re-admits weapons inspectors or both the organisation and Iraq will face the consequences.
The Foreign Secretary said the international community must not "stand by and do nothing" while Saddam "persistently mocked" the authority of the UN by defying its resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.
He made clear that every member state of the organisation had a responsibility to act or the authority of the UN itself was at stake.
Let's see the NY Times spin that as a warning to Saddam.
MISUNDERESTIMATING THE PITBULL:Make the Pie Higher (Richard Thompson, Washington Post writer)
The following is a poem made up entirely of actual quotes from George W. Bush:
MAKE THE PIE HIGHER (George W. Bush)
I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.
Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet
become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being
and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope,
where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!
There's nothing wrong with an exercise like this so long as you don't convince yourself and your ilk that it reflects something genuine about the man. Once that happens, you become the pantleg.
THAT'S NOT ALL YOU MISSED:On War in Iraq: Hard to say what's more suspect: the case for intervention or the timing of the debate (Harold Meyerson, September 13, 2002, LA Weekly)
MAYBE IT'S JUST ME, BUT I SEEM TO HAVE MISSED THE CASE FOR GOING to war with Iraq.
I am writing on the eve of President Bush's address to the U.N., where he will presumably make the case for intervention. I know he will because he has to make the case. Everyone has told him he has to make the case. And there is something peculiarly backward about this process.
Normally, the case for going to war -- this kind of war -- begins with the discovery of evidence. That was the genesis of the Cuban Missile Crisis, for instance: Our U-2 spy planes discovered and photographed Soviet missiles being installed in Cuba; John Kennedy took to the airwaves to share this information; and Adlai Stevenson, our U.N. ambassador, produced the photos during the Security Council's debate on the crisis. That is, the evidence preceded the discussion.
Not here. Bush may well produce some photographic evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program, but not because it is something our spy satellites stumbled upon last Tuesday. In this instance, he is producing evidence because it is already his announced national policy to go to war with Iraq, and he has been compelled by a cabal of vulgar empiricists to come up with a reason. In short, Bush is not producing supply-side evidence. He is producing demand-side evidence. Which, as evidence goes, is inherently the shakiest kind.
And it's not as if the administration hasn't been trying to find a smoking gun. Our intelligence agencies have spent a year, quite properly, trying to discover any link between Iraq and the al Qaeda attacks of last September. They have looked for any evidence that Iraq's nuclear program is any closer than half-a-decade away from producing a bomb. Not only have they not found any convincing evidence of a 9/11 connection or an A-bomb in the making, they have yet to find any indication of an Iraqi delivery system that could send a nuke, or chemical or biological weapons, our way. The intelligence agencies' failure to come up with anything decisive, however, has never been a factor in the administration's determination to go to war.[...]
Ranking all the dangerous ideas and idiotic policies, foreign and domestic, that the Bush administration has churned out in its 20 months in office is an arduous task, but pre-emptive war is plainly the biggest doozy of them all. The United Nations Charter -- drafted, chiefly by the United States, in 1945 -- prohibits such wars, and understandably so. Both world wars began with pre-emptive German attacks on neighboring states, and the vision of a world in which states could attack rival states for fear of what their rivals might someday do was abhorrent to the charter's authors. And for all its military ventures, justified and not, since 1945, the United States had never repudiated the charter's proscription of pre-emption. Until this summer, when Bush, speaking at West Point, did just that.
To appreciate just how deftly the administration dispatched its critics this week, it's helpful to check out another tardy column, this one by an editor at The American Prospect. Mr. Meyerson completely misjudged the case that the President planned to make at the U.N., supposing it to involve a Power Point presentation or something similar, on Saddam's weapons program. Instead, of course, the President merely poointed out that Saddam is in violation of 16 UN resolutions and therefore has violated the truce that saved his skin in 1991.
F' "MANY":Is America the 'good guy'? Many now say, 'No.' (Peter Ford, September 11, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor)
South Korea today offers one of the sharpest, and most surprising, examples of anger at the US role in the world since Sept. 11. The current campaign grew out of the girls' deaths - and a widespread sense that the US authorities handled the case clumsily. But there's more to it than that. It seems to feed on old grudges and a deep dismay at a newly unilateral America, touting a "with us or against us" approach.
A year ago, in the wake of Sept. 11, even some of Washington's fiercest critics proclaimed in sympathy, "We are all Americans." But those sentiments began to fade after the inadvertent US bombing of civilians in Afghanistan. Today, even some of the country's firmest friends are alarmed by America's apparent unwillingness to take into account the views of other nations on issues ranging from the environment to dealing with Iraq.
It would of course be great if everyone on the planet thought America was the best thing since canned beer, but it's unclear why we should care what some people in other nations, often rivals or even enemies, think of us, so long as we continue to do what we think is right. Like Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations: "I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others."
ISN'T THAT RICH?:Never Forget What? (FRANK RICH, September 14, 2002, NY Times)
Candor is so little prized in Washington that you want to shake the hand of anyone who dares commit it. So cheers to Andrew Card, the president's chief of staff, for telling The Times's Elisabeth Bumiller the real reason that his boss withheld his full-frontal move on Saddam Hussein until September: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Mr. Card has taken some heat for talking about a war in which many may die as if it were the rollout of a new S.U.V. But he wasn't lying, and history has already proved him right. This campaign has been so well timed and executed that the new product already owns the market. The unofficial motto of the 9/11 anniversary may have been "Never forget," but by 9/12, if not before, the war on Al Qaeda was already fading from memory as the world was invited to test-drive the war on Iraq.
Al Qaeda may be forgotten, but it's not gone - apparently even from the suburbs of Buffalo, as CBS News first reported last night. At least two-thirds of its top leadership remains at large. A draft version of a U.N. report on our failure to shut down its cash flow says that "Al Qaeda is by all accounts `fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure."[...]
What happens if Al Qaeda attacks the U.S., or if Afghanistan or Pakistan falls while we're at war in Iraq? Can we continue to meet all our commitments with an all-volunteer army? As budget deficits spiral into the foreseeable future, where will we get the tens of billions of dollars we need to support the post-Saddam Iraq that we will surely inherit? Is Saddam our new focus because he's the most catastrophic threat or is there another agenda that should be spelled out, whether it involves oil or unfinished Bush family business?
This is the candid talk we need to have. Maybe the administration can make the case that we can simultaneously whip Al Qaeda and Saddam, secure Afghanistan for keeps, tame the rest of the "axis of evil," guzzle gas in perpetuity and keep cutting taxes (for some of us). If that's so, and someone else's children will be marching on Baghdad, what patriot would not stand up and say "Let's roll"?
You'd think he would have spiked this column after the arrest of the al-Qaeda cell in Buffalo, which he mentions himself, proved the premise of his story wrong [Agents Arrest Terror Suspects Outside Buffalo (DON VAN NATTA Jr. and PHILIP SHENON, September 14, 2002, NY Times)] :
Federal authorities tonight arrested five men of Arab background in a suburb outside Buffalo on suspicion they were linked to a terrorist group operating in the United States, federal law enforcement officials said.
But having failed to do so, he looks like a complete fool today as we arrest the original 20th hijacker, [U.S. Says Suspect Tied to 9/11 and Qaeda Is Captured in Raid (JAMES RISEN, September 14, 2002, NY Times)]:
Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who investigators say is a high-ranking operative for Al Qaeda and one of the few people still alive who know the inside details of the Sept. 11 plot, has been captured and is in custody, American officials said today.
Mr. bin al-Shibh was captured during a shootout in Karachi, Pakistan, in a joint American and Pakistani operation within the last few days, American officials said.
His capture, first reported by ABC News, is one of the most significant counterterrorism successes since the attacks on the United States, the officials said.
As many as 10 suspected Islamic militants were captured and two others were killed during the shootout in Karachi on Wednesday, the anniversary of the attacks, American officials said Friday. Other members of Al Qaeda were among those captured in the shootout, the officials said. Six Pakistani policemen were wounded in the joint operation. [...]
American officials said they knew that Mr. bin al-Shibh was at the location when the operation was set in motion.
Strange isn't it, that someone like Mr. Rich, who thinks the government should eradicate poverty, end racism, provide health care, cleanse the environment, supervise the economy, etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum...doesn't think that same government can run a criminal investigation (of al Qaeda) while it fights a tin-pot dictator (Saddam)?
DEATH OF A PARTISAN:William Phillips, Co-Founder and Soul of Partisan Review, Dies at 94 (JOSEPH BERGER, September 14, 2002, NY Times)
William Phillips, the co-founder and longtime editor of Partisan Review, the forum for the brilliant and contentious stable of writers who became known as the New York Intellectuals, died yesterday in Manhattan, where he lived. He was 94.
Partisan Review's circulation never exceeded 15,000, but Mr. Phillips and his co-editor, Philip Rahv, kept it at the forefront of the great ideological and cultural currents of their time with an extraordinary knack for discovering hungry and talented writers and critics who were to make an indelible mark on American culture and politics. [...]
He insisted on engaging Partisan Review in the great ideological debates: the battle between Trotskyites and Stalinists in the 1930's, the backlash against Communism in the late 40's and 50's, and the 70's disputes between neoconservatives and the dwindling corps of deep-dyed liberals. The social historian Christopher Lasch said Mr. Phillips and Rahv "earned from American intellectuals a lasting debt of gratitude by exposing the totalitarian character of Soviet Communism." [...]
In its heyday, mostly as a quarterly, the magazine published landmark essays like Leslie Fiedler's "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey," which drew attention to the issues of race and homosexual overtones in American literature; Greenberg's "Avant-Garde and Kitsch"; and Macdonald's "Mass Cult and Mid-Cult." In politics, it remained consistently anti-Stalinist and in 1946 published a blistering editorial against left-wing thinkers at The New Republic and The Nation, calling them a "Fifth Column" that was "licking Stalin's boots."
The McCarthy era presented a difficult test, which Lillian Hellman said Mr. Phillips failed by not defending her and other writers when they were attacked by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Mr. Phillips countered that Partisan Review did oppose McCarthyism in several editorials, but argued that Hellman and others did not deserve a defense because they were silent when countless Soviet intellectuals were arrested and tortured by Stalin.
Any enemy of Lillian Hellman is a hero to us. You can find the magazine on-line here.
JOE'S MOMENT:Democrats, Wary of War in Iraq, Also Worry About Battling Bush (ALISON MITCHELL, September 14, 2002, NY Times)
In an interview today, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the majority leader, seemed to symbolize the ferment in his party as he openly wrestled with his position on Iraq.
He ticked off the questions he said were worth asking. What would military action do to the broader war on terrorism? What kind of "governmental organizational presence" would be needed in Iraq if Saddam Hussein were deposed? Would an incursion into a country that had not struck first create a precedent for India to strike Pakistan?
Mr. Daschle bristled at the idea that Congressional Democrats should simply, unquestioningly, fall behind Mr. Bush, saying, "Now we're not going to just blindly say whatever it is you want, you've got." Yet he also indicated he wanted to work with the president to avoid a partisan vote on the use of force, saying, "We would be inclined to work with the administration to see what we could do to fashion a resolution that would accommodate his needs."
Just because Democrats are asking questions, Mr. Daschle added, "it would be unfortunate if people drew from that a premature conclusion that we were opposed to what the president's doing."
More than a decade ago, during the Persian Gulf crisis, the Congressional Democratic leadership openly battled with Mr. Bush's father about the gulf war. Democrats split over the issue, with a majority voting against the resolution that authorized President George Bush to use force.
The war turned out to be an enormous success, and the Democrats found that in debating the issues surrounding it, they had revived old doubts about their strength on national security. Party strategists say it is lost on no one that of the three Democrats who have been on the national ticket since then, Bill Clinton endorsed the war and Al Gore and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut both voted for it.
Though it ultimately proved to be a profoundly dishonest moment, it was Joe Lieberman's scalding speech about Bill Clinton's behavior that gave the democrats the cover they needed to then vote to keep the perp-in-chief in office. They need Mr. Lieberman to step up again, probably as soon as this week, and give a speech that supports the war but incorporates their concerns, in order to give those who are wifty on the issue the cover they need to oppose the war.
WHALE TALE:Yom Kippur is this weekend and Jim Siegel has graciously written us a marvelous essay explaining why we share the story of Jonah at this time of year.
September 13, 2002
TENDER MERCIES:What War Looks Like (Howard Zinn, September 9, 2002, The Progressive)
In all the solemn statements by self-important politicians and newspaper columnists about a coming war against Iraq, and even in the troubled comments by some who are opposed to the war, there is something missing.
The talk is about strategy and tactics, geopolitics and personalities. It is about air war and ground war, weapons of mass destruction, arms inspections, alliances, oil, and "regime change."
What is missing is what an American war on Iraq will do to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ordinary human beings who are not concerned with geopolitics and military strategy, and who just want their children to live, to grow up. They are not concerned with "national security" but with personal security, with food and shelter and medical care and peace.
I am speaking of those Iraqis and those Americans who will, with absolute certainty, die in such a war, or lose arms or legs, or be blinded. Or they will be stricken with some strange and agonizing sickness that could lead to their bringing deformed children into the world (as happened to families in Vietnam, Iraq, and also the United States).
So the Left rules out war...
AS THE STUBBORN TRUTH SLOWLY DAWNS:Be warned, this President means what he says: George Bush has now cleverly turned the argument against the UN: it can't enforce its own resolutions (Rupert Cornwell, 14 September 2002, The Independent)
First, a confession. I have changed my mind. I did believe that, when push came to shove, war against Iraq would not happen. International opinion would deter Washington, and, after a summer of sabre-rattling, normal service would be resumed.
No longer. What finally persuaded me, of course, was President Bush's speech to the United Nations this week. But that speech was no more than the logical conclusion to what Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have long been saying - and, it should be noted, never publicly contradicted by that supposed leader of His American Majesty's loyal Republican opposition, Colin Powell.
The great Republican revolt has fizzled. As I and many others pointed out, the objections of Brent Scowcroft, James Baker and other members of Bush Snr's old high command were always about style, rather than substance. No one disputed that Saddam was a nasty and dangerous piece of work to be got rid of. The question was whether you went through the motions at the UN first.
Bush has now done so, in the process cleverly turning the argument against the UN: what's the value of a world body if it can't enforce the resolutions it does pass? Both America's allies and its homegrown "multilateralists" - including Colin Powell - are happy. The Security Council is being consulted; but even if it withholds formal benediction, the US will make its own decision regardless. [...]
This President projects himself as a straightshooter, patient but not to be deflected, a man who could not be more different from the evasive and emollient Bill Clinton. Unlike my predecessor, Bush indicates, if I say something I mean it. [...]
It would be wonderful, of course, if Saddam caved in, allowing UN inspectors speedy and total access, so that the weapons of mass destruction, if not necessarily the man himself, are removed without a shot being fired. Bush would have scored a tremendous triumph, even without "regime change". But the chances of that are remote; far more likely, Saddam the brilliant tactical prevaricator will yet again prove the strategic lunatic, just as he was in 1980 with Iran, and in 1990 when he invaded Kuwait.
In which case a loathsome dictator will be attacked and driven from power.
Try as I will, I cannot see how that will not be a boon to Iraq, to the region and to the world in general.
Nothing so confuses the political class as a man who keeps his word. The Left, especially in Europe, seems so trapped in their belief that George W. Bush is an idiot or a tool of business or a minion of his father or whatever, that they are constantly surprised when he does precisely what he said he was going to and when, even worse from their perspective, it works:
INDEX OF LEADING POLITICAL INDICATORS:Wellstone pulls ad (Greg Pierce, September 13, 2002, Washington Times)
Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat, has withdrawn a fund-raising ad from a Web site that denigrates President Bush's response to the terrorist attacks on September 11.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Democrats.com, a Web site co-founded by a former staffer in the Clinton White House, reproduced a picture of Mr. Bush talking on the phone on September 11, and sponsored a contest for the best caption indicating what Mr. Bush may have been saying.
The first entry in the caption contest has Mr. Bush saying: "But Dick, I soiled my pants when I learned about the attacks, so please just let me come back to Washington for a change of underwear."
"The 30 other published entries are similarly derogatory," Star Tribune reporters Eric Black and Greg Gordon said.
The Web site has raised "a considerable amount of money" for Mr. Wellstone's campaign, one of its founders told the newspaper.
The political Web site began experimenting with a pop-up Wellstone ad during the past 10 days, but Wellstone aides had it yanked Wednesday after Republicans drew attention to it, the newspaper said.
Wellstone spokesman Jim Farrell said the campaign, which paid $3,371 for services from the site, knew nothing about the offensive content and pulled the ad as soon as it was brought to their attention.
If you want to know what's politically popular and what's unpopular you can't do better than watch how congressmen up for re-election behave, what issues they talk about, what parts of their record they emphasize, etc.. Paul Wellstone's sudden fear of being associated with the openly anti-Bush Democrats.com is a pretty good indicator that, contrary to the slew of late summer stories saying his popularity had collapsed, Mr. Bush remains a pretty popular wartime leader. Someone better tell Tom Daschle soon or endangered Democrats like Mr. Wellstone are going to be in real trouble in November.
AND POL POT SOLVED THE PARKING PROBLEMS IN PHNOM PENH:Can Any Good Come Of Radical Islam?: A modernizing force? Maybe. (FRANCIS FUKUYAMA AND NADAV SAMIN, September 12, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
Could [Islamism], like both fascism and communism before it, serve inadvertently as a modernizing force, preparing the way for Muslim societies that can respond not destructively but constructively to the challenge of the West?
The question is not as absurd as it may sound. Comparisons are especially tricky here, but the Bolsheviks succeeded in creating an industrialized, urbanized Russia, and Hitler managed to get rid of the Junkers and much of the class stratification that had characterized prewar Germany. Through a tortuous and immensely costly path, both of these "isms" cleared away some of the premodern underbrush that had obstructed the growth of liberal democracy. There are, of course, much safer and more peaceful routes toward modernization, such as those taken by countries like South Korea or Britain or the United States, and less expensive paths to modernity were surely available to Russia and Germany. But one has to deal with what one has, and in Islamic cultures, in any case, there is arguably much more underbrush to be cleared away. If Islamism is directed as much against traditional forms of Islam as against the West, could it, too, be a source of such creative destruction?
What the heck has gotten into Mr. Fukuyama lately; have the fights with the clonophiles addled his brain? This is diabolical nonsense. Can he really be saying that Russia is in better economic shape today, thanks to the Bolsheviks, than it would have been had it continued the gradual reform that folks like Richard Pipes have demonstrated was already well underway in Tsarist times? In fact, considering that Russia is in just about the worst economic shape of any European nation, how much worse could the situation be if the Tsars were still ruling there without having ever reformed? In what sense is Russia today a healthier polis than it was in 1917?
RESISTING CREEPING CRIMSONISM:If at first you don't succeed... (Charles Murtaugh, September 13, 2002)
From today's New York Times, "Plaid's Out, Again, as Schools Give Up Requiring Uniforms":
"CANYON COUNTRY, Calif. : They tried hard to keep school uniforms going. They relented on the requirement for the logo. They allowed casual Fridays. They phoned every parent in a school of 1,300 students and reminded them that uniforms were mandatory — though yes, there was the opt-out provision for anyone who really objected.
But soon, teachers were wasting the first 10 minutes of class trying to figure out who had waivers and who was breaking the rules. The rule breakers were crowding the principal's office. By last spring, with only 200 students wearing uniforms, officials at Sierra Vista Junior High did what had come to seem inevitable: they abandoned school uniforms."
Is it just me, or does this remind you of the UN weapons inspection efforts in Iraq?
Such posts are why we hold out hope that Mr. Murtaugh can be redeemed despite his unfortunate recent drift to the Left.
THE BEST OF TIMES:The last emperor: One thing was made crystal clear yesterday: there is no other authority than America, no law but US law (Polly Toynbee, September 13, 2002, The Guardian)
There he stood, this unlikely emperor of the world, telling the UN's 190 nations how it is going to be. The assembled nations may not be quite the toothless Roman senate of imperial times, but at the UN the hyperpower and its commander-in-chief are in control as never before: how could it be otherwise when the US army is the UN's only enforcer? This is, President Bush said, "a difficult and defining moment" for the UN, a challenge that will show whether it has become "irrelevant". He pointed his silver-tongued gun with some delicacy and a certain noblesse oblige, but there was no doubt he was holding it to the UN's head: pass a resolution or be bypassed.
It was a fine and gracious speech that might have been borrowed from better presidents in better times. He spoke of a just and lasting peace for Palestine. He promised a surprise return by the US to Unesco. He spoke of the tragedy of world poverty, disease and suffering, of offering US aid, trade and healthcare. Earnest and uplifting, it was very like the speech he made soon after the twin towers attack last year. But how long ago that suddenly seemed. Back then the world tried hard to believe him, full of sympathy and hope that this earth-quake had indeed turned him internationalist. But this time belief was stretched beyond breaking. The skills of the best speech writer could not blot out the gulf between last year's rhetoric and the reality that followed. [...]
One thing was made crystal clear yesterday - there is no other source of authority but America, and that means there is no other law but US law. What the US wants, the UN had better solemnise with a suitable resolution - very like the Roman senate and one of its lesser god-emperors. But this is not the real America. A small cultish sect is battling for the "imperium" within this bizarre administration, resisted by mainstream Republicans - so what is Tony Blair doing in there with them?
It's hard not to find columns like this one ineffably sad. Ms Toynbee yesterday felt the residual tug of Western ideals but finds it impossible to accept the messenger or even the message. Were she still capable of believing in freedom and justice she might recognize--as so many Americans do, not just the tiny cult of her imagination--that this is a better president and these are the best of times. America is always at its best when it is challenged to defend and extend the principles that gave it birth:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
What a pity that the Left no longer shares the belief that all Men--be they American, British, Afghan, Palestinian, Iraqi, Cuban or Chinese--share the God given right to liberty and to be governed only by their own consent, not by dictators at the barrel of a gun. If we are too seldom roused to help our brothers in other countries, denied these rights by tyrants, that is a shame. But to oppose, for whatever reason, the extension of such rights to the people of Iraq and the rest of the Islamic world is shameful. Ms Toynbee says that:
Curiously, the louder Bush and Blair call for an end to this villain, the less convincing it sounds. Why now? That remains the perplexing question. Containment works well: few observers think Saddam can launch anything under present no-fly, daily bombing pressure. What is Bush's obsession? It remains a mystery. It is not a vote-winner in the US where the danger looks not clear and present, but cloudy and distant. The risks are frightening and the costs staggering. Petrol prices rise while stock exchanges fall at the prospect. Oil say some, but if US companies want Saddam's oil, an oil-driven cynical administration could make peace not war and help themselves to fat contracts.
Is this the new Left standard for liberating peoples: we'll only do it if it's easy, politically beneficial, drives up stock prices, and lowers oil costs? Containment works well? For whom? What of the millions of Iraqis whose deaths Saddam has caused by refusing to surrender power? What of the millions more who live today in the world's most oppressive state?
September 12, 2002
LOBEOTOMIZED:The Anniversary of a Neo-Imperial Moment (Jim Lobe, September 12, 2002, AlterNet)
When excerpts of the document first appeared in the New York Times in the spring of 1992, it created quite a stir. Sen. Joe Biden, now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was particularly outraged, calling it a prescription for "literally a Pax Americana," an American empire.
The details contained in the draft of the Defense Planning Guidance(DPG) were indeed startling.
The document argued that the core assumption guiding U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century should be the need to establish permanent U.S. dominance over virtually all of Eurasia.
It envisioned a world in which U.S. military intervention would become "a constant fixture" of the geo-political landscape. "While the U.S. cannot become the world's 'policeman' by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends," wrote the authors, Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby--who at the time were two relatively obscure political appointees in the Pentagon's policy office. [...]
Aside from a strong belief in U.S. military power, advocates of the new paradigm share a number of key attitudes that shape their foreign policy prescriptives. These include a contempt for multilateralism which necessarily denies the "exceptional" nature of the United States; a similar disdain and distrust for Europeans, especially the French; and a conviction that "fundamentalist" Islam poses a major threat to the United States and the West. They also consider China a long-term strategic threat that should be confronted sooner rather than later.
Is the author suggesting that they were wrong? That we don't need to remain a dominant military power? That Europe is useful? That "fundamentalist Islam is not a threat? That China is not a threat?
OVERRULED:Eight ways to rebuild Iraq (James Bennett, 9/7/2002, UPI)
[A]nglosphere this week proposes eight rules of thumb for an occupying power in Iraq.
Rule One: Plant oak trees. The first task of an occupier is to destroy the hope of the adherents of the past dictatorship that the occupiers can be outwaited, chased away by the inflicting of casualties, or otherwise survived. Send a message that the occupation may outlast their natural life. Plant oak trees to shade the walk of the occupation commander -- 20 years later.
Rule Two: Guarantee external frontiers. For the peace of mind of Iraq's neighbors and the Iraqis themselves, and to avoid unneeded conflict, make it clear that the allied occupation forces are not going to carve up Iraq. Turkey should not have to fear a Kurdish state on its frontier; Iraqis should know that they are guaranteed protection against foreign incursions.
Rule Three: Don't try to synthesize an Iraqi nation. [...]
Rule Four: Think Switzerland, not France or Germany. [...]
Rule Five. Get out of Baghdad. [...]
Rule Six: When in doubt, privatize. [...]
Rule Seven. Tolerate no nonsense. [...]
Rule Eight: The Golden Rule. That is to say, he who has the gold makes the rules. In this case it's the oil. The occupation authorities should retain direct control over the oil fields, sell the oil and disburse the revenues in block grants to the cantons, keeping only operating expenses and reparations for victims of Saddam and his terrorists' aggression.
Tom Roberts sent this one, but I'd beg to differ with a few. Firstly, the suggestion in Rule One that we plan on being there twenty years later is ridiculous. Not only is it a bad idea there's just no way the American people have the stomach for such an occupation.
HOW TO READ A PAPER:Bush Tells U.N. to Act on Iraq or U.S. Will Have to Take Action (TERENCE NEILAN, September 12, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush made it clear today that if Iraq continued to defy the United Nations over demands that it stop the production of weapons of mass destruction and its attempts to produce a nuclear bomb, then action against Baghdad "would be unavoidable."
Mr. Bush did not spell out what form that action would take, but the Bush administration has openly spoken of its desire and intention to use military force to overthow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president.
"My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge," he told the General Assembly. "If Iraq's regime defies us again the world must move deliberately, decisively, to hold Iraq to account.
"We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted.
"The Security Council resolutions will be enforced--the just demands of peace and security will be met--or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power."
Mr. Bush received strong support after his speech from Capitol Hill. Republican leaders pressed Democrats to act quickly and show the world that Congress backs Mr. Bush in his resolve to confront Iraq if necessary.
"We must vote to show support for the president right now," said Senator Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, the minority leader.
Senator John S. McCain of Arizona, another Republican, agreed. Mr. McCain said he would try to presuade the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, to debate the Iraq issue before the end of the current session.
The Republicans' comments put them in conflict with Mr. Daschle, who repeated his view that it was more important for Congress to act deliberately than quickly.
Two things seem notable about this story:
ROCKIN' WITH THE POSSUM:George Jones was born on this day in 1931 in Saratoga, Texas. Here are two of our favorite of his tunes:
The King is Gone (So Are You)
Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter
That looks like Elvis
I soaked the label off a Flintstone Jelly Bean jar
I cleared us off a place on that one little table
that you left us
And pulled me up a big ole piece of floor
I pulled the head off Elvis
Filled Fred up to his pelvis
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you
'Round about 10 we all got to talking
'Bout Graceland, Bedrock and such
The conversation finally turned to women
But they said they didn't get around too much
Elvis said, "Find 'em young"
And Fred said "Old Fashioned girls are fun"
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you
Later on it finally hit me
That you wouldn't be 'a comin' home no more
'Cause this time I know you won't forgive me
Like all of them other times before
Then I broke Elvis' nose
Pouring the last drop from his toes
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you
Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone
And so are you
Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter
That looks like Elvis
I soaked the label off a Flintstone Jelly Bean jar....(fade)
I've had choices since the day that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I had listened...no I wouldn't be here today...
Living and dying with the choices I've made...
I was temped by an early age...
I found I liked drinking...
Oh I never turned it down...
There were loved ones...
But turned them all away...
Now I'm living and dying with the choices I've made
I've had choices since the day I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I had listened no I wouldn't be here today...
Living and dying with the choices I've made...
Guess I'm paying for the things that I have done
If I could go back... Oh Lord knows I'd run
But I'm still losing this game I play
Living and dying with the choices I've made...
I have had choices since the that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I had listened no I wouldn't be here today...
Living and dying with the choices I've made...
Living and dying with the choices I've made...
EVER HEARD OF SANTAYANA?:Arabs paid heaviest price for 9/11: Syria (AFP, September 11, 2002)
The Arabs have paid the heaviest price for September 11 while Israel has exploited the terror attacks on its US ally to the full, official newspapers in Syria said.
"It is no exaggeration to say the Arabs, along with the Palestinian cause, have paid the highest price for the September 11 terrorist attacks" on New York and Washington, Tishrin said on the first anniversary.
If the Osamas had any sense of history, beyond their carefully nursed grievances, they might have noticed that the Japanese paid the heaviest price for 12/7.
BILL'S PARTY:Are Dems insane on Iraq? (Dick Morris , Sept. 12, 2002, Jewish World Review)
Even before Bush makes his case against Saddam, 65 percent of Americans support military action against Iraq. When the questions are loaded and biased, reminding voters of the chances of great casualties and focusing on the opposition of our allies, a solid plurality, and usually a majority, back invasion in the polls.
When Bush, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld have finished making the case for invasion, and when the intelligence data we have gathered is spread throughout the nation, the support for an invasion will certainly rise into the 70s and could hit 80 percent.
But the Democrats have backed themselves into a corner. They cannot defeat pro-invasion sentiment. The feeling is too deep and the danger to them of making Saddam's case too plain for them to speak out against military action. And they cannot seek to change the subject back to more comfortable turf. Having invited a national dialogue on Iraq, how can they turn the subject back to healthcare once again?
Why did the Democrats adopt so suicidal a course? They let the liberal media spoon-feed it to them. The media, not the politicians, began the lament that Bush had not "made his case" for invading Iraq to the American people. The media intended the charge to be a negative on Bush, not an invitation. But, in the hands of the politicians, it turned into a request for information, a request that hands Bush just the tool he needs to dominate the national dialogue leading up to the election.
Politicians cannot usually win arguments about issues. The die is usually cast before the debate begins. But most of the time they can determine what the debate is going to be about. Now Bush has the debate just where he wants it to maximize his chances in the fall elections - thanks to his opponents.
The post-Bill Clinton Democrats have a huge problem. Having conceded many fundamental issues to the Republicans--from the efficacy of free markets to the advisability of reforming government programs to the need to get tough on crime to the importance of including religion in public life--Democrats are left with only a few issues that truly define them and they are mainly unpopular: abortion on demand, racialism, internationalism, and higher taxes. Even worse, they continue to believe that these issues work for them and, having already entered their run up to the '04 presidential race, their party leaders, all of whom are contenders for the nomination (Daschle, Gephardt, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore), are forced to play to the base rather than to the general public. This is especially dangerous, as Mr. Morris point out, where the coming war against Iraq is concerned.
U.N. IN THE WOODSHED:Remarks by the President in Address to the United Nations General Assembly - New York, New York (WhiteHouse.gov, 9/12/02)
All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?
That my friends was an old-fashioned butt-whippin'. The President framed the question before the U.N. in such stark terms that they have no real wiggle room: they either have to authorize us to enforce the Security Council resolutions that Saddam has flouted (in other words topple his regime) or else declare themselves irrelevant to U.S. geopolitical calculations. President Bush declared our unlilateral path, but offered to let them come along for the ride so long as they sit in the back seat and behave themselves. It was just brutal--and quite heartwarming.
"INTERNATIONAL" AS IN AMERICAN:Cabinet Resigns as Legislators Challenge Arafat: Some Palestinians Welcome Move as Start of Reform (Molly Moore, September 12, 2002, Washington Post)
Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, accepted the resignation of his cabinet today rather than face a no-confidence vote from legislators in the stiffest internal challenge yet to his leadership.
The Palestinian Legislative Council, which often has been at odds with Arafat, was only minutes away from a showdown vote against Arafat's cabinet when the Palestinian leader sent word that the entire 21-member body had resigned.
"We have started the reform," said Salah Tamari, a member of Arafat's Fatah movement and a legislator from Bethlehem. "This is a positive step toward the division of authority and the rule of law."
The impassioned day-long debate in the legislative branch underscored growing rifts in the Palestinian Authority as its leader faces increasing international pressure to step aside and mounting unrest within Palestinian society.
Is the Post joking? Exactly three peoples on Earth want Arafat to resign--the Americans, the Israelis, and the Palestinians. World reaction to President Bush's speech calling for new Palestinian leadership, untainted by terror, has otherwise been uniformly hostile. Even the normally steadfast Brits have been unwilling to go so far. Suddenly, when the President's policy begins to bear fruit--a fruit that elite and world opinion wrongly assumed would never come--they're supposed to get credit for it? Truly is it said that while defeat is an orphan, victory has a hundred fathers.
THE GREAT AMERICAN SMOKE OUT:U.S. vs. Them: Opposition to American policies must not become the chief passion in global politics. (Francis Fukuyama, September 11, 2002, Washington Post)
To put it rather schematically, Americans tend not to see any source of democratic legitimacy higher than the nation-state. To the extent that international organizations have legitimacy, it is because duly constituted democratic majorities have handed that legitimacy up to them in a negotiated, contractual process, which they can take back at any time. Europeans, by contrast, tend to believe that democratic legitimacy flows from the will of an international community much larger than any individual nation-state. This international community is not embodied concretely in a single, global democratic constitutional order. Yet it hands down legitimacy to existing international institutions, which are seen as partially embodying it, with a moral authority greater than that of any nation-state.
Between these two views of the sources of legitimacy, the Europeans are theoretically right but wrong in practice. It is impossible to assert as a matter of principle that legitimately constituted liberal democracies can't make grave mistakes or indeed commit crimes against humanity. But the European idea that legitimacy is handed downward from a disembodied international community rather than handed upward from existing democratic institutions reflecting the public will on a nation-state level invites abuse on the part of elites, who are then free to interpret the will of the international community to suit their own preferences. This is the problem with the International Criminal Court. Instead of strengthening democracy on an international level, it tends to undermine democracy where it concretely lives, in nation-states.
There are three basic reasons for this divergence of views on the role of international law. The first, as Robert Kagan has noted, is the imbalance of power between the United States and everyone else. Weak states understandably want stronger ones constrained by norms and rules, while the world's sole superpower seeks freedom of action. But power alone cannot explain the gap, as the Europeans are rich and populous enough to project military power if they wanted.
A second reason has to do with the concrete experience of European integration, where European countries have been giving up key elements of sovereignty to the European Union. Like former smokers, they want everyone else to experience their painful withdrawal symptoms from sovereignty.
But the final reason has to do with America's unique national experience and the sense of exceptionalism that has arisen from it. Americans believe in the special legitimacy of their democratic institutions and indeed believe that they are the embodiment of universal values that have a significance for all of mankind. This leads to an idealistic involvement in world affairs, but also to a tendency for Americans to confuse their national interests with universal ones. Europeans, by contrast, regard the violent history of the first half of the 20th century as the direct outcome of the unbridled exercise of national sovereignty. The house that they have been building for themselves since the 1950s called the European Union was deliberately intended to embed those sovereignties in multiple layers of rules, norms and regulations to prevent those sovereignties from ever spinning out of control again.
The analogy--to cigarette smokers--is quite apt. The Europeans do indeed seem intent on punishing us for their own moral weaknesses. But it's hard to see why the U.S. should be bound by laws that are really intended to stop France and Germany from going to war every few years. Their irresponsibility does not require that we be fettered.
TIME FOR THE U.N. TO PUT UP OR SHUT UP:Bush to Warn U.N.: Act on Iraq or U.S. Will (DAVID E. SANGER and JULIA PRESTON, September 12, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush plans to challenge the United Nations today to enforce resolutions it has passed since 1991 requiring Iraq to "unconditionally accept" the destruction of its chemical and biological weapons and nuclear research facilities, according to administration officials. He will warn that if the United Nations fails to act, the United States will step in to force Iraqi compliance. [...]
According to the text of his remarks, Mr. Annan, using carefully general terms, shares the misgivings of the Germans and others about the United States' acting on its own on Iraq.
Even for a major power, "choosing to follow or reject the multilateral path must not be a simple matter of political convenience," he says.
He adds that "when states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations." The "primary criterion for putting an issue on the Council's agenda" should be "the existence of a grave threat to world peace," he says.
At one point Mr. Annan presents the issue in personal terms.
"I stand before you today as a multilateralist," he says early in his comments, "by precedent, by principle, by charter and by duty."
"Unique legitimacy"? What legitimacy can an organization claim which allows Communist China a Securitry Council seat while refusing admittance to the democratic state of Taiwan?
'Not Just a Chair': A Conversation with Leigh Keno about Reclaiming Our Past (Bruce Cole, September 2002, Humanities)
Bruce Cole: People know you from Antiques Roadshow and from your book. You’ve done a lot to raise the knowledge of American furniture in the United States. Maybe you can tell us a little about how you got started.
Leigh Keno: Les and I grew up in upstate New York, in Mohawk, on a farm. Our parents were antique dealers--Dad still is--and we grew up going to flea markets and riding around the countryside on motorcycles looking for all sorts of treasures. It was a wonderful place. Our parents had a shop right there in the house, and we were constantly around dealers and collectors coming in to look at things.
By the age of twelve, we started a diary. It was 1969. It says, “Leigh and Leslie Keno, twelve years old. We are antique dealers.” So we were very sure of what we wanted to do.
The wife more or less worships these guys.
POLAR OPPOSITES:BLAME AMERICA: They no longer fill the streets, but they have not gone away. Anti-globalisers are angrier than ever - and their hatred for all things American has only deepened since September 11th. (John Lloyd, WorldLink: The magazine of the World Economic Forum)
In one important respect at least, the world has not changed much since September 11th. Despite its inherent instability, capitalism has again proved resilient. Fears that the attack on the Twin Towers would deepen an already-evident economic slump have, for the moment, been confounded. In fact, it may have stimulated a more rapid recovery, at least in the US, which has resumed its role as the world's dynamo. Europe's economy remains sluggish, though it promises to pick up over the next 12 months. Japan's continues to stagnate, although some see flickers of light at the end of the tunnel. Those who saw (or wanted to see) the of the system in the attack on capitalism's iconic monument have been disabused for now - although the world economy remains unhealthily dependent on the US, which in turn relies on foreigners to finance its yawning trade gap.
Yet the very resilience of western capitalism throws into sharper relief the miserable precariousness of the more marginal areas of the world. [...]
The US and Israel, with guest appearances from European leaders (especially Tony Blair), now constitute the anti-globalisers' own "axis of evil". In his overdrawn phrase, Mr Bush linked together three disparate states that, although they have all supported or encouraged terrorism, require different policy approaches. The global movements' axis is similarly crude. In identifying the leaderships of certain states as always and everywhere malign in their actions, it seeks to make of political judgment a Manichean game in which evil oppressors confront pure victims, in which the rich North exploits the poor South and in which faceless capitalism suppresses individual striving and group solidarity.
The extremism of the radical anti-globalisers' demands, and the black-and-white nature of their politics, have both become more pronounced since September 11th. For the most militant among them, their rejection of political and economic liberalism is complete. This has, to be sure, forced some of the more moderate critics of globalisation to make clear their opposition to extremism. But it also legitimates a political discourse that scorns institutions and voting procedures in favour of an undefined populism that relies on the impulse - like that of a spoiled child - of demanding instantly a solution to all problems, as if from an omnipotent and hated parent.
This psycho-analytical explanation is particularly apt. The radical anti-globalisers are self-confessedly instinctive and individualist. They dismiss objectivity and reason as tools of the enemy. The danger of their approach becomes clearer as it becomes more extreme. It drains trust and support from democratic institutions that are imperfect but functioning, and that can help mediate between global interests, encourage development and achieve greater equity. What the anti-globalisers propose instead is either aimless activism or detached cynicism. They remain a danger not for their - so far - minor outbursts of violence, but for their sustained narrative of the failure of reform, and of liberal thought and practice.
Despite the general excellence of this essay, one wonders if Mr. Lloyd does not too blithely dismiss the Manichean viewpoint. It seems that even he's arguing that the U.S., Britain and Israel are the prime defenders of democratic institutions and free markets, of liberal thought in general. We are opposed by the remaining communist states, radical Islam, and the anti-globalists, a disparate group to be sure, but a group united by their hatred of classical liberalism. To this extent the world does indeed seem to have an axis running through and two diametrically opposed groups at the opposite poles. All that remains for other states and groups who fall at various points along the axis is to decide which pole they favor.
ALERT THE CABLE NEWS NETWORKS:Universe might yet collapse in 'big crunch' (Hazel Muir, September 02, 2002, New Scientist.com)
The Universe might yet collapse in a devastating "big crunch". Physicists have shown that even though its growth is speeding up, it could still start to implode by the time it is only twice its current age.
The Universe looks as if it will last forever, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions "A few years ago, nobody would even think seriously about the end of the world within the next 10 to 20 billion years, especially since we learned that the Universe's expansion is accelerating," says Andrei Linde of Stanford University. "Now we see it is a real possibility."
In 1998, astronomers studying distant supernovae found evidence that the expansion of the Universe is getting faster. This suggests that some kind of "dark energy" is pushing space apart.
Most theories of dark energy propose that the Universe's accelerating expansion is driven by a cosmos-wide repulsive "scalar field" that has a uniform magnitude right across space. A similar energy field is thought to have made the Universe expand incredibly quickly just after the big bang, a period known as inflation. In August, Linde won the Dirac medal for his role in developing this theory.
Scientists have assumed that the repulsion of the field will drop as the Universe grows, eventually falling to zero. Though this would slow the rate of expansion of the Universe, it would never actually stop expanding. But Linde says this assumption could be wrong.
Is there any hyperbole left over for when the world actually ends?
BENNY GOT HIS VIBE GUY BACK:Our jazz correspondent, Glenn Dryfoos, was slacking on the Scottish links and so missed the recent death of Lionel Hampton, who played at our high school when we were in jazz band (Mr. Dryfoos was one of the best schoolboy sax players in the state. I was the third best bass drummer of our three.) Here are some of his thoughts on a great jazz man:
Hampton was the first great vibes player in jazz, and how he came to the instrument is one of those too-good-to-be-true stories: in 1930, Louis Armstrong was playing in Los Angeles with a group of local musicians, including Hampton, who was then a drummer. Hamp found a vibraphone (or "vibraharp" as he called it) -- which he had never seen before -- in the hallway of a recording studio and started messing around with it. Armstrong loved the sound and asked Hamp if he could play it. Since he had some familiarity with a piano keyboard, Hampton said "yes", and Armstrong decided to have him play it during that day's recording session on "Memories of You." Very quickly, Hampton became a virtuoso on the instrument. Another visiting musician, Benny Goodman, heard Hampton play during a visit to L.A. in 1936 and invited him to join his small bandÉthe Goodman Trio became the Goodman Quartet. Goodman's band was the first integrated group in the country, putting Hampton, Teddy Wilson (the other black in the quartet), Gene Krupa and Goodman at the vanguard of the civil rights movement. After leaving Goodman, he formed his own big band, which was the launching pad for stars like Dexter Gordon, Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus and Dinah Washington. Hamp remained a champion of civil rights issues and involved in politics throughout his life. Although he was a Republican, he was a friend of Presidents Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and GHW Bush. (He switched party allegiances to vote for LBJ because Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.) He was the first African American to perform at an inauguration (Truman), he played at Nelson Rockefeller's funeral and GHWB spoke at his funeral the other day. For over 70 years, Hampton's music was characterized by great joy and swing.
Oh yeah, and when the Lionel Hampton Band played at Mountain High School in 1979, I had the pleasure of eating takeout Chinese food with him in the band room.
LEANING FORWARD:Rumsfeld's War: Smart and tough, Don Rumsfeld wants to take the fight to Iraq. The hawk who's battling for Bush's soul. (Evan Thomas, 9/16/02, NEWSWEEK)
"Leaning forward" is one of Donald Rumsfeld's favorite expressions. An old cold-war term, familiar to soldiers and spies, it means the willingness to be aggressive, to take risks. "I want every one of you to know how forward-leaning we are," the secretary of Defense told a room full of Marine generals and Navy admirals at the North Island Naval Air Station, near San Diego, last month.
RUMSFELD RECALLED HIS OWN dissatisfaction with his first Pentagon briefing on the rules of engagement, the military's rules on when a soldier can and cannot shoot, at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan last fall. The briefing, delivered by a lawyer from the Judge Advocate General's Corps, was convoluted and full of legalistic hedges and maybes. "That's not the way it works," Rumsfeld told his audience of top brass. "This is a military operation. The object is to be forward-leaning." Explained one Rumsfeld aide: "He wants to go out and kill bad guys."
It will be interesting, if this thing goes on for awhile and/or if it gets difficult, to see if a guy who was specifically brought in to step on toes and strip-mine the place (for budgetary reasons), can run it effectively during wartime, which is when they usually get pampered and have money slathered on them.
YOU WANT PROOF?:Random thoughts (Thomas Sowell, September 12, 2002)
Those who are demanding "proof" before the United States launches a pre-emptive strike against Iraq are demanding the impossible. By definition, a pre-emptive strike means that there is no proof of what you are trying to forestall -- and that you are not going to wait until there is proof, like a mushroom cloud over some American city.
September 11, 2002
A MOST UNPERFIDIOUS PEOPLE:Perry de Havilland shows us the real England and it's humbling.
QUASIMODO:War Without Evidence (Richard Cohen, September 10, 2002, The Washington Post)
I have always thought there is a plausible case for going to war against Iraq. But the more I hear from the administration -- the more it exaggerates its case and turns a potential threat against the region into an imminent one against Peoria, Ill. -- the more I have to wonder if such a case exists. From everything I know, Cheney and Rice are taking a worst-case scenario further than the facts warrant. [...]
Iraq must be dealt with. But the trap must be closed methodically. Bring back the arms inspectors. Vacuum the country. If Saddam agrees, fine. If he doesn't, then war becomes his choice -- and the world will understand.
But by its warnings without evidence, by its penchant for unilateralism and by its initial disregard for Congress, the Bush administration is sowing seeds of doubt. The palpable urgency of this administration to go to war is, at this moment, just downright inexplicable. It either is failing to make its case or, worse, has no case to make. I'm ready for war -- but just tell me again why.
Mr. Cohen has joined Maureen Dowd in expressing the view that it is not sufficient that they know that Saddam should be deposed; it is also necessary for the administration to explain it to them in such a way that they agree. This is profoundly odd. They seem to believe that foreign policy should function like the old Groucho Marx game show, You Bet Your Life, where contestants won cash if they spoke the secret word. Mr. Cohen and Ms Dowd too seem to require that some magic verbal formula be enunciated before they'll even acknowledge that they themselves are right and that there's a case for war against Iraq. One wonders if they'll enjoy the consolation prize they may get if the word is never uttered.
SADDAM'S RED LETTER DAY:Iraq: Attacks Were a 'Punishment' (Waiel Faleh, September 11, 2002, Associated Press)
Iraqi newspapers marked the anniversary of Sept. 11 with banner headlines describing the terrorist attack as "God's Punishment" against America, and ordinary Iraqis also voiced anger at a country they fear might be preparing an invasion of their country.
The state-owned weekly Al-Iktisadi covered its front page Wednesday with a photograph of a burning World Trade Center tower and a two-word headline in red: "God's Punishment.
We'd do well not to underestimate the degree to which humiliating a few Arab dictatorships will serve to remove the "mandate of heaven" and shake radical Islam to its roots.
RESERVATION FOR ONE AT ROBBEN ISLAND, PLEASE:Nelson Mandela: The United States of America is a Threat to World Peace: In a rare interview, the South African demands that George W. Bush win United Nations support before attacking Iraq (Tom Masland, NEWSWEEK, Sept. 10, 2002)
NEWSWEEK: Why are you speaking out on Iraq? Do you want to mediate, as you tried to on the Mideast a couple of years ago? It seems you are reentering the fray now.
Nelson Mandela: If I am asked, by credible organizations, to mediate, I will consider that very seriously. But a situation of this nature does not need an individual, it needs an organization like the United Nations to mediate. We must understand the seriousness of this situation. The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate repercussions long after the decisions were taken. Unqualified support of the Shah of Iran led directly to the Islamic revolution of 1979. Then the United States chose to arm and finance the [Islamic] mujahedin in Afghanistan instead of supporting and encouraging the moderate wing of the government of Afghanistan. That is what led to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending to the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms. And you will notice that France, Germany, Russia, China are against this decision. It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush’s desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America.
All of which goes to show that you can take the terrorist out of prison but you can't take the terrorist out of the man. If he were really worried about world peace, rather than about propping up fellow Marxist terrorists like Yassir Arafat, he'd try and stop his fellow Africans from murdering each other.
FOR I MUST KILL FRANK MILLER DEAD:You ever had an epiphany--one of those moments where the scales fall from your eyes, the light dawns, the voices speak, and in one blinding insight that which was obscure becomes crystal clear? I had one this morning and am very angry with myself for not realizing this before. David Gregory, NBC's White House Correspondent, was on Imus in the Morning today and he was asked about George W. Bush's U.N. appearance tomorrow. He revealed that--with half the nation and most of the world expecting the President, like a dutiful and chastened schoolboy to present a kind of book report about Saddam trying to develop nuclear weapons, and then grovel for a UN mandate to do something about it--Mr. Bush is instead going to confront the member nations and the institution itself and ask: What more do you need? He'll discuss the many UN resolutions that Saddam has violated and ask what the purpose of the body is if they're unwilling to enforce their own diktats. He'll demand, though one assumes politely, that either the UN act immediately in accordance with its own previous decisions, or we'll act for them. And with that, like Jake Blues entranced by The Reverend Cleophus James, I saw the light: this is High Noon.
FROM THE EXCELLENT JWR:
We are not sending out our newsletter in its regular format today due to the size of the edition. Instead, we are asking that you go directly to our cover:
Once there, you will find what is one of the best issues we have produced in nearly five years of publication.
Indeed, without the slightest bit of exaggeration, we can state that today's issue of JWR is likely among the best coverage of 9-11 you will find anywhere on the 'Net. We have assembled a wide array of writers, columnists and cartoonists that will cause you to think --- and leave you not only informed, but inspired.
We will also likely be updating during the day, so please return as time permits.
Please forward this note with a personalized message to your friends and colleagues who are not regular JWR readers. They will, no doubt, be grateful that you did.
To those not subscribed to our daily update, but wish to be, please go to: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/subscribejwr-new.php3
May we know no more sorrow!
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky,
Editor in Chief
"ADVERSITY INTRIODUCES US TO OURSELVES":President George W. Bush Remarks at National Prayer Service (Sept. 14, 2001)
We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who loved them.
WELCOMING RESPONSIBILITY:Securing Freedom's Triumph (George W. Bush, September 11, 2002, NY Times)
In great tragedy, we have also seen great opportunities. We must have the wisdom and courage to seize these opportunities.
America's greatest opportunity is to create a balance of world power that favors human freedom. We will use our position of unparalleled strength and influence to build an atmosphere of international order and openness in which progress and liberty can flourish in many nations. A peaceful world of growing freedom serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites America's allies. We defend this peace by opposing and preventing violence by terrorists and outlaw regimes. We preserve this peace by building good relations among the world's great powers and we extend this peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.
The defense of peace is a difficult struggle of uncertain duration. America, along with our allies, is relentlessly pursuing terrorist networks in every part of the world to disrupt their planning, training and financing. With our allies, we must also confront the growing threat of regimes that support terror, seek chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and build ballistic missiles. On this issue, the consequences of inaction could be catastrophic. We must deny terrorists and their allies the destructive means to match their hatred. [...]
Terrorism has not only challenged the world, it has clarified some fundamental values. Every nation now faces a choice between lawful change and chaotic violence; between joyless conformity and an open, creative society; and between the celebration of death in suicide and murder and the defense of life and its dignity.
Many governments are being forced to reexamine their own tolerance for fanaticism and their sponsorship of hateful propaganda. Even free nations have been forced to reexamine the nature of their commitment to freedom--to determine if this commitment is a reflection of convention and culture or the universal demand of conscience and morality.
America's people and its government are responding decisively to the challenges of our changed world. We are committed to defending our society against current and emerging threats. And we are determined to stand for the values that gave our nation its birth. We believe that freedom and respect for human rights are owed to every human being, in every culture. We believe that the deliberate murder of innocent civilians and the oppression of women are everywhere and always wrong. And we refuse to ignore or appease the aggression and brutality of evil men.
Throughout history, freedom has been threatened by war and terror; it has been challenged by the clashing wills of powerful states and the designs of tyrants; and it has been tested by widespread poverty and disease. What has changed since Sept. 11 is our nation's appreciation of the urgency of these issues--and the new opportunities we have for progress. Today, humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to further freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes. The United States welcomes its responsibility to lead in this great mission.
The dividing line in the world today is no different than it has been throughout human history. One side "favors human freedom". The other summons a world where men live in chains, bound by a fanatic faith, religious, political, or other. When the President said a year ago that you're either with us or against us he really did nothing more than say that folks have to decide which side of the line they're on. There can be no doubt which side will win, we're just reckoning the size of the task before us. We must welcome the responsibility no matter how small or great the size of the mission.
MR. SMITH LEAVES WASHINGTON:Senator Loses Nomination After Changing Party Twice (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 9/11/02, NY Times)
Senator Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire, who quit and rejoined the Republican Party in an episode that turned many of his own supporters against him, lost his party's nomination to return to Washington last night.
Now Junior better beat Jeanne Shaheen.
September 10, 2002
THE CRIMES OF CHOM:The Crimes of 'Intcom' (Noam Chomsky, September/October 2002, Foreign Policy)
One does not read that for 25 years the United States has barred the efforts of the international community to achieve a diplomatic settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along the lines repeated, in essence, in the Saudi proposal adopted by the Arab League in March 2002. [...]
Similarly, one does not read that the United States defies the international community on terrorism, even though it voted virtually alone (with Israel; Honduras alone abstaining) against the major U.N. resolution in December 1987 harshly condemning this plague of the modern age and calling on all states to eradicate it. The reasons are instructive and highly relevant today. But all of that has disappeared from history, as is customary when Intcom opposes the international community (in the literal sense).
The interesting thing about this typically idiotic essay by Mr. Chomsky and about the many equally foolish commentaries and op-eds we've been deluged with, about how dissent is being quashed in America, is that they are not just moronic but actually oxymoronic. By the very act of reading the words "One does not read that for 25 years the United States has barred..." one proves the sentence false. So what Mr. Chomsky should really say, were he at all interested in the pursuit of the truth, is: "Very few Americans read the things that I and others like me write in which I accuse them of all the world's ills." This has the very great advantage of being both true and self-explanatory.
CLIMBING ON THE BAND WAGON:Crown Prince Sends Message To America (PRNewswire, Sep 10, 2002)
In a letter conveyed to President Bush and the American people, Crown Prince Abdullah wrote:
"On the eve of the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the American people, I take the opportunity to renew to you and the families of the victims and indeed the entire American nation, the sincere condolences and sympathy of the Saudi people and myself.
As long as I live, I shall never forget the horrible scenes of carnage, the raging fires, the smoke that covered the horizon, and the innocent people who jumped out of windows in their attempt to escape. On that fateful day, the whole world stood with the American people in unprecedented solidarity that made no distinction as to race, religion or language. [...]
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to stand solidly against terrorism. We shall act, independently as well as collectively, with the U.S.-led international coalition to wage a fierce and merciless war against the terrorists in order to eradicate this deadly disease that threatens all societies.
Thus do the Sauds signal that they finally recognize Saddam is going down and that they are on board. Expect more such nuanced remarks in the days and weeks ahead as they try desperately to stay on the good side of the U.S. and Britain.
GET SOME MORE STARS OUT, BETSY:In Search of 'Community' ( Kevin Hassett, 10/09/2002, Tech Central Station)
There are currently 13 candidate countries [for EU membership], and the majority of them are countries that only recently emerged from communist rule. These ten include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia. These countries have undergone
remarkable changes in the past 15 years. Will the next ten transform them even more?
My conversations with government leaders lead me to believe that there is an appropriate skepticism among the candidate countries concerning the intrusive regulation and bureaucracy of the EU. There is genuine concern that socialist bureaucrats will partly turn back the clock to communism. It was, for example, almost impossible to make it through a session without hearing at least one mention of the fact that the EU has strict regulations concerning even the curvature of bananas (these are designed, of course, to aid French colonies in the Caribbean). What other flights of fancy might await members in the future? There was clearly a great deal of concern.
So why join? On this, after seeing the gamut of stories, one can only conclude that the economic arguments are secondary. What really matters is security and attachment. The word "community" is the real attraction.
Before these countries toss away their futures, why don't we offer them NAFTA membership? or even statehood?
After the Fall: New thinking to make skyscrapers safer (Steven Ashley, September 09, 2002, Scientific American)
One year after the devastating attacks on New York City’s 110-story, 1,365-foot-high World Trade Center towers, questions linger concerning the future of skyscrapers. After all, who wants to work or live in a grand, iconic structure that stands out in a crowd and thus makes an inviting target? "Despite the tragedy of the World Trade Center collapse, the skyscraper is here to stay," asserts A. Eugene Kohn, senior partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, a leading architectural firm in New York City. "Although there could be a hiatus in the construction of skyscrapers in the U.S. lasting as long as a decade, ultimately I think it'll just be a sad interlude in the ongoing history of tall buildings."
Kohn notes that the reasons for building lofty towers haven't changed: high land costs in congested cities, demanding economic needs (especially in fast-growing Asia) and the developers' egos.
Aren't those all reasons to stop building them?
JUSTICE IN A PEACH BASKET:Judge rules the court (GREG HARDESTY, September 2002, The Orange County Register)
The 20-year-old defendant told the judge that marijuana made him a better basketball player.
"Oh, yeah?" replied Judge Marc Kelly, peering down at Alvaro Alvarez, charged with pot possession. "I'm a 42-year-old man. I don't think you can take me on."
Kelly challenged Alvarez to a game of one-on-one basketball - not only to try to beat him but to persuade him that dope won't help him win.
Stunned, Alvarez accepted the challenge.
"I though maybe he was kidding," he said.
On Tuesday, a few weeks after the challenge was issued, Alvarez returned to Kelly's courtroom to show proof that he had attended a substance- abuse class. Then the judge and the pot smoker squared off.
Kelly stripped off his black robe and laced up his sneakers.
"You better not let him beat you," Alvarez's friends had told him after learning about the match.
Be sure to read this one, it's a hoot.
WITH A WHIMPER:OLD PARTIES VANISH FROM BALLOTS (Richard Winger, August 1, 2002, Ballot Access News)
This year's election will be the first even-year election since 1868 at which no Prohibition Party nominee is on the ballot for any public office. The party still exists, and still publishes a newsletter, but none of its members chose to run for any office this year.
It was a noble failure, but a failure nonetheless.
IS SHE REALLY THIS DENSE OR IS SHE A METAPHOR FOR FRUITCAKE:Real Battles and Empty Metaphors (SUSAN SONTAG, September 10, 2002, NY Times)
When a president of the United States declares war on cancer or poverty or drugs, we know that "war" is a metaphor. Does anyone think that this war--the war that America has declared on terrorism--is a metaphor? But it is, and one with powerful consequences. War has been disclosed, not actually declared, since the threat is deemed to be self-evident.
Real wars are not metaphors. And real wars have a beginning and an end. Even the horrendous, intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine will end one day. But this antiterror war can never end. That is one sign that it is not a war but, rather, a mandate for expanding the use of American power.
This is a column of almost magnificent stupidity. Ms Sontag shows herself to be nearly oblivious to everything from history to vocabulary as she argues that radical Islam is a permanent feature of humankind against which we will have to act forever, and that those actions are not in the nature of war. One would merely point out to Ms Sontag that in the space of a couple hundred years America has already defeated such previously thought to be enduring "-isms" as colonialism (Revolution), slavery (Civil War), barbarism (Indian Wars), Kaiserism (WWI), Fascism (WWII), Communism (Cold War), and there must be a few more. Sure, even to this day pockets of resistance remain, like Japanese soldiers left behind on Pacific islands, some isolated places haven't yet gotten the message that the war is over and they've lost, but does anyone rational still consider the Cold War to be ongoing just because Cuba, North Korea, and China remain?
GREAT CITY; SO WHAT? :The City and the Country (PAUL AUSTER, September 9, 2002, NY Times)
No one is sorry that the Taliban regime has been ousted from power, but when I talk to my fellow New Yorkers these days, I hear little but disappointment in what our government has been up to. Only a small minority of New Yorkers voted for George W. Bush, and most of us tend to look at his policies with suspicion. He simply isn't democratic enough for us. He and his cabinet have not encouraged open debate of the issues facing the country. With talk of an invasion of Iraq now circulating in the press, increasing numbers of New Yorkers are becoming apprehensive. From the vantage point of ground zero, it looks like a global catastrophe in the making.
Not long ago, I received a poetry magazine in the mail with a cover that read: "USA OUT OF NYC." Not everyone would want to go that far, but in the past several weeks I've heard a number of my friends talk with great earnestness and enthusiasm about the possibility of New York seceding from the union and establishing itself as an independent city-state.
That will never happen, of course, but I do have one practical suggestion. Since President Bush has repeatedly told us how much he dislikes Washington, why doesn't he come live in New York? We know he has no great love for this place, but by moving to our city, he might learn something about the country he is trying to govern. He might learn, in spite of his reservations, that we are the true heartland.
Mr. Auster apparently fails to comprehend that NYC, though the world's greatest city, is today little more than a theme park, a fact best indicated by the way they've redone Times Square to resemble Disney World. Even as we mourn the loss of lives a year ago we can note that fairly few of the workers at the WTC, and even fewer of the rescue workers, actually lived in Manhattan. Even as we acknowledge NYC as a symbol of democracy, we should note that despite several terms of reasonably good governance under Rudy Guiliani, it still has one of the worst school systems in the country and far more crime than any civilized nation should tolerate in any of its communities. Were NYC a "city-state" where would it have gotten the billions of dollars to pay for its response to this attack and to rebuild? Of whom would Hillary Clinton and the firefighters unions be demanding further handouts? Who today would be patrolling its skies and its harbors to try and prevent the next attack?
ABS (Anyone but Saddam):Bush: Post-Saddam Iraq not US job (William M. Reilly, 9/9/2002, UPI)
President Bush Monday told world leaders it will be the responsibility of the whole international community, rather than the United States, to determine what kind of regime should replace Iraqi President Saddam Hussein if his government is toppled by U.S. military action, European diplomats told United Press International.
During a call to the current head of the European Union, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bush made it clear he felt "not his responsibility to define" who or what would replace the Iraqi president, according to one diplomat.
Bush "expressed the view that any alternative is preferable" to Saddam, added the diplomat.
First of all, this is the proper attitude. But second of all, it disposes of the quagmire arguiment and denies the Democrats a political coup that they were apparently counting on. Someone on NPR this weekend made the point that the Democrats want to debate Iraq if for no other reason than so that George W. Bush has to eat his words about the folly of nation-building. Sorry fellas...
September 9, 2002
UP IN FLAMES?:Senator Torch (George Will, 9/05/02, TownHall.com)
Torricelli, whose feverish careerism makes him the Energizer Bunny--perhaps the Energizer Ferret--of American politics, also is a human Enron in a year of handcuffed CEOs doing perp walks. His hometown newspaper has demanded his resignation. The largest paper in South Jersey says, ``Torricelli cannot remove the stench of corruption, even if he showers from now until Election Day.''
The Newark Star-Ledger says Torricelli considers New Jersey ``a state of 8 million Tony Sopranos.'' Ouch. Torricelli once said that as a young Italian-American he was upset by watching televised Senate hearings into the Mafia--hearings that ended when he was five days old.
Torricelli calls the gift scandal ``a lapse of judgment.'' One paper tartly called it the longest lapse in history. Indeed.
``Torricelli Charged'' read the 1971 headline in the Rutgers student newspaper. His election as president of the sophomore class was invalidated because of ``gross unethical conduct.''
Having worked briefly in Democratic Party politics in NJ, I can attest that Toricelli was universally loathed. He also wins elections. He's like Dracula--even if it looks like he may lose this race, don't believe it 'til you've driven a stake through his...well, he doesn't really have a heart...
OSAMA DIED FROM EATING POP ROCKS WITH COKE:Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living in Utah: As the anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, terror-related urban legends are running rampant. Luckily, Snopes.com is on the case. (Katharine Mieszkowski, Sept. 3, 2002, Salon)
What have been the most popular types of rumors?
There have been three different types.
The first have been rumors of explanation. What happened was so horrifying and so awful that we cannot accept that this could have just happened. It is far more comforting to believe that there were portents and there were signs, and we just missed them.
That's why we see the Nostradamus rumor and the Oliver North rumor. The rumor was that Oliver North had warned us about Osama Bin Laden during the Iran-Contra hearings, and we just didn't listen.
It's so much more comforting to believe that we just missed the warnings than to say there wasn't one.
The second type of rumors and stories we're dealing with are trying to come to terms with what might potentially have happened. Which is why we're dealing with the "helped terrorist" rumors and the disappeared Afghan boyfriend rumor, because these are all attempts to reduce the threat down to something manageable, to something that we can cope with.
It's so much easier to say that keeping my family safe means that I just don't go to the mall on Oct. 31, as opposed to I have to keep looking around me all the time.
The third type of rumors and stuff we've been seeing have to do with people trying to take back a sense of control and having a chance to fight back a bit. And that's where we see the ones about Osama Bin Laden owns Snapple or Citibank; therefore, let's boycott Snapple or Citibank.
People feel powerless because there is no definable enemy standing in front of them. The war in Afghanistan is going on half a world away. People need to feel that they're involved in the fight against terrorism, in a little bit more direct a manner than just vicariously through CNN. They need to feel that they can do something to fight back, because they're trying to reclaim a sense of control, not feeling so helpless, so powerless.
If you can boycott Snapple, you're striking a blow.
These guys are a Godsend, because you can quickly check the stories you receive to see if they've already been debunked.
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF:Hispanics may be hungering for GOP (RUBEN NAVARRETTE, 09/06/2002 , The Dallas Morning News)
Cynics determined to downplay President Bush's support among Hispanic voters cling to three assumptions: that any support is limited to how the commander in chief has fought the war on terrorism and now might fight a war against Iraq; that Hispanics backing Mr. Bush are assimilated and wealthy and wooed by tax cuts; and that support for Mr. Bush doesn't transfer to other Republicans.
All three assumptions may be false, according to a very significant poll of 1,000 Hispanic adults by McLaughlin & Associates' Opiniones Latinas conducted on behalf of the Washington-based Latino Coalition.
According to the survey, Mr. Bush's approval rating among Hispanics registered to vote stands at 68.4 percent. That is consistent with Mr. Bush's overall approval rating, which hovers between 65 percent and 70 percent. [...]
These Hispanic boosters for Mr. Bush aren't who you think they are. Assimilated? When asked whether they preferred to be interviewed in English or Spanish, only 45 percent chose English. (Among those who chose Spanish, Mr. Bush's approval rating shot up to 74 percent. It was 62 percent among English speakers.) [...]
The biggest surprise is that Mr. Bush's Hispanic appeal appears to have coattails after all. True: More than twice as many respondents identified with the Democratic Party as with the Republican Party – 48 percent to 23 percent. But when the question turned to which party's candidates voters would support in congressional elections this fall, the Republicans fared better. Democrats came out on top by only 12 percentage points, 44 percent to 32 percent.
In response to a similar question in last year's poll, Democrats enjoyed a 34-point advantage.
Patrick Ruffini sent this but unfortunately isn't commenting on it. Two thoughts occur to us: (1) This is the kind of swing to the GOP that will need to show up on election day if Republicans are to swim against the midterm tide. (2) Given the historic animus between blacks and Latinos, this could be an especially inopportune moment for the Democrats to be offering their first black statewide candidate in Texas, Ron Kirk. If Latinos do feel comfortable with George W. Bush and the GOP generally, as the poll seems to indicate, then Mr. Kirk's ethnicity, long thought to be a big advantage in this race, may prove a significant hindrance.
IRANAMOK:A Little Theoretical Game (Christopher Badeaux, September 09, 2002, Lord Mage of Good)
[L]et's try a little theoretical game. Assume for the sake of argument that Iran really is about to come crashing down -- the system is too wobbly to sustain itself, the center cannot hold, etc. Assume also, for the sake of our little game, that the folks in charge of Iran are desperately trying to procure nuclear weapons. Continue the game: Those same fellows are paranoid theocrats, some significant percentage of whom believe paradise (and seventy-two white raisins) lie just the other side of massive explosions. Final assumption: The odds are dead-even, fifty-fifty, that if we do nothing about all of this, that nothing will happen, Iran will tumble into a brief chaos followed by a wonderful, charming, secular, Western-style democracy, and everyone will have a fuzzy pink bunny to cuddle. The other fifty percent is allocated to this idea: As Iran crumbles, the paranoid theocrats, who weren't altogether rational actors to begin with, knowing that they're doomed if they don't do something (and likely even if they do), ship a nuclear warhead to Kansas City, via ICBM or some guy named Mohammed.
Now stop playing and assume this is very real. The problem with the Cal Coolidge approach to foreign policy (if you see ten barrels rolling down the hill toward you, and you don't do anything, nine will skip off to the side and leave you unharmed) is that it's way too easy to miss that tenth barrel. The only catch is, in this case, the barrel is toting a few pounds of weapons-grade plutonium and an advanced plastique shell.
One would first point out that what Iran did last week was "successfully tested a new ballistic missile, apparently of North Korean vintage." Now, nuclear weapons should be taken somewhat seriously just because of their destructive power, though I'm not inclined to fetishize them as the anti-nuke folks of the '80s did, nor as the anti-Arabists of the '00s do today. But I just have trouble getting too worked up about the lethal threat of North Korean ballistic technology. Yes the world would be a safer place if Pakistan didn't have nuclear weapons and we're better off with Iraq and Iran not having them, but one suspects that the populations that are truly threatened by such weapons are their own.
YA GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY:The private faith of a public man: How religion shapes this presidency (Francine Kiefer, September 06, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor)
Almost two years into his term, Bush's religious beliefs are emerging as a central influence in his policy and politics - inextricably linked to everything from the war on terrorism to the November elections.
While presidents throughout history have leaned on and invoked God, Bush has been far more public than most with his personal beliefs and values. Some of this clearly reflects the times: Moments of crisis - in this case, a horrific attack and the residue of fear in its aftermath - often bring outovert expressions of faith, as the nation looks to a president for comfort as well as leadership.
But for Bush, who reads his Bible every morning, faith extends beyond the national catharsis of the moment. By his own admission, his religious views shape much of who he is and, by extension, experts say, some of his most important decisionmaking.
"One of the animating principles of this administration is the restoration of the role of faith in the public square," says Marshall Wittman, the former legislative director for the Christian Coalition. [...]
He is "perhaps the first modern president who actually sees policy applications" for his faith, says Mr. Wittman.
This buys him a lot of wiggle room to his Right, but he's going to have to appoint pro-lifers to the Supreme Court, assuming he gets the chance, or else he'll dissipate all that good will. No more Souters.
VOCABULARY SKILLS:astrobleme (A.Word.A.Day)
astrobleme (AS-tro-bleem) noun
A scar on the earth's surface caused by the impact of a meteorite.
[Literally star-wound, from astro-, from Greek astron (star) + -bleme, from Greek blema (missile, wound).]
This one should be fun to use in a sentence. I'll go first: Ann Coulter today said she'd like to reduce Eric Alterman to nothing more than an astrobleme.
September 8, 2002
DEAL BREAKER:After Owen: Do Republicans Have a Battle Plan?: The party searches for a way to fight back. (Byron York, September 6, 2002, National Review)
Privately, some in the GOP say they would like to see the White House scrap its judicial-selection deal with California Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Early in the administration, the president entered into a cooperative arrangement with the two senators in which they and the White House would have near-equal voices in the selection of federal district-court judges in California. The process has been cordial but has irritated both conservatives and defenders of presidential prerogatives, who argued it gave the senators too much say in the process.
Now look at what has happened. The president went out of his way, Republicans say, to give Feinstein a voice in judicial selection, and what did he get in return? He got Feinstein killing one of the White House's top judicial appointments. And it didn't help that Feinstein tried to soften the blow by telling everyone it was a very hard decision for her. "I've never voted against a female nominee," Feinstein told the committee Thursday. "I've met Priscilla Owen, I've talked to her, and I like her very much." Nevertheless, Feinstein pulled the trigger, and some Republicans in Congress believe it is time for the White House to quit accommodating her on judicial selection matters.
The Brothers' grandfather, who would have been 96 this week, was a Republican appointed to the Federal bench by LBJ, but not without some chicanery. As we heard the story, New York's two Senators, Jacob Javits and Bobby Kennedy, had worked out a private deal that allowed Javits to offer up a Republican periodically in exchange for not objecting to RFK's Democrat picks. But when Bobby was assassinated, Johnson tried backing out of the deal and naming a Democrat to the bench instead. Senator Javits went to Ted Kennedy and told him what was going on, that the White House was bailing on a promise his brother had made. That got Mr. Kennedy into the act and soon enough the nomination was confirmed.
BULL MOOSE IN THE BALANCE:Frist sees GOP capturing Senate (Donald Lambro, 9/08/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
[Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee] said the Republican Party«s prospects in the upcoming Senate elections were changed dramatically by the latest polls in two pivotal battleground states that showed the GOP«s candidates leading and with stronger momentum.
In Missouri, Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan«s support has plunged seven points over the past several weeks against the Republican Party«s nominee, former Rep. Jim Talent, who now has the edge in the race, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll. [...]
The Democrats« situation is even worse in New Jersey, a heavily Democratic state where Sen. Robert G. Torricelli has nose-dived in the polls against Republican Doug Forrester, a little-known businessman and former mayor. [...]
Independent surveys and Mr. Forrester«s own polls show him leading by 12 to 13 points. Mr. Torricelli«s latest poll shows the two men tied at 40 percent each, a dramatic change since January when a Quinnipiac University poll found the senator leading his challenger, 50 percent to 26 percent. [...]
Democrats are also struggling in South Dakota, where Sen. Tim Johnson is in a dead heat against Republican Rep. John Thune and in Minnesota, where Sen. Paul Wellstone is running two to three points ahead of former Republican Mayor Norm Coleman. The Democrats in these and other races have been pouring a lot of money into campaign ads during the summer to support their candidates, but Mr. Frist said "their numbers barely moved." The NRSC for the most part has held back on its ad spending until the Labor Day weekend when Republican strategists believe that voters began paying more attention to the campaigns. In a slide show briefing on the races, Mr. Frist said that because there were more vulnerable Democratic incumbents than there were for the Republicans, it would give the NRSC more maneuvering room to divert more money to second-tier races. "It gives me a little more room to take a little more risk," the senator said.
Barring fabulous economic news over the next seven weeks this sounds fairly delusional, but it would set up some high drama. Even if they win three of these four races (thanks to Christopher Badeaux for correcting my math) they still have to hold NH, AR and TX. Suppose two of those seats change hands too. That gives the GOP a 50-49-1 edge and puts John McCain back in play. He can switch parties, giving the Democrats back control of the Senate, and immediately become the hero of the Democrat party and the front runner for their 2004 presidential nomination against George W. Bush who he loathes. It's a tower of "ifs" but boy would that be fun. (If, that is, you're a political junkie with no real life.)
SHILLING FOR THE ADMINISTRATION? :Sizing Up Hussein: Iraq said to be seeking ingredients for atom bomb (Michael R. Gordon, Judith Miller, September 8, 2002, The New York Times)
More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has intensified its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said Saturday.
Over the past 14 months, Iraq has tried to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which U.S. officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.
U.S. officials said that several efforts to arrange the shipment of the high-strength tubes were blocked or intercepted, but they declined to say, citing the extreme sensitivity of the intelligence, where they came from or how they were stopped.
The attempted purchases are not the only signs of a renewed Iraqi interest in acquiring nuclear arms. Hussein has met several times in recent months with Iraq's top nuclear scientists and, according to U.S. intelligence, praised their efforts as part of his campaign against the West.
Iraqi defectors who once worked for the nuclear weapons establishment there have told U.S. officials that acquiring nuclear arms is again a top Iraqi priority. U.S. intelligence agencies are also monitoring new construction at potential nuclear sites.
You can barely wait to read the next Maureen Dowd column in which she says that President Bush hasn't made the case that Saddam is dangerous. Do the Times' editorial writers read the news sections?
AMEN, BROTHER :A Bookmark (Tom Disch, 8/02/01, Writer's Almanac)
Four years ago I started reading Proust.
Although I'm past the halfway point, I still
Have seven hundred pages of reduced
Type left before I reach the end. I will
Slog through. It can't get much more dull than
Is happening now: he's buying crepe-de-chine
Wraps and a real, well-documented hat
For his imaginary Albertine.
Oh, what a slimy sort he must have been-
So weak, so sweetly poisonous, so fey!
Four years ago, by God!-and even then
How I was looking forward to the day
I would be able to forgive, at last,
And to forget Remembrance of Things Past.
Our sentiments exactly
ANSWERS FOR THE SENATOR:Questions for the Commander in Chief (Zell Miller, September 8, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
[I] always like to run things by my focus group back home, and lately the comments from my focus group tell me that the folks out there in Middle America,
sitting around their kitchen tables, have questions that need to be answered before we march our soldiers into Iraq. [...]
(1) Even if Hussein has nukes, does he have the capability to reach New York or Los Angeles or Atlanta?
(2) The old Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear missiles for decades, many of them capable of reaching our major cities, and yet we didn't get into a war with the Soviets. The president needs to explain why Iraq is different.
(3) Who will join with us in this war and what share will they be willing to bear? (There was also some grumbling about our boys in Afghanistan "just doing guard duty" to protect those warlords.)
(4) What happens after we take out Hussein? How long will our soldiers be there? And, again, with whose help?
(5) There is concern about too much deployment. We've got our soldiers stationed all over the world. Someone needs to bring us up to date on where they all are, why they are there and how long our commitment to keep them there is.
(6) How does our plan in Iraq fit in with the whole Middle East question? How will it affect Israel? How will it affect our war on terrorism? Does taking Saddam out help or hurt that entire messy situation?
(7) At Mary Ann's Restaurant, Tony is all right. But Putin is not. Why are we putting so much trust in him? Is he still with us in the war on terrorism, or was that just so much talk at a photo op?
(8) The people at Mary Ann's know very well who fights our wars -- the kids from the middle-class and blue-collar homes of America. Kids like their grandchildren. They want to hear the president say that he knows and understands that.
(9) Forgive my bluntness, but these folks also want to hear the president and the vice president say that this war is not about oil.
(10) They also want to hear an explanation of why we didn't take care of this in the Persian Gulf War, and why it is on our doorstep again so soon.
Here are some answers:
THE LAW-GIVER :Moses, Michelangelo (1513-16) (Jonathan Jones, June 8, 2002, The Guardian)
Artist: Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), born in Tuscany and educated in Florence, undertook his most ambitious work in Rome for Julius II, a warrior pope whose terrible temper did not exclude a sensitivity to art. He commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling and to sculpt his tomb.
Subject: Moses, the law-giver, who led the Jews out of Egypt and brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai.
Distinguishing features: Its power must have something to do with the rendition of things that should be impossible to depict in stone; most quirkily, the beard - so ropy and smoky, its coils given fantastic, snaking life. But where others might astonish us with technique, Michelangelo goes beyond this, leading us from formal to intellectual surprise, making us wonder why Moses fondles his beard, why Michelangelo has used this river of hair - in combination with the horns that were a conventional attribute of Moses - to give him an inhuman, demonic aspect.
Who knew Moses had horns?
WHOSE BLACK PROBLEM? :The Last Color Line (JAMES TRAUB, September 8, 2002, NY Times Magazine)
Why has the new generation of black leaders spurned the new Republican party? [...] The problem lies with contemporary Republican culture and principles. Bush's compassionate conservatism revolves around rituals of inclusion -- staged events, highly touted appointments. The new generation of black leaders, however, takes inclusion for granted; they have always been included. Symbolism, at least symbolism by itself, has lost its force.
The real significance of a race-neutral politics is that it accepts pragmatic, meliorative solutions to the nation's problems -- which may help explain Bill Clinton's immense popularity with black voters. The new generation of leaders accepts the value of the market. But there are few black voters, and few black leaders, who do not view the state as a mighty instrument for social justice and for economic progress. And though President Bush's focus on rigorous standards for schools has wide support among black leaders and voters, his administration has otherwise been so dominated by a fixed antipathy to governmental activism that it has proved to be more inhospitable to blacks than was that of his more moderate, if less symbolically attuned, father. (It may also be true that as foreign policy figures, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, have less symbolic value than comparably placed figures in domestic policy would.) Even Ron Kirk, a Texas tax-cutter, says that he cannot in the current circumstances stomach the administration's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut.
If you looked at these two phenomena together -- more black moderates, fewer black Republicans -- you would say that black leaders have distributed themselves more widely across the political spectrum, while Republicans have squeezed themselves into a narrow space on the edge of that spectrum. And it is precisely the kind of ideologically conservative, antiurban, sectarian space in which an increasingly secular black political culture is bound to feel uncomfortable. Conservative Republicans are occupying the territory of moral absolutism that moderate black politicians are abandoning.
Nearly all of this column--other than the fact that blacks continue to vote almost exclusively for Democrats, as they have done since FDR supplanted Lincoln as the Great White Father figure--is silly. To take just a few of the more egregious errors, as Charles Murtaugh has pointed out, blacks are actually one of the least secular segments of the American population now. When they vote against Republicans they are voting against people who share their spiritual beliefs. Likewise, as if it were still 1965 in America, Mr. Traub asserts that big government programs are "pragmatic" and "meliorative". Go tell the unwed teenage mother in Cabrini Green about it. In fact, it seems at least at first blush to be the Republican driven programs like welfare-to-work that are pragmatic, rather than the Democrat defended handouts. Blacks are certainly free to continue to believe that LBJ cared about them and Newt Gingrich didn't, but the former destroyed the black inner city and family, while the latter pushed through a major reform that seems to be effectively treating many social pathologies.
WHERE'S BOB FERGUSON WHEN WE NEED HIM (Stephen, if you get that one I'll buy you a beer) :Farewell to Summer and Its Buzzing Creatures (DIANE ACKERMAN, September 7, 2002, NY Times)
It's 6:45 a.m. Sitting in an alcove near the back window, I watch summer packing to leave - the yard's hummingbirds busily feeding. Any day now they'll migrate to their winter homes. But at the moment, they're gobbling sugar to build the fat reserves they need for long solo flights.
I've spiked their drink, sweetened their water 3-to-1, since putting on weight is so urgent. Trees and flowers only dispense nectar in doses (to encourage pollinators to move to other blooms), but feeders provide a steady source of sweetness, and where in life can any creature find that? So I tend the feeder carefully - change the water every other day, keep ants and wasps at bay if I can.
I saw a baby hummer at the feeder for the first time this week, a late visitor I mistook for a bumblebee until I noticed the helicopter blur of its wingbeats. Here it is again. Smaller, darker and jerkier than the adults, it sips, elevates, swallows, sips six times more, then angles backward in a reverse swan dive. Yesterday morning it squawked a faint tearing-cardboard sound when a yellow jacket vexed it. One or two wasps a hummer can keep an eye on, joust with, and usually drive off. But three become gangland dangerous.
We, on the other hand, have an infestation of cluster flies. It's nowhere near so romantic.
CERTAIN BLOWHARDS :An Uncertain Trumpet (NY Times, September 8, 2002)
President Bush was hardly alone in hoping that America would emerge from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 a stronger and more cohesive nation. Yet nobody framed the challenge better than he did in his State of the Union address last January. "In the sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens," he said, "we have glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self. We've been offered a unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass." In later speeches he pounded on the same theme, urging Americans to forswear the "culture of selfishness" and embrace a "new ethic of responsibility."
What has Mr. Bush made of that moment of opportunity, which may have passed us by? Sad to say, not much. Most of us had expected the country to be in a different place by now, and the fact that it is not can be attributed largely (though by no means exclusively) to Mr. Bush's failure to leverage the political and moral capital Sept. 11 provided.
Mr. Bush had the words right. His problem was his failure to give them meaning, either because he did not know what had to be done or because what had to be done exceeded his political will. Sept. 11 summoned Americans to think differently about basic problems and to reach out to one another as never before. It was a moment to begin thinking about less wasteful energy policies, to envision new economic and social strategies, to examine programs of national service for the country's young people - in short, to entertain genuine sacrifices linked to an elevated vision of America's possibilities. Despite lots of oratory, however, no real sacrifice has been demanded, no vision offered.
The most amusing aspect of this risible editorial is how easy it is to imagine a Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or Tom Daschle addressing the country and telling us how we now have a moral obligation to switch to solar power and windmills.
WE'RE PRO-RETRO :Bryant Legacy Resurfaces in Fla.: Gay Groups Work to Defeat Bid to Repeal Rights Ordinance (Manuel Roig-Franzia, September 7, 2002, Washington Post)
Anita Bryant in all her frilly, 1970s bouffant glory smiles down from a record cover propped on a corner file cabinet of the election headquarters of the gay rights group SAVE Dade.
Bryant is a mythic and reviled figure in this room, the orange juice spokeswoman and beauty queen who led a successful campaign 25 years ago to repeal a ground-breaking ordinance that prohibited discrimination against gays and lesbians in Dade County.
The ordinance was narrowly restored in 1998 by county commissioners, but it is once again the subject of a fiercely contested repeal effort that will be decided by voters Tuesday. The election bears enormous practical and symbolic importance to national gay rights groups, which have sent dozens of volunteers to Miami in hopes of defeating the measure and discouraging repeals in more than 200 cities and counties that have laws prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians.
"It's sort of our version of the Freedom Riders," said Lorri Jean, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which has contributed volunteers and $100,000 to SAVE Dade. "Anita Bryant wreaked havoc all over the country. We wanted to show the country that not only has Miami changed, but the world has changed."
Bryant, who lives in Tennessee, hasn't been involved in this summer's Miami-Dade County repeal fight. But reminders of her 1977 campaign are everywhere.
At times, it seems gay rights activists here are battling the ghosts of Bryant's long-ago "Save Our Children" campaign as much as the conservative Christian groups who have sponsored the current repeal. A flier in SAVE Dade's office urges volunteers to "Undo Anita! Homophobia is soooo retro."
Because homosexuality is a moral choice rather than an immutable characteristic (like race or gender) it seems entirely fair to allow people to engage in discrimination against those who indulge in such behavior.
ENOUGH ABOUT THE VICTIMS, WHAT ABOUT ME? :Two Studies Raise Doubts on Trauma Counseling's Value (Shankar Vedantam, September 6, 2002, The Washington Post)
Counseling sessions frequently given to survivors immediately after disasters, such as the debriefings given to people traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks, do nothing to prevent psychiatric disorders and may even be harmful, according to two comprehensive analyses released yesterday.
Though debriefing has been embraced by officials and a range of practitioners, there is little evidence that recipients' long-term mental health is better than people who get no counseling, or those who just talk to friends and family, according to a Dutch study of debriefing in multiple situations. Debriefing "may even put some survivors at heightened risk for later developing mental health problems," said experts at the National Institute of Mental Health who independently evaluated the technique after Sept 11.
"If this was a drug, we would take it off the market," said Richard Gist, a psychologist at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Referring to the
widespread popularity of debriefing, he added, "What we have here is something between a social movement, a pyramid scheme and a cult."
Gee--you mean wallowing in self pity isn't healthy? Who'da thunk it?
LIFE DURING WARTIME :U.N. Rights Chief Blasts Terror War (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/08/02)
Departing U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson, in a bleak assessment of the state of human rights, accused governments of hiding behind the ongoing war on terrorism to trample civil liberties and crush troublesome opponents.
"Suddenly the T-word is used all the time,'' Robinson said, referring to terrorism. "And that's the problem.''
The United States, Russia and China were among the nations she said were ignoring civil rights in the name of combating international terrorist groups.
"Everything is justified by that T-word,'' the 58-year-old former Irish president said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I hope that countries will put human rights back on the agenda because it tended to slip after September 11.''
Robinson argued the Bush administration set the tone by holding detainees from Afghanistan without charge at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
I could of course be wrong, but I don't believe we ever proffered formal charges in a court of law against the thousands of German POWs who we held here during WWII either. What's Ms Robinson's point?
HOPEFULLY THEY'RE CIRCLING BAGHDAD :Rare view of U.S. strike on Taliban forces (Jamie McIntyre, September 6, 2002, CNN
Newly declassified video from an unmanned U.S. spy plane shows how U.S. aircrews were able to use real-time overhead images to conduct pinpoint strikes against Taliban forces during the height of war in Afghanistan.
This is the first time the Pentagon has released combat video from the remote-controlled spy planes, which have been crucial to the effectiveness of the air campaign in Afghanistan.
The video, from a U.S. Air Force Predator drone, shows the scene on the ground as an AC-130 gunship uses the Predator to pick out enemy vehicles and people from a series of buildings, including a mosque, and score direct hits on the targets.
Why not just take Saddam out with a few unmanned Predators; as I recall they're equipped with missiles themselves?
CUDDLING THE ASP :London to host Islamic 'celebration' of Sept 11 (Thair Shaikh, 08/09/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Extremist muslim clerics will meet in London on September 11 to celebrate the anniversary of al-Qaeda's attacks on America and to launch an organisation for Islamic militants.
The conference, which will be attended by the most radical mullahs in Britain, will argue that the atrocities were justified because Muslims must defend themselves against armed aggression.
It will launch the Islamic Council of Britain (ICB), which will aim to implement sharia law in Britain and will welcome al-Qa'eda sympathisers as members. [...]
Omar Bakri Mohammed, whose al-Muhajiroun group wants to establish a worldwide Islamic state... said: "The people at this conference look at September 11 like a battle, as a great achievement by the mujahideen against the evil superpower.
"I never praised September 11 after it happened but now I can see why they did it."
Though democracy requires that people be allowed to dissent it is not at all clear that any worthwhile purpose is served by allowing people to actually oppose democratic institutions. It seems eminently fair to require that people submit to the form of government agreed upon by the majority or else face reasonable consequences.
LET W BE W :At Crisis Time, a Motherlode of Bush Traits :
President Shows Instinct To Act, Speak Bluntly (Dana Milbank, September 6, 2002, Washington Post)
Earlier this year, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair was visiting the Bush ranch in Crawford, Tex., President Bush did something presidents rarely do: He spoke his mind.
"I explained to the prime minister that the policy of my government is the removal of Saddam," he said at a news conference. Catching himself, Bush added: "Maybe I should be a little less direct and be a little more nuanced, and say we support regime change."
Longtime Bush family friends say the performance gave them a flashback, to Barbara Bush, 1984. It was then that the future president's mother described her husband's challenger for the vice presidency, Geraldine Ferraro, as a word that "rhymes with rich." To calm the uproar, she later said she meant "witch," and not the word everybody thought.
In a score of interviews, friends and family of the president and political advisers to two Bush administrations say the last year has publicly demonstrated, as they knew privately, that George W. Bush is his mother's son. Coverage of Bush since the terrorist strikes of Sept. 11 has often compared the president to his presidential father. More to the point, Bush friends and aides say, is how the crisis has brought out in the younger Bush traits he learned from his mother: a sharp tongue, a stubborn will, a reliance on instinct, a black-and-white morality, impatience and a congenital inability to suffer fools.
One of the most unfortunate results of modern "gotcha" journalism is that presidents, and other politicians, end up being very tightly controlled by staff, lest a verbal slip or a factual gaffe prove embarrassing, or even career destroying. This gives a weird advantage to those who don't mind being scripted and directed by others--like Ronald Reagan--or who habitually present a false face to the world--Nixon and Clinton. It also makes those who chafe against such control seem less interesting and more artificial than they really are--Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush. It's hard to believe that the latter types would not be better served by just being themselves and letting the chips fall where they may. Sure George W. Bush would butcher the language and biff some geography, but he's very appealing when he behaves naturally and very stilted when he hews to a political script.
September 7, 2002
A RED STATE DIVA:This just in (Lloyd Grove, Washington Post)
Dolly Parton may be a star, but she ain't no diva. Our friends at National Public Radio, who have been working with Parton's people to arrange her Sept. 16 visit to Washington to be interviewed by Bob Edwards on "Morning Edition," tell us that when a Parton assistant asked for hotel suggestions, senior editor Susan Feeney came up with the posh Four Seasons in Georgetown. The assistant e-mailed back: "Regarding the hotel for Dolly, are there any low-key hotels close by? Days Inn, Best Western or something similar? She wants something low-key." Feeney told us, "When we heard that, a cheer went up in our office." But Four Seasons General Manager Christopher Hunsberger sounded less sanguine. "Frankly, I'm stunned," he said.
Think Babs Streisand has ever seen the inside of a Best Western?
FEEDING THE BEAST:Illogical conclusions (John McCaslin, September 6, 2002, Washington Times)
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for a few pointers before going before reporters yesterday at the Brookings Institution.
"You handle the press pretty well," Mr. Wolfowitz told his boss. "Is there anything I should keep in mind over at Brookings? There might be a few media types around, you know."
"Here's how you deal with the media," replied Mr. Rumsfeld. "Begin with an illogical premise and proceed perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion. After all, they do it all the time. But if you do it first, they'll be eviscerated."
The open contempt of the Bushies for such rituals as daily press briefings is enormously refreshing.
A PRIVATE FIGURE VS. A PUBLIC ONE :Devil in a Blue Dress (ERIC ALTERMAN, September 23, 2002, The Nation)
It's degrading to have to write about Coulter again. As a pundit, she is about on a par with Charles Manson, better suited to a lifelong stay in the Connecticut Home for the Criminally Insane than for the host's seat on Crossfire. Her books are filled with lies, slander and phony footnotes that are themselves lies and slanders. Her very existence as a public figure is an insult to our collective intelligence.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton by Ann H. Coulter
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 1,717
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCKHEAD :McKinney's father next on Jewish "hit list" (Barbara Ferguson, 9/07/02, Arab News)
First, right-wing American Jews went after US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Now they've set their sights on her father, 30-year Georgia state representative Billy McKinney, as their next target.
McKinney, 75, has become the focus of the Atlanta-area Jewish community after his most recent criticism of Jews, which resulted in skyrocketing donations for his challenger's campaign.
The problem? When he was asked about his daughter's disappointing campaign the day before her defeat in the Aug. 20 primary, McKinney told a television interviewer: "Jews have bought everybody." When asked to further explain his daughter's political difficulties, he said: "Jews. J-E-W-S."
Here's to the day when "right-wing American Jews" is redundant.
AU REVOIR, MR. BASSINGER :Dear Mr. Baldwin:
Upon hearing of your upcoming visit to the Garden State, the Republican State Committee would like to provide you with an opportunity to put your passport where your mouth is.
We are referring to your widely publicized promise that you would leave the country if George W. Bush was elected President. Given that it has been nearly two years since President Bush was elected, we can only assume you still reside in the United States because you cannot afford the cost of an airline ticket abroad. (Rumor has it you were forced to refund the $8.50 to everyone who saw your last movie, "State and Main.")
That being said, the Republican State Committee recognizes you as a man of your word and would like to help you fulfill your promise by purchasing for you, on behalf of all Americans, a one-way ticket to Paris, France. We have attached several itineraries for September 12th, the date you will be attending the Camden County Democrats' Gala, departing from New Jersey's own Newark Liberty International Airport.
Please respond at your earliest convenience so we can make the appropriate reservations (if we book early and get a good rate, we may be able to send Barbra Streisand with you). We will also provide transportation to the airport, as we have received offers from many patriotic New Jerseyans who are more than willing to assist in your departure.
Au revoir. Don?t let the door of the Boeing 764 hit you in the derrière on the way out.
New Jersey Republican State Committee
Some things you wouldn't wish on even the French...
UNPOPULAR=AUTHENTIC :The Uncandidate: South Carolina's Mark Sanford succeeds by breaking all the rules. (Fred Barnes, 09/16/2002, Weekly Standard)
THE PECULIARITIES of Republican Mark Sanford's bid for governor of South Carolina are piling up. Sanford has no statewide campaign organization or ancillary groups like Veterans for Sanford. His wife Jenny is his campaign manager. When the state Republican chairman wanted to speak to him without his wife on the line, Sanford hung up. He doesn't prepare for televised debates (and does poorly). Hit this summer with a two-month barrage of attack ads by Gov. Jim Hodges, his Democratic opponent, Sanford declined to rebut the charges, thus violating a cardinal rule of electoral politics. His appearances sometimes consist of a slide show (he travels with a slide projector). He once jotted down the text of a TV ad minutes before filming it. His speeches are seldom scripted. He rarely wears a tie. He backed John McCain in the 2000 presidential primary in what turned out to be a strong George W. Bush state. He now concedes the McCain endorsement was a "mistake."
Sanford, 42, is far and away the most interesting conservative running anywhere this year. His message is mildly radical: slow the growth of government, overhaul the bureaucracy, attract investment, and create jobs. He also favors a school voucher program similar to one enacted in Florida by Gov. Jeb Bush. But that's not the radical part of Sanford's agenda. This is: He wants to eliminate the state income tax (top rate 7 percent). No state has ever repealed its income tax (several states don't have one).
One lesson the Republicans seem incapable of learning on the national level is that running on a platform tat the democrats and the press portray as radical and unpopular gives you automatic credibility. After all, why would you support politically untenable positions unless you truly believed in them?
VOUCHERS NOW, PART 8,762 :Weekend Edition (NPR, 9/07/02)
There's been some attempt to let the NEA off the hook for their appalling proposal that teachers not blame Muslims for the 9/11 attacks in their teaching about the subject, but this morning on NPR's Weekend Edition you got a pretty good indicator that the union has already received the message loud and clear. NPR asked a group of retired social studies teachers, "with 150 years experience between them", how they would handle the topic (quotes are inexact):
NPR: What one exercise would you use to teach students about 9-11?
Teacher One: I'd ask them: what does it mean to be a Palestinian? That's the perfect question.
Teacher Two: No, even better--what does it mean to be a terrorist? After all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Why do we continue to let people who think this way teach our kids?
THE OWENS NOMINATION DIED FOR YOUR SINS :Litmus test spells doom for nominee (Jim Wooten, 9/8/02, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution0
A tragic reality has settled over the U.S. Senate. [Judge Priscilla] Owen was not rejected for her lack of credentials. She failed an ideological litmus test imposed by liberal interest groups, who use smear language to characterize real or imagined views with which they disagree. [...]
Two dynamics are in play here. One is that the left simply refuses to acknowledge the validity of the last presidential election -- and therefore Bush's right to fill vacancies on the federal bench with judges who share his philosophical views. [...]
The second dynamic is more ominous. In the last half century, a gradual power shift has occurred. The left, recognizing that the nation is essentially conservative, has concluded that the legislative arena is an obstruction. Its policy-making agenda, thus, is largely moved to the bureaucracy and to the courts.
Narrow-agenda zealots who have little chance of persuading a full body of legislators to implement their agenda recognize that greater power comes by boring into a bureaucracy and nesting. Thus when Congress or state legislatures pass vague laws on the environment, education or business, for example, the business of writing the interpreting regulations falls to the moles. [...]
Distrustful of legislative bodies, the left has targeted the courts and the bureaucracy to advance agendas, while Congress either falls into stalemate or into incrementalism.
If you want to worry about the "attack on our civil liberties" look to this creeping coup, rather than to the plight of Zacarias Moussaoui.
IMAGO DEI :REVIEW : of "Drawing the Line" by Steven M. Wise : A Harvard professor says science itself proves that such animals as parrots, apes and elephants should be considered persons with legal rights. (Kurt Kleiner, Sept. 3, 2002, salon)
So what makes a person? Wise quotes legal scholars and philosophers to make the case that the defining aspect of a person is autonomy; a person can desire, reason and act. Wise argues that many animals have what he calls "practical autonomy," a quality that makes them much more like people than they are like things. The three-part test for practical autonomy he devises asks whether the animal 1) can desire something; 2) can intentionally act to fulfill those desires; and 3) knows that it's he, the animal, who is doing the desiring and the acting.
Here are a couple of philosophical sources he might have looked to:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...
Something like 90+% of Americans derive their philosophy from the former and one hopes 100% from the latter.
TANGLED IN HIS OWN WEB:Heading for Trouble: Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years? (James Webb, September 4, 2002, Washington Post)
America's best military leaders know that they are accountable to history not only for how they fight wars, but also for how they prevent them. The greatest military victory of our time -- bringing an expansionist Soviet Union in from the cold while averting a nuclear holocaust -- was accomplished not by an invasion but through decades of intense maneuvering and continuous operations. With respect to the situation in Iraq, they are conscious of two realities that seem to have been lost in the narrow debate about Saddam Hussein himself. The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences -- ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world.
Other than the flippant criticisms of our "failure" to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq, but it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years.
The Brothers have been big fans of Mr. Webb since the Reagan administration, but this is just silly. He first repeats the canard that the Cold War--which lasted fifty years and cost trillions of dollars and tens of millions of lives--was the "greatest military victory of our time", then goes on to show that a rather minor and inexpensive occupation of Iraq would be a disaster. That's not to say that we shouold occupy Iraq--after toppling Saddam we should just leave--but it so self-contradictory on its face as to be difficult to take seriously.
THE TRUE KUGEL :A Kugel for the Holidays: Mom's Version and Mine (Edward Schneider, September 4, 2002, The Washington Post)
My mother came to the United States in the 1920s at the age of 12 and quickly became the family Yankee, at least compared with her six elder siblings. But in
some respects she has always clung to tradition, including the tradition of making a potato (or noodle) kugel on major holidays -- and invariably on Rosh Hashanah.
To my mind, there is no good translation for the Yiddish word kugel. Pudding? Perhaps. Casserole? Possible, though it's a stretch -- with its echoes of canned mushroom soup and crushed potato chips, it just doesn't sound old-country enough. Let's just call it a kugel. The German word Kugel means sphere . . . or bullet. That sounds, literally, leaden, and kugels can indeed be pretty substantial. But there are few better accompaniments to the Rosh Hashanah brisket or roast chicken.
Basically potato kugel consists of grated raw potatoes mixed with flour, bread crumbs or (for my mother) matzoh meal and, usually, eggs. There are all manner of variations -- with onions, mushrooms, carrots and whatnot -- but these, it seems, were not made by the Jews of my mother's childhood neighborhood outside Czestochowa, Poland, so for her they do not exist.
Note that the raw potatoes must be reduced to extremely fine micro-shreds -- a near puree. A few years ago, my mother gave me one of her four old Acme graters (yes, that's the real name). My Acme looks like a small rectangular tennis racquet strung with razor wire. It is the ideal instrument, even if using it always -- always -- results in bleeding knuckles. Few readers will have such a thing in their kitchen drawer. But, before my mother felt able to part with that Acme grater, I discovered that a food processor does a good job too, and that is what I recommend using.
Unlike many other people's potato kugels, and unlike the ready-made versions you sometimes see in stores -- quite thick, and oven-baked until too dry -- my mother's is less than an inch deep and is cooked in a frying pan slowly enough and with sufficient oil to create a very crisp mahogany-brown crust that encases a soft, moist interior tasting of little more than potato, even though it is fairly rich in eggs. In fact, some people would probably not even call my mother's version a kugel; they might call it a bulbavnik ("potatonik") -- but not to her face, or to mine. My mother's skillet kugel is the kugel of my childhood, and of my adulthood; it will undoubtedly be the kugel of my old age. I mean, what other potato kugel does one look forward to eating cold the next day? For me it is the True Kugel, and I accept no substitutes.
Speaking of awe...
LIFE IN THE OLD GIRL YET:Cherished Ideas Refracted in History's Lens (EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, September 7, 2002, NY Times)
The enemy, after all, is not the narrowly defined Qaeda, but a wellspring of Islamic terrorist organizations, sponsored and embraced and sometimes feared by numerous states in the Arab world, many possessing networks in both Europe and the United States.
The battle against these organizations is dangerous and precarious. American society, the apotheosis of Western liberalism, is by definition an opponent of fundamentalist and totalitarian terror. But it is also a society reluctant to grasp the nature of the beast. It is most devoted to procedure and reason, to tolerance and egalitarianism, hoping to find similar values even in its enemies, despite the ever-mounting evidence.
More troubling is that this battle, even if infallibly waged, requires that liberal society strain against those very values, constricting tolerance and encouraging suspicion. Fundamentalist terror may not be representative of mainstream Islam, but that still doesn't make it any easier to root it out of mainstream Islamic communities in Western nations. Society is forced to challenge liberal values in the act of defending them.
Amazing how much a little balance has improved the Times since the Sulzberger's told Howell Raines to get on board with the war on Iraq.
INTRODUCING THE NEW FALL LINE :Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq (ELISABETH BUMILLER, September 7, 2002, NY Times)
White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein.
The rollout of the strategy this week, they said, was planned long before President Bush's vacation in Texas last month. It was not hastily concocted, they insisted, after some prominent Republicans began to raise doubts about moving against Mr. Hussein and administration officials made contradictory statements about the need for weapons inspectors in Iraq.
The White House decided, they said, that even with the appearance of disarray it was still more advantageous to wait until after Labor Day to kick off their plan.
"From a marketing point of view," said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, "you don't introduce new products in August."
Once again we see the efficacy of analyzing the Bush Administration as if it were a business concern, rather than merely a political operation. it is possible to disapprove of the corporate model they're following, but by failing to recognize it journalists are serving us poorly.
COMPLY OR FIGHT :'Send in troops with inspectors' (Anton La Guardia, 07/09/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Tony Blair will urge President George W Bush today to deploy tens of thousands of troops on Iraq's borders, ready to help United Nations inspectors to force their way into suspected weapons sites. [...]
A senior British official said: "Saddam is history. The question is only when he checks out."
He predicted: "Russia and China will not stand in the way; they are not going to hang for the sake of Saddam. France will join in if it has an appropriate UN resolution.
"We fought the Kosovo war without UN approval. People seem to forget that these days."
Since the delicate sensibilities of world opinion seem to require an artificial legal pretext for war, this seems like the best way to manufacture one. We'd merely renew our call for those, like Britain's bishops, who oppose the war to be included in the inspection teams.
DESPERATE TIMES/DESPERATE MEASURES :Porn appeal shocks Swedish conservatives (BBC, 6 September, 2002)
A candidate in Sweden's general election has called for pornography to be broadcast on television every Saturday to encourage people to have more sex.
Teres Kirpikli says she wants to help boost the Swedish economy by encouraging people to have more children.
Sweden has a negative natural growth rate, with more deaths than births now registered every year.
Though it may prove necessary, this is the least of the steps that nations like Sweden will have to take if they are to save themselves. A more appropriate start might be to ban abortion and use the tax structure to impose penalties for childlessness.
THANKS, TRACY! :Our thanks to Tracy "Buttonman" Wilson, whose latest effort is the Charles Murtaugh button to the left. Tracy's stuck in Argentina, Charles at Harvard; we pity both.
DAYS OF AWE:Leviticus 23
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation.
Ye shall do no manner of servile work; and ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
September 6, 2002
WE FEW, WE HAPPY FEW:Britain will pay blood price of our alliance, Blair tells US (Andy McSmith, , Andrew Sparrow and David Millward, 06/09/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Tony Blair has indicated that he is ready to risk seeing British service personnel injured or killed in a war with Iraq.
In a statement that will dismay his domestic critics, but raise his standing in the US before his weekend visit for talks with President Bush, the Prime Minister promised that Britain would be alongside the Americans "when the shooting starts".
Mr Blair also agreed that Britain's willingness to "pay the blood price" was part of the special relationship with America.
Proclaim it, to Schroeder
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
IT AIN'T ME:Sacrificing civil liberties to fight terror: not without a fight. (Dahlia Lithwick, September 5, 2002, Slate)
In a recent Gallup Poll, 60 percent of Americans said that the president is "about right" in restricting our civil liberties to fight terrorism, and 25 percent say he hasn't gone far enough. Why is the public willing to accept this secrecy and arrogation of power? Well, because we're terrified, for one thing, but also because we have come to believe that increased security usually requires sacrificing civil liberties. While this is true, the converse is not. Giving up civil liberties--any and all of them, indiscriminately--does not necessarily bring security. We will not be safer from terrorism if the government restricts our right to vote. And we are not necessarily safer because the state has done away with the right to judicial review.
Ordinary criminal courts will not suffice to stop the next terror attacks. But random government seizures of constitutionally protected rights won't stop them either. We will simply be afraid of both the terrorists and of our government. Whether we are at peace, at war, or in something as yet unnamed that lies betwixt the two, we must continue to demand a rational, principled accounting of where each of our civil liberties is going and why.
Ms Lithwick, like most all of the commentators on this issue, misses, or intentionally ignores, the key to why we so little care about the loss of "our civil liberties": it's because you and I aren't losing any. There's no sense in which any reasonable person could say that there are "random government seizures of constitutionally protected rights" going on. The seizures are anything but random. They are targeted at a specific minority which very few of us belong to. ask yourself this, other than some possible inconvenience at the airport and the very real possibility that a computer somewhere has a memory bit recording the recent search you made for pictures of Margaret Thatcher dressed as a dominatrix, how has the "sacrifice" of civil liberties affected you? Obviously it hasn't.
NOT A SCHROED OF EVIDENCE:U.N.: Iraq Sites Under Construction (AP, September 6, 2002)
The head of a U.N. weapons inspection team banned by Baghdad said Friday that satellite photos of Iraq show unexplained construction at sites the team used to visit in its search for evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear arms.
The last U.N. inspectors pulled out of Iraq in December 1998...
You can hear the German Chancellor and Tom Daschle now: Until one of the bombs goes off in Tel Aviv how can we know he'd really use them?
THE BUTCHERS' BILL :Bush hits stumbling block over Iraq (BBC, 6 September, 2002)
Russian President Vladimir Putin one of five Security Council members with the power of veto, told US President George Bush that he had "deep doubts" about the justification for a strike, according to statement from the Kremlin press service.
Mr Bush had also telephoned French President Jacques Chirac and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, other leaders with reservations towards a strike.
The United States, Russia, France, China and the UK are the five permanent Security Council member countries. Major decisions by the Security Council, including those concerning Iraq, require the agreement of all of them.
This is, of course, just a bid by the Russians to get us to pay off the $8B that the Iraqis owe them, and we should. But does anyone seriously think that we should let our national security be determined by Communist China (65 million of its own citizens murdered in the 20th Century), Russia (25 million murdered) and France (75,000 French Jews shipped to Nazi Germany for extermination)?
MITER, OR DUNCE CAP? :Church leaders speak against 'wicked' war (ruth gledhill and phillip webster, September 05, 2002, Times of London)
The Right Rev Thomas McMahon, one of four Catholic bishops who signed a Pax Christi petition handed to Mr Blair last month, said a strike against Iraq would be "wicked and foolhardy".
Bishop McMahon said: "It would be wicked in the sense that it goes against Article 2 of the UN Charter. No matter how evil Iraq's armaments are, unless and until the Iraqi Government itself launches an attack it is wrong for us to do so."
It's odd, but when I was growing up "wicked" meant something violated God's laws, not the U.N.'s.
GIT LOST :Liberalism's Patriotic Vision: One year after the massacres of Sept. 11, surely many Americans are primed for a patriotism of action, not of pledges. (TODD GITLIN, 9/05/02, NY Times)
Liberals should affirm that American power, working within coalitions, can advance democratic values, as in Bosnia and Kosovo--but they should oppose this administration's push toward war in Iraq, which is unlikely to work out that way. Against oil-based myopia, there are murmurs (they should be clamors) that we should phase out the oil dependency that overheats the earth and binds us to tyrants.
On the domestic front, corporate chiefs have lost their new-economy charm--and the Bush administration's earlier efforts on their behalf have lost whatever political purchase they had. With the bursting of the stock market bubble, deregulation no longer looks like a cure-all.
Whom do Americans admire now? Whom do we trust? Americans did not take much reminding that when skyscrapers were on fire, they needed firefighters and police officers, not Arthur Andersen accountants. Yet we confront an administration whose policies reflect the idea that sacrifice--financial and otherwise--is meant for people who wear blue collars.
A reform bloc in Congress, bolstered in November, could start renewing the country. But we need much more than legislation. One year after, surely many Americans are primed for a patriotism of action, not of pledges. The era that began Sept. 11 would be a superb time to crack the jingoists' claim to a monopoly of patriotic virtue. Instead of letting minions of corporate power run away with the flag (while banking their tax credits offshore), we need to remake the tools of our public life--our schools, social services and transportation. Post-Vietnam liberals have an opening now, freed of our 60's flag anxiety and our reflexive negativity, to embrace a liberal patriotism that is unapologetic and uncowed. It's time for the patriotism of mutual aid, not just symbolic displays or self-congratulation. It's time to close the gap between the nation we love and the justice we also love.
Ah, the liberal vision--cede power to the UN, convert to solar power and windmills, embrace the redneck values of the all-male and all-white cops and firemen, reregulate the economy, and whatever it is that last paragraph is calling for. Incoherence, self-contradiction, and big (even internationalist) government rolled into one indigestible ball. Mr. Gitlin has been a public nitwit since before most of us were born; one could almost admire his perseverance and consistency were they not so often put to the service of squelching freedom and destroying America.
UNLIKABLE :The, like, greater meaning of 'like': A study of the popular slang word, "like", finds it's not just mindless filler but can actually change the meaning of the sentence in which it's used. (AP, 9/04/02)
IT TURNS OUT "like" in its slang form has evolved over centuries, became a Beatnik buzzword and caught the attention of linguists in the mid-1980s after it was popularized by Southern California "Valley Girls" ("Like, gag me with a spoon.").
The Valley Girl version of “like” is classified by linguists as a "discourse particle," along with "um," "well," "oh" and the like.
Unlike mere fillers, however, "like" has the ability to change the meaning of a sentence, according to Siegel's research, which builds on the findings of at least two other studies of the word.
For example, "like" can be a hedge, when the speaker is not quite sure what he or she is about to say is accurate. (Example: "He has, like, six sisters.")
Siegel and other linguists have identified a variety of other uses for "like": a substitute for "said"; a way to introduce an exaggeration ("He"s, like, 150 years old."); and, yes, a filler when the speaker is casting about for just the right words.
Unfortunately though, the frequent use of "like" inevitably leads the listener to conclude the last--that the speaker needs to use filler while they think. Silence would be preferable.
GO SLOW :The art of honoring the dead: Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, reflects in Newsweek about how best to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks. (Newsweek, 9/14/02)
NOW BASED IN New York City, where she works as an architect and a sculptor, Lin doubts she'll compete to design the memorial for the World Trade Center, though she's given advice when asked. "All I've said so far is that I've gone through a certain experience, and if that experience will help, I'm here," she says. Her key words of wisdom: slow down. "We rush very quickly to memorialize things," says Lin. "I think the passage of time helps."
I remain deeply ambivalent about Ms Lin's Vietnam Memorial. It's a disgrace to commemorate the men and women who fought in that noble cause with only a gaping scar in the ground, but it's undeniably moving to walk through it and the people themselves have turned it into a fitting tribute by leaving flags, candles, letters, medals and other souvenirs to honor the dead. It seems that there should be a facing wall that lists the millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians who were murdered by despotic regimes because we did not stay to finish the war and a list of every congressman who voted to cut off aid to South Vietnam in 1975, betraying an innocent ally and sentencing her people to death and devastation, the high price paid for America's moral cowardice.
SELF-EVIDENT? :German Leader's Warning: War Plan Is a Huge Mistake (STEVEN ERLANGER, September 5, 2002, NY Times)
Gerhard Schroder, the German chancellor, believes that the Bush administration is making a terrible mistake in planning a war against Iraq, and he is not afraid to say so.
A new war in the Middle East, he says bluntly, would put at risk all that has been gained so far in the unfinished battle against Al Qaeda.
The arguments against a war with Iraq are so strong, he said, that he would oppose one even if the Security Council approved.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Germany offered "unconditional solidarity" and support to the United States as "a self-evident duty, as a friend," he said in an interview at his home here. Fighting Iraq, which he regards as entirely separate from fighting Al Qaeda, could shatter that unity.
Most of us seem to define "unconditional solidarity" and "self-evident duty" rather differently than Herr Schroder, don't we? Note also that after all the Franco-German whining about the U.S. not prostrating itself before the altar of the U.N., he apparently has no intent of being bound by a Security Council resolution if it authorizes war?
DID I LOSE? :"Orrin, give this man his Ike biography!" (Chris Durnell, 9/05/02)
I entered Dr. Strangelove as my contestant. The esteemed Mr. Judd replied, "Is that a comedy? I always took it literally."
Of course, this may be a joke on his part. However, I'm willing to forgoe my usual sense of irony in order to win the big, bad book on Eisenhower he's offered to give away. Therefore, I'm writing an open letter to the blogosphere in the hopes of getting support that Dr. Strangelove is in fact, a comedy.
Hopefully, "Orrin, give this man his Ike biography!" will become as renown as the Open Letter to the Iranian People.
I'm counting on you!!
We did receive another nomination of Dr. Strangelove, but here's what I wrote: "Someone else suggested Strangelove too. I think two things mitigate against it--first, it's mostly a send up of precisely the kind of big government bureaucratic mindset that conservatism opposes. It was after all Ike who warned against the military-industrial complex. Second, and here I imagine that few would agree with me, the nutty generals are right. We should have just gone ahead and attacked. I've always viewed it as a docudrama rather than a comedy."
September 5, 2002
THE PARTY OF DEATH :Democrats Reject Bush Pick in Battle Over Court Balance (Neil A. Lewis, 9/05/02, NY Times)
The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected President Bush's choice for a federal appeals court post today in a party-line vote that highlighted the increasingly irreconcilable dispute between the White House and Senate Democrats over judicial nominations. [...]
All 10 of the committee's Democrats voted to reject the nomination of Justice Owen, a staunch conservative member of the Texas Supreme Court, to the federal appeals court. All nine Republican members voted in her favor.
There was little enough decency left in the Democratic Party after their complicity in the crimes of Bill Clinton. A party which, whatever else we may have thought of them, had always stood for little people against the powerful, for women against the predations of men, and for the idea that no man is above the law, let Clinton get off scott free despite a series of assaults on women and an obvious attempt to obstruct justice when a government underling brought suit against him for one of the more minor of the attacks.
PERHAPS WISE, BUT SURELY NOT REQUIRED :An Invasion of Iraq Requires the Approval of Congress: The Constitution is often ambiguous, but not on the issue of who has the power to declare war (Stuart Taylor Jr., September 4, 2002 , Atlantic Monthly)
As for the reported claims by White House lawyers that Congress has already authorized an invasion of Iraq-by voting last year for a military response to the September 11 attacks and in 1991 to approve the plan to expel Iraq from Kuwait-they rest on such unpersuasive technicalities as to signal intellectual desperation. [...]
An even weaker reed is the 1991 congressional vote authorizing the first President Bush to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions by expelling Iraq from Kuwait. The argument here is that Congress intended in 1991 to authorize a full-scale invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam if, after he was expelled from Kuwait, his conduct within Iraq's own borders violated the terms of his surrender.
Does anyone, anywhere, really believe this? The first President Bush obtained the U.N. resolutions and the congressional authorization alike only by promising that he would not go beyond liberating Kuwait. The House underscored the point by voting overwhelmingly the same day that any invasion of Iraq proper must be explicitly approved in advance by Congress.
Despite having the greatest respect for Mr. Taylor and a personal preference for the administration seeking a declaration of war, this seems to dismissive of the legal argument that the 1991 authorization is sufficient. If, as manifestly seems to be the case, Iraq is in violation of the 1991 cease-fire agreements then why would a renewal of hostilities not be consistent with the original Congressional resolution? Mr. Taylor seems to be saying that the agreement bringing a halt to the conflict in '91 was binding upon our Executive Branch but not upon our enemy--can this really be what our own Constitution requires? If, after the Japanese surrender on board the Missouri, remnants of their armed forces had mounted an attack, would it really have been necessary to get a new declaration of war from Congress in order for our response to have been legal? This seems absurd.
ANNALS OF MARKETING GENIUS:Siemens retreats over Nazi name (BBC, 5 September, 2002)
German engineering giant Siemens has hastily abandoned plans to register the trademark "Zyklon", the same name as the Zyklon B poison gas used in Nazi extermination camps, BBC News Online has learnt.
A year ago, Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete (BSH), the firm's consumer products joint venture, filed two applications with the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Zyklon name across a range of home products, including gas ovens.
Jewish groups have condemned the move, in particular because Siemens used slave labour during the Nazi period.
Too bad; now they have to abandon that snappy sales slogan: It cooks in Treblink of an eye.
AND? :Iraq strike 'would open hell's gates' (BBC, 5 September, 2002)
Arab foreign ministers have warned that a military strike on Iraq would "open the gates of hell".
Amr Moussa , Secretary-General of the Arab League, which is meeting in Cairo, told a news conference that no Arab states would join a US-led attack on Iraq.
And he said that if an attack took place, it would cause major instability in the region.
The association of 22 Arab states is hoping to head off an attack by pressing the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.
None of the 22 has a democratic government; why should we want them stable?
SELFISH-GOVERNMENT:Self-government? (Paul Cella)
In the first paragraph of The Federalist, Publius unfurls the tremendous central inquiry of that great work of political philosophy:
It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.
Reflection and choice. This could be designated The American Question, for it is the quintessence of American political philosophy: the question of self-government. Enshrined it is also, in the thunderous first words of our own Constitution, to the defense of which Publius lent his energetic pen: We, the People. The remarkable but too infrequently remarked political philosopher Willmoore Kendall would have emended it, with all the pregnancy of the term, to read, "We, the virtuous people." But that is a digression. The American Question can be stated thusly: Is a large and diverse republic of self-governing people an enduring proposition? I would contend that 225 years on, the answer is still not obvious. [..
Everywhere self-government is in retreat, assailed by collectivist forces and harried by creeping nihilism which deprives its traditions and institutions of vitality. The Citizen, the basic unit of self-government, once buttressed by these traditions, is being transformed once more into the Subject, deracinated from his moral and spiritual bearings, bereft of all the thick and unspoken, often unperceived, ballast which steadies him in this tumultuous world. Where once tradition and richness formed the panoply of tough and supple defenses for the individual against the world, now we see those defenses failing, with only the state to replace them, or the corporation, which either apes the state or falls before it. The Subject replaces the Citizen, even as his eyes are clouded and his weapons of resistance and counterstrike dulled by the bounty of economic plentitude and the intoxicating narcotics of modern mass entertainment. I do not say that the rout or even the slow dissolution ending in defeat of self-government is imminent, for there are hopeful signs lurking about in unpredictable places, and always the ways of the Lord are mysterious; but as I am in a sour mood, I must confess to sympathy with the words of Salvianus as the Fall of Rome neared: "The Roman Empire is luxurious but it is filled with misery. It is dying but it laughs." The American Question remains an open one.
One only wishes that Mr. Cella was right and that the Death of the West was occurring because of external forces, that the people were being deprived, against their will, of the power of self-government. Sadly though, what we see at work here is exactly the problem that conservatism has predicted for some two hundred years now will strangle democracy, that the eventual failure of republican virtue in the people themselves must lead them to exchange freedom for security and a tyranny of the majority.
SNAKEHEADS--END OF CHAPTER ONE:Slipped a Fatal Dose: Potent Fish Toxin Nets Scores of the Alien Species in Crofton Pond (Anita Huslin, September 5, 2002, Washington Post)
At daybreak yesterday, Maryland biologists unleashed their ultimate weapon against the strange, toothy Asian snakehead that has turned the international spotlight on a small, overgrown pond in Crofton and provided a textbook case of the dangers of alien species.
As a pair of biologists navigated a flat-bottomed boat through the shallows, focusing a stream of milky poison into the pond, the acrid scent of chemicals wafted across the water. Fish almost immediately began to move away from the toxins, rippling and splashing the water. In the laboratory, fish exposed to the poison react within two minutes. At the pond, with cameras and reporters focused on them, biologists exhaled when distressed fish began surfacing to gulp air.
"It's a neat chemical," said Steve Early, the man in charge of the operation for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "It's intended to work in highly organic ponds with resistant species. It's doing exactly what we expected."
The poison, rotenone, is derived from the leaves and roots of trees and is used by some South American cultures to harvest fish from rivers and streams. [...]
By early afternoon, officials found what they believe started all of this: a large adult, about 18 inches long, likely one of two fish set loose in the pond nearly two years ago. [...]
Yesterday afternoon, Early took a victory lap around the pond on a four-wheel-drive utility vehicle. The snakehead saga was ending.
Kind of like they thought Michael Myers was done for at the end of Halloween.
NO WEIRDNESS, PLEASE, WE'RE SCIENTISTS :How to Build a Time Machine: It wouldn't be easy, but it might be possible (Paul Davies, August 13, 2002, Scientific American)
Assuming that the engineering problems could be overcome, the production of a time machine could open up a Pandora's box of causal
paradoxes. Consider, for example, the time traveler who visits the past and murders his mother when she was a young girl. How do we make sense of this?
If the girl dies, she cannot become the time traveler's mother. But if the time traveler was never born, he could not go back and murder his mother.
Paradoxes of this kind arise when the time traveler tries to change the past, which is obviously impossible. But that does not prevent someone from being a part of the past. Suppose the time traveler goes back and rescues a young girl from murder, and this girl grows up to become his mother. The causal loop is now self-consistent and no longer paradoxical. Causal consistency might impose restrictions on what a time traveler is able to do, but it does not rule out time travel per se.
Even if time travel isn't strictly paradoxical, it is certainly weird. Consider the time traveler who leaps ahead a year and reads about a new mathematical theorem in a future edition of Scientific American. He notes the details, returns to his own time and teaches the theorem to a student, who then writes it up for Scientific American. The article is, of course,
the very one that the time traveler read. The question then arises: Where did the information about the theorem come from? Not from the time traveler, because he read it, but not from the student either, who learned it from the time traveler. The information seemingly came into existence from nowhere, reasonlessly.
The bizarre consequences of time travel have led some scientists to reject the notion outright. Stephen W. Hawking of the University of Cambridge has proposed a "chronology protection conjecture," which would outlaw causal loops. Because the theory of relativity is known to permit causal loops, chronology protection would require some other factor to intercede to prevent travel into the past. What might this factor be? One suggestion is that quantum processes will come to the rescue. The existence of a time machine would allow particles to loop into their own past. Calculations hint that the ensuing disturbance would become self-reinforcing, creating a runaway surge of energy that would wreck the wormhole.
There's nothing so comforting as the sight of scientists who are so frightened of the implications of truly weird science that they manufacture theories to refute the possibilities.
26 to 21:U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes
102nd Congress - 1st Session (1991)
Vote Date: January 12, 1991, 02:44 PM
Question: On the Joint Resolution (S.J.Res.2)
Required for Majority: 1/2
Vote Result: Joint Resolution Passed
Measure Number: S.J.Res. 2 (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution)
Measure Title: A joint resolution to authorize the use of United States
Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678.
NICE TRY, CRIMSON KID :What's so funny about conservatism? (Charles Murtaugh, September 04, 2002)
It strikes me that at least one category of humor is hard to reconcile with conservatism: scatological humor. Get thee to "Savage Love", for instance, and scroll down to the letter from "Hot for Butt Lovin'". Or one of my absolutely favorite Onion articles, "Porn Director Fights Ratings Board for Single X Rating"
The usually savvy Mr. Murtaugh pretty much proves our point by first citing a joke steeped in homophobia (note the entirely accurate assumption that the reader will find the very concept of anal sex to be repellant?) and then one that if you told it in the coatroom of the Senate would see Senators Clinton, Mikulski, and Boxer chasing you across Capitol Hill, like a Sapphic dwarf lynch mob, screeching at you about your need to be sensitized and re-educated if you find anything humorous about the objectification of women.
September 4, 2002
POWELL 1, THE WORLD 0 :Bitterness clouds summit finale (BBC, 4 September, 2002)
Anger at the US boiled over when Mr Powell attacked the Zimbabwe Government's controversial land reform policies, inspiring howls of protest from some delegates.
As the summit chairman struggled to regain control, Mr Powell told the protesters: "I have heard you, now will you hear me?"
Mr Powell then criticised Zambia - also facing a food crisis - for rejecting genetically modified corn that Americans eat every day.
He said: "In the face of famine, several governments in southern Africa have prevented critical US food assistance from being distributed by rejecting biotech corn which has been eaten safely around the world since 1995."
Demonstrators shouted "shame on Bush" and some unfurled a banner reading: "Betrayed by governments."
So let's see if we have this straight--the attendees at this thing were upset that we denounced ethnic cleansing and a government starving its own people? What exactly is it that America is supposed to have in common with such people?
SNOW JOB :Healing the Two-Cultures Split (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, 09/04/2002, Tech Central Station)
Over forty years ago, C.P. Snow warned of an increasing gap between two cultures: the cultures of science, and of the arts. In the intervening years, Snow's observation has become a commonplace, not least because it struck a chord of truth: scientists may have some interest in art and literature, but art and literature (with the exception of science fiction) became increasingly divorced from science.
Indeed, ignorance - and even hostility - regarding science came to be viewed as badges of honor among many in the arts and humanities. And when artists did address technological issues it was usually in the Frankenstein mode: cautionary tales where scientists were the villains - or the trend (begun in the 1970s with anti-nuclear activism by artists like Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt) to oppose technology in the real world.
That seems to be changing now, particularly with the growing popularity of electronic arts and music. [...]
[M]ost recently, biochemist Dr. Linda Long has begun producing CDs in which the haunting sounds are produced by three-dimensional models of DNA mapped to MIDI code. (You can make your own DNA music by downloading software "different from Long's" here, and DNA sequences from here.) Long is one of many musicians who are drawing music itself, not simply the inspiration for music, from science.
Despite all the attention that it got, it may be that the divide between the two cultures was really a technological one. Now that technology has reached the point at which it's an important part of many artistic endeavors, the gap appears to be closing. After over forty years, it's about time.
Mr. Reynolds here seems to fundamentally misapprehend Snow's original "Two Cultures" thesis, though his reading is consistent with the bastardized version that's entered pop culture. Nearly all of "serious" art and literature has long embraced the scientists' world view and most artists have pursued their crafts precisely as if they were sciences. This was true when C.P. Snow wrote--as witness a Picasso or an Alban Berg or a Samuel Beckett--and it is certainly true now, as demonstrated by the examples Mr. Reynolds cites.
9/11 LIGHTS ON!
PLEASE forward this email to everyone in your address book asking them to also forward it. Please join us on 9/11.....................we have just days left to get the word out all across this great land we love and call the United States of America. Let's see how powerful e-mail can be!
On Wednesday, September 11, 2002 everyone in the USA who will be driving a motor vehicle is asked to drive with their headlights on during daylight hours. Though no explanation is needed as to why we are commemorating September 11 ........................we hope more importantly to pay respect to the victims of that day, show our nation's solidarity and show support for our men and women of the Armed Forces.
You can help by sending this e-mail on to others!
One assumes you'll all be getting this soon...
NO LONGER PROUD? :Bush administration preparing to make a case for war with Iraq (Ron Hutcheson, Warren P. Strobel and James Kuhnhenn, Sep. 03, 2002, Knight Ridder Newspapers)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., just back from Europe, said she detected growing opposition to the United States among America's allies. "The driver of a lot of this animus," she said, "is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To leave this unresolved and to attack an Arab country is going to be viewed as an attack on the Arab world."
She said the anti-American sentiment was so strong that she felt it personally.
"As an American, I have always been proud," Feinstein said. "I have a (U.S. flag) pin. I was embarrassed to wear it."
The idea that Ms Feinstein was a serious woman deserving of respect died on the day she voted not to impeach Bill Clinton, but one hopes this quote is just inartfully expressed because it is outrageous. Is she really ashamed of her country?
WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? :Notes On Neoconservatism (Kevin Holtsberry, September 03, 2002)
Orrin unduly focuses on neocons support of Israel when in fact their anti-communism was the locus point of their connection with conservatism during the Cold War. In fact, Norman Podhoretz anti-communism was so staunch that it undermined his credibility during the Reagan years and contributed to Commentary's decline. The reason there was a neo attached is because the left was taken over by the "New Left" which increasingly became anti-American and isolationist. The neocons rejected this turn and eventually this pulled them into the conservative orbit. This is the foundation of neoconservatism (see the useful The Rise of Neoconservatism by John Ehrman.)
Outside of their anti-communism the single most significant idea that described neocons was "unintended consequences." If you had to find a phrase that captures the neocon persuasion it is this phrase. Neoconservatism was not - as Orrin correctly notes - born out of opposition to the New Deal but rather to Johnson's Great Society. This may not be in line with old guard Republicans and traditionalist conservatism but it certainly was in opposition to the liberalism of the day. That is what pushed the neocons in to the conservative camp on domestic issues. James Q. Wilson captures this well:
If there is any article of faith common to almost every adherent [of neoconservatism], it is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Things never work out quite as you hope; in particular, government programs often do not achieve their objectives or do achieve them but high or unexpected costs. A true conservative may oppose change because it upsets the accumulated wisdom of tradition or the legacy of history; a neoconservative questions change because, though present circumstances are bad and something ought to be done, it is necessary to that something cautiously, experimentally, and with a minimum of bureaucratic authority. Neoconservatives, accordingly, place a lot of stock in applied social sciences research, especially the sort that evaluates old programs and tests new ones.
This then is the heart of the neocons approach to domestic policy. Change is difficult and likely to backfire so go carefully and use the best tools possible. The twist is that the neocons do this while generally supporting bourgeois culture. Again, Wilson:
. . . they [neocons] have great sympathy for and often take their cue from the general and settled convictions of the average American. Not all these convictions, mind, but at least those that arise out of the better side of human nature. In particular: Americans love America and think it very much worth defending; so do neoconservatives. Americans (and people generally) think that families are vital, mediating institutions important, and public order desirable; so do neoconservatives. And perhaps most important of all, neoconservatives embrace the American conviction that many of the central problems of our society arise out of a want of good character and human virtue.
It is this belief in virtue and American exceptionalism combined with a strong support for bourgeois values that influences neoconservative's domestic and foreign policy. In the domestic arena it led and leads to reform in areas like welfare, race relations, and education. In foreign policy it leads to a tendency towards exporting democracy and an emphasis on human rights (albeit a more conservative version).
Where I think Judd is most off base, however, is when he accuses neocons of utopian belief in the ability of government to solve societies problems. This is simply inaccurate. Neocons certainly are not as fiercely anti-government as many paleos but to describe them as utopian is unfair in the extreme. Neocons have always approached policy, foreign and domestic, with a deep realism (largely connected with the writing of Reinhold Niebuhr). Just because William Kristol and David Brooks seem to go of the deep end does not mean you can throw out the entire history of the term. People like Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Elliot Abrams, and Irving Kristol are not wild-eyed utopians and neither are many of their intellectual inheritors.
At long last the neocons have found a defender, can an example of liberal humor be far behind?
1 in 15 :Desperation forced a horrific decision (Dennis Cauchon and Martha T. Moore, 9/03/02, USA TODAY)
At first, it seemed like debris. Large objects were falling from the top of the World Trade Center's north tower, just a few minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 hit.
''It took three or four to realize: They were people,'' says James Logozzo, who had gathered with co-workers in a Morgan Stanley boardroom on the 72nd floor of the south tower, just 120 feet away from the north tower. ''Then this one woman fell.''
She fell closer to the south tower, he recalls. Logozzo saw her face. She had dark hair and olive skin, a white blouse and black skirt. She fell with her back to the ground, flat, staring up.
''The look on her face was shock. She wasn't screaming. It was slow motion. When she hit, there was nothing left,'' Logozzo says. [...]
The story of the victims who jumped to their deaths is the most sensitive aspect of the Sept. 11 tragedy. Photographs of people falling to their deaths shocked the nation. Most newspapers and magazines ran only one or two photos, then published no more. USA TODAY ran one photo Nov. 16.
Still, the images resonate. Many who survived or witnessed the attack say the sight of victims jumping is their most haunting memory of that day.
It was worse than people realize.
USA TODAY estimates that at least 200 people jumped to their deaths that morning, far more than can be seen in the photographs taken that morning.
There's an obvious potential for things like this and the Daniel Pearl video and even film of the crashes and building collapses themselves to be exploited for mere sensation. But there also seems to be a dangerous momentum building up in Europe, in Congress and in the Press to put this all behind us and forget about the war on terror. It seems, though many will understandably disagree, that it would be appropriate for the President to show us these scenes when he announces subsequent steps in the war, to remind us what the price of prior inaction was and why we fight now.
RENEWING THE BROTHERS JUDD LIBERAL HUMOR CHALLENGE :We've no winner yet in our challenge--here are some of the efforts--and I've got a terrific Eisenhower biography just sitting here waiting to be given away. So we'll renew the challenge and if there's no winner over the next few days we'll select one of the responders at random. Good Luck :
WHAT'S DONE IN THE DARK :What I learned at the Minneapolis Metrodome about liberals and homosexuality (Dennis Prager, Sept. 4, 2002, Jewish World Review)
Broadcasting from the Minneapolis affiliate of my radio show last week, I was treated to a Minnesota Twins game. [...]
A couple of times between innings, a stadium camera focused on couples, who, when they saw themselves on the large stadium monitor inside a big red heart, gave each other a kiss. It was all quite innocent. I know because I did not feel at all uncomfortable with my 9-year-old son, and I am zealous about guarding his innocence in the jaded culture America gives its children. Indeed, as often as not, the couples were in their later years, and when they kissed each other, we all felt good. Who isn't happy to see romance flourish in older couples?
And then a thought occurred to me: Wasn't the Metrodome engaging in discrimination? Surely, there were some same-sex couples at the ball game. Why weren't any of them shown kissing on the "kiss cam"? How could it be that in the state of libertarian Gov. Jesse Ventura and Sen. Paul Wellstone, perhaps the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, such discrimination could take place?
I raised this question on my radio show, and Minneapolis callers were unanimous in responding that whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the vast majority of people attending a Twins game would not accept a "kiss cam" depicting two men or two women kissing each other.
If these callers were right -- and I suspect they were -- it means that even liberal and libertarian Minnesotans do not want to be confronted by public displays of homosexual affection, especially when children are present. But how can that be?
Increased public acceptance of such previously unacceptable social "innovations" as homosexuality, drug use, abortion, euthanasia, cloning, etc. depends in large measure on an implicit agreement never to discuss the actual mechanics of these practices. This calls to mind the words of the great jurist Benjamin Cardozo: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant".
SPEAKING OF DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS :Melanie's Hollywood party invite to Indian street children (Annanova, 9/03/02)
Melanie Griffith says she is planning to invite a group of penniless Indian street children to share her Hollywood home. [...]
Griffith revealed her plans at a glittering charity dinner in the south of France to raise funds for the Foundation and Aids charity Amfar. [...]
Describing her recent trip to Calcutta Griffith said: "It was an overwhelming experience and at one point I had to go in a corner and break down.
"At first I was so depressed. It made me feel like I wanted to give everything I owned away except for what I need to survive.
"That's not very realistic..."
If you're not deeply moved by the compassion and self-sacrifice of this noble woman you've a heart of stone...and, by the way, our Stonehearts Club has a meeting tomorrow at 9:00pm. We're going to show A Stranger Among Us and heckle Ms Griffith.
September 3, 2002
CRY HAVOC :Bush administration preparing to make a case for war with Iraq (Ron Hutcheson, Warren P. Strobel and James Kuhnhenn, September 3, 2002 , Knight Ridder Newspapers)
The Bush administration on Wednesday will launch a concerted effort to prepare the nation and the world for war with Iraq, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hinted Tuesday that Bush holds a trump card - new evidence that Iraq is close to developing a nuclear weapon.
Under pressure at home and abroad to justify a war against Iraq, President Bush will meet with congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Wednesday morning to discuss Iraq. Later that day he will send Rumsfeld to a closed-door briefing on the subject for all 100 senators in a secure room inside the Capitol.
And next week Bush is expected to use a Sept. 12 speech at the United Nations to begin spelling out his grievances against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"I think you'll see that the president will pull all of these threads together," Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters traveling with him to an international conference on development and the environment in Johannesburg, South Africa. "With respect to what the American position will be, the president will articulate it. He will articulate it fully in the very near future."
Bush speeds up preparations
for war on Iraq (Toby Harnden, 04/09/2002, Daily Telegraph)
President Bush has summoned congressional leaders for top-level talks in the White House today amid clear signals that the United States is accelerating its preparations for war with Iraq.
Mr Bush's meeting with senior Republicans and Democrats is an indication that the president will try to regain control of the fractious debate over Saddam Hussein.
It was announced last night after Mr Bush returned from holiday apparently with a renewed determination to topple Saddam.
White House officials say it is almost certain that Mr Bush will seek the authorisation of Congress to use force against the Iraqi dictator, even though he is probably not legally bound to do so.
There is, of course, a terrible logic to this. Support for the war on terrorism has faded rapidly in all the predictable places--Europe, the media, Congressional Democrats, business oriented Republicans--so if you're president and you believe further war is required you'd better strike as soon as possible. And there'll never be a better time to recrank the war machine than now, while we're commemorating 9-11.
LIKE GULLIVER IN LILLIPUT :The Inadequacy of American Power (Michael Mandelbaum, September/October 2002, Foreign Affairs)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the central feature of the world at the outset of the twenty-first century is the enormous power of the United States. This country possesses the most formidable military forces and the largest and most vibrant national economy on the planet. From within its borders emanate the social and cultural trends that exercise the greatest influence on other societies. In the league standings of global power, the United States occupies first place -- and by a margin so large that it recalls the preponderance of the Roman Empire of antiquity. So vast is American superiority that the distinction bestowed upon it and its great rival, the Soviet Union, during the Cold War no longer applies. The United States is no longer a mere superpower; it has ascended to the status of "hyperpower."
The fact of American supremacy tends to polarize opinion. For those who deem such supremacy desirable, the great question of twenty-first century international politics is how to perpetuate it. On the other hand, those who regard U.S. power as unwelcome seek to discover how it can be curtailed. The undoubted fact of American supremacy, however, raises a prior question: For what purpose is all this power to be used? The proper answer to that question puts American power in a different light, and that answer derives from the singular and unprecedented character of the world in which we now live.
The contemporary world is dominated by three major ideas: peace as the preferred basis for relations among countries, democracy as the optimal way to organize political life within them, and the free market as the indispensable vehicle for producing wealth. Peace, democracy, and free markets are the ideas that conquered the world. They are not, of course, universally practiced, and not all sovereign states accept each of them. But for the first time since they were introduced -- at the outset of the period that began with the French and Industrial Revolutions and is known as the modern era -- they have no serious, fully articulated rivals as principles for organizing the world's military relations, politics, and economics. They have become the world's orthodoxy. The traditional ideas with which they contended in the nineteenth century and the illiberal ideas, embodied by the fascist and communist powers, with which they did battle in the twentieth have all been vanquished.
From these new circumstances follow the central purpose of the United States in the twenty-first century and the principal use for American power: to defend, maintain, and expand peace, democracy, and free markets.
Compare this obviously true sentiment to the insipid statement of Newsday's James Klurfeld below.
GROVER'S WHITEWASH OF HISTORY :Bush's White Elephant : The president's high approval ratings are a liability. (GROVER NORQUIST, August 23, 2002, The American Enterprise)
President Bush's approval rating has remained above 70% for nearly a year. Far from being an asset, these approval ratings are a liability that has hurt his agenda.
Immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Democrats feared and Republicans hoped that Mr. Bush's approval ratings--which jumped from 57% to 90%--would create political capital that would help the president advance his legislative agenda and elect more Republicans. [...]
Since Sept. 11, George W. Bush has agreed to federalize tens of thousands of airport screeners, approved Sen. John McCain's campaign-reform legislation, and signed the most expensive farm bill in U.S. history. Why?
Back when the president had an approval rating below 60%, he rammed through a $1.3 trillion tax cut, made the Senate approve John Ashcroft as attorney general, pulled the United States out of the Kyoto treaty, and gave notice that the U.S. would leave the ABM treaty in order to build a missile-defense system. Why was Mr. Bush more successful in pushing his agenda and standing up to his critics when his approval rating was in the 50s than when it was in the 80s?
It may not be fair but conservatives bear a heightened obligation to history, to assume that it has a meaning, to tell it honestly, and to be guided by it. The argument that being a wartime president would enable George W. Bush to shove his partisan agenda down the throat of an unwilling Democrat Senate was always based on fantasy rather than on history. As H.W. Brands convincingly demonstrated in his book, The Strange Death of American Liberalism, the "need" to wage the long Cold War far from giving the conservatives who waged it the authority to impose a wartime economic regime instead created a situation in which successive presidents bought off the at least vaguely anti-war tendencies of the American Left with massive government spending on their pet projects and programs. Even Ronald Reagan, with the clearest mandate of any incoming President since FDR in 1932 did not attack Social Security. And while we true believers may find such accomodation galling, it really makes perfect sense. After all, what kind of wartime leader would intentionally divide his own people as he prepares to lead them into battle?
NAYSAYING THE AMEN CORNER (via Charles Murtaugh) :TO THE EDITORS: (Pat Buchanan, 08.28.02, New Republic)
Why is this the right time for our magazine? Because there is a void and a need. No one else in this city says what we say: that neoconservatism is a counterfeit. It is not conservatism at all but a hybrid of Wilsonian-FDR globalism and Rockefeller Republicanism. Free trade, interventionism, empire, eternal alliances, foreign aid, moral imperialism--these are not conservative traditions but the antithesis of those traditions. As for neocons who bray that we "won the culture war," they deceive themselves and the rest of us. And because neoconservatism has no deep roots in our history or in America's heart, the American people will repudiate it when they learn that the price is permanent war, lengthening casualty lists,
ever-expanding government, and endless bailouts of bankrupt regimes in the name of Global Democracy. Do you seriously believe that conservatism is now wholly encompassed by Norman Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Ramesh Ponnuru, Rich Lowry, our virtuous Teletubby William Bennett, Charles Krauthammer, and the Kristols, pre et fils?
If the magazine isn't at least amusing I'll eat a copy.
EBONY GAVE IT TWO THUMBS UP :Slam Queen vs. Inaugural Poet: L.A. Poet Dares to Blast Angelou, Stirs Up a Storm (Thulani Davis, September 4 - September 10, 2002, Village Voice)
In an April 14 book review in the Los Angeles Times, [Los Angeles-based poet Wanda] Coleman concluded, "Unfortunately, the Maya Angelou of A Song Flung Up to Heaven seems small and inauthentic, without ideas, wisdom or vision. Something is being flung up to heaven all right, but it isn't a song." She accused Angelou of writing a book full of "empty phrases and sweeping generalities . . . dead metaphors ("sobbing embrace," "my heart fell in my chest") and clumsy similes ("like the sound of buffaloes running into each other at rutting times"). The book has gotten some other poor reviews, but it seems that Coleman caused trouble by accusing Angelou of hustling the public, selling a skimpy book in large type and large hype at a high price, containing rehashed material and what may be exaggerated claims for a high-minded, race-conscious past. [...]
"The direct responses I got personally, either by e-mail or phone, or in public, most of it from African Americans, was saying, 'Thank God someone finally said it,' and from whites it was fearful, like, 'We hope you'll be all right.' "
One reason for the controversy is simply that the review was in the L.A. Times, and to be seen mainly by whites. Black publications rarely print tough reviews, and those who write them in mainstream publications will hear from everyone involved. But most black publications are sensitive to the fact that black readers are famously thin-skinned, and so they rarely give any occasion to be deluged with e-mail.
Wow, that's one of the saddest things I've ever read. What can you say about a culture that's incapable of withstanding honest criticism?
GIVE US ZELL :Get ready, Zell. The train's headed your way (TOM BAXTER and JIM GALLOWAY, 9/03/02, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Word is out. Cynthia McKinney is not a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate this year. That means we'll have to wait until 2004.
After McKinney's defeat, a message appeared on her Web site thanking supporters for their condolences and their thoughts about a campaign for the Senate. Tuesday was the deadline for all write-in candidates to register with the Secretary of State's office -- else their votes wouldn't be counted.
McKinney's name was not among them, which means Max Cleland can stop worrying. She was apparently talking about a possible challenge to Zell Miller in 2004. If the mountain man doesn't decide to abandon Washington.
In an ideal world Mr. Miller would be a Republican by then.
THE "GUNS" GO SILENT :Director J. Lee Thompson Dead (Josh Grossberg, Sep 3, 2002, E! Online)
J. Lee Thompson, the prolific British director who found major success in America behind the camera of such classics as The Guns of Navarone (1961) and the original Cape Fear (1962), died Friday of congestive heart failure. He was 88.
Thompson, whose career spanned four decades and included more than 50 feature films and one Oscar nod, passed away at his family's summer retreat in Sooke, British Columbia, his publicist confirmed Tuesday.
Mr. Thompson's other career highlights include :
The Blue Knight (1975)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
A TRUE CONSERVATIVE? :The Left and Right Have The Secretary All Wrong (James Mann, September 1, 2002, Washington Post)
Powell has been, throughout his career, a proponent of a strong national defense, an extensive military presence overseas and, more generally, a unique American role in the world. He supported the Star Wars program in the 1980s and resisted relaxing the ban on gays in the military in the 1990s. His spectacular military career took him steadily from officers training at City College of New York to four-star general. Yet as he readily acknowledges, most of the key steps in his separate, parallel rise through Washington's foreign policy establishment were in Republican administrations. He was introduced to future Republican leaders as a White House fellow under Richard Nixon, became national security adviser under Reagan and was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs under George H.W. Bush.
Powell served comfortably as the loyal military aide to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, the most hawkish Cabinet member of that Reagan administration and the architect of unprecedented increases in the defense budget. "To Weinberger and Reagan we owe the resurgence of the United States as a respected and credible military power," Powell later wrote. (What eventually became the "Powell doctrine" for caution in the use of force is an updated version of what was then called the Weinberger doctrine: U.S. troops should be sent into conflict only when vital U.S. interests are at stake, where there is strong public support, where the objectives are clearly defined and limited, and where overwhelming force is used to accomplish the objective.) After his military retirement, Powell turned down offers to become Clinton's secretary of state, primarily because he felt more in tune with the Republicans than with the Democrats on foreign policy.
Certainly, Powell behaves like a liberal on domestic social issues, such as affirmative action and gun control (on both matters, he has been more forthright in his support than many Democratic politicians). And since the mid-1990s, Powell's skepticism about military intervention -- especially his reluctance to commit U.S. troops to the Balkans -- has made him the bane of the neoconservatives, who favor a more assertive American role in promoting democracy and human rights.
Yet over the years, the right wing has displayed some ambivalence about Powell. Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official whose staunch pro-defense views put him at the far right of the political spectrum, recalls ruefully what happened when he agreed to argue against Powell's presidential candidacy on a 1995 television talk show about Powell's record on defense and foreign policy issues. Gaffney forgot to ask who would be on the pro-Powell side of the debate. When he arrived at the studio the next morning, he discovered his mentor, former boss and fellow hawk Richard Perle, glowering at him; Perle was there to defend Powell's record on national security.
If you can't trust Richard Perle's judgment then there's no one in Washington you can trust (which I acknowledge is a possibility). What's interesting is that Powell's reluctance to use force anywhere may make him the most classically conservative member of the foreign policy team.
JUST WIN, BABY :Trying to Piece Together a Puzzling Presidency: Scholars Praise Bush Staffing, Fault Public Message (David S. Broder, September 3, 2002, Washington Post)
The people who teach and study the presidency find George W. Bush a puzzlement.
More than 20 of them wrestled with his personality and performance on panels at the Labor Day weekend convention of the American Political Science Association. Their provisional assessments ranged from simpleton to the strength and purposefulness of Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan.
"Simplistic, one-dimensional, lacking the analytical and intellectual skills the office needs, a Dan Quayle in sheep's clothing," said Michael A.
Genovese of Loyola Marymount University. "Emotionally secure, well-organized, staffed by able, competent and experienced people, not visionary but clear and specific in his goals, a political natural," insisted Fred I. Greenstein of Princeton University.
The political science profession has a distinctly liberal cast and, as Stanley A. Renshon of the City University of New York acknowledged, "In the left-of-center intellectual world, we put emphasis on cognitive complexity. Bush is not deep, but he has essential insights and he is strategic." [...]
George C. Edwards III of Texas A&M observed that Bush "has a self-confidence that has served him very well" not only in creating a sense of mandates for his tax cuts and education reforms, despite an election standoff, but also in his response to the terrorist attack. "That gave him an opportunity to build a new relationship with the American people, and he seized it," Edwards said. "There was no more talk of a stature gap after that."
He can't explain it but he just keeps winning victory after victory, the latest being Fast Track Trade Authority, which Bill Clinton could teach a seminar on but not get through Congress. If you're secure in yourself, victory is sufficient. If you're insecure, you need nitwits like these folks to think you're smart. The former makes you an effective president. The latter gets you a high ranking when professors poll each other.
RUNNING ON EMPTY :Poll: N.H. GOP Senate Hopefuls Even (AP, Sep 3, 2002)
Sen. Bob Smith, once trailing badly in his battle for re-election, has pulled even with Rep. John E. Sununu in their Republican primary race, a poll shows.
As the two did radio talk shows and greeted voters during the final week before the Sept. 10 primary, a poll showed that whoever wins will be in a close race with popular Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
Sununu had 46 percent to Smith's 45 percent in the Concord Monitor poll published over the weekend. Nine percent were undecided in the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.
Sununu was far ahead in early polls, including one by the University of New Hampshire in April that had him leading by 29 percentage points.
Asked to choose between Smith and Shaheen, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, Shaheen had 42 percent to Smith's 39 percent with 16 percent undecided. In a Sununu-Shaheen matchup, 44 percent favored Sununu to 43 percent for Shaheen, with 11 percent undecided.
Sununu still has to be the favorite, but if turnout is as low as it now seems like it might be, he's in big trouble.
THERE IS NO ONE LATERAL :Bush's Go-It-Alone Policy Is to Go Nowhere (James Klurfeld, August 29, 2002, Newsday)
Is there a reason now to be more inclined to the unilateral approach than back then? Actually the opposite is true. In the late 1940s, in the wake of all the destruction done by the war, the United States was the strongest power in the world, militarily and economically, and there was nobody else close. Today, power - especially economic power - is much more evenly distributed. The United States is still the pre-eminent military power, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Germany and Japan are economic powers themselves, and the U.S. economy cannot dominate the rest of the world.
You don't need to look very far in your newspaper to see how profoundly mistaken Mr. Klurfeld is in his assertion. Here's a for instance : Tokyo stocks close at 19-year low : Tokyo's key stock index closed at 9,217.04 points Tuesday, a 19-year low, despite government reassurances that Japan's economy has bottomed out. (AP, 9/03/02).
NO MO' CUOMO :Cuomo Is Said to Have Decided to Quit Governor's Race (SHAILA K. DEWAN, September 3, 2002, NY Times)
Andrew M. Cuomo plans to drop out of the race for the Democratic primary this afternoon, people familiar with his plans said today. The Cuomo campaign said it would have an announcement at 1 p.m.
Senior advisers to H. Carl McCall and Andrew M. Cuomo have been talking since Monday about the possibility of Mr. Cuomo's pulling out of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, according to prominent Democrats and people close to the talks, which were initiated by senior Cuomo aides. [...]
In the private talks, Mr. Cuomo's camp was said to have broached the possibility of dropping out of the race for governor and endorsing Mr. McCall, according to some prominent Democrats, but Mr. McCall was initially noncommittal in response to Mr. Cuomo's proposal.
Mr. Cuomo asked for Mr. McCall's support in another run for governor in 2006, for a prominent role in Mr. McCall's campaign against Gov. George E. Pataki, and to have Mr. Cuomo's withdrawal publicly presented as a deal brokered by former President Bill Clinton, people close to the talks said. Those people said Mr. Cuomo, who served as housing secretary in Mr. Clinton's administration, suggested that if his conditions were not met, he would spend much of his remaining campaign treasury — more than $3 million — on television ads critical of Mr. McCall, the state comptroller.
Isn't that called extortion?
GOLDEN :A Silence That Coolidge Would Envy : As the summer has drawn to a close, President Bush has deflected questions and stuck to the script. (DAVID E. SANGER, September 3, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush is well practiced at strategic reticence: his normal affability and Texas backslapping can be flipped off instantly when he is not in the mood to answer questions, or when he senses that unscripted comments could make a politically uncomfortable moment even worse.
But as the summer has drawn to a close, Mr. Bush has nurtured silences that even Calvin Coolidge would envy. Ensconced on his ranch last week, he kept reporters at bay and let Vice President Dick Cheney do all the talking about the administration's thinking on Iraq. When he emerged for obligatory events, like campaign appearances last week in Oklahoma and Arkansas or today's talk here at a Labor Day picnic with the carpenter's union (a favorite because last year it split with the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a Democratic ally), Mr. Bush has stuck closely to last spring's well-worn scripts about chasing down Al Qaeda and getting Congress to pass his energy and domestic security bills.
This, lest we forget, as the Times apparently has, was the announced strategy of George W. Bush and Karl Rove when they took power. They made it clear that they thought Bill Clinton had been overexposed (insert your own joke here) and that speaking constantly had made his words worthless. They took the different, and one believes correct, view that a president's pronouncements are a kind of political capital that should not be squandered like a drunk sailor's wages during a shore leave.
September 2, 2002
MR. MURTAUGH'S RED CAPE :Why the President Can't Lose in November (RICHARD L. BERKE, September 1, 2002, NY Times)
[J]ust consider the most convincing example (one Mr. Reed remembers well) of how divided government could play to Mr. Bush's advantage: the story of Bill Clinton. His presidency seemed destined to fail after the Republicans' rout in the 1994 elections. Suddenly Democrats no longer ran Congress - and Mr. Clinton had to contend with resistance to his agenda.
But with advice from his chief political adviser, Dick Morris, who was cozy with many prominent Republicans, the Clinton White House devised a successful strategy of so-called "triangulation," where the president steered carefully between the extremes of the House Republicans and the liberals in Mr. Clinton's own party. He was liberated from the dictates of his own party.
These days, the margins are so close in the Senate and House - and are expected to stay that way - that Mr. Bush would not be likely to get his agenda approved even if Republicans controlled both chambers.
Right now, Mr. Bush can mollify his conservative base by endorsing Republican proposals in the House on controversial issues like abortion and tax cuts, knowing full well that they will never make it out of the Democratic Senate and reach his desk for signature.
That way, he can satisfy conservatives without undermining his image as a "compassionate conservative" who reaches out to moderates and cannot be blamed for passing laws that are anathema to many voters.
Charles Murtaugh points to this story, which I have to confess I'd missed, and wonders why so little response from the Right. I'd merely point out that the premise of the article--that the conservative agenda is too controversial to run on--is inside-the-Beltway nonsense. Not only did Ronald Reagan, the Class of '94 and George W. Bush all score huge political upsets by running on tax cuts, the senior President Bush lost his re-election because he raised taxes. Other than in the febrile minds of liberal Democrats and their press lackeys there is simply no evidence that voters disfavor tax cuts.
ISAIAH'S MOMENT? :Establishment Peaceniks (Derek Copold, Texas Mercury)
This week Mr. Bill Kristol wrote, "European international-law wishfulness and full-blown Pat Buchanan isolationism are the two intellectually honest alternatives to the Bush Doctrine." I find myself in agreeing with him. Startlingly so. I take my temperature.
To read that paragraph is to believe that the lion can lay down with the lamb. But then Mr. Copold snaps out of it and the Earth starts rotating again.
LOOK HOW HAPPY THE SLACKER FRENCH ARE :Why Americans Should Rest (JULIET SCHOR, September 2, 2002, NY Times)
In the last decade an annual Labor Day ritual has emerged: bemoaning the national workload. The story has a thousand angles. The United States surpasses workaholic Japan in average hours. Dot-commers go 24/7. The family dinner has disappeared. The working poor are holding three and four jobs just to make ends meet. Neither the renewed commitment to family and community after Sept. 11 nor the presence of a committed leisure enthusiast in the White House seems to have had an impact. Worker overload has felt like an intransigent problem.
But this year might be different. More free time might just be the silver lining in the clouds of a depressed economy, corporate scandals and the hangover from the 1990's consumer binge. [...]
In the end, even more than work schedules, incomes and employment are at stake: our choices affect the rest of the world. For the last half century, America's tendency has been to consume more, rather than work less. This propensity to work is central to why the United States is among the world's wealthiest nations as well as the unrivaled leader in resource depletion, carbon-dioxide emissions and environmental impact. By next Labor Day, perhaps, the message will be that we're slowing down, sharing the work and consuming a little less.
Of course people should leave as much time as possible for their families, but it is also the case that no people anywhere at any time in human history have ever needed to do less work to supply their basic needs than we do. That we work so hard anyway is a testimony to the kind of people that we are, not a statement about how tough it is to make ends meet. Ms Schor is surely one of the few people you'll meet who envies the French and Germans their economic stagnation.
WORTHY OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE :Secret Service honors its first hero (DAVE NEWBART, September 2, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Shortly after the third assassination of an American president in 36 years, Chicagoan William Craig was tapped to be one of the first entrusted with the safety of
A giant of a man at 6 feet 4 inches tall and 260 pounds, Craig quickly earned the respect of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was at first wary of having men shadow his every move.
But within less than a year of taking over as the president's bodyguard, Craig was killed in the line of duty Sept. 3, 1902, when a trolley hit the carriage in which he and Roosevelt rode.
Tuesday--exactly 100 years later--the Secret Service will pay tribute to Craig, the first agent killed while protecting the president.
"He was a pioneer in the field," said Rich Podkowski, spokesman for the Chicago office of the Secret Service. "In the highest traditions of our agency, he paid the ultimate price for his country."
A more recent hero was Timothy McCarthy, who quite intentionally took one of the bullets intended for Ronald Reagan on March 31, 1981. Thankfully, he and the President recovered fully. Police Officer Thomas Delahanty and Press Secretary James Brady were less fortunate, but both did survive.
THE HORROR :EXCERPT : from The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (John Miller and Michael Stone with Chris Miller)
Arriving at the fire department's makeshift command post on West Street in the shadow of 1 World Trade Center, the mayor and the police commissioner witnessed a scene of almost unimaginable horror. Hundreds of office workers were streaming out of both towers under a rain of glass, steel and airplane and body parts; the air was choked with smoke and ash; the street awash in blood.
Surrounded by aides, Giuliani met briefly with the fire department's top commanders-Thomas Von Essen, the commissioner; Bill Feehan, his first deputy; Pete Ganci, the chief of department; and Deputy Chief Ray Downey. Giuliani listened to their plans to evacuate the buildings, while Kerik consulted with police. One familiar face on the scene belonged to John Coughlin, an Emergency Services Unit (ESU) sergeant who had once saved Kerik's daughter from choking.
About 9:40, Giuliani and Kerik, now joined by the fire commissioner and other top administration officials, trooped a few blocks north to set up a forward command post. "God bless you," the mayor said to Ganci on leaving.
"Thank you," Ganci said. "God bless you."
"Pray for us," Giuliani then said to Mychal Judge, the department chaplain, who was standing nearby.
"Don't worry," Judge told the mayor. "I always do."
Fire Department Chief Peter Ganci, First Deputy Fire Commissioner William Feehan, Deputy Chief Ray Downey, John Coughlin, and Father Mychal Judge all died not much later that morning. Father Judge was reportedly hit by a falling body while praying over a dying firefighter.
BUMMER, DUDE :DEA probe links illegal drug profits in terrorists (AP, 9/01/2002)
Federal authorities have amassed evidence for the first time that an illegal drug operation in the United States was funneling proceeds to Middle East terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Evidence gathered by the Drug Enforcement Administration since a series of raids in January indicates that a methamphetamine drug operation in the Midwest involving men of Middle Eastern descent has been shipping money back to terrorist groups, officials said.
"There is increasing intelligence information from the investigation that for the first time alleged drug sales in the United States are going in part to support terrorist organizations in the Middle East," DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson said Friday.
Remember how outraged all the pro-drug folks got when the feds started running ads saying that if you bought drugs you might be helping fund terrorism?
HOW COULD IT BE OTHERWISE? :Like Father, Unlike Son (WILLIAM SAFIRE, September 2, 2002, NY Times)
Brent Scowcroft has long been the alter ego of Bush-past. The advocate of our mistaken flinch at the end of "the mother of all battles" was co-writer of the former president's memoirs. By urging in The Wall Street Journal that we wait until Saddam attacks us, Scowcroft fired the opening shot in the Bush alumni's war on George W.'s announced intention to liberate the Iraqi people.
James Baker was Bush-past's chief of staff and later his secretary of state. Lukewarm about military response to Saddam's aggression, he joined with the Soviet Union's Yevgeny Primakov to propose a last-minute compromise. After grumpily mismanaging the 1992 Bush re-election campaign, Baker regained Bush family confidence by successfully managing the 2000 Florida recount. Last week, after checking with Bush-past, he called for delay until the U.N. takes the inspection route again, which the current president believes is a recipe for risky inaction.
Yesterday Larry Eagleburger, the elder Bush's diplomat who persuaded Israel to grin and bear Saddam's missile attacks, weighed in against Bush-present's policy on "Meet the Press." Only when proof is presented that Saddam is ready with nukes (Eagleburger does not consider germs and poison gas on missiles to qualify as weapons of mass destruction) would he approve a pre-emptive strike.
That's quite an Old Bush Guard lineup against the Bush now in the White House. And few doubt that this trio's view is echoed by the current secretary of state, who was the elder Bush's chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Gen. Colin Powell promised to "kill" Saddam's army but then killed our victory instead by quitting too soon.
One would merely note that the first paragraph of the obituary of each of these men will note the role he played in the "successful" war on Iraq. To ask them to step forward now and acknowledge that their crowning achievement was in fact a failure, and that the war needs to be finished ten years later, is to ask more than most humans are capable of.
WITH EAKINS :Gauguin and Eakins, Driven but Worlds Apart (ROBERTA SMITH, September 2, 2002, NY Times)
Eakins, the American realist, studied in Paris for three years (1867-70) with Jean-Léon Gérôme, the leading French academic painter of his time. He then returned to Philadelphia to live out his life in his parental home, becoming increasingly determined to revitalize the tradition of academic painting by using the camera, by choosing distinctly contemporary American subjects and also by radically intensifying the study of the anatomy at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he began to teach in 1876. The scandals caused by his insistence on using nude models in life-drawing class, and by requiring students to study cadavers, cost him this prestigious job and made him for a while an exile in his own land.
In a letter home from Paris Eakins summed up his devotion to painting as a way of measuring and knowing the world. Describing nature as a large vessel that the painter sails beside in a small canoe, he wrote that if the painter "ever thinks he can sail another fashion from nature or make a better shaped boat, he'll capsize or stick in the mud."
By Eakins's standard Gauguin qualified as a man who willfully threw himself overboard. For his part Gauguin seemed to feel that artists like Eakins never got their feet wet. "How safe they are on dry land, those academic painters with their trompe l'oeil of nature," Gauguin wrote dismissively in 1888. "We alone are sailing free on the ghost-ship, with all our fantastical imperfections."
Which puts us in mind of this, from William Steig's excellent children's book, Dominic :
'[E]verywhere I look I see beauty. If I can see a lovely landscape, just as lovely as one painted by Manfred Lyon, only by looking out my window, why would I want to own a painting done in that style? It's the same as what I can see wherever I turn.'
'I've considered that,' said the mouse, 'and this is my answer: When the landscape is covered with snow, can you see leaves? In the midst of a dreary winter, when you are longing for the spring, you can look at the daffodils in a painting of mine and be confident that there is such a season as spring and that it will come again. When you are suffering in summer heat, you can encourage yourself by looking at a cold winter landscape painted by Manfred Lyon. You can keep in a sort of contact with an absent friend or loved one through a portrait by me. Anyway...I dislike theorizing. I'd rather paint than think. Painting is fun, but thinking hurts my brains.'
Give us Eakins and the mouse.
NOT WITHOUT HONOR :Winston Churchill, Graham Sutherland (1954) (Jonathan Jones, November 3, 2001, The Guardian)
Artist: Graham Sutherland (1903-1980), one of the neo-romantic painters who dominated British art during the second world war and its aftermath. Sutherland's style, thorny, charred, tinged with wintry colours, is visibly influenced by Picasso and Matisse - yet unmistakably British, harking back to the great landscape painters of the early 19th century. [...]
Subject: [...] The war leader's final period of power was marked by dwindling health and, in 1955, he retired. Sutherland was commissioned by both Houses of Parliament to paint a full-length portrait of Churchill in 1954, for which this is a study. The finished painting was presented to Churchill. It was destroyed by his wife Clementine.
Distinguishing features: The destruction of Sutherland's painting is one of the most notorious cases of a subject disliking their portrait. This painted sketch of Churchill's head, a study for the lost, full-length painting, suggests why. It's not simply that Sutherland's modernist tendencies irked the conservative tastes of the Sunday painter prime minister. This is a very unhappy painting. Old, grumpy, with an anger that no longer seems leavened by the humour and verbal creativity of the Churchill of legend, this is a reactionary curmudgeon surrounded by the shades of night.
"But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." Mark 6:4.
DEUS LO VOLT! :Hooray for the Crusades! (Piers Paul Read, Spring 2002, Independent Women's Forum)
Were the Middle Ages really so bad? We may look back with horror to the Inquisition, the Wars of Religion, and the Crusades; but do they compare so unfavorably in the scales of human suffering with the trenches, the gulags, and the concentration camps, products of the supposedly enlightened twentieth century? Today, as throughout human history, ideological zeal is often used to justify the amoral pursuit of selfish interests. We in the west may feel confident that, on balance, our values of liberty and democracy are superior to those of fundamentalist Muslims such as Osama bin Laden: But can we be wholly confident that our rulers are clear in their own minds where the demands of justice and national self-interest coincide-and where diverge?
The self-flagellation by critics post-911, who kept invoking the Crusades to show that Christianity was "just as bad as" radical Islam was appalling. Then again, I've been pro-Crusade since reading Knight of the Cross : a Story of the Crusades by Frederick Levi Coe when I was eleven.
THE ORIGINAL AXIS :Germany withholds Moussaoui evidence (BBC, 1 September, 2002)
Germany has told the United States it will withhold evidence against 11 September suspect Zacarias Moussaoui unless it receives assurances the information will not be used to secure a death penalty against him.
In an interview with the Der Spiegel news magazine, Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin said: "Our documents cannot be used for the death penalty or for an execution."
Ms Daeubler-Gmelin insisted the issue would not put more pressure on relations between Germany and the US - relations which are already strained by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's criticism of US threats to attack Iraq.
No. Why would their siding with Saddam and the 20th hijacker strain our relations?
THUS EVER DO MEN TREAT THEIR GODS :Hindus mourn 'monkey god' (Omer Farooq, 1 September, 2002, BBC)
Hundreds of people have attended the funeral of a monkey which became revered as a divine incarnation of a Hindu god in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Animal rights campaigners say the monkey died of starvation and exhaustion after being trapped in a temple for a month by over-zealous worshippers.
AGAINST FRENZY :'The Writer and the World': The Blunt Opinions of a Professional Provocateur (DAPHNE MERKIN, September 1, 2002, NY Times)
One would think that the mere fact of his wide-ranging interests -- he has written (clairvoyantly, it now seems) about the numbing facelessness at the heart of fundamentalist Islam, the complex legacy of racism in the American South, the depleted energies of India, the genocidal history of Argentina and the disorder and instability of the postcolonialist third world -- would gain him a large readership. But the mirror that Naipaul holds up to contemporary civilization is a less than flattering one: the tragic view he has expressed from the very beginning, which has seemed to afford him a strange kind of comfort, offers little in the way of ordinary solace. (''Suffering,'' he explained in a letter from Oxford to his older sister, Kamla, ''is as elemental as night'' and ''makes more keen the appreciation of happiness.'') Indeed, the very gloominess of his beliefs, marked by his obsession, as he described it in ''The Enigma of Arrival,'' with ''the idea of decay,'' and his sense of having been born into ''a world past its peak,'' have ensured him a relatively small audience. [...]
Unlike those writers who travel in deliberate search of the exotic or mystical, Naipaul travels in order to find glimmers of the recognizable: ''I go to places which, however alien, connect in some way with what I already know.'' I suppose this attitude can be labeled insular or ethnocentric, but one can also perceive in it a refusal to go along with the guilt-racked, reflexive tendency among Western liberals to idealize the once-despised Other and to countenance the depredations of self-rule in former colonial outposts. Naipaul's strongest influence -- or, at least, one of the few he doesn't disavow -- is Joseph Conrad's unblinking (some might say reactionary) depiction of the ignoble savage who stirs within the genial primitive. His 1975 essay on the plundering of independent Zaire under the radical programs of Mobutu ''in the name of Africanization and the dignity of Africa'' is astonishing in its prescience. One can look to it and to a short essay (''Power'') in which Naipaul reflects on the ''carnival lunacy'' inherent in the ''vision of the black millennium, as much a vision of revenge as of a black world made whole again,'' for a deeper understanding of what took place in Uganda under Idi Amin and is taking place now in Zimbabwe. One can read them as well to get a clearer sense of the twin ideas that fuel Naipaul -- a terror of ''frenzy for the sake of frenzy'' and the conviction that the only valuable life is one that is shaped by the anguish of aspiration and that is engaged in a struggle against ''the void of nonachievement.'' There is no magical way around this obstinate psychological truth, he tells us, no shortcut: ''Identity,'' he observes, ''depends in the end on achievement.''
It was disturbing to read Mr. Naipaul's Among the Believers : An Islamic Journey (1981) twenty years later and to realize how clearly he'd perceived the pathology at the heart of radical Islam.
September 1, 2002
ROUND AND ROUND, GIRL YOU TURN ME :Scent of a Madman (MAUREEN DOWD, September 1, 2002, NY Times)
An intriguing and bizarre documentary, "Uncle Saddam," by the French journalist Joel Soler, airing on Cinemax this fall, paints Saddam as the genocidal Jerry Seinfeld. He gasses the Kurds without flinching and murders his relatives without twitching. But when it comes to personal hygiene, the guy is extremely fastidious.
After he wakes at 5 a.m. and has coffee, the narrator says of the dictator, he moves on to personal hygiene: "This is especially important because Saddam prefers to be greeted with a kiss near the armpit."
As Hussein himself says, "It's not appropriate for someone to attend a gathering or to be with his children with his body odor trailing behind him emitting sweet or stinky smell mixed with perspiration." Never mind the stench of Halabja.
"It's preferable to bathe twice a day, but at least . . . once a day," continues the clean freak who craves dirty bombs. "And when the male bathes once a day, the female should bathe twice a day. The reason is that the female is more delicate and the smell of a woman is more noticeable than the male." He's a cross between Mohamed Atta and Pithecanthropus erectus.
A former Iraqi minister observes: "If you want to meet with Saddam Hussein, there are many protocols: Pat you down, check your body, you have to clean. Saddam is scared to be contaminated by people." No doubt the feeling is mutual.
"Germs terrify the great leader," the minister says. "The smallest cut is dealt with immediately." Odd in a man whose stock in trade is germs. [...]
There's something chilling about the anti-Semitic head of a military power who gasses people obsessing about his mustache. Heil Hussein.
The courtly gents here at Brothers Judd would be the last ones to challenge a woman's time-honored prerogative to change her mind, but in the space of two weeks Ms Dowd has from saying that the administration had not made a case for deposing Saddam Hussein to demanding the we topple the House of Saud first to now saying that Saddam's excessive concern for personal hygiene suffices to show he's an unstable madman. Particularly noteworthy are the final two words quoted above in which she implicitly compares Saddam to Hitler.
IDS AS IN IDEAS? :Iraq 'growing threat to Britain' (BBC, 1 September, 2002)
Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith says he supports a pre-emptive US offensive against Iraq because he believes Britain is on Saddam Hussein's list of targets for a missile attack. [...]
The Tory leader believes the next generation of Iraqi missiles will be able to reach the whole of Europe and writes that "we can choose to act pre-emptively or we can prevaricate".
Meanwhile, Tony Blair said the world could not stand by while Iraq was in "flagrant breach" of United Nations resolutions, as he arrived in Mozambique ahead of an appearance at South Africa's World Development Summit.
The prime minister insisted no decisions on how to tackle Saddam Hussein's regime had been taken, but added: "Doing nothing about Iraq's breach of these UN resolutions is not an option."
It has been confirmed that Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon will spend six days in the United States later this month and will be briefed by the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
Like Grover Cleveland, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, Tony Blair finds himself the leader of his nation but governing it more like a member of the opposition. If he'd get over his EU infatuation and propose joining NAFTA instead he'd have a shot at greatness. Time for Britain to rejoin the West.
AW, C'MON, WHAT DID THE FOUNDERS KNOW? :Atheist Seeks End to Hill Chaplaincies : Plaintiff Who Oppposed 'Under God' in Pledge of Allegiance Files New Suit (Jim VandeHei, August 30, 2002, Washington Post)
The California atheist who sued to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance now wants to kick the House and Senate chaplains out of Congress.
Michael A. Newdow, a lawyer and emergency room doctor, this week filed suit in federal district court in Washington contending that it is unconstitutional for taxpayer-funded chaplains to pray in Congress and minister to lawmakers. He wants the court to prohibit the House and Senate from employing spiritual chaplains, who are paid by Congress to lead prayers, counsel members and perform other religious tasks.
There are actually few more dispositive arguments against the idiotic notion that the Founders envisioned a separation of Church and State than the fact that it was the very first Congress that initially hired chaplains and did so as one of its first acts.