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October 31, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 PM

AND THE RACE IS ON...:

McCain Switching Parties? (Heard on the Hill, October 31, 2002 , Roll Call)
The epilogue of a new biography of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) flat out predicts that if Republicans win the Senate by one seat, the maverick will switch parties to swing control of the chamber back to Democrats.

Author Paul Alexander, a political writer who hosts a popular radio show based in New York, writes in the epilogue that the Senator would then decide whether to launch a presidential campaign early next year.

Alexander writes in the book to be released Friday, "Man of the People: The Life of John McCain," that he floated the following scenario to an unnamed "McCain staffer" over lunch.

"If the control of the Senate returns to the Republicans by one seat, McCain could change parties and reclaim the power in the Senate for the Democrats,"Alexander told the McCain staffer. "That way, if he decides to run for president as a Democrat or as an Independent, he could also affect the control of the Senate at the same time."

The McCain staffer replied, "That's it exactly. Only here's the thing, McCain has no idea, really, what he's going to do."


The thing is, he'd have to decide quickly in order to beat Lincoln Chaffee to the door.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM

A REAL MR. MOM:

Lankan dad breast-feeds babies (AFP, October 31, 2002)
A 38-year-old Sri Lankan man, whose wife died three months ago, appears to have the ability to breast feed his two infant children, doctors told a local newspaper Wednesday.

B. Wijeratne from the central town of Walapone, 186 kilometres from the capital Colombo lost his wife when she died giving birth to their second child.

"My eldest daughter refused to be fed on powdered milk liquid in the feeding bottle," he said according to the Sinhalese-language daily Lankadeepa.

"I was so moved one evening and to stop her crying I offered my breast. I then realised that I was capable of breast feeding her," Wijeratne said.


Lucky so-and-so. If I could lactate the wife could never get me to go back to work again.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 PM

HIDING BEHIND HER OWN SKIRT:

Camps spar over Romney word choice: Gender issue raised on 'unbecoming' (Stephanie Ebbert and Yvonne Abraham, 10/31/2002, Boston Globe)
It means unsuitable, indecorous, and it's viewed by many as an archaic, ill-fitting corset of a word. When Mitt Romney described Shannon O'Brien's attacks on him in Tuesday night's debate as ''unbecoming,'' he raised the ire of her female supporters, who used the description to rally their cause yesterday.

Teresa Heinz, a philanthropist and wife of US Senator John F. Kerry, told a crowd of some 750 women at an O'Brien fund-raiser yesterday that Romney would be surprised at how many ''unbecoming women'' were gathered for the event at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.

US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a New York Democrat, told the crowd that years ago the ambitions of women who wanted to vote or run for public office were described as ''unbecoming.'' Clinton drew roaring applause when she said she found Romney's comments ''unbecoming.''

That single word opened a new front in the campaign as O'Brien's supporters seized upon it to reintroduce the question of gender in the final days of the race. Romney, campaigning with US Senator John McCain, defended his word choice as gender-neutral.

Romney denied the word carried any special significance.


So when this coven of supposedly smart and capable women takes such hysterical umbrage at a word with no known gender connotation is it because they are ignorant or because of the kind of extreme sensitivity that their very careers are supposed to disprove?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM

VRWC MEETS VLWC (via Paul Cella):

How I Was Smeared (Harry Stein, Autumn 2002, City Journal)
It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After all, as a conservative of fairly recent vintage, I’ve seen how easy it is for liberals, assisted by a compliant press, to cast ideological foes as moral reprobates and thus avoid engaging their ideas. Hadn’t it happened to a slew of judicial nominees, from Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas to, most recently, Thomas Pickering and Priscilla Owen—as well as to a long line of conservative politicians and social critics? Such attacks, coming as they do from those who assert their passionate tolerance, succeed because they are so hard to respond to. They are like the classic below-the-belt question: “When did you stop beating your wife?” But today’s underhanded question—“When did you become a sexist or a homophobe or (worst of all) a racist?”—is even more lethal: the accusatory word cuts short any argument and puts the target on the defensive, as those whom you’d expect to stand firm for principle melt away.

Again, I knew all this theoretically. But I truly didn’t know how bad it could be.

Then it happened to me.


As Mr. Stein says, he should have seen this coming when he started sleeping with the Enemy, but it's still despicable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:59 PM

ON NOT GOING GENTLY:

Making of a Minnesota Debacle (Howard Kurtz, October 31, 2002, Washington Post)
How badly can a political party screw up a memorial service?

Just ask Minnesota's Democrats.

They staged a public farewell for Paul Wellstone that was so over the top, so blatantly partisan, that Jesse Ventura walked out.

"I feel used," the independent governor said afterward. "I feel violated and duped over the fact that it turned into a political rally. . . . I think the Democrats should hang their head in shame."

How did it come to this? It should have been a piece of cake for the DFLers to honor Wellstone in a dignified way, setting the stage for Walter Mondale to accept the nomination last night. After all, 20,000 people showed up. After all, Mondale was riding a wave of emotion without having done a single thing. After all, a new poll has Mondale up 8 points over Norm Coleman.

Instead, Ventura was booed at the service, as was Trent Lott. What sensitivity! They show up to honor a man from a different political party and they're razzed like the opposing team at a Vikings game. In effect, the service was hijacked in a small-minded way that detracted from the memory of Wellstone.


Actually, isn't it fair to assume that it was intentionally small-minded, with no hijacking required? And isn't that the necessary implication after Democrats defended it for two days (until polls showed it to be a disaster)?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:10 PM

COOL HAND DEMOCRATS (from Henry Hanks):

Not spooked by class warfare (Donald Lambro, October 31, 2002, Washington Times)
[A] detailed memo that Messrs. Carville, Shrum and Greenberg circulated to Democratic officials said, "While the economy is creating the desire for change and impatience with the Republicans, it is not the kind of wedge or unambiguous campaign issue that should become your sole focus in the last week." Statistics from Mr. Greenberg's Oct. 22-24 poll of 1,001 likely voters delivered the bad news: Republicans have a one-point edge over the Democrats on who can best handle the economy. "Today, the country splits evenly on which party to trust on the economy," according to the memo.

The poll gave voters a variety of hypothetical tests to measure what issues triggered the strongest responses for the Democrats.

The surprise finding: When voters are given a choice between "the Republican candidate with their broad message on security, taxes and pro-prescription drugs against a Democrat focused on getting the economy moving and critiquing Republican policies — the contrast produces no shift to the Democrats. The economy is what creates the mood for change, but it has not been sufficiently polarized to make this an economy election for your campaigns in the last week," the memo said.


So, they can't mention foreign policy or the economy, which leaves them election-fixing in NJ, SD, & MN; gay-bashing in MT, HI, and SC; exploiting the barely cold corpse of Paul Wellstone; and at some point this weekend we should see them trot out their Old Faithful--the race card. This is what's left of the Party of FDR.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:03 PM

FLAWED STANDARD:

Flawed Founders: To what degree do the attitudes of Washington and Jefferson toward slavery diminish their achievements? (Stephen E. Ambrose , November 2002, Smithsonian)
Few of us entirely escape our times and places. Thomas Jefferson did not achieve greatness in his personal life. He had a slave as mistress. He lied about it. He once tried to bribe a hostile reporter. His war record was not good. He spent much of his life in intellectual pursuits in which he excelled and not enough in leading his fellow Americans toward great goals by example. Jefferson surely knew slavery was wrong, but he didn't have the courage to lead the way to emancipation. If you hate slavery and the terrible things it did to human beings, it is difficult to regard Jefferson as great. He was a spendthrift, always deeply in debt. He never freed his slaves. Thus the sting in Dr. Samuel Johnson's mortifying question, "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of Negroes?"

Jefferson knew slavery was wrong and that he was wrong in profiting from the institution, but apparently could see no way to relinquish it in his lifetime. He thought abolition of slavery might be accomplished by the young men of the next generation. They were qualified to bring the American Revolution to its idealistic conclusion because, he said, these young Virginians had "sucked in the principles of liberty as if it were their mother's milk."

Of all the contradictions in Jefferson's contradictory life, none is greater. Of all the contradictions in America's history, none surpasses its toleration first of slavery and then of segregation.


The absurdity of applying to the Founders our own standards on an issue like slavery is most readily apparent by reference to the most similar issue of our own day: abortion. Regardless of which side of the issue you are on personally it may be seen two hundred years from now to have had a significant and negative human rights impact. Depending on how humankind develops, it may be the case that abortion opponents will be seen as having stifled women's rights, just as abolitionists impinged on property rights, or that abortion advocates will be seen to have participated in the murder of ten of millions, having adjudged fetuses no more human than slavery advocates considered blacks to be.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:47 PM

DEM BONES:

Ossuary was genuine, inscription was faked (Rochelle I. Altman,  October 29, 2002, Israeli Insider)
As an expert on scripts and an historian of writing systems, I was asked to examine this inscription and make a report. I did.

The bone-box is original; the first inscription, which is in Aramaic, "Jacob son of Joseph," is authentic. The second half of the inscription, "brother of Jesus," is a poorly executed fake and a later addition. This report has already been distributed on at least two scholarly lists.

Please note that the fraud is so blatant that I did not bother to go into extreme detail on whether the faked addition is supposed to be Hebrew or Aramaic. (If that's a vav, -- then it's Hebrew, not Aramaic; if it's yod, then it's says 'my brother', not 'his brother' or 'brother of'. By no stretch of the imagination can one claim this to be in Aramaic... 'of' in Aramaic is 'di'.)

You have to be blind as a bat not to see that the second part is a fraud...


Don't ask us; our Aramaic is awful.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:22 PM

THE FOREST:

US may seek bilateral Latam trade deals - Zoellick (Reuters, 10.29.02)
The United States has developed a short list of Latin American countries it would like to negotiate bilateral free-trade deals with if hemisphere-wide negotiations sputter, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday.

It was just a few months ago that the navel-gazing libertarian Right had hypnotized itself--by staring at meaningless steel tarrifs for hours on end--into believing that the Bush administration secretly opposed free trade. Now the Administration is mere months away from announcing significant expansions of NAFTA. Which shows it's not just the Left that hasn't figured W out yet.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM

AND YOUR POINT WAS?:

We get a morning headline mailing from canada.com, which today had the following three stories listed, in this order:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 PM

WHITE MEN ONLY--NO HEAVY LIFTING REQUIRED:

Democratic tough guys (Robert Novak, October 31, 2002, townhall.com)
DFL chieftains immediately decided on Mondale, and quickly talked him into it. "I wonder whether there is such a dearth of new material that we have to recycle these old men," one veteran Democratic national operative told me. There was one other possibility: Alan Page, the 57-year-old former Notre Dame and Minnesota Vikings football star who has been an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court since 1993. A law-and-order liberal, Page has led the state Democratic ticket in recent elections. According to Minnesota sources, he was eager to seek the Senate seat. But the DFL apparently did not want to risk running the African-American Page in an overwhelmingly Caucasian state, and Page was swiftly discouraged.

Page might have required a campaign, and that is not what the DFL wanted.


As the Psalmist said: They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul....
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM

"ALL WORTH IT":

'Hawaii Five-O' Co-Star Kam Fong Dead at 84 (October 31, 2002, Reuters)
Kam Fong Chun, the man TV viewers around the world knew as Detective Chin Ho Kelly in the hit crime series "Hawaii Five-O," died in Honolulu after a long fight against cancer, his family said on Wednesday. He was 84. [...]

Kam Fong Chun was a real-life Honolulu Police Department officer for 16 years before leaving the force in 1959 to put more time into acting. To help pay the bills, he ran a real estate business and talent agency before joining the CBS-TV crime drama.

His son said that adversity early in life shaped his father. In June 1944, the actor's first wife and two young children were killed when a pair of military bombers collided above Honolulu and crashed into their home below.

"Twelve people were killed and my father had to carry his daughter from the house," he said.

Kam Fong Chun said in a 1977 interview that he left the show because he felt the scripts were stale. The show's writers killed off his character. In that episode, his character's dying words were: "It was all worth it."

"We think those words sum up our father's life," Dennis Chun said. "It was a life that was worth it. A life that mattered."


There's not a straight American male between the ages of forty and dead who didn't plan his tv-viewing week around Hawaii Five-0. Godspeed, Kam Fong Chun.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 PM

NAPA BY RAIL:

The Antidote to Amtrak: The Napa Valley Wine Train (Ed Driscoll, October 31, 2002, Blogcritics)
Imagine traveling in an elegant dining car, full of handsomely dressed passengers, sitting down to tables laid out with white linen, beautiful china and silverware, as you enjoy a meal of chicken prosciutto, baked and stuffed with layers of sauteed spinach, wild mushrooms and provolone cheese with sun dried tomatoes and wild mushroom sauce. Lush fields of California grapes slowly roll by at about ten miles an hour. A few cars ahead, a pair of champagne, burgundy and grapeleaf green Alco FPA-4 locomotives are cutting through the air with their classic blunt noses, with the odd belch of black smoke as a reminder of their turbocharged engines.

Sound like something out of the 1950s, long since vanquished by generic Amtrak Amfleet cars that resemble airplane interiors serving "Amfood" of styrofoam hamburgers and Diet Cokes? Actually, it's a scene that's recreated everyday on the Napa Valley Wine Train.


That's almost worth violating the Time Zone Rule for...almost.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM

THE LAST BEST HOPE OF MAN ON EARTH:

Economy Races Ahead at 3 Pct. Pace (JEANNINE AVERSA, , Oct 31, 2002, Associated Press)
The U.S. economy raced ahead at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the summer, powered by hearty consumer spending, especially on big-ticket items such as cars.

This at least takes the economy as an issue away from Democrats in the closing days of the campaign. Now if the Dow could just have three more good days...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

Townhall.com has set up a special page for coverage of Election 2002.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM

PUMPKIN CHUCK:

Pumpkin cannon crew ready to go distance: Howell team warms up for world championship (Steve Pardo, 10/31/02, The Detroit News)
The prizes are puny and the effort and expense great, but the chance to best his contemporaries and destroy perfectly good pumpkins keeps Bruce Bradford going.

Bradford, the owner of S&G Erectors of Howell, will be among about 80 competitors competing this weekend in the 17th Annual Punkin Chunkin in Sussex County, Del. It is the fourth year in a row that Bradford, 55, and his team will compete in the event.
   
Armed with the nine-ton, 100-plus-foot long air cannon dubbed the Second Amendment, Bradford's contraption has finished third in the competition -- the world championship of pumpkin tossing -- the past two years and fifth in 1999. [...]

Bradford says he'll keep entering the competition until he wins. But the real goal is to be the first team to shoot a pumpkin one mile -- a feat no one has been able to do in the competition. [...]

The competition started in 1986 with a couple of Delaware men jawing about, of all things, who could come up with a contraption that could hurl a pumpkin the farthest. That year, a pumpkin was shot 200 feet. The competition grew and now involves a host of categories including trebuchets, catapults and centrifugal force machines that spin a pumpkin before release. The machines sport names such as the Spooky Bazooky, the Jack-O-Splatter, the Gourd Thrasher and Chunkin Up. [...]

"The adage is, come rain, snow, wind or blow, the pumpkins are going to go," Shade said.


These guys are better armed than about 95% of the world's nations.

October 30, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM

NORTH TO ALASKA:

THE GOLDEN BOUGH: Grant Hadwin got a chainsaw and did something terrible. (JOHN VAILLANT, 2002-10-28, The New Yorker)
There was only one giant golden spruce in the world, and, until a man named Grant Hadwin took a chainsaw to it, in 1997, it had stood for more than three hundred years in a steadily shrinking patch of old-growth forest in Port Clements, on the banks of the Yakoun River, in the Queen Charlotte Islands. The Queen Charlottes, a blade-shaped archipelago that lies sixty miles off the northern coast of British Columbia and thirty miles south of the Alaskan coast, are one of a decreasing number of places in the Pacific Northwest where large stands of virgin coastal forest can still be found. Ecotourism is a growth industry here, and the golden spruce was a popular stop on visitors' itineraries. The tree was also sacred to the Haida Indians, two thousand of whom still live on the islands.[...]

On the night of January 20, 1997, Grant Hadwin, then forty-seven, stripped off his clothes and plunged into the Yakoun River, towing a chainsaw behind him. The river was swift and the water was cold, but this was no problem for Hadwin, a self-described "extreme swimmer" who had alarmed local police in Whitehorse, Yukon, earlier that winter by spending a quarter of an hour in the Yukon River when the air temperature was thirty-five degrees below zero. The golden spruce was more than six feet in diameter, and Hadwin's chainsaw had only a twenty-five-inch bar, but Hadwin had worked in the timber industry for years, and he knew how to make falling cuts. Leaving just enough of the core intact so that the tree would stand until the next windstorm, he returned by ferry from the island to the mainland port town of Prince Rupert. Shortly afterward, copies of a letter he had drafted were received by Greenpeace, the Vancouver Sun, members of the Haida Nation, and MacMillan Bloedel, Canada's biggest lumber company, which had a timber lease on the land on which the golden spruce stood. The letter said, in part:

"I didn't enjoy butchering, this magnificent old plant, but you apparently need a message and wake-up call, that even a university trained professional, should be able to understand. . . . I mean this action, to be an expression, of my rage and hatred, towards university trained professionals and their extremist supporters, whose ideas, ethics, denials, part truths, attitudes, etc., appear to be responsible, for most of the abominations, towards amateur life on this planet."

The golden spruce fell a couple of days later. Locally, the reaction was extraordinary. "It was like a drive-by shooting in a small town," one resident of the islands told me. "People were crying; they were in shock. They felt enormous guilt for not protecting the tree better." This was in part because, according to Haida legend, the golden spruce represented a person; and, later, a public memorial service for the tree, presided over by several Haida chiefs, was held "to mourn one of our ancestors." But beyond the mourning, some Haida, as well as residents of the mostly white logging community of Port Clements (where the tree had stood), wanted revenge.

Hadwin was located quickly by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and, after being charged and ordered to appear at the courthouse in Masset, which is close to the Queen Charlottes' two remaining Haida communities, he was released on his own recognizance. Hadwin, who was already known to-and suspicious of-the police, was offered no protection and did not request it. "They're making it as nasty as they possibly can," he told a reporter at the time. "They'll want me over there so the natives will have a shot. It would probably be suicide to go over there real quick."

Hadwin could have flown or taken a ferry from the mainland to Masset, but he chose instead to travel to court by kayak, leading people to believe that he was going to attempt a sixty-mile midwinter crossing of the notoriously dangerous Hecate Strait. In fact, Hadwin was last seen paddling north-bound, it seemed, for Alaska.


One would hope the Haida planted him.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 PM

THE WORLD OF QUENTIN:

Tarantino Behind the Camera in Beijing (RICK LYMAN, September 5, 2002, NY Times)
Yohei Taneda, the production designer for the film's Asian sequences, tried to explain the look of the film and the experience of working with Mr. Tarantino. "There is a reality to 'Kill Bill,' but it is not the reality of the world," he said. "It is the reality of Quentin's world, and that is a somewhat different place. We are in Tokyo, we are in Okinawa, we are in a Chinese temple, but at all times, really we are in the world of Quentin."

Essentially, "Kill Bill," which is being made by Miramax Films, is a revenge story--set in a pop-cultural blend of samurai movies, urban action flicks and spaghetti westerns. Ms. Thurman plays The Bride, awakening from a five-year coma to track down the man who put her there, Bill (David Carradine, star of the television series "Kung Fu"), her former boss and lover, and the band of female assassins who work for him (played by Lucy Liu, Viveca Fox and Darryl Hannah, among others).


Few movie-going experiences can possibly match seeing Reservoir Dogs at the Biograph in Chicago, the theater where Dillinger was gunned down in the midst of a gangster flick.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM

JERUSALEM AND ATHENS (continued):

The Dignity of Difference: Avoiding the Clash of Civilizations: The 2002 Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs (Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks, May 21, 2002, FPRI Wire)

The Bible begins with two universal, fundamental statements. First, in Genesis 1, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness." In the ancient world it was not unknown for human beings to be in the image of God: that's what Mesopotamian kings and the Egyptian pharaoh were. The Bible was revolutionary for saying that every human being is in the image of God.

The second epic statement is in Genesis 9, the covenant with Noah, the first covenant with all mankind, the first statement that God asks all humanity to construct societies based on the rule of law, the sovereignty of justice and the non-negotiable dignity of human life.

It is surely those two passages that inspire the words "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. . . ." The irony is that these truths are anything but self-evident. Plato or Aristotle wouldn't know what the words meant. Plato believed profoundly that human beings are created unequal, and Aristotle believed that some people are born to be free, other to be slaves.

These words are self-evident only in a culture saturated in the universal vision of the Bible. However, that vision is only the foundation. From then on, starting with Babel and the confusion of languages and God's call to Abraham, the Bible moves from the universal to the particular, from all mankind to one family. The Hebrew Bible is the first document in civilization to proclaim monotheism, that God is not only the God of this people and that place but of all people and every place. Why then does the Bible deliver an anti-Platonic, particularistic message from Genesis 12 onwards? The paradox is that the God of Abraham is the God of all mankind, but the faith of Abraham is not the faith of all mankind. [...]

My reading is this: that after the collapse of Babel, the first global project, God calls on one person, Abraham, one woman, Sarah, and says "Be different." In fact, the word "holy" in the Hebrew Bible, kadosh, actually means "different, distinctive, set apart." Why did God tell Abraham and Sarah to be different? To teach all of us the dignity of difference. That God is to be found in someone who is different from us. As the great rabbis observed some 1,800 years ago, when a human being makes many coins in the same mint, they all come out the same. God makes every human being in the same mint, in the same image, his own, and yet we all come out differently. The religious challenge is to find God's image in someone who is not in our image, in someone whose color is different, whose culture is different, who speaks a different language, tells a different story, and worships God in a different way.

This is a paradigm shift in understanding monotheism.[...]

[B]y turning to the Bible we arrive at a new paradigm, one that is neither universalism nor tribalism, but a third option, which I call the dignity of difference. This option values our shared humanity as the image of God, and creates that shared humanity in terms like the American Declaration of Independence or the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But it also values our differences, just as loving parents love all their children not for what makes them the same but for what makes each of them unique. That is what the Bible means when it calls God a parent. [...]

Nothing has proved harder in civilization than seeing God or good or dignity in those unlike ourselves. There are surely many ways of arriving at that generosity of spirit, and each faith may need to find its own way. I propose that the truth at the heart of monotheism is that God is greater than religion, that he is only partially comprehended by any one faith. He is my God, but he is also your God. That is not to say that there are many gods: that is polytheism. And it is not to say that God endorses every act done in his name: a God of yours and mine must be a God of justice standing above both of us, teaching us to make space for one another, to hear one another's claims, and to resolve them equitably. Only such a God would be truly transcendent. Only such a God could teach mankind to make peace other than by conquest or conversion and as something nobler than practical necessity.

What would such a faith be like? It would be like being secure in my own home and yet moved by the beauty of a foreign place knowing that while it is not my home, it is still part of the glory of the world that is ours. It would be knowing that we are sentences in the story of our people but that there are other stories, each written by God out of the letters of lives bound together in community. Those who are confident of their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different faiths of others. In the midst of our multiple insecurities, we need now the confidence to recognize the irreducible, glorious dignity of difference.


The power of Mr. Kraynak's critique is likewise evident when applied to this lecture, as Rabbi Sacks lets his own argument slip away from him and devolve into nonsense. Having noted that the Declaration is a function of Judeo-Christian universalism, he then makes the mistake of arguing that the principles of the latter are accessible to everyone without being saturated in the former. He is asking that every human being treat every other in the political sphere as though they were created in the image of God, without their first accepting the religious belief that leads to this point. This dilemma is what Mr. Kraynak means when he says that modern liberal democracy requires God. And if this correct, as I believe it to be, then conversion, conflict, or some kind of massive reformation of the non-Judeo-Christian religions is precisely what is required before Man can realize the kind of universalist political state that the Rabbi desires.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 PM

FROM MERCURY AND MARS:

Orson Welles's Hoax of the Century: The Halloween Broadcast of 1938 (Mr. Beres, 10-28-02, History News Network)
Today, photos sent back to earth by space probes show Mars to be a lifeless, benign planet. Back in '38, Americans, not yet weaned from comic strips like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, were emerging from the Great Depression with a high anxiety level. There also were rumblings that a Herr Hitler in Germany was plotting world conquest. It was a time ripe for paranoia. A five-year-old, I saw those fears emerge in adults around me as The War of the Worlds, a book by H.G. Wells, was dramatized by Orson Welles on a popular weekly radio program, "The Mercury Theatre."

At our home in Illinois, Mom had tuned in on our Zenith radio set. She either had not paid attention when the announcer gave early disclaimers that "this is fiction," or like many others, had tuned in too late to hear them. I can't remember the broadcast. What I do remember is Mom suddenly leaving her chair to go to the radio, which she clutched with both hands. Then she swooped me up, and ran to the phone.


We seem to be living in an environment today where an updated version of this kind of hoax would find fertile emotional soil.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 PM

THE DOG THAT DIDN'T BARK:

Fresh Air (Terry Gross, October 28, 2002, NPR)
Novelist Tim Lahaye

Novelist Tim Lahaye is the co-author of the popular Left Behind series. The books are apocalyptic Christian thrillers. The tenth and latest book is The Remnant, which debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Lahaye is also the former co-chairman of Jack Kemp's presidential campaign, was on the original board of directors of the Moral Majority and was an organizer of the Council for National Policy which has been called "the most powerful conservative organization in America you've never heard of."

Journalist Gershom Gorenberg

Journalist Gershom Gorenberg is an associate editor and columnist for The Jerusalem Report and a regular contributor to The New Republic. He's the author of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount


This was a fascinating, though odd, hour of radio, well worth your listening. In the first half hour, Ms Gross could barely contain her skepticism, even contempt, while Mr. LaHaye politely and earnestly answered her every bewildered question. Towards the end of the interview there's a hiilarious moment when Mr. LaHaye tells her about stopping the Dalai Lama in a hallway and asking him if he knows the story of Jesus Christ. You can as easily imagine the look of horror on her face as you can imagine her Volvo with the "Free Tibet" bumper sticker.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM

JERUSALEM AND ATHENS:

Faith and Reason: Father Ernest Fortin, 1923-2002 (Werner J. Dannhauser, 11/04/2002, Weekly Standard)

At the Sorbonne, he met a fellow student and fellow American, Allan Bloom, "the guy who made things come to life for me." (Back in the 1960s, Bloom told me about Fortin, describing him as a "man to whom you can talk about everything" and introducing us, so that I was blessed with Ernest Fortin's friendship for almost forty years.) In the course of their friendship, Bloom, in his typical fashion, asked, "Ernest, how come you know so little about politics?" The question hit home and spurred Fortin on to become a deep student of politics and political philosophy. Perhaps the greatest good Bloom conferred was to tell Fortin about Leo Strauss and then introduce the men to each other. Strauss later called Fortin "the most educated priest he had ever met." Fortin, in turn, studied at Chicago and became a self-described Straussian.

A Straussian theologian may seem a contradiction, but the example of Ernest Fortin demands that one deal with the phenomenon rather than dismiss it. Fortin identified four themes that form the "warp and woof" of his own work. They are (1) the "Jerusalem and Athens" tension between revealed religion and philosophy; (2) the centrality of political philosophy to philosophy and ultimately to human life; (3) the practice of "esoteric writing" or noble lies among philosophers; and (4) the distinction between ancient and modern philosophy, the latter being inaugurated by Machiavelli. These four themes are, and not by chance, also the main themes of the work of Leo Strauss. [...]

Fortin was a Straussian--which means, among other things, that he took "Jerusalem and Athens" as one of the themes of his work, and that no possibility of a synthesis exists. Well, then, which side was he on? Fortin thought of the argument between faith and reason as a standoff, and of the tension between Jerusalem and Athens as being a fruitful source of Western civilization's extraordinary vitality. Affirming the tension, and embodying it, he would seem to be on both sides. Alas, that tempting answer to the question raises further questions. If one internalizes the tension between faith and reason, then what happens to the Christian ideal of peace of soul? I am not sure, but I surmise that on the deepest level, in the last analysis, Ernest Fortin was a practicing and believing Christian, a man of faith. The man of reason doubts what he can and believes what he must. The man of faith believes what he can and doubts what he must. The gap between them is as deep as it is narrow


Mike Daley sent us a link to that essay, about the recently deceased Father Fortin, who I confess I'd not previously heard of. But in doing some more research on him I found a very nice statement by Harry Jaffa about Straussianism. It seems to have some bearing on the Boy Scouts, Atheism, and Morality discussion we were having below:
In my lecture I had taken my bearings in part from Strauss's assertions concerning the insolubility of the opposition between revelation and reason--Jerusalem and Athens--as to the highest principle of human life. I had also taken my bearings from Strauss's assertion that, according to Aristotle, the ends of the city--that is, of political life as such--are the ends of the moral virtues.

And I had noted Strauss's pronouncement that notwithstanding their theoretical disagreement as to the end or ends served by the moral virtues, revelation and reason had agreed substantially on what in practice morality was. And I had taken my bearings further from Strauss's assertion that the very life of western civilization depended upon the continuing dialogue--the eternal dialogue--between revelation and reason.

But both the continuity and the beneficence of this dialogue depended upon it remaining theoretical, with neither side demanding--or being entrusted with - political power with respect to the conduct of the dialogue between them. In the post-classical world, government by sectarian religious authority - or by sectarian philosophic authority (as in the case of Marxist-Leninist regimes) - were equally tyrannical and equally abhorrent.

From this perspective, the intention of the American Founding, with its separation of church and state, its guarantee of the free exercise of religion, and of freedom of speech and of the press, could be seen, not as a lowering of the goals of political life, but as an emancipation of man's highest aspirations for truth, from the tyranny of the political passions. In this sense it could be seen as the best regime of western civilization. However, this regime was endangered from the outset (notably in the slavery controversy), and continues to be endangered, by the moral relativism, culminating in nihilism, of modern philosophy.

Strauss's critique of modern philosophy, as it seemed to me, was directed above all towards overcoming what he often called the self-destruction of reason, so that the authority equally of classical philosophy and the Bible, with respect to virtue and morality, might be restored. This restoration, I am convinced, is also nothing less than the restoration of the perspective of the American Founding.


Regular readers will please forgive me for citing once again my favorite professor, Robert Kraynak, who, though he apparently studied with the Straussians, offers the most coherent and devastating statement of the inadequacy of democracy and of philosophy for creating a decent society that you're ever likely to find in his terrific book: Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World.

MORE:

OBIT: Rev. Ernest Fortin, BC philosophy professor (Emma Stickgold, 10/25/2002, Boston Globe)

Father Fortin (Aric Anderson)

ESSAY: FROM RERUM NOVARUM TO CENTESIMUS ANNUS: CONTINUITY OR DISCONTINUITY? (Ernest L. Fortin, EWTN)

LECTURE: Saint Augustine and the Augustinian Tradition (Ernest L. Fortin, The Saint Augustine Lecture 1971, Villanova University)

LETTER: The Homosexual Movement (A Response by the Ramsey Colloquium, March 1994, First Things)

LETTER: The Inhuman Use of Human Beings: A Statement on Embryo Research by the Ramsey Colloquium (First Things, January 1995)

ESSAY: Ernest Fortin's Teaching for Catholics (Walter J Nicgorski, Claremont Institute)

ESSAY: What Does Ernest Fortin Have to Say to Political Philosophers? (Douglas Kries, August 26, 2002, The Claremont Institute)

Rethinking the Foundations of Religious Freedom: Fr. Fortin, The Bible, and the Separation of Church and State in America (V. Phillip Muñoz, August 26, 2002, The Claremont Institute)

ESSAY: Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy (Harry V. Jaffa, February 13, 1998, The Claremont Institute)

REVIEW: of Ernest L. Fortin: Collected Essays. Edited by J. Brian Benestad (Patrick G. D. Riley, First Things)

REVIEW: of Ernest L. Fortin: Collected Essays. Edited by J. Brian Benestad (Patrick G. D. Riley, Thomist)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:14 PM

HAIL TO THE CHIEF?:

If elected, Mondale will benefit from rules change (The Hill, 10/30/02)
If former Vice President Walter Mondale is elected to succeed the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), he won’t come back as just another senator.

Even though he would still be junior to his former aide, freshman Democrat Mark Dayton, Mondale would benefit from a change in Senate rules ordered by the Senate in 1977 to honor his political mentor, the late Vice President Hubert Humphrey (D).

Under a standing order of the Senate, Mondale would become deputy president pro tem.


That would put Mr. Mondale four heartbeats away from the presidency, assuming Robert Byrd were to pass on to his reward prior to a terrorist attack that took out President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Speaker Hastert. Such an eventuality used to seem the stuff of Fletcher Knebel potboiler fiction, but these days who'd even blink?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM

A CASE IN POINT:

A New View of Our Universe: Only One of Many (DENNIS OVERBYE, October 29, 2002, NY Times)
The prospect of this plethora of universes has brought new attention to a philosophical debate that has lurked on the edges of science for the last few decades, a debate over the role of life in the universe and whether its physical laws are unique--or, as Einstein once put it, "whether God had any choice."

Sprinkled through the Standard Model, the suite of equations that describe all natural phenomena, are various mysterious constants, like the speed of light or the masses of the elementary particles, whose value is not specified by any theory now known.

In effect, the knobs on nature's console have been set to these numbers. Scientists can imagine twiddling them, but it turns out that nature is surprisingly finicky, they say, and only a narrow range of settings is suitable for the evolution of complexity or Life as We Know It.

For example, much of the carbon and oxygen needed for life is produced by the fusion of helium atoms in stars called red giants.

But a change of only half a percent in the strength of the so-called strong force that governs nuclear structure would be enough to prevent those reactions from occurring, according to recent work by Dr. Heinz Oberhummer of Vienna University of Technology. The result would be a dearth of the raw materials of biology, he said.

Similarly, a number known as the fine structure constant characterizes the strength of electromagnetic forces. If it were a little larger, astronomers say, stars could not burn, and if it were only a little smaller, molecules would never form.

In 1974, Dr. Brandon Carter, a theoretical physicist then at Cambridge, now at the Paris Observatory in Meudon, pointed out that these coincidences were not just luck, but were rather necessary preconditions for us to be looking at the universe.

After all, we are hardly likely to discover laws that are incompatible with our own existence.

That insight is the basis of what Dr. Carter called the anthropic principle, an idea that means many things to many scientists. Expressed most emphatically, it declares that the universe is somehow designed for life. Or as the physicist Freeman Dyson once put it, "The universe in some sense must have known that we were coming."

This notion horrifies some physicists, who feel it is their mission to find a mathematical explanation of nature that leaves nothing to chance or "the whim of the Creator," in Einstein's phrase.


Here's an example that nicely illustrates yesterday's quote of the day, with scientists driven less by a dispassionate and objective search for "truth" than by personal distaste for religion. At some point, their ideological mission has to warp their theories and lead others to accept them no matter how dubious.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM

WAVING THE BLOODY SHIRT:

Republicans decry service as partisan (Kavita Kumar, Dane Smith and Patricia Lopez, 10/30/02, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
A speech by Rick Kahn, one of Wellstone's closest friends, shifted the tone of the event from memorial service to full-throated, foot-stomping, fist-pumping political rally.

He urged the crowd to "stand up for all the people he fought for . . . for working men and women . . . for all those who lack the strength to stand up on their own." His words brought thousands to their feet.

TV cameras then panned to a beaming Walter Mondale, Wellstone's likely replacement in the U.S. Senate race, which brought more cheers.

"If Paul Wellstone's legacy comes to an end, then our spirits will be crushed and we will drown in a river of tears," a clearly emotional Kahn said.

"We are begging you, do not let that happen. We are begging you to help us win this Senate election for Paul Wellstone."

In a move that brought gasps of delight from some and stony silence from a few, Kahn then began urging select Republicans to drop their partisanship and work for Wellstone's replacement.

He singled out some by name. To U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., Kahn said, "You know that Paul loved you. He needs you now. . . . Help us win this race."

Afterward, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said that Kahn was swept away by emotion and that Republicans should understand and not get angry.


Out of respect for the wishes of the Wellstone family and the Democrat Party we too will abjure decency and treat the Senator's death as a purely partisan matter. In that regard, while we regret the manner of his departure, we would note that on the day he died the prospects for human freedom were improved in America and the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

THE BEST DEFENSE:

N.Korea demands aid and apology from Tokyo (Straits Times, 10/30/02)
North Korea demanded that Japan apologise and pay for its past colonial domination as the two sides met on Wednesday for a final day of talks overshadowed by Pyongyang's refusal to end its nuclear weapons programme.

Signs were surfacing that tempers were becoming frayed during the first attempt in two years to normalise diplomatic ties between the historic foes, with each side pursuing a totally different agenda and North Korea warning that it was running out of patience.

Japan wants to concentrate on the nuclear issue and North Korea's abduction years ago of at least 13 Japanese citizens to help its spies perfect their cover.

Pyongyang, on the other hand, wants to talk about an apology from Tokyo for its colonisation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945 and its demand for financial atonement. [...]

Roving ambassador Jong Thae Hwa said: 'Historically speaking, it is clear that Japan should apologise to the Korean people and compensate for our mental and physical suffering and damage.'

The impoverished communist state is seeking as much as US$10 billion (S$17.7 billion) from Japan.


One can hardly wait for Jimmy Carter to find a way to blame this animus on the United States.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM

NEARLY RID OF IKE:

ARE YOU PART OF THE VRWC?: Contest Winners

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM

WHEN 20% = CONSERVATIVE HEGEMONY:

Young black adults identify less with Democratic Party (Associated Press, 0/29/2002)
Younger black adults are increasingly more politically independent and less likely to identify themselves as members of the Democratic Party, says a new poll that suggests overall support among blacks for Democrats over Republicans is still strong.

"It's different from voting preferences," said David Bositis, a pollster and senior political analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "In terms of partisan identification, there has been a decline among younger black adults; they tend to be more independent." [...]

The shift in the numbers who consider themselves Democrats could have long-term implications, however, said Bositis.

"This is something the Democrats have to pay attention to," said Bositis. "Ten years from now, 15 years from now, they will be at the prime age for voting, if Democrats don't work to get their loyalty, they might have to worry about that in the future."

Among blacks, 39% approved of the job being done by President Bush, and just over half viewed him favorably.


George W. Bush got less than 10% of the black vote in 2000. If he could double that, which means getting just half of those who approve of the job he's doing to vote for him, it would go a long way toward recreating the conservative majority that ruled America until 1932.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

DANGER, DEAR DONALD, DIVINE DOWD DULY DEFENDS DEFENSE, DEFTLY:

Rummy Runs Rampant (MAUREEN DOWD, October 30, 2002 NY Times)
Donald Rumsfeld has become redolent of Donald Regan, the forceful and brusque Reagan chief of staff who had trouble remembering who was president. [...]

First, he and his brainy advisers, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, set up their own State Department within the Defense Department, designing a more grandiose and aggressive foreign policy that can be summarized: "We're No. 1. We like it that way. And we're going to keep it that way."

Then they set up their own Defense Department within the Defense Department, staging a civilian coup and yanking back power from a military establishment they felt had grown too skittish about risking troops in combat.


A Maureen Dowd defense of the military's prerogatives is by definition unserious, but that last sentence is just absurd. Note the assumption that the military and not civilians should be in control of the Defense Department, an idea that would have startled the Framers, to say the least.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

WAR IN THE SHADOWS:

New Status For Embryos In Research (Rick Weiss, October 30, 2002, Washington Post)
The Bush administration has revamped the charter of the federal advisory committee that addresses the safety of research volunteers, stating for the first time that embryos in experiments are "human subjects" whose welfare should be considered along with that of fetuses, children and adults.

The addition of human embryos to the committee's charge -- completed at the beginning of October but not yet posted on the federal Web site that lists such committees -- marks the latest effort by the administration to bring the unborn under the umbrella of federal health protections. In September the administration enacted a new policy that extends certain health benefits to fetuses.


And so continues the groundwork for an eventual Court decision that there are two coequal, or nearly so, individuals whose rights are at stake in the abortion decision.

October 29, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 PM

ON THE OTHER HAND:

STOCKS COLLAPSE IN 16,410,030-SHARE DAY, BUT RALLY AT CLOSE CHEERS BROKERS; BANKERS OPTIMISTIC, TO CONTINUE AID (NY Times, October 30, 1929)
From every point of view, in the extent of losses sustained, in total turnover, in the number of speculators wiped out, the day was the most disastrous in Wall Street's history. Hysteria swept the country and stocks went overboard for just what they would bring at forced sale.

Thus began seventy awful years.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 PM

SAFER THAN WHAT?:

AIDS event had nude porn star, 2 say (Tim O'Neil, 10/29/2002, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
A gay-porn movie actor stripped and engaged in sexual contact with guests during a "safer sex" event sponsored by a local AIDS agency, which paid for his appearance with federal money, two former agency employees said Monday.

The St. Louis Health Department last week acknowledged that it was investigating the spending of a federal grant by Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS, known as BABAA. A lawyer for the group said it paid $500 to Edgar Gaines to speak to a gathering that was held July 20 in the downtown residence of Erise Williams Jr., its executive director.


Ah, our tax dollars at work...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 PM

DURING THE FUNERAL?:

DFL files suit over ballot questions (Michael Khoo, October 29, 2002, Minnesota Public Radio)
As thousands of Minnesotans mourn the passing of DFL Sen. Paul Wellstone, legal challenges have already been filed over how to process absentee ballots bearing his name. DFL officials said Tuesday that guidelines laid out by Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer and Attorney General Mike Hatch could disenfranchise thousands of voters -- and they're asking the state Supreme Court to intervene. Hours later, state Republicans sought permission to weigh in on the legal battle.

So much for keeping the politics out of it until the bodies are buried.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM

HEALTHY PESSIMISM:

Bush has highest approval before his first midterm election of any president in 50 years (The Associated Press, 10/29/02)
Republicans entered the last week before elections buoyed by a GOP leader with the highest job approval ratings in half a century for a president entering his first midterm elections, according to a new poll.

President Bush had a job approval of 67 percent headed into the midterm elections, according to the ABC News poll, which is slightly better than the 61 percent job approval President Eisenhower had in the Gallup poll before the 1954 midterm elections.


So, that sounds great, right? Well, consider this: in that 1954 midterm the GOP, with a popular Ike, lost control of both houses of Congress, losing one Senate seat and 18 House seats. One assumes that Republicans won't lose that many House seats, but they don't have that big a margin of error and they would actually need to pick up Senate seats to take control there. Three months ago that at least seemed like a remote possibility--because Bob Torricelli (NJ) and Paul Wellstone would likely both have lost--but now it looks like the Democrats will gain a seat or two instead (AR & CO look like sure pick ups [with NH, NC, & TN in danger] whereas the GOP has no comparably likely gains). In sum, keeping the House would mark a victory of historic proportions, as would just breaking even in the Senate races.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 PM

UNINTENTIONAL (PRESUMABLY) HILARITY:

Neohawks: Leftists Who Love the War Too Much (Richard Goldstein, October 30 - November 5, 2002, Village Voice)
When Osama bin Laden predicted that America would become a hell for its people, he was speaking from a deep understanding of freedom's fragility. Even a victorious war could produce the conditions that fulfill his dream. The great strength of the left is its analysis of social dynamics. To jettison this knowledge, along with the lessons of recent history, is to invite the worst possible future.

This is not a brief for pacifism. There are times when war is necessary, and, in the media at least, there is a real debate about whether this is such a moment. The discussion isn't being led by chastened radicals but by mainstream liberals. The best arguments against invading Iraq can be found in The New York Times. Here you will discover an alternative to both Noam Chomsky and the Bush doctrine-a policy based on cooperative engagement and domestic defense.


It's not all as hilarious as that, but it's close. Of course, nothing could ever match Mr. Goldstein's depiction of Osama having a "deep understanding of freedom's fragility". You'd think if he understood it all he might be alive today, his gang wouldn't be in tatters, and Islamic dictators wouldn't be an endangered species.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:07 PM

JAPAN'S SELF-RESTRAINT:

The View From The Other Ground Zero (Doug Struck, October 28, 2002, Washington Post)
The awful fireball that engulfed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, introducing the atomic age with a mushroom cloud, has for decades propelled the leaders of that southern Japanese city to preach against nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima's current mayor has taken the role a step further. At his annual speech at the anniversary of the bombing, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba made international headlines with his biting criticism of American foreign policy and, by implication, its war on terrorism.

"The United States government has no right to force 'Pax Americana' on us, or to unilaterally determine the fate of the world," Akiba declared. The speech has brought a torrent of reaction -- most of it positive, he says -- in Japan, and a chill from the United States. [...]

His sharp critique of America is uncharacteristic of Japan's polite society, and despite the support for his remarks, the mayor says he has felt the weight of disapproval from some countrymen.

"I didn't realize that the pressure not to criticize America was so strong," he acknowledges. "In Japanese society, where restraining oneself is a virtue, there is a strong tendency to restrain from criticizing the United States."


Tell it to the people of Nanking.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:49 PM

DEMOCRAHOMOPHOBIA:

RUDY'S GAY ROOMIES AT ISSUE IN S.C. RACE (VINCENT MORRIS, October 29, 2002, NY Post)
The Democratic Senate candidate in South Carolina has taken a swipe at Rudy Giuliani's decision to shack up with two gay men after he moved out of Gracie Mansion.

Alex Sanders hit Giuliani during a debate with Republican candidate Lindsey Graham - who's been endorsed by Giuliani - as the two sparred over who's the most liberal.

"[Giuliani's] an ultra-liberal," Sanders huffed. "His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so."


From Montana to Carolina, it's the Democrats vs. gays...and nary a protest is heard.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:15 PM

BABY, MEET BATHWATER:

Ghost of postmodernism haunts the corridors of literature yet: Pity the poor HSC students burdened with an intellectual fad (Richard Glover, October 26 2002, Sydney Morning Herald)
The creators of the new HSC English course are enormously keen that students understand that art is a by-product of a particular time and place. What a shame they've never come to the same realisation about their own postmodernism.

King Lear and Hamlet are still studied, but alongside Clueless, Blade Runner, a newspaper ad and a political website. A bus ticket is as valuable a text as Chaucer. And each and every one of them is a mere artefact of its time. [...]

Perhaps we need to establish more than one subject. In Practical Literacy students could study Blade Runner and Frontline, and practise writing letters to the editor and composing advertising copy.

Meanwhile, across the hall, there could be space for an obscure subject called English Literature, committed to the notion that some writers can clamber from the mud of their own time, sufficient to be heard centuries later. And that some readers - performing the same heroic struggle - can pretty much hear them. It would be a subject that understands that the play between history and human volition, between the artist and society, is more complex than intellectual fads might allow.

Since it first infected the universities, postmodernism has taken close to 30 years to finally work its way down to the school system. If the history of such movements is anything to go by, its grip on the campus must be nearly exhausted. Give it five years and it will be as daggy as positivism, Marxism, social Darwinism or any of the other trends which have swept through the academy in the past century or so.

But what's the bet the poor students, having got it 30 years late, will be left holding the corpse, years after everyone else has moved on?


While I yield to no one in my contempt for post-modernism, one wonders if Mr. Glover doesn't go too far here: Clueless and Blade Runner seem to be entirely appropriate subjects for study, provided that they aren't replacements for the classics, Emma and Frankenstein, from which they are derived. If nothing else, these modern versions show that the original authors are truly timeless and that, not only can a text communicate coherent and consistently accessible ideas in its own time, but can continue to do so for centuries. The ad and the website, on the other hand, have to go.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM

YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY:

Accidental fisherman reels in record-breaking salmon (Associated Press, October 28, 2002)
Grant Martinsen's fish tale is a whopper.

The accidental fisherman reeled in a chinook salmon that weighed 71.5 pounds, a full 8.5 pounds more than the all-time record for fly-fishers. [...]

"It rattled my rod and shook its head," he said. "I thought, 'This is a good fish."' Martinsen pulled his two small anchors into the boat and let the fish tow him around. Then the chinook breached more like a whale than a salmon.

"He jumped halfway out of the water with his face pointed toward me," Martinsen said. "You see something like that and it scares you."


Fish that size have to caused by global warming--we want more....
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM

EVERMIND:

Kurt Cobain Meets Jesus Christ: The Lifehouse package. (Mark Joseph, October 25, 2002, National Review)
It's an open secret that mainstream rock is now flooded with devout Christians. From Lenny Kravitz (who sports a tattoo that declares "My Heart Belongs To Jesus Christ") to rap-rockers P.O.D. to the crowd-pleasing Creed — as well as a new generation of artists like Sixpence None the Richer, Dashboard Confessional, Nickel Creek, Blindside, Chevelle, and Pedro the Lion — young and devout Christians who once had politely confined themselves to the Christian rock industry have now joined the cultural mainstream. (When Lifehouse's "Hanging On A Moment" became 2001's hottest single, most fans probably didn't realize they were listening to a song that had first been played at the Malibu Vineyard.)

Wade is not from Seattle, but it's impossible to listen to the band's sophomore record, Stanley Climbfall, and not think of the enormous cultural impact Kurt Cobain has had. Cobain died when Wade was in his early teens; nevertheless, musically anyway, he is Cobain-haunted. Which is a nice counter-balance — since, lyrically, he is clearly Christ-haunted. One could do worse than to have one's music described as a cross between Jesus Christ and Kurt Cobain.

Wade's voice is often compared to those of Scott Stapp of Creed or Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. But it is Cobain that truly informs his music. The growl is unmistakably Cobain, and so are the flashes of rage, which seem to leap off the record. Both certainly had things to be angry about. Cobain had had a Ritalin-ridden, rootless childhood, and faced a hopeless future. Wade had to face hypocrisy — in the form of both the divorce of his missionary parents and the reactions of fellow believers to his father's fall from grace.

Still, listening to Stanley Climbfall, one can't help wishing Cobain had tapped into the power Wade has found in his faith in God. That faith is no guarantee that bad things will never happen, of course. But listening to Lifehouse's music, one realizes that, while never fully erasing the pain of life, it nonetheless can help to soothe the wounded and allow them to go on. Yes, Stanley Climbfall is about pain — but it's a pain that has been enveloped in the kind of hope Cobain never found.


Mr. Joseph left out one of my favorites: Ben Harper.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM

THIRD-RATE ROMANCE, LOW-RENT RENDEZVOUS:

Man accused of having sex with chicken (Pet Abuse, 05/30/2001)
After chicken feathers and blood were found all over a room at Valparaiso Motel on Monday, Valparaiso police were called to investigate.

The room was found to have been rented Sunday night to Michael Bessigano, a 30-year-old Valparaiso man with a history of harming and having sex with animals. Police questioned Bessigano on Tuesday, and police said he admitted he had sex with a chicken. Bessigano was booked into Porter County Jail on a felony animal cruelty charge. Because this is the third crime against animals he's been charged with, he also is being charged as a habitual offender, said Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brian Gensel. He faces up to 7 1/2 years in prison if convicted of both charges.


Charles Murtaugh recently eschewed profanity, apparently out of deference to my delicate sensibilities, so, to repay the kindness and demonstrate a similar flexibility, I thought I'd tell a risque joke that a story similar to this--which they were discussing on Imus this morning on Monday--reminded me of:
A pilot is shot down over Greece in WWII and some shepherds agree to hide him overnight.

So they're all sitting around the campfire and the pilot says: "I gotta ask you guys something. All my life I've heard about how you guys have sex with your sheep and how great it is, because of the lanolin or whatever. Do you really do it?"

They all laugh and tell him: "No, no, no...don't be silly."

But later on he notices that every once in a while someone will sneak away from the fire and when they come back the other shepherds joke with them. So the pilot says to himself: They are scrumping those sheep and they just don't want to share. They're making a fool of me.

So he too sneaks down to the flock, picks out a sheep and shags it.

But when he gets back to the camp the shepherds are all laughing hysterically and pointing at him. So he says: "You guys were telling the truth weren't you? You don't really have sex with sheep?"

When one of the shepherds can catch his breath he says: "Of course we have sex with them--it's awesome."

Pilot: "Then what's so funny?"

Shepherd: "You picked the ugliest one."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 AM

NO BADGE FOR ANALOGIZING:

Atheist Scout fights decision to boot him (Marsha King, October 29, 2002, Seattle Times)
The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts has given Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert about a week to decide "in his heart" if he's truly an atheist. If he insists on sticking to his belief that there is no God, the Council will terminate his membership.

"No way" is he going to change his beliefs, says Lambert, who has been in scouting since he was 9 years old. "It'd be like me asking them to change their belief."


Actually, it's nothing like that, son. It's like them telling you that you have to share their beliefs if you want to be a member of their group.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

PASS THE TURKEY:

At the gates of Europe (Adar Primor, October 29, 2002, Ha'aretz)
Europe's leaders met at the end of last week for a summit focused on expanding the European Union. As expected, Turkey was left out--again. Not only wasn't the subject of Turkey's candidacy discussed by the leaders, they didn't even set a target date for opening talks about Turkey joining the EU.

For more than 40 years Turkey has been knocking on Europe's gates. Conversations with Volkan Vural, Turkey's Secretary General for European Affairs and other senior officials in Ankara, as well as at the European Commission, shows just how emotional both sides have become about the matter.


This is a colossal mistake by the Europeans and the United States should take advantage of it. Turkey likely has a brighter future than Europe does and we should ask the Turks to join us, Israel, and India in a new alliance for the 21st Century.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

DISHONORING HIS MEMORY:

Wellstone Family Bars Cheney from Memorial (NewsMax, Oct. 29, 2002)
The family of political "nice-guy" Sen. Paul Wellstone has said they don't want Vice President Dick Cheney to attend a memorial service for the late liberal Democrat scheduled for Tuesday night, a White House spokesman confirmed late Monday, with a Wellstone campaign spokesman hinting the service will double as a campaign rally.

"The [Wellstone] family was appreciative [of Cheney's offer]," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, confirming that Cheney's offer to attend was rebuffed in conversations with family members.

"Asked if that meant the Wellstone family did not want Cheney to come, he said that was correct," the Star-Tribune said. [...]

Wellstone campaign spokesman Allison Dobson hinted that Cheney was also disinvited because the memorial service will double as a campaign rally for former Vice President Mondale, Wellstone's chosen successor.


This is the most vile kind of politicization of the Senator's death. He was after all a United States Senator, not just a senator for the Democrats. Imagine the uproar if Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were to be asked not to attend Ronald Reagan's memorial service?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM

VOLUNTARY INDENTURED SERVITUDE:

New agency to dole out doctors: Romanow-ordered report recommends national co-ordination (Mark Kennedy, October 29, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
Canada needs a new national agency to co-ordinate how many doctors and nurses the health system should have and perhaps the type of work they should do, says a report commissioned by the Romanow commission.

The proposed new agency would become a "quality council" for how medicare is staffed and provide some "focus and expertise" on key decisions that are now made by different governments throughout the country. [...]

The report adds that everyone involved in the current system will have to make compromises if the situation is to change.

"This will take leadership from governments and from the organizations representing Canada's health professionals.


Wouldn't want doctors making their own decisions would we? This should at least help to alleviate America's shortage of doctors and nurses, because the Canadians will be headed here by the truckload.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM

QOTD:

(Quote of the Day, 29 Oct 2002, The Philosophers' Magazine)
Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.
-Alfred North Whitehead, The Function of Reason

And it is the improbability of being truly purposeless that calls into question much that they do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

RES IPSA LOQUITOR:

WAS PAUL WELLSTONE MURDERED? (Michael I. Niman, October 28, 2002, AlterNet)
There is no indication today that Wellstone's death was the result of foul play. What we do know, however, is that Wellstone emerged as the most visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone. For our government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open and accountable independent investigation involving international participation into the death of Paul Wellstone. Hopefully we will find out, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this was indeed an untimely accident. For the sake of our country, we need to know this.

When Richard Mellon Scaife, the Reverend Jerry Falwell and others raised similar concerns about the death of Clinton crony Vince Foster, who was after all shot in the head, they were portrayed as raving lunatics. But the even more ridiculous notion that Senator Wellstone was murdered--which has already gained surprising traction, as witness this article--has evoked no similar declarations of lunacy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM

ON NPR OF ALL PLACES:

The Rules (Joe Wright, 10/28/02, NPR's All Things Considered)
Commentator Joe Wright went to an experimental school when he was a child. At first, they had no rules, but as time went on, the instructors needed to add rules so that things didn't get out of hand. When he was older, he moved to San Francisco, where there were lots of adults who were trying to get rid of rules. But Joe found that sometimes you need rules -- not a lot, just a few. (4:00 minutes)

This is an audio file of an exceptionally good commentary by a first year Harvard Medical School student about how his experiences in a free form school and among gay men in San Francisco convinced him of the need for rules. I'm too slow to get the exact quote but towards the end he notes that Europe has tons of rules, so no one follows any, while America has fairly few, so we take them seriously. That's a striking insight, one that relates directly to the counterintuitive fact that the more government we have built up the more lawless our behavior has become.

October 28, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM

HEY, RIDLEY:

Yeager makes last military flight during air show (Leigh Anne Bierstine, 10/28/02, Air Force Flight Test Center Public Affairs)
Aviation legend and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager gave the F-15 Eagle one last ride Oct. 26, bringing his 60-year career flying military aircraft to a close in front of thousands of fans at the open house and air show here.

Yeager, with Edwards test pilot Lt. Col. Troy Fontaine in the back seat, opened the event by climbing to just over 30,000 feet and impressed the crowd with his infamous sonic boom. Yeager first broke the sound barrier at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in October 1947 when he accelerated his rocket-powered Bell X-1 to the speed of Mach 1.06 and shattered the myth of the sound barrier forever.

The crowd hushed as Yeager landed and taxied under an archway of water gushing from two Edwards fire trucks per Air Force tradition. For his final military flight, Yeager was accompanied in the air with longtime friend and colleague retired Maj. Gen. Joe Engle flying his own F-15. The two legendary test pilots have been flying together for decades. [...]

When asked about his favorite aircraft, Yeager said it depends on what a pilot needs the aircraft to do.

"I want the one that kills the best with the least amount of risk to me," said Yeager. "That's the facts of life and that's why you wear the uniform."


The eagle has landed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 PM

IN WHICH WE FIND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION:

Why is America the only industrialized nation without National Health?

Casualty patients 'wait up to three days' (Nicole Martin, 29/10/2002, Daily Telegraph)

Patients are waiting up to three-and-a-half days in casualty departments before they are admitted or discharged, despite Government claims that waits of more than 24 hours have been eliminated, say doctors' leaders.

The British Medical Association yesterday said the Department of Health was deceiving taxpayers with "overly optimistic" results on waiting times. The findings in its BMA survey were "unacceptable".

Patients in one in five casualty departments were waiting more than a day and one in three reported waits of more than 12 hours, said the survey of 160 casualty consultants. The doctors represented 40 per cent of Britain's accident and emergency departments. The longest wait was 84 hours at an unnamed hospital.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 PM

FRITZ WHO?:

Washington Wrap: Minnesota Update (CBS News, 10/28/02)
A Republican tracking poll done over the weekend shows a hypothetical race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Walter Mondale at 43 percent for Coleman and 45 percent for Mondale.

Mondale has to be heavily favored and internal polls often tell candidates what they want to hear, but it's shocking that Mr. Mondale isn't polling over 50% either here or in another internal poll that Mort Kondracke mentioned on FOX News Special Report--I think he said it was for the Senate Republicans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:32 PM

IT'S ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN:

New Hampshire by the Numbers: Heartbreak Hill, or Queen of the Mountain? (Dante J. Scala, October 28, 2002, Politics NH)
Six years ago, a moderate, well-funded Democrat faced off against an incumbent conservative Republican. Dick Swett managed to defeat Bob Smith among undeclareds, but by only three points, 46 percent to 43 percent. Swett lost that election by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent. (Libertarian Ken Blevens took 5 percent of the vote.)

Two years ago, a moderate Democrat faced off against a conservative Republican for the presidency. Al Gore defeated George W. Bush among undeclareds, 47 percent to 43 percent ? a carbon copy, more or less, of the 1996 results. Gore lost New Hampshire by one percentage point, 48-47.

What is Shaheen’s past performance among undeclareds? In the final UNH poll prior to the 2000 election, Shaheen led Gordon Humphrey, 49 percent to 24 percent, among undeclared voters ? a gap that likely closed somewhat on Election Day, given that 9 percent of undeclared voters were still undecided in that final poll, and undecideds rarely break toward the incumbent at the end of a campaign. Assuming Shaheen carried roughly 50 percent of undeclareds on Election Day 2000, scoring 55 percent or above next week would be a remarkably good performance.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume such a swing happens over the next week: Shaheen far surpasses Swett’s and Gore’s performances among undeclareds, carrying 56 percent of their vote on Election Day. And let’s assume that a number of other things break Shaheen’s way on November 5:

1) No undecided undeclareds break Sununu’s way in the last days of the campaign, and he only manages to win 40 percent of their vote ? 3 percent worse than Smith did in 1996, or Bush in 2000.

2) Three-fifths of the remaining 5 percent of Republican undecideds decide to write in Bob Smith’s name on Election Day. Sununu only manages to win two-fifths of the remaining GOP undecideds, for a total of 85 percent. (Shaheen keeps her 12 percent of Republicans.) One percent of undeclared voters also write in Smith’s name, for a total of roughly 5,500 votes for Smith, or about 1.5 percent of the total vote.

3) All remaining undecided Democrats vote for Shaheen, raising her total to 90 percent of all Democrats.

4) Last but not least, turnout percentages among Republicans, Democrats, and undeclareds match voter registration percentages. In other words, voter turnout rates are identical among these three groups. (Typically, partisans turn out in greater numbers than unaffiliated voters in off-year elections.)

Assuming all this comes to pass, would this lead to a Shaheen victory? Not quite.


There have been nearly as many obituaries written for John Sununu as for Paul Wellstone in the past week, but this outstanding essay shows just how hard--though not impossible--a task Ms Shaheen faces in trying to defeat him. This best case scenario does not provide a sure-fire win and the more likely scenarios preclude one. Several media outlets infamously declared that Bob Smith had lost in 1996 before later returns showed him to have won. Mr. Sununu may face just as uncomfortable an election evening this year, but you'd have to say it's still his race to lose.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:31 PM

BUSH IS EVIL, PART TWO:

Bush's Praise for Wife Seen as Put-Downs (JENNIFER LOVEN, October 28, 2002, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
President Bush clearly adores his wife. But his efforts to put that admiration on public display do not always hit the mark.

Warming up an audience in Charlotte, N.C., the president praised Laura Bush's performance as first lady and offered an explanation for her absence. "It's been raining," Bush said, "so she needs to sweep the porch" of their Texas ranch ahead of a visit by the president of China. [...]

Recently, elaborating on what she has brought to the job, Bush cited his wife's calm, steady nature and deep caring for their two daughters. "She's got a great smile," he said in Maine. "She's a class act" was the description in Boston.

The expressions of pride strike some as more patronizing than complimentary.


Here's the second warm-up act leading in to what will likely be the main event later this week, the Bush is a racist stories that the Left closed out the 2000 campaign with too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:28 PM

A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRIBUTE:

PAUL WELLSTONE (Sam Smith, Progressive Review)
THE COVERAGE GIVEN Paul Wellstone's death illustrates that, for the corporate media, the only good progressive is a dead one. The Wellstone stories may well have exceeded the positive coverage given him during his entire political lifetime. If only official Washington could be as sincere every day as it is at a memorial service. [...]

Wellstone got 83% in the Progressive Review's scorecard, along with Senators Corzine, Dayton, Kennedy, Reed and Sarbanes. By contrast Russell Feingold and Hillary Clinton got only 67%. But Wellstone was far from perfect. He voted for the obnoxious and falsely named Patriot Act and one Minnesota gay activist who voted for him said after his death, "I would have voted for Wellstone. But, sorry for my disrespect, I personally hated the man. He was grossly, openly homophobic. He was a loud advocate of the Defense of Marriage Act, and gave quotes like "what Sheila and I have is a holy thing, a covenant between each other and with god. I don't believe same sex relationships have that sanctity"


It seems safe to say you haven't heard Mr. Smith's first point put quite that way elsewhere and haven't heard his second much of anywhere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:19 PM

DOLE VS. CLINTON REDUX: THE THRILLA ON THE HILLA:

Clinton Now Backs Dole for President—Hill Sources Talk About Possible Deal (Washingtonian)
When the 108th Congress convenes in January, insiders say the hottest race will not be between Trent Lott and Tom Daschle. Barring an upset in the Senate race in North Carolina, there may be more political muscle in the Spouses Club of the Senate than in the main chamber.

Assuming that Elizabeth Dole beats former Clinton aide Erskine Bowles, 1996 presidential contenders Bill Clinton and Bob Dole will be positioned to run against each other again—this time for the presidency of the prestigious Senate Spouses Club. The current president is Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Appearing on the Larry King Live, Clinton volunteered to run Dole’s campaign for the office. Sources joke that the motive behind Clinton’s generosity could be to take advantage of Dole’s intimate relationship with the makers of Viagra.

But the potency pill may be only one of Dole’s advertising clients of interest to Clinton. The former senator from Kansas also has done TV commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts—a relationship Clinton also might exploit.

Speculation is that the ex-president might be willing to stay out of the race in exchange for access to Dole’s perks.


One of the most revealing sections of Robert Caro's brilliant biography-in-progress of Lyndon Johnson deals with how a young LBJ--he was just a congressional aide at the time--fixed an election in his own favor for the presidency of a mock legislature that Hill staffers used to have (don't know if the tradition endures).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:48 PM

AN UNUSUAL EMPIRE:

Business Is Growing in Kurdish Iraq (Brian Murphy, Oct 27, 2002, AP)
A five-star hotel is taking shape on a block blasted by gunners during a Kurdish civil war in the mid-1990s. Crews are planting trees and building roads.

For the first time in years, there are more briefcases than firearms in the halls of local bureaucracy.

It's not exactly boom times for Iraq's Kurdish region. But, thanks to U.S. and British air patrols that keep Iraqi troops out, it's a true land of opportunity compared with the rest of the country under Saddam Hussein's pervasive controls. [...]

The U.N.-administered oil-for-food program, which began in 1996, has helped jump-start the Iraqi Kurdish region, a landlocked arch of mountains and arid plains that hugs the borders of Syria, Turkey and Iran. The Kurds receive 13 percent of the total oil revenue - about $7 billion spent or earmarked so far, United Nations officials say.

Now, investment cash has started to arrive from Kurds abroad. Local entrepreneurs can turn to banks for business loans. Shops are full of goods from handmade furniture to top brands of liquor.

"We've gone through war and fighting. Now it's the time for business, God willing," said Karzan Taher Aziz, manager of a new Internet salon scheduled to open next month in the old bazaar district in Irbil, about 200 miles north of Baghdad.

"The Kurdish people have always been a persecuted people. The Internet helps us see the world and what we can become," Aziz said.


There's been a great outcry on the Left and the Far Right about how America has Imperial ambitions. But it's an odd kind of empire that exerts no political control over a region it's liberated in war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:16 PM

JOHNNY BOOKSEED:

Bibliophile is on quest to give free books to all who need them (REAGAN HAYNES, October 27, 2002, Canadian Press)
Bartenders know people complain at happy hour. They hear patrons chatter about co-workers, office politics, or, in the case of a group of teachers at Dougherty's Pub, the book shortage at their school. They nod and pour drinks.

But Russell Wattenberg listened, and started putting aside 10 per cent of his tips. He scavenged for books at thrift shops, used bookstores and yard sales and gave them to his customers. When neighbours heard about the beefy bartender donating books to teachers, they dug out more from their attics and brought them in.

"People heard and they donated more books and it just kind of grew and grew and grew until I quit the bar to do it full-time," Wattenberg said. "Now I'm giving away about 20,000 to 25,000 books a week and there's about a thousand people coming through each weekend."

So was born the Book Thing of Baltimore, a non-profit organization that gives books away to whoever wants them. It's run by Wattenberg - a chain-smoking, wry man who said he cries whenever he reads one of his favourites, Of Mice and Men.


Who doesn't?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM

READING THE MAP:

A road map that leads straight back to Oslo (NATAN SHARANSKY, Oct. 24, 2002, Jerusalem Post)
[T]his road map will only result in a new illusion whereby a new Palestinian dictatorship will be called upon to protect Israel's security and advance the cause of peace. Judging from this map, the Quartet believes that a Palestinian society poisoned for the last decade to hate Israel and Jews will be ready to freely choose a new leadership in a matter of months and be ready to peaceably join the community of nations in less than a year.

Once again, we are told, all that is needed to make peace a reality is resumed security cooperation, some money, and a little good will.Rather than strengthening the Palestinian people and investing in their freedom, the Quartet document returns to the Oslo formula by placing its faith in a "reformed" Palestinian dictatorship. Such a dictatorship will be no more interested in the welfare of its people than any other.

Six months ago, I sent a plan to Prime Minister Sharon that I believe outlines the broad steps that must be taken to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians embark on a genuine path to peace.

It calls for a temporary administration to be established for the next two to three years so that Palestinian society can be "detoxified" and democratic institutions can be developed. Rather than call for elections at the beginning of the process of reform, elections must come only after that process is well under way.

After all, only when Palestinians are not afraid to speak freely will they have a real opportunity to freely choose a leadership that is not compromised by terror. And only with such a leadership can Israel hope to engage in constructive negotiations for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Last summer, Bush crossed a peacemaking Rubicon in his historic speech. But alas, the Quartet's road map takes us back to the other side. Rigid timetables, confidence building measures, and new Palestinian strongmen will bring us no closer to peace today than they did for the last decade.The only hope for an Israeli-Palestinian peace remains investing in a free Palestinian society that will want to join Israel in building a common future.


While we revere Mr. Sharansky, he seems quite wrong here. Palestine will be a state, must make peace with Israel, and should evolve towards democracy, but the three are not entirely dependent on each other.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:55 AM

THE DARK PRINCE ON THE HAPPY WARRIOR:

Paul Wellstone, RIP (Robert Novak, October 28, 2002, TownHall)
The decision by many endangered Democratic candidates this year to fudge on issues and even use the image of George W. Bush in their commercials was not for Wellstone. He was the only vulnerable Democratic senator to vote against President Bush's Iraq resolution, and he did not agonize about it.

In my many television interviews and occasional private conversations with Wellstone, he never hid his concern with the pragmatic leadership of the Democratic Party. He often stated that the party was losing its soul under Bill Clinton. When I told him he was my ideal Democratic candidate, Wellstone shot back that I was looking for a loser.

Kidding aside, he was sincere about a presidential bid in 2000 and would have tried had he been able to finance it. Laid-back Bill Bradley was not exactly the passionate Wellstone's kind of Democrat, but he was better than Al Gore in Wellstone's eyes. He could not tolerate the strategizing and hedging of the Gore candidacy.

When I chided Wellstone for breaking his two-term pledge, he told me he felt he was needed not only to counter Bush conservatism but also to avert the Democratic drift. Last year, he spoke out against his party's moderation in these words: "I think Democrats are without a politics if they're not bold and honest for the things they think are right."


This is the best tribute I've seen, because honest about the Senator's limited effectiveness and appeal, but admiring about him as a person and a politician. You have to wonder, if all the folks, like Tom Daschle, who are saying that the Democrats lost their soul in that plane crash may not be all too right.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

IT'S ALL TURNOUT NOW:

Absentee voters absent for Dickerson Center balloting (RAY WEISS, October 28, 2002, Daytona News Journal)
There was a "get-out-the-vote" rapper, a sidewalk full of campaign workers handing out pamphlets and a gymnasium packed with election volunteers and staff.

All that was missing at the Dickerson Center Sunday were voters. Just 82 showed up.

Up to 3,000 were expected to cram the 50 small booths and fill out absentee ballots. The pre-election vote was sponsored by the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Volusia County Elections Office. Both sides agreed to the event after settling a lawsuit that stemmed from the botched 2000 election.

The NAACP had argued that black voters in several Florida counties, including Volusia, had encountered a disproportionate number of problems.

"It's not what we had hoped for. But maybe those people would not have voted otherwise," said Deanie Lowe, Volusia County Supervisor of Elections, right after the four hours of voting that began at 1 p.m. ended. "And 82 votes can make a difference, given how close some recent elections have been."


At this point, the GOP's best hope next Tuesday is that the post-9/11 George W. Bush has depolarized black opinion enough that it depresses black turnout, so something like this is a hopeful sign. But if black voters (or their ballots, at any rate) turn out in the proportions they did in '98, when Bill Clinton needed them, or in 2000, when the NAACP had scared them into hating George Bush, then it'll be a very long night for Republicans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM

THE COED ADVANTAGE:

In New Hampshire, It's Closing Time: Shaheen Catches Up With Sununu (Helen Dewar, October 27, 2002, Washington Post)
Republicans say Shaheen has closed the gap by "nasty" attacks on Sununu and his record, diverting attention, they say, from her troubled experience as governor -- especially the protracted fight over school funding that dominated most of her six years in office. Never in his 15 years in New Hampshire politics has he seen so much spent on negative advertising, said Pat Griffin, Sununu's media consultant.

"Every campaign that Jeanne Shaheen has been in has been run this way," Sununu said in an interview. "She knows only one way: to attack, attack, attack her opponents."

Not so, Democrats say. They contend that Shaheen took the offensive only after months of being tarred as a failed governor by GOP-financed ads during the primary season. Sununu's smooth blend of conservative philosophy and moderate style, they say, looks different when compared to Shaheen rather than the aggressively conservative Smith, who sealed his fate when he angrily left the GOP to make a brief independent bid for president in 1999.

"I think a lot of his [Sununu's] positions are positions that people didn't know he had and he didn't want them to know," Shaheen said in an interview. All she has done, she said, is point them out.


This is the great advantage that women candidates always have, that no matter how nasty a campaign they run they are still viewed as sweet and demur personally, while when their male opponents attack, it's no way to treat a lady.

October 27, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:42 PM

HE'S A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK:

Woman carries fetus for 46 years (The Ottawa Citizen, October 27, 2002)
RABAT, Morocco -- A 75-year-old woman who complained of stomach pains was found to have been carrying a calcified fetus -- a "stone baby" -- for 46 years, doctors said.

The doctors said they removed a 3.5-kilogram fetus they believe had been lodged in the woman's abdomen since an ectopic pregnancy in 1956.


Jeez--and ten months always seemed like an eternity.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 PM

SO THE QUESTION IS:

Act on Iran: Why do the mad mullahs still rule? Blame Jimmy Carter. (MICHAEL A. LEDEEN, October 27, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
Jimmy Carter, the pacific man of the moment, may soon find a difficult period of his presidency under scrutiny. The Bush administration's national security team has been embroiled in a heated debate over Iran policy, and it revolves around a promise Mr. Carter made to Ayatollah Khomeini. The policy issue is immense: to what extent can and should we support the rebellion of the Iranians against the theocracy in power in Tehran? [...]

It would be proper for us to help the freedom seekers in Iran even if we were not under assault from a terror network which has Tehran at its center. But thus far the administration has shied away from giving even the modest support the U.S. has provided freedom fighters in Central and Eastern Europe in the Cold War, in Yugoslavia against Milosevic, and in the Philippines against Marcos.

Instead it seems that Mr. Carter's ghost roams the White House, insisting that we appease Khomeini's successors. Opponents of a more vigorous Iran policy--notably Colin Powell and Richard Armitage--have invoked a clause in Mr. Carter's 1981 deal that produced the release of the American hostages a few minutes before Ronald Reagan was inaugurated: "It is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." [...]

This triumph of legalism over common sense is a fitting legacy for Mr. Carter, who famously viewed Khomeini's 1979 revolution as an improvement over the shah, at least until the hostage crisis doomed his political career.


What did Vice President Mondale know about this blatant act of appeasing terrorism and when did he know it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM

ANNALS OF TECHNOBIA (continued):

Military tests digital bugle for funerals (ROBERT BURNS, October 27, 2002, AP)
The Pentagon, chronically short of musicians to play taps at military funerals, is going to test a new ''push button'' bugle that can be operated by an honor guard member.

A small digital audio device inserted into the bell of the bugle plays a rendition of taps that the Pentagon says is ''virtually indistinguishable'' from a live bugler. The person using the bugle merely pushes a button and holds the bugle to his or her lips.

''In addition to the very high-quality sound, it provides a dignified 'visual' of a bugler playing taps, something families tell us they want,'' said John M. Molino, a deputy assistant defense secretary who announced the innovation. [...]

With the bugler shortage in mind, Congress passed a law that took effect in January 2000 and allows a recorded version of taps using audio equipment if a live horn player is not available. Molino said the push-button bugle is a ''dignified alternative'' to recorded taps.


It's the freakin' military--order some guys to learn how to play.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 AM

EXCEPT THAT THE GREEKS WERE THE WEST:

Herodotus' Histories & David Horowitz: Tales of Hubris, Ancient & Modern (Jimmy Cantrell, Texas Mercury)
Back when the elder Bush (a common moderate cultural-liberal Yankee Imperial Conservative badly playing at Texan) was leading us into the First Gulf War, I had a typical college student (more interested in beer and sluts than any academic subject and concerned ultimately only with a job paying enough to maintain his party lifestyle) assert that my belief that the Classics provided instruction applicable to every life and set of circumstances was a bunch of nonsense. The contemporary problems of tyrants in the Middle East and savage customs of the region served as proof indisputable to this prototypical (save for his being a Republican) TV trained Gen X undergraduate that we must have education focused on what's happening now.

Contrary to my student (and the vast majority of his peers-and of two generations of academics who eliminated both many of the dead-white-men from the curriculum and most of the live ones who would teach the dead ones properly, eliminations required to secure pedagogic prominence for various non-whites and non-Christians), some unmentionable racist-sexist dead-white-man was correct in asserting that to remain ignorant of what transpired before you were born is to remain forever a child. Thanks especially to the liberalizing educrats and their legal system creations, the intellectually lazy, tantrum-tossing, short-attention-span, Western Christian Civilization denigrating children of diverse hues, religions, and sexual preferences are now in charge. If you think MTV is the extent of the problem, spend time with the National Review according to Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg.

Though those children will pay no attention, save possibly the attention required to feel the need to silence me, a few others-the remnant-will take heed. And so I write.


One can't help but feel that Mr. Cantrell has gotten rather confused when he compares us to the Persians and the Islamists to the Greeks, but those opening paragraphs are well worth the price of admission.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM

DEMS +2?:

A tip sheet on the Senate battle (Mugger, 10/21/02, NY Press)
New Jersey: Businessman Doug Forrester's had the best television advertisements of the entire campaign-a little kid's flunking a test and tells his teacher that Frank Lautenberg ought to complete it, just as he bailed out Bob Torricelli-and this is another election where an upset could occur. That depends on whether Democratic New Jersey is finally fed up with its tradition of crooked politicians and doesn't want to send the 78-year-old Lautenberg, who makes Robert Byrd look cogent, back to the Senate. Having spent a year in Princeton, growing tomatoes that are the best in the nation, and sick of turnpike jokes, I'm counting on the people to do the right thing and give Jersey's Supreme Court a black eye for allowing the Torch switcheroo.

Lautenberg's refusal to debate Forrester might be his undoing. An Oct. 17 Philadelphia Inquirer editorial said: "New Jersey Democrats are perfectly happy treating the bizarre as ordinary-when it suits their purposes. They've been touting former Sen. Frank Lautenberg for the U.S. Senate as if he'd always been on the Nov. 5 ballot. The candidate is traveling around the state, pumping hands at senior-citizen centers, marching in holiday parades, phoning for dollars. But when it comes to debating Republican Douglas Forrester, Democrats suddenly view this election as a special circumstance. They claim Mr. Lautenberg can't possibly be expected to step so suddenly on the debate stage in place of former candidate Robert Torricelli, who tearfully dropped out of the race just 17 days ago... Publicly, Mr. Lautenberg says, `Sure, I'll debate anytime, anywhere,' but his campaign has only declined dates... The Lautenberg camp should stop stalling as it monitors opinion polls. This race has been sullied enough by questionable political tactics."

Colorado: Incumbent Wayne Allard has the charisma and campaign skills of a Microsoft technician; he loses to Democrat Tom Strickland. By a sizable margin.

North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole, who ought to have this contest in the bag, given her local roots and impressive resume, is going to blow it against Clinton buddy Erskine Bowles. I can smell it from here.

New Hampshire: Blowhard Sen. Bob Smith, the conservative who temporarily bolted from the GOP in 2000, and earlier this year lost a bitter primary race to Rep. John Sununu, will have his revenge on Election Day. Democratic Gov. Jean Shaheen, a decent if unformidable opponent, will reap the rewards of Smith's tacitly encouraging his hardcore supporters to sit out the election, giving the Dems another Senate pick-up. Sununu hasn't done himself any favors with his gloves-off race against Shaheen. He's a smart guy but apparently his father's brass balls skipped a generation.

South Dakota: Another grudge match, this time between Tom Daschle and President Bush. The Majority Leader's protege, Sen. Tim Johnson, is slowly going down the tubes, as voter fraud on Indian reservations is crowding the front pages of local newspapers, and Rep. John Thune, the White House-picked candidate, finally gets his campaign on track. Daschle's prestige is on the line here-the equivalent of Bush's personal stake in his brother's race in Florida-and if Johnson is defeated, the senior Senator can kiss his longshot presidential hopes goodbye.

Missouri: Jean Carnahan, who was appointed senator after her deceased husband defeated John Ashcroft two years ago in a fishy election, is imploding right now and doesn't look to right her campaign by Nov. 5. Not only is GOP challenger Jim Talent a better and more experienced politician, but Carnahan's recent dumb remark-"I'm the No. 1 target of the White House. Since they can't get Osama bin Laden, they're going to get me"-was the capper in a badly run race.

Texas: A sweep for the GOP, with Gov. Rick Perry besting multimillionaire Tony Sanchez and John Cornyn defeating Ron Kirk, the once-moderate Democrat and former mayor of Dallas who fell under the spell of Clintonite liberals and swung to the left in the past two months. I think Kirk's chances were always exaggerated-he was a Beltway media pet, a vehicle for embarrassing President Bush on his home turf-but the chances of a black winning statewide in Texas always seemed like a reach.

Arkansas: It's ironic that Sen. Tim Hutchinson is likely to lose because of a messy divorce in the state where Bill Clinton is now officially a Negro and perfected the art of Dogpatch politics, but opponent Mark Pryor, son of the popular former Sen. David Pryor, nails down the seat. It's testament to Pryor's quick instincts, citing "scheduling conflicts," that he didn't appear with Clinton when the speaker-for-hire recently visited the state on a campaign swing.


Given the current storyline this looks depressingly close to what might happen, but the story's changed so often this year that maybe something worthwhile will occur in the next 9 days.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

THE LOW COST OF TREASON:

Lest We Forget: The Case Against Jane Fonda (Mr. Renehan Jr., 10-21-02, History News Network)
As one former-POW later recalled: "I was informed ... to get ready to leave. We were put on a bus, blindfolded and driven away. Others were loaded on the bus at another stop and the bus left again. We were unloaded, lined up and had the blindfolds removed. We were then taken into a room and seated. The next thing that occurred was the appearance of Hanoi Jane and she began to speak." He remembers that "Fonda ... was doing a script. At one point she got lost in what she was saying, went back and used exactly the same words again for about two sentences to get back on track. I never got a chance (nor did I want to) say anything. It was a listen and be on display thing ... anything else would have brought on problems."

Problems, of course, is a euphemism for physical punishment. [...]

Some names, in the course of history, have become linked forever with the idea of treason. As the Holzers explain: "Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr escaped legal punishment as contemptible traitors, yet their names were, appropriately, sullied for all time. The names Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose remain synonymous with betrayal of their country. Apart from legal guilt, these four names have become generic descriptions of persons whose conduct was morally reprehensible at times when their country was at risk."

Admirably, Aid and Comfort goes a long way toward making sure "Hanoi Jane" makes it on to that short but indelible list.


As Ms Fonda's subsequent career and the recent ravings of those Democrat congressmen in Baghdad demonstrate, there's really no cost associated with treason in America today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM

DEMETRIUSES:

Gladiators: A New Order of Insect: A mystery in amber is solved on a desert mountain with a discovery that has stunned entomologists (Joachim Adis, Oliver Zompro, Esther Moombolah-Goagoses and Eugène Marais, October 14, 2002, Scientific American)
Imagine being the very first person ever to see a butterfly, a beetle or a wasp. Imagine the sense of wonder at a world so wide that it contains not just undiscovered species, genera or families but entire orders of life yet to be named. Carl Linnaeus must have had such a feeling 250 years ago as he was sorting recently discovered plants and animals into the taxonomy he had invented. So probably did E. M. Walker, who in 1914 was the first to describe rock crawlers (Grylloblattodea), bringing the number of orders in the insect class to 30.

Most entomologists thought that was the final total: although there may be millions of insect species still to identify (about 1.2 million have been named so far), for nearly a century we have assumed that every newfound species will fall into just those 30 basic categories. To biologists, the natural world no longer seemed as wide and as wild as it once did. But in June 2001 one of us (Zompro) received bits of amber that would change the way we look at the insect world, giving us a taste of the old joy of discovery--and renewing our awe at the variety of life. [...]

We settled on the scientific name Mantophasmatodea because the animals look like a bizarre cross between a mantis (order Mantodea) and a walkingstick (order Phasmatodea). But among ourselves we took to calling the beasts "gladiators," inspired by their fearsome appearance and the armor that covers them as nymphs.


Cool bugs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM

ACES OF BASE:

CA Voter turnout may be the worst ever: Current mark of 57.6 percent set in November 1998 general election (Steve Geissinger, 10/27/02, Tri-Valley Herald)
Though described as everything from dull to dismal, Election Day will still likely be historic -- for the lowest general election voter turnout ever in California, experts say.

"People are saying, 'I just want this thing to be over,'" said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media in Sacramento.

A new landmark low -- something below the turnout of 57.6 percent of registered voters for the November 1998 general election -- would come in the wake of a troubled election earlier this year. The March primary inspired the fewest voters to cast ballots of any primary election in California history.


There was a time when low turnout was automatically assumed to benefit Republicans, because they turned out to vote as a civic duty. But in recent years the Democrats have developed an extraordinarily effective system for turning out the Union and black vote and you'd have to say that low turnout generally benefits them now. That could be the decisive factor in races like that for the MO Senate seat--one reason that the GOP shouldn't get too giddy about its prospects.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM

BLAIR VS. LABOUR:

No 10 snubs Meacher 'anti-capitalism' claim (Francis Elliott, 27/10/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Michael Meacher, the environment minister, was left isolated by Downing Street last night after it refused to endorse his claims that the Government does not agree with capitalism.

Mr Meacher told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions: "We do not believe in capitalism. Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society."

A Number 10 spokesman, however, refused to comment on the remarks, referring inquiries to the Labour Party, whose spokesman said: "Socialism or capitalism is a sterile argument. The world has moved on."

The remarks, however, delighted Left-wing MPs. "The party is moving away from New Labour back to its roots and I think Michael's remarks reflect that," said Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West.


One of the useful things about war is that, as the Marxists would say, it forces the contradictions. In Britain this means it is opening the divide that naturally exists between Tony Blair, who truly believes in the Third Way/New Democrat ideas that Bill Clinton dallied with, and the ideologically unreconstructed Socialists of the Labour Party. It's awfully hard to see him finishing 2003 as the head of the Party and then the opportunity exists for him to either switch to the Tories or, here's your even longer longshot, take on some role--official or unofficial--in the Bush administration, focussed on the war on terror.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 AM

MISTY WATER COLOR MEMORIES:

Speculation builds that Mondale will be on ballot (Dane Smith, Greg Gordon and Mark Brunswick, Oct. 27, 2002, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Speculation was building Saturday that former Vice President Walter Mondale will be asked by DFL Party leaders or surviving family members of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone to replace him on the Nov. 5 ballot.

DFL officials, citing their grief and the unseemliness of replacement talk on the day after his death, mostly refused to comment on any Mondale prospects. [...]

Mondale was first appointed to the Senate by Gov. Karl Rolvaag in 1964, when Hubert H. Humphrey was elected vice president. Mondale was reelected in 1966 and 1972, ending his second term early to assume the vice presidency under President Carter. During the Clinton years, Mondale served as ambassador to Japan.

If he were elected, his 12 years in the Senate would give him seniority, including becoming Minnesota's senior senator. But Democratic officials in Washington said that, based on the treatment of former New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg's sudden candidacy in New Jersey, Mondale probably would not receive seniority in committee assignments. Rather, he would likely be viewed as an elder statesman.


Oh yeah, it'll be helpful to have someone around to tell us about how the 1960s and 70s Democrats drove the economy into the ground--double digit inflation, interest rates, and unemployment by the time he, Jimmy Carter, and the Democrat Congress were done--and how they drove one of the only pro-western governments in Middle East history out of power--Iran--and how while he was in office it was the Soviets who were "liberating" Afghanistan...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM

AYE, THERE'S THE NUB:

Global rally against war on Iraq (AP, October 27, 2002)
"Saddam Hussein is one of the absolutely worst dictators in the world today... but that doesn't justify the U.S.A.'s war plans," Gudrun Schyman, leader of Sweden's former communist Left Party, told the crowd in Stockholm.

"You don't disarm a regime by conducting an armed war."


That's really the nub of the question here: do the world's democracies have a right to topple its dictatorships?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM

LET'S BE CONTENT:

"The World Turned Upside Down": A Yorktown March, or Music to Surrender By. (Arthur Schrader, Summer 1998, American Music)
The Parson Weems stories about George Washington's childhood have long been ridiculed out of our country's school books by historians in search of a more realistic, if less romantic, American past. The cherry tree and the hatchet are now part of a never-never land to be dismissed by young people as well as adults (except for advertisers of "Washington's Birthday Week Auto Sales").

There is another "Weemish" story, about music in the revolutionary era, first published in 1828, which nineteenth-century historians largely ignored, but which twentieth-century novelists, folk-song enthusiasts, and a good many professional historians have largely embraced to add an ironically dramatic fillip to their accounts of the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. Now, thanks to many serious as well as "pop" histories and novels, the story is one of the best known bits of trivia concerning the Revolution. Briefly, the story as usually told is that when the British surrendered at Yorktown, their "band" or "bands" played a march named "The World Turned Upside Down" (hereafter sometimes WTUD). A curious mistake in one standard American history has the Americans, instead of the British, playing WTUD at Yorktown. Oddly enough, this typographical error fits the historical event rather better than the usual form of the story. If anyone was to have played WTUD at Yorktown it ought to have been the Americans.

This WTUD story is trivial, really, no more than a "sound bite." On the other hand, WTUD is the only music that professional historians have ever asked me about when they learned of my concern with music in early American history. It may well be that WTUD is the only tune name (other than "Yankee Doodle") that professional historians associate with the American Revolution. Simon Schama, a distinguished American historian of the French Revolution, recently described "The World Turned Upside Down" as "the popular anthem of the American Revolution."

This suggests that the trivial idea of WTUD as a tune played ironically at Yorktown has transcended its triviality to become a music catch-all for some historians. In fact so many historians have repeated this story that it has thereby become a proper subject for the following account. But did it happen? We don't know. If it did happen what was the tune? We don't know. If it did happen what did it mean to the British? We don't know.


You know, some legends are just so true to the temper of their times that it's hard to care whether they are "true" or not. Ant the image of the surrendering Brits playing the following is perfect:
The World Turned Upside Down
To the Tune of, When the King enioys his own again.

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before.
Holy-dayes are despis'd, new fashions are devis'd.
Old Christmas is kickt out of Town.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

The wise men did rejoyce to see our Savior Christs Nativity:
The Angels did good tidings bring, the Sheepheards did rejoyce and sing.
Let all honest men, take example by them.
Why should we from good Laws be bound?
Yet let's be content, &c.

Command is given, we must obey, and quite forget old Christmas day:
Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain, we will give thanks and praise amain.
The wine pot shall clinke, we will feast and drinke.
And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let's be content, &c.

Our Lords and Knights, and Gentry too, doe mean old fashions to forgoe:
They set a porter at the gate, that none must enter in thereat.
They count it a sin, when poor people come in.
Hospitality it selfe is drown'd.
Yet let's be content, &c.

The serving men doe sit and whine, and thinke it long ere dinner time:
The Butler's still out of the way, or else my Lady keeps the key,
The poor old cook, in the larder doth look,
Where is no goodnesse to be found,
Yet let's be content, &c.

To conclude, I'le tell you news that's right, Christmas was kil'd at Naseby fight:
Charity was slain at that same time, Jack Tell troth too, a friend of mine,
Likewise then did die, rost beef and shred pie,
Pig, Goose and Capon no quarter found.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM

AFTER THE TERROR:

Nudge-Winking: a review of The 'Criterion': Cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Interwar Britain by Jason Harding (Terry Eagleton, 19 September 2002, London Review of Books)
It was Fascism, in short, which helped to close down the Criterion, a point overlooked by those for whom Eliot and his magazine were themselves of this persuasion. In fact, Eliot was not a Fascist but a reactionary, a distinction lost on those of his critics who, in the words of Edmund Burke, know nothing of politics but the passions they incite. Ideologically speaking, Fascism is as double-visaged as the Modernism with which it was sometimes involved, casting a backward glance to the primitive and primordial while steaming dynamically ahead into the gleaming technological future. Like Modernism, it is both archaic and avant-garde, sifting pre-modern mythologies for precious seeds of the post-modern future. Politically speaking, however, Fascism, like all nationalism, is a thoroughly modern invention. Its aim is to crush beneath its boot the traditions of high civility that Eliot revered, placing an outsized granite model of a spade and sten gun in the spaces where Virgil and Milton once stood.

Fascism is statist rather than royalist, revolutionary rather than traditionalist, petty-bourgeois rather than patrician, pagan rather than Christian (though Iberian Fascism proved an exception). In its brutal cult of power and contempt for pedigree and civility, it has little in common with Eliot's benignly landowning, regionalist, Morris-dancing, church-centred social ideal. Even so, there are affinities as well as contrasts between Fascism and conservative reaction. If the former touts a demonic version of blood and soil, the latter promotes an angelic one. Both are elitist, authoritarian creeds that sacrifice freedom to organic order; both are hostile to liberal democracy and unbridled market-place economics; both invoke myth and symbol, elevating intuition over analytical reason. The Idea of Europe, as Eliot dubbed it, is in its own civilised way quite as exclusivist as the Nazi state which in Eliot's eyes helped to spell its ruin. It represented, as Thomas Mann understood, a disabling sublimation of the spirit that left actual human life perilously open to the assaults of barbarism. Moreover, though racism and anti-semitism are not essential components of right-wing Tory belief, as they are of most Fascist doctrine, they flourish robustly in that soil.

It is not surprising, then, that Eliot, like W.B. Yeats, should at times be found looking on Fascism with qualified approval, or that he should have made some deplorably anti-semitic comments. The problem with all such political strictures, however, is that conservatives do not regard their beliefs as political. Politics is the sphere of utility, and therefore inimical to conservative values. It is what other people rattle on about, whereas one's own commitments are a matter of custom, instinct, practicality, common sense. The Criterion was thus embarrassed from the outset by having to address an urgent political crisis while apparently not believing in politics. Eliot writes that a literary review must be perpetually changing with the contemporary world; but how can the idea of a Tory periodical not have a smack of the oxymoronic about it, given that the principles it embraces are timeless and immutable? 'Times change, values don't,' as an advertisement for the Daily Telegraph used to proclaim, written perhaps by a hack who enjoyed burning witches. Nor can it be a question of 'applying' these unchanging principles to altering conditions, since the application of universal precepts to the particular, with its resonance of left-rationalism, is part of what conservatism rejects.


These criticisms of conservatism, from one of the last (hopefully) great Marxist theorists, seem pretty fair, except for one thing. Conservatism can hardly be blamed when, having lost the struggle to limit the expansion of the state and the extension of the political into every aspect of human life, it is now somewhat schizophrenic about how to react to these phenomena.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 AM

BIG DOINGS IN THE OTHER BROTHER'S HOMETOWN:

Oh my gourd, that's a pumpkin (HUNTER McGEE, October 27, 2002, NH Sunday News)
Cancer patient Charles Houghton didn't worry about his disease but cultivated a positive outlook over the summer while he grew a pumpkin for the ages.

Houghton, who suffers from bladder cancer, grows pumpkins in his spare time from his New Boston garden.

He was lying in an Elliot Hospital bed in Manchester on Oct. 5, days after cancer surgery, when his wife, Kathleen, phoned to tell him the pumpkin he grew had won the Topsfield, Mass., Fair contest. The fair represents the biggest pumpkin-growing competition in New England.

"With all the screaming I couldn't hear her at first," Houghton said of the call that came from the fair where about 700 people were attending. "I figured it would weigh about 1,300 (pounds), then she said 1,337 (pounds) - I was in a daze . . ."

Not only did the giant gourd win the fair, at 1,337.6 pounds, but it captured the unofficial world record, Houghton said. His family members have started the process to have the winning entry listed in the Guinness World Records book. The official recordholder weighed about 1,262 pounds and was grown in Washington State, Houghton said.


But in less joyful news:
Keene fails to smash pumpkin record (STEPHEN SEITZ, October 27, 2002, NH Sunday News)
Despite valiant efforts in a rain-filled day, organizers of Keene's annual pumpkin festival said they failed to break the record yesterday for the most pumpkins gathered in one location.

When the final pumpkin was counted, Keene had 18,882 pumpkins on display last night. The record was 23,727 pumpkins gathered together two years ago.

Officials estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 people came to Keene to participate in the festival, despite the rain.


Ah, Red State fun...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 AM

GREEN ONION:

The Onion - How the Web's Most Beloved Humor Site Stays Profitable (ContentBiz, 10/23/2002)
The site itself gets 1.3 million visitors accounting for 5.3 million pageviews per week (yes, that's week, not month.) In contrast, The Onion's print editions reach 300,000 readers who pick up f*ree local copies, and 20,000 who pay a token subscription fee to have it mailed to them.

Other ancillary sales are small slice of the pie compared to ad dollars. Cranmer notes that store sales always peak for two- three days after she puts new products in each month (note: continually freshen your inventory to keep sales high) and also during the gift-giving season.

You may have noticed one format The Onion doesn't publish in-- email. Cranmer notes she's cracking under reader and advertiser pressure to launch an email edition soon. "We want it to be good. We don't just want to rush in and dump headlines into it and say, go check these out. We wanted something a little different. We're still knocking around what that difference will be."

Which pretty much sums of The Onion's whole philosophy of getting ahead in business ... by really, really trying.


It helps to maintain the high quality of the product too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM

DEMOCRACY FROM THE TOP DOWN:

There Is Hope (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, October 27, 2002, NY Times)
It's true that Bahrain's young king has been planning this transition to a constitutional monarchy for several years, as part of a move to spur economic growth and overcome Bahrain's legacy of Sunni-Shiite tension. He prepared the way by releasing all political prisoners, inviting exiles home, loosening reins on the press and repealing laws permitting arbitrary arrests. Nevertheless, this election is about something larger than Bahrain. It is about how the Arab world confronts the forces that produced 9/11 - and all of Bahrain's neighbors, like Saudi Arabia, are watching. [...]

The Bush team needs to pay attention to the Bahrain experiment, because it is a mini-version of what nation-building in Iraq would require. Like Iraq, Bahrain is a country with a Shiite majority, which has been economically deprived, and a Sunni Muslim minority, which has always controlled the levers of power. Historically in this part of the world, democracy never worked because of the feeling that if your tribe or religious community was not in power, it would lose everything - so no rotation in power could be tolerated.

By electing one house of parliament and appointing another, the Bahraini king is taking the first tentative steps to both share decision-making and nurture a political culture in which the country will not be able to move forward without the new lawmakers' building coalitions across ethnic lines. The same would be needed in Iraq, only on a much larger scale.


The West has a fairly spotty record as far as maintaining consistent support for such experiments--where autocrats devolve power downwards. Jimmy Carter, our recent Nobel Laureate, after all undercut just such an experiment in Iran. And while Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile, and Attaturk's Turkey all offer textbook examples of how authoritarian regimes can lay the necessary groundwork for democratic transition, we've had a tendency to be tougher on such leaders and their countries than we have on our true enemies. It's a hopeful sign that Mr. Friedman, who is kind of the unofficial Secretary of State for the establishment, seems supportive of at least this one model of gradual transition.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:37 AM

TO FEED OR NOT TO FEED? AND WHAT TO FEED:

The Winter Banquet: Is backyard bird feeding helping or hurting? New research answers this and many other questions. Plus, five feeders every yard should have. (Stephen W. Kress, Audubon)
There is surprisingly little research on the effects of feeders on individual species, but the limited studies so far suggest that backyard feeders are not creating a population of dependent wintering birds. For example, researchers Margaret Brittingham and Stanley Temple from the University of Wisconsin compared winter flocks of black-capped chickadees in two similar woodlands in Wisconsin-one left natural and one equipped with feeders stocked with sunflower seeds. After three years of study, they found that winter survival rates were highest in the woods with the feeders -but only during winters with prolonged periods of extreme cold. This suggests that in milder climates, feeders may have little effect on the winter survival of chickadees. The study also found that nesting populations in both woods were similar the following spring.

Other research by Brittingham and Temple allays the concern that birds may lose their natural talent for finding food and become dependent on the easy life of taking food at feeders. [...]

What's on the Menu

1. Sunflower seed: Black-oil seed is the preferred seed of many small feeder birds, especially in northern latitudes. Striped sunflower seed is also readily eaten, especially by large-beaked birds. Hulled sunflower seed is consumed by the greatest variety of birds; it attracts jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, finches, goldfinches, northern cardinals, evening grosbeaks, pine grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and grackles.

2. Millet: White millet is the favorite food of most small-beaked ground-feeding birds; red millet is also readily eaten. Millet attracts quail, doves, juncos, sparrows, towhees, cowbirds, and red-winged blackbirds.

3. Cracked corn: Medium cracked corn is about as popular with ground-feeding birds as millet, but it is vulnerable to rot, since the interior of the kernel readily soaks up moisture. Feed small amounts, mixed with millet, on feeding tables or from watertight hopper feeders. Avoid fine cracked corn, since it quickly turns to mush; coarse cracked corn is too large for small-beaked birds. Cracked corn attracts pheasants, quail, doves, crows, jays, sparrows, juncos, and towhees.

4. Milo, wheat, oats: These agricultural products are frequently mixed into low-priced birdseed blends. Most birds discard them in favor of other food, which leaves them to accumulate under feeders, where they attract rodents. Milo is more often eaten by ground-feeding birds in the Southwest. It attracts pheasants, quail, and doves.

5. Thistle (a.k.a. niger): A preferred food of American goldfinches, lesser goldfinches, house finches, and common redpolls, niger is sometimes called "black gold," because it costs about $1.50 per pound. Do not confuse it with prickly thistle, a pink-flowered weed used by goldfinches to line their nests. Niger works best in special thistle-seed feeders with small holes that restrict the flow of the tiny black seeds. The best feeders have holes below the purchase to permit feeding by goldfinches, which can hang upside down (and thus excludes the more common house finch).

6. Suet and bird puddings (reconstituted suet and seed): Peanut butter-cornmeal mixes (one part peanut butter, four parts cornmeal, and one part vegetable shortening; good for winter and summer feeding) or whole and crushed peanuts attract woodpeckers, jays, chickadees, titmice, bushtits, nuthatches, brown creepers, wrens, kinglets, northern mockingbirds, brown thrashers, starlings, and yellow-rumped and pine warblers.


Our yard was just filthy with robins yesterday. Presumably they were after worms, since we had a light snowfall that was melting?

October 26, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 PM

THE SUNSHINE BOYS:

Dems Seek to Put Mondale on Ballot (ASHLEY H. GRANT and MIKE WILSON, 10/26/02, Associated Press)
Democrats on Saturday reached out for a candidate to replace Sen. Paul Wellstone on the November ballot, with elder statesman Walter Mondale emerging as the favorite. Meanwhile, federal investigators searched the wreckage of Wellstone's plane to determine why it crashed.

Mondale, the former vice president and Minnesota congressman, wasn't commenting. But one Democratic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mondale had indicated some interest.

Two Democratic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patty Murray, head of the party's campaign committee, had reached out to Mondale. Democratic sources said prominent labor leaders had expressed interest in Mondale as well.

"If he says yes, it's pretty much over," said Democratic consultant Wy Spano.


Democrats aren't exactly building for the future with Lautenberg and Mondale, are they? And, once again, as with Cory Booker in NJ, the Party is passing up a well-qualified black candidate--Alan Page--who would be practically guaranteed a Senate seat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM

RED STATES THROUGH BLUE GOGGLES:

Dead Parrot Society (PAUL KRUGMAN, October 25, 2002, NY Times)
[T]he Bush administration is an extremely elitist clique trying to maintain a populist facade. Its domestic policies are designed to benefit a very small number of people--basically those who earn at least $300,000 a year, and really don't care about either the environment or their less fortunate compatriots. True, this base is augmented by some powerful special-interest groups, notably the Christian right and the gun lobby. But while this coalition can raise vast sums, and can mobilize operatives to stage bourgeois riots when needed, the policies themselves are inherently unpopular. Hence the need to reshape those malleable facts.

What remains puzzling is the long-term strategy. Despite Mr. Bush's control of the bully pulpit, he has had little success in changing the public's fundamental views. Before Sept. 11 the nation was growing increasingly dismayed over the administration's hard right turn. Terrorism brought Mr. Bush immense personal popularity, as the public rallied around the flag; but the helium has been steadily leaking out of that balloon.

Right now the administration is playing the war card, inventing facts as necessary, and trying to use the remnants of Mr. Bush's post-Sept. 11 popularity to gain control of all three branches of government. But then what? There is, after all, no indication that Mr. Bush ever intends to move to the center.

So the administration's inner circle must think that full control of the government can be used to lock in a permanent political advantage, even though the more the public learns about their policies, the less it likes them. The big question is whether the press, which is beginning to find its voice, will lose it again in the face of one-party government.


It sometimes seems fair to question whether the NY Times is even competent to cover Red State America. Note the breath-taking ease with which Mr. Krugman dismisses as unpopular and marginal both conservative Christians and gun owners, who between them (even allowing for presumably significant overlap) must make up between them if not quite a majority of Americans then at least one of the largest pluralities you can manufacture out of constituency groups.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:57 PM

UNWOBBLING:

Bush Says He Will Lead Coalition Against Iraq (Ron Fournier, Oct 26, 2002, The Associated Press)
Increasing pressure on skeptical allies, President Bush said Saturday the United States will lead a coalition against Iraq if the United Nations does not pass a strong resolution to disarm Saddam Hussein.

The White House said it would be "not very hard at all" to assemble an alliance without U.N. help, a clear signal that Bush's patience with the international organizations is reaching its limits as France, Russia, Mexico and other allies seek to water down his zero-tolerance approach to Iraq.

"If the U.N. does not pass a resolution which holds him to account and that has consequences, then, as I have said in speech after speech after speech, if the U.N. won't act - if Saddam Hussein won't disarm - we will lead a coalition to disarm him," Bush said.


I'll bet a box of donuts that if you check the conservative rags (Weekly Standard, National Review, etc.) today you'll find at least one essay from this week whining about how George W. Bush is wavering dangerously on the issue of removing Saddam from power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:30 PM

THE SOPRANO:

Postal plot (Washington Whispers, US News)
A Democratic executive of the U.S. Postal Service abruptly quit last Friday amid allegations that she used the federal mail budget to hurt the re-election chances of Arkansas Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson. Sources allege that Deborah Willhite, the Postal Service's top lobbyist, pushed to have the budget for Arkansas post offices cut–and Hutchinson blamed. The money was to be transferred to Georgia's post offices, allowing supporters there to credit Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who's in his own tough re-election battle. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott caught wind of the deal making and demanded the resignation of Willhite, an Arkansan who has donated to Hutchinson's opponent and to Cleland. Willhite, however, says "it's all a plot" to discredit her and that she planned to resign anyway. "It spins a good story," she says, "but it's just not the case." Postmaster General John Potter is scouring all recent budget moves for other political hanky-panky.

Another episode in the continuing criminal conspiracy that is the Democrat Party.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM

MEETING THE LORD OF THE FLIES:

Bush's Armageddon Obsession (Michael Ortiz Hill, October 23, 2002, AlterNet)
I'd become accustomed to George W. Bush's use of the word "evil" until he told the nation this last spring, "The evil one is among us."

Anyone with a passing understanding of the evangelical world of Bush' faith knows he was referring to the Antichrist. The implications of this are grave beyond telling and yet scarcely ever noted in the public discourse. On the eve of a misguided war the Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force in human history has located American foreign policy within a Biblical narrative that leads inexorably towards the plains of Megiddo, roughly fifty five miles northwest of Jerusalem: the battle of Armageddon. Two essential questions, as impertinent as they are imperative, need to be asked: Mr. President, as a born-again Christian is it not true that you regard this as the end times prophesied in the Bible? In what way does your religious understanding of apocalypse inform American policy in the Mideast?


It's not all clear that Mr. Bush was referring to the Evil One; he may well have just been referring to Osama bin Laden as "the evil one". But even assuming that the President was referring to Satan, it would hardly be as apocalyptic a reference as M. Hill seems to think. Here's a pretty good discussion of Satan, evil, and 9-11 from two unlikely sources--Bill Moyers and Andrew Delbanco--speaking on September 12th, 2001:
BM: Do you believe in evil?

AD: I don't see how anyone can have experienced even indirectly as you and I sitting here have the events of the last day and not take seriously the existence of evil. One of the things that a number of writers have said about the devil--some people believe in him as a literal being, some people believe in him as a metaphor or an image or a representation of these dark, human capacities--one thing that a number of writers have said is that the cleverest trick of the devil is to convince people that he does not exist. We saw evil yesterday. We have to confront it. We have to face it.

BM: Evil is defined as?

AD: Well, for me I think the best I've been able to do with that question is to try to recognize and come to terms with the reality of the fact that there are human beings who are able, by convincing themselves that there's some higher good, some higher ideal to which their lives should be dedicated, that the pain and suffering of other individuals doesn't matter, it doesn't have to do with them or that it's... That they're expendable, that it's a cost that's worth making in the pursuit of these objectives. So evil for me is the absence of the imaginative sympathy for other human beings.

BM: The absence of a moral imagination, the ability to see what the consequences of your actions are to someone else?

AD: Yes, the inability to see your victims as human beings. To think of them as instruments or cogs or elements or statistics but not as human beings.

BM: You have written about your concern that Americans have lost the sense of evil. Is what happened in the last 36 hours going to bring us back or is it too deep for that, our absence, our loss of memory.

AD: I think it simmers. It's dormant in all of us. We don't want to acknowledge it. We want to explain it away. We want to find [an explanation] for it. In a modern world we mostly live in a place where the terrible suffering of the world seems far away-abstract and unreal and we can somehow imagine that it hasn't anything to do with us. It came home yesterday. I think a lot of people in this city and in this country are searching their souls.


What's interesting about this from our perspective today is how it ties in to the post below on equality. Part of the reason that modern liberalism has to deny the existence of evil--beyond just its hostility to Judeo-Christianity--is because if we recognize that evil exists and that people are evil to greater and lesser degrees (we all, of course, have evil within us) that strikes at the very heart of the egalitarian project. After all, how can one justify redistributing wealth to the evil as well as to the "good"? And if we are to have affirmative action programs to "level the playing field" for every classification of folks known to man, should the evil too have jobs and college admissions reserved for them? That seems like it would be a tough sell to the voters. Any such gradation of human beings, implying as it does that we can, and should, make judgments about people based on their character must be anathema to the Left. And so they are stuck denying evil. Instead, an Osama bin Laden has to have been created and motivated by our own actions, so that if only we tweak this knob or punch this button he can be brought back around to being a perfectly decent chap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:30 PM

FALL BACK:

Daylight Savings Time: Web Exhibit

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:04 PM

A POEM AS LOVELY:

Champions Among Trees (Joseph Monninger, 10/26/02, Valley News)
[A] state champion honey locust (Glenditsia triacanthos) has stood since 1886 at the Saint-Gaudens museum in Cornish, New Hampshire. Although not nearly as large as the New England champion from Coventry, Rhode Island, I knew it was nevertheless a sizeable tree. I packed a picnic lunch, checked the location on the map, and headed off.

One thing about a championship tree, whether it is a state or regional champ: you can't miss it. As soon as you step inside the gate at Saint-Gaudens -- the home and studio of the famous sculptor who helped to establish an artist colony in the area around the turn of the last century -- the honey locust commands your complete attention. Set on the south side of a house called by Saint-Gaudens Aspet, a former inn, the tree is rigged with lightning rods. Otherwise, Chief of Park Interpretation, Greg Schwarz had told me on the phone, "The tree probably wouldn't be here." The hurricane of 1938 took down many of the largest trees in the park, but it left the locust standing. To the best of anyone's knowledge, the tree is in excellent health and can look forward to a continued long life. It is, however, the tallest fixture in the acreage. Its size has made it susceptible to lightning and heavy winds.

"We think the tree came from the Mt. Hope Nurseries in New York State," Ranger Schwarz told me. "Saint-Gaudens planted it himself. He also planted some birches near the Pan garden. Many of the birches are over a century old, and that's quite old as birches go. He was intimately involved in the landscaping. We have hemlock bushes that are quite ancient and form wonderful glades. We don't know too much more about this particular tree, the state champion. As a locust, it is one of the last trees to lose its leaves each fall and one of the last to `leaf-out' in the spring."

The tree is a hybrid and, as such, initially resisted grafting. But the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard has grafted it successfully, and a few small locusts grow on the Saint-Gaudens' grounds. Colonial woodsmen used the thorns of honey locusts for pins, arrow points, and animal traps. The wood, a heavy, dense lumber, was later used for agricultural implements, fence posts, and even railroad ties. As a hybrid, the thorn-less honey locust at Saint-Gaudens may have been favored at the end of the 19th century as an ornamental, much like certain hawthorns today. The tree originally belonged to the Mississippi Valley before migrating, over time, to the east.

By any reckoning, the Saint-Gauden honey locust is an immense and powerful tree. When last measured in 1998, the tree recorded a circumference of 561/2 inches and was approximately 100 feet tall. That puts it well behind the Rhode Island Locust in bulk, which has a remarkable 179-inch circumference, but the Saint-Gaudens' honey locust is as tall as the Rhode Island entry.


Which naturally puts one in mind of the poet so great he has a rest area on the NJ Turnpike named for him:
Trees (Joyce Kilmer):

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks to God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


You know, growing up in NJ we must have read that in at least four different grades, but I'd never noticed that the first seven lines all start with "A".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:41 PM

OH, THE HOURS WASTED...:

The trouble with Tetris (BBC, 26 October, 2002)
Anyone who has played computer games over the last 15 years is likely to have encountered Tetris in one form or another. Many people first played it on the Nintendo Gameboy handheld console. [...]

Now Erik Demaine, Susan Hohenberger and David Liben-Nowell from the Laboratory of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have analysed the game to determine its computational complexity.

The trio discovered that, subject to certain conditions, Tetris has much in common with some of the knottiest mathematical conundrums such as the Travelling Salesman Problem. [...]

The researchers found that Tetris was an NP-Hard problem, i.e. there was no easy way to maximise a score at the game, even when the sequence of blocks was known in advance.


We could have told them it was hard.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 PM

THE AYATOLLAHS VS. THE IDIOT BOX:

Lights, Cameras, Revolution (CBS, Oct. 23, 2002)
The West has a secret weapon against Iran. It's a balding Iranian rock star, a Persian actor who can't get a role and a one-eyed talk show host who speaks in Farsi, all working in a small television studio on the wrong side of Hollywood.

It's called NITV, and if the Bush Administration hasn't realized its potential as a weapon, Iran's ruling ayatollahs certainly have, reports 60 Minutes II correspondent Bob Simon.

National Iranian Television sounds like the government?s official network, but it is anything but that. Watched by millions of Iranians with satellite dishes, NITV uses humor to attack the ruling Islamic regime.

NITV is the brainchild of Zia Atabay, a rock star who was known as the "Tom Jones of Iran" until the ayatollahs forced him to flee to America. Twenty years and one toupee later, he took some money from his wife's plastic surgery business and bought a former porn studio in North Hollywood.


And again we are told that ideas and the words that convey them matter...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 PM

EXTREME EGALITARIANISM GOES ABROAD:

Keeping U.S. No. 1: Is It Wise? Is It New? (JUDITH MILLER, October 26, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush's release of an audacious new strategy last month for defending America against future foreign threats stunned Washington and even some close allies. The 33-page document, titled the "National Security Strategy of the United States," ostensibly departed from what had been the longstanding conventional wisdom about American strategy.

Initially, expert scrutiny focused on the president's assertion that the United States would "not hesitate" to act alone and "pre-emptively" to thwart dangers from hostile states or terrorist groups armed with, or seeking, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

More recently, however, analysts have been centering on the Bush doctrine's last chapter. America, it states, is the world's strongest nation, enjoying "unparalleled military strength," and will never again allow its military supremacy to be challenged as it was during the cold war.

"Our forces will be strong enough," the document says, "to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States."

That is strong stuff, even by swashbuckling Texas standards. Containing rather than vanquishing enemies and maintaining a balance of power has been a mainstay of American foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. It is not surprising, then, that much of the reaction to what has been dubbed the "Hertz doctrine" ("We're No. 1") has been negative.


The answer to Ms Miller's first question is more readily apparent if you reverse it: Would it be wise for America to allow an adversary to become our military superior?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM

SILENCING OUR CONSCIENCES:

It's Joe vs. abortionists (THOMAS ROESER, October 26, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
My friend Joe Scheidler is a racketeer. At least that's what Fay Clayton says. But he is a peaceable man, a devout Catholic who protests abortion. Scheidler a racketeer? Yes, says Clayton and the National Organization for Women. The Supreme Court will hear the case beginning in December. So to get all of us up to speed, a timeline is in order.

Thus the nation's top jurists will only consider whether the law allows nonviolent, political protest to be equated with racketeering and extortion. If the high court agrees with Clayton, all protests--for civil rights, peace and other forms of redress--will be severely changed. Were RICO in effect in the 1960s, Martin Luther King and any subsequent civil rights protesters would be tried as potential federal felons.

May it please the court: Every time I've marched with Joe, there was praying and singing, no violence. But he's undeniably a man of action. We were passing an empty playground while one TV crew watched idly. Joe moved in and started the swings swaying gracefully, a tribute to the unborn who will never play. It made for eloquent TV on the 5 p.m. news.

I've know him for 30 years, and Joe's no racketeer. Merely a saint.


We used to kill our saints, now we just treat them like criminals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:12 PM

THE "K" IN KOUFAX:

REVIEW: of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy (J. Bottum, October 2002, October 2002)
THE PROBLEM is not to figure out why Sandy Koufax was a great pitcher. The problem is tofigure out why he was Sandy Koufax-the stuff of myth, the Achilles of Dodger Stadium, the pitcher who from 1963 to 1966 redefined baseball, the Jewish Phenomenon, the most talked-about athlete of the 1960's, and the man who is remembered by everyone who saw him pitch as the most exciting player ever to take the mound.

Even during his early years, Koufax always had something: some promise of things to come, some flash of brilliance that kept the Dodgers from unloading him as a failed prospect. The fans who remember his almost perfect final years tend to forget just how mediocre he was in the beginning of his career, and how long that beginning lasted. His combined record from 1955 to 1960 was 42 wins and 53 losses-on pennant-winning teams. The earned runs he allowed barely matched the league's average, and his unearned runs were atrocious. He walked enormous numbers of batters and threw wild pitches. He hit so many batters in spring training that one Dodger complained, "Taking batting practice against him is like playing Russian roulette with five bullets."

None of this is what a baseball team wants in a star pitcher. Signed to a big bonus-which, under the rules of the 1950's, prohibited the Dodgers from sending him back to the minor leagues for seasoning-Koufax was promoted as baseball's latest wunderkind, the teenaged lefthander, the golden-armed Jewish boy from Brooklyn who was going to make everyone forget Lefty Grove. But he was really little more than a one-dimensional player.


He was done by the time I started watching baseball, but, oddly enough, one of his games remains lodged firmly in memory, or at least the last inning of it. Read this verbatim transcript of Vin Scully's call of Koufax's perfect game or listen to it here. It is literature--maybe even poetry--of the highest order, though spoken spontaneously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 AM

THE GENERAL THEORY OF POETRY'S RELATIVITY:

Can Poetry Matter?: Poetry has vanished as a cultural force in America. If poets venture outside their confined world, they can work to make it essential once more. (Dana Gioia, May 1991, The Atlantic Monthly)
In art, of course, everyone agrees that quality and not quantity matters. Some authors survive on the basis of a single unforgettable poem--Edmund Waller's "Go, Lovely Rose," for example, or Edwin Markham's "The Man With the Hoe," which was made famous by being reprinted in hundreds of newspapers--an unthinkable occurrence today. But bureaucracies, by their very nature, have difficulty measuring something as intangible as literary quality. When institutions evaluate creative artists for employment or promotion, they still must find some seemingly objective means to do so. As the critic Bruce Bawer has observed,

"A poem is, after all, a fragile thing, and its intrinsic worth or lack thereof, is a frighteningly subjective consideration; but fellowship grants, degrees, appointments, and publications are objective facts. They are quantifiable; they can be listed on a resume."

Poets serious about making careers in institutions understand that the criteria for success are primarily quantitative. They must publish as much as possible as quickly as possible. The slow maturation of genuine creativity looks like laziness to a committee. Wallace Stevens was forty-three when his first book appeared. Robert Frost was thirty-nine. Today these sluggards would be unemployable.

The proliferation of literary journals and presses over the past thirty years has been a response less to an increased appetite for poetry among the public than to the desperate need of writing teachers for professional validation. Like subsidized farming that grows food no one wants, a poetry industry has been created to serve the interests of the producers and not the consumers. And in the process the integrity of the art has been betrayed. Of course, no poet is allowed to admit this in public. The cultural credibility of the professional poetry establishment depends on maintaining a polite hypocrisy. Millions of dollars in public and private funding are at stake. Luckily, no one outside the subculture cares enough to press the point very far. No Woodward and Bernstein will ever investigate a cover-up by members of the Associated Writing Programs.

The new poet makes a living not by publishing literary work but by providing specialized educational services. Most likely he or she either works for or aspires to work for a large institution--usually a state-run enterprise, such as a school district, a college, or a university (or lately even a hospital or prison)--teaching others how to write poetry or, on the highest levels, how to teach others how to write poetry.

To look at the issue in strictly economic terms, most contemporary poets have been alienated from their original cultural function. As Marx maintained and few economists have disputed, changes in a class's economic function eventually transform its values and behavior. In poetry's case, the socioeconomic changes have led to a divided literary culture: the superabundance of poetry within a small class and the impoverishment outside it. One might even say that outside the classroom--where society demands that the two groups interact--poets and the common reader are no longer on speaking terms.


We mentioned earlier in the week that Mr. Gioia was being nominated for chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He's best known for this essay which is terrific.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 AM

THE YARN OF THE "NANCY BELL" (W.S. Gilbert)

`Twas on the shores that round our coast
From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone, on a piece of stone,
An elderly naval man.

His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he;
And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

And he shook his fists and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:

"Oh, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
And I'll eat my hand if I understand
How you can possibly be

"At once a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun this painful yarn:

"'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.

"And pretty nigh all o' the crew was drowned
(There was seventy-seven o' soul),
And only ten of the Nancy's men
Said `Here' to the muster-roll.

"There was me, and the cook, and the captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And the bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.

"For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel,
So we drawed a lot, and accordin' shot
The captain for our meal.

"The next lot fell to the Nancy's mate,
And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven survivors stayed.

"And then we murdered the bo'sun tight,
And he much resembled pig;
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me,
On the crew of the captain's gig.

"Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, `Which
Of us two goes to the kettle?' arose,
And we argued it out as sich.

"For I loved that cook as brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me,
But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.

"`I'll be eat if you dines off me,' says Tom.
`Yes, that,' says I, `you'll be,'--
`I'm boiled if I die, my friend,' quoth I,
And `Exactly so,' quoth he.

"Says he: `Dear JAMES, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do,
For don't you see that you can't cook me,
While I can--and will--cook you?'

"So he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot), and some chopped shallot,
And some sage and parsley too.

"`Come here,' says he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell,
`'Twill soothing be if I let you see
How extremely nice you'll smell.'

"And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals
In the scum of the boiling broth.

"And I eat that cook in a week or less,
And--as I eating be
The last of his chops, why, I almost drops,
For a wessel in sight I see.

"And I never grin, and I never smile,
And I never larf nor play,
But I sit and croak, and a single joke
I have--which is to say.

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM

GILBERT OBIT:

The Passing of Gilbert (1836-1911) (H. L. Mencken, May 30, 1911, The Baltimore Evening Sun)
How THE COMMON American conception of the English, as a stodgy and humorless folk, could so long withstand the fact of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas must ever remain one of the mysteries of international misunderstanding. Here, indeed, was wit that Aristophanes might have fathered; here was humor that Rabelais might have been proud to own. And yet it was the work of a thorough and unmitigated Englishman -- of William Schwenck Gilbert, to wit -- a man born in the heart of London, and one who seldom passed, in all his 75 years, out of hearing of Bow Bells.

Gilbert died yesterday -- perhaps 15 years too late. His career really ended in 1896, when he and Sir Arthur Sullivan wrote "The Grand Duke", their last joint work. They had quarreled before -- and made up. Now they quarreled for good. Sullivan, searching about for a new partner, found that there was but one Gilbert. Basil Hood, Comyns Carr and Arthur Wing Pinero tried their hands and failed. And Gilbert himself, seeking a new Sullivan, learned that a new Sullivan was not be found. Edward German came nearest -- but "The Emerald Isle" was still miles from "The Mikado."

The Gilbert and Sullivan partnership, in truth, was absolutely unique. One looks in vain for parallels. Beaumont and Fletcher, Meilhac and Halevy, the Goncourts -- these come to mind, but differences at once appear. Sullivan, without Gilbert, seemed to lose the gift of melody, and Gilbert, without Sullivan was parted from that exquisite humor which made him, even above Mark Twain, the merrymaker of his generation. The two men, working together for 15 years, found it impossible, after their separation, to work alone. Sullivan, cast adrift, took to the writing of oratorios and presently died. Gilbert settled down as a London magistrate and convulsed the world no longer.

The great quality of Gilbert's humor was its undying freshness, an apparent spontaneity which familiarity could not stale . . . "The Mikado" was given in Baltimore last year without the change of a line. Not one of Gilbert's jests of 1885 was omitted; not a single "local hit" was inserted to help out the comedians. And yet, after a quarter of a century, how delightfully brisk and breezy it seemed! How the crowds laughed once more at Pooh Bah's grotesque speeches and at the Mikado's incomparable song! And how Sullivan's tripping music tickled the ear!

The world will be a long while forgetting Gilbert and Sullivan. Every spring their great works will be revived. At this very moment "Pinafore", now 23 years old, is under way in New York. They made enormous contributions to the pleasure of the race. They left the world merrier than they found it. They were men whose lives were rich with honest striving and high achievement and useful service.


It's like when MacLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers left M*A*S*H, ruining the show and ending their own careers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM

THE ESSENTIAL MENCKEN:

Mencken and Orwell, Social Critics With Little (and Much) in Common (EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, October 26, 2002, NY Times)

Mr. Teachout shows that Mencken's influential assault on the genteel tradition included opposition to the very idea of democracy - not just to democratic taste but to the notion of equality itself. This was accompanied by racist comments and Mencken's allegiance to his family's Teutonic origins. Before World War I, Mencken wrote about the "race-efficiency" and "superbly efficient ruling caste" in Germany. During World War II, Mr. Teachout shows, an eerie silence was more the rule than Mencken's half-hearted declarations that Hitler was a boob.

But Mencken was reacting to a tension latent in democratic life - the fear that it can level cultural life instead of allowing it to flourish, that it can even turn majority rule into tyranny. And yet as Mencken did not realize or did not care to, tyranny also looms in the act of rebelling against democracy.

Orwell, like Mencken, was not all that keen on American life, but the tyranny trap worried him. A tension between the claims of democratic liberty and socialist equality may have haunted him, as well as those who followed him on the left. Could state power be used to bring an ideal society into being without leading to the oppressive regime of "1984" (which he called INGSOC - English Socialism)? And if the Soviet Union had already become such a regime, as Orwell believed, how was it to be opposed and what forces could be marshaled against it? Orwell was torn, uncertain; his novels were clearer that his essays. But the need to confront that regime was what the cold war was all about.

Now the issue returns in a slightly different way as new forms of tyranny are faced. That is why Orwell still matters and why Mencken may not.


This is, I believe, quite wrong. Mr. Mencken continues to matter precisely because even so great a critic of society as George Orwell could not in the end face the truth that Mr. Mencken never ceased speaking, that democratic freedom contains within it the seeds of its own destruction, chiefly in the ease with which it can be turned into an egalitarian leveling force. Woe are we if we ever forget the warning that has echoed from Burke to de Tocqueville to Ortega y Gasset to Mencken to Willmoore Kendall to...ah, but who will say it now?...that equality is the enemy of freedom.

The fundamental tension within democratic conservatism is, has been, and will be the recognition that democracy is necessary but at the same time dubious, even dangerous. As Mencken put it:

I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself - that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can't make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?

Conservatism's predicament is that it refutes utterly the idea that men are all equal in fact but espouses a political philosophy that demands that all be treated and listened to as if they were equal.

Now we are all familiar with the ringing statement in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal", and this was fine so long as it was understood to mean that men are equal at birth, each free to make himself into a greater or lesser man. But in what Mr. Kendall scorned and Garry Wills hails as a "giant, if benign swindle", Abraham Lincoln elevated the doctrine of equality in the Gettysburg Address and performed , again in Mr. Wills's words, a "daring act of intellectual
sleight-of-hand" which has ever since made actual equality of station an end, if not the end, of government.

It is then the solemn and often unpleasant duty of conservatism to constantly remind the masses that they are not all equal, that, as Russell Kirk declared in one of his canons of conservative thought:

[C]ivilized society requires orders and classes. The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts at leveling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation.

The danger of allowing all men to think themselves equal and of allowing them to create legislation to impose this equality--the very need for which would seem to put paid to the idea that they are equal in the first place--was expressed by Mr. Ortega y Gasset, looking out across a Europe which had already succumbed to the dangerous notion:
European history reveals itself, for the first time, as handed over to the decisions of the ordinary man as such. Or to turn it into the active voice: the ordinary man, hitherto guided by others, has resolved to govern the world himself. This decision to advance to the social foreground has been brought about in him automatically, when the new type of man he represents had barely arrived at maturity. If from the view-point of what concerns public life, the psychological structure of this new type of mass-man be studied, what we find is as follows: (1) An inborn, root-impression that life is easy, plentiful, without any grave limitations; consequently, each average man finds within himself a sensation of power and triumph which, (2) invites him to stand up for himself as he is, to look upon his moral and intellectual endowment as excellent, complete. This contentment with himself leads him to shut himself off from any external court of appeal; not to listen, not to submit his opinions to judgment, not to consider others' existence. His intimate feeling of power urges him always to exercise predominance. He will act then as if he and his like were the only beings existing in the world and, consequently, (3) will intervene in all matters, imposing his own vulgar views without respect or regard for others, without limit or reserve...

Conservatism, having recognized the potential for tyranny in government by the elite, counterbalanced the elite institutions by shifting power to the hoi polloi. But this sets up an inherently dangerous situation, for who will stop the masses once they get a wind in their sails? Thus, we need the Menckens--despite their irascibility and their bigotry--to whisper in our ears, like the slaves who followed Roman Emperors, that: Thou art mortal. It takes a Mencken to keep us humble, to try to constrain what will otherwise be a natural tendency to exchange an unequal freedom for an imposed equality. The Menckens help to keep us free men of the sort that Eric Hoffer described:
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

This is an unpopular message and one inevitably makes oneself unpopular in enunciating it--as witness Mencken--but it is vital nonetheless. It ensures that conservatism will always be a minority philosophy: but, just perhaps, if it's conveyed often enough, loudly enough, and as wittily as it was conveyed by Mr. Mencken, it may serve to preserve us as free men. But you wouldn't bet on it...

MORE:
The Virginia Declaration of Rights (Paul Cella,
10/23/02)
REVIEW: of H.L. Mencken on American Literature Edited by S. T. Joshi (Christopher Orlet, 9/20/02, American Prowler)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM

TONY THE TORY, PART XVI:

Britain attacks France over EU subsidies (David Charter and Rory Watson, October 26, 2002 , Times of London)
TONY BLAIR launched a ferocious attack on French President Jacques Chirac yesterday for jeopardising the successful enlargement of the European Union to 25 members by putting the narrow self-interest of French farmers first.

The Prime Minister's personal attack overshadowed an historic agreement by the European Union to pave the way for the entry of eight former Communist countries in 2004, and marked a further cooling in Britain's strained relationship with France.

Mr Blair left Brussels in a fury with M Chirac as the latest EU summit agreed a multi-billion pound package to cover the costs of the first three years of an expanded Union.

The Prime Minister, so often at the centre of EU decisions, found himself at the margins as President Chirac sought to reassert his authority on the European stage.

The foundations of yesterday's deal had been laid the previous day when the French President and Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, caught Mr Blair and fellow EU leaders by complete surprise with a joint proposal to freeze farm subsidies.


The one stumbling block to Tony Blair becoming the Tory leader when his own party chucks him has been his unfortunate belief in the EU. But luckily he's just gotten a brutal glimpse of Britain's future in a Franco-Prussian dominated Europe. The question for Mr. Blair and Britain generally is pretty basic: having defeated Napoleon, the Kaiser, and Hitler at the cost of hundreds of thousands of British lives, is Britain now content to be France and Germany's jailhouse bitch?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:11 AM

GOOD ON YA, MATE:

Australia to scale back trade tariffs (BBC, 25 October, 2002)
Australian prime minister John Howard has said his country plans to eliminate all trade tariffs on imports from 50 poor nations. [...]

"I am pleased to announce today that Australia will grant tariff and quota free access for 49 least developed countries as well as East Timor," he said.

Mr Howard attacked industrialised nations' failure to open their markets to agricultural products exported by the developing countries.

"The levels of protection in agriculture maintained by the United States, by Japan and by the European Union have an extremely adverse effect on many developing countries.

"Export earnings of the world's poorest countries are depressed by at least 10% because they are shut out of the world's biggest agricultural markets: The United States, the European Union, and Japan," he said.


We should at least match this, though I'd do away with them all except for barriers against states like Cuba, China, Iraq, etc..
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 AM

IT'S FRITZ:

Democrats See Mondale as Best Hope for Victory (ALISON MITCHELL, October 26, 2002, NY Times)
Even as Democrats in Washington mourned the death of Senator Paul Wellstone today, they scrambled behind the scenes to press former Vice President Walter F. Mondale to enter the race as their best hope for salvaging the Senate seat from Minnesota. [...]

People close to Mr. Mondale said he was not ready to rule out running but considered it unseemly to speak out so soon after Mr. Wellstone's death. But Mr. Mondale, who was a senator from 1964 to 1976, when he resigned to be Jimmy Carter's vice president, seemed to invite speculation about his intentions today when he appeared at a news conference in Minnesota beside Senator Edward M. Kennedy and promised that Mr. Wellstone's cause would live on.

"I think if Paul were here, he would want us to think about one thing - to carry on the fight he led with such courage and vigilance for all these years," Mr. Mondale said. "We intend to do that."


This race now has to be considered "Safe--Democrat". Here's how it will play out. Mr. Mondale will try to get the Party to agree to nominate his son Ted. They'll demur and he'll accept.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 AM

ON THE OTHER HAND, A VERY BAD MOMENT:

Bush says does not support independence for Taiwan (Reuters, 26 October, 2002)
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Friday the United States would use its influence to ensure China and Taiwan settle their differences peacefully and promised to make it clear to Taipei that Washington does not support independence.

In a news conference with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Bush said the United States stood by the "one China" policy, which acknowledges that Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.

"The 'one China' policy means that the issue ought to be resolved peacefully," Bush said.

"We've got influence with some in the region. We intend to make sure that the issue is resolved peacefully, and that includes making it clear that we do not support independence," Bush added.


No matter the demands of realpolitik, Mr. Bush should never speak so favorably of an enemy at the expense of a friend. But even what he said would have been okay had he added one fairly simple thing: "The 'one China' of which I speak will be a free nation like Taiwan, not a dictatorship like the PRC. And until the mainland is free, democratic and pluralistic, we will continue to help our friends in Taiwan defend themselves."

October 25, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 PM

LET THE MOUNTAIN COME TO MOHAMMED:

Election 2002: Bush changes the debate (Nicholas M. Horrock, 10/21/02, UPI)
For several months, the war hawks in the Bush administration had been leaking different versions of battle plans against Iraq to the news media. Democratic Sen. Joe Biden held hearings on the issue in the Senate Foreign Relations committee that revealed that the notion of an unprovoked attack on Iraq, particularly without allies, would sharply split the very core of the Democrats. The administration had sent no witnesses to those hearings and whatever the president's real plan was, he was holding it close to his chest -- but the White House had learned a lot.

The president's political advisers had seen daylight. When Bush returned from vacation in September, the White House issued a new national security doctrine for the United States, dredging up an address he had made to the West Point graduating class in June. The United States, he said, would reserve the right to strike an enemy that it feared would attack America or its allies.

"Preemption" became the catchword of the news broadcasts and talk shows. Wouldn't it have been right if the United States had learned about the Sept. 11 attacks for it to preempt them Cheney would ask rhetorically? Maybe Pearl Harbor could have been prevented? Or Hitler stopped by a French Army invasion? [...]

Bush's tactic was certainly not new. He had used it successfully to back out of Kyoto, end the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and to push Star Wars missile defense. Take the hard position and make the debate come to you.


The GOP probably won't come out of this election as well as they hope to, but one very important thing may be changing: the press and Democrats may finally be realizing that George W. Bush is a man to be reckoned with, rather than ridiculed. If such an impression were to actually take hold with the electorate too, it would make the President a genuinely formidable figure. Ronald Reagan, despite all he achieved, never shook the air of clownishness that the Left stuck him with. (He got a nice bump in popularity after he was shot, but it was of the "Who'd wanna shoot the sweet old guy" sort, not the "My what a courageous leader we have" sort.) This has made it possible, even after a Reagan-led victory in the Cold War, to minimize his presidency and to dismiss him as lucky and likeable, but not responsible for any of the good things that happened in the 80s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 PM

SUV OR R.I.P.:

If it bleeds, it leads. (Ed Wallace, Oct. 24, 2002, Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram)
[T]he number of deaths from Firestone tires' separating and a subsequent loss of vehicle control was more likely in the neighborhood of 120-130, not 281, the figure still reported in the ongoing stories. (Certain factors in the other 150-odd deaths effectively made each not solely a Ford or Firestone problem.) Put another way, the database showed that Explorer owners were statistically safer riding on Firestone tires than the average driver on the road was. They had fewer deaths per 100,000 miles than did the driving public at large.

You only have to hit one deer or moose before you decide an SUV is plenty safe enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 PM

STRAIGHT TALK BACK:

Attacks Escalate In Depositions (Amy Keller, October 21, 2002, Roll Call)
The battle over campaign finance reform has degenerated into a downright slugfest, with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) trading harsh personal jabs and punches in depositions and cross-examinations in the ongoing court case.

The war of words first erupted during a deposition last month when McCain repeated charges that McConnell, as chairman of the National Republican
Senatorial Committee in 1998, encouraged Senators to support the tobacco industry on a legislative matter in return for soft money- financed issue
ads.

It escalated when McCain reiterated the charges Oct. 10 in a cross-examination, calling McConnell's actions the "most egregious incident" demonstrating the appearance of corruption he has ever seen in his Senate career.

Last week, McConnell struck back at his nemesis during a brief cross-examination in which he defended himself and yanked some of McCain's skeletons out of the closet.

"This smear has now been repeated by Senator McCain and I want to make a point that I've never been the subject of an Ethics Committee investigation, such as he was during the Keating Five scandal," McConnell stated Oct. 11, according to a transcript.

"In addition to that," McConnell added in his sworn testimony, "it seems that my colleague has a rather active imagination when it comes to the subject of corruption, since he finds no corruption in a book party being sponsored by a FedEx chairman but does find the issuing of regulations by the Federal Election Commission corrupt."


Whatever else you may feel about John McCain, the evisceration of our First Amendment rights to speak about politics seems a high price to pay to cleanse his Keating-tainted soul.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 PM

HIS WONDERS TO PERFORM:

Study Finds Storm Cycles Etched in Lake Beds (ANDREW C. REVKIN, October 25, 2002, NY Times)
Four times since the last ice age, at intervals roughly 3,000 years apart, the Northeast has been struck by cycles of storms far more powerful than any in recent times, according to a new study. The region appears to have entered a fifth era in which such superstorms are more likely, the researchers say.

No one should necessarily start building dikes right away, say the researchers, who reported their work yesterday in the journal Nature. The stormy periods they identified each lasted a millennium or more, and giant floods occurred only sporadically in those stretches.

Still, the work illustrates that natural extremes of weather - what one researcher, Paul R. Bierman, a geologist at the University of Vermont, called a "drumbeat of storminess" - are many times greater than those experienced in the modern era. [...]

"This shows that in human experience, at least historical human experience, we don't know what this climate system is capable of," Dr. Steig said.

While revealing the rising potential for epic storms, the new findings are likely to confound efforts to discern whether human alterations of the atmosphere, particularly a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, are increasing the frequency of severe downpours, as many climate experts have predicted.


What are the odds that the editorial page writers of the Times even read the Science pages and will ever shut up about greenhouse gases?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 PM

BR'ER RABBIT HE AIN'T:

Sniper's odd 'duck in noose' from fable? (UPI, 10/25/02)
The story "The Rabbit, the Otter, and Duck Hunting" revolves around a boastful little rabbit that lassos a hapless duck, but the duck eventually triumphantly escapes from the snare and gets the best of his foe, and the rabbit ends up eating his own fur for perpetuity. [...]

The image of a duck trapped in a noose may have come from a story that is posted at various Internet sites. The story's origins are not clear, however it could be interpreted as the sniper, in the metaphoric form of the duck, escaping from the proverbial police noose.

In one version of the fable, the rabbit stealthily wades out into a river to capture a duck for dinner.

"He quickly fastened his noose around the neck of the closest duck," the story goes. "Startled, the duck began to struggle to get away and finally took off on his wings and dragged the rabbit out of the water after him."

"Now it was the rabbits turn to be startled. And boy was he. He held on to the noose and was taken high into the air. Higher and higher he went. All of a sudden, he lost his grip on the noose and down he fell into the middle of an old hollow Sycamore tree without a hole in the bottom to get out."

Some versions of the story end with the rabbit eventually getting out of the Sycamore stump while others leave him trapped in it. All, however, concede that the rabbit was reduced to consuming his own fur in order to survive.

"He stayed in there so long that he had to start eating his own fur," the story says, "as rabbits still do to this day when they are starved."


Apropos of nothing, there was an old movie, I can't remember the title, where an old man (Edward Arnold or Lionel Barrymore) or his profoundly annoying grandson tricks Death into staying in a sycamore tree when he comes to claim his next victim.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM

NOT QUITE PAN:

Arab League opposes Libya pull-out (BBC, 25 October, 2002)
The secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, is to fly to Libya to try to prevent it pulling out of the pan-Arab body

Libyan officials are being reported as saying that the Arab League's inefficiency in dealing with the crises over Iraq and the Palestinians is behind their desire to leave.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has made no secret of his disappointment in his fellow Arabs, and has threatened to pull out of the 22 member body before. [...]

In September, Colonel Gaddafi was reported to have raised the issue of leaving the Arab League again in protest at "official Arab cowardice" in confronting Israel and the United States.


Why isn't he on the axis?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 PM

WHO GETS TO BE THEIR LAUTENBERG?:

Our MN source, with ties to the Wellstone camp, is reporting that the hot names being bandied about are Ted Mondale, son of Walter, who it is awfully hard to see the National Party okaying, and Alan Page, the Hall of Fame Viking lineman and current MN Supreme Court Justice. Between those two, Mr. Page seems the better bet, particularly since he'd give them a much needed black Senator. But Walter Mondale's seniority, experience, and fund-raising ability would seem to make him the safest bet to retain the seat.

UPDATE:
Democrats to decide who will replace Wellstone on ballot (Associated Press, Oct. 25, 2002)

Shaken Minnesota Democrats have less than a week to come up with a replacement for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone in a race that could decide control of the Senate.

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said state law allows the party to pick someone to run in Wellstone's spot - and it allows the governor to appoint a temporary replacement. She declined to address other details, including how absentee ballots already filled out would be handled. [...]

Potential candidates include Walter Mondale, the former vice president and senator who is now an attorney in Minneapolis, and Alan Page, the former Minnesota Viking football player now on the state Supreme Court.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:10 PM

RICHARD HARRIS (1930-2002):

Actor Richard Harris dies (BBC, 25 October, 2002)
Actor Richard Harris has died at University College Hospital in London, according to a family spokesman.

The Irish screen veteran, 72, had been undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease, after falling ill two months ago.


Just saw Mr. Harris in the very good recent version of The Count of Monte Cristo--a good rental for the weekend.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:54 PM

LEFT WING BIGOTRY:

Saudis in Bikinis (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 10/25/02, NY Times)
If most Saudi women want to wear a tent, if they don't want to drive, then that's fine. But why not give them the choice? Why ban women drivers and why empower the religious police, the mutawwa, to scold those loose hussies who choose to show a patch of hair?

If Saudi Arabians choose to kill their economic development and sacrifice international respect by clinging to the 15th century, if the women prefer to remain second-class citizens, then I suppose that's their choice. But if anyone chooses to behave so foolishly, is it any surprise that outsiders point and jeer?


Imagine the reaction if Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh belittled the abaya that way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:34 PM

WELLSTONE DEAD:

Plane Chartered by Sen. Wellstone Crashes; 8 Dead (Fox News, October 25, 2002)
A plane chartered by Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., crashed Friday and all eight aboard died, a Transportation Department official said.

Rush Limbaugh just reported that Wellstone is confirmed dead, along with his wife and daughter, three staffers and two crew members. We'd no use for his politics but respect his service to his country: though often wrong, he was at least in the arena fighting for what he believed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 AM

ANYONE ELSE WANT TO SUBMIT THEIR PICKS?:

Seesaw Races Grip the Senate Of 34 seats on ballots this fall, the GOP is defending 20; the Democrats, 14. A handful may decide control of the chamber. (Ronald Brownstein, October 21 2002, LA Times)
In the seven races considered the most competitive, five remain too close to call: Republican-held seats in Colorado and New Hampshire, and Democrat-held seats in Missouri, Minnesota and South Dakota. Democrats are slightly favored to hold on to a seat in New Jersey and capture a GOP seat in Arkansas.

Republicans need a net gain of only one seat to win control of the Senate. With so many races so tight, small changes in the national environment could loom large. Over the last six weeks, Republicans benefited from an increased focus on national security issues generated by the debate over a possible war with Iraq. But that advantage may have peaked too soon.

Even some GOP strategists worry that the campaign focus over the final two weeks may revert toward the economy -- and trigger the traditional voter inclination to punish the party holding the White House for hard times. "It would be better if the election was this Tuesday," one top GOP strategist said.


Here are the seats that seem at least mildly competitive:
Republican Seats (*denotes incumbent)
NH: Shaheen (D) vs. Sununu (R)

CO: Strickland (D) vs. *Allard (R)

TX: Kirk (D) vs. Cornyn (R)

NC: Bowles (D) vs. Dole (R)

SC: Sanders (D) vs. Graham (R)

AR: Pryor (D) vs. *Hutchinson (R)

Democrat Seats
NJ: Lautenberg (D) vs. Forrester (R)

GA: *Cleland (D) vs. Chambliss (R)

IA: *Harkin (D) vs. Ganske (R)

MO: *Carnahan (D) vs. Talent (R)

LA: *Landrieu (D) vs. the field (R)

MN: *Wellstone (D) vs. Coleman (R)

SD: *Johnson (D) vs. Thune (R)


Here are my predictions:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM

THE WINNING TEAM:

Ripken's moment tops Aaron's record-breaking HR (Associated Press, October 23, 2002)
Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak was voted baseball's most memorable moment in fan balloting.

The milestone by the Baltimore Orioles' shortstop in 1995 received 282,821 votes, out of more than 1.1 million cast.


This is just silly: everyone knows baseball's greatest moment was Ronald Wilson Reagan striking out Tony Lazzeri.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 AM

BLACK POWER!:

Republicans Try New Strategy: GOP Operatives Seek Percentage of Black Vote (Terry M. Neal, October 24, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
The Post's David Broder wrote last week that "across the South, all elections depend on the Democrats' ability to reduce white voters' propensity to back Republicans," Broder wrote. But the flipside of that point is true as well: Republican candidates who expect to win must reduce the propensity of black voters to support Democrats. So in statewide races in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, among others, GOP candidates are crafting strategies to appeal to black voters.

The idea is not that they'll get a lot of votes. They just need some.

"It makes a dramatic difference whether a Republican gets 5 percent or 15 percent of the black vote in southern races," said pollster Whit Ayres, who is working for Riley and Tennessee Senate candidate Lamar Alexander this year. "If a Republican can get no more than 5 percent of the African American vote, then they're put in the position of having to win 68 to 70 percent of the white vote. It's not impossible to do, but it is tough.

"For every percent over 5 percent of the black vote that a Republican gets, it helps his chances all that much more."

Democrats such as Siegelman and Jim Hodges in South Carolina won their gubernatorial races in 1998 by focusing almost solely on education and skimming off of the overwhelming white majorities that typically vote Republican in the South, while maintaining 90 percent-plus black majorities. This year, their opponents are trying to chip into their percentages of the black vote while holding onto large majorities of white voters.

That strategy can be seen this year around the South and in states with large black population states such as Maryland, where Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. picked an African American running mate and held his first televised debate against Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend before the NAACP.

The strategy could also be seen in last Sunday's debate between Alexander and Democrat Bob Clement. Alexander tried to make an issue of Clement's failure to back then-Gov. Alexander's appointment of the state's first black Supreme Court nominee, George H. Brown, 22 years ago. Alexander pointed out that some black Democrats, including former Rep. Harold Ford, crossed party lines to support Brown, who was a Republican. Why should black voters support Clement, Alexander pressed, if he couldn't support Brown all those years ago?


Black leaders, especially clergy and businessmen, do themselves and their people a terrible disservice by not exploiting this power. Of course, the reason they don't utilize it is because it would require them to support Republicans once in awhile. But consider this: so long as blacks vote for Democrats in lockstep, there is no reason for the Democrats to give them anything in return. You know the old adage about how no one buys the cow when they're getting the milk for free.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM

APPLE GRENADES:

Fresh pomegranates are poetic, colorful and juicy (AP, 10/25/02)
Fresh pomegranates are available only September through December. Use the seeds and juice fresh during the fall and early winter, and freeze them for later use.

The sweet-tart seeds and juice are packed inside the fruit's leathery outer skin. To remove them easily, cut the crown end off the pomegranate, then lightly score the rind from top to bottom five or six times around the fruit. Immerse the fruit in a bowl of water and soak 5 minutes. Hold the fruit under water, to prevent splattering, and break the sections apart.

Next, separate seeds from rind and membrane. Seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl; rind and membranes will float--skim them off and discard them.

Drain seeds, pat them dry, and they're ready to use.


Never could figure out how to eat the dang things. Here are a few recipes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM

IN THE MEANTIME:

Christians and Jews are both part of the Divine Plan (Bruce T. Forbes October 22, 2002, Israel Insider)
When I was eight years old I made a childhood promise to visit Israel - to walk the paths of the great Patriarchs and Kings; to see the places Jesus taught; to see the country built up by a modern people led by my childhood heroes David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir. My father's advice was to read and learn the history of each place so I would know what I was looking at when I got there.

Thirty-five years later, as a member of the U.S. Air Force, I twice found myself working alongside members of the Israeli Defense Force in joint military exercises - and touring the country on our off-duty time. My father's advice served me well as I was even able to teach some of the Israelis about the places we saw. One of the most sacred moments was looking up at the Mount of Olives while reading the words of the prophet Zechariah concerning the coming of the Messiah. There was no arguing; only a friendly challenge to meet when the Messiah came to see who was right all along.

I am a Christian who loves and respects a Book, a People, and a Country--something taught to me from birth. I know I will always be an outsider, but I will still be there--writing letters to the leaders of my country and chastising them when they aren't good to Israel; publicly defending Israel in political debates and Judaism in religious debates; and taking my place in public rallies in the defense of Israel and my friends. And standing guard if a neighboring rabbi's home is threatened.

And this is more than many American Jews are willing to do! This is more than some Israelis are willing to do!

So imagine my surprise when I read the writings of a rising star in the Israeli political sky, only to discover I am no better than a Nazi because the Almighty chose to have me born into a Christian home. Imagine my shock to discover how many people agree with this man!


If Zionism requires a racial Judaism, then it's awfully hard to imagine Israel enduring for more than another generation or two. It seems more healthy for Israelis to recognize that their state is part of an emerging coalition of like-minded liberal democracies that are Jewish (Israel), Muslim (Turkey), Hindu (India), Buddhist (Taiwan), and Christian (America) and that they are bound by political ideals even as they celebrate different religions.

October 24, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 PM

VIGILANTE JUSTICE--AMEN:

Alert trucker: 'I'm no hero' (CNN, October 24, 2002)
The truck driver who called police early Thursday after spotting a Chevrolet Caprice wanted in connection with the Washington-area sniper slayings said he's "no hero," and plans to share any reward money he receives with victims of the attacks.

Ron Lantz said he noticed the car, which matched the description given in news coverage, after pulling in to a rest area near Frederick. He discussed what to do with another driver, and then decided to call 9-1-1.

"They told me 'We'll be there as soon as possible,'" he said. "They said, 'You stay right where you're at.'"

Then, somebody else at the scene suggested that Lantz move his truck to block the exit from the rest area, to prevent the car from leaving, which he did. [...]

"I'm no hero," he said. "I just want people to think what I did was what I should have done."

Authorities had posted a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the sniper suspects, believed responsible for killing 10 people and wounding three others since October 2.

Lantz, who is just five runs short of retiring as a truck driver, said if any of the reward money comes his way, "I'd probably take it back and give it to the people who were shot."

"At least half of it, anyway."


He's sure as heck a hero in our book. It becomes increasingly evident that ordinary citizens will be as important, in some ways more so, to defeating terrorism as the authorities. One sure wishes he'd had a gun.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM

ONE FLEW OVER TOM DASCHLE'S NEST:

Bingo game spurs probe of Doyle's campaign: Republicans say event was used to snare votes (STEVE SCHULTZE and NAHAL TOOSI, Oct. 24, 2002, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
A Columbus Day bingo game at a Kenosha facility for the mentally ill has prompted a criminal investigation and another round of scandal allegations by Republicans against Jim Doyle, the Democratic candidate for governor.

Doyle's campaign used quarters paid as bingo prizes and refreshments to induce residents of the Dayton Residential Care Facility to cast absentee ballots, according to Republican Gov. Scott McCallum's campaign chief and state GOP Chairman Rick Graber.

Both accused Doyle's campaign of exploiting residents with mental disabilities at the former hotel.


Hey, c'mon, people with mental disabilities are the Democrat's base.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 PM

LAST ORDERS:

Bin Laden 'ambassador' arrested (Daniel McGrory, Richard Ford and Michael Evans, October 25, 2002, Times of London)
BRITAIN'S most wanted man, Abu Qatada, described as Osama bin Laden's "ambassador" in Europe, has been seized in an armed raid on his hideout in London.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, would say only that a suspect had been arrested on Wednesday under the antiterrorist laws. Security sources last night named the suspect as Abu Qatada.

The radical 42-year-old Muslim cleric, whose real name is Sheikh Omar Mahmood Abu Omar, has been accused by police in eight countries of being a pivotal figure in the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

He was arrested at a council house in Bermondsey, South London, in a joint operation by Scotland Yard Anti-Terrorist Branch detectives and MI5 agents. He is now in Belmarsh top security prison.

His arrest is a major success for Britain and will be welcomed by the White House and European leaders who have been shown secret intelligence on Abu Qatada's role in bin Laden's network. He is alleged to have recruited figures like Zacharias Moussaoui, the "20th hijacker" and the "shoe bomber", Richard Reid.


We're going to have to decimate the crow population if they can tie this guy to Moussaoui.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM

WITH US OR AGAINST US?:

Be in no doubt, war is only weeks away (William Rees-Mogg, October 21, 2002 , Times of London)
In all politics, and in particular in American politics, events change attitudes. The South should not have fired on Fort Sumter in 1861; the Germans should not have sunk the Lusitania in 1915; the Japanese should not have attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941. By the same logic, Al-Qaeda should not have destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001. Before these acts of aggression, negotiation was still open; the American determination had not crystallised.

After they had occurred, the destruction of the aggressor became inevitable. In each of these wars, the initial challenge came from the other side. But once Americans are convinced that they face an implacable enemy, that has a revolutionary effect. The aim of terrorists is to radicalise their own potential followers; 9-11 radicalised the American people, despite their anxieties.

Some of the opponents of the war argue that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussain are two separate groups, but al-Qaeda is indeed an enemy of Saddam Hussain. The Americans I was meeting do not see it like that. They regard all Islamic terrorism as forming a single threat.

Americans do not know, or much care, what precise relationship exists between al-Qaeda and the Bali terrorists. They see them both as being in the same line of business, and do not doubt that some links exist between them. They see Saddam Hussain in the same light. He is the brutal dictator of an Islamic country; he had repeatedly supported terrorists and used terror himself. To allow him to develop weapons of mass destruction would, they think, be as irrational at allowing al-Qaeda to do so.

So far as most Americans are concerned, Islamic terrorists, whether they belong to the al-Qaeda network or are Palestinian suicide bombers, or plant bombs in Indonesia or Kashmir, or lead terrorist governments, all form part of the same global threat.


We are an unsubtle people and I mean that in the best sense possible. We may not know who Occam was, but we know his razor cuts fine.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM

THE CASE FOR PESSIMISM:

Poll Vault: HOW THE DEMOCRATS COULD WIN. (John B. Judis, 10.18.02, New Republic)
At first glance the Democrats seem to have done little to merit this growing support for their domestic policies. They don't have a national program for improving education or reviving the economy. Most Democratic campaigns have been narrowly focused and uncreative: They have slammed Republican plans to privatize Social Security, they have called for including prescription-drug coverage for seniors under Medicare, and they have attacked Republicans for condoning corporate corruption.

But this timid agenda may prove surprisingly effective in today's peculiar economic climate. The American economy is not in a traditional recession, as it was during the 1982 election. Most Americans are not worried about losing their jobs right now. But they do worry that a fall in the stock market is depleting their savings and could eventually send the economy into a tailspin that would threaten their jobs. They are anxious about the future rather than the present--and that gives the Democrats' issues a particular resonance that they would not have in a boom (when voters aren't very worried about the future) or a during a deep recession (when they are fixated on immediate relief). Voters are angry about corporate corruption because it has robbed workers and stockholders of their savings. They don't want the government's savings program--Social Security--to be subject to the rise and fall of the Dow Jones index. And they worry about having to pay out their savings for rising drug costs. They prefer the simple, Democratic idea of plugging prescription-drug coverage into Medicare to the more complex--and far less generous--Republican and drug company plan of forcing seniors to pay premiums to private insurance companies for drug coverage.


If Mr. Judis's premises are correct, that the American people want the current Social Security program, their taxes to pay for prescription drugs, and government to exert control over corporations then they will, and should, vote Democrat. And were Republicans not the stupid party they would eagerly seek to fight out this election on this battleground, of Socialism vs. Free Enterprise.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM

I, I, I, ME, ME, ME:

Muslims Fear Sniper Backlash: Muslims Fear Arrest of Muslim Man in Connection With Sniper Case Could Trigger Backlash (The Associated Press, Oct. 24, 2002)
The arrest of a Muslim man on charges connected to the deadly Washington-area sniper shootings has the Islamic community bracing for another round of threats and attacks like those that followed the Sept. 11 terrorism.

"The whole Muslim community was praying day and night: 'God, please. There has to be no connection to Muslims,'" Faiz Rehman of the American Muslim Council said Thursday.

"We'll probably have a backlash. People in a hurry will think that this is just a Muslim thing again. The community really fears it."


No. I'm sorry, but that just won't cut it. There are ten of your fellow Americans dead, several wounded, their families shattered, and many thousands who have lived in terror for weeks now--you don't get to try and win pity out of this story. No one's in the mood for whining about how hard this makes it to be a Muslim in America. We too hope that this will not provoke unjustifiable attacks on innocent folk, but just for one minute, while the entire country is breathing a sigh of relief, put patriotism ahead of religion and express your thanks that these scum were caught, whatever their backgrounds. Pray for the victims, then yourselves.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM

AS THE POTEMKIN VILLAGE BURNS:

Iraq expels some foreign journalists, reportedly annoyed at stories about demonstration (DAVID BAUDER, Oct 24, 2002, Associated Press)
Iraq is expelling some foreign journalists and warning of restrictive new rules for getting back into the country, news organizations said Thursday. [...]

Iraqi officials claimed CNN fabricated a report that government authorities had fired one or more guns into the air to disperse demonstrators earlier this week. [Eason Jordan, CNN president of newsgathering] said CNN had footage of the gunplay.

The Iraqi government is also upset that CNN has stationed a news team in the northern part of the country, which is not controlled by Saddam Hussein, he said.


Funny how quickly you can lose control of a story you're trying to stage manage. Now if only the press would play this up the way they did the "election" last week.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 PM

THE ANEURYSM ACTING UP?:

Bush Should Take a Walk Near Home (Jimmy Breslin, October 24, 2002, Newsday)
It was one thing that Bush was completely disdainful of the World Trade Center. He and his people hate New York. He barely showed for a year. And they blew the attack. They blew it because any threats to New York weren't of such vital interest. New York is filled with blacks and Jews and all kinds of Hispanics and Asians who don't vote right. We don't bother with them during an election, then why stop everything and concentrate on some threat to the place?

Now we find out that Bush doesn't even like Washington. The reason is that nobody in the shooting area, in Montgomery County towns, voted for him.


Bad enough that he's actually accusing the President of ignoring the 9-11 attacks because they were aimed at a state that wouldn't vote for him--one wonders why Mr. Bush didn't at least pay attention to the two planes that were targeted at his own administration?--but even worse is the fact that Mr. Breslin, who here is worried about Mr. Bush's attitude towards Asians, notoriously referred to an Asian co-worker as a "little yellow dog" and an epithet so awful we won't even post it here. Isn't it equally plausible that this legendary journalist failed to pursue the terrorist threat to New York because of his own racism? Yes, it's equally plausible because thoroughly implausible.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM

THIS AIN'T GOOD:

Who let Lee Malvo loose? (Michelle Malkin, Oct. 25, 2002, Jewish World Review)
The mainstream media informed us this week that Lee Malvo, the reportedly "17-year-old" youth charged as a material witness in the sniper investigation along with John Mohammed, is a "Jamaican national." As of this writing (Oct. 24), the Immigration and Naturalization Service refused to comment publicly on the exact nature of Malvo's immigration status.

Here are the facts the INS doesn't want you to know: Lee Malvo is an illegal alien from Jamaica who jumped ship in Miami in June 2001. He was apprehended by the Border Patrol in Bellingham, Wash., in December 2001, but was then let go by the INS district in Seattle in clear violation of federal law and contrary to what the arresting Border Patrol officers intended, according to my law enforcement sources.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:22 PM

GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!:

The GOP has posted a response ad to that scurrilous Democrat ad where George W. Bush pushes a wheelchair bound Senior off a cliff. It's a shriekin' hoot.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:46 PM

OUR THING:

Pelosi's PAC Stirs Questions (Ethan Wallison, October 24, 2002, Roll Call)
Campaign finance experts and watchdogs are questioning the legality of twin leadership PACs that have enabled Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to double up on hard-dollar contributions she has given and received this election cycle.

The experts suggest that the use of the two committees, PAC to the Future and Team Majority, amounts to a probable violation of laws intended to prevent lawmakers from multiplying their leadership political action committees in order to defy contribution limits. The treasurer for the two committees, former California Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy (D), acknowledges that the PACs are identical in all but name.

"They've got a real problem here," said Trevor Potter, a former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, citing "affiliation rules" that are intended to ensure that PACs observe the $5,000 limits on gifts.

"It sounds like a circumvention scheme to double the contribution limits. The law doesn't allow that," said Potter, who based his assessment on a verbal description of the PACs. "They're over the limits for everyone they've given money to. They're probably going to have to ask for that money back."


Thank goodness the military loathes them, because at the rate the Democrats are disregarding laws and constitutional provisions in a desperate bid to retain power, you almost expect an attempted coup next.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

A PRAYER:

Phone Call Pointed Investigators To Evidence (AP, October 24, 2002)
In the end, one of the men arrested in connection with the sniper shootings may have given investigators their best clue.

An ominous call to the sniper task force tip line urged authorities to check out an incident in "Montgomery," triggering an investigative chain that led to the capture of two men, a law enforcement source told The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

The call led investigators from Montgomery, Ala., to Tacoma, Wash., to a darkened rest stop off I-70 in Frederick County, Md., where the two men were taken into custody.


Muhammad Has History of Parental Abduction (AP, October 24, 2002)
Investigators are combing through the lives of two men named in connection with the Washington, D.C.-area sniper investigation, searching for clues to what may have motivated a killing spree.

John Allen Muhammad, 42, one of the men, is a Muslim convert said to be sympathetic to the Sept. 11 hijackers, according to published reports.


Let this be the shooters so that our fellow citizens can get back to living their lives without being terrified.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

THE CHILDREN'S HOUR:

Good Reasons Aren't Enough for Bush (Richard Cohen, October 24, 2002, Washington Post)
Appearing on the old "Dick Cavett Show" back in 1980, the writer Mary McCarthy said of her fellow writer Lillian Hellman: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' " The same cannot yet be said about George W. Bush and his administration -- but it has not been around as long as Hellman was and is not nearly as creative.

The evidence is accumulating, though, that neither Bush nor his colleagues are particularly punctilious about the truth. For good reason, they sorely want a war with Iraq -- but good reasons are not, it seems, good enough for this administration.

Instead, both the president and his aides have exaggerated the Iraqi threat, creating links and evidence where they do not exist. Even before this war starts, its first victim has been truth. [...]

In speaking about Hussein last week, Bush said, "This is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army."

Maybe in his judgment -- but not really in anyone else's.


Mr. Cohen is, oddly enough, lying even as he decries lying. There may not in fact be close ties and co-operatioon between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, but no objective observer can deny that there are many credible reports that Saddam has made repeated efforts to turn al Qaeda into his forward army. The report that one sees most often, and which is detailed enough to make one believe there's some fire below the smoke, is that after Bill Clinton's desultory cruise missile attack on al Qaeda's Afghan encampments in 1998, Saddam sent Faruq al-Hijazi to Kandahar to renew an offer of asylum and assistance to Osama, specifically including the option for al Qaeda to relocate to Iraq. (It may be argued that such stories are manufactured, but why make up a series of stories that show there are no ties between Saddam and al Qaeda?) That Osama may have resisted these blandishments, because Saddam is not sufficiently an Islamicist, does not in any way diminish Saddam's desire to use al Qaeda for his own purposes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

THE WEST MOVES SOUTH:

The End of the West: The next clash of civilizations will not be between the West and the rest but between the United States and Europe—and Americans remain largely oblivious (Charles A. Kupchan, November 2002, The Atlantic Monthly)
The American era appears to be alive and well. The U.S. economy is more than twice the size of the next biggest—Japan's—and the United States spends more on defense than the world's other major powers combined. China is regularly identified as America's next challenger, but it is decades away from entering the top ranks. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington certainly punctured the sense of security that arose from the end of the Cold War and the triumph of the West, but they have done little to compromise U.S. hegemony. Indeed, they have reawakened America's appetite for global engagement. At least for the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to enjoy primacy, taking on Islamic terrorism even as it keeps a watchful eye on China.

That encapsulates the conventional wisdom—and it is woefully off the mark. Not only is American primacy far less durable than it appears, but it is already beginning to diminish. And the rising challenger is not China or the Islamic world but the European Union, an emerging polity that is in the process of marshaling the impressive resources and historical ambitions of Europe's separate nation-states.

The EU's annual economic output has reached about $8 trillion, compared with America's $10 trillion, and the euro will soon threaten the dollar's global dominance. Europe is strengthening its collective consciousness and character and forging a clearer sense of interests and values that are quite distinct from those of the United States. The EU's member states are debating the adoption of a Europe-wide constitution (a move favored by two thirds of the union's population), building armed forces capable of operating independently of the U.S. military, and striving to project a single voice in the diplomatic arena.


This could not possibly be any more wrong nor come at a time that more conclusively proves its every premise to be erroneous.

October 23, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 PM

I SEE DEAD PEOPLE...VOTING FOR DEMOCRATS:

Arkansas GOP charges vote fraud (Audrey Hudson, October 23, 2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Arkansas Democrats are trying to steal the Senate election by registering dead people and businesses to vote, illegally allowing early voting on weekends and not requiring identification to vote, Republicans said yesterday. Top Stories

At least six dead people tried to register to vote, including one helped by a person also listed on campaign-spending reports as having received $100 by the state Democratic party, said Marty Ryall, Republican Party chairman.


You don't need a sixth sense to know that with control of the Senate at stake and the prospect of being shut out of the Federal government until at least 2006, the Democrats are going to pull out all the stops.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 PM

REDEEMING CANAAN (via Lordmage):

Britons 'don't trust' government or EU: Only French have less faith in their rulers, survey shows (Ian Black, October 22, 2002, The Guardian)
Britons have an unusually high level of distrust in their own government as well as in EU institutions - about which they are more ignorant than people in any other member state, according to a survey.

The latest findings from Eurobarometer, the polling arm of the European commission, show that 33% of Britons tends to trust the government. Only France, where the figure was 30%, performs worse. Average trust in national government across the EU was 47%.

In its biannual survey of EU public opinion, Eurobarometer also found that questions about the EU generate more "don't know" answers among Britons than anyone else. "Don't know, don't understand and don't trust would appear to be the UK mantra when looking at theEU," said the report.

Unsurprisingly, a referendum on joining the single currency would produce a "no" result if it were staged now, with just 31% ready to scrap the pound for the euro.


From the day they stabbed the Iron Lady in the back the Tories have had their heads pressed against their prostates on this issue. They could retake Britain and establish an enduring identity if they'd adopt a British nationalist, Anglosphere-oriented, tax and government cutting platform and bang the thing like that gong in the old Ealing Studio movies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM

SCRATCH ANOTHER PROSPECTIVE PROFESSION OFF THE LIST:

'I cut off my arm to survive' (BBC, 23 October, 2002)
Doug Goodale cut off his own arm at the elbow in order to survive an accident at sea.

He had become caught in a winch hauling lobster pots up from the sea floor, and could not free himself.

The power of the winch left him hanging over the side of the boat, unable to either free himself or clamber back aboard.

As the boat was rocked by stormy weather, he believes it was only a last, desperate instinct for self-preservation that kicked in to save him.

He said: "Nobody near you, no help, no radio, nobody to turn the radio off - that's it - you're going to die."

Somehow he managed to haul himself back onto the deck, dislocating his shoulder in the process.

His motivation was the image of his daughters appearing to him.

"I don't know how to explain it to people, but I swear, climbing onto the boat were my two girls."

However, he was still trapped in the winch, bleeding heavily, and with no way of getting free, his only option was to pick up a knife and cut through his right arm.

He then managed to pilot his boat back into harbour to get medical help.

He said: "When my six-year-old tells me: 'It doesn't matter that you've only got one arm - you're here'.

"Now if you heard that from your kids, wouldn't you take a knife and do the same?"


I imagine I'd think it over for a few days first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 PM

THE STUPID VS. THE EVIL:

Naked fur protest stuns Chinese (BBC, 23 October, 2002)
Two Western anti-fur protesters have been arrested after stripping off in a busy shopping street in the Chinese capital Beijing.

Kayla Worden, 31, and Briton Yvonne Taylor, 29, were hauled off in a police van in their underwear minutes after casting off red robes in front of dozens of onlookers.

They had unfurled banners reading "We'd rather go naked than wear fur" in English and Chinese, in protest at a fur trade fair due to open in the city on Friday.

The two women are members of animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), which believes that the fur trade is cruel and necessary.


These trivial dimwits did this in a country whose governing party has killed--what?--about 30 million of its own people and even now has untold numbers in prison for their religious beliefs or for political activism. The heck with the stinkin' ferrets; how about the Chinese people?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:38 PM

GLORY DAZE (via Ed Driscoll):

Age an Issue in N.J. Senate Race (Kathy Hennessy, October 23, 2002, Associated Press)
With comments about memory loss and rambling speeches, New Jersey Republicans are indirectly raising the question: Is 78-year-old Frank Lautenberg too old to run for the Senate?

GOP challenger Douglas Forrester's campaign has been saying the Democratic former senator is out of touch on the issues and is avoiding debates because his mind "wanders."

"Age is not the issue, hypocrisy is the issue," said Forrester campaign manager Bill Pascoe. "More importantly is whether he is up to the job."

Lautenberg, who joined the race this month after Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped out, leads Forrester in most polls. However, a survey released Tuesday showed New Jersey residents are learning who Forrester is and many have a favorable opinion.

In Lautenberg's first campaign, in 1982, it was he who made an issue of age with his opponent, 72-year-old Millicent Fenwick. He questioned her "capacity" to be a senator, described her as "eccentric," and wondered if she would serve long enough to develop the power that comes with seniority.


Maybe the GOP could replace Bill Simon on the ballot in CA with Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM

SECOND BEST OPTION:

Poet a Contender to Run Federal Arts Agency (ROBIN POGREBIN, October 23, 2002, NY Times)
The poet, critic and anthologist Dana Gioia has emerged as the leading candidate to become the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, according to sources close to the process. The previous chairman of that agency, Michael P. Hammond, died in January after just a week in the post.

Mr. Gioia's nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate, is expected to be announced by President Bush in about two weeks, a government official said. Because of the endowment's history as a lightning rod for impassioned debates about the direction of culture in the country and the government's role in financing it, the chairmanship is a sensitive post that draws far more attention than other positions with influence over annual budgets far larger than the endowment's $115 million.

Reached by telephone, Mr. Gioia would confirm only that he was being considered. "Yes, I have been talking to the White House about this post," he said. "I can't say anything more than that because it would be inappropriate at this point. I am not a nominee."

Mr. Gioia (pronounced JOY-a), 51, has published three books of poetry: "Daily Horoscope" (1986), "The Gods of Winter" (1991) and "Interrogations at Noon" (2001), which won the American Book Award in May. He is well known as someone who has revived rhyme and meter, though he also writes in free verse.

He was widely recognized for his essay "Can Poetry Matter?," which appeared in The Atlantic in 1991. In the essay, Mr. Gioia argued that a clubby academic subculture that had grown up around poetry was preventing it from being widely available to the mainstream. The essay prompted considerable debate and was included in Mr. Gioia's 1992 collection of essays, "Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture," which was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of its Best Books of 1992 and became a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award.


If they aren't going to do away with it they may as well have this guy head it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:28 PM

MCBRIDE LEFT AT ALTAR:

McBride lost the chance to make case (PETER WALLSTEN, Oct. 23, 2002 , Miami Herald)
[T]he onus was on McBride, as a challenger who polls show remains largely unknown to nearly one in three Florida voters, to pull off a dramatic performance.

At times his performance was dramatic -- dramatically abysmal.

That was particularly true during an exchange between Russert and McBride on how he would pay for his priorities, which include a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to cap class sizes in public schools.

The exchange led to a perennial losing issue for Democrats -- taxes -- and gave Bush the perfect opening to again tell voters that his Democratic foe would force them to pay more.

McBride, on the other hand, looked slippery.[...]

When Russert asked McBride if he disagreed with the state teachers union on even one issue -- the union has bankrolled much of the Democrat's efforts and its leading officials hold key campaign posts -- McBride paused and looked a bit dazed.

''I could have gone out and gotten a drink of water, and then come back in,'' joked Mike Murphy, Bush's media consultant, who was sitting in the audience.


This is just a brutal analysis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:17 PM

CASTRO DELENDA EST:

U.S. works for regime change in Cuba, too (Bill Sternberg, 10/23/02, USA TODAY)
James Cason, the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, served up a surprise along with the mojito rum drinks to a group of American newspaper editors who visited his residence here last week. Three of the island nation's leading political dissidents materialized on the veranda to air grievances against Fidel Castro's government.

The meeting was part of the Bush administration's relatively unpublicized effort to promote regime change in Cuba. Administration officials aren't considering a military operation like the one being planned to oust Iraq's Saddam Hussein--or, for that matter, like the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion to depose Castro.

But, much to the annoyance of Cuban leaders, U.S. officials have been working inside Cuba to promote democracy and end Castro's 43-year rule. Their efforts have irritated U.S.-Cuban relations just as Castro is engaged in what has been called a ''charm offensive'' aimed at getting the United States to drop its four-decade ban on tourism and trade.


All of the stuff enumerated here is great, but as we said below, the Administration should be vocal about this and repeat it ad nauseum: Cuba Libre.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:59 PM

CHINA SYNDROME:

Ore. Democrat Sees Lead Dwindle: Oregon Democratic Candidate Kulongoski Finds Himself in Surprisingly Tight Governor's Race (The Associated Press, 10/23/02)
When the Oregon governor's race was taking shape, a sense of inevitability surrounded Democrat Ted Kulongoski's campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me...but maybe I'll just hold on to this for now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM

HAWKISH ON HISTORY, DOVISH ON THE PRESENT:

If you've ever read any of the studies and commentaries by the Media Research Center, you'll be familiar with Peter Jennings's well-documented anti-conservative, anti-Israel, and pro-Arab biases. If not, here's a representative essay about it.

At any rate, it came as a great shock to find the following quote from Mr. Jennings, which were you to swap out Japan and replace it with Iraq would very nearly justify nuking Baghdad, (Peter Jennings's final remarks on the 40th Anniversary of Hiroshima, 8/05/85, ABC News)

The ceremonies here to mark the fortieth anniversary of the dropping of the bomb are almost over. Japan's Prime Minister Nakasone has just spoken to the crowd, telling them again, of course, to remember to keep the image of what war can cost in their minds. And not far from where we stand, a peace bell, which you may hear, which people come from all over the world to ring.

Those people who died at Hiroshima and later at Nagasaki were killed by the atomic bomb, but they really died because of an evil Japanese ideology. There was scarcely a crime the Japanese had not committed in their drive to conquer the world. Today's Japanese are uncompromising in their commitment to peace. They're forever coming up and thanking Americans for setting Japan on the road to democracy. So for the Japanese, Hiroshima was a terrible lesson, but they appear to have learned it well.


It's odd how easily even the most dedicated Leftist can, in retrospect, appreciate that ridding a Germany of Hitler, a Japan of fascism, and Eastern Europe of communism were unalloyed goods, but can not imagine that ridding the Middle East of its Islamicism and other variants of totalitarian ideology will be similarly worthwhile and will, forty years from now, make us heroes in the eyes of the freed peoples.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 PM

WHAT, NO FAVA BEANS?:

State News: Montana (USA Today, October 21, 2002)
Red Lodge - The historic home of Liver Eating Johnston, an early pioneer and this town's first constable, was towed through town, led by a five-piece oom-pah band and followed by a cadre of musket-toting mountain men. Johnston received his nickname for removing part of an Indian's liver during a knife fight. Johnston, whose real name was John Garrison, was also known as Jeremiah Johnson.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 AM

ROTISSERIE POLITICS:

Seesaw Races Grip the Senate Of 34 seats on ballots this fall, the GOP is defending 20; the Democrats, 14. A handful may decide control of the chamber. (Ronald Brownstein, October 21 2002, LA Times)
In the seven races considered the most competitive, five remain too close to call: Republican-held seats in Colorado and New Hampshire, and Democrat-held seats in Missouri, Minnesota and South Dakota. Democrats are slightly favored to hold on to a seat in New Jersey and capture a GOP seat in Arkansas.

Republicans need a net gain of only one seat to win control of the Senate. With so many races so tight, small changes in the national environment could loom large. Over the last six weeks, Republicans benefited from an increased focus on national security issues generated by the debate over a possible war with Iraq. But that advantage may have peaked too soon.

Even some GOP strategists worry that the campaign focus over the final two weeks may revert toward the economy -- and trigger the traditional
voter inclination to punish the party holding the White House for hard times. "It would be better if the election was this Tuesday," one top GOP strategist said.


Here are the seats that seem at least mildly competitive:
Republican Seats (*denotes incumbent)
NH: Shaheen (D) vs. Sununu (R)

CO: Strickland (D) vs. *Allard (R)

TX: Kirk (D) vs. Cornyn (R)

NC: Bowles (D) vs. Dole (R)

SC: Sanders (D) vs. Graham (R)

AR: Pryor (D) vs. *Hutchinson (R)

Democrat Seats
NJ: Lautenberg (D) vs. Forrester (R)

GA: *Cleland (D) vs. Chambliss (R)

IA: *Harkin (D) vs. Ganske (R)

MO: *Carnahan (D) vs. Talent (R)

LA: *Landrieu (D) vs. the field (R)

MN: *Wellstone (D) vs. Coleman (R)

SD: *Johnson (D) vs. Thune (R)


Here are my predictions:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 AM

LET THE SUN SHINE IN:

When Dictators Blink: By confronting the truth, Bush helps crack Iraq and North Korea. (CLAUDIA ROSETT, October 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
In both Iraq and North Korea, what prompted the recent concessions was, at bottom, a simple thing called the truth. President Bush scrapped at least some of the soothing fictions in favor of facing facts. Last January he called these regimes "evil." Then, instead of apologizing to all the modern Neville Chamberlains who had gone faint with shock, he went about telling the world just how evil. His administration confronted Saddam and Kim Jong Il with evidence of their depredations and violations. And what do you know? Some of the world's worst bullies have begun to crack. [...]

Greater safety sure wasn't the trend in the slaphappy 1990s, the decade of denial, when U.S. foreign policy consisted largely of Bill Clinton desperately seeking a legacy, Hillary kissing Suha Arafat and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright belting out karaoke and dancing the hula. The assumption in those days was that what we didn't acknowledge couldn't really hurt us. As long as we got despots to sign on the dotted line, we'd be safe--and we had lots of paperwork that said so.

That policy allowed for the monstrous growth of al Qaeda, brought us the inane 1994 Agreed Framework that had us paying protection to North Korea, and engendered the absurd U.N.-run oil-for-food program, crafted on the assumption that Saddam would respect the spirit of a set of rules administered by the world's most craven bureaucracy.

I'd add to this list the kowtowing to Beijing, in the name of "engagement." This policy led the Chinese tyrants to conclude that "the United States is a
superpower in decline, losing economic, political and military influence around the world," according to the congressionally mandated U.S.-China
Security Review Commission. This commission further noted that "Chinese analysts also believe that the United States will not and cannot sustain
casualties in pursuit of its vital interests." China was far from alone in forming this opinion. America's evident decline into politically correct weakness
served as a call to arms for monsters around the globe.


We too little notice the desperation with which even history's worst dictatorships--be they fascist, communist, or Islamicist--try to portray themselves as legitimate and democratic. Saddam does not refer to his fiefdom as the Brutal Dictatorship of Iraq; he calls it a Republic and his storm troopers the Republican Guard. What the use of clear and honest language in the West can do is strip away such legitimizing nonsense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM

CASUS BELLI?:

French Soldier Missing in N. America: France Says Marksman Missing in North America, Fueling Speculation Over Link to Sniper Killings (The Associated Press, Oct. 21, 2002)
France has alerted Interpol about a French army deserter who is known as a marksman and is missing in North America. A Defense Ministry spokesman said there was speculation of a link to the investigation into the Washington-area sniper.

The 25-year-old second lieutenant, who was not identified, did not return to class in September at the elite military school, Saint-Cyr Coetquidan in Brittany, in western France, after going on vacation in August, officials said.

Interpol was notified of the disappearance of the officer, a normal procedure, and a judicial investigation was opened, which is also routine, said Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau.

Bureau acknowledged there was some speculation of a connection with the sniper investigation, but he said that was just hypothetical at this point.


October 22, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM

YOU DA YANN!:

Canadian Yann Martel Wins Book Prize (AP, 10/22/02)
Canadian author Yann Martel won Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, with his novel, "Life of Pi.''

A jubilant Martel punched the air in delight when his name was read at a ceremony Tuesday night at the British Museum in central London.


If you've not read the book yet we strongly recommend it. Here's our interview with Mr. Martel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM

SADDAM GETS GORBACHEVITIS?:

Iraqi protest over missing prisoners: Analysts say the protest was an unprecedented move (Caroline Hawley, , 22 October, 2002, BBC)
In Baghdad, dozens of relatives of prisoners not released after Saddam Hussein's amnesty on Sunday have held an unauthorised demonstration.

Political analysts have described the demonstration as an unprecedented display of dissent.


While it's entirely plausible that these are just staged demonstrations to convey the illusion that dissent is permitted in Iraq, it is also possible that saddam has made the same kind of miscalculation that Mikhail Gorbachev made when he initiated Glasnost: actually believing that the people are behind you. In the Soviet Union, Gorbachev decided to allow folks to criticize the Party, assuming they'd expose Stalin for the monster he was. But they went after Lenin to show that the Revolution had been corrupt from Day One and thus they destroyed the entire foundation of the State. Its rapid disintegration followed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:32 PM

ANYBODY SPEAK METRIC?:

How does a pumpkin reach 1450 kph? (Canadian Press, October 18, 2002)
When Jim Bristoe told his wife he wanted to build a cannon that would shoot a pumpkin a mile, she told him he wasn't all there.

But he built one anyway, with a 30-foot-long barrel. It is powered by a 700-gallon air tank and is appropriately named "Ain't All There." It looks much like a mobile anti-aircraft gun.

"You don't need to cover your ears, but you're going to know I shot it," the 42-year-old electrician and mechanic said during a demonstration on Wednesday.

When Bristoe fires the cannon, a 10-pound pumpkin is hit with 11,300 pounds of force. The pumpkin projectile leaves the muzzle at about 1450 kph, he said.

During the test, the cannon fired a pumpkin through the rear of a Pontiac.


1450 kph sounds like a big number, but what is that, like 25 mph? And why does the rest of the story use feet, gallons, and pounds?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:24 PM

DEATH MERCHANTS:

Pro-choice or anti-catholic (Maggie Gallagher, October 21, 2002, Town Hall)
Here are the facts: Most doctors do not like to perform abortions, and most abortionists like to make money. They tend to locate clinics in lucrative urban areas, leaving rural women to travel sometimes as much as a few hours in order to get abortions.

For some abortion rights groups, this constitutes a grave crisis: "Eighty-four percent of counties in the United States do not have an abortion provider," announces a Maryland NARAL fact sheet.

What are people who believe in abortion doing to expand access? Are they collecting donations to build and subsidize charitable rural abortion clinics, as they are entitled to under the law? Oh, no. Instead, NARAL and other abortion advocacy groups have launched nationwide campaigns to use the courts and legislatures to force hospitals (including Catholic hospitals) to provide abortion services.


Perhaps it would be useful to provide training so that abortion advocates can do the killing themselves rather than allow them to force others to do their dirty work.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 PM

THAT HAD TO HURT...GOOD:

Ending a Drug Patent Scam (NY Times, October 22, 2002)
President Bush, in a Rose Garden ceremony designed to show his concern over high drug prices as the midterm elections approach, said the Food and Drug Administration would soon propose a new rule to close the loopholes. One provision would allow only one automatic 30-month stay at most in patent infringement litigation against a generic competitor. Another provision would prohibit drug companies from listing patents with the F.D.A. on secondary issues like packaging that could be used to trigger automatic delays for frivolous reasons.

These steps should help to reduce the shady maneuvering by unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies. [...]

The president's announcement was welcomed by the generic drug industry and by groups representing consumers and the elderly. In a year when Congress failed to pass prescription drug coverage under Medicare and bills designed to rein in high drug prices, this was the best they could get.


After eight years of Bill Clinton, it's a great pleasure to watch the other side get triangulated and have their issues stolen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 PM

PUT YOUR HAND INSIDE THE PUPPET HEAD:

Simpson berates 'hysterical' US networks (Fiachra Gibbons, October 19, 2002, The Guardian)
[John Simpson, the BBC correspondent] said George Bush was a man of below average intelligence and a "glovepuppet of his vice-president, Dick Cheney, and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld".

One thing that's perplexing about this line of reasoning is that Mr. Rumsfeld in his last tour of duty in government was part of the apparatus of appeasing the Soviet Union and briefly served as an envoy to Saddam in the 80s, while Mr. Cheney was part of the administration that left Saddam in control of Iraq and then did business with him once out of office.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM

SUR-RURAL:

Honky-tonk Hip-hop Dreams : The Gourds defy definition by stirring in some "Gin and Juice" (Grant Britt, October 9, 2002, Durham Independent)
"We don't spend a lot of time thinking about what genre we want to be a part of," says Gourds guitarist Kev Russell. Since the Austin, Texas band first got together around '95, people who do that sort of thing for a living have been trying to describe not only what the band does but where to put them in the musical scheme of things. "It's kind of a day-to-day thing with us, the kind of mood we get in," Russell said from his home in Austin. "Sometimes we're a novelty band. Sometimes we aren't. We like to try and do as many things as possible. We just don't want to get pigeonholed into any one scene or genre."

Russell characterizes the Gourds' music as "a mixture of folk and country and rock and a little blues and Zydeco and Tex-Mex here and there, just a gumbo of stuff." The guitarist says he likes "sur-rural," the term that Tom Waits came up with for his music.


From what you can find on-line they sound pretty good. And what band wouldn't kill for this blurb from the review of their latest disc at Amazon (Jillian Steinberger):
The Gourds go beyond the constraints of alt-country, forging into new territory--call it country dada. Tex-Mex with a dash of Cajun, a handful of honky-tonk, and some rockin' and rollin', the 17 engaging tunes on Cow Fish Fowl or Pig crawl into your brain, lay eggs, and hatch; once they're in there, it's hard to get them out.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM

KHUI YESHUA:

Stone Box May Be Oldest Link to Jesus: Scholar Believes 60 A.D. Relic Authentic (Guy Gugliotta, October 22, 2002, Washington Post)
A nondescript limestone box, looted from a Jerusalem cave and held secretly in a private collection in Israel, carries an inscription that could be the earliest known archaeological reference to Jesus, according to new research released yesterday.

The box, an ossuary used at the time of Jesus to hold bones of the deceased that dates to about 60 A.D., has almost no ornamentation except for a simple Aramaic inscription: Ya 'a kov bar Yosef a khui Yeshua -- "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

Andre Lemaire, a French philologist and epigrapher who is the first scholar known to have studied the box, believes the inscription refers to Jesus of Nazareth. [...]

[L]emaire calculated that there could have been perhaps 20 people out of a contemporary Jerusalem population of 80,000 who fulfilled the requirement of being "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

And while mentioning the father of the deceased on an ossuary is relatively common, a brother's name usually appears only if the brother paid for the funeral, "or if the brother is famous," Shanks said. "That certainly would be the case here."


Here's the Biblical Archaeology Review story.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM

HELP FIND IKE A HOME:

In a moment fraught with the peril of fratricide--as tense a time as we've seen since the infamous Quisp vs. Quake debacle--the Brothers find themselves divided over which is the best entry in our "How to Tell if You've Joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" contest. Please help us to decide among the following entries:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM

WE HAD IT ALL:

Love story: the Reagan roses (Washington Whispers, US News)
Bill Ihle is a top exec with the Jackson & Perkins rose company. His mission? Finding the next rose, one that exudes romance and love or ably commemorates a great hero-figure. You can imagine what Ihle thought after reading the collection of love letters between Nancy and Ronald Reagan. "They're like Bogie and Bacall," he says. "Their love is so celebrated. They were a team, a romantic couple that a rose would celebrate." And too big for just one rose, he reveals to Whispers. This fall, Jackson & Perkins offers the Ronald Reagan rose and the Nancy Reagan rose. It's a first-ever twofer for the corporate green thumbs who've brightened gardens with the Diana, Barbara Bush, JFK, and Abe Lincoln roses. Nancy picked them from dozens Ihle offered: hers an apricot hybrid tea with huge blooms, his with glamorous red petals dusted white underneath. Of the sales, 10
percent goes to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation that funds his library and museum. "It's a fitting reminder," says Ihle, "of this loving couple."

October 21, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 PM

CUT YOUR LOSSES:

Once diverse, Kashmir is now valley of Muslims (Scott Baldauf, October 22, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor)
Javed's parents always talk about what Kashmir used to be - a land where Hindus and Muslims were friends, celebrated holidays and weddings together, ate each other's food.

But Javed, a high school student here, says his parents might as well be describing life on the moon. He was 3 when a violent insurgency against Indian control tore apart the state, causing Hindus to flee by the hundreds of thousands. He has never had a Hindu teacher or friend, never tasted Hindu food.

"The terrorist activities have destroyed our culture," says Javed, who prefers not to give his last name. "When the Hindu Pandits left the valley, we lost a part of ourselves."

Yesterday, India announced that it will begin pulling back troops from the Pakistan border in eight to 10 days. But while politicians and diplomats search for ways to end the 13-year insurgency - considering everything from state autonomy to joint control by India and Pakistan - Kashmiris themselves are in the midst of a profound social change. The migration of most of the state's Hindus has turned a once-cosmopolitan society of Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists, into an Islamic monoculture.

Now, experts worry that an entire generation will grow up never having experienced Kashmiriyat - the thousands- year-old concept of cultural unity through diversity - and in a fundamental way, India will have already lost Kashmir.


As unpleasant as it must be for India to contemplate, they might do themselves a lot of good by just getting out now, before Kashmir becomes their Palestine or Northern Ireland. There are several advantages to acting quickly: first, you excise the cancer before it seeps into your own political system (before "Kashmir now!, Kashmir tomorrow! Kashmir forever!" becomes a rallying cry for the "Right"; second, you can use it as a bargaining chip with Pakistan, maybe even exchange it for their nukes; third, it creates a free-fire zone for when the war with Pakistan comes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 PM

BODY, NO SOUL:

Ventura may resign early, make Schunk governor (Associated Press, Oct 22, 2002)
Gov. Jesse Ventura says there is a chance, though slim, that he will resign from office a few days early to give the state its first woman governor.

Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk would become governor temporarily if Ventura were to resign.

"I just thought it would be fun the last week to leave early and make Mae the first female governor of the state,'' Ventura said following a news conference called to announce a judicial appointment. "They'd have to give her her own portrait and everything else that would go with it. I just thought it would be kind of humorous. always have a sense of humor.'' [...]

Schunk, though, said in an interview following his comments that she doesn't want Ventura to step down.

"I don't want the governor to resign just to make me the first woman governor of Minnesota,'' she said. ``That's not the way Minnesota should have its first woman governor. It's not honorable that way.''


Thus does he dishonor his office and she honor it. American politics will be well rid of this nitwit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:15 PM

AND 80% ARE LIARS:

20% fear spouse's driving (The Canadian Press, 10/21/02)
Two Canadians in 10 are afraid to be passengers in cars driven by their spouses, suggests a survey.

Men and women had the same level of apprehension, according to a Leger Marketing poll. Eighteen per cent of Canadians--17 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women--said they were scared to travel in a car driven by their spouse.


When the wife started Med School, I drove her out to Chicago in her car, even though I had no idea how to drive a standard. She woke up on the Ohio Turnpike at one point and we were headed through a toll plaza going roughly 45 mph because I couldn't downshift. Her screams are even now wafting past Alpha Centauri.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:46 PM

STROM'S REPLACEMENT?:

No debate in topsy-turvy New Jersey Senate race (Reuters, 10/21/02)
Election Day is only two weeks away, but former Sen. Frank Lautenberg says it's too early for him to debate Republican Douglas Forrester in New Jersey's topsy-turvy Senate race.

The 78-year-old Democrat, who retired in 2000 after 18 years in the Senate, returned to politics only three weeks ago, when the state's Supreme Court ruled he could replace scandal-plagued Sen. Robert Torricelli on the November 5 ballot.

"I've been out of circulation for two years," the white-haired grandfather said in an interview after a campaign stop at an Irish pub in this wealthy New York suburb.

"I really think it's important that I touch base with people in the flesh, before they see me on TV in a debate." [...]

Democrats have been selective about Lautenberg's public appearances amid questions over how much energy and stamina the political veteran has.

At a rally at Cryan's bar and restaurant in South Orange, a jovial Lautenberg pumped his fist in the air and beamed a toothy smile at a small cheering crowd. But during his remarks, the Democrat's self-assurance gave way to rambling at times, drawing distracted looks from the audience.


As Finley Peter Dunne's fictional barroom philosopher, Mr. Dooley, once observed: Politics ain't beanbag. Republicans need to drape the good Senator's apparent incompetence around his neck and tighten it like a garotte.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM

EUREKA!:

About five years ago, a co-worker (Bucky Tremblay) and I hatched the idea that will one day make us very rich and much beloved men. We're going to open a chain of fast food restaurants--Buck & O's--featuring a sandwich we named the Buck & O Burger, that's a variant on Elvis Presley's favorite, the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Here's the recipe they use at Elvis Presley's Memphis Restaurant:

ELVIS PRESLEY'S PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA SANDWICH
4 oz. whole peanut butter
2 slices Texas Toast or 1/2-inch thick bread
1 whole ripe banana
4 oz. whole butter

Spread peanut butter side to side, evenly on 1 side of each piece of bread. Slice banana in 3/4-inch slices and place on 1 piece of bread with peanut butter. Banana slices should be close together, and cover 1 side completely (usually 9 slices). Top with the other slice of bread.

Heat butter in saute pan on medium heat. Place sandwich in pan and brown for approximately 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add 2 ounces of butter to the pan and flip sandwich to other side and continue cooking for 2 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and peanut butter is melting. Cut into quarters and serve very hot.


Our version makes one key switch--we don't fry it--and one key addition: country gravy.

Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of demand for country gravy in NH and we'd been unable to find any here. Equally unfortunately, neither of us are terribly ambitious, so we'd made no effort to find any elsewhere. But the other day I happened upon McCormick's Country Gravy Mix and figured here's my chance. Here's what I came up with:

Buck & O Burger, v.1.0
Jar of peanut butter
1 whole ripe banana
fajita wrap
one envelope McCormick's Country Gravy Mix
Jar of Fluff

Prepare gravy as per directions with one adjustment: thicken with two spoonfuls of Fluff.

Cut off one third of fajita wrap. Spread peanut butter on half of remainder. Smoosh banana into peanut butter. Roll wrap. Microwave briefly.

Ladle thickened gravy over wrap. Serve with mammoth glass of ice cold milk.


My friends, life simply does not get any better. It's like there's a party in your mouth and everyone's invited.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:38 AM

MAIL CALL:

Hollywood takes on White House (Jennifer Harper, October 19, 2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Last month, singer Barbra Streisand faxed House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, an indignant letter that accused President Bush of warmongering for the sake of the Republican Party.

"I find bringing the country to the brink of war unilaterally five weeks before an election questionable and very frightening," Miss Streisand said at a Democratic fund-raiser in Hollywood last week.

"In the words of William Shakespeare, beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into patriotic fervor," she continued. "Patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind."

The statement was mistakenly gleaned from an Internet parody of famous authors rather than a Shakespearean work. Miss Streisand also called Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an "Iranian" on her Web site Thursday; the geographical gaffe has since been corrected.

Some fault her strident approach.

"Once again, Barbra Streisand has opened her alligator-sized mouth before her humming-bird brain has a chance to catch up," actor R. Lee Ermy told the Sunday Telegraph. "Ms. Streisand does not speak for me or many other folks in this business."


Mike Daley sent us that one and the great Mr. Ermey deserves immense credit for not taking the easy shot, leaving her tapir-like snout out of the equation. As some of you will recall, Mr. Ermey was--with all due respect to notorious Kubrick flak, Ed Driscoll--the only good thing about Full Metal Jacket and therein has one of the classic movie lines of all time. Can't find the precise quote on-line, but it goes something like this--Ermey as the Marine drill instructor (which I believe he'd been in real life) is teaching his recruits to shoot. He asks: "Do you men know what Lee Harvey Oswald and Charles Whitman had in common?" To which, Matthew Modine, as the wiseguy hero of the film, responds: "They were both psychotic killers?" And Ermey barks out: "No! They were both trained to shoot in the United States Marine Corps! They are examples of what a dedicated Marine and his rifle can achieve."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

SPEAKING OF RICO PROSECUTIONS:

Donors to Davis get coastal permits: State agency smiles on governor's contributors (Lance Williams, October 20, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
David Geffen, a billionaire music mogul and world-class fund-raiser for Gov. Gray Davis, wanted a seawall on the beach in front of his Malibu estate.

Children's television tycoon Haim Saban, a $642,000 Davis donor, hoped to build a palatial Malibu beachfront compound.

And investment banker Gary Winnick, whose firms have pumped $525,000 into Davis' campaigns, was backing a huge housing development in a West Los Angeles wetland, as well as a bold plan to lay fiber optic cables across the Pacific Ocean floor.

In the end, these three wealthy, politically connected donors overcame controversy and environmental concerns to obtain the permits they needed from the California Coastal Commission, a powerful agency charged with controlling development along the state's spectacular 840-mile coastline.

So did almost everyone else on a long list of heavyweight Davis donors who sought permits from the commission during the governor's first term, a Chronicle analysis of state records shows.

Davis spokesman Roger Salazar said the Democratic governor has a firewall between campaign cash and official action. Davis "in no way, shape or form" allows political donations to influence policy decisions, he said.

But the records of contested and controversial seaside developments raise serious questions about whether Davis, who was elected on a save-the-coast platform, has put the coast itself in play when it comes to political money.


Here's the problem though: does anyone doubt that the Chronicle will endorse Mr. Davis for re-election? You can't complain about dirty government and help install the crooks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM

HOW ABOUT A RICO PROSECUTION?:

When Missouri seats its senator could tip balance of power (KEVIN MURPHY, 10/21/02, The Kansas City Star)
There is speculation in Washington that Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, would hold off certifying Talent's election Nov. 5 because it immediately would shift control of the Senate to Republicans by one seat -- at least until the new Senate is sworn in in January.

Holden and Secretary of State Matt Blunt, a Republican, need to sign a certification for submission to the president of the Senate, according to federal law.

"I think Senator Carnahan will be elected," Holden said. "If she's not, we'll get our attorneys (together) to see what appropriate action should be taken. We will move as expeditiously as we can with the facts that we have."

Scott Holste, spokesman for Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat, declined to say what advice Nixon would give Holden.

A federal law says "it shall be the duty" of a governor to certify a candidate's election to the Senate. But it does not say how soon that must happen.

"It does not have a time frame in the statute at all," said Terry Jarrett, general counsel to Blunt. "Who really knows?" [...]

"You occupy the seat as soon as you get elected," said Don Ritchie, associate historian of the Senate.


The Democrats are truly beginning to resemble the Mafia. They are barely a political party anymore, opting instead to become a criminal enterprise based on the maintenance of power at any cost. From giving Bill Clinton a free pass during Impeachment to all the shenanigans they pulled in FL to the initial Ashcroft vs. both Carnahans mess to the replacement of Bob Torricelli to what now appears to be systemic vote fraud (for example in SD) to this new threat not to seat a duly elected Senator--Democrats display a contempt of the democratic process that is despicable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM

SO MUCH DONE; SO MUCH YET TO DO:

107th Congress Sped, Then Sputtered: President Had Success on Tax Cuts, Education Before Domestic Agenda Stalled (Helen Dewar, October 20, 2002, Washington Post)
Major achievements included tax cuts worth $1.35 trillion over 10 years, education reforms, legislation to expand the president's trade negotiating authority, and anti-terrorism initiatives. Among the failures or unfinished business were once-ambitious energy legislation, a variety of health care initiatives, overhaul of bankruptcy laws, retirement protections, reauthorization of the 1996 welfare reforms and creation of a Department of Homeland Security. [...]

In a metaphor for the whole 107th Congress, lawmakers could not even wind up their business in a definitive fashion. Unable to pass any domestic spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, they put the government on temporary funding and straggled home last week to campaign for the midterm elections, but are subject to recall if needed for votes. [...]

Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution said that even on the major accomplishments -- including tax cuts, education, trade and the Iraq war resolution -- "the jury is still out" on whether they will lead to their desired results in terms of economic well-being, school progress, liberalized trade and a safer world.


That is not of course the true metaphor for this Congress. Instead one would look to James Jefford's bizarre decision to vote for the tax cut just before switching parties. There you saw what kind of big and much-needed changes were possible with the GOP completely in charge. But once Democrats took the Senate, things like Social Security reform, school vouchers, a partial-birth abortion ban, and a prescription drug plan became impossible.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

CAST AWAY:

A Grand Strategy: President George W. Bush's national security strategy could represent the most sweeping shift in U.S. grand strategy since the beginning of the Cold War. But its success depends on the willingness of the rest of the world to welcome U.S. power with open arms. (John Lewis Gaddis, Nov/Dec 2002, Foreign Policy)
Beginnings, in such documents, tell you a lot. The Bush NSS, echoing the president's speech at West Point on June 1, 2002, sets three tasks: "We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent." It's worth comparing these goals with the three the Clinton administration put forth in its final NSS, released in December 1999: "To enhance America's security. To bolster America's economic prosperity. To promote democracy and human rights abroad."

The differences are revealing. The Bush objectives speak of defending, preserving, and extending peace; the Clinton statement seems simply to assume peace. Bush calls for cooperation among great powers; Clinton never uses that term. Bush specifies the encouragement of free and open societies on every continent; Clinton contents himself with "promoting" democracy and human rights "abroad." Even in these first few lines, then, the Bush NSS comes across as more forceful, more carefully crafted, and--unexpectedly--more multilateral than its immediate predecessor. It's a tip-off that there're interesting things going on here.

The first major innovation is Bush's equation of terrorists with tyrants as sources of danger, an obvious outgrowth of September 11. American strategy in the past, he notes, has concentrated on defense against tyrants. Those adversaries required "great armies and great industrial capabilities"--resources only states could provide--to threaten U.S. interests. But now, "shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank." The strategies that won the Cold War--containment and deterrence--won't work against such dangers, because those strategies assumed the existence of identifiable regimes led by identifiable leaders operating by identifiable means from identifiable territories. [...]

[T]he Bush strategy is right on target with respect to the new circumstances confronting the United States and its allies in the wake of September 11. It was sufficient, throughout the Cold War, to contain without seeking to reform authoritarian regimes: we left it to the Soviet Union to reform itself. The most important conclusion of the Bush NSS is that this Cold War assumption no longer holds. The intersection of radicalism with technology the world witnessed on that terrible morning means that the persistence of authoritarianism anywhere can breed resentments that can provoke terrorism that can do us grievous harm. There is a compellingly realistic reason now to complete the idealistic task Woodrow Wilson began more than eight decades ago: the world must be made safe for democracy, because otherwise democracy will not be safe in the world.


Like Tom Hanks, we are stuck with Wilson.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM

NONE OF THE ABOVE:

California puzzle (Robert Novak, 10/21/02, Town Hall)
The nightly tracking poll taken for the California Teachers Association (CTA), made available to Republicans Friday morning, was startling. Thursday night's telephone interviews about the race for governor showed beleaguered Republican candidate Bill Simon leading DemocraticGov. Gray Davis 34.2 percent to 33.7 percent. The three-day tracking roll gave Davis a mere 2.7 percentage point lead.

Those numbers collide with Democratic surveys that show a double-digit lead for Davis. They also force a decision on George W. Bush that must be made instantly. Should he pay a final one-day visit to San Diego, perhaps next Monday, to affirm Simon as the Republican Party's California standard-bearer in good standing? Or should he not risk the damage to his prestige in the Golden State that could result from association with a drubbing?


The Simon lead isn't even the real story here. What is remarkable, in fact it may be unique, is that two weeks out from election day in a major media state there are still 32% undecided. Given the vagaries of polling, "Undecided" may even be winning. Has that ever happened before?

October 20, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 PM

THE PROLIFER VS. THE PROFILER:

Faith versus science? (Ellen Goodman, 10/20/2002, Boston Globe)
[T]he question in the Hager flap is not whether religion is a disqualification for serving in society. It's whether belonging to the religious right is prerequisite for serving on anything to do with reproduction. Who's doing the religious profiling?

In theory, the FDA advisory committee is for research wonks, not ideologues. This is supposedly the place for facts. This is where the safety and effectiveness of drugs are debated, not the morals.

At one time, Hager said, ''The fact that I'm a person of faith does not deter me from also being a person of science.'' At another time, he said it was dangerous to compartmentalize life into ''categories of Christian truth and secular truth.'' Can Hager's opponents separate his faith from his science? Can he?

Emergency contraception and RU-486 are both slated to be back before the committee. We already know that this would-be adviser opposes emergency contraception on moral grounds. Will that skew his judgment about whether it's safe to sell over the counter?

As for RU-486 or mifepristone, Hager's not just personally opposed to the ''abortion pill.'' Last August he helped the Christian Medical Association produce a ''citizens' petition'' asking the FDA to take it off the market. They cited new ''evidence'' of its dangers to women that was neither new nor evidence. Today mifepristone is not only used for early abortions and other treatments but it's on the FDA's fast track for use as an antipsychotic, especially for post-partum depression. Anyone wonder why Hager's, um, profile, is high?

''Anyone who can say RU-486 is dangerous and should be overturned is ignoring the science,'' says Pearson.


Setting aside for a moment Ms Goodman's claim that she's not profiling the religious, even though she puts quotation marks around the seemingly innocuous phrase "citizens's petition"--would an application from NOW or NARAL have earned similar implied skepticism?--it seems necessary to point out what one would have thought an obvious fact: any abortificant is dangerous, in fact deadly, by its very nature. That neither Ms Goodman nor this Pearson character even take into consideration the embryo or fetus that is destroyed by RU-486 amply demonstrates who here is blinded by ideology.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 PM

CONSERVATIVE CONSERVATION:

Wyoming doctor, 'extreme environmentalist,' recruits army in Africa to save animals from poachers (JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, Oct 19, , 2002, AP)
Dr. Bruce Hayse doesn't look like a tin-pot dictator.

He favors tropical shirts and Western boots, not camo fatigues and a chestful of medals. He drives a muddy truck, not an armored limousine.

So why is this middle-aged family physician living on the summit of cowboy chic in Wyoming recruiting his own army 8,000 miles (12,900 kilometers) away in the remote and wretched Central African Republic? [...]

All he's trying to do — with, he emphasizes, the written blessing of the C.A.R.'s president — is save what remains of the country's magnificent wildlife and protect its remote villages from brutal gangs of poachers. [...]

In 2001, Hayse says, President Ange-Felix Patasse ceded authority over the entire Chinko River basin — 60,000 square miles (153,600 square kilometers) — to Hayse's paramilitary forces, some of them recruited from villages that have been terrorized by poachers. [...]

An article about Hayse in the October issue of National Geographic Adventure asserts that one patrol recently captured and executed at least three poachers, and that seven more were captured and turned over to the government. Hayse said he was aware of the incidents but still is seeking details.


Romain Gary would be proud.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 PM

ABRE LOS OJOS:

Republicans Planning for Full Control Of Congress: Accelerated Tax Cuts, Tort Reform on the Agenda (Mike Allen, October 20, 2002, The Washington Post)
White House officials and Republicans on Capitol Hill are so optimistic about winning control of both chambers of Congress in next month's elections that they have begun mapping how they would use their new power, including the possibility of speeding up tax cuts that were to take effect gradually. [...]

White House officials said Republican control of Congress would help Bush win passage of an administration plan to subsidize prescription drugs for Medicare patients, which they said would rob Democrats of a potent issue and help the president in Florida in 2004. [...]

Conspicuously absent from the administration's plans for next year is legislation to allow people to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private retirement accounts. That was one of Bush's core campaign promises, and he had indicated he was prepared to introduce it next year. But the stock market's nosedive has made it much harder to sell. Administration officials said Bush plans to promote a national conversation about the issue next year but is unlikely to push Congress to pass a plan until 2005, if he wins reelection. [...]

Even with GOP control, Bush would have trouble winning passage of a top priority of his corporate backers: restrictions on jury awards, beginning with medical malpractice cases. Bush has proposed limiting noneconomic damages, which compensate a victim for pain and suffering, to $250,000. [...]

Whether Republicans extend their power in Congress, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill plans to send the president late this year proposals for rewriting the tax code. "Fundamental tax reform, in our minds, means scrap it all," a senior administration official said.

Sources said the possibilities are likely to include a flat income tax -- which would have a single rate for most taxpayers and would eliminate most deductions -- and a value-added tax, a levy on goods at each stage of production and distribution. Bush is not expected to propose those.


With Tim Hutchinson (R, AR) and Wayne Allard (R, CO) poised to lose, this is pie in the sky, but it's fun to dream while we can.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:53 PM

ELEPHANT CRUSH:

Activists Denounce Thailand's Elephant "Crushing" Ritual (Jennifer Hile, October 16, 2002, National Geographic Today)
It's a sound not easily forgotten. Just before dawn in the remote highlands of northern Thailand, west of the village Mae Jaem, a four-year-old elephant bellows as seven village men stab nails into her ears and feet. She is tied up and immobilized in a small, wooden cage. Her cries are the only sounds to interrupt the otherwise quiet countryside.

The cage is called a "training crush." It's the centerpiece of a centuries-old ritual in northern Thailand designed to domesticate young elephants. In addition to beatings, handlers use sleep-deprivation, hunger, and thirst to "break" the elephants' spirit and make them submissive to their owners.

"It's a ritual that exists, in varying forms and degrees of cruelty, in virtually every country in Asia that has domesticated elephants," explained Richard Lair, an American expatriate and international relations officer for Thailand's Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang. [...]

Elephant management techniques in the United States used corporal punishment and negative reinforcement to train elephants until about 30 years ago, when a new method began to emerge.

"We started changing our training methods [over the last few decades] because we had the technology and the know-how," said Carol Buckley, co-founder and executive director of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. "The new technique is called 'protected contact,' and it's used in more than half of accredited American zoos."

The new training depends on rewards, not punishment.

"In a nutshell, when the behavior of the animal approximates the target of behavior, you reward them," said Jeff Andrews, Animal Care Manager at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. He is in charge of training the African and Asian elephants at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Chailert hopes to change how the next generation of domestic elephants is trained. With a tradition so deeply engrained, it won't be easy.


The story leaves open the implication that even about half of American zoos use a more severe training method.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:44 PM

NEMO MORTALIUM OMNIBUS HORIS SAPIT:

'We' know who 'we' are: Edward Said is appalled at how destructive jargon has taken over thought and action in the Middle East (Edward Said, October 14, 2002, The Guardian)
Lebanon was heavily bombed by Israeli warplanes on 4 June 1982. Two days later the Israeli Army breached the country's southern border. Menachem Begin was then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon Minister of Defence. The immediate reason for the invasion was the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to Britain, blamed by Begin and Sharon on the PLO, whose forces in South Lebanon had been observing a ceasefire for a year.

By 13 June, Beirut was under siege, even though the Israeli Government had originally said it planned to go no further into Lebanon than the Awali River, 35 km north of the border. Later, it became all too clear that Sharon was trying to kill Yasir Arafat by bombing everything around him. There was a blockade of humanitarian aid; water and electricity were cut off, and a sustained aerial bombing campaign destroyed hundreds of buildings. By mid-August, when the siege ended, 18,000 Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians, had been killed.

The civil war between right-wing Christian militias and left-wing Muslim and Arab nationalist groups had already lasted seven years. Although Israel sent its Army into Lebanon only once before 1982, it had early been sought as an ally by the Christian militias, who co-operated with Sharon's forces during the siege.

Sharon's main ally was Bashir Gemayel, leader of the Phalange Party, who was elected President by the Lebanese Parliament on 23 August. The Palestinians had unwisely entered the civil war on the side of the National Movement, a loose coalition of parties that included Amal, a forerunner of Hizbollah (which was to play the major role in finally driving the Israelis out of Lebanon in May 2000).

Faced with the prospect of Israeli vassalage after Sharon's Army had in effect brought about his election, Gemayel seems to have demurred and was assassinated on 14 September. Israeli troops occupied Beirut, supposedly to keep order, and two days later, inside a security cordon provided by the Israeli Army, Gemayel's vengeful extremists massacred two thousand Palestinian refugees at the camps of Sabra and Shatila.

Under UN and of course US supervision, French troops had entered Beirut on 21 August in the aftermath of the siege and were later joined by US and other European forces. The PLO fighters were evacuated from Lebanon; and by the beginning of September Arafat and a small band of advisers and soldiers had relocated to Tunis. The Taif Accord of 1989 prepared the way for a settlement of the civil war the following year. The old confessional system - under which different religious groups are allocated a specific number of Parliamentary seats - was more or less restored and remains in place today.

Earlier this year Sharon was quoted as regretting his failure to kill Arafat in Beirut. Not for want of trying - dozens of buildings were destroyed, hundreds of people killed. The events of 1982 hardened ordinary Arabs, I think, to the idea that Israel would use planes, missiles, tanks and helicopters to attack civilians indiscriminately, and that neither the US nor the Arab governments would do anything to stop it.

The invasion of Lebanon was the first full-scale contemporary attempt at regime change by one sovereign country against another in the Middle East.


We are still paying a terrible price for going weak in the knees after the Sabra and Shatila massacres and then cutting and running after the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed in 1983. Ronald Reagan predicted that radical Islam would be the main threat to Western security after the Cold War; it's a shame that he didn't show the same determination in the Lebanon that he showed with the Soviets.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:39 PM

PASSING:

Muslim woman for a day (Andrew Marra, October 20, 2002, Palm Beach Post)
The stares and the second-takes were inevitable the minute Mary Peterson stepped onto the South Fork High campus Thursday morning.

They were expected. Even desired.

Peterson's dress, after all, was not the typical student fare. The 17-year-old senior of Scottish and Irish descent had put aside jeans and T-shirts for the burka, the traditional garb of Muslim women. [...]

It was a bold sociological experiment that Peterson, a student in the school's International Baccalaureate program, concocted while her Theory of Knowledge class was studying Islam last month -- quite a change of pace for the teen who teaches Sunday school at a nondenominational Christian church, takes pictures as a hobby and often spends weekends in the movie theater or at the mall with her friends.

What would it be like, she had wondered, to be a traditional Islamic woman for a day? [...]

She counted some 10 people throughout the day who were openly rude to her or gave her a negative vibe.

"They're ignorant," she said. "They're uneducated about the differences in lifestyle."


That's an excellent start towards understanding discrimination. Now dress like a Hassidim and attend a school in Pakistan, Palestine, or Saudi Arabia for a day and see how the "vibes" are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM

ANACONDA TIMES GOOGLEPLEX:

A Post-Saddam Scenario: Iraq could become America's primary staging ground in the Middle East. And the greatest beneficial effect could come next door, in Iran (Robert D. Kaplan, November 2002 , The Atlantic Monthly)
The Iranian population is the most pro-American in the region, owing to the disastrous economic consequences of the Islamic revolution. A sea change in its leadership is a matter of when, not if. But a soft landing in Iran-rather than a violent counter-revolution, with the besieged clergy resorting to terrorism abroad-might be possible only if general amnesty is promised for those officials guilty of even the gravest human-rights violations.

Achieving an altered Iranian foreign policy would be vindication enough for dismantling the regime in Iraq. This would undermine the Iranian-supported Hizbollah, in Lebanon, on Israel's northern border; would remove a strategic missile threat to Israel; and would prod Syria toward moderation. And it would allow for the creation of an informal, non-Arab alliance of the Near Eastern periphery, to include Iran, Israel, Turkey, and Eritrea. The Turks already have a military alliance with Israel. The Eritreans, whose long war with the formerly Marxist Ethiopia has inculcated in them a spirit of monastic isolation from their immediate neighbors, have also been developing strong ties to Israel. Eritrea has a secularized population and offers a strategic location with good port facilities near the Bab el Mandeb Strait. All of this would help to provide a supportive context for a gradual Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. A problem with the peace plan envisioned by President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in the summer of 2000, was that coming so soon after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, it was perceived by many Arabs as an act of weakness rather than of strength. That is why Israel must be seen to improve its strategic position before it can again offer such a pullback.

Of course, many Palestinians will be unsatisfied until all of Israel is conquered. But in time, when no Israeli soldiers are to be seen in their towns, the seething frustration, particularly among youths, will turn inward toward the Palestinians' own Westernized and Christianized elites, in Ramallah and similar places, and also eastward toward Amman.


Mr. Kaplan leaves India and Russia out of this equation. Add them to the mix and if you look at a map you can see that the Arab Islamic world would be completely surrounded by non-Arab and/or non-Muslim powers, all of them allied with the US, Britain, and Israel, which are pretty much the world's only significant miltary powers. Setting aside for the moment of whether this is necessarily a Clash of Civilizations that we're involved in, it's apparent that if it is one Islam is in an untenable position.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:50 PM

KATRINA'S DIRTY SECRET:

Running in the family (Concord Monitor, October 18, 2002)
Yvonne Katrina Lantos was born to Annette and Tom Lantos, both Hungarian immigrants, on Oct. 8, 1955.

She was the couple's second child. Their first daughter, Annette, was born 3 1/2 years earlier. The girls were a godsend to the Lantoses, who had lost most of their families during World War II. [...]

The sisters attended school, but they were also vigorously home-schooled, a point Swett minimizes and her mother declines to discuss, citing privacy.


It's pretty sad when the Democrats are so in thrall to the NEA that a candidate can't even talk about being home-schooled.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM

CUSTER DIED FOR A DEMOCRAT SENATE:

Baghdad, S.D. (Florida Times-Union, October 19, 2002)
The latest poll shows Tim Johnson, the junior senator, trails Republican challenger John Thune by 5 percentage points. Daschle is a close ally of Johnson, and President Bush recruited Thune to run. Daschle's 2004 presidential aspirations will be dealt a severe blow if he cannot even win a proxy fight against Bush in his home state.

Democrats have a one-seat majority in the Senate and polling data indicates there is a 50-50 chance Republicans will regain control. Daschle could lose his powerful position but Democrats no longer would be able to block Republican economic stimulus packages nor continue keeping judicial nominees tied up in committee indefinitely.

Perhaps that is why dead people have been registering to vote in South Dakota.

An FBI investigation concluded that many people who do not exist have registered there, as have minors and dead people. A woman registered to vote just a few days after she was buried.

The key suspect is a former staffer of the state's Democratic Party, who allegedly falsified registration forms.


It must give a Florida newspaper particular pleasure to run an editorial chastising the electoral practices of others.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM

TIMBER!!!!!!!:

The Wrong War at the Wrong Time (Tony Judt, October 20, 2002, NY Times)
Today many people outside America believe that Washington has lost interest in this war, except as rhetorical cover for a retreat to more familiar territory: an old-fashioned battle against an old-fashioned kind of enemy--Iraq. We are seeking a fight we can win instead of concentrating on the war that we must win. [...]

The worst thing about Mr. Bush's pre-announced war with Iraq is that it is not just a substitute for the war against terrorism; it actively impedes it. Mr. Bush has scolded President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia for not cracking down on Islamic terrorists. But thanks to the war talk spilling out of Washington, heads of states with Islamic majorities are in an impossible position.

If they line up with the Bush administration against Saddam Hussein, they risk alienating a large and volatile domestic constituency, with unpredictable consequences. (Witness this month's elections in Pakistan, where two provinces adjacent to Afghanistan are now controlled by a coalition of religious parties sympathetic to Osama bin Laden.) But if they acknowledge popular opposition to a war with Iraq, they will incur Mr. Bush's wrath. Either way the war on terror suffers.


With all due respect to Mr. Judt, this is a classic example of failing to see the forest for the trees. The war is not against terrorism per se but against the Islamic radicalism and anti-Zionism/anti-Westernism that undergirds both states in the region and terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Hammas, Hezbollah, etc.. It matters little what we do about an organization like al Qaeda, which is fairly small, diffuse and already on the run, if the actual governments of the Islamic world are so precariously perched atop pro-radical populations that they can't even afford to support a war on someone like Saddam Hussein.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 AM

NEW NEW WORLD ORDER:

Peril of pre-emptive thinking (RAMESH THAKUR, October 20, 2002, The Japan Times
This is the true meaning of the Bush promise that the U.S. will not allow the world's most dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of the world's most dangerous regimes (and, one might add, the world's most destructive groups and individuals), as judged solely and unilaterally by Washington.

Therein lies the logic of pre-emption, if necessary, well before the threat actually materializes (as with Hussein, whose acquisition of nuclear weapons does not seem imminent, all bluster to the contrary notwithstanding). There is also an underlying belief that current criticism of any U.S.-led war to take out Hussein's weapons of mass destruction will be quickly muted with the success of the operation and eventually turn into gratitude for someone's having had the necessary foresight, fortitude and resolution.

But in turn this changes the basis of world order as we know it. And that might be the most profound and long-lasting significance of 9/11. It may indeed have changed the world and tipped us into a post-Westphalian world. U.S. policy is full of contradictions within the paradigm of world order since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) wherein all states are of equal status and legitimacy.

How can the most prominent dissident against many global norms and regimes--from arms control to climate change and international criminal justice--claim to be the world's most powerful enforcer of global norms and regimes, including nonproliferation?

How can the most vocal critic of the very notion of an international community anoint itself as the international community's sheriff? For that matter, by what right do the five unelected members of the Security Council claim a permanent monopoly on nuclear weapons?

The answer lies in a conception of world order rooted outside the framework of Westphalian sovereignty. This also explains why some of today's most potent threats come not from the conquering states within the Westphalian paradigm, but from failing states outside it.

In effect, Bush is saying that the gap between the fiction of legal equality and the reality of power preponderance, between equally legitimate and democratically legitimate states, has stretched beyond the breaking point.

Washington is no longer bound by such fiction. The Bush administration insists that the U.S. will remain as fundamentally trustworthy, balanced and responsible a custodian of world order as before -- but of a post-Westphalian order centered on the United States surrounded by a wasteland of vassal states.


Though we'd come to a different conclusion about this than Mr. Thakur, his basic analysis seems correct. When George Bush the Elder proclaimed a New World Order at the time of the last Iraq War it was indeed premised on the notion of all states being equally legitimate. Thus we went to war under the auspices of the UN, with countries like Syria at our side, even though the UN is filled with regimes just as vile as Iraq and even though, by any objective standard, Syria should be considered just as dangerous as Iraq. Likewise, the justification for the war at that time was to protect Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, even though neither meets any of the standards of Western governance--democratic pluralistic capitalistic liberalism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:14 AM

GUERILLA POLITICS:

Forrester, Lautenberg stage impromptu debate at street fair (WAYNE PARRY, October 19, 2002, Associated Press)
Dragging two wooden podiums into an intersection at a street fair Saturday, Republican Senate candidate Douglas Forrester challenged Democratic rival Frank Lautenberg to make good on his "any place, any time" debate pledge.

The three-term former senator complied in a 10- to 15-minute exchange during which Forrester criticized his opponent's voting record and Lautenberg focused on issues such as abortion rights and gun control. [...]

Forrester has proposed more than 20 debates around the state, but Lautenberg, who retired two years ago, has agreed to just one televised joint appearance, three days before the Nov. 5 election. Tom Shea, Lautenberg's campaign manager, said the Democrat will agree to at least one other televised debate.


This is brilliant. But Forrester has to keep it up, because making Lautenberg's unwillingness to debate into the key issue of the campaign allows you to bring his age and competence into the mix too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

VOX CLAMANTIS IN DESERTO:

The Souffle Doctrine (MAUREEN DOWD, October 20, 2002, NY Times)
The Boy Emperor picked up the morning paper and, stunned, dropped his Juicy Juice box with the little straw attached.

"Oh, man," he wailed. "North Korea's got nukes."


It's not even worth excerpting the rest of the column. It suffices to point out the gall of these people who celebrated Bill Clinton's appeasement of North Korea and belittled the Axis of Evil but who now portray George W. Bush as the one who's surprised by this week's North Korean admission (note that he learns of North Korea's nukes from the nwspaper, rather than vice versa). But even that is barely worth mentioning. Thus is it ever with the Left, which never has to apologize for the damage it does or even acknowledge it.

October 19, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM

THE GATHERING STORM:

U.S. study Says Indo-Israeli Invasion of Pakistan Probable (IslamOnline, 10/19/02)
A new U.S. study says India could invade Pakistan (possibly with Israeli help) if Islamists gained ascendancy there. This would be to forestall Islamist control of nuclear weapons, the study said.

The study, Transforming America's Military, published by America's National Defence University, said there was a "distinct prospect" for such a development in the next few years.

"The nightmare scenario of the next few years is that American and allied military operations in South or Southwest Asia end up severely destabilising the Pakistani regime," the study said.

A coup or capture of power by an Islamist faction within the military or chaotic conditions like a civil war would diminish "the reliability of central control of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal," the report said. In a situation like that India and Israel could intervene to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into Islamist hands, the report said.

The report describes India as "an important nuclear-armed ally of the U.S." and Pakistan as "very fragile ally." Indo-Israeli invasion could unleash a major regional war in which "use of nuclear weapons could not be precluded."

Written by Peter Wilson, a senior political analyst at Rand Corporation, and Richard D. Sokolsky, a research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defence University, the study echoes reports originating from America in September last year.


It matters not whether any such thing is imminent: what matters is that the Axis of Evil and its allies begin to appreciate that such previously improbable military alliances are becoming more likely as a de facto Axis of Good forms--including at least India, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Taiwan, Britain, Australia, and the U.S.. This is also precisely the kind of unilateral action that is going to become more common in our future, so folks better get used to it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:16 PM

WASH YOUR HANDS AND MAKE ME A CHEESE SANDWICH:

Court OKs drug tests for people on welfare: Michigan can deny benefits to those who fail (KIM NORTH SHINE, October 19, 2002, Detroit Free Press)
The state can rightfully deny benefits to welfare recipients who test positive for illegal drugs, according to a federal court decision released Friday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said Michigan's use of mandatory testing to determine eligibility for public aid is neither an invasion of privacy nor an infringement on constitutional protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

The random testing is a justified technique for protecting children, the public and tax dollars from abuse, the court said. [...]

The ACLU of Michigan promised to appeal the decision and decried it as a threat to personal freedom. [...]

"Our concern is this can really open up the door to uncontrolled government surveillance in every aspect of our lives," the ACLU's Kary Moss said. "What about students who take out student loans or taxpayers who take deductions?"


This seems a fairly easy call: if you are that concerned about your privacy just forego the test and the benefits.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:58 PM

A GOOD TIME TO BE A REPUBLICAN IN TEXAS:

GOP leading in top two races (WAYNE SLATER, 10/20/2002, The Dallas Morning News)
Gov. Rick Perry is favored by 50 percent of likely voters over Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez, backed by 35 percent in the latest poll
by The Dallas Morning News.

In the Senate race, Republican John Cornyn leads former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk by 10 points. [...]

"It's a good time to be a Republican running for office in Texas," said pollster Micheline Blum.

"What's happened in Texas is that almost half of all likely voters think of themselves now as Republicans," she said. "So you can't win anymore with just the Democrats and a chunk of the independents."

Part of the Democratic political blueprint is to boost turnout among minority voters with a historic ticket. Mr. Kirk would be the first black U.S. senator from the South since Reconstruction, and Mr. Sanchez would be the state's first Hispanic governor. [...]

Ms. Blum and colleague Julie Weprin said their survey suggests little evidence that the so-called dream team ticket has kindled sufficient enthusiasm to offset its lagging support among whites.

"That's obviously a real blow to Sanchez," Ms. Blum said. "He needs to be taking the overwhelming number of Hispanic votes. Plus he needs the enthusiasm of people getting out in droves to help him do well. And we don't see either one."

She said Mr. Kirk is doing far better among blacks than Hispanics.

"The problem is there isn't a black-Hispanic coalition," she said. "He's not getting anywhere near as much of the Hispanic vote as one might have expected or that he needs to get."


Mr. Kirk, like Bill Simon in California, is going to be unfairly criticized for the quality of the campaign he ran. And, again like Mr. Simon, he has had a few biffs along the way. But, just as California is too Democrat for Mr. Simon ever to have had a real shot, so Texas is just too Republican at this point for Mr. Kirk to have won. He probably did as well as anyone could have expected.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:30 PM

SO HERE'S THE QUESTION...:

Chess challenge ends in stalemate (BBC, 19 October, 2002)
Man and machine have taken equal honours in the eight-match Brains in Bahrain chess duel.

World champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia tied 4-4 with the chess computer Deep Fritz.


...if playing to a tie is like kissing your sister, is tying a computer like kissing your sister's E-Z-Bake oven?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 AM

DEATH THROES:

The Bali bombs may deal a fatal blow to the Islamists: After Luxor, Egyptian rule improved. Indonesia may do the same (Martin Woollacott, October 18, 2002, The Guardian)
After the massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor in 1997, the shock and grief felt by Egyptians was tangible. The journalist and academic Geneive Abdo describes leaving the relatively quiet campus of the American University in Cairo to find that "all around me, Egyptians were cursing the violence. They stood in crowds in the middle of downtown, waving their hands in the air and looking past one another as they shouted in anger and frustration."

The spectacular violation of Egyptian ideas of decency and hospitality by the Luxor terrorists turned the population decisively against a violent Islamism about which they already had grave doubts. The main radical Islamist movements in that country condemned the attack, went on to the defensive, and began a reconsideration of strategy.

In retrospect Luxor can be seen as the last desperate throw of the terrorist brand of Islamism in Egypt. A slow Islamisation of Egyptian society continued, which many westerners and secular Egyptians deplore, but it has nevertheless been pursued by non-violent means. Most of those who could not reconcile themselves to this course left the country, some of them to become founders and associates of what came to be known as al-Qaida.

Five years after Luxor, it looks as if al-Qaida and its local allies in Indonesia have repeated the same mistake in Bali. Just as Luxor alienated Egyptians from the path of violence, so it is likely that Bali will have the same effect on Muslim Indonesians. Extreme Islamists are far less a force in Indonesia than they once were in Egypt, and their chances of increasing their influence must be narrowed by what has happened. The operation that al-Qaida and its helpers have chosen to conduct illustrates the almost unavoidable contradiction between national political objectives and the kind of transnational war on the west and its friends which al-Qaida's leadership, whatever remains of it, wishes to conduct.


In much the same way, it might be said that December 7th, 1941, marked the beginning of the end of WWII. Once America entered the fighting the outcome was inevitable. So too with the war on radical Islam, a lot of blood remains to be spilt and some awful days await us, but the outcome is not really in doubt.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM

OH, THOSE PESKY LITTLE BROTHERS:

Presidential couple (dad and mom) hit trail for Jeb (Mark Silva, October 19, 2002, Orlando Sentinel)
Although various polls have suggested that the governor's race is close, a new survey showing Bush with a 9-point lead over McBride gave cheer to the Republicans on Friday.

The poll by McLaughlin & Associates of Alexandria, Va., done for U.S. Sugar Corp., shows Bush with 49.2 percent to McBride's 40.5 percent, with the remainder undecided. The margin of error was 4 percent. Six hundred people were surveyed by phone Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Jim McLaughlin, the pollster, said Bush was running solidly ahead in all parts of the state except South Florida. The results contrast with a Zogby International poll from last week, showing a three-point lead for the governor.


Considering how closely divided the Florida electorate showed itself to be in November 2000, it's hard to imagine that Jeb Bush could win by more than 5%, so a range of +3% to +9% seems reasonable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM

MAN WITH A PLAN:

Rove's Way (MATT BAI, October 20, 2002, NY Times Magazine)
Even in an exceptionally close election year, Rove's personal and forceful intervention in state races is extraordinary. In South Dakota, he leaned on Representative John Thune -- who was also planning a run for governor -- to get out of the race and take on Tim Johnson, Tom Daschle's protege in the Senate, instead. In North Carolina, he helped clear the field for Elizabeth Dole. In Missouri, he got behind the former congressman Jim Talent early, dispatching both the older and younger George Bushes, several White House aides and a couple of cabinet secretaries to help Talent raise money to take on Jean Carnahan.

''He can go through nearly every race in every district,'' says Tom Rath, a Bush ally in New Hampshire. ''He can tell you more about the South Dakota Senate race than anyone in South Dakota.''

Rove's goal for the midterms was to find moderate candidates with statewide appeal. He says he has intervened only in states where there was a near-consensus among Bush's top supporters, but a lot of social conservatives were angry when their candidates got pushed aside in favor of moderates. ''What it does is it demoralizes your own party,'' a Georgia Republican says. In that state, Rove put the White House squarely behind Saxby Chambliss, a moderate congressman who is now running for the Senate against the Democrat Max Cleland.

It's not ideology that fuels Rove's crusade. He is a rightish Republican -- ''I grew up out West; I'm just a conservative'' -- but he says he believes that the only way to make the G.O.P. dominant is to reshape and expand the party, building on its base of ideological conservatives but broadening its appeal to reach traditionally Democratic voters like Latinos, African-Americans and union members. This means he has to play a political game of Twister, keeping one foot firmly planted on the far right -- pushing policies like Bush's faith-based initiative -- while reaching around to his left with popular centrist proposals on education and prescription drugs.

And so the midterm elections have become a referendum not just on the two parties, but also on Rove's particular brand of politics. If Rove wants social conservatives to continue to step aside while he builds a more inclusive party around candidates like Thune and Coleman, he has to prove that it works at the polls.


Hard to argue with the roll Mr. Rove has been on but if he gets his head handed to him in the mid-terms the Right is going to go after him. The libertarian types are still upset about steel tarrifs and what not and the social conservatives just don't much like the moderate candidates he hand-picked.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 AM

HE'S WELCOME AT OUR PLAYGROUND:

Beer-sitting service? (CP, October 19, 2002)
Chynne Harley Kahnapace, 26, pleaded guilty to violating conditions of his parole after being caught pushing a baby stroller with a small keg of beer in it down the street.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 AM

MAKING THE BETTER THE ENEMY OF THE BEST:

Daschle Takes Parting Shot as Congress Breaks (ALISON MITCHELL, October 19, 2002, NY Times)
With Congress leaving the capital for a last bout of campaigning, Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, today blamed President Bush for a "very disappointing Congress" and said the nation was in worse shape than when Mr. Bush took office. [...]

The sharp tone highlighted the lost promise of the 107th Congress, which came into office after the tumultuous 2000 election as the most closely divided Congress since the Eisenhower administration.

From the start, the central question was whether the split decision of the voters would lead to sharp partisan deadlock or a pragmatic period of centrist compromise.

Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time in nearly 50 years, which could have led them to seek to push through their agenda.

On the other hand their hold on power was razor-thin, and Mr. Bush had signaled on the campaign trail that he might seek accommodation. He showcased his good relations with Texas Democrats and he repeatedly pledged to "change the tone" in Washington.

The tone did change noticeably after the Sept. 11 attacks when the nation felt threatened on its own shores, and at moments Democratic leaders have made common cause with Mr. Bush on education and national security.

Moreover, the Congress did have notable achievements - and might yet have more when it reconvenes in November for a lame-duck session.

The House and Senate overhauled the nation's campaign finance and electoral systems and created new rules on corporate responsibility.

Congress gave President Bush the "fast track" authority to negotiate trade deals that can only be approved or rejected by Congress. It passed a landmark education law. It approved Mr. Bush's signature $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut.

After Sept. 11, it authorized force first in Afghanistan and, just this month, in Iraq. It gave the Justice Department new powers to fight terrorism, toughened airport security and helped the strapped airline industry.


No matter how much of that record you agree with, it is certainly one of the most productive Congresses in U.S. History. For our money, the tax cut, Fast Track, and two declarations of war make it one of the best ever.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:08 AM

THE FIRST DOME:

A New Synagogue in the Old City: Architecture matters. (David Gelernter, Oct. 3, 2002, Jewish World Review)
Architecture is politics by other means--at least some of the time. An emerging architectural story in Jerusalem is, in part, wonderful news; in part, a tragic missed opportunity.

Recently the Jerusalem Post ran a story on a project that is bound to attract plenty of attention before long: the rebuilding of the monumental Hurva synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem.

In 1948, when Israel declared independence, the Hurva was the main synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The Jordanians seized Old Jerusalem in '48, kicked out all the Jews, banned Israelis from entering even to visit or pray, desecrated Jewish cemeteries, vandalized Jewish buildings--and blew up the Hurva synagogue, just for the hell of it.

When the Israelis recovered Jerusalem in the Six Day War of '67, they rebuilt a single arch in the ruins of the Hurva, intending it as a temporary memorial. Now, at last, they have plans in hand to rebuild the synagogue itself.

Why should the world care? Jerusalem is full of domes; once upon a time, three domes (appropriately) stood out: the Muslim Dome of the Rock, the Christian Holy Sepulcher, the Hurva synagogue. Making decisions about Jerusalem is the exclusive right of Jerusalem residents and Israeli citizens, of all creeds. Butting in is everybody's right--Jerusalem is the quintessential world-city. Jews and Christians are especially entitled to butt in: Christians because the Gospels culminate here, Jews because they regard this city as the holiest on earth. ("Third holiest," which is how the city ranks with Muslims, is a respectable distinction as far as it goes; but when the topic is love, third place suggests a certain lack of ardor.)

Thus, cause for rejoicing: A gap is being filled in the skyline of one of the world's most important cities; ruins speaking of war and destruction are to be replaced by a reassertion of hope, peace, holiness.


If you've never read it, we recommend Mr. Gelernter's memoir Drawing a Life about surviving an attack by the Unabomber.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 AM

WAGNERITES SCORNED:

Another Wagner's Debut, Turning the Plot Around (ANNE MIDGETTE, October 15, 2002, NY Times)
[Katharina] Wagner is 24. She's tall, blond and pretty, and before September she had never staged an opera. She's also the composer's great-granddaughter, and her father, Wolfgang Wagner, 83, who runs the Wagner summer festival in nearby Bayreuth, has been naming her for some time as his successor.

And she has just created a huge scandal. "The Flying Dutchman" is the story of a ghostly captain doomed to sail the seas forever unless he can find a woman willing to love him and dissolve his curse. Ms. Wagner did away with the supernatural: gone were the ghost ship, the eerie undead sailors and the final redemption. This "Dutchman" is played out in the underbelly of a German port.

Senta knew the Dutchman's picture from "Wanted" posters. The natty attire of the Dutchman and his men immediately branded them as misfits: helpless, trying not to attract attention, they incensed the lowlifes through their sheer otherness, and were beaten to a pulp.

Ms. Wagner's staging is particularly provocative because she is supposed to bear the standard of the Wagner family. Her father has been running the Bayreuth Festival for more than 50 years, and the conventional wisdom is that artistic stagnation has set in. His own board voted him out in 2000 in favor of his estranged daughter from his first marriage, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, a seasoned opera administrator. Mr. Wagner, however, ignored the explicit demand for his resignation, pointed out that his contract was for life, and cited Katharina as the only family member he'd consider as a successor, an idea that seemed absurd, given her youth and lack of experience.

Conservative Wagnerites, however, adore Mr. Wagner. So it seemed that the Wurzburg chapter of the Richard Wagner Society had found a fitting way to celebrate its 20th anniversary: by donating nearly $20,000 and enabling the struggling Mainfranken Theater to mount a new Wagner production, it would offer a professional directing debut to Mr. Wagner's chosen heir. One can imagine the society members running for the exits. Storms of boos, alternating with bravos, buffeted the production team at the premiere. "The reactions were very violent," Ms. Wagner said. "One woman said to me, `I know how Richard Wagner meant it.' That would be a real sensation if she really did."


Those women are the most frightening part of going to a Wagner opera, as they reminisce about Bayreuth in '36 and how divine the Fuhrer looked.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:56 AM

JAZZERCISE:

Marsalis puts muscle into classic sound (Kevin Whitehead, October 15, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
When Branford Marsalis takes a solo, he throws his whole body into motion.

He rocks on his heels and toes and swings his tenor saxophone out in front of him--not too far--putting his hips and elbows behind it. That physicality makes sense: Marsalis has a drummer's instinct for rhythm. He likes punchy phrases that bear down on the beat but still roll with it. [...]

Much is made of Marsalis' love of "the tradition," as if that alone ensures good music. (It doesn't.) Marsalis makes no secret of his admiration for John Coltrane, but what really matters is that he has thoroughly digested that influence, just as earlier players incorporated Charlie Parker's signature mannerisms into their personal styles. Traces of Coltrane's haunting ballad tone, his rippling scales and soaring high notes were in there, but they never felt like self-conscious acts of tribute. They've become part of Marsalis' own expressive arsenal.


One of the more likeable things about the Marsalis brothers is their respect for the tradition.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:50 AM

SPRINGTIME:

Riefenstahl race-hate charges dropped (BBC, 18 October, 2002)
German prosecutors have decided not to press race-hate charges against filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl because of lack of evidence.

Investigators began their inquiry after Ms Riefenstahl was accused by German gypsies' association Rom of lying about the fate of more than 100 gypsies, who were taken from the Salzburg and Berlin concentration camps between 1940 and 1942 to be used as extras in her films.

Ms Riefenstahl, best known for the films she made during the Nazi era under Adolf Hitler, said in an interview that the gypsies, used in her 1942 film Tiefland, or Lowland, all survived the war.

"We saw all the gypsies that played in Lowlands again after the war," she told Frankfurt's Rundschau newspaper.

"Nothing happened to them."

However Rom said that many of them in fact were returned to the death camps, where they were subsequently killed. [...]

In total around 500,000 gypsies, in addition to six million Jews, were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.


Imagine the lies such people must have to tell even themselves to deal with the horrific things they did.

October 18, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

EVEN THE BAD TIMES ARE BETTER:

Democrats Launch 'Prosperity Index' (Dale Russakoff, October 17, 2002, Washington Post)
[D]emocrats, eager to turn economic anxiety into electoral gain Nov. 5, will unveil a new economic indicator today: the Prosperity Index.

The Prosperity Index combines the growth rate of the gross domestic product, the unemployment rate and, here's the catch, the size of the federal budget deficit or surplus.

The Democrats' findings? Like so many other measures, the Prosperity Index has taken a huge dive from its perch in the go-go 1990s, but all in all, it's not that bad.

By the new measure, U.S. prosperity reached an index score of 6.2 in 2000, a 34-year high, then plummeted to -1.2 this year, the lowest rate since 1993. At 5.6 percent, the unemployment rate is below the 6.3 percent average since 1970. GDP growth, expected to be about 2.3 percent this year, is anemic but not recessionary. The big hit was the sudden turn in the government's fortunes, from a $127 billion surplus in 2001 to a deficit of about $160 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Even with that fiscal cataclysm, the current -1.2 Prosperity Index score beats out much of the 1970s and nearly all of the 1980s. Indeed, the Democrats' tailor-made index appears to ratify precisely the point made by pollsters that Democrats hoped to refute: Voters have reason to be anxious about rapidly changing circumstances, but anyone with a memory that goes past the boom years might not be feeling panicky yet.


Believe us, if you lived through the 70s and early 80s, and were reasonably aware of what was going on, you couldn't mistake today's economic doldrums for a real recession and you don't want to find out what one is like.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM

CYNICISM NEVER SOUNDED SO GOOD:

The Virtue of Engineering Cynicism: By any definition, a cynic is what you want in an engineer (David Weinberger, September 25, 2002, Darwin Mag)
There are two key components to cynicism. First, a cynic is a disappointed optimist, as someone said. (Google failed me! As did www.xrefer.com.) Cynics believe there is an ideal that humans choose not to live up to. [...]

Second, a cynic is abstracted from her surroundings. Like a punster waiting for a chance to pounce, a cynic hears a stream of words and assumes that they are not to be taken at face value. The cynic lives in a split-level world.


Oddly enough, when explained that way, a cynic sounds an awful lot like a Judeo-Christian believer. The believer too understands Man not to be living up to the possibility latent within us--as creatures formed in God's image. Likewise, the believer too inhabits a bifurcated world, living in the imperfect here and now but imagining a Heaven to come.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 PM

TURNING AFRICA IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION:

US proposes Africa small business loans (BBC, 3 October, 2002)
The World Bank should set up a fund dedicated to backing small businesses in Africa, the US Treasury has proposed.

In a speech on Wednesday, Undersecretary for International Affairs John Taylor said the Bank should set aside $135m (£86m) to be distributed over the next four years, with extra money coming from the US and other countries. [...]

The initiative is the latest salvo in a long-running campaign by the Bush administration to switch World Bank funding from loans to grants.

Right-wing US politicians have been pushing for the switch for years, ostensibly to reduce the deep indebtedness of the poor countries which are the World Bank's clients.

But critics insist it is a way of handicapping the body by draining its funds.

A deal for rich countries to provide $13bn in new money over the next three years, reached in June 2002, was conditional on increasing the proportion of money that is paid out in grants.

The stress on the IFC, the critics say, is part of the same strategy of transferring development assistance to the private sector.


This sounds like a terrific initiative. How ironic would it be if the Right, longtime foes of the World Bank, succeeded in turning it into a useful institution?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM

RICH, THOUGH NOT REAL:

America's Richest: The Forbes Fictional Fifteen (Edited by Michael Noer and Dan Ackman, 09.13.02, Forbes)
If fiction can be regarded as a culture's subconscious, then it's clear that we are a nation obsessed with the very rich. From avaricious caricatures like The Simpsons' Montgomery Burns to literary character studies like F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby, our culture--both high and low--is littered with images of billionaires and tycoons. Some characters are intentional riffs on real-life counterparts, most famously Orson Welles' blistering portrayal of William Randolph Hearst in Citizen Kane.

Others, like Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone's Wall Street, came to symbolize both a man--convicted inside trader Ivan Boesky--and an era: the go-go 1980s. To be
sure, many are pure products of the imagination. But given the legion of publicity men and image handlers surrounding the typical real-life billionaires, understanding these
fictitious characters is as close as most of us will come to grasping the minds of the very rich.

In creating this list we took certain minor liberties with the stories as presented on the page or on the screen. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!


One question though: Doesn't Charlie Bucket own the Wonka empire now?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 PM

LIE DOWN WITH DOGS...:

The red and the brown: With his new magazine, Pat Buchanan links the old right to the new left (Ronald Radosh, 10/13/2002, Boston Globe)
Above all, The American Conservative is antiwar. In his own signed contribution, Buchanan complains about ''a new triumphalist America'' that is leading us into ''an imperial war on Iraq.'' As one might expect, he believes that the '' war party'' is being manipulated by the Israeli government, which hopes that war with Iraq will provide an excuse to return to Lebanon ''and settle scores with Hezbollah.'' Buchanan goes on to claim that the Israelis are ''tugging at our sleeve, reminding us not to forget Libya.'' Meanwhile, Eric S. Margolis writes that the United States ''has been buttressing autocracy and despotism'' in the Middle East for years. As for Iraq, it ''has not committed any act of war against America,'' and to invade would be ''an act of brazen aggression.'' Writing from Britain, Stuart Reid cites the acerbically conservative writer Auberon Waugh to ask how a country of 15 million impoverished ''desert dwellers'' can conceivably be viewed as a ''threat to world peace.'' America, Reid writes, should not ''make a burnt offering of innocent Arabs.'' These are, to be certain, blame-America-first conservatives.

How did Buchanan come to this particular pass? The most obvious antecedents of his magazine lie in the old right of the 1930s and '40s - the pre-World War II isolationists, or ''noninterventionists,'' as they preferred to call themselves. Buchanan's ruminations over Israeli influence call to mind Charles Lindbergh's 1941 accusation that the drive to enter the war against Hitler was emanating from ''the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.'' These Jewish interventionists - neoconservatives, Buchanan might say now - were influential, Lindbergh said, because of their ''large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government.''

The American Conservative proudly roots itself in this past by publishing Justin Raimondo's ode to ''the Old Right [who] knew something about the temptations of Empire.'' Raimondo is a gay conservative activist from San Francisco whose chief claim to fame is his single appearance on ''Politically Incorrect,'' when Bill Maher made fun of him for being one of the few openly gay supporters of Buchanan. Now Raimondo runs a Web site called antiwar.com, in which he extols the good old days of the America First Movement. For a short time, he points out, that movement included not only conservatives, but socialists like Norman Thomas and, in the period before the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, the Communist leader Earl Browder.

Indeed, it seems that Raimondo is now attempting to forge his own Red-Brown alliance, as Europeans refer to the coming together in post Soviet Russia of right-wing nationalists and unreconstructed Communists.


Man, who ever thought they'd see the day when Pat Buchanan would be another man's "batchelor" [expletive deleted]?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM

THE THIRD RAIL HAS NO JUICE::

Carnahan numbers dip in Missouri race (Donald Lambro, 10/18/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Sen. Jean Carnahan of Missouri is falling in the polls, despite a barrage of Democratic TV ads against her Republican challenger for backing personal Social Security investment accounts.

Mrs. Carnahan's campaign has been running the ads throughout the state for the past three weeks, charging that her opponent, Jim Talent, wants to privatize the Social Security system. But the latest polls suggest that the ads have not been helping her; the former four-term congressman has surged into the lead by 6.5 percentage points. [...]

Mr. Talent has been airing a counteroffensive ad that says, "Jean Carnahan is attacking Jim Talent and scaring seniors once again." After listing bills he co-authored to help seniors, such as a patients' bill of rights and a prescription-drug benefit plan, the ad says, "So tell Jean Carnahan: Spend less time scaring seniors and more time working for them."


Republicans really need to make this issue work for them because the Democrats are never going to stop using it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 PM

MAKES SENSE:

OSAMA'S RIFLEMEN (NILES LATHEM and MARSHA KRANES, October 18, 2002, NY Post)
An al Qaeda suspect in custody in Belgium told American investigators he saw members of the terror organization training snipers in preparation for attacks on U.S. soil, a source told The Post last night.

One of the planned attacks targeted U.S. senators on a golf course.

Suspect Nizar Treblisi - questioned by U.S. agents - said a three-man sniper team trained for attacks while shooting from distances of 150 to 750 feet, the source said.


Well, that golf course would be Congressional in Maryland, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM

ETHNOIDIOTIC:

Ethnomathematics - a rich cultural diversity: Advocates of ethnomathematics say it is helping different cultures to understand each other. (Australian Academy of Science)
The term "ethnomathematics" was first used in the late 1960s by a Brazilian mathematician, Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, to describe the mathematical practices of identifiable cultural groups. Some see it as the study of mathematics in different cultures, others as a way of making mathematics more relevant to different cultural or ethnic groups, yet others as a way of understanding the differences between cultures. But perhaps the most powerful claim for the new discipline has been made by D'Ambrosio himself (quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 October 2000):

"Mathematics is absolutely integrated with Western civilization, which conquered and dominated the entire world. The only possibility of building up a planetary civilization depends on restoring the dignity of the losers and, together, winners and losers, moving into the new. [Ethnomathematics, then, is] a step towards peace."

This makes ethnomathematics a rather unusual discipline, because it attempts to meld science and social justice. This isn't something that sits comfortably with many scientists: science, they argue, is science, and trying to make it politically correct will only impede its progress. Some educators fret that teaching mathematics using an ethnomathematical approach reduces it to a social-studies subject that teaches students little about ?real? mathematics. Others simply ridicule the whole notion: according to one disparaging journalist, 'Unless you wish to balance your checkbook the ancient Navajo way, it's probably safe to ignore the whole thing'.

But there are also many scientists, educators and commentators who see ethnomathematics - in all its definitions - as a legitimate discipline with plenty to offer the modern world.


Western science has made so many advances precisely because the winner gets to keep going while the loser gets discarded, no matter how freighted with cultural signifigance the loser may be (i.e., the geocentric universe). True dignity lies in being able to accept that you're wrong, not in requiring others to pretend that you had a good point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:51 PM

BREAKING THE FAITH:

Brent Scowcroft on Jimmy Carter: an excerpt from A World Transformed (1998) (History News Network, 5-15-02)
[T]he excerpt, which concerns events leading up to the passage of UN resolution 678 on November 29, 1990. The resolution gave Iraq an ultimatum: get out of Kuwait by January 15 or face military action.

In the midst of this careful diplomacy, former President Jimmy Carter wrote the members of the [UN] Security Council asking them not to support the resolution. He argued that the costs in huiman life and the economic consequences, not to mention the permanent destabilization oif the Middle East, were too high and unnecessary, "unless all peaceful resolution efforts are first exhausted." He called for the UN to mandate a "good faith" negotiation with the Iraqi leaders to consider their concerns, and to ask the Arabs to try to work out a peaceful solution, "without any restraint on their agenda." It was an unbelieveable letter, asking the other members of the council to vote against his own country. We found out about it only when one of the recipients sent us a copy. Carter later acknowledged he had sent the letter, but claimed he had told President Bush what he was doing. He did send the President a similar one, but without mentioning he had also lobbied the President's foreign colleagues. It seemed to me that if there was ever a violation of the Logan Act prohibiting diplomacy by private citizens, this was it. President Bush was furious at this interference in the conduct of his foreign policy and the deliberate attempt to undermine it, but told me just to let it drop.


And now he accepts a prize that the bestowers depict as a slap at his country? Has he no sense of patriotism and loyalty?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:38 PM

OUR JOHN HENRY:

Man and computer in chess cliff-hanger (BBC, 18 October, 2002)
The man-versus-machine chess duel is set for a dramatic finish on Saturday with world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and the computer Deep Fritz tied 3.5-3.5 after seven games. [...]

Kramnik's aggressive tactics initially confounded the computer, but the machine's handlers have helped it cope with this playing style.

Deep Fritz was created using standard hardware by the German company Chess Base.


What the heck!? What kind of sissy machine is this that it needs human help during the match?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST...:

AH, RELIEF: Hanes unveils tagless T-shirt (Kim Underwood, October 17, 2002, Winston Salem Journal)
Make a T-shirt with no annoying tag? In retrospect, some ideas seem so simple that people may wonder how it was possible that no one thought of them earlier. [...]

Today, the people at Sara Lee Underwear in Winston-Salem are announcing that, hereafter, all their Hanes white, underwear T-shirts will no longer have the potentially uncomfortable tag that has--at one time or another--afflicted many an American.

In a Hanes survey, almost half the men reported that they routinely cut or rip the tags from their T-shirts. And two-thirds of those cutters and rippers reported that they had damaged or even ruined at least one T-shirt in the past year getting rid of the tag. [...]

Although, on the whole, tagless T-shirts will clearly be a boon to man, it is perhaps fitting to pause a moment to note that the advent of the tagless T-shirt will sound the death knell for a touching gesture of affection. No longer will a mother be able to flip the tag of her son's T-shirt back inside. No longer will a wife be able to do the same for her husband. [...]

The company is launching a Web site today (http://www.GoTagless.com) and, on it, people will be able to post suggestions for what to do with the tags, such as using them for place mats for Barbie dolls.


Hopefully I'm not the only male ever to look in the mirror and think the tag was out but instead have it turn out to be a stray tuft of backhair?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:42 PM

FRANCE BIDS FOR A NOBEL PRIZE:

Stone skimming formula adds new spin (Hazel Muir, 16 October 02, New Scientist)
Inspired by his eight-year-old son, physicist Lydéric Bocquet of Lyon University in France wanted to find out more. So he tinkered with some simple equations describing a stone bouncing on water in terms of its radius, speed and spin, and taking account of gravity and the water's drag.

The equations showed that the faster a spinning stone is travelling, the more times it will bounce. So no surprise there. To bounce at least once without sinking, Bocquet found the stone needs to be travelling at a minimum speed of about 1 kilometre per hour.

And the equations also backed his hunch that spin is important because it keeps the stone fairly flat from one bounce to the next. The spin has a gyroscopic effect, preventing the stone from tipping and falling sideways into the water.


Amelie will be so happy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:27 PM

RED STAR SETTING:

In Russia, six out of every 10 pregnancies end in abortion (VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, October 18, 2002, Associated Press)
About 60 percent of all pregnancies in Russia end in abortion, and another 10 percent of pregnant women lose unborn children because of health problems, the nation's chief gynecologist said Friday.

This, even more than corruption and the lack of a legal system, is why it is a waste to invest in Russia and/or try to help it rebuild.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:14 PM

LIFE OF REILLY?:

Daft mistake sees Booker Prize 'winner' named (Australian Broadcasting Corp)
Organisers of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for literature have been left red-faced after they accidentally named one of the short-listed candidates as the winner.

An announcement on the prize's official website said Canadian writer Yann Martel had won for his book Life of Pi, even though the judges have not met and are not due to do so until next Tuesday.

The 2002 winner will be officially named on Tuesday.

The leak prompted several punters to place money on Martel with bookmakers William Hill, prompting them to halt betting on the outcome of prize.

"We were baffled by the string of bets for the Martel book, several of them stakes of 100 pounds a time, and then concerned when the book had already been announced as the winner," William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said.

"We thought it might be wise at this point to close the [wagering] book pending inquiries."


Hopefully this is a good omen for Mr. Martel, who we interviewed here, and his fine novel Life of Pi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:13 PM

LIFE OF REILLY?:

Daft mistake sees Booker Prize 'winner' named (Australian Broadcasting Corp)
Organisers of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for literature have been left red-faced after they accidentally named one of the short-listed candidates as the winner.

An announcement on the prize's official website said Canadian writer Yann Martel had won for his book Life of Pi, even though the judges have not met and are not due to do so until next Tuesday.

The 2002 winner will be officially named on Tuesday.

The leak prompted several punters to place money on Martel with bookmakers William Hill, prompting them to halt betting on the outcome of prize.

"We were baffled by the string of bets for the Martel book, several of them stakes of 100 pounds a time, and then concerned when the book had already been announced as the winner," William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said.

"We thought it might be wise at this point to close the [wagering] book pending inquiries."


Hopefully this is a good omen for Mr. Martel, who we interviewed here, and his fine novel Life of Pi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:03 PM

HASHING OUT THE AXIS OF EVIL:

Everybody Loves the Assassins: Set loose in the land that invented terrorism ten centuries ago, Tim Cahill finds crumbling castles, legends of hash-smoking hit men, and Iranians who won't stop being nice. You call this the axis of evil? (Tim Cahill, October 2002, Outside)
SO THERE'S THIS IRANIAN farmer, a great big strapping bodybuilder guy who lives in a tiny village high in the Elburz Mountains, and he's working out in a makeshift gym, hoisting homemade weights made from five-gallon jerry cans filled with cement. I'm the first American Parviz Kiai has ever met, and he wants to shake my hand, despite the fact that my mission in Iran is to visit the castles of the Assassins, a radical Islamic sect that was, arguably, the first terrorist group in history. This is an endeavor some think unlikely to redound to Iran's acclaim or glory. No matter. Parviz motions to the wall of his gym, where there are several photos taped up on the adobe. Affixed highest is the grim and glowering countenance of the Ayatollah Khomeini, whose death in 1989 is mourned each year on an official national holiday called The Heart-Rending Departure of the Great Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Below the defunct ayatollah are dozens of photos clipped from American muscle magazines: huge, freakish steroidal monsters festooned with enormous and appalling dirigibles of muscles. It was, I thought, a wall of dueling Great Satans, an arresting graphic representation of Iran's current identity crisis. It's true that angry demonstrators in Iran's capital, Tehran, had just been out in the street chanting "Death to America." On the other hand, this is the same city that held a candlelight vigil after the September 11 attacks to express its sympathy and support for America. It's the same nation that has voted overwhelmingly for political and economic reform in the past two presidential elections. But it's also a place with a theocratic government that President Bush says is part of an "axis of evil," a place where—according to a U.S. National Security Council spokesman—"hard-line unaccountable elements...facilitated the movement of Al Qaeda terrorists escaping from Afghanistan," and where "an unelected few...have used terrorism as an instrument of policy."

It was the Assassins who pioneered the concept of terrorism as an instrument of policy back between the 11th and 13th centuries. Murdering prominent officials and clerics, of course, was nothing new. People have been whacking kings and emperors since the dawn of recorded history. But early-day assassination had usually been a one-time deal: a Brutus and some conspirators taking out a Caesar. The Assassins repeatedly and systematically killed their enemies with guile and stealth, striking them inside their own strongholds, and used the threat of imminent assassination to bend officials to their will.

In fact, the English word assassin is rooted in the name of the sect, and the Assassins, or so the legends would have us believe, committed their murders under the influence of hashish. They were called hashishiyyin, the Arabic word for hash smokers. The cannabis suggestion invariably generates skepticism among the ranks of those who have inhaled. Ruthless killers, honed to razor-sharp perfection, taking big hits off the bong? Kind of hard to picture.


If you've never read the very amusing travel writer Tim Cahill, here's a topical way to get started.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:00 PM

THE FIRST LIBERTY--LIFE:

ACLU questions Pentagon role in sniper probe (CNN, 10/17/02)
The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday it was examining legal questions raised by the Pentagon's decision to deploy military personnel and equipment in the Washington area sniper shootings.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed an order Tuesday allowing Army RC7 and U21 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to be used in the sniper hunt.

The all-weather aircraft -- spy planes, essentially -- are small fixed-wing airplanes packed with advanced technology, including sensors.

Troops will operate the planes and equipment and point out potential targets to local law enforcement authorities, which will request their use as needed.

The ACLU said it was examining whether the order might violate parts of the Posse Comitatus Act, an 1878 law prohibiting the military from direct involvement in civilian law enforcement. [...]

Over the years, the Posse Comitatus law has been amended to

- Allow the military to lend equipment to federal, state and local authorities;

- Assist federal agencies in drug interdiction work;

- Protect national parks;

- Execute medical quarantines and certain health laws.

Eugene Fidell, a former Coast Guard lawyer who has practiced military law for 30 years and is affiliated with the Washington-based National Institute for Military Justice, said the provisions of the Posse Comitatus Act do not support the military involvement in the sniper shootings.

"How do you get there from here? They haven't persuaded me that this is valid," Fidell said. "You have to have a disruption of civil authority before the military can perform activities such as surveillance."


These civil libertarians have become diabolically stupid. Do they really imagine the American people want the military to protect trees but not people?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:55 PM

BLACK LIKE ME:

Clinton Inducted into Arkansas Black Hall of Fame (Associated Press, October 17, 2002)
Bill Clinton, once famously described by author Toni Morrison as "our first black president," is being inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame as an honorary member.

The former president will be the first non-black recognized in the hall's 10-year history. He is expected to attend the Saturday night event.

Slated for induction into the hall this year are R&B and gospel singer Al Green of Memphis; Dr. Edith Irby Jones of Houston, the first black graduate of the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Al Bell of North Little Rock, the driving force behind Stax Records; award-wining poet Haki Madhubuti of Chicago; Faye Clarke of Long Beach, Calif., co-founder and executive director of the Educate the Children Foundation; and the late Bishop Charles H. Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ Inc.

Former inductees to the hall include poet Maya Angelou; Ebony and Jet magazine publisher John H. Johnson Jr. and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who was appointed by Clinton.


We approve of the slap in the face to Ms Elders but how could you insult Al Green and Al Bell this way?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:39 PM

BRAGGING ABOUT APPEASEMENT:

U.S., North Korea near war in 1994: Clinton got no-nuke vow (KENNETH R. BAZINET, 10/18/02, NY DAILY News)
The U.S. was on the brink of war with North Korea in 1994 before Pyongyang agreed to halt its nuclear weapons program, sources said yesterday.

"It went down to the wire," said a diplomatic source in the Clinton administration. "The American people will never know how close we were to war." [...]

"Had they not accepted, we had 50,000 troops on the [demilitarized zone]. We were hell-bent about stopping them," the ex-State Department source said.

Clinton also dispatched Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gallucci to Pyongyang to urge the Communist regime in 1994 and again in 1995 to accept two light-water reactors — which do not produce weapons-grade nuclear material — from South Korea in exchange for an agreement to suspend its nuclear weapons program.

"He kept us out of a ground war," the source said of Gallucci's effort.


The strange thing is that when Bill Clinton leaks these stories he thinks they make him look good. In reality, he needs to explain why he didn't go to war to prevent an enemy from developing nukes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:15 PM

TOO CLOSE TO CALL:

Actor Sean Penn Lashes Bush over Iraq War Drums (Reuters, 10/18/02)
Actor Sean Penn on Friday weighed in on the international debate over a possible war with Iraq, paying for a $56,000 advertisement in the Washington Post accusing President Bush of stifling debate and threatening civil liberties. [...]

"I beg you, help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror," Penn wrote...


We need your help deciding which is the more amusing aspect of this letter: (1) that by being published in a major American newspaper it refutes its own thesis; or, (2) the spectacle of someone who made the beast with two backs with Madonna talking about someone else having a "legacy of shame and horror"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:41 PM

I MADE IT THROUGH THE WILDERNESS:

We've, all of us, a tendency to think of the Right as the hard-bitten cyncical folk and the Left as the starry-eyed idealists. But in its insistence on the moral supremacy of multilateralism and U.N. authority the Left makes the Right look positively dewy and virginal. Check out this bit on the new UN resolution, France, Russia Bend on Iraq: Key Security Council members seem ready to accept a compromise with the U.S. on a resolution to back up inspections with force. (Maggie Farley, Robin Wright and Tyler Marshall, October 18 2002, LA Times):

The resolution proposed by the U.S. is a deliberately ambiguous compromise that allows its main opponent on the council, France, to take credit for keeping the U.S. from acting without the U.N. Although the United States would prefer U.N. backing, the language of the draft also ensures that it would not have to win a second Security Council resolution to authorize a strike.

"The United States does not need any additional authority, even now, to take action to defend ourselves," Powell said. Any resolution that emerges, he added, would preserve the right of the U.S. to act in concert with other nations "even though the U.N. would not wish to act."

The French have been insisting on a two-step process designed to keep the U.S. from launching a strike as soon as weapons inspectors run into trouble in Iraq. The first resolution, under the French proposal, would strengthen the inspectors' mandate and grant them immediate access to any site in Iraq. If the inspectors were impeded, the French would require a second resolution to approve war. In the last week, however, French diplomats have amended their criteria to a "second meeting, not necessarily a resolution," paving the way for compromise.


What additional moral authority can an attack on Iraq gain by allowing the French and Russians to perpetrate the illusion that they've had some influence on the course of events?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM

RAINES OF ERROR:

When the Clinton Administration, despite dire warnings from foreign policy realists on the Right, entered into an agreement with North Korea that gave our still declared enemies massive benefits for a pie-in-the-sky promise to curtail their nuclear program, the Times had the following to say:

Diplomacy with North Korea has scored a resounding triumph. Monday's draft agreement freezing and then dismantling North Korea's nuclear program should bring to an end two years of international anxiety and put to rest widespread fears that an unpredictable nation might provoke nuclear disaster.

The U.S. negotiator Robert Gallucci and his North Korean interlocutors have drawn up a detailed road map of reciprocal steps that both sides accepted despite deep mutual suspicion. In so doing they have defied impatient hawks and other skeptics who accused the Clinton Administration of gullibility and urged swifter, stronger action. The North has agreed first to freeze its nuclear program in return for U.S. diplomatic recognition and oil from Japan and other countries to meet its energy needs. Pyongyang will then begin to roll back that program as an American-led consortium replaces the North's nuclear reactors with two new ones that are much less able to be used for bomb-making. At that time, the North will also allow special inspections of its nuclear waste sites, which could help determine how much plutonium it had extracted from spent fuel in the past.

A last-minute snag, North Korea's refusal to resume its suspended talks with neighboring South Korea, was resolved to Seoul's satisfaction. If Washington and Pyongyang approve the agreement, and if the North fulfills its commitments, this negotiation could become a textbook case on how to curb the spread of nuclear arms.

Hawks, arguing that the North was simply stalling while it built more bombs, had called for economic sanctions or attacks on the North's nuclear installations. The Administration muted the war talk and pursued determined diplomacy.


Yes, not only was this a textbook illustration of successful nuclear non-proliferation, it was also, and probably more importantly to the Times, an object lesson for the Right, demonstrating the efficacy of multilateral diplomacy and that we should trust the North Koreas of the world.

When the Bush administration took office and determined to re-examine the US/N. Korea relationship, fearing that Bill Clinton had been gulled, the Times thundered about the Right's shortsightededness, the willingness to risk all that had been "achieved" up until then just to satisfy the hawks. When George W. Bush included North Korea in the "axis of evil" the Times was derisive. So the "revelation" that the hawks had been right about North Korea all along and that the Left--from Bill Clinton to Jimmy Carter to Howell Raines and Maureen Dowd--had proven itself utterly gullible once again when it comes to judging
the "good intentions" of communist dictatorships it had to have been just humiliating. We Americans are a forgiving people though, and a few mea culpas would have more than likely gotten them all off the hook.

Instead, this morning, we get this from the Times, North Korea's Nuclear Secret (NY Times, October 18, 2002):

North Korea has stunned the world by acknowledging that it has been working to produce nuclear bomb fuel despite a 1994 agreement with the United States to freeze nuclear weapons development.

People on both sides of the Iraq debate will use this alarming news to prop up their views. Hawks will say this demonstrates the futility of treaties with megalomaniacal dictators, while doves will say this gives the lie to the administration's argument that Iraq is uniquely dangerous.


That's right; though the Right has been warning all along that this was precisely the case and though the Bush administration explicitly included North Korea in the axis of evil--those powers antithetical to our interests who are also pursuing weapons of mass destruction--the Times thinks the world was "stunned" by their admission. And what is the first lesson we should learn from this contretemps? Is it that the doves at the Times were wrong about the trustworthiness of a dictatorship? Is it that we should listen to the hawks more carefully? Don't be ridiculous. The primary lesson is that the hawks should not use the fact that they were right to "prop up their views". "Prop up"? Since when does the side that's correct need to "prop up" its views?

One hardly expects the Times to behave with any decency anymore, never mind with honor, but here's an idea that might be helpful in restoring its once great reputation. How about an apology? Instead of a bizarre effort to use their own errors as a whip with which to flay "hawks", how about just saying: "They were right. We were wrong. We're sorry."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

VOICES OF LIGHT:

Making Medieval Music (and Marketing It, Too) (ALLAN KOZINN, October 18, 2002, NY Times)
The prospect of Anonymous 4 singing 18th- and early-19th-century American music may seem odd, but it is part of the group's gradual branching out. By the mid-1990's the singers were collaborating on Renaissance programs with Lionheart, an all-male vocal sextet. And in 1997 they sang their first contemporary work, Richard Einhorn's "Voices of Light," an inviting piece written as a soundtrack for Carl Dreyer's 1928 film, "The Passion of Joan of Arc." Anonymous 4 has performed the work in concert, with showings of the film, and has recorded it for Sony Classical. (The performance is also included on the Criterion Collection DVD of the Dreyer film.)

"The decision to do `Voices of Light' was unanimous," Ms. Rose said. "Richard invited us to the studio and played us the film music, and there was no question about it."

Ms. Genensky added, "The writing wasn't exactly medievalesque, but it used our kind of sound and our kind of feeling, so it felt very familiar to us."

"And," Ms. Hellauer said, "he was as easy to work with as a dead composer."


This is an interesting profile of the group. We can't overpraise the DVD of The Passion of Joan of Arc that features their performance.

October 17, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 PM

CAN'T SEE THE FORRESTER FOR THE GEEZ:

Lautenberg camp sends his regrets on debate: Torricelli earlier had agreed to face Forrester on "Meet the Press." But the new Senate candidate begged off. (Tom Turcol, October 17, 2002, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Frank R. Lautenberg, seeking to avoid debates with Republican Douglas Forrester as long as possible, has refused to participate in a nationally televised debate this Sunday.

Officials at NBC's Meet the Press confirmed yesterday that Lautenberg aides, after delaying a response for two weeks, informed them Tuesday night that their candidate would not debate Forrester.

Sen. Robert G. Torricelli had agreed to the debate before he dropped out of the race and was replaced by Lautenberg as the Democratic candidate two weeks ago.

Lautenberg, a former three-term senator who did not seek reelection in 2000, has yet to debate Forrester, with less than three weeks left until the Nov. 5 election.

Tim Russert, the Meet the Press moderator, has used his show in recent weeks as a debate forum for several top Senate races in the country.

Forrester has agreed to debate at any time, but Lautenberg has shown little enthusiasm for going head-to-head against his Republican opponent in a televised setting.

The only televised debate that the Democratic camp has agreed to is scheduled for the Saturday evening before the election on WNBC-TV's New York affiliate.


Here's maybe the decisive moment in this campaign for Mr. Forrester. He has to take the kid gloves off and make Mr. Lautenberg's capacity to fulfill the duties of the job into the central issue of the campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 PM

CATCH THE RERUNS:

If you watched The Ship the past few nights on the History Channel you were treated to some terrific television with some oddly painful moments. First, it turned out that they were out at sea on September 11th, 2001, so were informed by the Captain of what had happened. You could see how disorienting it was to be in the middle of the Pacific on an 18th Century sailing vessel and have the ugly 21st Century intrude. One of the most likable members of the crew throughout was a British seaman named Mickey, a big old knucklehead of a guy. The day before he'd told the interviewer how he wouldn't have wanted to be an 18th Century sailor, but after the news was delivered he found them and said he'd changed his mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 PM

BJG DJL:

Bjork's mother on hunger strike (BBC, 17 October, 2002)
Apparently she's demanding an immediate UN airlift of vowels to Iceland: "Imagine the tragedy if my daughter were to marry Kent Hrbek?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM

IT ZOGGLES THE MIND:

The Devil in the Data: All Poll Numbers Are Not Created Equal (Stuart Rothenberg, October 17, 2002, Roll Call)
Zogby's September poll in Tennessee found Lamar Alexander (R) leading Bob Clement (D), a reasonable conclusion. What wasn't reasonable was Zogby's finding that Clement was leading by 9 points among men, while Alexander was leading by 25 points among women.

In his release, Zogby referred to the "reverse gender gap" and asked, "What's going on in Tennessee?" I know the problem, and it had nothing to do with the electorate in the Volunteer State. It was the data. Zogby's October data were more reasonable, showing Alexander with a big lead among men and running even with Clement among women. The September cross-tabs were simply wrong.

Want another example? Zogby's Sept. 16-17 New Jersey poll showed Sen. Robert Torricelli (D) leading Doug Forrester (R) 39 percent to 34 percent. Whatever you think about those numbers, it's awfully hard to swallow Zogby's finding that twice as many Republicans were planning to vote for Torricelli as were Democrats for Forrester.

Sure, once you take into account the margin of error in each of these cells, the opposite result could be (and certainly was) true. But these dopey, small-sample, sub-sample results only demonstrate that cross-tabs are of limited utility when trying to monitor Senate races.


How can you even release a poll that shows the Republican leading among women and the Democrat leading among men?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 PM

PACHYDERM PARADE:

Republicans Continue to Hold Leads in New Hampshire as US Senate Race Tightens (The New Hampshire Poll, October 17, 2002)
Republicans John Sununu, Craig Benson, Jeb Bradley, and Charles Bass continue to hold their respective leads over Democrats Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Fernald, Martha Fuller Clark, and Katrina Swett with only the race for US Senate tightening according to the latest New Hampshire Poll.

The results presented here are based on 600 completed telephone interviews among a statewide random sample of likely voters in New Hampshire (300 interviews were completed in each Congressional District). The interviews were conducted from October 14 through October 16, 2002. Of the 600 likely voters, 225 are registered as Republicans, 156 as Democrats, and 219 are undeclared voters. The theoretical margin of error for the statewide sample of 600 likely voters is plus or minus 4 percentage points, 95% of the time, on questions where opinion is evenly split. The theoretical margin of error for the sample of 300 likely voters in each Congressional District is plus or minus 6 percentage points, 95% of the time, on questions where opinion is evenly split.

In the race for US Senate, Sununu leads Shaheen 51% to 43%, with 7% of voters undecided (Libertarian Ken Blevens has less than one-half of one percent). Sununu has dropped 4 percentage points since the last survey and Shaheen has gained 9 percentage points.


This seems more reasonable than the recent poll that had Ms Shaheen ahead. Her big advertising buys look to be tightening the race but as anincumbent statewide office holder she should be above 50% if she were going to win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:12 PM

100%?:

Has anybody seen a story on the Iraqi "election" that mentions whether the Kurds voted too? It seems surprising that no one has mentioned the improbability of their giving Saddam 100% when they are widely reputed to want their independence.

UPDATE:
Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has the entirely predictable answer.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:49 PM

EVEN A BLIND PIG:

REVIEW: of Breakthrough International Negotiation: How Great Negotiators Transformed the World's Toughest Post-Cold War Conflicts by Michael Watkins and Susan Rosegrant (Brothers Judd, 12/12/01)
The biggest problem...is that if you apply the first of the authors' own core concepts (diagnosing structure) to their chosen four examples you see that the breakthrough generally occurred prior to, or at, the moment negotiations started.  Thus, the actual content of the Oslo Accords was pretty much insignificant; what really mattered was the implicit admission by the parties that Israel and a Palestinian state were each realities that the other side needed to cope with.  Even today, with the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians at its all time nadir, they are relatively close to a final accord.  Israel will eventually declare a Palestinian state unilaterally and the Palestinians will be forced to accept the boundaries that Israel imposes.  The breakthrough occurred with Oslo when the two sides, just by entering negotiations, acknowledged each others existence as a political fact.

Similarly, when the United States sat down to discuss nuclear proliferation with the North Koreans, the real drama was over and North Korea had won.  That this was true is revealed in a chart that the authors include which analyzes the interests of the two parties :

United States

*Preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons
*Preventing an arms race in Asia
*Undermining the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea)

North Korea

*Ensuring security by acquiring nuclear weapons
*Bolstering a failing economy
*Winning international recognition

It is obvious that North Korea could effectively achieve its aims regardless of what the final agreement actually required.  They were bargaining with the U.S. as an equal, would certainly get some aid and would save money by not having to build nuclear weapons, and they would essentially make the U.S. the guarantor of their security, however unwitting or unwilling, because, having negotiated the agreement, there was no way the U.S. was going to turn around and topple the DPRK.  And so, what did the U.S. stand to get out of the negotiation?  Well, even if we realized all our goals, we'd still have strengthened one of the most loathsome regimes on the planet, left them free to pursue an unlimited conventional arms buildup, and, just as in Iraq, could have little way of knowing whether they'd truly given up their nuclear arms program.  Here again, we see that the details of the negotiation didn't much matter; the structure had already determined the results.


Well, that holds up pretty well, if we say so ourselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:30 PM

GOT A STORY TO SHARE?:

Author Harvey Frommer, whose recent books A Yankee Century and Growing up Baseball we highly recommend, is looking for help with his update of Baseball's Greatest Rivalry: The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox:

Dear Friends:

An updated, expanded and revised version of my book Baseball's Greatest Rivalry is underway.

The "new" book (with my son Frederic as co-author) is scheduled for FALL 2003 publication. If you have any stories about the historic rivalry - a game at Fenway or Yankee Stadium, a particular moment, your philosophical thoughts about the "Rivalry," a favorite player and his role, please send those along. If you are a Yankee or Sox fan and have a particular dislike of the other team, writing about that might work, too. The more specific you can be - - the better.

All submissions are subject to editing. You will have to sign a simple release form. Unfortunately, we cannot offer any payment, but if what you have to say makes it into the book - - you will be "immortalized" in print. Please include your phone number and city, state with your submission.

Look forward to hearing from you very soon - - we are on a tight deadline.

Sincerely,
Harvey Frommer


He can be reached at: Harvey.Frommer@Dartmouth.EDU


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:36 PM

NOT MORALLY JUSTIFIED?:

Boot, Falk argue ethics of Iraq war (Jessica Spradling, October 15, 2002, The Dartmouth)
After listening to spirited arguments over the moral justification of pre-emptive military action against Iraq nearly 300 members of both the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities voted overwhelmingly that such an attack was not justified.

For nearly two hours, students, professors and Upper Valley residents filled the seats, the stairwells and the floor of Cook Auditorium to hear Wall Street Journal Editor Max Boot and Princeton University Professor Richard Falk present arguments for and against the war.

Of the 272 votes cast, 217 supported the statement that "The United States is not morally justified at this time in waging preemptive war against Iraq." Three were undecided, and the remainder supported military action.

Among those who identified themselves as Dartmouth students, 71 voted against war and 29 indicated they felt war was justified.


There are perfectly reasonable arguments to be made for not attacking Iraq, but to argue that there's no moral justification suggests that murderous dictators like Saddam Hussein can not be removed by external actors. This seems a dangerous concession to terror.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

HOMERUN:

The Ostrich Position: European anti-Americanism reflects a deeper malaise. (PAUL JOHNSON, October 17, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
Americans have been angered by the hostile attitude of some Europeans to U.S. efforts to take the war against terrorism to its countries of origin in the Middle East--a recent example of which was the suggestion, by Nobel jurors, that Jimmy Carter deserved the Peace Prize for his opposition to war with Iraq. They are puzzled by European irrationalism and weakness. They wonder, too, how the Continental economies can sustain double-digit unemployment for years on end. But the causes for all this are deep-rooted. There is no longer a "sick man of Europe." The whole of Europe is sick.

We have to remember that twice in the 20th century, Europe came close to committing suicide by wars that in retrospect seem senseless. These were followed by a Cold War that imprisoned much of Europe in a cage of fear. In this process, Europe, a collection of vigorous peoples who pushed forward the frontiers of civilization for a thousand years and created the modern world, learned to opt for a safety-first existence in which comforts and short-term security became the object of policy. They sought a cozy Utopia, with risk and pain eliminated.

Fifty years ago, the drive to unite Europe was seen as a daring adventure, not only burying ancient enmities but creating a new kind of enterprise society that would bring unparalleled prosperity. The project has degenerated into a defense of cradle-to-grave social-security system whose demands take priority over the market.

Under the EU's constant demands for "social protection," European societies have become a paradise for bureaucrats, trade unionists, centrist politicians and those businessmen who prefer to work under government protection. They offer little to original minds and risk-taking entrepreneurs. The fundamental assumptions of the drive to unite the continent are now half a century out of date and the EU's rigid, ultraconservative structure makes it incapable of taking in new ideas or even dumping such manifest archaisms as the Common Agricultural Policy.


This is the best column we've seen in a long time, on the dire and largely undiscussed problems that face the West. He hits upon virtually every theme we've been discussing here--with the exception of Evolution--and ties them all together into one devastating portrait of a dying Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM

CAN WE SKIP A STEP OR TWO?:

The Truth Inside: A plea from Tehran (Farideh Tehrani, October 15, 2002, National Review)
Everyday, my peers and I sit and talk. We want only one thing: Freedom. Basic human rights. The same thing those who fled Iran 20 years ago now enjoy in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Washington. Sometimes I check the Internet for news. At other times, my friends and I watch satellite television or listen to the short-wave radio broadcasts of the freed world.

We are constantly amazed, though, at how different our reality is from what some American journalists, academics, and opinion-makers portray it as. So often, we hear self-described Iran experts on CNN and reporters in America's leading newspapers explain away the dictatorship under which we suffer. We hear them talk about how young people and women still support President Khatami! No. We do not! Yes, Khatami did win elections, but those came absent any real competition. In 1997, he won the election only after his colleagues on the Guardian Council disqualified 234 other candidates. Is that a democracy? Listen to us: We no more want to be part of an Islamic Republic than did the Hungarians, Czechs, or Poles want to be part of a Communist dictatorship.

Understand we want freedom. I am still at the university, but many of my peers are in prison for nothing more than demanding freedom of speech, or waving a bloody shirt. We aspire to establish a democracy based on a modern, liberal, and, yes, the Western model of secularism.

Our reasons are quite simple and obvious: We do not follow the Arab or the Islamic model. Iranians, as a people, do not have problems with Western civilization. We are Muslims, but our sense of Iranian national identity dwarfs any religious identity we hold. We are proud heirs of a once-great civilization that brought forth the concept of tolerance and civility predating Islam. Iranians are comfortable with the simple fact that the West has the best-refined modern concepts of democracy, human rights, and individual opportunity.


The big question now isn't even really about whether Iran is on the path toward Westernization but whether each Islamic society has to go through a long period of pro-Western dictatorship and/or a tragedy like the twenty years of the Iranian Revolution before they choose Westernization for themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM

THE WESTERN FRONT:

Lebanon begins pumping from new Wazzani water system (Daniel Sobelman and Uri Ash, 17/10/2002, Ha'aretz)
Lebanon began pumping Wednesday from its new water source on the Wazzani River in southern Lebanon. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud made a surprise appearance at the inauguration ceremony for the pump. [...]

The Lebanese decision in August to begin pumping from a tributary of the river sparked fresh tensions with its southern neighbor. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon slammed the move, describing it as a cause for war.

American pressure recently led to a Lebanese decision to reduce the amount of water pumped to supply drinking water for villages in the area, rather than for irrigation purposes as well.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the unilateral Lebanese action was likely to bring "a great escalation" between Lebanon and Israel.

"We won't, can't agree to such unilateral actions and we reserve the right to protect our water according to law, to international law," Peres told parliament in Jerusalem.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah announced Tuesday evening that the organization had been put on the highest alert in anticipation of an Israeli attack during the inauguration.

Speaking Tuesday night, Nasrallah said that Hezbollah would respond to any Israeli aggression "within minutes." Whoever decides to attack the pumping project will "open up the northern front and we are prepared for that," he said. He said his gunmen had already defined their targets inside Israel. "All we need is one telephone call" to respond to any Israeli attack, he said.

Observers say these are the toughest remarks the Hezbollah leader has uttered on the subject of the Wazzani.


Hopefully yesterday's Bush/Sharon meeting included planning for the war with Lebanon/Syria.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 AM

GEE, THEY SEEMED SO TRUSTWORTHY:

U.S.: North Korea Says Has Nukes (GEORGE GEDDA, Oct 16, , 2002, Associated Press)
In a startling revelation, North Korea has told the United States it has a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of an 1994 agreement with the United States, the White House said Wednesday night.

Spokesman Sean McCormack said North Korea was in "material breach" of the agreement under which it promised not to develop nuclear weapons.

The commitment had raised hopes for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, but that hope is dashed for the time being, and relations with the United States are back to square one. [...]

U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said North Korea told U.S. officials that it is no longer bound by the anti-nuclear agreement.

The dramatic disclosure complicates President Bush's campaign to disarm Iraq under threat of military force, coming almost nine months after Bush said North Korea was part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq.

It seems unlikely, however, that North Korea will become a target country for the United States much as Iraq is nowadays. With war plans for Iraq already on the drawing board and a broader war on terrorism still under way, threats against North Korea could leave the United States overextended.

Until now, the United States' main concern with North Korea has been its sale of ballistic missiles to Syria, Iran and other countries. Now North Korea's nuclear program is added to the mix.


This story seems to be precisely wrong. The fact that North Korea was able to continue its program without our knowing suggests that Iraq may well have done the same. If anything, it strengthens the case for taking out the Iraqi government post haste. It also strengthens the case for adding Syria to the axis of evil.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 AM

FIGHTING THE UNDERTOW OF THE CRIMSON TIDE:

Death and the maiden (Charles Murtaugh, October 16, 2002)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 AM

TOO BIG FOR HIS BRITCHES:

Mason-Dixon Poll: Edwards Could Face Tough Re-Election in 2004 (WRAL.com, October 16, 2002)
While North Carolina voters are focused on this year's U.S. Senate race, results of a new poll showsthe 2004 Senate race could become just as lively if incumbent Democrat John Edwards draws a credible challenger.

According to results of a Mason-Dixon Poll, statewide, only 43 percent of voters say they will definitely vote to re-elect Edwards, while 16 percent indicate they will consider voting for a Republican challenger and a significant 35 percent will definitely vote to replace Edwards with a Republican.


Voters have a long history of punishing Senators who start imagining themselves to be presidential material--the most recent example being John Ashcroft.

October 16, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM

AN EMPIRE WITHOUT POSSESSIONS:

Terror's Aftermath in Indonesia (Sidney Jones, director of the Indonesia project of the International Crisis Group, October 16, 2002, NY Times)
Extraordinary as this seems in the West, many Indonesians are convinced that the United States sponsored the Bali bombing in order to convince reluctant governments to join its war on terror and support an attack on Iraq. Hard-line Muslims like Abu Bakar Bashir--said to be the head of Jemaah Islamiyah--are not the only ones making this claim. The Bush administration's pressure on Indonesia to take action against Muslim terrorists, its policies in the Middle East and the presence of American troops in the Philippines' Muslim South have all fueled suspicions in conservative circles that Washington has an anti-Muslim agenda. Some Indonesians seem to believe that the only organization with the capacity to carry out such a devastating attack is the American government.

"American troops want to establish a presence in Indonesia," one commentator said on a television panel Monday night. "They'll establish a foothold by offering to help out with the investigation in Bali, and then we'll see the influx." If some in Washington think that the Bali blast will convert all skeptics to the need for more stringent antiterrorism measures, they'll need to reconsider.


Unfortunately, all you have to do is go read any "progressive" publication, European newspaper, or the editorial pages of the NY Times and you'll see people who should know better claiming much the same thing, that we are a neo-imperialist power bent on occupying the world and exploiting its resources. People seem to confuse the entirely reasonable and necessary to remain the world's dominant military power with an absurd imagined desire to actually control every nook and cranny.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 PM

WHY THE POTUS MATTERS TO A FETUS:

Court Rules Fetus Can Be Defended (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, October 16, 2002)
In a ruling that could add new dimensions to the abortion debate, a Michigan court said a pregnant woman can use deadly force to protect a fetus from attack even if her own life is not in danger.

The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a Kalamazoo County Circuit Court's conviction of a woman for killing her boyfriend and ordered a new trial because Judge Richard Ryan Lamb had not instructed the jury about the ``defense of others'' theory.

The appeals court did not address a key issue in abortion cases: when a fetus becomes a person.


Here's why having a conservative president matters to conservatives. For one thing (though this was a state court), he gets to appoint judges who can continue to create a body of law like this, which restores human rights to the fetus. Add regulations like the recently announced one that extends health care to fetuses and you can develop a legal environment in which Roe v. Wade becomes not merely incoherent and anticonstitutional but an actual contradiction of an entire skein of other laws. You lay an even firmer groundwork for its eventual overturn.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 PM

UNNECESSARY WARS AND THE NECESSARY NATIONS:

Unnecessary Wars (Midge Decter, June 8, 2002, Hillsdale College)
We are at war. Faced with those terrible Churchillian alternatives, shame or war, the President chose national honor. And those who said you cannot go to war in Afghanistan - it is too hard; the terrain there is impossible; the winter there is impossible; look what happened to the Russians - like those who made equivalently specious arguments about the Nazis, argued in vain. To be sure, we had the advantage--strange word--that Churchill and his circle did not have in the mid-30s: that of tasting the enemy's fire and brimstone on our own soil, in one of our own great cities. And at least one result is that ordinary Afghanis, the centuries-long victims of what the imperial European powers used to refer to as "The Great Game," and latterly victims at the hands of their own terror-driven government, are beginning to smile. They are beginning to smile, to listen to music, to rebuild their houses and to dream of governing themselves. Perhaps they will even accomplish this last. And who but the American Army could have--and even more important, who but the American army would have--made this possible?

This seems a pertinent question. We may decide not to help the countries of the Middle East free themselves and they may prove unableto maintain freedom even should we win them an opportunity at it, but if we don't help (and by "we", I mean Britain, Australia, America, etc.), who will? It's all well and good to say the people have to do it themselves, but we know from the Cold War--when more democratically "advanced" peoples proved unable to win their freedom, in Czechoslovakia and Hungary and elsewhere--that this is no easy task.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 PM

KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY:

JUST SAY "NOT UNTIL WE'RE MARRIED": Legislating Morality And Undermining HIV/AIDS Prevention (JOANNE MARINER, Oct. 14, 2002, Find Law)
As it previously did with the abortion gag rule, the Bush Administration has taken recent steps toward imposing its restrictive abstinence-only views on a global audience. (In January 2001, during his very first week in office, President Bush issued an executive order barring U.S. financial assistance to international nongovernmental organizations that, using separate funds, engage in such activities as talking with clients about abortion, disseminating information about abortion, or advocating for the repeal of laws that restrict abortion.)

Last May, at the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on Children, the U.S. delegation joined with Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan and the Holy See (the axis of fundamentalism?) to press summit participants to endorse sexual abstinence "both before and during marriage" as the only way to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission.

The Child Rights Caucus, a coalition of hundreds of nongovernmental organizations from around the world, condemned the U.S. emphasis on abstinence as "both naive and inappropriate." As the caucus pointed out, "for the millions of girls who marry before age 18 or who are forced into sexual relationships, abstinence is not an option, and lack of access to appropriate education and services can be life-threatening."


The problem with Ms Mariner's objection is that abstinence obviously is the only way to prevent transmission and that the idea that these girls who are being forced into sex will be able to prevail upon their assailants to wear a condom is nearly deranged.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 PM

MUST'VE BEEN THE SURGE IN VULCANIZED RUBBER PRICES:

Canada's budget surplus C$8.9 bln for 2001/02 (Reuters, 10.15.02)
The final figure for Canada's federal budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended on March 31 was a higher-than-expected C$8.9 billion ($5.6 billion).

The Finance Department said on Tuesday that as usual, since the money was not spent, the surplus all went towards paying the debt, which stood at C$536.5 billion after the paydown.

The department said the ratio of debt to gross domestic product stood at 49.1 percent at the end of March. That is down from almost 71 percent in 1995-96.


That's pretty staggering debt considering that they're going to have to fund a massive health care system despite a declining worker-age population and that the U.S. doesn't have a much higher ratio despite essentially funding the entire Cold War by ourselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 PM

I'D RATHER BE AN OKIE:

Okla. pair wins wife-carrying contest despite tough competition from Ont. duo (Canadian Press, October 14, 2002)
An Oklahoma couple emerged from a course of log hurdles and a muddy water hole as champions in this year's national wife-carrying contest, which was held during the weekend in western Maine. Warren and Wendy Straatman of Owasso, Okla., came to Maine well-prepared for the challenge. The Straatmans are two-time winners of the Oklahoma Wife Carrying Championships, and the latest event was their third annual attempt to win the elusive national title at the Sunday River ski area.

The wife's a doctor--she carries me.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:39 PM

AH, THOSE FREE TRADING EUROS:

Greek cheese makers welcome European Union protection of feta cheese (THEODORA TONGAS, October 15, 2002, Canadian Press)
It was a good day for Greek salad.

Makers of its key ingredient - feta cheese - on Tuesday hailed a European Union decision giving them exclusive rights to make the tangy white product produced from the milk of goats and sheep. The EU Commission gave European producers of feta five years Monday to find another name for their product or cease production.

"Feta ... will no longer face illegal competition from other white cheeses in brine," the Greek Dairies Association said in a statement. "Goat and sheep farmers will benefit most because the milk they produce will be sold more easily."

Feta, which can now be produced only in certain regions of Greece, joins a list of hundreds of protected gourmet products, including cheeses like Italy's gorgonzola and French brie de Meaux.


"Illegal competition"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:44 PM

WHO BENEFITS FROM THE BOMBING?:

Man confesses to making bomb that destroyed club (Ellen Nakashima and Alan Sipress, October 16, 2002 , The Washington Post)
A former member of the Indonesian Air Force has confessed to investigators that he assembled the bomb that destroyed the heart of Bali's nightclub district Saturday, killing at least 181 people, an Indonesian security official said Tuesday.

The suspect, who is being held by Indonesian authorities, told investigators that he regretted the massive loss of life, but he has not disclosed who ordered him to make the bomb, according to the security official. The official said the suspect had learned to make explosives while serving in the air force, which later dismissed him for misconduct.


Jeffrey Winters is looking better and better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM

ARE THEY TAX EXEMPT?:

ACLU Ads Will Target Bush Policies (Dan Eggen, October 16, 2002, Washington Post)
The American Civil Liberties Union plans to announce today a $2.5 million media campaign aimed at the aggressive anti-terrorism policies of the Bush administration and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft -- the largest such effort in its 80-year history. [...]

The campaign, launched shortly before the Nov. 5 elections...


Just in case anyone had any doubt that they're a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM

PUSH POLLSTER?:

IS ZOGBY A FRAUD? (Patrick Ruffini, 10/16/02)
It's well known that Zogby, whose brother contributes to the anti-American, anti-Israel Arab News, is an outspoken critic of war with Iraq. Lately, Zogby has fashioned himself as a spokesman for the Arab American community and as a student of Arab opinion more broadly. He's conducted polls soliciting the opinions of pawns in dictatorial regimes like Iran and Saudi Arabia on why we shouldn't go to war with Iraq, and has openly suggested a political motive behind the Administration's war preparations. The questions he asks in his domestic polling on Iraq are highly suggestive and show that he's not beyond using his surveys as a weapon to shift public discourse against the war.

Mr. Ruffini, without being sensationalistic about it, raises what seem to be some valid questions as to whether Mr. Zogby's personal politics may be filtering over into the poll numbers he's producing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:29 PM

ONLY NIXON CAN GO TO CHINA:

Rumsfeld's Style, Goals Strain Ties In Pentagon: 'Transformation' Effort Spawns Issues of Control (Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks, October 16, 2002, Washington Post)
early two dozen current and former top officers and civilian officials said in interviews that there is a huge discrepancy between the outside perception of Rumsfeld -- the crisp, no-nonsense defense secretary who became a media star through his briefings on the Afghan war--and the way he is seen inside the Pentagon. Many senior officers on the Joint Staff and in all branches of the military describe Rumsfeld as frequently abusive and indecisive, trusting only a tiny circle of close advisers, seemingly eager to slap down officers with decades of distinguished service. The unhappiness is so pervasive that all three service secretaries are said to be deeply frustrated by a lack of autonomy and contemplating leaving by the end of the year. [...]

His disputes with parts of the top brass involve style, the conduct of military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and sharply different views about how and whether to "transform" today's armed forces. But what the fights boil down to is civilian control of a defense establishment that Rumsfeld is said to believe had become too independent and risk-averse during eight years under President Bill Clinton.


Issue? If any of these guys have an issue with civilian control they're in the wrong country's military. These are the kinds of reforms that only a bureaucratic in-fighter like Mr. Rumsfeld can even hope to accomplish and only a conservative Republican administration can even dare to attempt. The great failure of Bill Clinton's presidency was not his personal criminality but his failure to take on the Left's sacred cows, such as Social Security,
in like manner.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:22 PM

IT'S THE JUDICIARY, STUPID:

Bush Places Senate's Delays on Judicial Appointees at Core of Campaigning (NEIL A. LEWIS, October 16, 2002, NY Times)
President Bush's ability to shape the federal bench, at stake in the November election, is heating up this year's election campaigns.

Frustrated by Senate Democrats' blocking conservative judicial candidates, Mr. Bush is putting the issue at the core of his efforts on behalf of Republican candidates, hoping to use it to put the Senate back in his party's control.

"The Senate is doing a lousy job on my judge nominations," the president said on Monday at a campaign stop in Michigan in remarks that he echoes in state after state.

There are many "reasons why we need to change the Senate," he added. One was "to make sure that the federal bench represents the way you want them to serve."

[White House counsel, Alberto R.] Gonzales said the White House would not change the kind of nominees it chose. "These are the kind of judicial candidates the American people want," he said.


Conservatives have been frustrated for twenty years by the failure of even folks like Ronald Reagan to put the makeup of the judiciary at the center of electoral politics. This is yet another way in which Mr. Bush's instincts serve him well in appealing at least to the Right, and one suspects that just by listing the decisions of the 9th Circuit you could horrify voters about what anti-democratic mischief liberal judges are capable of perpetrating.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM

THE FUTURE IN THE PAST:

Devout whiz-kid seen as Tory saviour: Montgomerie is the face of compassionate Conservatism (Gaby Hinsliff, October 13, 2002, The Observer)
An evangelical Christian who believes in polite politicians and teaching teenagers to abstain from sex is emerging as the backroom aide behind the 'compassionate' Tory revolution.

Tim Montgomerie was one of a handful of insiders allowed to help write Iain Duncan Smith's speech in Bournemouth last week. And behind the scenes the 32-year-old has had a pivotal role as the bridge between senior Tories and the 'vulnerable' poor they are now supposed to be wooing. His influence, and that of the Renewing One Nation task force he heads at Conservative party headquarters, worries some senior Tory figures who mistrust his overt Christian beliefs--he is anti-abortion and an early protŽgŽ of Dr Adrian Rogers, a former Tory candidate who has described homosexuality as 'sterile and disease-ridden'. [...]

Many of Montgomerie's ideas...will alarm liberal Tories. Renewing One Nation advocates 'abstinence education' on sex, adding that 'young people who delay the onset of sexual activity have a much better prospect of sustaining relationships in later life', and that 'young people want reassurance in school that it's OK to wait'.

The task force is pushing for Duncan Smith to adopt a heavily traditional policy on sex and drug education in schools, preaching 'harm avoidance'--telling young people not to drink, smoke or have sex--rather than more neutral lessons about the risks involved.

It is also consulting on ways of making marriage more attractive, while modernising Tories want a watering down of the party's stance on marriage in order to avoid offending cohabiting couples and gays. [...]

Friends say Montgomerie, who has a passion for Star Trek and Manchester United, is a 'genuine bloke' who has spent years cultivating links with the voluntary groups the Tories now desperately need. 'Christianity is his driving force, but he is a champion of civil society and of an ethos of public service outside politics,' said David Green of the thinktank Civitas, which works closely with both Montgomerie and the Tory leader's office. Montgomerie wants to rebuild the traditional links between Tories and volunteering, he said.


This is the first I've ever heard of Mr. Montgomerie, and he may just be today's flavor, but the future of the Tory Party and of Britain itself seems to lie in this kind of politics, else it's hard to see how either has a future. This kind of emphasis on traditional morality and family structure is absolutely necessary to start boosting British birthrates and relying on community instead of government to provide social services is a key to breaking the grip of the Welfare State. The Trekkieism and Soccer-love worry us though.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM

TWO USEFUL SITES:

Opinion: The Debate About Iraq (Washington Post)

Iraq and the War on Terrorism (Washington Post)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM

MOTHRA LIVES:

A super-sized bird in Alaska (PETER PORCO, October 15, 2002, Anchorage Daily News)
A giant winged creature, like something out of Jurassic Park, has reportedly been sighted several times in Southwest Alaska in recent weeks.

Villagers in Togiak and Manokotak say they have seen a huge bird that's much bigger than anything they have seen before.

A pilot says he spotted the creature while flying passengers to Manokotak last week. He calculated that its wingspan matched the length of a wing on his Cessna 207. That's about 14 feet.


Did anyone, by any chance, spot a perfect replica of Yul Brynner in full Gunfslinger regalia?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

THE FURTHER SUPERFLUITY OF THE ONION:

Send A Student To Minnesota (Democratic Socialists USA)
DSA’s national electoral project this year is the Minnesota Senate Election. Together with YDS, DSA’s Youth Section, we are mobilizing to bring young people to Minnesota. Minnesota is one of the few states that allow same day voter registration. We will therefore focus our energy on registering young people. Wellstone will need a high percentage of young people to register and vote for him if he is to stave off the campaign that Bush, the Republicans and the Greens are waging against him. He is the Right’s Number One electoral target.

Because we are focusing on issue-based voter registration, this electoral work can be supported by tax-deductible contributions. The DSA FUND is soliciting tax-deductible contributions to support this project. Contributions are needed to underwrite the costs of transportation as well as providing a stipend for expenses; housing is being donated.


Somewhere Whittaker Chambers nods his head.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING...SOMETHING ELSE:

Fairfax Witnesses Saw Sniper: Fatal Shooting Of FBI Analyst Tied to Others (Carol Morello and Tom Jackman, October 16, 2002, Washington Post)
Some witnesses caught a glimpse of the sniper, and although some detectives hoped the information would aid the investigation, one source cautioned that "the description is way too premature" to release accurate details or a composite sketch. Similarly, witnesses provided at least partial license plate numbers, although another law enforcement source said the sightings have not yielded a viable lead.

More promising was the presence of the white or cream-colored Chevrolet Astro van with a silver ladder rack on top. It was the second consecutive shooting in which witnesses saw the van. This time, at least one witness said he saw the sniper get out of the vehicle, fire on Franklin, get back in and flee. Other witnesses said the vehicle's rear left taillight was not working.

Police yesterday released two composite images of a van that witnesses say they saw Friday near a Spotsylvania County gas station where a Philadelphia man was fatally shot. Although the images are of different makes -- one an Astro van and the other a Ford Econovan, each with aladder rack on the roof -- authorities said that only one vehicle was seen and that eyewitnesses gave different accounts of the brand.


It's become quite common these days for even sensible folk to complain about the loss of our civil liberties due to computerized databases and the sheer volume of information that is collected about all of us. But if innumerable government agencies can't find a pretty distinctive sounding van it suggests that the inefficiency of the bureaucracy remains one of the guarantors of our liberty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 AM

IF WE ATTACK SADDAM, HIV WILL HAVE WON:

A puzzle for future historians: Why focus on Iraq and not AIDS? (Sebastian Mallaby, October 15, 2002, The Washington Post)
Here, surely, is the puzzle for future historians. How could we Americans, a society with the technology to land a missile on Saddam Hussein's bathmat, not mobilize the science necessary to defeat the scourge? How could the United States, a nation that spends $10 billion a year on soaps and perfumes, give $1 billion in public money annually for battling the virus and regard that as enough? How is it that we have known about AIDS for two decades yet only now are starting to react? [...]

The real reason for our muted reaction is that AIDS is so monotonous. The AIDS pandemic is silent, repetitive and boring. People are upset the first few times they hear about it. Then they move on.


Actually, the real reason is that we understand AIDs to be a function of behavior, a threat that we can control, at least in our own personal lives. Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, is frightening precisely because we can't control him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 AM

HUH?:

US press ignores Australia's pain (October 15 2002, The Age)
The British press has dubbed the Bali bombings Australia's own September 11.

But in the US, Australia is hardly rating a mention.

One report in the Washington Post about the twin night club blasts at Kuta Beach states: "Many of the victims were from Australia, south of Indonesia".

But readers of the Miami Herald online would be in the dark about Australia's death toll now believed to be the majority of the 183 confirmed dead.

The online paper refers to two Americans killed and three injured in the blast.

As for the rest: "Most of the dead are foreigners," the article stated.

Australia is mentioned only in a reference to the packed night club where most of the victims were killed.

"The Sari Club ... was a popular nightspot for the 20-something sun, sand and surf set, especially from nearby Australia," the report said.


Well, our local paper still has the attacks above the fold on the front page in its Tuesday edition. It picked up the story from the LA Times: Al Qaeda Blamed for Bali Bombing: Indonesia's defense minister says Bin Laden's group worked with local terrorists to blow up clubs popular with Westerners. (Richard C. Paddock,October 15 2002, LA Times). It does not mention the nationality of any victims until the twelfth paragraph when it does start by mentioning the Americans but moves on quickly to the Aussies:
Nearly 500 people were injured in the Bali explosion. At least two Americans were killed and three wounded. Most of the dead were foreigners, with the largest number from Australia. Officials in Australia expect the death toll of Australians to be the highest in any incident since World War II.

What else does The Age want?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 AM

MOTHER'S MILK:

Fund raising in key Senate, House races at a glance (The Associated Press, 10/15/02)
Fund raising through Sept. 30 in a sampling of Senate and House races:

SENATE:

COLORADO:

Republican Sen. Wayne Allard: Raised and spent about $3.8 million; $900,583 on hand.

Democratic challenger Tom Strickland: Raised $3.5 million and spent $3.7 million; $160,131 on hand.

GEORGIA:

Democratic Sen. Max Cleland: Raised and spent more than $8.7 million; $203,085 on hand.

Republican Saxby Chambliss: Raised about $5 million, spent about $3 million; $1.7 million on hand.

IOWA:

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin: Raised $7.6 million and spent $6 million; $2 million on hand.

Republican Rep. Greg Ganske: Raised and spent about $3.9 million; $428,764 on hand; $2,180 in debt.

MINNESOTA:

Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone: Raised $9.8 million and spent $8.4 million; $1.5 million on hand.

Republican Norm Coleman: Raised $6.3 million and spent about $6 million; $1.9 million on hand; $79,252 in debt.

MISSOURI:

Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan: Raised $9 million and spent $8.5 million; $1.1 million on hand.

Republican Jim Talent: Raised $6 million and spent $4 million; $2.8 million on hand.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

Republican Rep. John Sununu: Raised $1.4 million and spent $1.7 million; $3 million on hand.

Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen: Raised $3.8 million and spent $2.7 million; $1.3 million on hand.

NEW JERSEY:

Republican Doug Forrester: Loaned self $7.1 million and raised $1.4 million; $2.6 million on hand.

Democrat Frank Lautenberg: Plans to spend at least $3 million, raising money and spending own if necessary.

NORTH CAROLINA:

Republican Elizabeth Dole: Raised and spent $10 million; $592,147 on hand; $168,773 in debt.

Democrat Erskine Bowles: Raised $4.8 million and spent $7 million; $1.1 million on hand; $3 million in debt.

SOUTH CAROLINA:

Republican Rep. Lindsey Graham: $5 million raised and $2.8 million spent; $2.7 million on hand.

Democrat Alex Sanders: $3.4 million raised and $2.7 million spent; $818,643 on hand; $18,482 in debt.

SOUTH DAKOTA:

Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson: about $6 million raised and spent; $214,816 on hand; $53,742 in debt.

Republican Rep. John Thune: $4.1 million raised and $4.6 million spent; $317,574 on hand.

TENNESSEE:

Republican Lamar Alexander: $4.2 million raised and $3.8 million spent; $1 million on hand; $1 million in debt.

Democrat Bob Clement: $2 million raised and $1.4 million spent; $906,003 on hand.

TEXAS:

Democrat Ron Kirk: Not immediately available.

Republican John Cornyn: $8.4 million raised and $3.2 million spent; $5.2 million on hand.


No wonder the Democrats are so morose. My math isn't too good, but that looks like the GOP candidate has more money in every race but IA, and often has much more money.

October 15, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM

TERRORIZING THEMSELVES:

Sharp rise in favour of war on Iraq (Alan Travis, October 16, 2002, The Guardian)
There has been a spectacular surge in support among British voters for military action against Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the terror attack in Bali, according to the latest Guardian/ICM poll.

The survey, which was carried out on Monday, shows that support for a military attack on Iraq has risen 10 points in the last week from 32% to 42% of voters.

The ICM poll also shows that more voters agree with Tony Blair that it is necessary to fight on two fronts against both al-Qaida and Iraq. Only one in three voters agree that the United States and Britain "took their eye off the ball" by concentrating on Iraq.


It's a remarkable thing, when you sit around waiting for things to happen, you end up feeling like a victim of life's circumstances. But, when you lead, events come to you, served up like a flat slider right out over the plate. Because Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush got out in front of events and led, this bombing fits neatly into an analytical framework that they established; it's part of a wider war, a war that we're fully engaged in. There's none of the sense of helplessness that was felt right after 9-11, no feeling that this was an obscure and senseless act. Instead you can hear people saying: "That's right. We knew that more of us would die. That's what these murderers are like and that's why we have to fight them."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:23 PM

STILL MAJORITY LEADER DASCHLE:

Polls put Senate control within grasp of GOP (Ralph Z. Hallow, 10/15/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
"If the election were held today, the Republicans would pick up Missouri, South Dakota and Minnesota," Mr. Zogby said. "They even have a shot at picking up Georgia. But Democrats would pick up Arkansas and Colorado."

Some Republicans privately said they would add New Hampshire to that list of Democrats' gains.

The latest polls, in fact, show 10 Senate contests within the margin of error, including the three targeted by both parties: Missouri, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Zogby polls for MSNBC show that in Missouri, Republican Jim Talent leads Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan by 6 percentage points. In South Dakota, Republican Rep. John Thune leads Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson by 2 points.

But in a swift turnaround, Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone — who trailed by 6 percentage points in the Zogby poll last month — shows a 9-point lead over Republican Norm Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor.

Both campaigns say their internal polling continues to have the race a tie. But Wellstone campaign manager Jeff Blodgett noted that in the last two weeks Wellstone ads show Mr. Coleman, a former Democrat, flip-flopping on issues. One ad notes that he switched parties after he had endorsed President Clinton and Mr. Wellstone in 1996.

Mr. Zogby stands by his latest poll but still thinks Mr. Coleman has the edge because "only 45 percent [of respondents] say Wellstone deserves re-election. That number and the fact that less than 50 percent say they will vote for him is bad news for any incumbent."


It seems dubious that the GOP could win the NH gubernatorial and both House seats by significant margins but lose the Senate seat. At any rate, it looks like Democrats have an excellent shot at retaining the Senate and maybe even picking up a seat or two.

Posted by Stephen Judd at 1:40 PM

HE PUT THE WES IN WEST POINT

Is Gen. Wesley Clark running for President? (James W. Pindell, 10/14/2002, PoliticsNH.com)
Following his extensive visit around the state recently, New Hampshire Democrats are trying to figure out if General Wesley Clark is seriously flirting with the idea of running for president.

Clark, who served as the Supreme Commander of NATO during bombing raids in Serbia, was in New Hampshire last week, where he endorsed a Democratic congressional candidate, met with a veterans group, attended a dinner with about 20 Democratic activists, and gave a major lecture at the University of New Hampshire attended by 250 people -- something he offered to do for free.

When asked about if presidential speculation around Clark should be taken seriously, answers among Democrats ranged in a spectrum from "definitely" to "sort of" to "no."



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM

INSANITY ON THE WATERFORNT:

Cargo Kings: They've got money. They've got muscle. They've got power. Will Portland's longshoremen lose it all to a barcode scanner? (CHRIS LYDGATE, 10/9/2002, Willamette Week)
Full-time longshoremen earn an average of $107,000 a year, which ranks them among the best-paid union workers in the world. The PMA is offering a three-year contract with a 7 percent wage hike and a beefed-up pension plan. In return, the PMA wants to install new technology, such as barcode scanners and global positioning systems, to speed dockside operations.

While conceding that the new technology might eventually eliminate as many as 400 jobs on the West Coast (with about 20 of those in Portland), the PMA has promised to pay the displaced clerks for 40 hours a week until they retire--even if there's no work for them to do. "Not one longshoreman will lose his or her job as the result of technology," PMA chief Joseph Miniace vowed on Monday.

Your average worker would probably greet an offer like this by popping the champagne. But your average worker doesn't belong to the most powerful labor movement in America--the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.


So America's economy should be slower and less efficient than it could be just so that these guys can make more than most of the doctors at the hospital across the street do?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:13 AM

ALL AL QAEDA, ALL THE TIME:

A Piazza Perspective on War and Bush (Mary McGrory, October 13, 2002, Washington Post)
War seemed unthinkable in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, when I was there lately. There was too much going on, mostly happy stuff, and the variety and vivacity of the crowd might have diverted even George Bush and Dick Cheney from their absorption in missiles and rockets and cakewalks in Baghdad. Italians, who are with us on the war against terrorism, are two-thirds opposed to Bush's war against Iraq, even though Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is trying to give Britain's Tony Blair a run for his money as Bush's best friend in Europe.

But for his people, one war at a time is enough.


Have you ever noticed how none of these people who think that the war with Iraq will distract the government from the effort to round up al Qaeda are similarly concerned that things like running a Labor Department, an Environmental Protection Agency, or Head Start will have any effect? If catching Osama is so all-consuming then let's shut the whole government down until we have him. When the first Democrat calls for that we'll take the one war at a time argument seriously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 AM

TASTES GREAT/LESS FILLING:

GOP: Covering the Spread: Republicans should be losing big. Here's why they aren't. (THOMAS J. BRAY, October 15, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
The reason voters appear reluctant to punish the GOP, one suspects, is not just a rally-round-the-president effect. The first Iraq war didn't help the first President Bush, who also had weather a severe economic malaise.

More likely, what has stuck in voters' minds is the way the Democrats conducted the Iraq debate. They came away seeming hollow; the debate underlining their cynicism and mean-spiritedness. Democrats, in other words, are in danger of becoming what they accuse their opponents of. Because the media suffer from almost total myopia on this point--preferring always and everywhere to attach the words cynical and mean-spirited only to the "right wing"--they may be missing an important political phenomenon.

It's not just a matter of the Democrats having been on the wrong side. I persist in believing that there are some good arguments against going abroad in search of monsters to slay. But the Democrats utterly failed to confront these issues honestly. Instead, they caviled, whined, played for time and tried to arrange things so that they can start yelling "I told you so" as soon as something goes wrong--even while trying to insulate themselves from having their fingerprints on the decision for war or peace. [...]

You might love what Mr. Bush and the Republicans are doing. You might even suspect that politics are involved in some of the timing. You might reserve the right to exercise a massive backlash if things don't work out as planned. But at least Mr. Bush and the Republicans appear to be serious folks conducting a serious strategy in defense of serious American interests. In calling the bluff of both the United Nations and Congress, Mr. Bush once again reminded the country that he is not just an accidental president, and that Republicans are capable of acting like adults--something one can't say with certainty about the other party.


Though we're less sanguine than Mr. Bray about Republican prospects in November, the fundamental point here seems both true and bad for democracy. Bill Clinton's New Democrat Party is doing the nation and especially its own supporters a real disservice by always trying to portray itself as GOP Lite.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM

GRIP IT AND RIP IT:

Warts and all, duct tape fixes anythingWarts and all, duct tape fixes anything (JIM RITTER, October 15, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Here's yet another use for all-purpose duct tape: It does a great job removing warts.

Duct tape works even better than the standard treatment of freezing warts with liquid nitrogen, according to a study in the October Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. [...]

Each duct tape patient, or parent, cut a piece of tape the size of the wart and put it on. After six days, the patient or parent removed the tape, soaked the area in water, then gently rubbed the wart with an emery board or pumice stone. The tape was put back on the wart the next morning. The cycle was repeated for two months or until the wart disappeared.


It's also an effective, though bracing, depilatory.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM

PAINTED LEAVES:

Autumnal Tints: "October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight" (H. D. Thoreau, October 1862, The Atlantic Monthly)
Looking across this woodland valley, a quarter of a mile wide, how rich those Scarlet Oaks, embosomed in Pines, their bright red branches intimately intermingled with them! They have their full effect theme. The Pine-boughs are the green calyx to their red petals. Or, as we go along a road in the woods, the sun striking endwise through it, and lighting up the red tents of the Oaks, which on each side are mingled with the liquid green of the Pines, makes a very gorgeous scene. Indeed, without the ever greens for contrast, the autumnal tints would lose much of their effect.

The Scarlet Oak asks a clear sky and the brightness of late October days. These bring out its colors. If the sun goes into a cloud, they become comparatively indistinct. As I sit on a cliff in the southwest part of our town, the sun is now getting low, and the woods in Lincoln, south and east of me, are lit up by its more level rays; and in the Scarlet Oaks, scattered so equally over the forest, there is brought out a more brilliant redness than I had believed was in them. Every tree of this species which is visible in those directions, even to the horizon, now stands out distinctly red. Some great ones lift their red backs high above the woods, in the next town, like huge roses with a myriad of fine petals; and some more slender ones, in a small grove of White Pines on Pine Hill in the east, on the very verge of the horizon, alternating with the Pines on the edge of the grove, and shouldering them with their red coats, look like soldiers in red amid hunters in green. This time it is Lincoln green, too. Till the sun got low, I did not believe that there were so many redcoats in the forest army. Theirs is an intense burning red, which would lose some of its strength, methinks, with every step you might take toward them; for the shade that lurks amid their foliage does not report itself at this distance, and they are unanimously red. The focus of their reflected color is in the atmosphere far on this side. Every such tree becomes a nucleus of red, as it were, where, with the declining sun, that color grows and glows. It is partly borrowed fire, gathering strength from the sun on its way to your eye. It has only some comparatively dull red leaves for a rallying-point, or kindling-stuff, to start it, and it becomes an intense scarlet or red mist, or fire, which finds fuel for itself in the very atmosphere. So vivacious is redness. The very rails reflect a rosy light at this hour and season. You see a redder tree than exists.


I'd never heard of this essay until I found it in a little chapbook at the local Library sale a couple weeks ago. It nicely captures some sense of the astonishing beauty that descends on us every Fall during foliage season.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM

DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN, AGAIN:

Peace Gets a Chance (Liza Featherstone, October 11, 2002, The Nation)
Across the country, a nascent U.S. peace movement has gradually been gathering momentum.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM

TOO CLEVER BY HALF:

Still Living Dangerously (PAUL KRUGMAN, October 15, 2002, NY Times)
A smart terrorist understands that he is not engaged in conventional warfare. Instead he kills to call attention to his cause, to radicalize moderates, to disrupt the lives and livelihoods of those who would prefer not to be involved, to provoke his opponents into actions that drive more people into his camp.

In case you haven't noticed, the people running Al Qaeda are smart. Saturday's bombing in Bali, presumably carried out by a group connected to Al Qaeda, was monstrously evil. It was also, I'm sorry to say, very clever. And it reinforces the sinking feeling that our leaders, who seem determined to have themselves a conventional war, are playing right into the terrorists' hands.


Yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation they spoke to Jeffrey Winters of Northwestern University. It's well worth listening to if you get a chance. Mr. Winters made the point that if you look at who benefits and who loses within Indonesia as a result of the bombing it's the military that comes out best. First, the military resents the Australians because they served as the peace-keeping force in East Timor. Second, while they've been willing to use fundamentalism to further their own ends, the military apparently has little love for the radicals. Meanwhile, the current Indonesian government has been so weak that it has failed to crack down on Islamic terror groups. But this bombing, which will have a dire economic impact, particularly on tourism and foreign investment, should finally provide the justification for government action. Finally, Mr. Winters noted that while the bombing and the economic and political stability that follows will serve to undermine the government, Islamicists are not the ones who will step into the breach, rather the military would be more likely to take over.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

FORT APACHE, PAKISTAN:

Saddam, the U.S. Agent (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, October 15, 2002, NY Times)
On Monday evening I attended a lecture at Kuwait University about the prospective American invasion of Iraq. In the question-answer session, one earnest young man began: "I'm totally convinced that Saddam Hussein is an agent of the U.S."

Yup, that's actually a common view in the Arab world. The idea is that the U.S. asked its pawn Saddam to invade Kuwait, so that Washington could respond by establishing military bases in the region and steal Arab oil.

I should add that there are also plenty of grateful Kuwaitis who see no conspiracies. One woman at the lecture came up to me to apologize for the shootings at the marines, saying: "We breathe today only because of God and the U.S. Those marines who were injured were like our sons."

Unfortunately, there are many others who applaud Osama bin Laden for having the guts to take on the infidels. The suspicion and hostility we face in the Islamic world will be one of our central challenges in the coming years, particularly after any invasion of Iraq. Look at Pakistan, our supposed ally in the war on terrorism. The most common name given to Pakistani boys born after 9/11 in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province reportedly was Osama - that's right, Osama.

Last week's elections in Pakistan resulted in huge gains for fundamentalists who are vehemently anti-American. The fundamentalist parties, which used to be a fringe element in Pakistani politics, now will control two of the country's four provinces. If we gain friendly governments in Afghanistan and Iraq but see the rise of an Islamist nuclear power in Pakistan, that will have been an appalling trade.


Why? Such a Pakistan would be surrounded by a hostile Persia, Afghanistan, India, and the US Navy in the Arabian Sea. It would have to tread gently or risk annihilation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 AM

HELLO 9-11 SYNDROME:

Goodbye to the Vietnam Syndrome (Rick Perlstein, 10/15/02, NY Times)
I wonder whether it will ever again be possible for a president to rouse the nation to support any war unless the threat is far more than an abstraction. I wonder whether a president will be able to sell military action without the kind of reasoned political debate we would ideally demand of any political issue.

And that, it seems to me, is what we lately have been getting.

It has happened with startling rapidity. Last winter, when Tom Daschle ventured some mild criticisms of President Bush's foreign policy, his patriotism was impugned.

By this summer, John Kerry suffered no such baiting, and his criticisms were much stronger. A few weeks later came measured demurrals from Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, and warnings to Democrats from their political consultants of bad consequences for a headlong embrace of intervention. At the end of August the administration acknowledged the political necessity of a congressional resolution (they still deny its legal necessity); and after that plans began in earnest to court United Nations support.

Since then varieties of antiwar expression, even in mainstream political quarters, have become profligate: from the unsentimental strategic calculations of realists like the University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer to the strict-constructionist Constitutional arguments of Senator Robert Byrd. Questions of war and peace are being debated as they should have been debated all along, and as they haven't been debated since Lyndon Johnson escalated Vietnam with doctored reports of a 1964 attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. And there's no reason to expect the debate will end just because of Congress's deferential vote last week.

Which does no good for George W. Bush. So long as he could frame the issue as anything but political--in Manichean terms more appropriate to the war on terror than our present Iraq predicament--the president had the upper hand. Now when he tries that language he appears to be reading from an outdated script. For sending troops into battle is no longer a function of the post-Vietnam culture wars. Now it seems you have to make your case, all along the line. Mirabile dictu. Long may this last.


We're big fans of Mr. Perlstein's fine book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. But this column seems kind of silly. If the Democrats can be said to have shed Vietnam Syndrome, they've surely developed 9-11 Syndrome. The President didn't so much have to make the case that Iraq is a threat, which it isn't, as make Iraq the focal point of public attention. Democrat fear of a revenge-minded electorate took care of the rest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 AM

WHAT'S A TRILLION DOLLARS?

Shaheen, Sununu testy on TV (MARK HAYWARD, October 15, 2002, Manchester Union Leader)
On Social Security, Shaheen said Congress should stop borrowing from the Social Security trust fund and denounced privatization.

"Imagine if you had to depend on the stock market for the last 18 months," she said.

Sununu said Shaheen has no plan to strengthen Social Security, which will begin to draw on the trust fund in about 15 years.

Sununu said he supports a guaranteed minimum benefit and no changes for people who rely on the retirement program today or in the next 20 years.

But younger workers should be able to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions.

"In the long run, that means more benefits, more reserves," Sununu said.

Shaheen said the privatization would cost $1 trillion over 10 years, something the pay-as-you-go system cannot afford.


Ms Shaheen's claim sounds impressive until you realize we already have a two trillion dollar budget. Even if you were to freeze it at today's level, we're only talking about redirecting 5% of government outlays to Social Security over the next decade. To put it in further perspective; we've got a GDP over $10 Trillion now (I think). So you're looking at spending less than 1% of GDP to start privatizing Social Security and make the system more rational and productive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 AM

MODO HAS COMP:

MAILER'S LATEST BUSH-WHACK (Page Six, NY Post)
LITERARY bruiser Norman Mailer says George W. Bush is a big sissy. [...]

"Bush wiggles through world politics - one of his great talents. Never before have I seen an American president who moves so gracefully before TV cameras. Everything he does seems to have been choreographed, even when he feeds his dog. He has a natural poise, like a ballet dancer. Mankind would have benefited from him more as a dancer than as president."


There's this bizarre subtext to much of the Left's criticism of Mr. Bush, most noticeable in Maureen Dowd's columns, whereby they seem to be strongly attracted to the President sexually. It makes it hard to figure out whether they genuinely disagree with his politics or are just jealous of his attentions. At this rate, his press conferences are soon going to resemble stalker counseling groups.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 AM

LET'S GET READY TO RUMMMMMMMMMMBLE:

Let the Good Times Roll!: Preparations Being Made for Post-election Battle in LouisianaChris Cillizza, October 14, 2002, Roll Call)
With Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) hovering around 50 percent in recent polls, Republicans and Democrats are quietly making preparations for the possibility of a runoff campaign that could decide which party controls the Senate in the 108th Congress. [...]

Under Louisiana election law, if no candidate is able to secure 50 percent of the vote onNov. 5, the two top votegetters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff a month later.


The mind reels at the thought of what criminal behavior this would prompt on the part of the Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 AM

MUST SEE TV:

Sorry I forgot, but The History Channel has a great show on this week--Oct. 14-16--The Ship (BBC History). It features an amateur crew aboard a replica of Captain Cook's boat, The Endeavor. This Outward Bound style boat also figures prominently in Tony Horwitz's new book: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, which Steven Martinovich reviewed favorably.

MORE:
* EXCERPT: from Blue Lattitudes
* South Sea adventure in the wake of Captain Cook (BBC)
* Re-creation of Cook voyage is tasty history lite (JOHN LEVESQUE, October 14, 2002, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)
* History Channel takes reality TV to new level--aboard 18th century ship (John Kiesewetter, Oct. 11, 2002, The Cincinnati Enquirer)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 AM

ARE YOU PART OF THE VRWC?:

In a desperate attempt to give away the Eisenhower biography, we've altered the contest. Here's a helpful test from Harry Stein's book, How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace):

How to Tell if You've Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

* You hear someone talking about morality and you no longer instantly assume he must be a sexually repressed religious nut.

* You're actually relieved that your daughter plays with dolls and your son plays with guns.

* You sit all the way through "Dead Man Walking" and at the end you STILL want the guy to be executed.

* You understand that the homeless guy who mumbles to himself and stinks of urine is not "disadvantaged" but a lunatic.

* Watching network news, you notice that the person opposing affirmative action is identified as a "conservative spokesman," while the one supporting it is just a "Harvard professor."

* Christmas season rolls around and it hits you that there may be a religious connection.

* Black history month seems to last from February to July.

* At your kids' back-to-school night, you are shocked to discover the only dead white male on your 10th-grader's reading list is Oscar Wilde.

* And by the end of the night you realize the only teacher who shares your values teaches phys ed.

* Someone's going on about how fantastic San Francisco is, and it suddenly hits you that's one place on earth you never want to live.

* Try as you might, you just can't get yourself to believe that cheating on your mate qualifies as an addiction.


The book is several years old, so it misses some more contemporary signals. Perhaps you might also look for these signs:

* You fail to see how a UN Security Council that includes Russia, China, and France can add a patina of legitimacy to a course of action that the United States decides upon.

* You think George W. Bush won the 2000 election.

* You think Bill Clinton should have been impeached, but you think the real disgrace is that he didn't have enough honor to resign, like Nixon.

* You think the way Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat treat their own people is sufficient cause for them to be removed from power.

* You think that the statute governing the election in New Jersey was pretty clear and that the Court had no right to change it unilaterally.

* You think that this is the perfect time to privatize Social Security, while there are a lot of bargains.

* You think that Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm achieved more for the good of the nation during their careers than Ted Kennedy has during his.

* You think wrapping a fish in the NY Times is an insult to sea creatures.

* You figured Ann Heche had problems when she started dating Ellen DeGeneres, not when she stopped.

Well, you get the idea. If anyone has any more suggestions we'll present the person who offers the best one with the infamous Eisenhower biography
that we can't seem to give away. Here are the submissions thus far (please feel free to vote for your favorite):

David Cohen

Your's is the only party seriously considering putting a black woman on its national ticket.

You know you disagree with anyone who has bumperstickers containing the words "justice", "fairness" and "peace."

JB

You find yourself searching the car radio dial for Rush Limbaugh

...and are filled with relief when you find him.

Buttercup

You realize Meathead was well named.

You realize Reagan's "evil empire" comments weren't the lunatic ravings of an out of touch cold war warrior who thinks ketchup is a vegetable but rather wisdom for the ages from a great leader.

You can't believe that someone who used to think the whole "Max Headroom" caricature of Reagan in Doonesbury was clever (never thought it was funny, so maybe I wasn't totally lost) and believed that the Dire Straights song "Russians" was, like, so true, man would ever have written the above statement and meant it.

You realize, usually after looking at your first ultrasound, that that "clump of cells" that just amounts to a woman's right to choose looks just
like a baby and, gulp, its waving at you.

You went to sleep election night 2000 at 1 a.m. and sick at heart that Gore had won (in your own state, too) only to wake up and realize God does smile on us drunkards, fools and Americans.

You don't feel embarassed saying you like G. W. Bush and you don't check the political affinities of your table mates before you express the same unabashed admiration of the man that used to be reserved for Brad Pitt's abs.

You notice the pro-enviroment, noble savage, despicable European white males messages in the movie Spirit. Your 6-year-old daughter asks you to be quiet when you start talking back to the screen. Your husband says we can't rent the video until Mommy learns how to control herself.

You start to base your movie selections on who supports the war on Iraq. Thankfully, Alec Baldwin Barbra Streisand and Susan Sarandon don't make many films and you would rather stick your face in a cage full of starved rabid weasels wearing Eau de Rabbit than see one of their movies.

You've evolved past saying "I'm a social liberal but fiscally I'm on the other side" or "I'm kind of a Libertarian" to actually using the dreaded "C"
word.

Vegetarians look sickly to you.

When you see the protestors at the WTO meetings you begin to sympathize with the national guards at Kent State. Your next thought is what a bunch of silly, spoiled, granola eating, birkenstock wearing, Starbuck latte sipping (even as they protest Starbucks, but, man they do have good coffee) brats who are sorely in need of a kick in the pants and a real job.

Henry Hanks

You don't think that someone's ability to lie makes him a good leader.

JW
You actually feel a tender affection for the fellow who jumped the fence and shot up the United Nations.

Christopher Badeaux

You're amazed to meet anyone who actually reads The Nation.

You find that you're agreeing with Chris Hitchens more and more.

You're agreeing with The New Republic more and more.

You don't think that someone's ability to emote makes him a good leader.

You still fantasize about Margaret Thatcher.

You've stopped reading Maureen Dowd altogether.

You feel that the next country for "regime change" should be France.

You're amazed that Michael Moore has a career.

You don't find it ironic that Europeans would indict Pinochet for crimes against humanity, but have no beef with Castro.

You think "root causes" are either a mathematical term of art or the beginning of a philosphical treatise.

You're willing to grant Berkeley independence, so long as they promise never to come back.

You could not have been less surprised to find out which county John Walker Lindh came from.

You're looking forward to the laugh riot that will be the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries.

When someone says, "States' rights," you don't immediately shoot back something about Jim Crow.

You know that Soviet hard-liners weren't "conservative."

You secretly wish for a Mondale-Dukakis ticket in 2004, just for the laughs.

The presence of a menorah, nativity scene, or cross in public places makes you nod appreciatively.

You never thought anyone would seriously strike God from the Pledge of Allegiance.

...Or the House Chaplain from the House.

You've actually read the Constitution.

You actually paid attention while you read it.


October 14, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 PM

HYSTERIA IS NO EXCUSE:

Marketing Hypocrisy and Breast Cancer (Peggy Orenstein, October 9 2002, LA Times)
The first time pink ribbons made me see red was a couple of years back, when I was stopped short by a sign at a gas station. Cunningly placed next to a pump, it sported the ubiquitous pink bow and read: "Be a driving force against breast cancer."

For me, who had finished treatment for the disease three years earlier at the age of 35, that tore it. Corporations know that those pink ribbons translate into green cash: According to a 2000 Opinion Research International poll, more than two-thirds of women said they would purchase a product linked to the fight against breast cancer.

But how many of them will ask how their money is actually spent or how corporate donors may themselves "drive" the breast cancer agenda?

Consider Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is every October. Its founder, the drug maker AstraZeneca, manufactures the breast cancer drug tamoxifen and other chemotherapies, but until recently it made agrochemicals as well.

It's a perfect profit circle.


Though the NY Times tends to catch most of the grief, the LA Times may actually have the worst Op-Ed section in America. Since Maureen Dowd started writing sentences and paragraphs as if she were sending telegrams, and every word counted, you can at least make it through one of her snarky screeds. But no one who has a functioning intellect and a modicum of self-respect has ever finished a column by John Balzar or Robert Scheer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:06 PM

THE THIRD WAY [TO OBLIVION]:

Democratic ranks cry for leadership on elections (Donald Lambro, 10/14/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
There has been widespread grumbling for months among the Democrats' rank and file that its leadership has done little to enthuse and excite the party's base to turn out in large numbers in next month's elections.

The AFL-CIO's political director, Steve Rosenthal, tells Democratic audiences that he will "buy dinner for anyone who knows what the Democrats' agenda is." Donna Brazile, the Democratic National Committee's chief turnout strategist for the black vote, says "no one is talking to us, no one is addressing our issues." Entertainer Barbra Streisand, who helps Democrats raise millions from the movie industry's biggest donors, scolded party leaders for not standing up for anything.

Even a loyal Democrat like Sen. Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina says his party has been strong on complaining but weak on solutions. "Our problem is the Democrats whine and whine. The question is, 'what's the solution?' Republicans say the trouble is spending. We say the reason for the trouble is 'we don't know,'" he told the Hill newspaper.


This is the Democrat Party that Bill Clinton left in his wake. After eight years of saying you're for tax cuts, balanced budgets, free trade, getting tough on welfare, crime, and war, keeping abortion rare, providing free health care, and preserving Social Security, all you're left with is the last two. They either gain traction or you are toast. No one believes the Democrats have a health care plan and no one believes Mr. Bush is going to take grandma's Social Security check. Now what?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM

FROM THE "COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE" FILES:

Top Ten Signs Barbara Walters Is In Love With Fidel Castro (Late Show with David Letterman, CBS)
10. Her first question: "How'd you get so dreamy?"

9. Squeals like a schoolgirl every time he tortures a dissident

8. She's wearing his varsity dictator jacket

7. Re-named her newsmagazine "Veinte/Veinte"

6. Told him, "You have led a violent overthrow of my heart"

5. Has same look Diane Sawyer had when she and Khomeini were dating

4. Breakfast, lunch and dinner: pulled pork

3. New sign-off line on "The View": "Socialism or death"

2. When asking him about Camp X-Ray, she accidentally called it "Guantana-marry me"

1. The long, mangy beard hairs on her blouse


This is a day that conservatives have long dreamed of: media bias is the stock in trade of late night comedy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:41 PM

WE DETECT A BOGUS ANALOGY:

Richard Milhouse Bush (James Pinkerton, 10/09/2002, Tech Central Station)
Nixon, of course, was a Californian who eked into office with just 43 percent of the vote. His campaign was mostly homefront slogans such as "law and order" and "bring us together," including also a specific pledge to purge the legacy of Lyndon Johnson's soft-on-crime attorney general, Ramsey Clark. Yes, the Vietnam War was raging all during the 1968 campaign year, but Nixon offered nothing about the war, other than to say he had a "secret plan" for ending it. But once in office, he found foreign affairs to be more congenial than domestic matters, and he left much of the domestic cut-and-thrusting to his attorney general, John Mitchell, who became the chief spearcatcher on hot-button issues including crime, civil liberties, and judicial selection. And in the 1970 midterm elections, Nixon found that talking about the war--although he didn't so much praise the Vietnam conflict as attack anti-war protestors--made for effective vote-getting. Ultimately, Nixon's neglect of the economy hurt him as well as the country; the Watergate scandal coincided with the 1973-4 recession, leaving Nixon with little support among those who worried about the economy, stupid.

Thirty years later, President Bush could find himself following a similar scenario. Elected as a "compassionate conservative" who would "restore honor and integrity to the Oval Office," he now finds himself focused on foreign military theaters. [...]

Put simply, Bush has made a choice: foreign policy is more important than domestic policy. And the Democrats have made their choice: domestic policy is more important than foreign policy. That is, they--most of them, anyway--will suppress their dovish instincts and support the war, even as they press for greater domestic spending. So it wouldn't be a surprise if both sides get what they most want: Bush will dominate foreign policy, and Democrats will dominate domestic policy. [...]

It's too soon to predict Bush's political future, but it's the right time to prognosticate about the future of the political economy. Bush never planned to be Nixonian in his shift to international relations, but Nixonian he has become--in effect, if not intent. The result of his activism around the world may be a gain for political freedom for other countries. But the result of his passivism here at home may well be a loss of economic freedom in this country.


Mr. Pinkerton here displays a profoundly limited understanding of the past two years and of George W. Bush. We've mentioned before that Mr. Bush and his eminence grise, Karl Rove, have repeatedly espoused the theory that winning an election gives an executive a brief window of opportunity to enact a very few discrete legislative goals. The believe, it seems correctly, that the legislature otherwise has the upper hand and exerts it more and more assertively the farther you get from the election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

GOD'S CANDLE:

REVIEW: of Fahrenheit 451 (HEDY WEISS, October 14, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
"Fahrenheit 451," Ray Bradbury's stage version of his own 1953 novel, is the first of this season's two Exchange productions, and a few days ago I joined an audience of students from six different local high schools to see it.

Most of the kids had already read the popular cautionary tale by the Illinois-bred, Los Angeles-based Bradbury in their classrooms--a story about a society in which possessing books is illegal, and in which the principal mission of firemen is to burn them so that individual thought can be kept to a minimum. The students' rapt attention throughout the 90-minute show easily smashed all the usual assumptions about the inability of live theater to grab the young, the restless and the electronically tuned. In fact, director Dado's largely unadorned and straightforward staging (played out on the slightly altered set for the current mainstage hit, "The Time of Your Life") is dense in both language and complexity of ideas. Yet the audience didn't miss a single laugh, behavioral twist or literary reference.


There's one reference in the book that I had to look up and it's marvelous. When the firemen go to burn an old lady's books she lights herself on fire and says (the quote may not be precise):
[W]e shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out.

These were the words of Hugh Latimer, the Protestant Bishop of Worcester, put to the torch with his friend Nicholas Ridley in 1555, by Queen Mary. His quote in full:
Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God's grace shall never be put out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 AM

THIS TOO SHALL PASS:

Doctrine Of the 'Big Enchilada' (Max Boot, October 14, 2002, Washington Post)
Outside of major wars, we have seldom fielded powerful armed forces -- and we've paid the price. American weakness has encouraged foes such as Germany
and Japan to attack us. And from Kasserine Pass in North Africa to the 38th Parallel in Korea, U.S. soldiers have suffered heavily in the opening battles of many of our wars.

It's easy to forget this history of weakness, given America's current strength. The United States spends more on its military than the next dozen or so nations combined. This has bought unparalleled strength in every facet of warfare -- full-spectrum dominance, in Pentagon lingo -- that far surpasses the capabilities of such previous would-be hegemons as Rome, Britain and Napoleonic France.

The odd thing is that this dominance has occurred quietly and with little public debate. The British Empire was said to have been acquired in a fit of absent-mindedness. The same thing might be said about the American Empire. By bringing this dominance out into the open, the NSC document suggests at least two important implications.

First, it means spending more on defense. Impressive as the American military dominance of the past decade has been, it was acquired, relatively speaking, on the cheap. America spends only about 3.5 percent of its GDP on defense, down from 4.4 percent as recently as 1993. U.S. power looks daunting in world rankings mainly because our enemy, the Soviet Bloc, collapsed, and our allies in Europe disarmed. But there aren't enough troops to carry out all our commitments, and the equipment they use is aging fast. Pilots in all the services routinely fly airplanes (such as the B-52) and helicopters (such as the CH-46 Sea Knight) that are older than they are. Squadrons often wind up cannibalizing some of their planes to keep others flying.

This can't go on much longer.


Being mildly realistic there's no reason to believe that the current willingness to provide the military with money will last much beyond this war on Islamicist terror nor any reason to believe that the military will get large amounts of money even now. If we are to maintain the overwhelming military superiority we enjoy now it will have to be fairly cheap, with a smaller and more mobile fighting force, equipment such as cruise missiles and unmanned attack planes, and a determination to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons to others coupled with an express willingness resort to nuclear weapons ourselves. American taxpayers and civil libertarians have historically been unwilling to fund and support a large standing military and there seems to be nothing unique about the current situation that would change that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM

ANGLING TO APPEASE:

The Church's shameful record of appeasement (Andrew Roberts, 13/10/2002, Daily Telegraph))
To go to war was unconscionable, said the Archbishop of Canterbury; it might even be asked "if in any circumstances so horrible and so futile a thing as war is ever justifiable" in the modern world.

The United Nations was "still the only permanent instrument for preserving international order, justice and peace". Furthermore, the Government should be looking at ways of putting "an end to the insane arms race", rather than preparing for war. Of course Saddam was guilty of "almost brutal reliance on force" but, the primate believed, "to some of us at least the torturing perplexity was whether it was right or wise, even in order to protect the basis of international order, to urge a war that might have destroyed civilisation itself".

In fact, of course, the words are not those of Dr Rowan Williams, the in-coming Archbishop of Canterbury, today, but of his predecessor at the See, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the House of Lords debate at the time of the Munich Agreement; I have merely replaced Hitler with Saddam and the League of Nations with the United Nations.

It serves to show that the Church of England has long been opposed to dealing with dictatorships. Indeed in that debate of October 5, 1938, Lang even went so sickeningly far as to say: "We sincerely hope that this measure of appeasement may lead to others in its train."


Unfortunately, the trains that got rolling were the ones taking Jews to the East to be murdered. If war is never justifiable then such trains will ever be rolling.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:38 AM

THE HALT, THE LAME, AND THE BRAIN DEAD:

Geriatric war resisters (Zev Chafets, Oct. 14, 2002, Jewish World Review)
A week ago today, they gathered in Central Park to rally against the war, carrying "Imagine" signs and reminiscing about the days when scoring a joint meant getting high, not having a hip replacement. They came to hear NBC's Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins and outgoing Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.).

The rally was put together by the Not In Our Name Project, a coalition of superannuated Maoists, anarchists, Saddamites, Starbucks-resisters, anti-imperialists and the robotic followers of Ramsey Clark. One of the rally's chief organizers was Mary Lou Greenberg of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

A few days before the rally, Not In Our Name published an anti-war petition. Its signatories included Vietnam vets (stateside division) Tom Hayden, Angela Davis, Daniel Ellsberg, Philip Berrigan and Gloria Steinem. This is the wrinkled face of resistance 2002. Today's Jane Fonda is Jane Fonda.


Meanwhile, the younger folk who show up at these things are the same dreadlocked vegans who show up to protest the World Trade Organization and stuff like that. They don't care about this particular war either; they just oppose the West. If Iraq didn't exist, these protestors would have had to invent it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 AM

SEND A PRAYER DOWN UNDER:

Investigators probe Bali bomb blast (BBC, 14 October, 2002)
Many tourists have already opted to leave Bali and now the US State Department has urged all American citizens in Indonesia to leave the country and ordered the departure of non-emergency US Government personnel from there.

Speaking in the Australian parliament on Monday [Prime Minister John] Howard expressed his outrage at the attack.

"In many respects, Mr Speaker, the word 'terrorism' is too antiseptic an expression to describe what happened. It's too technical, it's too formal. What happened was barbaric, brutal, mass murder without justification," he said.

As a mark of respect for the victims Mr Howard suspended the afternoon sitting of parliament and has declared a national day of mourning next Sunday.


The BBC just did a piece on the bombing in which a government minister pretty clearly suggested that it was perpetrated by the United States in order to cast blame on Muslim fundamentalism. The Indonesia expert they were talking to said that this a common enough analysis in the Muslim community. That kind of denial of reality makes you wonder if the government even can take the steps necessary to crack down on what are apparently freely operating terror organizations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 AM

NOT QUITE THE MORNING AFTER:

Coming face to face with the consequences of one's actions (Kathleen Parker, Oct. 14, 2002, Jewish World Review)
Seldom do the consequences of one's actions present themselves with such blunt force as when Nicola McManus came face-to-face with a jar containing the remains of her just-aborted, nine-week fetus.

McManus was still in the Glasgow, Scotland, hospital where she had induced her own miscarriage with the RU486 "abortion pill," talking to her husband on the telephone, when her eyes rested on what the hospital, in a subsequent apology, chillingly referred to as "the products of conception from your termination."

The jar, awaiting pick-up and delivery to the pathology lab, was labeled with McManus' name. "I was mid-conversation and saw it," she said. "I told (husband) Frank and he tried to comfort me but I wasn't listening anymore. I was crying." [...]

McManus is right to be outraged at the careless hospital workers who left her consequences in plain view. On the other hand, the experience forced her to say what is true: "Women need more counseling before abortions, not less. I will never get over what happened to me."


Neither will the child.

October 13, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 PM

THE HIGH PRICE OF CLEAN HANDS:

What Is a European? (A. S. BYATT, October 13, 2002, NY Times Magazine)
Robert Kagan, in a recent article in the American journal Policy Review, on the power divide between the United States and Europe, describes the new European belief in a world governed by a web of international rules and laws as a belief in having ''stepped out of the Hobbesian world of anarchy into the Kantian world of perpetual peace.'' Larry Siedentop also invokes Kant's idea of a just community and suggests it derives from the Christian respect for the individual as an absolute value. Kagan says with force and truth that out there, there is still a Hobbesian world that will be dealt with by American cowboy justice or not at all. He says the European world of moral rule is an ideal formed in weakness. It is nevertheless worthwhile, and is a partial fulfillment of Churchill's hope that millions of people would want to do good rather than evil. [...]

I myself felt a pull at the ''warm emotions'' when the Turkish Parliament voted to abolish the death penalty and give linguistic and civil rights to
Kurds, in order to conform to the moral requirements of the E.U., which Turkey hopes to join. I felt proud to belong to a community that was collectively against executions. [...]

Europeans were alarmed by George Bush's ''either you are with us or . . . '' speech, because it carried an echo of the absolutist rhetorics that made such a mess of our continent. [...]

During the gulf war, I happened to be in a German monastery with a group of English and German writers and scholars. We divided, not by nationality, but by age. The young were passionately antiwar, as they have been brought up to be. Those who remembered 1945 and its aftermath saw the analogy between Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and Hitler, and spoke unhappily of the imperative to avoid appeasement. Just after 9/11, I was in Frankfurt. I found myself defending the coming strike against the Taliban to an angry and idealistic Austrian TV cameraman who had just spent eight weeks with Afghan refugees and believed nothing justified the loss of innocent lives. I do not know a European -- and that includes the British I talk to -- who is in favor of a strike on Iraq. They do not accept the rhetoric of the ''axis of evil,'' or the connection of such a strike to the
fight against world terrorism. The old know what war does to people and cities. The young believe that aggression is simply bad. The 85 percent is dwindling, at least at this time.


Though a huge fan of Ms Byatt's novel Possession, this formulation is profoundly silly and demonstrates why we can't afford to listen to Europe. She acknowledges that the world is Hobbesian but lauds Europeans for pretending that it isn't. For example, she's proud to have done away with the death penalty in Europe (though most Europeans favor it), presumably because it shows Europe acting as if there were no evil people in the world. Yet the European crime rate is skyrocketing. In other words, innocents are suffering so that European intellectual elites can preen about their superior moral sensitivity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 PM

THE LIGHT DAWNS:

US hardline on Iraq leaves full-scale invasion a 'hair-trigger' away (Julian Borger in Washington, Ewen MacAskill, and Ian Black in Brussels, October 3, 2002, The Guardian)
Washington last night revealed its intention to use UN weapons inspections as a possible first step towards a military occupation of Iraq by sending in troops, sealing off "exclusion zones" and creating secure corridors throughout the country.

In a leaked proposal for a UN resolution drafted by the US with help from British officials, the Bush administration is seeking to transform the inspections process into a coercive operation. The resolution would place a full-scale invasion of Iraq on a hair trigger, authorising UN member states "to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security" if Iraq does so much as make an omission in the weapons inventories it presents to the security council.

Weapons inspectors would operate out of bases inside Iraq, where they would be under the protection of UN troops. UN forces or the forces of a member state would enforce no-fly and no-drive zones around a suspected weapons site, preventing anything being removed before inspection.

Diplomats at the UN said there was no doubt that US troops would play a leading role in any such enforcement, allowing the Pentagon to deploy forces inside Iraq even before hostilities got under way. [...]

Resolution main points:

* The US (as a permanent member of the UN security council) can ask to be present in any inspection team and thus gain access to any part of the country

* The inspectors can set up bases throughout the country. They will be accompanied at those bases by soldiers under the UN banner sufficient to protect them

* The UN will have the right to declare no-fly, no-drive and exclusion zones, ground and air transit corridors, to be enforced either by the UN or by member states which could include the US

* Iraq must agree to free and unrestricted landing of aircraft, including unmanned spy planes

* The UN can take anyone it wishes to interview out of Iraq, along with his or her family

* Any false information provided by Iraq or any failure to comply with the resolution would automatically entitle member states to use all necessary means to restore international peace


Man, these people are slow on the uptake. If you listened to George W. Bush's speech at the UN or his speech to America last Monday night, he left no doubt that the "peaceful" option involves either Saddam stepping down on his own or our using the UN inspections regime to get rid of him. Iraq can't be both in compliance with UN resolutions and governed by the Baath Party--it's that simple.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:11 PM

THE LOST VIRTUES OF DUTY AND HONOR:

The Empire Strikes Back: Victorian virtues, Hollywood vices. (Jonathan Foreman, 10/14/2002, Weekly Standard)
Of course, the Victorians were much more complicated and interesting people than they are given credit for being. And though capable of great self-deception especially on matters of race, they often had an accurate sense of their own qualities and limitations, especially those that seem so alien today. They prized self-command because they knew the extraordinary things it made possible.

In 1852, a British troopship, the paddlewheeled Birkenhead, hit a rock off Capetown. There wasn't time to evacuate everyone onto the lifeboats. So as the women and children were lowered to safety, the troops and their officers stood, mustered on the deck. Not a single man broke ranks. And they were still standing as the ship broke and sank.

As Kipling wrote, "To stand and be still / To the Birkenhead drill / Is a damn' tough bullet to chew."

What made such deeds possible was the combination of a sense of duty and a rigid social hierarchy (at least by American standards). What the Victorians had and we can hardly imagine are the resulting pressures of society. They lived in a world in which mere physical cowardice, let alone exposure as a liar or fraudster, could earn a man permanent expulsion from desirable social circles.

It is a sad irony of history that the Victorian "Romanitas"--the sense of duty and hierarchy, the discipline and paternalism that formed the backbone of the British military culture--ensured the doctrinal rigidity that cost so many British lives in both world wars. Nonetheless, it is a mistake to look at the Victorian men fictionalized in "The Four Feathers" through the Edwardian lens of Bloomsbury and Lytton Strachey's mockery.

High Victorian culture could be rigid in its obsession with self-control and even cruel. But its optimism, discipline, and sense of duty made it very good at certain things. And their own pre-industrial code of a gentleman's honor gave Victorians an advantage when it came to dealing with other honor cultures--honor cultures similar to those that inform Osama bin Laden and other Arab enemies of the West. If America is to take up an imperial role in the world today, we have only the Victorian British from whom to learn how to do it.


There are, of course, many things to prefer about our society as opposed to Victorian, particularly if you aren't a straight, white, male. But the loss of self-control, duty, honor, and shame as social virtues has served no good purpose.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:56 PM

BOOKNOTES TONIGHT:

The Lobster Chronicles: Life On a Very Small Island by Linda Greenlaw (C-SPAN, October 13, 2002)
Her first book, The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey, was decent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:05 PM

HUNG OUT TO DREHER:

Crunchy Conservatism, Reconsidered: Of granola and First Principles. (Jonah Goldberg, October 8, 2002, National Review)
We are told that "The crunchy-con bookshelf — and because they eschew television, they have lots of bookshelves — sags with works by conservatives like G. K. Chesterton, Richard Weaver, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, the Southern Agrarians, and Michael Oakeshott." The problem here should be obvious. With the possible exception of Tolkien, these books should be on any conservative's shelf. One need not enjoy cereals that taste like kitty litter to appreciate Richard Weaver and you need not have read a word of Richard Weaver to enjoy your kitty-litter breakfast. In short, the two have nothing to do with each other. Identifying conservatives by what they eat or wear is fine I suppose, if you want to sell clothes or food to conservatives. But I'm at a loss to understand why conservatives will benefit from looking at themselves through the eyes of direct-mail marketers.

One small example: Rod writes, "The crunchy cons, religious or not, share a belief that something has gone seriously wrong in contemporary mass society, and are grasping for "authenticity" (a word you hear often from this group) amid a raging flood of media-driven consumer culture." Rod is an excellent reporter, so I am sure this is true. But wouldn't it be more accurate to simply drop the "crunchy" from that sentence and simply note that conservatives believe there's a problem with contemporary mass society? Indeed, Russell Kirk — certainly no crunchy con despite the reverence crunchy cons hold for him — lamented in The Conservative Mind, "a world smudged by industrialism, standardized by the masses, consolidated by government." In other words, crunchy cons aren't worried about such things because they are crunchy, they're worried about such things because they're conservatives.

What we as conservatives should also be worried about is that the crunchy ones among us are, according to Rod, looking for "authenticity" in such superficial things as organic foods and loose-fitting casual wear (a subject I've addressed before). This points to the internal contradiction within much of this crunchy-con stuff. Rod insists that crunchy cons are different from the leftists who impose profound ideological meaning on their consumer choice because crunchy cons enjoy organic food simply because it tastes better (taste tests have never demonstrated this, by the way).

Well, if that's the case, who cares? Some conservatives, I'm sure, love French food and other conservatives prefer Thai. But we do not divide rich philosophical movements according to such criteria. Do we really want to say that there is an ideologically coherent and distinct group of conservatives who enjoy better-tasting food? If we do, what's to stop future NR cover stories about that rogue fifth column of conservatives who "actually enjoy sex"?

And, if this is not the case, if there are conservatives who are looking to find "authenticity" in what they buy and what they wear, that is serious stuff — serious in a bad way. Because, it means that these conservatives cannot find meaning in the Permanent Things after all. Rather, their search for meaning is a tale largely told in their credit-card receipts.


Man, that's just brutal. Who'dda thought Mr. Goldberg had it in him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:04 PM

KA-BOOM, EH?:

560-kg pumpkin explodes, disqualified from Largest Canadian Pumpkin title (Canadian Press, October 07, 2002)
As Allan Eaton awaited his coronation as the owner of Canada's largest pumpkin Sunday, he saw the fruit of his labour literally explode in front of him. The giant pumpkin weighing is held every year at By Market, and this year Eaton had a huge one.

However, when the organizers placed Eaton's pumpkin on the scale it blew up at its base, forcing a disqualification.

The judges weighed the giant pumpkin anyway and it came in at 560.5 kilograms, easily enough to break the Canadian record of 547 kilograms set by Ben Hebb of Bridgewater, N.S., on Saturday.


Oddly enough, the same thing happened to the winner of the Miss Palestine Pageant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:58 PM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SOUL MAN:

Only the soulful survive (DAVE HOEKSTRA, October 10, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Soul music is a sweaty hybrid of religion, conviction and intrigue. These elements create plenty of memorable sparks in "Plenty Good Lovin': The Lost Solo Album," recorded in 1970 and 1971 by Sam Moore, the lead vocalist of the soul duo Sam & Dave.

Just released on the 2K Sounds label, the 10-track album was produced for Atlantic Records by legendary rhythm and blues saxophonist Curtis "King Curtis" Ousley, who was attempting to expand Moore's style from the saucy rhythms associated with Sam & Dave's first label, Stax. As the recording project wound down in the summer of 1971, Moore witnessed Curtis' fatal stabbing in New York City. Ousley was 37.

At the time of his death, King Curtis had been named leader of Aretha Franklin's backing band, which is why she is playing keyboards on the gospel-tinged "Part Time Love." And Chicagoan Donny Hathaway guests on keyboards because he was a member of Curtis' late-'60s band the Kingpins. In the winter of 1979, Hathaway plunged to his death from the 15th floor of a New York hotel. He was 34. [...]

"Plenty Good Lovin' " finds Moore dealing from all his strengths. He vamps like Sam Cooke in the sprightly title track, and he goes down for deep blues in "If I Should Lose Your Love," which was supposed to be the first single from the album. But the record was never released due to the murder of Curtis and Moore's own drug addictions. [...]

Moore turns 67 on Saturday.


If you like Soul Music (and if you don't you're a philistine), we highly recommend: Sweet Soul Music : Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom (Peter Guralnick). His Elvis bio is excellent too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:52 PM

EXTEND THE AXIS:

Chinese Christian leader jailed for life (AP, October 10, 2002)
The leader of a banned Christian sect whose death sentence was overturned for lack of evidence has been convicted on different charges and sentenced to life in prison, a human rights group reported.

The second trial came after an appellate court decision to overturn the initial death sentences -- an extraordinary move in a communist country where religion is tightly controlled and worship permitted only in the government-sanctioned church.

Gong Shengliang, initially convicted on cult charges, was found guilty of rape and battery in a second trial at the Jingmen Intermediate Court, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Hong Kong.

Two other sect leaders were sentenced to life for battery, and two others were given 15-year sentences on the same charges. The defendants immediately said they would appeal, the center said.


Nothing brings greater shame upon Republicans than the willingness of the business wing of the party to accept every barbarity of the Chinese government just because they have wet dreams about the size of its "markets".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM

MAPLE LEAF RAG:

Conference Board says 'gentle decline' could be halted by freer trade, higher productivity (Bill Curry, October 11, 2002, National Post)
The gap between what Canadians and Americans earn will double by the end of the decade unless divisive trade issues between the two countries are resolved, the Conference Board of Canada said yesterday. [...]

The board, an Ottawa-based economic think-tank, argues the decline in incomes will mean fewer tax dollars for governments to spend on hospitals, schools and the environment and will lower Canadians' quality of life compared to that of Americans.

"Canada's capacity to fund first-class health, education and social services through to 2010 depends on its ability to boost income per capita," the board said in its 145-page report.

Anne Golden, the board's president, said the slide will continue unless Canadians act soon to improve their productivity and incomes. "Our position in the world is at risk of deteriorating."

"Canada in 2010 is a comfortable place to live, but in gentle decline," Ms. Golden said.


That "but" should really be an "and, therefore". As Alexis de Tocqueville said almost 170 years ago: "Any measure that establishes legal charity on a permanent basis and gives it administrative form thereby creates an idle and lazy class, living at the expense of the industrial and working class." Put an entire country on legal charity and you inevitably put them on the path of decline. That they're worried about the decline only because it will impact their ability to fund the charity makes you doubt they can take the steps necessary to reverse the slide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 AM

PRUNING THE GARDEN STATE:

Torricelli's Decision Shifts Race Toward Democrats DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI, October 13, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Forrester, who is still trying to establish his political identity with the public, has asked for as many one-on-one debates as possible; Mr. Lautenberg, who is well known because of the 18 years he served in the Senate, has said he will only debate if minor party candidates are also included.

Mr. Forrester has proven himself to be a crafty counterpuncher, though. For most of this year, Mr. Forrester's performance on the campaign trail reflected the fact that he has not run for office since he was elected to the Town Council of West Windsor, N.J., in 1982. Since late August, however, Mr. Forrester has appeared forceful and aggressive.

After losing his legal challenge to keep Mr. Lautenberg off the ballot, Mr. Forrester has taken the offensive, saying that the Democratic political machine had made New Jersey "a national joke" by allowing the candidate switch after the deadline stated in the law.

While it is unclear whether that argument will sway voters, polls suggest that the change in candidates has appeared to energize Mr. Forrester's Republican base.

The Forrester campaign has also brought up Mr. Lautenberg's age, suggesting that a rigorous debate schedule might be too taxing for him, and asking in a news release, "Is Frank Lautenberg running from his record or is he getting forgetful?"

Political strategists warn that such arguments can backfire by offending elderly voters, who are a crucial segment of the electorate. Mr. Forrester points out, however, that during Mr. Lautenberg's first Senate race, in 1982, he made a similar argument against his opponent, Millicent Fenwick, who was 72.

"There shouldn't be a limit on age," Mr. Forrester said, "but there should be a limit on hypocrisy."


All things being equal, Mr. Lautenberg would have been a heavy favorite if he'd been in this race all along. Add the Carnahan effect, as he swooped in to rescue the party and Mr. Forrester's supposed non-entity status, this should be a walkover by now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

SEVEN BRIDES FOR ONE BROTHER:

Polygamy Jolts Campaign for Governor (MICHAEL JANOFSKY, October 13, 2002, NY Times)
As if a staggering budget deficit and troubled educational system were not enough campaign fodder for Arizona's leading candidates for governor, this week they found a new issue. Rather, it found them.

Dick Mahoney, a political independent began running 30-second commercials this week that focus on Fundamentalist Mormons in northern Arizona who practice polygamy and suspicions that they are committing sexual abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud and other crimes. [...]

Mr. Mahoney's commercials are tailored for each opponent, but they open the same way, with scenes of the fiery destruction of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., almost a decade ago and an announcer's assertion that crimes committed in Colorado City and next door in Hildale, Utah, are "worse than Waco."


In a society where we're no longer supposed to make any political judgments about people's sexual preferences and where divorce and out of wedlock births are so prevalent, it's unclear why polygamy is anybody's business. Isn't it just another lifestyle choice?

October 12, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:21 PM

ANNALS OF THE STUPID PARTY, #462:

Republican Touches Third Rail--and Lives! (JASON RILEY, October 12, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
This election season, Social Security reform is the Republicans' Iraq. It's a topic they'd rather not discuss until Nov. 6, if they can get away with it. That's too bad, says Rep. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who's made Social Security, along with tax cuts and fiscal restraint, a conspicuous issue in his re-election bid.

And yes, he's winning. [...]

Voters don't want leaders who duck the tough issues, he says. "I think my Republican colleagues make a huge mistake. When we run on ideas, we usually win."


If you've ever wondered why Republicans are the Stupid Party, look no further than Social Security privatization. Here's an issue, like the Iraq war, which Democrats have made the centerpiece of their campaign, even though significant majorities of the American people agree with the Republican position. Like Iraq, the GOP should cram it down their throats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM

LOST CONTINENT:

Hell Is a Real Place: Zimbabwe: Anyone in America Give a Damn? (Nat Hentoff, October 11th, 2002, Village Voice)
Why, in this country, are there only whispers, if that, from most civil rights activists and organizations, the clergy of all colors that finally awoke to the slavery and mass rapes in Sudan, editorial writers, women's rights groups, and such trombones of the people as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?

In Congress, Donald Payne of New Jersey is involved, as he has been for many years about slavery in Sudan, but what of his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus and the white human rights champions on both sides of the aisle?


Though folks like Ron Rosenbaum seem to have trouble believing it, conservatives truly think that the form of government and the policies they advocate will make the lives of all people better--black, white, brown, yellow, etc.. While it is true that the GOP has failed in the past to court black voters and has been willing to use racial animus--in ways subtle and overt--where it served their political interest, it is also true that when conservatives, like George W. Bush, have tried to make nice with blacks, their effort has been repaid with racialist hatred, as witness the NAACP's ad comparing Mr. Bush to those who dragged James Byrd to his death in Jasper, Texas. There is a big difference between ignoring blacks and choosing not to be attacked when you make an effort to reach out to them. Republicans have, perhaps unwisely, chosen to pursue their ideas, confident that blacks will benefit, without bothering to try to bring blacks on board the effort. This has worked brilliantly on issues like Welfare Reform, which has disproportionately helped blacks, though the GOP will never get any credit for it. So be it, enough to have done well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM

THE FORECAST CALLS FOR FURTHER CLEARING:

Real Clear Politics has long been one of the best sites on the Web; now they've added a blog too: RCP Blog.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 AM

THE GROUPS WHO CAN'T TAKE OFFENSE:

Mayor Quits Parade Over 'Sopranos' (LARRY McSHANE, 10/12/02, Associated Press)
It was an offer he had to refuse. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told by organizers that he couldn't march in the annual Columbus Day Parade if accompanied by two cast members from ``The Sopranos,'' said Friday he would simply skip the event.

The mayor even slipped in a little mob-speak about the tempest in a cappuccino cup caused by his invitations to Monday's event.

``I'm sort of walking along, invite two Italian-Americans, want to say thank you on behalf of the city,'' Bloomberg said a la Sonny Corleone. ``And bada-bing, bada-boom--all of a sudden they're down my throat. OK?''

Bloomberg spoke on his weekly radio show as the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which runs the parade, sought a federal court order banning him from bringing Dominic Chianese and Lorraine Bracco to the annual celebration of Italian pride.


I don't get it. This is a parade at which Italo-Americans celebrate their pride in their achievements. To their credit, they are embarrassed by their historic connection to the Mafia. But these celebrity-mongering politicians insist on shoving mob chic down their throats. Meanwhile, the commentariat sides with those who seek to humiliate the celebrants.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

THE MORAL CONSISTENCY OF THE LEFT:

Defying the predictions of many on the Right, both The New Republic's Etc. and The American Prospect's Tapped--the two preeminent blogs of the Left--have written excellent posts condemning the use of a gay-bashing ad by Montana Democrats and making it clear that just as such behavior is unacceptable when Republicans engage in it, so is it unacceptable for Democrats to....

What's that?

They haven't said any such thing?

Oh, okay, we must have jumped the gun.

They must plan on posting those comments later today. Surely they don't intend their silence to suggest that they approve of homophobia just so long as it's the Democrats who use it to defeat Republicans; that would be too, too cynical.

UPDATE:
This just in, Etc. actually does note the ad in passing. Here's what they have to say:

[L]later in the day came word that the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Montana, state Senator Mike Taylor, was dropping out of the race after his opponent, incumbent Democrat Max Baucus, aired a commercial so hard-hitting it quickly expanded Baucus's lead from 19 to 33.

"hard-hitting"?

Meanwhile, they also suggest that it is "ironic" that two Republicans, Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Dick Armey, broke down in tears during their remarks on the war resolution because Mr. Cunningham, once referred to gays as "homos" and Mr. Armey once mistakenly referred to Barney Frank as "Barney Fag". We'll assume that they don't mean to imply something about the manliness of these fellows, bad enough that they feel the need to resurrect their remarks when they can't find a moment to condemn equally offensive and far more timely homophobia within their own party.

UPDATE:
THE BARBER OF CIVILITY:
Gay-bashing, or just wussy-bashing? (Charles Murtaugh, 10/10/02)

Having downloaded the now-infamous Montana "gay-bashing" ad from Josh Marshall's site, I'm inclined to agree with him that the charge may be overblown. Actually, it's a little more interesting than that. The very obvious implication from this ad is that its target, GOP candidate Mike Taylor, is not a real man, he's a hair-clipping [w]ussy. From what I've seen of Montana, on a loooooooong drive on I-90, it's a manly-man kind of place, and no haven for pantywaists. So this is a perfectly normal underhanded attack ad, akin to Bush I's ridiculous ad showing Dukakis in a tank with weird, engine-grinding sound effects. [...]

Are gays not real men, or is it possible to criticize someone for being a wimp without automatically gay-bashing him?


I'd actually go further than Brother Murtaugh; I believe someone's sexuality and their sexual behavior to be legitimate political issues. I think Bill Clinton should have been impeached for cheating on his wife and doing so in the White House, on our dime(and on our furniture), and I'd be less likely to vote for a gay Republican than for a conservative and straight Democrat, like Max Baucus.

But if these things are legitimate issues then be a man and bring them up in public, where the "wussy" has an opportunity to respond or to kick the stuffing out of you. Don't hide behind the skirts of the Montana Democratic Party and don't use a video clip that looks like something out of "Boogie Nights".

One other thing, there may be some cultural differences involved in how people view this ad. I don't personally know any straight men here in NH who go to a hairdresser. We go to barbers, with the red-white-and-blue rotating pole and all. The leather of the chair seats is cracked and duct-taped. The magazine selection tends heavily toward guns and things with motors, with the salacious material kept behind a counter so the kids can't see it--they get Mad magazine. The barbers use clippers. The scissors and combs are kept in jars of blue Barbicide. They don't shampoo your hair. And, when they're done they vacuum your head with an R2-D2 lookin' thing. For this entirely impersonal and non-gratifying experience you pay $6. I look at that ad and I not only think that Mr. Taylor must be gay but so must anyone who would visit his "salon". I doubt Montana is too much different.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

30 PIECES OF SILVER:

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Carter, With Jab at Bush (JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, Oct. 11, 2002, NY Times)
Friends say though Mr. Carter is driven more by his deeply held Christianity than by prizes or compliments, he had always ached for the Nobel Peace Prize.

That things have happened in this manner is in no way Mr. Carter's fault, but because the Nobel Committee has styled this award as an intentional rebuke to the ex-president's country and his countrymen, he has a moral obligation to refuse the award. Let him refuse it and there's no doubt we'll all raise enough money for him to fund his Carter Center. He'd be a patriot and a hero to even we Americans who have long despised him. But let him accept this award and the money that goes with it, which symbolizes nothing more than the contempt of a few Norwegian political hacks, and it will be the final unforgiveable blow from which his reputation may never recover. Do the right thing, Mr. Carter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM

SO MUCH FOR "I'LL NEVER LIE TO YOU":

"When I got the call this morning at 4 a.m., I thought it was a joke. I didn't even know this was the day the prize was announced."
-JIMMY CARTER, on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:09 AM

KRISTOL CLARITY:

From Truth to Deception (William Kristol, October 12, 2002, washingtonpost.com )
What accounts for the president's success? Primarily it's the clarity, toughness and straightforwardness with which he has marshaled his arguments. There have been impressively serious and high-minded speeches, for example to the United Nations on Sept. 12 and in Cincinnati on Monday. There has been the release of information and the presentation of arguments, including the national security strategy in late September. And there have been the informal comments that have had real political punch, especially the not-so-veiled threat on Sept. 13 to Democrats standing for reelection that they could be accused of subordinating American security to the United Nations.

So the president has succeeded in explaining why Hussein must go, why time is not on our side, why deterrence can't be counted on, and why war is necessary. But now the president has to move from building support for a war to fighting a war. (The coming U.N. Security Council machinations are better understood as a prelude to war than as a real effort at persuasion.) The president now becomes a war leader, not merely -- though the "merely" is unfair -- a war mobilizer. He will have to demonstrate the skills described in his summer reading: Eliot Cohen's "Supreme Command" -- the ability to shape grand strategy and execute precise tactics in the fog of war.

This will require a change in the president's manner of speaking. He has benefited, in making the case for war, from an impressive clarity of presentation and lucidity of argument. But now his task is not to educate or persuade us. It is to defeat Saddam Hussein. And that will require the president, at times, to mislead rather than to clarify, to deceive rather than to explain. [...]

So when the president seems to equivocate about whether war is inevitable, when he holds out hope for inspections, when he talks about giving peace one last chance, when he seems to invite coups and rebellions while implying this might prevent an American occupation, supporters of the president's policy shouldn't worry that he is losing focus or retreating from the moral and strategic clarity of the past six weeks.


Whenever you see Bill Kristol on TV he seems like a perfectly sensible man; then you read him and wonder if he's not being intentionally self-mocking. This column is so obtuse as to make it impossible to believe he's serious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 AM

...LIKE A GRAY LADY SCORNED:

It's the War, Stupid (FRANK RICH, October 12, 2002, NY Times)
Agree with him or not, the president does stand for something. He led, and the Democrats followed. The polls, far from rationalizing the Democrats' timidity, suggest they might have won a real debate had they staged one. Support for an Iraq war is falling, with the dicey 51 percent in favor in the latest CNN/USA Today survey dropping to a Vietnam-like 33 percent support level if there are 5,000 casualties, as there could well be. But even so, the Democratic leaders never united around a substantive alternative vision to the administration's pre-emptive war against the thug of Baghdad. That isn't patriotism, it's abdication. [...]

The economic rant the Democrats offer instead is the safely generic one they've used in war and peace, regardless of the state of the economy, since the Reagan years. As befits a clownish approach, it is all too fittingly presented this election season in the form of a cartoon — a now notorious ad in which Mr. Bush is depicted pushing Social Security recipients in wheelchairs to their doom. It's a funny example of its "South Park" genre, and we do get the point: Privatized Social Security accounts could hurt Our Seniors. As indeed they could.

But such accounts are likely less imminent than a Saddam nuclear attack; even Republican ideologues are running away from them in this economic environment. The real wolves at the door today are rising unemployment and falling consumer confidence, a cratered stock market that may soon be mirrored in the real estate market and . . . well, every Democratic candidate (and most American voters) can recite the litany. But in the words of Fritz Hollings, a Democratic senator so old that, like Robert Byrd, he sometimes commits the political sin of speaking the truth: "Our problem is the Democrats whine and whine. Everybody knows what the trouble is. The question is, `What's the solution?' " [...]

In Washington, the main question about such Democratic fecklessness is: How will it play on Nov. 5? Is the economy so bad that despite everything, the party might hold onto the Senate and retake the House? I have no idea, and, I suspect, neither does anyone else in a punditocracy that with near unanimity erroneously predicted a G.O.P. sweep during the impeachment midterms of '98. But we're not in the frivolous 90's any more, and as we hurtle into war a better question might be: Do the Democrats stand for anything other than the next election?


Here we see one of the costs to Democrats for rolling over on the war. The true believers of the hard Left, like the writers for the Times editorial page, are going to exact a price in blood for this betrayal. Look for Maureen Dowd's column tomorrow to be remarkably similar in tone, though snippier, with a likely strained attempt to turn the Democrats into hairdressers.

October 11, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 PM

PLEASE DON'T FEED THE GREAT WHITES:

THE FISHING REPORT: Morning meal (Brian Hoffman, October 10, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
The way we heard it . . . Members of the Marin Mammal Center, a fantastic organization made up mostly of volunteers, recently were part of a chartered nature trip on one of the local party boats. They brought two sea lion pups, which were to be released into the ocean at the Farallon Islands. Beautiful, calm day, and the skipper pulled up to the islands between the southeast anchorage buoy and the hoist. The first seal went into the water and swam a little ways from the boat. Then the second. Then the skipper and about everyone else saw the shark -- great white, big, 17 to 18 feet -- slide out from under the boat and come up under the sea lion that had just been released. A swirl, a splash, the pup was gone. Next thing they saw was a slight disturbance just under the ocean surface, on a beeline for the first sea lion. Swirl. Splash. Not so much as a stain left on the water. The folks on the boat, naturally, were horrified. The shark, naturally, was doing only what sharks do. The skipper: "I've been running these trips for years, and this is the first time it's happened. It was very unfortunate, but that shark was in the right place at the right time. I guess."

Does anyone else feel like Hannibal Lecter when such stories seem to make the universe seem more sane?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 PM

ULTIMA THUNE:

New Poll Shows Thune Up 5 (JohnThune.com October 11, 2002)
An Anderson Group (R) poll, conducted 9/30-10/2 for Rep. John Thune (R), surveyed 450 likely voters; margin of error +/- 4.6%

No one's ever been able to satisfactorily explain how SD can vote so overwhelmingly Republican in the presidential but still have two Democrat senators. Maybe soon they won't have to explain anything.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 PM

WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING TO DEMOCRAT POLITICS?:

Lingle hit by smears, threats: Mazie Hirono denies that Democrats are behind the bigoted statements and faxes (Richard Borreca, 10/11/02, Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
GOP candidate for governor Linda Lingle said she is the victim of a wide-ranging smear campaign and called for her Democratic opponents to disavow the attack. [...]

Lingle and James Aiona, the GOP lieutenant governor candidate, stopped short of saying the Democrats were responsible, but their news release accused Democrats of being behind it.

"The reason the Democrats are conducting this underground smear campaign is to disgust and confuse people so that they won't get out and vote," Lingle's release said. "These are the kind of voter suppression tactics that the Democrats have relied on heavily in Hawaii in the past. If enough voters stay home, the Democrats win."

Included in the hate mail were death threats saying, "If you win you will have short life."

A postcard addressed to Lingle said: "Go Back Home! Haole Jew! Your Evil!" with a swastika and "SS."


Can the ad accusing her of being a field hockey coach be far behind?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM

THE WIDOW WALKS:

Centrist State on Center Stage: Close Missouri Race Between Carnahan, Talent Reflects National Split (Lois Romano, October 11, 2002, Washington Post)
Missouri historically is a polarized state, epitomized by the contentious battle for this same seat two years ago, between then-Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R) and Carnahan's husband, Mel, the Missouri governor who was killed with their son in a plane crash 22 days before the election. Mel Carnahan became the first dead man elected to the Senate, and the Democratic governor appointed his widow to the seat. She and Talent, a former House member, are vying to complete the term.

What is particularly unusual about this battle is that the dynamics of the race have not perceptibly changed in nearly a year, despite millions of dollars spent on advertising, through presidential visits and poignant reminders of a tragedy past. Today, the polls on any given day show the candidates virtually even, with about 10 percent of the electorage undecided.

One wild card in the race could be the two debates, the first of which is Oct. 21. Talent is believed to be more facile on the issues, which may or may not help him. He projects a comfortable, easygoing demeanor, but tends to get too arcane in his explanations. Carnahan may not have her opponent's depth on the issues, but she is an experienced public speaker who conveys her views succinctly.


From what you hear even her Democrat colleagues consider her a joke and she could just get pummelled in these debates. As an incumbent, even an unusual one, she should have put this race away by now and the fact that she hasn't has to worry the Democrats. They had to expect to pick up a couple Senate seats but Tim Hutchinson in AR has gotten back into a rough tie in his race and the only other incumbent Republican who's struggling is Wayne Allard in CO. Meanwhile, they're on the defensive here, in NJ, and with Wellstone in MN. It's hard to see them doing better than staying at 50 seats, which is an abysmal showing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 PM

A PEBBLE BEGINS ROLLING?:

Markets Rally, Break Losing Streak (Jerry Knight, October 11, 2002, Washington Post)
Wall Street finally broke its six week losing streak today, shrugging off reports that retail sales are falling and consumer confidence has plunged to a nine-year low.

The official excuses for today's rally were General Electric's report that its third quarter profits grew 25 percent to $4.1 billion and a projection that business is getting better at International Business Machines Corp.

Both those big blue chip stocks have lost close to half their value this year prompting many investors to proclaim them bargains. Today those true believers we joined by buyers who lifted both stocks and with them the Dow Jones industrial average. [...]

Even without today's big gains the indexes were ahead for the week and with them the markets were on their way to their best week since early August--just before the six-week slide began.

Investors have been ripe for a rally and today they seemed determined to have one even if there were plenty of excuses for the market to move in the opposite direction.


It seems especially unlikely to happen in October, of all months, but if the market were to post a series of winning weeks as we head in to the election, it would bode very well for the GOP, removing the Democrats last issue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 PM

UNCLEAN:

Unorthodox Alliance: Israeli and Jewish interests are better served by keeping a polite distance from the Christian right. (Gershom Gorenberg, October 11, 2002, washingtonpost.com )
Having spent years researching the Christian right's tie to Israel -- listening to leading "Christian Zionists," reading their sermons and examining the links of some to Israeli extremists -- I have to conclude that this is a strangely exploitative relationship. Accepting the embrace of conservative evangelicals poses problems of principle for Jews and Israel, in return for an illusory short-term payoff. Jews would do better to follow the Hebrew maxim "Respect him and suspect him," maintaining a polite distance and publicly delineating their differences from the Christian right, even while at times supporting the same policy steps. [...]

Living in Jerusalem, I don't underestimate today's dangers. But as frightening as Palestinian terror is, it does not threaten Israel's existence. Palestinian demographics do threaten Israel, as long as it holds all the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. Within a few years, there will be a Palestinian majority in that land, and Israel will either cease being a Jewish state or cease being a democracy. No wonder a recent poll showed a majority of Israel's Jews favoring a Palestinian state. The Christian right's position, on the other hand, is exemplified by Sen. James Inhofe's statement last March on the Senate floor that Israel should keep the West Bank "because God said so." Rather than support for Israel, this is support for hard-line policies that endanger Israel in the name of fundamentalist theology.

Jews have every reason to speak with conservative evangelicals -- in forthright interfaith dialogue, plainly stating differences as well as points of agreement. In the political realm, however, Israeli and Jewish interests are better served by working with politicians and religious groups that champion renewed American diplomatic efforts to end bloodletting in the Holy Land. Seeing negotiators sit down again to talk peace -- now that would give me a warm tingle.


How enchanting. You can just imagine the outcry if the Reverend Falwell said that Christians should keep a polite distance from Jews. Perhaps there's a Pale somewhere that Evangelicals could be placed beyond?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM

HOW ABOUT JUST "COMEN NASAI"?:

Belafonte Stands by Criticism of Powell (Reuters, October 11, 2002)
"My analogy to the plantation existence I say without regret...Life today for many is not too distant from slavery & oppression, and by ignoring the views of most of the world's leaders, the President and Secretary Powell are about to bring moral shame on this nation and do what is politically expedient at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised."

There are what, about 6 billion people on Earth? He has to be the stupidest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM

NPR

In a moment as predictable as it was despicable, the pundits on the Diane Rehm Show's Friday news roundup just joked about the gay-bashing ad in Montana. I believe it was E.J. Dionne who referred to it as mainly showing how awful the fashions of the 80s were. Missing was any sense that the use of questions about someone's sexuality as a political weapon by the Democratic Party is outrageous and a smack in the face to a group that they claim to champion. When nuts blow up a government building in Oklahoma City we are told it is because talk radio is anti-government. When a black man is dragged to death in Texas we are told it is because George Bush didn't sign a hate crimes bill. The next time some gay kid is beaten to death will we hear that it is because the Democratic Party has made gays into objects of derision? Yeah, right...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 AM

MR. LOTT PASSES THE PLATE:

Trent Lott Retreats From Belafonte Awards Dinner (Marc Morano, October 11, 2002, CNSNews.com)
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) announced Thursday he would not be attending an Oct. 24 award dinner honoring entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte, following the singer's comparison of Secretary of State Colin Powell to a house "slave." [...]

Lott's participation in the Belafonte event drew criticism because of Belafonte's reference to Powell during a Tuesday interview with KFMB San Diego radio host Ted Leitner.

"Colin Powell's committed to come into the house of the master," Belafonte told Leitner. "When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture.

"In the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master ... exactly the way the master intended you to serve him," Belafonte added.

Powell called Belafonte's remarks "unfortunate."

"If Harry had wanted to attack my politics, that was fine," Powell reportedly said. "But to use a slave reference ... is unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place that I wish Harry had thought twice about using."


Note Mr. Powell's condescending use of "Harry".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM

O SLOW LEARNERS::

Jimmy Carter Wins Nobel Peace Prize (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/11/02)
Former President Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights.''

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Carter's ``vital contribution'' to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt and his efforts in conflict resolution on several continents and the promotion of human rights after his presidency.

"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development,'' the citation said.

The award is worth $1 million. [...]

He helped defuse growing nuclear tensions in Korea, then helped narrowly avert a U.S. invasion of Haiti in 1994, as well as leading conflict mediation and elections monitoring efforts around the world.

"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development,'' the citation said. [...]

Many known nominees, including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, reflected the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and their aftermath.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were nominated, but their chances for winning seemed doubtful at a time when they are poised to launch a military strike against Iraq.

"It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken,'' Gunnar Berge, chairman of the Nobel committee, said. "It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States.''


The Nobel Peace Prize is too political to take seriously, except as a public relations tool, and is almost always awarded to dubious and even undeserving folk, but I wonder if the Committee has ever, as this year, used the awarding of the prize in such a way as to make war at least marginally more likely. It's too much to hope that they would have had sense enough to choose Tony Blair and George W. Bush, but Hamid Karzai, the new leader of Afghanistan, was widely considered to be the leading contender and not only was he more deserving than most of the other nominees but giving him the award would have served several vital purposes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 AM

IF THESE ARE ALL REAL DOTS MIGHTN'T THEY CONNECT?:

Evidence points to blast being terrorist attack (Mark Huband in London and Charles Clover in Kuwait City, October 11 2002, Financial Times)
A French investigator said yesterday that debris found on an oil tanker damaged by an explosion off the coast of Yemen was not part of the ship, further increasing the likelihood that the attack was carried out by terrorists on a small boat packed with explosives.

The French foreign ministry will issue a statement today on its early findings from the probe into the explosion on the French-registered tanker, the Limburg.

An Islamic group in Yemen yesterday claimed responsibility for Sunday's blast. In a statement published yesterday in the Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, a Yemeni group called the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army said it had carried out the attack.

The group said it was in revenge for the execution by Yemen in 1998 of one of its leaders, Zein al-Abdine al-Mihdar. He was executed after government troops rescued 12 foreign tourists who had been kidnapped by the group after a gun battle.


Deputy leader signals involvement in attacks (Mark Huband, Oct 10, 2002, Financial Times)
The deputy leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network yesterday appeared to claim responsibility for two terrorist attacks on French and German civilians.

In a taped message broadcast by the al-Jazeera satellite television channel, Ayman al-Zawahri did not specify the attacks, but referred to the nationality of the victims.

Separate taped statements by Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, and Mr al-Zawahri have been issued this week and broadcast by al-Jazeera. A statement from Mr bin Laden on Sunday coincided with a suspected terrorist attack on a French-registered oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.

The tone of the statements has led to speculation Mr al-Zawahri may emerge as increasingly prominent in the al-Qaeda network, a senior European
intelligence officer said yesterday.

Mr al-Zawahri's statement, broadcast on Tuesday and peppered with phrases evoking his previous role as a doctor, said: "We sent some messages to America's allies to stop their involvement in its crusade. The fighting youth sent a message to Germany and one to France. If the doses are not enough we are ready, with the help of God, to increase them."


The on-again/off-again story of a French oil tanker explosion and the possibility of an al Qaeda tie appears to be on-again. We continue to be perplexed by the failure to tie this story in with the supposed message from Osama bin Laden on al Jazeera this weekend in which he threatened to "target your economic lifeline." It seems wise to be at least somewhat skeptical about every aspect of this story, but if it all pans out, shouldn't someone be concerned that the Arab oilfields are a logical and likely easy target for these guys?

October 10, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 PM

GOING DOWN?:

US is not in danger of deflation (Glenn Hubbard, October 9 2002, Financial Times)
[The] modern deflation scenario seems to make a lot of sense - until you get out your calculator. When you do, the basic features of the US economy look quite good and deflation appears unlikely. To start with, analysis of the productivity data over the past six quarters confirms some of the best news that economists have delivered in a generation--the acceleration in productivity growth that began in 1995 continues unabated. Thanks to this, today's consumers can look forward to real incomes that grow much more quickly than they have during the past 30 years--a good omen for current consumption.

It seems like Mr. Hubbard is ignoring the other side of the double-edged sword here. These incredible productivity gains have to put downward pressure on prices too. If it is really getting cheaper and cheaper to produce the same goods the savings have to be passed on to consumers at some point, don't they?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 PM

SLACKER:

GLOBOLOG (Caspar Henderson, October 7, 2002, Open Democracy)
Caspar Henderson, Globalisation editor of openDemocracy, opens a virtual window on the global agenda of power and protest. Read Caspar’s GLOBOLOG each week at openDemocracy.

Mr. Henderson is going to need to update more than weekly, but it's an interesting publication overall, covering issues and angles of globalization and geopolitics from varied perspectives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 PM

IF HE CAN MAKE IT THERE, HE'LL MAKE IT ANYWHERE:

Giuliani to tackle Mexico City crime (BBC, 10 October, 2002)
The man who is credited with drastically reducing crime rates in New York, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is being hired to tackle the Mexican capital's high crime rates.

Mr Giuliani - who in New York introduced a policy known as Zero Tolerance - will work as a consultant for one year, initially evaluating Mexico City's police force.


Yeah, but does he get to bring the NYPD and American court system?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM

WHEN DOVES CRY:

Roll Call Vote in House on Iraq Resolution (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/10/02)
The 296-133 roll call Thursday by which the House voted for a resolution to authorize President Bush to use military force in Iraq.

A "yes" vote is a vote to approve the resolution.

Voting yes were 81 Democrats and 215 Republicans.

Voting no were 126 Democrats, six Republicans and one independent.


This is truthfully not meant to be pejorative--who knows, the "nos" may prove to be right in the long run--but it's startling just how thoroughly the Democrat Party is dominated by doves now. By my horrible math that looks like 60% of the Democrats opposed a resolution to force Saddam Hussein, who is in obvious violation, to comply with the terms of a peace treaty he negotiated with us a decade ago. As the war on terror/radical Islam continues, and it will, there will be no clearer case than this one, where an avoweed enemy is openly violating the law. Had this resolution come to the floor last October it would have probably had at least 80% support from Democrats, but in just one year they've nearly reverted back to their post-Vietnam norm.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 PM

RED STATE FUN:

Mummified dog finally has a name that will stick (Teresa Stepzinski, 10/10/02, Morris News Service)
A mummified hound dog entombed in a hollow tree in rural Georgia was officially christened on Tuesday following a two-month contest that garnered entries from across the South.

"Our mummified dog shall be known as 'Stuckie' from this day forward," said Holly Beasley, executive director of Southern Forest World, a tiny, out-of-the-way museum in Waycross. "We have three winners, all from northeast Florida, who submitted that same name."

They all submitted the name, with slight variations in the spelling. To avoid potential trademark infringement with the Stuckey's restaurant chain, the museum's board of directors decided on "Stuckie," Beasley said.

The 4-year-old dog is entombed inside a chestnut oak -- one of the museum's most talked-about exhibits for many years.


Why not just cut to the chase and name him Pecan Log?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

WE CHOOSE THE CHOSEN:

Poll finds strong US Christian support for Israel (Michael Freund, Oct. 10, 2002, Jerusalem Post)
Poll results released this week by Stand for Israel, a project of the International Federation of Christians and Jews, indicate that 62% of US Christian conservatives support Israel and its policies. [...]

One of the poll's more interesting findings was that support for Israel among Republicans is sharply higher than among Democrats, even though many American Jews identify more closely with the Democratic Party. Among Democrats, just 46% said they supported Israel, as opposed to 67% of Republicans.

The survey also revealed that President George W. Bush is making significant headway among Jewish voters, with 81% of Jews viewing Bush as a strong supporter of Israel and 46% of them saying they are more likely to vote for him based on the way he is handling the war on terror. Even though Bush garnered less than 20% of the Jewish vote in the 2000 elections, the poll found that 53% of American Jews now have a favorable impression of him.


It's necessarily an anecdotal impression, but it seems like older Jews, say in their sixties and seventies, find it impossible to imagine voting Republican, even if they'll grudgingly admit that President Bush is better than they thought he'd be. But the generation behind them, folks in their thirties and forties, seem to be unabashedly trending Republican. One would think this is a trend that will accelerate as the Israeli/Jewish demographic problems (noted below) inevitably push Jews further to the Right on social/religious issues.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM

ENFOLDED IN THE BOSOM OF MOTHER EARTH, RATHER RAPIDLY:

Tree-sitter dead after fall from tree in Corralitos (The Associated Press, October 10, 2002)
A man with the environmental activist group Earth First! has died after a 50-foot fall from a redwood tree in which he'd lived for several weeks.

If a tree-sitter falls in the forest, does anyone hear him scream?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:21 PM

AS NJ GOES, SO GOES MT:

Taylor quits Senate race; Racicot may run (JIM GRANSBERY, 10/10/02, The Billings Gazette)
State Sen. Mike Taylor, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will withdraw from the race this afternoon, saying a Montana Democratic Party television ad has destroyed his campaign.

Taylor, who has scheduled a press conference in Helena for 2 p.m., said the ad, which he said insinuated that he was a gay hairdresser, had pushed his poll numbers through the floor.

Unconfirmed rumors have Taylor being replaced by former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who is now chairman of the Republican National Committee. [...]

What incensed Taylor was the film clip accompanying the ad. Taylor had a twice weekly segment in the early 1980s on a Denver television station. The clip shows Taylor applying lotions to the face of a man siting in the barber chair and discussing techniques. The ad shows Taylor, then slender, sporting a full beard. He is wearing a tight-fitting, three piece suit, with a big-collared open shirt ala John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever." Taylor's top two or three shirt buttons are unbuttoned, exposing some bare chest and a number of gold chains.

"I cannot believe they would stoop to that level," Taylor said.

State Sen. Ken Toole, D-Helena, and program director for the Montana Human Rights Network, said Thursday morning the ad "is an overt and
obvious appeal to the homophobic (voter) that is playing to that stereotypic imagery."

Toole, who has fought for homosexual rights for years in the Montana Legislature, said he had complained to the state Democratic Party.

Toole said the Democratic response was that the image was not intended to imply that Taylor was gay.

"It is hard to believe their advertising firm did not see it," Toole said. "Bottom line is it is obvious and it ought to be pulled.

"Once you play these cards, inject this crap into a campaign - race, gay - nobody controls it," Toole said.


This story is just freakin' ugly. If the GOP did this to somebody we'd never hear the end of it. If you want to make someone's sexuality an issue, have the cojones to do it openly and publicly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH:

Suicide bomber's father: Let Hamas leaders send their own sons (Ellis Shuman, October 8, 2002, Israeli Insider)
"Why doesn't a single one of all the sheikhs who compete amongst themselves in issuing fiery religious rulings, send his own son" to blow himself up? This was the question of the father of a young Palestinian who carried out a suicide bombing in an Israeli city four months ago that appeared in the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat last week.

In the letter, translated by MEMRI - Middle East Media Research Institute, a man identified as Abu Saber M. G. starts a rare open criticism of suicide bombings and the Hamas leadership with a quote from the Koran. "Act for the sake of Allah, and do not throw yourselves to destruction with your own hands." (Koran 2:195). Then he goes on to describe the loss of his son and the displacement of his family after their home was razed by the Israeli army in the wake of the suicide bombing.


At some level we have to have faith that small but courageous acts like this will begin to transform the Middle East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM

IDIOCY IS NOT SO EASILY LEFT BEHIND:

Goodbye, All That: How Left Idiocies Drove Me to Flee (Ron Rosenbaum, NY Observer)
I want to make clear that saying goodbye to idiocies on the Left doesn't mean becoming a conservative, neo- or otherwise. I think Imade that clear in a column published here on Jan. 28 of this year, "Where Was the Values Crowd When Dr. King Needed Them?" In that column,I argued that just as the Left had failed to come to terms with its history of indifference to (at best) and support for (at worst) genocidal Marxist regimes abroad, the Right has failed to come to terms with its history of indifference to (at best) and support for (at worst) racism and racist political allies here at home.

It's ironic, considering what I'm about to write, that I got a nice note from that hard-core Old Red folkie, Pete Seeger, thanking me for my Dr. King column. But you know, I still can understand people like Pete Seeger joining the Party back in the 30's during the Depression, when it looked like unregulated capitalism had cruelly immiserated America, when racism and lynchings reigned down South and it looked (looked, I said) as if the Soviet Union was the only force willing to stand up to Hitler. But to cling to Marxism now, after all we've learned in the past 50 years-not just about the Soviet Union, but China and Cambodia... ?


Particularly in the context of the rest of this column Mr. Rosenbaum's point about conservatives here is profoundly offensive. In the first place the Right has more than come to terms with the early Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. whom Mr. Rosenbaum lauds. It is the latter Dr. King, not much distinguishable from Pete Seeger, who gives us trouble to this day. The Right did understandably have difficulty separating the two when it could have been of most help to the former, but today the Right's message is very much what his message was when he was merely demanding racial equality: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." In fact, one needn't look very hard to find Leftists who are enraged that conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Shelby Steele have adopted King's very words to argue against affirmative action.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

THIRD WAY, NO WAY:

Focus on War Talk Hampers Democrats: Fears Grow Over Money, Turnout (Thomas B. Edsall, October 10, 2002, Washington Post)
"Our liberal base wants us to stand up and challenge Bush on the war," said Donna Brazile, who runs the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute and managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. She said loyal Democrats in low-income areas and black neighborhoods, along with many women and liberal suburbanites, are bitterly complaining that "no one is talking to us, no one is addressing our issues" on the economy and preparation for war. "There is a real danger out there."

For weeks, Democrats have acknowledged that the Iraq matter's dominance of the news has helped keep voter attention on an issue generally seen as beneficial to Bush and his fellow Republicans. Party insiders, however, are increasingly worried about the potential impact on fundamental mechanics that win or lose elections: fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Direct-mail donations to the DNC took a nosedive in August and September, party officials acknowledge. Several of them say a major cause is discontent over the acquiescence of many Democratic leaders to Bush's preparation for war with Iraq.

One Democratic strategist familiar with the situation said, "Democratic donors want the leadership to fight harder on Iraq. Instead, people see Democrats are not raising questions."

The most recent Washington Post survey conducted at the end of September shows that opposition to taking military action against Iraq is most intense among voters who constitute a significant portion of the Democratic base: those who strongly disapprove of Bush, liberals, blacks and, to a lesser extent, women. While 34 percent of all Americans oppose going to war against Iraq, the figure is 76 percent among those who strongly disapprove of Bush -- a group Democrats must rely on for donations and high voter turnout. [...]

A fundraising specialist said, "The people who give to the Republican and Democratic parties are the ones with the strongest ideological viewpoints. They are strong conservatives in the case of the Republicans, and strong liberals in the case of the Democrats. The Democratic donor base is inclined to oppose the president's actions in Iraq, and if the party is not doing that, it causes some problems."


This is the problem with Bill Clinton's New Democrat strategy and the rebellion against Tony Blair on Labour's back benches reflects the seem dilemma in Third Way Britain. It's all well and good to run as a moderate-conservative when you're just trying to gull voters, but when you get in office your loyalists expect you to toe the ideological line. For the modern Left that means a foreign policy that meets with UN approval.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM

OUR KINDA TOWN:

People in Mocksville, N.C., say they're friendly despite unfriendly street names (Associated Press, October 09, 2002)
Look at the street signs and you might think people in Davie County don't like visitors.

There's Staya Way and Getta Way, Keepa Way and Outatha Way. But the people who live on the streets say they're friendly.

"When we named the road, we didn't even think it was odd," said Keretha Shore, who lives on Staya Way. "We just thought it was funny."


When we had to have an answering machine for awhile a few years back, the wife wanted to record the following message:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM

GLORIOUS AND FREE[LOADING]:

New process urged to safeguard public (Mike Trickey, 10/10/02, The Ottawa Citizen)
Canada has no framework for defining its national security interests and no process for even starting to formulate security policies, says a new study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

"It is clear from examining the Canadian experience and both the U.S. and U.K processes that Canada lacks any process even remotely comparable in analytical rigour, multi-department involvement, coherence and consistency," says the study.

"The absence of a clear process is possibly a major factor in the irregularity of foreign and defence policy reviews."


Canada is hardly alone in this. The existence of the world dominant Anglo-American alliance has obviated the need for most nations to have coherent national security policies--in effect their policy is "if we get in trouble America and Britain will bail us out." That's fine so long as they, and we, recognize it to be the case. It becomes a problem when these fundamentally unserious nations begin trying to tell us how to conduct our national security policy and when Democrats argue that we should defer to the wishes of these client states at the UN. Countries like Canada are welcome to hitch a ride with us, but not to try driving from the back seat.

October 9, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM

AHNULD NOW!:

California governor calls on opponent to drop out of race because of photo gaffe (ERICA WERNER, 10/9/02, The Associated Press)
Republican candidate Bill Simon conceded Wednesday that his allegation that Gov. Gray Davis illegally accepted a campaign check inside the state Capitol "is now in question." Davis called on him to drop out of the governor's race.

Mr. Davis is right. Bill Simon should take one for the Party and bow out of the race. Arnold Schwarzenegger stands ready to replace him and would likely beat Gray Davis by 15+ points. One can hardly wait to hear Democrats and the NY Times explain why this would be unjust.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM

AN ACCOUNTING:

A Jolt For Japan? (Robert J. Samuelson, October 9, 2002, The Washington Post)
Japan's economy has sputtered in and out of recession for a decade without providing much support for the rest of the world. What meager growth it has achieved has depended on massive government budget deficits; the national debt has ballooned to about 140 percent of gross domestic product from 65 percent of GDP in 1990.

This is one of those facts that is staggering when you see it. By way of comparison, America's national debt now ($6.2T), even after the exorbitant expenditures for the Cold War is only about 2/3rds of GDP (over $10T). In other words, at our low point we're as well off as Japan was at its high point. That's the kind of number to keep in mind when people predict inevitable American decline.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM

FAMILY FEUD:

'Oldest' Skull Causing Headaches (CBS News, Oct. 9, 2002)
An ancient skull whose recent discovery was thought to have pushed back the dawn of man was not from a human ancestor after all, but from a gorilla or another ape species, some anthropologists say.

The rebuttal, published in Thursday's issue of the journal nature, is the latest round in a scientific feud over the origins of humankind in Africa.

"I don't see how you can tell what it is. But it is not human," said [Milford H. ] Wolpoff, a University of Michigan anthropologist.


Presumably he doesn't mean that the way it sounds.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM

WHAT TIES TO TERROR?:

Israel Nabs Saddam Hussein's Paymaster To Palestinians (Julie Stahl, October 09, 2002, CNSNews.com)
Israel says it has arrested the head of a pro-Iraqi Palestinian faction in the West Bank, who allegedly has issued millions of dollars from Iraq to the families of suicide bombers and Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel.

Raked Salim, head of the Arab Liberation Front in the West Bank, was arrested October 2 by Israeli secret service agents and soldiers, based on information obtained from documents Israel seized from Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. [...]

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the awarding of some $15 million to the families of suicide bombers and to Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli troops, Salim told his investigators.


How many folks in Congress have stood up in the well the past few days and said there's no proof tying Saddam to terrorism? God bless the Israelis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM

DEMOCRATIC IRAQ:

More Than 11.5 Million Iraqis to Vote in Referendum (Reuters, October 09, 2002)
More than 11.5 million Iraqis will cast ballots in a referendum to endorse the presidency of Saddam Hussein for another seven-year term on October 15, Iraq's state radio said on Wednesday.

It quoted the Planning Ministry as saying 11.56 million voters would take part in the referendum, which comes as the United States accuses Iraq of seeking arms of mass destruction and calls for Saddam's ouster.

Iraq announced plans for the secret ballot referendum on September 8.

A 1995 referendum was the first such vote in Iraq since it became a republic after a 1958 revolution, which toppled the monarchy.

Government figures showed Saddam in 1995 won 99.96 percent of more than eight million valid votes cast on a turnout of 99.47 percent.


That's the entire story at Reuters site. Does none of that require any explanation or rebuttal?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:24 PM

THE REAL ISLAMIC BOMB (via Derek Copold):

Palestinians may push for citizenship (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 9, 2002)
Palestinian leaders, frustrated over the stalemated peace process, warned the Bush administration this week that they are contemplating a radical and explosive new tactic: dropping their long-standing demand for an independent Palestinian state and instead seeking full citizenship within Israel. Such a move, broached by a leading Palestinian reformer and his delegation during meetings with senior Bush administration officials on Monday and Tuesday, would be the diplomatic equivalent of using a population bomb against Israel. Demographic trends indicate the number of Palestinians will exceed Jewish Israelis within a decade, meaning that Israel could not grant all Palestinians citizenship without jeopardizing its identity as a Jewish state.

One assumes this is too smart for the Palestinians to ever follow through on it. You'd present the Israelis with a dilemma from which there's no easy escape. The few options would include some form of political apartheid or ethnic confederation, mass migration of the world's Jews back to Israel, or boosting Israeli/Jewish birthrates to extravagant levels. All present possibly insurmountable problems.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:51 PM

A TOWERING SHRUB:

Why He Drives Them Crazy: Being underestimated is George W. Bush's secret political weapon. (Noemie Emery, 10/14/2002, Weekly Standard)
Whether by design or instinct, Bush has a history of driving people who are sure they're much smarter than he is to incredibly silly and self-immolating acts. In the Texas governor's race in 1994, he was the lightweight against the incumbent, Ann Richards, who felt herself demeaned by having to run against him. Making her disdain clear, she addressed him as "shrub" and as "Junior." He addressed her as "Governor Richards." She called him "clueless." He called her "Governor Richards." She called him "the anemic link at the tail end of the gilded Bush dynasty." He said he found her "interesting" as a study in character. At last, she blew up, and called him "some jerk" at a rally. He won by 6 points.

Al Gore thought he was smarter than Bush, and in the debates planned to take out this pretender. He would show off his mental and physical dominance. Condescendingly, Gore sighed, smirked, interrupted, and unleashed tidal waves of details and assertions. Then Bush, as the Washington Post's David von Drehle astutely observed, "read Gore's effort to overshadow him, and, in an odd way, opted to make himself a little bit smaller," becoming relentlessly civil and courteous. It worked. At one point, wrote Jeff Greenfield, "Al Gore left his stool and walked slowly, stiffly, toward his opponent, arms at his sides, palms pointed behind him, looking oddly like [a] robot. . . . Bush glanced over his shoulder, took a beat--and nodded once, as if to say: Hi there--be with you in a moment. The audience laughed, and Al Gore was finished for the night." Something of the same sort seemed to happen to Daschle last week. After his outburst, the White House suggested he might have misread the story that caused it, giving him the chance to back down from his tantrum. He didn't take it, but went back on the floor of the Senate. His purpose was to help his own party's chances. At the end of the week, surveys showed the Republicans for the first time making small gains in congressional polls.

What happens to a dream deferred? Nothing pretty. The liberals' dream of "exposing" the president has now suffered blow upon blow. Simply speaking, their view of Bush--expressed on any given day by Terry McAuliffe, Paul Begala, James Carville, the Nation, Michael Kinsley, or the New York Times, is still this: George W. Bush is a moron who stole the election, had the great good luck to be president when terrorists struck at our two major cities, benefited unfairly from an irrational wave of hysterical jingoism, and now, when the glow from that burst has been fading, has cooked up a phony war to distract attention from corporate fraud and the stock market crash, which of course he caused. Their failure to sell this analysis to the three-fourths of the country not in the grip of terminal Bushophobia has driven them quite out of their senses. Every day, they get shriller and more desperate. Surely, if Maureen Dowd turns the smirk up one notch, if Frank Rich reviews Bush like another bad movie, the unwashed will awake and see reason? But no.

If you had told a liberal in mid-2001 that in the fall of 2002 the Dow would be somewhere below 8,000 and a cluster of scandals would beset corporate boardrooms, he would scarcely have believed his good fortune. That time has now come, these factors are present, and that liberal can scarcely believe his bad luck. There are two possible explanations: Either he has overestimated the extent to which his worldview is shared by the public, or he has underestimated George Bush. Neither idea is appealing. What kind of a populist are you if the people aren't with you? What kind of an intellectual are you if you aren't smarter than Bush? How can people so smart, and whose views are so popular, be beaten so often by someone so clueless? The idea that George Bush is a gifted politician whose views are quite mainstream would make their world crumble. On the other hand, if
they are so often trounced by an out-of-touch moron, then what does it say about them?


Never mind Tom Daschle, what's really startling in all this is to see folks and institutions who had previously aspired to some level of at least public objectivity turn into harshly partisan loci of Bush-hatred. The most obvious case is the news section of the NY Times, the saddest David Broder.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:47 PM

Great line during Senate debate on the war resolution by the irreplaceable Jesse Helms:

Secretary Powell has told us that the box we have Saddam Hussein in can not last much longer. Soon he'll use boxcutters and get out.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:45 PM

COALS TO NEWCASTLE:

US academics win Nobel economics prize (Andrew Walker, 9 October, 2002, BBC)
One of the most prestigious prizes in economics has been awarded to two Americans, Vernon Smith of George Mason University in Virginia, and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton, who also holds Israeli citizenship.

see below

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:30 PM

A MR. GREENJEANS FOR THE MILLENNIUM?:

Camp cartoon star 'is not gay' (BBC, 9 October, 2002)
The creator of one of the most popular new cartoon characters for years, SpongeBob SquarePants, has rejected claims that his cheerful creation is gay.

SpongeBob has become an icon among homosexuals in the United States as well as a huge hit with children, according to the Wall Street Journal.

SpongeBob may be "kind of special", but he was not designed to be a gay character, his creator Stephen Hillenburg has told the Wall Street Journal.

The gay community likes the show because it has a tolerant attitude, Mr Hillenburg said.

"Everybody is different, and the show embraces that. The character SpongeBob is an oddball. He's kind of weird, but he's kind of special," he said.

"I always think of them as being somewhat asexual."


Our kids, particularly our son, love the Wiggles. But the wife and I found them kind of sketchy: four grown men, living together, dancing around, wearing turtlenecks, etc. Then one day we got the video and in the credits at the end it says the show's filmed in Australia and suddenly everything was okay. At least four other parents who we've mentioned this to had identical reactions. Odd how the fact they are Aussies instead of Brits seemed to clear everything up--"of course, they aren't gay, they're just whacky..."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 AM

END OF DAZE:

Evangelical argument over Israel (Jonah Goldberg, October 9, 2002, Townhall.com)
There are plenty of pragmatic objections to the support of evangelicals; they primarily take the form of worrying that the support of Christian conservatives in America will embolden Israeli hawks to avoid compromise with the Palestinians. This is a perfectly legitimate argument, though I don't agree with all of it. But it is not the one getting the most attention.

What's got so many folks upset is that the evangelicals support Israel for religious reasons. And sure, it'd be nice--from a Jewish perspective--if Revelations envisioned a happier ending for Jews. But, first of all, if you are Jewish (as I am), why should you care what Christian prophesy holds if you don't expect it to happen? And, if it does happen, and Jesus returns to Earth to establish his kingdom, who's to say a few Jews won't listen to him? And if it turns out the Jews are right and the Messiah will show up for his first visit, isn't it possible that he'll have an explanation handy for everyone?

No one can say their biblical interpretation will actually bind God's hands at the end of the day, because man is not more powerful than God. In short, leave the details of the end of the world up to God because he's the one calling all the shots.


This seems eminently sensible.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM

THE DEBT TO THE PEACOCK THRONE:

Turning the Arab street to Main St. (Steven Martinovich, October 9, 2002, Washington Times)
A news story broke recently that received scant attention from the West's major newspapers. The story dealt with the release of a poll of 1,500 Iranians which revealed numbers that proved to be the political and cultural equivalent of the major seismic events that often rock Iran. It was a poll which prompted that country's conservative judiciary to take two men to court for "publishing lies to excite public opinion," ignoring that the poll was in fact the public's opinion.

On Sept. 22, the news agency Irna published a poll conducted by Iran's National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls (NIRSOP) that found that 74 percent of respondents supported dialogue with the United States. Even more frightening to the Islamic fundamentalists who rule Iran, 45.8 percent believed America's policy on Iran is "to some extent correct." It seems that authoritarian regimes are always the last to know that they are unpopular with the people they rule.

Though many in the West may not be aware of it, Iran is currently tearing itself apart over the issue of its future.


Brother Martinovich weighs in with a nicely turned column about the coming collapse of Islamic extremism, which looks to be well underway in Iran (and in Palestine). The one thing we'd caution is that a successful Iranian transformation to a more secular nation might not necessarily be a leading indicator of the possibility of such change in other states for one counterintuitive reason: The Shah. We tend to think of the Shah as a retrograde figure, a totalitarian who stifled the aspirations of his people, but he may more appropriately be viewed as a modernizing and Westernizing figure, almost in the mold of Ataturk, though without the same strong grip on the affection of his people. As the great Jeane Kirkpatrick was scorned for pointing out twenty years ago, right-wing autocrats, however much they offend our delicate sensibilities have the great advantage that they espouse democratic virtues, even if they don't strictly observe them. Moreover, as conservatives, they tend to foster existing institutions, rather than try to reinvent society from the ground up. In these senses they very much sow, or tend, the seeds of their own eventual destruction. Sooner or later they end up being held accountable to their own ideals and, because the underlying society is still relatively healthy, there exists a structure ready to replace them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM

THREE CHEERS FOR A TRUE BELIEVER:

For Wellstone, Iraq Vote Is Risk But Not a Choice: Principles May Be Costly in November (Helen Dewar, October 9, 2002, Washington Post)
Anti-war activists were conducting a three-day sit-in at his St. Paul office, even as his Republican challenger was pummeling him as wobbly on national security. For Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.), the Iraq war resolution before Congress presented a lose-lose proposition likely to anger voters he needs in his tight reelection bid.

But to Wellstone there was never really much of a choice.

The 58-year-old professor-turned-senator had built a political career on standing by his convictions, which included a decided preference forinternational cooperation and diplomacy over war. He was not about to abandon them now, he said on a recent morning, as he put the finishingtouches on a speech he was about to deliver opposing the resolution that would authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq, with or without aUnited Nations mandate.

"Just putting it in self-interest terms, how would I have had the enthusiasm and the fight if I had actually cast a vote I didn't believe in?" he asked. "Icouldn't do that."


Given a lifetime of far Left opinions, including an internationalist's disdain for American security interests, it seems hard to believe that this vote can hurt Mr. Wellstone much. It's not like people could have been fooled into thinking he'd suddenly become a Jacksonian instead of a Wilsonian. Add to that the fact that his re-election hopes appear uncertain and you've basically got a free vote of conscience here. All he would have done by voting for the war is to give himself something to regret the rest of his life. There was probably still pressure from the party and from political advisors, but the Senator did the right thing, at least in terms of saving his own soul. Would that more Democrats who must believe as he does would vote their true beliefs instead of their instincts for survival.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 AM

TORQUEMODO:

Tribulation Worketh Patience (MAUREEN DOWD, October 9, 2002, NY Times)
We may soon find out, if W. David Hager becomes chairman of the powerful Food and Drug Administration panel on women's health policy. His resume seems more impressive for theology than gynecology. [...]

A professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kentucky, he has a considerable body of work about Jesus' role in healing women, and last summer he helped the Christian Medical Association with a "citizens' petition" calling on the F.D.A. to reverse its approval of RU-486, the "abortion pill," claiming it puts women at risk. (RU-486 or RU-4Jesus?)


Hot on the heels of recent inappropriate jokes about things like Saddam Hussein gassing his own people, Ms Dowd chimes in today with that neat little wisecrack about abortion. Get it? Are you for Jesus or are you for "86ing" the human embryo?

October 8, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM

SOMETHING'S GONE WRONG AGAIN:

And Now, Some Good News: A sign of hope at a punk-rock concert in Southern California. (Larry Miller, 10/07/2002, Weekly Standard)
My friend, Jack Burditt, a wonderful and award-winning Hollywood writer, just told me a story. He has four kids, three of them girls, and one of his daughters, 16, wanted to go to an all-day punk rock festival, advertised in Southern California as The Inland Punk Rock Festival, with a few of her girlfriends. [...]

[The] "Buzzcocks" came on, played their first song, and the lead singer stepped forward and shouted this (verbatim from Jack, he wrote it down) into the mike: "F--- GEORGE BUSH! DON'T LISTEN TO HIM. WE HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING IN IRAQ, NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS." And here comes the good news.

There was a long pause, complete silence. And then they started. The boos. One here, one there. Then everyone. Everyone. Louder and louder.


Who knew the great Buzzcocks were even still together?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM

THE NEXT NET:

New Improved Internet (Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., 10/08/2002, Tech Central Station)
The need for employees and entrepreneurs to telecommute from home has clearly grown in importance since the terrible events of September 11th, 2001. However, the type of work that can be done via telecommuting is being hampered by a bottleneck of the current maximum speed of today's connections to the Internet. For most users of the Internet, bandwidth has reached a temporary speed limit of somewhere between 56 kilobits a second, the maximum that dial-up modems can perform, and a few megabits per second, the speed of most 'high-speed' broadband cable modem, DSL, and satellite connections.

HDTV videoconferencing via the Internet is but one example of a tool that many businesses and entrepreneurs would welcome to reduce the amount of flying necessary to conduct business face to face. But the sender and receiver would each require bandwidth of at least 270 mbps, and preferably a lot more. For anyone who's downloaded and watched video over the Internet, it's clear that for a variety of reasons, the current Internet, wonderful for transmitting text, pretty good for transmitting audio and still images, just doesn't cut it when it comes to transmitting decent quality video. Those limitations that hamper video also slow a number of other applications.

Fortunately, help may be on the way. If the folks at Internet2 have their way, the current Internet will gradually be replaced by components they've developed and tested—a computer network that's faster, sleeker, stronger, able to leap over tall HDTV broadcasts in a single bandwidth.

Internet2 is a research and development consortium of over 190 universities, about 70 companies, and 40 other organizations that are using high-performance networks to test new technologies and deploy new applications.


Cool stuff from Mr. Driscoll. It had seemed like the aftermath of 9-11 was the natural time for videoconferencing to explode and for business travel to diminish, maybe permanently. This explains why it didn't and why it might in the future.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 PM

ON THE WATERFRONT:

Bush acts on port lockout; union incensed (Richard Tomkins, 10/8/2002, UPI)
President George W. Bush intervened in the West Coast ports labor dispute Tuesday by seeking a federal injunction to put longshoremen back to work, sparking immediate outrage from the workers' union and charges of "collusion" with management.

"They worked together to threaten the union," International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union Communications Director Steve Stallone told United Press International. "There has been collusion between them from the beginning."

Bush, citing national economic health and safety, directed U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft Tuesday to seek a federal court order to put longshoremen back to work for 80 days while mediators try to resolve the dispute between dock workers, shipping lines and terminal operators. [...]

The dispute mainly centers on the introduction of new technology at the ports to speed up and improve cargo handling, and demands by the unions for guarantees that new technology will not lead to lay offs or undermine unionization.


The demand that improved efficiency, through things as basic as UPC scanners, not lead to any job cuts is ridiculous on its face. They're essentially demanding that the system remain inefficient for their personal benefit.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM

TOUCHED BY AN ANGELE:

Group claims it has pictures of Davis taking illegal contribution (AP, Oct. 08, 2002)
The executive director of a law enforcement group that endorses Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon said Tuesday he had two photos showing then Lt. Gov. Gray Davis accepting a campaign contribution in his state Capitol office -- in violation of the law.

Monty Holden, head of the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, told reporters the Jan. 31, 1998, photos show Davis, then campaigning for his first term as governor, accepting a $10,000 check from Al Angele, then executive director of COPs.

The photos show Davis standing next to a man identified by COPS as Angele. They are holding either side of a $10,000 check as they stand in an office, that according to COPS, was the lieutenant governor's office.

The claims are 'false and possibly slanderous,'' Davis campaign press secretary Roger Salazar said. "This charge is categorically false. No such exchange of campaign funds took place inside then Lt. Gov.'s Davis' Capitol office in Sacramento.''


Well, if you've ever worked on a campaign and you've either seen an office that nice or actually seen the candidate in the office, your experience has been unusual.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 PM

THIS JUST IN FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SELF-PARODY:

Top Iranian cleric slams US pastor, stops short of fatwa (IranMania.com, October 08, 2002)
Quoted by state radio, Ayatollah Hossein Nuri-Hamedani called on Muslims "not to stay silently seated in the face of such insults and propaganda".

"The priests linked to the White House who stand against the prophet seek to revive the (pre-Islamic) period of ignorance," he said.

Ayatollah Nuri-Hamedani is one of the clerics considered qualified here or issue a fatwa -- or Islamic edict -- but in his comments Tuesday he stopped short of taking such a step.

He said Falwell's comments were "a Zionist plan to bring Christians and Muslims to a confrontation".


Way to make the Reverend Falwell's case for him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM

STORMIN' STROM:

Retiring Sen. Thurmond Denounces Dems for Not Considering His Former Staff Aide's Nomination (The Associated Press, Oct. 8, 2002)
"I took you at your word," Thurmond told Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who GOP senators said had promised that U.S. District Judge Dennis Shedd, a former Thurmond aide and former Judiciary Committee counsel, would get a vote in the committee. "In 40 years in the Senate, I have never been treated in such a manner."

Leahy delayed the Shedd vote, saying it was too contentious to get done quickly.

Thurmond's anger over the delay of Shedd's nomination to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., was echoed by Senate Republicans, who fear that Tuesday's voting session was the last of the legislative year. That would mean the rest of President Bush's nominees would be stuck in legislative limbo until a new Congress convenes next year.

Besides Shedd, one of those stranded would be Miguel Estrada, Bush's choice for the U.S. Appeals Court in the District of Columbia and a rumored choice for a Supreme Court seat if a vacancy should open. [...]

Republicans say they consider the refusal to vote on Shedd an insult to Thurmond, the oldest person ever to serve in Congress. Thurmond ends a 48-year career in the Senate in January, and Shedd's nomination is among the last outstanding pieces of business South Carolina's senior senator has left.

"It's his last request in the Senate," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said. "I don't believe we should treat Sen. Thurmond this way, and I don't believe we should treat this eminent judge this way."


How do you live to be a hundred and still think you can trust Leaky Leahy?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:46 PM

THE FUTURE OF FLUSHING/FLUSHING THE FUTURE:

Japanese Masters Get Closer to the Toilet Nirvana (JAMES BROOKE, October 8, 2002, NY Times)
Japan's toilet wars started in February, when Matsushita engineers here unveiled a toilet seat equipped with electrodes that send a mild electric charge through the user's buttocks, yielding a digital measurement of body-fat ratio.

Unimpressed, engineers from a rival company, Inax, counterattacked in April with a toilet that glows in the dark and whirs up its lid after an infrared sensor detects a human being. When in use, the toilet plays any of six soundtracks, including chirping birds, rushing water, tinkling wind chimes, or the strumming of a traditional Japanese harp. [...]

[I]n a country with the demographics of Florida, the real growth will be medical toilets linked to the Internet.

"You may think a toilet is just a toilet, but we would like to make a toilet a home health measuring center," Mr. Matsui, the Matsushita engineer, said in a lecture here in Nara, near Osaka. "We are going to install in a toilet devices to measure weight, fat, blood pressure, heart beat, urine sugar, albumin and blood in urine."

The results would be sent from the toilet to a doctor by an Internet-capable cellular phone built into the toilet. Through long-distance monitoring, doctors could chart a person's physical well-being.

"We will have this within five years or so," said Harry Terai, director of home appliances research for Matsushita.

With nursing homes largely full in Japan, the number of older people under home care is rising fast, jumping by nearly one quarter just last year.

"In Japan, most people see the doctor after they become ill," said Hironori Yamazaki, a Toto engineer. "With an eye to our demographic change, we are setting out to make the toilet a space for the early discovery of disease."


The story is pretty funny, but hidden within is one of our themes here. That phrase, "a country with the demographics of Florida", should terrify the Japanese. Instead, they're trying to make a smarter jacks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 PM

A BRIDGE TO THE 21ST CENTURY:

The Present Moment: Sonny Rollins at the Summit (Gary Giddins, October 7th, 2002, Village Voice)
"Give yourself a gift," Marcus Aurelius advised, "the present moment." Aldous Huxley populated his island paradise Pala with parrots that fly around squawking, "Here and now, boys, here and now!" All the wise men agree-the key to a healthy life is alertness: a refusal to smother the brief candle with ruminations or apprehensions, an avowal to wake up and keep waking up. In art, the existential dilemma translates into devotion to the elusive light of inspiration, a challenge enacted nowhere with greater clarity and urgency than in jazz-where the composer composes in the arena, without benefit of eraser, white-out, tape dubs, or retakes-and by nobody with a more exhilarating sense of adventure than jazz's finest living practitioner, Sonny Rollins.

Brothers Judd's jazz correspondent, Glenn Dryfoos (who, many of you will be unaware, failed his driver's test), refers to this article as: "Our greatest jazz writer reviewing the greatest living jazz musician."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

MONKEY BUSINESS:

Note to Democrats: Get a Defense Policy (Gary Hart, October 3, 2002, NY Times)
Once again the Democratic Party finds itself on the defensive on defense. Congressional Democrats are responding to a Republican president's initiative, this time in Iraq. And we will continue to be on the defensive until we produce a cohesive foreign policy that spells out our plans for national security and homeland security and describes the circumstances under which American force can be used abroad. [...]

There was, and possibly still is, an alternative on Iraq policy. Weeks ago Democrats could have adopted a policy of coercive inspection. This policy would have required United Nations authorization for inspectors, accompanied by a sizeable international military force, to carry out unobstructed and unlimited inspections throughout Iraq. Iraqi resistance, according to the resolution, would have triggered a United States-led military operation to disarm Iraq by force. Thus, any conflict resulting from disarmament of Iraq would be sanctioned by the international community and would not result from unilateral action by the United States. [...]

[D]emocrats can and must spell out the conditions under which American forces would be deployed to promote peace and protect global security. We can also propose such initiatives as an international peace-making force. And we can show that there are alternatives to the administration's calls for pre-emptive "regime change"--a euphemism for overthrowing governments - and to its aggressive pronouncements that no nation will be permitted to rival us militarily.


As his own essay tends to reveal, the Democrats already have a defense policy and it is precisely the one that everyone is urging on the U.S.: they want to do whatever the U.N. tells us to do and nothing else. This, of course, is precisely why they won't spell it out in the kind of explicit terms that he's proposing. Significantly, neither does he; because as any American politician knows, such an admission would be the kiss of death for the Democrat Party. It was bad enough when they made themselves the anti-gun party--a position they completely abandoned after the 1994 debacle--let the Democrats become the party of blue helmets and black helicopters and they can kiss the West, Midwest and South goodbye, in perpetuity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 PM

AN AURAL HATE CRIME:

DIALTONES (A TELESYMPHONY)
Dialtones is a large-scale concert performance whose sounds are wholly produced through the carefully choreographed dialing and ringing of the audience's own mobile phones. Because the exact location and tone of each participant's mobile phone can be known in advance, Dialtones affords a diverse range of unprecedented sonic phenomena and musically interesting structures. Moreover, by directing our attention to the unexplored musical potential of a ubiquitous modern appliance, Dialtones inverts our understandings of private sound, public space, electromagnetic etiquette, and the fabric of the communications network which connects us.

Who wouldn't rather put their hand in a blender and hit frappe than listen to this?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:09 PM

MORE LIKE US:

US, Japan Astrophysicists Win Physics Nobel (Jan Strupczewski, 10/08/02, Reuters) -
Raymond Davis and Riccardo Giacconi of the United States and Masatoshi Koshiba of Japan won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics Tuesday for finding out how the sun shines and making it possible to discover distant stars.

It's happening again, and no one seems to want to acknowledge it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:52 PM

A TEXAN'S TAKE ON TAKI'S TAC:

Room for Improvement: Buchanan and Taki's The American Conservative. (Derek Copold, 10/06/02, The Texas Mercury)
Overall, I found TAC to be a good magazine, but not a great one. In its favor, TAC is tightly edited and tastefully formatted. I was able to read through it in about two hours, a good sign. What kept this issue from being great was the fact that most of the articles, though well written, failed to offer much in the way of new information. They were little more than extended opinion columns.  That's all right for a newspaper's editorial page, but in a magazine, readers want to see more than generalities; they want specifics: information about affairs they wouldn't normally find in either the paper or on the Internet. Only a few of the articles in TAC's inaugural edition were able to do this.

The best piece in this issue, though, was written by the relatively unknown Howard Sutherland, who analyzed an on-going attempt to sue South African companies for apartheid reparations. This article deserves special mention because the information it brings to light is invaluable. A lawyer himself, Sutherland dissects "Holocaust reparations" attorney Edward Fagan's attempt to turn the obscure Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 to his financial advantage.  Sutherland describes how this law, originally intended to help the victims of piracy on the high seas reclaim their goods from stateless buccaneers, is now under assault by Fagan. He then draws out for the reader the possible implications that might follow should Fagan succeed, most notably an unending series of lawsuits to win slavery reparations for black Americans. Stuffed with facts, logic and expert opinion, this is the kind of article a magazine like The American Conservative should publish.


Mr. Copold, who puts out a consistently interesting magazine of his own, offers a thorough and fair assessment, something that's been rare in mainstream media. It sounds like TAC is at least promising, though no sure thing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:46 PM

IT'S ONLY A DREAM, IT'S ONLY A DREAM, IT'S ONLY A DREAM...:

The Democrats' Woes (Charlie Cook, Oct. 8, 2002, National Journal)
In the Senate, putting aside New Jersey, the other three highly endangered Democratic seats seem to sit closer to the edge today than three of the four comparably situated Republican seats. Democratic Sens. Jean Carnahan of Missouri, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and PaulWellstone of Minnesota are all no better than 50-50; most polls show each race within two or three points one way or the other.

On the Republican side, while most polls do put freshman Sen. Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas behind by as much as 10 points, the other threemost endangered Republican seats seem slightly less endangered than are Carnahan, Johnson and Wellstone. [...]

Given that the party holding the White House has lost seats in the House in 32 out of 34 midterm elections since the end of the Civil War and Senate seats in three-quarters of them since the direct election of senators began, and that the economy is very weak and the stock market is in the toilet, it would seem almost given that Democrats should do well in this election.

If Republicans actually gain seats in the House and Senate, this will truly be a historic election, only the third time since the end of the Civil War. And it just might happen.


Charlie Cook is usually more sensible than this. It can't happen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

GERMAN TLC FROM THE DLC:

Despite some of the fiercest competition we've ever seen, this--Fraying friendships (Peter Ross Range, October 4, 2002, Baltimore Sun)--has to be the worst piece written on the deterioration of German relations with the United States. Mr Range, who it has to be noted is an employee of the Democratic Leadership Council, which gave us Bill Clinton and Al Gore, combines the worst elements of self-loathing, self-serving, factual error, excuse-making, and purblind analysis. His words are in italics:

The outbreak of anti-Americanism -- or, more properly, anti-Bushism -- in the German election campaign bears a salutary lesson for the Bush administration.

No matter who started this playground brawl -- Gerhard Schroeder with his adamant anti-war-in-Iraq stance, or Vice President Dick Cheney with his damn-the-inspectors speech in August -- important relations between major countries can clearly be damaged when neither pays enough attention to the other's interests and concerns.

Yes, Chancellor Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer shamelessly played the Iraq card in their campaigns, and it probably made the difference in their victory. Yes, there was a coded anti-Americanism in their populist message, though it in no way went as far as German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin's stumblebum comparison of President Bush's political tactics to those of Adolf Hitler.


This is simply bizarre. When we proposed dealing with a fascist dictator the Germans, no strangers to fascism themselves, broke out in anti-Americanism. Mr. Schroeder immediately resorted to it as a tool to rally his faltering political fortunes. His lackeys, following his lead if not his precise phrasings, then implied that George W. Bush is acting like a Nazi. And that's our fault.

One can't help but notice that no one in the Bush administration made the far more plausible connection between German anti-Semitism and fascist tendencies and their support for an anti-Semitic fascist dictator. Mr. Range's inability to determine who is more to blame here is presumably feigned, to serve some domestic political purpose. No objective observer could apportion blame equally between Bush/Cheney and Schroeder/Daeubler-Gmelin, for there are no instances of the former cynically trying to whip up anti-German feeling in the U.S..

By the time of the German election, bad will toward President Bush was so rampant in the German public that tapping into it on the Iraq issue was a no-brainer for Mr. Schroeder. Combined with historic German pacifism ("To us, war means Dresden," a German politician told me), anti-Bushism was a powerful force that saved Mr. Schroeder's foundering campaign, especially in the formerly Communist eastern Germany.

You really need to pause and reread that absurd phrase--"historic German pacifism". Then move on to the point, that Mr. Range leaves lying there, like a fish rotting on a dock, about the anti-American ploy working best in "the formerly Communist eastern Germany". Of course, eastern Germany was ruled by either the Nazis or the Communists from the 1930s until very nearly the present day. Their affinity for brutal dictatorships seems damn near genetic. And you have to love that quote from the German politician: "To us, war means Dresden." A non-apologist might, rather than selfishly dwell on a bad moment for the Aryans, point out that for Germany war means being stopped from killing other people, particularly Jews when we speak of WWII. This viewpoint has the great advantage of making it more understandable why they don't want to get rid of Saddam.

Clearly, much of Mr. Bush's problem in Germany is, well, George W. Bush. Before the election, I asked a number of Germans in the political class how they would feel if the president were named Clinton or Gore, if he had signed Kyoto, had supported the ICC and had not introduced steel tariffs -- but still had the same Iraq policy as Mr. Bush. Would they feel differently about Iraq? Almost all said they would.

In a related story, Karl Rove says that his informal polling shows 102% of the people on Earth feel more comfortable with George Bush running the country.

Germans are America's biggest fans in Europe. A significant portion of their leaders have strong personal ties to the United States--Mr. Schroeder's wife once lived in New York -- and send their children to our colleges. But at the same time, one hears words like inferiority complex, fear of dominance and the complaint of not being consulted in matters of war and peace.

The Brits, the Czechs, the Poles, etc., etc., etc., are all bigger fans and better friends than the Germans. Of course Germany has an inferiority complex; the strongest tie between Germany and America is that we defeated them in three different World Wars over the course of the 20th Century. Their lot in history seems to be playing the Washington Generals to our Harlem Globetrotters.

Yet the lack-of-consultation argument cuts both ways. Throughout the summer, as a robust debate over Iraq policy emerged in the United States, Germany slept. Its policy community barely discussed the issue, to the point the American director of the Aspen Institute Berlin wrote an opinion piece admonishing Germans to get involved. But their debate never really happened, says one German journalist, partly because much of the country's policy discussion is stifled by political correctness.

"You could never publish an op-ed piece asking whether Iraq might become a democracy, or oil prices might go down, two years after a war in Iraq," he said.


So what would be the point of consulting with them? A nation that is so politically correct that open discussion of issues is forbidden can hardly add anything useful, can it?

Mr. Range, in this piece, presents a laundry list of German pathologies many of which have endured or developed over decades--though he leaves out several of the most important, such as statism, racism, demographic catastrophe, economic decline, etc.--and then tries to implicate George Bush in them, though he's been President for just two years. That dog won't hunt.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM

HERE'S WHY NOW:

Blair to order invasion force this month (Richard Norton-Taylor, October 8, 2002, The Guardian)
Tony Blair is expected to order defence chiefs by the end of the month to prepare a significant British force for an attack on Iraq, Whitehall sources said yesterday.

They said that to be "legitimate" such an attack would not necessarily have to be supported by a UN mandate.

Britain's contribution to an American-led invasion of Iraq would be substantial and include heavy armour.

"If things had not moved on by the end of this month I would be very surprised," a senior Whitehall source said, meaning a political decision for a build-up of British forces in the Gulf to begin.


Maybe the war talk isn't just an election ploy, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM

"I'M NO TALENT":

Talent Catches Carnahan, According To Survey St. Louis (KSDK News Channel 5, 10/8/2002)
In the past two weeks, Republican Senate candidate Jim Talent eliminated the lead held by Democratic incumbent Jean Carnahan.

The survey taken this past weekend shows Carnahan and Talent are tied at 48-percent. That's a gain of five percent for Talent and a drop of three percent for Carnahan from the Survey USA poll conducted two weeks ago.


This race can't really be in play.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM

THREE GENERATIONS OF IMBECILES ARE ENOUGH:

Kennedy: Bush Iraq Plan a 'Pearl Harbor in Reverse' (NewsMax, Oct. 7, 2002)
Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said Monday that U.S. plans for preemptive action against Iraq reminded him of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor 61 years ago.

Debating President Bush's request for congressional authority to make war, Kennedy warned the Senate that a U.S. Iraq attack would be "a Pearl Harbor in reverse," according to the Associated Press.


C'mon, even we don't think FDR was as bad as Saddam Hussein. Of course the Kennedys are infamous appeasers of dictators. Joe Kennedy was pro-Hitler. Jack had a serious affair with a Nazi spy and later agreed to leave Castro in permanent control of Cuba. RFK wanted to cut and run in Vietnam. Now comes Ted to try and rescue Saddam. Thankfully he's not in the driver's seat of American foreign policy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM

TURNING THE VIOLENCE INWARD:

ARABS NEAR CIVIL WAR (URI DAN, October 8, 2002, NY Post)
The Gaza Strip was on the verge of a civil war yesterday after gunmen in disguise - believed to be Hamas terrorists - assassinated a top-ranking Palestinian police chief.

Four Hamas members and supporters were killed in bloody clashes that followed the kidnapping and slaying of Police Col. Rajeh Abu al-Hiya.

Al-Hiya would be the highest-ranking official of the Palestinian Authority killed by Hamas, and his death ends months of relative calm between the radical Muslim group and Yasser Arafat's police.


Though impolitic to contemplate, this is likely to be one of the main benefits of pushing for internal reform in the Arab world. They'll be so busy killing each other they won't have time to murder the rest of us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM

TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY:

Craft 'rammed' Yemen oil tanker (BBC, 6 October, 2002)
The owners of a French oil tanker on fire off the coast of Yemen say they believe it was rammed by a smaller boat, before exploding into flames.

A junior officer saw a craft approaching the Limburg. He was of the opinion that we touched that craft and then there was an explosion

Tanker company MD Peter Raes A junior officer on board the Limburg reported seeing a small craft "fast approaching" the tanker in the port of Ash Shihr, at Mukallah, 570 kilometres (353 miles) east of Aden, and believes the two vessels touched before an explosion occurred.


It takes a string of "ifs", but if this was done by al Qaeda and if the al Jazeera broadcast yesterday was a genuine message from al Qaeda, with its threat to "target your economic lifeline", then it would appear that they are in fact now targeting the oil supply and striking in Arab countries. One would think this could be a fruitful strategy for them since it's a target rich environment where their operatives will blend in better than here. Of course, the tanker fire could just be an accident and the broadcast a hoax.

October 7, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 PM

C'MON HUN, WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?:

Actress horrified to find daughter, 2, with ecstasy (Richard Alleyne, 08/10/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Sadie Frost, the actress and fashion designer, was said to be "in shock" yesterday after her two-year-old daughter Iris swallowed half an ecstasy tablet at a children's party.

Iris, the second child of Miss Frost and her husband Jude Law, the actor, picked up the tablet from the floor of the Soho House club in London during the party on Saturday afternoon.


So, let's see if we have this straight: you let your two year old crawl around on the floor of a nightclub?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 PM

SHOW ME THE MONEY QUOTE:

President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat (Remarks by the President on Iraq, Cincinnati, Ohio, 10/07/02)
The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself -- or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

Many nations are joining us in insisting that Saddam Hussein's regime be held accountable. They are committed to defending the international security that protects the lives of both our citizens and theirs. And that's why America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously.

And these resolutions are clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown.

By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. Unfortunately, at least so far, we have little reason to expect it. And that's why two administrations -- mine and President Clinton's -- have stated that regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation.


This is the part of the speech that really matters. For anyone who didn't understand the point when he made it in the UN Address, Mr. Bush is saying that compliance with the existing UN resolutions requires regime change.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 PM

THE GREENING OF THE LEFT:

Shame on Gephardt (Matthew Rothschild, October 3, 2002, The Progressive)
By leading the Democrats into the war tent, Gephardt has forfeited any right to legitimacy as Minority Leader. He and Joe Lieberman and the other Democrats who are echoing Bush, bellow for bellow, in bellicose rhetoric only serve to validate a main argument of Ralph Nader and the Green Party: that on issues of militarism and war, there is not a lot of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

You would think that at some point down the road the Greens could become a significant threat to the Democratic Party. To the extent that Bill Clinton succeeded in remaking the Democratic Party as a more moderate entity--one that is tougher on crime, hawkish on budget deficits, mildly more hawkish in foreign policy, and beholden to business interests--he distanced it from its traditional hard core of supporters. He was able to get away with it because he won them back the presidency, which after LBJ seemed like it had become permanently Republican (with the exception of the razor-thin, post-Watergate win by Jimmy Carter). But now, especially if the Democrats don't win big this November, you've got a party that's sold its soul and has nothing to show for it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 PM

BOXED IN:

President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat (Remarks by the President on Iraq, Cincinnati, Ohio, 10/07/02)
Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability -- even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.

Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Since we all agree on this goal, the issues is : how can we best achieve it?


The fact that even opponents of the war are forced to acknowledge-except for Jim McDermott-that Saddam Hussein is despicable, and a threat to at least his own people, seriously weakens the case against regime change. In effect they acknowledge that the goal is legitimate but then argue for weaker means. Inevitably they end up seeming somewhat unserious, if not "soft". At the point where you're saying-"Yeah, he's evil, but?"-you're losing the argument. That may not seem fair but if they wish it to be otherwise they really have to accompany their dovishness with a case for why Saddam should stay in power and that most, other than the most brutally "realist" advocates of "stability" at any cost., are understandably reluctant to do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM

IN SEARCH OF THE REAL GATSBY:

South Carolina investigator searching for more on the mysterious real-life Gatsby (PAGE IVEY, Oct 3, 2002, Associated Press)
Howard Comen spent a long, hot summer in New York on the trail of an elusive man - who's been dead for almost 45 years.

The Charleston-based private investigator is trying to unravel the mystery of 1920s socialite Max von Gerlach, or maybe his name was Max Stark Gerlach.

He may have been a German baron whose family fled Europe during World War I. He may have been a bootlegger who used a car dealership and society friends to hide his ill-gotten gains.

Gerlach's story - like those of so many of his Jazz Age peers - may have simply faded away with time. But, some experts say, Gerlach was immortalized by one of his contemporaries, F. Scott Fitzgerald, in "The Great Gatsby."


Though we're not as enamored of Gatsby as some, he is one of the most fascinating characters in American Literature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM

RED CURTAIN COMING DOWN:

Baz's Broadway opera: Luhrmann and Miller chose a monochrome theme (Maggie Shiels, 7 October, 2002, BBC)
The Australian director of movie hit Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann, has never been afraid to tinker with the arts world's sacred cows.

He did it most successfully with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where he opened the bard's work up to a more diverse crowd than schools ever could.

Now he is at it again, with the 40-year-old preparing to stage classic opera - Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme - on Broadway where he feels it will reach its "true audience".

By that he means supplanting the so called "opera buffs" who have turned the medium into an elitist art form for an "exclusive club".

"Puccini made this work that it could be played for all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds - that's everyone from the street sweeper to the King of Naples. That was our mission," he explains in San Francisco, where the opera will run first.


We're big Baz Luhrmann fans here. This review explains why.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 PM

WHO IS TOM DASCHLE?:

Mad Daschle (Bob Jones, 10/12/02, World)
According to an unsigned office memo, Mr. Daschle was the senator's point man on "Space, Defense (including Veterans), Foreign Affairs (including Middle East), [and] South Dakota Projects." Another unsigned memo gave him "primary responsibility for Middle East and all other foreign relations matters."

In any other Senate office, responsibility over Middle Eastern affairs would hardly have been considered a plum assignment. But Sen. Abourezk's parents were Lebanese, and he considered the Arab-Israeli conflict his top priority. Though he campaigned largely on farm issues back in South Dakota, he quickly established a reputation in Washington as the go-to guy for any group with an ax to grind against Israel--so much so that one radio commentator dubbed him "the Senator from Saudi Dakota." Sometimes his battles were petty, like his attempt to pressure the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the United Jewish Appeal (a charitable organization similar to the United Way), or his vote against confirming Henry Kissinger as America's first Jewish Secretary of State.

But other battles challenged the most basic assumptions of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Mr. Abourezk called the Israeli government "terrorist" and consistently opposed arms sales to Tel Aviv. He called for recognition of the PLO and embraced Syrian President Hafez Assad, a major sponsor of international terrorism. (Later, during the Gulf War, the former senator even compared Israel to Nazi Germany: "Israel has been grabbing land since 1948, and I don't know how you call it self-defense.... Hitler said he took Czechoslovakia in self-defense, you know.")

Almost every week, Mr. Abourezk was on the Senate floor, reading lengthy statements for the Congressional Record that deplored Israel. As the staffer in charge of Middle East issues, Mr. Daschle must at least have reviewed these statements, just as he reviewed every piece of correspondence dealing with foreign affairs.

Or was his involvement deeper? Mr. Abourezk's papers, now stored in more than 1,000 boxes at the University of South Dakota, contain hundreds of pages of statements from the Congressional Record, but usually only in printed form. What few drafts have survived are mostly typewritten and unsigned, making it impossible to determine the author.

But there are tantalizing exceptions that suggest Mr. Daschle was more than just a rubber stamp for the senator's views.


It was interesting that when he had his temper tantrum about the President politicizing the war, correspondents said that his anger must have been real not feigned because they'd never seen him that mad before. Of course the same reasoning could support the idea that he was merely playacting, like the prosecutor at a show trial.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM

THE LION'S SHARE:

Kenya's mysterious lioness adopts another oryx (Eliud Chisika, 10/08/02, East Africa Standard)
The internationally acknowledged oryx-adopting lioness in the Samburu National Game Reserve has for the fifth time adopted another baby oryx.

In an act that continues to baffle conservationists, the lioness was spotted yesterday morning strolling with the five-day old oryx at the game reserve by wardens. [...]

The lioness came to light when she first adopted a Beisa oryx named "Simon" last December 20 and lived with it for 14 days before it was mauled by a lion near the Uaso Nyiro River.

Its second oryx-named "Valentine"-was adopted on Valentines Day before Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rescued it and airlifted it to Nairobi. The lioness went on to adopt its third baby oryx on Easter Holiday and later made good its peculiar habits by adopting another one in May.


Has it occurred to anyone that she's just fattening them for the slaughter?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:14 PM

LEARNING TO LOVE THE DISCIPLINARIANS:

Poll Finds Arabs Dislike U.S. Based on Policies It Pursues: American Freedoms, Values Viewed Favorably, Survey Says (Karen DeYoung, October 7, 2002, Washington Post)
A plurality of respondents, asked to rate 10 issues in order of political importance to them, put civil and personal rights at the top of the list. Health care was second, followed by the "rights of the Palestinian people."

Interpreting these results, Zogby notes that the Palestinian issue, rather than being seen as a matter of foreign policy, "appears to have become a personal matter . . . ahead of more general concerns like moral standards or the state of their country's economy."

These views appeared to play a major role in determining Arab attitudes toward the United States. A majority of respondents in Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, for example, looked favorably on what the survey described as "American freedom and democracy." Assessments of American technological abilities and culture received similarly high marks. In all four countries, however, less than 10 percent viewed U.S.-Arab policy favorably.

Asked what the United States could do "to improve its relations with the Arab world," respondents focused largely on what they saw as a general unfairness toward and lack of understanding of the region, and a particular bias toward Israel in the Israeli-Arab conflict.


When you cut through everything else in the survey, it appears that the Arab world dislikes but wants to be like America, Israel, and Britain. Of course, their best chance of achieving their desire comes from precisely the pressure that we're applying. It's kind of similar to when youngsters want to grow up to be like their Dads, but resent being told what to do by same.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:41 PM

A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME:

Lautenberg inches ahead in Jersey Senate race; 54% say Democratic candidate swap was unfair (Quinnipiac University, October 7, 2002)
Former Sen. Frank Lautenberg leads Republican Douglas Forrester  49 - 45 percent among likely voters in New Jersey’s U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.   This tally includes likely voters who are leaning toward one of the candidates.

Democratic likely voters back Lautenberg 86 - 11 percent, while Republicans back Forrester 88 - 9 percent.  Independent likely voters split 46 - 45 percent.

By a 54 - 40 percent margin, New Jersey likely voters say the Democratic party’s candidate substitution of Lautenberg for Sen. Robert Torricelli is “unfair.”

But only 30 percent of voters say they can’t vote for the new Democratic candidate because of last week’s switch.

"The new Democratic candidate has turned the New Jersey Senate race into a whole new ball game that will be decided by independent voters.  New Jersey voters don't like the way Sen. Lautenberg got on the ballot, but they are glad to see tarnished Sen. Robert Torricelli gone.  And one in five of those voters who say last minute candidate switch is unfair say they will vote for Lautenberg anyway,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.


Considering the tumult in the race last week that 6% undecided number seems absurdly low. But if Mr. Forrester is really hanging in this well against a popular former incumbent who is benefitting greatly from the same I'm-not-the-Torch effect that had elevated the GOP nominee initially, then this race is in play to a degree one would not have predicted. Mr. Lautenberg has to be favored because it's a Democrat state, but it's a winnable race if Mr. Forrester can quickly make age, taxes, and national security the issues.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM

THE FUTURE HAPPENED YESTERDAY:

India To Use Israeli Radars To Check Rebel Infiltration In Kashmir (Agence
France-Presse, Oct 06, 2002)
A defence ministry source said the deal was signed recently, while the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said India had already
received the first of the 1,022 portable radars, which can detect human movement up to 10 kilometres (six miles) away.

India has already installed some of these radars along the Line of Control -- the de facto border dividing Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani
administered regions, the report added.

The decision to purchase the radars in bulk was taken after the Indian army reported considerable success in checking infiltration of Islamic rebels into
Indian-adminstered Kashmir following a trial of the sensors. [...]

Officials said the deal with Israel also covered the acqusition of 600 Elbit thermal-imaging systems to equip the Indian army's T-72 main battle tanks and 300 Russian BMP-II armoured personnel carriers.

Besides the portable radars, India has also signed a deal to acquire eight more Israeli Searcher-II unmanned air vehicles for deployment in the mountainous regions of Kashmir to monitor cross-border activity, the PTI report added.


We still eagerly await that Tom Friedman column about the Axis of Good, where he suddenly discovers that while the Times editorial board obsesses about our deteriorating relations with our former allies in Europe, it turns out we've been forging the alliance that will matter in the 21st Century with Israel, India, Turkey, Taiwan, Russia, etc.. These are the countries that share our democratic values and among us we surround both the Islamic world and the remaining Communist states: China, Cuba, North Korea. We have in place a brand new infrastructure, and a de facto policy, of containment though none of the Eurocentrists seem to realize it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:29 PM

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY:

Milton's on the money: Milton Friedman believes the Federal Reserve can afford to be very generous with the money these days. The brilliant economist is right again. (Larry Kudlow, 10/07/02, Town Hall)
Over the past 10 or 15 years, some supply-siders have ridiculed Friedman's brand of monetarism. But they shouldn't have. In Friedman's proven view, shifts in the money supply affect changes in national income (as measured by the gross domestic product) and prices. While the speed at which money changes hands is seldom exactly steady, the relationship between money and GDP holds up over long periods of time -- and sometimes even shorter periods of time.

Perhaps today's disappointing economic recovery and stock-market decline can be traced to a recent growth slump in the money supply.

Here are some facts. The Fed provides the raw material (or cash) to create the monetary base. The base, in turn, feeds or restrains the growth of M2 -- a conventional measure of money that includes currency, checking accounts, money-market funds and savings accounts. From the autumn of 2000 to the autumn of 2001, this measure of money roughly doubled to 12 percent from 6 percent, as the Fed sent fresh cash into the economy. This set the stage for economic recovery in 2002.

However, from the autumn of 2001 to the summer of 2002, M2 growth slipped all the way down to 4 percent. This nine-month decline in money growth parallels the devastating stock-market plunge and raises big questions about profits and the whole economic rebound.

The money slump has also released a new round of deflationary pressures. As Friedman has written throughout his career, money matters for prices as well as GDP. Inflation, or deflation, is a monetary phenomenon.


Isn't this an area where the surplus did terrific damage to the economy too, as debt was retired and money thereby removed from the economy?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM

WHAT PONY?:

Enthusiasm by Democrats Over Elections Is on the Wane (ADAM NAGOURNEY, October 7, 2002, NY Times)
Democratic leaders who two months ago predicted a strong showing in Congressional elections this fall have markedly scaled back their views, saying their hopes had been dimmed both by a concerted White House effort to focus attention on Iraq and by disarray in their own party over how to respond to the threat of war.

Democratic leaders said they were far from giving up on winning control of the House and holding on to or expanding their lead in the Senate. They pointed to polls showing voters were upset about the economy and the overall direction of the nation.


This is quite a frightening moment for a lifelong Republican. There's truly never been an election in my lifetime when the Democrats were generally pessimistic about their prospects and the media was reporting that they had reason to be discouraged. There have been several presidential landslides for the GOP in the past forty years--1972; 1980; 1984; 1988--but only in 1980 did Republicans have great congressional gains to go along with the big presidential win and, though it's easily forgotten now, 1980 was an upset and even in 1984 and 1988 there were periods as late as the conventions or the debates when the races appeared close.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 PM

CHARACTERIZATION:

In Pinocchio, a National Character (Daniel Williams, October 7, 2002, Washington Post)
Italy is reclaiming Pinocchio from the belly of Disney's cinematic whale this week, and the rebirth of the wooden puppet who would be areal boy provided a chance for Italians to engage in two national sports: self-regard and politics.

Roberto Benigni, the comic actor and director of the Oscar-winning movie "Life Is Beautiful," fashioned the new Pinocchio from a $40 million budget, making the movie the most expensive in Italian history. It is being released Friday in 800 theaters -- a third of the country's available screens, also a record. Even before the film's debut for critics the other day, Pinocchio's hold on the country's collective psyche was evident. It washard to find a commentary that did not include a phrase like, "We all have a little Pinocchio in us."

"Pinocchio is us, our national character, in the sense that he is a petty thief and foolish, a liar and betrayer, but is able to strip away every handicap,find in himself the good child, after crying bitter tears of remorse," wrote Giuliano Ferrara in Panorama magazine. [...]

Some Italians took offense that on the posters for Pinocchio, Benigni's name is prominent, but Collodi's is nowhere to be seen. Benigni dismissedthe criticism by saying that the Bible needs no introduction of its author.

God, however, got better reviews. Several critics said the movie was boring; one said he fell asleep during the showing.


Say what you will about Walt Disney, but it seems significant that contrary to Mr. Ferrara's vision of how Pinocchio reflects Italian character, Disney made an utterly American Pinocchio, one that's about needing to take responsibility for yourself and develop morally before you can become fully human. The difference surely has something to do with why our democracy works and their's doesn't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:37 AM

COURT JESTER:

McDermott accuses Bush of plotting to be emperor (David Postman, October 07, 2002, Seattle Times)
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott broadened his attack on George W. Bush's war plans yesterday, saying the president is threatening military action in Iraq as part of a plot to crown himself emperor of America.

Criticized for saying on a trip to Iraq early last week that Bush would mislead the American public, McDermott, a Seattle Democrat, was back in his district yesterday telling cheering supporters that Bush is planning a war to distract voters' attention from domestic problems.

He said Bush is trying to "submarine" efforts to restart weapons inspections in Iraq to give him a pretext for starting a war — a war McDermott said is being planned in part to bolster U.S. oil interests.

"And what we are dealing with right now in this country is whether we are having a kind of bloodless, silent coup or not," McDermott said at a town-hall meeting at the Jefferson Park Community Center on Beacon Hill. The event was sponsored by local Democrats and other groups in his congressional district.


This imbecile isn't a traitor to his country, it's his party he's betraying. Every time he opens his mouth he helps the President and kills the Democrats.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM

RISING FROM THE ASHES:

Sadly, it looks like the great site Arts & Letters Daily has gone buns up, a victim of the same bankruptcy that claimed Lingua Franca. Fortunately though, Denis Dutton, one of the contributing editors, now has his own site, Philosophy & Literature, which looks like it will carry on the tradition of terrific links to interesting stories.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM

AMERICA'S GREAT UNACKNOWLEDGED CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST:

Art is in more than eye of the beholder (DAVE BARRY, Oct. 06, 2002, Miami Herald)
Today we have an important art news update from England, or Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, or whatever they're calling it these days.

As you may recall, the last time we checked in on the British art community, it had awarded a major art prize, plus 20,000 pounds (about $30,000) to an artist named Martin Creed, for a work titled The Lights Going On and Off. It consisted of a vacant room in which the lights went on and off. [...]

The public has, over the years, learned to tolerate modern art, but only to the degree that it has nice colors that would go with the public's home decor. When examining a modern painting, the public invariably pictures it hanging over the public's living-room sofa. As far as the public is concerned, museums should put sofas in front of all the paintings, to make it easier to judge them.

This kind of thing drives your professional art snots CRAZY. They cannot stand the thought that they would like the same art as the stupid old moron public. And so, as the public has become more accepting of modern art, the art snots have made it their business to like only those works of ''art'' that are so spectacularly inartistic that the public could not possibly like them, such as The Lights Going On and Off.

Which leads us to the latest development in the British art world. You are going to think I made this development up. Even I sometimes wonderif I made it up, although I know for a fact that I did not, because I am looking at a story about it from The London Telegraph. Here is the key sentence:

"The Tate Gallery has paid 22,300 pounds of public money for a work that is, quite literally, a load of excrement.''

Yes. The Tate Gallery, which is a prestigious British art museum, spent 22,300 pounds -- or roughly $35,000 -- of British taxpayers' money to purchase a can containing approximately one ounce of an artist's very own personal . . . OK, let's call it his artistic vision. The artist is an Italian named Piero Manzoni, who died in 1963, but not before filling 90 cans with his vision. According to the Telegraph, "The cans were sealed according to industrial standards and then circulated to museums around the world.''


Dave Barry, a great defender of Red State values, is one of the prime exhibits in the case for all humor being conservative. Here he even echoes Tom Wolfe and the argument that Modern Art is junk.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

ELGOOG:

Meet Mr. Anti-Google: A crusading webmaster says the popular search engine's page-ranking algorithm is "undemocratic." (Farhad Manjoo, Aug. 29, 2002, Salon)
Daniel Brandt is a 54-year-old webmaster in San Antonio, Texas, and he's not a fan of Google. He knows that opinion puts him in the minority. Some people have insulted him for it, and others -- mostly webmasters -- have told him please shut up, lest Google get upset. "I've heard all the stories about Google -- how the former cook for the Grateful Dead serves up their lunches," he says, reciting a point of the Google mythology. "I know people love them, and I've been censored on some of the webmaster forums when I get too upset at Google."

But Brandt doesn't care, and he's not going to stop saying it, even if people get mad at him: Google's no good. Brandt believes that the search engine is unfair, and it doesn't -- as many people think -- return the best search results. Brandt runs google-watch.org, a new site that he hopes will act as "point of reference for privacy advocates, journalists and bloggers" who want to know the truth about Google.

What is the truth according to Brandt? Google's PageRank algorithm, the celebrated system by which Google orders search results, is not, as Google says, "uniquely democratic" -- it's "uniquely tyrannical." PageRank is the "opposite of affirmative action," he has written, meaning that the system discriminates against new Web sites and favors established sites. More than that, says Brandt, Google is a careless custodian of private information. When you search for something at Google, it saves your search terms and associates them with a cookie that is set to live on your machine for 36 years. Brandt fears that law enforcement officials could muscle Google into divulging all the terms you've ever searched for. Those terms could be "a window into your state of mind," and are therefore a clear violation of your privacy, he says.

Brandt is not a disinterested party; the dispute between Daniel Brandt and Google is personal. He has spent thousands of hours building a Web site that he believes is both useful and important, and Google, in its algorithmic blindness, has given Brandt a lower page rank than he thinks he's entitled to. Brandt finds it genuinely hard to believe -- and even personally insulting -- that Google won't give him more credit.


There, but for the grace of God and the love of a good woman, go I.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM

THE ONES TO WATCH:

Highlights of Key U.S. Senate Races (John Whitesides, October 06, 2002, Reuters)
Voters will decide the balance of power in the Senate in November, with Democrats clinging to a precarious one-vote edge.

Both parties are trying to protect small groups of vulnerable incumbents, while Republicans also must defend four open seats caused by retirements.

Thirty-four of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs. Democrats hold 50 and Republicans 49, with one independent.

Here are capsule looks at some key races...


The analysis is pretty thin, but it gives a quick overview of the competitive races.

October 6, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 PM

IS IT LIVE, OR IS IT MEMOREX?:

Osama bin Laden warns of more attacks against United States (Yahoo! News, Oct 6, 2002)
Terror suspect Osama bin Laden said the "youths of God" are planning more attacks against the United States until Washington stops its aggression against Muslims.

"By God, the youths of God are preparing for you things that would fill your hearts with terror and target your economic lifeline until you stop your oppression and aggression," said bin Laden in an audiotape broadcast by al-Jazeera


We'll wait for the voice analysis before we believe the evil one is alive and not setting posthumous spelunking records in Tora Bora. Hopefully he is hiding out somewhere, because that will give us the hollow pretext that the Left and the Euros are demanding to take down a few more dictatorships. If it is him, or his people, that economic lifeline bit suggests attacks on the Arab oilfields, not on American targets. That might finally snap the Saudis out of their stupor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM

AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS:

Bizarre Behavior: Watching a trio of Democrats criticize the president from Iraq made them look like a bunch of `Hanoi Janes' (Eleanor Clift, 10/04/02, NEWSWEEK)
WATCHING DEMOCRAT JIM McDermott hold forth from Iraq on how President Bush is misleading the American people made me wonder how such a smart person can do such a dumb thing. The trio of Democratic House members who traveled to Iraq-and then, while still on enemy soil, gave numerous interviews critical of U.S. foreign policy-are learned people with significant life experience.

There's not a lawyer among them. McDermott is a psychiatrist, Michigan's David Bonior is a former seminarian and California's Mike Thompson is a former college professor. All served with distinction in Vietnam. McDermott counseled troubled troops; Thompson was awarded a Purple Heart. They know the face of war, and they were seared by it. Their arguments against a preemptive military strike on Iraq have merit, but Baghdad is not the place to wage the debate.

Democrats are having a hard enough time challenging President Bush's high-flying war policy. The imagery of these lawmakers broadcasting livefrom Baghdad invited unflattering comparisons to "Hanoi Jane," Jane Fonda's trip to the Vietnamese capital during the height of the Vietnam War. But Fonda was a confused, young actress, Sen. John McCain reminded us this week. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and it took him decades to forgive Fonda, if he has. What his fellow lawmakers did was worse, he said, because they should know better. Maybe the peace wing of the Democratic Party, such as it is, will applaud McDermott and company for standing up for what they believe. But before anybody sings too many hosannas, it should be pointed out that two of the three are in safe Democratic districts, and the third (Bonior) is a lame duck. They had nothing to lose. But their colleagues in less secure situations have a lot to lose if the peacenik label or the loony-left image that dogged the Democratic Party for years is revived


As Jon Fulbright, who sent this, said: LBJ said back in 1968 that when he lost Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam War, he had lost the nation and decided not to run for a second term. Democrats who oppose Bush on the war in Iraq ought to be saying today "If we've lost Eleanor Clift, we've lost the nation."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:48 PM

INFORMATION TRUMPS TITILLATION:

A bulletin is better than sex: Suddenly the news is sexy, and surfing the net to keep up with current affairs on sites such as Ananova is more popular than hunting down X-rated material. (Stewart Kirkpatrick, 27 Sep 2002, The Scotsman)
A survey by Websense, a San Diego company that - surprise, surprise - sells surf monitoring software to employers, says a quarter of workers feel they're addicted to the web. And 23 per cent of them feel that news sites are the most addictive, compared with 18 per cent favouring "adult" content.

In the wake of 9/11, the word "sex" did not appear in the list of the top ten terms entered into search engines - the first time that had ever happened in net history. The trend has continued. Enter the word "sex" on Google, the world's biggest, best search engine, and see 81,600,000 results. Type "news" and 189,000,000 come up. Poor old "porn" can only raise a feeble 25,400,000. [...]

The Pew Research Centre in Washington DC says 61 per cent of people using the web read news online every week. More than a quarter of us read it online every day. The scale of that only becomes apparent when you realise that more than 500 million people use the web. Some quick maths suggests that more than 100 million people worldwide visit news sites on a daily basis.


Of course, in the good old days, when Margaret Thatcher was in the news, you got both.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:39 PM

POST-FACTUALISM:

On the sixth day, post-modernism: A suburban school board declares that evolution is just another theory (The Economist, Oct 3rd 2002)
On September 26th the school board of Cobb County, in the north-western Atlanta suburbs, voted to amend existing policy to allow discussion of "disputed views of academic subjects", specifically the idea that God created the universe in six days-Charles Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould and the rest of them be damned.

The vote came after a month of deliberation, at a meeting crowded with concerned parents. Some 2,000 of the county's residents signed a petition last spring to have the board put stickers on biology textbooks telling students that evolution is a theory, not a fact. "What they're trying to do is appease the religious right," says Michael Manely, the lawyer representing a local parent who wanted the stickers removed. [...]

Cobb County's new policy argues that providing information on "disputed views" is "necessary for a balanced education" and will help to promote "acceptance of diversity of opinion". A poll commissioned in 2000 by People for the American Way, a liberal-minded group, shows that many Americans think this way. Nearly half of the respondents believed that the theory of evolution had not yet been proved. And of those who believe in evolution-only a fifth wanted evolution taught alone-three-quarters liberally agreed that students should be presented with "all points of view" and "make up their own minds". In this post-modern reasoning, evolution and the Book of Genesis are equally valid.


That last sentence is accurate only if you consider Evolution to be "proven", which as the story has just shown, most Americans don't.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:06 PM

THE ABSURDITY OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW:

Swett's campaign would make Tony Soprano proud (Bernadette Malone, 10/06/02, Union Leader)
Much like fictional mobster Tony Soprano in Jersey City, Tom Lantos commands his own "crew" in Washington. Lantos is the top-ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee. "Ranking members" such as Lantos control a lot in Washington, and they command a lot of respect. But they don't get nearly as much respect or power as chairmen - the highest ranking members of the majority party on each committee. [...]

So Lantos has come up with a scheme that will get his daughter Katrina a swell job and increase his chances of becoming a chairman. Just as Tony bought his daughter Meadow a place of honor at Columbia University, Lantos is trying to buy his daughter a New Hampshire congressional seat.

Federal law limits the amount of money any individual can donate to her race. So members of Lantos' crew are giving Katrina donations for her race against Republican Rep. Charlie Bass--after he lines their pockets with his own cash.

"I probably wouldn't have helped her out if it wouldn't have been for her dad," Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat who represents Hollywood and serves under Lantos on the International Relations Committee, told the Washington newspaper Roll Call on Sept. 30. "But Tom wants everybody to help her out."

Lantos gave Sherman $1,000 on June 26, and Sherman gave Katrina Swett $2,000 the same day.

Roll Call also reports that Lantos gave committee member Eliot Engel of the Bronx $2,000 on March 18. Three weeks later, Engel gave Katrina Swett $2,000.

Lantos gave committee member Rep. Shelley Berkley of Las Vegas $2,000 on April 17. On May 30, she turned around and gave Katrina Swett $2,000. Also on April 17, Lantos gave committee member Rep. Earl Blumenauer's Committee for Livable Future PAC $5,000. The PAC gave Katrina Swett $5,000 on May 21.

Understand what's going on here? Or as Tony Soprano would ask, "Capisce?"


Do we really end up with a better system when a fundamentally decent guy like Tom Lantos has to stoop to such shenanigans to help his daughter?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM

WHY DO THEY LOVE US?:

Poll on US ties rocks Iran (BBC, 2 October, 2002)
Media heads face prosecution in Iran over a ground-breaking opinion poll on mending relations with the United States.

It showed a large majority of the population in favour of dialogue with the "Great Satan" and nearly half showing sympathy with US policy on Iran. [...]

The reformist-dominated national parliament, which commissioned the poll, has defended it and called for the prosecutions to be dropped.

According to the poll of 1,500 Iranians, conducted by three separate institutes including the National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls (NIRSOP) and published by Irna on 22 September:

74% of respondents over the age of 15 support dialogue with the US

45.8% believe Washington's policy on Iran is "to some extent correct".


In a strange sense, Iran may be one of the more open countries in the Middle East. One wonders how many other populaces in the region might return similar results if they could answer such questions honestly and without fear of reprisal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM

WISPS ESCAPING THE SMOKE FILLED ROOM:

The 2 days that shook New Jersey and national politics (JEFF WHELAN AND JOSH MARGOLIN , October 06, 2002, Newark Star-Ledger)
Norcross, the Camden County political boss, proposed a dark horse candidate: Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts, also of Camden and Norcross' business partner.

Corzine scoffed at the idea, according to sources present, saying it would be an impossible sell in Washington. Norcross persisted, enlisting Lynch in his cause.

Others thought it was an uninspired choice. "That's what happens when you get a bunch of political hacks in a room. You get the lowest common denominator," said one participant. [...]

Norcross was making calls to the party's top money men, including labor leaders, selling his man. McGreevey was also on the phone, strongly indicating Roberts was the choice.

Daschle aides, however, notified McGreevey's advisers that if Roberts emerged as their pick, national Democrats would yank their campaign funding.

The McGreevey men sent back a message that they were committed to Roberts.

Shocked, national party leaders mounted an anti-Roberts offensive. "Anybody who could pick up a phone got a call," said one high-level Democratic operative in Washington.

Roberts, the dark horse, was scratched.


Machinations like this, and the article reveals many, make this quote quite laughable:
"The decision [by Torricelli] to withdraw was not a decision the Democratic Party made. It was not a decision of any voter of this state made other than Senator Torricelli himself," said Angelo Genova, a lawyer for the Democratic State Committee.

and put paid to the notion that this is an exercise in democracy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM

OUR SENATE RACE:

District 5 Hopefuls See Options to Property Tax-Based Funding (Dan Billin, 10/02/02, Valley News)
Both candidates in state Senate District 5 are calling for changes in education funding, giving voters a clear choice on the biggest issue facing the next legislature.

Democratic incumbent Clifton Below wants to lower local property taxes by increasing state aid to education 50 percent. He's pushing for an income tax dedicated to education funding.

Republican challenger Nancy Merrill wants to keep state aid levels where they are, but reform the way the money's distributed. Instead of giving every district the same per-student amount, New Hampshire should focus on picking up the special education costs that the federal government currently leaves to local districts, she says.

Both candidates are well-known in Lebanon, the district's largest community. That, along with the fact that redistricting has tipped this Democratic-held district slightly more Republican, could make District 5 one of the most competitive state Senate races this year.

The GOP currently controls the state Senate by a two-seat margin.


I helped write some ads for the guy who ran against Below last time. He had a pretty good shot until the out-of-state Dartmouth students who had been registered by the Gore campaign showed up at the Hanover polls to vote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:14 PM

IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING:

Bush confirms antiabortion stance: UN step is signal; foes query timing (Mary Leonard, 10/6/2002 , Boston Globe)
Last week, the president shifted $34 million out of the UN Population Fund, which he says coerces abortions in China, and into a USAID program that will distribute it, country by country, for the health of children and mothers.

Kenneth Conner, president of the Family Research Council, said it was ''bold and decisive'' to deny the family-planning funds, even as the administration was pressing the United Nations for a resolution to act against Iraq.

''I think the president has taken some significant steps that affirm his desire to help refashion the culture of life in which every child is welcomed in life and protected in law,'' said Conner, whose group advocates a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

The administration made the UN move days after it had set a policy allowing states to provide health insurance to ''unborn children,'' designating a fetus as eligible for government benefits. Abortion rights groups say this is aimed at undermining the Roe v. Wade decision, which found that women have a qualified right to terminate pregnancies. Administration officials say their goal is to advance prenatal health care.

Last month, the White House strongly endorsed a bill passed in the House that permits hospitals and insurance companies to refuse to perform or to pay for abortions without losing their Medicare eligibility or other federal funding.


Brother Murtaugh has asked several times why conservatives support President Bush when he's done nothing for them. Even setting aside tax cuts, unilateralism, free trade and all the other stuff that gets our engines racing, this article does a nice job of showing why having a conservative President matters. There are just myriad things he can do under the radar, in his role as executive, to advance conservative positions.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:06 PM

STRANGENESS:

Police Won't Confirm Missing Man Has Shooting Connections: Man Is Reportedly Affiliated With White Supremacist Groups (NBC4, October 5, 2002)
State police in North Carolina said that they're looking for a former resident -- but won't confirm or deny a connection to a string of killings in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

A Raleigh newspaper, The News and Observer, reports that a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has issued a bulletin for Robert Gene Baker III. [...]

He is white, 5-feet-9 and 195 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair and tattoos on both arms and back.

He was said to be traveling south in a white 2000 GMC van with dark lettering. The vehicle has a Maryland registration.

The ATF said that Baker is armed with a handgun and high-powered rifle and should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.


The only places we've seen this reported are at this TV station and in the Independent (uk) which says Baker is a white supremacist, White racist hunted after sniper attacks (Andrew Gumbel, 06 October 2002):
Police across three US states were searching yesterday for a 33-year-old white supremacist from North Carolina who they believe may be linked to the shocking series of random killings that have terrorised the Washington area over the past few days.

According to a bulletin from the North Carolina office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a man named Robert Gene Baker III was believed to be around the American capital armed with a handgun and a high-powered rifle, and should be considered extremely dangerous. The ATF said he was driving a white GMC truck with Maryland registration plates and heading south towards North Carolina.


What gives?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM

WHO'S AFRAID OF PROFESSOR VOLOKH?:

Movin' on Up with the Federalist Society (AMY BACH, October 1, 2001, The Nation)
How does a 1L at Harvard Law School end up singing arm-in-arm with one of the most influential judges on the federal appellate bench? If you are a student at almost any law school, not just one of the top ones, and you have remotely conservative interests, you too can join a student chapter of the Federalist Society and gain automatic admission to the highest echelons of right-wing politics and legal advocacy. Take Chris Ward, 31, a former Latin teacher who graduated from Harvard Law School this spring. As a first year student, he attended the society's annual national student symposium, held that year in Chicago. Afterward he repaired to a hotel bar where he and his friends joined in singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor.

This hilariously paranoid article shows why even qualified conservatives get raked over the coals in their confirmation hearings. Liberals view conservatives in much the way that conservatives once (rightly) viewed Communists, Protestants once (mostly wrongly) viewed the Jesuits, and Europeans (despicably) view Jews, as members of a dangerous and secretive conspiracy determined to overthrow the state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 AM

NASCAR DEMOCRATS?:

Huntin' for Nascar-Lovin', Moon-Pie-Eatin', Bluegrass-Listenin', Shotgun-Totin' Democrats (Matt Bai, September 15, 2002, NY Times Magazine)
Theoretically, the Democratic message should play well in small-town America at a time when the economy lags and corporate scandals are decimating retirement plans. But now, more than ever, Democratic candidates face a cultural problem in these districts; they must overcome the perception that they're in league with effete urban liberals, people who wouldn't know a Moon Pie or an RC Cola if it whacked them in the head. The party of Jefferson and Jackson, which not long ago owned the nation's back roads and general stores, is seen in much of the country as disconnected from -- if not contemptuous of -- the people who spend their weekends hunting, at church or watching stock cars.

This divide, long a source of concern within the party, has lately become a burning preoccupation. Since the 2000 election map highlighted a deep cultural tension between the cities (the blue states) and the sticks (the red states), some Democrats in Washington have been calling on the party to concentrate its efforts on rural voters. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee in the Senate, says that the party's standing in rural states is in serious peril, after years of neglect. ''They will not see senators and congressmen elected 20 years from now in those states unless they give a damn about helping to build a political base once again,'' he says. ''You ask, 'What do people think of the Democratic Party?' Frankly, I don't think much of it.''

But the people who run the party, many of them from the urban political machines, insist that the party's appeal in rural America is in fact growing; they point out that Democrats control most of the statehouses in the South and hold both Senate seats in West Virginia, Georgia and both Dakotas. From their point of view, the only thing Democrats need to do in remote areas is talk louder about the economic issues -- like Social Security and health care -- that define the party.

Into this widening breach step a pair of new-breed political consultants: Steve Jarding and Mudcat Saunders. Jarding, who once plucked chickens in South Dakota, his native state, and his sidekick, Saunders, a self-described ''hillbilly'' from Virginia, helped win a surprising victory for the party in the Virginia governor's race last year. Their unconventional rural strategy centered on issues that aren't usually the focal point of Democratic campaigns, like taking vocational education and broadband technology to remote areas. But what really drew attention was how they got their message out: the campaign featured a bluegrass band, a race truck and their very own hunting brigade.

Since then, Jarding and Saunders have taken their tactics on the road, aspiring to create a whole new army of what might be called Nascar Democrats.


Any headway you can make with such folks by playing up economic resentments surely has to be dissipated by the national party's stances on cultural issues--guns, abortion, affirmative action, etc.--and by how wifty the Democrats have gone, once again, on the war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM

WATCH THE SKIES:

Things are looking up: Science writer Timothy Ferris turns his sights to stargazing (Heidi Benson, September 12, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
Say Hunter Thompson asks you to write an introduction for his new book. If you're his pal Timothy Ferris and your own book just came out, and you're juggling interviews so tightly scheduled they dovetail like mahogany dowels, it's tough to find the time. Let alone the manuscript.

Perched in his sun-drenched Telegraph Hill office one recent morning, Ferris recalls asking Thompson to hold the phone.

"I was fumbling around and a second went by and Hunter said" -- (trademark growl, dripping with disdain) -- " 'I'm beginning to understand why it takes you 10 years to finish a book.' "

In fact, Ferris has written 10 books, including the best-sellers "The Whole Shebang" and "Coming of Age in the Milky Way." Considered the best science writer of his generation, the Pulitzer nominee has won countless science awards and written and narrated the PBS documentaries "Life Beyond Earth" and "The Creation of the Universe." [...]

"I've always been wary of evangelical intentions in writing -- I used to caution Carl Sagan against it," Ferris says of his friend and mentor. "But this book does have an evangelical component. I guess my fondest dream would be that it would result in doubling the number of stargazers in this country."


Mr. Ferris is indeed a marvelous writer and, if you ever get the chance, the film The Creation of the Universe is wonderful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM

SAVING A DEMOCRACY:

Canadians can look Down Under for democratic reform Australia's effective, elected Senate (Jack Aubrey, October 01, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
There are signs on the rolling highway to Australia's tidy capital city that offer some unintentional advice to Canada's beleaguered and much-maligned Senate.

The signs, which are directed to sleepy truckers, read: "Stop. Revive. Survive."

And if the country ever does stop to breathe life into the lifeless red chamber in Ottawa, the model offered up by the Australian Senate is a good place to start. To begin with, it's elected.


This is just one part of an astonishing 19-part series called The State of Our Democracy. Many of the offered cures seem as bad or worse than the disease, but it's fascinating to see how a mature democracy is grappling with some major problems.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM

PRETTY WORDS & FOUL DEEDS:

The blood-stained truth behind Clinton's fine words in Blackpool (Fergal Keane, 05 October 2002, Independent uk)
I remember standing in the UN compound in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Mortars were flying back and forth. A few days earlier, a round had hit the peacekeepers' building, another had killed a UN captain as he tried to negotiate the release of trapped civilians. A few weeks previously, the UN force had been scaled down from several thousand to several hundred; this with the active encouragement of the US and approved by President Clinton. The remaining soldiers from Ghana and Bangladesh and Tunisia were led by one of the bravest military men in history, General Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian who'd been left to do his best with the tiny force and a few antiquated armoured personnel carriers. I was talking to a Nigerian UN officer about the possibility of reinforcements coming. It wasn't going to happen, he said. The UN force couldn't even get some extra armoured vehicles to allow it to patrol more extensively. He then said something which-- even in the midst of a charnel house like Kigali--shocked me to the core.

"The vehicles are ready, man, but the Americans are arguing over the rental terms." There were questions about who would pay for what and when. So the vital vehicles didn't make it to Rwanda until July as the genocide was ending. The Clinton administration did more than haggle over terms. Even when it was clear as daylight that a genocide was under way the US State Department consistently refused to use the G word. In one unforgettable exchange a spokeswoman said "acts of genocide" had occurred. She was then asked by an exasperated reporter how many "acts of genocide" it took to make a genocide.

This was the response: "That's just not a question I'm in a position to answer." Which was true, since the man who could have given the answer, William Jefferson Clinton, had decided that Rwanda was a lot more trouble than it was worth. Had the US accepted that the attempt to exterminate the Tutsi was genocide then a legal obligation to intervene would have swung into force. That was the 1948 Genocide Convention framed in the wake of the Holocaust to ensure that never again meant never again. So rather than step in to save a people from extinction the Clinton administration lied. It was the lie of obfuscators and dissemblers, but a lie all the same.


I, as I expect many of you, would have opposed sending U.S. troops to intervene in Rwanda, so we can hardly fault Bill Clinton for heeding our wishes. But, if you've seen the speech, it was revolting hearing him go on about his recent visit to Rwanda and then talk about his experience in sending troops to war (Kosovo) and the efficacy of international institutions. If you actually believe in the whole skein of international laws you have an obligation to apply them, and Bill Clinton's failure to do so in Rwanda should shame him to silence. Sadly, as we all know, he has no capacity for shame.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM

BUGGIN':

Exterminators rescue bug-weary block (Dan Geringer, Oct. 04, 2002, Philadelphia Daily News)
HELD HOSTAGE for two years by a cockroach army that numbered in the thousands, long-suffering residents of the 1500 block of Hewson Street in Fishtown cheered exterminators yesterday as they emerged victorious from the roaches' breeding ground: 1585.

Wearing full-face respirators and full-body, polyethylene 'space' suits, exterminators Frank Fioravanti and his nephew, Ed Fioravanti, were followed out of the rowhouse by wave after wave of poisoned cockroaches, gasping their last before dying in Hewson, near Cedar Street.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 AM

THE MAIN EVENT:

Brawling With Barbra Online (JOHN SCHWARTZ, October 6, 2002, NY Times)
THE Internet is a terrific place to have a brawl, at least if you want a crowd. Post, riposte, with a potential audience of millions.

In this case, the combatants are Barbra Streisand, heavyweight celebrity and liberal, in one corner; Matt Drudge, heavyweight Internet gossip columnist and conservative, in the other.


Babs better have a good cut man, because Drudge is about two good shots away from turning her into Duk Koo Kim.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

HAGIOGRAPHY:

Profile: George W Bush: He means what he says (William Hague, 06/10/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Not for the first time we have a President of the United States who enjoys an extraordinary and sustained level of support from the American public but is misunderstood and mistrusted on our side of the Atlantic. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was often derided in British and European opinion as being no more than a B-movie actor who was not up to the job intellectually.

Even when he turned out to be an immensely successful president who pursued his goals on taxation, defence and international relations with great clarity and success a huge proportion of otherwise well-informed people in Europe continued to regard him as little more than an imbecile.

The same people say many of the same things about George W Bush. He is not an intellectual. He uses strange language. He knows nothing of the rest of the world. He doesn't look as if he can think straight.

Mr Bush can turn up at the United Nations, as he did on September 12, and deliver a speech that is shrewd in its diplomacy, flawless in its delivery and unanswerable in its logic but his critics cling doggedly to their initial preconceptions.

I have been lucky enough over the past four years, both as Leader of the Opposition and since leaving that office, to see and talk to Mr Bush in a variety of situations, from the governor's office in Texas to his current residence at the White House. Being on the Right of politics and an enthusiast about America, I am, of course, biased, but I have always found him completely different from his popular caricature.


It's a blatant suck-up piece, but an exceptionally nice one.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM

THE TIMES VS. THE LAW:

A Fiery First Encounter for Senate Candidates (DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI, October 6, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Torricelli dropped out on Monday, 36 days before the election, and although New Jersey law only expressly permits candidate substitutions at least 51 days before, the State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Mr. Lautenberg's name could be placed on the ballot.

The Times may be biased but it is still a newspaper, with an obligation to report facts. Note how they're forced to report this one: the law "only expressly" permits substitution up to 51 days before the election. One assumes that, since the Times itself demanded that this time limit be set aside, its editors are privvy to some hidden meaning within the text that is not apparent to the rest of us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 AM

THE STACKED DECK:

Why the Blogosphere is Conservative (Richard Poe, October 4, 2002)
THE LEFTISTS ARE WHINING again. In the'80s, they sniveled, "Why is talk radio right-wing?" In the ?90s, they wept, "Why do conservatives rule the
Internet?" Now a new version of the same old complaint has arisen: "Why are all the blog sites conservative?"

The answer to all three questions is the same. Talk radio, webzines, list servers, message boards and now blog sites have one thing in common. They are interactive. They let people talk back. Consequently, it is physically impossible for new media to do what old media did - that is, to shove unpopular ideas down peoples' throats and pretend that the audience likes it.

Such tactics simply don't work in the blogosphere.

When people get a chance to speak without censorship, they say things you would never hear on CNN or NBC. They vent their contempt for the Left, and express their resentment of Big Media for pushing leftist ideas.


You don't suppose it's simply a function of demographics do you? If the average person on-line remains a fairly affluent single white male technocrat why should we be surprised that they are conservative/libertarian? Similarly, talk radio leans Right because you have a bunch of white male salesman types driving around in their cars with the radio on.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:11 AM

PAPA SMURF FOR SENATE:

Senate candidate blue -- literally (AP, October 3, 2002)
Montana's Libertarian candidate for Senate has turned blue from drinking a silver solution that he believed would protect him from disease.

Stan Jones,a 63-year-old business consultant and part-time college instructor, said he started taking colloidal silver in 1999 for fear that Y2K disruptions might lead to a shortage of antibiotics.

He made his own concoction by electrically charging a couple of silver wires in a glass of water.


A spokesman for the NAACP said that it's unconscionable that there are no blues in the US Congress.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 AM

TERRORISM OR ACCIDENT?:

Oil tanker explodes off Yemen (BBC, 6 October, 2002
A French-owned oil tanker is on fire off the coast of Yemen after an explosion on board.

Yemeni officials say they do not consider the blast an act of sabotage, but a diplomat at the French embassy told the AFP news agency it was believed to be a terrorist attack. "The oil tanker was rammed by a small boat stuffed with explosives," the French Vice-Consul, Marcel Goncalves, said. [...]

"It seems to be an attack in the same style as the USS Cole," said the diplomat, referring to the attack on the American warship in which 17 US servicemen were killed.

But Yemeni officials are adamant the incident is nothing like that attack, blamed on al-Qaeda, two years ago in the port of Aden.


Whose version do you trust: the Yemenis or the French?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:02 AM

A BRIDGE TOO FAR:

Latino caucus dumps Davis: They're angry about his veto on
driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. (Emily Bazar, October 5, 2002, Sacramento Bee)
The state's Latino Legislative Caucus dealt Gov. Gray Davis a major blow Friday when it announced it will not endorse his bid for re-election.

The move by the group of 22 Democratic senators and Assembly members was triggered by Davis' veto earlier this week of a package of bills that
would have allowed some undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. [...]

The Davis campaign immediately sought to downplay the announcement, saying the governor enjoys broad support among Latinos.

To bolster their argument, Davis aides pointed to the most recent Field Poll, in which Davis led Republican rival Bill Simon by seven percentage
points.

In the poll, 61 percent of Latinos opted for Davis, 8 percent for Simon, 7 percent other and 24 percent undecided. Latinos represented 14 percent of
the likely voter sample.


We're big proponents of the GOP recruiting Latino voters, but it would be disgraceful to try to curry favor by supporting such absurd things as
licenses for illegals just because it might help politically. Republicans need to make Latinos feel wanted and welcome while sticking to conservative
principles. It's nice that Gray Davis has more trouble, but there's not much opportunity here for Republicans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 AM

WAIT A SECOND....:

Privative health care: Dumont: Quebecers' lives would improve, says leader of ADQ (BBC, October 6, 2002
Medicare is no longer humane because it's so inadequate, while more private health care would improve people's lives, L'Action democratique du Quebec Leader Mario Dumont said yesterday.

Attempting to paint himself as a compassionate conservative, Dumont told party members his policies aren't geared towards the rich.

Dumont had a sizeable lead in recent opinion polls and may become premier after an election expected next spring.


Maybe Quebec is a Red Province after all...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:41 AM

DYING...QUIETLY:

Will the last person to leave the Tory party please turn out the light...: For almost two decades the Conservatives reigned absolute. Now membership is at an all-time low, it's years since they led the polls and the sex and sleaze refuse to go away. (Rachel Cooke, October 6, 2002, The Observer)
Three weeks ago, I set off in search of the nation's Tories - a group who, it seems to me, are increasingly invisible in all walks of life. I wanted to find out what made them tick, and how they kept going in this, their darkest hour. Many of those I approached were not at all keen to talk; they appeared to have a self-esteem problem. Even Boris Johnson, the publicity-hungry member for Henley, wouldn't take me on tour with him (he's a star on the rubber chicken circuit). 'I know your game,' he said. 'You're going to take the mickey out of my ladies.' When I replied that his supporters should be proud of their politics, he just harrumphed.

In the end, I did persuade quite a few people to play ball, and they were extremely kind and generous with their time (though, to be fair, I paid them back, not only by delivering leaflets, but by buying more raffle tickets than you can possibly imagine). Their planet is, however, a strange and nostalgic one - a land that time forgot, a world of brooches and regimental ties, of pork pies and potted meat (for anyone who can't remember, it tastes like old dishcloth). The good thing about this parallel universe is that it makes you feel amazingly young and groovy, even if, like me, you are in your thirties. The bad thing about it is that it is fading fast - and this has implications far beyond who organises the prizes at the next grand tombola. The opposition is, quite literally, dying on its feet. [...]

The other thing that strikes you is how archaic many of their views remain - in spite of all the talk of change. One young female agent - she was 23 - tells me that she does not believe in benefits of any kind - full stop . In Stourbridge, meanwhile, some of the opinions I am offered - on the record - are just as eye-popping. Here is my friend Les, an approved parliamentary candidate, on the death penalty: 'In principle, I'm not against. I don't want to say I'd hang and flog them all. But I think there are classifications of people who should be put out of their misery.' And here he is on Section 28: 'I do have a problem with promulgating the idea that it's a normal lifestyle, because clearly it isn't. We wouldn't be here if we took that line.'

So: old age, depression, low self-esteem and, occasionally, barmy-sounding views. The twenty-first century Conservative Party. Assuming that we all believe that a fully functioning opposition is a good thing - even if we don't agree with every word its leader shouts across the dispatch box - what on earth is to be done? Unfortunately, I have no answers - and neither, really, do the wise men I consult when I get home. 'They should wake up,' says the historian Peter Clarke, editor of Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 . 'What is happening to the Conservatives is not just about the ups and downs of the political cycle. It's far, far more serious than that. At the moment, they are banking on catastrophe--hoping the Government mishandles the euro, or that some other crisis obligingly overwhelms it. That's a very foolhardy approach.' Does he believe that conservatism is a spent force? 'In this country, there'll always be the potential for a party to capitalise on conservative instincts. Blair has recast Labour using exactly that kind of rhetoric. What the Tories need to do is occupy the centre ground in a pragmatic, sane, civilised way.'


It's an interesting story but her notion of what's barmy is itself bizarre. From what you can find on-line, it does look like Brits have no interest in privatizing social services, but majorities support both Section 28 and the death penalty and a huge majority oppose joining the European Union. From these numbers it would appear that what is killing the Tories is not the age of its membership and their ideas, but their timidity about them. Even if the Party can't bring itself to propose major reform of British social services--especially National Health--it should be able to combine traditional morality and culture (everything from the death penalty to fox hunting) with an aggressive campaign against European Union and should be able to gain considerable traction with a public that seems to like their position on those issues.

October 5, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 PM

BITING THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP:

Rapture and Rupture (MAUREEN DOWD, October 6, 2002, New Republic)
Evangelicals fervently support Israel for theological reasons of their own, based on a literal reading of the Book of Revelation that entwines the Jewish commonwealth with the Apocalypse and Second Coming. As Mr. Falwell instructs: "You and I know that there's not going to be any real peace in the Middle East until one day the Lord Jesus Christ sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem."

Desperate Democratic senators and despondent liberals mutter that Jews are being snookered. You think the first coming of Christ was bad for the Jews? Just wait.

When the Rapture comes, they grouse, the holy alliance between Christians and Jews will suddenly become unholy, with Christians levitating and Jews left behind to deal with the Antichrist, plagues, sores, boils, frogs, the endless syndication of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and locusts from the "bottomless pit," each with a human face, horse's body, scorpion's tail and a sting that torments for five months.

"This is a grim comedy of mutual condescension," says Leon Wieseltier, the Jewish scholar and literary editor of The New Republic. "The evangelical Christians condescend to the Jews by offering their support before they convert or kill them. And the conservative Jews condescend to Christians by accepting their support while believing that their eschatology is nonsense. This is a fine example of the political exploitation of religion."

On "60 Minutes," Mr. Falwell boasts to Bob Simon: "It is my belief that the Bible Belt in America is Israel's only safety belt right now."

Mr. Simon reports that Zion's Christian soldiers say they are a bigger source of support for Israel than American Jews, a notion Mr. Wieseltier calls
"insulting to the American Jewish community."


Yes, but is it false? An estimated 82% of Americans are Christian and 1% are Jewish. Even if every Jew is a fervent Zionist--which no one would argue that they are--it would only take a small proportion of Christians to be equally pro-Israel in order for the Christian soldiers' statement to be objectively true and Mr. Wieseltier's to be at least mildly bigotted in that it seems to disdain Christian support.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 PM

FOUR A WEEK KEEPS FRANK AWAY:

As court considers N.J. ballot challenge, Forrester challenges Lautenberg to debates (ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, 10/5/02, The Associated Press)
Even as Republicans contested Frank N. Lautenberg's effort to get his name on the ballot in a bid for the Senate, the GOP candidate challenged the Democrat Saturday to a series of debates.

Approaching Lautenberg at a street fair, Douglas Forrester borrowed a page from the former senator's first campaign in 1978 in challenging him to 21 debates -- one for each county. "Are you willing?" he asked.

"I thought you didn't want me to be a candidate," Lautenberg countered. Later, he said he would debate Forrester "any place, any time."


An excellent, and likely necessary, move by the Forrester campaign. If he can't beat a 78 year old man with Lautenberg's voting record in a series of debates he doesn't deserve to win. Moreover, it removes the issue of him only wanting to discuss Torricelli. Voters should have plenty of chances to find out who Doug Forrester is and what he believes in a set of 21 debates. And, to be utterly cold-blooded about it, let's see how the Senator is doing mentally and physically at that 21st debate in five weeks. Mr, Lautenberg won his first election by portraying poor old Millicent Fenwick as decrepit, let's see if he's any more fit.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM

THAT''S WHY THEY HIRED PAULA ZAHN; BABY GOT BACK:

CNN Looks to Get Hip, Think Young (AP, Oct 2, 2002)
CNN Headline News general manager Rolando Santos told the San Francisco Chronicle this week that he's looking to mix "the lingo of our people" — words like "whack" and "ill" — into newscasts to attract young people.

And the New York Daily News on Wednesday quoted from an e-mail sent by a network manager to his headline writers, sending them a copy of a slang dictionary so they can be "as cutting edge" as possible.

"Please use this guide to help all you homeys and honeys add a new flava to your tickers and dekkos," the message said, referring to graphics on the Headline News screen.

The list of phrases included "fly," meaning sexually attractive.


It's a strange thing but stupidity sounds the same in every dialect.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:57 PM

FIRST THE LONGSHOREMEN...:

Housewife seeking appreciation quits housework (AP, October 5, 2002)
An Indiana wife looking for a little more appreciation went on strike at home -- and found instant celebrity.

Kathy Thompson quit doing housework September 25, refusing to do laundry, cook or make the bed. She said she was tired of working, going to school and caring for the house while her husband Gary went out fishing.

When her unconventional campaign made it into The Star Press of Muncie, calls from around the world started pouring in, she said.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:55 PM

HOW ABOUT A TRADE?

Cuban baseball star and coach defect (BBC, 5 October, 2002)
The Cuban authorities have confirmed that one of the country's top baseball players, Jose Ariel Contreras, and the coach of the national team, Miguel Valdes, have defected.

The two men disappeared during the Americas Series baseball tournament in Mexico. They failed to appear for a match on Thursday against Venezuela.

The Cuban Baseball Federation branded both of them traitors in a statement announcing their desertion.


So how come when all these liberals--Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Jessica Lange, Robert Altman, David Bonior, Jim McDermott--go overseas and denounce us they never defect? If we're so bad why do they all come back?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:39 PM

WAIT 'TIL YOU SEE THE WHITES OF THEIR AFTERBURN?:

Iraq strike would set dangerous precedent (JUAN ANDRADE, October 4, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
If Bush is allowed to launch a preemptive attack against Iraq without violent provocation and without a multinational coalition that includes Arab nations, there will be horrific casualties--American and Iraqi troops, innocent civilians, truth, our national honor, and containment. Collateral damage will include a devastated U.S. airline and airline-related industry, a comatose economy, a declining stock market, higher unemployment and a crippling deficit. No price can be adequately assessed to such losses, but containment is the one loss from which we may never recover.

Unless Bush is stopped, preemption, where a nation that feels threatened can unilaterally attack another sovereign nation, will replace containment as our guiding foreign policy principle. To President Bush, preemption is a good thing. Bush wants preemption to be the cornerstone of his foreign policy. He proudly calls it the Bush Doctrine. Bush honestly believes that preemption will make the world safer. Nothing could be further from the truth. He could not be more wrong.

Preemption will further destabilize many volatile regions throughout the world. By attacking Iraq, America will internationally legitimize the use of force by one nation against any neighbor whose actions may pose a real or perceived threat to the national security of that country. This new U.S.-sanctioned principle of preemption would jeopardize any effort to peacefully resolve the kind of conflicts that routinely break out in Central America, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Instead of making the world safer for future generations, Bush will be making the world a more dangerous place.


Here's just one example of how insipid the argument against preemption is. Pakistan is an inherently unstable state, governed by an unpopular military dictatorship that is opposed by both the Left and Islamic fundamentalists. It also has nuclear weapons. Combine the two and suppose that a fundamentalist revolution was underway, quite possibly aided by remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban. Does that seem terribly far-fetched?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM

BUM RAP:

Jerry Falwell calls Islam's prophet a `terrorist' in television interview (RICHARD N. OSTLING, 10/03/02, AP)
The Rev. Jerry Falwell says "I think Muhammad was a terrorist" in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on the CBS television program "60 Minutes."

The conservative Baptist minister tells correspondent Bob Simon he has concluded from reading Muslim and non-Muslim writers that Islam's prophet "was a violent man, a man of war."

"Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses," Falwell says. "I think Muhammad set an opposite example." [...]

"I've said often and many places that most Muslims are people of peace and want peace and tranquility for their families and abhor terrorism," Falwell said. "Islam, like most faiths, has a fringe of radicals who carry on bloodshed wherever they are. They do not represent Islam."


One might prefer that he'd not used the loaded term "terrorist", though it sounds like the question he was asked used the word, but it's difficult to see how anyone can argue with the Reverend Falwell's point. In fact, our foremost expert on the Middle East, Bernard Lewis, has argued that the phenomenon of Muslim military might at its foundation is one of the contributing factors in its difficulty accepting a modern world where it is relatively weak militarily:
For centuries the world view and self-view of Muslims seemed well grounded. Islam represented the greatest military power on earth--its armies, at the very same time, were invading Europe and Africa, India and China. It was the foremost economic power in the world, trading in a wide range of commodities through a far-flung network of commerce and communications in Asia, Europe, and Africa; importing slaves and gold from Africa, slaves and wool from Europe, and exchanging a variety of foodstuffs, materials, and manufactures with the civilized countries of Asia. It had achieved the highest level so far in human history in the arts and sciences of civilization. Inheriting the knowledge and skills of the ancient Middle East, of Greece, and of Persia, it added to them new and important innovations from outside, such as use and manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India. It is difficult to imagine modern literature or science without one or the other. It was in the Islamic Middle East that Indian numbers were for the first time incorporated in the inherited body of mathematical learning. From the Middle East they were transmitted to the West, where they are still known as Arabic numerals, honoring not those who invented them but those who first brought them to Europe. To this rich inheritance scholars and scientists in the Islamic world added an immensely important contribution through their own observations, experiments, and ideas. In most of the arts and sciences of civilization, medieval Europe was a pupil and in a sense a dependent of the Islamic world, relying on Arabic versions even for many otherwise unknown Greek works. [...]

In the course of the twentieth century it became abundantly clear in the Middle East and indeed all over the lands of Islam that things had indeed gone badly wrong. Compared with its millennial rival, Christendom, the world of Islam had become poor, weak, and ignorant. In the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the primacy and therefore the dominance of the West was clear for all to see, invading the Muslim in every aspect of his public and--more painfully-even his private life.


That Mr. Lewis is a revered scholar while Mr. Falwell is derided seems more a function of politics than of anything they're saying.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:17 AM

PUT A PILL IN HIM:

Death of Hussein fine, 31% of Canadians say (DOUG SAUNDERS, October 5, 2002, Globe and Mail)
Even as Parliament debates whether to support the United States in its efforts to unseat Saddam Hussein, a new poll reveals that a significant number of Canadians want to see the Iraqi leader come to a bloody end.

In the poll, conducted by Ekos Research for the CBC and to be broadcast tomorrow, 31 per cent of respondents said they would support the assassination of Mr. Hussein. The level of support rose to 48 per cent in Alberta, but was only 25 per cent in Quebec.

Men approved slightly more than women of deliberately killing Mr. Hussein--36 per cent to 28 per cent across the country.


Looks like Canada has Red Provinces and Blue Provinces, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM

THE WAGES OF FLORIDA:

Voters File Suit to Invalidate McKinney Election (Fox News, October 04, 2002)
Arguing that defeated Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney was the victim of a "malicious crossover" vote by Republicans, five DeKalb County voters asked a federal court Friday to throw out the results of the primary.

When Al Gore sought to use the heavily-Democrat Florida judiciary to steal the 2000 presidential election, many conservatives lamented that it offered a template for the Left to use extra-democratic means to try to "win" elections they didn't like the actual results. That prediction is looking frighteningly prescient.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 AM

NATURALLY REPUBLICAN:

GOP Aggressively Seeks Latino Vote (JONATHAN D. SALANT, 10/03/02, Associated Press)
What gives the GOP cause for optimism is that fewer Latinos who plan to become citizens identify themselves with either party - 22 percent for the Democrats to 14 percent for the Republicans.

"Partisanship hardens the longer you're here," said Rodolfo de la Garza, vice president of research for the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and a political science professor at Columbia University.

To lure the new immigrants, the Republican National Committee staffs naturalization ceremonies.

"As Latinos throughout this country are becoming U.S. citizens, there are Republican staffers and Republican volunteers welcoming them and congratulating them on becoming citizens and inviting them to join the Republican ranks," said Rudy Fernandez, director of grass-roots development for the Republican National Committee.


Hard to believe the stupid party could think of something that smart.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM

MAN A MACHINE, LOVE A VIRUS:

System error, reboot mind: New theory claims that brains catch ideas the way computers catch software viruses (David Nartonis, September 26, 2002, CS Monitor)
Two assumptions underlie much contemporary study of the human condition: First, that humans are nothing more than complex, organic machines. Second, that as we learn to build more complex machines, their internal workings will increase our understanding of the human machine.

Some biologists believe that the role of DNA in biology and evolution goes a long way toward justifying the first of these assumptions.

In this view, genes that produce loving humans survive because the children of such parents are more likely to survive. Similarly, genes that produce people who believe in God are more likely to survive because such people are less anxious and less vulnerable to disease produced by stress. [...]

Aunger credits biologist Richard Dawkins with the next step in reducing humans to machines. According to Dawkins, not only are humans controlled by the brains and bodies that genes give them but also by ideas that they catch from other humans. [...]

What does this theory claim, then, about the mechanism of the human mind? Up to a point, what humans think, say, and do is determined by their genetic makeup. Beyond that point, much of what humans think, say, and do is determined by whatever memes have infected their brains.

What kind of human thinking and behavior might be controlled by these memes? "Something as small as a sound or as large as a religious tradition," Aunger writes.

He readily admits that memes and genes may not be all there is to being human. But "this doesn't mean that the ancient philosophical notion of 'free will' can survive the coming onslaught of neuroscientific advances," he warns. "It is still likely that we will have to recognize that the mind is an emergent property of the brain, and nothing more."


Lay partisans of evolution keep telling us that this isn't the logical outcome of their beliefs, but the experts keep saying otherwise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM

BOAT PEOPLE:

Sailor rescued after two months adrift (BBC, 5 October, 2002)
An American man lost at sea for more than two months has been rescued 40 miles (64 km) off the South Carolina coast.

Emaciated and delusional, 43-year-old Terry Watson is now in hospital being treated for dehydration and shock. [...]

Last month, another sailor was found drifting in the Pacific after nearly four months at sea.

Richard Van Pham, aged 62, left Long Beach, California, for an island 25 miles (40 km) offshore, but was found near Costa Rica 2,500 miles (4,000 km) away.


Samoan fishermen survive epic drift voyage (BBC, 12 November, 2001)
Two fishermen from Samoa in the South Pacific have survived a remarkable four months adrift at sea in a small metal boat.

The pair was rescued in Papua New Guinea - 4,000 km from their homes in Samoa. [...]

They managed to right the seven-metre aluminium dinghy by cutting away the fishing lines and two outboard motors - thus lightening the load - but were left powerless as currents pushed them out to the sea. [...]

According to the Guiness Book of Records, the record for drifting at sea is held by two Kiribati fishermen, from the atoll of Nikunau, who drifted for 177 days in 1992 before coming ashore on the eastern end of Samoa.

The book currently lists the longest solo survival as that of a Chinese man who survived aboard a raft for 133 days during the Second World War after his ship was torpedoed.


All of which is by way of recommending the terrific novel, Life of Pi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

A PE-LOSING STRATEGY:

Pelosi breaks with Gephardt on OKing war: Democrats divided on deal with Bush to authorize force (Edward Epstein, October 4, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House's second-ranking Democrat, said Thursday she would oppose a resolution authorizing war with Iraq that President Bush negotiated with her leader, Rep. Dick Gephardt, putting House Democrats in the middle of an uncomfortable leadership split.

The San Francisco Democrat, who for weeks has been saying that Bush hasn't made the case for quick military action against Saddam Hussein's regime, admitted that the 208 House Democrats would be badly divided when the House votes next week on the war-authorization resolution.

"There's a split in the caucus," she said.


It's been widely speculated that if the Democrats fail to retake the House this time Dick Gephardt will give up his dream of becoming Speaker and run for president instead. You have to think that with the House Democrats this divided he may be forced to resign his leadership position early next year if he does start looking seriously at running for higher office. That would apparently leave Ms Pelosi as one of the most important Democrat voices in American politics and it's awfully hard to see how that's a good thing for Democrats.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 AM

THE FIRE OF GENIUS:

Lawrence Lessig's Supreme Showdown: The Great Liberator Lawrence Lessig helped mount the case against Microsoft. He wrote the book on creative rights in the digital age. Now the cyberlaw star is about to tell the Supreme Court to smash apart the copyright machine. (Steven Levy, October 2002, Wired)
In Lessig's view, the wigheads in Philadelphia had laid out a bargain for creators of intellectual property: We want you to develop original art and science, so we'll give you an incentive - a temporary monopoly on the use of your work. In theory, this means that Walt Disney would lay out the money to make a cartoon knowing that he'd have a certain number of years to collect the royalties. Yet granting Walt (or his heirs) a longer period for works created before most of us were born doesn't promote progress; Steamboat Willie is already here. Obviously, a retroactive extension can't provide an incentive - "Gershwin isn't going to write any more music," notes Lessig. To the contrary, the cause of "art and science" actually suffers under retroactive extensions, because works that otherwise would have been returned to the public are kept in private hands.

Lessig's arguments are controversial. Intellectual property lawyers generally never considered them: The very basis of their universe is the assumption that Congress can do whatever it wants with the copyright clause. "I am a great admirer of Larry Lessig," says Jack Valenti, Hollywood's master lobbyist. "But Congress has the power to say what 'limited' is. It's there, it's unambiguous. Fifty-five men in Philadelphia decided it, and there's no way a court can overrule that." When Lessig went to his colleague Arthur Miller, he heard much the same thing: Of course Congress can do this. (Miller later wrote an amicus brief in defense of the law.)

Lessig's response is fairly unlawyer-like. "This is one of those issues where you're not permitted to disagree," he says. "There are a lot of issues where that's fair. This is not one of them. They're just plain wrong. I believe that if they weren't working for clients who had millions of dollars hanging on it, if we sat down in good faith and talked about it, they'd come around to seeing it my way."


It does seem like this is a balance that needs to be struck. Protect the idea for long enough that the thinker can profit by it, but then let it revert to public domain.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM

ORDINARY PEOPLE:

When is a 'popular protest' popular?: The packaging of 'new' protest movements by modern leftist intellectuals reveals a selective focus on favoured causes--feminism, racism, gay rights. This post-1968 template evades concerns, such as fox-hunting, that animate masses of ordinary people. From shallow argument it generates a politics without principle. (Roger Scruton, 02 October 2002, Open Democracy)
Mass protests by ordinary people, which do not originate in the grievances of the protesting classes, are rare. I have witnessed only two in my lifetime: that of the French people protesting against Mitterrand's proposals to nationalise the Church schools, which brought half a million peaceful demonstrators on to the streets of Paris, and that recently catalysed by the Countryside Alliance, which did the same to the streets of London.

Although such protests are comparatively rare, they include more people than can be mustered on behalf of the 'left-wing' causes mentioned by Lent. Unlike Jordan, I believe the terms 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' to be useful, and see no real improvement in his division of causes into the 'pro-active' and the 're-active'. Equally useful is the distinction between the 'progressive' and the 'conservative' mentality. Such labels are useful because they identify contrasting - and equally necessary - human types.

The movement represented by the Countryside Alliance is a movement of people most of whom vote Conservative. But they vote Conservative for a perfectly respectable reason, namely, that they are conservative. They are attached to things as they are, and suspicious of change; they value inherited freedoms, and are prepared to fight when those freedoms are taken away. The small farmers of the Indian subcontinent, the African Bushmen, the people of the Amazon, the nomads of the sub-Sahara and the persecuted Christians of Somalia are the same. And those indigenous people have far more in common with the indigenous English, Welsh and Scots who marched through London on 22 September than they have with the protestors at Seattle.


The problem actually is that they are so rarely prepared to fight when those freedoms are taken away. In this sense the Countryside Alliance is a misleading thing. It's great that they're trying to draw a line, but look how far back they've drawn it. Far too many freedoms have already been lost to the state in Britain and here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM

FREE IRAQ:

Free Iraq from Saddam's evil regime: The ruler of Iraq is an extraordinarily cruel despot who knows only the language of power, violence and war. The West should overthrow him. (Hamid Ali Alkifaey, 02 October 2002, Open Democracy)
Saddam Hussein has been ruling Iraq with an iron fist for over three decades. His only means of staying in power is through terrorism against the entire population of the country. He has caused the death of at least two million Iraqis, through wars, executions and sanctions. He has squandered Iraq's wealth in the purchase of legal and illegal weapons. Worse, he has used the plight of the oppressed Iraqi people to strengthen his power. Instead of working to alleviate the effects of sanctions, which were brought upon the people by his adventures, he has used them to justify his oppression, deflect attention from his failings, and blackmail the world. [...]

Saddam came to power through the most brutal violence, has kept it through the same method, and will never give it up without a fight. He was helped to power and armed by the West. Now the West has the opportunity to correct its tragic mistake. The free world has a duty to free the Iraqi people.

It will require courage and determination to rid ourselves of Saddam and free Iraq and the region of his evil regime. I have been anti-war all my life. I was against the Iraq/Iran war, the Iraq/Kuwait war, and the war against the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. But that did not stop Saddam from launching these wars and killing hundreds of thousands of people. The only way to stop him is to remove him from power. Although Iraqis do not want another war, most of them recognise that Saddam won't leave without war or the threat of it.


We'd say a right to free the people of Iraq, rather than a duty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM

LIQUID BAZOOKA:

Peru's Pop Star (Renee Schettler, October 2, 2002, The Washington Post)
Take a sip of Inca Kola and one flavor will instantly spring to mind.

Peru's preeminent soda pop tastes unmistakably, surprisingly, resoundingly -- and at first perhaps disconcertingly -- of bubble gum.

But those who drink it regularly are lured by its sweet, fruity flavor. The bright yellow elixir has cast its spell on South American palates since it was first introduced in 1935 and it remains Peru's top-selling cola, outselling even Coke.


Sounds vile.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM

COUNTERREVOLUTION!:

A revolution crumbles: Alongside the boys of the Islamic militia, eager for martyrdom, there is another Iran - of rock bands and weblogs, teenage runaways and prostitution. Tim Judah investigates Tehran's underground (Tim Judah, October 5, 2002, The Guardian)
In the aftermath of the Islamic revolution, and following Saddam Hussein's attack on Iran in 1980, the mullahs demanded martyrs. Women were encouraged to go forth and raise children. The result was a massive baby boom but, for the mullahs, the grand scheme has gone dreadfully wrong. The statistics are stark. Two thirds of Iran's 70 million people are under 30 and - far from creating a nation of martyrs - the mullahs have created millions of angry young people who would rather check their email than die for Islam. They do not want to be beaten on the streets if their headscarf is pushed too far back, and they don't want to be beaten by the Basij, the Supreme Leader's volunteer Islamic militia, because they are out with a girl who is neither their sister nor their wife.

Their anger does not necessarily translate into political action - at least, not yet. Some of the mullahs are aware of their problem and have talked publicly about the failure of the Islamic state to engage its young. At the beginning of 2000, for example, one of them, a reformist mullah called Mohammad Ali Zam, shocked Iranians by announcing publicly that research had shown that 73% of Iranians - and 86% of students - did not say their daily prayers. Little of this more secular side of Iran is reported in the west, because of the restrictions facing both foreign and local journalists. Still, one figure that did leak out was a finding that the Ministry of Interior tried to keep secret: according to research among 16,000 people, 94% said the country was in urgent need of reform. Hossein Ghazian, the director of the polling firm Ayande, says that his research points in a similar direction - the majority believe in the present regime, but they want change; and 23% want radical change - that is to say, a revolution. As to religion, Ghazian has found "that 36% say religion should be private and in your heart, and is nothing to do with ritual", and a similar proportion think religion and state should be separated - a marked change from 10 years earlier.


What a waste. After twenty years they're going to finally realize the Shah's vision of a Westernized Iran, only this time imposed from the bottom up instead of from the top down. Let's hope every nation in the Middle East doesn't have to endure the whole futile process.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM

CASH COW:

HILLARY MAY BATTLE CHUCK FOR TORCH'S SENATE POST (DEBORAH ORIN, October 5, 2002, NY Post)
Scandal-scarred Sen. Bob Torricelli hasn't even left the Senate, but New York Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer could wind up fighting over the spoils - his coveted seat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Both Schumer and Clinton have expressed interest in the panel - one of the hottest seats in Congress because it's the center of the action on taxes and a bonanza for fund-raising because every corporation in America pays attention.


This seat will be a huge boon to Ms Clinton's presidential campaign because members get to shake down almost every corporation in America for contributions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 AM

'50s FOOD:

Creamed Corn? Really? (MARK BITTMAN, October 2, 2002, The New York Times)
It's not fancy, but it is a good home-cooked dish, quick, easy and convenient. In a way, this is 1950's food, akin to tuna-noodle casserole made with mushroom soup, but since it is 50's food of another culture it seems fresh and new. (Indeed, despite the canned corn, it is fresh and new.) Nor is it the only dish I've learned about in the last couple of years to employ canned corn: my sometime co-author Jean-Georges Vongerichten prepares a moist, sweet corncake that he insists loses its character when made with fresh corn.

Modesty aside, I think I've improved on the version I was served at Ocean Star. First, I use chicken instead of fish; not only is it slightly more traditional (beef and pork are most commonly used in Chinese-American homes), but it's easier.

I also combine the creamed corn with whole corn kernels, which can be canned as well, to intensify the corn flavor and give a little more crunch.

Finally, I steeply increase the spices. A tablespoon each of garlic and ginger is about right, and if you like hot food you will want to use two or more chilies. Because I add the spices after the chicken is cooked, not before, they stay fresh and vibrant. This is important, because the creamed corn - essentially a mixture of corn, cornstarch, water and sugar - doesn't exactly smack of the garden.


Whats wrong with creamed corn?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 AM

SUNDAY MORNING VALUES, SATURDAY MORNING FUN:

VeggieTales Take Plunge With Big-Screen 'Jonah' (MICHAEL MALLORY, October 2 2002, LA Times)
"Jonah--A VeggieTales Movie," drawn from the biblical story of Jonah and the whale, is the company's first theatrical feature and the first film to be released under Artisan Entertainment's FHE Banner Pictures banner. It features the standard VeggieTales cast--Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato, Archibald Asparagus, Pa Grape and a gourd named Mr. Lunt--and the characters still espouse Judeo-Christian values, although in a manner more closely resembling John Cleese than John Bunyan.

That combination of moralizing and satirizing has caught on with parents, who have made VeggieTales a multimillion-dollar franchise with more than 30 million videos sold. "Jonah" was intended to be one of those videos, but when work began on it in 1998, it quickly became clear to Vischer and Nawrocki--who is the film's co-writer, co-director and much of the other half of the voice cast--that it could not be contained within a half-hour or 45-minute video.

"Mike settled on a 'Titanic'-like story device [Jonah's story is set in biblical times but is framed by a second, modern-day story], and he started writing it, but when he'd hit Page 17 he still hadn't gotten to the story of Jonah yet," recalls Vischer. "I said, 'Where are you going with this, Mike?' and he said, 'I'm having fun!' So we thought, 'OK, maybe this wants to be bigger.' "

It goes without saying that the script deviates from the biblical tale, and not simply because the title prophet is played by an asparagus. In the film, Jonah's companions include a turbaned half- caterpillar/half-worm named Khalil, a deadpan camel named Reginald, and three bush-league buccaneers Pythonesquely called the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

What's more, the decadent citizens of Nineveh, Jonah's ultimate destination, lie, cheat, steal and hit each other in the face with fish. There is also a roof-raising gospel number set in the belly of the whale.


This is huge if you have kids. The videos are consistently excellent and very funny.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:47 AM

NIP IT IN THE BUD:

Calif: NJ ruling a bad election precedent (UPI, 10/5/2002)
California's Secretary of State, Bill Jones -- a Republican -- has filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the New Jersey court's decision to allow the Democratic Party of New Jersey to replace Sen. Robert Torricelli on the upcoming election's ballot. [...]

"It worked once spectacularly, they will say. It can work again," the friend-of-the-court brief said.

Michigan, Florida, Washington and South Carolina are among other states "joining the bandwagon," Fox News Channel reported.


One would think that having a bunch of states asking for clarification would put pressure on the Court to take a case that they likely want no part of otherwise.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 AM

LEE LIVES:

Rare sighting of Harper Lee (The Associated Press, 10/5/02, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Author Harper Lee greeted fans and posed for photos during a rare public appearance, but the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" spoke for only a few moments while accepting the 2002 Alabama Humanities Award. [...]

When longtime friend and fellow author Wayne Greenhaw introduced her, the audience applauded for several minutes. All Lee said was: "Mr. Greenhaw has robbed me of words, so I'll say thank you from the bottom of my heart."


I recently read somewhere that, besides helping him with research, she may have helped write In Cold Blood for Truman Capote, her childhood friend who was the basis for Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:30 AM

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER:

Study shows men feel the pain too (AP, October 5, 2002)
Emotional problems are equally common among husbands and wives, new research shows - a finding that challenges the long-standing feminist belief that marriage makes men much happier but women more miserable. [...]

Feminist scholar Jessie Bernard was among the first to postulate that men benefited emotionally from marriage while women suffered. Her research, published in a 1972 best-seller The Future of Marriage, fed into the evolving feminist belief that the institution of marriage oppressed women.

"What the early studies did was centre largely on typical female disorders--anxiety, depression, phobias," De Vaus said. "What they ignored are the types of mental illness more common in men, such as drug and alcohol abuse." [...]

"What's very clear ... is that if you look at male typical and female typical disorders and combine them, then men and women in marriage have the same rates of mental disorders. They just have different disorders," De Vaus said.


First of all, can one fail to laugh when reading the phrase "feminist scholar"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 AM

BRITAIN GOES MONICA:

What should the world do about Saddam?: Bill Clinton electrifies a British Labor Party conference with a more sweeping vision for global peace and progress than the current president has been able to muster. ( Bill Clinton, Oct. 3, 2002, Salon)
[O]ne of the challenges we face today is that all the international institutions in which we place such hope are still becoming, they are still forming. We have only really had a chance to make them work for a little over a decade. The European Union is not what most people think -- and at least I hope -- it will be in five, 10 or 20 years; it is becoming. The United Nations is not what I hope it will be in five, 10 or 20 years. There are still people who vote in the United Nations based on the sort of old-fashioned national self-interest views they held in the cold war or even long before, so that not every vote reflects the clear and present interests of the world and the direction we are going. [...]

A few words about Iraq. I support the efforts of the prime minister and President Bush to get tougher with Saddam Hussein. I strongly support the prime minister's determination, if at all possible, to act through the UN. We need a strong new resolution calling for unrestricted inspections. The restrictions imposed in 1998 are not acceptable and will not do the job. There should be a deadline and no lack of clarity about what Iraq must do. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime poses a threat to his people, his neighbors and the world at large because of his biological and chemical weapons and his nuclear program. They admitted to vast stores of biological and chemical stocks in 1995. In 1998, as the prime minister's speech a few days ago made clear, even more were documented. But I think it is also important to remember that Britain and the United States made real progress with our international allies through the U.N. with the inspection program in the 1990s. The inspectors discovered and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction and constituent parts with the inspection program than were destroyed in the Gulf War -- far more -- including 40,000 chemical weapons, 100,000 gallons of chemicals used to make weapons, 48 missiles, 30 armed warheads and a massive biological weapons facility equipped to produce anthrax and other bio-weapons. In other words, the inspections were working even when he was trying to thwart them.

In December of 1998, after the inspectors were kicked out, along with the support of Prime Minister Blair and the British military we launched Operation Desert Fox for four days. An air assault on those weapons of mass destruction, the air defense and regime protection forces. This campaign had scores of targets and successfully degraded both the conventional and non-conventional arsenal. It diminished Iraq's threat to the region and it demonstrated the price to be paid for violating the Security Council's resolutions. It was the right thing to do, and it is one reason why I still believe we have to stay at this business until we get all those biological and chemical weapons out of there. (Applause).

What has happened in the last four years? No inspectors, a fresh opportunity to rebuild the biological and chemical weapons program and to try and develop some sort of nuclear capacity. Because of the sanctions, Saddam Hussein is much weaker militarily than he was in 1990, while we are stronger -- but that probably has given him even more incentive to try and amass weapons of mass destruction. I agree with many Republicans and Democrats in America and many here in Britain who want to go through the United Nations to bring the weight of world opinion together, to bring us all together, to offer one more chance to the inspections.


What a pro Clinton shows what a loss he is to the US (The Guardian, October 3, 2002
In an intimate, almost conversational tone, speaking only from notes, Bill Clinton delivered the speech of a true political master. Those who have only thought previously of Mr Clinton as a source of entertainment - the way that far too much reporting of him in this country depicted him - will have been stunned and, one hopes, just a little ashamed. For this was the speech of a truly serious political leader, and if it went on five minutes longer than it needed to do, it was still a performance of the highest possible class. If one were reviewing it, five stars would not be enough.

Two big things will endure from what Mr Clinton had to say. The first and more immediate is his radically different and much more responsible approach to Iraq than that of the Bush administration. His calls to keep the priority on al-Qaida, to focus on the United Nations route for dealing with Iraq, to prefer non-military ways of achieving regime change, and to see military action as only a last resort offered a more profound and far preferable route to the current president's. His comments that the west has a lot to answer for in Iraq and that innocent people will die in any attack were wise reminders of what is at stake.

But the wider legacy of Bill in Blackpool is the unfaltering message of optimism that he delivered about the Labour government and about Tony Blair. At times, it was even as if Mr Clinton was calling on Mr Blair to rescue America from Bushism.


CLINTON HAS THE VISION BUSH LACKS (Daily Mirror, 10/03/02)
WHAT a performance. What a politician. What a superstar.

Bill Clinton played the parts of elder statesman, philosopher and world leader at Labour's conference and played them to perfection.

He was more idealistic and visionary than during his presidency, and added the experience of eight years in the White House. [...]

This was the best articulation yet of how the Iraqi tyrant must be dealt with, from a former president who has gone to war, knows it might be necessary again but realises what that means. [...]

He also praised Tony Blair for restraining President Bush. [...]

It was a magnificent speech from a man who is rapidly becoming the greatest figure in world politics, second only, perhaps, to Nelson Mandela.


Whatever our differences, Democrats are after all Americans and so one is reluctant to believe that they would truly cast away our sovereignty as a nation in the pursuit of multinational/multilateral institutions and governance, the transnational progressivism of which John Fonte has warned. But to listen to a Bill Clinton who has been freed of the restraint of the American electorate, as he bemoans the plague of nations that still believe in "old-fashioned national self-interest", is to realize that Mr. Fonte is quite right. There's something downright chilling about the way Mr. Clinton disassociates himself from a failed inspection regime that he helped impose and concedes that after eight years of the Clinton presidency Saddam "poses a threat to his people, his neighbors and the world at large", but then advocates going to the UN and trying yet another iteration of inspections.

October 4, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:51 PM

BALL OF CONFUSION:

Change is chaos, county clerks say (PETE McALEER, October 4, 2002, Press of Atlantic City)
New Jersey's 21 county clerks met Thursday with Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg to find out what they need to do to put former Sen. Frank Lautenberg's name on election ballots and take Sen. Robert Torricelli's name off.

The solution could be expensive for Democrats and a real pain in the neck for county clerks from both parties.

"This is chaos," said Cape May County Clerk Angela Pulvino, a Republican. [...]

More than 1,600 absentee ballots have already been sent out and returned. New ballots will have to be sent out with the postage paid. The clerks must then document the expenses and send them each morning to the Attorney General's Office so the Democratic Party can be billed. [...]

State law says candidates who drop out within 51 days of an election cannot be replaced on a ballot. Torricelli dropped out of the race with 36 days to go, but the state Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that voters should be allowed to choose between candidates from the two major political parties.


One finds it impossible to read that last paragraph without getting angry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 PM

BUSH V. GORE REDUX:

Senate race and Supreme Court: Another Bush v. Gore? (Linda Greenhouse, October 5, 2002 , The NY Times)
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction only over questions arising under the federal constitution and federal statutes. The Republican petition offered the justices a bit of each, including a nod to constitutional due process and to a federal statute on absentee voting. Most creatively, the Republicans borrowed a concept from the three-justice plurality opinion in Bush v. Gore to the effect that a state legislature's word on the conduct of federal elections is final and cannot be supplanted or perhaps even supplemented by the state's courts.

"It's amazing how close" the parallel arguments are, said Richard Hasen, an election law specialist at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "It shows that Bush v. Gore can rear its head in lots of ways that we can't anticipate. It's out there for everyone to use for their different purposes."


It seems here, as it did in the Florida case, that the Supreme Court has a particular obligation to police the Judiciary to make sure it does not meddle in Federal elections where it truly has no role other than to apply the law, which the NJ Supreme Court obviously did not do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 PM

JUST SAY NO:

Party Drug Ecstasy May Cause More Widespread Brain Damage Than Previously Thought (Kate Wong, September 27, 2002, Scientific American)
Raising new concerns about use of the popular recreational drug ecstasy, or MDMA, scientists have found that just a few doses of the substance causes extensive damage to brain cells in monkeys. The findings, published today in the journal Science, suggest that using ecstasy may increase the risk of developing Parkinsonism-a condition similar to Parkinson's disease-later in life.

Giving new meaning to the phrase a moment of ecstasy a lifetime of regret.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:43 PM

THE WIDENING GYRE:

Tyco put up $25,000 for Shaheen sales tax plan (JOHN DiSTASO, 10/04/02, Manchester Union-Leader)
Tyco International was the largest New Hampshire contributor to Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's 2001 advertising effort to pass a sales tax, The Union Leader has learned.

Documents made public for the first time yesterday show the company formerly headed by the embattled Dennis Kozlowski donated $25,000 to Shaheen's $200,000 effort to promote with television and radio advertising the so-called Excel plan. Kozlowski resigned as chairman and CEO of the Exeter-headquartered firm earlier this year amid accusations of tax evasion and misuse of Tyco funds.

Excel was a $900 million sales tax-based school funding plan passionately championed by Shaheen after her inauguration to a third term as the state’s chief executive. The House killed Excel by a vote of 235-148 in April 2001.

Although Kozlowski and other current and former Tyco executives have donated to Republican candidates for office, the Tyco corporate donation to Shaheen's sales tax promotion has several layers of political irony.

-In a hot U.S. Senate race, Democrat Shaheen has been repeatedly accusing Republican foe John E. Sununu of being in the pocket of corporations that have set up domiciles in Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes on overseas business. Tyco is one of the most prominent users of the so-called "Bermuda loophole."


This was Ms Shaheen's big weapon against Mr. Sununu, the Bermuda loophole, and it just blew up in her face. Even the NPR reporters this morning had to portray this as a disaster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM

DON'T BOOK 'IM, DANO:

Jay Caruso at The Daily Rant posted an e-mail from a NJ Democratic operative that explains why Cory Booker wasn't even considered for the Torch's Senate slot:

Booker like Bradley is considered somewhat of a party maverick. They often times go their own way, making their own choices, and not backing down or giving in to the ills grown from partisan politics. Their intellectual and wonkish nature forces them to serve the people they represent and not the party to which they belong. They are both often accused of not being partisan enough; supporting ideas or pieces of legislation that are not on the democratic parties talking points memos.

There's more and it's all pretty devastating, suggesting, as it does, that Mr. Booker is too uppity for the Democratic Machine. And so, again, we ask: Why do black leaders allow the Democrats to treat them this way? Are "civil rights" activists really more interested in the number of black coaches in the NFL than in having just one black United States Senator?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM

KILLING THEM SOFTLY:

The Stones of Baghdad (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, October 4, 2002, NY Times)
[W]hile I found few people willing to fight for Saddam, I encountered plenty of nationalists willing to defend Iraq against Yankee invaders. And while ordinary Iraqis were very friendly toward me, they were enraged at the U.S. after 11 years of economic sanctions.

"You see this?" asked a seething university president, waving a pencil in the air. "It took 15 months just to import pencils for our students." (The reason was both bureaucracy and the possibility that graphite could be misused for weapons.)

Worse, U.S. bombing of water treatment plants, difficulties importing purification chemicals like chlorine (which can be used for weapons), and shortages of medicines led to a more than doubling of infant mortality, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

In addition, every Iraqi knows that Basra is suffering a surge in cancer, childhood leukemia and grotesquely deformed fetuses. Some foreign and Iraqi specialists blame American use of depleted-uranium shells during the gulf war, and most Iraqis take this as established fact.

"We blame the U.S.," sputtered Dr. Amir Nissa, an obstetrician in Basra. "It was the U.S. that put in sanctions against Iraq. Every Iraqi blames the U.S. 100 percent."

So if Saddam thinks the average Iraqi is going to miss him, he's deluding himself. But if President Bush thinks our invasion and occupation will go smoothly because Iraqis will welcome us, then he too is deluding himself.


Presumably unintentionally, Mr. Kristof here makes the case for war. This is so because no one, so far as we're aware, who opposes war actually proposes that Saddam be allowed to develop weapons if he so desires. Sanctions therefore are his lot and the anger of the Iraqis at the United States will continue to grow and to fester for so long as the sanctions regime endures.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:37 AM

OUR ECONOMIC PLAN:

My Economic Plan: It's all too possible that we may be looking at a sluggish economy into 2004, maybe beyond. (Paul Krugman, 10/04/02, NY Times)
First, extend unemployment benefits, which are considerably less generous now than in the last recession; this will do double duty, helping some of the neediest while putting money into the hands of people who are likely to spend it. Second, provide aid to the states, which are in increasingly desperate fiscal straits. This will also do double duty, preventing harsh cuts in public services, with medical care for the poor the most likely target, at the same time that it boosts demand.

If these elements don't add up to a large enough sum--I agree with Mr. Madrick that $100 billion over the next year is a good target--why not have another rebate, this time going to everyone who pays payroll taxes?

And how will we pay for all of this? You know the answer to that: Cancel tax cuts scheduled for the future. The economy needs stimulus now; it doesn't need tax cuts for the very affluent five years from now.

This isn't rocket science. It's straightforward textbook economics, applied to our actual situation. It's also, I'm well aware, politically out of the question. But I think we're entitled to ask why.


Here's ours:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM

WELCOME TO THE RUMP STATE OF BAGHDADISTAN:

Curse of T.E. Lawrence's Promise: The Phony Nation of Iraq (Jack Wheeler, Oct. 2, 2002, NewsMax)
The bottom line to this saga is that Iraq is not a real country--like, say, Persia (Iran), which has existed for 2,500 years. It is an artificial construct and can only be held together by force.

Iraq and its people have no history of nor familiarity with democratic institutions. The three former vilayets of which it is composed still have no mutual cohesiveness. Mosul in the north is Kurdish, Basra in the south is Shiite Arab, Baghdad in the middle is Sunni Arab. The Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis all hate each other. It takes a Saddam to hold the place together.

And that's why Saddam has been kept in place, and allowed to ignore all those U.N. resolutions. A disintegrated Iraq could easily mean an independent Kurdistan, which the millions of Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran would clamor to join, splitting apart those three countries. It could mean an independent Basra, or just an inchoate anarchy, another Somalia. [...]

America's and the world's security must no longer be held hostage to a promise made by a junior British officer to a bunch of camel-herders wandering around a lost desert 86 years ago--a promise made important by an ambitious journalist’s romantic froth of promotional puffery, resulting in incalculably tragic consequences as the Curse of Lawrence of Arabia.


Presumably everyone's seen Larence of Arabia, but there's an interesting semi-sequel, A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia, with Ralph Fiennes as Lawrence at the post-WWI Paris peace conference, trying to win Arab independence. It's hard to believe the Middle East would be in any worse shape if we'd just bowed out then and let them fight out their own future.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM

THE CONSERVATIVES THE CONSERVATIVES DON'T WANT:

Hispanic Voters Hard to Profile, Poll Finds (LIZETTE ALVAREZ, October 4, 2002, NY Times)
On social issues, Latino Democrats expressed more conservative values than their non-Latino white counterparts. Thirty-four percent of Hispanic Democrats said they believed that divorce was unacceptable, compared with 13 percent for non-Hispanic white Democrats. Twelve percent of Latino Democrats said they thought abortion should be legal in all cases, compared with 26 percent of non-Latino white Democrats who expressed the same belief.

"Latinos born outside the United States, as a group, have particularly more intense and socially conservative views than those born within the country," said Mollyann Brodie, vice president and director of public opinion and media research for the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The poll of 1,329 registered Hispanic voters, 838 non-Hispanic whites and 136 non-Hispanic African-Americans was conducted by telephone from April to June and has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points. It is part of a broader survey of Latinos in the United States that will be released in December. [...]

Immigration was also an important topic. About half of the Hispanics surveyed said they thought too many immigrants were living in the United States. But about three-fourths said the United States should continue allowing the same number of Latin Americans into the country as it has been, or should allow more.


Here we see the odd nature of the immigration issue in a nutshell. Hispanics are a natural conservative voting bloc, if only we woo them. Yet even they oppose immigration, though they're okay with it if we're talking about their own ethnic group. How hope to get the GOP's wahoo wing to accept the need for immigration when the immigrants themselves are ambivalent about the topic?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM

ROUTINE?:

An Extraordinary Movie (Dr. Tony Phillips, Oct 4, 2002, Space Science News)
[T]he best part of Apollo 13, the most thrilling scene, has nothing at all to do with the accident. The best part, in my opinion, was the launch.

When Lovell's Saturn V rocket blasted off the pad in Florida--seven million pounds of pure power soaring toward space with angelic voices singing in the background--it gave me goosebumps. The footage revealed what I had never "got" from books: The Saturn V was terrifyingly powerful. No one who saw it lift off could imagine spaceflight was routine.

I remember wondering when I watched that scene whether a "routine" shuttle launch might seem equally thrilling--if only we could see it from the right point of view.

On October 2nd we get to find out.

That's when the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-112) is slated to blast off from Cape Canaveral on a mission to visit the International Space Station. For the first time ever, a camera attached to the shuttle will record the ascent and transmit images live to NASA TV. The point of view will be similar to the launch scene in Apollo 13.

The camera--called the "ET camera" around NASA--will be mounted near the top of the shuttle's burnt-orange external fuel tank (ET). It will look down toward Atlantis's nose, the 40 degree field of view encompassing most of the fuel tank, one of the white solid rocket boosters (SRBs), and the shuttle itself.

The camera will "go live" about 15 minutes before liftoff.


One small step up since those of us of a certain age watched in fuzzy black and white as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:11 AM

NOT HARDLY:

Psychiatrist's joke 'world's funniest': Dr Wiseman said the joke appealed to young and old (BBC, 3 October, 2002)
A UK psychiatrist has provided the world with its funniest joke, according to scientists. [...]

"Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his
phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make
sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"


This is, of course, ridiculous. There are just two contenders for the world's greatest joke:
Did you hear what happened to the Pope when he went to Mount Olive?

Popeye beat the tar out of him.


or
A guy walks into a Drug Store. He says: "Do you do urinalysis here?"

Fella behind the counter says: "Sure."

So the guy says: "Okay, wash your hands and make me a cheese sandwich."


What makes these jokes classic is that they are simple but elegant. Each relies on the quality that great humor shares with magic: misdirection. Though not precisely subtle, they do provide a thrilling little frisson when you realize you've been had and that the set-up wasn't leading where you thought it was.

October 3, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 PM

BUT HOW WILL IT PLAY IN DIXVILLE NOTCH?:

Gephardt posture irks some in party (Susan Milligan, 10/3/2002, Boston Globe)
President Bush was in the Rose Garden, laying out the details of a resolution against Iraq as Republicans stood loyally behind him. But there was another face in this familiar picture yesterday: House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt, standing beside a president who is aggressively raising money to block the Democrats from winning a majority in the House.

The scene startled and even upset some of Gephardt's fellow Democrats who have watched their leader become a leading hawk on Iraq and cast other votes they did not expect.

[A]nalysts and some Democrats in the House wonder whether Gephardt isn't also looking ahead to his own political future. The minority leader has brushed aside questions about whether he will run for president in 2004, but he has made many trips to New Hampshire and other early primary states.


So after spending last week mewling about how George Bush was politicizing the war in order to win the midterms, the Democrats are going to spend this week accusing each other (accurately we might add) of politicizing the war in order to count presidential coup on one another. Here's a shocking thought: maybe the decision whether to go to war or not is fundamentally political. Ya think?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:38 PM

SOFTBALLS:

Take the Hardball Hot Seat Quiz.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 PM

TEENAGE WASTELAND:

Morning's Glory: The smash album Morning View rockets Incubus into the big-time (JENNIFER KOHL, 9/26/02, City Beat)
As a touring musician who has witnessed all types of concert scenarios, Pasillas has a unique perspective on the lifting of Cincinnati's festival seating ban. The ban, instituted in 1979 after the tragic death of 11 concert-goers attending Riverfront Coliseum's Who concert, will be lifted for Bruce Springsteen's upcoming performance at the same venue.

"I think lifting it (the ban) would be cool because that was a long time ago and security measures weren't up to what they are now," he says. "So I think it's going to be a huge difference. We've been playing huge 80,000 people festivals in Europe, for example, and they have been doing it for so long. They have good means of security and they rarely, rarely have incidents. Even if you have seating, you can have an incident. It's still possible. It's come a lot further than it was."


The band sounds interesting but lifting the ban sounds not only idiotic but disrespectful to the poor folks who died needlessly at that Who show just twenty years ago.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:47 PM

SUBSTANDARD:

The Clinton Standard (Richard Cohen, October 3, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
This quality of Clinton's -- the sheer ability to get out of bed in the morning when you or I would have pulled the covers over our heads -- is indeed one of Clinton's great attributes. Sometimes -- in New Hampshire after Gennifer Flowers or in the White House after Monica Lewinsky -- I could only marvel at his ability to keep going. A lesser man would have quit.

But Clinton is a bad model for other politicians. In the first place, few of them have his charm -- or, in the impeachment era, his enemies. Torricelli was facing an unobjectionable Republican named Doug Forrester and not that Talibanic inquisitor, Ken Starr, and the goon squad that supported him in Congress.

Second, Clinton's offenses were not about job performance but about sex. His critics tried to make abuse of power and perjury the issue, but at heart it was always about sex -- something about which most Democrats, and even a few Republicans, have some knowledge. We all have our secret lives, whether real or fantasy -- and thank God for us that no Ken Starr calls us to account for them.


Where does one even begin?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:38 PM

RAGE AGAINST THE (DEMOCRATS') MACHINE:

“NO LEGAL HIGH-JINX” SAY NEW JERSEY VOTERS: Election Research Finds Thousands of New Jersey Voters Not in Agreement with Supreme Court Decision (Gabriel Joseph, October 2, 2002, www.ccAdvertising.biz)
A random survey among New Jersey respondents Wednesday found overwhelming disapproval of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s granting of a state Democrat Party petition to set aside state election law and allow the Democrats to replace drop-out candidate for the U.S. Senate, Senator Robert Torricelli, with former Senator Frank Lautenberg.

The survey was conducted by Election Research, the political survey arm of Herndon, Virginia based ccAdvertising, on Wednesday evening between 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 2,993 New Jersey respondents statewide.  “It’s often been said that we’re a nation of laws and not of people,” said Gabriel Joseph, President of ccAdvertising.  “Laws have no validity if they can just be set aside at the whim of a political party.  What’s next?  Lowering the voting age if the Democrat candidate happens to be popular on MTV?”

The survey found that 54% of New Jersey respondents disapprove of the Court’s decision.  Further, the survey portends doom for Lautenberg and the Democrats in the race, with 53.01% percent saying they would vote for Republican Doug Forrester.  This result shows Mr. Forrester has the clear majority support among respondents plainly offsetting all Lautenberg and undecided voters, combined.

We'll let the conservatives' favorite play speak for us:
Wife:  Arrest him!

More:  For what?

Wife:  He's dangerous!

Roper:  For all we know he's a spy!

Daughter:  Father, that man's bad!

More:  There's no law against that!

Roper:  There is, God's law!

More:  Then let God arrest him!

Wife:  While you talk he's gone!

More:  And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

Roper:  So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

More:  Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper:  Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More:  Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?

This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM

THE PLO'S ANCHORMAN:

Readers not buying Jennings' 9/11 book (PAUL D. COLFORD, October 2nd, 2002, NY Daily News)
Peter Jennings' "In Search of America" is a book in search of readers.

Despite heavy promotion by the publisher, a weeklong tie-in series on ABC and big pushes by the ABC anchorman and coauthor Todd Brewster, the coffee-table book looks like the first high-profile stumble of the fall publishing season.

After a month in stores and stiff competition from Sept. 11 books, "In Search of America" has yet to make The New York Times best-seller list and failed to place last week among USA Today's top 150 sellers.

As a result, publisher Hyperion is offering to share with retailers a 40% markdown of the book's $50 list price in hopes of spurring sales at $29.95.

Such a strategy usually means a publisher wants to head off a massive return of unsold copies.

Hyperion, which confidently printed 725,000 copies, and ABC are both part of Disney.


Gee, this seems like such an opportune time to publish a book by an anti-American/anti-Zionist foreigner who was Hannan Ashrawi's boy toy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:18 PM

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT?:

Jessica Lange: "I hate Bush" (Jeanette Walls, 10/01/02, MSNBC) 
Add Jessica Lange to the growing list of celebs speaking out against George W. Bush’s policies. The star of “Tootsie” — receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Sebastian film festival in Madrid, Spain — declared that she “hates” the U.S. president and said his call for an attack on Iraq is “unconstitutional, immoral and illegal.”  

“I HATE BUSH. I despise him and his entire administration — not only because of its international policy, but also the national,” Lange told the audience, according to various reports coming from Spain.

“It makes me feel ashamed to come from the United States — it is humiliating.”

“Bush stole the elections and since then we have all been suffering the consequences,” Lange told the enthusiastic crowd.


One would vow to not watch her movies any more, but that's a hollow threat since she's never been in a good one. In fact, the only worthwhile thing she's ever done was to play the vacuum eyed love interest in the film that gave us the immortal concept of Letting the Tiger out of the Cage.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 PM

THE WRONG CANDIDATE AT THE WRONG TIME:

Lautenberg's radical record is a GOP challenger's dream! (Joel C. Rosenberg, Oct. 3, 2002, Jewish World Review)
In 1991, he voted against authorizing military force against Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. He predicted "tens of thousands of American casualties," a new U.S. draft and warned the U.S. could end up destroying Kuwait in the process of trying to liberate it.

In 1984 -- at the height of the Cold War -- he voted for Ted Kennedy's "nuclear freeze" proposal.

He voted for the Intelligence Oversight Act of 1988 to restrict the conduct of foreign covert operations, and voted in 1992 to cut the U.S. intelligence budget by $1 billion.

He's consistently voted against building missile defenses to protect the homeland or U.S. troops and allies, and in 1991 supported an amendment that would have cut defense spending by a whopping $80 billion.

Lautenberg is also vulnerable to the charge he's soft on terrorism.

On October 26, 1989, for example, the Senate voted on a bill introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to impose the death penalty for terrorists who kill U.S. citizens in foreign countries. The bill passed 79-20. But Lautenberg actually voted against it.

Then, on February 20, 1991, Lautenberg voted for an amendment to rescind the death penalty for terrorists who murder Americans in the U.S. or abroad and instead impose life in prison.

That amendment was defeated 25 to 72, but joining Lautenberg against the death penalty for terrorists was none other than Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy, Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin, John Kerry and Al Gore.


At a time when Bill Clinton has turned even his party into (mostly) New Democrats, Mr. Lautenberg is an Old Democrat. He was wrong during the Cold War, when it didn'r matter much. He was wrong in the '90s when it did matter. He's wrong now when it's a matter of life and death. If his vision of justice prevailed and we were to capture Osama bin Laden, the American taxpayer would be forced to pay for his upkeep for the rest of his days, a subsidized guest in our federal prisons. The times have passed Mr. Lautenberg by.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:14 PM

THE PRESIDENT NEXT DOOR:

Is Iraq's next leader living in Endwell?: Prominent Iraqi expatriate on list to replace Saddam (TODD MCADAM, October 3, 2002 , Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin)
"I left Iraq because I didn't want to be involved in the politics of Iraq," said Mukhlis, an emergency room physician who works in Steuben County. "Leadership is something I wouldn't seek. I wouldn't want to explore that avenue."

He says that today. But tomorrow, he points out, might be different as long as he could bring democracy to the country.

"If I can achieve the Bill of Rights in Iraq, that would be the ultimate goal," Mukhlis said Wednesday.

Neighbors said they knew Mukhlis was from Iraq. They knew Saddam killed his father. Other than that, he was just a good neighbor.

"The only time you hear anything out of Hatem is when he's in his little sports car," said Carl Silvernail.

Mukhlis, 52, came to Endwell in 1985 after a couple of years in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. He spent six years in London, as well. He has built a tidy life in a quiet suburb, commuting to and from his job daily. Mukhlis' eldest son recently became an Eagle Scout, Silvernail said.

If Mukhlis is a quiet neighbor, he's also a caring one.

"He was very good when my husband went to the hospital with a heart attack," said Lura Switzer, another neighbor. And when husband Richard came home, the Mukhlis family would shovel the driveway so he didn't strain his heart.

"They're real good neighbors," Richard Switzer said. "They pretty much keep to themselves until you need them."


It's humbling to pause for a moment and realize of just how many of the world's nations it might be said that their natural leaders live in America. Most remarkable is that this is particularly true of our enemies--Cuba, Vietnam, China, Iraq, Germany, etc.. It's little wonder these places are such backwaters when the best of their men and women are now our neighbors and fellow citizens.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

DUMB & DUMBER (via Ed Driscoll):

Bush cuts deal by leaving Daschle out (Dave Boyer, 10/3/2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
The White House engaged in a divide-and-conquer strategy with congressional Democrats that isolated Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and won support for a resolution authorizing military force against Iraq.

The plan resulted in President Bush being surrounded in the Rose Garden yesterday by prominent Democrats who pledged support for the resolution. Mr. Daschle, meanwhile, was left to issue a one-page statement at the Capitol saying he expected the Senate to give Mr. Bush his way. [...]

Senate sources close to the negotiations say the political power play unfolded three days ago, when administration officials were to meet on the resolution with the chiefs of staff of Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat; Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican; House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican; and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat.

The White House canceled that meeting because administration officials were not sure of the position of Mr. Daschle, who said last week that Mr. Bush was politicizing national security and the war on terrorism. Instead, congressional sources said, the White House began negotiating directly with Mr. Gephardt.

At the same time, Mr. Lott and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, were sounding out Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, about co-sponsoring the White House resolution in the Senate.


There's a great scene in The Princess Bride, where Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) keeps saying that it's "inconceivable" that anyone can be following his little band of kidnappers. Finally, when it becomes obvious they are indeed being followed, yet Vizzini once more terms it "inconceivable", Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) says: "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM

BEEF GOOD:

DINNER IN 25 MINUTES (Renee Schettler, October 2, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
Seared Steak on Spinach Dressed

With Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

(1 serving)

Simple.

Simple ingredients.

A simple technique.

And a simple recipe for a weeknight supper that is ready in minutes, easily committed to memory and well worth repeating.


Anybody know where you can get a quality skillet?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM

IS IT SAFE?:

'Darkman' vs. 'Marathon Man' (Ben Shapiro, October 3, 2002, townhall.com)
In "Marathon Man," Dustin Hoffman plays a university student studying for his Ph.D. His brother, a U.S. undercover agent played by Roy Scheider, is killed by Lawrence Olivier, a former Nazi looking to reclaim jewels stashed in a New York bank. To make a long story short, the last scene opens with Hoffman holding Olivier at gunpoint, forcing him to swallow his own jewels. Olivier swallows one and then says, "You'll just have to shoot me." When Hoffman hesitates, Olivier states: "You won't do it. You don't have it in you." Hoffman doesn't do it, so Olivier pulls a blade on him. Hoffman tosses the jewels down a flight of stairs; Olivier runs down the stairs trying to save the jewels, trips, falls and impales himself on his own knife.

In "Darkman," Liam Neeson plays a scientist who is permanently scarred after a corporate strongman, played by Colin Friels, orders Neeson's lab to be blown up. In the final scene, Neeson and Friels duke it out on the framework of a skyscraper, 650 feet above the ground. When Friels slips, Neeson catches him by the foot and holds him upside down. Friels begins laughing. "You let me die, you become as bad as I am -- worse!" he scoffs. "You can't. I know you too well. Dropping me, it's not really an option for you. It's not something you can live with." Neeson drops him. Splat. Neeson mutters: "I'm learning to live with a lot of things."

Believe it or not, the contrast between the two endings sheds light on the partisan battle that has erupted concerning congressional approval of an upcoming attack on Iraq.


Here's our question: does anyone actually root for Dustin Hoffman in that final scene or don't we all secretly want to see Olivier torture him again?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM

AND SHOOTING SADDAM WOULD BE AN ASSASSINATION, WHOOPTY FLIP:

Great Tokyo Air Raid was a war crime (Hiroaki Sato, Sept. 30, 2002, The Japan Times)
On Dec. 7, 1964, the Japanese government conferred the First Order of Merit with the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun upon Gen. Curtis LeMay -- yes, the same general who, less than 20 years earlier, had incinerated "well over half a million Japanese civilians, perhaps nearly a million."

In May 1964, the general, now the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, had declaimed: "Tell the Vietnamese they've got to draw in their horns or we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age."

I was reminded of the Japanese government's bizarre act when I read the responses of several readers of The Atlantic Monthly to the news that a museum had finally been created in Tokyo to memorialize the Great Tokyo Air Raid. In the wee hours of March 10, 1945, 300 B-29s dropped 2,000 tons of incendiaries on one section of Tokyo -- a space seven-tenths the size of Manhattan -- and in 2 1/2 hours "scorched and boiled and baked to death" 100,000 people. The quoted words are LeMay's. [...]

Any deliberate mass slaughter of civilians is a war crime. And what happened in the early hours of March 10, 1945, was the greatest slaughter a single air raid produced in world history.


Mr. Sato is undoubtedly correct and that's precisely why the United States can not allow its citizens to be covered by UN War Crimes and International Criminal tribunals.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM

"I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT":

WHY LAUTENBERG IS VULNERABLE (Patrick Ruffini, 10/02/02)
Set aside for a moment Doug Forrester's chances on appeal, because he might not need it. I think I can make a pretty credible case that
Forrester can take Lautenberg, and here it is:

On the whole, Lautenberg has been a pretty lousy politician. [...]

The hangover effect sets in early. [...]

The narrative just isn't good for Lautenberg. [...]

Forrester still has a message. [...]


Issue Three seems like particularly fecund territory, though maybe for slightly different reasons than Mr. Ruffini enumerates, and a way to get at some of the other issues with some subtlety. Mr. Forrester should seize on things like this profile... Lautenberg steps up for his political enemy (ROBERT COHEN, October 02, 2002, Newark Star Ledger):
If there were two subjects that dominated Frank Lautenberg's thoughts in the past few years, it has been a gnawing regret about retiring from the United States Senate and his personal hatred for his former colleague, Robert Torricelli.

Now in one stroke, the 78-year-old Lautenberg may have the chance to run again for the Senate and replace his foe


...to make the case that for Democrats this election has become nothing more than a playpen in which they've twisted the law to allow Mr. Lautenberg to live out some petty personal vendetta. This approach has several benefits for Mr. Forrester:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:06 AM

WHY DO WE NEED THE ONION?:

Non - Blacks Expelled at Conference (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/02/02)
Delegates at an anti-racism conference voted Wednesday to expel non-blacks from the meeting, saying it was too traumatic to discuss slavery in front of them.

The dozen or so whites and a couple of Asians, mainly interpreters and members of non-governmental groups, left without protest.

The more than 200 delegates from several countries voted overwhelmingly for the restriction, with about 50 abstaining, officials said.

The meeting, titled African and African Descendants' World Conference Against Racism, was hosted by the government of Barbados. Organizers included the Congress Against Racism Barbados and the U.S.-based Congress of People of African Descent.


As Christopher Buckley has said: "The problem for anyone writing satire today is competing with the front page."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 AM

JEEZUM' JOHN:

Heard on the Hill: McCain's Mouthpiece? (Ed Henry, September 30, 2002 , Roll Call)
In a development that's sure to get the rumor mill whirring again with talk of another presidential campaign for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marshall Wittmann has emerged as a candidate to become the lawmaker's new communications director.

Wittmann, a self-proclaimed "McCainiac" who recently bolted the GOP to officially become an Independent, is a much-quoted think tanker who over the past two years has been a cheerleader for everything from an independent presidential run for McCain to a formal switch to the Democratic Party for the Senator.


As the hiring of Mr. Wittman right after his vocal, though incoherent, departure from the Republican Party shows, Senator McCain, like Senator Chaffee (R, RI), must be seriously considering bolting the GOP if another Jeffords type opportunity offers itself after the midterm election. For Mr. McCain this would position him for a run for president as a Democrat.

October 2, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 PM

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES:

If only unborn children could vote (Kathleen Parker, October 2, 2002, Townhall.com)
Time and again, George W. Bush gets what he wants by forcing his opponents to argue against themselves. He did it with the United Nations in seeking support against Iraq: Hey, they're your resolutions. Either they mean something or they don't.

Now he's done it again with a new federal regulation that identifies fetuses as "unborn children," all in the name of extending prenatal health benefits to the preborn poor. By identifying fetuses as "unborn children," Bush effectively has managed to establish personhood for fetuses while appearing to care deeply for the huddled masses.

Arguing against themselves with Pavlovian predictability, pro-abortion feminists find themselves in the untenable position of rejecting a "gift" offered to their own constituents. Nice pool, Blofeld, but I'm allergic to piranha.

The new regulation, which goes into effect in November, allows states to use the State Children's Health Insurance Program to provide benefits to pregnant mothers, including illegal immigrants. The health of the unborn is vital to the well-being of the eventually born, as Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson pointed out.

Inarguably, he's right. Prenatal care, often neglected among the poor, is critical to healthy mothers and healthy babies. Given that babies born in this country are U.S. citizens even if their mothers are not, prenatal care makes sense for illegal pregnant immigrants, right?

Except, wait, but. Since when do Republicans care about poor pregnant women, legal or otherwise? Thompson to the microphone:

"This is a common-sense, compassionate measure to make sure that all children born in this country come into the world as healthy as possible," said Thompson. "It's another way to secure a safety net of care for our children and their mothers." Keywords: Common sense. Compassionate. Children. Mothers. Who could argue against those?

And they said this president was stupid.


If you have any doubt that this is true, check out today's Diane Rehm Show:
Health Care Benefits for Fetuses

The Bush administration has expanded eligibility of federally subsidized health care for children to include fetuses. A panel discusses the new regulation and its implications for low income mothers.

Julie Rovner, special correspondent for Congress Daily and policy reporter for National Public Radio
Laurie Rubiner, National Partnership for Women and Families
Dr. Christina Beato, principal deputy assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services


Ms Rubiner, who is theoretically in favor of women's health, sat there and vehemently opposed the new coverage because it "only affects fetuses." At one point she actually argued that the plan is intended to pit women against their fetuses because it will give the fetuses rights. Apparently allowing the fetuses to be aborted at will is a show of mother/child solidarity? There's even a chilling call at one point from a woman whose voice just drips with contempt as she spits out the word "fetus". They truly sounded deranged.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:29 PM

FIRST THE VERDICT, THEN THE TRIAL:

Frosty Friday at the UN (Collin May, 10/2/2002, Innocents Abroad)
[W]hen it comes to its political ideology, the UN never lets facts get in the way. And here we see a typical UN modus operandi. Look for a possible problem of global import, play with the figures in order to prove the problem’s existence, blame free market forces for the problem to ensure they can’t be part of the solution, and then assert the need for an unelected centralized global bureaucracy to impose a binding solution on national governments. Then, when the new agency gets going, the process simply reinforces itself, guaranteeing the organization’s continued existence and expansion.

Mike Daley pointed out these guys and all we can say is anyone who can manage to combine skepticism about global warming, evolution, and the UN in one essay, while citing John Fonte, is okay in our book.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 PM

WITH A NAME LIKE SMUCKER'S...:

US gets Franco-German snub on Iraq (BBC, 2 October, 2002)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM

LET MY PEOPLE GO:

Complicating the Race (Jonathan D. Tepperman, April 28, 2002, New York Times Magazine)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 PM

SUPREMELY IRRESPONSIBLE:

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Torricelli Can Be Replaced (TERENCE NEILAN, October 2, 2002, NY Times)
The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled this evening that the state Democratic Party can replace the name of Robert G. Torricelli on the Nov. 5 ballot for United States senator.

"It is in the public interest and the general interest of the election laws to preserve the two-party system and to submit to the electorate ballot bearing the names of candidates of both major political parties as well as of all qualifying parties and groups,'' the court ruled.


Thus does a Constitution and a system of laws that nowhere mentions the "two-party system" become its guarantor. This is what comes of judges ignoring the texts they are given by lawmakers.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM

RECUSE J'ACCUSE:

Professor Volokh, whose posts are all surely going into a file at Democratic HQ for use at his future confirmation hearings, has obtained unofficial opinions from a couple of legal experts on the issue of recusal by the NJ Supreme Court justice who gave to the current Torricelli campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 AM

NEW JERSEY'S NEW MOTTO--"AT LEAST WE AREN'T HAITI":

Lautenberg gets nod (Trenton Times, October 02, 2002
For Daschle and other national Democrats, Lautenberg was the logical choice. He is one of the few Democrats known to most New Jersey voters, courtesy of his three election victories and his 18 years in the Senate.

And unlike any other potential candidate, he is a multimillionaire who has indicated he is willing to pay for much of his campaign.

Lautenberg, in fact, introduced candidate self-financing to New Jersey when he spent more than $3 million of his own money in a then-startling $6 million campaign to defeat Millicent Fenwick, one of the most respected congresswomen in the nation.

Ironically, Lautenberg criticized Fenwick, then 72, as too old for the strains of serving in the U.S. Senate. Lautenberg is 78.

The Lautenberg candidacy puts new strains on Torricelli's credibility.

When he quit the Senate race, he said he was doing so because he was unable to campaign on the issues, and his departure was the only chance the Democrats had to retain the New Jersey seat and control of the Senate.

He said he was acting in the best interests of New Jersey and the Democratic Party he has loved all his life.

If he wages a guerrilla war now against the Lautenberg campaign, Torricelli faces the prospects of being openly criticized by fellow Democrats, some of whom would not hesitate to demand that he resign immediately from the U.S. Senate.


Forrester should replay Lautenberg's ads from that campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 AM

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

Future of Torricelli's campaign fund unclear (Kaitlin Gurney, Oct. 02, 2002, Philadelphia Inquirer)
U.S. Sen. Robert G. Torricelli was a storied fund-raiser, propelling his own rise, along with that of the Democratic Party, on his ability to secure generous campaign contributions.

After his withdrawal Monday, his war chest - more than $6 million - was all that remained of his troubled quest for reelection. Campaign manager Ken Snyder said yesterday that the senator "wants to be as helpful as possible to the party's nominee, and decisions will be made with that goal in mind."

But whether Torricelli's money can be used to aid his campaign successor is the subject of legal debate, pundits and professors said yesterday.

Paul Sanford, director of the Federal Election Commission Watch for the Center for Responsive Politics, said he believed legal precedent suggested Torricelli should return his unspent money to donors.

"This is uncharted legal ground because the FEC has never faced a situation where someone remained a candidate for almost the whole election cycle and then dropped out," Sanford said. "FEC regulations say that if you receive contributions and end up not being a candidate, you are required to refund them. But that is generally directed at people who lose a primary election, so I don't think it applies that cleanly here."

But Richard Perr, a professor at Rutgers University's School of Law in Camden, said he thought Section 439A of the U.S. Code was more likely to prevail. It states that a candidate may keep such money for another campaign, donate $1,000 to other candidates or $5,000 to a political action committee, give the money to charity, or transfer unlimited amounts to a national political party, such as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"The DSCC could spend it in South Dakota, but most likely it would be done with a wink and a nod to facilitate the election in New Jersey," Perr said.


So let's get this straight, not only does the Party get to pick a new candidate for NJ they also get to transfer money to other races where they're in trouble? Where are all the Campaign Finance Reform voices on this one?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM

CYNICALLY PESSIMISTIC:

Don't Change the New Jersey Ballot (William G. Mayer, 10/02/02, NY Times)
Over the next few days and weeks, we are likely to encounter a lot of arguments, and a lawsuit or two, claiming that democracy and the Constitution demand that the Democratic Party in New Jersey be allowed to put on the ballot a new candidate in place of Robert G. Torricelli, who dropped out of the race for the United States Senate on Monday. Such arguments should be rejected.

The United States Supreme Court has never held that prospective candidates have an unlimited right to appear on a state's general election ballot. While the court has ruled that some kinds of restrictions on placing a name on a ballot violate the Constitution, it has, on many other occasions, upheld such rules. State statutes that prohibit a candidate from running as an independent in the general election if he also voted in another party's primary, for example, have been ruled legal.

Over the last two decades, the court has generally applied a kind of balancing test in which a court must first determine whether and how a particular restriction infringes on important constitutional rights, like the right to vote. Then, if it finds that such an infringement exists, it must be weighed against a variety of legitimate interests that states clearly have in limiting the number and type of candidates on their ballots in order to ensure an orderly and efficient election.


The Democrats' case is so weak that you have to assume they'll win. You can already hear the Court's saccharine language about "fundamental fairness" and all that driveL...and then we go to the mattresses...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 AM

PICK YOUR POISON:

For now, war talk trumps the economy (David M. Shribman, 10/1/2002, Boston Globe)
[P]ublic-opinion polls suggest that Democrats are not considered such good stewards of the economy that the issue would provide them the advantage they need against Bush and the Republicans.

To be sure, the public clearly favors Democrats on the issue of Social Security. But, in the greatest irony of this election, Social Security would have been a far bigger issue if the economy had remained robust. Then proposals to privatize Social Security would have been aired fully. But now that the Dow Jones industrial average is hovering at altitudes last seen four years ago - if you don't think that was a long time ago, consider that it was when President Clinton was facing impeachment following the release of the report of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr - hardly anyone is talking seriously about putting stable Social Security money in unstable markets. Call collect if you find a Republican arguing that your retirement money should be placed in a stock fund right now.

Then there is the broader question of the stewardship of the economy. A new poll shows that even in this time of economic dislocation, the public, by a ratio of 42 percent to 39 percent, believes the Republicans would do a better job on the economy. And those are the results of a poll done by Democratic consultants. That GOP advantage is right at the margin of error, but it is a sobering figure for Democrats. There could be a Democratic uptick in the next week or so, after the third-quarter 401(k) statements - possibly the real October Surprise of 2002 - arrive in voters' mailboxes, but right now the Democrats' big hope offers them little hope indeed.


Which gives us the delightful image of the Democrats trying desperately to move the national conversation from an issue where they're getting killed--national security--to one where they're merely losing--the economy. If these kinds of numbers hold true they might allow the GOP to eke out a draw in this mid-term election, just barely holding the House and not losing more than one Senate seat (net).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:51 AM

MUTUAL ASSURED DESTRUCTION:

The New Jersey Democrats' Nuclear Weapon (Mickey Kaus, October 1, 2002, Slate)
[I ] agree with Counterspin Central that Kopel is whistling past the graveyard when he breezily asserts that the Dems nuclear weapon in the Torricelli ballot dispute -- the "Heads We Win, Tails We Postpone" scenario in which Torricelli steps down in late October and New Jersey's Democratic governor appoints a replacement and simply calls off the election -- is unconstitutional. The N.J. statute Kopel cites seemingly allows just this possibility -- but Kopel says, with wild overconfidence, that it would be struck down because:

"The U.S. Constitution specifies that Senate terms last for six years; the term of the New Jersey seat in the U.S. Senate currently held by Torricelli expires in January 2003."

Huh? There are at least a couple of seemingly powerful arguments against this reading, starting with Counterspin's point that Torricelli's term in office wouldn't be extended. Alternatively, you could say that his governor-appointed (and presumably Democratic) replacement would serve out his six-year term, and then serve the beginning of the next six-year term, the same way appointed Senators often serve for brief periods when a Senator dies or resigns. Maybe it would take two separate appointments -- so what? [...]

In short, it looks as if the New Jersey Democrats do already possess a weapon of mass destruction -- postponement -- that they can trigger should they lose the battle to take Torricelli off the ballot.


WHAT IF TORRICELLI RESIGNS WITHIN 30 DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION? (Eugene Volokh, , 10/02/02)
Mickey Kaus argues that it's possible that "Torricelli steps down in late October and New Jersey's Democratic governor appoints a replacement and simply calls off the election,".... [...]

Now I am not a New Jersey election law specialist, and the background law behind these statutes can get pretty complex; but as I read the statute, an appointee can only serve "until a special election or general election shall have been held pursuant to law." The next "general election shall have been held" in due course in November 2002; the new appointee "shall serve as such senator" only until that date.

But what about the first paragraph? Well, it does authorize the governor to call a special election, which he might often have to do: If, for instance, Torricelli's term expired right after the end of 2004 or 2006, and Torricelli resigned on October 31, 2002, then the governor could either call a special election, or let the next election happen in November 2003 ("the second succeeding general election" after October 31, 2002, the first being in November 2002). But if there is already an election for this very seat in November 2002, I don't see any provision granting the governor the power to "call off the election" -- quite a striking power for a governor to have, at least setting aside natural disasters and the like.


Ah, but this gets even more complicated. Mr. Kaus is really only talking about a tactical nuke; waiting in the background is a strategic nuke: the next Senate. Recall that Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution states:
Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members...

Some folks urged the GOP to use this provision to block Jean Carnahan from becoming the new Senator from Missouri after the dubious way that the aftermath of her husband's death was handled. But Republicans refused to do so then. Suppose though, that the Democrats go and get an anti-legal ruling that allows Frank Lautenberg's name to appear on the ballot, or, even worse, that the Democrats play games with the timing of when the Torch technically gives up his seat. Further, suppose that the GOP were to win back the Senate in November, even without the NJ seat (it's unlikely even with NJ, but humor me a minute). They could then refuse to seat Mr. Lautenberg for his "new" term in January (recall that the Democrats have already said they'll refuse to allow the GOP to reorganize the Senate if Jim Talent beats Ms Carnahan and takes her seat immediately, as required by law). It would cause holy hell to break loose, but so will, or should, what the Democrats are contemplating. We may just be in the very early skirmishes of a long and bloody war in which both sides have nukes and the inhibitions against using them are steadily being worn away. Damn, is politics fun, or what?

October 1, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 PM

NO STICKY WICKETS HERE:

India-baiter Torricelli quits pivotal Senate race (CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA, OCTOBER 01, 2002, Times of India)
In a US Senate race that is considered pivotal for American politics and is also of great interest to India and the Indian-American community, sitting New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli on Monday dropped out of a re-election bid after opinion polls indicated he would lose.

[T]he New Jersey race holds great interest for India and Indian-Americans for several reasons, not the least because the state has a large South Asian population.

Many prominent members of the Indian community were lately in a bind because although they are traditionally Democrat-inclined, Torricelli had shown scant regard for their sensitivities.

The combative and often abrasive Senator is said to have rubbed the community--and the Indian governmen--the wrong way by espousing Pakistani and Khalistani causes and raising human rights issues at their behest. "It's not that we had a problem with the issues he raised, but he was so obviously partisan and just fronted for their causes," a community activist who worked with him previously said.

One New Jersey Indian-American Democrat said Torricelli became blatantly partisan after Pakistanis began raising money for him. "


First Cynthia McKinney; now the Torch; the Indians are two for two this innings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 PM

TWO TO TANGO:

Dem Hopes?: What the legal options are in New Jersey. (David Kopel, 10/01/02, National Review)
The New Jersey Democratic party's claim that it can anoint a new candidate, based on the political calculation that incumbent Robert Torricelli will probably lose, appears to be baseless. [...]

Note that if a Republican wins, the Republicans could actually take back the U.S. Senate on November 6, since the newly elected New Jersey senator would take office immediately, and not in January 2003.


Read the column for its treatment of the legal issues, but the second point there raises a really interesting scenario, because you'll recall that the same obtains in MO where Jim Talent could defeat Jean Carnahan and be eligible to be seated immediately. Democrats had vehemently objected to that idea, but suppose that there were now two such cases? Precisely how many voters in how many states are the Democrats willing to disenfranchise just so they can cling to power for an extra two months?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM

BUT THE DREAM ENDURES:

Death of a hero (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2002)
Two weeks ago, a photograph of a bright, young soldier appeared in this newspaper alongside an article about how his mother, with the assistance of some generous strangers, had helped to feed him and his 34 comrades serving in Nablus. Yesterday, that same soldier's photograph graced the front page, albeit in far more heartrending and painful circumstances.

Sgt. Ari Joshua Weiss of the Nahal Brigade was just three weeks short of his 22nd birthday when he was shot and killed by Palestinian terrorists on Monday during a fierce gun battle in Nablus. Another soldier, Shai Haim, was badly wounded in the exchange of fire. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

Weiss, whose father Rabbi Stewart Weiss is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana and a Jerusalem Post columnist, made aliya with his family from Dallas, Texas, a decade ago. Weiss is survived by his parents, five siblings, and his maternal grandparents, both of whom are Holocaust survivors.

Any time that a young life is snuffed out in the line of duty is, of course, a cause for inconsolable grief, something with which this country has become all too familiar these past two years.

While parents elsewhere are accustomed to seeing their children off to college or a career at 18, Israeli mothers and fathers must send their young men and women off to a war that was forced upon them.

But Weiss' untimely death in uniform carries with it an additional component, one that many of us often do not sufficiently appreciate the enormous sacrifice that immigrants have made in helping to build and defend this land.

Like so many other Western immigrants, the Weiss family left behind the comforts and familiarity of their birthplace. They packed their belongings, left their families, and set out to live their dream: to build the State of Israel.


May we never have to learn how Israelis learn to deal with the daily rage and sorrow that such stories must cause.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM

OF CABBAGES AND PRESIDENTS:

At last we know the human cost of Gerry Adams (Paul Bew, 02/10/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Today, Gerry Adams presents himself as a folksy, slightly pompous avuncular figure in Irish politics: a moralist who chides the politicians in Dublin for their embarrassingly corrupt ways. The second most popular political leader in Ireland, the "brand image" Adams was crucial to Sinn Fein's success in the Irish general elections this year.

Peter Mandelson has suggested that becoming President of Ireland may be just beyond the reach of the Sinn Fein leader. The fact remains that becoming Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland seems to many to be a real and present possibility.

But Mr Adams emerges from a new book, A Secret History of the IRA by Ed Moloney, smelling like a rotten cabbage. If the author of the book - an award-winning Irish journalist - is to be believed, Mr Adams knew about the killing of Jean McConville, the widowed mother of 10 children who was murdered by the IRA in 1972. Mr Adams has since said he thinks the allegation that he knew about or was involved in the murder is outrageous.

There is a frightening element, it would appear, of bogus sincerity in Mr Adams's public persona. Mr Moloney presents a picture of Mr Adams, in his best concerned mode, attempting to placate President Clinton and the families of the disappeared in the 1990s, while retaining an insider's knowledge of what really happened.


We'll take the International Criminal Court seriously when they indict Gerry Adams and Yassir Arafat. That Bill Clinton let those two into the White House remains well toward the top of his list of crimes against the Republic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM

ADDING INSULT TO INJURY:

Ex-Senator Named Torricelli Fill-In (JOHN P. McALPIN, 10/01/02, Associated Press)
Desperate to keep their single-seat majority in the Senate, Democrats chose former Sen. Frank Lautenberg Tuesday to replace scandal-tainted Sen. Robert Torricelli on the November ballot. [...]

Lautenberg's selection as the potential Democratic savior is replete with irony. He and Torricelli feuded openly while serving together.

"I'm not in a gloating mode," Lautenberg said. "I don't want to be smug about this. It was unfortunate for him and an unfortunate thing for all of us."

Lautenberg is a supporter of abortion rights and staunch opponent of the death penalty.


This has to be a sweet moment for Mr. Lautenberg who reportedly left the Senate in part because he so despised his fellow Senator from NJ.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 PM

OUR BOOKER FAVORITE:

The only prior interview we'd ever done was with the great Sammy Davis Jr. biographer Burt Boyar, with whom we became friendly after praising his excellent novel about Franco's Spain in WWII. But after reading the marvelous Booker short-listed novel, Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, we noticed the paucity of material about the author on-line. So with the help of Karli Goldman at FSB Associates, the very fine Internet publicity house for authors, we were able to contact the author and Mr. Martel graciously agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. We hope you find them interesting. We know you'll love the book.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM

SHUFFLING DECK CHAIRS ON THE TITANIC:

Democrats Seek Torricelli Replacement After Pallone Declines (THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 1, 2002)
Democratic leaders scrambling to replace Senator Robert G. Torricelli on the Nov. 5 ballot asked Representative Frank E. Pallone today to be that stand-in, but Mr. Pallone declined, according to a party official involved in the negotiations.

The official, who asked not be identified by name or affiliation, said Mr. Pallone, a seven-term member of the House of Representatives, was offered the slot during a meeting this afternoon with Gov. James E. McGreevey. But after briefly mulling it over, Mr. Pallone, who is seeking re-election to the House, could not overcome concerns about whether he would have enough money to successfully fend off the Republican candidate - Douglas Forrester, a millionaire businessman who has financed much of his campaign - and whether the party could find a replacement to protect his House seat for the party.

Earlier in the day, one of the Democrats' leading choices to fill the Torricelli slot, Representative Robert Menendez, removed himself from consideration, saying he wanted to remain in the House to fight to regain a Democratic majority. And former Senator Bill Bradley, another potential stand-in who was favored by Democratic leaders in Washington, reportedly rejected the idea, too.

A senior party official said leaders were now trying to pave the way for former Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, who retired in 2000 after serving three terms, to step in. But Democratic leaders said Mr. Torricelli was adamantly opposed to the party's turning to Mr. Lautenberg, with whom he frequently clashed when they were in the Senate together.


Mind you, this the same Democratic Party that is going to stand up in court tomorrow and insist that the state will be done a great injustice if some person, they have no idea whom, isn't placed on the ballot illegally.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM

JUMBO JUSTICE:

Don't Resume the Elephant Harvest (MATTHEW SCULLY, October 1, 2002, NY Times)
Of all creatures on Earth, elephants surely rate the sympathy of Republicans, and in many ways we have stood by our party's symbol through their many troubles. After a decade in which ivory poachers had taken their AK-47's to 700,000 elephants - compared to the 500,000 or so still with us - a Republican president signed the African Elephant Conservation Act of 1988. A Republican president boldly applied that law in 1989, barring ivory imports and initiating a worldwide ban, and in January of this year a Republican president reauthorized the law.

Yet now there is talk in Washington of reversing this policy, and leaving elephants again at the mercy of the ivory trade. [...]

Republicans of a more libertarian stripe do not like the idea of granting legal protections to any creature as such. They argue that elephants are a resource and ivory a commodity like any other. What matters is not this particular creature's fate, but whether ivory "stocks" are being properly managed.

What comes next is one of those libertarian environmental arguments that's supposed to sound brilliantly counterintuitive, while actually displaying an appalling moral blindness to the problem at issue: We can keep the elephants alive only by keeping alive the demand for ivory, since that alone is what gives elephants their value. [...]

The ivory ban has not been perfect but it has been merciful, reflecting humanity's ability to appreciate the goodness of these creatures, to see the wrong done to them and to search for ways to right it. If anything, enforcement of the ban must be redoubled in years to come by destroying the market for ivory through sanctions against offending nations, as Kenya's Daily Nation has urged.

When this proposal to turn the creatures back over to the ivory trade comes passing through the White House, meanwhile, let it be dispatched with the contempt it deserves. In the carnage and terror they have endured, elephants have already "paid their own way" - with a security deposit for decades to come. And the ones left have plenty of value just as they are, without need of men with guns and machetes to give it to them.


Brother Murtaugh points out this story, and, quite accurately suggests that this is the kind of environmentalism that conservatives should embrace if we're to be taken seriously on such issues. Let us be clear here, if slaughtering the elephants would produce a cure for human disease, we'd be willing to sacrifice them. But to kill them for their ivory alone, which is merely decorative, is utterly barbaric and grotesquely unjust.

We are put in mind of one of the great forgotten novels, Romain Gary's The Roots of Heaven, which if you've not read you must. The book is about a former POW who takes up arms to defend Africa's dwindling elephant herds. He explains himself as follows:
I first began thinking about the elephants during the war, when I was a prisoner in Germany, probably because they were the most different thing I could imagine from what surrounded me: they were the very image of immense liberty. Every time we looked at the barbed wire or were almost dying of misery and claustrophobia in solitary confinement, we tried to think of those big animals marching irresistibly through the open spaces of Africa, and it made us feel better. Barely alive, starved, exhausted, we would clench our teeth and follow our great free herds obstinately with our eyes, and see them march across the savanna and over the hills, and we could almost hear the earth tremble under that living mass of freedom. We tried not to speak of it, for fear the guards would notice, and sometimes we would just look at each other and wink, and then we knew that it was all right, that we could still see it, that it was still alive in us. We held on to the image of that gigantic liberty, and somehow it helped us to survive.

And one of the characters explains the title thus:
Our needs--for justice, for freedom and dignity--are roots of heaven that are deeply imbedded in our hearts, but of heaven itself men know nothing but the gripping roots...

It seems not too much to say that when we commit such indignities as the murder of elephants for their ivory we do truly tear at the roots of heaven, which are all we know of the place. If there's anything conservatives must conserve it is these endangered roots.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM

UN-BELIEVABLE:

Presidential sites - a 'deal-breaker' (Paul Reynolds, 1 October, 2002, BBC News Online)
The exclusion of the so called "presidential sites" from the discussions in Vienna on the return of the weapons inspectors means that a major problem - potentially a deal-breaker - is unresolved.

The Vienna talks did not deal with them because they were the subject of a special agreement between the UN and Iraq in 1998.

The United States and Britain are now demanding what they describe as "unfettered" access to all sites.

If they continue to include presidential sites in this definition and Iraq refuses, then it could be a cause for breakdown - and a cause for war.

If they make an exception for presidential sites, it would undermine their own charges that Iraq uses these places to hide forbidden weapons.


So these UN negotiators weren't even mentioning the "presidential sites"? Are they trying to prove that the UN is itself a joke?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE DOG THAT DIDN'T BARK:

Senator Torricelli Bows Out (NY Times, October 1, 2002)
With a month to go before Election Day, there is still time for a spirited campaign.

Such a campaign would force Douglas Forrester, the Republican candidate, who until now has focused almost entirely on Mr. Torricelli's ethics, to start defining himself in terms of other issues.


Why Torricelli Crashed and Burned (Howard Kurtz, October 1, 2002, Washington Post)
The flameout by the Torch is truly stunning.

Since when does an unindicted senator drop out five weeks before the election?

Yes, Robert Torricelli was severely admonished by the Senate ethics committee in July, but has that stopped anyone from running?

The reason, quite simply, is the media.

They wouldn't allow the campaign to be about anything else.

That, in turn, allowed obscure Republican businessman Doug Forrester to run a "Hi, I'm not Bob Torricelli" campaign. That was his only issue - and that's all he needed.

Torricelli was getting bashed regularly on talk radio by the likes of Sean Hannity and Don Imus, who called the senator a "dirt bag," "awful weasel" and "worse than Clinton."

The coup de grace may have come late last week when New York's WNBC-TV ran a 38-minute piece - without commercials - about Torricelli's acceptance of gifts from now-imprisoned businessman David Chang, featuring a jailhouse interview with Chang.

The polls just collapsed. Torricelli couldn't change the debate over whether or not he was a crook.


One can't help notice that the Times treats itself like Caesar's wife in its editorial, despite the years long vendetta it's run--to its great credit--against Robert Torricelli. As Mr. Kurtz aptly points out, it was the media not the cash poor Mr. Forrester that made Mr. Torricelli's ethics the overriding issue in this campaign. For the Times to castigate Mr. Forrester for something that they did themselves is really contemptible. And, of course, typical.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 PM

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES:

Justice who gave money to Torricelli should recuse himself, legislator says (Politics NJ, 01 Oct 2002)
New Jersey's newest state Supreme Court Justice, Barry T. Albin, was a contributor to Sen. Bob Torricelli's campaign and should recuse himself from a hearing tomorrow to consider whether Democrats can replace the Senator on the ballot, a GOP Assemblyman said today.

"A Judge should not participate in any decision in which his impartiality might reasonably be called into question," said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a Morris County Republican. "If Justice Albin donated to the Torricelli campaign, participation in this case would inevitably entail the impression of impropriety."

"Especially in view of the fact that the statute herein involved does not authorize the relief sought, and the Court is being asked to craft a remedy with huge political consequences, the participation of a new Justice, with a history of recent contributions to one of the affected parties, inevitably creates the impression of partisanship. Justice Albin should not participate in rendering the decision."

How high can you stack ugly?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM

BACK TO THE DAYS OF THE SMOKE-FILLED ROOM:

Politics NJ is reporting, sort of, that Rep. Frank Pallone is the Democrats choice to fill the Torch's seat. This will, of course, necessitate their choosing someone else to run for Mr. Pallone's seat, turning the entire democratic process in NJ into a complete farce. Do they get to just keep shuffling guys around until they have their ideal ticket? What was the point of the primaries?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:59 PM

WRITTEN ON THE WATER:

Torricelli's withdrawal sparks battle: GOP promises fight to keep him on ballot (CNN, 10/01/02)
The state Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to hear a Democratic petition to name a new candidate for the U.S. Senate seat after a lower court stopped the printing of ballots to reflect the sudden withdrawal of scandal-tainted incumbent Robert Torricelli. [...]

Under New Jersey law, a general election candidate must withdraw at least 51 days before election day to be replaced on the ballot -- a deadline Torricelli did not meet.

However, Torricelli wrote in a September 30 letter to state Attorney General David Samson that he had asked Bonnie Watson Coleman, chairwoman of the state Democratic party, to "pursue the selection of a candidate in my stead" in accordance with state law.

Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey told CNN Tuesday morning that top state Democrats will be meeting in the next 36 hours to "put forth the strongest potential candidate."

"As a matter of equity, the state Supreme Court should allow a replacement on the ballot," McGreevey said. "I think it's critically important that the citizens of the state of New Jersey ... have a full and vigorous debate upon the issues," by allowing the two major parties to field candidates.

Republicans plan to argue that Torricelli should remain on the ballot because he withdrew after the 51-day deadline.

Forrester argued Tuesday that it's too late for a ballot change, that some ballots are already printed and have been distributed to members of the armed forces and absentee voters.

"Some of these people have already voted and returned their ballots. This is an election that is in process. It is under way," Forrester said.

"There was plenty of opportunity for the Democrats to run somebody against Torricelli in the primary; it didn't happen. There was plenty of time for Mr. Torricelli to step aside before the 51-day deadline. It didn't happen."


Why does the discussion continue past the words in bold? If the law requires it and he didn't do it then to allow it would be unlawful, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:01 PM

GIVE YOURSELF AN EDGE:

Blair's Vision (Iain Murray , October 01, 2002, The Edge of England's Sword)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:16 PM

ANYONE BUT FRANK:

Will "Torch" Resign? (Indepundit, October 01, 2002)
SENATOR ROBERT TORRICELLI ended his bid for re-election yesterday, under a cloud of scandal. Now the Democratic Party in New Jersey is scrambling to find a candidate to replace him on the ballot.

One problem: New Jersey election laws say it's too late to replace a candidate -- unless the candidate in question happens to resign from office.

Which brings us to an interesting quote buried deep in a New York Times article on potential replacements for Torricelli:

"Torricelli's balking at Lautenberg," one Democratic operative said around midday. "He says he won't resign if it's Lautenberg." The strategist added, "But I think there is a consensus in the state that Lautenberg has the name recognition and the money to win."

Freudian slip, perhaps?


Some folks wondered if we weren't overstating the Lautenberg/Torricelli animosity--this suggests it's thriving.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:07 PM

LAW? WHAT LAW?:

OFF TO THE RACES: Dropping 'The Torch' (Charlie Cook, Oct. 1, 2002, National Journal)
Clearly, Democrats will have to scramble both politically and legally to head off any court challenges Republicans mount to efforts to replace Torricelli on the ballot. But despite all the contortions Democrats will have to go through, the bottom line is that New Jersey is a very Democratic state -- and getting more so every day. While Republican nominee Doug Forrester is certainly a bright, attractive and capable fellow, his strength in this campaign was that he is not Torricelli. His weakness was that he is a Republican.

Assuming the Democrats can switch nominees -- and there is little reason to believe they will not -- this was not a good break for the GOP. The problem now for Republicans is that, in a sense, they will almost have to build a candidate from scratch. Up to this point, Forrester did not need to offer a vision or an agenda for the future. That was irrelevant to his mission -- but the mission has changed. In retrospect, the GOP hit Torricelli too hard, too early -- and now will probably face a considerably less flawed Democrat on Nov. 5.


That last sentence is just astonishing. Mr. Forrester was down by 14 points in June, which is presumably why the Democrats figured they could slip Mr. Torricelli through despite his many ethical problems. The Forrester campaign isn't exactly awash in money, but to his great good fortune the Senator became the issue and so, as a double-digit lead turned into a double-digit deficit, the Democrats got Mr. Torricelli out of the race. As Mr. Cook suggests, they may have seen no serious barrier in the law that forbids them to replace him on the ballot. Indeed, given the NJ Court system, they may well succeed in violating the law. But to opine that the GOP should have anticipated that the Democrats would engage in criminal behavior in order to try and save their Senate majority is just ridiculous. It is also difficult to imagine what Mr. Cook thinks the GOP should have done instead. If Democrats are too be allowed to window shop for candidates whenever their current one is in trouble, then at what point would it have been safe to point out that Mr. Torricelli has significant character flaws, on the morning of November 5th?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM

NC-17:

Babs' memories of way Dems were (AP, October 1, 2002)
Barbra Streisand emerged from semiretirement Sunday night to headline a Hollywood gala fund-raiser for the Democratic Party. And she'll be making an encore stage appearance next week to serenade Chicago's own Rev. Jesse Jackson. [...]

Streisand delivered a nine-song set at the Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars. In the audience, celebrities including Christian Slater and Julia Louis-Dreyfus rubbed shoulders with top House Democrats.

Streisand, a longtime backer of liberal causes and candidates, wore a sweeping, metallic green gown and performed--among other selections--her hit ''The Way We Were,'' with lyrics altered to convey she missed a Democratic Congress and administration.

''Scattered pictures of the House we left behind,'' she sang. ''Lovely Democratic memories, of the way we were.''


If you get a chance to see it, there's a really fine Tod Browning concert film of the event.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM

HE'S GOT A LITTLE LIST:

Giuliani sought to personally handle bin Laden execution (Chicago Sun-Times, October 1, 2002)
In a book due in stores today, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani writes that he asked Bush three days after the terrorist attacks if he could personally execute Osama bin Laden if U.S. forces captured him.

'I am sure he thought I was just speaking rhetorically,'' Giuliani writes. ''But I was serious. Bin Laden had attacked my city, and as its mayor I had the strong feeling that I was the most appropriate person to do it.''


We're thinking he'd have deserved the William Wallace treatment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM

TUESDAY MORNING TORCHINGS:

The Other Brother--who having served is sensitive to the issue--points out that to allow the Democrats to switch horses in mid-stream would amount, once again, to their attempted disenfranchising of military men, many of whom will have already voted, some from fields of actual combat.

Also, on Imus in the Morning, they interviewed Doug Forrester and Bernard McGuirk had the best line: right now NJ has one Senator who bought his seat and one who sold his.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:55 AM

JUST ONE MORE BITE AT THE APPLE....:

Senator Torricelli Bows Out (NY Times, 10/01/02)
The task now is to find a way to give New Jersey's voters the choice they deserve.

Much of the speculation yesterday focused on the implications of Mr. Torricelli's decision for the New Jersey Democratic Party and for the balance of power in the United States Senate, where Democrats hold a one-vote margin. These are intriguing questions. But they are secondary to the larger issue of how to give New Jersey's voters a competitive race. Several things must happen to make that possible. The Democrats, led by Gov. James McGreevey, must move quickly to find a credible replacement. The courts must then expeditiously approve the ballot substitution, which in turn will clear the way for an energetic one-month campaign that, with Senator Torricelli out of the picture, can focus tightly on loftier issues than his seamy behavior.

In his emotional announcement, Mr. Torricelli said he would file a court petition to remove his name from the ballot and clear the way for another candidate, to be named in coming days from a short list being considered by Governor McGreevey. The Republicans are likely to argue that under New Jersey election law, it is too late to put another name on the ballot. But legal wrangling over ballot access cannot be allowed to obscure the central issue, which is one of democracy. The guiding principle should be the voters' basic right to a genuine election.


The guiding principle, as the Times would know if it had any principles, should be the law, which exists in order to prevent precisely this kind of gamesmanship. The idea that the Democrats should be allowed to benefit from the corruption of their own member is simply repulsive. Paul Wellstone, a bad Senator but a decent enough man, is headed to defeat in MN. Shouldn't the Democrats of MN get to have him resign so they can appoint a better candidate? Or are the Democrats of MN to be penalized because Mr. Wellstone isn't a thief and a liar? Suppose he were to take an illegal gratuity tomorrow and then resign? Would that improve the case for his replacement in the cocked eyes of the Times?