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November 30, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM

IS THE ECONOMIST ALWAYS THIS SCATOLOGICAL?

Good ol' Strom?: Well, it depends on your perspective. But the old rogue certainly changed American politics (The Economist, Nov 28th 2002)
He quickly softened his views when South Carolina's blacks (who make up 30% of the population) started voting in large numbers. After a black-white coalition defeated one of his protŽgŽs in the 1970 governor's race, Mr Thurmond reinvented himself as an economic rather than a racial conservative. He hired a black staff member, doled out pork to black mayors as well as white, and re-engineered his constituency machine (which is reported to be one of the best in the country) so that it took care of blacks as well as whites. In the 1980s he voted for the voting-rights act and the Martin Luther King holiday. In his re-election in 1990 he won 20% of the black vote.

The Republican Party too has moved on. It may attract paltry black support; and J.C. Watts's imminent retirement may be depriving it of its only black congressman. But the modern Republicans no longer embrace race-charged issues as enthusiastically as they once did. The hard-line segregationists who waved Confederate flags at Mr Thurmond's rallies are a dying breed. Unlike his predecessors, President Bush's main aim is no longer trying to prise conservative southerners from the Democrats (he's got them already). He is trying to appeal to floating voters who are highly suspicious of bigotry. His signature themes are lower taxes and national security, not explosive cultural issues. And he has given blacks conspicuous jobs in his team.

Both the Senate and the White House will put on birthday parties for Mr Thurmond on December 5th. His native state is in the process of naming yet more high schools, government buildings, athletic centres, dams, malls and streets after him. Mr Thurmond is moving into a nursing home close to the house where he grew up. He can contemplate his legacy, while he looks out over pecan trees that he planted as a boy.


Pretty staffers all over Capitol Hill will certainly feel safer--supposedly he even hit on Condi Rice.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 PM

NOT SO GOOD, MR. FRIEDMAN:

'Sodom' Hussein's Iraq (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, December 1, 2002, NY Times)
The U.N. inspectors in Iraq have begun their investigation of various Iraqi factories and military sites. Pay no attention. They will find nothing. The key to this whole inspection gambit--indeed, the key to whether we end up in a war with Iraq--will come down not to where the inspectors look inside Iraq, but whom they decide to interview outside Iraq, and whether that person has the courage to talk. The fate of Iraq will all come down to the least-noticed paragraph in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441: Point 5.

The framers of this resolution had learned their lessons from previous Iraqi inspections. They knew that Saddam Hussein was an expert at hiding his war toys and, having had four years without inspections, had probably buried everything good under mosques or cemeteries. That means the only way we can possibly uncover anything important in Iraq is if an Iraqi official or scientist--a Saddam insider--tells the U.N. where it's hidden.

And that is why the Security Council insisted on Point 5--something I did not appreciate at first, but do now. Point 5 says: "Iraq shall provide [the U.N. inspectors] and the [International Atomic Energy Agency] . . . immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons whom [the U.N.] or the I.A.E.A. wish to interview in the mode or location of [the U.N.'s] or the I.A.E.A.'s choice, pursuant to any aspect of their mandates." The U.N. and I.A.E.A. may "conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and . . . such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government."

In other words, the chief U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, can invite any Iraqi general or scientist to come outside Iraq and reveal what he knows. And should that Iraqi worry about personal safety, U.S. officials would be prepared to give his whole family green cards and money to live on. And why not? "I am happy to pay for that," a senior Pentagon official said. "It will be a lot cheaper than going to war to find these weapons."


If Mr. Friedman really didn't understand the importance of this, it suggests he's not been reading the many essays by neocons and others who have suggested that this was a necessary component for any serious inspections regime. He may not agree with conservatives, but if by ignoring them he's missing the importance of key elements of our policy, Mr. Friedman is doing his own readers a disservice.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM

REPOLITICIZE THE COURT:

Crash-Test Dummy: Bush Fronts Scalia for Chief Justice (James Ridgeway, November 27 - December 3, 2002, Village Voice)
Harvard's Alan Dershowitz thinks Scalia won't get the nod. "It would be just too provocative," he told the Voice. "Here's a guy who switched his vote and was the most important person on Bush v. Gore. The Democrats are not going to easily forgive him for that, number one. number two, he's the most reactionary justice on the court. Number three, the other justices hate him. He would be a terrible chief. He's exactly the kind of guy who maybe is tolerable as a single individual justice; I think when the White House looks it over carefully they realize he's a guy who divides people."

Opponents of a Scalia court would need Senate Democrats to mount a filibuster blocking the nomination. That hope, in turn, rests on the question of which jurist the White House would select instead, said Georgetown public-interest attorney David Vladeck. "Without knowing in advance who's being appointed to fill Justice Rehnquist's seat, it would be very difficult, given the composition of the Senate today, for the Democrats to successfully mount a filibuster, were they inclined."

Scalia's bid won't get far, predicted Dershowitz: "I think he's gonna be sent out as a stalking horse so that when, finally, the president appoints Sandra Day O'Connor, everybody'll heave a sigh of relief and say 'Thank God it isn't Scalia.' So I think we're gonna hear a noise, hear some Scalia noise, but in the end, I don't think it's going to happen."


Mr. Dershowitz is absolutely right; no matter how fine Mr. Scalia's mind may be, he's ill-suited to the Chief's job. Actually, what the Court could use,
and hasn't had for too long, is a really good politician, especially as Chief. One of the things that's overlooked about Earl Warren is that he'd been a governor, was used to hammering out legislation, and was able to bring these political skills to what is in many ways a fundamentally political job. (Recall that William Howard Taft even became Chief after being President.) One would think that either Frank Keating or Orrin Hatch would make a terrific Chief.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

-John Stuart Mill
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 PM

THAT EXPLAINS THE PRO-CHOICE POLL:

'Disgust' as MPPs chucked: Name-calling, curses rattle legislature (ANTONELLA ARTUSO AND ALAN FINDLAY, November 28, 2002, Toronto Sun)
Ontario's legislature erupted into a "disgusting" bout of name-calling yesterday that ended with one cabinet minister and two opposition politicians being chucked out of the House.

School children and seniors looked on from the gallery during question period as Attorney General David Young called a Liberal critic a "moron" and taunted Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty with hand gestures. Grit deputy leader Sandra Pupatello responded by calling Young an "a--hole."

When the dust had settled, House Speaker Gary Carr had thrown out government House Leader Chris Stockwell, Pupatello and Toronto Centre-Rosedale Grit MPP George Smitherman.

"Quite frankly, it's a disgrace and it's disgusting," Carr said afterward. "Last week we had fingers being given to each other. Today we have the famous 'moron' now that's becoming well known."


It's cold comfort to find out that the recent "moron" remark may not say so much about Canadian attitudes towards our president, but instead may reflect an increasingly swinish society.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 PM

TOUGH LOVE:

Partying Daughter Grounded, Foot Nailed to Floor (Reuters, Nov 27, 2002)
A Cambodian mother took drastic measures to stop her party-loving 13-year-old daughter from going at out night -- she nailed her foot to the floor, officials said on Wednesday.

Gotta admit, I'm on the Mom's side here.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM

CULTURE KILLS:

Why Are Black Students Lagging? (FELICIA R. LEE, 11/30/02, NY Times)
Professor Ogbu's latest conclusions are highlighted in a study of blacks in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an affluent Cleveland suburb whose school district is equally divided between blacks and whites. As in many racially integrated school districts, the black students have lagged behind whites in grade-point averages, test scores and placement in high-level classes. Professor Ogbu was invited by black parents in 1997 to examine the district's 5,000 students to figure out why.

"What amazed me is that these kids who come from homes of doctors and lawyers are not thinking like their parents; they don't know how their parents made it," Professor Ogbu said in an interview. "They are looking at rappers in ghettos as their role models, they are looking at entertainers. The parents work two jobs, three jobs, to give their children everything, but they are not guiding their children."

For example, he said that middle-class black parents in general spent no more time on homework or tracking their children's schooling than poor white parents. And he said that while black students talked in detail about what efforts were needed to get an A and about their desire to achieve, too many nonetheless failed to put forth that effort.

Those kinds of attitudes reflect a long history of adapting to oppression and stymied opportunities, said Professor Ogbu, a Nigerian immigrant who has written that involuntary black immigrants behave like low-status minorities in other societies.


One wonders if we're capable as a society of discussing problems like this and inspiring blacks to transform their culture, or whether we're all too afraid of being labeled racist.

November 29, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 PM

FAREWELL TO AN ENEMY OF FREEDOM:

Philosopher Rawls taught us to be thankful for luck
(By Matthew Miller, 11/30/02, Boston Globe)
The way to create the rules for a just society, Rawls argues, is to first imagine everyone in an ''original position'' behind a prebirth ''veil of ignorance,'' where no one knows what their own traits will be - whether they will be rich or poor, beautiful or plain, smart or less so, talented or not, healthy or disabled. Only in this situation - where people don't know what place they are destined to occupy in society - can we see what kind of social order they would agree in advance was fair.

Rawls uses this thought experiment to focus our thinking on the central role he sees luck playing in life. There's the prebirth lottery that hands out brains, beauty, talent, and inherited wealth. There's a post-birth lottery that (via family) bequeaths values and schooling. ''The institutions of society favor certain starting places over others,'' Rawls writes. ''Yet they cannot possibly be justified by an appeal to the notions of merit or desert.''

Rawls's point: The vast inequalities of wealth and position we observe stem primarily from advantages for which people can't take credit.


Having, at the time of his death, angered several people by pointing out that Stephen Jay Gould?s defense of evolution and opposition to sociobiology required him to be a hypocrite, I?m not anxious to disrespect John Rawls upon his passing. But there?s been a surprising--to me at least--amount of positive commentary about him in the past few days, even from folks who disagreed with him on ideological matters. But no matter how decent a man he may have been personally and no matter how much we may mourn his passing, I see no way around the central fact that his distributionist theory of justice sought to deny human freedom and that, to arrive at the theory, he had to deny thousands of years of Judeo-Christian understanding of human nature. Now, the preference for equal distribution (what I?ve elsewhere called economic security) over a necessarily unequal freedom, is a perfectly honorable intellectual and position to take, but it is the antithesis of what we as Americans believe in. It is the philosophy that underlies totalitarian government--else how achieve the absolutely equal redistribution? I guess I find it odd that conservatives would be so laudatory of a man who dedicated his life to an attack on freedom, who denied the intellectual tradition that gave birth to our Republic and whose utopian day-dreaming has had a pernicious effect on the American Left, causing them to believe there was a plausible basis for their egalitarianism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:01 PM

LOUISIANA VALUES:

The Battle of New Orleans: The last election of 2002, Terrell vs. Landrieu, may also be the meanest. (Stephen F. Hayes, 12/09/2002, Weekly Standard)
When they faced off in a televised debate here last week, Suzanne Haik Terrell accused Senator Mary Landrieu of abandoning her Catholic faith because of her votes in favor of abortion. The comment--one of the strongest in-person attacks in recent memory--was virtually ignored by the media.

Perhaps that's because the charge is just one among dozens of harsh attacks traded in a race that is quickly becoming one of the most bitter of the 2002 election cycle. Maybe it's because Louisiana voters have heard similar sentiments before. In 1996, Archbishop Phillip Hannan said, if "a person actually believes in Catholic doctrine, then I don't see how they can vote for Landrieu without a feeling of sin." Or maybe the remark was overlooked because Landrieu's protest--she called it the "pit of politics"--was unconvincing. Landrieu, after all, has been playing victim on just about everything. When Terrell criticized her six years representing the Bayou state in the U.S. Senate, the incumbent responded pitifully. "Well, somebody thinks I'm doing a good job." And when Terrell spoke with pride about her three lovely daughters, Landrieu had had enough. "Ms. Terrell, who knows me quite well, fails to say that I also have two beautiful daughters." Oh, the indignity.

As for "Louisiana values"--Terrell used that phrase in the first sentence of the New Orleans debate, and returned to it several times over the next half-hour. "The people of Louisiana are extremely family-oriented and they have tremendous faith," she said, defining the term in an interview two days later. "It's a recognition of those things that are important--estate taxes and the tax structure, personal responsibility, raising children, the sanctity of life, guns, crime, and faith. Sixty percent of southern Louisiana is Catholic," she adds. Terrell insists that her opponent is out of touch with those values--voting with Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Daschle more than 80 percent of the time.

That, of course, is fair to point out. And it certainly contrasts with Landrieu's attempt to portray her voting record as moderate Democrat, which it is not. (Her record has won her high marks from liberal groups like Americans for Democratic Action. That group said Landrieu voted with its agenda 95 percent of the time in 1999, 80 percent in 2000, and 85 percent in 2001; her scores for those same years from the American Conservative Union were 4, 16, and 28.) But is it appropriate to accuse your opponent of abandoning her faith?

"Maybe it's an inappropriate comment," says Terrell. "I don't know. But as a practicing Catholic, I just don't understand how she can reconcile being a Catholic with her support for federal funding of abortions on overseas military bases, or with distributing morning-after pills in school."


That may be harsh but it seems fair. For too long the GOP has practiced unilateral rhetorical disarmament on the abortion issue, allowing Democrats to portray them as anti-woman with impunity. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that folks like Ms Landrieu, Mario Cuomo, and Joe Lieberman—to name a few--violate the tenets of their professed faiths when the keep abortion on demand legal.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:25 PM

RIGHT FOR THE WRONG REASONS:

The Latest Kissinger Outrage : Why is a proven liar and wanted man in charge of the 9/11 investigation? (Christopher Hitchens, November 27, 2002, Slate)
When in office, Henry Kissinger organized massive deceptions of Congress and public opinion. The most notorious case concerned the "secret bombing" of Cambodia and Laos and the unleashing of unconstitutional methods by Nixon and Kissinger to repress dissent from this illegal and atrocious policy. But Sen. Frank Church's commission of inquiry into the abuses of U.S. intelligence, which focused on illegal assassinations and the subversion of democratic governments overseas, was given incomplete and misleading information by Kissinger, especially on the matter of Chile. Rep. Otis Pike's parallel inquiry in the House (which brought to light Kissinger's personal role in the not-insignificant matter of the betrayal of the Iraqi Kurds, among other offenses) was thwarted by Kissinger at every turn, and its eventual findings were classified.

Well, you just knew this was going to get Mr. Hitchens’s knickers in a knot. The interesting thing though is that he still hates Kissinger for his own antiquated Marxist reasons; now that he’s a conservative he should really catch up. Mr. Kissinger is, of course, a hero for Chile and Cambodia, having helped bring liberal capitalist democracy to the former and pursuing our enemies in Vietnam with vigor, though ultimately insufficient. He is to be despised for his pursuit of détente with the Soviet Union, a policy which nearly lost the Cold War.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:12 PM

AMERICA'S BEST COLUMNIST:

Democrat Gore Will Loosen Up This Time. Really (Andrew Ferguson, 11/26/02, Bloomberg)
What a Tuesday I had last week! Usually I avoid NBC's ``Today'' show, since seeing so many cheerful people at that hour of the morning disorients me, but I made an exception to watch Katie Couric interview Al Gore.

Then I gobbled down breakfast reading USA Today's lead story -- it was about Al Gore -- and on the way to work I got through most of the Washington Post Magazine's 10,000-word profile of Al Gore. After lunch I snuck off to hear my favorite interviewer, NPR's Terry Gross, interview Al Gore, and on my way home I caught a bit of an Al Gore segment on NPR's ``All Things Considered.''

I wolfed down dinner and hustled the kids to bed so I could watch CNN's Larry King interview Al Gore. He finished in time for me to switch over to Charlie Rose, who had Al Gore as his main guest on PBS. When I went to bed the all-news radio station was promoting its interview with Al Gore. I was pooped.

And how was your Tuesday?


An Andrew Ferguson column is the pundit’s equivalent of an O. Henry story. One reads along, amused enough, until the final paragraph when the author gives the piece a surprise twist that’s devastating.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:59 PM

RED-GREEN-YELLOW-FADE TO BLACK:

Confusion over arms sale: Cabinet shows strains of pressure on Iraq issue / U.S. accused of 'pure cynicism' (Michael Gavin, 11/29/02, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
German Defense Minister Peter Struck accepted the blame on Thursday for an embarrassing mix-up over a possible armored vehicle sale to Israel, which saw Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder forced to withdraw an announcement indicating that the deal could go ahead.

The episode followed a difficult week in which the government yielded to pressure from Washington and declared that it would allow U.S. overflights of Germany for purposes of an attack on Iraq, while continuing to insist that it would play no direct military role in such a campaign.

Critics said Germany's insistence that it would remain a non-combatant in a war it has deemed a "reckless adventure" was contradicted by its own vote last Friday, along with its NATO allies, in support of the recent United Nations resolution on Iraq. U.S. President George W. Bush claims the UN measure gives his country the right to attack Iraq if it is deemed not to be cooperating with weapons inspectors.


Once the Bush Administration determined to force the contradictions, Germany couldn’t end up otherwise than looking foolish. Schroeder gave them a sword and they used it, with apparent relish.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:26 PM

THE AUH20 TRAP:

The 'Safety' Trap: Democrats followed the party's center-seeking presidential hopefuls into an ideological no-man's land. (Rick Perlstein, November 11, 2002, Mother Jones)
Consider recent history, and a single conclusion becomes increasingly clear: It is the queer politics of the presidential selection process that may have gotten the Democrats into Tuesday's mess.

Succeeding in presidential politics is not, except on the most elementary level, a question of getting on the majority side of the polls. There are all sorts of elections a successful candidate has to surmount. There is the money election, in which donors vote with dollars -- which explains why a Democratic politician will shy from populist economic positions even if those positions score like gangbusters in the polls. And then there's another, far more mysterious, election; an election more in the ancient, Calvinist sense of the word, the process by which the Almighty chooses souls for eternal grace. Call it the pundit primary; it is the process by which presidential contenders get anointed by the journalistic elite as "serious" contenders, months before the first primary even takes place. It is this election that John Edwards and all the other hopefuls are engaged in now. Follow the polls to a muscular progressivism? Take on the President on a matter of "national security"? The punditry gang'll cut candidates off at the knees before they even get started.


Mr. Perlstein wrote a terrific book about Barry Goldwater and the resurgence of conservatism in America, but one wonders if maybe he learned a bad lesson from it. He’s right that the Democrats’ pursuit of the presidency is antithetical to the kind of leftist politics he favors, but seemingly quite wrong about whether Democrat fortunes will be revived if they embrace that leftism. It’s true that before the GOP could return to real power it had to return to its conservative roots, but it’s also the case that statist liberalism was a failure. So, in 1980, when Ronald Reagan said the same things as Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater had said, he won not so much because of who he was or what he said, though they both mattered, but because the other side was so obviously wrong. But it’s important to note, this was 50 years after Republicans first said that the New Deal Democrats were making a mistake.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 PM

FAINT GLIMMERS OF HOPE:

Majority of Palestinians oppose attacks on Israel: Poll (Toronto Star, Nov. 29, 2002)
A majority of Palestinians want their police to crack down on militants attacking Israel — a shift that coincides with unprecedented criticism from a top Palestinian leader of two years of violence against Israel, according to a poll released yesterday.

The poll, by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, questioned 1,319 people in personal interviews from Nov. 14 to 22 and quoted a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The poll shows Palestinians still strongly favour attacks against Israeli settlers and soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza — lands claimed by the Palestinians for their own state — but that 56 per cent favour steps by the Palestinian Authority to stop attacks in Israel.

And 76 per cent said they backed efforts to reach a mutual ceasefire, a sharp rise from the 48 per cent who supported an end to the violence just three months ago.

Earlier this week, a top-level Palestinian official Mahmoud Abbas said the uprising has been a disaster and has led to "complete destruction of everything we built.''


Remember just this past summer, when everyone was saying George W. Bush was an idiot for thinking mere political pressure could get the Palestinians to change their homicidal/suicidal ways?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:41 PM

THE LAST UNIVERSALISTS:

Letter to America: an interview with JURGEN HABERMAS (Danny Postel, the Nation)
Q: And what about relations between the United States and Europe more generally?

A: Many Americans do not yet realize the extent and the character of the growing rejection of, if not resentment against, the policy of the present American Administration throughout Europe, including in Great Britain. The emotional gap may well become deeper than it has ever been since the end of World War II. For people like me, who always sided with a pro-American left, it is important to draw a visible boundary between criticizing the policy of the American Administration, on one hand, and the muddy stream of anti-American prejudices on the other. Remembering the period of the Vietnam War, it would be helpful in this respect if the opposition in Europe could relate to, and identify with, a similar movement in this country. Yet compared with 1965, timidity now prevails here.

Maybe a kind of systematically distorted communication between the United States and Europe is also in play. I had not thought of such a possibility until an American friend tried to explain to me what he perceived as the hawkish worldview of influential people like Paul Wolfowitz. They think of themselves, so the explanation goes, as the real defenders of universalist ideals. Europeans, always susceptible to anti-Semitism, are perceived as falling back on the cynical realism of their pre-1945 power games, while brave Americans and Britons are rushing to arms for the same goals as in World War II. From this perspective, only the Anglo-Saxons are committed to defending the universal values of freedom and democracy against an "evil" that is now embodied in "rogue" states. If that were in fact more than a caricature, we would need, perhaps, a discussion on the respective faults and merits of what we might contrast as "liberal nationalism" and "cosmopolitanism."


As pj, who sent this, said, that last answer is interesting, because by its end Mr. Habermas seems to at least consider the possibility that only the Anglo-American alliance remains to defend freedom.

November 28, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:50 PM

NOW HE TELLS THEM?:

Arafat aide says uprising is catastrophe (GREG MYRE, November 28, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Yasser Arafat's top deputy said taking up arms against Israel has been a mistake for the Palestinians and must be stopped, declaring that the use of weapons had held up Palestinian independence and led to a reoccupation of West Bank cities by Israeli troops.

The comments by Mahmoud Abbas, a possible successor to the politically weakened Arafat, were made at a closed-door meeting of party leaders last month and constitute the harshest criticism a senior Palestinian figure has leveled at militants since violence erupted in September 2000.


Unfortunately, having let the fury out of the box, they may not be able to reign it in.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM

PRAYING FOR A-21:

Comatose officer reacts to scanner calls (TY PHILLIPS, September 14, 2002, Modesto Bee)
A dispatcher sends the call over the police radio at the top of each hour.

"A-21." "A-21."

The message is followed by silence. A-21 cannot answer.

Because A-21 is Modesto police Sgt. Steve May, who has been in a coma since a car crash left him critically injured. It happened July 29 while May was on duty.

A couple of weeks ago, Sgt. Ron Cloward had a police scanner hooked up in May's room at Memorial Medical Center. The hope was that he might respond to something so familiar.

Those who spend time in May's room -- mostly relatives and close friends -- believe it has helped. The movements are subtle, the steps small. But they are there. [...]

The most recent example happened last week as one of her husband's nurses charted his vital signs. As she did, a call came over the scanner that made May's blood pressure shoot up and his pulse race. He became distressed, even turning his head toward the scanner.

The nurse worked to calm May down, rubbing his hands and talking to him. But it was not until the dispatcher said no further assistance was necessary that May's vital signs returned to normal.

The following morning, the nurse told Diana May what had happened. She did not think much of it at first. Then later that day she learned that the call regarded a sheriff's deputy who had been involved in a crash and was not answering his radio. The deputy suffered minor injuries.

"That just confirmed it for me," Diana May said. "It lets me know that he's still in there. I know that he hears us. It's just a matter of time until he's back."


NPR did this story this morning and it was extraordinarily touching.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM

SEMPER FIDELIS:

My Heart on the Line (Frank Schaeffer, November 26, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in Iraq, it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry. [...]

My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.

Why were I and the other parents at my son's private school so surprised by his choice? During World War II, the sons and daughters of the most powerful and educated families did their bit. If the immorality of the Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military service once that war was done?

Have we wealthy and educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world a safe place? Or have we just gotten used to having somebody else defend us? What is the future of our democracy when the sons and daughters of the janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm's way than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?

I feel shame because it took my son's joining the Marine Corps to make me take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because perhaps my son is part of a future "greatest generation." As the storm clouds of war gather, at least I know that I can look the men and women in uniform in the eye. My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart.


May the men and women who defend us and fight our battles for us be safe today and in the difficult days to come.

November 27, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 PM

PRETTY QUICK ON THE UPTAKE, EH?

New Federal Rule Tightens Demands on Failing Schools (DIANA JEAN SCHEMO, November 27, 2002, NY Times)
Children attending public schools deemed failing under a new federal law have to be offered transfers to better schools, regardless of whether those schools are already full, according to final regulations released today by the federal Education Department.

The new regulations, which are more stringent than expected, could leave hundreds of districts scrambling for alternative places for children who want to transfer out of poorly functioning schools.

The new regulations do not oblige school districts to adopt specific solutions. At a news conference here today, Education Department officials said that schools might consider signing contracts with neighboring districts to accept students from failing schools, hiring more teachers or building new classrooms at more successful schools.

But critics suggested the administration was quietly paving the way for vouchers to private schools as the answer when districts could come up with nothing else.


After two years folks are finally starting to figure out just how tenacious this President is in pursuing his goals. Even Ted Kennedy had figured out shortly after the bill was signed that Mr. Bush was just pursuing the vouchers through the regulatory process. Why it took the Times so long to figure out we'll leave it to you to determine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM

INSTANT CLASSIC?:

'God & Country' commands with fiery reign (HEDY WEISS, November 27, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
In times of turmoil and uncertainty, there is nothing like a good dose of the ancient Greeks. And in Douglas Post's sensational new musical, "God and Country," now receiving a powerhouse world premiere at Victory Gardens Theater in a production that will have you on the edge of your seat for 90 uninterrupted minutes--the doubts and disarray that permeated that first democratic civilization are given a resounding burst of meaning for our own.

The show blows open the story of Antigone for a modern audience. It's driven forward with thunderous momentum by a highly sophisticated and soul-stirring rock score that avoids every cliche--as well as by uncompromising, razor-sharp lyrics and a trio of performances of such vocal and dramatic force that they could easily be transferred to the great stone arenas where the plays of Sophocles were first performed. At the same time, it suggests something of the raw beauty, stripped-bare honesty, pagan mystery and ritualistic fervor that we sense was part of the original Greek theater. This is high praise, and it is meant to be.


Wow.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM

OR IS "THE STATE" DYING INSTEAD?:

The Real Story of Secularization: Is Europe a special case?: a review of God is Dead by Steve Bruce (Philip Jenkins, November/December 2002, Books & Culture)
The idea of secularization is fundamental to contemporary debates over the sociology of religion. As sociologist Steve Bruce puts the issue succinctly, "The basic proposition is that modernization creates problems for religion"; or to quote the social anthropologist Anthony Wallace, "The evolutionary future of religion is extinction." To sketch the notion crudely, the Protestant Reformation created the social and economic conditions from which modern capitalism emerged. This in turn allowed the emergence of societies characterized by diversity, pluralism, individual choice, relativism, and an emphasis on scientific and technological ways of understanding the world. In this model, religion fares poorly, and religious adherence and practice decline precipitously. Very generally, "increasing prosperity reduces religious fervor." The whole process is epitomized by the
evocative photograph on the cover of Bruce's new book, God Is Dead, depicting a once-grand British church now converted into "Mike's Carpet Stores-Discount Warehouse." Transitions of this sort are painfully commonplace across a rapidly de-Christianizing Europe. Of course, not all churches become warehouses: a fair number are now mosques. [...]

Bruce is absolutely not a stranger to the American scene-he has published on American fundamentalism and the Religious Right, for example-but I think he simply misses the utterly different feel of religious discourse in the United States as opposed to Europe, a distinction that emerges in everyday conversation. I do not claim this work as in any sense scientifically representative, but there is a richly illustrative moment in the 1988 British film High Hopes (directed by Mike Leigh), in which a working-class British woman asks "So what can we do today? I mean, it's Sunday," to which her friend replies "We could go to church." From the context, the remark is obviously an outrageous joke rather than a serious suggestion. Real people just don't do that sort of thing (well, not white people anyway). An exchange of that kind would have nothing like the same significance in the United States.

Similarly, in a dispute some years ago over using faith-based charities to provide social welfare, prominent Labor Party politician Roy Hattersly protested that "This is an agnostic nation. People don't take [religion] seriously." It is a stunning illustration of the cultural and religious gulf separating the United States and Britain that no public voice in the United Kingdom regarded his remarks as controversial. In the United States, such a statement would have been politically suicidal. For all the book's virtues, Bruce's argument runs aground on the American experience. To accept his explaining away of that exception requires, well, an act of faith.


The failure to reckon with the American experience is particularly important because it suggests that it is not religion but secularization that is an evolutionary dead end, in the most Darwinian sense of the word "evolution". The declining populations of Europe suggest that natural selection has adjudged the secular European to be a failed species. If the past of Europe was a church and the present is a discount warehouse, the future is indeed a mosque.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:37 AM

THE BLOODY WOGS ARE ATTACKING; CAN I BORROW YOUR RIFLE?:

Military considers sharing heavy-lift aircraft: Germany leads consortium that would pool resources for strategic airlift (Mike Trickey, November 27, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
Defence Minister John McCallum says Canada is looking at the possibility of entering a "time-sharing" arrangement with NATO allies as a way of obtaining heavy-lift aircraft for the group of countries who need them, but cannot afford them.

Germany, which has dramatically scaled back plans to buy 70 A-400 transport planes because of economic problems, has committed to leasing several C-17 Globemaster transport planes as an interim measure and to leading a consortium of a dozen nations that would pool airlift resources.

Canada has little to offer aside from an aging fleet of smaller Hercules' transport planes. Canada was forced to rely on U.S. and British transports to get troops and equipment to Afghanistan last year, which is why, Mr. McCallum said, the German idea is attractive.


Nothing better exemplifies the precipitous decline of the West than stories like this, which reflect a conscious decision to abandon the long term defense of the state and its citizens in favor of universal social programs that "benefit" the individual. What has died in these countries is any sense of the nation as a shared enterprise, requiring sacrifice and self-denial for the sake of the common good. All that matters anymore is where everyone's next government service is coming from. But when the crunch comes, and they realize that everyone can't simply feed off the public teat and their states begin to decline into economic and social chaos, they won't even be able to defend themselves from the predators who will come to feed off of the corpses. Yet it's our leader who's a "moron?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM

TRY JOE'S POEM:

Ortlieb's Uptown Taproom (W.S. Di Piero, November 26, 2002, Slate)
The sax's rayon shirt tonight fires up
flamingos, pink parrots, blue palms
He trues his pork-pie so the pinky diamond
winks into the smoky room. The drummer
looks beyond us all, seeing things
we don't, winged things cutting the air.
A second set at midnight, the brewery long
closed down beyond that door. After their shift,
the cookers and machinists passed through
for beers and shots, punched Bobby Darren
into the jukebox. By 3 A.M. they're home,
leftovers in the oven, or T.V. dinners,
upstairs a sea of restless candied dreaming
(roller skating on ice, a red wet finger
in the toaster) and when he sits to eat,
he remembers waking as a child
to mountain bagpipers in his village,
Christmas morning, peasant music wheezing
high and thin down under the window.
Their goatskin bags call like animals,
the herdsmen's arms muscled like his own
checking heat and pressure gauges,
breathing a tune dreamed up as he goes along,
like our flamingo sax, in his ecstasy tonight,
who blows bagpipe music through our hearts
and the sudsy breath of drinkers quitting work.

Always liked Ortlieb's just because of the can:


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

DEAN'S DECEMBER (cont.)

CAN JOHN KERRY WIN NEW YORK? (Patrick Ruffini, 11.27.02)
Can Howard Dean win California? These are the questions that are going to have to be answered if the Democratic nominee in 2004 is going to be anybody but Al Gore.

There's a reasonable case to be made that 2004 may turn into a perfect storm for Democrats. The frontrunner is weak enough, and his potential challengers strong enough, for Gore to be toppled. This assumption is underscored by the findings of a recent ARG New Hampshire poll, which finds Gore's ballot test in the state far worse than at this point in the 2000 cycle.

If you read on, the numbers for Howard Dean in particular are very significant. Forty-five percent of Democratic voters have heard of him, and he has a fav/unfav of 29%/2%. That's political gold for Dean. Not only is awareness of Dean converting nicely into personal favorability, but the guy has no negatives. Dean scores at 2% in the ballot test, but there's nothing preventing that number from going up. The only other candidate who comes close to having a favorability ratio this good is John Kerry, at 44% positive, 7% negative. I can easily see the New Hampshire primary becoming a three-way slugfest between Gore, Kerry, and Dean, with all three equally likely to win.


As Mr. Ruffini goes on to say: from there it gets interesting.

November 26, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM

INDIA ON THE BRINK:

The Struggle for India's Soul (Mira Kamdar, Fall 2002, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL)
Until quite recently, I believed my father's hatred of Muslims to be a particular affliction, the result of an attack whose emotional scars go far deeper than the physical ones. I realized in 1992-93, when Hindu-Muslim riots raged throughout India in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya by Hindu militants, that my father's views were, if not a universal plague, at least a widespread distemper.

A decade later in 2002, it has become chillingly clear that Hindu-Muslim conflict in India is no longer-if it ever was-a natural malady, the unfortunate inheritance of an ancient people beset by too much history and too many conquerors: it has become a weapon of political engineering wielded by Hindu militant leaders bent on transforming India from the secular democracy its founders envisioned 55 years ago into a Hindu religious state, sanitized of Muslims and other minority groups. This, grossly stated, is the core ideology of Hindutva: to unify India's Hindus-otherwise divided by caste, class, region, language, and sect-into a dominant political force that can restore modern India to an essentially Hindu past from which it has been severed.


Long and rather depressing look at India's Hindu nationalist movement.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 PM

FIELD VS. HOUSE:

Black Democrats Concerned on House Posts (JANELLE CARTER, Nov 26, Associated Press)
As House Democrats pick a new leader for their fund-raising committee, black lawmakers are again protesting about being overlooked for key positions despite delivering millions of votes each year.

Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson (has been lobbying to replace Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But Jefferson's prospects of getting the plum assignment are anything but certain since the elevation earlier of this month of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to House minority leader. The job may go to Rep. Martin Frost, a Texan who challenged Pelosi for the leader's job before dropping out of the race. Frost has chaired the committee twice before.

Pelosi, the first woman to lead the party in either the House or Senate, also approached Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., about taking the job, but he declined, according to a Markey aide.

Jefferson would be the first black to chair the campaign committee. Many black Democrats are clearly frustrated that his appointment is not a done deal.

"It is time for diversity to show its head," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. All 38 members of the caucus are Democrats. "We want to have input with the Democratic caucus of the House. We get frequently labeled as the base but the base is rarely heard from when it comes to decisions related to the DCCC."


And yet two weeks from today, in Louisianna, a Senate seat will be decided by how many blacks turn out to vote for Mary Landrieu. How long will blacks keep giving something for nothing?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 PM

A FINE BALANCE:

Delhi's rich adopt gender selection of the poor: A deep-rooted preference for male offspring is threatening the balance of the sexes (Catherine Philp, November 27, 2002, Times of London)
WHEN Bhanvi Kumri found out that the child she was carrying was a girl, she burst into tears. "I wanted to get rid of it," she said. Her first child had been a girl and when she became pregnant a second time, she prayed that it would be a boy. "A girl is OK, but a boy is a necessity in India."

In the end she had the baby, but she and her wealthy politician husband vowed that next time they would not leave it to chance. Four months ago, in a swanky Bombay fertility clinic, she underwent in vitro fertilisation to weed out female embryos and implant two males, the future heirs to her husband?s business.

Aniruddha Malpani, who treated Bhanvi, is an unapologetic crusader for what he calls "family balancing" although he admits he has yet to treat a patient seeking to have a girl. "People used to kill baby girls," Dr Malpani argues. "This technology means they don't have to do that anymore." [...]

In the past decade, the number of girls under six in Delhi has slipped from 945 per 1,000 boys to 865. Yet areas that include some of the most exclusive neighbourhoods showed as few as 796 girls. [...]

Already villages in Haryana and Punjab, the traditional bastions of female infanticide, are suffering the consequences of two decades of systematic eradication of females, with young men forced to buy in brides from elsewhere or even share a wife with their brothers. Sexual violence is also on the rise amid frustrated single men. It may only be a matter of time until upscale society is struck by its own set of consequences. [...]

The saddest thing, campaigners say, is that it is educated women themselves who are helping to perpetuate the old attitudes.


Also sad is that, because no one is willing to face up to the issue, women's groups here in America crusade for us to send "family planning" funds to such places, where our tax dollars would in effect be used to exterminate women.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 PM

PELOSIVILLE VS. THE SEGWAY:

Segway scooters banned in SF (Associated Press, November 25, 2002)
San Francisco supervisors today banned the use of the Segway Scooter on city sidewalks, agreeing with senior advocates that the new technology poses a threat to the old, the young, and the disabled. [...]

Senior Action Network members urged the ban be enacted at a rally on the steps of City Hall before today's meeting. "Whose sidewalk is it?" asked advocate Jeanne Lynch. She said the scooters, technically known as the electric personal assistive mobility devices, would not be affordable to seniors at several thousand dollars apiece.


Shouldn't they ban the seniors' wheelchairs too?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM

AXIS OF NOT QUITE AS EVIL:

France and Germany plan Euro defence union (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Toby Helm, 27/11/2002)
France and Germany have called for a full European security and defence union, pushing Britain to the sidelines in their latest attempt to revive the Berlin-Paris axis.

In a move that has alarmed the Foreign Office, the two governments have put forward a joint plan for a Euro-army with an "integrated command capability" and a "European Armaments Agency".

The ideas are being portrayed in Paris and Berlin as the product of frustration at Britain's tendency to be the mouthpiece of America on foreign policy issues, rather than looking to Europe. [...]

Crucially, France and Germany say they must be allowed to go ahead with the plans even if other EU nations oppose the idea.


This is ridiculous--why do the Brits keep accepting these humiliations from the French and the Germans? It's long past time to bail out of Europe and join NAFTA.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 PM

REVIVE IT:

The Flat Tax, Flat-Lined: Republicans usually love tax reform. Now that they control Washington, why are they scared of it? (Robert Shapiro, November 26, 2002,
Slate)
The flat income tax has long been the favored version of tax reform for conservatives. They would tax all individuals and corporations at the same rate and exempt any income that an individual saves or a business invests. In theory, this type of tax reform should promote saving, which in turn could produce more investment, productivity gains, and again, economic growth. It's no surprise that a few years ago, Dick Armey, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, Steve Forbes, and other conservative luminaries all pushed versions of a flat tax.

Yet even with conservatives setting the national agenda, serious efforts from the right to overhaul the tax system have ended. Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation, two leading conservative groups that used to agitate for overhauling the code, continue to rouse the troops over extending the Bush tax cuts and repealing the estate tax, but they are quiet about tax reform. Their most recent broadside on flat taxes dates back to March 1999. The appeal of flat taxes has virtually disappeared, and the reasons for that can be found in economics more than in politics.


One would hope that Mr. Shapiro is wrong about basic reform being dead, thou you'd assume Mr. Bush would wait until he's re-elected to attempt such a huge undertaking. There have been numerous stories recently saying that they're actually looking at a VAT to replace the entire income tax code.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM

PROGRESS?:

Colgate Moves to Improve Diversity: After protests a year ago, the university has added staff, addressed issues. (Brian Mannion, November 25, 2002, The Syracuse Post-Standard)
A year after Colgate University students protested over racial issues on campus, students and administrators say progress has been made.

The university added two positions focused on diversity, marked Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for the first time and began diversity training for the president and her staff.

"Colgate made a strong commitment to visibly improve diversity on campus," said interim Dean Adam Weinberg.

Administrators "have appeased us for the moment," Kyle Chandler, 21 and a senior, said. "The immediate response last year was strong..., but slowly but surely they died down.

Weinberg said there is movement. The most visible change, Weinberg said, is the creation of two positions - associate dean for affirmative action and employment initiatives and assistant dean of multicultural affairs.


Mr. Chandler has it exactly right; the administration at dear alma mater has appeased the protestors. It's proven nearly impossible to recruit minorities in significant numbers to come to a school in rural Central New York--in one of the poorest counties in the state--which gets over 100 inches of snow a winter. The culture shock is a little more than folks are willing to tolerate. So, instead, they add two new deans? When in doubt, bureaucratize.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 PM

REQUIEM FOR A FEATHERWEIGHT:

Schroeder on borrowed time as unrest spreads (Roger Boyes, November 27, 2002 , Times of London)
GERHARD SCHROEDER, a triumphant election winner only two months ago, has once more been bombarded by criticism from Left and Right, home and abroad, and pensioners and businessmen as his popularity plumbs new depths.

The crisis in confidence, say well-placed sources in Berlin, could persuade the German Chancellor to step down as early as next spring.


Springtime, for Gerhard and Germany...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:45 PM

A HAZARD OF MISFORTUNES:

Geneticist: Abort the blind and disabled (Julie Novak November 20, 2002, Narragansett Times)
Society might be better off if it prevents the birth of blind and severely disabled children, said biomedical ethicist Dan W. Brock [a former professor of philosophy and biomedical ethics at Brown University who now works for the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland] at the University of Rhode Island's tenth Honors Colloquium lecture last Tuesday night.

In a world where genetic screening has become not only common, but also proficient and covered by health insurance in some cases, new parents may be facing more thought-provoking decisions as they prepare for the birth of a child. And Brock thinks such decisions should be left to parents, not the government, because of their complexity.

A supporter of pre-birth screening and procedures like abortion to prevent disabled children from being born, Brock said his thoughts should not be perceived as a judgment of severely disabled people.

"I want to define genetic testing in a strictly reproductive context. It's uncontroversial that serious disabilities should be prevented in born persons," Brock asserted. "It's considered a misfortune to be born blind or with a serious cognitive disability, but if it's a bad thing for a born person, then why not prevent these conditions in someone who will be born?"


This guy's an ethicist? And we pay his freakin' salary? It is undoubtedly true that we might save our society much time, money, and aggravation if we killed babies who were going to be inconvenient to raise and care for, but that isn't ethical reasoning, it's expedience. And having decided that the circumstances of someone's life would represent a "misfortune" which justifies our killing them, what other misfortunes might we not add to the list?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:06 PM

THE UNHAPPY WARRIOR:

The Longest Race: Louisiana's Mary Landrieu Didn't Lose on Election Day. But She Hasn't Won Yet. (Mark Leibovich, November 26, 2002, Washington Post)
Sen. Mary Landrieu is dressed, blow-dried and ready to campaign -- again.

She putters through her childhood home and kisses her father, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, who is eating granola at the kitchen table. Her mother, Verna, pours coffee. The senator leaves her guest-room bed freshly made -- blue pajamas folded next to the pillow -- and is skimming the Times-Picayune when two campaign aides arrive.

Before she leaves, the senator stands in the middle of the kitchen and takes a deep, melodramatic breath, the kind she's been exhaling a lot these days. They signal both grit and exasperation, declare "Here I come" and "Here we go again" with a dash of "Let's get this over with."


Geez, she sounds like she should be on suicide watch.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:51 PM

KING OF THE GRAY STATES:

See Howard Run: Vermont governor Howard Dean is off and running for the White House. But why is he doing it, and where will he end up? (Charles P. Pierce, Globe Staff, 11/24/2002, Boston Globe Magazine)
In Vermont, where state government is largely a part-time business, and where the Legislature meets for only about 16 weeks a year, Dean's volatile and energetic persona was in stark contrast to the overall temper of the government he'd been handed to lead. Nevertheless, for all his bombast, he hewed to the middle, alienating everyone a little but very few people a lot. Dean's fiscal stewardship placed the governor on such firm political ground that he could afford to be stubborn when the Vermont Supreme Court handed him not one live grenade but two.

The first was a 1997 decision, Brigham v. State of Vermont, in which the court declared that the system of funding the state's public schools through property taxes produced unconstitutional inequities. An ugly class war erupted between wealthy communities and poorer ones. Fault lines cracked open between longtime Vermonters and more recent arrivals. Dean left the problem to the Legislature, and the state's General Assembly produced Act 60 - the Equal Educational Opportunity Act - which assessed a statewide property tax of $1.10 per $100 of assessed value, which was then placed into an education fund, which the state then distributed in block grants. This guaranteed a threshold amount to be spent per student regardless of where the student lived. If a town wanted to spend more than the threshold, the money went into a pool shared by the richer towns with the poorer towns. The solution angered everyone a little, but Dean stood by Act 60 staunchly during his 1998 reelection campaign.

The incivility that erupted during the school-funding debates exploded again in December 1999, when, in Baker v. State of Vermont, the state high court held that same-sex couples were entitled to the same legal benefits and protections enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. "It started during Act 60," recalls Lee Light, a farmer and longtime progressive activist. "But the civil-union thing put a cap on it. I've never seen that kind of nastiness up here. Never."

In April 2000, Dean signed a bill legalizing so-called civil unions in Vermont. He did so without any public ceremony, which angered the gay community and which isn't exactly George Aiken spitting in the eye of LBJ. However, during his 2000 reelection campaign, Dean never budged on his support for the civil-union bill even in the face of a withering assault from the Republican candidate, state legislator Ruth Dwyer, who, two years earlier, had been pounding him over Act 60.

In both elections and in everything he has done as governor, you can see Dean's distrust - indeed, his active, visceral dislike - of political extremes. His is a blunt personality that flourishes paradoxically in the gray areas. "I think the country's being run now by ideologues of the right," he says. "They can't tolerate ambiguity, and without ambiguity the world can't survive."


An excellent long profile, but, unfortunately for Mr. Dean, the American people tend not to choose gray men for the presidency, favoring what Willmoore Kendall called men of "high principle" instead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM

NOISE POLLITION:

Tom Daschle Contracts Dowd-Dementia (Mugger, NY Press)
I can't resist passing along this nugget from Katha Pollitt's Dec. 9 Nation column. Pollitt, in despair over the elections and lack of "progressive" turnout, has a dandy idea. She writes: "So which is it: People don't vote because there's no one to vote for (except when there is)? People don't vote because it's too much trouble (except when it isn't)? Let's find out. Let's move Martin Luther King Day to the first Tuesday in November, so that Election Day is a paid national holiday and King's memory is honored with something more real than uplifting bromides. Or maybe, it will turn out, not more real."

Jeez, Pollitt doesn't go far enough. Why not move Election Day to the birthday of an American patriot like Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky or Alger Hiss?


If you don't read Russ "Mugger" Smith regularly, this is a particularly good column to start with.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM

GIVE US BACK OUR MONEY:

Positive Ratings for the G.O.P., if Not Its Policy (ADAM NAGOURNEY and JANET ELDER, November 26, 2002, NY Times)
Three weeks after Republicans captured control of the government, Americans hold favorable views of the party and President Bush, but they are less enthusiastic about some of the policies Republicans are promoting, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. [...]

Mr. Bush's enthusiasm for his $1.25 trillion tax cut plan is...not entirely shared by the public. Two-thirds said they would have preferred the federal surplus be used to shore up Social Security and Medicare rather than finance a tax cut. With the surplus gone, 48 percent of those polled said they did not believe it was possible to both cut taxes and reduce the federal budget deficit; 42 percent said they believed it was possible. But the respondents were evenly divided about whether they preferred to focus on reducing the deficit or cutting taxes. [...]

Americans are also evenly divided about whether future retirees should be permitted to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, as is strongly supported by Mr. Bush and many Congressional Republicans. At the same time, more than half of the respondents said they did not expect the Social Security system to be able to pay them benefits owed by the time they retire.


If you take a look at the raw numbers, that even divide on the question of cutting the deficit or cutting taxes appears to be historic. In all the prior polling numbers they've included, cutting the deficit won by a significant margin. Combined with the data on where folks think the tax cuts went, it suggests that the GOP should push a big middle class tax cut, immediately.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:29 PM

BROTHER, CAN YA' SPARE A MEDAL?:

Exhuming John Kerry's Past (Howard Kurtz, November 26, 2002, Washington Post)
John Kerry has survived the Joe Klein primary.

For the Massachusetts senator who wants to be president, the profile in the new issue of the New Yorker loomed as an early test of how he would beperceived by the press. And the article's focus – on Kerry's struggle with his opposition to Vietnam, and the details of his long-forgotten heroism there – can only boost his candidacy in this post-9/11 era. [...]

[T]he fulcrum of the piece is Vietnam, and there's a fairly dramatic moment when Kerry discovers in his files a 1966 address he gave on the subject at Yale, after he had enlisted in the Navy but before he left to fight in that jungle war.

"I am criticizing the propensity – the ease – which the United States has for getting into this kind of situation. . . . Never in the last 20 years has the government of the United States been as isolated as it is today."

For some reason this reminds us of Clinton trying to maintain his political "viability" while playing footsie with the college ROTC program. The difference, of course, is that Clinton didn't serve, while Kerry was wounded three times in Nam and then, in 1971, led a protest in which he tossed his combat ribbons onto the Capitol steps.


That's actually not true. What Mr. Kerry did do was throw a different set of ribbons, not his own. His service was mostly honorable, his subsequent behavior less so.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:54 PM

WE GET RESULTS!:

Canadian Official Who Called Bush 'Moron' Resigns (Reuters, 11/26/02)
The top aide to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien who created a swirl of controversy by dismissing U.S. President George W. Bush as a "moron" resigned on Tuesday.

Clearly the Canadians heard our sabers rattling and caved in. Advantage Blogosphere!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:39 PM

EVERY MAN A KING:

Bringing Bacon to the Bayou (Dotty Lynch and Douglas Kiker, Nov. 26, 2002, CBS News: Washington Wrap)
Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has boasted of her ability to bring federal dollars to the state if she's re-elected over GOP nominee Suzanne Haik Terrell in their Dec. 7 runoff. But incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, campaigning in Louisiana for Terrell on Monday, said Landrieu might not even keep her Appropriations spot if she wins because of a possible reduction in the overall number of seats on the committee. He also promised that Terrell would "at the table where the decisions are made" if she's elected, the Associated Press reports.

Why not cut to the chase and promise Louisiannans $500 a head if they vote Republican?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 PM

CHOOSE, THEN LIVE WITH YOUR CHOICE:

The Real Meaning of Choice: Dealing, Politically, with Abortion (Doug Bandow, November 26, 2002, Cato)
[T]he point of restricting "the right to choose" an abortion is not to spitefully penalize those who do not accept traditional Judeo-Christian ethics, or any other moral code, but to ensure that everyone accepts responsibility for the serious consequences -- a life -- of their sexual choices. Of course, even broadly "pro-life" people are likely to disagree on the exact parameters of the putative parents' duties: In truth, the "hard" cases are hard. Nevertheless, there are easy cases too, like abortion as a form of late birth control to make up for an earlier evening's pleasure and as a means of sex selection, usually to ensure the birth of a boy. These "choices" surely do not have the same moral weight as a decision to abort made by a woman whose life is in danger or who has been raped.

Of course, moral surrender by refusing to hold people responsible for their sexual choices may look attractive when one assesses the difficulties in actually banning abortion. No one who supports individual freedom can be enthused about allowing the state to intrude so dramatically into private lives. But the fact that life is at stake requires us to make some hard decisions involving the balance between life and liberty. The very complexity of the issue means that abortion cannot be justified as a simplistic commitment to "choice," irrespective of the circumstances. [...]

Today people are free to choose whether -- and when and with whom -- to have sex. People who create children as a result, even inadvertently, should be willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of their choices. Unrestricted abortion, in contrast, allows everyone, men as well aswomen, to avoid dealing with the results of choices freely made.

That's why abortion is, appropriately, a political issue. And why the newly empowered Republican congressional majority, if it is serious about governing, must confront the issue.


It's interesting that though this was originally published in National Review, it now appears at the Cato website. It will be much easier, though still difficult, for the GOP to put together a longterm governing majority if they can get social conservatives and libertarians to work together, instead of against each other. This kind of recognition that rights carry with them responsibilities and consequences, along with the two groups joint interest in things like school vouchers, holds out some promise that there may be grounds for a reconciliation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM

THE TRUTH SOME WAY OR ANOTHER:

John Coltrane's Eternal 'A Love Supreme': New Release Includes Rare Live Performance (Ashley Kahn, Nov. 26, 2002, NPR Morning Edition)
Saxophone legend John Coltrane's 1964 recording, A Love Supreme, is one of the masterworks in the canon of jazz: most musicians know it. Many have performed parts -- if not all -- of the 32-minute suite.

Now, a new edition of the Coltrane album has been released. It includes the original studio recording plus the only live performance of the complete work. The double CD is a result of research for a new book, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album. Its author, Ashley Kahn, prepared an essay on the project for Morning Edition.

"John Coltrane is one of those rare musical figures who transcends both his time and category," Kahn says. "Today, in addition to jazz fans, rockers and rappers, head-bangers and hip-hoppers all swear their allegiance to him. And no album in his catalog reaches a wider audience than A Love Supreme, what he called his 'humble offering to God.'" [...]

[A] Love Supreme is more than just a musical statement, Kahn says. "It's an unusually complete vision of one man's spirituality expressed through his art. Coltrane used the tools he had available and that he knew: a saxophone, a well-practiced quartet -- even his own voice -- to create music worthy of his creator."

In a 1966 interview, Coltrane discussed religion and spirituality. "I've always felt that even though a man was not a Christian, he still has to know the truth some way or another. Or if he was a Christian, he could know the truth." he said. "The truth itself doesn't have any name on it to me. And each man has to find this for himself, I think."


As Glenn Dryfoos, our jazz critic, says: This is the one jazz album even the stoners used to listen to when we were in college. Mr. Kahn's report though sets it squarely in the spiritual realm and suggests it might make--along with Gavin Bryars' Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet--excellent, if unorthodox, Thanksgiving listening.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM

THE VELVET WHIP:

Saudis Face U.S. Demand On Terrorism: Halting Financiers May Be Urged (Douglas Farah, November 26, 2002, Washington Post)
U.S. intelligence agencies and financial investigators have put together a classified, working list of nine wealthy individuals believed to be the core group of financiers for al Qaeda and other radical Islamic terror groups, U.S. officials said. Of those, seven are Saudis, one is a Pakistani merchant and one is an Egyptian businessman. The officials would not identify the individuals.

"There are some who argue that sharing intelligence with the Saudis is just plain stupid," one official said. "But in so doing we put down a marker. We are saying we are not acting unilaterally, we are not moving precipitously, we are not acting as a hostile force.

"We tell them the problem and leave it to them to solve, presuming they will act in good faith. But if they do not act in 90 days, we assume solving the problem is beyond their ken and the United States will solve it."


This seems like a more responsible way of dealing with the problem for now than the various foot-stamping demands that we treat the Sauds as presumptive enemies. There'll be plenty of time to take them on--after Iraq and Syria--if they don't get their act together.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

LAST BEST HOPE:

A Christian Boom (Daniel Pipes, November 26, 2002, New York Post)
The numbers are jaw-dropping: Nigeria already has more practicing Anglicans than any other country, with Uganda not far behind. The Philippines has more baptisms per year than France, Spain, Italy and Poland together. By 2025, two-thirds of all Christians (and three-quarters of all Catholics) are expected to live in the South. (This actually understates the contrast in growth rates: Many Southern Christians are relocating to the North. In London today, half of all churchgoers are blacks.) Under present trends, by 2050 non-Latino whites will make up just one in five of the worlds Christians.

The import of these numbers still seems to elude folks. Because Judeo-Christianity is necessary to democracy, Man's best hope for continued freedom lies not among the dying post-Christian white Europeans--who by their very addiction to the social welfare state demonstrate what happens when faith declines--but with rising populations of multi-ethinc Christian Third Worlders and immigrants. In all likelihood, the preservation of Western Culture today depends more on America's Asian and Latino immigrants than on its supposed intellectual and academic elites. That's why it's self-defeating for some conservatives to oppose immigration. They're trying to keep our own ultimate allies out. Instead, we should be welcoming them and working to indoctrinate and assimilate them into the totality of traditional American culture, including self-reliance; self-governance; and the decentralization of political power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM

CRANK UP THE ENOLA GAY:

Klein adviser calls Bush 'idiot': Media firm's VP apologizes for 'editing error' in memo on Ducros (Larry Johnsrude, November 26, 2002, The Edmonton Journal)
A media adviser to the Alberta government has apologized for referring to George W. Bush as "that idiot" in an internal memo commenting on the controversy over a senior federal aide who called the U.S. president "a moron."

On the heels of an ill-conceived remark that almost cost a Liberal official her job, Edmonton-based MediaWorks West was scrambling to apologize last week for using equally pejorative language about the U.S. president.

The memo, sent by e-mail to the Klein government's communications staff, referred -- in capital letters -- to "that idiot George Bush" in its assessment of last week's controversy.

In a followup memo, company vice-president Jodine Chase apologized for what she called an "editing error" in the previous e-mail.

MediaWorks West provides the provincial government's public affairs bureau, its communications branch, ongoing summaries of news coverage through its media monitoring service called SCRUM. The public affairs bureau falls under Premier Ralph Klein.

An update issued at 1 p.m. Friday read: "New! ChrŽtien refuses resignation of his communications director and says there is no evidence Franoise Ducros used the word 'moron' to describe THAT IDIOT (my caps) George Bush."

Ten minutes later, the company issued a correction and two hours later it circulated an apology under Ms. Chase's name.


This is just getting silly. Let's settle our differences the way great nations always have: with a war. Winner take all.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM

UNWOBBLY WATCH:

U.S. to Seek to Abolish Many Tariffs (EDMUND L. ANDREWS, November 26, 2002, NY Times)
The Bush administration, hoping to jump-start global trade negotiations, will propose a plan on Tuesday to eliminate all tariffs on industrial and consumer goods by 2015, officials said tonight.

The plan, which will be submitted to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, would cover not only big industrial products like cars and machinery but also labor-intensive consumer goods like clothing, textiles and leather handbags that are still fairly heavily protected in the United States.

Administration officials said their plan would "turn every corner store into a duty-free shop" and would eliminate about $18 billion in tariffs that American consumers pay each year.


Purists of course objected to the steel tariffs and the farm bill, but disposing of such issues and positioning himself as someone willing to protect U.S. interests has won the President a pliant Congress and given him huge leverage on the international stage to go for big coups like this one.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM

WEST OF EDEN

After the fall: An inside look at the Bush team's plan to run Iraq once Saddam is gone (KEVIN WHITELAW, 12/02/02, US News)
Most U.S. officials, mindful of the traditional Arab suspicion of American motives, don't want to be seen as dictating the shape of the next Iraqi government, aside from fostering a multiethnic, representative government within today's borders. For many of the remaining questions, the State Department is hoping that the Future of Iraq program it launched earlier this year will help Iraqis shape their new nation. It is convening 16 working groups of Iraqi exiles to discuss everything from war crimes and political transition to water issues and energy. Their recommendations are not binding, but they provide an indication of where things might end up. On war crimes, for instance, the working group is leaning toward prosecuting only about a dozen of the most senior figures in Saddam's regime and forming a truth and reconciliation commission to provide amnesty for the rest. U.S. officials, meanwhile, are gathering evidence for trials against the top leadership, but they are publicly vague about how deep they
want to go.

Such planning is limited by the dearth of information about Iraq. U.S. officials have compiled thick briefing books on every aspect of Iraq. But much of the research is based on estimates and educated guesses. There hasn't been an Iraqi census in years, for instance. Statistics on everything from the economy to healthcare are either spurious or suppressed. Along with serving immediate humanitarian needs, international teams would have to survey every aspect of Iraqi society.

Deciding when to leave Iraq will also be dicey. Nobody wants to see an aggressive Iraqi military re-emerge from the embers of Saddam's regime. But Iraqis live in a dangerous neighborhood. "We should plan a 10-year stay to build the Iraqi military into a force capable of defending itself and tie it closely to the United States," says Clawson. But after several years, that commitment might involve little more than a small U.S. force and broad security guarantees from Washington. "It's a totalitarian state, not a failed state," Clawson adds. "This is not Haiti or Bosnia or Somalia."


One of the many oddities of liberal opposition to the war is that as soon as we we topple the government they want to leave in place they'll be insisting that all its leaders be tried for war crimes.

November 25, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM

THE WHEAT'LL GROW LIKE KUDZU:

Global Warming May Boost Crop Yields, Study Says (John Pickrell, November 25, 2002, National Geographic News)
Escalating greenhouse gas levels may significantly boost production of fruits and seeds in crops such as wheat, rice, and soybeans, according to a recent study.

But the effect may be a double-edged sword; the increase in yield appears to be linked to a decrease in the nutritional value of these crops.

"Crops have higher yields when more [carbon dioxide] is available, even if growing conditions aren't perfect," said Peter S. Curtis, an ecologist at Ohio State University and co-author of the study. "But there's a trade-off between quantity and quality. While crops may be more productive, the resulting produce will be of lower nutritional value."


So why don't we just genetically alter them to boost their nutrient loads?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 PM

NOT A BAD DECADE:

Top 100 Albums of the 1980s (Pitchfork, 11-18-02)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 PM

POOR GEORGE:

A Pig Returns to the Farm, Thumbing His Snout at Orwell (DINITIA SMITH, November 25, 2002, NY Times)
What if Snowball had his chance? An American novelist has written a parody of "Animal Farm," George Orwell's 1945 allegory about the evils of communism, in which the exiled pig, Snowball, returns to the farm and sets up a capitalist state, leading to misery for all the animals. The book, "Snowball's Chance" by John Reed, is being published this month by Roof Books, a small independent press in New York. And the estate of George Orwell is not happy about it. [...]

In Orwell's allegory, the animals go hungry and are worked to death for the benefit of their communist pig masters. In the final scene the animals gaze into the window of the farmhouse watching the pigs cavorting with their human oppressors and can no longer tell the two apart.

Mr. Reed decided to turn Orwell's classic back on itself. In his parody Napoleon, the Stalinist pig dictator of "Animal Farm," dies, and his old rival, Snowball, returns transformed into a corporate capitalist dressed in cuff links and a blazer. "Tonight, I present an animalage of such erudition that all the wisdom of the village is now ours," Snowball says, announcing a new, decidedly free-market credo for the farm: "All animals are born equal - what they become is their own affair."

The farm initially expands under capitalism. The animals get hot water and air-conditioning, start wearing clothes and begin walking on their hind legs. The farm encroaches on the territory of the neighboring woodland animals. The pigs bomb the beaver dams and disrupt the free flow of water - make that oil - in the forest. Eventually the farm's ecology is destroyed by overdevelopment, and it is turned into one giant Disney theme park, complete with confessional sideshows.

The woodland creatures, led by the beavers - read Islamic fundamentalists - incensed at the destruction of their environment, attack the twin windmills, which power the farm and are a stand-in for the towers of the World Trade Center. The book ends with the farm animals crying out for revenge against the fundamentalists: "`Kill the beavers! Kill the beavers! Kill! Kill!"'


His stature is amply demonstrated by the way all of us desperately want to believe that Orwell would be on our side.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 PM

BORDER PATROL:

When People Fled Hyenas: Oversized Hyenas May Have Delayed Human Arrival in North America (Lee Dye, 11/20/02,
ABCNEWS.com)
The Bering Land Bridge that the first Americans crossed into the New World from Siberia had been there for thousands of years before those first immigrants arrived, most likely around 12,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests the bridge surfaced repeatedly for at least 40,000 years as seawater became trapped in glaciers during the last Ice Age.

North America was one of the last places on the planet to be populated by humans, and "there has to have been a series of things that kept people out of the New World until very, very late," [Christy] Turner says.

The evidence he and his colleagues have uncovered, he says, suggests that one player in that drama may have been a most unlikely, and yet terrifying, villain.

The hyena.


We just found the official mascot for The American Conservative.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 PM

EITHER HE'S WRONG OR JIM BAKER WAS RIGHT:

Poll: U.S. Jews lukewarm on Bush (Matthew E. Berger, Nov. 24, 2002, Cleveland Jewish News)
A majority of U.S. Jews rate President Bush's leadership on the Middle East as fair or poor, according to a new poll.

These results sharply contradict what has been perceived as strong support among American Jews for President Bush's handling of the Middle East conflict.

The new study, funded jointly by American for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute, also found that large proportions of both the Jewish and Arab communities in the United States would like the Bush administration to steer a middle course in the peace process, with 45 percent of Jews and 66 percent of Arabs choosing that option over policies that favor either Israel or the Palestinians.

Only 5 percent of Jews surveyed rated Bush's handling of the Middle East as excellent, with 23 percent saying it was good, 38 percent calling it fair and 31 percent describing it as poor.

The poll was produced in late October, and has a 4.5 percent margin of error. The poll was taken by Zogby International, headed by John Zogby.


This looks like a job for Patrick Ruffini.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 PM

NUGENERATION:

Cat Scratch Fervor (Doug Powers, November 25, 2002, WorldNetDaily.com)
Here in Michigan, it's the time of year when the atmospheric chill is rivaled elsewhere only by the one at the Clinton's dinner table. Because of the cold, we're forced to stay indoors and spend a great deal of time on premature speculation. The latest in these speculations is that an informal poll in the state reflects a large movement building to elect Ted Nugent as Michigan's governor in 2006.

The guy we want to see run is Charles Barkley, who's said in the past that he'd like to be a Republican governor of Alabama.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM

SAY IT AIN'T SO, BOBBY:

Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame: Paranoia, hubris, and hatred-the unraveling of the greatest chess player ever (Rene Chun, December 2002, The Atlantic Monthly)
The international chess community, which tracks Fischer's downward spiral the way astronomers track the orbit of a dying comet, has been monitoring his radio interviews since the first one aired, back in January of 1999. For the most part chess people have for years downplayed the importance of his outlandish outbursts, explaining that Fischer's raging anti-Semitism, acute paranoia, and tenuous grasp on reality are hyped by the media and misunderstood by the public. In the early 1990s Fischer's girlfriend at the time said, "He's like a child. Very, very simple." A friend who spent a lot of time with him in the 1990s says, "Aside from his controversial views, as a person Bobby is very kind, very nice, and very human." Another friend, asked how he could stand by someone so blatantly anti-Semitic, replies, "A lot of people wouldn't care if Michael Jordan was an anti-Semite if they could play a game of Horse with him."

Many Fischer apologists argue that Bobby Fischer is in fact deranged, and that as such he deserves not public castigation but psychiatric help. They are quick to point out that he was raised in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, has had close friends who were Jewish, and in fact had a Jewish mother (information he has gone to great lengths to deny). It seems hard to imagine that his hate-filled rhetoric isn't an unfortunate manifestation of some underlying illness.

But even the Fischer apologists had to throw up their hands when he took to the Philippine airwaves on September 11, 2001. In an interview broadcast this time by Bombo Radyo, a small public-radio station in Baguio City, Fischer revealed views so loathsome that it was impossible to indulge him any longer. Just hours after the most devastating attack on the United States in history, in which thousands had died, Fischer could barely contain his delight. "This is all wonderful news," he announced. "I applaud the act. The U.S. and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians, just slaughtering them for years. Robbing them and slaughtering them. Nobody gave a s***. Now it's coming back to the U.S. F*** the U.S. I want to see the U.S. wiped out."

Fischer added that the events of September 11 provided the ideal opportunity to stage a long-overdue coup d'état. He envisioned, he said, a "Seven Days in May scenario," with the country taken over by the military; he also hoped to see all its synagogues closed, and hundreds of thousands of Jews executed. "Ultimately the white man should leave the United States and the black people should go back to Africa," he said. "The white people should go back to Europe, and the country should be returned to the American Indians. This is the future I would like to see for the so-called United States." Before signing off Fischer cried out, "Death to the U.S.!"


So, the anti-Semitism was excusable but the anti-Americanism went too far? He actually sounds not unlike John Forbes Nash or Ezra Pound, which is to say crazy, and more a danger to himself than to any of us.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM

"BUT WHERE IS EVERYBODY?":

Scientists Contemplate Interstellar Travel, UFOs (Guy Gugliotta, 11/25/02, The Washington Post)
So: It's about 7:45 p.m. in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on a chilly, blustery December night, when this "big round thing" with flashing red lights suddenly crashes in Big Lake Park, just off North Eighth Street.

Eleven witnesses, including cops and firefighters, either see the crash or rush to the scene within 15 minutes to watch the flames from the molten metal -- mostly carbon steel --that covers the ground.

It happened on Dec. 17, 1977. The "big round thing" that local resident Criss Moore saw hovering in the air 25 years ago has never been explained.

No one knows if aliens are really blowing up their starships over Council Bluffs. But if extraterrestrial life forms are visiting from time to time, somewhere some sentient beings must have figured out a way to transit interstellar space. Discussions about unidentified flying objects march hand in hand with the feasibility of interstellar space travel.

Earlier this month, George Washington University and the Sci-Fi Channel sponsored a symposium at the university where serious people took up these two topics. Scientists agreed that we won't be doing star trips anytime soon, but "soon" may not mean much in the context of the cosmos.

"The universe is 14 billion years old," said symposium panelist Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist from City University of New York. "Human civilization only began 5,000 years ago."

So give science a chance.


Interesting story, but we're believers in Fermi's Question.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM

THE ROLLING LANDSLIDE:

Lucas Mulls Party Switch: Ky. Democrat's Decision May Come Today (Susan Crabtree, 11/25/02, Roll Call)
After a meeting between Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Ken Lucas (D-Ky.) before lawmakers left town, Republicans expect a decision as early as today about whether the Kentucky Democrat will switch parties.

House Republicans are keeping the details about the potential political coup close to the vest and would only speak anonymously about what one GOP aide called "very serious discussions" between Lucas and House GOP leaders. [...]

Lucas is among a handful of conservative Democrats whom Republicans have tried to coax across the aisle for years. Unlike past efforts to convince lawmakers to swap sides, Republicanleaders did not dangle a plum committee assignment or chairmanship and Lucas did not ask for any tangible incentive, according to the GOP sources.

Instead, the political dynamics of Kentucky's 4th district and President Bush's current popularity have forced the issue this time.

According to one GOP source, Lucas is concerned about his political viability in 2004 if he remains a Democrat.


One suspects Mr. Lucas is not alone in his concern.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:00 PM

HEBRAIC HURLER:

Looking to hit a home run with Jewish baseball card series (Mark Benson , 11/15/02, Jewish World Review)
During the annual convention of the Society for American Baseball Research here this summer, Martin Abramowitz of Newton, Mass., invited convention attendees to his home for brunch and a discussion on baseball players from years past with names like Greenberg, Koufax and Reese.

However, the Reese mentioned was not Brooklyn Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese, but Jimmy Reese, another middle infielder, who played some 70 years ago.

The lesser-known Reese shares a special distinction with Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax - he is one of just 140 Jews ever to play major league baseball, and will be featured in an upcoming set of baseball cards Abramowitz created to celebrate this fascinating aspect of the Jewish experience in America.

Abramowitz is the founder of Jewish Major Leaguers, a nonprofit organization based in Newton (actually, in Abramowitz's home) that is collaborating on the project with the American Jewish Historical Society and a card manufacturer to be determined. He hopes that the first set of cards will bring attention to men like Reese, a second baseman for the Yankees during the 1930 and 1931 seasons who roomed on road trips with none other than Babe Ruth. (Though, as Reese often quipped, he spent more time in the hotel with the Babe's luggage than the Bambino himself.)


These days Gabe Kapler and Shawn Green are carrying on the tradition, but a few years ago there was just one Jewish player in the majors, the improbably named Jose Batista.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:59 PM

MUST SEE TV:

RONALD REAGAN: A LEGACY REMEMBERED (History Channel, November 25 at 9pm)


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:22 PM

THE VOTER--NO DOPE:

The smoke clears: Across the nation, pro-pot initiatives went down in flames (Brian Morton, 11/13/02, Baltimore City Paper)
Drug-policy reformers have known for years that if legalizing pot were ever put on the ballot, thumbs up or thumbs down, it would lose. Surveys over the better part of the last decade have shown that Americans don't want to legalize drugs, usually by margins that come close to 80 percent. That pot failed to pass in a libertarian-minded state like Nevada has got to be a cold dash of water in the movement's face.

And all other drugs aside, and no matter what your personal sentiments are about the weed, there are a few things to contemplate about the wholesale legalization of pot.

Let's stipulate that drugs are a public-health problem; that they are readily accessible and addictive puts a tremendous strain on this nation's resources. Then consider that the most dangerous drug in America--alcohol--is already legal. Think of what adding one more psychoactive drug to the mix would do.

Legalizing marijuana would make it more accessible, and more access means more users. More users mean more problems, and more problems mean more stress on the system.

The rising costs of prescription drugs aren't slowing down, the stuttering economy isn't helping the escalating costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and still too many Americans have no health care at all. And many of us think we can afford to legalize another drug?

On top of that, if there's one thing we know, it's that letting Madison Avenue sell addictive and psychoactive substances is something we don't need. Already, the liquor industry has begun violating their decades-old pledge against TV advertising. Why? Because revenues are down--people aren't drinking hard liquor like they used to--and the promises the industry made had an expiration date that came due the minute the profit margins started heading south.


Part of the general shift Right on Election Day was the devastating rout of the pro-drug forces.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 AM

EVE OF DESTRUCTION:

Both sides target Fitzgerald (LYNN SWEET, November 25, 2002, Chicago SUN-TIMES)
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) is looking around for someone to challenge Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), while former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) said she wants to reclaim the seat Fitzgerald won from her in 1998.

The 2004 Illinois Senate race is already packed with intrigue: Seven Democrats are considering the contest, while some Republicans are taking the unusual step of plotting to get rid of a sitting senator from their own party.

"I'm thinking about trying to make sure Peter has an opponent," LaHood told the Sun-Times. "I think we can do better than him." [...]

Fitzgerald has made himself a target of members of the Illinois GOP political establishment. He picked a fight with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), has lost some traditional GOP business support with his opposition to O'Hare Airport expansion and did little to help other Republicans in the general election.

"Republicans in Illinois can only win not with the support of Republicans, but with good-government Democrats," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald "hasn't done anything," said LaHood, of Downstate Peoria. LaHood said Andy McKenna, president of a Morton Grove firm, called him a week ago to discuss a possible challenge to Fitzgerald. Said McKenna, "I have not made a decision about being a candidate at this point."


What more could you ask than the Democrat establishment trying to defeat a black woman candidate and the GOP establishment trying to beat an incumbent Republican Senator?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 AM

A MORE REALISTIC STATE OF PLAY IN LA:

Landrieu Out Front Early, But ... (Clancy DuBos, 11 19 02, Best of New Orleans)
Statewide, Landrieu leads 51.4 percent to 36.4 percent, with the rest undecided or refusing to state a preference.

Along racial lines, Landrieu leads among black voters, 87.6 percent to 2.8 percent; Terrell leads among whites, 50.1 percent to 36.4 percent.

Those numbers are good for Landrieu not so much because of her strong black support, which was no surprise, but because she does as well as she does among whites. Historically, Republicans running statewide get almost no black vote, as Terrell does here. Because blacks comprise 29 percent of the statewide electorate, a Republican has to beat a Democrat by a 2-1 margin among whites to win -- even with a higher white turnout. Terrell is nowhere close to doing that in the SLU poll.

The weakness for Landrieu in the primary was the extremely low turnout among black voters. African-American turnout was at least 20 percent lower than white turnout -- 30 percent lower in some areas. The SLU poll shows the race gets closer and closer as the disparity between black and white turnout grows. If the turnout differential is 30 percent, the two candidates run virtually even in the SLU survey.


At that point the poll actually was more a reflection of name recognition than anything else. One doubts that 50% of voters even knew who Ms Terrell was on Election Day. In fact, the low support among whites could reflect the respondents not even knowing her race. Ms Landrieu, on the other hand, is well known and one would assume that the 13.5% of white undecideds are likely to break overwhelmingly for her opponent. Then it just comes down to turnout.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

THE SADDAMITES IN THE WEST:

Iraq seizes on 'moron' remark: Party paper claims U.S. president is hated and ridiculed in West (Jim Bronskill, November 25, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
The news organ of Iraq's ruling party has seized upon the reference to U.S. President George W. Bush as a "moron" by Jean Chretien's spokeswoman, using the remark to argue the American leader "is given all sorts of bad names, especially in the West."

The Baath party daily Ath-Thawra pointed yesterday to the recent comment from Mr. Chretien's director of communications, Franoise Ducros, as evidence that Mr. Bush's hard line on Iraq has alienated other countries, including western allies. [...]

In an interview with the program CBC News: Sunday, Mr. Chretien appeared to suggest Ms. Ducros "was defending the Americans rather than attacking them" when she made the comment. Mr. Chretien did not elaborate.


Mr. Chretien obviously believes President Bush to be a sub-moron and therefore "moron" is an improvement. There is a serious side to this though. All of the sniping by the Germans, French, Russians, Canadians, and Democrats has supposedly convinced Saddam Hussein, whose misunderstanding of the West is legendary, that Mr. Bush won't be able to assemble a coalition and won't have the support at home to attack Iraq. This is, of course, utter hogwash, but in effect those who oppose the war are feeding Saddam's intransigence and making war more likely.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM

THE WHIP HAND:

German defense minister denies report US has asked for missiles (Agence France-Presse, Nov 24, 2002)
German Defense Minister Peter Struck on Sunday denied a report that the United States had asked Berlin to make anti-aircraft missiles available for a war in Iraq.

"The report is false," Struck said of a front-page article in Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoting senior government officials.

The newspaper said Washington had asked Germany to prepare to provide an unspecified number of Patriot missiles as part of the mobilization in the region for possible strikes against Iraq.

The officials quoted said that Washington had not specified where it wanted the missiles deployed.

But they said that request would be difficult to refuse if it was intended to defend Israel or NATO ally Turkey.


Maybe when Mr. Schroeder and his cronies were preening around calling George W. Bush a Hitler, it might have occurred to them that they were angering someone who has great power to humiliate them. By requests like this, Mr. Bush can force Germany to either de facto participate in the Iraq War, whether they want to or not, or make them truly break with the rest of Europe and be isolated in the midst of suddenly hostile neighbors, a prospect that always terrifies Germans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM

DEAN'S DECEMBER:

Dr. Who? For President: Vermont's Physician Turned Governor Goes for a Long Shot (Howard Kurtz, November 25, 2002, Washington Post)
Every four years, the press swoons, at least briefly, over a presidential candidate like Dean. A lonely figure who takes controversial stands, who isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Bruce Babbitt in 1988. Paul Tsongas in 1992. Someone who, almost by definition, can't win.

Nursing a ginger ale at Cafe 290, a jazz joint where Jones has brought him to meet some ordinary folk, Dean rejects the comparison.

"I'm going to be the John McCain of this race," he says over the funky beat -- the straight-talker who catches fire and upsets the political establishment.


This seems like the perfect time for a Dean boomlet. People are going to like what they see of him--he's tough, smart and serious. A doctor and a governor, he has the kind of gravity the Democrats badly need right now. Best of all, as far as Left zeitgeist is concerned, while he comes across as fairly conservative in tone, he advocates big time Leftist projects, from statist health care programs to gay marriage. Unfortunately for the Democrats though, this may not be just a temporary little press love-in with Dean; his candidacy may have legs. We got a lot of VT press coverage here in NH--most of Dean's coverage is favorable-- and it's easy to see him mounting a serious challenge to John Kerry, the only other realistic contender in the NH primary. Considering the point they start from on the political spectrum, NH would turn in to two guys on the fairly far Left pushing and
pulling each other into Pelosi territory.

November 24, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 PM

LOOSEN THE TIN FOIL, ANATOL:

The Push for War: what the US Administration hopes to gain (Anatol Lieven, 3 October 2002, London Review of Books)
The most surprising thing about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq is not that it is destructive of international order; or wicked, when we consider the role the US (and Britain) have played, and continue to play, in the Middle East; or opposed by the great majority of the international community; or seemingly contrary to some of the basic needs of the war against terrorism. It is all of these things, but they are of no great concern to the hardline nationalists in the Administration. This group has suffered at least a temporary check as a result of the British insistence on UN involvement, and Saddam Hussein's agreement to weapons inspections. They are, however, still determined on war - and their power within the Administration and in the US security policy world means that they are very likely to get their way. Even the Washington Post has joined the radical rightist media in supporting war.

The most surprising thing about the push for war is that it is so profoundly reckless. If I had to put money on it, I'd say that the odds on quick success in destroying the Iraqi regime may be as high as 5/1 or more, given US military superiority, the vile nature of Saddam Hussein's rule, the unreliability of Baghdad's missiles, and the deep divisions in the Arab world. But at first sight, the longer-term gains for the US look pretty limited, whereas the consequences of failure would be catastrophic. A general Middle Eastern conflagration and the collapse of more pro-Western Arab states would lose us the war against terrorism, doom untold thousands of Western civilians to death in coming decades, and plunge the world economy into depression.

These risks are not only to American (and British) lives and interests, but to the political future of the Administration. If the war goes badly wrong, it will be more generally excoriated than any within living memory, and its members will be finished politically - finished for good. If no other fear moved these people, you'd have thought this one would.


This essay just gets nuttier and nuttier as it goes along. It never ceases to amaze me that the Euros think they're sophisticated and wordly-wise while we're ignorant rubes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 PM

THE REVOLUTION EATS ITS OWN:

Pelosi's First Dive (David Corn, November 20, 2002, The Nation)
It didn't take long.

That is, for Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, to run for cover. Days after her colleagues selected her to replace Dick "I'm Outta Here" Gephardt, Pelosi appeared on Meet The Press. Out of the box, Russert asked her about recent news reports on the increasing threat posed by a resurgent al Qaeda. Pelosi, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, confirmed the "threat is real" and added, "We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the President in the fight against terrorism." Is a new attack inevitable? Russert wondered. "That certainly is a possibility," she replied, and added, "We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the president."

Clearly, she had inherited page one from Gephardt's playbook: regarding terrorism, handcuff yourself to Bush.


This essay and this one, D.C. Mystery: Who Sucked The Life Out Of Nancy Pelosi? (Arianna Huffington, November 22, 2002), are terrible signs for the Democrats. They suggest that movement liberals are serious about dragging the party to the Left and the consequences be damned. If the Party really does demand that its leadership oppose the war on radical Islam, they could be headed for oblivion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:31 PM

NO MAN IS WISE AT ALL TIMES:

A philosopher king's farewell in Prague (MARTIN WALKER, 11/21/02, UPI)
Havel became the moral leader of the struggle against Soviet oppression long before he became, in what he called "one of those playful tricks history plays on us humans," the leader of his country. And almost immediately, he saw it wrenched apart, as the Slovak half of the country decided to go its own independent way, and Havel's humanist convictions and his devotion to human rights and freedom of choice ensured the breakup was so civilized that it became known as the Velvet Divorce.

Havel remains president until early next year. But after 13 years in office, the man who led the Velvet Revolution that broke Czechoslovakia free from Soviet rule, and who brought his country into the NATO alliance and now into the European Union, is finally stepping down after one of the most extraordinary careers in modern politics.


I'm a huge fan of Vaclav Havel, but the following speech seem fundamentally wrong, SPEECH: "The Transformation of NATO" (Václav Havel, 11/20/02, NATO):
NATO represents a unique combination of two parts of the world--North America and Europe--closely related to each other and yet fairly distant in many ways, both geographically and mentally. Numerous circumstances indicate that the present era--when so much is changing, so much is being born and so much is subjected to examination--is becoming, among other things, a time of serious testing of the relationship between America and Europe, and that the fate of NATO in the future depends, to a substantial extent, on how those concerned will stand this test.

My personal opinion is that although the two components of our alliance may, in the future, divide various tasks between them in a greater measure than they have until now, they will always need each other. Actually, they may need each other even more in the future than they do now and it would, therefore, be an historical mistake of immense consequences, possibly close to a disaster, if they were to begin to move away from one another at the political level in any major way.

What needs to be done in this situation?

I believe that the first requisite, above all else, is a quest for better knowledge of each other, better mutual understanding and a greater capacity for empathy with one another's positions and one another's dilemmas.

Europe should perhaps remind itself, more than it has before, that the two greatest wars in the world's history to date grew on its soil from conflicts between European countries; and, that on both occasions it was the United States--which had no part in the outbreak of those conflicts--that eventually made the decisive contribution to the victory of the forces of freedom and justice. And more than that: Who knows whether Western Europe would have been able to hold its ground during the Cold War and withstand the Stalinist, or the Soviet or the Communist, expansion if it had not been backed by the immense potential of strength brought in by the United States, among other things within NATO? And it was, again, the United States that acted as a driving force in the solution--though apparently belated and imperfect--of certain European conflicts that emerged after the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Would Europe have been able to resolve them on its own? I am not certain. Looking back at all we have been through during the twentieth century, and witnessing all that is happening today--with the United States being inevitably involved in some way or to some extent--Europeans should be more conscious of the roots and the type of the American responsibility and, if necessary, show a certain amount of understanding for the occasional insensitivity, clumsiness or self-importance that may come with this responsibility. I would even go so far as to profess my feeling that every European who blames the United States for the manner of subjugation of the world's economy by its global corporations should realize that it was Europe that gave birth to the entire culture of profit and economic expansion and laid this culture in America's cradle. It is not very wise to blame our own mirror. Actually, is this not an inadmissible ethnic interpretation of the problem? It is no accident that the large corporations are called "supranational"!

On the other hand, America should realize not only the fact that it owes a substantial part of its greatness and strength to the European roots of its civilization. First and foremost, it should be aware that it might still need Europe very badly indeed. It is not so difficult to imagine that other powers, equally advanced as today's USA, might emerge on various continents of our planet ten or twenty years from now and that a close cultural, political and security link with half a billion Europeans might prove to be very useful for the United States, even if merely for the purpose of maintaining balance. Perhaps all those complicated debates with that fussing gaggle that Europe may occasionally resemble in the eyes of the Americans have meaning after all and are worth pursuing again and again. Where but on European soil, for that matter, can America find a spiritually closer ally or partner in the future?


There's entirely too much here of that European taste for blood and soil. The West is really much more of an idea than a place or a people and that's why it's reached its pinnacle in America. Though we're many different peoples and we've few ties to any specific bit of land, we believe the ideas ferociously. If Europe, as appears increasingly likely, stops believing in things like freedom, democracy, and the like, then no shared history or racial characteristics will suffice to hold the alliance together. And if places like Turkey, Iran, Israel, India, Taiwan, Chile, etc., embrace our ideals, no differences in race, religion, or tradition will be able to keep us apart. That even a Vaclav Havel doesn't yet get that is more than a little scary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:08 PM

JEW VS. JEW:

St. Paul not a Christian says theologian (Christopher Guly and Randy Boswell, November 23, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
Regarded today as Christianity's greatest missionary and the premier apostle whose writings in the New Testament promulgated Jesus' message, St. Paul would be "perplexed and dismayed" at the role ascribed to him as one of the principal founders of a new religion, says an American theologian.

"Paul would not be happy with this characterization -- he doesn't even use the term 'Christian,' " said Dan Schowalter, a professor of religion and classics at Carthage College, based in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Mr. Schowalter argues that Paul, a Jew, believed that Christ embodied the "fulfilment of Judaism" and was the genuine messiah of Jewish prophecy. [...]

In an interview, he said while "select" teachings contained in Paul's New Testament epistles served as the "foundation" of the Christian Church, Paul's "intention was not to form a new religion" at the expense of Judaism.

"If we use the term 'Christian' to refer to Paul or any believer in the first century, we're oversimplifying and applying an anachronistic term to that situation," explained Mr. Schowalter.

However, he added that during Paul's lifetime, most Jews would not have regarded him as one of them as soon as he began advocating Jesus as their messiah and including Gentiles in the Jesus movement without them first becoming Jews.


This is just idiotic. When the rest of the Jews didn't recognize Christ as the Messiah what were his followers going to do, fight them for the name "Jews"? One side or the other was going to be called something different and the odds were the smaller group was going to get stuck with a new name, right?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:00 PM

BOOKNOTES:

Carnegie by Peter Krass (C-SPAN, November 24, 2002, 8 & 11 pm)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:08 PM

AMAZING GRACE:

Analysis: Left Turn for Dems? (Martin Sieff, 11/23/2002, UPI)
Ever since Vietnam, more than three and a half decades ago, the Democrats have been the party of shooting themselves in the foot. The only two times they have regained the presidency in all those years has been when they flew the flag of "Me-too-ism." But their rout at the hands of George W. Bush on Nov. 5 shows that even this is a busted flush. They have no credible alternatives to the Republicans on economic issues and no alternatives at all on defense ones. Where can they possibly go from here?

Yet all is far from lost for the hapless Dems and the old cliché about it being darkest before the dawn could yet -- just -- be true for them. But for that to be the case, they must turn left rather than right, abandon the accommodation-ist policies they have followed for more than a quarter of a century and -- most difficult of all -- develop real principles and show real political courage in espousing them. [...]

[A]t least they can regain the honorable old losers' chalice they cherished in the days of Adlai Stevenson and even McGovern and Mondale that they might be eternal losers, but at least they were principled losers. If they continue to stand for something -- or a whole lot of little things -- at least they will retain their place as the second party in the venerable American political system.

But if the Dems instead retain the "all politics is local" stupid, losing mantra of late House Speaker Tip O'Neill, and if they fail to clean out the crony corruption that rotted them through the Clinton years, then they will be up the creek without a paddle. And when the political pendulum swings again, as inevitably it someday must, they will not be riding it as they still so complacently expect.


Mr. Sieff seems here to ignore the length of the pendulum swings in American politics. He seems to believe we're in the middle of a swing, when, in fact, we're at the start of one. Let's face it, no party can be said to be dominant if it can't put together the presidency with both houses of Congress for extended periods of time. This is something the Democrats did from Thomas Jefferson's presidency until the Civil War and that the GOP did after. Republican dominance lasted from 1860 to 1932, when FDR was elected along with a Democrat Congress. This phase of Democrat rule has been in its death throes of late, but as recently as 1994 we had a Democrat president and Congress and we weren't all that far away in 2000.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:26 PM

"I WILL NOT BE IGNORED!" (via pj):

Candidate debate has unfriendly end (Bill Walsh, 11/24/02, The Times-Picayune)
An already-bitter U.S. Senate campaign got personal Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of a taped debate between Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell.

After a tense 30-minute segment finished taping at WDSU's studios in New Orleans, the two candidates were preparing to leave. According to witnesses, Landrieu looked over her shoulder and told Terrell, "This is your last campaign."

A stunned Terrell replied, "She threatened me."

No other words passed between the two New Orleans women, but moderator Alec Gifford said Landrieu appeared peeved.

"She just kind of stalked out of the studio," Gifford said.


Is it just me, or have the Democrats truly come unhinged? I guess the only surprise here is that Ms Landrieu didn't use some kind of thinly-veiled homosexual slur; that seems to be their stock in trade these days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 PM

FOX IN THE CHICKENHAWK COOP:

Two good moments on Fox News Sunday this morning:

(1) Brit Hume was asking if George W. Bush had turned into the kind of leader The Weekly Standard, for example, expected McCain to be. Fred Barnes pointed at his editor and said: "That wasn't The Weekly Standard, it was just Bill Kristol."

(2) But Mr. Kristol had his zinger when he asked, apropos the NATO meeting: "Who ever thought that Chirac and Putin would be closer to George Bush on war with Iraq than Al Gore is?"


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM

ROPE AND TIE AND RAND 'EM:

GORE BOOK SALES TANK, SUPPORTERS CLAIM UNFAIR TACTICS (APUPI, November 22, 2002)
Former Vice President Al Gore's new book, "Spirit of Family," has been out for over a week and a half, but it's selling poorly, despite an expensive campaign by Al and Tipper, and much free publicity from the media. Yesterday, it was #11,231 on Amazon.com's list of top-selling books.

Supporters of the former Vice President are calling foul, however, claiming that the Amazon web site is very confusing, and makes it difficult to purchase the book properly. They have airlifted a large number of hired lawyers into Seattle to sue Amazon, in order to force it to issue refunds on mistakenly purchased books, and instead send copies of the Gore book to Amazon customers.


Rand Simberg with a stroke of genius.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM

MAY THE [THIRD] FORCE BE WITH YOU:

Iran's 'third force' insists on a pure democracy: Unrest brewing again on college campuses (FARNAZ FASSIHI, , November 24, 2002, Newark Star-Ledger)
When Iran's 2,000-year-old monarchy was toppled in 1979, it was largely the work of revolutionary university students.

Nearly 20 years later, in 1997, a new generation of students rallied behind a little-known, midranking cleric because he promised reform and social freedom. Their support secured Mohammad Khatami the presidency, with a landslide vote of more than 70 percent.

Today, students are making noise again. This time, however, their message is different. In heated speeches delivered to thousands of spectators across campuses every day, the students are boldly telling the government -- conservatives and reformists alike -- that they no longer have faith in either side and will fight for change independently.

"Reform is dead. We no longer believe the system has the capacity to change from within," says Akbar Atri, a 28 year-old student leader and former president of the Office for Fostering Student Unity, an umbrella organization for Islamic student unions across the country.

"Our ultimate goal is pure democracy, without a prefix or a suffix," Atri said. "Meaning no more religious or Islamic democracy, because the two are incompatible."


This is another one that the "moron" got right, when the administration issued a statement in July that bypassed the "reformers" in Iran and the Arabists in our own State Department and put the U.S. squarely on the side of the students. This action brought howls from the predictable corners, but, once again, the Bush team seems to have seen further and more clearly than their critics. Funny how they keep, like Morton Kondracke on the original McLaughlin Group, stumbling into the truth.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

The Saudi Money Trail: Rent payments for 9-11 hijackers and mysterious checks from a princess?s account. Is there a Saudi tie to terror? Inside the probe the Bush administration doesn?t want you to know about (Michael Isikoff And Evan Thomas, 12/02/02, NEWSWEEK)
When the two Qaeda operatives arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around New Year?s 2000, they were warmly welcomed. Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar would help hijack American Airlines Flight 77 and crash it into the Pentagon a year and a half later, but that January in Los Angeles, they were just a couple of young Saudi men who barely spoke English and needed a place to stay.

AT THE AIRPORT, THEY were swept up by a gregarious fellow Saudi, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had been living in the United States for several years. Al-Bayoumi drove the two men to San Diego, threw a welcoming party and arranged for the visitors to get an apartment next to his. He guaranteed the lease, and plunked down $1,550 in cash to cover the first two months? rent. His hospitality did not end there.

Al-Bayoumi also aided Alhazmi and Almihdhar as they opened a bank account, and recruited a friend to help them obtain Social Security cards and call flight schools in Florida to arrange flying lessons, according to law-enforcement officials. Two months before 9-11, al-Bayoumi moved to England; several months later, he disappeared. He is believed to be somewhere in Saudi Arabia. [...]

About two months after al-Bayoumi began aiding Alhazmi and Almihdhar, NEWSWEEK has learned, al-Bayoumi?s wife began receiving regular stipends, often monthly and usually around $2,000, totaling tens of thousands of dollars. The money came in the form of cashier?s checks, purchased from Washington?s Riggs Bank by Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the daughter of the late King Faisal and wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi envoy who is a prominent Washington figure and personal friend of the Bush family. The checks were sent to a woman named Majeda Ibrahin Dweikat, who in turn signed over many of them to al-Bayoumi?s wife (and her friend), Manal Ahmed Bagader. The Feds want to know: Was this well-meaning charity gone awry? Or some elaborate money-laundering scheme? A scam? Or just a coincidence?


It's been widely reported that there are factions within the Saud family who support al Qaeda, so it wouldn't be terribly surprising to find out that there's some fire beneath the smoke here. But folks who can't understand why the administration remains protective of Saudi Arabia are ignoring the rather obvious way in which the Sauds are behaving like an ally, and maybe our most important one, in the run-up to war with Iraq. Sure, for domestic reasons they may refuse to let us use some airbases, but they are simultaneously cranking out oil to buffer any shortages and shocks to Western economies that might otherwise be caused by the war. Realistically--with the exception, as always, of the British and the Israelis--no Western ally will make as great a contribution as that, no matter what forces they lend to the operation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM

HOW DO YOU COMPETE WITH THE REALITY?:

Allen Drury and the Washington Novel (Roger Kaplan, Sep/Oct 1999, Policy Review)
WHEN ALLEN DRURY DIED LAST YEAR on his 80th birthday, the thoughts of editors and obituary writers naturally turned to Advise and Consent, the book that made him famous, that gave a memorable last film role to Charles Laughton, and that in many ways invented a genre in fiction. Henry Adams and John Dos Passos had written novels on politics in Washington. But the use of a racy intrigue, if possible involving both sex and foreign policy, is what characterizes the contemporary form. Forty years on, Advise and Consent is the only book of this genre that a literary-minded person really ought to read. Indeed, as Saturday Review noted in August 1959, "It may be a long time before a better one comes along." Forty years so far.

Both the book and the film are excellent.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

60 IN SIGHT:

More Dem Woes (George F. Will, 11/24/02, NY Post)
Nine of the Republicans seats [that are up in 2004] are in Bush country. Seven are in states he carried by 15 or more points: Alabama, 15 points (Richard Shelby); Kentucky, 15 (Jim Bunning); Kansas, 21 (Sam Brownback); Oklahoma, 22 (Don Nickles); Alaska, 31 (a seat soon to be filled with a replacement for Frank Murkowski, who was elected Alaska's governor on Nov. 5); Utah, 40 (Robert Bennett); Idaho, 40 (Mike Crapo).

And Republicans will be defending two other seats in states Bush carried by more than five points: Arizona, 6 (John McCain); Colorado, 8 (Ben Nighthorse Campbell).

Furthermore, eight of the 19 seats Democrats will be defending are in Bush country: Arkansas, which Bush carried by 5 points (Blanche Lincoln); Louisiana, 8 (John Breaux); Georgia, 12 (Zell Miller); North Carolina, 13 (John Edwards); Indiana, 16 (Evan Bayh); South Carolina, 16 (Fritz Hollings); South Dakota, 22 (Tom Daschle); North Dakota, 28 (Byron Dorgan).


We are fast approaching the point where the GOP will have to be considered to have an enduring majority position in the Senate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 AM

FROM ZION TO COLUMBIA:

Hamilton, Madison & Jay in Jerusalem: How do you say The Federalist in Hebrew? (Peter Berkowitz, 12/02/2002, Weekly Standard)
The immediate occasion for the conference was the publication of the first Hebrew translation of The Federalist. Both conference and translation are initiatives of the Shalem Center (disclosure: this magazine's editor sits on the center's board). Founded in Jerusalem eight years ago by a small group of enterprising intellectuals led by Yoram Hazony and Dan Polisar, late '80s Princeton graduates and then-recent immigrants to Israel, Shalem has in a short time grown into a respected and influential institution. It publishes a magazine in Hebrew (Techelet) and English (Azure) on Jewish politics and thought; it supports senior scholars from Israel and abroad (including Michael Oren, author of the New York Times bestseller Six Days of War); it takes strong stands on divisive public policy issues (such as the battle over the tendentious accounts some Israeli textbooks offer of the alleged injustice at the heart of the Zionist enterprise); and, last but not least, it is engaged in translating classics of political thought into Hebrew. The Federalist is only the latest on a list that includes Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. [...]

The speech by Ruth Gavison, bringing the final session to a close, was a highlight of the conference. Small and slight in build, fierce and dominant in argument, Gavison, a professor of law at Hebrew University and a founder of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, has been a prominent member of the Israeli Left for more than two decades. In recent years she has established herself as a leading critic of the left-liberal activism of the Israeli Supreme Court as well as an eloquent proponent of serious discussion of constitutional reform with various representatives of the Israeli Right about shared values and common goals. Her allies on the left have grown increasingly troubled. As in the United States, the sight of a liberal who respects the people and who embraces not merely the idea of diversity, but the reality of diversity, in particular political and intellectual diversity, can be very disconcerting for those we are generally accustomed to calling liberals. The spirit of Gavison's exemplary liberalism, which permeates her introduction to the Hebrew Federalist, was very much on display in her rousing speech to the conference.

Three lessons from her remarks--as it happens, pertinent in the U.S. context as well--stand out. First, democracy has weaknesses and disadvantages, and constitutions should be designed with a view to crafting arrangements, consistent with democracy, to counteract or mitigate those weaknesses. Second, government's first duty, which is the protection of individual rights, is not achieved only by a Bill of Rights. It is also, and perhaps primarily, achieved through artful institutional design, involving mechanisms for the channeling of self-interest such as the separation of powers, checks and balances, an independent judiciary, and systems of representation. And finally, if they are going to be legitimate and effective, constitutions cannot be imposed from above, however elegantly designed, however much they may reflect what some band of professors believes the people would embrace were they to give the matter due consideration. Rather, as the record of 1787 and 1788 suggests, constitutions must be based on actual agreement, hammered out by flesh and blood representatives of the rival and conflicting groups that constitute political society, and ratified by the people.


What makes this particularly exciting is that, while Europe and Japan, which became democratic after us, have already fallen into precisely the kind of death spiral that conservatism predicted, America has held up far better. This would tend to suggest that there is something fundamental to the American Republic and/or to American society, that is acting as a brake on democracy's worst tendencies. Some of the differences may just be structural, and easily recognizable, but others seem more likely to be subtle and for many people unpleasant to contemplate, particularly because it appears they may be moral and religious. But whatever the case, it would seem to be essential for newer democracies that hope to have an "American" future rather than a "European" one to figure out what we've done right and to imitate it to the greatest extent possible.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 AM

IF THE DOMINOES DIDN'T FALL, WHY WAS THE DOMINO THEORY WRONG?

How We Won In Vietnam (Viet Dinh, December 2000, Policy Review)
The argument that our involvement in Vietnam was a mistake rests ultimately on the assumption that the democratic alliance was unnecessary to defeat communism or that the alliance would not have unraveled had America not intervened in Vietnam - in other words, an assumption that the grand strategy itself was ill-conceived. But let us remember that the grand strategy ultimately worked. Vietnam, despite the military defeat, was a demonstration of U.S. credibility and resolve in the larger global struggle against communism. It was a demonstration that, in the final analysis, may have contributed to American success in the Cold War or, at the least, prevented our failure.

To be sure, U.S. withdrawal from and cessation of assistance to South Vietnam, which precipitated the communist victory in 1975, sorely tested the value of the American commitment and accordingly the strength of the Western alliance. Hanoi's victory in Southeast Asia led the American people and U.S. allies to question the United States' willingness or institutional political ability to "pay any price, bear any burden" to fight communism. These were uncertain times for those relying on the United States. But those who would look to the outcome of the war to argue that U.S. involvement in Vietnam was unnecessary bear the burden of showing, counterfactually, that a U.S. failure to respond to the situation in Vietnam as early as Kennedy's administration would have had no impact on the collective alliance against communism. At the time, Charles de Gaulle and other European leaders were openly questioning the value of guarantees from America to act against immediate self-interest by fighting communism in situations that did not pose a direct threat to American security. If 58,000 American lives, billions of dollars, and decades of domestic turmoil still did not erase doubts about the U.S. commitment, imagine how those doubts would have been expressed had the United States blithely ignored a call on its guarantee. And, let us not forget, the policy of appeasement prompted by war-weary malaise of the 1970s did not win the Cold War. Vigilance during the 1980s did, a point relevant to current United States-Vietnam policy to which I will return.

Recognizing that Vietnam was not an isolated defeat but rather part of an honorable and ultimately successful struggle for freedom and prosperity gives due credit to the contribution of our principal ally during this struggle, the Republic of Vietnam. It refutes the notion that South Vietnamese were mere pawns for or puppets of the United States - a charge frequently made by antiwar protesters in order to portray U.S. intervention as unjust. Nothing could be further from the truth. The South Vietnamese fought the war and sought U.S. help because they believed in the same principles of freedom and democracy for which America was the beacon. They included the hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese, my father's family among them, who constituted the one-way exodus from the north when the country was partitioned in 1954 - driven from their homes by fears of communist rule and the hope of a good, free life. Those hopes led the South Vietnamese to fight for what remained of their homeland and, in the case of a quarter million of them, to give their lives to the cause.

More important from the U.S. perspective, this recognition also validates the sacrifices of American soldiers who fought, suffered, and died for the same cause. Such validation, nay, honor, is natural for any country that sends its young to war, but has long been withheld by people mired in antiwar ideology and confused by protest rhetoric. Former Secretary of the Navy James Webb, a combat marine in Vietnam and an expert chronicler of the soldier's experience, poignantly made the point in a Wall Street Journal essay on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the war's end:

"[H]istory owes something to those who went to Vietnam, and to the judgment of those who believed the endeavor was worthwhile. We can still debate whether the war was worth its cost, but the evidence of the past 25 years clearly upholds the validity of our intentions. This proposition may sound simple, but to advance it is to confront the Gordian knot of the Vietnam era itself."

The evidence of the past 25 years to which Webb refers is indeed the best illustration that the United States, despite the military defeat, prevailed in the larger struggle for a future of peace and prosperity through democratic capitalism. Days after the fall of Saigon, Stanley Hoffman wrote in the May 3, 1975 issue of the New Republic: "In this respect Vietnam should teach us an important lesson. On the one hand Hanoi is one of several among the poorest nations in the world that have tried or will try to create a collectivist society, based on principles that are repugnant to us, yet likely to produce greater welfare and security for its people than any local alternative ever offered, at a cost in freedom that affects a small elite." Tell that to the millions of Cambodians who lost their lives in the killing fields as a sacrifice at the altar of one-step collectivism. Or to the hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese, my father among them, who were sent to "re-education camps" after the war, where many of them perished. Or to the families and relatives of South Vietnamese considered suspect by the Hanoi government and thus deprived of access to the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. Or tell it to the millions of Vietnamese, my family among them, who found communist persecution unbearable and took to the high seas in a diaspora of anything that floated.

Most relevantly, tell that to the people of Vietnam who lived under communist rule throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Instead of welfare and security, what they got was repression of all basic freedoms; dire poverty caused by central economic mismanagement and official corruption; and a government so bellicose that, during the early 1980s, it continued to build up its military even as its people suffered the most severe drought of the country's recorded history.

It would be wise for us to keep the brutality of the communist regime in mind as we confront Vietnam's wavering efforts at economic liberalization. For a casual apologist or a strict isolationist, the response would be easy, if misguided. But those who believe in change through constructive engagement must walk a tightrope to ensure that our efforts serve our ultimate goals - a free people and free market democracy governed by the rule of law, a Vietnam which enjoys the peace and prosperity we have helped to secure elsewhere in the world.


Assistant Attorney General Viet D. Dinh is a future Supreme Court Justice, hopefully the next one, though folks may want him to get some experience on the bench before taking that step. Nothing will speak more eloquently of the unique nature of America, the source of our greatness, than the elevation of a man born in Saigon in 1968, at the height of the war, to one of the most powerful positions in our country. What can have been ignoble about our effort to help the South Vietnamese secure such a society for themselves?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 AM

BEYOND NATO:

Now, Play the India Card (Lloyd Richardson, October 2002, Policy Review)
THE U.S. WAR in Afghanistan drives home this point: We can no longer afford to analyze U.S. security policy in Asia pursuant to paradigms developed to fit the realities of the Cold War. Many of these realities have changed. For example, in the 1970s, when the Soviet Union was still the principal threat to the U.S., we played the China card. The Chinese were happy to oblige, confronting the Soviet threat as they did along their common border in Central Asia. For almost two decades, that reality - the threat posed to China by the Soviets - ensured a degree of alignment in U.S.-China strategic interests. Through this experience we came to see our relationship with China as valuable in its own right, not simply as a foil to Soviet power. The strategic reality in Asia changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. But over a decade later, that same Cold War paradigm still makes us tend to analyze our relationship with China as though it were the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy in Asia.

By contrast, by the time we played the China card in 1971, India had been relegated to a lesser role in our strategic thinking. That was not always the case. In the first two decades of the Cold War, India and Pakistan both had been viewed as frontline states, critical to containing the expansion of Soviet and (after 1949) Chinese communism in South Asia. By the late 60s, however, India had proved to be a feckless partner - a would-be great power, with neither the military nor the economic strength to enforce its utopian foreign policy. Worse, India in 1971 abandoned its preachy neutrality to become a full-fledged member of the Soviet camp. Pakistan, for its part, had been a more loyal ally in the Cold War, but was fractious in its relations with India. By the late 60s, both countries had come to be considered in Washington as "too difficult" to deal with. This development coincided with doctrinal changes that had begun to downplay the strategic importance of South Asia generally.

This is where the paradigm got stuck. What has evolved since is a pattern in which we ignore South Asia, including India, as irrelevant to U.S. interests - until crisis strikes. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979, South Asia suddenly became important to us again, but at that point U.S. attention was focused primarily on Pakistan as a conduit for military aid to the Afghan mujahideen. Once the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, South Asia returned to the back burner. [...]

The September 11 attacks on the United States have kept South Asia in the limelight, as we have recruited both India and Pakistan to the war on terrorism. That very war on terrorism, however, has exacerbated tensions between Pakistan and India over continuing political violence in Kashmir. The result? Another flurry of high-level diplomatic activity by the United States, seeking to defuse these tensions between our two allies. But this most recent round of activity - successful as it was - still fits the pattern of crisis management with India that evolved during the Cold War. What is clearly needed is a more sustained level of engagement with India. This will only happen if we begin to appreciate India's long-term strategic value to the United States. For this purpose, Kashmir, Pakistan, and even the war on terrorism are distractions. In the long term, our strategic interest in the region is plain: India is a major Asian democratic power with the potential economic and military strength to counter the adverse effects of China's rise as a regional and world power. In other words, it is indeed time to "play the India card."


Mike Daley sent along this terrific essay on why we should be much more intent on developing a good and lasting relationship with India.

November 23, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:17 PM

ADMITTED?:

Bush aide: Inspections or not, we'll attack Iraq (Paul Gilfeather, 23 November 2002, Daily Mirror)
GEORGE Bush's top security adviser last night admitted the US would attack Iraq even if UN inspectors fail to find weapons.

Dr Richard Perle stunned MPs by insisting a "clean bill of health" from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine.


Duh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM

WHAT SADDAM WASTED:

Iraq (Claudia Wright, April 1979, The Atlantic Monthly)
The country was for a long time regarded as a pariah in international politics, was forced to travel to other Arab capitals to plead its cause and was rarely listened to. But the summit meeting of Arab leaders in Baghdad last November was carried off by the Iraqis in a confident new style. It marked not only the first time that President Assad of Syria and the leaders of Iraq had agreed to meet since 1972 but the first time since 1976 that the PLO leader Yasir Arafat had met with Iraqi officials. (Twelve months of bloody feuding between the Arafat-led Fatah group and Iraqi-supported factions of the PLO preceded the meeting.)

The Baghdad summit was also the first major set of Middle Eastern talks initiated and carried through by the Iraqis. Whether in the Palestinian showdown with King Hussein in 1970, the Iranian arms buildup in the Gulf, the oil embargo, or the wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973, the record shows that Iraq has been generally reluctant to collaborate in joint Arab initiatives, and other Arab nations have been reluctant to join with Iraq.

The American view of these events has lulled policy-makers into an easy disregard for the Iraqi regime-an attitude compounded by ignorance, lack of contact, and a noticeable scorn among State Department veterans. (The two countries have had no formal diplomatic links since the Iraqis broke off relations in 1967.) By contrast with the once prosperous and confident embassy in Tehran across the border, Baghdad has been a backwater and a hardship post.

To foreign visitors, Baghdad may still evoke the intense security-consciousness and secrecy associated with Iraq since 1958, when the British-installed monarchy was overthrown by a nationalist coup, and certainly since 1968, when the present military-led Baathist regime took power from a civilian coalition.

The Palace Road quarter of Baghdad contains the kind of expansive, palm-lined avenues that British colonial engineers built all over their empire. This is where Baath party President Hassan al-Bakr and Vice President Saddam Hussein live, along with other leading party and government officials. In this section tanks can suddenly appear, take up a position for an hour or two around prominent official buildings, and then disappear. Heavily armed soldiers can be seen from time to time on the roofs surrounding the television and radio broadcasting studios, and photographs of these and other government buildings are not permitted. Although uniformed police are less obvious in Baghdad than in New York or Washington, random checks of cars are not uncommon.

Many years ago Munif al-Razzazz, now in his sixties, collaborated with Michel Aflaq in creating the pan-Arab Baath party. Razzazz is assistant secretary general of the National Command of the party, which nominally covers both the Iraqi and the Syrian Regional Commands.

I asked Razzazz about his life as a member of the party. Pale-skinned, impeccable, and resembling Basil Rathbone, Razzazz sat in his office at the modern national party headquarters. He told me that he regretted the long time he had spent away from his home and family but, he emphasized, he did not regret the solitary confinement and the many years he had spent in jail as an advocate of the party: "I've seen our revolution grow from ideas we all had in jail cells."

Not an Iraqi by birth, he acknowledges the volatility of Iraqi and Baathist politics, but he says that the course of the revolution has depended on it. Without sharp and fairly continuous change, he insists, the Iraqi regime would not have achieved the success he believes it has today.

Others who neither share the Baath vision nor would normally be comfortable with Razzazz's rhetoric now grudgingly accept his verdict. Neighboring Arabs, the French-who are replacing the conventional nuclear reactor Iraq obtained from the Russians with a sophisticated plutonium breeder plant-and the Japanese-who are trading oil for vast investment credits, consider that the Iraqi regime has all but shrugged off the instability of the past, and that it is about to assume major regional and international status. In a recent interview in Washington, Hisham Sharabi, president of the National Association of Arab-Americans, linked this position to the Camp David accords: "If Egypt signs a separate bilateral agreement with Israel and is thereby isolated, the role of Iraq would be the potential leader in the Eastern Arab world."

Iraq's emergence is the result of three things: oil, military strength, and internal development. Superficially, Iraq is not overwhelmingly endowed in any one respect. Saudi Arabia has more oil. Israel and Iran are stronger militarily in the region. By any measure of industrialization, agricultural productivity, literacy, and manpower skills, Israel is much more developed. However, the combination of these three factors has led to Iraq's new status and to the recognition, everywhere else if not in the United States, of its extraordinary potential for pre-eminence in the Middle East.


It's interesting to read today what a mainstream publication was saying about Iraq twenty years ago. It goes a long way to explaining why we initially engaged with Saddam.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM

WELL-PLACED FRIENDS:

Ready and Willing, but Are They Able?: Iraq's Kurds want to help oust Hussein. (Robin Wright, November 20 2002, LA Times)
Kurds, a non-Arab people estimated to number between 25 million and 30 million, are the world's largest ethnic group without a state. They span Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria, and the dream of many Kurds is creation of a formal homeland - as they were promised after the Ottoman Empire collapsed eight decades ago. In the meantime, they hope to begin by liberating Kirkuk, the oil-rich center of Kurdish culture.

Turkey is sufficiently alarmed at the prospect of both a well-armed Kurdish army and the Kurds' capture of Kirkuk, home also to thousands of ethnic Turkomans, that it has hinted that it might intervene to block both developments. The danger of a military operation in Iraq becoming a regional war has led the Pentagon to make plans for U.S. troops to take and hold Kirkuk early in any campaign. Then the Kurds would simply defend the turf they now hold.

The Kurds still have much to offer any U.S. offensive - including more than 100 defectors from the Iraqi army now in their force. [...]

As pressure mounts on Hussein, several Kurdish commanders said they are hearing from an increasing number of Iraqi officers, all the way to the top, who want to defect. "They're still coming across," Hassan said. "The morale of the Iraqi army right now is very low."

But the peshmerga said they are urging many Iraqi officers to remain in place - for now. In the event of a U.S.-led attack, some may be of more use preventing their troops from fighting or leading mass defections. They think even Hussein's Republican Guard will be fairly easy to crack.

"Iraq isn't the almighty army that the U.S. believes it is," Dizayee said. "It's a highly institutionalized army, which makes it vulnerable. Once its command and control centers and the communications network have been hit, the officers won't know what to do next. They're not allowed to operate themselves.

"The troops will collapse and surrender," he said. "That's again when the United States will need us."


Two interesting things here: first, the Kurds are going to have a state sooner or later, even if only a semi-autonomous one within either Turkey or Iraq; second, the Kurds sure seem contemptuous of the Iraqi military.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM

WHAT'S UP WITH RUDY?:

Riding Rudy's Right-Wing Wave: GOP Hero Giuliani Stumps for Himself and America's Party (Wayne Barrett, November 20 - 26, 2002, Village Voice)
The Georgia duo are two of an astonishing list of Giuliani electoral triumphs this year-designed to reposition him to country conservatives as a good old boy as well as a trustworthy ally of the president's, should a vacancy open up on the national ticket. No philosophical difference, including abortion rights, got in the way of an endorsement, forcing NARAL president Kate Michelman to tell the Voice that Giuliani "is clearly putting politics over principle" at a time when "women are faced with the greatest threat to their freedom of choice." By "endorsing anti-choice candidates," Giuliani is "sending a message that it's not important," said Michelman, calling his campaign performance "very disturbing."

In addition to helping replace pro-choice Cleland with Chambliss, who has a perfect voting record on the National Right to Life scorecard, Giuliani did the same in Minnesota, where the stoutly pro-life Norm Coleman will take over Paul Wellstone's seat. In Missouri, he campaigned for another 100 percent House lifer, Jim Talent, who beat pro-choice incumbent Jean Carnahan. The attempt to replace a fourth pro-choice incumbent, Tom Johnson in South Dakota, with John Thune, who has a 94 percent R to L rating, narrowly failed despite Giuliani's endorsement of Thune.

Giuliani also hit the stump for four other new pro-life senators who succeeded outgoing pro-life incumbents-John Sununu in New Hampshire, Liddy Dole in North Carolina, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, and Lamar Alexander in Tennessee. Finally, he endorsed three pro-life incumbents: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Wayne Allard of Colorado, who won, and Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas, the only GOP senator to lose. Susan Collins of Maine was the solitary pro-choice senator backed by Giuliani. He also campaigned for a new pro-life congressman in Nevada, Jon Porter, as well as helping to re-elect lifers like Pete Sessions in Texas and Tom Davis in Virginia, on top of his headlining of a March fundraiser in Washington that raised $7.5 million for the House GOP campaign committee.

Giuliani's gubernatorial palmcard across the country included pro-life Bill Simon in California, whose pro-choice primary opponent Richard Riordan was backed by both George Pataki and Mike Bloomberg, as well as Bob Ehrlich (Maryland), Mike Fisher (Pennsylvania), Van Hilleary (Tennessee), Rick Perry (Texas), Bob Taft (Ohio), and Jeb Bush (Florida). While Giuliani's preference in California for the far more conservative Simon was attributed to his longstanding relationship with his fellow federal prosecutor, he did the same in New Hampshire, endorsing hard-right incumbent Bob Smith in the primary over soft-right challenger Sununu (switching to Sununu in the general).


I have to admit that I was so perplexed the first time I heard Rudy Giuliani's radio ad for Bob Smith that I e-mailed a bunch of folks like Patrick Ruffini to see if anyone knew about some pre-existing relationship between the two or if maybe John Sununu Sr. had denied Rudy a job during Bush I. Bob Smith is after all the poster boy for everything the pro-abortion movement hates, their loathing cemented by the socking moment when he recreated a partial-birth abortion on the floor of the Senate. But no one had heard any secretive reasons. It seemed a straightforward endorsement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM

DECLINE AND FALL:

Among the Europeans: Living in two different worlds. (Benny Irdi Nirenstein, November 21, 2002, National Review)
I returned to Italy recently. What I find is frightening. Europeans no longer take for granted principles I came to understand in Israel. I assumed that anyone growing up in a democracy would understand that democracies are always superior to dictatorships. I never thought Italians who suffered so horribly during war and dictatorship would ever again find terrorism - the deliberate slaughter of civilians for political gain - acceptable. But increasingly they do.

I can no longer speak about the importance of freedom, liberty, and democracy in Italy without attracting the condescending sneers of a generation schooled by Europe's media, statesmen, and left-wing intelligentsia to look beyond such "simplistic" concepts.

To my European classmates, any suggestion that there is a connection between Islam and terror - even as self-identified Islamic groups slaughter schoolchildren in Israel, tourists in Egypt, and revelers at a Bali nightclub - is more racist than Islamists' targeting of civilians because of their religion. European politicians - Jacques Chirac, for example, unabashedly honors Hezbollah's Shaikyh Nasrallah, the same man who last month suggested that he would welcome the return of all Jews to Israel "to save the trouble of hunting them down later."

In Italian classrooms, political ethics are reversed. Terrorism is justified, but and defense of democracy is not. Military campaigns are roundly condemned, even though it was the military and not political appeasement that freed Western Europe from the worst tyranny. For many Italian students, professors, journalists, and politicians, there can be no justification for war. When the Baath party seized power in a coup, Saddam Hussein purged hundreds of political competitors. But to a new generation of Europeans schooled by Sixties radicals and liberal elites, Saddam is a legitimate nationalist leader and masterful tactician, while President George Bush, leader of the world's strongest democracy, is simply dismissed as stupid.

European arrogance has grown so great that even the most-ignorant student emerging with a failing grade feels justified in mocking the president of the United States. No countervailing arguments are needed to address those who understand the necessity of war, the right of self-defense, or the fragility of liberty in the face of tyranny.


The European relationship with America matters far less in the long run than the question of whether a Europe which places so little value on freedom and democracy can maintain what remains of each on their own continent. If a society determines that liberty isn't worth fighting for, how long can they expect to have it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 AM

DAY OF INFAMY:

High Stakes Fuel Ferocity in Louisiana Senate Duel (KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, November 23, 2002, NY Times)
On their most optimistic days, the Democrats see a Landrieu victory as the first step toward building the party's way back to the majority. But her struggle epitomizes the difficulties the party faces against a popular wartime president at a time when its leaders seem to be searching for a message. At the moment, Ms. Landrieu is slipping in the polls.

To appeal to Louisiana's relatively conservative voters, Ms. Landrieu has drawn attention to her support for President Bush - she has voted with him 75 percent of the time, including on his tax cut - but at the cost of leaving her party's core voters cold. Blacks, whose support she needs, are reported to be divided over her candidacy.

Ms. Landrieu captured the endorsement of Cleo Fields, an important black state representative who ran for governor in 1995 and maintains a strong political organization. But he has been concerned that her tilt toward the Republicans has alienated blacks. "I feel one Republican Party is enough," he said. "Two is almost unconstitutional." [...]

Mr. Breaux said President Bill Clinton, who is popular with black voters, would be used at the end of the campaign to tape telephone calls to targeted voters. But he said it was too risky to bring Mr. Clinton into the state, even though he won it twice, because he might energize Republicans against Ms. Landrieu.


Though she still trails by significant margins, one would have to think this is a race Ms Terrell can win.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 AM

LESS FILLING:

AMERICA LITE: IS THAT OUR FUTURE?: For all our talk about differences, Canada is becoming more and more like the U.S. (JONATHON GATEHOUSE with WILLIAM LOWTHER, November 25, 2002, MacLean's)
It has always been easy for the rest of the world to write us off as "kind of" Americans. We have common roots, most of us speak the same language, our popular cultures overlap. And in turn, it has always been relatively simple for us to point to the substantive distinctions between the two nations: cleaner streets, less violent crime, better access to health care, no capital punishment, more players in the NHL.

Over the last two decades, however, those once indelible lines have started to fade. Today, 85 per cent of Canadians still believe our quality of life is superior to that of our American neighbours, but take a long look around. Gunplay on the streets of our major cities is no longer a rarity. Homelessness is a national crisis. Food banks are a permanent fixture in communities across the country. Free trade has made the border (at least for goods) practically a thing of the past. Eatons and Front Page Challenge have been replaced by the Gap and American Idol. Our foreign policies are almost indistinguishable. Culturally, commercially, politically, Canada and the United States are closer than ever. And if we're going to persist in branding ourselves in opposition to the Yanks, we'd better be careful that truth-in-advertising laws don't force us to start using the label "America Lite."


It seems likely that the real crisis of Canadian confidence will come when its national health plan collapses under its own weight. It's nearly the sole source of Canadian feelings of superiority.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:25 AM

ART FOR THE PEOPLE:

The lure of velour (Pat Sheil, November 21 2002, The Age)
What do Elvis Presley, Jesus Christ and cute puppies playing poker have in common? Easy, they've all been the "inspiration" for a million works of art painted on black velvet. When it comes to the league table of the visual arts, there will always be argument over the first-division performers. Leonardo, Van Gogh, Picasso - but if there's one thing that the art world holds to be a self-evident truth, it's that fluorescent puppies with enormous eyes take out the wooden spoon.

But it wasn't always that way. I know, because my brothers and I recently inherited a black velvet painting of a young woman that has been in the family for more than 50 years. Not only had this Tahitian maiden been staring down at us from above the dining room table since before the beginning of time, but we had been assured by members of my family that it was worth a great deal of money. [...]

The first thing we had to do was investigate the state of the black velvet art market. Initial inquiries were less than encouraging. The first valuer simply laughed, but at least he came straight to the point, without saying a word. The second fellow raised one eyebrow and assured us that there was nothing wrong with the frame.


Dogs Playing Poker actually works fine as a regular oil painting, but Elvis really has to be on black velvet.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 AM

OVERSHARE:

Red Pigs in Snow (VERLYN KLINKENBORG, November 23, 2002, NY Times)
A couple of weeks ago I found a small settlement of lice on one of the pigs. It was only about the width of a pencil eraser, but even that was too big. I got out a stiff horse brush and gave that pig and her companion a serious brushing, which is one of the great joys in a pig's life. Then I raked out all the old hay in the pig house, closed the two pigs inside with a fresh hay bale to tear apart, and hauled the house off to a different part of the pasture. I brush them every time I feed them now, and I haven't seen any lice since. Eventually, as I'm brushing, the pigs flop over on their sides and lie there, barely breathing, eyes closed, legs practically quivering with pleasure. I try to remember to watch just how much affection I let myself feel for them.

And now we officially know more about Mr. Klinkenborg than we needed to.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 AM

THE SILENCE OF THE STRADIVARI:

Curious George and the postliterate: George Steiner has written bleakly about the death of the culture of higher literacy, but the renowned scholar is an unexpected optimist in person. (RAY CONLOGUE, November 21, 2002, Globe and Mail)
When George Steiner was eight years old, in 1937, his father tricked him into reading part of The Iliad in the original Greek. The translated version, he said, left out the best parts.

Steiner's father was a lawyer, not a scholar. But in that rich cultural brew that was inter-war Jewish Europe, it was not impossible that a lawyer and his young child might together sound out the 25-century-old syllables of Homer's epic poem.

"I owe my life to that," says Steiner, today a courtly 73-year-old scholar of world renown. He means "life" in the sense of the life he has led (he also literally owes his life to his father, who sent him from Paris to the United States shortly afterwards when Jews could still escape). "But," he adds, thinking again of the life of culture he has known, "I have no illusions that others will live like that." [...]

Every generation loses a little bit of the past, as new poems and novels jostle for attention. But Steiner...believes that the catastrophic forgetfulness that has overtaken the West since the Second World War is a sign that the print culture that sustained us for six centuries is actually dying.

"The things that have been at the core of my life will be found only in museums, which saddens me. I think of the Coolidge Room at the Smithsonian Institute. It contains 20 silent Stradivari. It's the saddest room I know."


Realistically, what proportion of the Western population ever partook of such culture? I wonder if what we see is no so much the decline of literary culture but the recognition that even if it's readily available to the masses they won't immerse themselves in it--especially not if Survivor or The Batchelor is on that night.

November 22, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 PM

SO WAS I ONCE MYSELF A SWINGER OF BIRCHES:

KENNEDY IS KILLED BY SNIPER AS HE RIDES IN CAR IN DALLAS; JOHNSON SWORN IN ON PLANE (Tom Wicker, 11/22/63, NY Times)
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed by an assassin today.

He died of a wound in the brain caused by a rifle bullet that was fired at him as he was riding through downtown Dallas in a motorcade.

Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was riding in the third car behind Mr. Kennedy's, was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States 99 minutes after Mr. Kennedy's death.

Mr. Johnson is 55 years old; Mr. Kennedy was 46.

Shortly after the assassination, Lee H. Oswald, who once defected to the Soviet Union and who has been active in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, was arrested by the Dallas police. Tonight he was accused of the killing.


Bad president. Vile deed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 PM

CHANNELING HOWELL RAINES:

Nigerian Miss World show cancelled (BBC, 23 November, 2002)
The Miss World contest is moving to London from Nigeria after riots by Muslim youths opposed to the show left more than 100 people dead in the city of Kaduna. [...]

Hundreds of Muslim youths went on the rampage following Friday prayers, in an echo of the bloodshed which left at least 100 people dead and 500 injured in Kaduna this week.


Here's how this story will read in the Times tomorrow: "Hundreds of Nigerian youths, angered by anti-Muslim remarks made by the Reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, rampaged through the streets of Kaduna attacking the Reverends' co-religionists."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 PM

GOING MEDIEVAL:

Dark days for Roe vs. Wade?: Election shifts balance of power on abortion rights (KEVIN GRIFFIS, 11.20.02, Creative Loafing)
Election day claimed many casualties this year, but none fared worse than Georgia's abortion rights advocates.

In one night, they lost the governor's office and the speaker of the state House of Representatives. Two days later, party switchers turned state Senate leadership over to abortion opponents.

Now, for the first time since the Supreme Court's 1973 landmark Roe vs. Wade decision, Georgians could see new laws mandating 24-hour waiting periods, requiring parental consent and banning third-trimester abortions.


Oh, the humanities! Thus does Georgia enter the Dark Ages, as a fifteen year old will no longer be able to abort her seven month old fetus on a whim.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 PM

ECHOES OF BILL:

Railing Against Rush (Howard Kurtz, November 21, 2002, Washington Post)
Has Tom Daschle lost a couple of screws?

Did the normally mild-mannered senator accuse Rush Limbaugh of inciting violence?

He came pretty darn close. There were cameras there. You can watch the replay.

We can understand that Daschle is down, just having lost his majority leader's job and absorbed plenty of blame for this month's Democratic debacle.

What we can't understand is how the South Dakotan can suggest that a mainstream conservative with a huge radio following is somehow whipping up wackos to threaten Daschle and his family.


It seems like Mr. Daschle is getting a bum rap here. After all, he merely tried connecting Rush Limbaugh to some vague and amorphous difficulties for the Daschle family. Bill Clinton, always more brazen than his peers, actually blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on the inflammatory rhetoric of talk radio and the '94 Republican Revolution. And, he got away with it. Who can blame Mr. Daschle for trying to steal a page from the master's playbook?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 PM

WHAT, COULD YE NOT WATCH WITH ME ONE HOUR?:

U.S. Evangelist Is Shot Dead in an Attack in Lebanon (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, November 22, 2002, NY Times)
An American evangelist, Bonnie Penner Witherall, was shot dead Thursday at the missionary clinic where she worked as a nurse's assistant in this southern Lebanese city, apparently the latest victim in a string of lethal attacks around the region targeting United States citizens.

Lebanese investigators said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the motive was linked to the anti-American climate rife in the Middle East or involved a personal dispute, but they were leaning toward the first explanation. [...]

The Sidon area has been identified previously by Washington as home to at least one extremist organization, Asbat al-Ansar. In addition, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, where Mrs. Witherall, 31, worked in a prenatal clinic, had been involved in a public dispute in recent months for proselytizing Christianity to young Muslims.

"We told her she might be vulnerable to insults or even being hit and she answered that she would consider it an honor," said Bishop George Kwaiter, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese, speaking at a gathering of Christian and Muslim religious leaders who condemned the shooting.

"We don't accept this kind of preaching," he said of the proselytizing. "We reject it totally."

One pastor who knew Mrs. Witherall said that derogatory remarks about Islam and Muhammad made by leading evangelists like the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson had added to the ill feeling toward Christian evangelists working in Sidon.

"I would not think that this is our calling to say bad things about this religion," said the Rev. Pierre Francis, the pastor of Mieh Mieh Baptist Church, where Mrs. Witherall and her British husband, Garry, were members. "They just jeopardize our safety."


Even for the Times this is worse than despicable. In addition to practically blaming Mrs. Witherall for causing her own death, they manage to name the Reverends Falwell and Robertson as accomplices. This is an age-old problem that it seemed like the Left was mostly ridding itself of in the Clinton era, the tendency to absolve the perpetrators and blame the victims of crime. Then again, because Mrs. Witherall was an evangelist--as are the Reverends--the Timesfolk may not consider her worthy of the same basic decency as other victims. This is after all the same paper that said the following:
Nor can Mr. Bush be claimed by the culture warriors of the Christian right, although he gave them John Ashcroft and occasionally throws them a steak. The president is not a bigot, or a pessimist.

It certainly seems that, for them, Mrs. Witherall was just another Christian bigot who got what she deserved.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME:

Straw Liberals and False Prophets (Eric Alterman, December 9, 2002, The Nation)
The purpose of intellectuals, as Amos Oz instructed the 1986 PEN writers' conference, is to make distinctions. When Kristof, Hitchens, Beinart and Rosenbaum smear all liberals and leftists with the sins of a silly few, they are repudiating the highest calling each writer professes to revere. If they really wish to say goodbye to their "ex-comrades" in an honest and responsible fashion, they should go after those writers and thinkers whose work speaks for larger, more significant tendencies than those written on demonstration placards. Paul Simon notwithstanding, the words of the prophets are not written on the subway walls and tenement halls.

Nowhere in any of the above attacks, for instance, could I locate an engagement with the work of liberal writers or politicians of genuine merit and reputation. Not a single reference, in other words, to names like: Rorty, Walzer, Wills, Kuttner, Meyerson, Hertzberg, Rich, Krugman, Reich, Gitlin, Berman, Ivins, Green, Hoffmann, Gates, Kennedy (Edward, Randy, David and Paul), West, Judis, Kazin, Brinkley, Tomasky, Jackson, FitzGerald, Didion, Dyson, Power, Moyers, Frank, Pelosi, Feingold, McGovern (Jim and George), Wilentz, Fallows, McGrory, Navasky, vanden Heuvel, Kinsley, Scheer, Conason, Packer, Cohen, etc.

This is the patriotic left that Hitchens would have had to engage had he been serious about his critique of "America's liberals" in The Atlantic Monthly last year. It is their work that Kristof would have been duty-bound to examine rather than nutty websites. What has passed for analysis so far in this benighted genre is no more legitimate--or convincing--than those who would hold all conservatives responsible for the postings on freerepublic.com or lucianne.com, cheering the death of Paul Wellstone, his wife and daughter.


We've done our part. Here are reviews of books by a handful of Mr. Alterman's icons:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM

LAND O' GOSHEN:

Vermonter Ruth Stone Wins for Poetry (AP, 11/21/02)
A Goshen poet has won the National Book Award in poetry.

Ruth Stone said beforehand she was "profoundly dumbfounded" to be a finalist for the award, which was announced Wednesday in New York.

Stone, 87, won for her collection, In the Next Galaxy, her eighth volume of poetry. Many of the poems are, in her words, "love poems to a dead man," her late husband, Walter Stone.

"I think you probably gave it to me because I'm old," Stone said with a laugh at the New York awards ceremony.


Here's one of her poems:
Male Gorillas

At the doughnut shop
twenty-three silverbacks
are lined up at the bar,
sitting on the stools.
It's morning coffee and trash day.
The waitress has a heavy feeling face,
considerate with carmine lipstick.
She doesn't brown my fries.
I have to stand at the counter
and insist on my order.
I take my cup of coffee to a small
inoffensive table along the wall.
At the counter the male chorus line
is lined up tight.
I look at their almost identical butts;
their buddy hunched shoulders,
the curve of their ancient spines.
They are methodically browsing
in their own territory.
This data goes into that vast
confused library, the female mind.


Is she saying men are apelike?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:35 PM

QUARK DELENDA EST!:

Did quark matter strike Earth? (Dr David Whitehouse, 22 November, 2002, BBC)
A group of researchers have identified two seismic events that they think provide the first evidence of a previously undetected form of matter passing through the Earth.

The so-called strange quark matter is so dense that a piece the size of a human cell would weigh a tonne.

The two events under study both took place in 1993.


Apropos of nothing; does anyone remember the '70s TV series, Quark? And, does a "tonne" weigh a ton?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 PM

CRUCIFIED ON THE CROSS OF CORPORATE INVERSION:

Eight Days (Peter Beinart, 11.21.02, New Republic)
Future historians will note that it took a grand total of eight days. When the Republicans swept to victory on November 5, they rushed to reassure the nation that, this time, they would not overreach. They would govern as they campaigned: on an agenda that commands broad popular support. They would not reward their big-money backers at the public's expense. They had learned the lesson of 1994.

Turns out they lied. Eight days into this new era of Republican dominance, George W. Bush's GOP has not merely succumbed to Gingrichism; they've surpassed it. The 1994 revolutionaries, after all, only sacrificed social justice to their K Street cronies. In a time of war, the Bushies have now sacrificed patriotism as well.

The issue is called "corporate inversion."


It's hard to decide which part of this is more hysterical, the claim, unsupported by even an example of what he's talking about, that the GOP sacrificed "social justice" in 1994, or the absurd notion that future historians will waste any ink on "corporate inversion". It may be worth noting that the accusation that John Sununu supported "corporate inversion" was the centerpiece of Jeane Shaheen's senate campaign here in NH. She lost.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

ARE THERE NO LIMNITS?:

Limning Kakutani (Dennis Loy Johnson, November 21, 2002, MobyLives)
It was, to put it mildly, a harsh review: John Updike's new book "Seek My Face," said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times on Nov. 12, is "graceless" and "bogus in every respect," a "blatant and gratuitous" book written by "a lazy, voyeuristic and reductive hand."

It was typical of the no-holds-barred writing style favored by the Times' lead reviewer. As probably the most powerful book critic in the country, she's already positioned to make enemies. But her particular command of the language, combining keen intelligence with, often enough, scathing anger, makes her a lot more.

Which may explain why so many people have jumped on her lately over her very command of that language; in fact, for her use of one word: "limn." It started last month when a MobyLives reader named Peter Kuntz wrote in to note that Kakutani had used the word in her (negative) review of Zadie Smith's new "Autograph Man"; Kuntz observed that, in general, Kakutanni used the word a lot. That opened the floodgates.


Ms Kakutani and her colleague Richard Bernstein, are two of the best things about the Times, and she's right about Hertsgaard.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:05 PM

MAYBE HE'S SERIOUS:

Dean Pins Hopes on Rainmakers (John P. Gregg, 11/22/02, Valley News)
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean last week said he hopes to raise up to $10 million before New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation 2004 presidential primary, a critical proving ground for Dean and U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Dean took two important behind-the-scenes steps this month to boost his presidential bid, landing a campaign manager with extensive New Hampshire experience and a widely respected fund-raiser with a network of national Democratic contributors.

Dean this week hired political consultant Rick Ridder, who most recently worked on former U.S. senator Bill Bradley's 2000 presidential bid, to be his campaign manager.

And Dean enlisted Massachusetts businessman Steve Grossman to help him with fund raising and political strategy.

Grossman, a former chairman of both the Massachusetts Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, has raised millions of dollars for his party and is planning a fund-raising event for Dean next month in Boston.

Political observers said Dean's two personnel moves are giving his presidential campaign credibility.

"Certainly, it ain't a bad start to start with those two guys," said Michael Goldman, a Boston-based Democratic consultant who also worked on the Bradley campaign. “It will be perceived as a serious campaign -- serious in terms of money, serious in terms of field. "Bradley narrowly lost the 2000 New Hampshire primary to then-Vice President Al Gore, and Ridder also worked on Gary Hart's two presidential campaigns.

Goldman said Dean, who has visited New Hampshire 19 times this year, must have a strong showing in the Granite State primary for his presidential campaign to catch fire.

"He knows to be viable, he's got to beat the other Northeast candidate in New Hampshire, that being Kerry," said Goldman. "Were I Kerry and Dean, I'd be focusing a huge amount of attention on New Hampshire É if you come in second as the New England candidate, you can pretty much put a pin in it."


If you're the Democrats, and you're trying to win in '04, the prospect of a Kerry vs. Dean slugfest in NH has to be a nightmare. Between them they'll drag the field very far to the Left.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:17 PM

WHERE WOLF?:

From Wolf to Dog, Yes, but When? (NICHOLAS WADE, November 22, 2002, NY Times)
Three studies in today's issue of Science shed light on the questions of when, where and how dogs were first domesticated from wolves. One suggests that a few wolves, perhaps from the same population somewhere in east Asia, are the mothers of almost all dogs alive today. [...]

Wolves, though very smart, are much less adept than dogs at following human cues, suggesting that dogs may have been selected for this ability.

So were dogs' ancestors selected for tameability or trainability? Dr. Ray Coppinger, a dog behavior expert at Hampshire College, believes that neither is the case. Wolves domesticated themselves, Dr. Coppinger argues in a recent book, "Dogs," written with his wife, Lorna Coppinger. Wolves, which are scavengers as well as hunters, would have hung around the campsite for scraps, and those that learned to be less afraid of people survived and flourished, in his view.

"It was natural selection — the dogs did it, not people," Dr. Coppinger said. "The trouble with the theory that people domesticated dogs is that it requires thousands of dogs, just as Belyaev used thousands of foxes."

From the half-tamed, camp-following wolves, he believes, people may then have adopted some cubs into the household and found that they could be trained.

Hunter-gatherer peoples often bring back baby wild animals and keep them as pets until they become unmanageable. Dr. James Serpell, an expert on dog behavior at the University of Pennsylvania, believes that this is a more likely explanation of dog domestication than that people adopted scavengers. The particular population of East Asian wolves identified by Dr. Savolainen's genetic studies, Dr. Serpell suggests, might have had some special feature that made them easier to train.


Okay, here's one obvious question this raises: how greatly do today's wolves vary from these progenitors of dogs? Believers in evolution are fond of the idea that we may be in a period of near stasis, when changes within a species, never mind speciation, particularly of large (easily observable) animals, has paused at least for the moment. This helpfully explains why we've never seen an animal change in any significant way, let alone evolve, in recorded human history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM

LITTLE RASCALS HOUR:

Chretien turns down resignation of his aide for her reported 'moron' remark (LOUISE ELLIOTT, 11/21/02, CP)
Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Friday he has refused the resignation of his embattled communications director, Francoise Ducros, over her alleged remark that U.S. President George W. Bush is a "moron." [...]

Earlier Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said the reported remarks won't sour Canada-U.S. relations. [...]

Graham vehemently denied Canada-U.S. relations have deteriorated seriously, saying they are no worse than they were under former prime minister Brian Mulroney despite Mulroney's reputedly close relationship with former president Ronald Reagan.

"Different styles are different styles," he said of the contrast between the approaches toward Washington taken by Mulroney and Chretien. "But the strength of the relationship is there."

Graham said he "didn't accept the premise" that the relationship between the countries has worsened significantly under a perception of anti-Americanism among some Liberals, though he acknowledged having been tough on certain issues.

"We've had tremendous disagreements over trade policy," he said. "Believe you me, if you're concerned about that (moron remark), you should have heard what I had to say to Mr. Powell over softwood lumber."

But, he said, the countries have a good framework to manage disagreements "and we manage it well."

Chretien, who tried to douse the flames of controversy Thursday, saying the remark was inappropriate. Bush is "a friend of mine," Chretien said. "He's not a moron at all, he's a friend. My personal relations with the president are extremely good."


That's simply a lie. As we've noted before, Mr. Bush despises Mr. Chretien. And not just Chretien, Fred Barnes on Fox News Special Report last night, said that Vaclav Havel asked President Bush if he'd mind if they changed the seating arrangement so that Gerhard Schroeder was sitting next to him. (Apparently Mr. Schroeder is obsessed by the deterioration of their personal relationship.) Mr. Bush told Mr. Havel that there was no way he'd sit next to the German chancellor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

I HAVE A DREAM:

Cabinet Chess Begins Anew: After Midterm Elections, Little Shuffling Seen Among 21 Members on Bush Team (Mike Allen, November 22, 2002, Washington Post)
Heading toward his term's halfway mark, President Bush has not made a single change among the 21 members of his Cabinet beyond adding Tom Ridge as homeland security adviser.

Washington wants to know: How long can it last? [...]

Two Cabinet members could head out on their own political journeys. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, has neither encouraged nor discouraged a lively draft movement among Indiana Republicans who hope he will run for governor in 2004. A trusted Bush insider, he says the president has first call on his time. A top Republican said the likelihood of a run seems to be fading.

The other Cabinet member who might run for office is Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. He has long been expected by the White House to be the first Cabinet member to go. Thompson, who still dreams of being secretary of transportation, may challenge Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) in 2004.


For Mr. Thompson's sake, let us hope the dream is not the measure of the man.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM

TO THE VICTORS GO THE NUREMBERG TRIALS:

Germans call Churchill a war criminal (Kate Connolly, 19/11/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Winston Churchill was effectively a war criminal who sanctioned the extermination of Germany's civilian population through indiscriminate bombing of towns and cities, an article in the country's biggest-circulation newspaper claimed yesterday.

In an unprecedented attack on Allied conduct during the Second World War, the tabloid Bild has called for recognition to be given to the suffering inflicted on the German population during the strategic air campaign of 1940-45.

The newspaper's campaign, provoked by a new German history of the bomber offensive, breaks six decades of virtual silence on the subject, and is being seen as the latest manifestation of a belief among Germans that they too were victims of the war - albeit a war started by their country.

The newspaper is serialising Der Brand (The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment 1940-45) by the historian Jorg Friedrich, which claims to be the most authoritative account of the bombing campaign so far.

Mr Friedrich claims the British government set out at the start of the Second World War to destroy as many German cities and kill as many of their inhabitants as possible. Civilian deaths were not collateral damage, he says, but rather the object of the exercise. He argues that Churchill had favoured a strategy of attacking the civilian population centres from the air some 20 years before Hitler ordered such raids.

Britain's war leader is quoted during the First World War as saying: "Perhaps the next time round the way to do it will be to kill women, children and the civilian population."


Setting aside for now the ugly specter of the Germans trying to expunge their guilt for WWII, Bild is of course right--Churchill, FDR and Truman were, in retrospect, all war criminals and had the Axis powers won they'd certainly have been prosecuted as such. More importantly, were they alive today they'd likely face charges in the International Criminal Court. Which is why we should never acknowledge its authority over U.S. citizens.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 AM

AMAZING GRACE:

Fountain of faith: Blind Boys of Alabama leader finds a sermon at every turn (Frank Rabey, Oct 30, 2002, Asheville Mountain Xpress)
The group, together now for more than 60 years and with nearly two dozen albums to its credit, racked up a recent Grammy for the rousing Spirit of the Century (Real World, 2000), and is likely in contention for another for this year's blissful Higher Ground (Real World). The music – casually fusing quartet-style gospel, classic R&B, Delta-style blues and plain ol' rock 'n' roll – is unlikely to have ever found favor in the little Methodist church outside of Selma, Ala., where Fountain first heard the Good Word way back in the day. But it's reaching huge, adoring crowds in the here and now.

The Blind Boys met in 1939 at the Talladega (Ala.) Institute for the Deaf and Blind, reputedly a horrid place back then, when beatings from staff members were common.

"I came up on the rough side of the mountain," says Fountain, who was 10 when he started his singing career.

The original group of five, all standout members in Talladega's large choir, left the school in the early 1940s to try their fate on the gospel circuit. Known first as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers, they changed names in 1948 while doing a show in Newark, N.J., with another blind group, the Jackson Harmoneers from Mississippi, led by another firebrand vocalist, Archie Brownlee. The show was billed as a contest between the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Blind Boys of Mississippi; the new names stuck in the public's mind, beginning a friendly rivalry between what would soon become two of gospel's most prominent acts.

The Blind Boys of Alabama are now down to three original members, with Fountain, the shoutin', growlin', show-stoppin' gravel-and-honey-throated leader; deep-voiced George Scott; and sweet, high tenor Jimmy Carter.


Spirit of the Century is a better album overall, but Higher Ground has an astonishing cut, The Cross, which was written by Prince. It's worth the price of admission, by itself.

November 21, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM

ALPHA AND OMEGA:

God Is the Machine: IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS 0. AND THEN THERE WAS 1. A MIND-BENDING MEDITATION ON THE TRANSCENDENT POWER OF DIGITAL COMPUTATION. (Kevin Kelly, December 2002 , Wired)
Probably the trippiest science book ever written is The Physics of Immortality, by Frank Tipler. If this book was labeled standard science fiction, no one would notice, but Tipler is a reputable physicist and Tulane University professor who writes papers for the International Journal of Theoretical Physics. In Immortality, he uses current understandings of cosmology and computation to declare that all living beings will be bodily resurrected after the universe dies. His argument runs roughly as follows: As the universe collapses upon itself in the last minutes of time, the final space-time singularity creates (just once) infinite energy and computing capacity. In other words, as the giant universal computer keeps shrinking in size, its power increases to the point at which it can simulate precisely the entire historical universe, past and present and possible. He calls this state the Omega Point. It is a computational space that can resurrect "from the dead" all the minds and bodies that have ever lived. The weird thing is that Tipler was an atheist when he developed this theory and discounted as mere "coincidence" the parallels between his ideas and the Christian doctrine of Heavenly Resurrection. Since then, he says, science has convinced him that the two may be identical.

While not everyone goes along with Tipler's eschatological speculations, theorists like Deutsch endorse his physics. An Omega Computer is possible and probably likely, they say.


That's kind of the long way around to faith, isn't it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:19 PM

FOOL ME 472 TIMES, I"M A FREAKIN' IDIOT:

Gore: Bush Loses Terror Focus: 2000 Rival Says Focus on Iraq Aided GOP but Not Nation (Dan Balz, November 21, 2002, Washington Post)
Former vice president Al Gore today accused President Bush of losing focus on the war against terrorism, saying Bush's two-month campaign to "beat the war drums" against Iraq may have helped Republicans win control of Congress this month but left the country less secure against possible future attacks.

Gore said in an interview here that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network pose a greater immediate danger than does Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Bush's decision to shift attention to possible war with Iraq, he said, represented "an historic mistake" that has left Afghanistan facing chaos and U.S. intelligence agencies without some of the resources needed to carry out the war against terrorism.


U.S. Officials Identify Captured Al Qaeda Leader (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, November 21, 2002)
Al-Qaida leader Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the network's chief of operations in the Persian Gulf, has been captured, senior U.S. government officials said Thursday.

Al-Nashiri, a suspected mastermind of the USS Cole bombing in October 2000, was taken in an undisclosed foreign country earlier this month and is now in U.S. custody, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

He is the highest-ranking al-Qaida operative captured since the CIA, FBI and Pakistani authorities captured Osama bin Laden's operations chief, Abu Zubaydah, in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in March.


Every single time the Democrats complain about our "loss of focus" we score, or belatedly announce, some major victory. Yet they keep doing it. On the one hand, we admire their patriotism; rare is the politician willing to look like a fool even for the sake of his nation's security. On the other, they do keep looking foolish. No wonder Americans have decided the Democrats aren't up to the job of handling the war on terror when their leadership appears so clueless.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:10 PM

WHY NOT ERITREA?:

Eritrea Pushes to Get U.S. Base (Judy Sarasohn, November 21, 2002, Washington Post)
"Why Not Eritrea?" That's what the government of Eritrea, a poor African country, wants to know and what it has its lobbyists asking in Washington.

The issue paper "Why Not Eritrea?" pushes the country's plan for the United States to take advantage of its strategic location in the Horn of Africa as a military staging ground in the buildup toward a looming war with Iraq. After all, the surrounding nations are members of the Arab League and not what one would call very supportive of U.S. interests, the paper says. Even Djibouti, already host to about 3,200 U.S. troops who are being trained in desert warfare, has voiced reservations about U.S. intentions.

Eritrea notes that it is pro-American and half Christian, half Muslim.

U.S. officials are considering Eritrea's offer, and Gen. Tommy Franks has visited the country.


Thus do nations increasingly clamor to join the Axis of Good. We should welcome them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM

"HE WAS CONFIDENT IN HIS SCIENCE":

Scientists Planning to Make New Form of Life (Justin Gillis, November 21, 2002, Washington Post)
Scientists in Rockville are to announce this morning that they plan to create a new form of life in a laboratory dish, a project that raises ethical and safety issues but also promises to illuminate the fundamental mechanics of living organisms.

J. Craig Venter, the gene scientist with a history of pulling off unlikely successes, and Hamilton O. Smith, a Nobel laureate, are behind the plan. Their intent is to create a single-celled, partially man-made organism with the minimum number of genes necessary to sustain life. If the experiment works, the microscopic man-made cell will begin feeding and dividing to create a population of cells unlike any previously known to exist.

To ensure safety, Smith and Venter said the cell will be deliberately hobbled to render it incapable of infecting people; it also will be strictly confined, and designed to die if it does manage to escape into the environment.

More worrisome than the risk of escape, they acknowledged, is that the project could lay the scientific groundwork for a new generation of biological weapons, a risk that may force them to be selective about publishing technical details. But they said the project could also help advance the nation's ability to detect and counter existing biological weapons.


A bunch of folks have mailed this today, and it does seem troublesome. However, they aren't experimenting on humans (at this point), so it doesn't seem to raise any pressing moral concerns as yet. Concerns about bioengineering and cloning and the like aren't about the technology per se, but about tampering with human nature and destroying human lives in the process.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM

PROVING HARRISON SALISBURY RIGHT:

All You Can Hold for Five Bucks (Joseph Mitchell, 1939-04-15, The New Yorker)
Classical beefsteak meat is carved off the shell, a section of the hindquarter of a steer: it is called "short loin without the fillet." To order a cut of it, a housewife would ask for a thick Delmonico. "You don't always get it at a beefsteak," Mr. Wertheimer said. "Sometimes they give you bull fillets. They're no good. Not enough juice in them, and they cook out black." While I watched, Mr. Wertheimer took a shell off a hook in his icebox and laid it on a big, maple block. It had been hung for eight weeks and was blanketed with blue mold. The mold was an inch thick. He cut off the mold. Then he boned the shell and cut it into six chunks. Then he sliced off all the fat. Little strips of lean ran through the discarded fat, and he deftly carved them out and made a mound of them on the block. "These trimmings, along with the tails of the steaks, will be ground up and served as appetizers," he said. "We'll use four hundred tonight. People call them hamburgers, and that's an insult. Sometimes they're laid on top of a slice of Bermuda onion and served on bread." When he finished with the shell, six huge steaks, boneless and fatless, averaging three inches thick and ten inches long, lay on the block. They made a beautiful still life. "After they've been broiled, the steaks are sliced up, and each steak makes about ten slices," he said. "The slices are what you get at a beefsteak." Mr. Wertheimer said the baskets of meat he had prepared would be used that night at a beefsteak in the Odd Fellows' Hall on East 106th Street; the Republican Club of the Twentieth Assembly District was running it. He invited me to go along.

"How's your appetite?" he asked.

I said there was nothing wrong with it.

"I hope not," he said. "When you go to a beefsteak, you got to figure on eating until it comes out of your ears. Otherwise it would be bad manners."

That night I rode up to Odd Fellows' Hall with Mr. Wertheimer, and on the way I asked him to describe a pre-prohibition stag beefsteak.

"Oh, they were amazing functions," he said. "The men wore butcher aprons and chef hats. They used the skirt of the apron to wipe the grease off their faces. Napkins were not allowed. The name of the organization that was running the beefsteak would be printed across the bib, and the men took the aprons home for souvenirs. We still wear aprons, but now they're rented from linen-supply houses. They're numbered, and you turn them in at the hat-check table when you get your hat and coat. Drunks, of course, always refuse to turn theirs in.

"In the old days they didn't even use tables and chairs. They sat on beer crates and ate off the tops of beer barrels. You'd be surprised how much fun that was. Somehow it made old men feel young again. And they'd drink beer out of cans, or growlers. Those beefsteaks were run in halls or the cellars or back rooms of big saloons. There was always sawdust on the floor. Sometimes they had one in a bowling alley. They would cover the alleys with tarpaulin and set the boxes and barrels in the aisles. The men ate with their fingers. They never served potatoes in those days. Too filling. They take up room that rightfully belongs to meat and beer. A lot of those beefsteaks were testimonials. A politician would get elected to something and his friends would throw him a beefsteak. Cops ran a lot of them, too. Like when a cop became captain or inspector, he got a beefsteak. Theatrical people were always fond of throwing beefsteaks. Sophie Tucker got a great big one at Mecca Temple in 1934, and Bill Robinson got a great big one at the Grand Street Boys' clubhouse in 1938. Both of those were knockouts. The political clubs always gave the finest, but when Tammany Hall gets a setback, beefsteaks get a setback. For example, the Anawanda Club, over in my neighborhood, used to give a famous beefsteak every Thanksgiving Eve. Since La Guardia got in the Anawanda's beefsteaks have been so skimpy it makes me sad.

"At the old beefsteaks they almost always had storytellers, men who would entertain with stories in Irish and German dialect. And when the people got tired of eating and drinking, they would harmonize. You could hear them harmonizing blocks away. They would harmonize 'My Wild Irish Rose' until they got their appetite back. It was the custom to hold beefsteaks on Saturday nights or the eve of holidays, so the men would have time to recover before going to work. They used to give some fine ones in Coney Island restaurants. Webster Hall has always been a good place. Local 638 of the Steamfitters holds its beefsteaks there. They're good ones. A lot of private beefsteaks are thrown in homes. A man will invite some friends to his cellar and cook the steaks himself. I have a number of good amateur beefsteak chefs among my customers. Once, during the racing season, a big
bookmaker telephoned us he wanted to throw a beefsteak, so we sent a chef and all the makings to Saratoga. The chef had a wonderful time. They made a hero out of him."


This, meanwhile (see previous post), is a piece from the New Yorker archives by perhaps the greatest American essayists ever, Joseph Mitchell, who became even more famous for not writing. A few years back they come out with a collection of his work, Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories, and there was recently a fairly good movie about him and his most notorious subject: Joe Gould's Secret. (Here's a picture of
Joe):

Mitchell first wrote about Gould in 1942, in a piece called, Professor Sea Gull. Mitchell's great skill as a writer was to let his subjects seemingly speak for themselves, but to in fact render their words in compulsively readable fashion. This works particularly effectively with Joe Gould who was a fountain of words anyway. The story relates how Gould, a Harvard grad, subsists on practically no money (one of his tricks is to make a soup out of the ketchup in restaurants), his propensity for making a spectacle of himself as he starts flapping his arms and declaiming poetry in the "language" of sea gulls, and his life's work, the nine million word Oral History of Our Time. Within the pages of hundreds of composition books, of the kind we used to use in school, Gould claimed to be writing a history of the world in the form of the conversations of ordinary people as he heard them speaking every day ""What people say is history." It was this idea that beguiled Mitchell and his readers, made Gould into a minor celebrity, and ultimately formed a tragicomic link to Mitchell's own career.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

WATCHIN' THE DETECTIVES:

A Man Named Hoffman (Berton Roueche, 1965-04-24, The New Yorker)
Around ten o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, March 4, 1964, a man named Donald Hoffman presented himself for treatment at the Student Health Clinic of Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, some thirty miles northwest of Cincinnati. Hoffman was thirty-six years old, married, and a resident of Cincinnati, but, as he explained to the receptionist, he was currently employed as an installer of insulation on a remodelling job at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, in Oxford, and his company had an arrangement with the clinic. He was here, he added, because his foreman had sent him. That was the only reason. His trouble was nothing—an itchy sore on the side of his neck. He had probably picked up a sliver of glass-wool fibre. It had happened several times before. It was a common complaint in his trade.

The doctor who saw him was inclined to agree. There was no good reason not to. Hoffman worked with fibre glass, and his lesion had the look of a fibre-glass lesion. The history of the lesion, the doctor found, was equally suggestive. It had first appeared on Monday evening as a tiny red swelling that might have been caused by a chafing shirt collar. It was larger on Tuesday, and somewhat sensitive. This morning, it was larger still, and it alternately itched and burned. The doctor slipped a thermometer under Hoffman's tongue, and picked up a scalpel and nicked the edge of the lesion. There was no discharge. He removed and read the thermometer. Hoffman had a temperature of 99.2 degrees. The doctor noted the reading on his record of the case and added, "Has erythematous swollen area at base of neck anteriorly on left, extending over chest. A firm furuncle is present in
the center of this area. Impression: fibre-glass dermatitis with secondary infection." The doctor then turned his attention to treatment. He covered the
lesion with a bacitracin dressing and got out a hypodermic needle. In view of threat of infection, he said, a course of penicillin was indicated. He proposed to begin with an intramuscular injection of three hundred thousand units. Hoffman stood up. That wouldn't be necessary, he said. He had had all the treatment he wanted. He didn't believe in taking penicillin every time he had a little scratch. He put on his jacket and left.


He seems largely forgotten now, but Mr. Roueche wrote a series of outstanding "True Tales of Medical Detection" for The New Yorker in its golden age. This one's on-line and is included in the only one of his books that's still in print, The Medical Detectives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 AM

SET THE VCR DURING "C.S.I.":

This Week: "In Search of Al Qaeda" (Frontline, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 9pm on PBS)
The voice on the tape, U.S. experts now believe, is "almost certainly" that of Osama bin Laden. His exact whereabouts, however, and the strength of the Al Qaeda network, remain unknown.

Yet some things, despite all the uncertainty, do seem clear. As producer and correspondent Martin Smith suggests in this week's report -- "InSearch of Al Qaeda," airing Thursday, Nov. 21 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings) -- while Al Qaeda has been forced from Afghanistan, it is finding new sanctuaries elsewhere. Just as important, the sentiment or idea that Al Qaeda represents is, in many places, gaining strength.

Smith, who produced FRONTLINE's "Hunting bin Laden" in 1998-99, set out in August with co-producer Marcela Gaviria and cameraman Scott Anger to find out what's become of Al Qaeda since the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan. It's a journey -- at times a harrowing one -- that took them from London to the militant Islamic strongholds along Pakistan's northwest frontier, into Pakistan's teeming cities, and on to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, bin Laden's homeland.

Along the way Smith interviewed statesmen, generals, security officials, and tribesmen. He didn't find Al Qaeda, per se, but what he did find maybe more unsettling. "We discovered that Al Qaeda is more than an army of terrorists," Smith says. "It's an idea about how to hurt the West. And it's taking hold with more and more people in countries as disparate as the United Kingdom and Yemen."


Our local paper has a review and says the show is terrific. Here also is a profile of bin Laden from a few years ago by Mary Anne Weaver, whose book Steven Martinovich enjoyed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM

PROFILE IN COURAGE:

All Eyes on La. Senator's Votes (DAVID ESPO, Nov 20, 2002, AP)
Faced with a difficult choice in the Capitol and a difficult election in Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu stood in the well of the Senate until time to vote had nearly expired.

Finally, with the issue already settled, she cast her vote with President Bush and the Republicans, and against a last-minute Democratic attempt to change legislation creating a new Department of Homeland Security. It was important, she said afterward, "for me to be able to express that I'm for the creation of this department and I've been for the creation of this department."

Other senators were unusually blunt in describing the political forces at work.

"I think she did the right thing," said Louisiana's other Democratic senator, John Breaux, who supported the proposal that Landrieu opposed. If Landrieu had voted the other way, "It would have created a new issue for a whole new set of ads" for Republicans to air in her runoff election on Dec. 7, he added.

The chairman of the GOP senatorial campaign committee seemed to agree. "If she had voted to obstruct the president's leadership it would have hurt her in Louisiana," said Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "So from a political standpoint, it was a wise decision on her part."


Sounds like she did everything but lick a finger and hold it in the air to test the political winds.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM

ON TO DAMASCUS!:

A Damascus wake-up call (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2002)
In an unusually blunt statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Bashar Assad's regime flatly rejected a US demand that it shut down the Damascus office of Islamic Jihad. The declaration came in response to a letter sent over the weekend by Secretary of State Colin Powell after the massacre of 12 Israelis in Hebron on Friday. [...]

That Syria has long been a regional troublemaker is nothing new. The US State Department has for years berated Damascus for its systematic trampling of human rights, and Syria still bears the label "state sponsor of terrorism." It continues to wage a proxy war against Israel through its support of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, and its regime remains a tightly-controlled dictatorship, one whose rule is based more on fear than fidelity.

What is new, however, is Washington's growing impatience with Syria's antics. For too long, Damascus has been able to get away with occupying Lebanon, fomenting anti-Israel violence, and promoting the international drug trade through its cultivation of illicit narcotics in the Bekaa Valley. In his June 24 speech on the Middle East, President George W. Bush put Syria on notice, saying, "Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations." It was the first time in a long time that an American president had publicly singled out Syria for its methodical misconduct, and for that alone Bush is to be applauded. But if such stark words are to have any lasting effect on Syrian behavior, they will have to be backed up by greater pressure on the Assad regime.


They should have been placed on the Axis of Evil to begin with and our troops shouldn't come home until Assad is deposed too.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM

SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE:

Dino Hoax Was Mainly Made of Ancient Bird, Study Says (Hillary Mayell, November 20, 2002, National Geographic News)
The principal part of a famously fabricated dinosaur fossil is an ancient fish-eating bird, scientists report.

The Archaeoraptor fossil was introduced in 1999 and hailed as the missing evolutionary link between carnivorous dinosaurs and modern birds. It was fairly quickly exposed as bogus, a composite containing the head and body of a primitive bird and the tail and hind limbs of a dromaeosaur dinosaur, glued together by a Chinese farmer.

Initial CT scans suggested that the fossil might have been made up of anywhere from two to five specimens of two or more species. Chinese and American scientists now report that the fabricated fossil is made up of two species.

The Archaeoraptor fossil introduced in 1999 as the missing evolutionarylink between carnivorous dinosaurs and modern birds turned out to be a composite of two different species previously unknown to scientists. The tail and hind legs belong to a crow-sized dinosaur, Microraptorzhaoianus; the head and body belong to a fish-eating bird known as Yanornis martini.


Piltdown Man. The peppered moth. Archaeopteryx. The skeptic can't help but be amused as the textbook examples of evolution turn out to be hoaxes, the evolutionary equivalent of the shroud of Turin, clung to with similar fervor by credulous Darwinian zealots.

November 20, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 PM

NIGHT TIME:

Signs and Wonders: The spiritual imagination of M. Night Shyamalan (Roy Anker, November/December 2002, Books & Culture)
Shyamalan's own religious background is complex. He's the son of Hindu parents (the initial M. in his name is for Manoj, another name for the Hindu god Vishnu), but his early education fell to the posh Roman Catholic and Episcopal private schools of Philadelphia (both parents are physicians, as are most of the aunts and uncles). His second film, the low-budget but charming and provocative Wide Awake (1998), tells the very autobiographical story of a fifth-grade boy (Joseph Cross) who goes on a year-long quest to meet God after his loving grandfather (Robert Loggia) dies of bone marrow cancer. Shyamalan even titles one of film's chapters "signs." The boy's purpose in contacting God is to find out if his devout Catholic grandfather is OK, wherever he is. Overall, it's a winsome portrait of Catholicism (Rosie O'Donnell plays a very savvy, baseball loving nun), although a few critics excoriated the film.

Young Josh does find signs, plausible ones, ranging from a surprise snowfall in whose beauty his grandfather said God dwells to his own sudden acute awareness, "wide awake," of the complexity, sorrow, and beauty of the world. There are other signs also-the sudden embrace of belief by his best friend after a fortuitous rescue and, ending the film, a cryptic message from a mysterious school companion that all is well. Small odd things happen, and the world never seems the same again, thank God.

It is this sort of awareness that informs Shyamalan's next two films, the blockbuster Sixth Sense and the relative bust, Unbreakable. There are two shocks in the first film: that the young boy protagonist (Haley Joel Osment) really does see ghosts, and that the child psychiatrist who tries to help him throughout (Bruce Willis) is a ghost, a recognition that comes as a huge surprise to the audience and to the psychiatrist. Unbreakable delivers the same jolt-the security guard is indeed that superhero, and a scientifically plausible one at that. (In a deleted scene, the hero-to-be disputes with a priest about the providential import of surviving a train wreck.) Shyamalan has commented in an interview (on the DVD of Unbreakable) that he seeks to make "feature-length Twilight Zones" where something happens at the end, a perceptual trick or plot flip, overturning the commonsense reductionism of everyday life. Here the writer clearly ventures into the heavy waters of epistemology, expectation, metaphor, and providence-the same thematic terrain, however different the story settings, traversed by Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, and the like. And yet when all is said and done, it is still hard to tell how serious this young, and scarily smart, God-haunted writer-director is about ghosts, superheroes, angels-in-disguise, and mysterious deathbed providences.


Unbreakable seems a terribly underrated film.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 PM

APPLE ON YAMS:

In the Kingdom of the Sweet Potato (R. W. APPLE Jr., November 20, 2002, NY Times)
FOR a small town, Opelousas has staked a lot of claims to fame. Clifton Chenier, perhaps the greatest zydeco musician of them all, was born here. Tony Chachere's pungent Cajun seasoning, a staple on supermarket shelves across the country, is blended here. Paul Prudhomme, the roly-poly chef who made the blackening of fish a national obsession, grew up on a nearby farm.

But the big event of the year in Opelousas - the local equivalent of Pasadena's Rose Parade or Punxsutawney's Groundhog Day - features something altogether different: the sweet potato. Late every October, as the harvest is reaching its climax, just in time for Louisiana growers to ship the tubers off to their appointed places on holiday menus in countless American homes, local civic dignitaries stage a five-day sweet potato extravaganza. A treasured tradition for the last 57 years, it's called the Yambilee Festival.

The name is the town's contribution to the mindless muddle of tuber terminology, which would drive Linnaeus up the wall.


Always thought the idea of baked sweet potato street vendors was cool.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 PM

ENOBLING THE SAVAGES:

Savages? Not to Jesuit missionaries they weren't (Robert Remington, November 20, 2002, National Post)
In the movie Black Robe, 17th-century Jesuit missionaries are portrayed as viewing Canadian Indians as superstitious, pagan savages with no redeeming culture who can be saved only by baptism.

New academic research, however, suggests that the early Jesuits are simply victims of bad press. According to a fresh analysis of their Latin dispatches to Rome, the Jesuits regarded native people with admiration and respect.

"In Black Robe you get the stereotype of the almost rabid religious fanatic. There is the good savage and the rest are sort of cruel and horrifying and there is no middle ground," says Haijo Westra, a professor of Greek and Roman studies at the University of Calgary.

After studying the Latin dispatches sent from Canada by French Jesuit missionaries, Dr. Westra concludes that the image of the "black robes" has been unfairly distorted by the English translations of their field reports, which he says missed sympathetic nuances derived from classic Latin texts the Jesuits studied.


Black Robe is, nonetheless, a terrific book by one of the great underappreciated novelists, Brian Moore.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 PM

OR IS HE AT THE SEVENTH CIRCLE BY NOW?:

Did Gandhi Make It Past Pearly Gates? (Rabbi Marc Gellman & Msgr
Thomas Hartman, November 16, 2002, Newsday)
Q. My sister and I differ greatly on who goes to heaven. She feels only those who accept Jesus as their savior will go to heaven.

I find it hard to believe that Gandhi, or Jerry Seinfeld, for that matter, will burn eternally because they aren't Christians. - Angela, Bloomville, Ohio

A. [...]

If religious people who wish to convert others to their faith would focus on acts of kindness and charity, justice and mercy, they would both serve their faith and increase their flock far more than by beating prospective converts over the head with texts they don't believe.

It's also possible that certain progressive Christian doctrines, such as the idea of "baptism by desire," developed by the German theologian Karl Rahner, might provide a helpful theological loophole for ecumenical Christians to affirm the truth of their faith while also admitting that a God of goodness would never keep Gandhi out of heaven.

This doctrine proclaims that by living a righteous life, non-Christians are actually accepting Jesus with their lives, even though they don't accept him as savior with their lips - and even though they don't realize they're accepting Jesus at all.


Not so fast, fellas. No one should make up their mind about the holiness of Gandhi before reading one of the great movie revies of all time, The Gandhi Nobody Knows (Richard Grenier, March 1983, Commentary). Here's just a smidgen:
ANYONE who wants to wade through Gandhi's endless ruminations about himsa and ahimsa (violence and nonviolence) is welcome to do so, but it is impossible for the skeptical reader to avoid the conclusion--let us say in 1920, when swaraj (home rule) was all the rage and Gandhi's inner voice started telling him that ahimsa was the thing--that this inner voice knew what it was talking about. By this I mean that, though Gandhi talked with the tongue of Hindu gods and sacred scriptures, his inner voice had a strong sense of expediency. Britain, if only comparatively speaking, was a moral nation, and nonviolent civil disobedience was plainly the best and most effective way of achieving Indian independence. Skeptics might also not be surprised to learn that as independence approached, Gandhi's inner voice began to change its tune. It has been reported that Gandhi "half-welcomed" the civil war that broke out in the last days. Even a fratricidal "bloodbath" (Gandhi's word) would be preferable to the British.

And suddenly Gandhi began endorsing violence left, right, and center. During the fearsome rioting in Calcutta he gave his approval to men "using violence in a moral cause." How could he tell them that violence was wrong, he asked, "unless I demonstrate that nonviolence is more effective?" He blessed the Nawab of Maler Kotla when he gave orders to shoot ten Muslims for every Hindu killed in his state. He sang the praises of Subhas Chandra Bose, who, sponsored by first the Nazis and then the Japanese, organized in Singapore an Indian National Army with which he hoped to conquer India with Japanese support, establishing a totalitarian dictatorship. Meanwhile, after independence in 1947, the armies of the India that Gandhi had created immediately marched into battle, incorporating the state of Hyderabad by force and making war in Kashmir on secessionist Pakistan. When Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist in January 1948 he was honored by the new state with a vast military funeral--in my view by no means inapposite.


It's long, but it's a riot.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 PM

DETERMINED MORALITY:

Darwin and the Descent of Morality (Benjamin Wiker, November 2001, First Things)
True to his naturalist bent, Darwin's natural history of morality (or more properly, moralities) assumed evolution to be true and sought to explain how the existing moral varieties could have evolved in the same way that natural selection had brought about the great variety of existing species.

For Darwin the "moral faculties of man" were not original and inherent, but evolved from "social qualities" acquired "through natural selection, aided by inherited habit." Just as life came from the nonliving, so also the moral came from the nonmoral.

From the beginning, then, Darwin rejected the Christian natural law argument, according to which human beings are moral by nature. Instead, he followed the pattern of the modern natural right reasoning of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which assumed that human beings were naturally asocial and amoral, and only became social and moral historically. That is why Darwin called his account a natural history of morality. [...]

What we call "conscience" was also the result of natural selection. Darwin described it as a "feeling of dissatisfaction which invariably results . . . from any unsatisfied instinct." Since the "ever-enduring social instincts" were more primitive and hence stronger than instincts developed later, the social instincts were the sources of our feelings of unease when some action of ours violated them. Such feelings of unease, Darwin explained, we now call "conscience."

It might seem that Darwin's arguments for human sociability and the moral conscience could be marshaled to support a conservative moral position. Yet mere "sociality," even with a conscience grounded in evolutionary imperatives, does not at all mean that nature has created a definite moral standard, such as natural law. Quite the reverse. At bottom, everything is variable.


So both my decision to bash someone over the head and steal his food and my regret over the action are a product of natural selection?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM

BEWTWEEN THE SACRED AND THE SECULAR:

REVIEW: of Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity By Darrin M. McMahon (Damon Linker, February 2002, First Things)
As everyone knows, Alexis de Tocque­ville's Democracy in America is filled with valuable observations about the United States. America?s unprecedented social equality, its freedom, its vibrant intermediary institutions, even its volatile racial situation-all of these subjects are treated with a depth and subtlety that have yet to be surpassed. And then there is Tocque­ville's revealing, and less frequently noted, discussion of the surprising relationship between Enlightenment and Christianity in America. The United States is a country, he claims, that combines widespread Enlightenment with a deep and abiding faith in God. Just as, for Americans, "it is the observance of divine laws that guides man to freedom," so it is that "religion . . . leads [him] to Enlightenment."

In Tocqueville's native France, as throughout much of the European continent, things were very different. Since the early seventeenth century, the age-old ideals of civilization and intellectual Enlightenment had been employed as weapons in an ideological campaign. While many thinkers continued to seek knowledge for the same reasons philosophers had pursued it for millennia-for its own sake, in order to glorify God, to satisfy human curiosity-others had a different aim. Such figures as Hobbes, Spinoza, Bayle, Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, Helvétius, La Mettrie, d'Holbach, Rousseau, Condorcet, and many others-Europe's first intellectuals-wanted above all to use recent scientific discoveries to inspire skepticism about the truth of the Christian religion, and thus to undermine its spiritual authority. To be sure, not all of these writers went as far as Voltaire's Écrasez l'infâme! Some, like Locke and Kant, wanted merely to reform, or liberalize, Christianity. (At least Protestant Christianity. For Locke, Catholics, like atheists, must not even be tolerated.) Yet their program of Enlightenment was based on a series of deeply anti-Christian and even antireligious assumptions.

For the vast majority of the philosophes, orthodox religious belief was inspired by nothing nobler than ignorance and fear. Lacking knowledge of the true causes of events within the world, most people live their lives in a terror that can be diminished only by embracing comforting superstitions. This situation-which, according to the leading figures of the Enlightenment, prevails whenever and wherever people lack knowledge of the natural world-was made considerably worse in Europe by the presence of a class of clergy who claimed to possess esoteric knowledge that entitled them to rule the ignorant and fearful masses. Genuine Enlightenment thus requires both that intellectuals dispel superstition by popularizing the findings of modern science and, even more importantly, that they use a potent combination of reason and rhetoric to discredit the Church's claim to rule in spiritual matters. (When it comes to the issue of whether the Enlightenment relied more heavily on reason or rhetoric in its battle with orthodoxy, it is useful to recall Gotthold E. Lessing's comment that the philosophes didn't so much refute religion as attempt to laugh it into submission.)

More than three centuries after it began, the assault on the Church in the name of antireligious Enlightenment has been quite successful. England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland-today these are more or less secular societies. As Tocqueville noted, the situation has been somewhat different in America, where, for much of our history, Enlightenment has not been defined in opposition to religious faith.


The question implicated here is of vital importance: Would it be possible for other societies to replicate America's success in reconciling religion and Enlightenment, and can even America maintain the delicate balance? It can hardly be a coincidence that America, which has thus far struck the balance, is the most successful nation in human history, but can others follow suit?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 PM

DON'T SHOOT; HE'S ONE OF OURS:

Woodward's war heroes (Tony Blankley, November 20, 2002, Washington Post)
A lot of conservatives speak ill of Mr. Woodward, but that is not fair. He merely faithfully transcribes the offerings of the various government sharks and minnows who offer themselves up to his transcription service. (Except for former CIA Director William Casey, who was probably dead at the time he was quoted back in the 1980s.)

As I can testify to from firsthand experience, the Woodward method is simplicity itself. He just calls up the various players and their senior staff--tells them what horrible things are being said about them by their co-workers--and offers them a chance to get their side in.


It's strange that conservatives dislike Mr. Woodward so much, particularly because the cumulative effect of his work has been to make the conservative case, as argued here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 PM

SHOULD WE SOW THE WIND?:

Could the GOP win in California? (Steve Sailer, Vdare)
In 2002 Simon ran away from the three vote-winning but subsequently-trifled with National Question initiatives (against illegal immigration, racial quotas, and bilingual education) that former Governor Wilson had endorsed to his political profit.

The legend has grown that the California electorate is now so Hispanicized that true Republicans have no chance. Harold Myerson writes the same article making this point over and over, most recently in the November 18 American Prospect Magazine. The take-home lesson is supposed to be: any attempt to motivate white voters will be massively punished by the supposedly huge number of Hispanic voters.

This is certainly truer than in America as a whole, yet, in this election, whites made up 76% of California's electorate. That's the basic reason Simon came so close--despite being crushingly outspent by Davis.


Mr. Sailer is undoubtedly right here--the GOP could pick off an election here or there, maybe even win a cycle or two, by reverting to hardcore nativism. But at what cost to the Party's soul and at what future expense with minority voters as they become the majority? Even if we agree with the him on the three issues he's selected--personally I agree with the latter two--such a campaign is necessarily about tone and atmospherics more than anything else. The appeal is not to narrow legalistic reason but to deep-seated racial animus. Is even beating Gray Davis worth creating a miasma of hatred between Anglos and immigrants?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:31 PM

KIRIBATI MUST BE FREE!:

Satirical NZ Web site sends Kiribati into panic (AP, November 5 2002)
A spoof story claiming the United States was planning to invade the tiny Pacific state of Kiribati sparked panic and prompted the government there to air public reassurances the country would not be overrun by US forces.

The US Embassy in Wellington said yesterday it was unfortunate the story on a New Zealand satirical Web site, www.spinner.co.nz, was taken as accurate. [...]

The story, headlined "Bush to invade Kiribati islands", read in part: "George W Bush today announced a realignment of US foreign policy. The goal of ousting Iraq's Saddam Hussein has now been replaced by the goal of regime change in the Kiribati islands as the new top priority."

The article said Bush believed Tito "is in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction. And some pretty damn fine crab soup" and had dispatched the navy to Kiribati.


If we fail to liberate Kiribati the terrorists will have won.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:12 PM

JUMP BACK:

Washington Times' Wishful Thinking? (Washington Wrap, Nov. 20, 2002, CBS News)
A spokeswoman for Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords flatly denied a report in Wednesday's Washington Times that alleges the senator's office "put out feelers" to rejoin the Republican Party in the wake of the 2002 election.

Jeffords left the GOP in 2001 and became an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate by a single vote. The GOP, of course, will be retaking control of the Senate soon and with it, control of committee chairmanships – including Jeffords' Environmental and Public Works Committee.

The allegation, which appeared in the lead editorial in Wednesday's Washington Times, said a "senior Senate leadership source" told them that Jeffords' office said he'd be willing to caucus with the GOP if he retained his committee chairmanship. "Republican leaders rightly rolled their eyes," the conservative paper said.


Mr. Jeffords desire to jump the sinking Democrat ship is actually perfectly consistent with his original jump from the GOP. In explaining that decision, he's said:
Because the Republican Party controlled the White House, the House of Representatives and, in effect, the Senate, its partisans were able to run the conference committees, which gave them final say about legislation sent to the president.

It became clear to me that the role of moderates would be limited in the Senate--and that any influence we managed to garner would be overridden by conference committees stacked with partisans. Consequently, many of the issues I care most about--education funding, child care, rights for the disabled, environmental protection, choice, campaign-finance reform--were being pushed aside. I was alarmed that these priorities would continue to fall by the wayside and partisanship would rule the day.

With the Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans for the first time since the 1880s, a single senator could shift control of the Senate and change the agenda of the entire legislative body. One person could make a dramatic difference.

In the face of this, my conscience pushed forward a question: What would be the consequence if I did not take action? What would happen with the direction of the judiciary? Tax and spending issues? Missile defense? Energy and the environment? The consequences of doing nothing weighed heavily. I had the power to dramatically change the course of history: If I did not do so, I would have to accept responsibility for the results.


Well, it's obvious that moderates are losing their influence in a Democrat Party that's racing to the Left and it's clear that, as a Democrat, Mr. Jeffords will have little or no influence on any of the issues he cares about until at least 2007, by which time he'll have had to face an increasingly Republican Vermont electorate, in a race where he'll likely face a third party challenge on the Left. What choice does he really have, either personally or ideologically, but to come crawling back to the GOP. After all, it's not as if he has to worry about his reputation or his sense of honor; he checked them at the door to the Democrat Caucus.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM

ANTITEXTUALISM:

Judge refuses to remove 10 Commandments monument (UPI, Nov. 20, 2002)
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said Tuesday he will not move a 5,300-pound granite Ten Commandments monument he installed in the state's judicial building in July 2001 and he will appeal a federal court ruling that said it was unconstitutional. [...]

Moore said it was hypocritical for Thompson to have ruled that the Ten Commandments monument "has the primary effect of endorsing religion," when Thompson's federal court building has a sculpture of the Greek goddess of justice. [...]

"The Ten Commandments monument, viewed alone or in the context of its history, placement, and location, has the primary effect of endorsing religion," Thompson's written opinion said.


Judge Thompson appears to have that secret version of the Constitution that activists whip out from time to time. None of the copies I've ever been privileged to see make any mention of "endorsement". Rather they say: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". A monument, particularly one erected by a completely different branch of government, set up to honor the Commandments, which are shared by innumerable religious sects, can in no wise be said to "establish" a religion.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:12 PM

AXE WORTHY:

Axworthy says Bush will lose terror war: Ex-minister says U.S. reversion to 'law of the jungle' is immoral, ineffective (Randy Boswell, November 20, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
Lloyd Axworthy will deliver a blistering critique of the U.S.-led war on terrorism tonight at Carleton University, casting the with-us-or-against-us "Bush doctrine" and the unrelenting push for war with Iraq as a reversion to "the law of the jungle" on a global scale.

In a speech titled Canadian Foreign Policy: Choices and Consequences, the former foreign affairs minister bluntly predicts the failure of the military campaign against al-Qaeda fanatics and warns that "counter-terrorism is the new crusade" that effectively gives the United States "the right to be judge, jury and prosecutor against any country, or anyone it considers a threat, running contrary to half a century of international law and the Charter of the United Nations." [...]

"Attempting to beat terrorists into submission through military action cannot be effective," Mr. Axworthy states.

"There are too many pre-existing tensions, which military attacks exacerbate rather than quell. Military responses feed the anger, poverty, rhetoric -- the climate of grievance -- that create and sustain terrorist intentions."

And he depicts Canada as facing a historic choice between junior partnership in an emerging American empire or committing itself more resolutely to the multilateral agencies and structures that offer a counterweight -- based on international law and treaties -- to tyranny and terrorism but also to U.S. political, economic and military might.


How is declaring yourself a counterweight to American interests different than saying you're against us?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 PM

BE FRUITFUL, BE EVANGELICAL OR BE A MEMORY:

Judging Judaism by the Numbers (Douglas Rushkoff, November 20, 2002, NY Times)
The Jewish people are not a race, to be preserved. Judaism is a set of ideas to be shared. Its universal tenets should not be surrendered to the seemingly more pressing threat of tribal dissolution--particularly not right now. Judaism is founded in iconoclasm, a principle especially relevant to a world so hypnotized by its many false idols. Judaism finds its expression in radical pluralism, an assertion that there is no name for God--at least none that any human being could conceive. And because it puts human needs above anyone's notion of deity, Judaism is ultimately enacted through the very real work of social justice.

As our nation and the world struggle to balance the conflicting priorities of religion, freedom and human rights, Judaism's core strengths are greatly needed. It would be a terrible shame if the religion's biggest concern continued to be itself.


Can anyone decipher what Mr. Rushkoff is talking about here? There's no real arguing with the demographics--Jews are reproducing at a level so far below that required for replacement that one would have to say they are doomed to disappear. So is he saying that doesn't matter so long as some of the ideas that Judaism has bequeathed to us live on? Or is he saying that Judaism needs to become an evangelical religion and seek converts? That's certainly one solution but doesn't it run counter to thousands of years of Jewish theology and tradition?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

EXERCISING THE PREROGATIVE:

Is Osama Pea-Green? (Maureen Dowd, November 20, 2002, NY Times)
Osama's jealous. He will not be ignored. He doesn't like playing second fiddle. Another anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-American, megalomaniacal, sociopathic mass murderer is getting all the attention.

Ms Dowd has ever right to change her mind, but just to assure myself I haven't lost it, does anyone else remember her questioning the motivations of those who want to depose Saddam? Can it really be, or was it then, her position that we are not justified in taking out an "anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-American, megalomaniacal, sociopathic mass murderer"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

LE WEEKENDER:

Deconstructing Giscard (MICHAEL GONZALEZ, 11/20/02, Wall Street Journal [subscription required])
[T]he more one looks at Mr. Giscard's contention the more one realizes that it rests almost solely on the cultural-religious argument. Though many would want to quickly dismiss this line of reasoning, especially in today's secularized, increasingly de-Christianized Europe, it is here that one must battle the convention president.

The idea that Christianity formed Europe -- more than geography, ethnicity and so forth -- is of old pedigree and cannot so easily be discarded. Before Mohammed there was "Christendom" and little notion of Europe. It was the emergence of Islam from the Arabian sands that made Europe fold back unto itself. The eminent Belgian historian Henri Pirenne put it best when he wrote, "Charlemagne without Mohammed would be inconceivable." Even Voltaire, amongst many others, spoke about Europeans all sharing "the same religious foundation." In our era, T.S. Eliot, in a radio broadcast to Germans in 1945, expounded about "the common tradition of Christianity which has made Europe what it is.

"It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe-until recently-have been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian Faith is true; andyet what he says and makes and does, will all... depend on [the Christian heritage] for its meaning."

Very well, then, does this mean that Mr. Giscard is ultimately right? No, not really. But it does mean that a response must address these issues. It could begin by noting that the notion of "Europe" has moved throughout the centuries and there's no reason it should remain static today. "We're building a new Europe in the 21st century not in the 16th century," I was told by the historian Norman Davies, who's delved in his books into the question of what it is to be a European.

"Turkey has been Europeanized by Kemal (Ataturk, father of modern Turkey) and it has been modeled on the European democracies," says Prof. Davies, bringing up the all-important political consideration. Turkey, geographically and historically in Europe, has made every effort to join up. What keeps it out, religion? But that would be most un-Christian. "The principle of Christianity is Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself," says Prof. Davies. "I see Europe as a very diverse continent, and Islam is very much a part of the diversity. Just go to London, or Paris," he adds. There is, then, no clear definition of what is a European. (The Italian writer Luigi Barzini included Americans, and so would I sometimes). But Mr. Giscard has thrown down a gauntlet that must be picked up now by EU leaders and others.


It may in fact be the case that in a few years Turkey will be more Western than much of Europe will be. The nations at the heart of the EU--France and Germany--are after all largely post-religious societies. Turkey on the other hand has a chance, by combining Ataturkism and Islam, to develop along the lines that Europe originally did, secular government undergirded by a thoroughly religious private sphere. It seems, from the Western experience, that religious morality may be the necessary prerequisite of democratic liberalism and that once religious belief atrophies the state too fails. If this is the case, then Turkey's future may well be brighter than France's.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM

HE WILL BE MISSED:

Washington Whispers (Paul Bedard, US News)
"If I were a Democrat, I suspect I'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, America."
--Dick Armey, House majority leader, on Boston's getting the 2004 Democratic convention


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 AM

FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS:

Moussaoui Tied to Plot: Alleged '20th Hijacker' Met 9/11 Planner (Susan Schmidt, November 20, 2002, Washington Post)
Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged coordinator of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks now in U.S. custody, has linked accused conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to the suspected mastermind of the terror strikes on New York and Washington, revealing that Moussaoui met with Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Afghanistan in the winter of 2000, according to sources familiar with the interrogation.

Binalshibh's disclosures place Moussaoui in direct contact with Mohammed, believed to be al Qaeda's director of operations, who allegedly spent two years planning the terror attacks. Mohammed provided Moussaoui with names of contacts in the United States, and Binalshibh gave him an e-mail address and wired him money to advance the plot, Binalshibh has told interrogators.


Moussaoui's involvement in the plot has been obvious from day one, which makes this revelation particularly devastating not just for the 20th hijacker but for those on the Left who've been defending him, Executing justice: Why Bush should refrain from death penalty in Moussaoui case (MICHAEL MELLO, January 10, 2002, Rutland Herald)
Please pardon my treason. In writing this essay, I am probably, in the words of Attorney General John Ashcroft, guilty of “aiding terrorists.” By reading it, you might be committing the crime of conspiring with me.

Think that reading an essay isn’t enough of an overt act to count as conspiracy? Then consider paragraph 48 of the capital conspiracy indictment against Zacarias Moussaoui: “Moussaoui joins a gym.” The indictment devotes an entire subhead to that overt act. (Or consider Mary Serrat,
executed for conspiracy to aid the Lincoln assassins; she was, in essence, put to death for running a boarding house at which some of the conspirators lived and met.)

The government is now in the process of deciding whether to seek the death penalty for conspiracy in the Moussaoui case. The Justice Department needs to step back, take a deep breath, and decide that life imprisonment is sufficient. [...]

There are two things wrong with executing Zacarias Moussaoui for conspiracy to commit terrorism. The first is the crime. The second is the punishment.


Mr. Mello, part of Ted Bundy's defense team, was one of the very few professors I ever had who was truly loathesome. As in this column, he was perfectly willing to twist facts to suit his own purposes. The problem for such people is that when the facts catch up, and they usually do, you end up looking like an idiot, as he does here.

November 19, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM

NOT FADE AWAY:

A New Democratic Dark Horse?: Wesley Clark begins fundraising in NYC. Is the military man what the dems need to get back on track? (VIVECA NOVAK, Nov. 17, 2002, TIME)
Are dyspeptic Democrats ready to turn to a military man for leadership? Retired four-star general Wesley Clark, who has been famously opaque about his party preference and political future, met privately last week in New York City with a group of high-rolling Democrats and told them he was seriously considering a run for the White House, sources tell TIME.

Hard to see the Pelosi Party turning to a white Southern general. He'd be better off running for the Senate as a Republican against Blanche Lincoln, who's up in '04.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 PM

"DANISH SCUM!"*:

War crimes arrest blow to Iraqi opposition (Richard Beeston, November 20, 2002 , Times of London)
DANISH police arrested last night an exiled Iraqi general tipped as a possible replacement for President Saddam Hussein. He faces charges that he was responsible for killing thousands of Kurds in a chemical weapons attack 14 years ago.

The arrest of General Nizar Khazraji, the former Iraqi Chief-of-Staff and the most senior officer to defect from Baghdad, appeared to wreck any chances that he might lead a mutiny in the Armed Forces and help to topple Saddam's regime. [...]

General Khazraji, 64, commanded the Iraqi Armed Forces during the Iran-Iraq War, when Baghdad used banned poison gas against Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians. In the most notorious incident 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja were killed when Iraqi artillery and warplanes bombed the area with nerve gas and mustard gas. [...]

Iraqi opposition sources said last night that his arrest was a serious blow to their efforts to build a credible alternative to Saddam’s regime. Next month they hope to convene a conference in London for 350 Iraqi exiles as a first step to establishing an alternative government.General Khazraji could have played an important role, particularly on security and military matters.

"His arrest is a major setback for us," one opposition figure said. "He is a man with credibility back home. His arrest will make it that much harder to encourage other officers to defect if they fear that they will be charged, too."


If he was responsible then he should face charges, but this arrest, coming at this time, seems almost intended to prevent Saddam's officer corps from considering mutiny. Additional American lives could be lost if ranking Iraqis see no upside for themselves in overthrowing Saddam. The Danes needn't risk their own lives to liberate Iraq, but they ought to have sense enough not to risk our guys lives like this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM

NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM:

The Heroes of July: A Solemn and Imposing Event: Dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg (NY Times, November 20, 1863)
The ceremonies attending the dedication of the National Cemetery commenced this morning [11/19/1863] by a grand military and civic display, under command of Maj. Gen. Coucs. The line of march was taken up at 10 o'clock, and the procession marched through the principal streets to the Cemetery, where the military formed in line and saluted the President. At 11-1/4 the head of the procession arrived at the main stand. The President and members of the Cabinet, together with the chief military and civic dignitaries, took position on the stand. The President seated himself between Mr. Seward and Mr. Everett after a reception marked with the respect and perfect silence due to the solemnity of the occasion, every man in the immense gathering uncovering on his appearance.

The military were formed in line extending around the stand, the area between the stand and military being occupied by civilians, comprising about 15,000 people and including men, women and children. The attendance of ladies was quite large. The military escort comprised one squadron of cavalry, two batteries of artillery and a regiment of infantry, which constitutes the regular funeral escort of honor for the highest officer in the service.


As Garry Wills has noted, it's remarkable to see in the coverage of the dedication just how little importance was attached to what is surely one of the most famous pieces of political oratory of all time (try reading it aloud--it's true democratic poetry):
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,
conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war,
testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field
as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,
but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--
that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,
that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom,
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:24 PM

HOMERUN:

Bowles rumored for SEC (AMY GARDNER, DAN KANE AND JOHN WAGNER, November 19, 2002, Raleigh News and Observer)
Among the rumors circulating in Washington this week is that Democrat Erskine Bowles is among those under consideration to succeed Harvey Pitt as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bowles, who just lost a Senate race to Elizabeth Dole, was recently asked about his interest in the job by a well-placed Republican operative.

Though hardly an obvious choice, the Charlotte investment banker and former Clinton chief of staff would have instant credibility with Democratic critics of the commission.


This is the kind of thing--getting real Democrats to serve in his government--that President Bush made possible on Election Day. This appointment would be particularly canny because it would remove any hint of cronyism from the SEC. They should offer Ron Kirk a job somewhere too.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:52 PM

MAKE HIM:

Ten Commandments Display Ordered Out of Courthouse (Manuel Roig-Franzia, November 19, 2002, Washington Post)
The bulky Ten Commandments monument that Alabama's crusading chief justice sneaked into the rotunda of the state Supreme Court building late one night last summer was ruled unconstitutional today by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson in Montgomery, Ala., repudiated the monument's champion -- Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore -- for creating "a religious sanctuary within the walls of a courthouse." Thompson gave Moore 30 days to remove the monument, but the chief justice's attorneys said they will ask a federal appeals court to allow it to remain in place during a lengthy appeals process that both sides expect could ultimately lead to the U. S. Supreme Court.


That monument will be there long after Judge Thompson leaves the bench.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

JAMMIN' WITH BEN:

A Bit More Credit, Please, for a Founding Father (NEIL GENZLINGER, November 19, 2002, NY Times)
Oh, for the days when just being smart was enough to get you ahead in the world. When so many simple things remained to be invented that sticking a metal rod atop a barn could astonish people. When so little was being published that an almanac with a few droll phrases in it could make a man famous.

Such were the 1700's, and "Benjamin Franklin," tonight and tomorrow night on PBS, provides an entertaining if sometimes too leisurely look at a man who took advantage of all the opportunities his untamed, eventful century offered. Washington, Jefferson et al. may have emerged from the Revolutionary era as larger than life, but the program makes a good case that Franklin's wide-ranging achievements were more impressive and that his role in securing independence was just as crucial.


No wonder I couldn't find this Sunday. I guess it starts tonight. D'oh!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM

ARE JOURNALISTS NOT AMERICANS?

Roger Ailes-Bob Woodward Smackdown? (Lloyd Grove, November 19, 2002, Washington Post)
[W]oodward wrote that when presidential adviser Karl Rove received "an important-looking confidential communication" from the news executive, he promptly shared it with Bush. "Ailes was not supposed to be giving political advice," Woodward continues. "His back-channel message: The American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible."

Yesterday, Ailes acknowledged writing Bush a letter -- a copy of which he declined to provide -- "nine days after 9/11. I had been working around the clock and sleeping on a couch in my office. I was expressing my outrage at the killing of Americans on American soil -- purely as an American citizen." As for Woodward's journalistic criticism, "I don't give a damn," Ailes said. "American citizenship is a big concept. If I had to give that up to be in journalism, I wouldn't do it. What I wrote was completely nonpartisan. I would have written the same letter to FDR after Pearl Harbor. If Bill Clinton had been president, I probably would have sent him the same memo."

Woodward responded: "What he's saying is a classic non-denial denial. Why would Rove take Ailes's personal message down to the president? Just to say that 'Roger Ailes is expressing his outrage'? Obviously, if it was significant enough for Rove to carry it to the Oval Office, it had some recommendations for policy. Why else is Roger being so furtive about it?"


I'm afraid I don't even understand the premise of Mr. Woodward's criticism--what would be wrong with Mr. Ailes making a policy recommendation? The editors of the Post make such recommendations ever day.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:52 PM

AMBROSIA IT AIN'T:

Haggis, the Food of Poets (Well, One Scottish Poet) (WARREN HOGE, November 19, 2002, NY Times)
Consider the haggis and you may well wonder how it inspired a rhapsodic poem, became Scotland's national dish and touched off an incipient rebellion when Britain's food safety office hinted that it might ban it.

Swaddled tightly in the yellowed stomach lining of a sheep, a mixture of congealed fat, onions, pinhead oatmeal, stock and the cut-up heart, lungs and liver of the animal has a lumpen look that even the eulogizing poet, Robert Burns, compared to the sight of bare buttocks.

People squeamish at the idea of eating haggis get little comfort from Burns's description of what happens when the knife slices its intestinal skin and sends the minced offal spilling out:

Trenching your gushing entrails bright,

Like onie ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sight,

Warm-reekin, rich! [...]

The custom of cooking the innards of an animal in its own natural vessel of a stomach bag probably came here from Scandinavia on Viking longboats, and haggis gained its honor as Scotland's national dish in 1786 through the Burns poem "Address to the Haggis."

It is recited every year on Jan. 25 at ceremonies marking his birthday, with the haggis being ushered into the room on a silver platter by a kilted bagpiper and toasted with whiskey once the dinner chairman has stabbed it with his dagger.

All of Edinburgh's butcher shops give pride of place on their walls to portraits of Burns.

"Really it's that poem that made haggis Scottish," said Jo Macsween. "It started that Scottish spirit of `don't give me that fancy French food, if you want to fight and be strong, you've got to have a haggis.' We are so grateful to that man."


And we are grateful to the ancestors who fled the barbaric heath for the shores of America and some real food.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:36 PM

THE GENERAL ON THE MARCH:

Ruling a victory for Ashcroft (CURT ANDERSON, November 19, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the ruling by a specially appointed three-judge review panel will give the Justice Department expanded surveillance powers under the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It was the first time the appeals panel had overturned a ruling by the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which had sought to impose restrictions on how and when surveillance authority could be used to track foreign agents.

A key part of the ruling removes legal barriers between FBI and Justice Department intelligence investigators and prosecutors and law enforcement personnel.

The ruling, Ashcroft told reporters, ''revolutionizes our ability to investigate terrorists and prosecute terrorist acts.''

But the American Civil Liberties Union and several other groups contend the ruling will harm free speech and due process protections by giving the government far greater ability to listen to telephone conversations, read e-mail and search private property.

''We are deeply disappointed with the decision, which suggests that this special court exists only to rubber-stamp government applications for intrusive surveillance warrants,'' said Ann Beeson, who argued the case for the ACLU.


It's hard to take "civil libertarians" seriously these days when they keep referring to John Ashcroft as wanting to shred the Constitution, but the Courts keep saying he's right.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 PM

THE RIGHT TURNS PINKER?:

Techsploits: Right-Wing Darwinism (Annalee Newitz, 11/14/02, MetroActive)
REPUBLICANS swept the recent elections, and now we have to wonder what this will mean for science. Although many have argued that good science should be apolitical, unfortunately this isn't the case. The U.S. government is far too involved in science funding and policy-making for a rightward shift in Congress to make no difference. And yet perhaps science is changing the right wing as much as the right wing is changing science.

Case in point: Steven Pinker, Darwinism's new poster boy and the author of a several highly acclaimed books about evolution and the brain. His latest book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, is a kind of rejoinder to the work of pundits like the late Stephen Jay Gould, who argued that human beings are as much a product of their environments as they are their genes. Last week, I attended a lecture by Pinker on this very topic, in which he argued quite plainly that all of human nature is, in fact, biological. "There is no 'ghost in the machine'," he explained with a chuckle. "It's all just feedback and control in the brain."


The notion that this denial of free will and the human soul has any appeal to the Right is, of course, absurd. However, any rigorous application of the scientific method is deadly for liberalism, which is based on a utopian understanding of human nature, so I guess she's right to be scared.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 PM

52:

Landrieu tries a makeover; but Republicans are out for blood (John Hill, 11/18/02, Baton Rouge Business Report) 
[L]andrieu's campaign underwent a major overhaul within a week. Even at Landrieu's launch of a bus tour at the Old State Capitol, Democrats looked grim. "I wish we could stop this momentum from going one way," said one long-time Landrieu supporter, acknowledging what people are feeling.

Republicans smell blood.

There was a poll - the data will not be released because the GOP doesn't want Democrats to know about it - by Terrell's pollster, Verne Kennedy of Marketing Research Institute of Pensacola, Fla., who works mostly for Republicans.

Taken the Thursday through Saturday after the primary of 665 voters who voted in the Nov. 5 primary and who said they would likely vote in the Dec. 7 runoff, Terrell was ahead. "Not by much, but she was ahead," said Kennedy shortly before jetting off to Washington to brief the White House and national Republicans. The runoff voters on Dec. 7 "will be a very Republican crowd," Kennedy added. [...]

What are the Democrats and Landrieu to do?

They've got a tight wire to walk: get the African-American voters turned on and turned out on election day and somehow still appeal to whites as someone who is supportive of Bush.

To energize African-American leaders, there was consideration about bringing in Bill Clinton, who, as political scientist Pearson Cross of Monroe says is the most popular president with African-Americans in all of history. But bringing in Clinton carries a major risk of energizing the white anti-Clinton, anti-Bill, anti-Hillary voters.


Is there a better way to unify and turn out the GOP than to bring Clinton in?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM

SPREAD THE WORD:

REVIEW: of ROBERT RANDOLPH AND THE FAMILY BAND IN CONCERT: LAKELAND, FL, NOV. 8, 2002 (ERIKA LARSON, Relevant)
Bluesy "sacred steel" group Robert Randolph and the Family Band took the stage to open for acoustic singer/songwriter John Mayer announcing that they were not your normal opening band. [...]

Randolph began to play the steel guitar in the services of his home church, the House of God in Orange, N.J. Gospel influences were evident in every song, and the spiritual theme of persevering in hard times rang loud and clear in"“Press On," a slow, soulful tune that eventually broke down into a funky groove. Over a bluesy wah pedal, Morgan sang in an impressive falsetto, "I feel like pressin’ my way on through the storms."

"Shake Your Hips" immediately followed, a driving song borrowing the guitar riff from ZZ Top's "La Grange." Leaping up on his chair, Randolph shook demonstratively to the “ladies” and then the “fellas.” They closed with the enthusiastic "I Don't Know What You Came to Do," a wound-up song fitting for a Pentecostal rally, featuring a fat bass line and calling for hand-clapping, foot-stomping and screaming.

Positive and fun-loving, Robert Randolph and the Family Band presented an extremely energetic show and proved their sole aim was to give the crowd a good time. Undoubtedly, Mayer chose the group to open for him because of their impressive playing, unique funk/blues sound and spirit.


Imagine the Allman Brothers playing in a black church and you'll get some sense of what Robert Randolph sounds like. We particularly recommend Live at the Wetlands; the disc by the supergroup that Mr. Randolph is involved with The Word; and Mr. Randolph and the Family Band's work on the Blind Boys of Alabama's Higher Ground.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM

OUT LIKE FLINT:

Oscar-Winner James Coburn Dies at 74 (John Rogers, November 19, 2002, Associated Press)
Actor James Coburn, who took on the role of the tough guy in such films as "Our Man Flint" and "The Magnificent Seven," but whose anguished portrayal of an abusive father in "Affliction" finally earned him an Oscar, died Monday. He was 74.

Mr. Coburn pulled off a rare double, along with Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, starring in two of the greatest guy flicks of all time: The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. We just recently reviewed his surprisingly conservative film: Our Man Flint.

November 18, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 PM

EBB TIDE:

CHINA'S NEW POPULATION PROBLEM: In the process of attacking "overpopulation," China has created other, more daunting, social problem (Nicholas Eberstadt, April 1998, American Enterprise)
While there is little about China's position in the year 2025 that we can predict with confidence, one critical aspect of China's future can be described today with some accuracy: her population trends. Most of the Chinese who will be alive in 2025, after all, have already been born.

The most striking demographic condition in China today is the country's sparse birth rate. Though most of the population still subsists at Third World levels of income and education, fertility levels are remarkably low-below the level necessary for long-term population replacement, in fact. This circumstance of course relates to the notorious "One Child" policy of China's Communist government, applied with varying degrees of force for nearly two decades.

Ironically, by laboring so ferociously to avoid one set of "population problems"-namely, "overpopulation"-Beijing has helped to ensure that another, even more daunting set of problems will emerge in the decades ahead. Those population problems will be, for Beijing and for the world, utterly without precedent. While impossible to predict their impact with precision, they will impede economic growth, exacerbate social tensions, and complicate the Chinese government's quest to enhance its national power and security.


Good look at how quickly the catastrophe can occur.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 PM

FUZZY DICE:

NOT A CHANCE: If you think life could have arisen by accident, you haven't done the math (Dean Overman, September/October 1998, American Enterprise)
Many people today believe that life on Earth originated as a result of random accidents. Most of us vaguely recall having heard of scientific experiments involving mixtures of inanimate materials that are said to be similar to the "prebiotic soup" that existed before life began. The mixtures are hit with an electrical spark that simulates a lightning strike, and amino acids-building blocks of life-result. So we're assured that a similar accidental transformation long ago caused life to originate from non-living matter.

But in fact, recent discoveries in molecular biology, particle astrophysics, and the geological records raise profound doubts about all this. Three questions should be investigated: (1) Is it mathematically possible that accidental processes caused the first form of living matter? (2) If accident is mathematically impossible as the cause of the first form of living matter, are other popular scenarios that matter "self-organized" into life plausible? (3) Is it mathematically possible that accidental processes caused the formation of a universe that is compatible with life? In examining these questions, I will use the widely accepted scientific definition of life, which holds that living matter processes energy, stores information, and replicates.


My math's not so hot, but I like the Boeing in the junkyard bit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 PM

A BULLET DODGED:

No Litering (Bill Kauffman, December 1996, American Enterprise)
By now, only withered crones and cowlick hillbillies were supposed to be reckoning in inches and quarts. The rest of America was to have been thoroughly metricized by the 1990s. As Lord Ritchie-Calder, first chairman of the British Metrication Board, told a 1973 U.S. House of Representatives hearing, a metric America "is not only desirable but inevitable; those who do not come in will be out in the cold."

Actually, it's not so chilly out here. For 20 years, recalcitrant Americans have warmed themselves by bonfires made of meter-sticks. We've mercurially rejected Celsius thermometers. The foot has been spared the boot.

The inch, the primary unit of measurement in our customary system, is based on the distance from the end of the middle finger to the first joint; the meter, the fundament of the metric system, is equal to one-ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the pole. (Or so French scientists believed in 1795; they were wrong.)

One system is based on the human body-literally, a human scale-and the other is the mismeasurement of theoreticians, a "French fad" that has succeeded only "when backed by the policeman's club," as one skeptic put it. [...]

America's antimetrics have fulfilled the prophecy of one merry 19th-century song:

Then down with every "metric" scheme
Taught by the foreign school.
We'll worship still our Father's God!
And keep our Father's "rule"!
A perfect inch, a perfect pint,
The Anglo's honest pound,
Shall hold their place upon the earth,
Till time's last trump shall sound!


Some things just make you inordinately proud to be an American...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM

THE PELOSI PARTY:

Amendments kill CARE in Senate (Larry Witham, 11/15/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
This year's main legislation to promote faith-based initiatives died in the Senate yesterday, as Republicans called for a final vote before the lame-duck session ended but Democrats ran out the clock by demanding to add several new amendments. [...]

In two years of debate over Senate legislation, black civil rights groups, church-state separationists and homosexual rights organizations have warned of discrimination under an expanded charitable-choice provision, which was passed with bipartisan support in 1996 by the Senate. The 1996 law enabled faith-based organizations to compete for federal grants to provide basic social services.


And they wonder why they can't get a dog-catcher elected in the South?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM

TRANSCENDENCE:

Inside the Womb: What scientists have learned about those amazing first nine months-and what it means for mothers (J. MADELEINE NASH, 11/03/02, TIME)
[T]he marvel of an embryo transcends the collection of genes and cells that compose it. For unlike strands of dna floating in a test tube or stem cells dividing in a Petri dish, an embryo is capable of building not just a protein or a patch of tissue but a living entity in which every cell functions as an integrated part of the whole. "Imagine yourself as the world's tallest skyscraper, built in nine months and germinating from a single brick," suggest Tsiaras and Werth in the opening of their book. "As that brick
divides, it gives rise to every other type of material needed to construct and operate the finished tower--a million tons of steel, concrete, mortar, insulation, tile, wood, granite, solvents, carpet, cable, pipe and glass as well as all furniture, phone systems, heating and cooling units, plumbing, electrical wiring, artwork and computer networks, including software."

Given the number of steps in the process, it will perhaps forever seem miraculous that life ever comes into being without a major hitch. "Whenever you look from one embryo to another," observes Columbia University developmental neurobiologist Thomas Jessell, "what strikes you is the fidelity of the process."


Equally striking--no, appalling--is our lack of fidelity to the process.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:18 PM

BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK TO OWN ONE:

Segway Human Transporter (Amazon.com)

It's available to the public only through Amazon, for March 2003 delivery, and seems reasonably priced.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:56 PM

BACK TO THE FUTURE:

Replay of Reagan-Era Voting Patterns Is Not Good News for Democrats (Ronald Brownstein, November 18 2002, LA Times)
[T]he GOP is reestablishing the advantages that produced its dominance in the Reagan era. Key among them:

White men: They were the backbone of the Reagan coalition -- in 1984, they gave Reagan a staggering 35-percentage-point margin over Mondale. In his two presidential races, Clinton reduced that deficit to around 10 points or less (partly because Reform Party candidate Ross Perot siphoned many white men away from the GOP). Now the gap is widening again: White men gave Republicans a 21-point margin in the 2002 vote, according to Greenberg's poll.

The resurgent GOP advantage among white men is so powerful that it could threaten one of the most important Democratic assets: the labor movement's turnout machine. Greenberg found that Democrats led Republicans this year among all union households by just 14 points -- half the margin of 1998--and only by six points among white union households. That's sufficiently reminiscent of Reagan's blue-collar appeal that it may soon be time to start talking about Bush Democrats.

Married women: They leaned Republican in the 1980s, which helped the GOP moderate the gender gap. (Then, as now, single women, who tend to be more liberal on social issues, voted mostly Democratic.) Clinton made progress here too, carrying married women in 1996 with a message built around "tools" for parents.

Now, values and security issues are nudging married women back toward the GOP. Republicans carried married women comfortably in the 1998 congressional race, ran even in the 2000 presidential race and, Greenberg found, posted a 10-point advantage in 2002.

Rural voters: They gave Reagan and President George Bush big margins in the 1980s, then divided almost evenly in the Clinton years. Now, Democrats are down on the farm again. Big gains in small places have been key to the recent Republican upsurge: GOP congressional candidates this year carried rural voters by more than 20 percentage points, just as Bush did in 2000.

The solid South: This region is resurfacing as the cornerstone of GOP strength. In the 1990s, Democrats enjoyed a mini-revival through Dixie, capturing several states with Clinton, adding two Senate seats and winning six governorships. But in the 2000 presidential race, Bush won every Southern state. And in 2002, Republicans recaptured three governor's mansions, ousted Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) and easily held four open Southern Senate seats that had been in GOP hands.


These blocs may not give the GOP a majority, but they do create a base that is wide enough so that putting a consistent majority together is much easier.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:54 PM

HIRSUTE DISPUTE

Are you a beardist?: Has Robbie Coltrane betrayed the bearded? (BBC, 18 November, 2002)
Did you go to see the new Harry Potter film over the weekend? You could have been unwittingly supporting beardism, say facial hair campaigners.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets may seem like a spot of harmless family fun, but the film could set back the cause of beard wearers at a vital time of year for the long-suffering hirsute man.

The Beard Liberation Front (BLF) objects to the "obviously false" facial hair sported by Robbie Coltrane and the late Richard Harris in the fantasy movie. [...]

While the BLF let the first Harry Potter film open without protest, the continued lack of real beards in the second instalment has prompted it to call a boycott. Well, almost.

"Some BLF supporters said they would be given hell by their children if they weren't taken to see Harry Potter," says Mr Flett, who since his teens has worn a "Karl Marx" beard (once cruelly called a "garden gnome affair" by the Evening Standard).

"Now we're just asking our few hundred supporters to hiss and boo when the fake beards come on the screen."


The Brothers have a saying: Never trust a man who glues hair on himself.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:21 PM

BATTLE ROYALE:

Foster gives his support to Terrell: GOP contender, Demo Landrieu spar in Senate race's first debate (Bill Walsh, 11/18/02, The Times-Picayune)
Gov. Foster gave state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell his long-awaited endorsement Sunday, capping a week in which her former Republican challengers in the U.S. Senate race also fell into line, if belatedly, behind her candidacy. [...]

Meanwhile, what had been billed as a high-pressure, high-stakes, first televised debate between Landrieu and Terrell was lively, to be sure, but free of any knockout punches.

The debate was broadcast nationally on NBC's "Meet the Press," and both campaigns were privately wringing their hands that a gaffe on the highly rated Sunday morning news program would become the defining moment in what is now a three-week campaign leading up to the runoff .

Neither candidate froze up under the relentless "I'll-ask-you-one-more-time" questioning by host Tim Russert, and instead they came out swinging like two hungry prizefighters intent on landing a few jarring blows before the final bell. In a sign of what voters can expect of the campaign, the two New Orleanians declined even to exchange a handshake at the start of the show.


This is a case where it was admirable but politically foolish of Ms Landrieu to debate. Ms Terrell probably doesn't even have 50% name recognition in LA yet, let alone 50% support of the voters. But this national platform elevates her and converts her from merely the survivor of a crowded GOP field to Ms Landrieu's peer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:31 PM

ADD NIGERIA TO THE AXIS OF EVIL:

The Nigerian nightmare: Who's sending you all those scam emails? (Brendan Koerner, 11/17/02, Colorado Springs Independent)
This swindle is commonly known as "419 fraud," after the section of the Nigerian penal code covering cons.

According to the anti-spam software vendor Brightmail, 419 come-ons are the Web's second-most common form of junk mail, ranking behind only those incessant "herbal Viagra" ads.

Though most people merely laugh at the pleas' awful grammar and all-caps style ("I WILL LIKE YOU CONTACT MY LAWYER ..."), about 1 percent of recipients actually respond.

Of that number, enough people fork over enough cash to sustain an industry that ranks in Nigeria's top five, right up there with palm oil and tin. The U.S. Secret Service has estimated -- conservatively, by its own admission -- that the scammers net $100 million per year.

The scam is experiencing a digitally aided heyday, but 419's roots stretch back to the Jazz Age. It's an Africanized version of "The Spanish Prisoner," a classic 1920s scheme in which suckers were convinced that a wealthy scion was rotting in a Barcelona jail.

Front some cash to win his freedom, and you'd be amply rewarded for your troubles. Or not.


These people must be stopped.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM

LET'S BE BLUNT:

Blunt Takes Place Among Potential Leaders (Jim VandeHei, November 18, 2002, Washington Post)
Is Roy Blunt being groomed to become the next speaker of the House?

Blunt, an ambitious conservative from Missouri, last week was unanimously elected majority whip, the third-ranking Republican leadership position.

Blunt -- in replacing his friend and boss, Tom DeLay of Texas, who was promoted to majority leader -- instantly became a leading candidate to replace House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) when he retires, lawmakers said.

While Hastert is all but certain to stay until 2004, he has made it known to friends that he longs to retire to his farmland in Illinois and fish walleye in the Fox River. He has won rave reviews from both sides of the aisle for his leadership of the narrowly divided House since becoming speaker in 1998. President Bush has a tight working relationship with Hastert and would likely pressure him to stay on. Regardless, under term-limit rules, Hastert is required to turn over the gavel no later than 2006. [...]

Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), one of Bush's closest allies in the House, is someone to watch, too. Smart and savvy, Portman has made friends throughout the GOP and impressed policy wonks with his commitment to detail in legislative fights over everything from pension reform to tax cuts. Portman and Blunt are seen as rivals for future power by many lawmakers.

Other possibilities include Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.).


Assuming Mr. DeLay is content to be the man behind the curtain, it's probably helpful for the party that the four leading contenders are non-Southerners.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:19 PM

TIMES 7:

'Le Weekend' Pill is on the Way! France Launches Super Viagra Pill (The Western Daily Press, Nov. 16, 2002)
A virility pill nicknamed Le Weekend by the French because of its long-lasting effects is to be sold in Britian, it was announced yesterday.

Cialis is said to be faster than Viagra and lasts seven times longer.


It at least explains why the French are seven times bigger [phalluses] than any other people on Earth.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM

FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS:

REVIEW: of Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001) and Pinocchio (1940) (Brothers Judd, 11/18/02)
Pardon the hyperbole, but I wonder if we can't trace a goodly portion of the decline of Western culture in just the drop-off from Walt Disney's Pinocchio to Steven Spielberg's A. I.: Artificial Intelligence. Despite the surface similarities between these tales of a wooden boy on the one hand and a robot boy on the other, both of whom hope to become real, and despite Mr. Spielberg's quite conscious attempt to implicate Pinocchio in his film, it is really the differences between the two that are instructive. Pinocchio is a story of the moral education of boy, an education which when completed makes him human. A.I. is the story of the emotional retardation of a boy, a retardation which sees him live for thousands of years without ever progressing beyond a desperate need for his mommy's love. It may well be that both stories are about becoming human, but what they tell us about how our culture perceived humanity at these different times is rather depressing. In 1940, to be human was to be a moral being. In 2001, to be human is to fixate on your own emotional needs. That's progress?

BTW: As an inducement to get you to read the whole review, there's a link to the original Brian Aldiss story that got Kubrick going and you can see that despite all the changes they kept much of it intact.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

YOU CAN PROBABLY REMOVE THE WORD "FILIBUSTER" IN THIS HEADLINE:

Democratic Filibuster Hope Fades (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, November 18, 2002, NY Times)
The question of what can be passed by the Senate by a simple majority and what requires a super majority of 60 votes revolves around rules so arcane that few lawmakers have mastered them.

Boiled down to their essence, here is how the rules work: Every year, Congress is supposed to approve a big budget measure called a reconciliation bill. (Why it is called this and why there is no such bill this year are another story.)

Congressional leaders can fold into the reconciliation bill almost any measures involving revenues or involving spending increases or decreases for entitlement programs, programs like Social Security and Medicare under which government benefits are paid automatically to everyone eligible.

Reconciliation bills and their components cannot be filibustered. They can be passed in the Senate by as few as 50 votes and the tie-breaking vote of the vice president. This is how President Bill Clinton's tax increase was approved in 1993. President Bush's tax cuts were adopted last year in a reconciliation bill.

The main constraint to putting the kitchen sink — say, allowing school vouchers or outlawing abortion — into a reconciliation bill is the Byrd Rule, named after the Senate's chief parliamentary scold, Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia. Under this rule, measures cannot be included in the Senate reconciliation package if they do not have revenues or entitlement components or if such components are "merely incidental" to a broader policy question. It takes 60 votes in the Senate to waive the Byrd Rule.


If the GOP can get stuff like ANWAR drilling, permanentizing the tax cuts, etc. through with a simple majority we won't be reading many more lint-picking stories about how the President would be better served had the Democrats retained the Senate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM

THE RHETORIC IS THE REALITY:

The President's power (Robert Novak, November 18, 2002, Townhall.com)
Republican leaders of Congress are leaving the capital surprised, a bit dazed and not entirely happy about the short but eventful lame-duck session of Congress. George W. Bush, buoyed by the election returns of Nov. 5, called the tune as never before, with meaningful implications for the future.

The GOP leadership of both the House and Senate wanted to do as little as possible and then leave town soon after they returned following the mid-term election. President Bush had other plans. He forced passage of two long-stalled bills -- creating a Department of Homeland Security and providing terrorism insurance -- which the legislative leaders wanted to leave for the new Congress convening in January.

Whatever the legislation's merits, Bush for seven days in November exhibited a presidential will to dominate Congress not seen since Lyndon Johnson. That, along with Republican recapture of the Senate, promises an altered Washington next year. Sept. 11, 2001, brought forth a new George W. Bush, and Nov. 5, 2002, appears to have yielded a newer Bush.

Congress, immobilized by a Democratic Senate confronting a Republican House, sleepwalked into a lame-duck session nobody really wanted. Failing to complete appropriations bills, the lawmakers had to come back to keep the government running well into January (when the new Congress would be serious) by passing a continuing resolution.

Nobody regarded Bush's exhortations to pass the homeland security and terrorism insurance bills as more than mid-term campaign oratory.


Will the next person who thinks this President is merely engaging in "oratory" please smack himself upside the head.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

WHAT PUTIN UNDERSTANDS, AND THE FRANCOGERMANS DON'T:

Russia sees expanding NATO as dying force (Agence France-Presse, Nov 18, 2002)
Moscow is facing a daunting expansion of NATO to Russia's borders with equanimity, after recognizing the alliance as a dying force that has little bearing on its relations with Europe or the United States. [...]

"Everyone says NATO is so important -- but no one seems to be able to explain why," Vladimir Lukin, the deputy speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament and a former ambassador to Washington, told AFP.

"Relations between Russia and the United States, and Russia and Europe, have developed very rapidly on their own terms in recent times," Lukin said.

"The problem of NATO is no longer an issue (for Russia). The more NATO expands, the more useless it becomes."

Russian officials point to the US-led campaign to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan and its planned campaign in Iraq to demonstrate how Washington's consistent post-Cold War policy has been to make the Atlantic Alliance irrelevant as the bloc expands.

"The Americans were the first to understand that NATO is no longer serious," Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy head of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, told AFP.

"Before September 11, they were very careful about who made it in . Now, they let in everyone," he said.

"This means the Americans have abandoned it. NATO is no longer a military organization. It has not been used in Afghanistan, and it will not be used in Iraq."


NATO is like a toy that you hand to your least well-behaved child (the French and Germans) to keep them quiet while you do something important.

November 17, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 PM

NOT QUITE AS PROMISING AS THE SENATE:

Under 55 Percent: When the Electoral Pie Shrinks ... House Incumbents Are Vulnerable (Chris Cillizza, 11/14/02, Roll Call)
Only 49 victorious candidates - 22 Republicans and 27 Democrats - received 55 percent or less of the vote, the traditional low-water mark indicating a near-certain serious challenge in the following election cycle.

Of these narrow winners, only eight managed 50 percent of the vote or less, making them sure targets in 2004.

Republicans make up three-quarters of this most vulnerable list. [...]

Democratic worries will be centered on the Lone Star State as several supposedly safe incumbents won by surprisingly narrow margins in 2002.

Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D) won only 51 percent in his race against underfunded Abilene City Councilman Rob Beckham (R).

Though his district is Republican-friendly, Stenholm, a leading conservative House Democrat, has regularly won re-election rather easily. Stenholm's closest call previous to the 2002 election was in 1996, when dentistRudyIzzard (R) held him to 52 percent.

In the neighboring 11th district, seven-term Rep.Chet Edwards (D) also could find himself in a precarious position in 2004. He defeated 2000 nominee Ramsey Farley (R) 52 percent to 47 percent after a more convincing 55 percent showing in 2000.

Edwards was targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2002 and is likely to be an even higher priority next cycle.

Bush, the state's governor from 1994 to 2000, will headline the ticket in 2004 and is likely to draw at least as much support in his home base as he did in 2000. In that cycle, Bush would have won Stenholm's redrawn district with 72 percent and Edwards' district with 67 percent.

The potential for state House Republicans to remap the state's Congressional districts before the 2004 election could further hamper both Democrats' re-election chances in Texas.


72%? Mr. Stenholm has to be at least contemplating switching parties.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 PM

TERMINOLOGY:

Democrats Couldn't Defend Against Surge of Bush, GOP (Ronald Brownstein, November 11 2002, LA Times)
It's illuminating to look at Tuesday's results through the prism of the razor-thin 2000 presidential race between Bush and Al Gore. That election divided the country almost exactly in half, between culturally conservative "red" states (for Bush) and more cosmopolitan "blue" states (for Gore).

Is conservative really the opposite of cosmopolitan? Aren't the Blue states actually more "metropolitan"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 PM

THE STAB IN THE FRONT:

US refuses Schroeder a meeting with Bush (Kate Connolly, 18/11/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was dealt a humiliating blow yesterday when the White House was reported to have turned down his request to meet President George W Bush at this week's Nato summit in Prague.

The decision appears to undermine German claims that Berlin had repaired relations with Washington after Peter Struck, the German defence minister, met Donald Rumsfeld, his American counterpart, last weekend. [...]

The snub came as Mr Schroeder faced a barrage of criticism at home for failing to steady an ailing economy. Opinion polls show support for his Social Democrats (SPD), leaders of the coalition government, to have slumped more drastically after an election than any other government in post-war history.

The SPD polled 26 per cent of the poll, a 10 per cent drop on last month. The CDU-CSU conservative alliance was up 10 per cent to 55 per cent.

Public consternation is increasing over plans to raise taxes and social welfare contributions despite pre-election promises not to do so.


Boy, even if the Democrats have started to figure this President out, the Euros still have no clue. Before Mr. Schroeder and his party started referring to George W. Bush as a Nazi, they might have paused to recall the cold dish that Mr. Bush served Jacques Chretien, Ottawa says Bush 'Texans' tried to bully G8 host 'In your face with a boxing glove' (Robert Fife, July 14, 2002, National Post)
The Prime Minister wanted African development to be the centrepiece of the summit, but Mr. Bush's advisors tilted the agenda to the President's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and a U.S. scheme to safeguard Russia's nuclear weapon stockpiles, officials say.

"They wanted control of the sessions. They wanted to change the agenda. They just wanted to orchestrate everything," said an official, speaking on background.

The Canadians were frustrated at the "very nasty" attitude of the Americans because all the countries had agreed in advance about the Africa agenda and the organization of the two-day meeting in Kananaskis. [...]

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

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


One doubts that Mr. Schroeder--who by refusing to help in the war at all has squandered any leverage he might have had--will fare any better than Mr. Chretien in cozying up to Mr. Bush, whose character he seems to have badly misjudged. Having gone for the throat, Mr. Schroeder has landed at the President's feet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 PM

NAKED TO MINE ENEMIES:

US should disarm first, says ex-US President Carter (AFP, NOVEMBER 16, 2002)
Former US president Jimmy Carter, this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, called on Friday for disarmament by the United States, which has taken the lead in urging such countries as North Korea and Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction.

"One of the things that the United States government has not done is to try to comply with and enforce international efforts targeted to prohibit the arsenals of biological weapons that we ourselves have," Carter said on CNN's Larry King Live programme broadcast late Friday. He also called for more stringent efforts by Washington "to reduce and enforce the agreement to eliminate chemical weapons, and the same way with nuclear weapons."

"The major powers need to set an example," Carter said, as the United States confronts Iraq over its possession of such banned weapons.

"Quite often the big countries that are responsible for the peace of the world set a very poor example for those who might hunger for the esteem or the power or the threats that they can develop from nuclear weapons themselves," the former US president continued.

"I don't have any doubt that it's that kind of atmosphere that has led to the nuclearisation, you might say, of India and Pakistan," he said.


Anyone who doubts the veracity of Bismarck's famous adage--"God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America"--really ought to try and explain how we survived the Carter presidency. One interesting, and seldom noted, aspect of ideas like those that Mr. Carter expresses here is that they represent their own kind of contempt for the people in question. In effect, he wishes to claim for America a certain control over the behavior of other peoples. Had we not developed and kept our arms, India and Pakistan would not have followed suit. On one level that's a quite touching naivetŽ, that we are so much in control of events and by behaving "well" can "make" others do so. But on another level it is profoundly arrogant and, what's worse, would be an incredibly dangerous basis for a national security policy. For on the day when we'd completely disarmed and spread Mr. Carter's form of psychic good will to all mankind, we'd wake up to find how little control we'd actually had over folks like Saddam, the North Koreans, and the Chinese.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 PM

EQUILIBRIUM:

John Nash, subject of A Beautiful Mind, testifies as expert witness (Canadian Press, November 15, 2002)
The Princeton University professor testified at a hearing Thursday for the DuPont Co., which is being sued by some Florida farmers. The farmers are suing their former lawyers and the company over a $59-million settlement involving the DuPont fungicide Benlate. The growers claim their former lawyers entered into a side deal with DuPont for $6.4 million as an assurance they wouldn't file another Benlate lawsuit. The trial is expected to begin in January.

But Nash, 74, wasn't in court to discuss chemicals.

He testified about game theory, the work that made him famous and became the basis for a large part of modern economics.

DuPont paid Nash $500 an hour to testify because his ideas were used by Robert Lanzillotti, a former University of Florida dean of business administration, in a study that supports the farmers' case.

DuPont says the principles used by Lanzillotti aren't generally accepted in the economics community and his research should not be presented at the upcoming trial.

Nash spent more than an hour on the stand, answering questions from lawyers and Circuit Judge Chester Chance.


Mr. Nash, even prior to his illness, was a pretty unappealing character. But it's difficult not to be moved by his perseverance against a terrible disease and by his learning to deal with it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 PM

A FRIEND TO CALL MY OWN:

There's a promising looking PBS Special this weekend: Benjamin Franklin: an extraordinary life, an electric mind (PBS, November 19 & 20, 9pm). We just posted our review of Benjamin Franklin (2002) (Edmund S. Morgan 1916-). Mr. Morgan is one of those interviewed for the program.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:12 PM

BOOKNOTES:

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson (C-SPAN, November 17, 2002, 8 & 11 pm)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:11 PM

WORTH TWICE THE PRICE:

"The Best-Known Tune Humans Have Ever Sung" (Tim Cahill, November 15, 2002, Slate: well-traveled: Dispatches from the front lines of travel)
The white folklorist Alan Lomax, who traveled through the Delta in the 1930s and '40s recording music for the Library of Congress, said, in 1992, "Nowadays everyone sings and dances to bluesy music, and the mighty river of the blues uncoils in the ear of the planet. Indeed the blues may have become the best-known tune humans have ever sung."

Personally, I find the quality of Slate to be very uneven, but it doesn't get much better than Tim Cahill writing about the blues. And, what the heck, it is free.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:52 PM

FAUX, FAUX, FAUX, REAL:

A Call to Honor (LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, November 11, 2002, NY Times)
My father died two years ago. He was a veteran of two wars, in Korea and Vietnam, and for reasons of his own, he didn't want the military funeral he was entitled to. But Veterans Day seems like a good time to honor his service to his country with a story about his lifelong love of the bugle call, taps.

As a boy, my father learned to play the bugle from the bugler in my grandfather's horse cavalry squadron. Today his bugle rests on its tarnished, dented bell atop my son's bedroom dresser; on the wall of the room is a photograph of a mounted Cub Scout Pack at Fort Meyer, Va., taken in 1931. My father, a tiny figure on a giant horse, holds the bugle against his thigh. The bugle reaches up to his shoulder, almost, and looks half as big as he is. I recall him telling me how proud he was when my grandfather finally agreed to let him play taps as a duet with the squadron bugler at lights out and cavalry funerals. [...]

I'm glad my father isn't around to witness the latest technological twist on a fine old Army tradition. With faux buglers playing faux taps on faux bugles, the only real thing left at military funerals will be the honor of the dead.


Amen, brother.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 PM

A DAMAGING MYTH:

The Golden Age of Islam is a Myth (Serge Trifkovic, November 15, 2002, FrontPageMagazine.com)
This "golden" period in question largely coincides with the second dynasty of the Caliphate or Islamic Empire, that of the Abbasids, named after Muhammad?s uncle Abbas, who succeeded the Umayyads and ascended to the Caliphate in 750 AD. They moved the capital city to Baghdad, absorbed much of the Syrian and Persian culture as well as Persian methods of government, and ushered in the "golden age."

This age was marked by, among other things, intellectual achievement. A number of medieval thinkers and scientists living under Islamic rule, by no means all of them "Moslems" either nominally or substantially, played a useful role of transmitting Greek, Hindu, and other pre-Islamic fruits of knowledge to Westerners. They contributed to making Aristotle known in Christian Europe. But in doing this, they were but transmitting what they themselves had received from non-Moslem sources.


One of the many problems with this myth is that it has served as a retardant on subsequent Islamic progress, because it has made it possible for Muslims to believe that Islam was once an effective competitor with Western ideas and can be again.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:36 PM

CAPRICORN ONE?:

Nasa asks author to prove Man did land on the moon (David Derbyshire, 08/11/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Nasa has taken the extraordinary step of commissioning a book to prove that the 1969 moon landing was not a fake.

The 30,000-word publication is to prove that the Apollo landings were an astonishing feat of science and bravery, and were not simulated in a Hollywood studio.

Claims that Nasa faked the moon landings have gathered momentum in recent years. The argument goes that the landings
were staged to convince the world that the US had beaten the Russians to the moon. In reality, the Apollo crew remained hidden in orbit until re-entry, it is claimed.

The theories have gained such credence that, according to one poll, one in five Americans is suspicious about the landings.

The conspiracy theorists say the American flag planted by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ripples in a draught caused by the accidental opening of the studio door.

They also claim that the fakers forgot to include stars in the lunar sky and that the shadows in the astronauts' visors are contradictory, revealing the glow of studio lights and not the sun.


The author they chose, James Oberg, wrote a terrific book, Red Star in Orbit, about the USSR's space program. By itself, the book would have been enough to convince any objective observer that the Soviet Union was doomed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:08 PM

HONORED TO HAVE THE HMONG AMONG US:

Central valley Hmong honor Vietnam War veterans during new year (KIM BACA, November 16, 2002, Associated Press)
Chai Vang was 18, living in his home country of Laos when he joined the CIA effort to fight the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War.

"Our country had problems so we have to fight," Vang said of the communism that was taking over his homeland.

Vang, who suffered bullet wounds to the back and ear, was one of several Hmong veterans whose service was remembered during Hmong New Year celebrations in Modesto on Saturday, with traditional music and dance.

Organizer Chong Yang, president of the Hmong Association of Stanislaus County, said this was the first time Hmong veterans were honored during a new year celebration.

"It will also educate our young people that their father, grandfather or uncle fought in the war," Yang said. "Our young people are starting to forget. And it will also help us to educate the American community" about Hmong involvement in the war.

The United States recruited Hmong to fight against communists moving through Laos to South Vietnam. They were asked to rescue American fighter pilots and reduce ammunition and troops reaching South Vietnam. About 40,000 Hmong died from injuries or were killed in the fighting.


That's not a whole lot fewer casualties than the U.S. suffered, even though the Hmong population is tiny by comparison to America's. They were better allies than we ultimately deserved.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM

TURN YOUR HEAD AND COUGH:

Saddam has outwitted his enemies again (Con Coughlin, 17/11/2002, Daily Telegraph)
It is Washington's worst-kept secret that President Bush had already set in place the infrastructure for a full-scale military assault to remove Saddam early next year. US military chiefs have a network of forward command posts in Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. "Saddam only needs to cough and we are ready to take him out," was the way one senior Bush official put it to me.

Many on Bush's team hoped the President would order a devastating bombardment of Saddam's key command and control sites as early as this week. That cannot happen now that Saddam has signed up to the UN Security Council resolution setting out strict terms and conditions for the inspection teams. Saddam's decision to capitulate has made an invasion impossible, at least in the short term.

The fear now stalking the Bush administration is that Saddam's concession to the UN could put off the day of invasion for ever, thwarting any attempt to bring about the one thing that the President has so often insisted is necessary for world security: regime change in Baghdad. "So long as Saddam behaves himself," an official on Bush's team explained to me, "the inspection process could go on for months. There is only a relatively small window of opportunity for us to take military action early next year before the weather conditions will make it really difficult. So if Saddam can string this out until next spring - he is safe."


If we've really reached the point where a government that's manufactured provocations from the sinking of the Maine to the to the Lusitania to the Greer to the Tonkin Gulf Incident can't pin something on Saddam Hussein, then the mighty really have fallen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 AM

HERBERT HOOVER--FATHER OF THE NEW DEAL:

Our Finest Hours?: David M. Kennedy talks about his new work, Freedom From Fear, a study of the Depression and the Second World War -- America's era of crisis (Atlantic Monthly, June 10, 1999)
Q: Your picture of Hoover seems more favorable than what is usually written about him. Could you talk about his role in trying to combat the Depression?

David Kennedy: There are two myths about Hoover that I tried to lay to rest. Both of them have a kind of Dracula quality to them: you have to drive a stake through their heart to put them to rest permanently. The first myth is one that's just transparently silly: that Hoover caused the Great Depression, and that it deserves to be called, therefore, the Hoover Depression. The Depression was a worldwide phenomenon. No single individual, not even any single national leader, can be reasonably accused of causing it. The second myth is that once the Depression reached the United States, Hoover did nothing to try to remedy it, which is also a proposition that won't stand close analysis. Hoover was widely regarded at the time, and deserves to be remembered historically, as someone who tried vigorously to use what powers he had -- which were actually quite limited, given the nature of the federal government then -- to turn the thing around.

What neither Hoover nor anyone else understood until sometime in 1931 was that they were looking at a historic event that we now know as the Great Depression. Hoover and others thought they were facing another quite familiar downturn in the cycle, of the kind that people had seen before, most recently in 1921. At that time Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce, through measures similar to those that he used as President, had managed to turn the economy around -- by urging businessmen to maintain payrolls, not to cut wages, to accelerate investment plans, and by urging state and local governments to accelerate plans for public-works construction. Those all worked in 1921, and it was a reasonable assumption on Hoover's part that they would work again. When he took those kinds of initiatives people praised him as the first President who had ever taken vigorous action at the federal level against one of these economic downturns. But it wasn't enough, because the scale of the crisis, it turned out, was infinitely larger than anybody imagined. So Hoover was partly a victim, you might say, of pervasive ignorance about the nature of the beast they were wrestling with. In part, too, he was a victim of the political circumstances in which he found himself -- dealing with a Democratic Congress, after the elections of 1930, that wasn't in any mood to give him the credit for ending the Depression, a Congress that understood that the best way to insure the election of a Democrat in 1932 was to saddle Hoover with the responsibility for a continuing crisis.

Another, nontrivial part of Hoover's problem was that he was a lousy politician. Now, it may have been that even an excellent politician wouldn't have done much better under the circumstances, but he was peculiarly unfitted for leadership in a crisis situation like this. He had very poor rapport with the opposition party -- and with much of his own party, too, for that matter. And he did not very effectively utilize the principal technology of mass communication in his era: the radio. His biggest political mistake, however, was his unwillingness, because of his ideological rigidity on this point, to get into the business of direct federal relief of the unemployed. That cost him dearly. Had he been a more adept President, he might somehow have contrived a way to find relief for the unemployed without compromising his principles.


In addition, Mr. Hoover increased government expenditures by over 50% (from 2,857 to 4,659 million dollars) over the course of his term, beginning the process that FDR would later greatly accelerate--to our lasting detriment.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 AM

DOES ANYONE EDIT THE NYRB?:

Pakistan on the Edge (Ahmed Rashid, October 10, 2002, NY Review of Books)
September 11 was a defining moment throughout the world, but all the more so in South and Central Asia. While the US and its allies can claim success in their quick military victory against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and in the creation of a new government in Kabul, the Western coalition has been much less successful in dealing with the problems that afflict the region today.

Afghanistan is still a dangerous place. On September 5, there was an attempt to assassinate President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar a few hours after an explosion in Kabul that killed at least twenty-five people. The Taliban and al-Qaeda were among the suspects in both cases. Sporadic terrorist attacks on US forces in the country continue. Nine months after he took office last December, President Karzai is still unable to extend his authority across the country; and he has not been able to control the warlords outside the capital, who grow stronger and more defiant of central authority day by day. Donald Rumsfeld reflected the strangely disconnected attitude of the Bush administration when he described the situation as getting better but admitted that it is still "untidy," and that it "will take time and effort for the government to find its sea legs." That Afghanistan is landlocked and most Afghans have never seen the sea does not seem to have occurred to him.


Mr. Rashid's point here is worse than petty and pedantic, it's asinine. The implication is that it would be factually correct to speak of a new government in Iceland, which is an island and where most have seen the Atlantic, as finding its "sea legs", as if the nation were adrift and rocking in the waves. Nitwit.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:17 AM

LET US REASON TOGETHER:

Terrell Wins Endorsement From Perkins: Former rival for Senate says he will actively campaign for her (Laura Maggi, 11/16/02, The Times-Picayune)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Suzanne Haik Terrell won a key endorsement Friday that could help her efforts to unify the GOP base.

State Rep. Tony Perkins, who finished fourth in the Senate primary with 10 percent of the vote, announced he not only endorses Terrell but will actively campaign for her in the Dec. 7 runoff election against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. Since the primary more than a week ago, Perkins said he has been considering where Terrell stands on the issues to see how strongly he could embrace her candidacy.

"I wasn't sure where she stood on key issues before this race, but I'm convinced now that she holds the right position on issues like the right to life, protecting the Second Amendment and defense," said Perkins, R-Pride.

His supporters, many of them evangelical Christians and staunch social conservatives, will need to be wooed to switch over to Terrell's side, he said. To that end, Perkins has pledged to make phone calls, write letters and make radio advertisements to run on Christian stations. [...]

Perkins said he made his decision after talking with officials at the White House and Republican National Committee, adding that he is sure his supporters understand the importance to President Bush of a solidly Republican Senate.


There goes another headless horse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 AM

HABLA PERMANENT MAJORITY?:

Some GOP victories underscore party's growing appeal to Hispanic voters (RICK MONTGOMERY, Nov. 14, 2002, The Kansas City Star)
A few key Republican victories last week suggest to some experts that the party is making headway in its drive to appeal to America's surging Hispanic population -- voters once considered Democratic locks.

GOP governors prevailed in Florida and New York, where strong Hispanic support is thought to have helped shape the outcomes. The Colorado race for U.S. Senate went to Republican Wayne Allard, who scored surprisingly well in counties with large Hispanic populations.

Demographic details of voting patterns nationwide remain sketchy because Voter News Service suspended the processing of exit-poll data on election night. Still, political observers say big Republican wins in areas with heavy Latino populations appeared to advance a trend recorded in recent elections.

"This is not about (Republicans) getting the vote out. It's about winning the hearts and minds of people," said Florida pollster Sergio Bendixen, who specializes in taking the Latino pulse. "Being a Democrat, I hate to make the case, but it's true."


Even if, as Steve Sailer has argued, the GOP's gains are illusory, the perception that they are real can become a self-fulfilling prophesy, just by removing the stigma from the Party. So say it loud--the Republicans, we're the Party of Blacks, Jews, and Hispanics and we're proud.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 AM

A HAWK FOR THE AGES:

Portrait: Richard Perle: An alpha hawk spreads his wings (THOMAS OMESTAD, 11/25/02, US News)
His culinary specialty is lemon and grapefruit soufflés-fragile, puffed concoctions he has mastered in his suburban Maryland kitchen. Richard Perle's policy specialty, however, is a far less delicate undertaking: bucking up the Bush administration to overthrow Saddam Hussein. [...]

A review of Perle's commentary since Sept. 11, 2001, reveals a striking pattern: He often seems to telegraph tough positions before they become accepted wisdom at the White House. "He has provided the party line before the party adopted it," says Frank Gaffney, a friend who runs a conservative foreign-policy institute in Washington. Perle was touting links between states seeking weapons of mass destruction and terrorist groups before that became a staple of Bush's "axis of evil." He foreshadowed a new national-security doctrine by arguing that the need to pre-empt threats had trumped traditional deterrence. He derided the United Nations as a latter-day League of Nations months before Bush issued a similar warning, and he described in advance some of the U.S. demands for U.N. arms inspections in Iraq. Perle shrugs off his influence. "It's coincidence," he said in an interview with U.S. News. "We see the world in similar terms." Besides, he confides, his place in the media spotlight "annoys" cohorts in government.

What's next on his agenda out of the spotlight?


There may be no other single person who will have played such a pivotal role in the defeats of communism and Islamicism as Mr. Perle (the Pipes family, for example, had to split the roles, Richard for the Cold War, son Daniel for this one), but that souffle deal is kind of hard to process mentally.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 AM

AN ARAB ENGAGEMENT WITH DEMOCRACY:

Letter from Qatar: Democracy by Decree (Mary Anne Weaver, 2000-11-20, The New Yorker)
Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich emirate adjoining Saudi Arabia, has long been one of the most traditional societies in the Persian Gulf. It is a place where women still go about veiled, where Bedouin tribesmen, chattering to one another via cell phone, still herd their sheep on foot, where falconry and camel races are the preferred royal sports. It came as a surprise, therefore, when, on the morning of June 27, 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the forty-five-year-old son of the ruling emir, Sheikh Khalifa, proclaimed that he was taking over the government from his father, who was vacationing in Switzerland. In recent years, Sheikh Khalifa had been inclined to rule in name only, preferring to spend his days on the French Riviera and to leave affairs of state to Sheikh Hamad, his oldest son and the heir apparent; for that reason, the coup, which was peaceful, was sanctioned not only by members of the ruling al-Thani dynasty but also by leaders of the country's power élite. After taking control, Sheikh Hamad telephoned his father, in Zurich. Khalifa refused to take the call.

A year later, the new emir swiftly put down an attempt by his father to regain the throne, and issued a number of writs against him, demanding, among other things, that he return three billion dollars of state money that he had transferred to his personal accounts. Then, to the astonishment of his subjects, Sheikh Hamad decreed that Qatar was to become a democracy. He had already dismantled the Ministry of Information, abolished censorship, and launched the freest cable-television station in the Arab world. In 1998, he announced that women had the right to vote, and the right to run for office. And on March 8, 1999, he presided over the first elections in Qatar's history-for twenty-nine seats on a municipal council, which advises him. In the meantime, he appointed a commission to draft a constitution, which will allow for an elected parliament. Although the commission's work is not expected to be completed until 2002, Sheikh Hamad's actions in the conservative, autocratically governed Arab world amount to a one-man revolution.


So far, things appear to be going fairly well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM

A WORTHWHILE EXPERIMENT (THOUGH FAILED):

Great myths: prohibition had no effect on alcohol drinking (Iain Murray, November 15, 2002, Edge of England's Sword)
Drug legalizers often claim that prohibition did not decrease the amount of alcohol drunk in the US. Rubbish.

Excellent chart found by the always edgy Mr. Murray. What's most interesting though is that people do in fact require such a chart to convince them of the obvious. Suppose for a moment that Prohibition were to return next week. No one would argue that it would "succeed", in the sense of truly prohibiting the consumption of alcohol. However, think of the entire range of settings--from office Christmas parties to sporting events to restaurants--where you may indulge now but would be at least unlikely to given a legal regime forbidding it. The notion that Prohibition had no effect is ludicrous on its face.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM

TO INFINITY, AND BEYOND!:

The New Convergence (Gregg Easterbrook, December 2002 , Wired)
[D]ecades of inconclusive inquiry have left the science-has-all-the-answers script in tatters. As recently as the '70s, intellectuals assumed that hard science was on track to resolve the two Really Big Questions: why life exists and how the universe began. What's more, both Really Big Answers were assumed to involve strictly deterministic forces. But things haven't worked out that way. Instead, the more scientists have learned, the more mysterious the Really Big Questions have become.

Perhaps someday researchers will find wholly natural explanations for life and the cosmos. For the moment, though, discoveries about these two subjects are inspiring awe and wonder, and many scientists are reaching out to spiritual thinkers to help them comprehend what they're learning. And as the era of biotechnology dawns, scientists realize they're stepping into territory best navigated with the aid of philosophers and theologians. We are entering the greatest era of science-religion fusion since the Enlightenment last attempted to reconcile the two, three centuries ago.

Look up into the night sky and scan for the edge of the cosmos. You won't find it - nobody has yet. Instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope's deep-field scanner have detected at least 50 billion galaxies, and every time the equipment is improved, more galaxies farther away come into focus. Space may be infinite - not merely vast, but infinite - encompassing an infinite number of galaxies with an infinite number of stars.

All this stuff - enough to form 50 billion galaxies, maybe fantastically more - is thought to have emerged roughly 14 billion years ago in less than a second, from a point with no physical dimensions. Set aside the many competing explanations of the big bang; something made an entire cosmos out of nothing. It is this realization - that something transcendent started it all - which has hard-science types such as Sandage using terms like "miracle."


The interesting question is why scientists are so willing to cling to the most fantastic theories that they and their brethren dream up, but are so hostile to any fantastic ideas from their culture's Judeo-Christian past. Shouldn't the latter at least force them to acknowledge that their desperate grasping at the former likewise represents mere faith?

November 16, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:56 PM

SHAKE DJIBOUTI:

U.S. Turns Horn of Africa Into a Military Hub (MICHAEL R. GORDON, November 17, 2002, NY Times)
Bereft of oil or valuable resources, the impoverished nation of Djibouti has long been a desirable base for Western militaries. Put simply, what Djibouti offers is location. It is close to Yemen and near the Bal el Mandeb Strait, a critical choke-point where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden. The sea lanes near Djibouti are particularly critical since they are used for commercial shipping and to transport American war materiel to the Persian Gulf.

Djibouti has other advantages for the American military as well, including a serviceable airport and harbor. The country is accustomed to the presence of Western military forces and is politically stable.

France, which had colonized Djibouti (pronounced ji-BOOT-e) before it became independent in 1977, still maintains a force of 2,800 strong here. Djibouti, in fact, is France's largest foreign military base.

American marines who have landed on the northern coast of Djibouti three times this year in major exercises are fast becoming regular, if temporary, visitors, but other forces are digging in for the long haul.

The United States Central Command is setting up a military headquarters to oversee operations in and around the Horn of Africa. Led by a Marine officer, Maj. Gen. John Sattler, the headquarters will initially be based on the amphibious command ship Mount Whitney, but it will probably be moved ashore.

About 800 American Special Operations forces and other American troops have already moved into Camp Lemonier, a former French barracks near the Djibouti airport that the Americans have turned into a bastion.

The military is not the only American organization that has found Djibouti to be a convenient launching pad. The Central Intelligence Agency is flying classified missions from an airfield in Djibouti using the Predator, an pilotless drone equipped with Hellfire missiles, according to Western officers.

The C.I.A. missions include a recent strike in which a car was blasted in a Predator attack in a remote area of Yemen, killing a Qaeda operative and five other occupants of the vehicle.


Another nation for the Axis of Good and the noose tightens further around the Islamicists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:34 PM

DUH?:

Was it worth it?: Polly Toynbee was one of the most robust liberal supporters of the war on Afghanistan. Does she still think we did the right thing? One year after the fall of Kabul, we sent her there to find out. (Polly Toynbee, November 13, 2002, The Guardian)
So was it worth it after all? The daisy-cutters and the cluster bombs, the misguided missiles butchering wedding parties while al-Qaida slipped away? Now, a year after Kabul fell as the Taliban left their hot dinners on the front line and ran, was it worth the killing of anything from 800 to 3,000 men, women and children?

Of course it was, said everyone I asked.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:12 PM

MORE IS LESS:

Speed thrills, say American TV producers (John Plunkett, November 15, 2002, The Guardian)
Actors in US sitcoms and drama series are speaking more words a minute than ever before in a bid to make their characters appear more intelligent and appeal to younger viewers.

Scriptwriters on some of America's biggest TV shows have upped the word count significantly because they believe the faster characters speak, the more intelligent viewers perceive them to be.


Under the same theory, by stacking dog dirt high enough you'd make it smell better.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:07 PM

WHO'S THE SICK MAN?:

LET TURKEY IN (The Leader, 11/16/02, The Spectator)
If Turkey cannot turn to Europe, in what direction can it turn? Those who crave acceptance but are continually refused it (especially when it is refused as disdainfully as M. Giscard d'Estaing refused it, in his own inimitable fashion) often turn into dangerous enemies. And Turkey is no tin-pot little country to be trifled with.

The victory of the Islamists in the recent elections is actually good news for several reasons. First, it demonstrates that Turkish democracy, though imperfect, is far from a complete sham. Thus, one of the justifications for Turcophobia - that it is undemocratic - has been shown to be false. Second, a period in government will reveal that Islamists do not have the answers to the problems of a complex and modern society. Third, since the Islamists will not wish to lose power in an immediate military coup, they will have to compromise with the guardians of Turkish secularism, the army: just as the army will have to compromise with them, given the scale of the Islamists? election victory. Let us remember that our own tradition of tolerance grew out of the sheer practical necessity for compromise, rather than from any superior wisdom arising from abstract reasoning.

If Turkey remains frustrated in its desire to join Europe, it will look eastwards. Pan-Turkism is one possibility, which risks the revival of conflict with Russia; a more extreme and frustrated form of Islam is another possibility. We should not forget that most Western European countries, especially Germany, have large Turkish populations; their disaffection at the rejection of their country of origin would be potentially dangerous. [...]

It is time to incorporate Turkey into Europe. If we do not do it soon - if Europe is to be forever a mirage that the Turks cannot reach - Turkey, with the fury of the spurned lover, will look elsewhere. We shall be turning an ally into an inveterate enemy; and it is unwise to assume that the relations of relative power that exist now will always exist in the future.


One is surprised somehow to find such good sense in The Spectator. Less surprising is the Europhilia on display here. Turkey's other option is, of course, to look further West--to America.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:59 PM

MARK HANNA'S IN THE HOUSE:

W. and the "Boy Genius": Karl Rove's strategy for winning the midterm elections was risky and brash, like its author. Here is the inside story of how the President and his political strategist gambled it all and won (James Carney and John F. Dickerson, Nov 10, 2002, TIME)
The victory reflected more than a year of careful plotting: harvesting candidates, husbanding resources, refining messages. But in the crucial last weeks, it also reflected the extraordinary relationship between the President and his political adviser of nearly 15 years. What does it take to persuade a President, who has a country to run and a reputation to protect and who prefers to go to sleep in his own bed, usually before 10 p.m., to plunge from state to state as though his own survival depended on it, when in fact the opposite is true? The sheer nerve of the White House strategy left even enemies in awe. "What they did was risky as hell," marvels Tony Coelho, a veteran operative who served as chairman of Al Gore's 2000 campaign. "They rolled the dice, they won, and now Bush has a huge mandate. It's not about 9/11 anymore. He is the legitimate President." [...]

But come the final weeks of battle, it was Rove's ability to deliver the President, and Bush's to deliver the voters, that, when the results were finally in, left political experts in both parties speechless. The idea of sending Bush himself out into the midterm storms wasn't a last-minute decision made because Rove and the pollsters saw something that made them think the races were suddenly winnable. It stretched all the way back to a series of meetings last January of Rove's Strategic Initiatives office (nicknamed "strategery" after the Saturday Night Live parody of Bush's malapropisms). Bush's top aides debated whether to keep the President above the fray during the midterms-"to protect him," as Rove says-or to put his wartime popularity to political use. They decided on the latter and took their recommendation to Bush. "As far as Bush was concerned, the real risk would have been to sit on his hands when he had the opportunity to make the difference in some very close races. He and Karl were completely in synch." [...]

There are many reasons that Bush trusted Rove's advice to wager so much on the midterms. Rove sits in Hillary Clinton's old West Wing office, and that's as good an image as any: he and the President have a long political marriage. Unlike most politicians, who change advisers the way Hollywood stars cycle through spouses, Bush has stuck with Rove even through his most disastrous misjudgments: underestimating John McCain's appeal back in the New Hampshire primaries and failing to take disgruntled Senator Jim Jeffords seriously right up to the day he switched parties and gave the Democrats the Senate back. The easy caricature of the partnership-the one to which Democrats cling at their peril-casts Rove as "Bush's Brain," the snickering puppeteer who never takes his eye off politics, so Bush can talk highmindedly about principles. But that cartoon misunderstands what a departure the Bush-Rove relationship is from recent Presidents and their operatives. Bush's father famously loved policy but scorned politics, saw campaigning as a necessary evil but banished the political hacks from the West Wing. Even Bill Clinton, as political an animal as they come, ran through advisers like Kleenex. James Carville and Dick Morris and the rest were not making White House policy.

But George W. Bush sees politics and government as seamless; his whole vision of the presidency intertwines the two, and so it makes sense that he keeps his political adviser right next to him.


Anyone who recalls Ronald Reagan's distasteful decision to stump in MN in the closing hours of the '84 campaign, in a selfish bid to win all fifty states, will realize how rare it is for even great politicians to expend their political capital on behalf of others. But as Bush and Rove showed, when spent wisely the returns can be enormous.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:45 PM

LITTLE WOODEN HEAD:

Super-Toys Last All Summer Long (Brian Aldiss, Wired)

This is the original story that Stanley Kubrick purchased the rights to for A. I.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 AM

A GLIMPSE OF EUROPE'S FUTURE:

The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris (Theodore Dalrymple, Autumn 2002, City Journal)
Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent (and many think today's crime number is an underestimate by at least a half). In 2000, one crime was reported for every sixth inhabitant of Paris, and the rate has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the last five years. Reported cases of arson in France have increased 2,500 percent in seven years, from 1,168 in 1993 to 29,192 in 2000; robbery with violence rose by 15.8 percent between 1999 and 2000, and 44.5 percent since 1996 (itself no golden age).

Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class. From these projects, the excellence of the French public transport system ensures that the most fashionable arrondissements are within easy reach of the most inveterate thief and vandal.

Architecturally, the housing projects sprang from the ideas of Le Corbusier, the Swiss totalitarian architect--and still the untouchable hero of architectural education in France--who believed that a house was a machine for living in, that areas of cities should be entirely separated from one another by their function, and that the straight line and the right angle held the key to wisdom, virtue, beauty, and efficiency. The mulish opposition that met his scheme to pull down the whole of the center of Paris and rebuild it according to his 'rational' and 'advanced' ideas baffled and frustrated him.

The inhuman, unadorned, hard-edged geometry of these vast housing projects in their unearthly plazas brings to mind Le Corbusier's chilling and tyrannical words: "The despot is not a man. It is the . . . correct, realistic, exact plan . . . that will provide your solution once the problem has been posed clearly. . . . This plan has been drawn up well away from . . . the cries of the electorate or the laments of society's victims. It has been drawn up by serene and lucid minds." [...]

A kind of anti-society has grown up in them--a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, "official," society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust

Though most people in France have never visited a cité, they dimly know that long-term unemployment among the young is so rife there that it is the normal state of being. Indeed, French youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe

Everyone acknowledges that unemployment, particularly of the permanent kind, is deeply destructive, and that the devil really does find work for idle hands; but the higher up the social scale you ascend, the more firmly fixed is the idea that the labor-market rigidities that encourage unemployment are essential both to distinguish France from the supposed savagery of the Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal model (one soon learns from reading the French newspapers what anglo-saxon connotes in this context), and to protect the downtrodden from exploitation. But the labor-market rigidities protect those who least need protection, while condemning the most vulnerable to utter hopelessness: and if sexual hypocrisy is the vice of the Anglo-Saxons, economic hypocrisy is the vice of the French.

It requires little imagination to see how, in the circumstances, the burden of unemployment should fall disproportionately on immigrants and their children: and why, already culturally distinct from the bulk of the population, they should feel themselves vilely discriminated against. Having been enclosed in a physical ghetto, they respond by building a cultural and psychological ghetto for themselves. They are of France, but not French.

The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state's responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order.

Unless [France] assimilates these millions successfully, its future will be grim. But it has separated and isolated immigrants and their descendants geographically into dehumanizing ghettos; it has pursued economic policies to promote unemployment and create dependence among them, with all the inevitable psychological consequences; it has flattered the repellent and worthless culture that they have developed; and it has withdrawn the protection of the law from them, allowing them to create their own lawless order. [...]

A profoundly alienated population is thus armed with serious firepower; and in conditions of violent social upheaval, such as France is in the habit of experiencing every few decades, it could prove difficult to control. The French state is caught in a dilemma between honoring its commitments to the more privileged section of the population, many of whom earn their livelihoods from administering the dirigiste economy, and freeing the labor market sufficiently to give the hope of a normal life to the inhabitants of the cités. Most likely, the state will solve the dilemma by attempts to buy off the disaffected with more benefits and rights, at the cost of higher taxes that will further stifle the job creation that would most help the cité dwellers. If that fails, as in the long run it will, harsh repression will follow.


Mind you now, this is the same France that bars the use of American words and that burns down McDonald's restaurants, for fear of being tainted culturally. Tell me then how this story ends except in the eventual violent repatriation or extermination of what will soon be a majority Muslim population?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 AM

AXIS OF GOOD (cont.):

Turkey transformed (Peter Preston, 11/15/02, Ha'aretz)
It is time to talk about Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is time to think long and hard about a land whose fate affects all our futures. Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who is paid to think about the constitutional future of Europe and its enlargement, has done enough pondering already. No, he tells Le Monde, Turkey must "never" be allowed to join the European Union. It has "a different culture, a different approach, a different way of life. It is a country close to Europe, an important country: but it is not a European country."

There now... somebody of weight, somebody of influence, has said out loud what EU politicians and diplomats have been muttering behind their hands for years. Turkey may be sweet-talked and strung along, led to believe that what 70 percent of its population wants most dearly - a seat in the Brussels sun - is possible, and attainable to a fixed timetable. But, when push comes to shove, it can just shove off. Our fine words are the dross of hypocrisy. [...]

The tawdry truth is that, yes... racism and cultural bigotry and fear and economic failure still stalk the Europe and Britain in which we live; that France can't cope with its Algerians, Germany with its existing Turks - and perhaps we can't cope either. So close the door quietly, muttering excuses.

And the hope, with great expectations attached? That those summer human-rights reforms in Ankara, the transforming magic of the EU we forget, is only the start of freedom's wonders. That when Mr. Erdogan offers a Cyprus solution at last, he means it. That our Europe of declining birth rates will need the youth and dynamism Turkey brings. That our bravest new world, inescapably, joyously, is multicultural and multi-ethnic.

Travel with trepidation, I think. But above all: travel hopefully.


The ugly truth is that Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Europe; we need Turkey more than we need Europe; and Turkey is too important for us to allow it to dangle while the Europeans fiddle around. It's significant that this essay appears in an Israeli paper, because the Israelis realize where the future lies--with America, Turkey, and India, not with the EU. The sooner our government realizes the same thing, the better off we'll be.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:00 AM

WHY ZELL IS ONE OF US:

Our Party Needs To Embrace Tax Cuts. . . (ZELL MILLER, 11/15/02, Wall Street Journal)
America is the most tax-averse country on earth. Our own revolution started with people tossing tea off boats in Boston Harbor . . . because of high
taxes! Being a party that opposes tax cuts is not good politics, anywhere, any time. Like it or not, that's what we've become.

Instead of arguing that Mr. Bush's tax cut goes too far, we Democrats should be arguing that it doesn't go far enough. Middle-class families need more tax relief now as America faces an economic threat we haven't seen since the 1930s -- the threat of deflation. The Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates to the lowest levels in
40 years, and there's not much more it can do. This country needs a massive economic stimulus now, before we head down the road of falling prices, falling wages and falling home values. There is a way out and it works.

Let's cut taxes for individuals and business even more, right now.


The problem with Mr. Miller's argument is that tax cuts defund government programs and the Democrats are unwilling to see any aspect of government spending reduced. From a purely Democrat perspective the great tragedy of the Clinton years was the lost opportunity to rationalize post-Cold War government in 1993-94. If, instead of trying to hammer through a massive new entitlement, the Democrats had eliminated a bunch of big GOP boondoggles--the Department of Commerce, agriculture subsidies, etc.--and imposed things like privatization and means-testing for social programs, they might well have been able to offer both middle class tax cuts and continued protection for their own favorite programs. But now, when someone like Mr. Miller proposes tax cuts, Democrats face either the untenable prospect of offsetting them with cuts in programs that their own constituencies make a litmus test of the Party's worth or of declaring effective class warfare and proposing that the cuts be paid for entirely from programs in which middle and upper income Americans have a vested interest There may be a way out of this box, but it doesn't seem likely to be as easy as Mr. Miller suggests.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 AM

WILKIE, DEWEY, NIXON, CLINTON, ?:

. . . And Get The Big Things Right. (AL FROM, 11/15/02, Wall Street Journal)
Democrats took a licking last Tuesday, but they ought not let their disappointment turn to despair. They can reclaim the White House in 2004. As history has shown, big turnarounds can happen quickly. Richard Nixon won the White House four years after Barry Goldwater's 1964 shellacking. Bill Clinton won re-election two years after the Republican landslide in 1994. [...]

Once the Democrats earn voter confidence on national security and the economy, voters will listen to all the other good things they have to say.

Fourth, Democrats need to offer bold, innovative reforms, not incremental change. A bold tax overhaul would be a start. And there are plenty of other big challenges in search of big ideas: the aging of America and the baby-boom retirement; exploding health costs, insuring the uninsured, and providing long-term care; balancing work and family; and achieving energy independence. If Democrats tackle these challenges with approaches President Bush can't co-opt, voters will reward them.


Mr. From here moves from right to wrong with breathtaking speed. Nixon and Clinton did indeed win personal victories in '68 and '96, but they did so at the expense of their parties. Each adopted the opposition's policies, but promised to enact them in more responsible fashion, which, given the state of the opposing party, seemed reasonably attractive to folks. Conspicuously, neither offered anything like bold reform. Each was an incrementalist and, in fact, implicitly ran as the adult supervisor needed for a Congress that was fully expected to remain in the other party's hands.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 AM

WHO PUT THE HORSE HEAD IN HIS BED?::

GOP's Terrell builds support in her runoff with Landrieu (Ralph Z. Hallow, 11/15/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican who earlier had threatened to back Mrs. Landrieu, yesterday said he would support President Bush's desire to see a Republican win the Senate seat. [...]

A Republican strategist close to the White House yesterday said he thinks Mrs. Terrell has a good shot at winning because she appears well on the way to uniting economic, social and religious conservatives among Louisiana Republicans. Mrs. Landrieu, meanwhile, must try to unite two groups of voters: Democrats who oppose Mr. Bush on economic and foreign policy, and swing voters who join Democratic Sen. John B. Breaux in supporting Mr. Bush.

A second Republican strategist, also close to the White House, said Mrs. Landrieu's "only hope" is to turn out more black voters than she managed to do on Nov. 5


The question for Ms Landrieu is: can you increase black turnout and appeal to swing voters at the same time? It's hard to see how.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:09 AM

THE DEEP BENCH:

Move Over Miss Cleo!: Have we gone from a political tie-game to a blowout? (Dick Meyer, Nov. 15, 2002, CBSNews.com)
[I]f you keep putting theory aside and simply look at the two parties' stables with a cold handicapper's eye, the Republicans have the better horses for the races ahead.

First off, the Republicans have a stud, George W. Bush. The Democrats, simply put, don't. They don't have anything like a pack leader.

And if, for the sake of argument, Mr. Bush were to lose a battle with a pretzel, think about the horses the Repubs could run in '04 - not counting Dick Cheney. From the Cabinet, there's Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Tom Ridge. (I'm not including the hungriest of them all, John Ashcroft.) And there's John McCain.

The bench is deep too. Even though senators never become presidents, a few of them have potential, including Bill Frist and Chuck Hagel. Governors are better candidates. George Pataki and Mitt Romney, the handsome Olympic savior just elected in Democratic Massachusetts, will be nicely groomed. And for fun, toss in Condy Rice and Rudy Giuliani.

Few owners would trade that stable for the '04 Democrats. Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle look pretty tarnished right now. John Kerry is cursed with being a senator, among other things. John Edwards is handsome and 'a natural', but he's a senator too, and an unknown one. Howard Dean is unknown and, well, unknown. Gore and Lieberman have been adequately dissected. And Hillary, I suppose, should be listed.

How about the back bench? The Clinton Cabinet produced more convicts than contenders. The most attractive are Republicans or ersatz-Republicans, Bill Cohen and George Tenet. The current corporate crime wave has taken Bob Rubin out of the game.

Among sitting governors, Mark Warner and Tom Vilsack are the most buzz-worthy and that's not saying much. The consensus best new face of '02 is Jennifer Granholm, elected governor in Michigan. But she's Canadian, aye.


Of course, among the governors on the GOP bench he left out the 800 pound gorilla: Jeb.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:53 AM

GANG GREEN:

Green Party celebrates its best year yet, sees more success ahead (MATT STEARNS, Nov. 15, 2002, The Kansas City Star)
"The message we have and the method we use is one that voters respond to," said Dean Myerson, the Green Party's national political coordinator. "They need to have candidates to believe in and who inspire them. It's a fairly simple thing, and it's something the Democrats, across the spectrum of their party, haven't figured out." [...]

Many pegged Green presidential nominee Ralph Nader's strong showing in 2000 -- he received nearly 3 million votes -- as a main reason that Democrat Al Gore lost to George W. Bush. They fear more of the same, especially as Green strength grows in college towns, big cities and the coasts.

"We're concerned because you're talking about strongholds of liberal Democrats," said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, a left-leaning group allied with the Democrats. "The places where Greens are strong are where Democrats get elected in safe seats. There's a danger that, in those races, the Greens not only aren't going to win, they're also going to help unseat some good Democrats."

Hickey's group plans a "progressive summit" next year to figure out how to move the Democratic party to the left and attract disaffected progressives. But observers say that could compound the party's problems among moderate voters. And experts on third parties think the Greens have a staying power that other recent third-party movements have lacked.

[Myerson's] best-case scenario -- "that the Democrats don't figure it out and we replace them" -- is the kind of vision that Green critics see as dangerously counterproductive.

"I'm not going to predict that's going to happen," Myerson said, "but there's no reason to put a ceiling on yourself. That's our goal, to become a major party and replace the Democrats."


The history of third parties in America suggests only two real alternatives, either the Democrats become like the Greens or they're replaced by them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:46 AM

PILLAR OF THE SENATE:

For Lott, a Complex Relationship With the President Gets Trickier (RICHARD W. STEVENSON and DAVID FIRESTONE, November 16, 2002, NY Times)
Allies of both men said their political dance was tricky and sometimes awkward, and one that some Republicans said Mr. Lott had not yet fully mastered. But in a way, they said, Mr. Lott's pirouettes will be less important than Mr. Bush's emerging assertiveness in dealing with Congress--a product of his comfort in his office and his recent demonstration of electoral muscle.

One senior Republican aide on Capitol Hill said Mr. Lott was learning that even as majority leader, his power would be diminished relative to that of Mr. Bush.

"Lott sees the writing on the wall that Bush is the master of the universe in Washington," the aide said. "Ultimately he's as much of a pragmatist as Bush is. The days of Lott as the conservative revolutionary are long gone anyway--what he understands now is who holds the power."

Paul Weyrich, a conservative activist and the president of the Free Congress Foundation, said Mr. Bush had been annoyed at times that Senate Republicans under Mr. Lott had not fought as hard for the administration's agenda over the last two years as had House Republicans.

"Generally, the president thinks that senators are much too much oriented toward keeping their own prerogatives rather than acting on behalf of the common good," Mr. Weyrich said. "And my understanding is that Bush doesn't like Lott all that much personally."

But Mr. Weyrich said Mr. Lott and the president would be able to work together as long as there was a clear understanding that Mr. Bush was in charge.


Unfortunately, living Republicans just don't have that much experience running the executive and legislative branches at the same time. But you'd think they can figure it out, hopefully quickly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 AM

NOTHING LIKE AN INTRAMURAL BLOODLETTING:

Pelosi's Problems: The San Francisco Democrat carries baggage of money and special interests(Doug Ireland, NOVEMBER 15 - 21, 2002, LA Weekly)
[Nancy] Pelosi...has long been plagued by reservations about her intellectual capacities. She's a dogged inside player whose canny climb up the pole of politics has been greased by money--but she's never been known as a policy innovator and has only a slim record of legislative accomplishment. Moreover, despite an effective White House campaign to portray her as a "left-wing San Francisco Democrat," Pelosi's progressivism often seems more rooted in circumstance than in deep conviction.

Unlike Paul Wellstone, who had an organic connection to the issue-oriented citizen activism whence he came, Pelosi's career is a classic example of checkbook politics. She married money--her husband, Paul, is a former banker who became a wealthy real estate developer--and the Pelosi fortune makes her the richest member of California's House delegation. Her political largesse and fund-raising skills brought her to the attention of the late Congressman Phil Burton, a powerhouse of a man who took her under his wing and guided her ascendance to chair the California Democratic Party. She lost a campaign for Democratic national chairman, but ó after serving as fund-raising chair for the Democrats' 1986 U.S. Senate campaign--Pelosi was tapped by Phil Burton's brother John to take over the family House seat which Phil's widow, Sala, had occupied after her husband's death. Her opponent was San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt, who'd been picked by the gay community as successor to the assassinated Harvey Milk. Pelosi buried Britt in money, and ran a nasty campaign that portrayed him as a "gay socialist." (Years later, her money-raising practices sometimes get her in trouble. Last month, she was forced to shut down one of ? her two political-action committees, which had been operating illegally as a double-dipping laundry, and candidates were asked to return its contributions.) [...]

Pelosi went ballistic a few years ago when the head of the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education (COPE), in opposing her bid to chair the national Democrats, referred to her as an "airhead." But, says a senior liberal Democratic strategist today, "Pelosi is simply not very articulate. She tends to talk too much--like many people who have limited confidence in their intelligence and tend to make up in verbosity what they lack in veracity." That's why the San Francisco Chronicle recently commented tactfully that in her noteless speeches Pelosi "tends to get sidetracked," that she has a reputation for avoiding the press, and in her infrequent TV appearances she lacks the spontaneous authenticity of, say, Barney Frank or John McCain. [...]

Pelosi got her new job as minority leader the old-fashioned way--she bought it, raising some $8 million for House Democrats in the last election cycle and criss-crossing the country handing out the checks. Now, the top staffers who ran the leader's office for both Tom Foley and Gephardt have been asked to stay on by Pelosi. That's more of a signal of continuity than of the sharp break with its past lethargy the Democrats need to win.


Maybe she's Terry McAuliffe in a pantsuit, instead of Nader.

November 15, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:07 PM

A FRIEND TO CALL MY OWN:

There's a promising looking PBS Special this weekend: Benjamin Franklin: an extraordinary life, an electric mind (PBS, November 19 & 20, 9pm). We just posted our review of Benjamin Franklin (2002) (Edmund S. Morgan 1916-). Mr. Morgan is one of those interviewed for the program.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:23 PM

FILIBUSTER POLITICS:

For Democrats, are darker days ahead?: They had it bad this year, but 2004 could shape up to be even worse (Howard Mortman, 11/14/02, MSNBC)
Democrats won't admit they're worried about party-switching. Yet. But Republicans are zeroing in for the kill. Here's a great example: To hammer out the compromise on homeland security, the White House worked closely with Democratic centrist Sens. John Breaux, Ben Nelson and Zell Miller. All three have been publicly rumored to be game for the other party. Trent Lott said on 'Meet the Press' that he talks to those three 'all the time' about joining his team. For the record, they all consistently knock down such talk. Still, what a way to conduct public tryouts.

Even if these guys don't switch, you'd have to think that they and several other Democrats would tend to vote with the GOP to break some Democrat filibusters. This could provide a terrific dynamic for the '04 campaign where the GOP would be able to contrast a hardy band of bipartisan Democrats with the obstructionist far left-wing that kept blocking action through filibuster.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:29 PM

RUMMIE RULES (from Peter Regas)

FORTUNE Global Forum: Remarks by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Washington, DC, November 11, 2002 (Defense Link)
Q: ...In order to defend prosperity in some parts of the world is there not a need to attack poverty in addition to all the other steps that you've taken?

Rumsfeld: Certainly there's a need to do that and I guess the question is how does one do that?

I was involved in the so-called war on poverty here in the United States and I've traveled the globe and seen just terrible poverty. I had a friend once and he was asked to chair a commission, an international committee, and the title of it was What Causes Poverty. He declined. He said I will do it but on one condition. The condition is that we change the title and I'll chair a committee on What Causes Prosperity. The reason he said that was, the title What Causes Poverty leaves the impression that the natural state of the world is for people to be prosperous and that for whatever reason there are prosperous people running around making people poor when you say what causes poverty. He looked at the world the other way. He said the natural state of people is to be relatively poor and that there are certain ways and things that can be done that can cause prosperity. They can create an environment that's hospitable to people gaining education and people gaining investments and people finding ways to contribute in a constructive way.

There are big portions of our globe that are so far behind the rest of the world that it is a dangerous thing. It is an unfortunate thing for those people. It's a heartbreaking thing.

The task for the developed world is to see that we do not just salve our consciences by finding ways like Lady Bountiful, we can give some country this or some country that which then is gone and disappears. But to the contrary, that we find ways to encourage countries to take the kinds of steps that create an environment that's hospitable to enterprise and to education so that the nation itself can do those things that will begin to ameliorate the kinds of terrible poverty that we see around the globe.

Certainly the United States has a responsibility as do the people from every nation in this room have the responsibility to contribute to that.


He may just be the most invaluable civil servant of recent decades.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM

RATITE RAMPAGE:

Police on the trail of suspect with `dinosaur-like feet' (Canadian Press, November 14, 2002)
A woman called police Saturday to say she was raking her leaves, her eyes cast downward, "when she noticed first what appeared to be 'dinosaur-like feet' standing right in front of her," the police report says. "She reluctantly moved her eyes upward and was startled to find herself eye to eye with the beast." [...]

"We had a few dealings with him," East Fishkill Sgt. Kevin Keefe told The Journal News. "He's done terrorizing the neighborhoods up there."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM

IT EVEN MADE THE PB&J TASTE BETTER:

Slice of Americana: 1950s lunch boxes going on tour (CARL HARTMAN, November 15, 2002, AP)
The Smithsonian Institution has dug out kids' lunch boxes from among its prehistoric bones, Civil War relics and millions of other artifacts and is sending them on a sentimental journey to American museums.

A three-year ''Lunch Box Memories'' tour begins Saturday at the Lafayette Natural History Museum in Lafayette, La. [...]

Best-remembered are children's lunch boxes that started appearing around 1950 and were tied to the emergence of television. Unlike the old steel boxes that were rounded and opened on top, these were square or oblong and opened on the side.

On one side would be a colorful picture about the size of an early TV screen. They first came from the popular Hopalong Cassidy cowboy series. More than 600,000 sold in its first year.

The most successful--a school bus crowded with Disney characters--sold more than 9 million.


But here, certainly, is the best:

I still rue the day I put Coke in the Thermos.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:29 AM

BID BYE TO THE BOOT:

Pope Urges Italians to Increase Birthrate: In first papal speech to Parliament, John Paul II says state should ease the raising of children. He calls on the EU to embrace religious roots. (David Holley and Maria De Cristofaro, November 15, 2002, LA Times)
In the first papal speech to Italy's Parliament, Pope John Paul II on Thursday urged Italians to have more babies, and called on an expanding European Union not to forget its religious roots. [...]

John Paul, 82, described Italy's low birthrate and the aging of its society as a "grave threat." The government should "make the task of having children and bringing them up less burdensome both socially and economically," he said.

Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world and one of the oldest populations. Italian women on average have 1.23 children, compared with a U.S. average of about 2.1.


The warning probably comes to late to save Italy, but one needn't be a mathematician or a demographer to realize that a birthrate that low is catastrophic and makes the second part of his warning even more dire. The Italians are so far below replacement rate that they face either the collapse of their society or the prospect of such massive immigration that their culture will be radically transformed, particularly since the nearest and most eager immigrant pool is Islamic. In a generation or two the Italy of Western history will be gone, replaced by an Islamified state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM

RECEIVE THE PROBE:

Deal Reached on 9/11 Commission: Bipartisan Panel To Probe What Led Up to Attacks (Helen Dewar, November 15, 2002, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM

DREAM TICKET:

AL SAYS HILL COULD FILL VEEP SLOT (DEBORAH ORIN, November 15, 2002, NY Post)
Al Gore says he'd consider Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate if he runs for president in 2004 - but Clinton rebuffed the idea.

Of course, the question isn't would he take her as his VP, but would she take him as hers. Apparently he hasn't figured out yet that in his relationship with the Clintons he's the catcher, not the pitcher.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM

FINGER-LICKIN' GOOD:

DINNER IN 60 MINUTES: Simple Pan-Fried Chicken (Renee Schettler, November 13, 2002, Washington Post)
Fried chicken with irresistibly crispy skin and amazingly succulent meat doesn't necessarily entail a goopy batter and gobs of oil. Here, for instance, all it takes is the proper technique and a little patience when tinkering with the pan juices.

Man, I gotta get a skillet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM

UNBOLLYVABLE:

Bollywood Dreams (Carl Bromley, November 14, 2002, In These Times)
Perhaps the only thing stranger than off-screen Bollywood is what's up there on the big screen. There is nothing on earth like it. How to describe this strange film universe? Here are the usual cliches and factoids relayed by hacks: More films produced a year than Hollywood. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, but parents, class, caste and community don't approve. Bumbling but loveable servants. Overbearing mothers getting sentimental over their favorite sons. Domineering daddies who tell their daughters, "You will not marry that man!" Gaudy song-and-dance sequences of tenuous relevance to the plot. Films that go on for more than three hours. Biceps, midriffs and wet saris galore, but no sex, no kissing and certainly no nudity.

Inevitably the word kitsch comes up. But Bollywood is finally going global, aided by the spread of the Indian diaspora, but also helped by a new Western interest. Baz Luhrmann has acknowledged that his Moulin Rouge is an homage to the Bollywood musical. Andrew Lloyd Webber has teamed with A.R. Rahman, the maestro of the Bollywood soundtrack, to pen Bombay Dreams, a theatrical salute to Bollywood. Last year's Lagaan was the first Bollywood movie to be nominated for an Oscar, while Devdas, the most expensive Indian film ever made, was the first to be selected to screen at Cannes.

Not everyone is happy with this development.


If you're headed to Blockbuster (or your local variant) to grab a couple movies for the weekend, here are a couple Bollywood flicks to try:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM

THE REAL BUBBA:

Bush allure: an earnest, regular guy: GOP election gains reveal depth of the president's post-9/11 support. (Linda Feldmann, ovember 13, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor)
If he began his presidency with a jokey, irreverent style, he also established a personal character that included loyalty to his wife and a clean lifestyle - and provided a marked contrast to former President Clinton. Eight months into Bush's presidency, Sept. 11 presented him with the opportunity to become a stirring leader, and he rose to the occasion.

"It touched in him something that was deep and personal," says Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. "He's someone who's very protective of those for whom he feels responsible and feels affectionate." Bush's informal role in his father's administration was to protect the president by looking out for signs of disloyalty among staff. Now Bush is responsible for protecting the United States, Mr. Buchanan says, "and that's activating a part of him that hadn't been there in his presidential role, at least."

As with Clinton, whose first big presidential moment came with the Oklahoma City bombing, Bush projected sincerity and caring as he spoke about the terrorist attacks and what needed to be done. But Clinton's ability to "feel our pain" eventually became fodder for parody. For Bush, Sept. 11 has had staying power that Oklahoma City didn't, and the president has engaged himself in the issues that have sprung from the attacks.

The clear analogy in style is to former President Reagan. Like Bush - and unlike Clinton and Al Gore - Reagan wasn't a natural student of policy. But when challenged, he appeared to operate instinctively and could be a persuasive salesman to the public. Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster in Atlanta, compares Reagan's handling of the air traffic controllers' strike at the beginning of his term to Bush's marshaling of public opinion on Iraq. Initially, the public opposed firing air traffic controllers, but Reagan swung opinion to his side by 2 to 1. On the question of whether to go to war, Bush is operating the same way, says Ayres. "He evaluates the threat and decides what is needed to meet it," he says. "Then he convinces the public to follow him."


There's nothing better for a president than having the American people want him to succeed.

November 14, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 PM

THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN:

Gore Supports Single-Payer (Mark Halperin, Elizabeth Wilner, and Marc Ambinder, November 14, 2002, ABC News: The Note)
Al Gore now supports a single-payer national health care system.

On a stage in a synagogue on New York's Upper West Side Wednesday night, Gore made this stunning announcement to several hundred people in response to a question from the event's host.

Gore suggested he was hesitant to reveal his position at this forum — but then declared that he had come "reluctantly" to the conclusion that single-payer is the best solution to the nation's health insurance crisis.

He offered no details for what kind of system he would favor, or how he would propose transitioning to such a massive change.

Afterward, a Gore spokesman said that the former Vice President would offer more specifics in the future for what kind of plan he envisions.

Long supported by the left, single-payer plans involve all money spent on health care being collected by some public agency or trust fund, which then pays for comprehensive coverage, delivered privately and publicly, for all citizens.

Issues of taxation, quality of care, availability of care, and medical innovation are all implicated in such a system, with Canada's plan often used as the basis for understanding and analysis.

For Gore, this represents a shocking switch. Although many of the people who worked with Hillary Clinton and Ira Magaziner on the Clinton health care plan at the start of the Clinton/Gore Administration were intellectually and morally sympathetic to single-payer, it was rejected as being simply too radical and too big a political target.


I may volunteer to work on his campaign here in NH just because he'd lead the Democrats to a worse defeat than in 1994.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:50 PM

CAFE OR SALOME?:

Holy rolling: Environmentally conscious seek a sanctified ride (EMERY P. DALESIO, Nov. 13, 2002, Associated Press)
New car buyers in North Carolina and three other states are soon to hear a call to conscience among the low-interest finance offers and year-end sales: What would Jesus drive?

The Wynnewood, Pa.-based Evangelical Environmental Network will begin running television ads this month in Charlotte and Greensboro - as well as six other cities in Iowa, Indiana and Missouri--to urge consumers to park their sport-utility vehicles and buy fuel-efficient cars because Jesus wants the Earth's natural systems preserved.

"Economic issues are moral issues. There really isn't a decision in your life that isn't a moral choice," the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the group behind the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign. [...]

Guessing which rig would meet Jesus' approval should be a serious consideration for conservative Christians, who are called to preserve the created world, Ball said. Global warming and smoggy air worsened by vehicle exhausts threaten the health of humans, plants and animals worldwide, he said in an interview as he rode a commuter train from his Washington, D.C., office to his Maryland home 55 miles away.

"We think he is Lord of our transportation choices as well as all our other choices," said Ball, an ordained American Baptist minister. "When you need a new car, you should buy the most fuel-efficient one that truly meets your needs."


I'm not willing to venture a guess as to how the Lord feels about CAFE standards, but this much I feel fairly sure of, He would rather have a human driver live than die when they hit a deer or a moose. This is a very real concern these days. Use new alloys and stronger plastics to make bigger cars that still get good gas mileage and we'll buy them, or come up with new ways of powering the vehicles altogether, but
trading your head (a moose coming through the windshield tends to decapitate the driver) for a few mpg seems like a deal that even John the Baptist would have blanched at.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:06 PM

SADDAM VS. THE A/V CLUB:

How the techies will find Saddam's arsenal (Todd W John, 11/15/02, Asia Times)
Locating nuclear devices and accessing Iraq's capabilities will be the work of highly specialized inspection personnel who will employ technologies such as X-ray, holographic imaging and plutonium measurement analysis (PUMA) to detect the components of a nuclear arsenal. Seeking out nuclear-arms capabilities relies on a "nuts and bolts" approach that seeks to identify the 30 or so telltale parts, such as uranium processed fuel and specialized machine parts that are essential for the construction of nuclear weapons. The PUMA technology is an advanced radionuclide detection tool that uses glass-housed lithium-6 atoms and cerium ions. The presence of radionuclides causes a reaction of the neutrons with the lithium, illuminating the cerium - a state-of-the art, lightweight and low-energy detection system for finding components such as plutonium.However, the nuclear detection and inspection experts will also rely on good old-fashioned intelligence in locating for interrogation Iraq's experts in nuclear science who may be part of a weapons program.

Detecting the presence of chemical and biological weapons is no easier for the inspection team. Biological-agent detection is complicated, as some components are naturally occurring, requiring the UN experts to analyze samples to determine whether an agent is natural or weapons-grade. With chemical weapons, complexity arises in separating the masses of chemicals used by Iraq's civilian chemical industry, such as phenol and chlorine, that have justifiable industrial uses but can also be used for insidious weapons programs. Finally, facilities used for civilian biological and chemical purposes can often be quickly converted to produce devastating agents and pathogens for warfare.

UN inspection teams armed with high-tech cameras, sensors and monitoring devices will combat these difficult detection and assessment tasks by installing equipment that will alert inspectors to facility conversion or sudden changes in chemical and biological compositions in air, soil and water. An example of biological-agent detection and classification equipment is a new "DNA chip" technology developed by California-based Affymetrix that helps inspectors by storing complex genetic information for pathogens, allowing quicker analysis and classification of unknown agents that may be used in biological weapons. Likewise, Biodetection Enabling Analyte Delivery System (BEADS) is a technology that was developed to enable inspectors to make on-the-spot analysis of samples without the need for painstaking sample preparation. By allowing analysis of "dirty" or unprocessed samples, BEADS is a technology that can be implemented as a stand-alone, unattended monitoring system.

Conventional methods of determining Iraq's weapons capabilities will also be augmented by technology. Research and analysis of Iraqi envoys' dealings throughout the world in trade and acquisition of certain materials, chemicals, agents and components will also be essential in assessing its weapons capabilities. This analysis five to 10 years ago would have been far more painstaking without the many computing tools available to inspectors today.


It seems like the only feasible way to find stuff is to remove all of Iraq's military leadership and scientists and their families beyond Iraq's borders, so that you can interview them free of fear of Saddam's retaliation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:40 PM

BLACK ELK VOTES (AGAIN AND AGAIN...):

The Oglala Sioux's Senator: The Democrats stole two Senate seats--and still it wasn't enough. (Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2002)
[M]ichael New, a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-MIT Data Center, has inspected the South Dakota Secretary of State's Web site to discover other striking facts: While Democrat Tim Johnson ran statewide about 12 percentage points behind what Mr. Daschle got in his 1998 Senate victory, in Shannon County Mr. Johnson ran about 12 percentage points ahead. He got 92% of the vote compared with Mr. Daschle's 80%. Nowhere else in the state did Mr. Johnson improve his vote share relative to Mr. Daschle.

Senate voter turnout was up 27% statewide for this year's close contest compared with 1998, but in Shannon County turnout increased by 89%. Again, no other county in the state showed comparable turnout increases. Shannon County is largely Indian country, home to the Oglala Sioux nation, and is heavily Democratic. But Mr. Thune managed to receive only nine more votes there than did Mr. Daschle's opponent in 1998, notwithstanding the much larger turnout.

Mr. New points out that this is just a 4% increase in GOP votes over 1998. In the other three South Dakota counties where Indians constitute more than two-thirds of the population, Mr. Thune gained between 23% and 43% more votes than the GOP candidate in 1998. The Oglala Sioux would seem to give new meaning to the phrase "bloc voting."


Was Nancy Pelosi just elected Minority Leader or capo regime?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:33 PM

THE BIG SLEAZY:

Let's Make a Deal (CBS News Washington Wrap)
The Shreveport Times reports that Louisiana's Republican governor, Mike Foster, said Wednesday that he won't endorse a candidate in the Dec. 7 runoff election for U.S. Senate, but he will support one of them. And he made clear that his support of Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell would be a lot easier if the Bush administration would approve his Louisiana Educational Accountability Program, which needs waivers in areas which conflict with the president's "Leave No Child Behind" federal program.

This would be an appropriate moment for Mr. Rove to ask Governor Foster if he'd rather help his party or have the President endorse and work for Ms Terrell in her primary challenge to Mr. Foster's re-election.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:13 PM

WHY ELECTIONS MATTER:

Bush to Allow Private Sector Bids (RON FOURNIER, 11/14/2002, The Associated Press)
President Bush plans to subject as many as 850,000 federal jobs to competition from the private sector, administration officials said Thursday, a sweeping reform long sought by Republicans and stiffly opposed by labor unions.

Nearly half of the government's civilian work force could be affected by the plan to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. After a 30-day public review period, Bush can impose the new rules without congressional approval.

"This is inherent to getting the taxpayers the best deal for their dollars and the best service from the government,'' said Trent Duffy, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget.

Bush and his fellow Republicans have long favored opening public sector jobs to competition from outside government. They argue that competitive bidding will force government bureaucracies to improve service and lower costs - or lose business to the private sector.

Public employee unions are expected to fight the proposal, which could cost their rank and file jobs.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:52 PM

A MAN WITH A RECORD:

Earning his stripes: As he positions himself for a White House run, Sen. John Edwards is getting his military tickets punched (Jon Ellistion, 11/06/02, Raleigh/Durham Independent Weekly)
In a room packed with N.C. Democratic Party leaders, Sen. John Edwards' reputation as the new golden boy of American politics is buffed to a bright sheen. It's Friday night, Oct. 12, and the party faithful have paid $250 a plate to attend the annual Vance-Aycock dinner and rally at Asheville's stately Grove Park Inn. At a table near the stage, the mention of Edwards, who apparently has his sights on the presidency, opens a torrent of praise.

"I love that man," coos a middle-aged woman from Asheville. Why? "He's so good looking." A local Democratic activist who owns a political sign-making company compares Edwards to a skilled quarterback, capable of looking ahead to "find the holes" that no one else sees and then moving the political football forward, so to speak. "People say he reminds them of Kennedy, of JFK," says a campaign consultant from Haywood County. "I think, and hope, that he's more like Bobby Kennedy. He was my favorite." A sheriff's candidate from Western North Carolina who's running a tough race this fall against a Republican incumbent says that Edwards "could help us deliver the South in 2004." [...]

Much of the Democratic party's electoral base will be pleased with his performance on domestic issues: The liberal political group Americans for Democratic Action gave him a 95 percent rating for his votes in 2001.


There's a reason that governors have done well in our recent presidential elections: they don't have legislative records. The GOP will take the specific votes that make up that 95% and drape it around his neck like a noose.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 AM

CRASH TEST DUMMIES:

WITH A CHAIRMAN LIKE THIS, WHO NEEDS THE RNC? (Etc., New Republic)\
It seems that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg refused McAuliffe's demand over dinner on Monday to stop courting the Republican National Convention if he wanted to host the Dems. As a result, the chairman played the only card he had and turned to Boston, which was all-too-happy to meet the chairman's condition. Could this be any more backward? It should be McAuliffe who caters to the interests of New York, not the other way around. McAuliffe may have trouble remembering--he demonstrated as much during the campaign--but New York City lost 3,000 citizens in a horrific terrorist attack last year. At the very least, one would think he'd want to convene the party in New York as a gesture of solidarity.

Instead the Republicans will now have an opportunity to swoop into Madison Square Garden and re-nominate President Bush, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Mayor-of-America, Rudy Giuliani, remind the country of their party's prohibitive advantage on national security, and demonstrate unwavering vigilance in the pursuit of terrorists and despots by the mere fact of their presence in the still-wounded city. Way to bargain, Terry!


One of JG Ballard's novels, Crash, tells the story of folks who get their jollies by watching the carnage attendant on car accidents. One assumes they're enjoying watching the Democrats these days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:58 AM

"PELOSIFIERS AT THE GATE":

The Dems don't have a prayer (Zev Chafets, Nov. 14, 2002, Jewish World Review)
On the Sixth Day of November, the Deity of the Democrats, the god of Roosevelt, Truman and JFK, looked down upon the land of the free and said, "Yech!"

And so the L-rd summoned His celestial consultant, His pundit and the divine pollster, who knows the hearts of all creatures, and said: "I have bestowed upon My party great bounty - telegenic candidates and water-parting issues, wealthy trial lawyers and Terry McAuliffe - and behold! They have blown a midterm election to a sitting Republican President. Gather ye together and bring forth a savior." [...]

[S]aid the consultant. "Tomorrow, the House Democrats in Washington elect a leader. Ford would be perfect. He would become the new face of the party."

The L-rd frowned. "Sorry," He said, "but it is ordained that Rep. Nancy Pelosi will be chosen."

The pollster slapped his head. "Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco? She's Ralph Nader in a pantsuit. She'll kill us in 2004."

"Yes," said the L-rd. "That, too, is ordained."

"Oh, L-rd, we beseech Thee," cried the wise men. "Deliver us from the Pelosifiers at the gate."

And the god of Roosevelt, Truman and JFK sadly shook His head. For He was also the god of McGovern, Dukakis and Gore, and He knew, from personal experience, that sometimes even divine intervention can't save the Democratic Party from itself.


"Nader in a pantsuit"--that's pretty good. It does raise a serious question though: doesn't the division within the Democrat Party suggest that we could see its moderates move toward the GOP and its hard core morph into something resembling the Green Party?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM

TRUE THINGS:

Where Do We Go From Here? (Anna Quindlen, 11/18/02, NEWSWEEK)
There has been much muttering that the Democrats should not now reflexively move leftward in defeat. But what constitutes left when viewed from the right-or when viewed by political consultants-isn't really left at all. Wanting to register and license guns, or eschewing a quick-fix tax cut to avoid ever-increasing deficits: those aren't radical notions. Lest we forget, the alleged left-wing positions of years past are now the bedrock of democracy: the franchise for black Americans, the equality of women.

Those were Democratic positions when Democrats took positions (and Republican positions when there actually was a moderate wing). Bill Clinton changed the party by embracing the middle. But there's a difference between embracing the middle and slinking toward it. The voters can smell it. They can also smell it when someone really believes, as opposed to that faux belief described as positioning. That's why the late, great Paul Wellstone, a guy who any reasonable person would have said was too liberal and too unpolitic to be a politician, got elected twice. Was it the ill-advised pep rally masquerading as a memorial service that did in Wellstone's surrogate, or was it that the unaccustomed whiff of principle had disappeared with the ebullient firebrand who dared oppose the president's bully war?


No, that's right Ms Quindlen, there's nothing radical about wanting to subject a constitutional right to government registration and licensing or about raising tax burdens during an economic downturn, or about opposing a war with a dictator who hates us and who's developing weapons of mass destruction. And the problem with the Wellstone rave wasn't that its participant behaved shamefully, but that the rest of us were shamed into realizing that Mr. Wellstone had been right on the issues all along. And the Republicans all now oppose the franchise for blacks and equality for women. And there's an Easter Bunny, a Tooth Fairy and a Loch Ness Monster; and the American Founding was a Masonic plot; and there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll; and Eric Roberts and Julia Roberts are really two different people....
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM

GALLUPING GHOSTS:

POLL ANALYSES: Democratic Party Image Takes a Post-Election Hit: Most Democrats want party to strike "moderate" rather than "liberal" tone (Lydia Saad, November 14, 2002, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)
As Democratic congressional members assemble today to choose their party's leaders for the U.S. House and Senate, a Gallup Poll highlights the challenge those leaders face in restoring public support for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party's image is far from terrible, but, after an election in which the Republicans captured full control of Congress, the Democrats' standing with the public falls short of the Republicans' in many areas.

According to Gallup's first post-election poll, conducted Nov. 8-10, less than half of Americans view Democrats favorably or believe that the Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction. More Americans are now dissatisfied with the Democrats' political ideology than agree with it, and less than one-third say the party has a clear plan for solving the country's problems. On the important issue of terrorism, a majority of Americans believe the Democrats are not tough enough.

It is said that everybody loves a winner, and, indeed, in contrast with the Democrats, the triumphant Republican Party appears to be in an enviable position with the public at this point. A solid majority of Americans express confidence in President Bush and the Republicans to lead the country in the right direction. A majority of Americans say they have a positive impression of the Republican Party and agree with its general political ideology. More Americans than not believe the Republicans have a clear plan for solving the country's problems. And a solid majority believes the Republicans are sufficiently tough in dealing with the threat of terrorism.


Remember how Dorothy fell asleep in a flat, boring, black-and-white world and woke up in a magic land of brilliant colors, where a yellow brick road led to an Emerald City? Yeah, well, at the end of the story she woke up back in Kansas. If we're dreaming, please don't wake us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM

PONCH AND JOHN:

Senate already marching to a Republican drumbeat: Bush's picks could clear even before GOP takes official control (CHARLES HURT, Nov. 14, 2002 , Charlotte Observer)
Bush nominated U.S. District Judge Dennis Shedd to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., 18 months ago. When his nomination came to the committee for a vote in October, the Democrats -- including N.C. Sen. John Edwards -- voted to put Shedd on ice for good.

Had committee Democrats -- who hold a one-vote advantage over Republicans -- submitted Shedd's nomination for a vote by the full Senate, he likely would have been approved. S.C. Democrat Sen. Fritz Hollings, among others, supports Shedd. [...]

Among those who will vote against Shedd today is Edwards, according to spokesman Mike Briggs. He opposes Shedd for his "troubling record on civil rights," Briggs said.

Edwards' future force on the judiciary committee, however, is in question. As the last Democrat to join the committee, Edwards will likely be the one to get kicked off in favor of a new Republican when the GOP officially takes control of the Senate.


Judge Shedd is just the first of a series of tough calls for Senator Edwards. It may look good to have voted against conservative judges in a Democrat presidential primary debate, but it can't help when you're up for re-election in NC. And, of course, the toughest call of all for such folks is going to be Miguel Estrada, who Left lobby groups oppose, but a vote against whom seems unlikely to play well with Hispanic voters.

November 13, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM

LEFT AND RIGHT INTERNATIONALISM IN A NUTSHELL:

Light in the Tunnel (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, November 13, 2002, NY Times)
or a brief, shining moment last Friday, the world didn't seem like such a crazy place. When all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, including Syria, raised their hands in favor of a U.N. demand that Iraq submit to unrestricted inspections of its weapons arsenal or else face "serious consequences," it was the first hopeful moment I've felt since 9/11.

I've no desire to be overly harsh here, because Mr. Friedman, unlike many on the Left and most at the Times, seems to have tried very hard in the months since 9-11 to put aside reflexive criticism of the U.S. and inordinate love of internationalist "solutions" to the world's problems. But that first paragraph really took me aback. Compare his statement that this was the first hopeful moment with what I suspect was the moment when the rest of us first felt hopeful:
'My War': Sebastian Junger Describes Why the War in Afghanistan Was So Special for Him (ABC.News, Oct. 7, 2002)
ABCNEWS.com: You of course covered the war in Afghanistan last year for ABCNEWS. Looking back on that now, were there any particularly memorable experiences?

Sebastian Junger: Well, the most obvious memorable experience was taking Kabul. We were with them, some of the lead Northern Alliance units. I didn't know what we would get. I mean, I was an American and the American Air Force has just finished bombing them and civilians had died, I mean by accident, but still...

And we got in there and the Northern Alliance was cheered wildly. They were received incredibly warmly and even Americans were cheered. People were shouting "America, America" on the streets because they knew that without the U.S. they would not be liberated from the Taliban.

To see a city in that kind of jubilation ... it's something that as a journalist, as a person - and frankly as an American because we played such an important role in that - was incredible. It was an experience I'll never forget because I don't think it will ever be repeated, for me.


Mr. Friedman's joy was provoked by a paper agreement--signed off on by despicable governments in China and Syria and elsewhere, bickered over by our putative allies in France and Russia--which in the final analysis does nothing more than give the imprimatur of a corrupt and ineffective bureaucratic institution to an action we were going to undertake anyway. Mr. Junger's joy, and mine, and maybe yours, came at the sight and sound of a people being freed from tyranny. It was especially satisfying because we'd helped these people to liberate their country, but, even had we played no role, it would still have been an occasion to warm the heart of any democrat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 PM

THE GOLDSTEIN CONFUSION:

The Eminem Consensus: Why We Voted for Slim Shady (Richard Goldstein, November 13 - 19, 2002, Village Voice)
Two events of lasting significance occurred last week: the breakdown of the Democratic party and the breakthrough of Eminem. His debut film, 8 Mile, became the highest-grossing movie in America just days after Republicans won control of Congress. These two events may not seem related, but they both reflect the mainstreaming of ideas that seemed extreme just two years ago. Bush's right-wing agenda and Eminem's violent misogyny were once considered over the line. Now they have crossed over and become the line.

Not that Em is a Republican (though he might favor ending the estate tax). But he and George W. Bush do have certain things in common. Both draw their power from the compelling image of the strongman posing as the common man. Both played the populist card to win the nation's heart. And I would argue that both owe their success to the sexual backlash. [...]

Though 8 Mile is being described as a blue-collar inspirational in the tradition of Rocky, it's more like a classic war movie with a white alpha male and an interracial unit. In this spectacle of the street, the sun never shines and the nights are tinted lurid blue. It's the perfect setting for a film about male combat and solidarity. All evidence that women play a powerful role in working-class society is repressed. The good bitches help their men; the bad ones betray them-end of story. Worst of all is our B-boy's dissolute mother. There's no attempt to reckon with the reasons for her haplessness. The social context is reserved for the men. They are full-blown characters; the women are full-bodied foils.

This distortion would have been noticed just a few years ago. But as the backlash advances, it gets harder to argue against the flattening of women without being pounded with the cudgel of p.c. A lot of men-and women-like it that way, at least in bed. It sure beats sex-role anxiety. What's truly alarming is the extra-libidinal dimension of this fantasy. There is growing pressure on women to cede their autonomy, and last week's election hinted at the result. The gender gap, which played a major role in recent elections, seems to have narrowed considerably this year. It's not just the reflex to close ranks behind the leader in a time of crisis; it's an impulse to stand by the Man. Bush benefits from this retrenchment, and so does Eminem, as the large female audience for 8 Mile attests.


In a weird bit of psychological displacement, Mr. Goldstein attributes to George W. Bush the kind of misogyny that the author just a few years ago said made Bill Clinton a "Culture Hero" and then has the audacity to express alarm at the main-streaming of the same attitudes he himself celebrated and to argue that the movement of women voters towards Mr. Bush reflects some kind of masochistic surrender on their part.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 PM

INDIAN GIVERS:

The Democrats lost ugly (David Frum, November 12, 2002, National Post)
South Dakota. As Byron York reports on NationalReview.com, up until 6:38 a.m. on the morning after election day, it looked as if the Democrats had lost the South Dakota Senate race. With 838 of the state's 844 precincts reporting, Republican challenger John Thune led Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson by more than 1,000 votes. Then something odd happened.

Six precincts that normally report early delivered their results very late. And guess what? All six reported unprecedentedly massive votes for the Democratic candidate -- so huge, in fact, that they sufficed to counterbalance Thune's majority in the other 99.3% of the state.

The six late precincts were all located in one county, Shannon County, site of a large Indian reservation -- and also the site of many past allegations of voter fraud. In 1998, with Tom Daschle on the ballot, Shannon County reported 1,599 votes, 79% of them Democratic. This time, Shannon reported 3,118 votes, 92% of them Democratic. The Shannon County late surge pushed Johnson over the finish line. At 10:22 am, Tim Johnson was declared the winner by 527 votes out of 334,435 cast.

In other words: A fraud-prone Democratic-controlled county delayed reporting its results until the tally was complete everywhere else in the state, by which time it was clear that the Democratic candidate needed 1,000 more votes to win. The county then delivered almost 1,600 more ballots than in 1998, virtually every single one of them marked for the Democratic candidate. Curious, no?


Mr. Thune decided not to ask for a recount today. Assuming he plans to run against Tom Daschle in two years, that makes good sense. You may recall that the first time he ran for governor of FL, Jeb Bush was narrowly defeated by Lawton Chiles, in what was a truly disgusting Democratic smear campaign. But he said he'd settle accounts at the voting booth in four years and it won him considerable good will.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM

A SHINING CITY ON A HILL (ABLE TO PROTECT ITSELF):

Defending Japan (National Post, 11/12/02)
Do you remember when Ottawa and Europe were warning of the parade of horribles that would follow if the United States scuttled the obsolete 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty? At the time, back in pre-9/11 days, missile opponents pointed to various heavyweights -- Russia, China, Japan -- that were anxious about the U.S. plan. The belief was that an ambitious anti-missile scheme would jump-start a new arms race, and thus destabilize the planet.

But when the Americans did withdraw from the ABM, nothing happened. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who'd been looking for a way to trim his military budget, was more than happy to accept his American counterpart's offer to cut the number of nuclear warheads. China had more reason to fear -- because its tiny fleet of 1950s- and 1960s-vintage missiles might be completely neutralized by even a modest anti-missile program. But Beijing was not a signatory to the ABM in the first place. And Sino-U.S. relations have actually become stronger in the past year as the two nations collaborate in the fight against terrorists.

Japan is now coming around too. "We should exert efforts to get the program to leave the research phase as soon as possible," Shigeru Ishiba, head of Japan's Defence Agency, told a parliamentary committee this week. The president of the National Defence Academy, Masashi Nishihara, feels Tokyo must "move forward to develop
missile defence, and to eventually deploy it."


Here, as elsewhere, one man saw further than the rest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 PM

THE WEST MOVES EAST:

A New (Willing) Ally in Europe (ROBERT D. KAPLAN, 11/10/02, NY Times)
The pro-American stance of Romania and countries like it, however opportunistic, could change relations between the United States and Europe, while also altering Europe itself. Romania, with 22.5 million people, is the largest and most populous of the seven countries expected to be invited to join NATO at the summit next week in Prague. It is also the second largest, after Poland, of the 10 countries likely to join the European Union by the end of the decade.

So, while Western Europeans fought for a compromise United Nations resolution on Iraq and sniff with disdain at Mr. Bush's midterm election mandate, members of the Romanian elite heartily approve of the White House's policies. "Unofficially, there is a feeling of quiet jubilation" about the American elections, said Sergiu Celac, a former Romanian foreign minister. "We're happy because Bush is happy."

Opinion polls in Romania show approval ratings of 80 percent and higher for the United States. Romania sent its own troops to Afghanistan and became the first country to support the American demand that American soldiers be exempted from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Along with Bulgaria, another prospective member of NATO and the European Union, Romania recently granted the United States access to its military bases and flyover rights should there be a war with Iraq.

Romania and Poland will bring a "pro-American critical mass" to NATO, said Mircea Geoana, Romania's foreign minister in an interview. Indeed, whenever Mr. Geoana's French diplomatic counterparts worry about Romania's enthusiasm for the United States, he said he tells them that "after Romania enjoys several decades of prosperity like France, then we will have the luxury of taking the U.S. for granted."


Hard not to notice that--with the exception of Britain, which is unique--the fact of a country's having been behind the Iron Curtain seems the best predictor of its support for America now.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 PM

THE FOURTH WORLD:

Germany faces EU budget penalty (BBC, 13 November, 2002)
Germany is facing the humiliating prospect of a formal reprimand from the European Commission for breaching rules on budget limits.

The Commission is to launch an excessive deficit procedure against Germany, said Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes, announcing the first step in a process that could lead eventually to big fines.

The news came as the Commission unveiled forecasts for feeble economic growth - just 0.8% - across the European Union in 2002, slashing its last forecast by more than half a percentage point.

In a grim assessment of the EU's economic health, it cut its forecast for growth in 2003 to 1.8%, sharply down on a prediction of 2.9% made in April. [...]

The Commission said Germany will breach a maximum 3% ceiling on budget deficits for member states both this year and next, clocking up deficits of 3.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2002 and 3.1% in 2003.


So, not only does Europe's economy not grow if we don't drag it along with us, but it's big players--Germany and France--are running deficits that are about twice ours, even though we're basically footing the West's entire military burden ourselves. Remind me again why anyone thinks Europe still matters?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM

KAPTUR THE FLAG:

Kaptur, Ohio congresswoman, enters Democratic leadership race: She plans to seek delay in voting, now set for Thursday (CNN, November 13, 2002)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat, entered the race Wednesday for House minority leader -- one day before her colleagues are to vote on whom they want to lead them in next year's Congress.

Kaptur, 56, joins California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 62, who says she has the race wrapped up, and Rep. Harold Ford Jr., 32, of Tennessee, who says he represents the kind of change needed in the Democratic Party -- especially after the midterm elections in which Democrats lost House seats.


So here's the question: Is she a stalking horse for Ford, buying time for him to gather more votes, or for Pelosi, trying to split the moderate vote? Either way, it suggests that if the vote were held right now Ms Pelosi would win but be badly embarrassed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 PM

AIM HIGHER:

Why I Should Be Minority Leader (Harold Ford Jr., November 13, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
Unlike Rep. Pelosi, I have talked about where I would lead our party on the issues. In the short term, we would take immediate action to stimulate our economy. We would shift the tax cuts that do not take effect for several years into immediate tax relief for all Americans and businesses. In the long term, we would steer our nation toward fiscal responsibility and broad economic growth.

Although Democrats have traditionally sought the upper hand on domestic issues, we now live in a post-9/11 world. If we want the American people to trust us to govern, we cannot take a dismissive or defeatist attitude toward issues of national security.

One area of stark contrast between my opponent and me is Iraq. Rep. Pelosi opposed the president and voted against the resolution. [...]

To expand our reach, I would bring new faces onto the leadership team. Many members, especially junior members, have long felt marginalized within the Democratic Caucus. I want them to play a meaningful role in developing our agenda. New ideas and new solutions would be at the forefront of our message.


What Mr. Ford is actually describing here is why he should be Majority Leader. Tax cuts, national security, and demarginalizing the black vote are all reasons for him to switch parties.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM

APPOINTMENT IN MASADA:

Tipping Left Toward 2004 (David S. Broder, November 13, 2002, The Washington Post)
The next and larger battle for the Democratic future will take place in the fight for the party's presidential nomination. That struggle will play out largely in 2003, because the accelerated calendar has Iowa and New Hampshire voting in the last half of January 2004, and South Carolina in early February.

The dominant figure in the Iowa Democratic Party is Sen. Tom Harkin, the late Paul Wellstone's best friend in the Senate and perhaps the closest to Wellstone's populism of any Democrat now in office. Harkin's spirit pervades the Iowa caucuses and sets the tone for any Democrat campaigning in that state. And liberal unions, notably the United Auto Workers, provide the votes a candidate needs.

With Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's loss in last week's Senate race, New Hampshire has no Democratic tone-setter. The state has shown a liking for New Democrats who are sensitive to the high-tech economy -- Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Bill Clinton. But in 2000 Bill Bradley came close to upsetting Al Gore by running to his left on economic and social issues.

In South Carolina, the key for Democratic presidential hopefuls will be gaining black support. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the sole African American in the delegation, is the man to woo and win.

All this suggests that the political terrain in 2003-2004 will tip Democratic presidential candidates to the left. And few of them are likely to resist.


Make a left turn at Florida 2000 and when you get to oblivion plunge over the cliff.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM

MR. GANS, PLEASE REPORT TO THE RE-EDUCATION CAMP:

Election Turnout Rose Slightly, to 39.3% : GOP Mobilization Credited; Participation Was Down in Some Democratic Areas (Edward Walsh, November 8, 2002, Washington Post)
A total of 78.7 million votes were cast on Tuesday, a turnout of 39.3 percent of all voting age citizens, according to Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, an independent elections expert. That was a slight increase from the 37.6 percent turnout in the previous midterm elections, in 1998, and interrupted a steady decline in voter participation, he said.

Now how is that helpful? Everyone knows the official media line on this election is that it was dispiriting and didn't fire anyone's imagination. If voter turnout actually went up it wrecks that conventional wisdom. Maybe Mr. Gans could run the numbers through a South Dakota voting machine and come up with a more favorable result?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:07 PM

MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY:

Apologies Are in Order (Mary McGrory, November 10, 2002, washingtonpost.com)
We do not have the excellent Japanese custom of having public figures apologize for blunders committed on their watches. We should.

Don't you kind of think that, at least subconsciously, she's harkening back to an older Japanese tradition and wishing Gephardt and Daschle would fall on their swords?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM

FROM ONE POLE TO THE OTHER:

ntelligence ministry says detained pollsters not spies (AFP, November 13, 2002, IranMania.com)
Iran's powerful intelligence ministry has poured cold water on allegations that three detained opinion pollsters were working as spies, the Entekhab newspaper reported Wednesday.

"We cannot accept charges of spying and contacts with foreigners against the leaders of the polling institutes, and we have said so to the judiciary," Deputy Intelligence Minister Ali Bagherian was quoted as saying.

"The intelligence ministry has suggested to the judicary it was prepared to follow the case together with a prosecutor, but the judiciary has so far not replied," he added.

The three opinion pollsters were arrested and detained in a judicial backlash that followed the publication of a survey showing 74 percent of Iranians favoured resuming dialogue with the United States.


Looks like the people of Iran, and at least part of its intelligence services, want into the Axis of Good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM

WHAT, WAS THE GOMORRAH MUNICIPAL ARENA ALREADY BOOKED?:

Democratic committee selects Boston to host 2004 party convention (MELISSA B. ROBINSON, November 13, 2002, Associated Press)
Boston will host the 2004 Democratic National Convention, edging out New York and two other cities as Democrats prepare to challenge President Bush's expected re-election bid.

The decision by the Democratic Party means that its members will gather in one of the nation's most liberal states to nominate their presidential candidate.


It is no longer possible to tell the difference between a Democrat and a lemming.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:42 PM

NOT EXACTLY A RECRUITING PLOY, EH?:

Tortured ex-PoW denied war pension (Troy Reeb, 11/12/02, Global News)
Lt.-Col. Trotter flew 44 missions over Europe as a pathfinder for Lancaster bombers -- one of the most dangerous jobs of the Second World War.

His plane was shot down on Aug. 12, 1944. After being tortured at an interrogation centre, he spent 268 days in captivity, which included a forced march across Germany in the middle of winter.

Lt.-Col. Trotter went on to serve as commander of the RCAF's training school, trying to shut out his haunting memories of the war.

To compensate former PoWs for their suffering, the Trudeau government established a special pension supplement in 1976. In a show of support, the legislation passed both houses and won royal assent in just one day.

The original legislation had clear provisions providing for retroactive payments. But in 1986, the Mulroney Tories shifted the supplement into the Canada Pension Plan.

The CPP Act places strict limits on retroactivity, but it was believed that all eligible former PoWs were already receiving their pensions.

In fact, Lt.-Col. Trotter and at least two others still had yet to apply. By the time he did finally hear about the supplement and applied for it in 1990, it was too late.

Veterans Affairs says it is a "sad fact" that the current law cannot allow Lt.-Col. Trotter to collect what he's owed.


Maybe it is best if the Canadians just fold up their armed forces altogether.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:28 PM

HULAGU A-GO-GO:

Full text of bin Laden statement
Reciprocal treatment is part of justice. The incidents that have taken place since the raids on New York and Washington up until now - like the killing of Germans in Tunisia and the French in Karachi, the bombing of the giant French tanker in Yemen, the killing of marines in Faylakah (in Kuwait) and the British and Australians in the Bali explosions, the recent operation in Moscow (when Chechens took theatre-goers hostage) and some sporadic operations here and there - are only reactions and reciprocal actions.

These actions were carried out by the zealous sons of Islam in defence of their religion and in response to the order of their God and prophet, may God's peace and blessings be upon him.

What Bush, the pharaoh of this age, was doing in terms of killing our sons in Iraq, and what Israel, the United States' ally, was doing in terms of bombing houses that shelter old people, women and children with US-made aircraft in Palestine were sufficient to prompt the sane among your rulers to distance themselves from this criminal gang. [...]

What do your governments want by allying themselves with the criminal gang in the White House against Muslims?

Do your governments not know that the White House gangsters are the biggest butchers of this age?

Rumsfeld, the butcher of Vietnam, killed more than two million people, not to mention those he wounded.

Cheney and Powell killed and destroyed in Baghdad more than Hulegu of the Mongols.


Here's an example of how, whether we like it or not, Iraq is now an issue between us and al Qaeda. Topple Saddam and we win. Leave him there and we lose. Winning armies gain recruits. Losing armies are plagued by deserters. The choice seems obvious.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM

THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGIN':

For Ford, Loss May Aid Advance: Tennessean Competing With Rep. Pelosi for Democratic Post (Edward Walsh, November 13, 2002, Washington Post)
By jumping into the race just as Frost withdrew, [Thomas E. Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution] said, Ford angered many Democrats and may have miscalculated how the challenge to Pelosi will affect his political future.

"We'll see if this effort helps or hinders his long-term ambitions," Mann said. "My guess is that he's fighting the wrong battle at the wrong time."


Mr. Ford was on NPR this morning and said something truly remarkable: A majority of House Democrats have never been in the majority (over half were elected in '94 or after). Recall that, prior to '94 there had not been a GOP majority in forty years and the Democrat majority was frequently referred to as "permanent"..

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:23 PM

COLLARED NITWITS:

Hannan stands up for war on Iraq: Retired archbishop recalls Nazi horrors (Bruce Nolan, 11/13/02, The Times-Picayune)
It was too much for retired Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans to take. As his younger brother bishops Tuesday moved toward telling President Bush how deeply skeptical they are of the morality of a war against Iraq, Hannan, at 89 still the peaceable fraternity's most reliable hawk, rose and argued the other side.

When the globe's only superpower "allows some despotic power to rule the earth, or parts of the earth, we're in terrible shape" morally and politically, he told an audience of about 250. [...]

Attending as a nonvoting observer, Hannan is the senior archbishop in the United States and something of a legend among his colleagues for his relative conservatism in a generally liberal group. As a seminarian in Rome in the late 1930s, he watched Hitler and Mussolini gather power, and as a paratroops chaplain saw the devastation of World War II.

Those experiences shaped his appreciation of military strength, applied early, to oppose tyranny. For that reason, decades later, he was among a tiny handful of bishops who unsuccessfully resisted publication of a Catholic bishops' document deploring the nuclear arms race as immoral.


The modern clergy of almost every denomination are a source of nearly continual embarrassment. If he weren't still around, who would have risen and said the same?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 PM

NOT THE ONLY THING:

Alton Coach Chooses Character over Win (Joyce Morrison, November 13, 2002, Illinois Leader)
This weekend, Marquette Catholic High School's Coach Mike Slaughter suspended the first stringers on his No. 1 division-ranked football team from playing in the all important Anna-Jonesboro playoff game.

Slaughter's own son was among those suspended for violating an oath they had took at the beginning of the season to abstain from alcohol consumption.

Thirty-three students (sixteen of whom were Marquette football players) were arrested by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department was over the weekend at a party held in honor of Slaughter's son's 18th birthday.

"It is not about winning at all," said one parent of a suspended player.

The suspensions certainly gave credence to that statement as No. 1 ranked Marquette Catholic High was crushed 63-0 by Anna-Jonesboro in this past Saturday's The Class AAA playoff game.

Marquette spectators and fans cheered the second-stringers throughout. Parents said it was "the greatest loss their kids could have ever experienced."


Gotta particularly hurt to lose to a team named "Anna".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 PM

DUEL OF THE CHEESY RELIGIOUS DECORATIONS:

Sent David Cohen a link to the ultra-sketchy Miracle Menorah and he came right back with this horrific item.

On the other hand, it does remind us of two great tunes:

Drop Kick Me Jesus (Bobby Bare)

Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight kick through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life.

Make me, oh make me, Lord more than I am
Make me a piece in your master game plan
Free from the earthly temptation below
I've got the will, Lord if you've got the toe.

Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight kick through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life.

Take all the brothers who've gone on before
And all of the sisters who've knocked on your door
All the departed dear loved ones of mine
Stick'em up front in the offensive line.

Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight kick through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life.

Yeah,
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight kick through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life.


And:
Plastic Jesus (Ernie Marrs)
I don't care if it rains of freezes
'Long as I got my Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car.

Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my Plastic Jesus I'll go far.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car

I'm afraid He'll have to go.
His magnets ruin my radio
And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar.
Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air,
A wreck may be ahead, but He don't mind.

Trouble coming He don't see,
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...

Though the sunshine on His back
Make Him peel, chip and crack,
A little patching keeps Him up to par.
When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say "damn"
I can let all my curses roll

Plastic Jesus doesn't hear
'Cause he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
Riding on the dashboard of my car ...

Once His robe was snowy white,
Now it isn't quite so bright -
Stained by the smoke of my cigar.
If I weave around at night,
And policemen think I'm tight,
They never find my bottle - though they ask.

Plastic Jesus shelters me,
For His head comes off, you see
He's hollow, and I use Him for a flask.
Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,

Riding on the dashboard of my car ...
Ride with me and have a dram
Of the blood of the Lamb -
Plastic Jesus is a holy bar.

[Plastic Jesus has become quite entrenched in the folk tradition, so there are considerably more folk verses than there were original ones. Following are folk additions and emendations, as well as additions from recording artists who have covered this song.]

Well, I don't care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

I could go a hundred miles an hour
Long as I got the Almighty Power
Glued up there with my pair of fuzzy dice
{Refrain - repeat between every verse}
Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car

Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far.
I don't care if it rains or freezes
As long as I've got my Plastic Jesus
Glued to the dashboard of my car,

You can buy Him phosphorescent
Glows in the dark, He's Pink and Pleasant,
Take Him with you when you're travelling far

I don't care if it's dark or scary
Long as I have magnetic Mary
Ridin' on the dashboard of my car

I feel I'm protected amply
I've got the whole damn Holy Family
Riding on the dashboard of my car

You can buy a Sweet Madonna
Dressed in rhinestones sitting on a
Pedestal of abalone shell

Goin' ninety, I'm not wary
'Cause I've got my Virgin Mary
Guaranteeing I won't go to Hell


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 PM

VLWC:

It Takes a Wedding (ALEX KOTLOWITZ, November 13, 2002, NY Times)
With the Republican victory last week, Congress now appears likely to set aside funding for programs that promote marriage among the poor. A friend who provides services for inner-city children declared this marriage push "nuts." That had been my initial reaction, as well. But now I wonder if the conservatives who are driving this effort might be on to something.

There's a shift in the winds in our inner cities. On the heels of a fatherhood movement (which, incidentally, also had conservative roots), more and more young couples are considering marriage. A long-term study of 5,000 low-income couples has found that eight of 10 who have a child together have plans to marry. "I was out in the field all of the time, interviewing low-income single mothers," Kathy Edin, a sociologist at Northwestern University, told me. "And what really struck me in those interviews was how many people talked about the desire to get married. And I would go back, you know, and talk to my friends in academia and they would say, 'Oh, they can't mean that.' But I would hear it again and again." [...]

[T]here is now growing consensus among social scientists that, all things being equal, two parents are best for children. It would seem to follow that two-parent families are also best for a community. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes families to build a village. [...]

Even if conservatives don't know how to get there, at least they recognize that marriage, this very private institution, has very public consequences. Liberals, who have a much firmer understanding of the obstacles poor people face, need to enter that conversation.


First, let me say that one sure sign you're becoming a right-wing paranoiac is that the main thing that strikes you about this essay, and that PBS Frontline is running a related documentary--FRONTLINE: 'Let's Get Married' (PBS, 11/14/01, 9 pm)--this week, is that they waited until after the election to acknowledge the efficacy of a conservative crusade.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM

WRANGLING THE RIGHT WING KOOKS:

FSB Associates

November 12, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM

TAKE OFF, TO THE GREAT WHITE NORTH:

Pull troops from overseas, senators say (ALLISON DUNFIELD, November 12, 2002, Globe and Mail)
A Senate committee on national security and defence released a bleak report Tuesday on the financial crisis facing Canada's military saying that in order to survive, troops should be pulled from overseas deployment to stave off further fatigue.

"Money alone will not solve the problem. We became convinced over the summer that in addition to significant infusion of cash that the military needed a pause from overseas deployments," Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the committee, said at an Ottawa press conference.

"Normally troops go out for six months at a time. We're suggesting that as those tours come to an end, no more troops be sent overseas and that they remain here in Canada for 24 months — two years — in order to regroup and try to pull the structure back into shape." [...]

But Leon Benoit, the Opposition defence critic, told globeandmail.com that Canada can't renege on its international commitments overseas.

"It would be naive and irresponsible," he said. "You can't simply withdraw our troops from all overseas operations for two years ... it's unacceptable. When you make a commitment to allies you keep it."


With every passing day it becomes more and more obvious that the West is largely devoid of serious nations and that the urgency with which they--Canada, Germany, and France in particular--try to restrain the U.S. is not a function of any broader interest but merely an attempt to reign in their better, for their own selfish purposes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 PM

THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY:

Grandma Doesn't Scare Anymore (Wall Street Journal, 11/12/02)
For the second straight election. Running on personal retirement accounts didn't hurt George W. Bush in 2000, and this year it didn't hurt those stalwart Congressional candidates willing to campaign on the idea despite economic anxiety and corporate scandals. Maybe it's time for Democrats to realize they aren't going to win back their majorities by recycling their scare-Grandma campaigns from 1964. That's what they and their labor allies tried this year, to little avail.

Take New Hampshire, where a Big Labor front called Campaign for America's Future assailed GOP Senate candidate John Sununu. One TV spot showed Mr. Sununu, in a beard and dark glasses, hiding behind a bush and hauling Social Security money in brown bags to "gamble on the stock market." Mr. Sununu fought back, stressing that young workers would have a choice of participating in individual accounts, and saying "we shouldn't be afraid of ideas." He won. [...]

The lesson for the future is that Republicans are in a strong position to promote Social Security reform in the next Congress. While they may not pass it given the 60 votes needed to get through the Senate, they can continue to educate the public and frame the debate for 2004.

For his part, Mr. Bush isn't backing down. He used his post-election press conference last week to reassert that, "I still strongly believe that the best way to achieve security in Social Security for younger workers is to give them the option of managing their own money through a personal savings account."


This is an unlosable issue for the GOP. First, privatization is just a good idea economically and socially. Both the free market and the beneficiaries will benefit from hundreds of millions of people making their own decisions about where to put their money (within an admittedly narrow range of options). Second, it happens to be what conservatives believe, that the markets function better than government in the long run and that people should have as much control over and responsibility for their own lives as possible. When you can do something that you believe in and it's the right thing to do, you're in a real win-win situation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM

HOOTIE AND THE BLOWHARDS:

Defiant Johnson says Masters will go on no matter what (Associated Press, November 11, 2002)
Defiant as ever, Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson declared that The Masters will be played next year, no matter what, and there is no chance a woman will be a member of the golf club by then.

''We will prevail because we're right,'' the 71-year-old Johnson said. His comments were the first on the subject since he fueled the debate over the all-male membership at Augusta National by criticizing Martha Burk and the National Council of Women's Organizations for trying to coerce change. [...]

''We're a private club. And private organizations are good. The Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts. Junior League. Sororities. Fraternities. Are these immoral?"


It's kind of chilling to see so many people who are so absolutist on First Amendment rights that they insist pornography and flag-burning are protected, so absolutist on the Second Amendment that they insist ballistic finger-printing is a violation, so absolutist on the--well, actually, there is no amendment--that they insist abortion is an absolute right, etc., who are all so willing to come down on the Boy Scouts, fraternities, and the Masters when they seek to determine for themselves who they'll associate with in private. One wonders why the Masters should be forced to allow women members but the LPGA shouldn't be forced to allow men to compete in their tournaments?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:59 PM

LITTLE EUROPE:

Good News for Europe: And bad news for Latin America. (MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, November 12, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
In the 2003 Index of Economic Freedom, released today by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the big story is Europe. Six of the 10 freest economies in the Index are in North America or Europe and half of all "free" economies are in Europe. European politicians may cling to the rhetoric of socialism, but on much of that continent, economic liberty is gaining ground.

This year, economic freedom has advanced throughout the world; every region has improved. World-wide, 74 countries have better scores, 49 have worse scores, and 32 have scores that are unchanged. Of the 156 countries numerically graded in the Index, 15 are classified as "free," 56 as "mostly free," 74 as "mostly unfree," and 11 as "repressed." (The full rankings are here.)

In Europe, capital-friendly Luxembourg is the freest economy, ranking third in the world. Croatia, Slovenia and Iceland made the most dramatic improvements. Scandinavia, previously most noted for its socialism, has continued a trend toward more freedom, with four out of five economies there ranked as "free." Competitive tax rates have helped Ireland maintain its title as the Celtic tiger and a "free" economy.

The most impressive European story, though, may be Estonia, which ties for sixth place--out of 161 countries--with the U.S. and Denmark. In an essay in this year's Index, former Prime Minister Mart Laar details the country's journey toward freedom, highlighting the importance of property rights and the rule of law.


Geez, thought I was going to have to eat my words about Chile and France, but as you can see, the free economies of Europe do not include Germany or France, the driving forces behind the EU, among them. Chile had been listed as Free until this year and just barely drops out of the top rank.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:47 PM

WHY WE LOVE POLITICS:

13 Days: Behind the scenes of Minnesota's historic election (Eric Black, Nov. 10, 2002, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Norm Coleman is at a loggers' rally. Walter Mondale is at a political fundraiser. Paul Wellstone is airborne.

Everything is about to change.


This is a long but in many ways thrilling story about the MN Senate race, from the moment Paul Wellstone's plane crashed. It's obviously tinged with tragedy, but how can anyone say the fun has gone out of politics when you see all the twists and turns, mistakes and triumphs, brilliant ploys and catastrophic missteps it packs into just a fortnight?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:42 PM

BLUE MOONETTE ON THE BAYOU (via Kevin Whited):

Landrieu in Trouble (The Prowler, 11/12/02)
Some of the issues that doomed the candidacy of Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles appear to be clouding Sen. Mary Landrieu's runoff in Louisiana.

Bowles failed to make peace with prominent black Democratic leader Dan Blue after beating him in the primary, and paid for it by getting a lukewarm endorsement and poor black turnout. Now, Landrieu is looking at the same kind of mess down on the bayou. Democratic state senators Don Cravins, Cleo Fields and Greg Tarver announced that they will not work on behalf of Landrieu because she has not been supportive of black issues.


Stick a fork in her.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:35 PM

SANS ALLENDE:

Chile's Unemployment Accounts (Daily Policy Digest, November 12, 2002)
Chile, the first country in the western hemisphere to set up a social security system, and the first country in the world to reform it using individual investment accounts, has again broken new ground by becoming the first country to use individual accounts in an unemployment insurance (UI) system.

The system now being implemented builds on Chile's success with individually-owned retirement accounts:

*Workers will pay 0.6 percent of their wages into individual accounts, while employers will pay a 2.4 percent payroll tax divided between individual accounts and a "joint account."

*The accounts will be administered by the same private pension funds that manage Chilean workers' retirement accounts, and the funds will invest conservatively in a variety of securities.

*The individual account will be in the worker's name and will not be paid out until the worker becomes unemployed or retires.


Whose future looks better, France's or Chile's?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:27 PM

NANCY! NANCY! NANCY!:

Many favor GOP on economy, war on terrorism (Richard Benedetto, 11/12/2002, USA Today)
Overall, 57% of those polled said Democrats are not tough enough on terrorism, while 64% said Republicans are. And 54% of Democrats polled said the party needs to moderate its liberal message. [...]

However, Democrats do not appear to be moderating their leadership after the elections. House Democrats are expected to elect a liberal, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, as their new leader over moderate Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee.

Pelosi is the only Democratic leader in Congress to oppose the resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq.


It's like the Democrats are headed towards a cliff, but instead of the brake, they're standing on the gas pedal. Go Thelma!
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 PM

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (via Blithering Idiot):

How Bush Did It: In a historic win, Dubya defied the experts once again. Behind the GOP’s early planning and product-testing in a wartime race (Howard Fineman. 11/18/02, NEWSWEEK)

Here's a sobering thought for you: George W. Bush--with his party in control of American government and the constantly growing imbalance in American military and economic power vis-a-vis all other nations--is today the most powerful man in the history of the world. The human past is rife with examples of how men who attain such power destroy themselves through hubris. This, therefore, is the moment when Mr. Bush may be best served by his humbling religious faith.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:55 AM

I'M TAKING MY BALL AND GOING HOME:

Bumming Out on Politics (Howard Kurtz, November 11, 2002, Washington Post)
There's a certain amount of press grumbling during every campaign. Why are these battles so scripted, so superficial, so negative? Why all the attack ads? Why does voter turnout keep dropping? Why has politics become so poisonous?

But in the '02 version, there's a new level of resignation, even disgust. Campaigns are less filling and don't taste great. They're not much fun anymore, these pundits say.

Is there a certain degree of nostalgia for the good old days that never were? Perhaps. But there's little doubt in this sound-bite era that politics has changed, and not for the better.

Then there's the question of issues. Bill Clinton showed you could win a presidential election on alderman-type issues – school uniforms, community policing. Members of Congress were paying attention.

In baseball, it's called small ball. Teams use singles, bunts and sacrifices to try to move the runner from base to base and squeeze out a couple of runs. It's a very different style than playing for the big inning and the three-run homer.

The midterm elections seemed small because most candidates finessed the two biggest issues: Iraq and the Bush tax cut. The Democrats rushed to give the president a green light for attacking Saddam to get the issue off the table, and they offered no real alternative on the economy because they were afraid to challenge the tax cut. The result was a whole lot of sparring over phony issues like prescription drugs – phony because both parties refused to do anything about it this year – and nasty, exaggerated attacks on opponents.

No wonder it tasted like weak tea. The Republicans did well because their voters turned out and the president apparently made a difference. But it was not a big-picture election.


Mr. Kurtz goes on to sample a vast number of Leftish pundits who don't think politics is fun anymore. Similarly, Martha Stewart doesn't think insider trading is as much fun as it used to be.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM

THE BROTHERS HUSSEIN:

Saddam Hussein smiles down from a poster.Inside the world of Saddam's family (DAN McDOUGALL, Sat 9 Nov 2002, The Scotsman)
AS CHILDREN growing up in their father's palace in Baghdad, Uday and Qusay Hussein acted out their sibling rivalries with more fervour than most. They surprised even their private army of bodyguards with their unbridled hatred for one another.

Uday, the elder of the two by three years, was mildly reprimanded in his early teens for putting his younger rival in hospital during a particularly violent fight that ended with Qusay sustaining a stab wound to his thigh and several broken ribs. The fight, it was claimed, was over who would stand on their father's right-hand side during a military parade.

As the boys grew up, Saddam Hussein viewed their bitter rivalry as nothing more than a consequence of the closeness of their age. He refused to interfere as Uday regularly beat his younger sibling, on one occasion almost blinding him with a cigarette stub.

But as the brothers grew up, desperately vying to be their father's favourite, the violent blood-feud continued. Yet as men, the focus of their anger would no longer be each other but the Iraqi people Saddam believed they were born to rule. [...]

According to dissidents who have recently escaped from Iraq, the assassination attempt on Uday's life made him even more violent and increased his voracious appetite for rape. Uday's former personal assistant, Hassan al Janabi, has told a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation that Saddam's eldest son is building a powerbase to undermine his younger brother. He said: "When Uday was shot, he was confined to a wheelchair. He was no longer the Uday who would attend celebrations, go to the racing club or ride a horse. Previously he was a very active man but his situation changed and he became aggressive and devoid of humanity."


Those who oppose toppling Saddam really have to explain why they think it's okay for this family to have unlimited power over a people.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM

VERY STUPID:

Deer Draw Cougars Ever Eastward (BLAINE HARDEN, November 12, 2002, NY Times)
When Greg McCoy found Oreo, his daughter's house cat, in the jaws of a mountain lion early this year, he grabbed the big cat by the tail with both hands, dragged it onto his front lawn and jumped on top of it.

With his left arm, he tried to hold the writhing lion in a headlock. With his right hand, he attempted to yank Oreo from the lion's mouth.

As Mr. McCoy, 37, and 215 pounds, tugged on the bloodied house cat, the lion--an adult female weighing perhaps 100 pounds--struggled out of his headlock. Before it ran off to eat Oreo, it swatted Mr. McCoy across the face with a rear paw.

"It felt like a fist with four nails in it and it brought me to my senses and I decided I better let go," said Mr. McCoy, a founder of a small company that offers wireless broadband Internet access to people who live, as he does, in the mountains on the outskirts of Boulder. "I had read about how to deal with a mountain lion, but none of that entered my head when I saw one with my daughter's cat. I was plain mad stupid."


That Oreo must have been one heck of a pet.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

HOW AMERICAN:

Gone With the Wind: Has the Once-Towering Genre of Southern Literature Lost Its Compass? (Linton Weeks, November 11, 2002, Washington Post)
The vinegar-based sauce at Allen & Son Barbeque near here is tangy, but it's no tastier than the tomato-based baste you can get at Washington area pulled-pork parlors, such as Red, Hot & Blue.

Barbecue used to be a regional delicacy, a Southern thang. Now it belongs to all of America and you can find really good 'cue just about anywhere. Even Gaithersburg.

Same's true with what used to be called Southern literature.

It's good and it's nationwide.

Take Lee Smith's new novel, "The Last Girls," published by Chapel Hill-based Algonquin Books in September. It has all the trappings -- a clutch of alumnae of a fictitious Blue Ridge Mountain women's college, a trip on a riverboat down the Mississippi, a dead woman named Baby.

There was a time when everyone would have hailed the book as a fine Southern yarn.

That time is gone.


One of the little understood strengths of America is that, even if it took a hundred and fifty years, people do move on. Look at a Kosovo or at Osama and you can see what happens when the past continues to fester in the body politic.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM

THE BEST PART OF WAKING UP:

Berkeley’s ‘Bad’ Brew Ballot Fails (Gersh Kuntzman, Newsweek)
Of all the humiliations that we liberals endured on Election Night last week, none was as bitter as that really bad cup of coffee served in — of all places — the city of Berkeley, California.  

IT WAS THERE, in that once reliably liberal city that voters threw cold (and, most likely, fluoridated) water on a ballot referendum that would have changed the morning ritual of tens of thousands of people.

Ballot Measure O — as it was officially known — would have banned the sale of coffee that had not been brewed from “organic, shade-grown or fair-trade certified” beans.

The measure was all set to pass — let’s face it, Berkeley voters tend to view the city rule book as a manifesto — until someone noticed the fine print: Anyone who served the “wrong” type of coffee would face six months in jail.


What a silly state. Why'd they have to put the Reagan Library there?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM

FATAL ATTRACTION (via Kevin Whited):

Black church could be a factor in Kirk's loss (Alberta Phillips, November 11, 2002, Austin Statesman)
Several factors combined for Kirk's defeat. A factor that should not be discounted or overlooked is the black church.

Weeks before the election, prominent Dallas preacher Stephen C. Nash urged African Americans to "cast a vote for God" in the Senate and governor's races. Nash is senior pastor of Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas. But his influence reaches across Texas to 2,700 pastors who are members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. Nash is president of the alliance that has member churches in Dallas, Grand Prairie, Fort Worth, Beaumont, Lubbock, Odessa, Tyler and other cities.

In a letter, Nash directed congregations to skip the state's two top races pitting Kirk against GOP candidate John Cornyn, and Democrat Tony Sanchez against Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

"We will not vote for Tony Sanchez or Ron Kirk in the Governor and Senate races ... OUR VOTE WILL BE FOR GOD in both of these races." [...]

"In years past, the political operatives have gotten paid major dollars to deliver the black vote," Nash wrote. "Many of them have no following but have convinced politicians that they have inroads to the people through the preachers. They have picked a few select preachers whom they have given pennies (in comparison to what they have received) for their services."

It is understandable that Nash and many other church and community leaders are upset with a plantation-style system Democrats have crafted to get out the black vote — a strong and reliable base. Money is steered to political operatives, typically elected state representatives or high-profile leaders. Those operatives in turn generate get-out-the-vote efforts, and they have been stingy in spreading around money to churches and community organizations that do the canvassing, block-walking and grunt work.

Basically, Nash demanded that campaigns eliminate the middlemen and deal directly with preachers to turn out their congregations.


If blacks actually begin using the power they have--to determine whether Democrats win election--in ways that will benefit their own interests, the Democrats are in deep, deep trouble.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 AM

A BIG WIN IN A LOSING CAMPAIGN:

Winning a Battle, Not a War (DONALD GREEN and ERIC SCHICKLER, November 12, 2002, NY Times)
Karl Rove notwithstanding, the United States still awaits another political realignment--a period of fundamental change in the way the public views the parties. For better or worse, for almost 70 years neither Republicans nor Democrats have succeeded in substantially altering public perceptions of what they stand for. Last week's election was no different. [...]

Thus last week's Republican triumphs are the result not of some noteworthy shift in partisan allegiances; Republicans won because voters are concerned with issues they have long associated with the party. [...]

The Democrats need not worry that Republicans created a vast new group of Bush Democrats in 2002. Republicans prevailed a week ago not because they altered the public's stereotypes of the parties, but because the public mood fit the stereotypes of the parties that already existed. As the party associated with patriotism and national defense, Republicans benefited from a policy agenda that put Iraq at the forefront, upstaging social spending issues like Medicare or Social Security.

Viewed from this perspective, last week's triumph may represent a missed opportunity for the Republicans: they won the election but failed to create a new image for themselves. And the Democratic Party--even though it has lost the White House and Congress--may find some small consolation in the knowledge that its image, though antiquated, still appeals to more voters than any other.


This is a kind of silly essay. The main point is inarguable: the country turns to Democrats for economic security and to Republicans for national security. But the question is, after the seventy year failure of liberalism to provide effective government-delivered economic security, whether people will continue to turn to Democrats. Polling on Social Security privatization, welfare reform, and similar issues suggests that there's a window of opportunity here when the GOP can ask the American People to act like grown-ups and take control of their own economic security, rather than always turning to the Mommy Party. href=http://www.juddtech.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/967>Conservative theory would tend to suggest that this is a futile dream, that the masses, once addicted to government, will not be weaned--the desire to get something for nothing is just too strong. But these are the issues between Left and Right, as they have been for a good two centuries. The idea that either party can change its image in any serious way seems rather odd.

November 11, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM

AH, TAXES...THE FERTILIZER OF REVOLUTION:

Schroeder song storms German charts (Reuters, 11/11/02)
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has no comment on a popular song mocking his broken election promises not to raise taxes, according to his spokesman, as a video ridiculing the tax increases made its debut. [...]

German comedian Elmar Brandt, who has made a career out of imitating Schroeder's voice, has surged up the German charts with his catchy parody of "The Ketchup Song" by Spanish dance trio "Las Ketchup" which was a massive hit across Europe and Latin America this autumn.

"Promises that were made yesterday can be broken today," Brandt sings in a voice identical to Schroeder's. "I'll raise your taxes, I'll empty your pockets, every one of you nerds stashes some cash away, but I'll find it no matter where it is.

"I'll raise taxes now because the election is over and you can't fire me now."

Schroeder's centre-left Social Democrat-Greens government has slumped dramatically in voter surveys since the September 22 polls after breaking election promises not to raise taxes.

The government said tax increases became necessary because of worsening fiscal conditions discovered after the election.

"I'll rip you nerds off, you'll be overpowered, I'm always in for a surprise," Brandt, 30, sings in the song. "There is no tax that I can't collect. I want your bank notes, your sweaters, your cash and your piggy banks.

"Dog tax, tobacco tax, car tax, ecological tax -- did you really think that was the end of the line?" he sings. "Like a pirate hunting for income, I'll raise all your taxes and if you're broke, you can buy your food at a discount store or go hungry."


With any luck, Mr. Brandt will prove to be Germany's Howard Jarvis.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 PM

ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY:

Riding an Electoral Wave, GOP Jews Say Their Time Has Come (AMI EDEN, NOVEMBER 8, 2002, The Forward)
GOP victories in Hawaii and Minnesota come at a time when Jewish Republicans insist their ranks are growing — largely, they say, due to the Bush administration's strong support for Israel.

"Coupled with [Virgina Republican] Eric Cantor in the House, you have three young, articulate, dynamic spokespeople who will be able to travel around the country and talk about the message of the Republican Party in ways that will resonate with the Jewish community," said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Along with Cantor and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, Brooks added, Coleman and Lingle "will be able to put a user-friendly face on a Republican Party that is eager and committed to attracting a larger share of support from the Jewish community."

Recent polls do little to bolster the Republicans' hopes. In one exit poll of Jewish voters in New Jersey this week, conducted for the New Jersey Jewish News by Zogby International, Democrat Frank Lautenberg took 79.7% of Jewish votes to his GOP rival Douglas Forrester's 19%. Jewish support for the Democrat actually increased by 15 percentage points since Lautenberg's last outing in 1994, when he took 65% of the Jewish vote, the Jewish News reported.


No one ever said it was going to be easy to wean Jews, blacks, and Latinos of their counter-productive but deeply-ingrained voting patterns.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:18 PM

THE POWER OF MYTH:

Election 2002 (Bill Moyers, 11.08.02)
[F]or the first time in the memory of anyone alive, the entire federal government — the Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary — is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate.

That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives.

It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.

It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable.

And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming.

And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture.


Well, actually, it's the first time in 19 months, but we all remember how scary that period from January through April 2001 was--freakin' apocalyptic!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:30 PM

NEVILLE SHARPTON:

Top Photos (AP, Nov 11, 2002)

Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Aldouri, right, and local clergy and civic leaders listen as Rev. Al Sharpton, second from left, speaks to reporters gathered outside the Iraqi mission to the United Nations Monday, Nov. 11, 2002, in New York. Sharpton is appealing to Aldouri to use his influence and ask Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to avert war.

That's the new image of the Democrats as they move Left and in favor of appeasement. We've of course seen the image of a supplicant bearing an umbrella before:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM

BSA OR PSA:

'Sextionary' Defines Planned Parenthood's Agenda for Teens (Michael L. Betsch, November 11, 2002, CNSNews.com)
In an attempt to prevent America's youth from depending on "unreliable sources" for "life-saving" sexual health information, Planned Parenthood Federation of America has launched its 'Sextionary' to serve as the Internet's authoritative sex education destination.

Utilizing cartoon-like animation to depict sexually oriented issues in a "fun" manner, Planned Parenthood boasts that the Sextionary "engages teens in a process that allows them to learn about sexuality." And, the pro-abortion group assures young visitors that it's providing "sexuality and relationship information that you can trust."

The Sextionary offers teens a variety of interactive options that attempt to define a wide array of sexual health terms and issues that Planned Parenthood claims are "commonly misunderstood." Visitors are prompted to click a puzzle icon to play "Games," a movie camera to view "Movies," and a treasure chest to take "Quizzes."

The only one way to win the game entitled, "Jim Dandy and His Very Gay Day," is to agree with Planned Parenthood's pro-homosexual agenda.

According to an animated alien that narrates the game, "Being gay is a little like being left-handed; it's not something that you choose, it's simply the way you are. And the way you are is perfectly fine, no matter which hand you write with, no matter who you're attracted to."


We're certain you'll be hearing just as much outrage about this as about the Boy Scouts requiring members to profess reverence for God.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 PM

I WANT MY SCOOTER!:

Year after introduction Segway continues to stir the imagination (The Associated Press, November 11, 2002)
Dean Kamen's Segway scooter was unveiled nearly a year ago, with a promise it would change transportation. Most people still are walking, but the device has been tested all over the country, more than half the states have rewritten laws to allow them on sidewalks as the machine attracts cheers and some jeers.

Letter carriers, police officers and meter readers from New Hampshire to San Francisco have had a ball testing the Segway and believe it’s useful--but many of their bosses have yet to buy.

Thirty-one states have rewritten laws to allow the Segway onto sidewalks, but the motorized scooter remains unavailable to the public.


How can you not have them available in time for Christmas?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 AM

HOW ABOUT RED DOGS? (via pj):

A Ford in Pelosi's Garage (The Prowler, 11/11/02, American Prowler)
[M]embers of the Black Caucus remain upset about the way some of their members were treated in the past election, namely their perception that the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee actively sought alternate candidates to challenge some of the caucus members. That process cost the caucus Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard, even though both newly elected replacements are also black.

"We need to get some of these problems smoothed out fast," says the House member. "Creating a race that might further deepen the hurt feelings probably wasn't the way to go." [...]

If Ford continues his campaign into the early part of the week, it's expected that Pelosi's minions will attempt to defuse the race. "She's going to have to offer him something pretty substantive to get him to support her wholeheartedly," says another House member, who is supporting Ford. "We know it's an uphill race, but if we can make the liberal wing of the party sweat, then all the better."


Hopefully the GOP is taking full advantage of these divisions within the Democrat Caucus. It would be nice to peel the Blue Dogs off and add them to our column.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

ELVIS HAS LEFT HIS SENSES:

REVIEW: of Black Hawk Down (James Bowman)
There is a kind of professional courtesy in the movie-reviewing business whereby one doesn't criticize one's fellow-critics for their view of a particular film. But as I now have reclaimed my amateur status, I don't mind mentioning the sneering review of Black Hawk Down by Elvis Mitchell in The New York Times for what it tells us, not about the movie but about Mr Mitchell and the New York Times. They are, of course, entitled to their opinion, but
not to think so highly of it that it causes them wilfully to mischaracterize the movie they are supposed to be reviewing. And to call Black Hawk Down an exercise in "jingoism" or to suggest that it is "incoherent militaristic propaganda" which "wants to be about something" but is not, seeming instead "to choose futility arbitrarily" is one of the most stunning mischaracterizations I have ever seen in a movie review.

I'd very much liked Mark Bowden's book and looked forward to the movie, but a series of reviews like the one from the Times that Mr. Bowman mentions made it seem like all the film had going for it was exciting action scenes. On finally watching it the other night, it was a great pleasure to find it was reasonably faithful to the real events and was very much a throwback to older films--where the Americans are obviously well-intentioned good guys, regardless of how you feel about their mission--even as it exploited the very newest cinematic techniques. Mr. Bowman, as is so often the case, wins this battle of the reviewers hands-down. If you aren't familiar with his review site, it's well worth your checking out.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM

BURY THE DEMOCRATS' HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE:

An election scam: Both parties are ignoring yet more stories of massive voter fraud--much of which was carried out through illegal manipulation of absentee ballots--that seem to be getting worse each election cycle. (Freelance Star, 11/11/02)
Republican John Thune lost to incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson by just 528 votes. Mr. Thune had a comfortable lead at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning with just three counties left to report. Those areas just happened to be where the Johnson campaign had worked hard to register Indians living on reservations--the center of the vote-fraud probe. Dewey County election officials told The Wall Street Journal's John Fund that they had received "a huge envelope of 350 absentee ballot applications postmarked from the Sioux Falls office of the Democratic Party." That county's attorney says that many of the absentee ballot applications were filled out in the same handwriting.

Denise Red Horse, who died in a Sept. 3 car crash, somehow managed to apply for an absentee ballot on Sept. 21--in two different counties. Both applications were mailed from Democratic headquarters, where a party worker was found with a history filled with local names. Many of those listed in the book ended up registering to vote, which contributed to this statistical oddity: The number of people on the voting rolls in Dewey and Ziebach counties far exceeded the 2000 Census count of residents over the age of 18.


The seemingly automatic recourse of Democrats to the courts and to outright fraud in recent elections suggests a party that thinks it has to cheat just to stay competitive. As Republicans found out to their great regret during the Nixon presidency, the creation of a culture of criminality can nearly destroy a party's soul.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM

FOR THE HOMOCENTRIC UNIVERSE:

"Vegetables Don't Have a History": A conversation with historian John Lukacs. (interview by Donald A. Yerxa and Karl W. Giberson, Jul/Aug 2000, Books & Culture)
Giberson: You give the Christian doctrine of Original Sin a central place in your work and world-view. How do you react to recent developments wherein evolutionary psychology has intruded into the theological space occupied by the doctrine of Original Sin? Theorists in this field are suggesting that our sinful nature is really our "selfish nature" as evolution preferentially preserved behaviors that tended to secure the passage of one's genes into the next generation.

Lukacs: I am an anti-Darwinian, and one of the reasons for this is that I believe that the only evolution is the evolution of consciousness. There is an increasing intrusion of mind into matter. I have been much influenced by the work of Owen Barfield. He was a friend of C. S. Lewis, and Barfield and I became good friends. Barfield reminded me that mind precedes matter. And I believe that mind actually creates matter.

Darwinism itself was part of the evolution of consciousness. It was part of the religion of progress. It didn't take a particularly great mind to see that there is more in common between men and apes than men and minnows. To make this into an entire system of progress was actually predictable. Darwin was very much a man of his time. Yet, even if you are not a Christian, you must believe that no matter how small, there is a fundamental difference between human beings and all other living beings. If you don't believe this, then out goes all morality. Why is incest wrong? Why is cannibalism wrong?

Let me make a daring claim. Our very view of reality, of the universe, is nothing else but a part of history. Our view of the universe is nothing more and nothing less than our view of the universe. We are not just part of the universe outside of us. We have invented the universe. We are in the center of it.

This goes against the modern scientific view. When the view of the modern universe began to arise in the sixteenth century, which in a way displaced the earth from the center of the universe, man smiled at the older, geocentric view. We shouldn't be so smug. Now at the end of an age we have all sorts of absurd and ridiculous ideas: black holes and big bangs. I am not a prophet, but I am reasonably certain that 300 or 400 years from now our descendants will not only smile but laugh at the views of the universe that were so current at the end of the twentieth century. I say this not to elevate the historians and reduce the prestige of astrophysicists. Just do not forget that we are historical beings. Everything we know about the universe is our mental creation. We are not separated from it. We cannot live but forward and think but backward. And the essential thing—and this is not arguable—is that history is bigger than science, because it is science that is part of the history of mankind.


There's much that we disagree with Mr. Lukacs about--especially his anti-anti-communism--but this kind of skepticism is certainly appealing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM

THE TIGER IN THE FRONT ROOM:

Hawks are a new fighting force aimed at ridding London of vermin (Jane Wardell, Nov. 3, 2002, Associated Press)
Early on a crisp morning, while most of the capital still sleeps, an elite fighting force is ridding the city of vermin.

Buzz, a 2-year-old Harris' hawk, is flying high above Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and other landmarks on the lookout for one of the greatest scourges of modern London - pigeons.

Buzz and his handler, Roger Polley, rise before 4 a.m. three days a week to climb to the top of the Treasury building, where Buzz is set free. His circling presence is enough to scare off recalcitrant pigeons.

"It's like having a tiger in your front room. You're not going to hang around to see if it can catch you and you are not going back in to see if it's still there," Polley said.


The old ways are often the best.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 AM

BLACK DAWN:

>Black Republicans becoming a force to be reckoned with in Florida (Rod Thomson, Nov 10, 2002, Sarasota Herald)
The older segment of blacks and baby boomers are the strongest Democrat supporters. They harken back to the civil rights clashes. But the youngest segment of black voters, who are becoming more educated and wealthier, form the largest segment of Republican support. And they are the future.

Johnny Hunter Sr., owner of the Tempo News, sees this moment as the beginning of the end of the Democratic domination of the black vote."A lot in the past have been closet Republicans. Now they see they've got to take a position," he said.

Frances Rice, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and retired attorney living in Sarasota, is also black and a Republican. She said there is a "wind of change" among black voters.

She and several other black conservatives began meeting last summer to discuss how they could change things in the black community. They sparked an organization called Partners for Progress, which has been reaching out to black small business owners and others with the message of conservatism. It's a hard road at first.

"It's difficult to get their attention because they've been blinded by the news and the rhetoric," she said. "But once you get their attention, you find the people are conservative, not liberals." She always points out that their Democratic loyalty has not resulted in any improvement on issues important to them, she said.

In addition, there is growing dissatisfaction with the old guard black leadership. For instance, in the same national poll, support for Jesse Jackson fell precipitously. In 2000, 83 percent of blacks rated him favorably. That fell to 59.5 percent in 2002. Meanwhile black support for black Republicans such as Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice is high.

President Bush's ratings went from 29 percent favorable in 2000 to 51 percent in 2002.

All of this helped propel an election landslide that Florida Democrats are calling Black Tuesday. They might amend it to lack-of-black Tuesday. And it may be only the beginning.


Stories like this just have to terrify the Democrats. Consider for example that in the exit polling I saw, Max Cleland won 93% of the black vote in Georgia and still lost his race. Now imagine that the GOP starts pulling just twenty percent of the black vote and try to come up with a scenario where Democrats win elections.

November 10, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:16 PM

SHOULDN'T IT BE "POPULAR CARPENTRY"?:

Different Face for Cover of Popular Mechanics (DAVID CARR, November 4, 2002, NY Times)
In the universe of male subjects for magazine covers, there are only a few sure things. Ben Affleck is a winner, and George Clooney is always a good bet to do well on the newsstand. But few can anchor a magazine like Jesus, a cover subject who brings them back year after year, particularly for news magazines like Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.

Now the appeal of Jesus has found a surprisingly new home--the cover of Popular Mechanics.


This is an example of why its kind of silly to talk about the Democrats appealing to "NASCAR Democrats". The party can't both appeal to Southern white males and attack the culture of the religious. The marketers at Popular Mechanics seem to understand the mind of the white male a heck of a lot better than the Democrats do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:02 PM

BEHAVE YOURSELF:

A Kinder, Gentler Nation: a review of 'Star-Spangled Manners: In Which Miss Manners Defends American Etiquette (For a Change) by Judith Martin (Michael Kammen, November 10, 2002, The Washington Post)
Martin defines etiquette broadly at the outset and once again later: "Etiquette does more than act as a paralegal system to root out annoyance before it blossoms into crime. It defines a community by providing the language of rituals and symbols with which members identify their commonality while busily sizing up one another individually." Subsequently, she refers to "etiquette's true goal of making human relations easier."

It perhaps says more about the state of our culture than about her politics that Miss Manners, simply be insisting that behavior is an expression of character and that society is entitled to expect certain minimal levels of good behavior, is a subversively conservative author.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:43 PM

FROM WHENCE COMES NEOCONSERVATISM? :

Leo Strauss and the Straussians (Karl Jahn)
The distinctively Straussian approach to political philosophy is, quite simply, to take premodern philosophers seriously, and to try to understand them as they understood themselves. This is, by itself, a radical challenge to modern historicism (i.e. historical relativism), which holds that the thoughts of premodern philosophers are "outmoded" and irrelevant; they were mental prisoners of their epoch -- usually ignoring the implication that we, too, are mental prisoners of our own epoch, so that contemporary prejudices are no better than "outmoded" ones.

But this is only a prelude to an even more radical challenge to modern thought: the Straussians believe that premodern philosophy is better than modern philosophy. This turns the whole "progressive" view of history topsy-turvy, and provides a very distinctive point of view, and line of criticism, about modernity. The Straussians are pre-modern and anti-modern, not in the name of religion (like the various forms of religious fundamentalism all over the world) or of tradition (like conservatives since Edmund Burke), but in the name of reason, of philosophy: an understanding of reason and philosophy different from the Enlightenment's.

The teaching of Leo Strauss is "political philosophy" in a very special sense: his primary, if not exclusive, concern is the relation of philosophy (and the philosophers themselves) to society as a whole. Moreover, he imputes this primary concern to the premodern and early modern philosophers.

The lesson of the trial and execution of Socrates is that Socrates was guilty as charged: philosophy is a threat to society. By questioning the gods and the ethos of the city, philosophy undermines the citizens' loyalty, and thus the basis of normal social life. Yet philosophy is also the highest, the worthiest, of all human endeavors. The resolution of this conflict is that the philosophers should, and in fact did, keep their teachings secret, passing them on by the esoteric art of writing "between the lines." Strauss believed that he alone had recovered the true, hidden message contained in the "Great Tradition" of philosophy from Plato to Hobbes and Locke: the message that there are no gods, that morality is ungrounded prejudice, and that society is not grounded in nature.


The belief that you alone have discovered "truth" is the source of much mischief.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:41 PM

NOOKBOTES:

BOOKNOTES: Judging Lincoln by Frank Williams (C-SPAN, Sunday, 11/10/02, 8 & 11 pm)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM

MENSA VS. MENSCHS:

Welcome to the Democrats' Misreading: How the Liberal Elite Keep Losing Big Elections to the 'Regular' Guys Like Bush and Reagan (David Von Drehle, November 10, 2002, Washington Post)
Given a choice between having the votes of intellectuals and the votes of everyone else, the Republicans and George W. Bush are happy to take Option B. More voters
are turned off by casual talk about IQ and reading habits than are turned on.

"Everybody knows what they need to know about human nature by about the third grade," Rogers theorized. "The smart kid up in the front of the class wasn't necessarily the one you wanted as captain of the football team, or to pal around with. You probably didn't even want him for class president."

Reed concurred. Liberal snobbishness, he said, is music to White House ears. Speaking of Bush's political guru, Reed said, "I'm sure there is nothing Karl Rove likes better than to have a bunch of intellectuals suggesting that George Bush is not one of them. After all, the Republicans are not targeting the Mensa vote in these elections." That would be the society of smart people.

The bottom line may be this: Conventional wisdom before Tuesday would have told most politicians that there was nothing smart about a president going into several dozen extremely close House, Senate and gubernatorial races to campaign with potential losers. A sophisticated politician would know better than to risk it. He could be blamed for bad outcomes.

George W. Bush did a dumb thing, in those terms. Dumb like a fox.


The Democrats, on the other hand, who take the Mensa crowd seriously, seem hell bent on cornering their votes even if it means surrendering the rest of the country to the GOP.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM

LEADING THE ENDANGERED LIST:

Here's Johnny! (Robert D. Novak, American Spectator)
The formula followed by Carter and Clinton was clear: liberal substance and conservative rhetoric. They played it both ways, sounding moderately conservative but reassuring the party's labor union/minority group/trial lawyer/environmentalist coalition. In 1976, Carter masqueraded as a covert anti-abortion candidate as he corralled the evangelical vote. In 1992, Clinton campaigned as a supporter of the Gulf War after first opposing it. They could obfuscate their real inclinations because they did not have to cast votes in the U.S. Senate.

Edwards does, and his overall voting record--putting him dead-center ideologically in the Senate--is deceptive. The reality is that he is always a dependable senator for the liberal line when it matters, as shown by these votes cast since George W. Bush entered the White House: opposed confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft, Solicitor General Ted Olson and Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Opposed Bush tax cuts and lower capital gains cuts. Opposed repeal of the estate tax. Opposed school vouchers. Supported patients' right to sue insurers and HMOs. Opposed oil and gas development in national monuments and the Gulf of Mexico. Supported additional spending for bilingual education. Supported limitation of anti-terrorism government surveillance. Supported needle-exchange programs. Opposed fast-track trade negotiating authority for the president.There is absolutely no difference on these issues between Edwards and Edward M. Kennedy, the defiant old liberal lion of the Senate. But Edwards surely does not consider himself a Kennedy Democrat. "In terms of our fiscal positions on spending and those kind of issues," he told me, "there's probably a significant difference between us." Edwards' staff reported that while he voted with Kennedy 87 percent of the time, his record was more like 33 other Senators' than like Kennedy's.


Senator Edwards faces a pretty brutal reckoning, and sooner rather than later. Right now he's polling so sketchily in NC, and George W. Bush will win it by such a wide margin in '04, that he has to be considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the Senate. Things are so bad he actually ran ads this Fall, despite not being up for re-election until next cycle. So if he wants to be re-elected he needs to start voting with the GOP, probably as soon as this week's lame duck session. If, on the other hand, he's serious about a presidential bid, he has to oppose everything the President wants to do, which means effectivcely ending his career in NC politics and robbing his candidacy of its own logic.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM

"ZERO TOLERANCE":

Pressure Mounts on Iraq to Accept U.N. Demands (Reuters, November 10, 2002)
[U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza] Rice said Iraq would be held to a ``zero tolerance'' standard on arms inspections under the new resolution. Any breach would trigger serious consequences, she told Fox News Sunday.

Disarmament inspections originally started after Iraqi forces were expelled from neighboring Kuwait by a U.S.-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War. Inspectors withdrew in 1998 in a wrangle over access to Saddam's palaces.

``The next material breach by Saddam Hussein has got to have serious consequences. I think it's pretty clear what that may mean. The (U.S.) president has made no secret of the fact that he intends to use force if the Iraqis cannot be brought into compliance in other way,'' Rice said.

She said Bush reserved the right to use force without Security Council approval if Iraq violated the resolution. But Washington would initially discuss with the Council the consequences of any breach.

In Washington, officials said President Bush had approved plans for the invasion of Iraq if it failed to comply fully with the resolution.


It's fairly amusing to listen to the foreign ministries from other countries describe all the concessions they won from the U.S. and then to hear Ms Rice tell them what they really just agreed to.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM

A WORK OF ART:

Poster contest planned for Roe vs. Wade anniversary (ANN-MARIE NEWMAN, November 4, 2002, Polk Online)
Area artists interested in winning cash and national recognition for designing a poster for the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade are encouraged by Planned Parenthood to break out their drawing pencils and paint brushes.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America is inviting artists from Polk County and across the nation to submit original pieces of artwork or posters that celebrate 30 years of choice and illustrate the concept that "Behind Every Choice is a Story," according to the federation. [...]

The contest, which will be judged by Planned Parenthood Web site visitors between Dec. 20 and Jan. 9, will award $800 to the first place winner. The winner's artwork will be featured on the federation's Web site, also, at www.plannedparenthood.org.

The second place winner will receive $350 and the third place winner $150. [...]

For more information on the poster contest or Roe versus Wade, log on to www.planned parent hood.org or call Wendy Grassi at (941) 365-3913.

Further details and guidelines for the contest can be found on the Web site.


Sure, it sounds barbaric at first, bit don't forget the hilarious entries Le Pen got for their Kristallnacht Commemorative Limerick Contest.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 PM

BUT CAN HE DO THE MINUTE WALTZ IN 40 SECONDS?:

Badminton, Anyone?: The Game Moves Out of the Back Yard and Into the Arena, As Americans Play Catch-Up on a Global Sports Favorite (Laura Sessions Stepp, November 5, 2002, Washington Post)
[Y]ou'd be hard-pressed to find a Weber grill anywhere near a real badminton competition in the indoor season that is just beginning. Shuttlecocks have been clocked coming off a strong player's racket at close to 200 miles an hour. Players compete indoors, year-round, on a court that's 17 feet wide and 44 feet long. They use rackets blended from aluminum, steel and carbon-graphite and shuttlecocks made of feathers from the left or right wing -- but not both wings -- of a duck or goose, to ensure specific flight characteristics.

The tip of a tournament-quality shuttlecock, also called a bird or shuttle, is made of cork wrapped in leather. When hit by ranked players, it sounds more like a gunshot than the ping of childhood play. Good players go through three shuttles in a 15-minute game.

Everything about badminton is fast: the thinking, reflexes, footwork. A world champion player turned neurosurgeon, Dave Freeman, once boasted that he could perform in 12 hours an operation that took most surgeons 16 hours, a pace honed over years on the badminton court.

Such speed leaves virtually no margin for error. "If you get flustered for even a minute, you lose," says Amy Nguy, 19, Howard's national collegiate champion.


They show it every once in awhile during the Olympics and it's astonishing how hard the hit the birdie thing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM

ABBY NORMAL:

Mystery over German guerrilla's brain (Rob Broomby, 9 November, 2002, BBC)
The daughter of the German left-wing extremist, Ulrike Meinhof, one of the founders of the violent Red Army Faction, has claimed that her mother's brain was removed from her body for scientific investigation without the family's permission.

Isn't that the one Marty Feldman stole?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 AM

ALL THE WAY WITH JFK:

Kerry set to move on '04 run (Glen Johnson, 11/10/2002, Boston Globe)
Senator John F. Kerry will file a statement of candidacy for the presidency this month, according to a top aide, the first official step toward a campaign the senator believes can be won largely in northern states with an aggressive defense of Democratic ideals. [...]

A presidential campaign would be the fourth for a Massachusetts Democrat in the past 42 years, following a path trodden by John F. Kennedy in 1960, Edward M. Kennedy, who challenged Jimmy Carter in the primary elections in 1980, and Dukakis in 1988. [...]

Of the senator's possible opponents for the 2004 Democratic nomination, Kerry advisers believe that Al Gore, the former vice president, will not be able to bounce back from his loss in the 2000 campaign; Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and, to a lesser degree, Senator Thomas A. Daschle of South Dakota will not have a rationale for winning the presidency after losing control of the House and Senate; and Senator John Edwards of North Carolina rests on a shaky base after Republicans won across his native South during the midterm elections.

Kerry staff members were heartened by pro-Kerry comments after Tuesday's elections, especially those by Kweisi Mfume, the NAACP president, who said Wednesday on ''The O'Reilly Factor,'' a Fox News program: ''I think the Democratic Party is going to embrace John Kerry of Massachusetts. I think he has the credentials, he has the leadership, he has the respect, he has the track record, but also you can't box him in a corner. You can't put him in the liberal corner, in the conservative corner, or anything else.''

Republicans appear poised to label Kerry as another tax-and-spend Democrat. ''Clearly he's against tax cuts. We're for them because we believe they stimulate the economy,'' said Mindy Tucker, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. ''It's for the voters to decide if raising their taxes is a way to make the economy better.''


Oddly enough the author has forgotten the most important figure to consider in all of this; Paul Tsongas, the fifth Massachusetts Democrat to run for President and the third to win the NH primary. The fact that two candidates as weak as Dukakis and Tsongas won in NH, and that Ted Kennedy got just 10% less of the vote than incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980, suggests that John Kerry has to be the front-runner for 2004. In effect, Massachusetts politicians get to run as favorite sons here and they win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

HITLERIAN MIDDLE AMERICA:

Democrats draw lessons from debacle (James Rosen, Nov. 10, 2002, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
As Democrats ponder the direction of their party, the split between liberals and moderates has reemerged with a vengeance.

"Nobody's talking about being 'Republican lite ,' " said Rep. Martin Frost, a Texan who sought to replace Dick Gephardt as House Democratic leader before conceding Friday to California Rep. Nancy Pelosi. "We're talking about being tough, and we're talking about speaking to the vast center of this country -- the people who determine elections in this country."

For Mark Anderson and the 3 million workers he represents as head of the Food and Allied Trade Services union, that kind of plan is part of the problem, not the solution.

"At a certain level, the appeasement approach is clearly not successful as a tactic, and it's clearly not appropriate in a substantive way," Anderson said. "If anything, this election should demonstrate to those people who want to be centrists that it's a failed tactic."


"Appeasement"? Mr. Frost says Democrats have to appeal to centrists and Mr. Anderson calls that "appeasement"? One supposes it's possible that Mr. Anderson really means to suggest that Mr. Frost is Neville Chamberlain and the "vast center of this country" is Nazi, or at least some kind of enemy to be appeased; if so, that attitude might bode ill for Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 AM

WHITHER HAROLD FORD?:

Dispatches From the Democratic Convention: The Natural (David Plotz, August 18, 2000, Slate)
As I listen and watch him, it occurs to me that Gore and the party leadership are interested in Harold for the wrong reasons. They like him because he is young, black, moderate, telegenic, and smart. And all of these are indeed good for the party. But Harold's real importance may be something else.

The Democratic Party is suffering from a pleasure deficit. Since 1992, the Democrats have been dominated by a politician who adores politics, and the party has thrived because of it. On Monday night Democrats said farewell to President Clinton and handed the party off to Gore, Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, and Dick Gephardt. The Democratic leaders showcased in Los Angeles may well be the most earnest, most public-policy-oriented, most intelligent group of politicians ever to head a major party. They are intellectually impressive, and they have the best intentions. But they don't really like their jobs. They are skeptical of politicking, or bad at it, or both. Gore, ever obedient, has learned to pretend to love campaigning, but it will never be a natural act for him. Say this for George W. Bush: He loves to shake hands.

On paper, Harold's brashness is arrogant. But in the flesh, it is joyful. Americans distrust politicians, and politicians have replied by hating themselves. They are ashamed of their work, they vow to term-limit themselves, they attack their own tactics, they believe themselves practitioners of a dirty profession. But Harold has no such pretense. He is entirely uncynical about his job. He likes being a politician and, more important, he is very good at it. That delight in tactics and glad-handing is a tonic for these dutiful Democrats.


To read this profile is not to find a man who will be content to be minority whip.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 AM

WORTH THE WINNING:

Wellstone's Ghost: How Minnesota voters got snowed. (William Saletan, Nov. 6, 2002, Slate)
A number of Democrats are going around today sniffling that the GOP may rue its election victories because it now bears full responsibility for whatever goes wrong. Front-page articles in several newspapers imply a similar warning. Republicans will dig deeper into their wish list, the theory goes, and may antagonize voters in the process. That's possible, but the opposite is more likely. There are elections worth winning, and there are elections worth losing. This was an election worth winning.

An election worth losing is one in which you can see trouble on the horizon. The 1988 presidential race was an election worth losing for two reasons. First, the recovery of the 1980s was running out of steam. Second, the bills from the Reagan tax cuts, unbalanced by commensurate budget cuts, were coming due. The winner of that election would have to raise taxes, cut spending, or both. George H. W. Bush won the booby prize and was tossed from office four years later.

The 1992 presidential race was an election worth winning. A recovery from the 1990-91 recession was already underway. (Bush kept saying so and was derided for it.) The information revolution was gaining steam, the World Wide Web was taking shape, and the collapse of the Cold War was freeing up money and attention that would have been consumed by military needs. The winner of that election would preside over a boom and an influx of tax revenue that would relieve the federal deficit. Bill Clinton won the prize and was re-elected four years later.

The 2000 presidential race was an election worth losing. The recovery of the 1990s was running out of steam, a recession was brewing, and the Nasdaq was beginning to tank. If the winner of that election had known what was coming, he would have expected to be punished in 2002. But for reasons that are still being debated this afternoon, he wasn't punished.


Though one would quibble over some details and omissions, that's an excellent analysis of the last few presidential cycles. 1992 in particular was a race that the GOP had to win. Had it done so the realignment back towards the Right would have been a fait accompli by now. But George H. W. Bush--who also had to deal with the potentially catastrophic collapse of the U.S. Savings and Loan industry and the standing down of the economy from a sixty year military-industrial configuration--shot himself in the foot by raising taxes instead of cutting what was obviously an absurdly bloated budget for a post-Cold War nation. He thereby made himself unelectable because he so alienated his own base--much of which switched to Ross Perot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:25 AM

OUT, OUT, DAMN SPOT:

Slave State: WHY SADDAM IS WORSE THAN SLOBO. (Robert Kaplan, 10.10.02, New Republic)
Where are all the humanitarian interventionists now? After all, throughout the 1990s they beat the war drums for military intervention against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, who is responsible for the deaths of only one-quarter as many people as Saddam Hussein. In the vast network of prisons, torture chambers, and poison-gas fields of Iraq and its border areas, Saddam bears responsibility for the deaths of a million people. He instigated the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, during the course of which I watched one of his handpicked generals poke the dead body of an Iranian teenager--killed by chemical weapons--while explaining to reporters that it was like using a spray can to kill mosquitoes. [...]

The last time an American leader faced this kind of domestic and international opposition and stood fast against it in order to break down the walls of tyranny was in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan deployed Pershing missiles in Western Germany against the advice of the liberal foreign policy establishment and many world leaders. Disarmament demonstrations raged in the United States and in Europe, but Reagan would not yield. Thus, he helped convince a sclerotic Soviet Communist Party that a new, more dynamic kind of leader in the Kremlin would be required to deal with him, and so Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power.

Reagan's decision to deploy the nuclear missiles--a turning point in the cold war--could not by itself be defended by any universal morality, but it had a vast and profound moral result. The same will be true of an invasion of Iraq, just as it was of our invasion of Afghanistan. Make no mistake: This is a Reaganesque moment. For years intellectuals have pined for simple and consistent moral leadership on life-or-death foreign policy issues, leadership that does not cleverly parse words or twist and turn in the winds of politics and opinion polls for the sake of a tactical career advantage. Well, now they've got it. All of them, not just the neoconservatives, should support President George W. Bush's and Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposed humanitarian intervention in Iraq.


There's a really interesting dynamic that's developed on the Left, over a long period of time, which would seem to hold that interventions which serve our own interests are de facto illegitimate. That is to say: if Saddam ran a country in Central Africa and were killing his people, but were no threat to us or our interests otherwise, the internationalist humanitarian Left would support putting and end to his reign of terror. But, because Iraq has oil and threatens Israel and other U.S. allies, they are suspicious of, if not outright hostile to, the idea of dealing with him. This nonsensical dichotomy would appear to reflect a deep rooted self-loathing that would be extraordinarily dangerous were it allowed to become the basis of American policy, which may be why voters don't trust Democrats when it comes to national security.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:13 AM

INSECURITY:

The Shocking Third Rail of Election 2002 (David Hogberg, 11/8/02, American Prowler)
[S]enate candidates Jim Talent (Missouri), John Sununu (New Hampshire), and House candidate and incumbent Jim Leach (Iowa)...[e]ach won by relatively small margins of 1%, 4%, and 6%, respectively. Although none of them made reform a prominent issue in his campaign, none of them ever backed away from personal accounts as an option for younger workers. Despite being attacked with a flurry of Democratic ads, both Sununu and Talent maintained their positions in support of reform. Leach's opponent, Julie Thomas, made news when she signed an AFL-CIO pledge against privatizing Social Security. Despite this, Leach insisted in a televised debate he was open to the option of personal accounts.

Next consider the two candidates who made reform a major issue in their campaigns. One was North Carolina Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole, who discussed the issue often at campaign stops. The other was Rep. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania's 15th district. In a district with a heavy elderly population, Toomey made personal accounts a centerpiece of his campaign, resulting in a feature about him on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. These two candidates had even larger victory margins. Elizabeth Dole won by 9%, and Toomey won by 14%, his biggest margin to date.

So why did Republicans who stuck by their guns do so well? A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll provides an important clue. The poll does show that support for personal accounts has waned, from 63% in April 2002 to 52% in September. However, an even larger majority is worried about the current system. A full 67% either say it is in a "crisis" or faces "major problems." Even for the 65-and-older cohort, the number is a substantial 43%. That is little changed from December 1998. So while support for reform fluctuates, anxiety about the current system persists.


This is another issue that has to have Democrats scared. Despite a bear market that's seen the Dow give up as much as a third of its value, public opinion continues to favor, even if only slightly, the personal accounts that Republicans are advocating. And where such privatization was most explicitly at issue the Republicans won. Here in NH, where Jeanne Shaheen and the Democrats made it sound like John Sununu wanted seniors to end their days eating Alpo, he never backed away from his position (nor did Congressman Charlie Bass) and, in fact, never seemed particularly uncomfortable defending it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 AM

SOUND AND FURY:

Europe's mid-term crisis: The EU can check the actions of the rejuvenated Bush administration, it just needs the guts (Simon Tisdall, November 8, 2002, The Guardian)
Herein lies the crux of the problem facing Europe as Bush savours his election victories and begins to expand upon the policy themes of the last two years: Europe may not like much of it, but there is precious little it can or will do about it.

If Europe really feels that strongly, it could mount a boycott of US companies or impose economic sanctions on the US until it cleans up its Kyoto act. If the boot were on the other foot, this is exactly what the US might do. But will Europe do it? Fat chance.

If it were so minded, Europe could refuse to exempt Americans from the ICC's provisions and issue arrest warrants, say, for the CIA operatives who blew away six al-Qaida "terrorists" in Yemen this week. Will this happen? No way.


Of course, Mr. Tisdall, presumably unintentionally, just made the case for why the U.S. should refuse to be bound by the ICC. If the targeted killings of those al Qaeda operatives this week were the kind of thing that would get Americans indicted by an International Criminal Court then neither we nor the world can afford it.

November 9, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 PM

THE 53% EXTREMISTS (again):

A dark week for democracy: The stranglehold the far Right has now taken on America will make it a more divided, reactionary and illiberal country (Will Hutton, November 10, 2002, The Observer)
The election in Georgia said it all. The Democrat governor, Roy Barnes, had dared to remove the Confederate symbol from the state flag last year. His Republican challenger wanted to bring it back, to honour, he said, 300,000 Confederate 'veterans'. A Republican has not occupied Georgia's governor's mansion since 1872. After last Tuesday, one does, courtesy of wanting to celebrate a civil war fought to defend slavery.

Europeans do not understand the curious civilisation that the current America is becoming, and the grip that a visceral and idiosyncratic conservatism has on its national discourse. They especially do not understand the undercurrents of an increasingly self-confident and subtle racism that is its own variant of the forces that in Europe gave us Le Pen and Pim Fortuyn. George Bush Jnr is a chip off the old multilateralist, transatlantic establishment, runs the European argument. He may seem hawkishly conservative but, in the end, he seeks UN resolutions like other American Presidents. Even at home, his bark is worse than his bite.

Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Anyone who thinks the Tory party is 'nasty' has not encountered contemporary American republicanism. Georgia's Republican Party, for example, is now lead by Ralph Reed, a long-time crusader against abortion, divorce and single parent families. He would regard last week's vote in the House of Lords allowing unmarried and gay couples to adopt as the work of Satan. He is part of US conservatism's ideological hard core.


Oh, to be European, where the only acceptable ideology is pro-abortion and pro-alternative lifestyle. No wonder they're succumbing to an influx of Muslim immigrants.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 PM

DROPPED BALL (via Ed Driscoll):

That's Not Funny: What makes us laugh. (John Derbyshire, November 5, 2002, National Review)
P.C. has, of course, cast its great wet blanket over a lot of harmless jokes. I once made the mistake of telling a Wall Street joke in mixed company. The joke was: "Two traders are going up in the elevator to work on a Monday morning. First trader: 'Do anything at the weekend?' Second trader: 'Yes, I got a dog for my wife.' First trader: 'Hey, great trade!'" One of the company, a fierce feminist, took exception to the joke, and delivered a finger-wagging lecture about how jokes of that kind demean women. Oh, yeah, right: Guys who hear that joke are going to go home and beat up on their wives. What is far more likely is that they will go home and tell it to their wives, who will laugh out loud, as mine did.

Mr. Derbyshire is on the edge of the great truth but lets it slip away. Considerations of Political Correctness are just part of the reason that humor is necessarily conservative.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 PM

THE GIANT WHO NEVER WAKES:

Will the Party Lose China? The central challenge for the Chinese Communist Party's new leadership is how to remain relevant to a rapidly changing society. (DAVID SHAMBAUGH, November 7, 2002, NY Times)
Widespread alienation and cynicism exist at all levels of society about politics and the party. At the same time, weakened tools of coercion and the growth of a market economy have led to high levels of social instability, growing dissent and challenges to party doctrine. Rampant corruption has laid bare the insufficiency of the legal system, the lack of political checks on power and inadequate commercial transparency. Many of the party's current problems are the result of broad processes associated with socioeconomic modernization and greater social stratification. Significant parts of society have been left behind as others have benefited from market reforms. Rural incomes have been stagnant for a decade, forcing about 100 million people to roam the country looking for work in cities. Meanwhile, restructuring of the state industrial sector has created a level of unemployment unprecedented since the Communist Party came to power in 1949. [...]

The central challenge for the party's new leadership is how to remain relevant to a rapidly changing society. The loss of party control in China is an incremental process, a gradual decay instead of the sudden implosion that occurred in the former Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. If the Communist Party's rule is frontally challenged, as in 1989 during the Tiananmen crisis, it can probably maintain power through armed force--although even that is no longer entirely certain. But if the party is to remain in power without having to resort to force, it must develop means of governance that share power with the people and civic organizations.

A remarkable public opinion poll released this week by a research center affiliated with the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found that 91 percent of respondents said the justice system was unfair while 80 percent said they wanted to elect their officials directly. A majority said the party Congress should focus on improving social welfare and job creation and should adopt new political reforms.


We have yet to hear any coherent explanation of how you keep a state this size together, administer it effectively, create a legal system, teach the Western values that must undergird a liberal democracy, deal with the coming shortage of women, etc., etc., etc.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM

THE MAN IN BLACK:

Despite Age and Illness, a Steady Cash Flow (Richard Harrington, November 3, 2002, Washington Post)
In many ways, Johnny Cash is the godfather of Americana, the bridge between country and folk traditions and modernism. He's one of a handful of artists to be inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the select company Cash keeps includes Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Bill Monroe and Elvis Presley.

Pop culture icon? American original?

Oh, yes.

And at 70, Cash is still taking risks, fighting demons. Those demons are no longer drugs or alcohol but human frailty.

Over the last few years, Cash has battled autonomic neuropathy, a disease of the nervous system that makes him susceptible to respiratory problems. He stopped touring regularly in 1997. For his new album, "The Man Comes Around" (Lost Highway), Cash often had to record in short segments, and limitations of breath and range are apparent in that now well-weathered baritone. But his defiant, indomitable spirit remains undiminished.


There are a lot of old guys making records who should have hung it up long ago. Johnny Cash's last couple discs may be as good as any he's ever done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 PM

IT SHOULD BE THE VOTING EXAM TOO:

Entrance exam: Could you pass the test given to would-be U.S. citizens? (Jane Clifford, November 9, 2002, San Diego Union Tribune)
The following questions come from the Immigration and Naturalization Service Web site and mirror the actual test.

1. Who elects the president of the United States?

a) Senate
b) Congress
c) the Cabinet
d) the electoral college

2. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?

a) the Bill of Rights
b) the Articles of Confederation
c) the Preamble
d) the Declaration of Independence

3. How many times may a Senator be re-elected?

a) there is no limit
b) once
c) four times
d) six times

4. How many changes or amendments are there to the Constitution?

a) 10
b) 27
c) 13
d) 9

5. How many Senators are there in Congress?

a) 100
b) 50
c) Based on the size of the population
d) 435

6. Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court today?

a) George W. Bush
b) Thomas Jefferson
c) Janet Reno
d) William Rehnquist

7. What special group advises the president?

a) the executive branch
b) the Cabinet
c) the electoral college
d) the Supreme Court

8. What is the executive branch of our government?

a) the president, Cabinet, and departments under the Cabinet
b) the House of Representatives and the Senate
c) the Supreme Court
d) the states

9. Who has the power to declare war?

a) Congress
b) the president
c) Chief justice of the Supreme Court
d) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

10. Whose rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

a) everyone (citizens and noncitizens living in the United States)
b) registered voters
c) the president
d) natural-born citizens

11. Who becomes president if the president should die?

a) his/her spouse
b) the speaker of the House
c) vice-president
d) the secretary of state

12. What are the duties of the Supreme Court?

a) to serve the president as Cabinet members
b) to write laws
c) to interpret laws
d) to execute laws

13. How many representatives are there in Congress?

a) 100
b) 50
c) 435
d) 102

14. Who selects the Supreme Court justices?

a) the electoral college
b) the people
c) they are appointed by the president
d) the Senate

15. Which list contains three rights or freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights?
a) right to life, right to liberty, right to the pursuit of happiness
b) freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion
c) right to protest, right to protection under the law, freedom of religion
d) freedom of religion, right to elect representatives, human rights


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM

JUST WIN, BABY:

BALANCING BREAUX: Bush's Indispensable Bayou Democrat (The Prowler, 11/8/02)
Once again, as during the opening days of the Bush administration, the White House is viewing Louisiana Sen. John Breaux as a key component in its legislative game plan. Recall that Bush early on openly courted the moderate Breaux, not so much to become part of the administration as to serve as a conduit to other agreeable Democrats. The relationship never got a chance to take off, in part because the Bush energy plan was sidetracked.

But with the Republicans' new Senate majority and their need to find a workable coalition of between seven to ten Democrats for votes that require the support of 60, Breaux again becomes a potentially pivotal figure. But probably not until after the December runoff between Sen. Mary Landrieu and Suzy Haik Terrell. "He's really important to Landrieu pulling this thing out, in part because of his perceived relationship with the White House," says a Louisiana Democratic operative. "If everything goes as planned, he's going to be at her side for the next month."

So while there is little doubt that the White House will use many of the tools at its disposal to help Terrell, it will also do what it can to not bend Breaux out of shape. "We don't need to have Breaux coming back in January upset, with a grudge. We're not going to have the time to rebuild burned bridges. We want to hit the ground running up there," says a White House political staffer.


That's crazy. Why not pull out all the stops to knock Landrieu off and demonstrate for Mr. Breaux the wisdom of crossing the aisle?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM

PROGRESSIVE REGRESSION:

Democrats will be back: Bush won this week because of one issue--security. When that fades, he will be vulnerable (John Judis, November 8, 2002, The Guardian)
Before the 1960s, the Democrats were based in the unionised blue-collar working class, the urban ethnic north and the white rural south, but they have become over the past 40 years the party of post-industrial America, led by professionals (from teachers and nurses to fashion designers and actors), women (who have become disproportionately Democratic) and minorities. They are concentrated in new metropolitan areas such as California's Silicon Valley; and they stand for a kind of progressive centrist politics that grew out of the Clinton-Gore administration of the 1990s and is the cousin of Tony Blair's New Labour.

This progressive centrism continues to define the terrain of domestic politics in the US. Outside of a few states in the deep south, Republicans have been forced to mimic (often deceitfully) the Democrats' commitment to a positive role for government in regulating market capitalism. In the recent election, Republican candidates vigorously denied that they had ever advocated privatising social security funds.


Mr. Judis describes a politics with which we are unfamiliar. The fact that teachers are overwhelmingly Democrats prevents the Party from bringing market forces to bear on an educational system that is failing the poor in particular. And the Party's addiction to government prevents it from embracing the kind of free market Social Security reforms that you can bet all of these professionals take advantage of in their munificent 401k's. In what sense then are the modern Democrats progressive other than in their post-moralism, which must eventually alienate the very minorities they depend on to win elections?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 PM

RIGHT TO LIFE:

Man gets life in prison for murder of pregnant girlfriend (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/08/2002)
Willis Bailey Jr. will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder last year of his girlfriend and the resulting death of their fetus at an apartment in Ferguson.

Before a courtroom in Clayton filled with friends and relatives of the victim, Bailey pleaded guilty of two counts each of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. St. Louis County Circuit Judge Gary M. Gaertner Jr. sentenced Bailey to life in prison without parole.


Sooner or later the contradictions will be forced.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:27 PM

WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH?:

The 30-Second Democracy (Richard Cohen, November 8, 2002, Washington Post)
So now we come to yet another of Tuesday night's unheralded winners -- Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican will soon become chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Along with Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), McCain has introduced a bill that would require radio and TV stations to air a minimum of two hours a week of political programming in the campaign season. The proposal is the brainchild of Paul Taylor, executive director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns.

Does the bill have a chance? Not in the immediate future. The owners of local TV and radio stations are a powerful lobby. Two years ago, they made almost $7 million in political contributions. What's more, they are just the sort of people politicians are loath to anger. They own the 6 o'clock news, after all.

But the American people own the airwaves. The broadcast spectrum is limited. The broadcast media, unlike (thank God) newspapers, are licensed. The government assigns frequencies. It has the constitutional right to require that broadcasters give us something in return. They could start by devoting two hours to discussions of political or ideological issues.

Certainly, the McCain-Feingold-Durbin bill is no panacea for a political system that has the ethics of a hooker and the attention span of a goldfish. But if it weans candidates even a bit from the 30-second spot and relieves them of the burden of always having their hands out, then American democracy will be better for it. We can only hope that the new Republican congressional leadership gives it more than 30 seconds of consideration.


Once you get past the obligatory implication by Mr. Cohen that the GOP won because the system is flawed, he actually gets to a valid point. It won't reduce the number of political ads on TV one little bit, but broadcasters should be forced to perform such public services as part of their licensing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

MITCH-SLAPPED:

McCain put on hot seat over ethics (Billy House, Nov. 9, 2002, Arizona Republic)
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the nation's most-visible crusader against campaign-finance abuses, is seeing his own practices and ethics examined, and perhaps tarnished, in sworn testimony that has become part of a lawsuit to undo a new campaign-finance law.

The accusations, some previously aired but now being explored under oath, are contained in depositions taken in recent weeks from McCain and fellow GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the principal plaintiff challenging the legality of the new restrictions. The lawsuit is expected to quickly reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Focusing on McCain's behavior is one strategy to getting the law overturned, explained Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer who is leading the legal charge on behalf of McConnell and others to undo the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance restrictions.

The law, which bans so-called soft money, or unregulated contributions to parties and candidates that McCain and allies say has had undue influence, took effect Wednesday.

Abrams said Friday that he has repeatedly asked McCain under oath to identify "real" acts of campaign-finance corruption that might have inspired the new law, "which he cannot do." So, Abrams said, he has also been exploring with McCain what the senator actually means when he speaks of his attempts to eliminate the "appearance of corruption" with the new campaign-funding limitations.

"At some point, I may want to argue to the Supreme Court that imposing such limits on speech, upon a concept that appears as loose and fuzzy as 'the appearance of corruption,' may not be appropriate," Abrams said. "And to illustrate that with respect to how some of Senator McCain's own practices and actions might appear, I think, will make the point with force."


You can barely count the number of times that the CFR folks thought they had Mitch McConnell rolled, only to have him rear up again and trounce them. Add Floyd Abrams, one of the great lawyers in America (even if we do disagree with him often), and you've got the stage set for a fight that Mr. McCain may soon regret, especially if his friends in the media stop protecting him and cover the story.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 AM

THAT WAS NOW, THIS IS THEN:

NOW Fired Up By Election Losses, Steps Up Mobilization Efforts (Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy, November 6, 2002)
Roe v. Wade hangs by a single vote. Tipping the balance of the Supreme Court with one more extremist justice would ensure the loss of abortion rights for generations. We know that the stealth legislation disguised as "fetal protection," is really an thinly-veiled effort to deprive many more women of their reproductive freedom. And the Senate is primed to confirm a bevy of right-wing judges that will make the federal bench look more conservative than a Bush family reunion.

The Bush agenda for 2003 is no secret: further decreases in women's reproductive health options, more reductions in the already-limited safety net for the poor, restrictions on civil rights and liberties, Social Security privatization, more power for HMOs and insurers and less for patients and doctors, more lifetime appointments of religious and political extremists to the federal courts, and unfettered corporate influence over regulations that might restrain their greed. Tax cuts that benefit the wealthy will become permanent and programs that help the struggling working families who are the backbone of our nation will be slashed.

We have taken some serious body blows, but nothing will stop us from organizing and rededicating ourselves to progress. We will do whatever it takes to protect women's lives in every city, town and district with an energized, focused and expanded constituency.

This election is a clarion call to everyone who values peace and wants a just and fair society for themselves and their children—we must join together with each other and with brave allies to defend fundamental human and civil rights and to renew our dream of full equality. We have faced and beaten formidable odds before, and we will do no less now. We must mobilize and organize as if our lives and the futures of our children and families depended on it. They do. And as our numbers double, watch out George Bush—here comes trouble!


Geez, if only people had known all this before the election the GOP might not have won in a landslide and 11 of the 12 Senate candidates that NOW's PAC worked for might not be buffing up their resumes. Oh yeah, and the one who won was Frank Lautenberg. So only a legal violation kept them from going 0 for 12. Ms Gandy seems to really have her finger on the pulse of the nation, huh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM

THE RIORDAN CANARD:

State Republicans See Light in 2006: Despite losses, slim margins bolster hopes of California GOP. (Shawn Steel, November 8 2002, LA Times)
Clearly, the Democratic sweep occurred primarily because of the fund-raising advantage, not the fantasy advanced by liberal pundits that California has morphed into a Democratic bastion. It's also worth noting that, despite being massively outspent, Republicans gained a state Senate seat and two Assembly seats, and they may yet pick up a third.

The usual suspects in the media and the Republican Party are resuscitating an equally false notion that Simon lost because he was "too conservative" for California. It's a variation on the canard that the Republican Party must move left to be viable in California -- a nostrum dispelled by looking at the election results.

For example, take the fates of Bruce McPherson and Tom McClintock, the most liberal and most conservative members, respectively, of the GOP ticket. McPherson perfectly fits the theoretical profile of the ideal GOP statewide candidate: pro-choice, strong moderate credentials, fawning press coverage, a comparably well-funded campaign and a compelling personal story. Yet he lost to gaffe-prone Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante by nine points. In stark contrast, the conservative McClintock, the GOP's nominee for controller, received more votes than any other statewide Republican candidate -- and may yet eke out a victory despite having been vastly outspent by the multimillionaire entrepreneur Steve Westly, whose ads attacking McClintock's pro-life stance had little effect.


CA, particularly Latino voters, should be the focus of the Bush '04 campaign and the Party should recruit some decent Senate candidate to take on Barbara Boxer. But it also has to get over the idea that Bill Simon "lost" this race.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM

THE BIG 6-0:

GOP Appears to Have Big Mo' for 2004 (Chris Cillizza and Josh Kurtz, November 07, 2002, Roll Call)
As Democrats sifted through the rubble of Tuesday night's historic vote, strategists on both sides of the aisle warned of the potentially dire implications for the minority party in election cycles to come.

Aside from the likely momentum for the Bush agenda, the Democrats' defeat could also demoralize their Senators and House Members, especially those contemplating retirement in 2004.

Leading that list is Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), who will lose the chairmanship of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee when the Senate reconvenes. Hollings, who will be 82 years old on Election Day 2004, is likely to be challenged by Rep. Joe Wilson (R) in the event he runs for re-election.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who will be 80 in November 2004, may also be more inclined to retire from the minority than he would have been had Democrats held the majority.

Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.), who seems likely to bear the brunt of the blame for the loss of Senate control, is also now being mentioned as a possible retiree. If Daschle steps down, expect Rep. John Thune (R), who appears to have lost his race to Sen.Tim Johnson (D) on Tuesday, and attorney Stephanie Herseth( D), who was defeated narrowly by Gov. Bill Janklow (R) for the state's at-large House seat, to emerge as the nominees for Daschle's seat in 2004.

Republicans appear to have an advantage on the Senate playing field at the start of the '04 cycle. Democrats must defend 19 seats, compared to 15 for the Republicans. At this early stage, only Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) is thought to be particularly vulnerable on the GOP side.


It is entirely feasible that--if Saddam is gone from power and the economy is revived in '04--George W. Bush could carry in a filibuster-proof majority of 60+ GOP senators.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 AM

HAPPIER DAYS FOR DEMOCRATS:

Kennedy's Victory Won By Close Margin; He Promises Fight For World Freedom; Eisenhower Offers 'Orderly Transition' (JAMES RESTON, 11/08/02, The New York Times)
Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts finally won the 1960 Presidential election from Vice President Nixon by the astonishing margin of less than two votes per voting precinct.

Nevertheless, yesterday's voting radically altered the political balance of power in America in favor of the Democrats and put them in a commanding position in the Federal and state capitals unknown since the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Of course Mr. Kennedy proceeded to botch the Cold War horribly in the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM

IT'S A START (via Stuart Buck)

Winner of No. 2 spot sees election as sign of equality in Ohio (Paul Singer, 11/07/02, The Associated Press)
Jennette Bradley, who will become the nation's first black female lieutenant governor in any state, said any attention her historic selection might bring isn't intimidating.

"Not now. It might have been a few years ago. But I've been the first and only for a while on a number of occasions," she said yesterday, the day after winning election in a Republican sweep of statewide offices.


Ms Bradley and Michael Steele, just elected Lt. Governor of MD, may as well get started on their Convention speeches now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM

DOES ANYONE EDIT THE STANDARD?:

This Is Serious: Dominance for Republicans. Vindication for the president. And a good showing from the American people. (David Brooks, 11/06/2002, Weekly Standard)
For the past two months me and just about every other pundit under the sun have been saying the same thing: There is no theme to this election, no trend. This nation is divided down the middle.

I suppose he could be trying to be funny, but "me...have been saying"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM

HARPING ON HARPO:

Oprah Winfrey, Warmonger? (Fedwa Wazwaz, November 9, 2002, AlterNet)
There is a Sanskrit proverb that says, "When understanding is demented, destruction is near." One of the major misunderstandings that exist today is the definition of freedom. Many have come to accept that freedom translates to the ability to make choices. However, what value is a choice made with a demented understanding of reality?

Take for example our choice to wage war against Iraq. On Oct. 9, TV personality Oprah Winfrey used her program to market the war.


Can a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that's so vast it even includes Oprah still be considered a conspiracy, or is it instead the mainstream?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:42 AM

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING:

Bush Remark Gives Advocates Hope for Release of Haitians (DANA CANEDY, November 9, 2002, NY Times)
A day after President Bush said his administration would make sure that Haitian refugees were treated like all asylum seekers of other nationalities, immigration groups and Haitian advocates had mixed reactions about whether his remarks would soon lead to the release of hundreds of refugees being detained here.

Mr. Bush made the remarks at a news conference on Thursday. He said Haitians should be treated the same as all migrants, except Cubans. "And the difference, of course," he said. "is that we don't send people back to Cuba because they're going to be persecuted."

Mr. Bush added, "Haitians and everybody else ought to be treated the same way, and we're in the process of making sure that happens."


This one would appear to be a gimme. The President can make a gesture that is at once pro-immigrant and pro-black by processing these folks quickly and letting them stay.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:40 AM

EERIE LACKAWANA:

U.S. Citizen Killed by CIA Linked to N.Y. Terror Case (Michael Powell and Dana Priest, November 9, 2002, Washington Post)
The U.S. citizen killed by a missile launched from a pilotless drone aircraft over Yemen was the ringleader of an alleged terrorist sleeper cell in Lackawanna, N.Y., administration officials said yesterday.

Kamal Derwish, one of two unindicted co-conspirators in the Lackawanna case, died along with the intended target of the attack, senior al Qaeda leader Abu Ali al-Harithi, who is accused of masterminding the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in which 17 sailors died.

These two men and four others were traveling in a car outside the Yemeni capital of Sanaa when they were hit by a Hellfire missile operated at an undisclosed location by the CIA. Derwish had been identified by sources Thursday as Ahmed Hijazi, an alias.

The CIA knew Derwish had returned to Yemen and was, as one administration official described him, "a fellow traveler" in a tight circle of terrorists atop the United States' unofficial most-wanted list. But the CIA officers who targeted the car, following it via live video from the drone and ultimately firing the missile, did not know Derwish was a passenger, the official said.

But, as the administration official -- who asked not to be identified -- noted dryly, "it would not have made a difference. If you're a terrorist, you're a terrorist."


So much for the guys in Lackawana being an innocent study group.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:13 AM

DISPROVING DARWIN:

A Change That Pleases Both Parties (ADAM NAGOURNEY, November 9, 2002, NY Times)
"I want to know where I send the flowers," said Nelson Warfield, a conservative Republican political consultant. "I am ecstatic. She'll be a working poster-board for what's wrong with the Democratic Party. Across the board, she is a plus for Republicans."

More than a few Democrats acknowledged some concerns about whether they were about to give the Republicans a new target for their campaign and fund-raising appeals. Ms. Pelosi was a leader in the fight against the resolution pressed by President Bush to allow the United States to go after Saddam Hussein. She supports legalizing gay marriage and is in favor of needle exchanges as a way to combat the spread of AIDS. These are positions that Republicans said they would seek to attach to the Democratic Party in the months ahead.

The fact that Ms. Pelosi is on the verge of replacing Representative Richard A. Gephardt reflects the fact that the House Democratic caucus is a good deal more liberal in its thinking than the rest of the country.


Is there a single issue where 70% of the electorate agrees with her, instead of opposing her?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:56 AM

PARAMETERS:

Conservative Issues Boosted GOP in Tight Senate Campaigns (Joseph A. D'Agostino, Human Events)
A close examination of the issues featured in the nation's most hard-fought Senate campaigns demonstrates that Republicans who ran on conservative issues helped the GOP regain control, 51 to 48, with one Democratic-leaning independent. Here is a survey of the issues that dominated state-by-state debate in the Senate races:

Arkansas, Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R.) v. Mark Pryor (D.):

This campaign, won by challenger Pryor, was marked by his run to the right and Hutchinson's dented image as a pro-family conservative due to his divorce and remarriage
to a staffer three years ago.

Illegality: Just a few days before the election, accusations surfaced that Pryor had hired an illegal immigrant as a maid but not paid payroll taxes. Pryor said that she was legal but did not say that he paid payroll taxes for her.

Abortion: Pryor ran away from the pro-choice label he had previously applied to himself and announced in a debate that he opposed abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. He even rejected the endorsement of Gloria Steinem's Voters for Choice. Hutchinson has always been pro-life.

Gun rights: Pryor ran an ad in which he said, "Unlike some Democrats in Washington, I believe in strengthening the military, and I support the President in the War on Terrorism. I am a hunter and a gun-owner, and I'll protect the 2nd Amendment rights of every American." Regardless, the NRA endorsed Hutchinson and Charlton Heston campaigned for him.

Race card: Pryor campaign officials claimed that Hutchinson wanted to "disenfranchise" black voters, and Bill Clinton came to the state to say that Republicans "don't have the interest of black voters at heart."


Interesting to see how social conservative issues played out in each race.

November 8, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 PM

WHAT A GUTLESS WEASEL:

Empty victory for a hollow man: How Norm Coleman sold his soul for a Senate seat. (Garrison Keillor, Nov. 7, 2002, Salon)
Norm got a free ride from the press. St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norm's habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago. So this false knight made his way as an all-purpose feel-good candidate, standing for vaguely Republican values, supporting the president.

What kind of coward uses such innuendo about someone's personal life instead of just saying whatever it is he means?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 PM

53% EXTREMISTS:

Democrats' Fight for the Future: Tactics, Philosophy at Stake in Race to Replace Gephardt (Jim VandeHei, November 8, 2002, Washington Post)
In a statement released late yesterday, Pelosi promised to look beyond ideology and focus on a Democratic agenda that inspires voters and wins elections. "We must draw clear distinctions between our vision of the future and the extreme policies put forward by the Republicans," she said. "We cannot allow Republicans to pretend they share our values and then legislate against those values without consequence."

Here's why we're so ecstatic about the Pelosi regime: she just implicitly referred to 53% of the American people as extremists. That's a lady who just don't get it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 PM

ALMOST:

The President and Lame Ducks (NY Times, November 8, 2002)
President Bush's measured tone and modest demeanor at his post-election news conference yesterday provided a timely reminder of why he has the support of so many voters who appear to disagree with so many of his policies. Tuesday's results had obviously put him in a good frame of mind. But he did not gloat, and indeed seemed at pains to avoid the triumphalism that some Republican leaders couldn't resist expressing when the election returns showed that their party had captured the Senate and enlarged its majority in the House. The image he projected was one of inclusive leadership rather than narrow partisanship, and while the country is clearly in for some bruising ideological battles come the next Congress, the president's manner - at turns affable and somber, and wholly disarming - seemed well suited to the needs of the moment.

This is a very nearly gracious editorial from the Times, though note that they can't resist the urge to say that voters disagree with the President on the issues. Of course, on Tuesday those same voters said they agreed with an entire raft of pro-tax cut, pro-war, pro-life, pro-privatization Senate candidates, so we're not sure which policies the Times means.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 PM

ACTUALLY, THE EU WOULD DESTROY TURKEY:

Turkey entry 'would destroy EU' (BBC, 8 November, 2002)
The man shaping the future constitution of the European Union was quoted on Friday as saying Turkey's entry into the EU would be "the end of Europe".

Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing told Le Monde newspaper that people who backed Turkey's accession were "the adversaries of the European Union".

But the Turkish foreign ministry hit back, saying that Turkey was unquestionably part of Europe, and describing Mr Giscard d'Estaing's "personal views" as regrettable.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing told Le Monde that Turkey's capital was not in Europe, 95% of its population lived outside Europe, and it was "not a European country". Asked what the effect of including Turkey in a future wave of European enlargement would be, he said: "In my opinion, it would be the end of Europe."


Mr. d'Estaing has things precisely backwards: Turkey has a future, while Europe does not. Now is the perfect time for the U.S. to end-run Europe and add Israel, Turkey, India, and Taiwan to NAFTA and to forge a new political/economic/military alliance of democratic states. These five countries already have interknit security ties; together (and hopefully adding places like Britain, Australia, Eritrea, Morroco, etc.) we would form a belt of democratic, capitalist, pluralist states that would serve notice to both the Islamicists and the communists that they are badly outgunned and outclassed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 PM

NO EDSEL, HE:

Ford says he'll challenge Pelosi for House Democratic leadership (James W. Brosnan, November 8, 2002, Memphis Commercial Appeal)
Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) confirmed today he will run next week for House Democratic leadership.

"My candidacy and leadership would offer a new era of energy and vision for the party," Ford, 32, said in a telephone interview with The Commercial Appeal late Thursday. [...]

Ford said his message would include challenging President Bush to acknowledge that his economic policies aren't working. Ford said he would call for a new round of personal and business tax cuts, including a payroll tax holiday to benefit working Americans.

While Ford generally agrees with Bush on Iraq, he said the President's declared position that the United States has the right to pre-emptively strike any nation that poses a potential threat is "not thought out."


This can't improve Mr. Ford's standing within his party and the GOP should make it abundantly clear that they'd welcome him across the aisle. We'll pass his tax cuts in a heartbeat.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM

WHAT'S SO STRANGE?:

You go, lizard girl!: Strange species: Women all-powerful (Chris Wattie, November 06, 2002, National Post)
A U.S. researcher has discovered the ultimate in girl power: a small, mud-coloured lizard whose females keep a stay-at-home male, choose from among a host of other mates and decide where they live.

The female of the side-blotched lizard can even determine whether it will have sons or daughters, according to Dr. Ryan Calsbeek, a biologist at UCLA.

"This is the ultimate example of a female having her cake and eating it too," said Dr. Calsbeek, the author of a study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It would be like a human female who marries a short, dumpy rich guy and then has an affair with a muscular 20-year-old to have a handsome son who grows up in a mansion and goes to the best schools."

His seven-year study of the lizard, the most common species in the western United States, found that while the females are about half the size of the males, they control almost every aspect of the mating and reproduction cycle.


With the exception of the multiple mates deal--hopefully--this strikes a tad too close to home.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:47 PM

THE DISAPPEARING DEMOCRAT MINORITY:

Senate Campaign 2004 (Zachary Emig, 11/7/2002)
I've put together a list of the Senators up for re-election in 2004, and included their percent of the vote in their last election and the way the state went in the 2000 presidential election. Sorted by party and then their last election's percent, it doesn't look good for Democrats:

Mr. Emig does the math and it comes out nasty. There are only three incumbent GOP senators up for re-election in states that Al Gore carried: Grassley (IA), Specter (PA) and Fitzgerald (IL). Grassley and Specter have survived several challenges each. Only Fitzgerald is completing his first term and is necessarily vulnerable. Meanwhile twelve Democrats are up in states that Bush won or tied with Gore. This includes the two top Senate Democrats--Daschle (SD) and Reid (NV)--and two supposed future presidential candidates: Bayh (IN) and Edwards (NC). The Democrats aren't just going to be defending any old hacks, but the very cream of their crop (for the sake of argument, let's assume there's a difference). Their defense will be occurring against the backdrop of the national party lighting out after the GOP for cutting taxes, opposing abortion, supporting gun rights, ignoring the UN, privatizing government programs, appointing conservative judges, etc.. In other words, the very issues that President Bush won their states on in '00.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:08 PM

WHY THE BASE IS SECURE:

U.S., Pushing for Broader Ban, Blocks U.N. Anti-Cloning Move (Julia Preston, November 8, 2002, NY Times)
The United States, supported by 36 other nations, blocked an initiative by Germany and France today for a worldwide ban on cloning to create human beings, insisting that the ban should include all forms of human cloning.

Little noticed in the elections of Tuesday was the decisive influence of the Christian Right, which turned out in big numbers. The most obvious example was in Georgia, where the Republican Party is now led by Ralph Reed, formerly head of the Christian Coalition, and where the GOP took every constitutional office, the US Senate seat, and control of the legislature. But in general, in races where attention was great, turnout was high, and differences were stark--like MN, MO and NH--pro-life candidates won. In MO, for example, abortion was the second most important issue cited in exit polling, at 17% vs. The Economy (21%), and of that 17% a staggering 80% voted for Jim Talent. This obviously runs counter to the conventional wisdom, which holds that the GOP gets killed by its intransigence on such issues, and suggests that the political landscape on abortion has shifted dramatically. People may not want abortion recriminalized, but they do appear increasingly uncomfortable with the Left's insistence on abortion on demand.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:13 PM

AFTERSHOCKS:

Veteran Legislator Appears to Lose Seat in Recount (The Associated Press, November 8, 2002)
A recount of votes in Wayne County has turned up an upset in the legislative election.

Veteran Democratic state House member Phil Baddour Junior lost to Republican challenger Louis Pate by a narrow margin of 164 votes.

Votes were recounted by the county board of elections after a software error caused thousands of Wayne County ballots not to be counted.

Baddour's loss would give Republicans an edge in the state House.


It's like a cartoon, where the rubble keeps falling after the landslide...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM

EVEN MORE ASTONISHING FACTOID:

Republican gains extend down to local level (ASSOCIATED PRESS, November 7, 2002)
Reflecting the national picture, Republicans racked up victories in statehouses across the country, taking control of Democratic-dominated chambers and likely giving the Republican Party a majority of seats for the first time in half a century.

"It was a banner night for the GOP," said Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, who said Republicans will have a net gain of about 200 seats and control of 21 statehouses.

That contrasts with a traditional midterm election, he said, in which the party in the White House typically loses about 350 seats.


If I recall correctly, which is highly improbable, the story we posted last month said that no party had gained seats in state legislatures in a president's first mid-term since FDR.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM

STEAL OR LOSE:

SUPREME COURT SAYS VOTERS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED EXTRA TIME (KTVH, Little Rock, Arkansas)
The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Pulaski County residents were not entitled to an extra 90 minutes of voting this week. The move clears the way for election officials to toss out ballots cast after the official close of the polls.

The Pulaski County attorney's office says officials are currently reading the ruling.

A judge in the Arkansas' most populous county extended poll-closing time from seven-30 p.m. to nine p.m. on Tuesday, citing long lines at some precincts and the absence of ballots at others. The justices said today Circuit Judge Collins Kilgore was wrong to do so.

Republicans accused state Democrats of trying to steal the election by extending voting hours in the predominantly Democratic county -- a key U.S. Senate race was on the ballot -- and the state Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday that the extra hours were illegal.

It was unknown how many votes were cast in the extra 90 minutes. Some of the late ballots were challenged Tuesday night, allowing the local Election Commission to identify some of them.


So, let's see if we have this straight: all that kept Tuesday from being a complete disaster for the Democrats was SD and AR and they committed vote fraud in both?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 PM

HEADED FOR HIGHER GROUND:

Ga. Senate tilting to GOP: Dan Lee of LaGrange jumps from Democratic Party (JAMES SALZER, 11/08/02, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
State Sen. Dan Lee became the first Democratic legislator this morning to announce his switch to the GOP.

Lee made the expected announcement as Gov.-elect Sonny Perdue's seven-city victory tour stopped in his hometown. "From this day forward, they can count me in the Republican aisle in the Senate," Lee said.

Perdue announced that Lee would be an assistant floor leader in the Senate when the Legislature convenes in January. Sen. Bill Stephens (R-Canton) will be the governor's floor leader, Perdue said. The floor leader carries the governor's legislation on the Senate floor, while the assistant floor leaders line up votes for the governor's initiatives.

Perdue, who himself switched from the Democratic to the Republican party in 1998, welcomed Lee to the fold. "We are here to work for the people of Georgia, not against anybody," Perdue said.

Lee, who was elected to the Senate in 1998, said that other Democratic senators who do not intend the switch had pledged to work with the Republican administration.


Here's more cover for Zell Miller: "It is with great regret that I today announce that I, like many of my fellow Democrats in Georgia, no longer feel that once great party best represents the interests of our state and nation..."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM

-STAN AND LAURELS:

Republicans sweep all top offices, first time since 1994 (AP, November 6,  2002)
Not since 1994 have Republicans dominated an election like they did Tuesday, and held all of the state’s major political jobs.

At least for the next two years, there will be a Republican governor, two U.S. Senators, two U.S. Representatives and all five Executive Councilors.

In addition, the GOP appears to have widened its margin in the state Senate and retained control of the state House.


The margin in the Senate is actually 18 to 6 and it's nearly a 3-1 ratio in the House. If anyone else has previously coined the term our apologies, but it now seems fair to rechristen our beloved Granite State: Republicanistan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 AM

ANYBODY HAVE NEXIS/LEXIS?:

Jeffords may feel a chill (JOHN TIERNEY, November 7, 2002, The New York Times)
Jeffords defended his defection as a decision to be loyal to his principles, and many of his constituents applauded him at the time for courage. Now he is in roughly the same situation as the Woody Allen character in “Bananas” who bravely pushes a gang of thugs out of a subway car as the doors are closing, only to have his moment of heroism abruptly end when the doors open to let the thugs back in.

Care to do a search on the number of times the NY Times has referred to Congressional Democrats as "thugs"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 AM

FORTY YEARS IN THE DESERT?:

Into the Wilderness (PAUL KRUGMAN, November 8, 2002, NY Times)
To have a chance of breaking through the wall of media blur and distraction, the Democrats have to get the public's attention--which means they have to stand for something.

It's obvious what the Democrats should stand for: Above all, they should be the defenders of ordinary Americans against the power of our burgeoning plutocracy. That means hammering the Republicans as they back off on corporate reform--which they will. It means defending the environment against the administration's sly, behind-the-scenes program of dismantling regulation.

And it means doing what the party has refused to do: coming out forthrightly against tax cuts for corporations and the rich--both the cuts passed last year and those yet to come. In the next few months the Bush administration will once again demand tax cuts that benefit a tiny elite, in the name of economic stimulus. The Democrats mustn't fall for this line again; they must insist that the way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the hands of people who need it.

If the Democratic Party takes a clear stand for the middle class and against the plutocracy, it may still lose. But if it doesn't stand for anything, it--and the country--will surely lose.


Mr. Krugman is absolutely right. For the good of their own souls and of theb nation, Democrats should return to their core principles and present a real alternative to conservatism, just as conservatives steadfastly opposed the New Deal and Great Society. Of course, that may mean that their time in the wilderness, as did the GOP's (1932-1994?), will last longer than even the normal Biblical span.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 AM

IRONY?:

The gathering of the Schama groupies: A few fortunate art fans had the Metropolitan Museum to themselves and a renowned art critic as a tour guide. (Jenny Jackson, November 06, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
Jacques-Louis David was one of France's most gifted artists and he lived through its most tumultuous time. His painting of Socrates, painted in 1787, two years before the French revolution, is one of classicism's "canonical paintings, how classicism makes its case."

Yet it was a pie in the face to the establishment, delivered by the James Dean of his day. David was not prepared to knuckle under any longer to the rigid Royal Academy, which controlled France's artists in much the way we now train and control doctors. [...]

People like Thomas Jefferson took an interest in David and he became politicized, rejecting the academy further.

It asked him to undertake another painting, but in a breathtakingly defiant gesture, he did something else instead: The Death of Socrates.

"David has taken liberties here. Socrates had 15 students, but he has made it 12. Why? Because there were 12 apostles and this is a painting all about how you can be moral without having to be a Christian.

"In France, in which Christianity ruled absolutely everything, this is a painting that votes for Voltaire. It's a painting about respect for the law but the defiant integrity of the individual ... just exactly how David thought of himself."

Ironically, David would join the French revolution and become a virtual dictator of art, known as the "Robespierre of the brush."


A reader sent this along because it references the Rembrandt painting we mentioned below. But I was also struck by this unintentionally amusing bit. There is a profound lack of irony in the specter of the rationalist David, who began by trying to unseat the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and replace it with his personal sense of what is good, ending up helping to lead the Terror. The last couple centuries in the West are a standing testimony to the fact that it's a short trip from the "defiant integrity of the individual" to dictatorship and the guillotine.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:39 AM

YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO FOLD 'EM:

Hollings Says He May Not Run Again: Soon-To-Be Senior Senator's Term Ends In 2004 (AP, November 7, 2002)
South Carolina's 80-year-old junior senator said Wednesday that he may let this term be his last.

U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings told The State newspaper that he had planned to run again, but will make up his mind later.

His term ends in 2004.

"We'll just have to see" Hollings said, reacting to Tuesday's election sweep by Republicans that took most of the major statewide offices in South Carolina and cost Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.


This is just the first of what will be many retirements, now that retaking the Congress seems so dubious. In particular, many House members, who Gephardt has gotten to hang on for 5 cycles of GOP control, may well now give up.

November 7, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 PM

SPICING THE WONDER BREAD:

Disillusioned blacks hurt Democrats (Ellen Sorokin, November 7, 2002, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Republicans won their seats, with a lot of help from the Hispanic community.

In Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush was re-elected with more than 60 percent of the Latino vote. In New York, Gov. George E. Pataki was re-elected with nearly 50 percent of the Hispanic vote. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry was re-elected with more than one-third of the Latino vote, according to figures compiled by the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, of Colorado, won El Paso County, which has about 58,400 Hispanics, by 53,445 votes.

In Georgia, Rep. Saxby Chambliss won Gwinnett County, which has the largest Hispanic population, by 39,346 votes. In North Carolina, Elizabeth H. Dole won Wake County, the county with the state's second-largest Hispanic population by 22,405 voters, the RNC numbers show.


Anti-immigrationists on the Right have derided the notion that Latinos can be made a GOP voting bloc. These numbers should at least make them stop and think, especially the seemingly worst one: recall that Rick Perry got his 33% against a Hispanic Democrat who spent $60 million on his own campaign.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:56 PM

STRIDING TO DISASTER:

Tiptoeing to Defeat: The party of Roosevelt, Truman and the Kennedys has morphed into the party of timidity. (BOB HERBERT, November 7, 2002, NY Times)
The Democratic Party is like an army that dutifully goes off to battle but leaves its ammunition and its principles behind. It's bad enough to lack the firepower that you need to win. It's worse to not even know what you're fighting for.

Despite the economic burdens that the middle and working classes are shouldering, despite the two million jobs lost and the scandalous concentration of wealth and income in the precincts of the very rich, the Democrats have yet to offer a compelling alternative to the reverse Robin Hood policies of the G.O.P.

Throughout this year's campaign, the Democrats let the president bang the cynical war drums on Iraq whenever and however he wished. Other important issues — the economy, employment, the administration's appalling environmental record, the threat to abortion rights and civil rights posed by the president's federal court nominees — were largely pushed aside, to the delight of Republicans nationwide.

Republicans didn't win control of the Senate on Tuesday. The clueless Democrats lost it.


Suppose we concede for a moment the idea that the American people can't figure out that the Democrats are the party of taxes, peace, and abortion. We'll grant Mr. Herbert's notion that as a general rule no one knows what the Democrats want any more. But, surely, there was one race on Tuesday where the party of FDR faced off against the Republicans of 2002 and it was just as ugly as the rest of the country. We speak, of course, of MN, where Walter Mondale, who may even have been a New Dealer, led the Democrat Farmer Labor Party against a pro-life, pro-tax cut, pro-war Republican. If there was one testing ground in America for Mr. Herbert's theory it was there. How'd the test go?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:40 PM

THE W DIFFERENCE:

While everyone's focussed on the performance of George W. Bush in the days leading up to Tuesday, there ma be more to be learned about him by his performance since. First of all, here's the difference between W and the two men who dominated the American political scene in the '90s: we didn't even see him yesterday. Think about that. Now try to imagine those two fat egomaniacal onanists, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, staying out of the limelight on Wednesday. You can't can you? They would have made it all about themselves.

Meanwhile, today the President did come out from behind the curtain and at a White House Press Conference he was relaxed, friendly, confident, and, hardest of all, humble. He repeatedly insisted that it was the candidates, their families, and their staffs who deserved the credit, even those who lost, and that his contribution had been minimal. If Democrats and the media haven't figured him out yet, they could do worse than watch today's performance.

The moment that should really scare them came when he called on a black woman reporter and asked how her daughter, "Georgina W.", was doing. She jibed back that her husband was watching and W better be careful. There was an easy familiarity to the exchange that no other Republican president could have achieved. That right there is the new face of the GOP. It doesn't scare blacks the way a Bob Dole or a Ronald Reagan used to, not even the way the NAACP's caricature of Mr. Bush in 2000 used to. And, as we saw on Tuesday, if blacks aren't deathly afraid of the Republican Party, the Democrats are toast.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM

ASTONISHING FACTOID:

Not a single Republican governor running for reelection lost. The only incumbent Republican senator defeated was Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas, whose divorce and remarriage had severed his bonds with his religious conservative following. And in House races, only two Republican members were defeated.

That's from the David Broder piece below. It puts the Democrats successes on the gubernatorial level in some perspective. They were largely winning (and then only narrowly) seats that the GOP, for whatever reason, was vacating.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:43 PM

BRODER'S BRAIN:

'Accidental' No More (David S. Broder, November 7, 2002, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 PM

ANNOYING SELF-REFERENTIAL TWADDLE:

Pilot Project Is Sending Books to American Troops Abroad (MEL GUSSOW, November 7, 2002, NY Times)
During World War II soldiers carried Armed Services Editions of pocket-size books and read them avidly whenever they had time. These were literary classics, popular novels, plays and nonfiction issued free to troops around the world. The books, increasingly dog-eared, were a cultural oasis as well as entertainment. Some soldiers took them into battle. Copies were handed out as troops left England for the Normandy invasion.

More than 120 million copies of more than 1,300 titles were distributed from 1943 to 1947. These paperbacks included works by Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Tolstoy; classics like Plato's "Republic" and Homer's "Odyssey"; plays like Shaw's "Arms and the Man"; thrillers and westerns; and nonfiction like Joseph Dunninger's book on mind reading, "What's on Your Mind?"

Andrew Carroll, an author and archivist, described the program as "the biggest giveaway of books in our history" with the possible exception of Gideon Bibles. It is, he said, "a great forgotten story" of World War II. After the war the editions were at least partly responsible for the proliferation of paperbacks in the United States.

This month, in a pilot project created by Mr. Carroll, the Armed Services Editions are returning with 100,000 copies of new versions of four books being printed in the same wide, brightly colored "cargo pocket" format: Shakespeare's "Henry V," "The Art of War" (Sun Tzu's classic 500 B.C. study of military strategies) and two recent best sellers, "Medal of Honor: Profiles of America's Military Heroes From the Civil War to the Present" by Allen Mikaelian, with commentary by Mike Wallace, and "War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence From American Wars," edited by Mr. Carroll.

Once again they are being distributed to American troops abroad. They are being published by Hyperion, Dover Publications and the Washington Square Press of Simon & Schuster.

For the publication and distribution of these first four titles, Mr. Carroll obtained $50,000 from a corporate source. Mr. Carroll hopes this project will eventually approximate the original one. As he said, "There's nothing I'd like more than to see this little effort transformed into what it was in the 1940's: a major collaboration between publishers and the military." During the war, more than 70 publishers participated.


It will interest no one to hear that this is how Brothers Judd started. When the Other Brother's reserve unit was sent to Bosnia he asked for books, to fill the very many empty hours. In each crate I included capsule reviews of each book to tell him why I thought he'd like it. When he got back and was at UNH finishing is doctorate he had access to a webserver, so he kindly posted some reviews and recommendations. The rest, as they say, is history.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 AM

THE 52ND SENATOR:

Landrieu’s Fate: Do the Democrats even care about the last 2002 Senate campaign? (Rod Dreher, November 7, 2002, National Review)
Recriminations over the Democrats' Black Tuesday have Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, who faces an expensive and brutal slog to the December 7 runoff, turning the knives on her own campaign. Landrieu, who goes head-to-head with Republican challenger Suzanne Haik Terrell, purged her political consultants in the wake of the national GOP sweep, and is planning to go it alone. Landrieu yesterday fired her Washington advisers, and according to a high-level Democratic source, is "preparing to go to war" with the national party to keep its tacticians and staff away from her campaign.

"Landrieu's a micromanager who doesn't listen much to advice, and she and her team — her father, mother, brother, and chief of staff — have decided she's going to handle the runoff their way," the Washington Democrat tells NRO. "The DSCC [Democratic Senate Campaign Committee] is going to send 150 people to Louisiana, but Landrieu and her people are preparing to go to war with the DSCC to do it the 'Louisiana way.'" [...]

"Both parties could spend an easy $10 million to $15 million here, if this thing got competitive. I'm not sure the Democrats are going to be willing to do it," says Maginnis. "They're probably getting tired of spending so much money and time propping up Mary Landrieu."


Why not just recruit Ms Landrieu? If she wins the GOP adds a seat and she's in the majority. If she loses give her a job somewhere.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:38 AM

FOOLISH MAN (from Barry Meislin):

Man Defeats Wife in Kan. Election (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, November 7, 2002)
Marital bliss appears to have survived a political race that pitted county Judge Steve Becker against his wife.

Becker, a Republican, drew 13,375 votes to the 5,638 cast for wife Sarah Sweet-McKinnon, a Democrat who works as a public defender in Wichita. [...]

It was the first time in two decades that Becker faced an opponent. Sweet-McKinnon had argued that it was time for a change.


The wife would certainly make me sleep in the garage if I had the temerity.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM

THE INTOLERANCE OF THE TOLERATIONISTS:

Of ethics and ironies (Rabbi Avi Shafran, Nov. 6, 2002, Jewish World Review)
At least Ann Landers admitted when she was wrong.

And while she may have used a pseudonym, Eppie Lederer claimed only to offer one woman's point of view, no more, no less.

Times, alas, have changed, and along with them The New York Times, whose Sunday Magazine's readers are offered the judgments of "The Ethicist." The bearer of that grandiose title also has a name--Randy Cohen--but his designation is clearly meant to imply gravitas.

Mr. Cohen is generally sensible and very often quite funny. Recently, though, he goofed badly. And, what is worse, he seems unwilling to own up to his error, not an encouraging sign for any honorable man, much less still The Ethicist.

The question in question came from a woman who had closed a deal with an Orthodox Jewish real estate agent. She became offended, though, when the otherwise "courteous and competent" man declined to shake her hand, explaining that touching a woman other than his wife violated his religious code of conduct. The offendee wanted to tear up the contract they had signed, and sought the columnist's advice.

"Sexism is sexism," responded Mr. Cohen, "even when motivated by religious convictions." And, invoking Brown v. Board of Education to argue that "separate is by its very nature unequal," he advised his supplicant to rip away.


One can't object much to her refusing to conduct private business with someone whose religious beliefs she abhors, but that is bigotry.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 AM

PORTRAITS OF...:

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt (1653) (Jonathan Jones, July 27, 2002, The Guardian)
Distinguishing features: Homer is blind, his eyes brown voids that lead the eye into an inner darkness. The sightless eyes of Homer's bust, on which Aristotle rests his hand, are innocent and profound; Homer's face is humble and weak, and he wears a simple shift. The gold light catches his head and illuminates the face of Aristotle, whose
black eyes look wanly - knowing too much - at Homer. This is a painting partly about the uses of portraits.

In his Renaissance treatise On Painting (1435), Leon Battista Alberti argued that one of the uses of art is to preserve the images of the dead so that they can be looked at many years later. Alberti used the example of a portrait of Aristotle's pupil, Alexander the Great, which, after Alexander's death, brought one of his generals to tears. The Renaissance cult of the portrait was aware of portraiture as a historical document. The portraits that survived from the ancient world were primarily busts, and that is what Rembrandt depicts here.

This is doubly nostalgic: Aristotle, who lived in the fourth century BC, meditates on a portrait bust of Homer, a legendary figure from three centuries earlier. So Aristotle contemplates a portrait that is a token of a remote past, and we contemplate both that and the painted portrait of Aristotle as Rembrandt imagines him. Homer's image in ancient statuary is conventionalised, and Rembrandt acknowledges that any portrait is to some degree a fiction. And yet, because of Rembrandt's brilliance, we find it hard to dismiss Aristotle as a figment of paint. It seems to be the real man before us, really thinking. Other artists give us the appearance of their subjects; Rembrandt conveys interior life, a consciousness.


Readers of Picture This, for my money Joseph Heller's best book, will recall the effective use he makes of this great painting.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 AM

6% NATION:

Analysis: GOP beats Dems by about 53%-47% (Steve Sailer, 11/6/2002, UPI)
As of around dawn today, with about 97 percent of precincts reporting across the nation, in the 36 gubernatorial races Republican candidates in aggregate had won 52.8 percent of the two-party vote to 47.2 percent for the Democrats. (That's ignoring 3rd party votes for the sake of simplicity.)

In the 34 senatorial elections, Republicans in total attracted 52.2 percent of the two-party vote vs. 47.8 percent for the Democrats.

And in the 435 House contests, the GOP took 53.4 percent to only 46.6 percent for the Democrats. This nearly 7-percentage-point margin in the House compared impressively to the narrow 1.2-point advantage the Republicans enjoyed in the House in the 2000 voting, according to Michael Barone.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

A JOKE:

A tourist walked into a curio shop in San Francisco. Looking around at the exotic, he noticed a very lifelike, life-sized bronze statue of a rat. It had no price tag but was so striking he decided he must have it.

He took it up to the owner, "How much for the bronze rat?"

"Twelve dollars for the rat. One hundred dollars for the story," said the owner.

The tourist gave the man twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat. You can keep the story."

As he walked down the street carrying his bronze rat, he noticed that a few real rats had crawled out of the alleys and sewers and began following him down the street. This was disconcerting; he began walking faster. But within a couple blocks, the herd of rats behind him had grown to hundreds, and they began squealing.

He began to trot toward the bay, looking around to see that the rats now numbered in the MILLIONS, and were squealing and coming toward him fast. Scared, he ran to the edge of the bay and threw the bronze rat as far out into the bay as he could. Amazingly, the millions of rats all jumped into the bay after it, and drowned.

The man walked back to the curio shop.

"Aha," said the owner, "you have come back for the story?"

"No," said the man. "I came back to see if you have a bronze Democrat."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

NANCY PELOSI VS. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE:

Gephardt to Pass House Leader Post (DAVID ESPO, 11/06/02, AP)
Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt intends to announce Thursday that he will not seek a new term as House Democratic leader, senior aides said.

The expected announcement would clear the way for a succession struggle among Democrats, who have been in the minority for eight years and lost seats to Republicans in midterm elections on Tuesday.

Gephardt has long signaled his interest in running for president in 2004, but it was not clear whether he would address that race when he announces his plans Thursday.

Two senior Democrats, Reps. Nancy Pelosi of California and Martin Frost of Texas, have already indicated they would run for party leader if Gephardt chose not to, and jockeying broke out even before word spread of the Missouri lawmaker's plans.

"The country moved to the right yesterday and House Democrats won't win a majority by moving further to the left," said Tom Eisenhauer, spokesman for Frost, attempting to depict Pelosi as too liberal to lead the party back into power.

Spokesman Brendan Daly responded for Pelosi. "It's not a matter of ideology. It's a matter of drawing a clear distinction between the Democratic and Republican Party on issues that the Democrats are united about and that the American people strongly support," he said. He cited education funding and Social Security as examples.

Rank-and-file Democrats are expected to meet next Thursday to pick the party's leaders for the Congress that convenes in January.


Somebody better get Brother Murtaugh the smelling salts, because here's the next leader of the Democrat Party, its new national face:

November 6, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 PM

WELL, THAT'S FAIRLY FRIGHTENING (via Edge of England's Sword):






Which Founding Father Are You?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 PM

PROFESSIONAL VS. POLITICAL:

China's military may not be political enough for new leaders (AFP, Nov 05, 2002)
That China's military can be a powerful force in politics was shown when troops crushed pro-democracy protests in 1989. But a new batch of Beijing leaders may now find the generals loath to leave their barracks, experts say.

The biggest worry for the next generation due to take charge of the Communist Party is not that the top brass take too much interest in politics, but too little, according to analysts.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) -- which includes the navy and air force -- focuses on becoming a modern, hi-tech outfit and would rather leave government to the politicians, they argue.

"The military is becoming increasingly professionalized," said Andrew Nathan, a China expert at New York's Columbia University. "As such, they don't want to be involved in things they consider as political."


These days Samuel Huntington is best known, and justifiably, for his writings about the Clash of Civilizations. But, in this terrific profile, Looking the World in the Eye (Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly | December 2001), Robert Kaplan writes about Mr. Huntington's view of the value of a professionalized military to a liberal society. It will be interesting to see if China's professionalized military can act as the same kind of liberalizing influence as others have in Spain, Turkey, and Chile.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 PM

ETHICS FOR SALE:

Liberty, Equality, Dignity: a review of Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics by Leon R. Kass (Andrew Ferguson, November 4, 2002, Weekly Standard)
As a profession...bioethics finds itself in a pickle. Its original purpose was to place proper limits on the uses we make of science. Yet just at the moment when science reaches for new and unimagined powers, bioethics lacks the philosophical wherewithal to provide any guidance at all. It's little wonder that the profession tumbles down into either corruption or irrelevance. Bioethics has become an instrument of the enterprise it was meant to police. Many bioethicists serve as corporate shills, trotted out by biotech companies to certify that whatever new technology their employers pursue for profit is officially "ethical." Others expend their professional energies on subsidiary questions, or even trivialities.

Here's one example. The success of the Human Genome Project has raised the prospect of "genetic profiling"--assessing a person on the basis of his genetic predisposition to certain kinds of behavior or disease. Among bioethicists, the discussion has been about politics and employment law. How will we prevent employers from discriminating against applicants on the basis of their profile? How will medical insurance rates be fairly adjusted in light of this genetic knowledge? What are the implications for the "right to privacy"?

THESE ARE INTERESTING QUESTIONS, perfect for op-ed page chitter chatter, and no doubt in time legislators and regulators will resolve them (probably without much useful participation from bioethicists). But they are not the important questions; they are not the questions that might point us toward restoring the moral narrative.

Kass approaches the issue of genetic profiling entirely differently. He considers the purposes of the technology itself and its unforeseen consequences. He points to "the hazards and the deformations in living your life that will attach to knowing in advance your likely or possible medical future." Is there sometimes a wisdom in not knowing certain things? The Greeks taught that "ignorance of one's own future fate was indispensable to aspiration and achievement."

Further, how will genetic profiles alter the way in which we think about others, about what it means to be human? "One of the most worrisome aspects of the godlike power of the new genetics is its tendency to 'redefine' a person in terms of his genes," Kass writes. "Once a person is decisively characterized by his genotype, it is but a short step to justifying death solely for genetic sins." Anyone who doubts this should consider the widely popular practice of prenatal genetic screening, after which enormous pressure is brought upon parents to abort any child with a "defect" like Down Syndrome. What that first generation of bioethicists feared is already here.

The questions Kass poses will strike most current bioethicists, and perhaps most of the rest of us too, as fussy and grandiose. They are certainly inconvenient; taken seriously, they might even stand in the way of "progress." Research cloning, genetic therapies, and the rest of the biological revolution have led to a giddiness about the promise of technology and boundless human aspiration--a giddiness that today's bioethicists actively encourage. Kass, in contrast, is a twenty-first century Jeremiah, trying to revive our appreciation for humility, mystery, and human finitude. He could not be more out of step with his times. His work, and this book especially, is a reminder of the original promise of bioethics. It is brave, wise, and doomed.


One of our favorite authors, Andrew Ferguson, on one of our favorite public servants. It doesn't get much better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 PM

SAVE THE WORLD, KILL THE GIRLS:

Playing Population-Explosion Politics: Bush panders to right by pulling back from a key accord, imperiling us all. (Robert Scheer, November 5, 2002, Los Angeles Times)
More than any other in recent memory, this administration is marked by a foreign policy driven primarily by a domestic agenda.

To seek the votes of the right-to-life caucus by mucking about with the excruciatingly complex and difficult task of reining in world population is as dangerous in its effect as it is tawdry in its motive.

And, once again, our arrogant unilateralism will cost us strategically as well as morally. When overpopulated China, India and Indonesia, as well as nations in Europe dealing with myriad crises arising from immigration, all react bitterly to this latest American isolationism, can we be surprised that they are hesitant to support Bush's jihad against Iraq?

Of course, this won't bother the aggressive claque of right-wing think-tankers currently running the foreign policy of the most powerful nation in the existence of humanity, who seem to think that power makes us God.

We are not God, and our power must not be abused. At a time when the gap between the rich and the poor is dangerously increasing, when vast armies of the desperately poor are crashing through national boundaries, it is irresponsible in the extreme to sacrifice world population stability on the altar of domestic political advantage.


If this weren't so vile it would be hilarious. Note that by refusing to decide who should live and who die in places like China we will be playing God. You'd think it would be the other way around wouldn't you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 PM

ELIOT TO TATE TO HILL:

Is Geoffrey Hill Our Greatest Living Poet? (DAVID YEZZI, 11/07/02, NY Sun)
[M]ore than Eliot, Mr. Hill cites the American poet and critic Allen Tate as helping to tune his ear: "I still have in safe keeping a letter of Tate, a very short letter that Tate wrote me in 1952 after he'd seen [my poem] "Genesis" in the second issue of The Paris Review. And I kept it as a talisman, because . . . it was discovering [Tate's poem] Ode to the Confederate Dead when I was about 15 that somehow showed me how it might be possible to write modern poetry."

Why Tate? What was it about his poem that opened a door? "It's not that I didn't love other people. But I mean if I tried to take, say, [Edward] Thomas for a model, it just wouldn't work. I mean, you know, one just got drawn down into a kind of pastoralism that I knew instinctively was not what I was after."

"So this mixture [in Tate] of highly formal rhetoric broken at intervals by unrhymed lines almost without syntax. This did teach me something. I mean, it taught it me in a flash. You know, one second I didn't know how to do things and the next second, I did. I owe Tate an enormous debt for that."


Here's the text of that great elegiac poem:
Ode to the Confederate Dead (Allen Tate)

Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.

Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have come and gone!--
Ambitious November with the humors of the year,
With a particular zeal for every slab,
Staining the uncomfortable angels that rot
On the slabs, a wing chipped here, an arm there:
The brute curiosity of an angel's stare
Turns you, like them, to stone,
Transforms the heaving air
Till plunged to a heavier world below
You shift your sea-space blindly
Heaving, turning like the blind crab.

Dazed by the wind, only the wind
The leaves flying, plunge

You know who have waited by the wall
The twilight certainty of an animal,
Those midnight restitutions of the blood
You know--the immitigable pines, the smoky frieze
Of the sky, the sudden call: you know the rage,
The cold pool left by the mounting flood,
Of muted Zeno and Parmenides.
You who have waited for the angry resolution
Of those desires that should be yours tomorrow,
You know the unimportant shrift of death
And praise the vision
And praise the arrogant circumstance
Of those who fall
Rank upon rank, hurried beyond decision--
Here by the sagging gate, stopped by the wall.

Seeing, seeing only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire

Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick and fast
You will curse the setting sun.

Cursing only the leaves crying
Like an old man in a storm

You hear the shout, the crazy hemlocks point
With troubled fingers to the silence which
Smothers you, a mummy, in time.

The hound bitch
Toothless and dying, in a musty cellar
Hears the wind only.

Now that the salt of their blood
Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea,
Seals the malignant purity of the flood,
What shall we who count our days and bow
Our heads with a commemorial woe
In the ribboned coats of grim felicity,
What shall we say of the bones, unclean,
Whose verdurous anonymity will grow?
The ragged arms, the ragged heads and eyes
Lost in these acres of the insane green?
The gray lean spiders come, they come and go;
In a tangle of willows without light
The singular screech-owl's tight
Invisible lyric seeds the mind
With the furious murmur of their chivalry.

We shall say only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire

We shall say only the leaves whispering
In the improbable mist of nightfall
That flies on multiple wing:
Night is the beginning and the end
And in between the ends of distraction
Waits mute speculation, the patient curse
That stones the eyes, or like the jaguar leaps
For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim.

What shall we say who have knowledge
Carried to the heart? Shall we take the act
To the grave? Shall we, more hopeful, set up the grave
In the house? The ravenous grave?

Leave now
The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
Riots with his tongue through the hush--
Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM

A CROTCHETY OLD MAN MOMENT:

Crosswalk Markings and Motor Vehicle Collisions Involving Older Pedestrians (Jeffrey W. Runge, MD; Thomas B. Cole, MD, MPH, JAMA)
Older adults are more likely than any other age group to be killed while crossing a street. Although only 12.6% of the US population in 2001 was estimated to be 65 years or older, these older adults accounted for 1049 (21.5%) of 4882 deaths of pedestrians in motor vehicle crashes in that year. Marked crosswalks are often constructed at intersections to enable pedestrians to cross safely. However, an article by Koepsell et al in this issue of THE JOURNAL suggests that marked crosswalks might not always be safe for pedestrians.

We have these crosswalks in Hanover because traffic patterns actually take you through the college campus. The biggest problem is that students seem to assume that the crosswalk makes them invincible and removes the obligation to behave responsibly. No driver is going to stop at every crosswalk and wait to see if anyone is coming, yet in bad weather and dead of night these kids step out in front of oncoming traffic, or worse, ride their bikes, giving drivers little opportunity to see that they are there. And let me just say this, there's no creature on Earth more sullen than an 18 year old Ivy League punk who's just had an old man yell at them: "You trying to become a freakin' hood ornament!"
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 PM

TAPPED VS. THE AMERICAN PROSPECT:

WHAT HAPPENED? (TAPPED, 11/06/02)
Your correspondents have just crawled into work with a bit of a hangover -- from the election results, and from the whiskey consumption they inspired. There are a lot of numbers coming in; you'll be hearing a lot of explanations, and to be truthful, Tapped doesn't have any grand explanation. So let's start with a few obvious things. One, as the Prospect's Harold Meyerson points out in his analysis, the Democrats had no leadership, no message, no plan. There was just no there there. Two is the simple fact that this was a marginal election, with lots of very close races, and the Republicans had a popular president using his bully pulpit effectively -- as well as more money than the Democrats and more energy, as well.
Debacle: Without vision, the party -- well, a Senate majority -- perishes. (Harold Meyerson, 11/06/02, American Prospect)
[P]erhaps the Democrats' paradigmatic candidate was Texas' great Latino hope, gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez, an oil and banking gazillionaire who dropped about $60 million of his own money into his campaign, and who also failed to craft a message of his own. Like McBride, Sanchez assailed his opponent, Republican Governor Rick Perry, for the state of the schools, and also for being beholden to the state's imploding insurance industry. He had nothing to say, however, to the hundreds of thousands of dirt-poor Latinos, who would have gained greatly from a living-wage law that the legislature had passed but that Perry had vetoed; the issue was not on Sanchez's radar screen. Nor was he on Texas'; Latino turnout fell understandably short of the Democrats' projections and the Republicans won both the gubernatorial and senatorial contests in Texas going away.

Or maybe the paradigmatic Democratic candidate was California's own Gray Davis, who eked out a scant five-point victory over Republican Bill Simon, a candidate of industrial-strength ineptitude. Davis took office in 1998 with a stunning 20-point victory, but he spent the first three-and-a-half years of his term estranging the Democratic base by vetoing countless pieces of progressive legislation, and estranging almost the entire state by his relentless focus on fundraising. In the past couple of months, he was compelled to shore up his base by signing some groundbreaking liberal bills, but it was barely enough to pull him through. For the most part, though, Davis spent his $60 million campaign boodle on relentless attack ads against Simon, driving a disproportionate number of late-deciding voters to the Green Party's candidate. [...]

The first order of business for Democrats is clear: They must dump the utterly discredited masterminds of their disaster. Dick Gephardt, Tom Daschle, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, a let's-make-a-deal businessman and fundraiser of no discernible strategic savvy, went up against a popular president by crafting an indistinct message for undefined candidates. Labor leaders from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on down should throw their considerable weight behind the efforts to drive these money changers from the party's inner sanctum.

Were there extenuating circumstances that account for the Dems' defeat? There are always extenuating circumstances. Corporate money poured in at the end to pay for commercials that vilified the Democrats; the drug companies alone spent enough money to cure cancer had the thought occurred to them. But the Democrats had a record level of money, too. Their problem was less the quantitative imbalance of the commercials than the qualitative one: The Republicans had a coherent theme (backing the president); the Dems didn't.


We should probably be somewhat lenient on the Left which just saw the final driven in historical determinism last night, bucking at least a Century of American political history to have its collective head headed to it in a President's first mid-term election. But some small amount of factuality and consistency seems not too much to ask.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM

HOW LIBERAL BIAS IN THE PRESS AFFECTS OUR POLITICS:

Yesterday we cited the devastating exchange on abortion between Walter Mondale and Norm Coleman in their debate on Monday. Mr. Mondale first appeared to have been caught flat-footed and unaware that Mr. Coleman and his wife had lost two children. He then compounded his mistake by averring that life should be sacred but that there can be no limits on abortion. Imus in the Morning and Fox News Special Report with Brit Hume, both of which are reasonably conservative in tone, picked up on this gaffe and gave it prominence, but here's what Minnesottans would have read about it in some of their morning papers:

Coleman, Mondale debate as Ventura picks his own (BILL SALISBURY and TOM WEBB, Nov. 05, 2002, St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Mondale favors abortion rights; Coleman opposes them. But the Republican said he's willing to seek common ground with abortion-rights proponents to outlaw partial-birth abortions and require that parents be informed when their daughters seek abortions.

"But you're not finding common ground, Norm," Mondale said. "You're standing with the right-to-life crowd opposing judges who will find common ground.

"This is not a question about political compromise; this is a question of fundamental constitutional principle."

He said he would vote against confirming the appointments of judges who oppose abortion rights. "I believe in choice," he said. "The Constitution is on my side."

Coleman argued against "litmus tests on judicial appointments." He said he would judge appointees on the basis of competence, applying the same standards to Democratic as Republican nominees.


Coleman, Mondale Square Off In St. Paul (Channel 4000. The Associated Press contributed to this report, November 4, 2002)
Mondale also stated clearly that he wouldn't support a judicial candidate who opposed abortion rights for women while Coleman said senators shouldn't use a "litmus test" for judicial nominees.

Mondale says Coleman has aligned himself with a "right-wing" crowd when it comes to abortion issues and whether they should play a part in appointing judges.


And the AP story did not even mention the issue, Minnesota Senate hopefuls debate (Patrick Howe, Nov. 4, 2002, AP).

Now, I'm not saying this reflects the kind of bias whereby the press was trying to cover for what was obviously Mr. Mondale's worst moment in the debate. Rather, the bias lies in their likely failure to recognize it as such. If you are incapable of comprehending the pro-life position the exchange may not even have registered--neither the idea that someone who's lost babies would have had their views on abortion profoundly shaped by the events nor the intellectual dishonesty of saying that you value life but will under no circumstances protect it. However, even if this is just the bias of ignorance it does a disservice to your readership and ultimately to the process of learning about candidates and their positions on the issues.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM

THE LONG KNIVES COME OUT:

In a moment that had to cause some buttockal puckering around the Democratic caucus, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., who is the one Democrat in the House who you can see becoming a superstar (a moderate black from Kentucky [okay, Tennessee--it was Wendell Ford who was from Kentucky, wasn't it?]), was just on Buchanan and Press (MSNBC) saying that the party needs new leadership. He included not only Dick Gephardt in that assessment but Nancy Pelosi and Martin Frost too--who are running to replace Mr. Gephardt. He said he'd told all of them that prior to the election and that there are others who feel similarly. George W. Bush should court him aggressively, starting now.

MORE:
Democrats call for leaders' heads after poll disaster (Tim Reid, November 07, 2002, Times of London)

Harold Ford, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, said that Mr Gephardt should step down. "It's obvious that we need some fresh faces and some new ideas."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:12 PM

Here's a pretty sobering thought for the Democrats--these are the six best moments--by which we mean most energizing--the Party has had since the 1998 elections:

(1) Bill Clinton avoids being removed from office by the Senate.

(2) Al Gore's kiss with Tipper at the 2000 Convention (an implicit rebuke to the Clinton years)

(3) Al Gore's concession speech in December 2000 (universally hailed as his best moment).

(4) Jim Jeffords leaves the GOP.

(5) Bob Torricelli bows out of the NJ Senate race.

(6) Paul Wellstone's Memorial Service.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:27 PM

THE IRON LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES:

David Keane, of the American Conservative Union, is on the Diane Rehm Show, and he just revealed something fascinating. He and some other leading conservatives offered to come to NH this weekend to stump for John Sununu and make it clear that the pro-life movement backed him fully, despite Bob Smith's petulance. But, Mr. Keane says they were told that they would not be needed because NARAL had made a big push in the state and was driving pro-lifers back home to support Sununu.

Anecdotally I can report that we got frequent calls from women's groups (or the Shaheen campaign) asking if we were aware that Mr. Sununu opposed "a woman's right to choose". The seeming assumption behind the calls was that we'd run screaming into the street with our pitchforks to hunt Mr. Sununu down and burn him at the stake. It seemed an odd series of calls to be making to a registered Republican household.

Actually, it seems and odd series of call to direct toward any but Registered Democrats. The terrain on the abortion issue has shifted drastically in recent years, with huge majorities supporting restrictions on the procedure. This Gallup poll, from earlier this year, portrays an America that is experiencing extreme discomfort with abortion as a "right". It suggests that another of the items that is central to what remains of the Democrats' agenda may now be doing them more harm than good. In today's politics it is increasingly the pro-choicers who must be seen as the extremists, a marginalized 30%.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 AM

TIGER BY THE TALE:

Tiger in a Lifeboat, Panther in a Lifeboat: A Furor Over a Novel (LARRY ROHTER, November 6, 2002, NY Times)
Mr. Martel indirectly acknowledges his debt to Dr. Scliar in an author's note in "Life of Pi" in which he thanks him for "the spark of life." In an interview with The Guardian, the British newspaper, late last month, he said, "I remember thinking, man, that's a brilliant premise" when he came across a critique of Dr. Scliar's book, which he recalled as having been written by John Updike in The New York Times Book Review.

There are no articles in the digital archives of The Times, however, in which Mr. Updike comments on the book, and in a phone interview Mr. Updike said he had never heard of "Max and the Cats" or of Dr. Scliar. The only review in The Times was published in July 1990, after the book, now out of print, was issued in paperback in the United States. In it Herbert Mitgang describes "Max and the Cats" as "a brilliant novella" and praised Dr. Scliar for "expanding the horizons of South American literature."

Such comments do not have the flavor of the review Mr. Martel remembered. In an essay published on the Web site of Powell's City of Books, an independent bookstore (www.powells.com), Mr. Martel wrote that even though the review he recalled "oozed indifference," Dr. Scliar's concept had "the effect on my imagination of electric caffeine" because of its "perfect unity of time, action and place." But because he also felt a "mix of envy and frustration" that he had not thought of the idea himself, he decided initially to stay away from "Max and the Cats."

"I didn't really want to read the book," Mr. Martel wrote. "Why put up with the gall? Why put up with a brilliant premise ruined by a lesser writer. Worse, what if Updike had been wrong? What if not only the premise but also its rendition were perfect? Best to move on."

Dr. Scliar himself said: "I get all of my reviews from my publishers, and I do not have one by John Updike. So that is another strange aspect of this story."


Regular readers may be sick of hearing about Mr. Martel and his novel by now, but here's what he said about his debt to Dr. Scliar in our interview:
Brothers Judd: This is perhaps related to the prior but, this seems like the kind of book that could have been driven by your need to write about Pi himself, because he's so beguiling, but it's also easy to imagine an author being compelled by just the one mental picture of a man in a boat with a tiger. Did you have some such epiphany or is there a specific story or person or some other trigger that was the original basis for the book or is it a product only of the ideas within its pages?

Yann Martel: Briefly, this is how it happened: Ten years ago. Review in New York Times Book Review  by John Updike of a Brazilian novel by one Moacyr Scliar. About Jewish family running zoo in Berlin in 1933. Business bad (i.e. someone just go elected to power). They decide to move to Brazil. Ship sinks. Jewish zookeeper ends up in lifeboat with black panther. Obvious allegory of Nazi Germany.

Not a good review. Did nothing to Updike. But premise sizzled in my mind. I thought "Man, I could do something with that". But book already written, so I moved on and wrote my first novel and traveled.

Five years later I'm in India. Remember premise. Explosion in my imagination. Whole chunks of the novel--the two stories, the blind Frenchman, the many animals, etc.--emerge fully formed in my head.

I spent the next six months doing practical research in India, then reading books in Canada. Then I wrote the book. Came easily. Pi was a constant pleasure to write.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 AM

THE EUROPEAN IDOL:

The American Idol (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, November 6, 2002, NY Times)
Bill Clinton is viewed by the world as the epitome of American optimism--naive optimism maybe, but optimism. And the Bush team--the President, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Condi Rice (Colin Powell is an exception)--strike the world as cynical pessimists who believe only in power politics, much like 19th-century European statesmen. For the world, Bill Clinton is another J.F.K. and George Bush is another Thomas Hobbes, a man who, after witnessing Europe's religious wars, became deeply pessimistic about human nature and concluded that only one law prevailed in the world: Homo Homini Lupus--every man is a wolf to every other man.

If I've learned anything from living abroad, it's that while other nations often make fun of or scoff at America's naive optimism, deep down they envy that optimism and rue the day we would give it up and adopt the tragic European view of history. Because our optimism about human nature and its commitment to the rule of law, not just power, is the engine of the modern West. It is also a huge source of U.S. strength and appeal--the soft power that comes from technologies, universities, Disney Worlds, movies and a Declaration of Independence built on the assumption that the future can bury the past.


It just is not possible to be more wrong than Mr. Friedman is in this column as regards the nature of the American experiment. The very essence of our Constitution is the assumption that men are completely untrustworthy and only by playing off their various selfishnesses against each other can freedom be protected. Socialist Europe on the other hand is premised on the utopian belief that you can have a healthy polity by assuming that folks will work hard and remain connected to the community around them despite a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that effectively dissolves most of the strands that bind a society together.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

ONE WAY OUT OF WAR:

Predator: silent and deadly (MATT KELLEY, November 6, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Remote-controlled Predator aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles have become a deadly tool in the war on terrorism, killing top al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan and Yemen.

Missiles fired from lurking Predators have killed Osama bin Laden's operations chief and, earlier this week, a top al-Qaida operative in Yemen.

The deadly drones give the CIA a way to track and kill suspected terrorists without putting U.S. pilots at risk--though with the possibility of unintended civilian casualties.

As effective as the Predator is as a killing machine, it can also be a powerful psychological weapon, showing terrorists that a fiery death can come seemingly out of nowhere.


One has to wonder if it is really so hard to find Saddam Hussein that we couldn't send him some hellfire. It would seem an economic and humane alternative to war.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM

It looks like Tim Johnson has a very slender lead with 100% of precincts reporting in SD. One imagines a recount must be in the offing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

GOOD RIDDANCE:

Chretien loses grip on caucus with vote (Tim Naumetz, 11/06/02, The Calgary Herald)
Prime Minister Jean Chretien's control over his government suffered a body blow Tuesday when backbench Liberal MPs defied him to support a controversial opposition motion.

One-third of Liberal MPs voted against him to rally behind former finance minister Paul Martin and to support an opposition motion calling for secret-ballot election of Commons committee chairs.

Despite Chretien's resistance to the measure on grounds it erodes the accountability of Parliament, 56 Liberal backbenchers sided with the four opposition parties to pass the motion by a vote of 174-87.

In what was interpreted as a clear signal, Chretien is in danger of losing his grip over caucus as the countdown to his 2004 retirement continues, only the tradition of a unified cabinet in Parliament prevented an even greater hemorrhage of support.


Looks like a victory for freedom lovers in Canada too. Mr. Chretien is one of the most odious leaders in the West; his departure can't come too soon.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM

ECONOMIC WARFARE--LOAD GUN, SHOOT SELF IN HEAD:

To understand the danger that now confronts the Democrats you need look no farther than this New Republic piece that Brother Murtaugh cites favorably, Neutral Observers (Noam Scheiber, 11.06.02, New Republic):

Had the Democrats tried to connect Bush to the corporate scandals--for example, by separating the estate tax repeal from the rest of the tax cut and pointing out that the wealthiest 3,300 people in the country pay more than half of it, thereby taking advantage of polls suggesting many voters still suspect he cares more about big business than ordinary Americans--they may have damaged his popularity sufficiently to give these Democrats a fighting chance.

The Left's love of taxation, which is a function of their love of government, continues to be a source of real derangement. Take a look at the poll numbers from this National Review piece, Another Man Bites Dog: Those who’d keep the estate tax are too rich to care. (Bruce Bartlett, June 19, 2002, National Review)
*A 1999 poll by Worthlin Worldwide found 70% of voters favoring a phase-out of the estate tax.

*A 2000 poll by the Pew Research Center found 71% of voters supporting elimination of the inheritance tax.

*A 2001 CBS News/New York Times poll also found 71% of people opposing imposition of an estate tax at death.


Democrats, pushed Left by yesterday's disaster, seem likely to make a play for the 30% of the public that wants such taxes, it is after all their base. But they run the risk of becoming a 30% party.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 AM

NICE TIMING:

While Congress Is Sleeping . . . (PAUL GLASTRIS, November 6, 2002, NY Times)
Unless yesterday's still unresolved elections result in Republican control of both houses of Congress, the 2002 midterm elections won't matter much inWashington. In every other scenario, the branches of government will remain divided and gridlock will continue. The real importance of this election is not at the national level--it's at the state level.

This was supposed to be the official Democrat spin today, but they lost big in the Senate and lost many Governor's races they thought they had in the bag. Even worse, the big states--PA, MI, IL--that they thought they had walkovers in tightened down the stretch, suggesting that the GOP remains competitive in each state. The Times should have done Mr. Glastris a favor and shredded this one. Though if they did that with every column they receive that is utterly wrong they'd have no editorial page.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM

NO TIME FOR HUBRIS:

White House Maps Ambitious Plans (Dana Milbank and Jonathan Weisman, November 6, 2002, Washington Post)
With Republicans gaining control of both the White House and Congress, Bush administration officials last night began to prepare an ambitious legislative agenda to press their new -- and somewhat unexpected -- advantage.

Suddenly, items that had been bottled up in the Democratic Senate have new life. President Bush has new hopes for action on his conservative slate of judges, his energy plan calling for drilling in Alaska's wildlife refuge, and the policies he favors on topics such as homeland security, terrorism insurance and prescription drug coverage. With Democrats losing their ability to set the Senate schedule and launch probes of the administration, chances improve for Bush's hopes to extend last year's tax cuts, curtail jury awards, cut business regulations and overhaul Medicare.

At the same time, White House officials said last night that most of their early effort in the new Congress will revolve around stimulating economic growth. Wary of the struggling economy as a vulnerability for Bush heading into his reelection race, administration officials said Bush was likely to introduce a new economic-stimulus package early next year. Among the plans being drawn up are new tax cuts for businesses and investors.

The officials said they recognize that the economy now will be squarely on Bush's shoulders, and he will no longer be able to blame Democratic Senate leaders or former president Bill Clinton. "Republicans have the keys to the car and we're going to have to take action and continue to work for economic growth," a White House official said.


This is a time when the GOP can be very generous to the enemy and do itself much good. Rather than trying to ram through the most extreme (which is not necessarily meant to be pejorative) versions of each bill, they can reach out to Senators Pryor, Miller, Bayh, the Nelsons, etc., and get slightly less ambitious bills but ones that will be bipartisan enough to take some more of the edge off of the Party's image.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:27 AM

Meanwhile, despite nearly incoherent coverage on VPR, it appears the GOP has pulled off a major upset to post substantial leads in the Governor and Lt. Governor races, which will now be decided by the Legislature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:10 AM

CLEAN SWEEP:

PoliticsNH News Briefs: Winners
It appears the Republicans will make very large gains in the NH House.

US Senate
John Sununu (R)

Gubernatorial
Craig Benson (R)

Congressional
Jeb Bradley (R-1)
Charlie Bass (R-2)

Executive Council
Ray Burton (R-1)
Peter Spalding (R-2)
Ruth Griffin (R-3)
Ray Wieczorek (R-4)
Dave Wheeler (R-5)

State Senate
(17-6) 1 still undecided
John Gallus (R-1)
Carl Johnson (R-2)
Joe Kenney (R-3)
Rob Boyce (R-4)
Cliff Below (D-5)
Dick Green (R-6)
Bob Flanders (R-7)
Sheila Roberge (R-9)
Tom Eaton (R-10)
Andy Peterson (R-11)
Jane O'Hearn (R-12)
Joe Foster (D-13)
Bob Clegg (R-14)
Sylvia Larsen (D-15)
Ted Gatsas (R-16)
Jack Barnes (R-17)
Andy Martel (R-18)
Frank Sapareto (R-19)
Lou D'Allesandro (D-20)
Iris Estabrook (D-21)
Chuck Morse (R-22)
Russell Prescott (R-23)
Burt Cohen (D-24)


This should return us, after a brief and unfortunate hiatus, to being the most Republican state in the nation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:41 AM

THIS IS HOW THE DEMOCRATS END:

Here are a few things that the big GOP night makes possible and to keep an eye on. The victories in the Senate and Governor races in GA give Senator Zell Miller the cover he may think he needs to switch parties. He can now say that it's obvious his state is as uncomfortable with the direction of the Democrats as he is and so he'll leave the Party and run for re-election in '04 as a Republican.

Additionally, it should now be possible for President Bush to recruit a real Democrat or two to serve in his cabinet. Recall that after the 2000 dustup he was stuck with just Norm Mineta, because the election was too toxic for others to join up. It would be a particularly savvy move to bring in a black Democrat, or two--Ron Kirk, Harold Ford, Jr., & Cory Booker would all be likely picks. Max Cleland would also seem an ideal pick for a job with the Administration.

The other thing, that's far more important in the long term, is that Democrats are probably going to look at tonight as a repudiation of the Clinton New Democrat/Third Way ideology and the party is extremely likely to jag to the Left. They'll make the catastrophic mistake of looking to the Al Gore of 2000 as the model of how they can beat Republicans. To begin with, Terry McAuliffe is toast, presumably to be replaced by a true liberal, and, with Dick Gephardt running for the Presidency, Nancy Pelosi takes over the House Democrat Leadership. Meanwhile, the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination will be forced to the Left. Even in the teeth of an economic recovery, the Party will start beating the drums against tax cuts, free trade, and Social Security privatization and even as we head off to at least one war, they'll start agitating for more deference to the UN. This has the "advantage" of suiting where the activists would like the Party to be anyway, but the disadvantage of putting them at odds with the nation.

To get some sense of where this leads them, just imagine how much uglier tonight would have been if instead of "conservative" Democrats--Shaheen, Bowles, Pryor, Cleland, etc.--running as kind of softer versions of Republicans, you'd had full-throated liberals running on genuine Democrat positions, like raising taxes and opposing the war. It could not possibly have helped, but that's what their '04 campaign may well look like.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 AM

INSTANT ANALYSIS:

Perhaps the two biggest analytical biffs of this election were NH and CO, for very different reasons. In NH, pundits and Democrats mistook the Sununu bump coming out of the primary for a scenario where he was the favorite and Ms Shaheen the underdog. But she was the candidate who'd been elected in statewide races several times and had much higher name recognition. She had to be considered the favorite and the fact that she could never take a lead was a much more important sign of weakness than was her making it a close race a sign of strength.

Meanwhile, Wayne Allard in CO, despite being the incumbent Senator was virtually unknown. That made his rematch with Tom Strickland a race that should have been viewed as simply a standard issue Democrat vs. a standard issue Republican. The low poll numbers for Mr. Allard, unlike they would normally have been for an incumbent, were not a judgment upon the job he was doing but a reflection that he had no strong identity. So, all things being equal, in a GOP state with a popular GOP Governor at the top of the ticket, you'd expect him to be able to pull it out.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

IT'S MORNING IN AMERICA:

Well, I obviously whiffed badly on the potential for upsets in IA, but I think I may have nailed the rest of the Senate races (GOP loss in AR, wins in NH, NC, GA, TX, MO, MN, SD, CO), that is if the GOP can win the run-off in LA. Meanwhile, on the gubernatorial level, despite the IA biff, it looks like MA, MD, SC, AL, & GA are all going to be the predicted GOP upsets and CA looks possible at this early hour.


November 5, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:46 PM

Please take a minute and complete Patrick Ruffini's short Exit Poll.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:31 PM

Some exit polling info is available at National Review's: The Corner, but it seems almost random.

It looks like if Ms Dole can hold on in NC and the GOP can beat Ms Landrieu in the LA runoff, they'll pick up two seats.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM

ON TO 2004!:

Well, Election 2002 was more fun than a bag of cats, but enough navel-gazing; time to lift our vision to the future: on to Election 2004! Here are the Senate Democrats who come up for re-election next cycle. Possible retirees are marked with an *; conceivable party-switchers with a +; potential presidential candidates with a #. Ideal GOP opponents are in [brackets], where there are obvious choices. They are ranked in order of vulnerability for a switch of the seat to the GOP by January 2005:

Democrat Class of 2004

*Ernest Hollings (SC) (born 1922) vs. [former governor Caroll Campbell (sadly, we have been informed that Mr. Campbell declared at the end of 2001 that he is suffering from Alzheimer's)]

*+Zell Miller (GA) (born 1932)

Barbara Boxer (CA) vs. [Condoleeza Rice (unless she's the VP) or Arnold Schwarzenegger]

Chuck Schumer (NY) vs. [Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki]

#John Edwards (NC)

Blanche Lincoln (AR) vs. [DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson]

*Dan Inouye (HI) (born 1924)

Harry Reid (NV) vs. [Gov. Guinn]

Patty Murray (WA) vs. [Rep. Jennifer Dunn]

#Russ Feingold (WI) vs. [HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson]

Byron Dorgan (ND)

#Tom Daschle (SD) vs. [John Thune]

+Bob Graham (FL) vs. [Jeb Bush or HUD Secratary Mel Martinez]

+John Breaux (LA)

+#Evan Bayh (IN) vs. [Dan Quayle]

Barbara Mikulski (MD) vs. [Rep. Connie Morella]

Ron Wyden (OR)

#Chris Dodd (CT) vs. [Governor John Rowland]

Patrick Leahy (VT)  vs. [Lt. Governor Brian Dubie]


What's most notable here may be the quality of candidate that you could put up against some of the seemingly safest incumbents at the bottom of the chart. At any rate, at least the first seven seats--and maybe the first ten--look extremely difficult to defend (though Zell Miller will win in a walkover if he runs again as a Democrat). If George W. Bush were to replace Dick Cheney on the ticket with Condoleeza Rice or J.C. Watts and were riding a growing economy and some further successes in the war on radical Islamism, the pieces would be in place for significant gains downticket in the 2004 election.

UPDATE:
Christopher Badeaux says Hell no, Zell won't go.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 PM

WING AND A PRAYER:

Predictions 2K2 (Ben Domenech, 11/04/02)
Orrin Judd
Senate: 44 Dem, 55 Rep, 1 Ind
House: GOP 230, Dems 204, 1 Ind
Governors: GOP wins 16 of the 23
Sleepers: Governor: Bill Simon (R, CA), Doug Gross (R, IA) & Senate: Greg Ganske (R, IA)

As you can see, I predicted with my heart rather than my head, but this just feels like '80 & '94 to me. If so the only close Senate seats that I have the Dems winning are AR and NJ, with IA and LA (in a runoff) as the biggest upset wins (I see as per usual my math was atrocious and this actually only gets the GOP to 54). The GOP would also do far better in the gubernatorials than anyone expects, including CA, OR, IA, and VT (where if no candidate gets 50% the Republican legislature chooses among the candidates). Other folks picked more rationally.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM

BEGIN THE WORLD OVER AGAIN--A BROTHERS JUDD PSA:

If I could beg your indulgence for one moment, I'd just like to urge everyone to go to the polls today and vote, regardless of whom you'll vote for. We'd, of course, prefer that you vote a straight GOP line, but even if you're headed out to vote for Barney Frank and Shannon O'Brien, find time to do so.

I bitterly recall Election Day ten years ago. The wife was in Med School, so we were living in Chicago--my one experience as a true urbanite. In our district the three winners at the top of the ticket were Bill Clinton (President), Carol Mosely Braun (Senator) and Dan Rostenkowski (House). I left the polling place knowing that the three criminals I'd just voted against were going to win anyway. It was horribly depressing.

Today, I'll go to polls and vote for Craig Benson (Governor), John Sununu (Senate), Charlie Bass (House), Ray Benson (Executive Council), and Nancy Merrill (State Senate) and all are going to win, most by prohibitive margins. It will be quite wonderful.

There's a sense in which neither set of votes will have mattered. In Illinois in '92, the crooks won in spite of , and in NH in '02 the Republicans will win regardless of, my votes. But I cherish both opportunities.

If you do go vote, take a minute when you're in the booth and look around and say to yourself: "This is something that binds me to my nation's past. An uninterrupted chain of Americans has gone to the polls every two years for centuries now and decided who will govern us. We've chosen wisely and we've chosen badly, but it has been we who have chosen." Think about how rare a privilege this is and how many people in other nations wish they could be where you are. These days are great moments in the life of our people, even on those days when we make disastrous choices. Don't just endure a civic duty; enjoy a process that vindicates the vision that one of our greatest vote-getters enunciated so well:

I have always believed that this land was placed here between the two great oceans by some divine plan. It was placed here to be found by a special kind of people--people who had a special love for freedom and who had the courage to uproot themselves and leave hearth and homeland and come to what in the beginning was the most undeveloped wilderness possible. We spoke a multitude of tongues--landed on this eastern shore and then went out over the mountains and the prairies and the deserts and the far Western mountains of the Pacific, building cities and towns and farms and schools and churches.

If wind, water or fire destroyed them, we built them again. And in so doing at the same time we built a new breed of human called an American--a proud, an independent and a most compassionate individual for the most part. Two hundred years ago Tom Pa ine, when the thirteen tiny colonies were trying to become a nation, said we have it in our power to begin the world over again. . . . Together we can begin the world over again. We can meet our destiny and that destiny can build a land here that will be for all mankind a shining city on a hill. I think we ought to get at it.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM

Final Zogby Poll numbers

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM

NICE STAFF WORK, FRITZ:

Transcript of Mondale-Coleman debate (Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2002)
MONDALE: You have been an arbitrary right-to-lifer. I am not, and that's one of the big, many issues that divide us ...

COLEMAN: Let me just ...

MONDALE: And it's not tone ...

COLEMAN: Let me just finish off on that issue, if I may, Mr. Vice President. And I would take exception, I'll use a kind word, to the description of an arbitrary.

My wife and I have had two children who were born, first son and the last daughter. They died at very young ages. I have a deep and profound respect for the value of life; it's not arbitrary.

But even on that issue, I think we can and should look to find common ground, but please, don't describe it as arbitrary.

MONDALE: I say that I respect you. I am sorry about the tragedy in your family. I know that life should be sacred.

But where we don't agree is your idea that we should go in and prohibit, through constitutional changes, the freedom of choice that people have. That is wrong. I disagree with it.


This was one of the ugliest moments you'll ever see in a political debate. Mr. Mondale looked like he'd been hit by a 2-X-4. How he didn't know about Mr. Coleman's personal losses is beyond comprehension. But to then follow up the blunder by saying that life is sacred and the government has no role in protecting it was just bizarre.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 AM

OLD DEMOCRATS NEVER DIE, NOR FADE AWAY:

Former Sen. Gary Hart says he's considering running for president (Associated Press, November 5, 2002)
Former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart, whose 1988 presidential campaign collapsed amid questions about his relationship with a young model, said he is considering a bid for the White House in 2004.

"If you love the country and are motivated by public service as I am, it's very hard to sit on the sidelines," Hart, 65, told The Denver Post in Tuesday's editions.

He said the nation needs leadership and ideas, and friends are urging him to seek the Democratic nomination again.


Heck, his ideas from 1984 are as fresh as any the rest of his party is running on today.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 AM

Alternet's Top 10

Here are Alternet's picks for the best election websites.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM

SEEN, NOT HEARD:

Canada has earned America's suspicion (David Frum, November 02, 2002, NationalPost)
The old English-speaking alliance inherited from the Second World War and the Cold War -- the United States, U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- is breaking in half. The U.S., U.K. and Australia now sit at the alliance's adults' table, where the decisions are made. Canada and New Zealand sit at the children's table where their noises won't disturb the grown-ups. From time to time, when the kids really yell, the adults remember to send over a cookie, as the Americans did last week.

On the merits of the dispute about the treatment of naturalized Canadians, Canada is surely right. In both Canada and the United States, foreign-born citizens are entitled to be treated as citizens, plain and simple. Even on its own terms, the fingerprinting program makes little sense. If we're trying to predict terrorist sympathies from place of birth, surely the people we would want to fingerprint are people born in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, not Iraq? Yet for strategic reasons, those two most dangerous nations are exempt.

I am sure that Canadian diplomats quietly raised these points a month ago. Nobody in Washington seems to have listened, because in Washington attention and respect are earned. What Jean Chretien and Bill Graham have earned for Canada instead is suspicion and disregard.


Nice to have David Frum back from his White House captivity and speaking his mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:41 AM

THE RACE CARD COMES OUT:

Campaign Mailer Creates Controversy (Tiffany Cochran, 11/4/2002, WXIA-TV Atlanta)
A campaign mailer sent over the weekend to primarily African-American Democratic voters stirred up controversy Monday. The mail piece used the old state flag as a catalyst to get core Democrats out to the polls Tuesday.

The mailer has a man wearing a cap with a Confederate flag emblem on it and pictures of proponents of the old flag rallying to save it. The caption underneath reads “if they win” and when the mailer is opened up, it reads, “We lose.”

The Democratic Party is responsible for the mailer and Republicans said it was race-baiting. The mailer was also brought up during Sunday night’s GPTV gubernatorial debate.

The Republicans said it was racist but the Democrats said they will not apologize for the mailer. They said it was based on fact and on the Republicans’ record when it comes to African-American families.


It all comes down to black turnout tomorrow, so there's likely much more of this going on under the radar.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:29 AM

BALL OF CONFUSION:

Voter News Service Tests Poll Info. (DAVID BAUDER, Nov 4, 2002, AP)
Hours before Election Day, Voter News Service said Monday it still hadn't worked all the bugs out of a new system designed to provide media organizations with exit polling information from voters. [...]

VNS, a consortium consisting of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and The Associated Press, counts actual votes and also conducts exit polling in certain precincts. That information is used by its members to project winners in individual races on Election Night.

The consortium completely rebuilt its system in response to the 2000 election, when television networks twice used its information to make wrong calls in the decisive Florida vote for the presidential election.

VNS has expressed confidence in its ability to tabulate the votes on Tuesday, though its vote counting process had never been tested in its entirety. VNS members have access to a second, independently conducted vote count by the AP.

VNS also plans to use exit polling of how citizens voted, together with the actual vote count, to help project winners and losers.

Where the system has run into trouble is its attempt to tabulate the results of questions that reflect why voters cast their ballots as they did. VNS has yet to complete a full test of a national voter survey, said Ted Savaglio, VNS executive director.


Many close races; certain allegations of voter fraud; and the system isn't working right--it may be a very long night.

November 4, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 PM

DISMANTLING THE AUTHOR:

Dismantling the law (Robert H. Bork, November 2002, New Criterion)
A man who had been blind from birth would be most unfortunate if he suddenly gained sight while standing before distorting mirrors in a carnival funhouse. The version suddenly revealed to him-men and women with grotesquely bloated bodies, faces out of surrealist nightmares, people upside down-would make what he supposed to be reality appalling and terrifying. So it is with Martin Garbus's new book, Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court and the Unmaking of American Law. Should the book fall into the hands of anyone ignorant of the Court's constitutional jurisprudence, which is virtually all of the American public, he will be horrified to learn that extreme right-wing bigots, reactionaries, and toadies to malefactors of great wealth are increasing their control of the Supreme Court and most of the lower courts.

There are three difficulties with Mr. Garbus's argument. It proceeds from a wholly illegitimate view of how the justices should decide constitutional cases. It claims, in the face of all the evidence, that the Supreme Court majority is conservative, if not diabolically reactionary. And it flat out misrepresents what the Court is doing and what conservatives want it to do. The book would be greatly improved if these defects were removed, but then there would be no book left.


One supposes it's futile to wish that W would reappoint Judge Bork to the Supreme Court, but if you read this review you'll see why he scared the pants off the Left.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 PM

FESTERING:

Beevor under fire over last days of Reich (John Hooper, November 3, 2002, The Observer)
Antony Beevor's runaway bestseller Berlin: The Downfall 1945 has come under withering fire from Germany's leading expert on the last days of Hitler's Third Reich. [...]

Professor Joachim Fest, who has written a biography of Hitler and a history of the Third Reich, claimed that Beevor's book was peppered with factual inaccuracies and treated his compatriots unfairly. [...]

Fest picks out a string of relatively minor alleged factual errors before going on to accuse Beevor of mishandling source material. However, his contention is backed by an argument that will sound odd to British historians. He criticises Beevor's treatment of Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, on the grounds that he relies on the records of the Nuremburg trials rather than Speer's own memoirs.

The German historian's bitterest words are reserved for Beevor's treatment of the immediate aftermath of war. The British author notes that some Germans reacted to defeat by trying to provide a justification of the Nazis' view of the world.


So, let's see if we have this straight; Mr. Fest is saying that it's not fair to say that some Germans sought to justify Nazism, while at the same time he himself is suggesting that Albert Speer's notoriously self-serving memoirs are more reliable than the records from the one forum where men like Speer were subject to cross-examination?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 PM

FORGETTANCE OF TIME WASTED:

Reviving the dread deity: Paul Davis finds a multitude of voices in a new translation of Marcel Proust's masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time (Paul Davis, November 2, 2002, The Guardian)
[I]f the measure of this new translation is to be its success in prising Proust from the clutches of the affected and the effete, I suspect it will go down as a missed opportunity. It's no easy task, of course: in the photograph reproduced on the spines of the Penguin volumes Proust looks every languid inch what the volumes themselves set out to prove he isn't - a "purveyor of high-grade cultural narcotics". But the majority of the Penguin translators have made the task harder for themselves by choosing to tackle it with one hand tied behind their backs. For all Prendergast's talk of smashing "Proust-worship", many of them perpetuate it in one crucial respect; by treating the Proustian sentence as a sacred cow. Proust's sentences are, of course, exotic and magnificent beasts which translators massacre at their peril. A positively Proustian amount of critical comment exists about the contribution which the idiosyncrasies of the novel's syntax make to the larger progress of its philosophical investigations into time as a dimension of human being. Nevertheless, the fact must be faced that aiming to replicate every twist and turn of Proust's sentences puts an unbearable strain on a translator, and may lead to an unreadably strained translation.

Prendergast suggests that, since Proust's "extraordinary syntactic structures" are themselves "often strange even to French ears", "there may well be a respectable argument to the effect that oddly unEnglish shapes are sometimes the best way of preserving their estranging force". But, respectable or not, that argument smells strongly of academe. Beyond a certain point, the effect of "oddly unEnglish shapes" on general readers of a translation tends to be estranging and forceful, in the sense of making it sound strange and so forcing them to stop reading it.


People we quite like and respect find Proust to be a wonder. Alain de Botton even got a reasonably entertaining book out of pondering him. But, as mentioned previously, we side with Thomas M. Disch:
A Bookmark

Four years ago I started reading Proust.
Although I'm past the halfway point, I still
Have seven hundred pages of reduced
Type left before I reach the end. I will
Slog through. It can't get much more dull than what
Is happening now: he's buying crepe-de-chine
Wraps and a real, well-documented hat
For his imaginary Albertine.
Oh, what a slimy sort he must have been-
So weak, so sweetly poisonous, so fey!
Four years ago, by God!-and even then
How I was looking forward to the day
I would be able to forgive, at last,
And to forget Remembrance of Things Past.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 PM

AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE--DAY ONE:

Teheran Students Seize U.S Embassy And Hold Hostages (REUTERS, Nov. 4, 1979, Special to The New York Times)
Moslem students stormed the United States Embassy in Teheran today, seized about 90 Americans and vowed to stay there until the deposed Shah was sent back from New York to face trial in Iran. [...]

In the holy city of Qum, a spokesman for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said the occupation of the embassy had the revolutionary leader's personal support.


The long road to 9-11 is littered with numerous corpses and more than enough blame to go around, but surely America's failure to act when its citizens were taken hostage in Teheran in 1979 must be considered a significant contributor to the perception of Islamic radicals that they could strike us with impunity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 PM

RSR (cont.):

GOP Hoping for Party Switchers (Susan Crabtree, November 04, 2002, Roll Call)
While the vast majority of lawmakers and political operatives are consumed with predictions about Tuesday, a handful of House Republicans are looking to a subsequent election - the battle for the Democratic leader's job - for another chance to pick up seats. [...]

For months now, speculation that Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) will step down from the top leadership spot in the Democratic Caucus has set up the possibility of a faceoff between Pelosi, an unapologetic liberal, and Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) for the top job.

Should Pelosi win the top spot, Republicans have their eye on Rep. Ralph Hall (Texas) and several other conservative members of the Blue Dog Coalition - most notably Reps. Bud Cramer (Ala.), Ken Lucas (Ky.), Chris John (La.) and Jim Matheson (Utah) - as potential party switchers.

"There's a good probability that if Nancy Pelosi becomes the leader after Gephardt steps down that a number of Members will be so uncomfortable they'd leave," one GOP leadership aide said.


Such party switching, in the House and Senate, might be just one benefit from a good Republican day tomorrow. Democrats can't assume that they'll do better in '04, with President Bush actually on the ticket, than they'll do tomorrow. So they're looking at 2006 at the earliest for having a decent chance at taking back Congress. Meanwhile, if you're in a district or state that elects such a conservative Democrat (you) and votes Republican at the presidential level, you've got to wonder if you can withstand the 2004 election if you remain a Democrat. If your party has moved well to your left and you may lose your seat anyway because of it, mightn't it make sense to switch?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM

MCGRUFFINI, THE CRIME DOG:

THE ELECTION DAY HOTLINE (Patrick Ruffini, 11.04.02)
I'd like to do a little experiment. For the day tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5, I'd like to turn this site largely over to you by by making this entry an Election Day hotline of sorts. Please write down any firsthand Election Day observations, turnout reports, unsubstantiated insider dirt, and any dirty tricks you encounter as a comment on this entry or e-mail me@patrickruffini.com. You can be completely anonymous if you want to be. My goal is here is to use the Blogopshere an uber-Drudge Report, letting need-to-know information and anecdotal tidbits from across the country stream in unfiltered. Check back early and often.

As if he weren't already serving the nation well enough by helping to elect Jim Talent (R, MO), Mr. Ruffini is turning his blog into an electoral neighborhood watch.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM

THREE CHEERS FOR THE KNOW-NOTHING PUNDITS:

TWO CHEERS FOR THE DO-NOTHING PRESIDENCY (Etc., 11.01.02, New Republic)
It's no secret why the president is supposedly so intent on helping elect Republicans this fall. As The Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings explains it:

"Most of [the President's] major proposals are languishing in Congress--his faith-based initiative, judicial appointments, the proposed Homeland Security Department, an energy-policy overhaul, pension protections and a prescription-drug benefit. Mr. Bush hopes to break through that logjam in the two-year ramp up to 2004--when swing voters will be crucial to his re-election hopes--and the best if not only way to do so is to help Republicans retake the Senate and keep the House."

But the more you think about it, this doesn't entirely make sense. To take just one example, it's tough to see how George W. Bush improves his reelection prospects if Republicans retake the Senate and ram through all those backed-up, right-wing judicial nominees. Cummings's article quotes the president telling participants in a Colorado rally that "We need to change the Senate for a lot of reasons, and one reason is to make sure we've got a sound judiciary. There's no question where [incumbent Colorado Senator] Wayne Allard stands when it comes to good, conservative judges." But if all those good, conservative judges actually do get confirmed, it seems like the backlash would help Democrats a lot more than the victory would help Republicans. We'd guess most voters wouldn't describe their judicial philosophy as good and conservative. (A similar logic probably applies to Bush's energy policy.)


This is a popular theme in some circles, that Mr. Bush would rather not pass his agenda and is counting on a Democrat Senate to stop it, but it's absurd. For one thing, these are the issues that Democrats use to scare voters--the threat of judicial nominees, drilling in ANWAR, Social Security privatization--or to show that the GOP doesn't care about people--after all they haven't passed a prescription drug plan or pension protection, etc.. So what rational person would not prefer to have at least enacted the agenda items that they are being blamed for anyway? To the extent that there's a political price to be paid for drilling in ANWAR, Mr. Bush has already paid it, but his oil buddies haven't actually gotten to despoil the pristine wilderness. If you are going to carry a reputation as the enemy of the caribou, wouldn't you want to go and at least make your pals rich?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM

DRAWING THE THORN:

Texas Colleges' Diversity Plan May Be New Model (Lee Hockstader, November 4, 2002, Washington Post)
Jazmin Padron arrived in Texas three years ago, a bright-eyed Mexican teenager with little English and no thought of attending college. A top high school student, she's now all but assured admission to the University of Texas at Austin.

Davin Hunt always assumed he'd go to college, and no wonder -- his parents and 20 of his cousins attended UT-Austin, and virtually all the students at his rich, almost uniformly white high school near Dallas go on to higher education, many of them to top colleges. But Hunt, whose grades don't quite make the top 10 percent of his class, may not be joining the family's Longhorn tradition.

Beyond their Texas residency and sunny dispositions, Padron and Hunt have little in common. But both are busy adapting their calculations about the future to accommodate a five-year-old state law under which the top 10 percent of every high school's graduating seniors are automatically eligible for admission to public universities in Texas.

Now, as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether to rule on the constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions, Texas's law is being scrutinized as a model that could replace the explicitly race-based admissions criteria that have been a feature of public education for decades. Following the Texas law, which first applied to high school seniors graduating in 1998, Florida and California adopted percentage plans for admission to state-funded colleges, and other states are watching Texas's experience closely.

It came after a federal appeals court in 1996 threw out the University of Texas Law School's affirmative action program, saying admission officers could no longer consider race when picking students. African American and Hispanic student enrollments plummeted.

State lawmakers swiftly enacted the 10 percent law, intending to ensure continued diversity at public universities without inviting further constitutional challenges. As long as neighborhoods and the state's 1,800 or so high schools remained largely segregated by race, significant numbers of African American and Hispanic students would be guaranteed places at public universities. Conservatives who never liked explicitly race-based admissions criteria found little to object to in the meritocratic gloss of the new law.

To university officials, who openly regret the death of affirmative action, the 10 percent law is a way to achieve its goals without adopting the means -- "You're doing it without doing it," said Mark Yudof, chancellor of the University of Texas's 180,000-student system. "It's a benign effort to achieve a certain sort of social justice. . . . We don't want a permanent underclass in America."


It may be impossible to overstate how important such legal reform--a gift from the Bush brothers--could be to the Republican Party. By removing race as a consideration, the laws do away with the reverse discrimination that conservatives found most objectionable. But by disproportionately benefitting minorities they satisfy the needs of the various special interests for whom quotas were a vital issue. In the end, they remove one of the most divisive issues that made the Right anathema to minorities. That may serve to diminish the intensity of minority antipathy towards Republican candidates and reduce the capacity of Democrats to whip their base. That is a very big deal.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM

LESS IS MORE:

From Citizens To Customers, Losing Our Collective Voice (Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, November 3, 2002, The Washington Post)
Little more than a year ago, Americans rose up in outrage and grief to affirm their national solidarity in the face of a murderous attack on their fellow citizens. In Tuesday's midterm elections, most of us won't bother to show up. Not even al Qaeda's galvanizing assault can reverse a half-century of declining interest -- especially among younger voters -- in choosing our leaders.

We are watching the slow-motion collapse of American citizenship. For more than two centuries, ordinary citizens were important actors on this country's stage. Their vanguard entered political life with a bang in the 18th century, rising up to fire the shot heard 'round the world. Over the ensuing decades, tens of millions more served their revolutionary republic as citizen-soldiers, jurors, taxpayers and citizen-administrators who helped to extend government authority and services across a sparsely populated continent. At the same time, government extended voting rights to citizens once excluded from the electorate.

Now our government no longer needs us. The citizen-soldiers have given way to the professional all-volunteer military and its armada of smart bombs and drone aircraft. The citizen-administrators have disappeared, too, replaced long ago by professional bureaucrats. Americans may still regard each other as fellow citizens with common causes and commitments. But the candidates seeking votes on Tuesday see us as something less: not a coherent public with a collective identity but a swarm of disconnected individuals out to satisfy our personal needs in the political marketplace. We see them, in turn, as boring commercials to be tuned out.

It would be a mistake to conclude, as many commentators do, that Americans are apathetic citizens gone AWOL. But there's no question that the fundamental relationship between citizen and government has changed. Increasingly, public officials regard us as "customers" rather than as citizens, and there are crucial differences between the two. Citizens own the government. Customers just receive services from it. Citizens belong to a political community with a collective existence and public purposes. Customers are individual purchasers seeking the best deal. Customers may receive courteous service, but they do not own the store.


Essays like this one are simply maddening to anyone who takes the issue they raise seriously, because the answers they propose are always so trivial. The collapse of citizenship is a real problem, but voting is its least important manifestation and boosting votership almost entirely insignificant. The answer is not to get more people involved in picking who will run the bloated and antihuman government bureaucracy we've built up, but to dismantle that monstrosity and thereby force people to reconnect with their communities and one another. We are become disconnected individuals precisely because all of our needs are now serviced--however badly--by government. But folks like these essayists somehow imagine that they can have the "best" of both worlds, both a massive social welfare state and healthy human communities. Rather, as conservatives have been warning for nearly two centuries, it's more likely an either or proposition.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM:

Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report: The Do-It-Yourself Election (Ipsos Public Affairs, November 4, 2002)
Likely voters are split, with 46% preferring Republicans to control Congress after tomorrow's elections, 44% Democrats, and a whopping 10% still undecided or unsure, according to the final Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report Poll of the 2002 election cycle.

That's the third poll to show the GOP leading on the generic ballot question.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM

FUNNY LADY:

BABS SEES CRASH CONSPIRACY (RICHARD JOHNSON with PAULA FROELICH and CHRIS WILSON, 11/04/02, NY Post)
SHE'S quoted bogus Shakespearean passages, misspelled the name of Sen. Dick Gephardt, and issued a position paper identifying Saddam Hussein as the "president of Iran." Now liberal activist Barbra Streisand is privately saying that Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane crash was "no accident." [...]

Streisand expressed her paranoid conspiracy theory to an audience of interior designers bidding on the chance to decorate a planned addition to her Malibu estate.


Most creatures this stupid are extinct.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM

FAREWELL TO THE [SKIFFLE] KING:

'Skiffle king' Donegan dies (BBC, 4 November, 2002)
Musician Lonnie Donegan, known as the "king of skiffle", has died aged 71.

The Glasgow-born singer was midway through a UK tour after recovering from a heart operation earlier this year and was due to play a concert in Stoke, Staffordshire, on Monday.

One of the most successful recording artists of the pre-Beatles era, he had three UK number one hits and numerous top 10 entries in the 1950s and 60s. [...]

Queen guitarist Brian May led tributes to Donegan saying: "He really was at the very cornerstone of English blues and rock." [...]

The skiffle king's hits included Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour, My Old Man's A Dustman, Cumberland Gap and Puttin' on the Style.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:03 PM

THE SUN'LL COME OUT TOMORROW:

Final Polls in NH (Politics NH, 11/04/02)
American Research Group releases final poll... American Research Group has released one final poll before voters go to the voting booth. Sununu leads Shaheen 48-44%, Benson leads Fernald 53-38%, Jeb Bradley leads Martha Fuller Clark 51-40% and Charlie Bass leads Katrina Swett 58-36%.

The scope of Ms Shaheen's problem is apparent by reference not merely to the poll in her race but by looking at the other three. With a Republican about to win the governor's race by high double digits and both House races headed Republican by 10 to 20%, she'd need people to split their tickets to an almost schizophrenic degree.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 PM

SHOWING AL QAEDA THE METAL:

U.S. Missile Kills 6 Al Qaeda Suspects (CBS, Nov. 4, 2002)
Six al Qaeda suspects in Yemen were killed by a U.S. missile that blew up the car they were traveling in, CBS News has learned. Among the dead is a top operative of Osama bin Laden believed responsible for the suicide attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 Americans.

The missile was fired by an unmanned CIA Predator drone operating over Yemen. The drone has been flying over Yemen for months, waiting for the hard intelligence necessary to put it into action.

The Yemeni news agency said "initial information" indicated that the dead included Ali Qaed Sinan al-Harthi, who U.S. counterintelligence officials believe was al Qaeda's top operative in Yemen.

A tribesman who refused to be identified further said he saw al-Harthi's dismembered body in the car.

"I know him like I know myself," the tribesman said. "That was him."


As it limped out of port, the USS Cole played first the National Anthem and then American Bad Ass by Kid Rock:
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh They call me cowboy
I'm the singer in black
So throw a finger in the air, let me see where you're at
Say hey hey
Let me hear where you're at
Say hey hey
I'm givin' it back so say
Hey hey
Show me some metal and say
Hey hey hey hey
ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...huh huh

Stupid song, but we salute the sentiment and relish the dismemberment.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:14 PM

GRAY OUT:

Dismal turnout forecast: All-time low state voter participation -- 39%- predicted by independent survey. (Dan Smith, November 4, 2002, Sacramento Bee)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:37 PM

MARATHON MEN:

One of the dynamics to be aware of in the elections tomorrow is that for the first time since the 1930s, this has a chance to be a genuinely realigning election. In the 30s, of course, America transitioned from seventy years of Republicanism to a fifty year (at least) reign by Democrats. Twice--in 1980 and 1994--the nation has taken steps towards returning to Republicanism, but in both those elections, because no one expected big GOP gains, the candidates who won were of rather dubious quality. In 1980, for instance, the country was so anxious for change that it discarded an entire group of vetern Democrats who were considered quite safe (see below with their first year of election in parentheses). But the Republicans who replaced them, who had basically been considered sacrificial lambs, were simply not heavyweights. Most of them, in fact, promptly lost their first re-election bid (see those below with an *). [Note that four of the losing Democrats were similarly weak sisters, who were only carried in by the anti-Watergate tidal wave of 1974, and one (Donald Stewart) was actually unelected, filling out the term of the deceased James B. Allen]:
Democrat incumbents defeated in 1980:

Birch Bayh of Indiana (1962)
John Culver of Iowa (1974)
Frank Church of Idaho (1956)
John Durkin of New Hampshire (1974)
Mike Gravel of Alaska (1968)
George McGovern of South Dakota (1962)
Warren Magnuson of Washington (1944)
Robert Morgan of North Carolina (1974)
Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin (1962)
Donald Stewart of Alabama (appointed in 1978)
Richard Stone of Florida (1974)
Herman Talmadge of Georgia (1956)

The freshman Republican class of 1980:

Paula Hawkins of Florida*
Jeremiah Denton of Alabama*
Frank Murkowski of Alaska
Mack Mattingly of Georgia*
Steven Symms of Idaho
Dan Quayle of Indiana
Charles Grassley of Iowa
Alfonse D'Amato of New York
John East of North Carolina*
Mark Andrews of North Dakota*
Don Nickles of Oklahoma
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
James Abdnor of South Dakota*
Slade Gorton of Washington*
Robert Kasten of Wisconsin


But, this time around the situation is quite different. By maintaining control of Congress since 1994, with the exception of the infamous Jeffords switch, Republicans made it possible, really for the first time in decades, to recruit quality Congressional candidates. So tomorrow, rather than a John East or a Jeremiah Denton, decent men but not professional politicians, you have guys like John Thune (SD), John Sununu (NH), and Norm Coleman (MN) who were solicited by the President himself, precisely because they are so attractive and electable, to run in what were even then considered to be tough races. Should they win, there's every reason to believe that, unlike the accidental Republican Senators of '80 and '94, they would be formidable when they come up for re-election in 2008. Of such factors are enduring majorities made.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 PM

IF YOU AREN'T WITH US...:

Iraq Hails Saudi for Saying Won't Help a US Attack (Nov 4, 2002, Reuters)
Iraq hailed Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. regional ally, on Monday for saying it would not allow the United States to use its territory to launch a military attack against Iraq.

"Saudi Arabia is thanked for its position which goes in line with Arab solidarity," Iraq's Culture Minister Hamed Yousif Hummadi told reporters.


Which more clearly defines the Sauds as part of the Axis of Evil, an endorsement from Iraq or from Maureen "Girlfriend in a Burka" Dowd?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM

RED STORM RISING:

York Looks to Win R.I. Gov. Race: Repeat Rhode Island Gubernatorial Candidate Myrth York Looks to Win This Time Around (The Associated Press, 11/04/02)
Myrth York has run for Rhode Island governor the last two elections, only to lose to Republican Lincoln Almond on both occasions. She is hoping her perseverance will lead to a better result this time around.

But the former state lawmaker finds herself in some polls trailing Don Carcieri, a political newcomer and former corporate executive who's emphasized his business experience as the cure for an ailing economy.


Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this election has been the inability od Democrats to salt away the gubernatorial races that should have been cake-walks in the quinessential Blue States of New England and the Pacific Coast. Not only are CT and NY going to re-elect incumbent Republicans, CA, OR, HI, VT, NH, and RI also have races where the GOP remains at least competitive, or even favored (as in NH). Even as their prospects for pickups in the House and Senate have slipped away, Democrat leaders like Terry McAuliffe have blithely assured us that they will more than make up for it in the governors' races, demolishing what was just a few years ago a GOP stranglehold on the statehouses.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 AM

DIVINE WIND:

Late shift appears to favor GOP (Richard Benedetto, 11/04/2002, USA TODAY)
The GOP's 6-point advantage mirrors the lead Republicans held in the final days of the 1994 election, when they won control of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Frank Newport, Gallup Poll editor in chief, says the late GOP gain can be traced to three factors:

* Jitters over the economy are declining. The poll found that those who said the economy was getting worse fell from 59% two weeks ago to 51% now.

"Democrats were counting on worry about the economy to boost them, and that decreased in the last two weeks," Newport said.

* More Republicans than Democrats say they're more enthusiastic about voting than they were in the last off-year election in 1998.

* Of those who said President Bush was a factor in their vote, respondents said 2-1 they were voting in favor of Bush, not against him. His job approval is 63%.


Obviously the GOP won't post the kinds of gains it did in '94--I think they picked up something like 56 House seats that year--but these numbers suggest they can hold off history and not lose many, or any, seats.

November 3, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 PM

WHICH REMINDS US OF A PUNCHLINE...:

Playboy gets bang-up response to last wish (Erik Kirschbaum, November 01 2002, Independent Online)
Ageing Berlin playboy Rolf Eden wants to go out with a bang.

Eden, a wealthy 72-year-old disco magnate, received a huge worldwide response to a morally questionable offer to leave part of his fortune to the last woman he has sex with, provided he dies in her arms after a "final, glorious orgasm".


We've established what you are: now we're just haggling over your price.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 PM

LIKE CLOCKWORK:

Reservists ordered to mobilise (Michael Smith, 04/11/2002, Daily Telegraph)
Enforced mobilisation of up to 10,000 reservists will be announced by the Government this week in preparation for a war on Iraq.

In a move not seen since the Korean War, a Queen's Order will give defence chiefs widespread and highly controversial rights to call up many more people than would normally be available.

Senior officers from all the units involved have been summoned to a meeting at the Ministry of Defence today to be briefed on the mass mobilisation.


You can dang near set your watch by it; every time the neocons complain about George W. Bush wobbling it's followed by a spate of stories showing that the Administration is at least a step ahead of them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 PM

THE RISING ROAD:

Bush Pays Tribute to Wellstone (SCOTT LINDLAW, 11/03/02, Associated Press)
In an extraordinary departure from his standard stump speech, Bush opened his remarks by saying Minnesotans were going through "a traumatic time" following Wellstone's death.

"After all, just nine days ago, you lost a principled senator along with his wife and daughter and five other fellow Americans," Bush said. "Paul Wellstone was respected by all who worked with him, he'll be missed by all who knew him.

"Now a vote is coming on in the middle of a state that is mourning," Bush said. "And even though your state is still in mourning, I'm here to remind people from all political parties that you have a duty to vote."


That's the kind of gesture of simple human decency, even at a time when partisanship would counsel silence, that makes true believers out of some of us.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM

BE STILL MY BEATING HEART:

USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll results (USA Today, 11/03/2002)
Below are the results of a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll asking Americans their views on President Bush, the economy and how they plan to vote on Tuesday.

This generic ballot also shows the GOP with a 6% lead: 51% to 45%. This seems thoroughly implausible but would suggest that virtually the entire election on Tursday hinges on the Democrats ability to turn out black and Union voters as effectively as they have since 1994. Mitigating against their ability to do so is that folks just don't seem to find George W. Bush and Dennis Hastert as scary as they did Newt Gingrich. The Democrat base would appear to lack the urgency to defeat the conservative hegemons that they quickly acquired after the Republican Revolution of '94. If there should be relatively low Democrat turnout this could take on the quality of a bloodbath.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:52 PM

CANADIAN ONION:

Here, as God is my witness, are consecutive headlines from the Canada.com mailing today:

The new self-confident Canadian

A new, self-confident Canadian who believes strong social programs will help make the country more productive and competitive has emerged out of the past decade's economic turmoil.

Use of antidepressants skyrockets

Canadians filled 30.3 million prescriptions for antidepressants in a year, an increase of 40% since 1997, with young people and seniors increasingly using the drugs.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM

BLAME CANADA!:

Artifact cracked en route to Toronto: Uproar over damage to stone box linked to Jesus's brother (Joseph Brean and Anne Marie Owens, November 02, 2002, National Post)
Biblical scholars were outraged yesterday to hear that an ancient stone box that could be one of the greatest archeological discoveries of our time shattered into several pieces while being shipped from Israel to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

The box is believed to have contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus, and could be the first archeological evidence of Jesus's existence


In a related story, Jacques Chretien admitted to using the Shroud of Turin as a tablecloth.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:44 PM

BURY HIM AGAIN:

St. Paul Pioneer Press-Minnesota Public Radio Poll Shows Former V.P. Walter Mondale Trailing in Volatile Senate Race (PRNewswire, November 3, 2002)
With 10 percent of voters still undecided, former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman has a 6-percentage-point lead over former Vice President Walter Mondale in statewide poll results for Minnesota's U. S. Senate race.

With voter volatility making measurements of the state's public opinion a difficult task, results show Coleman, a Republican, with 47 percent, and Mondale with 41 percent. The poll, conducted for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

In addition, 17 percent of respondents said their choice in the Senate race was influenced by a controversial Wellstone memorial service that many considered a political rally.


Maybe they could have another Memorial service on Monday and get Coleman to 60%.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:04 PM

BARFLY/BARD:

No Great L.A. Poets? Every Barfly in Town Knows Bukowski (Bill Press, November 3 2002, LA Times)
President Bush has finally taken all this war talk one step too far. Now he's declared war on Los Angeles.

Bush didn't attack L.A. himself. He delegated the dirty work to one of his lieutenants: poet Danny Gioia, Bush's nominee for chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

A writer of well-crafted but mundane poems, Gioia came out firing right after his nomination. Speaking to reporters, Bush's pet poet said he had been misquoted in the Los Angeles Times last fall as saying that no great poet ever came out of California. It wasn't California that was lacking; it was Los Angeles.

"Los Angeles is perhaps the only great city in the world that has not yet produced a great poet," he said.

This is war! And this is wrong. Hasn't he ever heard of Charles Bukowski?


Hate to say it, but Mr. Press is right on this one. We particularly recommend Run with the Hunted.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 PM

WALKING AND CHEWING GUM:

Fleeing bin Laden son detained in Iran (Guy Dinmore, November 2 2002, Financial Times)
Iranian security forces have detained at least one of Osama bin Laden's sons along with several hundred people suspected of having links to the al-Qaeda organisation. The captures happened on Iranian territory as the group fled Afghanistan, according to an Iranian official.

The official, who asked not to be identified, said Mr bin Laden's son was handed over to either the Saudi or Pakistani authorities.


Bin Laden's wife No 5 held in armed raid (Marie Colvin, November 3, 2002, The Sunday Times)
THE youngest wife of Osama Bin Laden has been arrested after a gun battle at her father's compound in Yemen, writes Marie Colvin.

Amal al-Sadah, the Al-Qaeda leader's fifth and favourite wife, who is in her early twenties, has been placed under house arrest and questioned by the Yemeni authorities. Her father has also been
detained.


Bin Laden's doctor held by FBI agents (Christina Lamb, 03/11/2002, Daily Telegraph)
American investigators are questioning a prominent Pakistani surgeon whom they believe gave Osama bin Laden medical treatment after he escaped from his hiding place in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.

They suspect that Dr Amir Aziz, 46, a British-trained orthopaedic surgeon, can help solve the mystery of whether the world's most wanted man is dead or alive.

Dr Aziz was arrested in Lahore two weeks ago by Pakistani military intelligence and FBI agents after al Qa'eda prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, revealed his name.


Remember how shifting attention to the war with Iraq was supposed to cripple the effort to round up al-Qaeda? Turns out we can do both military operations and law enforcement...at the same time even.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 PM

HOW BAD THE GUBERNATORIALS?:

State poll puts Riley in front of Siegelman (TOM GORDON, 11/03/02, Birmingham News)
Republican Bob Riley has pulled ahead of incumbent Democrat Don Siegelman in the final days of their race for governor, according to a new statewide poll.

The survey of 600 registered voters who say they are likely to participate in Tuesday's election shows Riley leading Siegelman 47 percent to 39 percent. Eleven percent said they were undecided, and 3 percent said they would vote for Libertarian candidate John Sophocleus. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

"Riley has pulled significantly ahead," said poll director Larry Powell. "He is poised to win the election."


The GOP is going to take some lumps in the governors' races on Tuesday (PA, MI, and IL look just gruesome), but in AL and SC they are looking likely to knock off incumbent Democrats, while in FL and TX they've opened up significant leads in races where Democrats hoped to embarrass the President. Meanwhile, there arequite a few races worth watching in solidly Democrat states--MA, MD, VT, MN, OR, and HI--all of which are still in play. Last, but certainly not least, there still seems to be almost no way that Bill Simon can win in CA, but it's also impossible to see how Gray Davis gets much over 50%. Perversely, the only thing stopping Bill Simon from winning this race is that not enough Republicans are supporting him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM

THE ISLAND OF WICKER MEN:

Pagans Get Support in Battle Over Stonehenge (Hillary Mayell, October 31, 2002, National Geographic News)
Pagans, Druids, and Travelers in the United Kingdom are demanding some respect, and it looks like they may be on their way to getting some.

Researchers studying the conflict over access to ancient sites such as Stonehenge, a circle of stones built around 2300 B.C., have concluded that "alternative site users" should be given a larger role in making decisions about how such monuments are used and managed.

"Contemporary Pagan interests are no less and no more valid than those of archaeologists, preservationists, or the general public," said Robert Wallis, an archaeologist at American University in London and co-author of the study.

Adherents of Paganism, who include Druids, Wiccans, Witches, Heathens, and others, conjure up images of people in dark hooded robes performing scary rituals. But Pagans are a fast-growing sector of post-modern Britain and can be found throughout society, the researchers say.


Only Geoffrey Hill is sufficient to such a moment:
DARK-LAND

Wherein Wesley stood
up from his father's grave,
summoned familiar dust
for strange salvation:

whereto England rous'd,
ignorant, her inane
Midas-like hunger: smoke
engrossed, cloud-encumbered,

a spectral people
raking among the ash;
its freedom a lost haul
of entailed riches.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:35 AM

MORE TV:

Liberty's Kids

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM

THE COMEDY OF INEVITABLE INCONGRUITY:

INTERVIEW: Deeply exploring A.I. and the I: with David Lodge (Kenneth Baker, November 3, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
Q: Do you have a definition of comedy or the comic?

A: Aristotle is supposed to have written a treatise on comedy that was lost, otherwise we'd have the answer.

I think it's a combination of logic and surprise. There's got to be a feeling that the course of events makes sense and yet there's some reverse. It's both a matter of events and a matter of style, of where the right words appear.

A comic writer has to imagine his work being received by an innocent reader who doesn't know what's coming -- something inevitable but incongruous. That's why writing comedy is really a rather serious business. As a reader I myself am basically gullible if I'm reading for pleasure.


This seems right and suggests one of the reasons that comedy is fundamentally conservative. Liberalism--with its demand that life be egalitarian, its faith in reason, and its belief that mankind is kind, decent, and caring--is utopian. The inevitable incongruities of life are thus an assault on the Left sensibility. Conservatism, on the other hand--with its belief in evil, its skepticism, and its acceptance of the limitations of human reason--finds confirmation when events that seem to make sense are suddenly reversed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 AM

DAMN FUNGUS:

The Chestnut's Chemical Arsenal (Rachael Moeller Gorman, Discover)
The once-ubiquitous American chestnut tree, which was devastated by an Asian fungus in the early 1900s, is often portrayed as a weakling that crumpled when faced with an acute environmental challenge. David Van Lear of Clemson University in South Carolina now suggests that the chestnut was actually more like a forest bully. He and his colleagues have found that chestnut leaves contain natural herbicides that the tree uses to inhibit the growth of neighboring plants. This form of chemical combat may help explain how the tree rose to become a dominant species in the southern Appalachian woods. It may also help forest managers understand the likely impacts of current plans to reintroduce the chestnut into American forests.

The American chestnut used to be king of the forest, growing to over 100 feet tall and from six to 17 feet wide. Chestnuts were a staple crop for many Appalachian families, who not only ate the nutritious and tasty nut and fed it to their livestock but also sold them to New York and other big cities for Christmas roasting.


When we were kids, the pretzel vendors on Manhattan sidewalks used to also sell bags of roasted chestnuts, which our grandfather loved. And we had several trees in our neighborhood, the nuts from which virtually begged to be thrown at random targets or, in those pre-Ritalin days, each other. Pity the kids who never get to enjoy the sheer tactile pleasure of rubbing a chestnut in their fist while scoping out a suitable target.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

GOT 'EM FLANKED:

Nonbelievers march on Mall (Denise Barnes, 11/02/02, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Thousands of nonbelievers converged on the Mall yesterday to demand equal rights under the Constitution and separation between politics and the pulpit during the first-ever Godless Americans March on Washington.

The roughly 2,000 demonstrators from around the nation--self-proclaimed atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and secular humanists--toted cardboard signs that read, "One Nation Under the Constitution," "Religion Kills" and "God is a Fairytale." [...]

The speakers included Michael Newdow, the West Coast physician whose lawsuit led a San Francisco federal appeals court to rule in June that "under God" be stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance--a ruling widely expected to be reversed on appeal.


At one end of the Mall is the Lincoln Memorial, dedicated to the President who said the following:
"[T]his nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom...

At the other end is the Washington Monument, dedicated to the President who, in his final public address to the Nation he had served so well, said the following:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?


Though obviously entitled to their own beliefs, these protestors are not sincere friends of freedom.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 AM

FRITZ VS. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE:

Mondale and Coleman disagree on almost everything (Eric Black, Nov. 3, 2002, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Grief. Momentum. Character. Vigor. Experience. Style. Party. Haircut.

You can base your vote in the U.S. Senate election on any combination of these factors or others. But if you care to take into account the candidates' stands on the issues, you shouldn't have much trouble making up your mind, because there are clear, substantive differences.

Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Walter Mondale disagree on almost every major issue except free trade. [...]

Here are some of the contrasts on how the four major-party candidates stand on the issues:

War on Iraq [...]

Mondale said he spoke to U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone shortly before the vote on the Iraq resolution, and they agreed on the issue. Mondale favored an amendment requiring the administration to seek U.N. authorization before using force. [...]

Taxes and spending

Coleman is the only major-party candidate who would have voted for Bush's $1.35 trillion 2001 tax cut. And now he would vote to make it permanent. [...]

Social Security

Privatizing Social Security is "a dreadful idea, as the recent stock market trends have demonstrated," Mondale said. Social Security should remain in its traditional form. It is not designed to make anyone rich, he said, but to provide a guaranteed level of benefits that retirees can rely on no matter what happens in the stock market.

He suggested no specific changes to head off Social Security's projected insolvency in 2041. He specifically ruled out any increases in the Social Security retirement age beyond those already scheduled. [...]

Abortion [...]

Coleman has also said that while supporters and opponents of abortion rights disagree fundamentally, they can find common ground on issues such as requiring parental notification in cases of abortions for minors (Coleman would strengthen that requirement) and banning late-term abortions.

Mondale rejected both of those ideas, as Wellstone did.


Pro-UN; pro-taxes; opposed to Social Security reform; an abortion absolutist...no wonder Mr. Mondale's website doesn't list his views.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 AM

BETTER THAN 10:00PM, ANYWAY:

Coleman, Mondale to debate one-on-one on election eve (Mark Brunswick and Kevin Duchschere, Nov. 3, 2002, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
U.S. Senate candidates Walter Mondale and Norm Coleman agreed Saturday to a one-on-one debate Monday morning -- less than 24 hours before the polls open.

The 60-minute debate, sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio, will be held at 10 a.m. at the Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown St. Paul.


10:00 AM? On a Monday? Boy, they're really aiming to pull an audience, huh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 AM

KISSING YOUR SISTER:

Democratic House Is Less Likely Than GOP Senate: Parties Seem to Be Headed For Status Quo in Congress (David S. Broder and Dan Balz, November 3, 2002, Washington Post)
Ken Mehlman, the White House political director, said, "If Republicans are able to keep control of the House, President Bush will have had the best off-year election in 40 years. If Republicans are able to win back the Senate, it will have been an even more historic day."

The first seems much more likely than the second. Counting carryovers who do not face the voters until 2004 or 2006 and safe seats up this year, Republicans have 44 assured Senate votes and Democrats 45, not counting Independent Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who will support the Democrats on organization matters.

Each party has three races that are leaning its way, but are not certain. For the Republicans, those states are Missouri, North Carolina and Texas; for the Democrats, Arkansas, Georgia and Minnesota. Missouri appears the likeliest seat to fall to the Republicans, while Arkansas represents the Democrats' best opportunity to gain a seat -- offsetting one another.

If those followed form, Republicans would have 47 seats, Democrats 48, again not counting Jeffords.

The true tossup races are in Colorado, New Hampshire and South Dakota, but Louisiana must be added to the list because it is uncertain whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), who leads the field in an all-party primary including three Republicans, will receive 50 percent of the votes as the state constitution requires. If not, she will face a runoff with a Republican on Dec. 7, in which her chances might not be as good. Republicans would need victories in three of those four states to reach the magic number of 50.

A business-oriented political operative, who maintains close contact with Republican campaigns, said, "My own guess is that Republicans will wind up closer to 46 than to 50."


If you assume the GOP can pull out one of those tossups they get back to 49 and the election's a draw. That's a historic victory, but folks are bound to be disappointed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:37 AM

THE BLIND LEADING US TO THE BLIND:

How (and Why) to Read Francis Parkman (Mark Peterson, October 2002, Common-Place)
In 1885, Francis Parkman reached the summit of his brilliant career. He had just published Montcalm and Wolfe, the culminating volume of a series of works on France and England in North America that he had begun in the 1840s. Now reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic were proclaiming him to be America's greatest historian. The Nation called Montcalm and Wolfe Parkman's "masterpiece," and the Atlantic Monthly admired his perfect blend of literary art and rigorous scientific scholarship. The Spectator compared him favorably to Macaulay-high praise indeed. In his remaining years, as he tied up the last loose ends in his life's work, Parkman continued to watch the accolades pour in. Theodore Roosevelt dedicated The Winning of the West (1889) to him, proclaiming that Parkman's "works stand alone, . . . they must be models for all historical treatment of the founding of new communities and the growth of the frontier here in the wilderness."

A century after Parkman's heyday, Roosevelt's confidence seemed badly misplaced. At that moment, the "new Indian history" that has revolutionized early American scholarship was just coming into its own, and its most vociferous advocate, Francis Jennings, dealt Parkman a death blow in a critical essay published in 1985. Two years earlier, the Library of America had unearthed Parkman's writings from the seventeen volumes of the nineteenth-century Frontenac edition and re-embalmed them in a new two-volume set, weighing in at over three thousand pages. Jennings countered the canonical authority of the Library of America imprimatur with an assault on Parkman's much vaunted historical accuracy-"his 'facts' cannot be relied on and are sometimes fabricated"-and on the assumptions, biases, and outright prejudices that "poisoned" his approach to the past.

In the wake of Jennings's diatribe, however, Parkman seems to have experienced a renaissance. Simon Schama featured the Boston historian as a tortured, self-pitying, yet still heroic muse in Dead Certainties. Parkman's capacity to blend his own identity with that of his historical subjects-in Jennings's eyes, the root of all evil-made Parkman an enabling figure in Schama's own transition from academic historian to television raconteur. Meanwhile, the University of Nebraska Press has been issuing paperback reprints of Parkman's works with eye-catching jacket covers and with new introductions by academic historians. The Modern Library has done the same, but has chosen popular writers like the adventure guru Jon Krakauer to introduce new audiences to Parkman's work. Judging by reader responses on Amazon.com, Parkman remains a steady if not a best seller, appreciated by those who enjoy a ripping good yarn, who feel comfortable within the clarity of his narrative framework, and who value the visual imagery that Parkman's prose evokes. If the History Channel's producers are not already paying attention, they should be.


Francis Jennings? How does an obscure Marxist deal a deathblow to our Edward Gibbon?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:55 AM

TYPING THROUGH TEARS AT THE TIMES:

In Poll, Americans Say Both Parties Lack Clear Vision (ADAM NAGOURNEY and JANET ELDER, November 3, 2002, NY Times)
In one closely watched if imprecise measure of the overall partisan strength of the two parties, 47 percent of likely voters said they would vote for a Republican in next week's Congressional contest, compared with 40 percent who said they would vote Democratic. The margin of sampling error for that question was plus or minus five percentage points.

But that question, known as a generic ballot question, is a measure of national sentiment, and does not necessarily reflect how Americans will vote in the governor's races around the country and in the handful of close Senate and House races that will ultimately determine the control of Congress.

The concern among Democrats about the nation's direction and the economy suggests that Democratic voters might be more motivated to cast their ballots on Tuesday and respond to the ambitious get-out-the-vote drives that have been organized by the Democratic Party, aimed in particular at voters who are distressed about the economy.

President Bush, who has invested so much of his own political capital in the outcome of the elections, remains extremely popular with voters. In this poll, 62 percent of respondents said they approved of how he was handling his job, though that is down markedly from his 74 percent rating of last summer.


Even with the immediate qualifications and rationalizations, one can imagine how it must have pained the Times to run those numbers. A seven point spread is higher than the GOP got in the actual voting in 1994.

November 2, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:57 PM

POTEMKIN DOGHOUSE:

First dog in space died within hours(Dr David Whitehouse, 28 October, 2002, BBC News Online)
The dog Laika, the first living creature to orbit the Earth, did not live nearly as long as Soviet officials led the world to believe.

The animal, launched on a one-way trip on board Sputnik 2 in November 1957, was said to have died painlessly in orbit about a week after blast-off.

Now, it has been revealed she died from overheating and panic just a few hours after the mission started.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:52 PM

THE SUN NEVER SETS:

At a Military Museum, the Losers Write History (HOWARD W. FRENCH, October 30, 2002, NY Times)
Judging by the texts on the walls at this new museum of military history, Japan sacrificed its blood and treasure throughout the 20th century not to conquer other Asian countries but to fight for their independence.

In much the same vein, the museum presents Emperor Hirohito as a selfless statesman who ended World War II out of concern for the loss of innocent lives, not caring "what became of me." Nowhere is there any hint of the volumes of recent scholarship that show how the emperor urged his armies to keep fighting long after defeat was inevitable in what many historians say was an effort to negotiate his own security atop the throne.

The museum is a provocative addition to Yasukuni Shrine here, which commemorates the country's 2.5 million modern war dead, including 14 internationally designated war criminals from the last world war. The museum offers the Shinto shrine's unapologetic attitude about Japan's militaristic past to crowds of visitors year-round. [...]

Here, the infamous "Rape of Nanjing" - in which international historians say Japan massacred 100,000 to 300,000 Chinese in December 1937 - becomes the "Nanjing Incident." Japanese troops were reported at the time to have held killing contests and to have raped women by the thousands. Yet the first mention of civilian deaths in the war does not come until the American firebombings of Japanese cities, in 1944.

"Chinese troops were soundly defeated, suffering heavy casualties," the text says of Nanjing. "Inside the city, residents were once again able to live their lives in peace."

A Chinese university student who visited the museum gasped audibly, shaking her head in barely contained anger at the Nanjing text. "This is why our two countries can never be true friends," she said. "How can we trust a country that continues to lie so boldly about its past?"


This, mind you, is a peaceful democratic ally who we pummeled and then rebuilt. Yet people blithely tell us that if we remove our troops from the Middle East and soften our support of Israel the Arab world will come around to our way of thinking. If people are going to hate us let's defang them first.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:33 PM

THE PRINCIPLED LEFT:

Pro-Life Progressive No More: The strange journey of Dennis Kucinich. (Timothy P. Carney, Novermber 1, 2002, National Review)
In the Ohio state Senate, Kucinich voted to ban partial-birth abortions. In 1996, while running for U.S. House, the former "boy-mayor" of Cleveland said, "I believe that life begins at conception." When Kucinich was coming to Washington, the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy counted the former mayor as one of a handful of "anti-choice" Democratic newcomers.

Upon arriving in our nation's capital, the Cleveland Catholic lived up to his billing. In the 105th Congress, Kucinich - no conservative - earned a 90 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee. His only heresies in the eyes of these abortion foes being his support of the Shays-Meehan campaign-finance bill.

That's correct: This left-wing congressmen voted with the National Right to Life Committee on every single abortion vote in his first two years. That was more pro-life than three Ohio Republicans that year. The votes included sticking up for a ban on partial-birth abortion and voting to thwart President Clinton's plan to give foreign aid to overseas agencies that perform and counsel abortion.

For the next two years, the story was the same. Kucinich voted again to ban partial-birth abortion, block aid to International Planned Parenthood, and prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions in federal prisons. His score in the 106th Congress with the National Right to Life Committee was 95 percent - again, only voting against them on Shays-Meehan.

The 10th district Democrat even towed the pro-life line during the first year of the Bush administration. In April, Kucinich supported the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," which criminalized harming a fetus in a crime, and he opposed the Democratic substitute that would have defused the fetus-is-a-life parts of the bill.

In May, 2001, Kucinich again voted against funding International Planned Parenthood. Two months later he voted to block federal funding of prison abortions. On the cloning ban, the congressman voted the straight pro-life line, supporting the bill and opposing his party's efforts to soften the ban.

On September 25, 2001, Kucinich helped kill a measure by California Democrat Loretta Sanchez that would have allowed for federal funding of abortions in overseas U.S. military bases.

But then something happened.


There's no surer sign that a Democrat is running for president than that they renounce their belief that a fetus is a human life, as did both Richard Gephardt and Al Gore before they first ran in 1988. Looks like Mr. Kucinich is willing to offer up the sacrifice too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:11 PM

THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST...:

Mondale for Senate

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:05 PM

BYE-BYE TERRY:

Democrats' dream becoming nightmare (Buddy Nevins, November 2, 2002, Orlando Sun-Sentinel)
You just had to attend Bill McBride's rally for Hispanics in Broward County this week to see what is happening to his campaign.

There were maybe two dozen discouraged McBride supporters inside a Southwest Ranches restaurant -- and a flood of Bush supporters waving signs outside.

Even in this Democratic stronghold, McBride has trouble.

The panic among Democratic insiders is so thick you can cut it with a knife. They see victory slipping away ... not only in the governor's race, but everywhere.

Democrats are working overtime to make sure McBride's sinking campaign doesn't drag down the whole ticket.

McBride wouldn't have former President Bill Clinton campaigning with him unless he was concerned about his Democratic support. It's McBride's last attempt to energize his base of South Florida's condominium residents and blacks.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jeb Bush will be campaigning in Broward among Democrats on Sunday, indicating he doesn't have to worry about Republican votes.


Given the obviously even split among Florida voters this was never going to be much more than a 5-8% victory for Jeb, but it was also never going to be a loss. The Democrats really wasted their own time, energy, and money on this race just out of a quest for petty vengeance. Terry McAuliffe, who announced that this was his #1 prioirity, is likely to lose his job shortly after this debacle.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:59 PM

SOMEBODY DROP A PUCK:

Buchanan calls Canada 'freeloading nation' (Canadian Press, 11/01/02)
Canada is a "whining" country that has been "freeloading" off the U.S. defence budget for decades, outspoken American talk-show host Pat Buchanan said Friday.

The latest attack to come from the failed Republican presidential candidate followed his televised comment that Canada is a "Soviet Canuckistan" because Canadian officials objected to a U.S. law demanding photos and fingerprints from Arab-Canadian visitors to the country.

"Post 9-11, we've been making a tremendous effort to try to secure the American people," Buchanan said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he co-hosts a daily talk show.

"And to hear this kind of carping criticism from north of the border, from folks whom we give a $50-billion (U.S.) trade surplus each year and whom we defend while they have been in some ways freeloading off the United States, got a little bit into my craw."

"We exercise occasionally the right to criticize [Canada] and what I hear from up in Canada is some juvenile whining."


With a fight like this can a hockey game be far behind?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:52 PM

DISENFRANCHISEMENT, YES:

New Mexico to decide if "idiots" can vote (Zelie Pollon, 11/01/02, Reuters)
New Mexico voters will decide on Tuesday whether they want "idiots" and "insane persons" to vote in their state.

Under the state's Constitution, drafted in 1912, "idiots" and "insane persons", as well as those "convicted of a felonious or infamous crime" are currently prohibited from voting.

Proposed Amendment 2 on the November 5 ballot would strike the terms "idiots" and "insane persons" from the Constitution. The measure will better reflect current understanding of mental health and remove archaic language, supporters said. [...]

Early voter Kathleen MacRae said changing the language made sense to her.

"I'm for liberalising all voting laws. Voting should be open and easy for everyone," she said. "And God knows there are already a lot of idiots voting."


Here are a few restrictions that should be placed on voting:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:35 AM

JERUSALEM AND ATHENS (continued):

Can We Be Good Without God?: On the political meaning of Christianity (Glenn Tinder, December 1989, Atlantic Monthly)
We are so used to thinking of spirituality as withdrawal from the world and human affairs that it is hard to think of it as political. Spirituality is personal and private, we assume, while politics is public. But such a dichotomy drastically diminishes spirituality construing it as a relationship to God without implications for one's relationship to the surrounding world. The God of Christian faith (I shall focus on Christianity although the God of the New Testament is also the God of the Old Testament) created the world and is deeply engaged in the affairs of the world. The notion that we can be related to God and not to the world--that we can practice a spirituality that is not political--is in conflict with the Christian understanding of God.

And if spirituality is properly political, the converse also is true, however distant it may be from prevailing assumptions: politics is properly spiritual. The spirituality of politics was affirmed by Plato at the very beginnings of Western political philosophy and was a commonplace of medieval political thought. Only in modern times has it come to be taken for granted that politics is entirely secular. The inevitable result is the demoralization of politics. Politics loses its moral structure and purpose, and turns into an affair of group interest and personal ambition. Government comes to the aid of only the well organized and influential, and it is limited only where it is checked by countervailing forces. Politics ceases to be understood as a pre-eminently human activity and is left to those who find it profitable, pleasurable, or in some other way useful to themselves. Political action thus comes to be carried out purely for the sake of power and privilege.

It will be my purpose in this essay to try to connect the severed realms of the spiritual and the political. In view of the fervent secularism of many Americans today, some will assume this to be the opening salvo of a fundamentalist attack on "pluralism." Ironically, as I will argue, many of the undoubted virtues of pluralism--respect for the individual and a belief in the essential equality of all human beings, to cite just two--have strong roots in the union of the spiritual and the political achieved in the vision of Christianity. The question that secularists have to answer is whether these values can survive without these particular roots. In short, can we be good without God? Can we affirm the dignity and equality of individual persons--values we ordinarily regard as secular--without giving them transcendental backing?


This essay relates back to a couple of discussions we were having earlier in the week, about the atheist Boy Scout, Father Ernest Fortin, the Clash of Civilizations, and "freeloading atheism" generally. It's long, but very good.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM

THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT:

Getting High on George (Jason Gay, November 2, 2002, NY Observer)
He's a Republican, she's a Democrat. He's a little bit country, she's a little bit rock 'n' roll. He's the son of the 41st President, she's the daughter of the House Democratic whip. But the reason George W. Bush and New York filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi fell for each other-and became, in the Nov. 5 HBO documentary Journeys with George, the most incongruous cinematic couple since Dennis Hopper met Isabella Rossellini-was that they both knew what it meant to be laughed at.

The courtship began a couple years back, when Mr. Bush was the governor of Texas and Ms. Pelosi was a producer riding the Bush campaign plane for NBC News-"keeping the seat warm until Brokaw shows up." The girl had wavy brown hair and purple glasses, talked faster than a kindergartner high on Cocoa Puffs, spouted whatever was on her mind, slyly dated a Newsweek reporter and, finally, numbed by the lifeless grind of canned-s[p]it campaign events, began shooting her own video with a handheld camera.

The guy? He found the loudmouthed girl and her camera amusing, and though he never forgot she was The Enemy, he charmed her back, teased her about "Newsweek man" and served as her confidante when she found herself out of favor with her media colleagues after she herself got entwined in a press leak. In one of Journeys with George's best scenes, Mr. Bush tries to get Ms. Pelosi back in the good graces of her fellow reporters by putting his arm around her after the boys on the airbus shun her. "When they see me talking to you, they are going to act like your friends again," Mr. Bush says. "But these people aren't your friends."

It wasn't Tracy and Hepburn. But there was something.


The critics are undoubtedly right that George W. Bush is too stupid to be the leader of the Free World. But as Frank Bruni showed in his fine campaign memoir, Ambling Into History, the guy has some ability to charm and to relate to people who are considerably different from himself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

EUROPE, R.I.P.:

Treasury: Britain can't afford Iraq war (Michael Smith, November 2, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Britain cannot afford to send ground troops to the Gulf to take part in a war against Iraq, the chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, has told the Ministry of Defense.

There is no more relevant nation in Europe than Britain and it is teetering on the edge of irrelevance.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM

WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING:

'Goon squads' ready for protests (Frank Main, November 2, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Fellow cops have dubbed them "goon squads."

But the Chicago Police Department is using a more bureaucratic tag--Special Response Teams--to describe the 6-foot-4 and taller patrol officers selected to collar any violent demonstrators next week during a meeting of international business leaders in Chicago.

About 130 of the towering officers have been picked for the mission, a top department official said. They will cross police lines and wade into the crowd to control any dangerous activity, the official said.

"They're our ace in the hole," the official said.


One of my fondest memories from childhood is of the Chicago Police Department wading into the swinish demonstrators in 1968.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

IL IN NY:

At 80, Thielemans Orders It Sweet; Illinois Jacquet, Tart (BEN RATLIFF, November 2, 2002, NY Times)
Just a reminder: In 1950, there were no 80-year-olds playing jazz, anywhere; appreciating the aged was not part of the discourse. Now jazz-club schedules are filled with birthday celebrations for milestones of 60 and up. Age is instant venerability, and venerability helps sell tickets; these gigs generally aren't complete until an enormous cake gets trundled out.

Two famous figures who turned 80 this year are celebrating in New York clubs through tomorrow; they are very different kinds of 80. Toots Thielemans, the Belgian harmonica-player, seemed dazzled by his glorious sunset, and found shelter under the umbrella of sophisticated schmaltz; Illinois Jacquet, the great swing saxophonist, remains as earthy as his Louisiana accent, still ordering his big band through blasting riff-tunes reminiscent of the 1950's Count Basie band; he tempered his own birthday moment with tart-tongued humor. [...]

Over at the Jazz Standard, Mr. Jacquet held forth with his 16-piece band. He appeared fatigued until he warmed into his entertainer role, singing some Louis Armstrong-style scat lines and ripping off a few tenor saxophone solos. His macho, underrated saxophone style--Coleman Hawkins-like but rawer--is still all there, and intermittently glorious. A few of his young sidemen were exceptional: one was Sean Jones from Youngstown, Ohio, who soloed in "A Night in Tunisia." After the tune, Mr. Jacquet rasped, "They ever hear you do that in Youngstown? They wouldn't know what you were playing anyways. Bunch of hillbillies."

With a seemingly bored bassist and drummer, the music couldn't get far off the ground. But the set had fascinating moments for the bandleader's own playing and for his merciless, direct, anti-nostalgia as he looked back on his life. Before heading into his own sumptuous "Blues from Louisiana," he spoke about his home state with something less than fondness, recalling an incident of racism that he suffered at age 3. "It was the woist place on oith," he said.


As our jazz critic, Glenn Dryfoos, is fond of pointing out, it is uniquely the case with jazz that you can still catch some of the founding figures, though fewer every year, playing live. I'd no idea that Illinois Jacquet was still around.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 AM

EASING INTO THE DAY:

Early Riser: The joy of getting out of bed and down to work (Joseph Epstein, February 2002, Atlantic Monthly)
Talking to a friend not long ago, I paraphrased a remark of Einstein's: "Only a monomaniac gets anything done." "No," replied my friend, "only people who get up at five A.M. get anything done." I happen to be both a monomaniac and a five o'clock riser, so why, I wonder, do I continue to feel so slothful? Before attempting to answer, let me say that though I'm not someone who bounds out of bed like a wide receiver breaking from a Notre Dame huddle, I do look forward to getting up early. I like the darkness, I like the silence, I like the company I encounter at that hour-which is to say, I enjoy the hour or so of solitude. And as a grateful pessimist, I like the fact that I have made it-still alive!-through another night.

I also immensely like my morning regimen. I turn on the stove under the tea kettle, fill the tea ball (alternating Assam Extra Fancy one morning with Irish Breakfast the next), and await the whistle of the kettle while I make out a list of the day's errands, meetings, and responsibilities. Then I sit on a high stool at the kitchen counter and read, more often than not from some thickish book having to do with something I have promised to write. I sip tea, I take notes on my reading, I await the sunrise.

Sometimes I am accompanied by music from WFMT, Chicago's last remaining and splendid classical-music station, though I turn it off if the music becomes too dramatic, thereby interfering with my reading and my sense of a day's calm beginning (not much Beethoven, no Wagner, and scant Richard Strauss permitted at this early hour). I hope no one will think me nauseatingly sensitive if I add that I used to be joined by a striped cat, now dead, named Isabelle, who, after I fed her, sat beside my book, always on my left, demanding no attention, content to be nearby and to look elegant. During baseball season I turn on an AM station at 5:13 to get the previous night's scores and, while I'm at it, the weather. No phone rings; I generally do not turn on my computer, allowing e-mail, and hence the outside world, to invade my morning. For the same reason, I wait until 6:30 or so to go to the door for The New York Times, in which I turn first to the obituaries to see who has been taken out of the game. I could still be sleeping--a pleasure I do not slight--but I really am happier awake.


Jim Hart turned us on to Mr. Epstein, one of the very best essayists in America.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 AM

OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE:

Why we still don't get it, one year on: Americans are badly served by semi-official media propaganda (Mark Hertsgaard, September 11, 2002, The Guardian)
Perhaps the greatest lie told to the American public about the September 11 terrorist attacks is that they prove the outside world hates us. President Bush, for example, has repeatedly warned Americans about foreign "evil doers" who loathe everything we stand for. The US media has been no less insistent, referring time and again to "Why they hate us", as one Newsweek story put it.

But the world doesn't hate us, the American people. It is our government, our military, and our corporations that are resented.


Talk about not getting it? Mr. Hertsgaard--whose equally risible book, The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World, I'm reading now--seems oblivious to the fact that America is a democracy, has a civilian-controlled military and has publicly-owned corporations. Hatred of our institutions is inseparable from hatred of our people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 AM

BEST LAID PLANS:

U.S. May Abandon Support of U.N. Population Accord (JAMES DAO, November 2, 2002, NY Times)
The Bush administration, embroiling itself in a new fight at the United Nations, has threatened to withdraw its support for a landmark family planning agreement that the United States helped write eight years ago. [...]

The threat startled members of other delegations attending the Asian and Pacific Population Conference and drew immediate criticism from Chinese, Indian and Indonesian officials, who argued that the American position would undermine a global consensus on population policy, according to United Nations officials.

The threat has also elicited a sharp response from some Europeans.

"I think it is disappointing and incredible," said Agnes van Ardenne, the Dutch minister for development cooperation. "Poverty reduction will not be successful without reproductive health and without women being able to make their own choices."

Congressional Democrats and United Nations officials underscored these concerns today, saying that a decision by the administration to withdraw support for the Cairo program would undermine the efforts of family planning officials in countries that have looked to the United States to take the lead in checking population growth.


Why is it that so many of the same people who say we shouldn't interfere in the internal affairs of other countries think we have an obligation to help determine which children get to live and which die throughout the world?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:29 AM

GENDER GAP:

Support of women voters for Townsend lukewarm (Howard Libit and Sarah Koenig, November 2, 2002, Baltimore Sun)
The Maryland Poll, taken for The Sun and The Gazette newspapers by Potomac Survey Research Inc., found Townsend leading Ehrlich among women 49 percent to 42 percent with a week to go until Election Day.

By contrast, the poll shows Ehrlich leading Townsend among men, 54 percent to 38 percent - a large enough difference to overcome the fact that women make up a larger share of the electorate.

"That gap among women is not enough for Townsend," said pollster Keith Haller, president of Potomac. "She needs to seriously get greater support among women in order to prevail."

Past elections suggest Maryland women should be Townsend's not-so-secret weapon. In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore beat George Bush among Maryland's female voters by 18 percentage points, the second-largest gender gap in the United States, according to an analysis by the Feminist Majority Foundation.


She's in the process of not becoming Governor.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:24 AM

ONE CHOICE TOO MANY:

KEY DEMS LEAN ON GOLISANO TO DROP OUT (FREDRIC U. DICKER, KENNETH LOVETT and ROBERT HARDT Jr., November 2, 2002, Daily News)
Seeking to enlist the help of former President Bill Clinton, Democratic powerbrokers last night were pressuring Tom Golisano to throw in the towel and join forces with Carl McCall against Gov. Pataki, The Post has learned.

This is the same Democrat Party that argued that it was vital for NJ voters to have a full range of choices when the Torch bowed out, right?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:15 AM

BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY:

'Onion Field' patrolman dies at 72 (The Bakersfield Californian, October 30, 2002)
Retired California Highway Patrolman Bill Odom, who received national attention for helping capture the "Onion Field" police killers 39 years ago, has died in Bakersfield.

Odom, 72, died Tuesday after battling congestive heart failure. His death came just two months after the death of Merv Crist of Bakersfield, Odom's CHP partner in the infamous case.


Hail and farewell, Patrolman Odom.

November 1, 2002

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:38 PM

Q-TIP PATROL:

Mondale: Experience Helps (Don Davis, November 01, 2002, Worthington Daily Globe)
Mondale plans to campaign in southern Minnesota today and the northeastern part of the state Saturday. They will travel by bus,

"There will be no planes," Mondale spokeswoman Allison Dobson said.


Presumably, if Mr. Mondale drives it they'll go the whole way doing 45 mph in the left hand lane with the turn signal blinking.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM

MUST SEE SOCCER?:

149-0 scoreline sets new record (BBC, 1 November, 2002)
Newly-crowned Madagascan champions AS Adema thrashed their arch-rivals Stade Olympique I'Emyrne 149-0 in a top national league game.

But it was not their outstanding skill that led to the outlandish scoreline.

It was because Olympique deliberately scored one own goal after another in protest over a refereeing decision.


At last someone has found a way to relieve the soul-killing tedium of soccer...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM

JUST?:

A just war?: Many of the country's leading ethicists oppose a strike on Iraq. But a look at the centuries-old theory of just war suggests that military action may be in fact be morally necessary. (Jean Bethke Elshtain, 10/6/2002, Boston Globe)
If, as some argue, the state is the sole arbiter of its own affairs, your stance is likely to be one of extreme caution when it comes to a preemptive strike. In my view, however, just war demands that we see a sovereign state as an actor that either does what states are supposed to do - provide basic civic peace, rule of law, and security for citizens - or does not. When a state destroys or is prepared to destroy its own citizens and to propel its violence outside its own borders, it becomes a criminal entity. Under just war theory, states themselves must often come under severe moral scrutiny.

In other words, a state's right to direct its own affairs is not, and has never been, absolute. It may forfeit that right if it commits aggression against another state (as Saddam did against Kuwait), or if it harms in substantial and grave ways its own people or a group of its own people (as Saddam did when he used chemical weapons against the Iraqi Kurds), or if it provides substantial and essential material support to others who wish to inflict such harms (as Saddam allegedly did by supporting Osama bin Laden, whose ''fatwas'' call for the murder of all Americans, wherever they are found). [...]

Our great power brings with it a solemn responsibility. That responsibility isn't limited to protecting the citizens of the United States alone. There is an underlying strain of isolationism in much of the current debate. Again and again an image of ''Fortress America'' emerges as we are enjoined not to meddle abroad. Much of this discussion is partisan, of course, as the argument turns on which administration is doing the alleged meddling. But much of it implies a retreat within our borders. Sovereignty trumps other concerns for those who espouse a kind of quasi-isolationism.

Justice falls by the wayside in such preachments. The Iraqi victims of Saddam Hussein are not considered worthy of serious consideration. But just war theory demands that we consider them, as well as Saddam's potential victims outside Iraq. That is why we must put relentless pressure on him to conform to UN resolutions, and, if he fails to do so, insist that he pay the consequences - not because we want a war but because force can sometimes be put at the behest of a more just international order.


I don't get it--how is it possible to reconcile Christ's commandment that we "love one another" with the idea that we have to stand aside while a dictator oppresses our fellow men? What is unjust about freeing people from such rule?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 PM

MYSTERIES SEPARATED BY FIVE CENTURIES:

American Gothic, Grant Wood (1930) (Jonathan Jones, May 18, 2002, The Guardian)
Wood's often dreamlike paintings recall the stories of Washington Irving, imagining a small-town world that is comforting and enclosed yet could easily be the stage for spooky nocturnal mayhem. His painting The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931), in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, despite its nationalist theme, is an eerie vision of a lonely rider hurtling through an ivory-coloured slumbering town by moonlight.

Subject: The models, dressed in clothes dating from the 1890s, are Wood's sister, Nan, and their dentist, BH McKeeby of Cedar Rapids. They pose in front of an 1880s wood-frame house - which still exists as a tourist attraction in the Iowa town of Eldon - built in the American Gothic or Carpenter's Gothic style.

Distinguishing features: They are keeping us out of their world rather than showing it off. The close-packed bodies of the 19th-century farmer and his spinster daughter played by Nan and McKeeby form a wall between us and the white wooden house. [...]

Inspirations and influences: Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait (1434) is a model for this painting, as a double domestic portrait and as a mystery.


Arnolfini Portrait, Jan Van Eyck (1434) (Jonathan Jones, April 15, 2000, The Guardian)
People said Van Eyck was an alchemist, and no wonder. There is some enchantment about this painting, the way it seems to act as a window on a real room. It has become more, not less, mysterious as art historians have attempted to establish its context. There have been many classic interpretations, including an analysis by Erwin Panofsky arguing that it was painted as a legal document witnessing a marriage. It is now known all of these arguments were based on a misrecognition of the picture. It was always thought to be of the merchant Giovanni di Arrigo Arnolfini and his bride Giovanna Cenami. Recently, a document turned up showing they did not marry until 14 years after this picture was done. It is not them.

So much modern art is intentionally obscure, there's a delightful irony in the enduring mystery of these two seemingly straightforward and realistic works.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 PM

APING GIBBON:

The St. Peter Principle: a review of Why I am a Catholic by Garry Wills (Jeffrey Hart, August 12, 2002, National Review)
Edward Gibbon was a historian of staggering knowledge. When a new scholarly work appeared, he tells us, he took a stroll in his garden. He reviewed in his mind the subject of the book and what he already knew about it. Then he skipped those parts and read only the remainder, an approach that saved much time. For many books, he probably read only the table of contents.

That, of course, was Gibbon. Before opening Why I Am a Catholic, however, I decided to try that great man's approach: I organized in my own mind what I consider to be the established reasons for being a Catholic. I reduced them to four propositions:

1. The Catholic Church is the fullest expression of Christianity as rooted in the entire Bible from Genesis through the New Testament. Christian departures from Catholicism strike me as diminishments, Reformation amounting to subtraction.

2. An institution that has evolved over time, especially over a very long period of time, surviving many vicissitudes, enjoys a presumption of validity. It has lived with us. It is the result of experience and reflection, the latter by minds agreed to have been towering, as well as by the collective mind of millions. It deserves an overwhelming presumption in its favor as over against the prescriptions of individual idealists who, in comparison, are but the flies of a summer and whose visions possess either no actuality or no continuing existence. Jacques Maritain was right when he began his late masterpiece, The Peasant of the Garonne, by thanking God for the visible Church. Yes, thank God -- literally -- for the visible Church. I am even beginning to develop a fondness for the smell of candles, bad sculpture, and very dubious architecture.

3. The Creed is absolutely fundamental, as Mr. Wills masterfully explicates, and the institution of the papacy is necessary to protect the Creed from homemade opinions. The papacy guarantees the unity of the Church against what John Dryden characterized as a "downhill Reformation" into sects and schisms and eccentrically inspired individuals. As Matthew Arnold said, the Protestant principle is "individual judgment"; yet the vast majority of people cannot do the hard intellectual work that validates the analogical formulations of the Creed. As a result, unusual homemade religions proliferate.

4. That the Church has had imperfections should not be viewed as dispositive evidence against it. God writes straight with crooked lines; this is true throughout the stories recounted in the Bible, and -- as Garry Wills illustrates abundantly and very informatively -- it is equally true of the history of the papacy. Father Andrew Greeley was correct when he said that "If you can find a Church that is perfect, by all means join it; but realize that, when you do, it has ceased to be perfect."


If only it weren't for the sacraments...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 PM

EASY QUESTIONS WITH TWISTED ANSWERS:

Does Bush believe that embryos are human beings with full human rights, or does he not? I would like a straight answer (Michael Kinsley, 11/01/02, SLATE.COM)
Abortion is a tough question for most people, but the related issue of embryos and medical ethics can be a lot easier. It can be solved without a lot of stagy agonizing, and without trivializing other people's moral concerns, even ones you may not share.

An embryo has no feelings, no self-awareness, nothing that would give anyone a concern about its welfare except for its potential to develop into something we recognize as human. Religion can give you that concern as a matter of faith, but government policy should not be based on this belief any more than on the religious belief of some people that plants have souls.


This is nearly unintelligible. Mr. Kinsley writes a column full of stagy agonizing about his concern that human embryos might be accorded some human rights. He avows that this issue can be settled without trivializing anyone's moral concerns. Then he dismisses the agonizing of people with different views than he, suggests their concerns are somehow illegitimate because religious, and implicitly compares a human embryo to a plant. What remains in his argument from the premise with which he himself began? Or can his points in fact only be made via stagy agonizing, trivialization of religious morality, and the diminishment of human life?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM

YET I WAIT:

Bigfoot's indelible imprint (Marco R. della Cava, 10/31/2002, USA TODAY)
There are times in life when we must summon every shred of courage to stand tall and unflinching in the face of fear. This is not one of them. It is 2 a.m., and outside a flimsy tent lit by a full moon something stirs in this primeval forest.

Crack! goes the twig. "Deer, right?" asks a visitor, who is about to tick away the nerve-wracking night one snap, crackle and pop at a time until dawn breaks with a harrowing howl.

"Nah," replies local Matthew Johnson, sliding a hand onto his .44 Magnum. "That wasn't a twig; it was a thick branch. Whatever's out there is bigger. Much bigger."

Bigger as in Yeti and Sasquatch.

Bigger as in Bigfoot.

That's right, the hairy, smelly lunk is still with us. Pick any name you want - Asian, Native American or tabloid - he hasn't changed from the 10-foot-tall, half-ton, mannish ape whose star turn in a 1967 home movie launched thousands of sightings.

Make no mistake. Bigfoot and his kin remain part of a freaky family of Charlie's Angels-era fads (think poltergeists and UFOs), and the scientific community at large remains amused. But the faithful hope Bigfoot may yet make a monkey out of non-believers. For decades now, a small but loyal legion of Bigfoot hunters has spent countless weekends prowling forests in nearly every state, piling up evidence such as alleged footprints and hair samples that now has a handful of animal experts willing to at least entertain the possibility of his existence.


And they all get to vote on Tuesday.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 PM

BUT WHO WILL REPRESENT THE IVY TOWERS?:

Paul Wellstone's memorial and Walter Mondale's coming-out party. (Christopher Caldwell, 11/11/2002, Weekly Standard)
The tendencies Wellstone represented are a real and serious corner of our political landscape. We won't pretend to like this politics: With its obsessive focus on sexuality and race issues, its embrace of the anti-Western side in all conflicts, its combination of class privilege and class envy, its political correctness and its authoritarian speech codes, the leftism espoused almost unanimously on university faculties (and elsewhere) most often strikes us as irresponsible. And yet it can be granted that our professors are under-represented in the political system. For decades now, America has employed far more people in education than in agriculture. This is a country with more gender-studies professors than cowboys, more guidance counselors than stevedores, more admissions officers than sleeping-car porters. So who represents them in our Senate? It's true that there are a few senators in near-total sympathy with their university constituents; Hillary Clinton comes to mind. But Paul Wellstone, a Carleton College political science professor, was the only senator the academic Left could call its own. As such, he was the living symbol of the most important, most elite, most interesting--and possibly most dangerous--wing of our contemporary "progressive" politics.

It is in this context that the nationwide outrage over last week's "memorial service" for Wellstone at Williams Arena in Minneapolis is best understood. Millions of Americans--and 55 percent of Minnesota households--tuned in on television to watch a solemn commemoration and found a rally devoted to a politics that was twisted, pagan, childish, inhumane, and even totalitarian beyond their worst nightmares.


The entire service was a helpful reminder of the truth of the great Eric Hoffer's aphorism: "The intellectuals and the young, booted and spurred, feel themselves born to ride us."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 PM

THIS MOMENT:

Bush's Judges (E. J. Dionne Jr., November 1, 2002, Washington Post)
Ending the judicial impasse would require Bush and the Democrats to agree that this moment requires a thoughtful balance in the judiciary, and it could be easily achieved. The two sides could agree on balanced slates of highly qualified and respected judges representing strong and opposing points of view, or they could jointly agree on moderate candidates known for good sense and restraint.

Such an approach would, for example, allow widely admired conservative Bush nominees such as Michael McConnell, a professor at the University of Utah College of Law, to go forward in tandem with comparably qualified liberals. Many moderates and liberals would like to support conservatives of McConnell's caliber. But they will be reluctant to do so if that means acquiescing in a broader effort to tilt the federal judiciary in one direction.

If the Democrats hold the Senate on Tuesday, the president may well keep trying to shove as many conservatives onto the courts as he can, with predictably rancorous results. Or he could acknowledge the reality that divided government accurately reflects a nation closely split in its politics -- and perhaps especially so in its attitudes toward the judiciary. Divided government can produce gridlock. It can also produce compromise and balance. Where the courts are concerned, compromise and balance are exactly what's required.


Why is it that the precise moment's that require radical alterations to our traditional scheme of governance always occur at a time when they will benefit only the Left? Why wasn't the moment that required this the point in January 1995 when a 43% president suddenly faced a Senate dominated by the opposition?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 PM

D + 1:

Final Predictions (Larry J. Sabato's "Crystal Ball")

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM

AND MEN LOVED THE DARKNESS:

Smith write-in candidacy could cost Sununu Senate seat (HARRY R. WEBER, 11/01/02, Associated Press)
In a University of New Hampshire poll for WMUR-TV of 680 likely voters, Shaheen had 46 percent, Sununu 42 percent, Blevens 2 percent, 2 percent favored some other candidate and 7 percent were undecided. [...]

The UNH poll was conducted Oct. 23 through Tuesday. It analyzed the Smith factor, concluding the write-in effort "continues to be a thorn in the side of the Sununu campaign." The poll found that 14 percent of Republicans who voted for Smith in the primary said they plan to vote for Shaheen in the general election. An earlier UNH poll had 26 percent of Smith primary voters supporting Shaheen.

"Another way Smith voters can hurt Sununu is by simply not voting in the Senate race," UNH pollster Andrew Smith said. "Three percent of Republicans who voted for Smith in the primary say they will skip the Senate election but vote in other races."

The UNH poll also found 2 percent of likely voters say they plan to vote for a candidate not listed on the ballot, which would include Sen. Smith.

"The impact of Smith's failure to support Sununu is at least 3 percent, almost the margin between the two candidates," the pollster said.


I like Bob Smith. I voted for him in the primary. Politics has very few truly honest moments, but he provided one of the best in recent years when he plunged a pair of scissors into the back of a doll's head on the Senate floor to demonstrate precisely how a partial-birth abortion is performed. It was one of those tableaux that drove the truth home so forcefully that people were genuinely horrified. Support for abortion after all depends on the fictions that it is used only by poor (preferably blacks) to kill a little cellular blob who would have a crappy life otherwise. Seeing a white, baby-looking thing mutilated was just too much for our societal hypocrisy to withstand.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 PM

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW?:

Poll holds a warning for Davis (Margaret Talev, 11/01/02, Sacramento Bee)
An unusually high share of still-undecided voters in a Field Poll released Thursday suggests Davis' seven-point margin (41 percent to 34 percent), unchanged since July despite his $67 million war chest, could be undercut. [...]

Simon's campaign announced that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., popular with independent voters, will campaign on his behalf this weekend to try to win over some undecided voters.

"If (the poll) was at 41 percent to 20 percent, I'd still be encouraged at this time," said Simon strategist Ed Rollins. "At the end of the day, people don't want Gray Davis. They have several choices, but their only serious choice is Bill Simon, and I think that's why we're going to win this thing."


Here's the reason that incumbents at 40% are normally doomed: What are well over one-third of those Undecideds going to find out about Gray Davis this weekend that will make them commit to him when they haven't been able to for the past four years? If it were a real state and local tv would cover the campaign this would be a race that McCain could win for Simon just by giving him a stamp of approval.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM

WHOSE FUNERAL WAS THAT?:

Coleman surging in Minnesota (World, 11/01/02)
Internal GOP tracking polls over the past week, exclusively obtained by WORLD political columnist Joel Rosenberg, show Republican Norm Coleman gaining 7 points since Tuesday night. That puts Republican Coleman in a statistical dead heat with Democrat Mondale, 43 percent to 42 percent. [...]

"Basically, we're back where we were" before Sen. Wellstone's death, the GOP source said. "Independent, undecided voters really didn't like Wellstone. Now they're looking cautiously at the guy who's filling in for the guy they didn't like."


There's no way Mr. Mondale can agree to a debate--his only hope is nostalgia.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:43 PM

FIGHTING THE TIDE OF HISTORY:

In the Statehouses, Changing Times: Redistricting, Term Limits Could Help Produce Unusually High Turnover (Christopher Lee, October 30, 2002, Washington Post)
Many voters, unaware of who their state legislator is, instead vote for the party. The president's party has lost state legislative seats in every midterm election since 1940, Storey said.

Go back for a second and look at that remarkable factoid again. There is something inexplicable, but wonderful, deep in the American soul that causes us to apply the brakes to anyone we elect to power, a distrust of power that is unique in the world's democracies. Therefore, as day follows night, we go to the polls two years after selecting a President and vote against his party. That's why one has to be dubious about current Republican euphoria heading into Tuesday.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 PM

OUR BROTHER FROM ANOTHER MOTHER:

Flash Traffic: Binyamin Jolkovsky, head of JewishWorldReview.com is becoming one of the most influential political editors in the country. (Joel C. Rosenberg, 11/09/02, World)
Most Americans don't know the name Binyamin Jolkovsky. But he's becoming one of the most influential political editors in the country. Mr. Jolkovsky runs JewishWorldReview.com, which he founded in 1997 in his "little attic in Brooklyn." It's a provocative and unconventional potpourri of conservative social and political analysis mixed with Orthodox Jewish columns, Torah readings, and eclectic features like "Jewish Juke Box" and "Wandering Jews."

"I've met Jerry Falwell," Mr. Jolkovsky says. "I like Pat Robertson. I don't agree with them theologically. But they are far more representative of my political and social ideas than some radical, far left-wing, secular, atheist nut case who just happened to have been born to a Jewish mother."


The invaluable Jewish World Review is just one example of how people of different faiths are discovering they have far more in common with each other than they do with people who may be similar in merely ethnic terms. This marks the triumph of ideas over race and is a significant difference between the Right, increasingly universalist, and the Left, increasingly racialist..

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:47 AM

MONICAGATE--THE STORY THAT JUST KEEPS GIVING:

Oral sex isn't safe sex, especially for women, Montreal conference told (Canadian Press, October 31, 2002)
Engaging in oral sex doesn't mean practising safe sex - and that's especially true for women, a Montreal public-health physician warned Thursday at a national conference. Dr. Marc Steben, an expert on infectious diseases, said that women are at heightened risk of contracting the human papilloma virus through oral sex. [...]

"We've heard from Bill Clinton that oral sex is not sex, or that it doesn't carry consequences, but we know now that the human papilloma virus can be transmitted by the mouth during oral sex," Steben told reporters.


First of all, how did that degenerate get to be our president. Second, maybe abstinence isn't such a whacko idea, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 AM

OH, CANADA:

Prisoners gain right to vote: Supreme Court saves place at polls for Bernardo, Olson (Rick Mofina, November 01, 2002, The Ottawa Citizen)
All federal inmates -- including serial killers Paul Bernardo and child murderer Clifford Olson -- have the right to cast ballots in federal elections after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down legislation denying them the vote.

In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the high court declared that Canada's election law, passed by Parliament in 1993, violates the fundamental rights of federal prisoners when tested against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The wholesale disenfranchisement of all penitentiary inmates, even those with a two-year minimum sentence requirement, is not demonstrably justified in our free and democratic society," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote for the majority.

"The right to vote is fundamental in our democracy and the rule of law, and cannot be lightly set aside," Chief Justice McLachlin said in the 32-page decision. The majority held that the portion of Canada's election law relating to prisoners cannot be justified by any competing social objectives offered by the government.

Justice Charles Gonthier, writing for the minority, said that in the realm of competing social and political philosophies, "reasonableness" must be the predominant consideration. Barring serious jailed criminals from voting "reflects a moral line which safeguards the social contract and the rule of law," Judge Gonthier wrote.


What does it mean to be a citizen if you don't lose the vote even after killing your fellow citizens? Is the right to vote really more important to Canadians than the obligation to obey the laws your vote creates?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM

HOW ABOUT WEDNESDAY?:

Mondale starts his run; says he will debate (Mark Brunswick, 11/01/02, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
As he began his first full day of campaigning as the new Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Walter Mondale said Thursday that he would commit to one debate before election day, would serve a full six-year term if elected and would not seek reelection.

With four days left before the election, Mondale said he would debate but said he preferred to get his campaign up to speed first with a series of town meetings.

Earlier this week, Republican officials suggested there be five debates. On Thursday, Independence Party candidate Jim Moore and Green Party candidate Ray Tricomo called for debates through the weekend. A televised debate scheduled for tonight will go on even though Mondale won't be there.

"He's been on the campaign trail for six years," Mondale said, referring to Republican nominee Norm Coleman. "I've been on the trail for 12 hours. I need, and I insist, to talk to Minnesotans and hear what they're talking about so that they can hear what I'm talking about and then we'll have the debate."


You can hardly blame Mr. Mondale, who appears not to possess all his faculties any longer, for wanting to avoid debating in public. Maybe when he gets there he can get C-SPAN to stop televising the Senate too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

APPEASING OSAMA:

Can This Marriage Be Saved? (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 11/01/02, NY Times)
[A]fter 60 years of common-law marriage, it's time to arrange a separation. We'll both be better off if we pull U.S. troops out of the kingdom.

Mr. Kristof, who is apparently the Times' expert on the Arab Middle East, here displays an astonishing lack of understanding of Islamic terror. You can't read a profile of Osama bin Laden without coming upon the portion where he was radicalized by the presence on U.S. troops on Saudi soil. So to remove our troops now would reward al Qaeda for the 9-11 attacks by giving them what Osama wants most.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM

"IN QUEENS, OF QUEENS, AND FOR QUEENS":

Rap World Baffled by Killing of Star With Peaceful Image (ALAN FEUER, November 1, 2002, NY Times)
As investigators tried to solve the killing, the rap world, long plagued by the violent deaths of some of its stars, struggled with its own puzzle: Who would want to kill Jam Master Jay, a peaceable, old-school D.J., whose group rapped about sneakers, girls and basketball, not money, guns and drugs?

Like the other two members of Run-DMC, Jam Master Jay earned admiration and respect by staying in his neighborhood and remaining true to it. That he should meet the same bloody end that befell gangsta rappers like Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. was, to his fans, both heartbreaking and unfathomable.

"He wasn't the thug type," said Daryl Jenkins, 24, a record store clerk and a fan. "That's why it's sad. He had nothing to do with that whole gangsta thing."



Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM

NOT BASHFUL:

GOP ad for Simon critical of gays: Spanish-language spot put on Chico-area radio (Carla Marinucci, Mark Martin, October 31, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle)
Republican Bill Simon found himself in the middle of another gay rights controversy Wednesday after he refused to condemn a GOP-funded, pro- Simon radio ad that claims Democrats are "teaching our children . . . homosexual practice is OK."

The 30-second Spanish-language radio ad, paid for by the Republican Party of Glenn County, features the dinnertime conversation of a couple identified as Panchito and Lupita. Over a plate of enchiladas, the couple discuss a laundry list of problems with Democratic Party.

"I am scared that Democrats are supporting abortion . . . and they are teaching our children in the schools that homosexual practice is OK," says the male voice, "instead of using those hours to teach them to read and write."


This is not, of course, gay-bashing. For one thing, unlike MT, HI, and SC, it is not meant to play in to a whispering campaign about the sexual orientation of the opposing candidate by using derogatory language and images. More importantly, it addresses a legitimate political issue, how and whether children should be taught about homosexuality in our public schools. Note in particular that the headline is completely misleading. The ad in question does not criticize gays at all. In fact, one need not oppose gays or gay rights in order to think that having the teachers' union instructing our children in morality is a wretched idea.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 AM

HERE'S THE BEEF:

The Perpetual Campaign: An inquiry into these questions: Will years of running for President pay off for Walter Mondale, as it did for three previous candidates? Does Mondale, or any other Democratic candidate, have any new ideas? And what is the party going to do about entitlement programs, and about the unions, whose support it needs but whose expectations may have become an obstacle to economic recovery? (Gregg Easterbrook, January 1983, The Atlantic Monthly)
To some degree, all the leading Democrats propose the following "micro" actions: eased monetary policy to bring interest rates down; more federal spending on education and job training, now called "human-capital investment"; a new industry-government-labor partnership to meet international competition; heavy government spending to rebuild the country's "infrastructure" of roads and bridges; modification or cancellation of Reagan's third tax cut, which is scheduled to take effect next July; restoration of some of the programs hurt by Reagan's budget cuts, such as child nutrition and health-screening; mild decreases in defense spending; large government subsidies for industrial research and development; and an "industrial policy." The proposals for an "industrial policy" are extremely vague, but their tao is Japanese; they are inspired by the model of the Japanese government's support of business.

Noticeably absent from this list are items from the traditional Democratic social agenda, such as minority advancement, expanded civil rights, and full employment; Kennedy, long a champion of national health insurance, alone continues to advocate that idea. Whether or not the Democrats have reached the conclusion that many activist social goals aren't sensible or practical isn't clear, but all the contenders have decided that now is not the time to press for them. [...]

Mondale's "micro" prescriptions include lowering interest rates, both to fuel the economy and to cut the budget deficit by lowering the government's borrowing costs; letting the dollar's value weaken, to promote U.S. exports; encouraging small-business innovators and entrepreneurs and discouraging further corporate mergers; establishing a federal "capital budget," which would list "infrastructure" and other public-works items separately from social and defense spending; generously funding these public-works projects, both to accomplish the reconstruction and to generate jobs; encouraging industry-labor-government "partnership," perhaps by means of an advisory tripartite commission; increasing the budget of the Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes U.S. exports; perhaps providing more "trade adjustment assistance," the special unemployment-benefits program for workers laid off as a result of losses to foreign competitors, primarily in the steel and automotive industries; strictly enforcing various trade protections, such as the regulations that restrict imports of foreign steel; and opposing, though not formally restricting, the loans that banks and pension funds may offer outside the U.S. [...]

Mondale is calling for a strict back-to-basics emphasis in curriculum, an indication that he has freed himself of at least one conventional liberal doctrine; the U.S. cannot hope for a booming high-technology industry, something Mondale and all the Democrats say they foresee, when fewer than half of U.S. public schools require more than a year of science or math for a high school diploma. That situation is, in large part, a product of the liberal drive to make school "relevant," a cause that Mondale championed in the late 1960s and early l940s. Mondale says that liberals were wrong to care about "access" to the exclusion of excellence. There is evidence that he believed this all along: all of his children attended expensive private schools. Among his prescriptions for "excellence" now, the chief one seems to be more spending, especially to pay higher salaries to teachers. I suggested to Mondale that if one thing about public education can be known for certain, it is that more money does not guarantee better performance. In the past twenty years, public expenditures on education have risen 515 percent, a rate far ahead of inflation; classroom loads have fallen from an average of 25.6 pupils to an average of 18.9; teacher salaries have soared. Yet nearly every level of achievement has fallen. A recent study by James S. Coleman, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, who in the 1960s produced the most persuasive statistical case for school busing, argues that inner-city Catholic and private schools are doing a better job of educating children even though their classes are much larger, their teachers are paid $5,000 a year less, on average, and they have virtually none of the expensive audio-visual aids that are common in public schools. There is, of course, an important difference between public and private schools: the teachers in most public schools are union members. In unionized schools, firing a bad teacher has become all but impossible; Philadelphia, for instance. has fired twenty-four of its 13,000 teachers over the past six years (meaning that it has kept as competent teachers 99.82 percent), and each firing has taken, on an average, two years to accomplish.

Mondale refuses to place any blame for the schools' condition at the unions' doors. He complains of lack of public respect for teachers, and says. "Good people won't go into teaching today." In truth, good people can't get into teaching today, even if they want to. With unions having made it effectively impossible to fire bad teachers, and most school systems laying off teachers because of declining enrollments, there are very few teaching jobs to be had. The higher salaries that Mondale advocates, if offered, would simply be a windfall to present holders of teaching jobs.

While in the White House, Mondale was a force behind the establishment of the Department of Education, which was created almost entirely as a gift to the largest teachers' union, the National Education Association. (He has another close tie. The NEA is a client of James Johnson's consulting firm.) The NEA has fashioned itself into one of the country's most effective political forces. It supplied 10 percent of the delegates and alternates to the 1980 Democratic Convention—by far the largest bloc—and may supply an equal share in 1984. It contributed $1.2 million to congressional candidates—316 Democrats and eighteen Republicans—this past fall. Public-school teachers, like other government employees, make especially strong-willed lobbyists, since when they vote they are electing their employers. Among the NEA's paramount concerns are higher teacher salaries and non-accountability. (While issuing the obligatory statements about "excellence," the NEA furiously opposes all teacher-competency testing.) Mondale has shown no willingness to challenge the teachers' self-interest, and it's hard to see how American public education can improve until some leader does. This would not be an easy task, by any means. [...]

On issues where there is no self-interested voting bloc, however, Mondale has adopted stands that depart from liberal dogma; his re-education campaign, though it may have been initiated mainly for its public-relations value, nevertheless has had an effect on his beliefs. He opposes plea bargaining for those accused of violent offenses, favors construction of new prisons, and favors security guards in inner-city schools. All these positions are anathema to conventional liberals. (It's useful to recall that, not long ago, liberals opposed sodium-vapor streetlights, because they considered "crime prevention" a racist code phrase.) On defense, he emphasizes the need to build up conventional rather than nuclear forces. Noting the curious near-delight that officials in the Reagan Administration seem to take in describing American weakness, he says, "There's no reason to be frantic about our defense posture." But, perhaps in order to counterbalance his endorsement of the nuclear freeze, and to avoid the classic liberal problem of appearing to be "soft on defense," he accepts nearly every Pentagon weapons request except those for more warheads. "High technology is the cornerstone of our defense," he says, and he claims to be undisturbed by the evidence of complex weapons that don't work. He favors a strict hospital cost-containment bill and a shift to health-maintenance plans (in which profits are made by keeping people well and minimizing the services they need) and thinks these could reduce the federal budget by $7 billion. Here, at least, he seems ready to oppose one interest group—the medical profession—by restricting the rate at which hospital charges to Medicare may increase.

In the end, what may make Mondale most attractive as a President to voters is the fact that he does not call out vindictiveness or anger in them. Each of our recent Presidents has been elected mainly by running against something. Nixon was the anti-liberal candidate, Carter the anti-insider candidate, Reagan the anti-government candidate. And each of these Presidents operated his administration in "anti" fashion, practically announcing, from the moment of taking office, that there were whole segments of American life that he would refuse to acknowledge. Mondale, with his background in old-time coalition politics, isn't like that. If there can be a President who is able to inspire a purposeful cooperation among industry, labor, and government, Mondale might prove to be one, but to succeed, he must be willing to say no to his supporters in organized labor, as Reagan should be
willing to say no to the wealthy. Washington today is like a commodity-traders' pit, where whoever shouts the loudest gets the next deal, and at everyone else's expense. Can Mondale or any other candidate, of either party, rise above constituency politics and govern? The need is clear. Replacing a President who favors one side with a President who favors another will surely serve some interests but not the national interest.


Part of the fascination of this piece of course is that it is twenty years old, which also means that Mr. Mondale may have changed his mind on some of these issues by now. But it's startling to realize just how wrong he was and what an unmitigated disaster his election in 1984 would have been. From his slavish devotion to every special interest group on the Left to wanting to make American industry function more like Japan's to wanting to raise tax rates to refusing to consider entitlement reform to opposing any education reform that the NEA hadn't endorsed to supporting the nuclear freeze, a Mondale administration might well have added to our current entitlement and education crises the continued existence of the Soviet Union and an economy, like Japan's, in decline.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM

THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND:

The pot war boiling (William F. Buckley, Jr., November 1, 2002, townhall.com)
As often as not, democracy sucks.

That's the scatalogical opening sentence of the latest column by one of the most erudite pundits of the last 50 years. Mr. Buckley, this is your mind on dope.