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April 30, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM

WHY NOT US?

REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS ISSUE WARNS AGAINST "PRO-AMERICANISM" (IPS, 4/30/03)
As Iranians expresses more and more their wishes to see the Americans take action against the present regime, the Revolutionary Guards issued warnings against those who call for normalising relations with the United States.

"The Revolutionary Guards would issues warnings and cautions for the society whenever it feel it is needed. This is one of its duties to enter the arena when it considers it as a necessity", said Mr. Ali Sa'idi, the acting Representative of the leader at the Army of the Guards of the Islamic Revolution, better known as Pasdaran, or Revolutionary Guards.

This was the Pasdaran's second stern warnings in as many days, coming after foreign media reported of wide spread and generalised deception of the Iranians with the present rule of hard line clerics.

In an article carried on its 25 April issue, the influential French daily "Le Monde" said the Iranian rulers are worried by a "fierce pro-Americanism" expressed by the Iranian population. "They are especially worried of the vox populi, that asks for a change of the regime with the help of the American marines", the daily wrote in an article dated from Tehran.

"If one admits that the Iraqis are delighted with Saddam Hoseyn's end, one must also think about the possibility that maybe, the Iranians would celebrate at the end of the Islamic Republic as well", the paper quoted Mr. Behzad Nabavi, an influential member of the reformist camp and a Majles Deputy-speaker. [...]

According to "Le Monde", most Iranians are openly calling for American intervention in Iran.

"We don't want the Islamic Republic anymore", an architect told the paper on condition of anonymity. "It took us a quarter of century to realise that the revolution is a failure", he added, calling like many other Iranians, for the American help for change the regime".

"The Afghans and the Iraqis have been freed from dictatorships, why not us?" a filmmaker said.

Here's why we're unfazed by the prospect of an Iraqi Islamic Republic oriented towards Iran. The Islamic revolution happened first there and has already been adjudged a failure, as all totalitarianisms must be once they're tested in the real world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM

THERE WERE GIANTS IN THE LAND

Lady Thatcher, the video star (Mark Davies, 4/30/03, BBC)
This probably wasn't what the doctors had in mind. Lurking in the shadows stage left, clutching her handbag close to her as ever, Lady Thatcher prepared to make her entrance.

The former prime minister is, of course, under orders from her physicians never to speak in public again.

Perhaps they forgot to add: "Oh yes, and no appearances before capacity crowds at one of London's most prestigious venues."

We were at the Royal Albert Hall to see the living legend in the flesh, to hear words of wisdom, to be awed by astonishing commitment and remarkable achievements.

And after Sir Steve Redgrave had finished, we were to be granted a few moments of Lady Thatcher's time. [...]

The interview was, we were told, her first for two years. And, said proud interviewer Andrew Main Wilson, the institute's chief operating officer, it might even be the last she ever grants. [...]

In essence, Lady Thatcher's message was that she'd duffed up the unions big style, saved Britain from the socialist plague, won a war and transformed the economy.

There was classic Thatcher too. The miners' strike - that "last gasp of militancy" - had been a victory, she said. Mr Blair and the Labour Party sound too much like us

And then she lowered her voice in the way she does when she really wants to stress her point: "You could say that by the end of it the extremists had lost. But I prefer to say that ... Britain ... had ...won."

As for Tony Blair, he won brickbats and bouquets. His handling of the war, for instance, was top notch.

He understands business too, she suggested.

But his wider philosophy took a drubbing. You can't have a "middle way" - Tony prefers to call it the third way, but we all knew what she was talking about - between capitalism and socialism, she said.

And as for those people who flounder around scratching their heads wondering "what works", well really....

"I have always known what works - free enterprise works, limited government works, encouraging initiative and responsibility works," she said.

It's all OK, though, because Tony Blair is pretty much following her creed.

Indeed, the transformation of the economy by her government had also transformed Labour, she said. On that, many Labour supporters will agree and you don't come across that sort of alliance very often.

"Indeed, that has been a bit of a problem for the Conservatives - Mr Blair and the Labour Party sound too much like us," she said.

But the danger within is still lurking, Lady Thatcher warned, citing "irresponsible" policies of tax and spend as showing Labour's true colours.

Public spending is growing too fast, taxes are being raised, Gordon Brown's forecasts are dubious.

Trade unions are finding their feet again, Europe is imposing red tape. As for the euro, joining would only make matters worse.

"This does not signal a wholesale return to the 1970s, but it does mean that Britain is now moving in the wrong direction towards the failed European model and high spending, high taxing and high regulation," she told Mr Main Wilson.

"So I am very concerned for the country's future if those trends continue."

That said, she didn't think the government would take the plunge and recommend euro membership.

Good to see she too thinks Tony Blair her protege.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM

THANK GOODNESS FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Mysterious Decline-Where Are the Men on Campus? (Glenn Sacks on 04/30/03, American Daily)
Everybody wants to know where all the men have gone. The Washington Post calls their disappearance the "question that has grown too conspicuous to ignore," and USA Today notes "universities fret about how to attract males as women increasingly dominate campuses."

Females now outnumber males by a four to three ratio in American colleges, a difference of almost two million students. Men earn only 43% of all college degrees. Among blacks, two women earn bachelor's degrees for every man. Among Hispanics, only 40 percent of college graduates are male. Female high school graduates are 16% more likely to go to college than their male counterparts.

"This is new. We have thrown the gender switch," says Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men. "What does it mean in the long run that we have females who are significantly more literate, significantly more educated than their male counterparts? It is likely to create a lot of social problems. This does not bode well for anyone."

"As a nation, we simply can't afford to have half of our population not developing the skill sets that we are going to need to go into the future," says Susan L. Traiman, director of the Business Roundtable's education initiative.

Researchers from Harvard University, the University of Michigan and the United Negro College Fund have now agreed to study the issue.

"This is a powerful issue we need to stop talking about in generalities and really dig into," says Michael L. Lomax, president of Dillard University in New Orleans. "We just can't figure out how to get more male applicants, and we're not going to turn students down on the basis on gender," Lomax says. "I don't understand what is happening in the male community that is making education seem less attractive and less compelling."

The trend is unmistakable and some fear it is irreversible. Men made up the majority of college graduates when the first national survey was conducted in 1870. Except during World War II, when slightly more females enrolled than men, males were in the majority until men?s graduation rate began to decline in the late 1970s. By the early 1980s women began to represent the majority of graduates.

In total, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that 698,000 women received bachelor's degrees in 2002, compared to 529,000 men.

Gee, who'da thought that several decades of systematic discrimination against men would have an effect? Luckily, thanks to affirmative action, we can just let in a bunch of unqualified men until it gets back to 50/50.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 PM

SOMETIMES I ENVY THE OMEGA MAN

: Talk of brainstorming 'may offend epileptics' (Liz Lightfoot, 26/04/2003, Daily Telegraph))
The term "brainstorming" has become the latest target of political correctness, according to a charity.

Trainee teachers are being told to avoid the word for fear of offending pupils with epilepsy. Instead they are being advised to use "word storm" or "thought shower".

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:23 PM

THE NEXT JOHN McCAIN

Democratic presidential candidates attempt to pick up Sen. McCain’s maverick mantle (The Hill, 4/30/2003)
As the 2004 presidential campaign heats up, Democratic hopefuls are competing in ... what some political operatives are calling the “McCain primary.”

While Democratic operatives cautioned that it may be too early to declare a winner in this category, they say former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is emerging as the frontrunner to become the Democratic avatar of Sen. John McCain....

“To be frank, almost any Democrat would like to have the ex-McCain [mantle]. There’s a tremendous benefit there,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster....

Other pollsters and operatives agree that there’s a race among Democrats to be anointed as this year’s straight-talking candidate as they attempt to re-create McCain’s success in appealing to independents and swing voters....

“Dean is the most McCain-like character because he doesn’t waver in his opinions,” said Lake....

Veteran Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said: “There’s no doubt that Howard Dean has the buzz around him like McCain did”...

It hardly strikes fear into Republican hearts that the Democrats want to model their 2004 campaign on that of a guy George Bush defeated handily in 2000.

But this McCain-philia gives me a thought. It's possible that Dean will win the nomination: Democratic senators are largely discredited, and primary voters know that the last two Dem winners were governors. But Dean would be vulnerable in the general election because of his hard-left stands, and will need a running mate who balances the ticket. What better balance could there be than John McCain as VP on the first bipartisan ticket?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:32 PM

EXPECTATIONS AND REALITIES

A new Iraq: Media memo: Time to learn history lessons (James Lindgren, April 27, 2003, Chicago Tribune)
We are playing a game of expectations--some reasonable, some not. Like a New Hampshire primary in which a winner is treated as a loser because he did not win by as wide a margin as pundits expected, the war's domestic opponents keep raising the bar for success.

Predictions of enormous coalition and Iraqi civilian losses, a bloody battle for Baghdad and the ultimate quagmire melted into the Iraqi countryside along with scores of thousands of Republican Guard. With the war being easier than nearly everyone expected two weeks ago, people now are worrying about a humanitarian crisis.

A few days ago Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld referred to the continuing confusion and death in Iraq as "untidiness"--a euphemism for something far more serious. Yet community upheavals can be deadly--even in the absence of war, cruise missiles, and attack helicopters.

Just last year, more than 200 people died in riots in Nigeria over newspaper comments about the Miss World contest. In the three days of burning and looting in the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, 52 people died and 1,200 businesses were destroyed. Looting was also a big part of the 1990 Detroit Pistons riots, which killed 7 people. In the 1993 Chicago Bulls riots, our fellow Chicagoans killed 3, shot 20 more people, looted 197 businesses, and damaged more police cars than the chase scenes in "The Blues Brothers" movie--139 cruisers in all.

These numbers, of course, are mere shadows of what can happen when a people are freed from colonial rule and millions are forced to relocate, as happened in 1947 with the partition of India and Pakistan. In a recent issue of the scholarly journal Asian Ethnicity, professor Ishtiag Ahmed offers estimates that 2 million people were killed and 750,000 women raped in the violence accompanying the partition. [...]

The French were so angry after only four brutal years of Nazi occupation that more than 9,000 collaborators were summarily killed at the end of the war, according to standard academic accounts. And these vigilantes were the oh-so-civilized French.

The comparison problem goes far deeper than even Mr. Lindgren suggests here, because by any impartial measure, WWII was a disaster for U.S. interests. The worst case scenario had we not intervened is that the Nazis and the Soviets would have settled in for a generation long war of attrition, at the end of which both or the "winner" would have been completely enfeebled. Had there been a "winner" they would then have had to occupy the incredibly hostile other. Had it been a draw, they'd have been tied down by concerns that the whole thing could start over again. At any rate, it's impossible to imagine either or both nations being able to control conquered nations, like France and whonot, for very long given this self-inflicted damage. It seems likely that , within a span of no more than twenty or thirty years, most, if not all, of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe would have been able to reassert their independence and in all likelihood, even the government of Germany and Russia would have faced significant internal unrest.

What did we get instead, by intervening?--even setting aside the monetary and human costs of "winning" WWII, we then paid far higher costs for a 50 year Cold War, while half of Germany, all of Russia, and all of Europe East of Berlin suffered under communist tyranny. Because we helped the Soviets to prevail in WWII, communism was seen to be a viable system and was adopted in places like China, Vietnam, N. Korea, Cuba, etc., all with disastrous results for the people there, and here.

For purposes of comparison, in order for the Iraqi peace to turn out as badly as the end of WWII did the South, along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Gulf States, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, & Afghanistan would have to be subsumed by an Iran that then remained radical Islamic and became expansionist for the next five decades. During this entire period we'd have to pump an average of twice what we are now spending into the Defense Department, while intervening in inhuman civil wars in various Muslim states around the periphery of this new menace that we'd be seeking to "contain". As a result of this over-extension on our part, we would have significant dissent and resulting repression at home, be forced to buy off the Democrats with ever increasing social spending, etc., etc., etc. This was what our "victory" over Nazism and the process of defeating communism looked like. There is simply no possibility that the aftermath of the war on terror will turn out worse.

Which brings us to another essay, this one discussing Paul Berman's new book, The Orwell Temptation: Are intellectuals overthinking the Middle East? (Joshua Micah Marshall, May 2003, Washington Monthly)
May you live, as the Chinese curse has it, in interesting times. For the last 18 months, we've all been living in "interesting times"--often frightfully so. Yet for intellectuals there is always a craving that times would be ... well, just a little more interesting.

That's been especially true for the last half century because a shadow has hung over political intellectuals in the English-speaking world, and in some respects throughout the West. It is the shadow of the ideological wars (and the blood-and-iron wars) that grew out of World War I--from communism, to fascism, appeasement, vital-center liberalism, and the rest of it. Even as these struggles congeal into history, their magnitude and seriousness hardly diminish. Understanding fascism, understanding that it could be neither accommodated nor appeased, understanding that Soviet communism was really rather like fascism--these were much more than examples of getting things right or of demonstrating intellectual courage and moral seriousness. These insights, decisions, and moments of action came to define those qualities.

Since then, things have never been quite the same. Like doctors who want to treat the most challenging patients or cops who want to take down the worst criminals, it's only natural for people who think seriously about political and moral issues to seek out the most challenging and morally vexing questions to ponder and confront. Yet, since the Cold War hit its middle period in the late 1950s, nothing has really quite compared. For a time, the struggles of the 1960s came to rival those heady days from earlier in the century. But the tenor was too antic, the stakes too meager, and the legacy too mixed to ever quite match up. And while momentous, the collapse of communism in the late 1980s was bittersweet for intellectuals. In his essay "The End of History," Francis Fukuyama even posited that history had "ended" with the collapse of communism, ushering in an era in which there would be no more great debates or challenges, but rather a bourgeois millennium of endlessly growing investment funds, a brave new world of consumer appliances. Later, the Balkans provided a crisis of moral weight sufficient to rival those earlier times--especially for those writers and journalists, mostly on the center-left, who had the courage and intrepidity to go there. But Yugoslavia's collapse was essentially a local affair, with no clear connections to the world beyond the mangled and rancid history of the region.

September 11 changed all that. Al Qaeda's war on America and America's war on terrorism provided just such a vast field for thought and action. In the months after the attacks, especially on the right, writers began identifying the radical Islamist menace with fascism--Islamo-fascism, as the catch phrase had it. The idea that the war on terror should be seen as the latter-day equivalent or extension of the battles against last century's totalitarianisms has been bandied about in opinion columns and magazine articles for more than a year with varying degrees of seriousness. Paul Berman's new book Terror and Liberalism aims to give it intellectual ballast, a moral seriousness, and analytic grounding. [...]

The heart of Berman's argument is that the violence of al Qaeda is neither simply the extreme response of an oppressed group nor the alien and unknowable product of a religion and culture fundamentally different from our own. Much of the book's first half is taken up with an effort to show that Islamism is ideologically and historically tied to the extremism's that rocked Europe and most of the rest of the world through much of the 20th century. Berman's most powerful passages are those that show the deep similarities between radical, martyrdom-obsessed Islam and the nihilist, irrationalist totalitarian movements of the early and middle 20th century. (In arguing that Baathist Arab nationalism is a latter-day variant of fascism, he seems on considerably weaker ground.)

Berman forces his readers to see the irrationalism of the extremist branch of political Islam, recognizing that the movement is not just anti-American or violent or dangerous but, in fact, deeply pathological. Like every extremist movement that posits a sufficiently transcendent utopia, it is capable of rationalizing almost any degree of brutality and butchery in achieving that goal. In radical Islamism, as in the totalitarianisms of the past, one sees the same mixture of ancient, seemingly immutable, and thus reassuring beliefs coming into vexed confrontation with modernity--and producing some hideous amalgam that combines the worst of the two. One is reminded of Churchill's warning that Nazism might cast the world into "a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science." [...]

Berman, in other words, seeks to lay the template of fascism and anti-fascist commitment onto the current reality of fanatical Islamic terrorism and Arab nationalist authoritarianism. Yet reading his book one cannot help but feel that the equation never quite works. There are similarities both meaningful and suggestive. But the analogy is not only incomplete, it is fundamentally wrong. One can recognize the grave dangers posed by radical Islamism without forcing it into a mold in which it does not fit.

One of the book's shortcomings is Berman's argument that the world of Islam and its fanaticisms are really not so exotic or distinct from the intellectual and ideological history of Europe. When one considers the long relationship between Christianity and Islam, as well as the more recent interpenetrations brought about by Western colonialism, there is much to be said for this argument. But Berman would have to be much more thoroughly grounded in Islamic theology and history to make that argument credible, and he is quite candid with readers that this is a depth of expertise he lacks. A deeper shortcoming crops up when Berman begins to chart the course we must take to do battle against the Muslim totalitarian menace. Though the battle may sometimes require bullets and bombs, it is also a battle of ideas. That battle, Berman argues, will be principally fought in London and Paris, Jersey City and Lackawanna, the Buffalo suburb where six Yemeni immigrants recently pled guilty to visiting a bin Laden training camp in Afghanistan in 2001. [...]

When comparing "Muslim totalitarianism" to fascism, communism, or other totalitarian utopianisms, the most striking thing about radical Islamism, and the Muslim world generally, is not its strength but its weakness. Indeed, the weakness of the world of Islam--an ideology and culture that sees itself not only as superior to the West and the world's other great civilizations but as properly in the vanguard of history--is the kernel of the threat it poses, the heart of violent Islamism's toxicity. At the beginning of the 21st century most of the world is, for better or worse, rushing along the current of globalization. By any measure, the world of Islam lags far behind. With the exception of a few countries with vast amounts of wealth based on natural resources, it is impoverished and trailing the rest of the world on numerous fronts. Where is the great Muslim power? There is none. Where is the world of Islam's advanced technology-driven economy? There is none. [...]

If it weren't for the fact that fanatical Islamist terrorists might get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, the sad fact is that few would even care. Of course, the fact that they could get their hands on weapons of mass destruction is a serious caveat. But it does place the issue in a certain context. It is a grave threat, but in a very specific, physical way--a threat to liberal societies but hardly the kind of ideological or political threat that great totalitarianisms posed a half a century ago. Islamist fanatics might destroy a whole city in the West, a catastrophic event. But they'll never conquer or subvert a country. And this is the heart of the difference. To paraphrase Arthur Schlesinger, Islamism is a danger to the West but hardly a danger in the West--or China, or Latin America, or anywhere else where Islam is not already the dominant religion.

For intellectuals, however, there is always a temptation to take momentous, morally serious questions and make them out to be slightly more momentous and world-historical than they really are. Call it the Orwellian temptation. George Orwell not only epitomized what an intellectual can and should be. He has also become the symbol of the role the best intellectuals played in those critical mid-century years. Along the way, however, the image he cast--or rather his ghost, or his shade--has also become part of the pornography of intellectuals. Berman has given way to this craving.

Note the series of errors here, in fact the "Orwell Temptation" that Mr. Marshall has fallen prey to himself. He's absolutely right that Islamism is not a serious threat to subvert our government, but neither, as we've seen, were Nazism and communism. The desire to puff up the latter two "ism's" until we can pretend that they were dire threats to our very way of life is perfectly understandable; after all, we beat them and would like to freight that with as much meaning as we possibly can. Who that would celebrate themself and their nation would seek to minimize past victories? No, as Ernest Renan (1823-92) said: "To forget and--I will venture to say--to get one's history wrong are essential factors in the making of a nation."

Turning our attention back to Islamism though, even if we need not be concerned here in America it is certainly a threat to all of the non-fundamentalist nations in the Middle East, including several democracies (Israel, India & Turkey) and several soon-to-be-something-like-democracies (Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan). Furthermore, given demographic trends, it is a more serious threat to continental Europe than ever were fascism and communism, because where those were by their very nature only temporary pathologies, the
combination of Europe's imploding birth rates and the rise of an empowered and hostile Islamic soon-to-be-majority, could spell the end of European culture, even of Europeans, within a couple generations. Of course, this would be the expansionist phase, and just the energy and repeated successes would be enough to keep Islamism going. But then, when it stretched from Kashmir to the English Channel to Central Africa, the reality of governing would set in and, like the other totalitarianism, it would be doomed to fall apart quite quickly. If Iran is a reliable indicator--and given the advantages it started out with thanks to the Westernizing of the Shah it probably offers the best case scenario, not an average one--totalitarian Islam has a life expectancy of about twenty years, or one generation. Still, over the period of expansion and then rule it would be a rival we'd have to worry about, so though not really a threat to us, it would inevitably become a focus of our policy. When you add to this prospect the likelihood of weapons of mass destruction proliferating--for instance, if we fail to attack North Korea, it will soon be building and selling nuclear weapons hand over fist--and the willingness of the Osama bin Ladens of the world to use them, and you have a world situation that is certainly no less threatening than the ones that led to WWII and the Cold War respectively. The three conflicts, just like the three totalitarianisms, are of a sameness.

So, why then does Mr. Marshall dismiss this threat? Because, of course, he opposes the wars on terror that we're waging now. Fifty years ago, he'd have been opposing the Cold War and writing the exact same column only telling us that George Orwell had succumbed to temptation by inflating communism into as great a menace as Nazism. And, fifty years from now, when we're squaring off against some new "ism" and Islamism is long since gone, some successor, or maybe Mr. Marshall himself (God willing), will be writing about how, though we obviously had to take on Islamism, just as we had to fight Nazism and communism, this new "ism", though yet another iteration of totalitarianism, is of an entirely different nature, because it's not really a threat and anyone who believes it is has given way to the craving.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:51 PM

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Abu Mazen Funded Munich Massacre (Arutz Sheva, 4/30/2003)
Abu Mazen is ... connected with one of the 20th century's most infamous terrorist crimes: the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes - including American citizen David Berger - at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany in 1972.

Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, long the treasurer of the PLO, was the man who provided financing for that attack, according to information compiled by Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center.

Darshan-Leitner told Arutz-7 that PA sources themselves told her that it is ridiculous to claim that Abu Mazen was never involved in terrorism. In addition, Abu Daoud, who masterminded the Munich attack, has said that Abu Mazen provided the funds to carry it out. He made these charges in his autobiography, "Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich" (published in French in 1999) and again in an interview last August in Sports Illustrated magazine.

Public diplomacy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the last two years has been nothing but charade -- today's "roadmap" included. All the main parties believe that their advantage lies in delaying tactics. The U.S. thinks there is little chance to end Palestinian terrorism until the terror-sponsoring regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria have been changed, and Israel is going along. Arafat doesn't want to risk his power by too aggressive attacks on Israel, nor look powerless to the Palestinian people by ending attacks.

Mahmoud Abbas's appointment as figurehead is not meant to actually change the Palestinian Authority, but only to give the illusion of progress. Despite the public pretense of conflict between Arafat and Abbas, Abbas is surely as much Arafat's henchman as ever.

Real progress toward peace, I suspect, will come only after the 2004 election. And it will begin with the destruction of the Palestinian terrorist leadership -- Arafat, and Abbas as well if he does not reform.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM

ANOTHER DARK DAY

I still think of Elian (Nat Hentoff, Jewish World Review)
As soon as Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, I saw on television the firing squad execution of an array of political prisoners, which he ordered. He then began filling his brutal prisons with Cubans whose sole crime was a desire to breathe freedom after the Batista dictatorship -- only to find themselves in another totalitarian quicksand.

At one point, interviewing the already legendary Che Guevara -- an international Cuban revolutionary icon -- at the Cuban mission to the United Nations, I asked him if he could foresee, anytime in the future, free elections in Cuba. Crisply dressed in his military outfit, Guevara burst out laughing at my callow naivete.

Having interviewed Cubans who survived Castro's gulags, I have never understood or respected the parade of American entertainers, politicians and intellectuals who travel to Cuba to be entranced by this ruthless dictator who, for me, has all the charisma of a preening thug, akin to any killer on "The Sopranos."

These Castro-philes are among those who discredit liberalism because they're unable to recognize and be repelled by unbridled evil. Consider Steven Spielberg, who has developed impressive resources through his Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to keep alive the horrifying presence of the Holocaust. Yet, as quoted in the April 11 Wall Street Journal, Spielberg described his audience with Castro last November as "the eight most important hours of my life."

Was Spielberg's life that barren until those gloriously transcendent hours with the chief warden of Cuba's prisons?

From time to time, I still think of Elian Gonzalez, so vivid a free spirit here until condemned by Janet Reno and Bill Clinton to a land where schoolteachers must keep a record of any signs of their charges' lessening fealty to the relentless light of their lives.

At least Elian will be alive in a couple years when Cuba is a democracy again, one way or another. I think of his mother, who died that he might have a better life right then. In an administration not exactly filled with high points, the day they seized him to restore him to slavery was a particularly low one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:29 PM

BIG MO

Cheeks Lends Harmony To 1st Round of Playoffs (Michael Wilbon, April 29, 2003, Washington Post)
The lasting, even impacting impression from the NBA playoffs so far is not of Kevin Garnett exhorting his teammates from the bench during overtime, nor Tracy McGrady swooping toward the basket, nor Allen Iverson dropping a double-nickel on the Hornets. It's the unforgettable sight of Maurice Cheeks leaving his team's bench Friday in Portland to put his arm around 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert as she stood at mid-court holding a microphone but having fumbled the words to our national anthem, all alone and visibly in despair.

For 20 years, Marvin Gaye's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been, for my money, the most compelling rendition ever. But now, I've got a new favorite, the duet of Gilbert & Cheeks, impromptu, off-key, slapped together as it was. I get goose bumps every time I see the clip of Cheeks hugging Gilbert, telling her everything is going to be okay. People forget the lyrics to the national anthem every single night at a sporting event somewhere.

But when have you ever seen someone moved to the point of walking over to comfort the embarrassed singer, in this case somebody's scared little girl singing the national anthem in public for the first time? How often, in a sports setting, do we ever see such a demonstration of human kindness?

What an extraordinarily decent thing to do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:24 PM

KERRY BY DEFAULT

Slow start for Gephardt in Iowa money primary (Sam Dealey, 4/29/03, The Hill)
Where Rep. Richard Gephardt needs the most help to advance his presidential prospects, he isn?t getting it ? at least publicly.

Early support from two chief constituencies ? Iowans and organized labor ? that are essential to the White House hopes of the Missouri Democrat has been surprisingly tepid so far.

Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Gephardt reported raising a scant $1,000 in all from only three donors in Iowa in the first quarter of 2003.

His presidential campaign amassed nearly $6 million during the same period, including $3.35 million from individuals. Candidates are required to report donations from individuals of $250 or more.

Gephardt?s campaign pooh-poohed the poor fundraising results in Iowa and said the $1,000 total does not adequately reflect the candidate?s support in the state, which he won in his first presidential outing, in 1988.

With its first-in-the-nation caucus, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 19, Iowa is a pivotal state for the Gephardt 2004 campaign. It was the only state he carried in his abortive 1988 presidential campaign, and his status as the only Midwesterner among Democratic frontrunners is presumably an asset. Additionally, Democratic politics in Iowa is dominated by organized labor, a constituency Gephardt has staunchly supported.

Given that he won there last time he ran, Gephardt really has to win and win big or his candidacy ends in IA, not that it survives getting buried in NH anyway....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:22 PM

NOT DYING BY THE SWORD

Iraqis to form government within four weeks (James Drummond, April 28 2003, Financial Times)
The US-led administration in Iraq?on Monday?ended a meeting held to discuss the country's future, setting out guiding principles and agreeing to meet within three to four weeks to form an interim government.

The gathering, of about 200 delegates in the Baghdad conference centre attracted fewer, and less powerful, Iraqis than had been expected. While Saddam Hussein supporters celebrated the former dictator's 66th birthday, Shia groups sent only low-level delegates. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the opposition Iraqi National Congress did not attend, sending a junior delegation. The religious establishment based in the southern city of Najaf, which claims to speak on behalf of Iraq's majority Shia community, sent no representatives.

The agreed principles stressed general issues such as democracy and the rule of law, but did not contain details of how the country would be governed. However, delegates welcomed the chance to express themselves in a way they could not under Mr Hussein. Splits emerged between returned Iraqi exiles and those who had lived through the Saddam years.

Here we see that despite the hawks' delusion that we'd stay and govern Iraq ourselves for a period of years, we'll instead, as was always inevitable, cede control just as quickly as we can, even though we don't know what the new state that emerges will look like. Call this, The Other Road Map.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM

THE PERSISTENT PRESENCE OF ABSENCE

:Geologists Raise Questions About Controversial Theory Of Species Survival (Space Daily, 4/30/03)
First proposed in 1995 by Carl Brett of the University of Cincinnati and Gordon Baird of the State University of New York at Fredonia, coordinated stasis attempts to describe the emergence and disappearance of species across geologic time by suggesting that species living together in the same environment go through long periods of stability--some six million years—and then undergo a rapid, almost complete turnover, during which old species disappear and new ones emerge.

A recent study by a team of Syracuse University geologists has punched holes in a relatively new theory of species evolution called coordinated stasis; the theories involved are based on findings from fossil-bearing rocks that underlie Central New York. The SU study was published in "Geology," the premier journal of the Geological Society of America.

First proposed in 1995 by Carl Brett of the University of Cincinnati and Gordon Baird of the State University of New York at Fredonia, coordinated stasis attempts to describe the emergence and disappearance of species across geologic time by suggesting that species living together in the same environment go through long periods of stability—some six million years—and then undergo a rapid, almost complete turnover, during which old species disappear and new ones emerge.

Until 1995, most researchers believed that species emerged and disappeared independent of each other throughout time.

"Our study suggests that there may be more variability in species composition through time than predicted by coordinated stasis," says Linda Ivany, one of the co-authors of the SU study. "It will be the blueprint study against which other researchers will present their data sets to determine whether coordinated stasis is present or not."

Darn! It would be nice to be able to explain a long period of stasis in all species at any given time, especially since we're ostensibly in one right now. Either that or it would be helpful if something would evolve, even just a little.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 AM

THE DARKEST DAY

Communists Take Over Saigon; U.S. Rescue Fleet Is Picking Up Vietnamese Who Fled in Boats (George Esper, 4/30/03, The Associated Press)
Communist troops of North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam poured into Saigon today as a century of Western influences came to an end.

Scores of North Vietnamese tanks, armored vehicles and camouflaged Chinese built trucks rolled to the presidential palace.

The President of the former non-Communist Government of South Vietnam, Gen. Duong Van Minh, who had gone on radio and television to announce his administration's surrender, was taken to a microphone later by North Vietnamese soldiers for another announcement. He appealed to all Saigon troops to lay down their arms and was taken by the North Vietnamese soldiers to an undisclosed destination.[...]

Between General Minh's surrender broadcast and the entry of the Communist forces into the city, South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians jammed aboard several coastal freighters tied up along the Saigon River, hoping to escape. They dejectedly left the ships as the Communist troops drove along the waterfront in jeeps and trucks, waving National Liberation Front flags and cheering.

As an American, there aren't to many days when you have to be deeply ashamed of your country, but this was one of the worst, as the allies we'd used and betrayed could no longer hold out once we broke our word and stopped helping them entirely.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM

HAD WE BUT WORLD ENOUGH, AND TIME

We are not with you and we don't believe you (Patrick Wintour, April 30, 2003, The Guardian)
Tony Blair's first public attempt to heal the diplomatic wounds of the Iraq war suffered a humiliating rebuff yesterday when Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, refused to lift UN sanctions and mocked the possibility that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq.

Mr Putin also clashed with Mr Blair by demanding UN weapons inspectors be allowed back into Iraq and challenged Mr Blair's vision of a new world strategic partnership, arguing it would be unacceptable for the US to dominate the international community.

The public dressing down for Mr Blair came during a 63-minute press conference staged by the two men at Mr Putin's private residence outside Moscow. The two men had a fabled special relationship and Mr Blair had high hopes he would be able to wean Mr Putin away from his new anti-war alliance with France and Germany.

Mr Blair started with the full diplomatic niceties but became increasingly animated until he issued a dire warning of a new world order in which two different poles of power act as rivals to one another. The world faced a choice between a partnership between the US and the main countries of the world or a continued "diplomatic stand off", he said.

Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush should just back off while Mr. Putin plays coy. A couple years of alliance with the French and Germans will drive the Russians back into our arms. We only really need them if there's a wider conflagration in the Middle East anyway, and at that point they'd have no choice but to help because of their own Islamicist problems on their borders.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:13 AM

ARAFAT DELENDA EST

Arafat lives (David Warren, 4/30/2003)
[P]rospects for peaceful mutual accommodation between Jew and Arab were almost irretrievably set back by the Madrid and Oslo agreements of the early 1990s. From cynical motives on all sides -- including those of Israeli Labour politicians -- the terrorist, Yasser Arafat, was put right at the black heart of the "peace process". He had left nothing but a trail of destruction behind him in Jordan, Lebanon, indeed everywhere he'd been. From the moment he arrived, the West Bank and Gaza began to be transformed into a terror network....

Arafat lives today as the principal impediment to any workable peace agreement. Keeping him sidelined, and gradually disarming his terror brigades, will distract much creative energy from a main task, which itself cannot be easy. It will be like trying to come to some agreement with an Iraq, in which, say, Tariq Aziz were nominally in power, while Saddam Hussein continued to sit glowering beside him at the cabinet table. There is necessarily an element of farce in the spectacle.

Whatever the "roadmap" says, progress will require the imposition on the West Bank and Gaza of an international, probably American force, to replace the Israeli. For there is no conceivable Palestinian civil force that can stand up to Arafat's multiple networks of goons and suicide bombers.

Orrin, as his post below shows, strongly supports the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state. While Orrin's view is reasonable, it seems to me irresponsible to create a Palestinian state in which Arafat remains in control -- whether publicly or behind the scenes. Arafat's long record shows that he is a tyrant over those in his control and a murderer of those out of his control. To establish a Palestinian state with Arafat in a position of power would be as much a betrayal of the Palestinian people as it would have been a betrayal of the Iraqi people had we, in the 1970s, collaborated in Saddam's coup establishing himself as dictator.

An Arafat-controlled state would continue to oppress the Palestinian people, and continue terrorism until its acquisition of WMD led to the destruction of Israel, or, more likely, until Israel conquered and re-occupied Palestine. Neither outcome would count as progress.

David Warren poses another alternative to Orrin's: some outside force, either Israeli or American, attempts a coercive nation-building exercise in Palestine. Again, if Arafat remains in control of his terror networks, the schools, and other civil institutions, the occupying force will be subject to terror and, with Arafat off limits, unable to reply. This would be a recipe for a failure worse than Vietnam.

This is why the road to peace needs to begin with the destruction of Arafat, and preferably his terror network as well. To make the point that terrorism is unacceptable, the United States should seize Arafat, try him publicly with a complete airing of the evidence connecting him to murders, and then punish him appropriately -- preferably by execution. Once that is accomplished, several roads to peace may succeed -- either immediate statehood as Orrin prefers, or a continuing nation-building exercise leading to statehood.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 AM

LIVING BY THE SWORD

Suicide Bomber Hits Tel Aviv; Top Palestinian Denounces Terror: A suicide bomber killed at least two other people hours after the Palestinian parliament voted to confirm a new government. (JAMES BENNET, 4/30/03, NY Times)
The Palestinian parliament voted Tuesday night in Ramallah to confirm a new government, clearing the way for an American-backed peace plan after the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, denounced terrorism "by any party and in all its shapes" and appealed for a "lasting peace" with Israel.

Hours later, underlining the fragility of every step toward peace, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside a seaside pub here early this morning and killed at least two other people.

After Mr. Abbas's speech, the Palestinian parliament overwhelmingly approved his new government on Tuesday night, in a jubilant session that met President Bush's condition for proceeding with a new peace plan, known as the road map. After the suicide bombing, the White House confirmed that it would proceed with the peace plan, which calls for creation of a Palestinian state and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace in three years.

There's an understandable but absurd bit of juvenalia going on among the hawks, who are insisting that continued terrorism proves that the Palestinians don't deserve a state or even a plan for one. It's worth considering that had the same logic been applied to the terrorists from 1945-48 there would be no Israel.

We've mentioned this letter previously, in another context, but it's worth looking at it again, The Meaning of the American Revolution: A letter to H. Niles (John Adams, 13 February 1818):
The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease?

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as ministers ordained of God for their good; but when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen
State congresses, &c.

We need not think the PLO and Hamas comparable to the Founding Fathers in order to recognize that the first Palestinian Revolution is already over-- just as the first Israeli Revolution was over long before there was a state--and the Palestinians will not ever give up violence until they are governing themselves in their own state, just as Americans and Israelis continued violence until they had their own states.

MORE:
The Road Map to Nowhere: Do we really need another doomed Mideast peace process? (Joshua Muravchik, April 30, 2003, Jewish World Review)
The first thing one might say about the plan itself is that its pace is breathless. Comprehensive political reform, a new constitution, free elections--all within the first few months? Never mind that this seems unrealistic. (We are now 19 years past the deadline for Palestinian self-rule set in the Egypt-Israel peace agreement of 1979 and four years past the date for completing "final status" talks under the Oslo accords.) It is even undemocratic. Aren't the citizens of Palestine entitled to a little time to acquaint themselves with their new political system, not to mention to assent to it, to discover what the offices are for which they will vote, to form political parties, to debate the issues? From there, we press on frantically to sovereignty within a few more months and a complete laying to rest of the Arab-Israeli conflict by 2005. Inshallah. There is no disgrace in a rush to peace, provided one's hurry does not result in losing one's way. [...]

THE STILL DEEPER FLAW in the road map's premises is the presumption that with the terms of settlement fairly apparent, all that is needed is a guide for getting there. In the final analysis, however, the missing ingredient for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not a blueprint of the destination, nor is it the route. The missing ingredient is a decision by the Palestinians and the other Arabs to accept the existence of a Jewish state in their midst and to live in permanent peace with it. Despite all the Palestinians have suffered these two and a half years, public opinion polls show that a clear majority of them support continuing the intifada and suicide bombing and that about half say that the goal should be the "total liberation of Palestine," in other words, the elimination of Israel. The other half of the Palestinians say they want a two-state solution. When that half grows and becomes dominant, then and only then, will real peace be possible.

Since the Six Day War, the critical divide in international approaches to the Arab-Israeli broil has been between a negotiated settlement and an imposed one. Israel has insisted on the former precisely because it wants a settlement to be more than pro forma. In an imposed settlement, the Arab representatives might make some empty prescribed gestures in return for concessions that could facilitate future efforts to destroy Israel.

Two problems with this analysis: (1) Palestine has more deeply planted civil institutions right now than Israel had when it was told it would become a state and the pace of that statehood was no slower; (2) there's a third option, one supported by members of Sharon's own circle, a settlement imposed by Israel instead of upon Israel. As even Mr. Muravchik concedes, the terms of the settlement are "fairly apparent"--so why not just impose them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM

DISPOSITIVE MAN

Why I nearly resigned: Mark Steyn says he is disgusted by what he sees as The Spectator's ill-judged and idle defence of the UN (Mark Steyn, The Spectator)
"The UN should be appointed overseer of the peace not because that organisation possesses planning skills which America doesnot, but because to shut it out will cause resentment in the Arab world. However irritating are many of the do-gooders among its ranks, the UN has the advantage of being seen as an antidote to alleged Western imperialism."

After reading those words in The Spectator's leading article of 12 April, I hurled the magazine across the room and typed up my letter of resignation.

Section III, Part D of the official rules of blogging states that anytime that Mark Steyn or James Lileks agree with you, you win. Mr. Steyn's disgust with the Spectator would appear to vindicate this.

April 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 PM

CRUSADER

Paradise regained: Once tortured by personal demons, ruining his life and career with drink and drugs, Peter Howson has let Christ into his life and art. Unveiling here the first major work since his conversion, the 14 Stations of the Cross, he talks about visions, revelations and finding God (Peter Ross, 06 April 2003, Sunday Herald)
A FEW years ago, well after the time he was putting E800 worth of cocaine up his nose each week, but slightly before he had his religious awakening and gave up alcohol, Peter Howson was asked by Wolverhampton City Council to create a large painting representing the dreams of its citizens.

'All these people in Wolverhampton sent me their dreams,' he recalls. 'Most of them were very boring. They were dreams like 'My cat suddenly started talking to me.' So I ended up using a lot of my own dreams in the painting.

'The dreams I've had in my life have been apocalyptic epics where I'm escaping from Nazis, running through woods, finding lost cities, crawling through deserts, fighting battles and dying and going up to heaven or going into hell.'

You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to realise that such dreams say a lot about Howson, Scotland's best-known and most controversial painter of the last 20 years. Part showman, part shaman, he has spent two decades jabbing a brush in the public eye.

Although it was his astonishingly vibrant figurative work which first brought him to wide attention, he has remained highly visible thanks to regular confessional interviews in which he described addictions, autism, break-ups, breakdowns, and latterly his conversion to Christianity. Little wonder his dreams should feature fear, heroism, combat, death, praise, damnation and religion. There's simply no room for a talking cat in Howson's head.

And you could barely swing one in his studio. On the top floor of a former school in Glasgow's West End, Howson sits and smokes amid the clutter. Hundreds of classical music CDs are stacked round the walls, sworls of hardened oil paint crest like frozen waves on a table, a giant portrait of a bound Jesus dominates the room, and finds a profane reflection on the opposite wall in a picture of Trevor from EastEnders ripped from a magazine.

I'm here to interview Howson because he is just finishing a major commission. He has painted the 14 Stations of the Cross for a wealthy American collector to hang in his private chapel, where they will be used as devotional objects, hung alongside major works of religious art from the medieval and Renaissance periods. The paintings, which tell the story of Christ from being condemned to death to being laid in his tomb, will first be exhibited in London.

It seems right that the public should get a chance to see them, as they are among the most significant works of Howson's career.

'I don't think too many artists today are capable of coming to grips with spiritual themes,' says the collector, who wishes to remain anonymous. 'We are in an age now which is swinging from a very materialistic 20th Century to, I think, a very spiritual 21st century. I think this war we are going through now is the turning point. And if you look at Peter Howson's work, he is very timely. You can't paint the way he paints and not have a deep spiritual underpinning. He takes the soul and turns it inside out.'

Here's a piece called: "Crusader".

He means it as a warning. I take it literally instead and quite like it.


MORE:
-www.peterhowson.co.uk | The Official Howson Site
-Home Page of Peter Howson (ARTEXPERTS.COM)
-Contemporary War Art - Peter Howson
-Peter Howson (Belloclowndes)
-Peter Howson Collection
-VoyForums: Peter Howson
-Peter Howson Photography (CafePress.com)
-Peter Howson (ArtNet)
-Peter Howson @ Britart.com
-Art Gallery Vieleers - Salon d'Art - Painters
Beautiful South: Peter Howson's Other Art

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM

MORE BUTTERMILK

BUTTERMILK-GARLIC CRUSHED POTATOES (Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table)
Serves 4 and doubles easily

2 pounds buttery waxy potatoes (such as Yellow Finn, Red Bliss, red-skinned
San Luis Valley, or Desiree), peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups buttermilk, or more as needed
2 cups water
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a 4-quart saucepan with the buttermilk, water, garlic, a little salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover, and
cook 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Check for scorching, adding equal parts buttermilk and water if necessary to
have the consistency of a thick stew.

2. Uncover and cook down the liquid, stirring and crushing the potatoes until creamy and thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste. (They can be set aside, covered, for an hour or more. Reheat in the saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.)

3. Serve the hot potatoes mounded in a warmed bowl.

Sharing this recipe with the Iraqis would just about make up for exposing them to Christina Aguilera.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM

THE LIBERTARIANS' ALGER HISS

Software Engineer Is Charged in Plot to Fight U.S. Forces (Blaine Harden, April 29, 2003, Washington Post)
An Intel Corp. software engineer, whose five-week federal detention in Oregon triggered protests from outraged colleagues, was charged today with conspiring to travel to Afghanistan to fight with al Qaeda and the Taliban against American soldiers.

Maher Hawash, who worked for Intel for more than a decade, joined six other suspects based in Portland, Ore., in a plot to wage war against the United States, according to a federal arrest warrant affidavit released in Portland today. The other six -- five men and a woman -- were charged in the same conspiracy last October.

Hawash traveled in October 2001 with five members of the Portland group to China, where they tried but failed to enter Afghanistan to fight against U.S. forces, according to the affidavit. Hotel records in China show that Hawash stayed in the same hotels on the same dates as the five others, according to the affidavit.

"No independent evidence exists to corroborate any business purpose of the travel," the document said.

Federal investigators were tipped to Hawash's alleged connection to the "Portland Six" after their arrest by a neighbor who identified him, and his wife, Lisa, as "close friends" of two of the other suspected conspirators, Ahmed Bilal and Habis Al Saoub, according to the affidavit.

Hawash, 38, was born on the West Bank and became an American citizen in 1990. Known as "Mike" to his colleagues and family, he lives in suburban Portland and is married with three young children.

The FBI arrested him in an Intel parking lot on March 20. Until today, he had been detained without charge under the federal material witness statute, which the government has used since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hold some terror suspects indefinitely. Civil liberties groups have sharply criticized that practice.

The detention of Hawash, who has worked for Intel since 1992, angered many of his colleagues at Intel. They organized a media campaign, set up a Web site and demonstrated outside a federal courthouse in Portland during a closed hearing on Hawash's detention.

The announcement of the charges today seemed to do little to change their views. "These charges only show that Mike was acquainted with some members of the Portland Six, which is what you would expect in a small Muslim community like we have in Portland," said Steven McGeady, a former Intel executive and founder of a group called "Free Mike Hawash." McGeady said the allegation that Hawash traveled in China with five of the suspects showed only that friends sometimes bump into each other abroad.

It's been instructive to watch libertarians denounce John Ashcroft over the Hawash case, seemingly for no other reason than that they assume a fellow technocrat must be a good guy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM

IDEOLOGY OVER LIVES

Bush pushes global AIDS bill (Kathy A. Gambrell, 4/29/2003, UPI)
President George W. Bush on Tuesday unveiled an initiative intended to pump another $15 billion in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, as he fielded criticism that legislation did not focus enough on abstinence as a solution to the pandemic.

"Fighting AIDS on a global scale is a massive and complicated undertaking, yet this cause is rooted in the simplest of moral duties. When we see this kind of preventable suffering, when we see a plague leaving graves and orphans across a continent, we must act, " Bush said.

The president appeared in the East Room of the White House with lawmakers and global AIDS activists to promote the bill providing $15 billion to the global fund established to fight the deadly disease that has infected 42 million people worldwide.

The World Health Organization reports of that number 38.6 million were adults, and 2.3 million were children under age 15. Some 3.1 million people worldwide died of AIDS in 2002.

In sub-Saharan Africa, some 28.5 million adults are infected and 2.6 million children under age 15. The pandemic has captured the attention of the international community as it figures out how best to stop the spread of AIDS on the continent.

The president warned "time is not on our side" and urged Congress to move forward "with speed and seriousness his crisis requires."

Bush said the administration's health experts believe the emergency plan for AIDS relief could prevent 7 million new HIV infections and treat 2 million people with life-extending drugs. [...]

Social conservatives and some congressional Republicans criticized the bill for not including more pro-family amendments that would promote programs that teach
abstinence and fidelity rather than only condom use. [...]

Michael Schwartz, vice president for government relations for Concerned Women for America, said the bill provides no conscious protections for faith-based groups. Schwartz told UPI that groups seeking to teach abstinence would have to also pass out condoms even if it were against their mission.

"We are quite sure that Congress must clearly outline the president's purpose within the bill. Without a clear mandate, future administrations will be able to use AIDS prevention dollars for ineffective condom based programs, rather than lifesaving ones based on abstinence and faithfulness," Schwartz said.

We're as pro-abstinence as anybody, but this is disturbing. They know that the Bush administration will write the regulations so as to meet their vision of the programs, but they're willing to hold up the money in order to make a likely futile attempt to tie the hands of some imaginary future Democratic administration? How many extra Africans should die so that these groups can vindicate such an impractical position?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 PM

JUST ONE MORE REASON TO HATE TENNIS

CURTSY BOWS OUT OF WIMBLEDON, BUT MEN KEEP TRADITION OF MORE PRIZE MONEY (KRYSTYNA RUDZKI, 4/29/03, Associated Press)
One of Wimbledon's most enduring traditions is finished - players will no longer have to bow or curtsy to the Royal Box at Centre Court.

But while one custom fell Tuesday, the All England Club confirmed that another will remain: Men will be paid more than women.

Players have been required to bow or curtsy to the royal family when walking onto or leaving Centre Court. From now on they will have to do so only if Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Charles, her eldest son and heir to the throne, is in the box.

The decision to scrap the tradition was made at the request of the Duke of Kent, who has been the All England Club's president since 1969. He and his wife, the Duchess of Kent, attend frequently each year and present the winners' trophies.

"It's been part of a discussion that's been going on for some time," All England chief executive Christopher Gorringe said. "It's sad, but we have to move on. We know there is very little bowing or curtsying done in royal circles now."

Players will now only have to bow or curtsy if Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Charles, her eldest son and heir to the throne, is in the box.

The queen hasn't attended Wimbledon since 1977 when she presented the women's trophy to Virginia Wade. Prince Charles made his only appearance in 1970.

British royalty has been associated with Wimbledon since 1907 when the Prince of Wales and Princess Mary watched from a temporary Royal Box.

Before leaving the ground, the prince accepted an offer to become president of the All England Club and remained so until he became King George V in 1910. Subsequent monarchs, including the current queen, have since all held the position of Patron of the Club.

"To lose what is not a waste land is the very condition of being in a waste land."-Lyndall Gordon (on T.S. Eliot)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM

YOU'RE WELCOME TO COME, BUT PLAY BY THE RULES

Legal Immigrants Can Be Held Without Bail, Court Says (DAVID STOUT, April 29, 2003, NY Times)
The Supreme Court ruled today, in a case with significant impact on the rights of noncitizens, that the federal government can detain legal immigrants without bail during their deportation proceedings.

The court upheld, 5 to 4, the strict rules of the 1996 immigration law, which mandates detention of immigrants who have committed certain crimes even as those immigrants challenge their deportation.

"Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens,'' the court said in a summary attached to the opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

The case decided today, Demore v. Kim, No. 01-1491, has been closely followed by immigrants' rights groups and lawyers who follow immigration issues. Today's decision made it clear that immigrants - even those in the United States legally - may have far more to lose than American citizens if they are convicted of crimes, and not necessarily heinous ones.

"We hold that Congress, justifiably concerned that deportable criminal aliens who are not detained continue to engage in crime and fail to appear for their removal hearings in large numbers, may require that persons such as respondent be detained for the brief period necessary for their removal proceedings,'' Justice Rehnquist wrote.

The "respondent'' is Hyung Joon Kim, who came to the United States in 1984 at age 6. While still a child, he became a lawful permanent resident. In 1996, when he was a teenager, he was convicted of burglary and the next year was found guilty of petty theft.

He completed his sentence in California state prison and, the day after his release, was detained by immigration officials without bail to await deportation.

The very first words of the Constitution are, of course: "We the people of the United States..." If you aren't one of "the people" yet, perhaps it would be better to abide by the laws of those who are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 PM

KICK OUT THE JAMS!

Consumer Confidence Rises From 61 to 81 (ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, 4/29/03, AP)
Consumer confidence, which had declined for four consecutive months,improved sharply in April, helped by a swift outcome in the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 81.0 from a revised 61.4 in March, the New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday. That was far better than the reading of 70 that analysts had been expecting. [...]

This post-war surge differs from the one after the Persian Gulf War in 1991 in that both components of the index - the expectations index and the present situation index - posted gains.

The Expectations Index rose to 84.8 from 61.4. The Present Situation Index improved to 75.3 from 61.4.

"The increase in the Present Situation Index, especially in labor market conditions, may very well signal a turnaround in confidence and a more favorable outlook for consumer spending," Franco said.

Mark Vitner, an economist at Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, N.C., said he was surprised by the magnitude of the increase and that consumers believed that economic conditions had already improved.

Given that the only problem with the economy is one of confidence, this pretty much ends any suspense about the 2004 election, with the possible exception of whether John Kerry will carry MA or go 0-fer (we don't count DC).

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

WHAT? NO JEWS?

Sharpton Files (?Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Joanna Schubert, 4/29/03, The CBS News)
After some criticism for not filing earlier, Al Sharpton's presidential campaign submitted the required financial reports to the Federal Election Committee yesterday. The reports show he's raised money from some interesting people.

Between January and March, Sharpton has raised $114,456 and has spent $54,456. According to the Daily News, he can thank radio host Tom Joyner, media tycoon Percy Sutton and Newark Mayor Sharpe James for $1,000 contributions. Abner Louima, who won an $8.75 million settlement when Sharpton represented him in a New York City Police torture case in 1997, also contributed $1,000. Louis Carr, president of ad sales for Black Entertainment Television, and Detroit "TV news anchor" Carolyn Clifford each donated $2,000.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:38 PM

LIFE IMITATES ART

Man dies after drilling head (BBC, 4/28/03)
A man has died after attempting to drill a hole in his head with a power tool.

The 42-year-old was found unconscious in a locked room by police who were called on Sunday to his home in Conway Street, Torquay.

Somebody's been taking the great film Pi a tad too seriously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM

REVERSE EMPIRE BUILDING

Iraqi Lawyer Who Helped Save Jessica Lynch Granted Asylum (Fox News, April 29, 2003)
The Iraqi lawyer who led U.S. forces to missing soldier?Jessica Lynch (search)?has been granted asylum by the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Tuesday that Mohammed Odeh Al Rehaief, 33, who helped U.S. special operations teams track down Pfc. Jessica Lynch, is now living in the United States with his wife and 5-year-old child.

Al Rehaief was granted?asylum?Monday in Arlington, Virginia, which allows him to work in this country. He can stay in the U.S. indefinitely and can eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.

Prior to Tuesday, he was referred to as only as "Mohammed" in order to protect the safety of himself and his family while they were?still in Iraq.

The Al Rehaief family arrived in the United States earlier this month after the Department of Homeland Security granted them "humanitarian parole." On Monday, the family was granted asylum by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

With all due respect to Barry, Ali, Steve Martinovich, & the like, you have to feel almost sorry for other countries because we tend to skim off their cream. We welcome Mr. Al Rehaief and his family: there's no one we're prouder to share a nation with.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM

LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN

Hillary Clinton keynote speaker at Democrat dinner (Associated Press, April 28, 2003)
In a fiery speech Monday night, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused the Bush administration of having the worst economic policies since Herbert Hoover, with no real plan to end the nation's fiscal troubles.

So, you pick up today's paper and see the headline: Clinton Sez, "Bush economy worst in fifty years!"--what should you conclude from this?:

(a) You've come loose in time
(b) The economy is as bad as during the Great Depression (never mind the 70s)
(c) Hillary is running for President
(d) all of the above

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM

AN URBAN TRUTH!

4-foot alligator found walking in Queens park (AP, April 28, 2003)

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:05 PM

THE DEMS GO ABLOGGIN'

The Notepad: Direct from the Candidates (ABCNews, 4/29/2003)
Dick Gephardt:

Question:

What is the one thing Jonathan Alter, Karen Tumulty and Jules Witcover can all agree on?...

Joe Lieberman:

Welcome back folks.

It's day two of Notepad LINK . Now that we've all had a chance to review what the "other guy" LINK submitted, expect to see more uniformity in today's postings as all the campaigns LINK crib best practices off of one another - namely linking LINK schedule sharing and obscure music referencing LINK

So in that spirit, let's talk shop. Lieberman was in New Jersey yesterday doing stuff.

That said, let's turn our attention to what really seems to be going on pre-debate, namely pre-debate positioning everywhere else but apparently here....

Finally, in the hopes of getting others to spill some debate aspirations, here are some Lieberland debate goals: Come Saturday, Lieberman won't pile on the make-up nor will he sigh. Much.

Howard Dean:

News Flash!!! Yesterday we were attacked by the Anointed One!

And we're not even talking about Chris Lehane.

We want to clear something up. There seems to be some confusion between the official Dean campaign blog and the unofficial blog.

Here's the official blog's response to the clubbing-from-on-high. LINK

Here's the unofficial response. LINK.

We think it's mostly a matter of tone....

John Edwards:

This genteel southern gal does not know how to react to being "truncated." How ugly.

I will be sure to keep it brief today less I raise the ire of "the editors" or Joe Trippi....

So here is a "bumper sticker anecdote" that encapsulates the strength of our Senator....

Don't misunderstimate the Breck Girl.

Dennis Kucinich:

If the 12th Commandment holds that Democrats shalt not criticize each other, than we have two candidates (I won't mention their names) who've been irreverent lately, even blasphemous in their spat over the U.S. military. Candidate Kucinich (it's my job to mention his name a lot) joined the fray by proclaiming: "They're both wrong."...

Our campaign didn't take sides in such silliness.

John Kerry:

Southern Tour, Day 2

Here is the lead from Little Rock: Painful memories of three North Vietnamese ambushes became a matter of joyous pride for Fred Short as he was reunited with the Navy patrol boat commander who he said saved the whole crew by charging into the teeth of the enemy attack....

Bob Graham:

DES MOINES — Good day!

Senator Graham arrived in Iowa today with the FL four in tow - Crowley, Adair, Bridges and Silva.... Graham talked about his life growing up on his family's dairy farm, his grandchildren, his beloved home state and his vision for a better America.

Along the way, he chatted with regular Iowans....

While waiting for his dinner companions to arrive, he saw a member of his staff dining with a staffer from another presidential campaign.

(From Jamal: Don't tell Jordan, Trippi, Nick, or Craig … shhh!)

Graham sits down. They all chat....

Only in Iowa!

Al Sharpton:

The Sharpton Campaign congratulates Congressman Dick Gephardt for presenting a bold and practical plan to insure that every American is covered with health insurance. I believe the plan is a big step in the right direction.

ABC's new candidate blog gives conclusive proof that Al Sharpton is the only serious Democratic candidate.

Go get 'em, Al!


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

HOW DID BEINGS THIS STUPID END UP RUNNING THE WORLD?

Storms and lightning much deadlier for men (Mary Vallis, April 29, 2003, National Post)
Men are more than twice as likely as women to die during thunderstorms, mainly because they do not come in from the rain, new research suggests.

A new study of more than 1,400 thunderstorm-related deaths in the United States found 70% of the victims were male. The gender disparity was particularly pronounced among deaths caused by lightning strikes and flash floods.

Close to 80% of the lightning victims were men, said Dr. Thomas Songer of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Injury Research. [...]

Dr. Songer speculated men may be at greater risk of dying during thunderstorms because of their exposure to the elements and their behaviour. Men seem more likely to take risks during storms.

"I would say they make poor decisions," he said. "I've read several reports surrounding the deaths, and there's quite a few situations where people drive around barricades and go through flooded roads, and their car gets picked up and floated down, and they drown."

The gender trend for lightning deaths goes back at least a century in medical literature, said Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, director of the Lightning Injury Research Program at the University of Illinois, who was not involved in the new research.

"Men tend to be optimists. They all think that their team's going to win the pennant and they're never going to be hit by lightning."

That last reminds us of one of the more sublime moments in the history of man:

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..." -- Last words of General John Sedgwick (1813-1864)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM

GOD BLESS YOU, MR. GUNTER

565 Million Acres, Riv Vu: It is useful to see the Louisiana Purchase as a real estate deal that signified a new kind of society where land could be owned by anyone. (Andro Linklater, 4/28/03, NY Times)
By 1803 Napoleon wanted to raise money for war with Britain, and Jefferson was prepared to pay for control of France's territory around the mouth of the Mississippi in order to guarantee free use of the river.

The American minister in Paris, Robert Livingston, had already approached the French about such a limited purchase. (Livingston, who owned some 130,000 acres in upstate New York, was himself very familiar with the American real estate market.) But a critical shift occurred on April 11, 1803, when he went to meet Talleyrand in his offices in the Rue du Bac.

Writing James Madison that evening, Livingston reported that Talleyrand had suddenly asked whether "we wished to have the whole of Louisiana." Surprised and playing for time, Livingston at first denied any interest, but Talleyrand persisted, "What would you give for the whole?" Livingston came back with an opening bid of about $3.75 million, which Talleyrand dismissed as too low. But both men knew the game being played.

Talleyrand told Livingston to consider the proposition and return with a better price, and as the maneuvering continued over the days ahead, Livingston recorded Talleyrand's promise to "give me a certificate that I was the most importunate [negotiator] he had yet met with."

With the participation of James Monroe, who arrived in Paris the next day as the American "envoy extraordinary," and the French treasury minister, Francois Barbi-Marbois, agreement was reached just 18 days later for the sale of France's possessions in North America--some 565 million acres--for about $15 million, or less than 3 cents an acre. [...]

Looking at the Louisiana Purchase as a property transaction rather than a work of diplomacy helps to explain another anomaly. Many Americans feared the new land would make the nation too big to govern and, given the prevailing view that government was authority exercised from above over an unruly populace, they had good reason for their fears. But Louisiana was to witness the development of a new kind of society.

Under Spain and France, the province had been a near-feudal domain, ruled by appointees from Europe, with the land sold only to those approved by the governor. In the United States, however, land could be owned by whoever could afford it. Since 1785, all federal land west of the Appalachians had, at Jefferson's urging, been measured out in one-mile-square sections for sale as real estate, and this grid of squares now extended into the Louisiana Purchase.

For the first time in history, land, the primary source of wealth production, could be owned by anyone: speculators, settlers, even squatters. "Power," said John Adams, with ice-cold accuracy, "always follows property." In the Old World property was distributed in a hierarchical manner with the powerful few owning most; but as America spread westward, more than one billion acres of public land, including most of the Louisiana Purchase, would pass into private hands. Power still followed property, but now it was spread democratically, and the nation it created possessed innate stability, because each property-owning citizen had a vested interest in a law-abiding society.

In his marvelous recent book, Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy, Mr. Linklater not only expounds upon the ideas he raises here, but two others that seem quite profound. The first, and it's really the main focus of the book, is how the seemingly simple act of measuring American territory into regular-sized lots created an impetus for ownership and an ease of transaction that dramatically affected the development and character of the nation. (continued here)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM

WHO?

The Trials of Pinochet: a review of Pinochet: La Biografia (Pinochet: The Biography) By Gonzalo Vial Correa (Patricio Navia , Foreign Policy)
Nearly 30 years after Gen. Augusto Pinochet deposed the democratically elected President Salvador Allende in a bloody military coup, Chile continues to live with the dictator's controversial dual legacy-a strong, vibrant economy and painful memories of horrific human rights abuses.

Gonzalo Vial Correa's recent two-volume biography of the dictator exemplifies the dilemma of many Chileans who seek to make peace with thepast. Indeed, the book's appearance in late 2002 followed four years of public debate (in Chile and abroad) over the proper fate of the dictator. In March 2000, after 16 months of house arrest in London on charges of human rights violations, Pinochet was released by the British government and allowed to return to his homeland. And following a prolonged legal, political, and public relations battle between those seeking to prosecute Pinochet and those attempting to protect him, Chileans were ready to move on. So was Ricardo Lagos, the new president-the first socialist elected since Allende-who took office just nine days after Pinochet returned to Chile. Facing human rights charges in domestic courts, the aging Pinochet was excused from trial for medical reasons but had to renounce his lifetime senate seat. Neither side felt victorious when he finally retired from public life, and many Chileans began acting as if the dictator had ceased to exist. Even Vial's Pinochet: The Biography treats the general almost as a late leader-all that can change now is history's judgment of his legacy. [...]

[T]he final chapter of the second volume includes a superb essay describing Pinochet's ambiguous legacy in unambiguous terms. Tacitly acknowledging that Pinochet's dismal human rights record inevitably taints his record of audacious neoliberal economic reforms, Vial reproaches the dictator for not curtailing the power of his notorious secret police. But the author is less forthright when speculating on whether Pinochet's advisors could have persuaded the general to take human rights more seriously. "It is also true that those who surrounded him, for a short or a long period of time-ministers, generals, close advisors-did not have the pertinacity that we should have had to press him to overcome that character trait," writes Vial,
with predictable understatement.

It's all well and good to be honest about the failings of the men who ceded us our freedoms, as Americans have learned to be honest about the way in which the slaveholdings of men like Washington and Jefferson make their legacy more complicated than we would prefer. But to obssess so completely over the shortcomings that you can't recognize the good they did, or even to try to forget them completely, is a sign of immaturity. Chile is of course an immature democracy though, so presumably the next generation and the ones after will be able to think about Pinochet more clearly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

THE BAD WITH THE GOOD

Iraqis Take Sinful Delight in Newfound Freedoms (Niko Price, April 29, 2003, The Associated Press)
When the Atlas Cinema last showed "Blue Chill," people screamed: "Yes! Yes!" every time the actors began kissing, only to see the scratched reel jump to the next scene. On Monday, they sat in awed silence as naked couples writhed on screen.

"The movie is much more beautiful now, because there's sex," said a beaming Mohammed Taher, 18. Since Saturday, when the theater reopened with a freshly uncensored version of the low-budget Italian flick, he has seen "Blue Chill" three times.

Baghdad has gone through a revolution in the past three weeks, casting off decades of censorship and state control. Banned books, satellite dishes and videos are now sold on the street -- as are alcohol and women.

Horrified by the changes, some Iraqis blame America for what they call a cultural degradation. If it continues for long, they promise to rise up in a holy war against the U.S. forces occupying their country.

"Everything against Islam, everything we hate, has been imported by the Americans like a disease," said Abbas Hamid, a 60-year-old merchant. "We'll fight them. We're tired now, but we'll rest up and use our guns to drive the Americans out."

For now, Hamid appears to be in the minority as Iraqis excitedly discover worlds of vice -- and virtue too -- long forbidden by the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein:

* Teenagers gape at Christina Aguilera's navel via formerly illegal satellite dishes.

* Prostitutes walk the streets in some neighborhoods, beckoning passing motorists.

This kind of garbage will do far more damage to their culture than the theft of a few antiquities did.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

A SLIPPERY SLOPE WE SHOULD BE ON

Crack Down on Spam (NY Times, April 29, 2003)
No one with an e-mail account needs to be told that unwanted commercial messages, better known as spam, are a bad problem that is getting worse. America Online reports that 70 percent of the e-mail its users receive is now junk, and that the quantity has doubled just since the beginning of this year. Much of the increase is being fueled by Internet marketing companies, which charge as little as $500 to send out a million e-mail messages. Internet service providers have taken steps to clamp down on spam, but the tools at their disposal are limited. Congress needs to help. [...]

A bill introduced by Senators Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican, and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, would require that unsolicited marketing e-mail have valid return e-mail addresses, making it easier for recipients to remove themselves from mass e-mail lists or for Internet service providers and states to sue spammers. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, is introducing a bill that would require the Federal Trade Commission to maintain a no-spam list, like the no-call lists for telemarketing phone calls, and impose stiff penalties on marketers who repeatedly sent spam to people who had opted out.

If these bills were put up for a popular vote, they would be passed handily. But the direct marketing industry has been lobbying hard for its right to keep sending spam. People should tell their Congressional representatives how strongly they feel about fighting spam--one e-mail note per person, please.

There's an interesting question implicated here, though the Timesmen predictably dodge it: if it's okay to disregard the Free Speech claims of spammers because it is merely commercial and we find their speech annoying and possibly destructive of an important social institution (the Internet), then why not disregard similarly absolutist claims by other merely commercial speakers, whose speech serves none of the purposes for which the Constitution was framed, for instance, pornographers?

April 28, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 PM

THE ORPHANHOOD OF DEFEAT

No takers as 'old Europe' goes ahead with summit (Philip Delves Broughton, 29/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
The four European countries most hostile to the war in Iraq meet in Brussels today to rekindle plans for a European defence force to rival Nato and show America that "old Europe" is down but not out.

France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, dubbed old Europe by Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, invited other European Union countries to attend, but found no takers.

Critics say the summit bears no relation to the realities of an expanding Europe in which several new members put far more trust in Nato, which helped free them from the Soviet Union, than a still undefined Franco-German scheme.

If power is an aphrodisiac, this meeting gives off the scent of saltpeter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 PM

LEGGO MY EGO

We went to war just to boost the white male ego: With their dominance in sport, at work and at home eroded, Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in... (Norman Mailer, April 29, 2003, Times of London)
The key question remains - why did we go to war? It is not yet answered. In the end, it is likely that a host of responses will produce a cognitive stew, which does, at least, open the way to offering one's own notion. We went to war, I could say, because we very much needed a war. The US economy was sinking, the market was gloomy and down, and some classic bastions of the erstwhile American faith (corporate integrity, the FBI, and the Catholic Church, to cite but three) had each suffered a separate and grievous loss of face. Since our Administration was probably not ready to solve any one of the serious problems before it, it was natural to feel the impulse to move into larger ventures, thrusts into the empyrean-war!

Be it said that the Administration knew something a good many of us did not - it knew that we had a very good, perhaps even an extraordinarily good, if essentially untested, group of Armed Forces, a skilled, disciplined, well-motivated military, career-focused and run by a field-rank and general staff who were intelligent, articulate, and considerably less corrupt than any other power group in America.

In such a pass, how could the White House not use them? They could prove quintessential as morale-builders to one group in US life, perhaps the key group: the white American male. If once this aggregate came near to 50 per cent of the population, it was down to . . . was it now 30 per cent? Still, it remained key to the President's political footing. And it had taken a real beating. As a matter of collective ego, the good white American male had had very little to nourish his morale since the job market had gone bad, unless he happened to be in the Armed Forces.

As one who agrees that America is both the pinnacle of Western Civilization, which is itself the pinnacle of human culture, and the product of white, Christian, racist, sexist, homophobic males, I have trouble getting too worked up about the notion that the war was meant to demonstrate to us and our foes that we remain the dominant cadre of the species. One is chastened though by the multiracial, bi-gendered, religiously diverse and, let's assume, variously-sexually-oriented, make up of the armed forces, administration, and citizenry that prosecuted the war. Why, it's enough to make one think that it's what you think, not who you are, that makes you an American...and even a hawk. Of course, the patriarchal crackers thought up the ideas...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:11 PM

GONE NATIVE

Banfield Lashes Out at Own Network (Andrew Grossman, Apr 28, 2003, Hollywood Reporter)
NBC News correspondent Ashleigh Banfield has ripped television news networks, including her own, for their "glorious" coverage of the Iraqi war and a lack of focus on international news overall.

In a speech Thursday at Kansas State University, she also attacked NBC News for hiring right-wing radio talk-show host Michael Savage to do a show on MSNBC. Savage recently called Banfield a "slut" after her reports portraying the radical Arab point of view. [...]

Banfield, who hosted an unsuccessful talk show on MSNBC last year and is now reporting for both MSNBC and NBC News, criticized the networks for showing a bloodless war that gave a skewed picture which glossed over the horrors of battle. She did not report from Iraq during the war, but has been stationed overseas in the past.

"It was a glorious and wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers excited about cable news," she said at the college's annual Landon Lecture in Manhattan. "But it wasn't journalism because I'm not so sure we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war ... because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successfully terrific endeavor."

What was wrong with the coverage?

"You did not see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortars landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me," Banfield said.

She ripped NBC for putting Savage on the air saying, "He was so taken aback by my daring to speak to martyrs ... for being prepared to sacrifice themselves, he chose to label me a slut on the air, and that's not all, as a porn star and an accessory to the murder of Jewish children. These are the ramifications for simply bringing the message in the Arab world."

Martyrs?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM

WHAT A REVOLTIN' DEVELOPMENT

Ranking the Rich: In a groundbreaking new ranking, FOREIGN POLICY teamed up with Center for Global Development to create the first annual CGD/FP Commitment to Development Index, which grades 21 rich nations on whether their aid, trade, migration, investment, peacekeeping, and environmental policies help or hurt poor nations. Find out why the Netherlands ranks first and why the world's two largest aid givers-the United States and Japan-finish last. (FOREIGN POLICY Magazine and the Center for Global Development , May/June 2003)

The first annual CGD/FP Commitment to Development Index (CDI), created by the Center for Global Development and FOREIGN POLICY magazine, ranks some of the world's richest nations according to how much their policies help or hinder the economic and social development of poor countries. The CDI looks beyond mere foreign aid flows to encompass trade, environmental, investment, migration, and peacekeeping policies. In this inaugural edition of the index, the CDI ranks 21 nations: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States, and most of Western Europe.

In ranking these countries' commitment to development, the CDI rewards generous aid giving, hospitable immigration policies, sizable contributions to peacekeeping operations, and hefty foreign direct investment in developing countries. The index penalizes financial assistance to corrupt regime, obstruction of imports from developing countries, and policies that harm shared environmental resources. Although the governments and leaders of poor nations are themselves ultimately responsible for responding to the many challenges of development, rich countries can and should change their policies to spur economic growth and social development in poorer nations. The CDI highlights and ranks the rich countries' policies themselves, not their final impact. This approach emphasizes what each rich country-regardless of size and reach-can do to improve opportunities for development throughout the world.

The results of the first annual CDI cast traditional assumptions about the most development-friendly countries in a new, unexpected light. For example, the two countries providing the highest absolute amounts of foreign aid to the developing world-Japan and the United States-bring up the rear in the index. Japan ranks last overall, with low marks in migration and aid. The United States ranks high in trade policy but finishes second to last overall due to particularly poor performances in environmental policy and contributions to peacekeeping. By contrast, the Netherlands emerges as the top-ranked nation in the index, thanks to its strong performance in aid, trade, investment, and environmental policies. Two other small countries, Denmark and Portugal, follow in second and third place, respectively. Norway, which is usually regarded as a model global citizen and a force for peace worldwide, comes in a disappointing 10th, mainly due to its poor trade performance. And though New Zealand is not noted for its particularly generous aid giving, that country finishes fourth overall thanks to a strong showing in migration and peacekeeping policies.

The ridicularities here are too numerous to mention them all, so, how about just the most obvious one: peacekeeping. This one's hilarious--the U.S. and Britain will receive no credit here for actually liberating Afghanistan and Iraq, but once peacekeeping forces go in whoever sends them is considered to be better at aiding development there than those of us who made it possible at all?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:03 PM

THAT HORSE IS LONG SINCE DEAD

Deciphering the Democrats' Debacle: Why the Republican majority (probably) won't last. (Ruy Teixeira, May 2003, Washington Monthly)
Last year, John Judis and I published a book entitled The Emerging Democratic Majority, which argued that a series of economic, demographic, and ideological changes was laying the basis for a new Democratic majority that would materialize by decade's end--not certainly, we argued, but very probably as long as the Democratic Party put forth decent political leadership to challenge the dominant, but dwindling, current Republican majority.

Our book arrived in stores last September. Two months later, in the midterm elections, the Republicans surprised nearly everyone by winning control of the Senate and further solidifying their majority in the House, unifying Republican control of the federal government for only the second time in half a century. Needless to say, this wasn't my ideal outcome. In the annals of publishing, this wasn't quite so unfortunate as, say, James Glassman's prediction of a 36,000 point Dow just before the 2000 stock market crash, but it still evoked a fair amount of understandable ribbing and forced me to think hard about our thesis. So after the election, I pored over survey data, county-by-county voting returns, and a great deal of underlying demographic data and thought long and hard about what the data showed. And as a result, I've decided that ... we're still right!

We, on the other hand, have decided they're still wrong!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:15 PM

OUR FATHERS' CHILDREN

Once upon a time in America: In 1815, a group of Boston singers, sick of dreary hymns, formed the Handel & Haydn Society - and classical music was born in the United States. But it would not have an easy ride. (Jan Swafford, April 25, 2003, The Guardian)
Western Massachusetts, 1800: much of this territory across the state from Boston is isolated homesteads, and the daily symphony is hooting owls and barking foxes. There is music, of course, here and there; wherever you find humanity, you find music.

But in the newly minted US, music is mainly a matter of a jig or a reel from a fiddler at a dance - and, above all, of hymns in church. By 1900, those same areas of Massachusetts will be dotted with farms and villages, and not far away will reside a symphony orchestra.

The saga of American music in the 19th century is a tale of outsized personalities, showdowns and rampant can-doism. The American myth has much to do with raising yourself by your own bootstraps, and that is what American music did in the 19th century: beginning with mostly amateur fiddlers, fifers and bawling congregations, ending with some of the best orchestras and opera houses anywhere.

It was founding father John Adams who put the matter with his usual farsightedness: "My duty is to study the science of government that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and science... to give their children a right to study philosophy, painting, poetry, music, architecture, sculpture." That is, on the whole, what happened - and on Adams's timetable, too.

Which makes this downright poetic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:22 PM

RICK SANTORUM--A WELLSTONE REPUBLICAN

Sex and Civility (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, and Joanna Schubert, April, 28, 2003, The CBS News)
Last week's calls for the ouster of Republican Sen. Rick Santorum from the GOP leadership after his remarks linking homosexual acts to polygamy, bigamy and incest seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist defended Santorum, and, on Friday, Ari Fleischer said President Bush thought Santorum was an "inclusive man." Conservatives have started alleging a political motive behind the story. Late last week, Robert Novak reported that the AP reporter who interviewed Santorum, Laura Jakes Jordan, is married to Jim Jordan, campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign.

"Jordan herself is pretty suspect," said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga. Howie Kurtz in the Washington Post reports that "Jim Jordan says he didn't know 'with any specificity' what Santorum had told his wife and (said) that Kerry was one of several Democrats who issued statements at the request of the Hotline political digest. "Even by the usual standards of the right-wing attack machine," Jim Jordan said, "this is just stupid, vicious and sexist."

Democratic candidates, meanwhile, were generally hitting home runs on the gay-rights groups scorecards. Howard Dean, who signed legislation legalizing civil unions for same sex couples in Vermont, has been working the gay and lesbian activist network heavily during the early phases of the campaign. Six of the nine Democratic presidential candidates - Gephardt, Kerry, Braun, Kucinich, Sharpton and Dean - support civil unions.

While the other three Democratic candidates - Lieberman, Edwards and Graham - "stopped short of endorsing them," none has opposed them. Lieberman and Edwards say this should be left up to individual states, and Graham said that the issue "needs more study."

All nine Democrats support benefits for domestic partners, while President Bush opposes them. Civil unions are controversial among the public, with Democrats generally supportive and Republicans opposed. Republican pollster Whit Ayres told the Boston Globe that favoring civil unions could hurt a Democratic candidate in the general election. "The dividing line between the blue states and the red states was primarily a cultural dividing line rather than an economic one. The whole issue of civil unions reinforces the differences between the parties. It seals the deal in the South" for the Republicans, Ayres said

It's a simple truth of American politics that there is no price to be paid for opposing gay "rights". To the contrary, as the vote on the Defense of Marriage Act demonstrated, you can oppose them and still be an icon even on the Left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:09 PM

A PROOF TOO FAR

Religion versus science might be all in the mind (Chris McGillion April 29 2003, Sydney Morning Herald)
For years now, one small branch of science has been chipping away at the foundations of religious belief by proposing that "otherworldly" experiences are nothing more than the inner workings of the human brain. Many neuroscientists claim they can locate and explain brain functions that produce everything from religious visions to sensations of bliss, timelessness or union with a higher power.

These claims have been strengthened by the work of the Canadian neuropsychologist Dr Michael Persinger. By stimulating the cerebral region presumed to control notions of self, Persinger has been able to induce in hundreds of subjects a "sensed presence" only the subjects themselves are aware of. This presence, Persinger suggests, may be described as Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Muhammad or the Sky Spirit - depending on the name the subject's culture has trained him or her to use.

"Neurotheology", as this line of inquiry has been dubbed, has its critics. Some say it fails to distinguish between experiences that contain a moral or spiritual dimension (such as visions of God) from those that don't (such as ghostly perceptions). Others point out that none of this research can ever establish whether our brains have been designed to apprehend religious experiences or whether these are simply the by-product of bad wiring. [...]

The jury is still out on whether such religious experiences are mere delusions and whether God might be nothing more than a hallucination. But the argument for both has just become a lot more interesting.

The problem with kind of reductionism is even more fundamental than the ones mentioned in the article: logically there must of course also be brain centers that produce belief in science, which is ultimately just as much a product of socialization as any religion, and even belief in reality and the self. Therefore, we are returned to the primordial problem that we have no way of ever proving our own existence. What's interesting, for our purposes, is the failure of the author even to contemplate such matters, because each of us assumes our own beliefs "true" and those of others mere "beliefs".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM

PEACE, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT

Abu Mazen tells Europeans will declare end to armed struggle (Arnon Regular, 4/28/03, Ha'aretz)
Palestinian Prime Minister designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has told European diplomats he will use his inaugural speech to declare an end to the use of arms to achieve Palestinian national aspirations.

Abu Mazen will be inaugurated after the PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council) approves his government. He told the Europeans, after he reached agreement on the composition of his cabinet last week with Chairman Yasser Arafat, that he would say ending the armed struggle and improving the living conditions of Palestinians are an inseparable part of the road map that would form the basic guidelines of his government. Lifting checkpoints and improving the Palestinian economic situation are essential elements in this, he said.

Abu Mazen told the Europeans all future inputs of money to the PA, whether from donors, Europeans, or Arab countries would go to the PA treasury and would be overseen by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad.

That would meet long-standing European demands made to an unresponsive Arafat for financial transparency in the use of money sent to the PA. It essentially makes the process of donor money usage subject to the same transparency rules Israel laid down for handing over tax money it collects on behalf of the PA.

Events are in the saddle and they're riding the American hawks. In very short order the neocons will be left arguing that the Palestinians, despite having the most free and democratic state in the Arab world, should not be recognized as such, but should continue to be lorded over by Israel. This will place them in the schizophrenic position of demanding and denying democratic reforms at one and the same time and of opposing Ariel Sharon for being too accomodationist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM

SEMIOTICS

Baghdad crowd honors donkey, not Saddam, on strongman's birthday> (AFP, 4/28/03)
Joyous crowds in Baghdad celebrated Saddam Hussein's birthday in a brand new way, pasting photos of the former strongman on a donkey as they heaped scorn on his brutal 24-year reign.
?
"For the first time in my life, I won't be forced to attend Saddam's birthday ceremonies. He was a dictator, he was nothing but a donkey ruling over Iraq," said Ali, 24.

The young man, speaking in the Sadr city neighborhood formerly known as Saddam city and home to about two million Shiite Muslims, said most Iraqis had been "faking joy on Saddam's birthday each year because we were plain afraid."

"We'll bring the donkey flowers and a cake this afternoon," said Hassan al-Hussein, 27, who helped organize the ceremony here Monday.

Crowds of young boys were clapping their hands in appreciation as a man planted a banner and a colorful plastic tree by the donkey.

"April 28, it's your birthday you loser!" read the sign. Saddam turned 66 on Monday although his whereabouts, if he is even still alive, are unknown.

One notes with interest that they chose a Donkey and not an Elephant as the symbol of the oppressor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM

60-40 VISION FILES

Shaping the Next Senate (The Prowler, 4/28/2003, American Prowler)
"We may still prevail with [HUD Secretary Mel] Martinez," says a hopeful RNC staffer. "There is still some time. We'd prefer someone who can excite voters, and McCollum underwhelms. We know that. There are also some concerns about Foley's experience and ability to run a statewide campaign." Foley, though, has been raising money at a decent clip, and has been lining up support across the state.

The Republicans are pressing for a strong candidate because they expect that Bob Graham will not seek re-election, instead focusing his money and time on a presidential bid. Harris, who ran for the House after being recruited by the White House, would be an attractive candidate and, with statewide office experience, would have the name recognition and money connections to make a race of things.

"She was tabbed a star the first day she arrived in Washington in January, and she hasn't done anything to change anyone's mind," says the RNC staffer. House leadership is said to be impressed with Harris's abilities and plans to put her out to represent the party during the economic stimulus package fight to see how she handles the press attention.

Harris has not indicated she would run for the Senate, although if the White House asked, she probably wouldn't turn the offer down.

BURR CAROLINA

North Carolina Rep. Richard Burr pulled in more than $700,000 at a fundraiser last week attended by Karl Rove. According to Burr insiders, he expects to have more than $10 million in the bank for the general election in 2004, whether it is against sitting Sen. John Edwards or another Democratic challenger.

Burr has surprised Democrats down south with his fundraising momentum, and even Edwards appears to have noticed. He remains unsure about whether he should empty his Senate campaign account, which has more than $2 million in it. "He still may run for his seat. He hasn't said he won't," says an Edwards Senate staffer. "We're proceeding as though he will be elected to a second term."

The GOP can win NC whether Edwards runs or not, but probably needs Mr. Graham to give up his seat if they're to have a shot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM

PAYING THE RANSOM DEMANDS

American Power Moves Beyond the Mere Super (GREGG EASTERBROOK, April 27, 2003, NY Times)
Stealth drones, G.P.S.-guided smart munitions that hit precisely where aimed; antitank bombs that guide themselves; space-relayed data links that allow individual squad leaders to know exactly where American and opposition forces are during battle--the United States military rolled out all this advanced technology, and more, in its lightning conquest of Iraq. No other military is even close to the United States. The American military is now the strongest the world has ever known, both in absolute terms and relative to other nations; stronger than the Wehrmacht in 1940, stronger than the legions at the height of Roman power. For years to come, no other nation is likely even to try to rival American might.

Which means: the global arms race is over, with the United States the undisputed heavyweight champion. Other nations are not even trying to match American armed force, because they are so far behind they have no chance of catching up. The great-powers arms race, in progress for centuries, has ended with the rest of the world conceding triumph to the United States.

Now only a nuclear state, like, perhaps, North Korea, has any military leverage against the winner.

Paradoxically, the runaway American victory in the conventional arms race might inspire a new round of proliferation of atomic weapons. With no hope of matching the United States plane for plane, more countries may seek atomic weapons to gain deterrence.

North Korea might have been moved last week to declare that it has an atomic bomb by the knowledge that it has no hope of resisting American conventional power. If it becomes generally believed that possession of even a few nuclear munitions is enough to render North Korea immune from American military force, other nations--Iran is an obvious next candidate--may place renewed emphasis on building them. [...]

The American edge does not render its forces invincible: the expensive Apache attack helicopter, for example, fared poorly against routine small-arms fire in Iraq. More important, overwhelming power hardly insures that the United States will get its way in world affairs. Force is just one aspect of international relations, while experience has shown that military power can solve only military problems, not political ones.

North Korea now stares into the barrel of the strongest military ever assembled, and yet may be able to defy the United States, owing to nuclear deterrence. As the global arms race ends with the United States so far ahead no other nation even tries to be America's rival, the result may be a world in which Washington has historically unparalleled power, but often cannot use it.

Bunk. We have to use it just to prevent this possibility. Obtaining nuclear weapons must be seen to be a trigger for war, not a shield from it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM

THE WETS ARE RIGHT

Grassley aims for larger tax cuts (Joyce Howard Price, 4/28/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley says it "might not be difficult" to get the Senate to approve a $450 billion tax cut but that it will be hard to get the full $550 billion tax cut President Bush is seeking.

Mr. Grassley, Iowa Republican, who earlier pushed a $350 billion tax-cut compromise through the Senate after failing to get more than 48 votes for the president's higher proposal, said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday" that there "will be some attempt" to go above the $350 billion figure by closing corporate tax loopholes and cutting spending.

"I think [it will be] a little bit above, hopefully, quite a bit above [$350 billion], but I can't tell you what that will be right now," Mr. Grassley said.

"I can say flat out it's going to be difficult to get to $550 [billion]. It might not be difficult to get to $425 billion or $450 billion, but, remember, it's got to be dollar-for-dollar" offsets, he said, speaking of a Senate agreement that tax cuts of more than $350 billion be matched by spending reductions.

But Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, who voted for the budget resolution only after the president's tax cut was reduced to $350 billion, says he believes that $350 billion is the "responsible" amount.

Mr. Voinovich, interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," called the president's request for a $550 billion tax cut "fiscally irresponsible, with the deficits we're confronting" and uncertainty about the cost of the war in Iraq.

"We need a shot in the arm of the economy, but we don't need to shoot ourselves in the foot by increasing the deficit," he said.
?
Mr. Voinovich and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, both voted to reduce the Bush tax cut to $350 billion. They initially said they would support efforts to increase the tax cut only if they were accompanied by spending offsets.

Mr. Voinovich and Ms Snowe are absolutely right. The President should spend the political capital he has right now to get at least $200 billion in permanent spending cuts to offset further tax cuts. He could demonstrate the good faith of this effort by proposing to eliminate the Commerce Department, a notorious Republican boondoggle, and by adopting the package of business tax loophole closures that John McCain is always championing. If Congress still proves reluctant to cut taxes further, the solution is easy enough: just propose cutting the payroll tax and even Democrats will support it. Sure, it's fiscally irresponsible, but no more so than taxing the American people for the cost of a $2.2 Trillion budget.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM

<~text text="Patrick Henry (1736-1799): "The War Inevitable" speech to the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775">

It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. ... Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things, which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. ... Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 AM

NONE SO BLIND

Since when was it a sin to be the best school in town? (Stephen Pollard, April 28, 2003, Times of London)
Imagine a school where 98 per cent of pupils, not one of whom has been selected by academic ability, gained five or more A to C passes at GCSE. With the average school managing to achieve these grades with only 52 per cent of pupils, you?d think the school must be doing something right and it would be worth replicating. There is such a school, in Gateshead. And there are plans to open a sister school in Middlesbrough, as well as the hope of others in Doncaster, Leeds, Newcastle, Sunderland and Hull.

Wonderful news. The people behind it--and the man who has made it possible by donating millions of pounds of his own money to help children once condemned to some of the worst schools in the country--should be lauded as heroes.

Except that to many in the liberal education establishment, they are not heroes but villains. The man who funds the school is blind, as are some of the teachers. To some in the local education authority, in neighbouring schools and in the media it?s simply beyond the pale having blind people involved in the education of children. They might, you see, somehow pass on their blindness.

It?s foul, isn?t it--and quite astonishingly stupid--that there should be such prejudice? Like most prejudice, it?s not only baseless, it?s self-defeating. The way the blind people run the school brings only positive benefits to the pupils, but that counts for nothing in the face of bigotry.

Oh, sorry. Did I say they were blind? Scrub that. I meant they are Christian. The school with a 98 per cent pass rate is Emmanuel College in Gateshead, and the man who has given millions to it, and wants to repeat his munificence elsewhere, is Sir Peter Vardy, who is--ugh, how revolting--an evangelical Christian, as are--excuse me while I hold my nose--some of the teachers.

Because they are Christians who believe in creationism, and the literal truth of the Bible, they are, it seems, unfit to teach children, lest they infect them with their foul ideas.

Thus does secularism lead, quite literally, to ignorance.

April 27, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 PM

THE LADDIE'S NOT FOR TURNING

Blair warns Chirac on the future of Europe (Philip Stephens and Cathy Newman, April 28, 2003, The Financial Times)
Tony Blair has issued a direct challenge to France's Jacques Chirac over the future of the transatlantic relationship by warning that the French president's vision of Europe as a rival to the US is dangerously destabilising.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, the prime minister foreshadows a continuing Anglo-French struggle about Europe's relationship with Washington. Mr Blair seeks to keep alive the prospect of British entry to the euro but he disavows any personal ambition to become president of the European Union.

Though his personal relationship with Mr Chirac has improved since the bitter row over France's veto of a second United Nations resolution, Mr Blair is clear that the strategic divide that opened over Iraq has not been bridged.

Meanwhile a new MORI poll for the FT reveals that 55 per cent of Britons regard France as the UK's least reliable ally, while 73 per cent view the US as the country's most reliable.

Welfare state reform battleground (Cathy Newman and Philip Stephens, April 27 2003, Financial Times)
Tony Blair has vowed to defy a groundswell of opposition from his party and the unions in order to "redraw" the welfare state with his radical programme of public service reform.

The prime minister told the Financial Times that the government had "got to opt for the radical, not the quiet life".

Insisting that he is "not going to depart from the path of reform", he says: "What we have got to do is fundamentally to redraw the way the 1945 welfare state settlement is implemented, and we have got to do it for health, for education, for the employment and labour markets, and actually in the longer term for pensions too."

Mr Blair makes clear that victory in Iraq has emboldened him to take on leftwing critics of his plans to give the best hospitals, schools and universities more money and freedom from state control.

Despite the unprecedented revolt of 139 Labour MPs opposed to military action in Iraq, Mr Blair is to risk a renewed clash with the left by ruling out any concessions on public service reform and pledging to "continue opening up" the NHS by "injecting into it the spirit of enterprise and initiative and innovation".

"I will do what is necessary to carry through the programme, yes . . . If the Labour party were to back away from public service reform, we would deal a heavy blow to public services," he said.

More than 100 Labour backbenchers could vote next month against foundation hospitals, which are to be freed from Whitehall control and allowed to borrow more money.

Mr Blair also opens a fresh front in the war of words with trade unions, dismissing threatened teachers' strikes as "NUT nonsense". Faced with a continuing pay dispute between the government and the firefighters, he insists: "We will not give in in any shape or form to any resurgent trade union militancy."

Confronting the French and Labor; what's not to like?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM

JUSTICE, LAND, AND A CAR

200 freed Iraqi prisoners of war leave desert camp singing and cheering for President Bush (DIANA ELIAS, April 27, 2003, Associated Press)
Chanting "Saddam no, Bush yes," some 200 Iraqi prisoners of war were let go Sunday at the coalition's main internment camp in the desert near the southern port of Umm Qasr.

The men, many of them barefooted, shook hands with the American soldiers guarding the camp before boarding buses and trucks to be driven to nearby Basra, southern Iraq's largest city.

Their departure brought to 700 the number of POWs released since Friday, said Maj. Stacy Garrity of the U.S. Army's 800th Military Police Brigade, which runs the camp. Around 5,800 more prisoners, including some from Jordan and Syria, await screening and possible release, she said.

"Probably half of the camp will be gone in the next week and a half," said Garrity, who is from Athens, Pa.

Wearing a towel on his head as protection from the scorching heat and blowing sand, one smiling POW, Mahdi Saleh, told The Associated Press: "My mother will die when she sees me."

It may take a while. Once in Basra, the penniless Saleh will have to find transportation home to Mosul, a city some 500 miles away in northern Iraq.

Saleh, a junior Iraqi army officer who is the father of four, said he was taken prisoner at the Qadisiya Dam at the beginning of the war that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"I gave orders to my five men not to fight and we surrendered," he said, his eyes red from the sand. "Americans were coming for our own good. ... What has Saddam done for us? I'm 30 and I haven't enjoyed life -- no justice, no piece of land, no car."

Tell us again why war wasn't the "answer"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 PM

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

Something has happened to Ariel Sharon (Ari Shavit, 4/24/03, Ha'aretz)
A few days before Pesach, Israel's prime minister gave the country's citizens the finest of holiday gifts: hope. Predictably, some local commentators - who tend to become excited at every new statement by every Arab despot who rearticulates his call for Israel's annihilation - were quick to dismiss what the prime minister of Israel said. Predictably, some local commentators - who are ready to adopt and embrace every deceptive formula adduced by the Palestinians - were quick to reach the conclusion that Ariel Sharon is once again being deceptive. However, the majority of Israel's citizens, in common with the majority of the world's observers, read the prime minister's remarks as they should be read: cautiously but with interest; suspiciously but with hope.

Ariel Sharon has earned the suspicious attitude people have toward him honestly. On countless occasions during the 50 years in which he has taken an active part in forging Israel's fate, he has behaved with a cleverness that borders on craftiness. His ability to equivocate has led him to the greatest of achievements and the harshest of debacles. However, even people who did not see the expression on the face of the old fighter when he said what he did about Beit El and Shiloh could discern that this was no hollow statement. Even those who did not hear the tone of voice of the master of the settlement project when he took leave of the terraced valleys of the land of the tribe of Benjamin could understand that this was not just another stratagem. Something has happened to Ariel Sharon. The guile is the same guile but the discourse is new.

No, Sharon has not moved to the left. But he has internalized a large part of the left's arguments about the futility of the occupation. No, Sharon has not become Yitzhak Rabin. But he feels the same weighty generational responsibility that Rabin felt in the early 1990s. No, Sharon does not accept the map put forward by Ehud Barak - to him, it was and remains a suicide map - but he is well aware of the historical and strategic context within which Barak acted.

Bye-bye, Yasser: Analysis (Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post)
"This is a silent coup," a top Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah said shortly after an agreement was reached between PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) over the composition of a new cabinet.

Efforts to replace Arafat or sideline him started shortly after Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield last spring. Abbas and a handful of PA officials seized the opportunity provided by Arafat's being under siege in his Ramallah compound and held a series of closed-door meetings to discuss the new situation resulting from the IDF's reoccupation of the West Bank.

Arafat aides described the gathering as a coup d' tat. One of the alleged conspirators, former cabinet minister Nabil Amr, was the target of a shooting attack on his home. Abbas, who understood the message, hastily left the West Bank.

Almost a year later, Abbas has made a comeback that in effect turns him into the new leader of the Palestinian people.

The consensus in Ramallah Wednesday was that the biggest loser in the cabinet crisis was Arafat, who was forced to relinquish his grip over the dozen
or so security forces that he helped establish since the Olso process began.

Last year Arafat, also under immense pressure from the US and EU, reluctantly agreed to cede control exclusive control over the PA's finances by naming Salaam Fayad as finance minister.

Fayad has since gone a long way in reorganizing the PA's finances. He has even set aside a modest budget for the president's office, depriving Arafat of control over the millions of dollars donated by the US and EU.

Last month, international pressure forced Arafat to end his 40-year autocratic rule and to accept the idea of sharing power with a prime minister.

As different as chalk and cheese (Danny Rubinstein, 4/27/03, Ha'aretz)
The power struggle between Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) can be regarded as another stage in the democratization of Palestinian political life. There was no violence between the two competing for positions of power. There were elements of typical leadership struggles in which a senior leader (Arafat) doesn't want to cede power.

In neighboring Arab countries, one practically doesn't see relatively restrained, publicly reported power struggles for the leadership as took place in the Palestinian Authority in the last two weeks. Some of those states are kingdoms but even among the republics a new form of government, "a republican kingdom," has evolved, meaning a republic that is ruled by heirs, as in a monarchy.

The best known example is Syria, where Hafez Assad left the regime to his son Bashar. The same system was supposed to take place in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and the political gossip in the Arab world speculates that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is grooming his son for the presidency. Political scientists have even come up with an Arabic word for it, "Jamalochia," combining jamariya (republic) with monarchy. Quite a few Palestinians say that if Arafat had a son, he would have been the candidate to replace him.

Despite the publicity given to the power struggle between Arafat and Abu Mazen, most of the struggle actually took place in secret. Most of the reports about what has going on in the various meetings were quite limited in scope, and there was limited coverage of the events in the Arab and international press, while the Palestinian press practically ignored it and published very few and mostly partial items about it. The Palestinian political culture prefers to keep such matters modest. The rival camps also made, relatively speaking, very little use of the media.

There are major differences between the two men. There was the senior leader, Arafat, the "founding father" of Palestinian nationalism, known popularly by a host of adoring names. More than anything, he is a symbol of the struggle, embodying and personifying the national aspirations. When he arrived in Gaza in 1994 to build the PA, there were those who wrote in the Palestinian press, "The sun of Arafat is shining down on the homeland." Arafat is the man without a private life, who lives in his office, surrounded by his loyalists and without a normal family life. Everything is for the Palestinian cause.

On the other side is Abu Mazen, the complete opposite. Introverted, without a band of loyalists, rarely consults, a man of no glamour and nearly without any of the ambitions that usually turns someone into Number 1. He has private business affairs and a solid family life, though most of the family is overseas.

A man in his prime (Yossi Klein, Ha'aretz)
It's not easy to draw a portrait of a refugee, because by definition, a refugee changes according to where he is. Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a. Abu Mazen, who is about to become the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, is first of all a refugee and then a pragmatist. Abu Mazen--whose first-born son, Mazen, an engineer, died a year ago at the age of 42 in Qatar of a heart ailment - has gone through many places in the course of his 68 years. Like every refugee, Abu Mazen also carries his birthplace, Safed, in his memory. As a pragmatist, though, he knows where to draw the line that separates nostalgia, which attracts him to the city, and reality, which prevents him from even visiting it.

The status of refugee is an important biographical detail in the life history of a Palestinian politician, but pragmatism can define him as a Palestinian leader. Like every refugee, Abu Mazen has many stations in his life: Damascus, where he fled with his family, studied at the university (law) and taught in elementary school; Moscow, where he submitted his doctoral thesis, which dealt with the Holocaust, and more specifically with the connection between Nazism and Zionism; Tunis, where he resided as one of the leaders of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization; Qatar, where his family ran its business; and Abu Dhabi, where his daughter-in-law and his grandson live today.

Abu Mazen continues to travel between Gaza and Ramallah, in both of which he has homes, as befits the divided character of the state he is going to administer, and in addition, he has a house in Morocco, for the sake of the security that a refugee searches for all his life

Dahlan: Setting an ex-terrorist to stop terrorists (Erik Schechter, Jerusalem Post)
In an ideal world, the former Gazan chief of the Preventive Security Service would be sitting (once again) in an Israeli prison. But Israelis hope that Muhammad Dahlan's designation as the state minister for security affairs will help stem Palestinian terrorism.

Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) had originally sought to install Dahlan as his interior minister to take charge of the PA security forces and rein in Palestinian violence. However, Dahlan's newly crafted position is said to give him similar powers.

"After the series of bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in 1996, Dahlan was very effective in fighting Hamas and its infrastructure," said Uri Savir,
former Foreign Ministry director-general and current head of the Peres Center for Peace.

"I am quite sure that Abu Mazen has an interest in ending terrorism and violence and the interior minister was a key post for doing that," Savir told The Jerusalem Post. "I believe that Dahlan and Abu Mazen have a shared understanding on security."

Dahlan resigned as head of the Gaza PSS in July 2002 with the hopes of becoming interior minister a move which instead landed him a job as Arafat's national security adviser. Last October, he quit that post as well, taking the opportunity to criticize the use of arms by Palestinians during the so-called Aksa intifada.

The London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported Dahlan saying that, after September 11, "we should have turned it into a popular intifada and stopped the armed activity, but we didn't, because we don't have the courage, as a leadership, to do so."

Dahlan also criticized the "extremism" of the Palestinian political position, noting by contrast that prime minister David Ben-Gurion had accepted UN Resolution 181 in 1947, even though it did not include the Old City of Jerusalem within the boundaries of the Jewish state.

Analysis: `The Americans won' (Danny Rubinstein, 4/24/03, Ha'aretz)
An East Jerusalem journalist, asked last night who won, replied: "Neither Arafat nor Abu Mazen. The Americans won."

It's very possible that answer is an accurate reflection of Palestinian public opinion, which did not seem bothered by the struggle of the titans, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), at the top over the past few weeks.

The Palestinian street witnessed powerful international forces, led by the United States, using enormous pressure to see Abu Mazen made prime minister, with Mohammed Dahlan in charge of security. The Americans brought in the Europeans and their loyalists in the Arab world for the purpose, headed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has a lot of influence over Arafat and his people, and they managed to dictate the composition of the government to the Palestinians.

Abbas's burden of proof (Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post)
There was a distinct feeling of deja vu from 1994 in the air this week. Back then, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak saved the international community from embarrassment by physically forcing Yasser Arafat to sign the Gaza-Jericho agreement on live television. This week, Mubarak sent the commander of his intelligence service to repeat the performance. General Omar Sulieman came to Ramallah on Tuesday and literally forced Arafat to meet with his deputy, Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, and accept Abbas's cabinet.

As in 1994, the US and Europe heaved a collective sigh of relief at Egypt's manhandling of Arafat. The question is whether Arafat's seeming capitulation now will prove as fraudulent as his behavior then.

When last June US President George W. Bush called on the Palestinian people to reject the regime of PLO chief Arafat and to elect leaders "not compromised by terror," he underscored the necessity of a complete overhaul of the way the Palestinians perceive their national identity. No longer could the Palestinians conceive of their nationalism as something that must necessarily supplant Jewish nationalism in order to reach fruition. Rather, a new group of leaders was called on to rise up who would understand that the realization of Palestinian aspirations can come about only after the Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist as the Jewish state.

Today, responding to British pressure, the Bush administration stands poised to preside over new talks between the Israeli government and the PLO under the nascent leadership of Abbas, Arafat's deputy of four decades. The announced aim of these talks is the speedy establishment of a Palestinian state.

But before any such talks begin it is vital that all concerned parties, but especially Israel, pause a moment and consider the reason for Oslo's abject failure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 PM

FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA

GOP plans to make New York Bush country (AP, April 27, 2003)
County, state and national Republican leaders this weekend sought to secure wins for the next GOP candidates for president, U.S. Senate and governor in part by reaching out to women candidates and minority voters.

Along the way, some of New York's rising Republican stars often named among contenders for statewide office in the Democrat-dominated state networked with county party leaders, a critical step for party endorsement. The closed-door Republican conference in Cooperstown Saturday and Sunday was also a strategy session on how to give New York's important 29 electoral votes usually a slam dunk for Democrats to Republican President Bush in his likely re-election campaign next year.

``I know that President Bush is going to win our state next year,'' state Republican Chairman Alexander Treadwell said Sunday. ``He'll be the first Republican presidential candidate to carry New York since Ronald Reagan did it twice.''

Treadwell introduced the Republican rising stars invited to the conference: state Sen. Michael Balboni of Long Island, state Secretary of State Randy Daniels, Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, state Sen. Raymond Meier of Oneida County, and U.S. Rep. John Sweeney. They met with county leaders during a reception at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown.

Last week the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found Bush's approval rating among New Yorkers rising to 58 percent from 50 percent in February before the war in Iraq. About 91 percent of Republicans polled approved of Bush, along with 38 percent of the Democrats. At the same time, however, Republican Gov. George Pataki's approval ratings sunk to the lowest in seven years, dragged down by another late state budget.

The party plans to stump for Bush in part from two substantial bully pulpits: the governor's office and the New York City mayor's office, each held for the last three terms by Republicans.

Just keep NY and CA in play and they'll suck down all of John Kerry's resources, even if he runs on his wife's dime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM

IS IT MORNING IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

Democracy in Iraq will benefit the entire region: analyst (Islamic Republic News Agency, April 27, 2003)
"The present circumstances in Iraq creates a historic opportunity for bilateral Iran-Iraq legal ties to be reviewed and reiterated upon," said As'ad Ardalan, an expert in international law who spoke here concerning the legal aspects of the war in Iraq.

In an exclusive interview with `Iran News' published Sunday, Ardalan said: "We should do our utmost to receive the just compensation our country is owed by Iraq as a result of the brutal aggression suffered by this nation in the hands of Saddam Hussein."

Now that the war is over, he said Iran can play an important role in Iraq's reconstruction. Iran would clearly benefit from a democratic, peaceful and secure neighbor such as Iraq, he added.

"Iraq will forever be our neighbor and should try to develop amicable relations with that country," he said.

He maintained that a long-term military administration of Iraq by the US is highly unlikely, adding that the aim of General Jay Garner's administration is to increase pressure on Iraqi forces opposed to Saddam to quickly form a new government that is in line with American interests.

Ardalan further said that the immediate objectives of any US-installed interim administration in Iraq would be the deBaathification of Iraq, the arrest of Saddam's henchmen, signing of lucrative reconstruction and oil contracts with powerful US firms without resort to international tenders and, last but not least, trying to frighten Iraq's neighbors by flexing the American military towards the neighborhood.

On the anti-American protests in Iraq over the past few days, the jurist said: "I doubt very much that these protests will result in a crisis between the Iraqi nation and the US. Moreover, the Bush administration is weary of confrontation with the people of that country since such a development would give ammunition to certain groups and organizations to take advantage of the situation. If such incidents persist, Iraq is sure to become an unstable and insecure place for the Americans."

This could all be coincidence, but it does seem like there's more sensible commentary coming from the Middle East the past couple weeks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 PM

NOW COMES THE HARD PART

Better a Jew: For the growing minority of non-Jews living in Israel, a sense of belonging can be impossible to achieve. (Nicky Blackburn, 4/21/03, Ha'aretz)
[I]srael must face facts. Today there is a growing minority of non-Jews who live within the Israeli community. We are full members of this society and yet we are still denied some very basic human rights. My two sons, for instance, can serve in the army, they can pay taxes, but they cannot marry here, nor can they be buried alongside Jewish friends or partners. Like me, they will spend their lives listening to constant sniping remarks by politicians and officials who feel they are second class citizens, the dirty water that slipped in on a wave of immigration. They too may have to listen to jokes about goys, sarcastic comments about their parental heritage, and have doubts raised about their Israeli identity.

This, however, is a mistake. Today there are 50,000 Russian immigrants living in Israel who identify themselves as Christian, and another 270,000 who are not Jewish according to halakha. While some of them have given up and left Israel, in a few cases even seeking asylum in England on the grounds of religious persecution, the rest are here to stay. Israel must make a decision. Does it want yet another alienated minority, or does it want full citizens who feel a real bond to their country?

In the wake of all this, it is hard to understand why the Orthodox community is so determined to make conversion such an unpleasant process. Every year thousands apply to convert, but only a small number make it through. Assimilation today is a major problem for diaspora Jews. Experts are beginning to realize that it is also a growing problem within Israel. At a recent conference, Dr. Asher Cohen, of Bar-Ilan University's Institute for the Study of Assimilation, reported that the present rate of intermarriage in Israel stands at 10 percent, and is rising. Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, head of the Kibbutz Hadati Yeshiva, also told participants that rabbis who ease the conversion process and promote mass conversion, are actually preserving Judaism.

Instead of welcoming new converts, however, Judaism shows them its worst face. Potential converts are too often met with narrow-mindedness, corruption, and distrust. While some people undertake conversion with a full heart, many others view it as a game in which you cheat and lie to win.

Had I been met with understanding, then perhaps I would be Jewish now, and so would my two children. For Israel, it was a missed opportunity. Instead of teaching me to respect the religion, I learned instead to despise its protagonists. My children are growing up as Israelis. Their overwhelming identification is as Jews. But they also celebrate Christmas and Easter. If they ever decide they want to convert, I will support them, but there's no doubt my experiences will shape what I tell them about the Orthodox religion.

Today, I have no real idea of what it will mean to bring up two non-Jewish children in Israel. Perhaps as they get older they will be bullied by classmates, perhaps they will be accepted unquestioningly, perhaps they will feel they do not belong. Much depends on where we live and where they go to school. Much also depends on how Israel develops once the war with the Palestinians is finally concluded.

In the last few years, I have noticed a change in Israel's character, a growing maturity and tolerance within the secular population. Israelis today are more willing to accept people who are different. Certainly things for me have changed. I now have a warm relationship with my parents-in-law, whom I love dearly, and people rarely ask if I'm Jewish.

Despite that, however, I still feel like an outsider. At Christmas I bring out my tree and decorate the house, but inside I feel it's almost an act of defiance. A few years ago, a co-worker arrived in the office fuming because hotels in Jerusalem had put up Christmas trees. I told her that I put up a tree every year. "Well I hope you shut your curtains," she said bitterly. "It's not right that people in your neighborhood should have to see it. When you live here you should respect our beliefs." I was deeply distressed by her prejudice, but the awful truth is that I really have begun to feel that my religion should be hidden away behind curtains.

Just a few weeks ago I had another reminder. I was writing an article on Tekes, a new alternative Israeli organization set up to provide secular ceremonies for Jews who cannot, or do not want to, undergo an Orthodox ceremony. I suggested to the founder that I might also write up the article for a newspaper here. He hesitated for a few moments, and then said: "No offense, but I think it would be better if a Jew wrote the story."
It's been common in recent months to talk about how defeating Saddam is the easy part, building a healthy civil society in Iraq the hard part. This, as we've mentioned, seems idiotic to us: the years of Saddam's repression and the killing we've wreaked and sustained in twelve years of war in Iraq have been more difficult for all than even the messiest peace will be.

So our headline above is not meant seriously, obviously the bloody years of war and terror that precede Israel achieving some kind of modus vivendi with its Arab neighbors and most particularly the Palestinians have been harder than what will follow. Yet, we'd do well not to underestimate just how hard Israel's immediate future, after the peace, will be. To some significant extent it has not mattered up until now exactly what the relation of Judaism was to the state of Israel. Israelis were being blown up because they were Jews and citizens of the "Jewish state". Like all societies under attack, Israel experienced an artificial cohesion as people banded together to resist the violence being directed at them. The phenomenon of unity governments, combining Right and Left in one cabinet, is just one example of how contradictory forces ended up tethered to one another.

Mostly deferred, or at least minimized, have been questions like: what is the purpose of Israel? who is an Israeli? who is a Jew? etc. Now though, as external threats become less frightening, the internal threats will come to the fore. And they are far greater threats to Israel's existence in the long term than terrorism and war ever were, though thankfully less violent. They include: a declining birth rate that raises the specter of Judaism disappearing because Jews themselves will have all but ceased to exist; along with this decline in the real numbers of Jews comes the problem of whether a state where Jews are outnumbered can be said to be a Jewish state and whether the non-Jewish majority will be willing to preserve a special role for Judaism in the life of the nation; the rise of the secularist Shinui Party, ethnically Jews, if not necessarily faithful, and opposed to any official role for Judaism in the state; and a whole series of similar intractable issues. If demographics is destiny and secularization an inevitable function of modern democracy, the state of Israel as we've come to know and love it may well be doomed, regardless of any peace deal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM

KNOWING WHICH SIDE YOUR BREAD IS BUTTERED ON

Nervous Arab allies 'secretly backed American war effort' (David Rennie, 28/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Some of America's prickliest Arab allies, notably Saudi Arabia, gave much more support for the war in Iraq than was admitted in public, it was disclosed yesterday.

Officially Saudi rulers merely permitted the US air force to use a command and control centre at Prince Sultan air base and allowed American aircraft
to enforce the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq. In reality, official sources told the Washington Post, at least 10,000 US troops passed through Saudi Arabia.

US special forces, ostensibly on standby for search-and-rescue operations, were allowed to cross from northern Saudi Arabia into western Iraq, where they seized airfields and prevented any Iraqi missile attacks on Israel.

Planes officially enforcing the no-fly zones carried out extensive attacks on air defence systems and Riyadh allowed overflights by fighter planes and cruise missiles from warships in the Gulf and Red Sea.

Which is why the Bushes tend not to get to worked up when everyone is screaming about the Sa'uds. Whatever else may be true about them--and Wahabbism is obviously a major problem--they've been a better ally than France or Germany. Recall that France denied us overflight rights when we bombed Libya in the '80s.

MORE:
French helped Iraq to stifle dissent (Alex Spillius and Andrew Sparrow, 28/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
France colluded with the Iraqi secret service to undermine a Paris conference held by the prominent human rights group Indict, according to documents found in the foreign ministry in Baghdad.

Various documents state that the Iraqis believed the French were doing their utmost to prevent the meeting from going ahead.

Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who chairs Indict, said last night that she would be demanding an apology from the French government for its behaviour, which she described as "atrocious".

The files, retrieved from the looted and burned foreign ministry by The Telegraph last week, detail the warmth and strength of Iraqi-French ties.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:49 PM

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY'S OVER

Bush's Leadership Pinnacle (David S. Broder, April 27, 2003, Washington Post)
At a midweek news briefing, Sen. Ted Kennedy was doing what he does so well -- laying out the Democratic case on domestic policy, preparing the ground for the debates that will resume now that Congress is back from its Easter recess.

His staff had positioned a chart highlighting the economic problems that Kennedy says have piled up during President Bush's tenure: "2.5 million fewer private-sector jobs; long-term unemployment up by 184 percent; over 2 million more Americans without health insurance . . . retirement savings eroded . . . consumer confidence down . . . a projected $5.6 trillion federal surplus turned into a $4 trillion deficit."

It looked like a script for a TV ad in the 2004 campaign -- good, red-meat stuff, hitting Bush on the economy -- the same kind of attack that sank the president's father in 1992.

In the subsequent question-and-answer session, Kennedy -- who strenuously opposed the United States' taking military action against Iraq -- was asked what he thought now that Saddam Hussein's regime had been routed. "I commend the president on his leadership," he said, "and the men and women of the armed forces."

In that moment, I thought I saw the problem the Democrats face in trying to defeat this President Bush. No one, not even the most partisan of politicians, thinks it prudent to challenge Bush on his strong suit -- leadership.

The reason is obvious. A mid-April poll by Public Opinion Strategies, a respected Republican firm, gave Bush a 68 percent approval score -- 9 points higher than he enjoyed last October, on the eve of the Republicans' midterm election victory. Particularly notable, pollster Bill McInturff told me, were the reasons people gave for their support.

Only 4 percent of those approving said it was because of Bush's economic policies. Only 13 percent said it was because he had prevented additional attacks. Even though the poll was taken days after the fall of Baghdad, only 23 percent said it was because of his direction of the war. Fully 52 percent said they approved because of "his general personal strength and sense of leadership."

McInturff told me that he was not surprised. For 18 months, "when you ask people why they support him, they go right past specific policies and focus on those leadership qualities."

It is not just partisan Republicans who make this point. In an early April Gallup-CNN-USA Today poll, 80 percent of those surveyed said they agreed with the statement that Bush "is a strong and decisive leader" -- an all-time high in that survey's measure of this trait.

The normally dispassionate and relatively non-partisan Mr. Broder has been fairly critical of President Bush in his column, so it's all the more surprising to see him in this essay not only compare Mr. Bush to Ronald Reagan but essentially declare the 2004 campaign to be unwinnable for the Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:15 PM

CUBA, THEN CHINA, NOW THIS...

Leading Iraqi Scientist Says He Lied to U.N. Inspectors (JUDITH MILLER, 4/27/03, NY Times)
Nissar Hindawi, a leading figure in Iraq's biological warfare program in the 1980's, says the stories and explanations he and other scientists told the United Nations about the extent of Iraq's efforts to produce poisons and germ weapons "were all lies."

Dr. Hindawi, imprisoned during the final weeks of Saddam Hussein's rule, is now free to talk about his experiences in the program, in which he says he was forced to work from 1986 to 1989 and again sporadically until the mid-1990's. [...]

Dr. Hindawi, 61, is now in the protective custody of the Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi. [...]

Some inspectors remain skeptical about whether Dr. Hindawi was really an unwilling participant in the program.

He returned to the program in a different capacity in 1992, when international inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission, or Unscom, were arriving to ensure that Iraqi officials were complying with their country's pledge to give up chemical, germ and nuclear weapons. He said military officials had asked him to tell inspectors that he was the head of a single-cell protein facility. The plant, in fact, had made botulinum toxin and anthrax.

He said he had had no choice but to lie, just as he had no choice but to work in the program. "It was that or else," he said.

What a couple weeks for the Left: first, Iraqis turn out not to want Saddam Hussein running their lives; then, Castro turns out to be a brutal dictator; then China covers up a global health crisis; now it turns out Saddam lied to the blessed UN.... What next: Gorbachev acknowledges he was trying to save, not shed, communism?; Arthur Schlessinger acknowledges the New Deal was a failure?; a posthumous book by Stephen Jay Gould admitting his profession was all part of an elaborate hoax?; Bill Clinton reveals he may have inhaled after all? How much, dear Lord, can one group of people be expected to take without breaking?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:56 PM

ISN'T THAT STRANGE? (via <~text text="H. D. Miller">

-QUESTIONS: Tom Wolfe: Following his participation in the TimesTalks series on March 8, the author answered NYTimes.com readers' questions. (NY Times, April 24, 2003)
Q. Sir, what do you think about the war in Iraq? Is it a justified war?

A. I have trusted all American presidents in my lifetime (starting with Roosevelt) not to send men into battle for cynical or meretricious reasons. Whether this war is justified or not will be, in my mind, a matter of its practical results.

Perhaps it's just a function of the excessive patriotism of conservatives, but, even though some of the most loathsome men ever to be president (JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Clinton) have served in the past forty years, I'd have to agree with Mr. Wolfe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 PM

THE NEVER-ENDING CAMPAIGN

Bush May Be a Write-In On More Than One State Ballot (Brian Faler, April 27, 2003, Washington Post)
First came the news that officials in Alabama may have to put President Bush on the ballot as a write-in candidate. It turns out Alabama isn't the only state scrambling to figure out what it needs to do to ensure that the president's name will appear on the state ballot next year.

The GOP's unusually late nominating convention -- it does not begin until Aug. 30 -- is the problem. Bush is not scheduled to accept his party's nomination until Sept. 2, 2004. That falls after the deadline for certifying presidential candidates not only in Alabama, but also in California, the District of Columbia and West Virginia. There are bills in the Alabama legislature to move its deadline from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5. But if, for some reason, they don't pass, the president would be forced to run there as a write-in candidate.

In other states, along with the District, the situation is a bit more murky. The D.C. City Council will need to change its Sept. 1 deadline to accommodate the convention, said Alice Miller, executive director of the Board of Elections and Ethics. She declined to speculate on what might happen if that deadline isn't changed. Cindy Smith, an elections official in West Virginia, can probably sympathize. Her state requires candidates to file by Aug. 31. Smith said she does not know of any effort to move that deadline -- and is unsure of what might happen if the president misses it.

But the biggest question may be in California, where election officials plan to begin printing about 15 million ballots almost immediately after its Aug. 26 deadline -- and begin mailing its absentee ballots Sept. 3. A spokeswoman for the secretary of state said she did not know of any effort to move the deadline or how the state might accommodate the Republicans. "It's not clear at this point," Terri Carbaugh said. "It certainly poses a dilemma."

Given the sorry state of the Democratic Party, you have to figure they'll fight to keep the President off the ballot, especially in places like WV and CA, where that might make the difference.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

BOOKNOTES

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman (C-SPAN, April 27, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)

MORE:
-REVIEW: of Khrushchev, The Man and the Era. William Taubman (Strobe Talbott, LA Times)
-REVIEW: of Khrushchev (CHRIS PATSILELIS, Houston Chronicle)
-REVIEW: of Khrushchev (Robin Buss, Financial Times)
-REVIEW: of Khrushchev (Richard Overy, Daily Telegraph)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

LEAVE THE POOR KIDS ALONE

Kids who play by themselves learn to think for themselves: 'Privacy may play key role' (Anne Marie Owens, April 26, 2003, National Post)
Parents anxiously arranging play dates for their children and schools intent on building social skills might be better off leaving kids more time to play alone, according to new research.

Children develop critical thinking skills when they play on their own, says a study by a Nova Scotia researcher who specializes in what she calls "the forgotten play."

"Play in general is not valued enough, and there is a real stigma to solitary play," says Bronwen Lloyd, whose findings on the cognitive merits of solitary play have just been published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

"Parents are bombarded with so much information about what it takes to stimulate their children: They have a play date here, a ballet lesson there, and so on ... In today's fast-paced world, young children also need a time and a place for independent play and solitary endeavours."

Ms. Lloyd observed the play habits of 4- and 5-year-olds in organized child care programs in Halifax and found that functional play, such as climbing and running, and constructive play, such as painting and puzzle-making, were both strongly associated with cognitive thinking skills.

The findings run counter to the traditional notion that active solitary play in particular detracts from cognitive processing and contributes to anti-social behaviour.

We're all familiar with those miserable kids who get rushed from one structured activity to the next, just so their parents can imagine that they've filled the day with stimulating activity. Meanwhile, their children have all the spontaneity of house plants and can never be more than six feet from an adult. You wonder what they think kids did before there were soccer leagues.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 AM

IF IT WAS A PRIZE FIGHT, THEY'D STOP IT

He's Out With the In Crowd (MAUREEN DOWD, April 27, 2003, NY Times)
Washington has a history of nasty rivalries, with competing camps. There were Aaron Burr people and Alexander Hamilton people; Lincoln people and McClellan people; Bobby people and Lyndon people.

Now, since Newt Gingrich aimed the MOAB of screeds at an already circumscribed Mr. Powell, the capital has been convulsed by the face-off between Defense and State.

There are Rummy people: Mr. Cheney, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith, Bill Kristol, William Safire, Ariel Sharon, Fox News, National Review, The Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, the fedayeen of the Defense Policy Board - Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Mr. Gingrich, Ken Adelman - and the fifth column at State, John Bolton and Liz Cheney.

And there are Powell people: Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, Bush 41, Ken Duberstein, Richard Armitage, Richard Haass, the Foreign Service, Joe Biden, Bob Woodward, the wet media elite, the planet.

Setting aside for the moment the hawkishness of Mr. Powell and Mr. Armitage themselves, one needn't be a hawk to recognize that these sides are awfully unevenly matched in intellectual terms. It is, in effect, a battle of the bright (with the exception of Mr. Gingrich) vs. the bureaucrats. That's not necessarily a good thing for the Right or for the nation--intellectuals are a dangerous bunch, regardless of their political orientation--but it is conspicuous.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM

WALLY WORLD

To Worship Freely, Americans Need a Little Elbow Room: Most religious organizations recognize that religious freedom depends entirely on maintaining the constitutional separation between church and state. (Brent Staples, 4/27/03, NY Times)
The Bush administration encountered a backlash earlier this month when Secretary of Education Rod Paige was quoted in The Baptist Press news service as saying that he would prefer to have a child in a Christian school, partly because the value system was set. Mr. Paige said that there were too many different values in the public schools to easily arrive at a value consensus.

Mr. Paige was criticized for seeming to diminish the public schools that he is charged with improving. But the problem is that his remarks seemed to attribute moral superiority to Christian schools in a religiously diverse society that includes millions of non-Christians.

Religious chauvinism is clearly driving policies at the Department of Education, which has seemed fixated on religion under Mr. Paige's tenure and seems to believe that the schools would be fine if only students were exposed to more religion and more prayer.

Even more troubling is the Bush administration's battle to create "faith-based" initiatives, which could potentially open a direct line of funding to church-related social programs--while allowing those organizations to proselytize with federal dollars. Congress, particularly the Senate, seems worried about how all this could violate the First Amendment. But the president's indifference to the church-state barrier is especially perplexing at a time when this country faces grave peril from religious fundamentalists abroad who aspire to theocracy.

We're agnostic on the question of whether folks like Mr. Staples do this intentionally, but certain that his statements here advocate a dangerous and a destructive version of tolerance. Genuine tolerance does not require that we engage in the absurd practice of pretending that public schools, which are for good reason barred from teaching any religion, provide an education that is morally equivalent to private schools that offer instruction in Judeo-Christian morality. Nor need we kid ourselves that entirely secular government programs are as effective in dealing with social problems--particularly those like addiction--as are faith-based programs. This kind of "tolerance", which supposes that religion must be entirely banned from the state, lest someone take offense, and which cloaks itself in due regard for all religions, does not in fact reflect any respect for religion at all. Instead it displaces the centrality of religion and morality in the life of the nation and then fills the gaps with more and more of the State. It is nothing more, in practice, than a bid for power, and, as we've seen over the last seventy years, quite a successful one at that.

Authentic tolerance is much different. It allows us to state the obvious: that, as moral education (in our society) requires a grounding in Judeo-Christianity and as religious faith has proved an important component of dealing with various social pathologies, we will endeavor to provide these things to those who are open to them, but, to those who are not we will not deny social services or an education and we will listen and learn from their differing views. This form of toleration allows us to vindicate and preserve our culture without disrespecting the culture of others. In so doing, it treats religious ideas with the seriousness they deserve and recognizes that religion is not a threat to freedom, but one of its foundations, a check and balance to the State.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 AM

REVERSE IMPERIALISM

The Empire Slinks Back (NIALL FERGUSON, April 27, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
The imperial impulse arose from a complex of emotions: racial superiority, yes, but also evangelical zeal; profit, perhaps, but also a sincere belief that spreading ''commerce, Christianity and civilization'' was not just in Britain's interest but in the interests of her colonial subjects too.

The contrast with today's ''wannabe'' imperialists in the United States -- call them ''nation-builders'' if you prefer euphemism -- could scarcely be more stark. Five points stand out.

First, not only do the overwhelming majority of Americans have no desire to leave the United States; millions of non-Americans are also eager to join them here. Unlike the United Kingdom a century ago, the United States is an importer of people, with a net immigration rate of 3.5 per 1,000 and a total foreign-born population of 32.5 million (more than 1 in 10 residents of the United States).

Second, when Americans do opt to reside abroad, they tend to stick to the developed world. As of 1999, there were an estimated 3.8 million Americans living abroad. That sounds like a lot. But it is a little more than a tenth the number of the foreign-born population in the United States. And of these expat Americans, almost three-quarters were living in the two other Nafta countries (more than one million in Mexico, 687,700 in Canada) or in Europe (just over a million). Of the 294,000 living in the Middle East, nearly two-thirds were in Israel. A mere 37,500 were in Africa.

Third, whereas British imperial forces were mostly based abroad, most of the American military is normally stationed at home. Even the B-2 Stealth bombers that pounded Serbia into quitting Kosovo in 1999 were flying out of Knob Noster, Mo. And it's worth remembering that 40 percent of American overseas military personnel are located in Western Europe, no fewer than 71,000 of them in Germany. Thus, whereas the British delighted in building barracks in hostile territories precisely in order to subjugate them, Americans today locate a quarter of their overseas troops in what is arguably the world's most pacifist country.

Fourth, when Americans do live abroad they generally don't stay long and don't integrate much, preferring to inhabit Mini Me versions of America, ranging from military bases to five-star ''international'' (read: American) hotels. When I visited Lakenheath air base last year, one minute I was in the middle of rural Cambridgeshire, flat and ineffably English, the next minute, as I passed through the main gate, everything -- right down to the absurdly large soft-drink dispensers -- was unmistakably American.

The fifth and final contrast with the British experience is perhaps the most telling. It is the fact that the products of America's elite educational institutions are the people least likely to head overseas, other than on flying visits and holidays. The Americans who serve the longest tours of duty are the volunteer soldiers, a substantial proportion of whom are African-Americans (12.9 per cent of the population, 25.4 per cent of the Army Reserve). It's just possible that African-Americans will turn out to be the Celts of the American empire, driven overseas by the comparatively poor opportunities at home.

Indeed, if the occupation of Iraq is to be run by the military, then it can hardly fail to create career opportunities for the growing number of African-American officers in the Army. The military's most effective press spokesman during the war, Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, exemplifies the type.

The British, however, were always wary about giving the military too much power in their imperial administration. Their parliamentarians had read enough Roman history to want to keep generals subordinate to civilian governors. The ''brass hats'' were there to inflict the Victorian equivalent of ''shock and awe'' whenever the ''natives'' grew restive. Otherwise, colonial government was a matter for Oxbridge-educated, frock-coated mandarins.

Now, ask yourself in light of this: how many members of Harvard's or Yale's class of 2003 are seriously considering a career in the postwar administration of Iraq? The number is unlikely to be very high. In 1998/99 there were 47,689 undergraduate course registrations at Yale, of which just 335 (less than 1 percent) were for courses in Near Eastern languages and civilizations. There was just one, lone undergraduate senior majoring in the subject (compared with 17 doing film studies). If Samuel Huntington is right and we are witnessing a ''clash of civilizations,'' America's brightest students show remarkably little interest in the civilization of the other side.

We're as much Anglo-philes and fans of the British Empire as anyone, but Mr. Ferguson embarrasses himself here by ignoring the most obvious point: the best and brightest left Britain to colonize elsewhere because there were few opportunities for them in their tiny, class-bound homeland, while America is effectively a reverse Empire, not only keeping its own but attracting the best and brightest of the very nations that Britain once governed and, in large part, of Britain itself (like Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens). Four hundred years ago, if you were a younger son or a Dissenter or what have you, living in Britain, and you wished to make your way in the world, you came to America. But, if you are an American, regardless of your birth status or your ideas, where would you go today to find greater opportunity and freedom than America?

No, America will not don the mantle of Empire, because there is nothing out there for us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:42 AM

PITY WE LOST EUROPE

How the West Can Be One (TIMOTHY GARTON ASH, April 27, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
Americans and Europeans have an overwhelming common interest in seeing democracy, peace and prosperity spread through the Middle East -- not least, so that Israel is one day physically connected to the West by a patchwork of Islamic or post-Islamic democracies. This means handing back Iraq as soon as possible to the Iraqis and supporting their federal or confederal democracy. Then, and urgently, it means trying to make progress toward secure, viable states of both Israel and Palestine. One unintended consequence of the war on Iraq is that this can no longer wait. The Palestinian question is now, for the Arab and Muslim world -- and for many Europeans -- the litmus test of whether the Bush administration means what it says about liberating and democratizing the Middle East rather than occupying and colonizing it. [...]

At the moment, Europeans and Americans don't even see the threat the same way. During the cold war, Berlin always felt itself to be more directly threatened than New York; now it's the other way round. I have no doubt that the collapse of the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, was the true beginning of the 21st century. The combination of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, whether by rogue states or rogue groups, is one of the greatest new dangers to all free countries. Americans have woken up -- been woken up -- to this in a way that most Europeans have not. Europe has not yet had its 9/11. There is both hypocrisy and an ostrichlike head-in-the-sand quality about much European discussion, or nondiscussion, of these issues. Tony Blair is the exception who proves the rule. Criticizing America, Europeans sometimes are, as Kipling famously put it, ''makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep.''

However, it is not simply that Europeans feel less threatened by Islamic extremism; in other ways, we feel more so. There are now at least 10 million Muslim immigrants living in the European Union, not to mention the more than 5 million who have lived elsewhere in Europe for centuries in places like Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo. European fears that this Muslim population could be radicalized by events in the Middle East are neither unfounded nor ignoble. Over the next decade, Europe will probably take in another 10 million Muslims, plus at least another 60 million if the E.U. delivers on its promise to include Turkey, which the United States has been urging us to do. As the native European population ages, we could soon find that 1 in every 10 Europeans is a Muslim. It is our elemental concern that peaceful, law-abiding Muslims should feel at home in Europe, and in the West more broadly.

Please remember that the democratic politics of Europe have been rocked over the last few years by populist parties that won a large share of the vote essentially on one issue: hostility to immigration. In Europe today that means, especially, Muslim immigration: Moroccans in Spain, Algerians in France, Turks in Germany, Pakistanis in Britain. (I have just bought my newspaper from a Muslim news agent, picked up my cleaning from a Muslim cleaner and collected my prescription from a Muslim pharmacist, all in leafy North Oxford.)

America is much better than Europe at making immigrants of all creeds and colors feel at home. Obviously, it helps that almost everyone in the U.S. is an immigrant or the descendant of immigrants. America also has a capacious, civic national identity, whereas Europe has a patchwork of exclusive, ethnic national identities. Have you ever met anyone who identified himself or herself as a ''Muslim European''? It actually seems easier for religious Muslims to integrate into a religious but pluralist society like the United States than it is for them to integrate into the very secular societies of Europe. So here we can learn from you. [...]

Europeans also tend to have a different analysis of the threat, one that pays more attention to the political causes of Islamist terror and, in particular, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestine is the great symbolic cause of the Arab-Muslim world, repeatedly embraced by Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the whole Arab League and the ''Arab street'' -- hypocritically, perhaps, but nonetheless effectively. Many Europeans feel that giving the Palestinians a viable state could be a bigger contribution to winning the war against terrorism than deposing Saddam Hussein. In this respect, Tony Blair is very much a European. He has extracted from Washington a commitment to revive the ''road map'' for the peace process between Israel and Palestine. I was deeply depressed the other day to hear from a well-placed American political insider, a Democrat, that no real progress on the issue can be expected until after the November 2004 presidential elections. The Bush administration now has to prove him wrong. Perhaps if Bush had not started the war against Iraq, Palestine might just have waited that long; but he did, and so it can't.

At this point, I should mention a charge made by some conservative commentators in the United States. This is that European support for a viable Palestinian state reflects hostility to a viable Israeli state, which in turn reflects Europe's ancestral, almost genetic anti-Semitism. Vicious attacks on synagogues and individual Jews in European cities are rolled into one poisonous European ball with reasoned criticism of both the Sharon government and the Bush administration's outspoken support for it. For a European to criticize Sharon is for him or her to be an anti-Semite. ''What we are seeing,'' wrote Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post last April, ''is pent-up anti-Semitism, the release -- with Israel as the trigger -- of a millennium-old urge that powerfully infected and shaped European history.'' He continued, ''What so offends Europeans is the armed Jew, the Jew who refuses to sustain seven suicide bombings in the seven days of Passover and strikes back.'' It's ''those people'' again, the Europeans.

I have no doubt that there is still anti-Semitism in Europe today. Broadly speaking, it's of three kinds. There's the virulent anti-Semitism of some Arabs living in Europe, a minority within that minority; there's the very nasty anti-Semitism of the old and new far right in some European countries; and there's the residual, mainly verbal anti-Semitism of parts of the wider population. Yet there are also many, many Europeans who are pro-Palestinian without being anti-Israeli, let alone anti-Semitic. Some of them take a grimly realistic view of Yasir Arafat and his weak, corrupt Palestinian Authority.

To tar such reasoned European critics of the policies of Ariel Sharon with blanket charges of anti-Semitism is offensive -- especially to those of us, Jewish or not, for whom the Holocaust remains central to our whole understanding of liberal politics. In particular, many of us understand the whole European project embodied in the European Union as being, at its deepest core, about the post-Holocaust ''never again.'' [...]

A more united Europe and a less arrogant United States should work together with all the peoples of the Middle East to do for them what we did with and for the peoples of Middle Europe during the cold war. This can be our trans-Atlantic project for the next generation. Here's how we put the West together again.

Shall we talk about it?

As a threshold matter, it seems odd that the only group devoid of anti-Semitism in Mr. Garton Ash's formulation, is the Left, which, as any even casual reading will tell you, is the most virulently anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian segment of European-American intellectual opinion. Anti-Zionism may not make you anti-Semitic, but the difference is not unlike saying that being pro-Jim Crow, for cultural reasons, doesn't make you a racist personally. If the effects of your politics are to fan flames of hatred, you have to take some responsibility for that fires that break out, don't you?

But, on the broader issues raised, isn't the question really whether Europe itself will remain democratic and (relatively) prosperous? As he himself notes, either explicitly or implicitly, Europe faces the following problems: declining population; the post-Christian cultural morass; increasing Islamification; hatred of Muslims (and Jews) by "Europeans"; inadequate military spending; etc. Never mind the Middle East, for now, unless we've all given up on the future of Europe (which I have but others seem not have, as yet) isn't this generation's most important Trans-Atlantic project to save Europe itself?

This "project", by the way, is as daunting as the one that faces us in the Middle East and is just as uncertain as to outcome. Consider what will have to done if Europe is to be restored to health: religious/moral revival; boosting of fertility rates, including severe limitations on abortion; privatization of the massive Social Welfare States; abandonment of the EU as a governing structure and its reduction to a trade coalition, similar to and integrated with NAFTA; integration and Westernization of internal Muslim communities; and so forth. Until this process is well underway, it seems a little precipitous for Europeans to be worrying about their relations with the U.S. or the problems of Palestine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 AM

NOW REPLACING MARTHA BURK--THE LOOTING MEME

And Now: 'Operation Iraqi Looting': It's hard to know the extent of the looting of Iraq's art and antiquities, but it's easy to see how little America's leaders cared. (Frank Rich, 4/27/03, NY Times)
There is much we don't know about what happened this month at the Baghdad museum, at its National Library and archives, at the Mosul museum and the rest of that country's gutted cultural institutions. Is it merely the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years, as Paul Zimansky, a Boston University archaeologist, put it? Or should we listen to Eleanor Robson, of All Souls College, Oxford, who said, "You'd have to go back centuries, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, to find looting on this scale"? Nor do we know who did it. Was this a final act of national rape by Saddam loyalists? Was it what Philippe de Montebello, of the Metropolitan Museum, calls the "pure Hollywood" scenario--a clever scheme commissioned in advance by shadowy international art thieves? Was it simple opportunism by an unhinged mob? Or some combination thereof?

Whatever the answers to those questions, none of them can mitigate the pieces of the damning jigsaw puzzle that have emerged with absolute certainty. The Pentagon was repeatedly warned of the possibility of this catastrophe in advance of the war, and some of its officials were on the case. But at the highest levels at the White House, the Pentagon and central command--where the real clout is--no one cared. Just how little they cared was given away by our leaders' own self-incriminating statements after disaster struck. Rather than immediately admit to error or concede the gravity of what had happened on their watch, they all tried to trivialize the significance of the looting. Once that gambit failed, they tried to shirk any responsibility for it.

"What you are seeing is a reaction to oppression," said Ari Fleischer on April 11, arguing that looting, however deplorable, is a way station to "liberty and freedom." If only the Johnson administration had thought of this moral syllogism, it could have rationalized the urban riots that swept America after the assassination of Martin Luther King. "Stuff happens!" said Donald Rumsfeld, who likened the looting to the aftermath of soccer games and joked to the press that the scale of the crime was a trompe l'oeil effect foisted by a TV loop showing "over and over and over . . . the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase." As Jane Waldbaum, president of the Archaeological Institute of America, summed up the defense secretary's response to the tragedy, he "basically shrugged and said, `Boys will be boys.' "

Yes, Mr. Rich, the disappearance of a few museum pieces while liberating a nation is a far greater cultural disaster than was the systematic extermination of shtetl Jewry...

April 26, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 PM

A WAR THAT ENDED BEFORE IT STARTED

Aziz admits Saddam may be dead (TOM CURTIS, 4/27/03, Scotland on Sunday)
FORMER Iraqi prime minister Tariq Aziz has told American intelligence officials that he has not seen Saddam Hussein since the first night of the war, it was claimed last night.

Aziz, who surrendered to US forces last week, has fuelled speculation that the Iraqi dictator was killed or seriously injured when the bunker in which he was hiding with his sons has hit by cruise missiles.

According to US intelligence sources, the 67-year-old has said he does not know whether Saddam is alive or dead.

However, he has told his captors he presumes the former Iraqi leader was incapacitated as he played no role in coordinating the defence of Baghdad.

The director of the CIA, George Tenet, has reportedly been saying he believes Saddam is dead after being briefed on Aziz?s testimony.

This has always seemed the most likely scenario.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 PM

VERBICIDAL TENDENCIES

Writing in Schools Is Found Both Dismal and Neglected (TAMAR LEWIN, April 26, 2003, NY Times)
Most fourth graders spend less than three hours a week writing, which is about 15 percent of the time they spend watching television. Seventy-five percent of high school seniors never get a writing assignment from their history or social studies teachers.

And in most high schools, the extended research paper, once a senior-year rite of passage, has been abandoned because teachers do not have time to grade it anymore.

Those are among the findings of a report issued yesterday by the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges, an 18-member panel of educators organized by the College Board.

The commission's report asserts that writing is among the most important skills students can learn, that it is the mechanism through which they learn to connect the dots in their knowledge--and that it is now woefully ignored in most American schools.

"Writing, always time-consuming for student and teacher, is today hard-pressed in the American classroom," the report said. "Of the three R's, writing is clearly the most neglected." [...]

The panel found that only about half of the nation's 12th graders report being regularly assigned papers of three or more pages in English class; about 4 in 10 say they never, or hardly ever, get such assignments. Part of the problem is that many high school teachers have 120 to 200 students, and so reading and grading even a weekly one-page paper per student would be a substantial task.

On the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam, only about one in four students in Grades 4, 8 or 12 scored at the proficient level in writing in 1998, the most recent such results available. And only one in a hundred was graded "advanced."

Further, a 2002 study of California college students found that most freshmen could not analyze arguments, synthesize information or write papers that were reasonably free of language errors.

Sure, public education is mass producing ignorant students, but, on the bright side: the schools are religion-free and we're protecting sweetheart jobs for the NEA and ATF. And, at the end of the day, what matters more the future of the kids or the ideology of the Left?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 PM

COMING SOON ON E-BAY

Animal Rights Leader Wants to Be Barbecued (Francois Murphy, Apr 25, 2003, Reuters)
The leader of a prominent U.S.-based animal rights group said she had drawn up a will directing that her flesh be barbecued and her skin used to make leather products in protest at man's ill-treatment of animals.

Ingrid Newkirk, 53, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said on Thursday she had chosen to donate her body to her organization for use in a variety of startling protests.

Newkirk also suggested her feet be removed and made into umbrella stands similar to those made from elephant feet that she had seen as a child.

"I want to find ways to have my work live on when I'm gone and this has been my first idea. I will make a stir when I am long in the ground," Newkirk told Reuters.

One problem with being a fanatic is that, believing your insane views to be common sensical, sooner or later you slip up and say what you mean. Here we see, accidentally displayed, the truth that PETA has nothing to do with love of animals, but is instead premised on a hatred of humanity generally, and most especially of oneself. Sadly for Ms Newkirk (a new church indeed), her desire to debase herself down to animal status will not actually make her an animal. On the other hand, she could hardly be more anti-human, so perhaps she's accomplished something in her own twisted mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 PM

LONGING FOR TOJO

Freedom, American-Style (The inherent clash between a democratic Iraq and U.S. policy begins to take shape (Roger Morris, April 23, 2003, LA Times)
Washington has rarely been adept, or candid, in fostering authentic democracy. Almost nowhere in half a century--from 1950s' CIA coups in Iran, Guatemala and Congo, among other places, to expeditions into the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere in the 1980s and 1990s--has regime change left a nation freer. Not even Germany and Japan.

Ah yes, the Third Reich was far freer than West Germany.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:18 PM

EURODISNEY

Thanks, Mr President: Bush's actions are helping Europe to fashion a new sense of identity (Jeremy Rifkin, April 26, 2003, The Guardian)
Love him or hate him, but at least acknowledge the fact that President Bush has a knack for bringing the most unlikely people together. Could anyone have imagined that Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims - historic foes for centuries - would unite in a Baghdad mosque to oppose US occupation of their land and vow to work hand in hand to remove the infidels from their ancestral ground? Equally impressive, President Bush's Iraq policy has helped millions of Europeans, who often find themselves at odds with each other on the most banal considerations of life, to find their common identity in opposition to the war. [...]

What we are witnessing is historic. Europeans are finding their identity. That is not to say that the millions of people who are beginning to speak as one suddenly identify with the European Union. I doubt whether a single protester sees himself or herself, first and foremost, as a citizen of the EU. While Brussels is far from most people's minds, what unites Europeans is their repudiation of the geopolitics of the 20th century and their eagerness to embrace a new "biosphere politics" in the 21st century.

The telltale signs of the nascent identity are everywhere. Europeans are concerned over global warming and other environmental issues. They support the international criminal court to ensure universal human rights. They favour generous development assistance to the poor in the third world and they back the United Nations as the appropriate forum to settle disputes among nations.

A growing of number of Europeans see the US government openly opposing these things they so ardently care about. And even on what they regard as the most basic questions of morality, such as opposition to capital punishment, they feel that a chasm is growing between their views and the views across the Atlantic. The US refusal to sign the Kyoto accords, the biodiversity treaty and the amended biological weapons convention, its withdrawal from the anti-ballistic-missile treaty and now the US decision to bypass the UN security council and act virtually unilaterally in Iraq have convinced many Europeans that the US is hopelessly locked into a Hobbesian view of the world. Europeans, on the other hand, have had their fill of wars and centuries of conflict. They are in search of Immanuel Kant's vision of universal and perpetual peace, and increasingly they see US policies and objectives as an anathema to the forging of a truly global consciousness.

It is this kind of fundamental difference in perception that has led so many Europeans to conclude that their interests, hopes and vision for the future are diverging from their old friends in America in ways that may be irreparable by diplomacy alone.

Of course, while Europeans, especially the young, are pacifists and champion dialogue over confrontation, the fact is that were it not for the US willingness to maintain and employ military power around the world to keep the peace, warfare between feuding ethnic and political groups and sovereign states might long ago have turned the whole world into the perpetual Hobbesian nightmare so many Europeans loathe.

Mr. Rifkin manages not just to undercut but to totally eviscerate his entire column with the last paragraph quoted above. Just as any vacation comes to an end, so too the European vacation from reality seems unlikely to endure. Given that America's natural stance is isolationism and that we're fast approaching the day when our Welfare State will render us unable (unwilling) to defend ourselves, never mind Europe, they're in for a rude awakening in the not too distant future.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:04 PM

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

When Blair stood on the brink (Patrick Wintour, April 26, 2003,The Guardian)
Senior cabinet ministers at the centre of Tony Blair's war strategy were braced to quit along with the prime minister in the run-up to the Commons vote on Iraq, the Guardian can reveal.

Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, told the Guardian that he intended to resign if the vote went against the government. The home secretary, David Blunkett, also said that cabinet ministers close to Mr Blair would "go down with him". The prime minister revealed last week that he had told his family he might be forced to quit over Iraq.

In an interview with the Guardian as part of a special investigation into the build-up to war, Mr Blunkett recalled: "Everyone believed, in the run-up to that vote, that Tony had put his premiership on the line and those who are very close to him would go down with him. I thought it would be a hit on the government as a whole."

Mr Straw said: "The projected voting figures were very serious ... I knew there would be a point at which Tony would resign and I would resign as well. I told my wife I might well have to go over this. I think Tony assumed that I would go."

The revelations show how perilous the government's position became during the build-up to war. At one point, Labour whips told Mr Blair that up to 200 Labour MPs would vote against the government, and frantic last-minute efforts were made to persuade rebels back on side.

According to one cabinet source, the entire cabinet could technically have been forced to tender their resignation. "If the prime minister resigns, the whole government resigns. Everybody's portfolios and talents would be put into the hands of the new leader."

In the last desperate 24 hours before the vote, the government essentially ground to a halt as the energies of Mr Blair and other leading cabinet figures were devoted to winning over potential rebels.

Mr Straw recalled: "We used every argument, including telling them that this is no longer about what you say to your local paper, this is about whether you want to keep this government in business."

The defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, warned his US counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, about the possible consequences of the vote. He told the Guardian: "I had a long conversation with him, warning him that if the vote went wrong we might not be able to be there. I did not want him or anyone on the US side not to understand the significance of where we were on the importance of the parliamentary vote. The US came to understand it was about us gambling just about everything in getting this right."

He added: "If we had lost that vote, that would have been it."

Since for five years now we've been predicting that Tony Blair would intentionally break the Labour Party to establish a genuine third way in Britain, we find it damned annoying that the rest of the Party realized they're nothing without him. Oh well, maybe next war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 AM

PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE

With His Tax Cuts, Bush Pre-empts The Future (Jonathan Rauch, April 25, 2003, National Journal)
Pre-emption is the name of the Bush administration's game, not just abroad but at home. President Bush understands better than any president since Ronald Reagan that the chief executive's chief power is to set the agenda. Bush also understands that this power cannot be banked. Use it or lose it. So he uses it -- and how. Abroad, he launches a pre-emptive invasion. At home, he launches a pre-emptive tax cut.

With the invasion, Bush seeks to pre-empt Saddam Hussein's development of weapons of mass destruction. With the tax cut, he seeks to pre-empt -- well, there is a question. What, exactly, does the tax cut pre-empt? [...]

Congress is scaling back Bush's tax cut to perhaps half of his request. But Bush will almost certainly get a tax cut; the question is only how large. So completely has he dominated the agenda that he wins even if he loses. Maybe the agenda is what he really set out to pre-empt. If so, he has done as well in Washington as in Baghdad.

Bush's bold initiative in Iraq looks irresponsible to his critics because it takes great risks for uncertain benefits. His tax-cutting fits the same mold. There is, however, an important difference. The most destabilizing problem in the geopolitical world right now is the lack of democracy in the Arab world; liberating Iraq will almost by definition be a step in the right direction. The most destabilizing problem in the fiscal world is the high cost of paying pension and health care costs for Baby Boom retirees; cutting taxes, however, is almost by definition a step in the wrong direction. [...]

The first President Bush agreed to a tax increase that did more than any other single action to break the back of the federal deficit. But look what happened to him. His son, having learned that lesson, is a Time Bandit, encouraging rather than taming politicians' natural tendency to embezzle from the future.

This year's tax cut, assuming one passes, will be moderate in size, and considerably smaller than its 2001 predecessor. Its significance lies less in its scale than in its confirmation of Bush's determination to chart a new course for fiscal policy, one that would reduce federal taxes to pre-Clinton levels. Bush the gambler is betting that he will come out looking like President Reagan, whose deficits bought economic reforms and a stronger national defense.

Mr. Rauch's understanding of recent economic history is minimal--the entire cut in the deficit and the projected surplus was almost exclusively a function of the peace dividend, which saw Defense spending fall from 6% to 3% of GDP, a savings so huge that it made up for the deletirious effects of both the Bush I and Clinton tax bills--but his political sense is relatively astute. What George W. Bush actually did was to prevent what would otherwise have been a call for tax increases this year. He thereby avoided the fate of the last three presidents--yes, including Ronald Reagan, who made the horrible mistake of signing on to several tax hikes, as a result of his zeal for balanced budgets--all of whom suffered electoral defeats after hiking taxes. As Mr. Rauch correctly (almost) points out, the significance of this year's tax cut, regardless of its size, is that it is going to happen at all. This is a historic reversal in a time of growing deficits and an astonishing achievement for Mr. Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

COUNT US AMONG THE SNIVELERS

Abortion: still a dirty word (Julie Burchill, May 25, 2002, The Guardian)
"I love babies," I said, surprised at the simplicity of my statement. And then immediately, perfectly naturally, "I'm so glad I had all those abortions."

Now, I know this is an unusual statement to make. Even EastEnders, which is ceaselessly condemned by the Daily Mail as being irretrievably "PC", has an amazingly censorious attitude to abortion. Think of key scenes featuring Carol, Bianca, Natalie, not to mention Dot's life sentence of sorrow. Yet I remember, as a child in the early 1970s, hearing Diane, the waitress heroine of the decidedly reactionary soap Crossroads, saying matter-of-factly to a miserably pregnant woman, "Abortion's not a dirty word, you know!"

Where did the recent creeping foetus fetishism come from? And how do we - excuse the phrase - get rid of it? Some of it must be blamed on Tony Blair's bowing of the knee to Rome. Cherie Blair can call herself a feminist all she likes, but any feminist worth her salt would have made a point of having a termination - on the NHS, naturally - when she got knocked up the last time. Wantonly giving birth to a fourth child on a planet buckling under the strain of overpopulation certainly isn't any sort of example to set for gymslip mums, who can at least plead ignorance and rampant fertility.

Me-Ism - psychiatry, psychoanalysis, any sort of navel-gazing - has to take part of the blame for the demonisation of abortion. The idea that everything we do or have done to us stays with us for ever is a reactionary and self-defeating reading of modern life. No doubt if you're the sort of lumbering, self-obsessed poltroon who believes that seeing Mommy kissing Santa Claus 30 years ago irrevocably marked your life, you wouldn't get over an abortion, as you wouldn't get over stubbing your toe without professional help. But you choose to be that way, because you are weak and vain, and you think your pain is important. Whereas the rest of us know not only that our pain is not important, but that it probably isn't even pain - just too much time on our hands. [...]

In a recent Mori poll for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, only 7% of those asked about abortion declared themselves totally opposed to it, yet it remains the last taboo. Famous women would rather admit to having been sexually abused as children than to having had a termination - Cybill Shepherd and Barbara Windsor are the only ones I can think of who refer to theirs with good-humoured straightforwardness. "No woman takes abortion lightly," even the valiant pro-choice spokeswomen have taken to saying, not realising that they are adding to the illusion that abortion is a serious, murderous, life-changing act. It isn't - unless your life is so sadly lacking in incident and interest that you make it so.

Myself, I'd as soon weep over my taken tonsils or my absent appendix as snivel over those abortions. I had a choice, and I chose life--mine.

Only Orwell will answer:
I'd stopped listening to the actual lecture. But there are more ways than one of listening. I shut my eyes for a moment.? The effect was curious. I seemed to see the fellow much better when I could only hear his voice.

It was a voice that sounded as if it could go on for a fortnight without stopping. It's a ghastly thing, really, to have a sort of human barrel-organ shooting propaganda at you by the hour. The same thing over and over again.? Hate, hate, hate.? Let's all get together and have a good hate. Over and over.? It gives you the feeling that something has got inside your skull and is hammering down on your brain. But for a moment, with my eyes shut, I managed to turn the tables on him. I got inside his skull. It was a peculiar sensation. For about a second I was inside him, you might almost say I was him. At any rate, I felt what he was feeling.

I saw the vision that he was seeing. And it wasn't at all the kind of vision that can be talked about. What he's saying is merely that Hitler's after us and we must all get together and have a good hate. Doesn't go into details. Leaves it all respectable. But what he's seeing is something quite different.? It's a picture of himself smashing people's faces in with a spanner. Fascist faces, of course. I know that's what he was seeing. It was what I saw myself for the second or two that I was inside him.? Smash! Right in the middle!? The bones cave in like an eggshell and what was a face a minute ago is just a great big blob of strawberry jam. Smash! There goes another! That's what's in his mind, waking and sleeping, and the more he thinks of it the more he likes it. And it's all O.K. because the smashed faces belong to Fascists. You could hear all that in the tone of his voice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

PROGRESS, BAH

Why We Do Not Behave Like Human Beings (Ralph Adams Cram, 1932)
Why do we not behave like human beings? for by and large we certainly do not. Regard dispassionately the history of what we call "civilization." So far as we know, which is not far, it was not so bad in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete, but as history becomes clearer so does the evidence of a pretty invincible beastliness. It is a farrago of cruelty, slaughter and injustice. I have no intention of rehearsing old records. Nero and Ghengis Khan and the gangs they led may rest in their unquiet graves for all me, but come down to what are, comparatively, our own times and call to mind the barbarian invasions of Italy, of northern France and of England; the wars of religion with the slaughters of Catholics and Protestants; the Inquisition with its auto da fe; the Thirty Years' War and the Hundred Years' War; the witchcraft insanity; the beastliness of the "Peasants' War" in Germany and of the French Revolution; the horrors of the so-called "Reformation" in England and on the Continent; the African slave trade; the debauching of the Negro tribes; the Spanish record in Mexico, Central and South America, with the blasting of Maya and Inca and Aztec civilization; the piracy and brigandage of the seventeenth century; our own treatment of the Indians; the gross evils accomplished in the South Seas by traders, adventurers and evangelical missionaries; the ruthless barbarity of the new industrialism in England from 1780 on for fifty years; the record of the Turks in Macedonia and Armenia; the Russian Revolution; gas warfare; and the blind selfishness of advancing technological and capitalist civilization.

These are only a few salient headings in one category of human activity, a few amongst the many that continue without pause or break for some three thousand years. I might match and rival this record were I to dilate on the follies and miscarriages of justice and the evidences of invincible ignorance and superstition that follow man in what was once termed his "evolutionary" progress. But this is unnecessary. We have but to regard our present estate when, at the summit of our Darwinian advance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest and the development of species have resulted in a condition where, with all the resources of a century and a half of unparalleled scientific and mechanical development, we confront a situation so irrational and apparently hopeless of solution, that there is not a scientist, a politician, an industrialist, a financier, a philosopher or a parson who has the faintest idea how we got that way or how we are to get out of it.

Yes, but there is another side to the question. However repulsive and degrading the general condition of any period in the past, there never has been a time when out of the darkness did not flame into light bright figures of men and women who in character and capacity were a glory to the human race. Nor were they only those whose names we know and whose fame is immortal. We know from the evidences that there were more whose identity is not determined, men and women lost in the great mass of the underlying mob, who in purity and honour and charity were co-equal with the great figures of history. Between them and the basic mass there was a difference greater than that which separates, shall we say, the obscene mob of the November Revolution in Russia, and the anthropoid apes. They fall into two absolutely different categories, the which is precisely the point I wish to make.

We do not behave like human beings because most of us do not fall within that classification as we have determined it for ourselves, since we do not measure up to standard. And thus:

With our invincible?and most honourable but perilous?optimism we gauge humanity by the best it has to show. From the bloody riot of cruelty, greed and lust we cull the bright figures of real men and women. Pharaoh Akhenaten, King David, Pericles and Plato, Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tse, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius and Virgil, Abder-Rahman of Cordoba, Charlemagne and Roland; St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Louis; Godfrey de Bouillon, Saladin, Richard Coeur de Lion; Dante, Leonardo, St. Thomas Aquinas, Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, Sta. Teresa, Frederick II, Otto the Great, St. Ferdinand of Spain, Chaucer and Shakespeare, Strafford and Montrose and Mary of Scotland, Washington, Adams and Lee. These are but a few key names; fill out the splendid list for yourselves. By them we unconsciously establish our standard of human beings.

Now to class with them and the unrecorded multitude of their compeers, the savage and ignorant mob beneath, or its leaders and mouthpieces, is both unjust and unscientific. What kinship is there between St. Francis and John Calvin; the Earl of Strafford and Thomas Crumwell; Robert E. Lee and Trotsky; Edison and Capone? None except their human form. They of the great list behave like our ideal of the human being; they of the ignominious sub-stratum do not?because they are not. In other words, the just line of demarcation should be drawn, not between Neolithic Man and the anthropoid ape, but between the glorified and triumphant human being and the Neolithic mass which was, is now and ever shall be.

What I mean is this, and I will give you this as a simile. Some years ago I was on the Island of Hawaii and in the great crater of Kilauea on the edge of the flaming pit of Halemaumau. For once the pit was level full of molten lava that at one end of this pit, at the iron edge of old lava, rose swiftly from the lowest depths, then slid silently, a viscous field of lambent cherry colour, along the length of the great pit, to plunge and disappear as silently, only to return and rise again, when all was to happen once more. Indeterminate, homogeneous, it was an undifferentiated flood, except for one thing. As it slid silkily onward it "fountained" incessantly. That is to say, from all over its surface leaped high in the air slim jets of golden lava that caught the sun and opened into delicate fireworks of falling jewels, beautiful beyond imagination.

Such I conceive to be the pattern of human life. Millennium after millennium this endless flood of basic raw material sweeps on. It is the everlasting Neolithic Man, the same that it was five or ten thousand years B.C. It is the matrix of the human being, the stuff of which he is made. It arises from the unknown and it disappears in the unknown, to return again and again on itself. And always it "fountains" in fine personalities, eminent and of historic record, or obscure yet of equal nobility, and these are the "human beings" on whose personality, character and achievements we establish our standard.

The basic mass, the raw material out of which great and fine personalities are made, is the same today as it was before King Zoser of Egypt and the first architect, Imhotep, set the first pyramid stones that marked the beginning of our era of human culture. Neolithic it was and is, and there has been no essential change in ten thousand years, for it is no finished product, but raw material and because of its potential, of absolute value. We do not realize this, for it is not obvious to the eye since all that greatness has achieved in that period is as free for the use of contemporary Neolithic Man as it is for those who have emerged into the full stature of humanity. Free and compulsory education, democratic government and universal suffrage, and the unlimited opportunities of industrial civilization have clothed him with the deceptive garments of equality, but underneath he is forever the same. It is not until we are confronted in our own time with a thing like the original Bolshevik reign of terror, the futility of popular government, not only national but as we see it close at home in the sort of men that we choose to govern us in our cities, our state legislatures, the national Congress; in the bluntness of intellect and lack of vision in big business and finance, or when we read Mr. Mencken's "Americana" or consider the monkey-shines of popular evangelists, "comic strips", dance- and bicycle- and Bible-reading marathons, that we are awakened to a realization of the fact that there is something wrong with our categories.

Those that live in these things that they have made are not behaving like the human beings we have chosen for ourselves out of history as determinants of that entity, and this for the reason that they still are the veritable men of the Neolithic age that no camouflage of civilization can change.

Perhaps we have set our standard too high. Perhaps we should, in accordance with the alleged principles of Mr. Jefferson, count the mob-man as the standard human being; but since the gulf that separates him from the ideal we have made for ourselves is too vast to be bridged by any social, political or biological formula, this would force us back on the Nietzschean doctrine of the Superman which, personally, I reject. It seems to me much more fitting to accept our proved ideal as the true type of human being, counting all else as the potent material of creation.

I cannot blind myself to the fact that if what I have said is taken seriously it will probably seem revolting, if not grotesque and even impious. I do not mean it to be any of these things, nor does it seem so to me. Put into few words, and as inoffensively as possible, all I mean is that the process of creation is continuous. That as the "first man" was said to have been created out of the dust of the earth, so this creation goes on today as it ever has. As this same "dust of the earth" may have been Neolithic or more probably Paleolithic sub-man, so today the formative material is of identical nature and potency?but it is still, as then, the unformed, unquickened, primitive or Neolithic matter. Within its own particular sphere it is invaluable, indispensable, but we treat it unfairly when, through our vaporous theorizing we are led to pitchfork it into an alien sphere where it cannot function properly, and where it is untrue to itself, and by its sheer weight of numbers and deficiency of certain salutary inhibitions, is bound to negative the constructive power of the men of light and leading, while reducing the normal average to the point of ultimate disaster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM

THAR'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS

Bush's Popularity, Davis' Woes Loosen Party's Tight Grip on State (Beth Fouhy, Apr 26, 2003, Associated Press)
Call it the land of latte liberals or the "left coast." No matter what the nickname, the fact is that for more than a decade Democratic strategists have relied on a formula for winning the White House that begins and ends with California.

The Golden State has been a rich source of campaign cash for presidential hopefuls, and since 1992, as Republicans have surged in the South and the West, California's mother lode of 54 electoral votes has been essential for the Democratic nominee pursuing the magic 270 needed to capture the nation's top job.

In any strategy to unseat President Bush in 2004, winning California is imperative. But more than a year out, the political landscape is proving a bit rocky for Democrats. The state faces a staggering $35 billion budget deficit, and the blame is falling largely on Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who captured a second term last year in a race that reflected widespread ambivalence.

Since then, Davis has faced a grass-roots recall effort and his approval ratings have plummeted to an all-time low of 27 percent, according to a recent Field Poll. The same survey showed President Bush, who lost California to Al Gore by 12 percentage points in 2000, beating a generic Democratic nominee 45 percent to 40 percent.

And none of the nine Democratic candidates fighting for the party's nod have managed to make much of an impression in the state.

So long as the Democrats can win CA without even trying, they always have a chance to win the presidency and the House in any given election (though the Senate is gone for the forseeable future). Break their hold on CA and make them pump major resources into the state and you open up at least the possibility, though not the likelihood, of reducing Democrats to their pre-Depression status as a permanent minority party. At that point, reform of Social Security and other entitlements and genuine reductions in government become possible. That's too inviting a prospect not to at least give it a shot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

DON'T LOOK AT US, WE'RE STILL RACIST, SEXIST, AND HOMOPHOBIC

-REVIEW ESSAY: Animal Liberation at 30 (Peter Singer, May 15, 2003, The New York Review of Books)
The phrase "Animal Liberation" appeared in the press for the first time on the April 5, 1973, cover of The New York Review of Books. Under that heading, I discussed Animals, Men and Morals, a collection of essays on our treatment of animals, which was edited by Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch and John Harris. The article began with these words:

"We are familiar with Black Liberation, Gay Liberation, and a variety of other movements. With Women's Liberation some thought we had come to the end of the road. Discrimination on the basis of sex, it has been said, is the last form of discrimination that is universally accepted and practiced without pretense, even in those liberal circles which have long prided themselves on their freedom from racial discrimination. But one should always be wary of talking of 'the last remaining form of discrimination.' "

In the text that followed, I urged that despite obvious differences between humans and nonhuman animals, we share with them a capacity to suffer, and this means that they, like us, have interests. If we ignore or discount their interests, simply on the grounds that they are not members of our species, the logic of our position is similar to that of the most blatant racists or sexists who think that those who belong to their race or sex have superior moral status, simply in virtue of their race or sex, and irrespective of other characteristics or qualities. Although most humans may be superior in reasoning or in other intellectual capacities to nonhuman animals, that is not enough to justify the line we draw between humans and animals. Some humans--infants and those with severe intellectual disabilities--have intellectual capacities inferior to some animals, but we would, rightly, be shocked by anyone who proposed that we inflict slow, painful deaths on these intellectually inferior humans in order to test the safety of household products. Nor, of course, would we tolerate confining them in small cages and then slaughtering them in order to eat them. The fact that we are prepared to do these things to nonhuman animals is therefore a sign of "speciesism"--a prejudice that survives because it is convenient for the dominant group--in this case not whites or males, but all humans.

Speaking of slippery slopes, it can hardly be surprising that Mr. Singer got the best of both worlds: not only are we increasingly solicitous of the "suffering" of mere animals, we also disregard the dignity of fellow human beings. Lab animals now have more rights than human fetuses. Such is progress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

INSTAURATION NOW!

IRANIAN REGIME WORRIED BY PEOPLE’S PRO-AMERICANISM (Afsane Bassir Pour, 25 Apr, 2003, IPS)
As President George W. Bush has also warned the Islamic republic to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs, an influential French daily says Iranian officials are worried by the "obvious pro-Americanism sentiments" of " the Iranian people".

Iranian officials are worried. Worried of the American presence next to their doors, on the East as well as to the West, worried of the invasion of Iraq "with so little popular resistance", worried of the fast fall of the Baghdad regime, worried of the sidelining of the UN, worried of the total disillusion of the Iranian people that, since the beginning of the Iraqi crisis, has resulted in a fierce pro-Americanism of the population... but, especially, worried of the vox populi, that asks for "a change of the regime with the help of the American marines", the daily "Le Monde" wrote. [...]

For Behzad Nabavi, one of the "credible voices" of the reformers, the relations with Washington has become a "national security issue".

In a rare interview, Mr. Nabavi, a close adviser to President Khatami, told "Le Monde" that the American strategy for the region "doesn't stop to the doors of Baghdad". According to Mr. Nabavi, it exists in Washington, "an Iran project" that is in the process of being implemented", a project that is "not necessarily a military one." In his office situated at the old Marble Palace, in the south of Tehran, that also includes the Majles, of which he assures the vice-presidency, Mr. Nabavi speaks of his concern facing the Americans.

"Evidently, I am afraid!" he exclaims. "How would I not be afraid of an America armed to the teeth and who demonstrated in Iraq its total disdain of respect for the sovereignty of the States? Yes, I am afraid. The Americans are apparently able do whatever they like; no matter the United Nations or even the Western public opinion". "The only and somewhat acceptable argument to the eyes of the western intellectuals justifying a hostile action against a country is the instauration of democracy", Mr. Nabavi said. It is for it, according to him, "that the best defense of Iran against the Americans would be to reinforce its democracy in order to deprive them of their arguments".

Interrogated on the voices calling for "the American interference", Mr. Nabavi declares: "It is obvious that it is the result of our mistake. The fact that people prefer a foreign invasion to living in the Islamic Republic is only the sign of our failure. We have not been able to fulfill the people's democratic aspirations and it is normal that they are disappointed". If one admits that the Iraqis are delighted with Saddam Hoseyn's end, one must also think about the possibility that maybe, the Iranians would celebrate at the end of the Islamic Republic as well".

If the wanton exercise of America power were ever to lead to general acceptance of this idea, "the best defense...against the Americans would be to reinforce...democracy in order to deprive them of their arguments", we'd have won.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 AM

UNSPURRED

The Latest Theory Is That Theory Doesn't Matter (EMILY EAKIN, April 19, 2003, NY Times)
These are uncertain times for literary scholars. The era of big theory is over. The grand paradigms that swept through humanities departments in the 20th century — psychoanalysis, structuralism, Marxism, deconstruction, post-colonialism — have lost favor or been abandoned. Money is tight. And the leftist politics with which literary theorists have traditionally been associated have taken a beating.

In the latest sign of mounting crisis, on April 11 the editors of Critical Inquiry, academe's most prestigious theory journal, convened the scholarly equivalent of an Afghan-style loya jirga. They invited more than two dozen of America's professorial elite, including Henry Louis Gates Jr., Homi Bhabha, Stanley Fish and Fredric Jameson, to the University of Chicago for what they called "an unprecedented meeting of the minds," an unusual two-hour public symposium on the future of theory. [...]

A student in the audience spoke up. What good is criticism and theory, he asked, if "we concede in fact how much more important the actions of Noam Chomsky are in the world than all the writings of critical theorists combined?"

After all, he said, Mr. Fish had recently published an essay in Critical Inquiry arguing that philosophy didn't matter at all.

Behind a table at the front of the room, Mr. Fish shook his head. "I think I'll let someone else answer the question," he said.

So Sander L. Gilman, a professor of liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, replied instead. "I would make the argument that most criticism — and I would include Noam Chomsky in this — is a poison pill," he said. "I think one must be careful in assuming that intellectuals have some kind of insight. In fact, if the track record of intellectuals is any indication, not only have intellectuals been wrong almost all of the time, but they have been wrong in corrosive and destructive ways."

If only Richard Hofstadter had lived to see this moment, we'd do the Icky Shuffle right in front of him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 AM

NO THANKS NECESSARY

A Good Deed (David Ignatius, April 25, 2003, The Washington Post)
Personally, I don't much care if the U.S. reports about weapons of mass destruction prove to be imaginary. Toppling Hussein's regime was still right.

But no good deed goes unpunished, as the old saying goes. And it seems possible that the United States will gain little in terms of its own security from its decision to liberate Iraq. We may have created a new Iran here -- an Iraqi democracy that will be dominated by a Shiite majority among which pro-Iranian clerics seem, at this point, to be the best-organized political force.

Or Iraq may become another Lebanon -- a lawless nation ruled by car bombs and warlords. Avoiding these disasters depends on whether the United States can quickly fill the existing power vacuum with a stable Iraqi government, help it get started and then leave, pronto.

American actions over the next few weeks will determine whether Iraq loves its liberators or becomes a seething pit of anti-American anger.

Mr. Ignatius makes this last assertion in the midst of an otherwise sensible essay, and it's a common enough sentiment, but a dangerous delusion. It grows from the comforting but erroneous, almost colonialist, belief that we ourselves determine other peoples lives for them, that Arabs, for instance, are some kind of tabla erasa upon which we can etch a personality of our choosing. In fact, we could do everything "right" in Iraq--minimize casualties, respect the liberated, feed the hungry, cede power quickly, etc., etc., etc., and the Iraqis may still hate us. So what?

The quality of our actions is not determined by their reactions. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athists was a good thing. We should keep trying to do good things for the Iraqis over the next couple months, until we give them back their country entirely. If they appreciate that, great. If not, that's really their problem, not ours, and they'll hardly be alone in being ungrateful--just ask the French.

MORE:
The future is now (David Warren, April 12, 2003, Ottawa Citizen )
The reaction to the American and British victory in Iraq, in Iraq itself, was as predictable as the victory, to anyone with genuine knowledge of the situation there. The gratitude to President Bush and the allies is, momentarily, intense and euphoric. It is a comet-like condition that lasts about two days, but has a tail six months long -- the time in which the hard stuff has to be attempted, of creating a constitutional order for Iraq, out of almost nothing.

After that, Iraq is likely to settle back into a mood fairly unlike gratitude, as Kuwait did by the end of 1991, and, in different ways, as the countries liberated from Communism in central and eastern Europe did: the blame for problems will be increasingly assigned to the people who are trying to fix them, and removed from the people who caused them, who are no longer there. This is human nature, which is essentially incurable; but it will take
various peculiarly Arabic and Islamic cultural forms -- sometimes better, sometimes worse than their Western equivalents. (So much of human nature is a freak show.)

The U.S. soldiers will gradually be re-categorized from "liberators" to "foreigners". As we know from France and Germany, as well as the Gulf States, there is no such thing as lasting gratitude, except among the saints. There will nevertheless remain an institutional memory, should new Iraqi institutions survive, that the Americans and British are allies. And this, with any luck, will last for at least a generation to come.

This much is perfectly predictable, and I think it has been taken into account in Pentagon (if not State Department) plans for the Iraqi apres-guerre. My impression is that thanks to the personal shock and awe of Donald Rumsfeld, the attitudes and work habits of the Pentagon have been transformed. But thanks to the protective instincts of Colin Powell, the State Department bureaucracy continues to work within intellectual categories that should have been declared defunct on Sept. 12th, 2001.

There will be clashes between them in the weeks and months ahead, as the Pentagon tries to do things that are new, and difficult, while State tries to sabotage with the help of the old "Arabist" hands in the CIA, the academy, and the media -- the people who still have their jobs after being proved wrong about everything. It would be politically impossible for any President of the United States to simply sack the lot of them; and from that fact a lot of diplomatic "friendly fire" can be anticipated on the road ahead.

Advantage, however, to the people who've won the war, and been proved right about everything that was at issue -- for at least the immediate future. This is no time to be glum.

What is more interesting than the predictable mood on the ground in Iraq, is the mood of the onlooking world. Something very dramatic happened this week, on live television before a vast audience. For the Arab world especially, it was an event like 9/11, but upside down and inside out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 AM

WHY NOT HAITI?

States mulled for 'Free State' (NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, 4/24/03, Associated Press)
Limited-government advocates have their eyes on Idaho. Or Montana. Or New Hampshire.

All are among 10 lightly populated states known for small-government politics that could end up being a Libertarian utopia.

A movement called the Free State Project has registered some 3,100 people who would help choose a "candidate" state and move there in hopes of canceling laws against drugs, prostitution, guns and other individual liberties, while privatizing current state functions such as schools.

"Rather than change the whole nation it makes sense for all of us to gather in one place," said Elizabeth McKinstry, 33, of Hillsdale, Mich., the project's vice president. [...]

Which state is a favorite? Project officials say a major downside for Idaho is its Mormon population, which isn't likely to support legalizing prostitution and drugs or drop taxes on booze and tobacco. [...]

Mark Snider, spokesman for Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, said he was sorry to learn that Idaho was on the list. He warned the Free Staters not to confuse Idahoans' love for small government with a desire for nearly no government.

"The majority of Idahoans want safe streets, and not to be under the threat of drunk drivers, drug addicts or criminals," Snider said.

You'd think it might dawn on them that those states which are most free are also the most conservative morally, not the most permissive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:15 AM

BECOMING?

A Path to Arab Democracy (MARWAN MUASHER, April 26, 2003, NY Times)
It is becoming clear that the Arab world needs to take the initiative in making its political and economic systems more democratic. The frustrations Arabs feel today--prompted by the slow pace of democratic reform, stagnant economies and political instability: all threaten the region's future. The moment has come for the Arab world to engage in a homegrown, evolutionary and orderly process of democratization--one that will respect Arab culture while at the same time giving citizens the power to be part of the political process.

It's important to remember, though, that expecting the seeds of democracy to blossom overnight is a simplistic assumption at best, and a dangerous one at worst. Force-feeding democracy will lead not to reform but to radicalization. A wiser approach would be to respect the ability of Arab countries to take matters into their own hands.

The Arab world is ready to do this. The United Nations Arab Human Development Report, written by Arabs and released last year, is a frank assessment of some of the main challenges confronting us. It discusses the expansion of political freedoms, the role of women and the knowledge gap as key issues Arab nations need to face. This report must be taken seriously, not defensively, by the region. This is what we have done in Jordan, where both King Abdullah II and Queen Rania have endorsed it as a blueprint for development.

The Arab world also needs to assume a more active role in mediating the Arab-Israeli conflict. Arab leaders must finally take a public stand against suicide bombings. The truth needs to be clearly stated: suicide bombings have only hurt the Palestinian cause.

Such statements are welcome, however late in the process they come, but one wonders if this running in the Jordanian press (Mr. Muasher is the Jordanian Foreign Minister) today also, or if it's just for Western consumption. Jordan could make itself a model by devolving greater power to some kind of representative institutions and a an independent judiciary, with the King retaining certain prerogatives--including the right to dismiss a government and call election, to veto legislation, and to overturn Court decisions--thereby offering a system that would allow Arabs to govern themselves but with a final brake on the most radical and destructive possibilities of "democracy". Such reforms, coupled with a retention of Islamic moral teachings at the heart of society, might, in rather short order, see nations of the Middle East with healthier polities than those in Old Europe.

April 25, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:57 PM

THOSE WON'T SAVE YOU

Disconnect in Beijing (Marc Erikson, Asia Times)
"See, they're back to the old blackmail game," US President George W Bush told NBC-TV anchor Tom Brokaw late Thursday. That's pretty close to, "I told you so," and reveals - if revelation were necessary - that major factions in the Bush administration never thought much of talking to North Korea about its nuclear programs in the first place. Even allegedly dovish Secretary of State Colin Powell weighed in with some quite heavy artillery, saying: "The North Koreans should not leave the meetings in Beijing, now that they have come to a conclusion ... with the slightest impression that the United States and its partners will be intimidated by bellicose statements or by threats." He added that the US was looking for ways to "eliminate" the threat posed by any North Korean nuclear weapons program and had "not taken any options off the table" - diplomatese for not ruling out military action.

Of course, the North Koreans, on their part, will not exactly have pleased their Chinese hosts, who had worked long and hard to bring about US-North Korea-China talks, by telling US chief negotiator James Kelly that they were in fact in possession of atomic bombs, were ready to test and even sell them, and had already reprocessed 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods to extract weapons-grade plutonium (enough for six to eight nukes).

Where the Korean nuclear standoff goes from here is anyone's guess. Understandably, "honest broker" China wants to put the best possible face on the outcome of the discussions at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guest House, their early conclusion (to avoid the term "breakdown") notwithstanding. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said the meeting "signifies a good beginning", and his ministry said in a later statement that all sides "agreed to maintain contacts through diplomatic channels regarding continuing the process of talks".

But the course the talks took between Wednesday and Friday morning was hardly encouraging. In opening remarks, the United States reiterated that it wants to see immediate and verifiable dismantling of North Korea's nuclear programs before talking about anything else; Pyongyang chief negotiator Li Gun repeated the Iraq war had proved that nations need a strong deterrent to protect their sovereignty; China urged compromise. And that, pretty much, was already the end of three-way discussions.

If they have nukes, it's all the more important that we attack them, to demonstrate that such weapons--far from being a deterrent--are a guarantee of regime change.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM

RANDOM REPRISALS

Reason for War?: White House Officials Say Privately the Sept. 11 Attacks Changed Everything (John Cochran, April 25, 2003, ABC News)
To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war ? a global show of American power and democracy.

Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans.

"We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." [...]

[T]he Bush administration decided it must flex muscle to show it would fight terrorism, not just here at home and not just in Afghanistan against the Taliban, but in the Middle East, where it was thriving.

Officials deny that Bush was captured by the aggressive views of neo-conservatives. But Bush did agree with some of their thinking.

"We made it very public that we thought that one consequence the president should draw from 9/11 is that it was unacceptable to sit back and let either terrorist groups or dictators developing weapons of mass destruction strike first at us," conservative commentator Bill Kristol said on ABCNEWS' Nightline in March.

The Bush administration wanted to make a statement about its determination to fight terrorism. And officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target. [...]

The Bush administration could probably have lived with the threat of Saddam and might have gone after him eventually if, for example, the Iraqi leader had become more aggressive in pursuing a nuclear program or in sponsoring terrorism.

But again, Sept. 11 changed all that.

Listen closely, officials said, to what Bush was really saying to the American people before the war.

"I hope they understand the lesson of September the 11th," Bush said on March 6. "The lesson is, is that we're vulnerable to attack, wherever it may occur, and we must take threats which gather overseas very seriously. We don't have to deal with them all militarily, but we have to deal with them."

With this Administration, any time you suggest a good idea, they're already doing it. Forget whether there is an al Qaeda connection--we took out Saddam because of 9-11 and after the next 9-11 we'll take out Syria, Libya, etc., whether they're involved or not.

Posted by David Cohen at 1:17 PM

THE <~text text="POST">

Lay Off Chalabi: Iraq could do much worse (Christopher Hitchens, Slate, April 24, 2003).
Maureen Dowd writes, displaying either an immense insider knowledge of day-to-day Baghdad or else no knowledge at all, that the American forces assigned to protect Chalabi would have been enough on their own to prevent the desecration of the National Museum. Since Chalabi was in Nasiriyah, far to the south, when the looting occurred, and since up until now he has provided his own security detail (I'd want my own bodyguards, too, if I'd been on Saddam's assassination list for a decade), and since we don't know by whom the actual plunder of the museum was actually planned or executed (or at least I don't), Dowd might wish either to reconsider or to offer her expertise to Gen. Garner.
Nobody does disdain like Hitchens.

But, really, what is the Times' position on truth on the op-ed page? Op-ed's are not news, by definition, but are (merely?) opinion. Maureen Dowd is the toast of Manhattan. Still, shouldn't the New York Times expend some effort in keeping her just this side of the divide between right and wrong, at least where the facts can be easily checked?

Posted by David Cohen at 11:41 AM

PANIC, PANIC, PANIC.

Death Rate for Global Outbreak Rising (Shankar Vedantam and Rob Stein, Washington Post, April 25, 2003).
The death rate for the worldwide outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which has fluctuated for months, has recently begun what looks like an ominous rise. . . .

[T]he rising numbers are cause for concern for three reasons. First, the current -- higher -- death rate is statistically more reliable than the previous -- lower -- estimates.

Second, as hospitals learn to cope with the outbreak and doctors find ways to treat or stabilize patients, the death rate ought to head down, not up.

Finally, large numbers of cases so far, especially in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, have involved hospital workers, who tend to be younger and healthier. As the SARS virus has spread to the general population in some places, it may strike more vulnerable elderly people and increase in lethality.
You might think, though you would be wrong, that it would be worth a mention in this story from the Washington Post that, to date, no one in the United States has died of SARS, nor has it appeared particularly infectious. Canada, on the other hand, has a relatively high mortality rate and the WHO is advising against traveling to Toronto.

If I were a cynical man, I might think that the Post is reluctant to publicize any news that would undercut the idea that the actual delivery of medical care in the US (as opposed to the system for paying for it) is absolutely the worst in the world, and in particular not a shadow of that healthy utopia, Canada. But as I don't have a cynical bone in my body, I guess I'll just have to believe that the Post has some lousy reporters and editors.

MORE (PAJ): The system infected us (Mark Steyn, National Post, 4/24/2003)
February 28th: Kwan Sui-Chu, having recently returned from Hong Kong, goes to her doctor in Scarborough complaining of fever, coughing, muscle tenderness, all the symptoms of the by now several ProMed alerts. As is traditional in Canada, the patient is prescribed an antibiotic and sent home.

March 5th: Having apparently never returned for further medical treatment and slipped into a coma at home, Kwan Sui-Chu is found dead in her bed. The coroner, Dr. Mark Shaffer, lists cause of death as "heart attack." Later that day, Kwan's son, Tse Chi Kwai, visits the doctor, complaining of fever, coughing, etc. He too is prescribed an antibiotic and sent home. Later still, the son takes his wife to the doctor. Likewise.

March 7th: Tse Chi Kwai goes to Scarborough Grace, and is left on a gurney in Emergency for 12 hours exposed to hundreds of people.

March 9th: Scarborough Grace discovers Tse's mother has recently died after returning from Hong Kong. But Dr. Sandy Finkelstein concludes, if Tse is infectious, it's TB.

A good example of the personal care and attention patients can expect from socialized medicine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IRONSIDES

Oliver Cromwell was born on this day in 1599, in Hutingdonshire, England. Here Macauley on the great man:
And now a new and alarming class of symptoms began to appear in the distempered body politic. There had been, from the first, in the parliamentary party, some men whose minds were set on objects from which the majority of that party would have shrunk with horror. These men were, in religion, Independents. They conceived that every Christian congregation had, under Christ, supreme jurisdiction in things spiritual; that appeals to provincial and national synods were scarcely less unscriptural than appeals to the Court of Arches, or to the Vatican: and that Popery, Prelacy, and Presbyterianism were merely three forins of one great apostasy. In politics they were, to use the phrase of their time, root and branch men, or, to use the kindred phrase of our own time, radicals. Not content with limiting the power of the monarch, they were desirous to erect a commonwealth on the ruins of the old English polity. At first they had been inconsiderable, both in numbers and in weight; but, before the war had lasted two years, they became, not indeed the largest, but the most powerful faction in the country. Some of the old parliamentary leaders had been removed by death; and others had forfeited the public confidence. Pym had been borne, with princely honors, to a grave among the Plantagenets. Hampden had fallen, as became him, while vainly endeavoring, by his heroic example, to inspire his followers with courage to face the fiery cavalry of Rupert. Bedford had been untrue to the cause. Northumberland was known to be lukewarm. Essex and his lieutenants had shown little vigor and ability in the conduct of military operations. At such a conjuncture it was that the Independent party, ardent, resolute, and uncompromising, began to raise its head, both in the camp and in the parliament.

The soul of that party was Oliver Cromwell. Bred to peaceful occupations, he had, at more than forty years of age, accepted a commission in the parliamentary army. No sooner had he become a soldier, than he discerned, with the keen glance of genius, what Essex and men like Essex, with all their experience, were unable to perceive. He saw precisely where the strength of the royalists lay, and by what means alone that strength could be overpowered. He saw that it was necessary to reconstruct the army of the parliament. He saw, also, that there were abundant and excellent materials for the purpose; materials less showy, indeed, but more solid, than those of which the gallant squadrons of the king were composed. It was necessary to look for recruits who were not mere mercenaries, - for recruits of
decent station and grave character, fearing God and zealous for public liberty. With such men he filled his own regiment, and, while he subjected them to a discipline more rigid than had ever before been known in England, he administered to their intellectual and moral nature stimulants of fearful potency.

The events of the year 1644 fully proved the superiority of his abilities. In the south, where Essex held the command, the parliamentary forces underwent a succession of shameful disasters; but in the north the victory of Marston Moor fully compensated for all that had been lost elsewhere. That victory was not a more serious blow to the royalists than to the party which had hitherto been dominant at Westminster; for it was notorious that the day, disgracefully lost by the Presbyterians, had been retrieved by the energy of Cromwell, and by the steady valor of the warriors whom he had trained.

These events produced the self-denying ordinance and the new model of the army. Under decorous pretexts, and with every mark of respect, Essex and most of those who had held high posts under him were removed; and the conduct of the war was intrusted to very different hands. Fairfax, a brave soldier, but of mean understanding and irresolute temper, was the nominal lord-general of the forces; but Cromwell was their real head.

Cromwell made haste to organize the whole army on the same principles on which he had organized his own regiment. As soon as this process was complete, the event of the war was decided. The Cavaliers had now to encounter natural courage equal to their own, enthusiasm stronger than their own, and discipline such as was utterly wanting to them. It soon became a proverb that the soldiers of Fairfax and Cromwell were men of a different breed from the soldiers of Essex. At Naseby took place the first great encounter between the royalists and the remodelled army of the Houses. The victory of the Roundheads was complete and decisive. It was followed by other triumphs in rapid succession. In a few months, the authority of the parliament was fully established over the whole kingdom. Charles fled to the Scots, and was by them, in a manner which did not much exalt their national character, delivered up to his English subjects.

While the event of the war was still doubtful, the Houses had put the primate to death, had interdicted, within the sphere of their authority, the use of the liturgy, and had required all men to subscribe that renowned instrument, known by the name of the Solemn League and Covenant. When the struggle was over, the work of innovation and revenge was pushed on with still greater ardor. The ecclesiastical polity of the kingdom was remodelled. Most of the old clergy were ejected from their benefices. Fines, often of ruinous amount, were laid on the royalists, already impoverished by large aids furnished to the king. Many estates were confiscated. Many proscribed Cavaliers found it expedient to purchase, at an enormous cost, the protection of eminent members of the victorious party. Large domains belonging to the crown, to the bishops, and to the chapters, were seized, and either granted away or put up to auction. In consequence of these spoliations,a great part of the soil of England was at once offered for sale. As money was scarce, as the market was glutted, as the title was insecure, and as the awe inspired by powerful bidders prevented free competition, the prices were often merely nominal. Thus many old and honorable families disappeared and were heard of no more; and many new men rose rapidly to affluence.

But, while the Houses were employing their authority thus, it suddenly passed out of their hands. It had been obtained by calling into existence a power which could not be controlled. In the summer of 1647, about twelve months after the last fortress of the Cavaliers had submitted to the parliament, the parliament was compelled to submit to its own soldiers.

Thirteen years followed, during which England was, under various names and forms, really governed by the sword. Never, before that time, or since that time, was the civil power in our country subjected to military dictation.

The army which now became supreme in the state was an army very different from any that has since been seen among us. At present, the pay of the common soldier is not such as can seduce any but the humblest class of English laborers from their calling. A barrier almost impassable separates him from the commissioned officer. The great majority of those who rise high in the service rise by purchase. So numerous and extensive are the remote dependencies of England, that every man who enlists in the line must expect to pass many years in exile, and some years in climates unfavorable to the health and vigor of the European race. The army of the Long Parliament was raised for home service. The pay of the private soldier was much above the wages earned by the great body of the people; and, if he distinguished himself by intelligence and courage, he might hope to attain high commands. The ranks were accordingly composed of persons superior in station and education to the multitude. These persons, sober, moral, diligent, and accustomed to reflect, had been induced to take up arms, not by the pressure of want, not by the love of novelty and license, not by the arts of recruiting officers, but by religious and political zeal, mingled with the desire of distinction and promotion. The boast of the soldiers, as we find it recorded in their solemn resolutions, was, that they had not been forced into the service, nor had enlisted chiefly for the sake of lucre; that they were no janizaries, but free-born Englishmen, who had, of their own accord, put their lives in jeopardy for the liberties and religion of England, and whose right and duty it was to watch over the welfare of the nation which they had saved.

A force thus composed that, without injury to its efficiency, be indulged in some liberties which, if allowed to any other troops, would have proved subversive of alldiscipline. In general, soldiers who should form themselves into political clubs, elect delegates. and pass resolutions on high questions of state, would soon break loose from all control, would come to form an army, and would become the worst and most dangerous of mobs. Nor would it be safe, in our time, to tolerate in any regiment religious meetings, at which a corporal versed in Scripture should lead the devotions of his less gifted colonel, and admonish a backsliding major. But such was the intelligence, the gravity, and the self-command of the warriors whom Cromwell had trained, that in their camp a political organization and a religious organization could exist without destroying military organization. The same men, who, off-duty, were noted as demagogues and field-preachers, were distinguished by steadiness, by the spirit of order, and by prompt obedience on watch, on drill, and on the field of battle.

In war this strange force was irresistible. The stubborn courage characteristic of the English people was, by the system of Cromwell, at once regulated and stimulated. Other leaders have maintained order as strict. Other leaders have inspired their followers with a zeal as ardent. But in his camp alone the most rigid discipline was found in company with the fiercest enthusiasm. His troops moved to victory with the precision of machines, while burning with the wildest fanaticism of crusaders. From the time when the army was remodelled to the time when it was disbanded, it never found, either in the British Islands, or on the Continent, an enemy who could stand its onset. In England, Scotland, Ireland, Flanders, the Puritan warriors, often surrounded by difficulties, sometimes contending against threefold odds, not only never failed to conquer, but never failed to destroy and break in pieces whatever force was opposed to them. They at length came to regard the day of battle as a day of certain triumph and march against the most renowned battalions of Europe with disdainful confidence. Turenne was startled by the shout of stern exultation with which his English allies advanced to the combat, and expressed the delight of a true soldier when he learned that it was ever the fashion of Cromwell's pikemen to rejoice greatly when they beheld the enemy; and the banished Cavaliers felt an emotion of national pride, when they saw a brigade of their countrymen, outnumbered by foes and abandoned by allies, dive before it in headlong rout the finest infantry of Spain, and force a passage into a countersearp which had just been pronounced impregnable by the ablest of the marshals of France.

But that which chiefly distinguished the army of Cromwell from other armies was the austere morality and the fear of God which pervaded all ranks. It is acknowledged by the most zealous royalists that, in that singular camp, no oath was heard, no drunkenness or gambling was seen, and that, during the long dominion of the soldiery, the property of the peaceable citizen and the honor of woman were held sacred. If outrages were committed, they were outrages of a very different kind from those of which a victorious army is generally guilty. No servant girl complained of the rough gallantry of the redcoats. Not an ounce of plate was taken from the shops of the goldsmiths. But a Pelagian sermon, or a window on which the Virgin and Child were painted, produced in the Puritan ranks an excitement which it required the utmost exertions of the officers to quell. One of Cromwell's chief difficulties was to restrain he pikemen and dragoons from invading by main force the pulpits of ministers whose discourses, to use the language of that time, were not savory; and too many of our cathedrals still bear the marks of the hatred with which those stern spirits regarded every vestige of Popery.

It's pretty much been downhill ever since. Though this best of all possible revolutions, like the American Revolution that followed, pretty conclusively demonstrated that establishing the perfect Kingdom is beyond Man's capacity and that any revolution, no matter how well-intentioned, ultimately disposes of too much that is worth keeping.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

THE SADDAM/SANTORUM LINK

Saddam has two wives--much to son's dismay (ANDREW HERRMANN, April 25, 2003, AP)
Q. If Saddam Hussein is the Ace of Spades on the "Most Wanted'' playing cards, is his wife the Queen of Hearts?

A. No. The Queen of Hearts is Barzan al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid, commander of the Special Republican Guard.

Saddam has at least two wives. Neither is depicted on the cards.

He married Sajida Khairallah Talfah, a cousin, in 1963. She is the mother of sons Udai (Ace of Hearts) and Qusai (Ace of Clubs) and three daughters. Sajida has reportedly left Iraq and could be in Syria, the Associated Press reported, citing U.S. defense sources.

Saddam is also married to Samira Shahbandar, a former Iraqi Airlines flight attendant whom he wed in the late 1980s. She is the mother of his other son, Ali Saddam Hussein. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Reportedly, Udai was upset with his father taking a second wife. Udai is said to have clubbed to death Saddam's valet and food taster because he helped arrange liaisons for his father with Samira.

See what happens when you start messing around with marriage?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM

ZIMBABWE NEXT

Fighting Africa's Saddam (Nancy Palus, April 24, 2003, Slate)
Zimbabwe's newspapers depicted this week's massive strike as a potentially decisive standoff between the government and an increasingly strident opposition. The strike, endorsed by the country's main opposition party, is seen as more than an airing of workers' grievances; it is yet another sign that the Zimbabwean people are losing patience with a government that has thrown the former jewel of Africa into economic free-fall. Britain's Guardian called the strike and a similar walkout last month "a stinging vote of no-confidence by the workers in President Robert Mugabe's economic policies." Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's most prosperous and promising nations, is in economic ruin. Food shortages have left more than half the country's 11.3 million people hungry and dependent on outside aid. Inflation stands at 228 percent; unemployment at more than 60 percent.

The three-day work stoppage, called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, is a response to the government's recently imposed 200 percent fuel-price hike. The ZCTU is closely linked to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which led a nationwide walkout last month. The MDC's endorsement of this week's strike fueled political tension in the country, since Mugabe accuses the MDC of manipulating the public into staging such protests.

An op-ed in the opposition Daily News compared Mugabe's rule to the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Titled, "Violent regimes leave no option but war," the commentary said the coalition invasion of Iraq was "desperately needed ... for the good of the people" in order to remove "a heinous regime." It continued, "That is certainly the case I would put for removing the present regime in Zimbabwe." Britain's Independent reported that there is a new catchphrase among Zimbabwe's unemployed youth: "Mr. Bush, when are you coming to liberate us?"

To paraphrase the neocons, a conservative is a liberal who wants to regime change Mugabe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM

LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES

G.O.P. Hypocrisy: Unlike Republican appeals to racist voters, Republican appeals to homophobic voters are overt. (Dan Savage, 4/25/03, NY Times)
[G]ays and lesbians are more than just sons and daughters. We're moms and dads, too. My boyfriend and I adopted a son five years ago, and we plan to adopt again. As more same-sex couples start families, it's going to be harder for Republicans like Mr. Santorum to say we are somehow a threat to the American family.

As much as it may dismay Mr. Santorum and his defenders, there really is no word other than "family" to describe the three people who live in my house. When it comes to marriage rights, gays and lesbians are willing to play semantic games. We will use awkward phrases like "civil union" and "domestic partnership" so long as we can get what our families really need: the rights, responsibilities and safeguards of legal marriage. But two adults who love each other and are raising children together? What are we if not a family? What other word is there for us?

In our culture, homosexuality is discussed only when it presents a problem--for the armed forces, for closeted gay students in high school, for those who imagine gays are undermining society. Rarely is homosexuality credited with the creation of something positive and lasting. Desire brought my boyfriend and me together. And it's simple desire that brings most couples, gay or straight, together. Responsibly acted on, this desire is a good thing in and of itself, and it can often lead to other good things. Like strong, healthy families.

Mr. Savage is right about one thing; in our society today homosexuality is discussed only in its most peripheral sense. This is because if addressed at its core, it would repel the public, So instead we get drivel like this, with Mr. Savagr presenting himself as a modern day Mr. Cleaver. If you've a sufficiently strong stomach--and we warn you this is unpleasant--check out instead his little discourse on something called "snowballing" and then see if you think these are healthy relationships--that people who would do such things actually do love each other--or are in fact based on mutual degradation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM

THE PREGNANT MOMENT

Mideast Next for Bush (JAMES BENNET, 4/25/03, NY Times)
Having removed a historic threat to Israel's existence, deployed about a quarter million troops a few hundred miles from Jerusalem and coaxed forth an emerging Palestinian leadership, President Bush appears in a strong position to pursue peace in the Middle East, perhaps the strongest of any American president since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

European and Arab officials and analysts of many nationalities say he also has a powerful motive to try: progress in Middle East talks could ease a major source of Arab anti-Americanism, which may be inflamed by the presence of American troops in Iraq.

Mr. Bush has suggested that he sees a link, albeit a tenuous one, between Iraq and the search for a Middle East peace. As he sought support for the war in February, he said, "Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state."

Palestinian and Israeli leaders have also drawn the connection, saying that the war may give them a new chance for peace. But today a suicide bomber connected to the Fatah movement of Yasir Arafat and the new prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, killed himself and a security guard outside an Israeli
train station. The bombing fanned doubts once again about the Palestinian leadership's capacity and willingness to confront terrorism.

On the Israeli side, Mr. Sharon so dominates political life that he may have the capacity to achieve a deal. But his willingness to make what he calls "painful concessions" is untested. Mr. Sharon's worldview was shaped by decades of fighting first for Israel's creation and then its survival, and he is not inclined to gamble for a peace deal with what he considers matters of security, despite the defeat of the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

Once, his advisers pointed to the proximity of Iraq's tanks to argue for Israel's need for "strategic depth"--the thickening of its borders achieved by West Bank settlements. Now they say that there is no telling whether Iraq may eventually revert to its old ways.

Mr. Sharon wants significant changes in a new peace plan, known as the road map, which foresees recognition of Israel throughout the region and an independent state of Palestine in 2005. His advisers predict that Mr. Bush will not put serious pressure on him to abide by its terms, including immediate removal of settlement outposts built in the last two years.

So long as the settlers are willing to be citizens of the new Palestine, they're welcome to stay behind.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:41 AM

THE VATICAN'S ANTI-WESTERN BIAS

The Word From Rome (John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, April 25, 2003)
[O]ne of the most interesting figures on the ecclesiastical scene in Rome is ... a professor of political science at the University of Perugia and an editorial writer for Italy’s most respected daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, named Ernesto Galli della Loggia....

Galli della Loggia noted that in John Paul’s United Nations speeches on peace, the pope had always placed his message in the context of human rights. Yet the pope has not used human rights language much during the Iraq crisis. Galli della Loggia suggested this may be because references to human rights would invite awkward questions about the brutal character of the Saddam Hussein government.

If this is true, then the Vatican would seem to be more attached to its anti-war stance than to preaching the gospel message against murder and oppression.
How does Galli della Loggia explain the Vatican tilt against the American position?

First, there are historic reservations some have always felt about the United States. Despite the fact that Pius XII was known as the “chaplain of NATO,” many Europeans in the Vatican have long harbored doubts about an Atlantic alliance dominated by the Americans. Such a system, they felt, would signal the victory of Protestant America over Catholic Europe.

Second, Galli della Loggia says that despite Bush’s sincere religious belief, and despite an alignment of interests between Washington and the Vatican on issues such as abortion and cloning, the cluster of Protestant “radicals” such as John Ashcroft in the Bush administration is troubling to some in the Holy See.

Finally, there is the desire of the Vatican, and especially John Paul II, to deliver a message of solidarity to the Islamic world, in order to avoid a long-feared “clash of civilizations” between Christianity and Islam.

On this third score, Galli della Loggia sees a subtle realpolitik calculation by the Vatican.

“They probably think that no matter what the pope says, American Catholics will be okay and the American administration will still see the Vatican as a great global institution. In that sense, there’s nothing to lose by coming out against the Americans, and everything to gain by siding with Islam,” he said.

None of these three reasons have any roots in Christian ethics. If these are, in fact, the grounds of Vatican policy, then they suggest a victory of human prejudices (European chauvinism, anti-Protestantism, loss of faith in divine Providence and a desire to manipulate Muslim sensibilities) over historic Christian teachings.
Galli della Loggia then made the interesting observation that it was the most Catholic countries of Europe – Spain, Italy and Poland – whose governments backed the U.S. on the war, while it was France and Germany, the birthplaces of Revolution and Reformation respectively, that sided with the pope....

Why should loyalty to episcopal opinions influence the laity, if loyalty to the Christian faith barely matters to the bishops?
We also discussed the future of Europe, currently locked in debate over its “constitutional document.” Galli della Loggia doesn’t understand the Vatican’s push for an explicit reference to the religious roots of Europe.

“If the Catholic Church wants to be a global institution, it doesn’t make sense to identify itself with its European roots,” he argued.

An excellent point. The Church remains far too Euro-centric. Europe has 48.1% of the cardinals, but less than 10% of regular churchgoers (see, e.g., statistics at adherents.com). Geographical diversification would strengthen the shared Christian faith while diluting the influence of parochial prejudices.
On the current breach between the United States and Europe, Galli della Loggia believes it is destined to remain. Europe has ceased to believe in war as an instrument of politics, Galli della Loggia said, because it is incapable of judging its own military past in positive terms. The United States, on the other hand, sees itself playing a global role in the promotion of democracy and human rights, and believes its use of force in support of these ideals is just.

As for the Vatican, Galli della Loggia says that the Iraq crisis exposed a fundamental weakness in its foreign policy – hesitation to confront corrupt regimes in the developing world.

“The Vatican wants to be a global voice of conscience, supporting developing nations,” Galli della Loggia said. “Often they express this support by spouting the same economic formula they always recycle, blaming rich nations for poverty. But the principal obstacle to social and economic development is not the West, but dictatorial and corrupt regimes that strangle their own people. Catholic missionaries and even the Vatican polemicize against the West, hiding local responsibility. They’re afraid of being tossed into the ‘Western’ mix if they make problems for these governments.”

“Ironically, the only governments the Church criticizes are in the West, where it knows it won’t have to pay any price because those governments respect human rights,” Galli della Loggia said.

The Vatican, in other words, is like CNN: in fear of murderous tyrants, it refuses to speak the truth about injustice in unfree nations. By quickly and willingly criticizing free nations, but remaining mute toward unfree nations, the Church's words become slanted in favor of tyrants and tyranny, and against the West.

Pius XII, living under Axis rule, made sharper criticisms of the Nazis than Vatican bishops made of Saddam Hussein. As a Catholic, I want to be proud of my bishops. I wish they would make it easier for me.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM

FOR UNILATERAL SPACE NONPROLIFERATION

Safeguarding GPS: Attempts to jam U.S. GPS-based weapons and navigation systems in Iraq were a reminder of just how vulnerable the technology is (Frank Vizard, 4/14/03, Scientific American)
The failure of the Iraqi military to continually throw GPS-equipped Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs and Tomahawk cruise missiles severely off course can be attributed to several factors. Among the most important was the installation of backup inertial navigation systems (INS) that could keep the bombs and missiles on target if the GPS signal was compromised. INS systems are slightly less accurate than GPS, however, so there is a greater risk that INS-guided weapons might be a tad off course, raising the risk of collateral damage and casualties in densely populated areas. Still, the danger is likely to be short-lived: high-powered GPS jammers can easily be traced back to their origin, effectively painting themselves with a bull's-eye. "In fact, we destroyed a GPS jammer with a GPS weapon," U.S. Major General Victor Renuart told reporters at a briefing in Qatar that described the attacks against GPS jammers.

Iraqi efforts at jamming may also have been thwarted by a novel, signal-boosting technology--deployed in Iraq under a shroud of secrecy--that overwhelmed the GPS jammers. Airborne pseudo satellites, nicknamed "pseudolites," installed on Global Hawk or Predator unmanned drones would have created a miniature GPS constellation over Iraq. These pseudolites would have captured the weak GPS signals from space and then relayed them, at substantially higher power and at closer range, to airborne bombs and missiles or to forces on the ground. Like the satellites in space, four pseudolites would be required to plot a navigational solution. Tests performed in April 2000 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon's research arm, convinced the military that the psuedolites were powerful enough to overcome jamming. Specially developed beam-forming antennas and signal processors allow the pseudolites to acquire the space-borne GPS signal even when it’s under attack. New receivers called Precision Lightweight GPS Receivers (PLGRS), or "pluggers," have been made for use with pseudolites.

Pseudolites and backup inertial navigation systems mean smart bombs and cruise missiles are likely to reach their intended targets as long as the U.S. military controls the air space over a battlefield. But in a conflict in which pseudolites cannot be safely deployed, ground forces could go astray or misdirect their fire if they encounter a minefield of expendable, hockey-puck-size GPS jammers, each of which could disrupt the GPS signal within a one-kilometer radius. Iraq reportedly also purchased as many as 400 small GPS jammers from Aviaconversiya prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the region, although it is not known whether any of these were used.

"It's a serious threat," says Jim Hendershot, president of Radio Design Group, Inc., a maker of GPS jamming gear used for training purposes, based in Grants Pass, Ore., "because these small jammers can screw up the guy on the ground. Soldiers' GPS receivers don't have backup navigation systems. They would be deprived of their ability to navigate."

Just how dependent ground forces can be on GPS was inadvertently revealed to Greek authorities in August 2000, when the U.S., Britain and France competed for a $1.4-billion tank contract. As each country's tank entry demonstrated its prowess, it became clear that U.S. and British tanks could not acquire a GPS signal for navigation. Sometime later and to the amusement of Greek defense officials, reports the journal Military Review, it was revealed that French agents were remotely activating small, one-foot-high GPS jammers to disrupt the GPS signal when British and U.S. tanks were in the field. Such GPS jamming tactics should not have come as a surprise considering the fact that the U.S. and Australian militaries were jointly conducting research on GPS jammer locators in remote Woomera, Australia, as far back as March 2000.

In fact, small GPS jammers can be built by any hobbyist with a spare $400 to invest in electronic components, using plans supplied by the online hacker magazine Phrack, for example. Such devices can easily disrupt a commercial GPS signal and possibly a military GPS signal, even though the latter is encrypted with a code that changes on a regular basis. The military signal is a little harder to disrupt," Hendershot says, "but it's still easy."

That's why the military is lobbying for the launch of 20 new GPS satellites starting next year. These new satellites would transmit a GPS signal eight times stronger than the current signal, which means that any potential jammers would have to increase in size and complexity. Until then, note experts like Hendershot, "GPS is very vulnerable."

GPS is one of the many reasons that the U.S. should declare any even potential weapons technology deployed by other nations in space to be fair game and should develop our own capacity to kill their satellites. The advantages to be derived from blinding and silencing the enemy appear to be massive and
growing.

April 24, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 PM

MAILING IT IN

He's off to a slow start, so why is Lieberman smiling? (Scot Lehigh, 4/23/2003, Boston Globe)
Left in limbo for months while Al Gore, his 2000 ticketmate, mulled a comeback, the Connecticut senator got his own presidential quest off to a slow start, eroding his early standing. Once he did get in, Lieberman's outspoken support for military action to oust Saddam Hussein quickly put him on the wrong side of the divisive issue for many Democratic activists. At the New Hampshire Democratic Party's annual fund-raising dinner in Manchester on Feb. 27, a skeptical crowd sat on its hands as Lieberman outlined his reasons for going to war in Iraq. His first quarter fund-raising total of just over $3 million was less than half of those tallied by rivals John Kerry and John Edwards. And the latest New Hampshire poll shows him back in the pack, essentially tied with Dick Gephardt for third, behind Kerry and second-place Howard Dean. [...]

Despite the senator's slow start, his strategists claim to see opportunity in New Hampshire. Dean, they think, surfed the antiwar wave so hard he is now stranded outside the mainstream. Kerry, at 24 percent in the latest New Hampshire poll, is well shy of the 36 percent that next-door-neighbor Mike Dukakis tallied in winning the 1988 primary or the 33 percent that Tsongas garnered to win here in 1992.

Lieberman's combination of a muscular foreign policy, a progrowth, probusiness agenda, and progressive social stands is unusual among the candidates, he concedes. But not, he insists, among voters. Still, will a party driven halfway round the bend with loathing for the Republican incumbent really warm to a mild-mannered, low-key moderate, a man who thinks Bush has been a bad president, but is not a bad man, and certainly not the root of all evil?

Lieberman laughs out loud. ''Since I think you are describing me,'' he offers, '' I would say that that might be the New Hampshire way.''

This campaign is fast becoming an embarrassment. In fact, you have to assume he isn't running for president at all, but maybe for VP again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:05 PM

MMMMMMMMM....BUTTERMILK

Buttermilk Basics: A second look at a culinary commodity that's fallen out of favor but was once a staple in every household. (Sharon Hudgins, June 1999, World & I)
My first encounter with buttermilk was a disaster. Shortly after we were married, my husband brought home a carton of buttermilk, a substance I had managed to avoid for the first twenty-five years of my life. He offered me a taste, but I wasn't interested. Have you ever seen the streaky residue left in the glass after someone has just drunk buttermilk from it? Who in her right mind would want to drink something like that?

To make matters worse, the next day my husband performed a strange ritual that I had never seen before. He took a large square of homemade corn bread, crumbled it into a big glass, filled the glass with buttermilk, and then proceeded to eat the whole yucky-looking mess with a spoon. I couldn't bear to watch.

Later I learned that this buttermilk--corn bread concoction is a favorite food in the Deep South, where some people even gussy it up with a sprinkling of sugar. And, over the years, I also developed a taste for buttermilk--although I've never been persuaded to engage in weird activities involving buttermilk and corn bread, even if they are traditional below the Mason-Dixon Line.

What is buttermilk, anyway? Originally it was simply the liquid left over after whole milk or cream had been churned into butter. The churn's motion caused the butterfat to separate from the milk or cream and solidify into butter. The liquid that remained was called buttermilk. [...]

If you turn into a true buttermilk fanatic, you can even make an entire meal based on buttermilk, with recipes from around the globe. Start with an American appetizer of raw vegetables with buttermilk dip, followed by cold blueberry-buttermilk soup from Europe. Then serve a spicy Indian vegetarian main dish of okra with buttermilk, accompanied by white rice. For dessert, offer a choice of high-calorie buttermilk pie or buttermilk pralines, or low-calorie buttermilk sherbet--all classics from the American South.

And the next time you finish drinking a glass of pure buttermilk, look closely at the patterns on the glass. Maybe then you'll understand why a songwriter once described the streaks of cirrus clouds in winter as a "buttermilk sky." [...]

Blueberry-buttermilk soup

Cold soups made from fruits and berries are eaten in many parts of Scandinavia and in central and eastern Europe. This easy-to-make soup can be served by itself for lunch on a hot summer day, or as a first course for dinner any time of the year.

4 cups fresh blueberries or two 16-ounce packages unsweetened frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar (or more, to taste)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups well-chilled sparkling water

Garnish:
sour cream or cr?me fra”che
ground cinnamon

Wash and drain fresh blueberries (or thaw and drain frozen ones). Puree berries in a blender or food processor, then press puree through a sieve into a large glass bowl. Whisk in buttermilk, sugar, and lemon juice. Taste, and add more sugar if desired. Cover and chill until serving time. Just before serving, stir in chilled sparkling water. Mix very well.

Serve immediately, in chilled soup bowls. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream or cr?me fra”che, and a light sprinkling of ground cinnamon. Makes 6 servings. [...]

Buttermilk pralines

A classic confection from the American South, pralines are served on many occasions--for afternoon tea, for dessert, as an accompaniment to after-dinner coffee, and as a sweet snack at any time of day.

1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (plus extra butter for pans)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Important note: You must use a very large pan with a lid (at least 4 quarts, preferably larger) for this recipe because the mixture foams up considerably during boiling. Do not try to double this recipe (or you'll have a big mess all over the stove). If you want more pralines, make 2 separate batches.

Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Set aside. Lightly butter inside of a large, heavy-bottomed cooking pot. Add buttermilk and baking soda, stirring to dissolve soda. Stir in sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Cover pan and cook exactly 3 minutes longer.

Uncover pan and continue to cook mixture over medium heat. Do not stir. The mixture will bubble up considerably and will gradually turn caramel-colored as it boils. Let mixture boil until it reaches the soft-ball stage (236*F on a candy thermometer), about 10 minutes from the time you uncover the pan.

Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in butter. Let mixture cool for 3--4 minutes. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Beat mixture with a large wooden spoon until it just begins to become thick and creamy. Quickly drop it by heaping tablespoonfuls onto buttered baking sheets.

Let pralines cool completely before removing them with a spatula. Wrap each praline in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. Pralines will stay fresh longer if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen. Makes 24 soft pralines, each
approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM

SEND LAWYERS, GUNS, & MONEY

The legacy of 1993: Happy anniversary (LAWRENCE MARTIN, April 24, 2003, Globe & Mail)
The country is confronting an anniversary of sorts this year: the 10th anniversary of the year that killed Canadian politics.

One-party rule, or at least a facsimile of it, has been with Canadians ever since the election of 1993. Since that time, the Liberals -- no matter what they do -- have maintained an extraordinary 20- to 35-percentage-point lead in the polls. And there is no sign of a letup. The system is almost locked shut against change. One-party rule could be the rule for a generation to come.

Kim Campbell, Preston Manning and the campaign of 1993 are the culprits. It may well have been the most significant election in our history. It collapsed the political system.

Before you go to bed tonight, we beg you, say a prayer for Steve Martinovich.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 PM

IGNOBILITY

Castro as ruthless as Hussein (Oscar Arias, Apr. 24, 2003, Miami Herald)
The Cuban regime took another disgraceful and unacceptable step when it sentenced to prison those who only attempted to defend their fundamental rights and to practice independent journalism. It was yet another example of the demented intolerance with which Fidel Castro wields his government.

The truth is that Castro is not all that different from his predecessor. His Sierra Maestra saga to overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista turned into a betrayal of his own revolution and of an entire nation's dreams of freedom.

Castro is cut from the same cloth as Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, two of his less-notable contemporaries, or Paraguay's Alfredo Stroessner and the Somoza clan, all of them fully deserving members of the Hall of Shame. [...]

The international community must deal at once with the Cuban situation, using the tools of diplomacy -- lest the emboldened hawks in Washington decide to include Cuba in the axis of evil.

Geez. Saw that headline and started reading and couldn't believe this was the same communism-apologist nitwit who'd won a Nobel Prize, but then got to that last sentence and was reassured. Castro's as bad as Milosevic or Saddam but we should leave the Cuban people under his thumb?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 PM

FAITH BASED INITIATIVE GOES GLOBAL

THE TIMES DEMAND WE FACE UP TO TERROR, CAN THE LEFT ANSWER?: Distinguished British journalist, JOHN LLOYD who resigned from the London New Statesman over its coverage of the war, asks: what future has the Left if it cannot deal honestly with the rise of terrorism and the crimes of dictators? (John Lloyd, OpenDemocracy)
What is very rarely recognised in the radical camp, except as the occasion for mockery, is that the major states have, since the collapse of the cold war, elaborated and put into practice some version of an 'ethical dimension to foreign policy' (the phrase was put into the public arena by Robin Cook, the former UK Foreign Secretary).

In an article in the current issue of Foreign Policy the journal of the US Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie Gelb and Justine Rosenthal write that "something quite important has happened in American foreign policy making with little notice or digestion of its meaning. Morality, values, ethics, universal principles--the whole panoply of ideas in international affairs that were once almost the exclusive domain of preachers and scholars--have taken root in the hearts, or at least the minds of the American foreign policy communiy...in the past, tyrants supported by Washington did not have to worry a lot about interference in their domestic affairs. Now, even if Washington needs their help, some price has to be exacted, if only sharp public criticism. Moral matters are now part of American politics and the politics of many other nations".

Note the many reservations. Ethics have not taken over foreign policy: it remains largely driven by national interests. The application of moral standards is often--indeed, one could say always--selective. Some tyrants are targeted, while others are cosseted – and the reasons given for targeting some are often applicable to those being cosseted. My contention, however, is that there is a significant effect which is growing. Namely that the ethical dimension is increasingly being linked with the realist concerns of the kind most famously associated, both when he was a scholar and when he was a practitioner, with Henry Kissinger.

This has not of course been confined to America. Britain has its own version of an ethical foreign policy, as has France and even Germany--the latter, under a social democratic government, confronting its own comfortable and popular pacifism in order to make some sort of effective response, even if tardy, to the horrors of former Yugoslavia.

Many on the left and most on the right have dismissed these shifts towards an ethical dimension in international policy as cosmetic, propagandist, hypocritical, over-idealist or useless. This is tragic, especially on the left, for this current of opinion has in the past--together with the United Nations, Christian churches and many international NGOs--been in the forefront of pressing for humanitarian intervention, and for an end to the possibility of using national sovereignty as a shield behind which tyrants can commit atrocities with impunity.

As a result the intellectual/creative opposition to this war has, in Europe, been quite close to a monopoly. Only a few have broken this monopoly, notably the German writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger, who wrote in La Repubblica on 16 April that "one of the few profound joys which history reserves for us is the end of a tyranny." But few of his fellow writers and artists have shared this joy. Most have felt something quite different: a profound disgust--at the US. [...]

According to a report last week in the Independent , poor Zimbabwean youths are asking when Bush will come and liberate them from Mugabe. Do we smile at their naivete and the falseness of their consciousness? Or, on the other hand, do those of us who are British--with some historical responsibility--allow an indifferent American administration to convince us that we have no dog in this fight because Mugabe is not part of any axis of evil? Or do we try to think through, as the times invite us to do, how we can better square our ideals, our humanitarian impulses and our internationalism with life as it is lived and deaths as they are meted out?

We should recognise that politics, and human rights, are becoming global. None of the answers to the often-hideous questions thrown up are easy. And those that spring from finely crafted denunciations of American wickedness are the least convincing of all.

Let Tony Blair lead the way and I suspect most Americans would be prepared to help Zimbabwe rid itself of Mugabism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

WHO EVEN KNEW IT HAD GONE OUT OF STYLE?

Pabst Blue Ribbon: Another Winner: Retro Chic Suds Hit With Hip Young Adults (Bret Schulte, April 20, 2003, The Washington Post)
America has discovered a new beer, one that seems right for a country facing bad times.

Pabst Blue Ribbon, a forgotten if not forsaken brand, once the solace of the beleaguered working man, and, regrettably, a beer often associated with what people in polite company call "trash," has staged a surprising comeback. The resurgence is mostly among young adults, led by colleagues such as snowboarders and indie filmmakers.

Perhaps it's a sign of the times, or a remembrance of the way it was, or a toast to blue-collar virtue. However you pour it, PBR is America's new beer for a simple reason: It is not new at all. [...]

Of course, no amount of hipster or counterculture endorsement is going to resurrect Pabst to its former glory, or even bring it to levels competitive with Coors, Miller and Anheuser-Busch.

Steinman classifies PBR as "sub-premium," a real category among beer producers but one that also reflects the attitude of many American beer drinkers, an attitude that is unlikely to change as the beer proliferates among Establishment dropouts. And nothing is so tenuous as a youth fad, particularly one embraced by the ever-vigilant American iconoclast, who is likely to bail once he suspects corporate America has found him out, not to mention the media. If PBR becomes too visible, too much of a commodity, then it will lose its newfound support. (Note the brief and swiftly exploited revival of swing music in the 1990s.)

As Steinman points out, a sprinkle of sales doesn't mean a watershed is soon at hand. "The Pabst Brewing Company as a whole is still declining at a substantial rate," he says. "Pabst Blue Ribbon is a small component at this time. It's not their biggest brand." That distinction belongs to Old Milwaukee, not exactly a contender either. And the ground Pabst has lost since its heyday near the end of the 19th century will never be recovered.

In the 1890s Pabst produced the best-selling and most widely distributed beer in the country. It was the first beer to be accepted by the moneyed elite; sales were so brisk that Pabst purchased its own forest and barrel factories just to meet the demand. Today, Pabst products constitute about 4.2 percent of the domestic beer market, while Anheuser- Busch commands about 48 percent.

For now, low-saturation marketing has paid off. Pabst projects an image of casual earnestness. Buy it or don't buy it. Whatever. It is an image shared with today's indie rock scene, indie film scene, skateboarding scene, art and literary scenes. It is the image that, ironically, sells.

While most young consumers buy clothes and cars to make themselves seem as affluent and desirable as possible, the materialism of many of today's counterculture youth is just the opposite. It is meant to reflect the economics of "reality," of working-class thriftiness, of the notion of America at its best, at its most optimistic, at its blue-collar prime. Of course, this is not America. This is Americana -- and an appetite for what was good when things are going bad.

This puts us in mind of one of the all-time great songs:
Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer

The barmaid is mad cause some guy made a pass
The jukebox is playin' there stands a glass
The cigarette smoke kinda hangs in the air
Rednecks, white socks and Blue Ribbon beer

A cowboy is cussin' a pinball machine
The drunk at the bar is gettin orn'ry and mean
Some guy on the phone says, "I'll be home soon, dear!"
Rednecks, white socks and Blue Ribbon beer

No we don't fit in with that white collar crowd
We're a little too rowdy and a little too loud
But there' s no place that I'd rather be than right here
With our rednecks, my white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer

The semis are passing on the highway outside
The 4:30 Crowd is about to arrive
The sun's goin' down and we'll all soon be here
With our rednecks, white socks, and blue ribbon beer

No we don't fit in with that white collar crowd
We're a little too rowdy and a little too loud
But there' s no place that I'd rather be than right here
With our rednecks, my white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer

With our rednecks, my white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM

14 YEARS?

300 reasons why we love The Simpsons: The 300th episode of The Simpsons is broadcast today. Find a space on the sofa and read why, in 14 years, Matt Groening's show has become the world's best TV programme. (Euan Ferguson, April 20, 2003, The Observer)
#37: Those critics who got it wrong at the start by billing the Simpsons as 'America's most dysfunctional family.' It's now clear that Homer almost always ends up doing the right thing; it is, it could be argued, one of the most moral
shows on television today. According to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams: 'It's one of the most subtle pieces of propaganda around in the cause of sense, humility and virtue.'

The Simpsons manages at one and the same time to be dispositive proof that all comedy is conservative and that conservatives (many of whom have criticized it) are the stupid party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 PM

HAVE TO SAY?

Utah Sect Leader Criticizes Santorum (The Associated Press, April 24, 2003)
The leader of one of Utah's largest polygamist sects has objected to Sen. Rick Santorum's comment lumping plural marriage with other practices the Pennsylvania Republican considers to be antifamily.

Santorum has been under fire for comparing homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery.

Owen Allred, 89, head of the United Apostolic Brethen, based in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale, agreed with Santorum in part.

"He is absolutely right. The people of the United States are doing whatever they can to do away with the sacred rights of marriage," Allred told The Salt Lake Tribune.

But Allred said Santorum's inclusion of polygamy in his list tarnishes a religious tradition whose roots are traced to biblical figures such as Abraham, Jacob and Moses - defiling them as "immoral and dirty."

"The problem for anyone writing satire today is competing with the front page."
-Christopher Buckley

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM

DEVOLVING

Feds drop case after professor changes evolution policy (SEBASTIAN KITCHEN, 4/23/03, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
The Justice Department has closed its case against Texas Tech and a biology professor after he changed his policy for giving recommendations - a policy that, the government alleged, "constituted religious discrimination."

"The new policy rightly recognizes that students don't have to give up their religious beliefs to be good doctors or good scientists," Ralph F. Boyd Jr., assistant attorney general for civil rights, said in a prepared statement.

"A biology student may need to understand the theory of evolution and be able to explain it. But a state-run university has no business telling students what they should or should not believe in."

Professor Michael Dini changed the criteria and wording on his Web site to alleviate any question that he required students to affirm a personal belief in evolution. The Web site now states that students must be able to explain the scientific theory of evolution.

That's unfortunate. Mr. Dini may be a bigot, but he should not have changed his policy as regards recommendations, which are a personal rather than an official matter, if he doesn't believe what he's now saying.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 PM

BUSTED FLUSH

Tariq Aziz 'captured' (BBC, 4/24/03)
United States officials say they believe that one of Saddam Hussein's most prominent ministers, Tariq Aziz, is in US custody.

Tariq Aziz was deputy prime minister in the Iraqi regime and one of the best-known members of government in the West.

The BBC's Pentagon correspondent, Nick Childs, says it could be the most significant arrest by coalition forces so far.

Mr Aziz may have information on the location of Saddam Hussein and any programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, which was the reason for the US-led coalition going to war.

He is listed among Iraq's so-called "dirty dozen" and as a member of the Revolutionary Command Council he is wanted by the US for war crimes against Kuwait, Iran and his own people.

Details are scarce and it is not known where or how he was arrested or even whether he surrendered.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:20 PM

YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE

Poll Shows New Yorkers Favor President Bush More Than Democrats, Including Sen. Hillary Clinton (The Associated Press, April 24, 2003)
Heavily Democratic New York is showing growing support for President Bush over all potential Democratic challengers, including the state's own Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a poll showed.

Bush's approval rating among New Yorkers rose to 58 percent from 50 percent in February, before the war in Iraq, according to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll released Thursday. [...]

Bush was favored 50 percent to 38 percent over Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman as well as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in potential presidential faceoffs.

Bush was favored 49 percent to 38 percent over Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri in a presidential matchup.

NY is how the GOP gets to 60, knocking off Chuck Schumer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM

THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN'

Chinese whispers: The Chinese government's handling of Sars has given rumour and hearsay the currency of truth (Dominic Marsh, April 24, 2003, The Guardian)
A fortnight ago, the top story on CCTV9, China's international English-language channel, was "Sars is unequivocally under control".

The World Health Organisation had apparently complimented Beijing on its handling of the crisis, and archive footage of smiling, waving western tourists proved that even fickle foreign devils weren't scared.

The Communist party had successfully defended the Motherland from the ravages of Sars.

Here in Tianjin, just over an hour's train ride from the capital, Sars was little more than a big joke at that time. We mocked the Rolling Stones for pulling out of their China tour; those who donned surgical masks were ridiculed. Sars was nothing.

We didn't really believe the government's lies, but what they were claiming was by far the most comforting thing to tell ourselves.

It all changed four days ago. In the space of a few hours, the figure for cases in Beijing was revised from 30 to almost 400. And from then on, we kicked ourselves for having pretended to believe what we knew were lies.

The media's change of tack looks like a new attempt at honesty, but it has come far too late. Who knows how many have fallen ill or died needlessly?

No-one, Chinese or otherwise, can believe the offical line now.

Wow, even the The Guardian is acknowledging that communist governments lie....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:07 PM

LET THEM EAT CORN

Harkin in Cuba Urges Castro to Free Dissidents (Anthony Boadle, 4/24/03, Reuters)
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin traveled to Cuba to promote sales of Iowa farm products, but ended his visit on Thursday calling on President Fidel Castro to release jailed dissidents.

The Iowa Democrat, an outspoken defender of human rights in other parts of the world, had planned his sales pitch trip to Cuba before the island's communist authorities arrested 75 pro-democratic opponents of Castro last month and handed them stiff sentences of up to 28 years in prison.

"Some said I should not come here under these circumstances, but a policy of isolation and the embargo of 42 years has not achieved any U.S. objectives nor made life better for the average Cuban citizen," Harkin said.

The senator also asked the Bush administration to make it clear that it has no plans for military action against Cuba, responding to Cuban fears that Washington might be aiming at a regime change in Cuba after Iraq. [...]

After meeting with dissidents, including the Gisela Delgado, whose husband Hector Palacios was handed a 25-year jail term, Harkin said "it is clear that the best course of action now is moderation not escalation, engagement not isolation."

At that meeting on Tuesday evening at the Hotel Nacional, the dissidents recognized the waiter serving drinks as one of the witnesses the government produced at Palacios' trial to testify that the dissident had met with U.S. legislators at the hotel.

Have the Democrats completely lost their minds? You've got Howard Dean expressing uncertainty over whether Iraqis are better off with Saddam gone and Tom Harkin trying to cut a deal for Iowa farmers while Castro cracks down even further than usual on dissent. He then goes further and seeks to rule out regime change. Even realizing that propping up Castro has been official Democrat policy since the Cuban Missile fiasco, this is really too much. Is the Party pro-dictator at this point?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:15 PM

THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT EXPLAIN ITSELF (via a very impatient Brian Hoffman)

Incest Repellent?: If gay sex is private, why isn't incest? (William Saletan, April 23, 2003, Slate)
Let's leave adultery and polygamy out of it for the moment. Let's set aside morality and stick to law. And let's grant that being attracted to a gender is more fundamental than being attracted to a family member. Santorum sees no reason why, if gay sex is too private to be banned, the same can't be said of incest. Can you give him a reason?

The easy answer--that incest causes birth defects--won't cut it. Birth defects could be prevented by extending to sibling marriage the rule that five states already apply to cousin marriage: You can do it if you furnish proof of infertility or are presumptively too old to procreate. If you're in one of those categories, why should the state prohibit you from marrying your sibling? [...]

I'm a lifestyle conservative and an orientation liberal. The way I see it, stable families are good, homosexuality isn't a choice, and therefore, gay marriage should be not just permitted but encouraged. Morally, I think incest is bad because it confuses relationships. But legally, I don't see why a sexual right to privacy, if it exists, shouldn't cover consensual incest. I think Santorum is wrong. But I can't explain why, and so far, neither can the Human Rights Campaign.

One of the keys to conservatism, in many ways the key, is that it is largely a matter of temperament and aesthetics. The former was famously captured by Michael Oakeshott:
The man of conservative temperament believes that a known good is not lightly to be surrendered for an unknown better. He is not in love with what is dangerous and difficult; he is unadventurous; he has no impulse to sail uncharted seas; for him there is no magic in being lost, bewildered or shipwrecked. If he is forced to navigate the unknown, he sees virtue in heaving the lead every inch of the way.What others plausibly identify as timidity, he recognizes in himself as rational prudence; what others interpret as inactivity, he recognizes as a disposition to enjoy rather than to exploit. He is cautious, and he is disposed to indicate his assent or dissent, not in absolute, but in graduated terms. He eyes the situation in terms of its propensity to disrupt the familiarity of the features of his world.

and by Albert Jay Nock:
As a man of reason and logic, I am all for reform; but as the unworthy inheritor of a great tradition, I am unalterably against it. I am forever with Falkland, the true martyr of the Civil War,--one of the very greatest among the great spirits of whom England has ever been so notoriously noteworthy,--as he stood facing Hampden and Pym. 'Mr. Speaker,' he said, 'when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.'

Edmund Burke captures the latter, in reference to patriotism:
For us to love our country, our country ought to be lovely.

So too does Nock, as regards the materialism (economism) of modern life:
Economism can build a society which is rich, prosperous, powerful, even one which has a reasonably wide diffusion of material well-being. It can not build one which is lovely, one which has savour and depth, and which exercises the irresistible attraction that loveliness wields. Perhaps by the time economism has run its course the society it has built may be tired of itself, bored by its own hideousness, and may despairingly consent to annihilation, aware that it is too ugly to be let live any longer.

What Mr. Saletan has touched upon here is just such conservative impulses. He sees us perched somewhere near the top of the slippery slope and though he's willing to venture down it as far as we've so far come (to the acceptance of homosexuality), he's reluctant to travel further. The problem arises because he's already slid too far; for as he notes, having once accepted homosexuality as normal he's lost any theoretical basis for applying the brakes and disavowing those things he retains sufficient judgment to know are abnormal and ugly.

Now, I know, we are no longer to speak in this way, but all of us know, even if only in the secret recesses of our minds, those parts we don't display in polite company, that there's nothing normal about homosexuality. No one, after all, is truly ambivalent about the question of whether their own child chooses to be straight or gay. Even the most "tolerant" of folks are not indifferent as to whether the sex scene in the movie they're watching is between two men. Even homosexuals do not pretend to normalcy:
The homosexual learns to make distinctions between his sexual desire and his emotional longing--not because he is particularly prone to objectifications of the flesh, but because he needs to survive as a social and sexual being. The society separates these two entities, and for a long time the homosexual has no option but to keep them separate. He learns certain rules; and, as with a child learning grammar, they are hard, later on in life, to unlearn.

It's possible, I think, that whatever society teaches or doesn't teach about homosexuality, this fact will always be the case. No homosexual child, surrounded overwhelmingly by heterosexuals, will feel at home in his sexual and emotional world, even in the most tolerant of cultures. And every homosexual child will learn the rituals of deceit, impersonation, and appearance. Anyone who believes political, social, or even cultural revolution will change this fundamentally is denying reality. This isolation will always hold. It is definitional of homosexual development.

That's Andrews Sullivan--here Camille Paglia:
Homosexuality is not 'normal.' On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein rests its eternally revolutionary character. Note I do not call it a challenge to the idea of the norm. Queer theorists - that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders - have tried to take the poststructuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina: no fancy linguistic game - playing can change that basic fact. However, my libertarian view, here as in regard to abortion, is that we have not only the right, but the obligation to defy nature's
tyranny. The highest human identity consists precisely in such assertions of freedom against material limitation.

So, when Mr. Saletan says that he's a "lifestyle conservative" and when he laments that he can't explain why Rick Santorum must be wrong, he has in fact revealed that he knows Mr. Santorum to be right and this is what troubles him. He's suddenly awoken to the fact that he's already given away too much and can no longer find purchase on the slope. But there's still hope. Mr. Saletan can always fall back--though he'll not be able to explain it intellectually--on a sublime statement of conservative principle, this one from Mark Helprin: "It should not be necessary to explain a praiseworthy revulsion."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:24 PM

OBJECTIVELY PRO-SADDAM?

DEAN: Doesn't Know If Iraq Is Better Off Without Saddam (Hotline, 4/24/03)
[Howard] Dean appeared on "Wolf Blitzer Reports." Some highlights:

Asked if Iraqis are better off without Saddam: "We don't know that yet. ... We still have a country whose city is mostly without electricity. We have tumultuous occasions in the south where there is no clear governance. We have a major city without clear governance. We don't know yet."

CNN's Blitzer: "You think it's possible ... that whatever emerges in Iraq could be worse than what they have for decades under Saddam Hussein?"

Dean: "I do. We have to think of this from an American perspective, not an Iraqi perspective. The reason the president gave for going into Iraq, which I disagree with, is Iraq was a security threat to the United States. I don't believe Saddam was. But I believe a fundamentalist Islamic regime would be. ... The other thing is, you have to remember that this president has now created a new American foreign policy -- a preemptive doctrine. And I think that's going to cause America some serious trouble down the line too."

So if the Iraqi people are better off, but things are a tad more difficult for us, it's a bad thing? Who are the real imperialists around here? What other peoples should live in totalitarian terror so that they don't annoy us?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM

MAKING THE CONNECTION

Al Qaeda's credibility 'on the line' (David R. Sands, 4/24/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Al Qaeda and its terrorist allies remain a potent threat, but their failure to carry out a successful strike during the U.S.-led military campaign to topple Saddam Hussein has raised questions about their ability to carry out major new attacks.

The fears of senior Bush administration officials and private terrorism analysts that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would attempt to "hijack" Muslim opposition to the Iraq war with a spectacular new attack have proved unfounded, even with American generals now occupying Saddam's Baghdad palaces.

"I think their credibility is increasingly on the line the longer we go without a successful terrorist strike," said Mark Burgess, director of the Terrorism Project at the Center for Defense Information.

"We know al Qaeda is a patient lot, but I don't know if they can afford to be too patient," he said. "Bin Laden made a lot of noise before the war about defending the Iraqi people, and so far there's nothing to show for it."

Despite a few suicide bombings that targeted U.S. forces in Iraq, speculation that Saddam's regime would resort to widespread terrorist attacks to disrupt the coalition campaign also did not pan out.

The link between the war in Iraq and the larger post-September 11 war on terrorism has been one of the most contested battlegrounds in the debate over toppling Saddam.

There's an opportunity here that we in the West should seize on: we should announce that there were no discernible operational connections between Saddam and al Qaeda, but that we toppled him as a result of 9-11 anyway and will topple Bashir Assad if there's another attack, then Muammar Qaddafi if there's another, and so forth... Our policy should clearly be reprisals not just against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, but the regimes they support, regardless of whether those regimes aide them. Let al Qaeda not only have to explain why they've been so ineffectual but how they've actually been a detriment to their own vision of an Islamicist/pan-Arab Middle East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 PM

THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART

Discovery could silence debate over stem cells (Michael Bradley, April 25 2003, Sydney Morning Herald)
Scientists claim to have discovered a way of producing embryonic stem cells that could side-step the entire ethical debate surrounding such research.

Researchers from the US bio-tech company Stemron have produced embryos capable of providing stem cells, but which can never become human beings.

It is the first time scientists have used a technique called parthenogenesis on human cells.

Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction in which the egg develops without fertilisation. The phenomenon occurs naturally in many insects, while artificial parthenogenesis has been achieved in almost all groups of animals, although it usually results in abnormal development.

Whether this turns out to be the breakthrough or whether it's days, months, or even years ahead, you know it's coming, which makes it even more repellant that so many folks--like Orrin Hatch, Nancy Reagan, Christopher Reeve and Michael Kinsley, to name a few--were willing to turn embryos into the moral equivalent of deli meat just because they were impatient.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 AM

CARRION FEEDERS

Hawks Rip Into Mideast Plan: Neoconservatives and like-minded lawmakers blast State Department. (Edwin Chen, April 23, 2003, LA Times)
Emboldened by the U.S. military victory in Iraq, neoconservatives and their allies in Congress are mounting a preemptive campaign against the U.S. plan to implement a so-called road map for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [...]

During the run-up to the Iraq war, President Bush announced his intention of unveiling the Middle East road map once Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister-designate, forms his Cabinet and its members take office.

Bush made that commitment, at least in part, as a concession to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his strongest ally on the war, who was concerned that Washington's failure to aggressively pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was enraging the Arab world.

As outlined in media reports, the plan details a series of reciprocal steps that Israel and the Palestinians would take leading up to the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

Neoconservatives take issue with the fact that it is a collaborative effort with the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Calling that arrangement a State Department "invention," Gingrich described it Tuesday as "a deliberate and systematic effort to undermine the president's policies procedurally by ensuring that they will consistently be watered down and distorted by the other three members."

Underlying such antagonism is the belief among many administration hawks, especially in the Pentagon, that Russia, France and Germany stymied U.S. efforts to obtain U.N. support for forcefully disarming Iraq.

"For us to invite them into a quartet is an absolute defeat before the process even begins," Gingrich said.

As a part of the new peace initiative, the Bush administration intends to press Israel to ease its crackdown in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

During an April 14 meeting at the White House, both Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor, delivered that news to Dov Weisglass, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who had brought to the White House Sharon's many reservations about the plan.

In an effort to present a united front, Rice included other senior administration officials whom Israel considers more sympathetic, among them Elliott Abrams, a top National Security Council advisor on the Middle East; I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney; and Douglas J. Feith, who is undersecretary of Defense for policy.

But Rice reportedly told Weisglass that the administration would make no changes to the road map before it was unveiled.

Here we see the neocons, who don't actually seem to believe in much more than the exercise of American power, drifting off into a little Cloud-Cuckoo land of their own. They imagine themselves "tough" if they deny they reality that there is going to be a Palestinian state--a position that is made easier since none of them have to worry about dealing with daily suicide bombings (yet anyway). But if America is now to stand for the idea that the Palestinian people should have no citizenship rights anywhere--neither in a state of their own, nor within Israel--we will have betrayed our own values just so the likes of Newt Gingrich can thump their chests. And should the bombings start here, it will be hard to say they aren't, on some level, justified.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM

FOUR MEN AND A CLOSER

The Mechanics Of Baseball: Baseball has evolved in favor of the hitter. Here are nine factors that have changed the game. (JIM KAAT, April 2003, Popular Mechanics)
Critics of baseball will tell you that Abner Doubleday of Cooperstown, N.Y., invented the game in 1839 and not a thing has changed since. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, no one has yet proved that Ol' Abner actually invented the game, and second, the game of baseball changes constantly--with every game, every day, and every player bringing something unique to the sport.

The peanuts and Cracker Jack are still there, but everything else is different than it was 20, 30, even five years ago. In my opinion, no sport has changed as radically as baseball has in the past 20 years. To me, baseball is a matter of who is in control--the pitcher or the hitter. The vast majority of the changes in major-league baseball over the past 20 years have favored putting the hitter in control. Why? Because fans would rather see an 11-8 ballgame with balls getting smacked over the fence than a 2-1 pitcher's duel. And hitters today are delivering.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kaat leaves out the most significant factor, which is poor management. If you look back at baseball stats from prior to the late-70s/early-80s, you'll find that the vast bulk of decisions and innings belong to only a handful of pitchers--four starters, a "closer" who went two or three innings if necessary, and a mop up guy for blowouts. Nowadays--thanks, or no thanks, to Whitey Herzog and Tony LaRussa--there's been a sea-change and every team has five starters, two set up men who go an inning each, and lefty and righty specialists who face only a batter or two per game, you just have way too many marginal pitchers tossing innings that matter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

THE VELVET PUNDIT

Velvet President: Why Vaclav Havel is our era's George Orwell and more. (Matt Welch, May 2003, Reason)
Last fall, as the United States rumbled toward war against Saddam Hussein, literary reviews and higher-brow magazines wrestled with an intriguing if unlikely hypothetical: What would George Orwell say if he were here today?

Christopher Hitchens, the fire-breathing British journalist who kick-started the discussion with his book Why Orwell Matters, suggested that a contemporary Eric Blair "would have seen straight through the characters who chant 'No War On Iraq'" and helped the rest of us to "develop the fiber to call Al-Qaeda what it actually is." Washington Post book reviewer George Scialabba stated confidently that "Orwell would associate himself with the unsexy democratic left, notably Dissent and the American Prospect," and that "he might, in particular, have wondered aloud why the heinous terrorist murder of 3,000 Americans was a turning point in history." Commentary tried yet again to claim Orwell as a neocon, and The Weekly Standard's David Brooks argued that the great man's mantle and relevance had actually passed onto a new contrarian's shoulders: "At this moment, oddly enough, Hitchens matters more than Orwell."

At exactly the same time, the one man in the world of the living who could justifiably claim to be Orwell's heir was expounding almost daily on Saddam Hussein and international terrorism -- even while rushing through one of the most frenetic periods of a famously accomplished life. Vaclav Havel, the 66-year-old former Czech president who was term-limited out of office on February 2, built his reputation in the 1970s by being to eyewitness fact what George Orwell was to dystopian fiction. In other words, he used common sense to deconstruct rhetorical falsehoods, pulling apart the suffocating mesh of collectivist lies one carefully observed thread at a time.

Like Orwell, Havel was a fiction writer whose engagement with the world led him to master the nonfiction political essay. Both men, in self-described sentiment, were of "the left," yet both men infuriated the left with their stinging criticism and ornery independence. Both were haunted by the Death of God, delighted by the idiosyncratic habits of their countrymen, and physically diminished as a direct result of their confrontation with totalitarians (not to mention their love of tobacco). As essentially neurotic men with weak mustaches, both have given generations of normal citizens hope that, with discipline and effort, they too can shake propaganda from everyday language and stand up to the foulest dictatorships.

Unlike Orwell, Havel lived long enough to enjoy a robust third act, and his last six months in office demonstrated the same kind of restless, iconoclastic activism that has made him an enemy of ideologues and ally of freedom lovers for nearly five decades. [...[

The first targets of Havel?s considerable wrath and sarcasm were the poor fools making "halfhearted" efforts at creating "Socialism with a humanface." One of his first essays, 1965?s "On Evasive Thinking" (collected in the English-language volume Open Letters) makes cruel sport of a newspaper essayist who -- not unlike his modern American counterparts -- attempted to assess and then dismiss the broader significance of a temporal tragedy, in this case, a building ledge falling and killing a passerby. "The public," Havel wrote, "again showed more intelligence and humanity than the writer, for it had understood that the so-called prospects of mankind are nothing but an empty platitude if they distract us from our particular worry about who might be killed by [another] window ledge, and what will happen should it fall on a group of nursery-school children out for a walk."

Here, in Havel?s earliest essay to be translated into English, you can already find the four main themes that have animated his adult nonfiction writing ever since. One is the responsibility to make the world a better place. Another is that the slightest bit of personal dishonesty warps the soul. ("The minute we begin turning a blind eye to what we don't like in each other?s writing, the minute we begin to back away from our own inner norms, to accommodate ourselves to each other, cut deals with each other over poetics, we will in fact set ourselves against each other...until one day we will disappear in a general fog of mutual admiration.")

A third theme is that ideology-driven governance is practically doomed to fail. ("It prevents whoever has it in his power to solve the problem of the Prague facades from understanding that he bears responsibility for something and that he can't lie his way out of that responsibility.") Finally, there is his belief in the revolutionary potency of individuals speaking freely and "living in truth."

The last of these phenomena became nearly extinct after the tanks of 1968 rolled in from Russia. The new rulers ushered in the "normalization" period, during which tens of thousands emigrated and most "nonconformist" writers (including Havel) were inconvenienced, banned, or sometimes just locked away. In April 1975, facing an utterly demoralized country and an understandable case of writer?s block, Havel committed an act of such sheer ballsiness that the shock waves are still being felt in repressive countries 30 years later. He simply sat down and, knowing that he'd likely be imprisoned for his efforts, wrote an open letter to his dictator, Gustav Husak, explaining in painstaking detail just why and how totalitarianism wasruining Czechoslovakia.

"So far," Havel scolded Husak, "you and your government have chosen the easy way out for yourselves, and the most dangerous road for society: the path of inner decay for the sake of outward appearances; of deadening life for the sake of increasing uniformity; of deepening the spiritual and moral crisis of our society, and ceaselessly degrading human dignity, for the puny sake of protecting your own power."

It was the Big Bang that set off the dissident movement in Central Europe. For those lucky enough to read an illegally retyped copy or hear it broadcast over Radio Free Europe, the effect was not unlike what happened to the 5,000 people who bought the Velvet Underground's first record: After the shock and initial pleasure wore off, many said, "Wait a minute, I can do this too!" By standing up to a system that had forced every citizen to make a thousand daily compromises, Havel was suggesting a novel new tactic: Have the self-respect to tell the truth, never mind the consequences, and maybe you'll put the bastards on the defensive.

We like Matt Welch anyway, but note the diabolically clever conceit of this essay: first he dismisses the attempts of others to claim the mantle of George Orwell's approval for their position on the war, then grants the rightful mantle to Havel, who just happens to be pro-war. That's how you get to be a professional pundit.

April 23, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:55 PM

HEY, WE PAIRED THE MOP SQUEEZERS!

U.S. Captures Four Top Iraqis (Fox News, April 23, 2003)
Coalition troops in Iraq captured four top former officials of Saddam Hussein's regime Wednesday, including the air defense force commander and the former head of military intelligence.

The highest-ranking capture is Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al-Tikriti, who headed Iraq's air defenses under Saddam. He was No. 10 on the U.S. list of the top 55 most wanted officials from Saddam's regime and the queen of diamonds in the military's deck of playing cards listing those officials.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 PM

HARVEST OF HATE

France's Headscarf Problem (Theodore Dalrymple, 23 April 2003, City Journal)
The French Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, is the first man for a long time to hold that post who has shown the courage and determination to confront France's growing social problems. He has put policemen back on the beat; he is testing drivers of crashed cars for the presence of cannabis in their urine. But he made a rod with which to beat his own back in creating the Union of French Islamic Organizations as an intermediary between French Muslims and the French government. He hoped that moderates would control the new group, but instead it has given extremists a platform from which to voice their demands. Last weekend, he brought down the extremists' ire by re-opening the question of the wearing of the headscarf by Muslim girls and women in a speech to the new Islamic union.

The fundamentalists booed Sarkozy, though a smattering of the women in the audience applauded when he remarked that the law required that photographs for the compulsory identity card should be taken bareheaded: that is to say, without a headscarf. He was implicitly asserting the supremacy of the law of the state over any religious custom.

The Conseil d'Etat had not long before ruled that the wearing of headscarves by Muslim girls at school was legal (it had previously been banned), provided that it gave rise to no conflict. This, of course, was asking for the circle to be squared: and conflict over headscarves duly started up again in several schools almost at once. But, in a spirit completely contrary to the Conseil d'Etat's ruling, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced his intention of prohibiting by law the wearing of the headscarf in the exercise of any public function. He did so in name of the difference between the public and the private sphere, and of the secularism of the state.

The wearing of the headscarf has clearly become a matter of the deepest symbolic significance in France, a matter over which it is not impossible to see hundreds or even thousands eventually being killed. What might appear to an outsider as a trivial disagreement is actually one of great philosophical importance-a fact that both parties to the disagreement instinctively understand.

While asking the women to remove the scarf for an identification photo seems entirely reasonable, banning the veil entirely would not be mere secularism but genuine religious hostility. Given that the French won't be in control there much longer, they might want to be careful about sowing such hostility, because they may not like what they reap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 PM

DIS-MAY

Hitler's Forgotten Library: The Man, His Books, and His Search for God (Timothy W. Ryback, May 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
By his own admission, Hitler was not a big fan of novels, though he once ranked Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Don Quixote (he had a special affection for the edition illustrated by Gustave Dore) among the world's greatest works of literature. The one novelist we know Hitler loved and read was Karl May, a German writer of cheap American-style westerns. In the spring of 1933, just months after the Nazis seized power, Oskar Achenbach, a Munich-based journalist, toured the Berghof-in the Führer's absence-and discovered a shelf of Karl May novels at Hitler's bedside. "The bedroom of the Führer is of spartan simplicity," Achenbach reported in the Sonntag Morgenpost. "Brass bed, closet, toiletries, a few chairs, those are all the furnishings. On a bookshelf are works on politics and diplomacy, a few brochures and books on the care of German shepherds, and then-pay attention you German boys! Then comes an entire row of books by-Karl May! Winnetou, Old Surehand, Bad Guy, all our dear old friends." During the war Hitler reportedly admonished his generals for their lack of imagination and recommended that they all read Karl May. Albert Speer recounted in his Spandau diaries,

"Hitler was wont to say that he had always been deeply impressed by the tactical finesse and circumspection thatKarl May conferred upon his character Winnetou ... And he would add that during his reading hours at night, when faced by seemingly hopeless situations, he would still reach for those stories, that they gave him courage like works of philosophy for others or the Bible for elderly people.

Poor Karl May, he really deserves better than the fans he's found.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 PM

BOWLING TOGETHER IN GUATEMALA

Guatemala at the Crossroads: The Future of Free Market Reforms (Anthony B. Bradley, April 23, 2003, Acton Commentary)
Prior to the administration of the country's present leader, Guatemala underwent significant economic and political development. Under the leadership of President Alfonso Portillo, however, the country has experienced a sharp reversal of many of the pre-1999 free-market reforms. The Portillo Administration's enactment of higher taxes and its cavalier treatment of the rule of law have stymied the nation's economic development.

These conditions have brought about a renewed interest in the free-market reforms that characterized government policy in the 1990s. The March conferences in which I participated were designed to bring together some of Guatemala's "best and brightest" to discuss the future of free market reforms and, by extension, the very future of Guatemala itself. The fundamental conviction of all the sponsoring organizations is that the future of Guatemala lies not with a centralized federal structure dictating economic policy, but with the economic and moral components of a revitalized civil society working in concert for the economic development of Guatemala.

Rodrigo Callejas, an attorney from Guatemala City and one of the conference organizers, provides critical insight into the changes necessary to unlock the economic and political potential of Guatemala. Callejas notes that, for Guatemala to have continued economic growth, "a national dialogue has to be set in order for all sectors of Guatemalan society to agree upon a long-term national vision, based upon a stable legal framework, rule of law, a democratic government, and a socially-aware free market economic system."

However, like other countries in the region, the desired free-market "culture" needed for long-term, systemic change in Guatemala has been deterred by an overbearing and unwieldy federal structure. This structure has made Guatemala, especially in the perception of most investors, a very unfriendly place for business. Significant structural reforms are needed-and needed immediately-if Guatemala is to survive and be competitive in the international marketplace. Callejas is convinced that new growth will ensue when Guatemala's assets are capitalized and when there is "a single tributary scheme that will motivate investors and provide them with the stability for their investments."

Perhaps such a possibility looms more imminently than one imagines, since federal elections are scheduled for November. The next generation of Guatemala's leaders, like Callejas, want to improve economic conditions by seeking "to take away the overwhelming power that the government actually has, and decentralize it to the civil society." A new vision for Guatemala is needed, continues Callejas, where " the government has to understand that its role is to serve . . . and respond to the needs of entrepreneurs in a just and efficient way."

His is not a lone voice. Organizations such as IPRES explore and disseminate the dynamic relationship between ethics, social responsibility, and the institutions of the free-market. A fundamental principle of The Instituto de Gobernanza is to promote the principles of limited government and respect for the autonomy of civil society.

Not to be trite, but it seems possible it may be less important for a nation to embrace capitalism than social capitalism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 PM

FTC FILES

European economic giant remains a political pygmy (CATHERINE FIELD, 23.04.2003, NZ Herald)
The best chance of fixing these problems came last year with the launch of a conference to overhaul Europe's institutions in the runup to the "Big Bang", when EU membership expands from 15 to 25 countries in May 2004.

The convention, chaired by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, is due to submit its recommendations by the end of June. Some of its thinking has been ambitiously integrationist. Some delegates have suggested changing the name of the EU to the United States of Europe, appointing a permanent EU president, rather than rotating the presidency every six months, and having an EU foreign minister.

But the outcome of the Iraqi war has clearly tipped in favour of Britain and other "Euro-realists", who want an EU where member states co-operate if they can, but keep significant competencies, such as foreign policy and defence, for themselves. The pragmatists are now in the ascendancy, and are determined to water down the convention's ambitious reforms, or reject them outright if need be.

If so, the Europe of the future will speak with several voices rather than a single voice, and there will be vocal demands for intimate ties with Washington and Nato, opposing the radicals who want to weaken the transatlantic connection and set up the EU as a potential challenger to the US. The pro-US strand will be reinforced next year by the induction of Eastern countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Even the economic ties that exist now are unfortunate, but if we've managed to slow or stop further political integration, and thereby saved Britain, this war will have been well worthwhile regardless of what happens to Iraq.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM

THE ROAD TO ROSWELL

St Paul converted by epileptic fit, suggests BBC (Jonathan Petre and Jonathan Wynne-Jones, 19/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
A documentary about St Paul has infuriated Christians by suggesting that the apostle's conversion on the road to Damascus may have been caused by an epileptic fit or a freak lightning bolt.

In one of the Bible's most dramatic stories, Paul was transformed from a zealous persecutor of Christianity into one of its most powerful advocates after being struck down by a blinding light.

Trembling and on his knees, he heard the voice of God asking: "Why do you persecute me?" Soon after, he began the missionary journeys that spread Christianity across the Roman Empire.

The documentary, to be broadcast on BBC1 on May 11, is presented by Jonathan Edwards, the athlete and evangelical. It challenges the belief that Paul's conversion was caused by divine intervention by quoting scientists who link religious experience with epilepsy.

It suggests that the apostle's reference to an ailment which he described as "a thorn in the flesh, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me, and keep me from being proud" could be the condition. [...]

An even more bizarre theory, suggested by Dr John Derr, an American earthquake expert, is that Paul could have been struck by a bolt of electro-magnetic energy, similar to ball lightning, released by an earthquake.

It's sad to see the venerable Bebe participate in the cover-up: everyone knows it was an alien abduction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:44 PM

THE OTHER SHOE

Still Advising (Bob Ingle, 9/22/02, Gannett New Jersey)
Two days later, the governor was back at the station for his monthly call- in with News Director Eric Scott, who asked McGreevey to reveal the nature of his relationship with Golan Cipel, the former $110,000 aide sans job description.

"Very good friends," said McGreevey. "Remains a good friend?" probed Scott. "Yes," said McGreevey.

Scott also asked the Guv if he accompanied Cipel on a house-hunting expedition when the young Israeli citizen looked at a condo he eventually purchased not far from Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion.

McGreevey said he saw the place and told Cipel it made sense. The governor said he had done as much for others.

When asked if McGreevey still seeks counsel from Cipel, the Guv said, "Sure. Definitely." Rest well tonight, New Jersey.

Ed Driscoll notes a story about Republican prospects brightening in NJ, especially because Governor Jim McGreevey continues to shoot himself in the feet. And, from what our sources tell us, the Golan Cipel story may end up being even more harmful than it's been so far, leaving Mr. McGreevey very vulnerable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 PM

AMERICAN GIGOLO

Kerry Seeing Red? (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Alex Hahn and Joanna Schubert, April, 23, 2003, CBS News)
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., tells the Boston Globe that he might consider tapping into his wife's fortune to compensate for the possibility of a $200 million fundraising juggernaut by President Bush.

Geez, he's like what we used to call a "kept man". Does he pumice the dead skin off her feet when she snaps?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:34 PM

V-P DAY

Palestinian leaders agree cabinet (BBC, 4/23/03)
Yasser Arafat and his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, have ended a dispute over who will take key security roles in a new Palestinian cabinet.

The agreement reached hours before a midnight deadline puts Mr Abbas as interior minister as well as prime minister while Mohammed Dahlan will report to him as minister of state for security.

Now it's incumbent upon America, Britain, and Israel to hand Mr. Abbas enough for him to show that his victory is worth the Palestinian people's while.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:21 PM

THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY...AGAIN

French now say war maybe was a good idea (CHENE BLIGNAUT, April 23, 2003, Christian Science Monitor
Natalie Lavarra is having second thoughts about her position on the Iraq war.

''I still think it was right of [French President Jacques] Chirac to say no to the war,'' says the Paris secretary. ''But when I saw how happy the Iraqis were . . . I had to ask myself whether we didn't perhaps make a mistake.'' [...]

Chirac's staunch resistance boosted his popularity to an all-time high. But despite still scoring 65 percent approval ratings in French polls, his role has changed from that of an international hero walking the moral high ground to what appears to be a sulking lone voice, fighting not to be excluded from sharing in the spoils of the war.

The result, says Alain Madelin, a Conservative politician who opposed France's war policy, is that Chirac has been presented as Saddam's best friend.

''The Iraqis feel today they had been liberated without--and even against--the will of France,'' he says.

With apologies to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: The French--ten generations of imbeciles is enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:11 PM

FIGHTING THE NEXT WAR

Rumsfeld Urges Overhaul of Pentagon Civil Service: Pay for Performance, Shift of 320,000 Jobs, Other Major Powers Sought in Legislation (Christopher Lee, April 23, 2003, Washington Post)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wants to implement sweeping changes in the way civilian employees are hired, paid and promoted in the Defense Department.

Pentagon officials recently sent a 205-page bill to Capitol Hill detailing a proposed overhaul of the civil service system that would replace guaranteed annual raises for 470,000 workers with a pay-for-performance plan. It also would shift as many as 320,000 military members out of jobs that could be done by civilians, make it easier for the Defense Department to contract out work to the private sector and allow managers to hire and transfer employees without time-consuming competitions.

Moreover, the proposal would grant the defense secretary the power to implement major personnel changes over the opposition of the Office of Personnel Management and labor unions.

Pentagon officials said the changes are necessary to shape the Defense Department into a modern, responsive bureaucracy capable of efficiently carrying out the government's most important mission, protecting its citizens.

"We are trying to create a system in which people can think in one cohesive unit, and then act," said David S. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, speaking yesterday at a human resources forum hosted by the IBM Endowment for the Business of Government.

"The current civil service system is rigid. It is not agile," Chu said. "We cannot succeed with the current system."

On the other hand (see below), if George W. Bush can break the civil service across the whole of government, it will be a more important achievement than anything else he's yet done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM

FIGHTING THE LAST WAR

Bush Backs Greenspan for Another Term at Fed (RICHARD W. STEVENSON, 4/23/03, NY Times)
President Bush said today that Alan Greenspan deserved appointment to a fifth term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, in effect leaving to Mr. Greenspan the decision of whether to extend his long tenure as head of the central bank.

Responding to a question in an interview with financial journalists about whether Mr. Greenspan had done well enough to be reappointed, Mr. Bush replied: "Yes. I think Alan Greenspan should get another term." White House officials said later that Mr. Bush would renominate Mr. Greenspan next year before Mr. Greenspan's current four-year term expires in June.

This--assuming the announcement is serious and not just an attempt to reassure the markets--is the second major misstep of the Bush Administration (the first was signing the Campaign Finance Reform law--good politics, bad constitutionalism). The problem with Fed chairmen is that they tend to fight the battles of their youth, rather than the battle of the day. Thus, Chairman Greenspan has remained an inflation hawk throughout over a decade of price stagnation or even deflation. He caused the current recession by tightening interest rates as we headed into surplus, a time when rates obviously should have been falling, and rates today should be at 0% or lower.

We've a solution to this problem though: the Fed chairman, if there's going to be one, should be required to be under thirty years of age. That way, the battles of his youth are the battles of the day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM

60-40 VISION

Bush presses Edgar to run for Senate (LYNN SWEET, April 23, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
President Bush called former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar to persuade him to run for the Senate on Monday, and on Tuesday Edgar said he was "seriously'' considering the possibility. [...]

After the call from the president, Edgar dined at Mike Ditka's Restaurant in Chicago with a group of political intimates and top staffers from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who flew to the city as part of a campaign to convince Edgar to run.

The dinner group included the committee's executive director, Jay Timmons, and its political director, Patrick Davis, as well as GOP consultant Carter Hendren and Bob Kjellendar, a member of the Republican National Committee and college friend of Bush's senior political strategist, Karl Rove. [...]

The meeting at Ditka's was described as a session where Edgar was "getting up to speed'' on new campaign finance laws and what would be involved in a federal campaign. Edgar, who served as governor for eight years and secretary of state for 10 years, has never been in a federal race.

With his considerable stature in the state, Edgar quickly emerged as the consensus pick of GOP officials. Illinois Republicans have a thin bench, and if Edgar decides not to run the attention would shift to State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the state party chairman, who said last week her attention was focused on getting Edgar to say "yes."

What's not clear is if Edgar wants to give up his comfortable lifestyle, cushioned with money from teaching, lobbying and serving on corporate boards.

Mr. Bush really needs to run better in the Rust Belt than he did in 2000 and getting a strong top of the state ticket in IL would be a great help. If they can recruit Gov. Edgar, we'd expect to see the President log a lot of time in IL on his way to SD, WA, NV, and CA.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:12 PM

TO MARKET

Crossroads of Culture (PETER WATSON, 4/21/03, NY Times)
[T]he golden age that Arab fundamentalists refer to was achieved only because Baghdad was wide open to foreign influences, much as the United States at its birth imported ideas of the Enlightenment from Europe and made more of them than did the Old World.

One can go further. Many of the scholars who translated the manuscripts of the Greeks, Indians and Chinese, and who flocked to Baghdad in the golden age, were Christians, Jews and pagans. Although the West as we know it didn't exist in the 9th and 10th centuries, one could say that the Arab world was, for a time, part of the intellectual circle that would become the West. Many of the Greek classics reached Europe via Muslim Toledo, in Spain, where they were translated from Arabic into Latin.

In other words, there is no need for the Arab world to fear the West--or to despise it, for that matter. If Arab history is any guide, more prosperity comes from openness, receptivity and curiosity than from the closed, self-referential world of fundamentalist religions. One of the reasons the golden age happened was that the natural sciences and the so-called Islamic sciences (or religious study) were kept separate in the colleges of the day. It seems no coincidence that only when the religious authorities started to interfere with the natural sciences, starting in the 11th century, did the golden age lose its glitter.

Historically, the place we now call Iraq has always been the most secular of Arab states. That is a precious asset. Whatever government follows Saddam Hussein, it must continue to turn its face against fundamentalism. The acrimony last week between imams and secular Iraqis at meetings on the shape of the new Iraq was worrisome, if not surprising. Unless the next Arab generation, in Iraq and elsewhere, embraces the intellectual openness that so characterized the Baghdad of the 9th and 10th centuries, a second Arab miracle is unthinkable.

However it came to pass--and it remains the most interesting question in all of human history--there arose in England at roughly the same time a set of theories that held that there should be a generally free market in religion (protestantism, with a small "p"), politics (democracy), and economics (capitalism). The process reached its highwater mark in 1776 with the publication of the Declaration of Independence and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Though it's been pretty much downhill ever since, Britain and America went on to demonstrate, thus far conclusively, that a society predominantly structured around these free markets affords unique competitive advantages vis-a-vis societies that restrict any one of the three, and enormous advatages against those that restrict two or all three.

Now, some would have us believe that this demonstrates that freedom is the ultimate value and end of humankind and suffices to render a great society. Freedom, in this vision, is an engine that produces itself. Would that this were true, for were it, all a nation would have to do is create an initial condition of freedom and it would endure always. In fact, few of the nations that adopted the Anglo-American model remained very free for any length of time (see for example the innumerable temporary democracies of Africa and Latin America); most of those where the general structure of freedom does still obtain are now rather statist and authoritarian, even if relatively benevolent (see for example Old Europe); and even the states of the Anglosphere, to varying degrees, are a good deal less free today than they were in the 19th Century. As it turns out, the great mass of men don't necessarily want to be free, or, at the very least, aren't prepared to accept the burdens which make freedom sustainable, a phenomenon that has long been recognized by conservative philosophers and expounded upon by them in various memorable ways, a few of which follow:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

from bondage to spiritual faith;

from spiritual faith to great courage;

from courage to liberty;

from liberty to abundance;

from abundance to selfishness;

from selfishness to complacency;

from complacency to apathy;

from apathy to dependency;

from dependency back again to bondage.
-Sir Alex Fraser Tytler (1742-1813)

My thesis...is this: the very perfection with which the XIXth Century gave an organisation to certain orders of existence has caused the masses benefited thereby to consider it, not as an organised, but as a natural system. Thus is explained and defined the absurd state of mind revealed by these masses; they are only concerned with their own well-being, and at the same time they remain alien to the cause of that well-being. As they do not see, behind the benefits of civilisation, marvels of invention and construction which can only be maintained by great effort and foresight, they imagine that their role is limited to demanding these benefits peremptorily, as if they were natural rights. In the disturbances caused by scarcity of food, the mob goes in search of bread, and the means it employs is generally to wreck the bakeries. This may serve as a symbol of the attitude adopted, on a greater and more complicated scale, by the masses of to-day towards the civilisation by which they are supported.
-Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses

If freedom entails responsibility, a fair proportion of mankind would prefer servitude; for it is far, far better to receive three meals a day and be told what to do than to take the consequences of one's own self-destructive choices. It is, moreover, a truth universally unacknowledged that freedom without understanding of what to do with it is a complete nightmare.

Such freedom is a nightmare, of course, not only for those who possess it, but for everyone around them. A man who does not know what to do with his freedom is like a box of fireworks into which a lighted match is thrown: he goes off in all directions at once. And such, multiplied by several millions, is modern society. The welfare state is - or has become - a giant organisation to shelter people from the natural consequences of their own disastrous choices, thus infantilising them and turning them into semi-dependants, to the great joy of their power-mad rulers.
--ESSAY: Don't set the people free (Theodore Dalrymple, 12/14/02, The Spectator)
Well, you get the idea. So the question arises: what is it that has acted as a bulwark in the Anglosphere more than elsewhere, but most especially in America, to slow this slide and extend the period during which freedom--broadly speaking--has prevailed? It would seem self-evident that the difference lies in the basis upon which we've erected our freedom and the internalization of morality that acts as a self-limitation on extreme freedom. Thus, America at its Independence asserted that certain rights precede the State and derive from the fact of Man's Creation by a God who Thomas Jefferson described this as, "God, the creator, preserver, and supreme ruler of the universe, the author of all the relations of morality, and of the laws and obligations these infer". The importance of this derivation has been recognized by no less a modern democratic hero than Vaclav Havel:
I have often asked myself why human beings have any rights at all. I always come to the conclusion that human rights, human freedoms, and human dignity have their deepest roots somewhere outside the perceptible world. These values are as powerful as they are because, under certain circumstances, people accept them without compulsion and are willing to die for them, and they make sense only in the perspective of the infinite and the eternal. . . . While the state is a human creation, human beings are the creation of God.

And the matter has been written about quite brilliantly by Robert Kraynak.

If, on the other hand, you try to ground rights and freedom in the State itself, they must obviously be transitory. For, in a democracy, anytime there's a majority in favor of something, your "rights" can be redefined, and what recourse have you?

The importance of all this, as the reform of the Islamic world (hopefully) goes forward, is that mere openness is not enough. Freedom, in and of itself, will not restore the greatness of Islam. Freedom would be a welcome improvement over what prevails now and would give the Middle East a boost, but, if in the process of freeing themselves they lose their moral grounding, their new golden age will be as short and unhappy as that of France and Germany and the rest of post-Christian Old Europe has been. That would be a true tragedy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM

YEAH, BUT IN THE END, ALL YOU HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT IS A HOME...

Lending data show UK's spending spree continues (Jennifer Hughes, April 22 2003, Financial Times)
Britons continued spending apace last month, according to a report by the British Banker's Association which showed strong mortgage lending and weak savings rates.

This is an archetypal statement of a particular brand of economic idiocy. Economists prattle on endlessly about how much higher Japanese savings rates are than those in America (or Britain). Unfortunately, the Japanese have no other options of what to do with their money and those savings are all in accounts that pay about .01% interest these days. Meanwhile, in the States, we don't have much in our savings accounts, but we do happen to own our own homes and have 401k's, neither of which are factored into savings rates. Who really has the problem: us or Japan?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 AM

RANTO, ERGO SUM

Paul Cella's off his meds, and we all get to watch.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:52 AM

ALL POWER TO THE DE-GENERATES

Supertots And Frankenkids: On the Rights of Those Not Yet Designed (Erik Baard, April 23 - 29, 2003, Village Voice)
The personal decisions that would accompany genetic enhancement are frightening. How would you feel about your first child when the second one comes bundled with upgrades? Could the younger sibling ever enjoy a sense of real achievement, or would the kid forever wonder if that three-minute mile had been written in before birth? "I suppose if I were the only one enhanced, I'd feel a bit of a cheat," Watson admits. Where do you draw the line between risks and rewards? Changing the germ line—those genes that will be passed onto future generations--must be done ahead of the fetus's development, and so carries tremendous potential for cascades of disaster. Somatic therapies--delivering genes to a living person--have loosed cancers in test subjects.

Even in best-case scenarios, the questions are endless. Will genetically enhanced people be held back by society, just as gifted students are now woefully underserved? Should you have to pay insurance premiums inflated by others whose parents lacked the foresight to eliminate disease genes? How much privacy protection should such people have? Pity the presidential candidate who must reveal that she's been enhanced by a lab instead of a blue-blood pedigree.

Why should the DNA-boosted have to follow our usual strictures at all? "The minimum time you must invest to do a Ph.D. these days is something like three years," says Princeton philosopher Peter Singer. "But why force someone to do it in three years when it can be done in three months?" Need a person with faster reaction times be stuck driving 55 miles per hour?

Social pressure may end up curbing wild-eyed genetic hubris, says Princeton molecular biology professor Lee Silver. "Parents want kids like themselves, except maybe a little smarter," he says. "Not beyond the curve, but on the leading edge of the curve. I think this is all going to happen very slowly, step by step. That's much more insidious, of course."

The means to achieve GM babies are spreading, and if the practice ever catches on, it'll be because parents are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Douglas Osheroff, a Nobelist for physics, opposes genetic enhancement on principle. Instead of molecular manipulation, he favors providing a stimulating environment, which as a Stanford professor, he could provide in spades. But even he concedes, "If it appeared that [my children] would not be competitive unless they were engineered, I suppose I would seriously consider this process."

So once created, what kind of reception would those kids get? Most visions of genetic engineering--Gattaca, Brave New World--focus on the danger of having a genetic uber-class. These dystopian renderings overlook one crucial fact: Time and again, mob rule has eliminated elites, real or perceived. "This could be another way privilege is concentrated and the underclass will be angry," Watson says. "The underclass has always been angry, sometimes with good reason."

Mr. Baard, of course, also overlooks one crucial fact: since these new beings will in fact be superior there's even less reason to believe that the underclass will be able to do anything with their anger than they've been able to do in the past, when their inferiority was, at least arguably, artificially imposed by social structures.

Meanwhile, we highly recommend Gattaca.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

RETEACHING THE OSIRAK LESSON

US draws up plan to bomb North Korea's nuclear plant (AFP, Apr 22, 2003)
The Pentagon has produced detailed plans to bomb North Korea's nuclear plant at Yongbyon if the Stalinist state goes ahead with reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods, an Australian report said.

Citing "well-informed sources close to US thinking", The Australian newspaper said the plan also included a US strike against North Korean heavy artillery in the hills above the border with South Korea.

This should be done regardless of whether negotiations might temporarily achieve the same thing. North Korea should be made an example of--the lesson being a kind of robust non-proliferation--that we won't allow any other countries to develop nuclear weapons or the capacity to deliver them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM

IN THE IMAGE OF GOD MADE HE MAN

Animals Suffer a Perpetual 'Holocaust' (Stephen R. Dujack, April 21, 2003, LA Times)
Isaac Bashevis Singer fled Nazi Europe in 1935 and came to this country. He married my grandmother, who had escaped from Hitler's Germany in 1940. He went on to become a lauded author and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978. His family--those who stayed behind--were killed in the concentration camps.

My grandfather was also a principled vegetarian. He was one of the first to equate the wholesale slaughter of humans to what we perpetrate against animals every day in slaughterhouses. He realized that the systems of oppression and murder that had been used in the Holocaust were the systems being used to confine, oppress and slaughter animals. He attributed to a character in one of his books something he believed in himself: "In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis. For [them], it is an eternal Treblinka." [...]

The Holocaust happened because ordinary people chose to ignore the extraordinary oppression and abuse being inflicted on innocents by the Nazis. Millions of people went about their daily lives, knowingly turning a blind eye to the suffering of those they didn't relate to, those who were deemed "unworthy of life."

My grandfather often said that this mind-set, whether it manifested itself as the oppression of animals or of people, exemplified the most hideous and dangerous of all racist principles. As Adorno said, "Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: They're only animals." We all have the power to stop suffering and misery every time we sit down to eat.

Well, yeah, except for one thing: THEY ARE ONLY ANIMALS! And people wonder why we think the idea of human progress is a farce...

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:52 AM

ONLY 44 YEARS TO RECOGNIZE A DICTATOR

Coddling Castro No Longer? (Michael Gonzalez, Wall Street Journal Europe, 4/23/2003, subscribers only)
The European left is having one of its sudden flashes of the obvious. Every time you pick up a paper these days in Europe you find out that some intellectual, journalist or union leader is coming around to the view that Fidel Castro is not such a good egg after all and that he may be depriving Cubans of their basic freedoms, when not their lives. Some socialist politicians are even insisting that, actually, they were the first to denounce Castro....

Jose Saramago, a Portuguese communist who had defended Castro for years, suddenly last week bid adios to his favorite uniformed tinpot dictator. In the briefest of notes to the Madrid daily El Pais, Mr. Saramago, a novelist, wrote words that have now become famous, because they have been quoted so often: "This is as far as I go. From now on Cuba will go its way, but I'll stay."

"To dissent is a right that is found and will be found written in invisible ink in every declaration of human rights past, present and future," the Nobel laureate wrote. "Cuba has won no heroic battle by executing those three men but it has lost my confidence, damaged my hopes, cheated my dreams."

I've long suspected that the dominant leftist trait just might be narcissism. Yes, Cuba was a cruel tyranny for 44 years, but that didn't justify opposing them; now, however, they have "lost my confidence, damaged my hopes, cheated my dreams" -- off with Castro's head!

I also like the "invisible ink" line. Clever of those authors of human rights declarations to put some rights in visible ink and others in invisible.

From Mexico, novelist Carlos Fuentes, like Mr. Saramago a supporter of Castro until yesterday, said this too was as far as he would go. But for lovers of Latin American magical realism, Mr. Fuentes put his criticism of Castro in its proper context. "I congratulate Saramago for drawing his line in the sand. Here's mine: against Bush, against Castro."

Clearly, abandoning an elderly dictator is not the same thing as seeing the light.

Back in the U.S., the stifling of dissent under the Bush regime continues apace:

After showing his documentary about Castro, "Comandante" at the Berlin Film Festival in February, [Oliver] Stone said of the dictator he had been privileged enough to spend three days with: "We should look to him as one of the Earth's wisest people, one of the people we should consult." Mr. Stone described Castro as "a very driven man, a very moral man. He's very concerned about his country. He's selfless in that way."

The U.S. cable network Home Box Office, which had planned to air the Stone paean to Castro next month, has now put it on ice. "In light of the recent alarming events in the country, the film seems somewhat dated or incomplete," said HBO.

Strangely, HBO didn't acknowledge the influence upon its decision of the USA Patriot Act.


April 22, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM

BETWEEN THE ROCK AND THE REICH

Pro-Franco book a bestseller in Spain (Giles Tremlett, April 22, 2003, The Guardian)
A controversial, revisionist history of the Spanish civil war which claims it was sparked by a leftwing revolution and that Winston Churchill was crueller than General Francisco Franco has proved a surprise publishing success.

The Myths of the Civil War, by the former communist guerrilla turned Franco apologist Pio Moa, has outraged the Spanish left and many mainstream historians with its attacks on the icons of the period. [...]

"Franco did not think he had rebelled against a democratic republic but against an extreme danger of revolution ... Undoubtedly, he was right," Moa states.

"Franco's victory saved Spain from a traumatic revolution ... his regime saved it from involvement in the world war, modernised society and established the conditions for a stable democracy," he adds.

Moa paints those who joined the International Brigades in the late 1930s to fight Franco as a bunch of lawless, anti-Spanish communists.

He lashes out at historians who have written about Franco and the civil war, including the British author Paul Preston, and claims there is a leftwing academic plot to demonise the dictator.

Moa, who in 1976, the year after Franco died, helped found an armed communist revolutionary group, now blames modern rightwing politicians for not defending the dictator's reputation. "The right will swallow anything just so that it does not seem itself to be Francoist," he complains.

We, on the other hand, are unabashedly pro-Franco. The funniest part of the story is just to look at the claims that Mr. Tremlett cites with apparent disbelief:

* Franco fought a dangerous revolution

* Franco kept Spain out of WWII

* Franco established the conditions in which democracy could eventually flourish

* Those who fought with the International Brigades were "anti-Spanish communists"

* Leftwing academics have demonized Franco

* Conservatives, who should defend him, are afraid of being branded fascists

Not only are these points all true, they're basically inarguable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 PM

60-40 VISION

Fla. Sen. Graham May Not Seek 4th Term (BRENT KALLESTAD, April 22, 2003, Associated Press)
Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham said Tuesday that he's urging potential successors to start working on their bids to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

The Florida lawmaker has not ruled out seeking a fourth term next year if his presidential campaign falters. Still, a handful of state Democrats have expressed interest in the race, and Graham said he has heard from several.

"I've been encouraging them to get organized, start forming a campaign and be ready to go," he said during a campaign appearance.

Democrats are learning the bitter lesson that Republicans knew so well from 1930 to 1980--senior Congressmen don't much like being the ranking minority member of a committee. If there's no prospect of being the Chairman in the near future, they tend not to hang around.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 PM

CRANKING THE TORQUE

Blair joins last push for Palestinian cabinet (Conal Urquhart, April 23, 2003, The Guardian)
Tony Blair joined an international push to rescue the Israeli-Palestinian peace process yesterday by urging Yasser Arafat to make every effort to help his prime minister designate, Mahmoud Abbas, form a cabinet.

If an agreed cabinet is not given to the Palestinian legislative council by tonight Mr Arafat will have to nominate another prime minister and the hope of progress to peace will be dashed, for the time being at least.

Mr Blair phoned Mr Arafat at his headquarters in Ramallah and urged him to overcome his differences with Mr Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, whom Mr Arafat appointed prime minister in March.

The main sticking point between Mr Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, and his nominee seems to be Mr Abbas's wish to appoint Mohammed Dahlan his head of security.

The European Union's Middle East peace envoy, Miguel Moratinos, and many national governments have also been putting pressure on Mr Arafat.

It is said that when Mr Moratinos told him that the EU would accept no one but Mr Abbas as prime minister, Mr Arafat screamed at him and slammed down the phone.

Mr Arafat has also had calls from Jordan, Egypt, Spain, Germany and the US.

Let's see if the Europeans are willing to walk away from Palestine if Arafat doesn't yield power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 PM

THE STRANGE CASE OF THE DOPPELGANGERS WHO DON'T BARK

Parallel Universes: Not just a staple of science fiction, other universes are a direct implication of cosmological observations (Max Tegmark, April 14, 2003, Scientific American)
Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.

The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 to the 1028 meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelg?nger any less real. The estimate is derived from elementary probability and does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite (or at least sufficiently large) in size and almost uniformly filled with matter, as observations indicate. In infinite space, even the most unlikely events must take place somewhere. There are infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices.

You will probably never see your other selves. The farthest you can observe is the distance that light has been able to travel during the 14 billion years since the big bang expansion began. The most distant visible objects are now about 4 X 1026 meters away--a distance that defines our observable universe, also called our Hubble volume, our horizon volume or simply our universe. Likewise, the universes of your other selves are spheres of the same size centered on their planets. They are the most straightforward example of parallel universes. Each universe is merely a small part of a larger "multiverse."

By this very definition of "universe," one might expect the notion of a multiverse to be forever in the domain of metaphysics. Yet the borderline between physics and metaphysics is defined by whether a theory is experimentally testable, not by whether it is weird or involves unobservable entities. The frontiers of physics have gradually expanded to incorporate ever more abstract (and once metaphysical) concepts such as a round Earth, invisible electromagnetic fields, time slowdown at high speeds, quantum superpositions, curved space, and black holes. Over the past several years the concept of a multiverse has joined this list. It is grounded in well-tested theories such as relativity and quantum mechanics, and it fulfills both of the basic criteria of an empirical science: it makes predictions, and it can be falsified. Scientists have discussed as many as four distinct types of parallel universes. The key question is not whether the multiverse exists but rather how many levels it has. [...]

So should you believe in parallel universes? The principal arguments against them are that they are wasteful and that they are weird. The first argument is that multiverse theories are vulnerable to Occam's razor because they postulate the existence of other worlds that we can never observe. Why should nature be so wasteful and indulge in such opulence as an infinity of different worlds? Yet this argument can be turned around to argue for a multiverse. What precisely would nature be wasting? Certainly not space, mass or atoms--the uncontroversial Level I multiverse already contains an infinite amount of all three, so who cares if nature wastes some more? The real issue here is the apparent reduction in simplicity. A skeptic worries about all the information necessary to specify all those unseen worlds.

But an entire ensemble is often much simpler than one of its members. This principle can be stated more formally using the notion of algorithmic information content. The algorithmic information content in a number is, roughly speaking, the length of the shortest computer program that will produce that number as output. For example, consider the set of all integers. Which is simpler, the whole set or just one number? Naively, you might think that a single number is simpler, but the entire set can be generated by quite a trivial computer program, whereas a single number can be hugely long. Therefore, the whole set is actually simpler.

Similarly, the set of all solutions to Einstein's field equations is simpler than a specific solution. The former is described by a few equations, whereas the latter requires the specification of vast amounts of initial data on some hypersurface. The lesson is that complexity increases when we restrict our attention to one particular element in an ensemble, thereby losing the symmetry and simplicity that were inherent in the totality of all the elements taken together.

In this sense, the higher-level multiverses are simpler. Going from our universe to the Level I multiverse eliminates the need to specify initial conditions, upgrading to Level II eliminates the need to specify physical constants, and the Level IV multiverse eliminates the need to specify anything at all. The opulence of complexity is all in the subjective perceptions of observers--the frog perspective. From the bird perspective, the multiverse could hardly be any simpler.

The complaint about weirdness is aesthetic rather than scientific, and it really makes sense only in the Aristotelian worldview. Yet what did we expect? When we ask a profound question about the nature of reality, do we not expect an answer that sounds strange? Evolution provided us with intuition for the everyday physics that had survival value for our distant ancestors, so whenever we venture beyond the everyday world, we should expect it to seem bizarre.

A common feature of all four multiverse levels is that the simplest and arguably most elegant theory involves parallel universes by default. To deny the existence of those universes, one needs to complicate the theory by adding experimentally unsupported processes and ad hoc postulates: finite space, wave function collapse and ontological asymmetry. Our judgment therefore comes down to which we find more wasteful and inelegant: many worlds or many words. Perhaps we will gradually get used to the weird ways of our cosmos and find its strangeness to be part of its charm.

This is all fun to think about until you realize that if you take it seriously it stumbles over the Fermi Paradox. Given a genuine infinitude of universes, there must be some where folks have figured out how to travel between universes, so where are they?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 PM

THE END?

The Other War: The Bush administration & the end of civil liberties (Elaine Cassel, 4/23/03, City Pages)
Some of the more drastic incursions on civil liberties resulting from these Patriot Act provisions:

* It is a crime for anyone in this country to contribute money or other material support to the activities of a group on the State Department's terrorist watch list. [...]

* The FBI can monitor and tape conversations and meetings between an attorney and a client who is in federal custody, whether the client has been convicted, charged, or merely detained as a material witness. [...]

* Americans captured on foreign soil and thought to have been involved in terrorist activities abroad may be held indefinitely in a military prison and denied access to lawyers or family members. [...]

* The FBI can order librarians to turn over information about their patrons' reading habits and Internet use. [...]

* Foreign citizens charged with a terrorist-related act may be denied access to an attorney and their right to question witnesses and otherwise prepare for a defense may be severely curtailed if the Department of Justice says that's necessary to protect national security.

* Resident alien men from primarily Middle Eastern and Muslim countries must report for registration.

* Lawful foreign visitors may be photographed and fingerprinted when they enter the country and made to periodically report for questioning.

* The government can conduct surveillance on the Internet and e-mail use of American citizens without any notice, upon order to the Internet service provider. [...]

* The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can search any car at any airport without a showing of any suspicion of criminal activity.

* The TSA can conduct full searches of people boarding airplanes and, if the passenger is a child, the child may be separated from the parent during the search. [...]

* The TSA is piloting a program to amass all available computerized information on all purchasers of airline tickets, categorize individuals according to their threat to national security, and embed the label on all boarding passes. [...]

* The TSA distributes a "no-fly" list to airport security personnel and airlines that require refusal of boarding and detention of persons deemed to be terrorism or air piracy risks or to pose a threat to airline or passenger safety. [...]

* American citizens and aliens can be held indefinitely in federal custody as "material witnesses," a ploy sometimes used as a punitive measure when the government does not have sufficient basis to charge the individual with a terror-related crime. [...]

* Immigration authorities may detain immigrants without any charges for a "reasonable period of time."

* American colleges and universities with foreign students must report extensive information about their students to the BCIS. [...]

* Accused terrorists labeled "unlawful combatants" can be tried in military tribunals here or abroad, under rules of procedure developed by the Pentagon and the Department of Justice. [...]

* A warrant to conduct widespread surveillance on any American thought to be associated with terrorist activities can be obtained from a secret panel of judges, upon the affidavit of a Department of Justice official. [...]

* The FBI can conduct aerial surveillance of individuals and homes without a warrant, and can install video cameras in places where lawful demonstrations and protests are held.

One of the difficulties that civil libhysterians like Ms Cassel face in convincing average Americans that any of this marks the "end of civil liberties" is that none of these provisions will ever affect us. In fact, the tax bill before Congress will have a far greater impact on our freedoms than will any of these laws, rules, and regulations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 PM

PATHOLOGIES

Islamic dissidents say liberals are 'pathologically nice' (Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES Magazine)
In real time, world Islam may be in the 21st century, but in practice, it's closer to the Dark Ages, panelists said at a forum on April 12.

"The theory and practice of jihad was not concocted in the Pentagon," said Ibn Warraq, a speaker at the conference on Islam sponsored by the Council for Secular Humanism at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C. "It was taken from the Koran, the Hadith [additional sayings of Muhammad] and Islamic tradition. Western liberals, especially humanists, find it hard to believe this. The trouble with Western liberals is they are pathologically nice. They think that everyone thinks like them, including the Islamic fundamentalists.

"For humanists, terrorists are frustrated angels forever thwarted by the United States of America," he said.

Mr. Warraq was a participant at a "One Nation under God?" conference and, along with five other Muslim dissidents, spoke for three hours on "Will Islam Come into the 21st Century?" [...]

Mr. Warraq criticized listeners for their naivete, adding that humanists need to face facts.

"Islamic fundamentalists are utopian visionaries who wish to replace Western-style liberal democracies with Islamic theocracy, a fascist system of filth that aims to control every single act of every individual," he said. [...]

Bringing Islam into the current century, he said, would mean following Turkey's example in forming a secular society in which mosque and state do not mix. It would also mean subjecting the Koran to the kind of textual criticism as the Bible has undergone, rewriting school textbooks to include pre-Islamic history and comparative religion and closing the "madrassas," which are fundamentalist Islamic schools for young boys.

It's hard to see how calling Islam "filth" serves to advance the much needed process of reform, however, the analysis of Islam's problems as stemming from its totalitarian nature seems accurate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:38 PM

ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS

Few atheists in U.S. foxholes (Steve Sailer, 4/21/03, UPI)
The old saying "There are no atheists in foxholes" turns out to be virtually correct, at least for the U.S. armed forces. About 0.1 percent of all American military personnel officially declare themselves to be atheists.

Overall, 44 percent of Americans in the volunteer military call themselves Protestants and 24 percent say they are Catholics, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center. The other major world religions are not heavily represented: Muslims and Jews make up 0.3 percent each, Buddhists 0.2 percent and Hindus 0.1 percent. The "other" category numbered 5 percent.

The religious makeup of the armed forces is similar to that of the general population. A 2000 Gallup Poll found that 56 percent of all Americans consider themselves Protestant, 27 percent Catholic, 2 percent Jewish, 1 percent Orthodox, 1 percent Mormon, and 5 percent "other." An additional 8 percent gave their religion as "none."

Maybe it is a Crusade...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM

DEFINING DEVIANCY DOWNWARDS

Santorum Angers Gay Rights Groups (Alan Cooperman, April 22, 2003, Washington Post)
Gay rights groups called yesterday for Senate Republicans to repudiate remarks by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) comparing homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery.

Santorum made the remarks in an interview with the Associated Press about a Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law against sodomy.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum said, according to the AP. [...]

The gay rights groups likened Santorum's remarks to those last December by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) extolling Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential campaign. Accused of racism, Lott was forced to resign as majority leader.

"For the second time in a matter of months, we see a senior Republican leader in the Senate disparaging an entire group of Americans," said HRC spokesman David Smith. "While we welcome his spokeswoman's clarification that he has no problem with gay people, it's analogous to saying, 'I have no problem with Jewish people or black people, I just don't think they should be equal under the law.' "

Though it may be appropriate at this time to remove anti-sodomy laws from the books via the legislative process--we're ambivalent about the matter--Mr. Santorum is correct that the creation of a "right" to engage in such sexual acts opens the door to all manner of deviance. The Constitution is silent on the question of sexual behavior--such moral issues are rightly the province of localities--so the Court should be too.

One interesting sidelight though is the way libertarians insist that the Court declare these behaviors "rights" and intervene to protect them, thereby further ceding power to the State and taking it away from communities. So does the absolutism of liberty and tolerance tend toward statism and the destruction of all intervening institutions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM

CRACK IN THE FUNDAMENT

Is theology irrelevant in modern life? (Peter Sellick, April 15, 2003, Online Opinion)
The loss of the theological stance leaves us truly at a loss in the world because none of the secular disciplines will help us orient our lives. The young man who peddles pornography on the Internet justifies his behaviour by saying that he just wants a nice lifestyle. This is what liberalism is, it is the pursuit of happiness sans value.

There is another downside of the loss of the theological stance and that is we lose the ability to analyse culture, both our own and others. We fail to recognise that metaphysics shapes culture because we have been told that metaphysics - how we view the world - is irrelevant.

This is where we really get nervous because we are tempted to make unfavourable comparisons between Western and other cultures and that smacks of ethnocentrism and the incitement of inter-religious hatred. We would much rather talk in the abstract about the "World's Great Religions" as if that abolishes any difference. We also are apt to say that there is, after all, only one god worshipped in many different ways.

But this high-flown language will not hide the deep rifts that exist between the religions of the world. Neither will cultural relativism smooth over the cracks or the romantic attitude that we are apt to take towards traditional cultures that makes everything seem of equal value. The argument of this essay is that we cannot afford to abandon the theological/critical stance either towards our own civilization or towards others.

At the present time the West is engaged in a war against an Islamic country. Our leaders have pressed the case that this has got nothing to do with religion and in the case of Iraq this is partly correct. However, if we fail is to understand how Islam has shaped the culture of Islamic countries then we will never see a large part of the picture. Let us take just three examples of differences between Judeo/Christianity and Islam.

1. Creation.

Islam, like Judeo/Christianity understands God as the creator of all things. The difference between them is that for Islam God cannot be contaminated by the human, God is pure, unknowable all powerful etc.

This is why Islam can accept Jesus as a prophet but cannot believe that he is the son of God. This would threaten God's purity. Such a metaphysic does not affirm the existence and importance of the world and human life that the creation stories and the incarnation do so strongly.

While both Islam and Christianity are tempted by Neoplatonism, in which the reality of the world is reduced to an emanation of the divine and the only real things are the heavenly, this is subverted in Christianity by the incarnation - God becomes a man. This is one of the reasons that the West is so ascendant in the material sciences, because its metaphysics affirms the reality of time and the world as the arena of human destiny. The world cannot be reduced in favour of heaven.

2. Law

Christian fundamentalism and Islam both agree that salvation comes by obeying the divine law. St Paul argued that our efforts to obey the law and to be justified by that are futile. He opens a new way of being that takes into account our frailty of purpose and puts revelation in its place. We see what human life is in the history of the nation of Israel - and the stories it told - and in the life and death of Jesus. We find our way via story.

So instead of slavishly obeying a text that tells us how to behave we are set free to make the journey into the human mystery. This has enormous implications for culture because it is always open to the new thing and is able to search the depths of the human heart.

3. Sin.

Both Judeo/Christianity and Islam deal with the story of Adam and Eve and the fall. However, Islam says that God forgave the human so that we did not carry the fall into the future. While Christianity affirms that there is something up with us, that there is something broken at the very basis of our lives, Islam projects the existence of evil onto Satan. The logic of this difference produces self examination and confession in the Christian tradition and the disowning of evil in the Islamic. Private admission of sin is necessary for public reformation. [...]

Metaphysics cannot be voided; it is rather the case that one displaces another. The radical Enlightenment of the 17th C with its emphasis on the objective and on freedom from all creeds, and the subsequent reorientation of life towards the pursuit of happiness, thanks to the Americans, has displaced the dreaming that was at the base of Western civilization.

For my money this is a thinner narrative of the human and produces thinner lives and thinner culture. If the West is to find itself exhausted, economically, culturally and politically, then it will be because it has grasped to its bosom an inadequate narrative of the human.

It seems that we have out-paced ourselves. We find ourselves with increasingly powerful new toys and we do not know their import for us. And so we invent things called "ethics" that purport to tell us. But ethics cannot be derived from an inadequate narrative of the human; all you get is inadequate ethics. The solution to all this? That is another story.

The one point that Mr. Sellick neglects is that America, uniquely within the West, rejects the thinner narrative and clings to the theological metaphysics. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is why America has a healthier society and greater freedom than its peers--even its closest peers like Britain and Australia. The internalization of this richer narrative appears to provide the only sound base for an enduring republic of freedom. The import of this is that unless there is a Judeo-Christian religious revival in the rest of the West, it is likely to continue to sicken and die just as surely as Islam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 AM

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

Polish Prime Minister "Astonished" By Prodi Fighter Jet Reproach (AFP, Apr 22, 2003)
Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller said on Tuesday he was "astonished" at criticism by European Commission President Romano Prodi of Poland's purchase of US F-16 fighter jets, a day after Poland signed EU entry papers.

In an interview to Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" on Saturday Prodi said he was "not happy at the signature by Poland of the massive purchase contract to buy US fighter jets a day after the Athens summit". [...]

Prodi made his remarks after Poland had signed on Friday 3.5-billion-dollar (3.24-billion-euro) contract to buy 48 multi-role Lockheed Martin F-16 planes.

The US giant knocked out Swedish-British consortium BAE Systems-SAAB, which wanted to sell the Jas-39 Gripen, and France's Dassault Aviation, which wanted to sell the Mirage 2000-5.

Remind us again: how did the Mirages perform in the recent war?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 AM

ONLY THE EU CAN STOP THE SPREAD OF DEMOCRACY!

The bottom dollar: There is only one way to check American power and that is to support the euro (George Monbiot, April 22, 2003, The Guardian)
The problem with American power is not that it's American. Most states with the resources and opportunities the US possesses would have done far worse. The problem is that one nation, effectively unchecked by any other, can, if it chooses, now determine how the rest of the world will live. Eventually, unless we stop it, it will use this power. So far, it has merely tested its new muscles.

The presidential elections next year might prevent an immediate entanglement with another nation, but there is little doubt about the scope of the US government's ambitions. Already, it has begun to execute a slow but comprehensive coup against the international order, destroying or undermining the institutions that might have sought to restrain it. On these pages two weeks ago, James Woolsey, an influential hawk and formerly the director of the CIA, argued for a war lasting for decades "to extend democracy" to the entire Arab and Muslim world.

Men who think like him - and there are plenty in Washington - are not monsters. They are simply responding to the opportunities that power presents, just as British politicians once responded to the vulnerability of non-European states and the weakness of their colonial competitors. America's threat to the peace and stability of the rest of the world is likely to persist, whether George Bush wins the next election or not. The critical question is how we stop it.

Of all the contradictions that the war on terror has so far forced, the clearest is between the Left, which it must now be obvious values peace and stability above all else, and the rhetoric of extending freedom and democracy, which as Mr. Monbiot points out here, they actually view as monstrous. Thus is security revealed as the enemy of freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Syria Is Forced to Adapt to a New Power Next Door: The toppling of Saddam Hussein may push the kind of political and economic opening sought by critics of Syria's government. (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, 4/22/03, NY Times)
Riad al-Turk, Syria's most outspoken dissident, ticks off the roughly one-third of his life spent as a political prisoner: 13 months under the current president, Bashar al-Assad, a whopping 18 years in solitary confinement under Mr. Assad's late father and sundry years or months stretching almost back to independence in 1946.

Now, like everyone in the Middle East, he has a new political factor to consider: the United States military, setting up next door in Iraq as the latest occupying power.

Like many Syrians, he is horrified, yet he--like other government critics--also recognizes that the welcome toppling of Saddam Hussein, if handled right, may push the kind of political and economic opening that they have sought for decades.

"Iraq had a bloodier system--when we compare the number of victims here to the number in Iraq, it had many, many more," said Mr. Turk, 73. "But in substance they are the same." [...]

However, even Syrians much closer to the establishment than Mr. Turk is seem certain that this country, and the region, will adapt--even if the American action in Iraq smacks of the kind of external control from which the Arabs have been trying to free themselves for the better part of a century.

"We don't know what will happen to us after the Iraq war," said Haitham Kilani, a retired diplomat and general. "But it is certain there will be change."

Syria in some ways feels like the Iraq of old, and will probably be prominent on Washington's list of despotic states needing evolution.

Like Mr. Hussein's Iraq, Syria stands accused of developing chemical weapons and aiding groups that Washington considers terrorists--in Syria's case, Hezbollah, which dominates southern Lebanon and threatens Israel from that base. Syria also allows most Palestinian groups to maintain what it insists are information offices here, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Is the Times suggesting that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization or that Syria does not aid it?--not that it really matters since both facts are undeniable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM

PENUMBRAS AND EMANATIONS

Justices Will Revisit Rules Governing Use of Evidence (LINDA GREENHOUSE, 4/22/03, NY Times)
The justices said today that they would review a decision by the federal appeals court in Denver, which ruled last September that physical evidence--a gun, in this case--discovered as a "fruit" of a Miranda violation could no longer be introduced as evidence at trial despite Supreme Court rulings to the contrary. The appeals court's reasoning was that the premise of the earlier cases was "fundamentally altered" when the Supreme Court declared three years ago in Dickerson v. United States that the warnings set out in Miranda were not simply "prophylactic" measures to insure that confessions were voluntary, but were directly required by the Fifth Amendment's protection against compelled self-incrimination.

The earlier cases, principally Michigan v. Tucker in 1974 and Oregon v. Elstad in 1985, were based on the premise that a Miranda violation was not a constitutional violation as long as the suspect's statements were voluntary, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit noted in its opinion. That court ordered suppression of a pistol that police found in the Colorado Springs home of a suspect, Samuel F. Patane, whom they had just arrested for violating a domestic violence restraining order. The police asked Mr. Patane about the gun, and he described its location without having first received the Miranda warnings.

"Because Dickerson now concludes that an un-Mirandized statement, even if voluntary, is a Fifth Amendment violation," the evidence had to be suppressed, Judge David M. Ebel wrote for the appeals court.

But that was a misunderstanding of the Dickerson decision, Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson told the justices in the government's appeal, United States v. Patane, No. 02-1183.

Rather than rejecting the notion that physical evidence derived from a Miranda violation was admissible, Mr. Olson said, the Supreme Court in its 2000 decision incorporated that concept into its conclusion that because the Miranda decision was limited to actual statements, it had not imposed an unduly difficult burden on law enforcement.

Further, Mr. Olson said, while one purpose of the Miranda rule was to "guard against the use of unreliable statements at trial," physical evidence like the gun in this case "undoubtedly constitutes reliable, trustworthy evidence."

The "Fifth Amendment's protection against compelled self-incrimination"? That's strange, our copy of the Constitution says: "No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself". Telling the police something that incriminates you is hardly the same as being a witness. Meanwhile, by definition, a voluntary statement is not compelled, so even if you accept the "self-incrimination" standard, the Fifth still isn't implicated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM

GIVE THEM ENOUGH ROPE...

Explosion hit North Korea missile test site: report (AFP, Apr 21, 2003)
A US spy satellite monitored a strong explosion that rocked North Korea's test site for ballistic missiles in November last year, South Korean reports said Monday.

Washington has passed information concerning the explosion to South Korean military authorities, according to Yonhap news agency.

The blast occurred during a missile engine test and crippled operations and facilities at North Korea's missile launch site at Musudan-ri, Hwadae county, northeast of Pyongyang, Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said.

Remember the scene in Blazing Saddles where Cleavon Little takes himself hostage? Such is North Korea's nuclear doctrine: Unilateral Assured Self-Destruction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM

WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS...FRANCE?

Galloway was in Saddam's pay, say secret Iraqi documents (David Blair, 22/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
For more than a decade, Mr Galloway, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, has been the leading critic of Anglo-American policy towards Iraq, campaigning against sanctions and the war that toppled Saddam. [...]

It purported to outline talks between Mr Galloway and an Iraqi spy. During the meeting on Boxing Day 1999, Mr Galloway detailed his campaign plans for the year ahead.

The spy chief wrote that Mr Galloway told the Mukhabarat agent: "He [Galloway] needs continuous financial support from Iraq. He obtained through Mr Tariq Aziz [deputy prime minister] three million barrels of oil every six months, according to the oil for food programme. His share would be only between 10 and 15 cents per barrel."

Iraq's oil sales, administered by the United Nations, were intended to pay for only essential humanitarian supplies. If the memo was accurate, Mr Galloway's share would have amounted to about £375,000 per year.

The documents say that Mr Galloway entered into partnership with a named Iraqi oil broker to sell the oil on the international market.

The memorandum continues: "He [Galloway] also obtained a limited number of food contracts with the ministry of trade. The percentage of its profits does not go above one per cent."

Too bad they banned the death penalty in Britain, because Mr. Galloway is a traitor and should dangle at the end of a rope.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 AM

THE CRUX OF THE MATTER

Israel is an occupier with a duty to protect: Palestinians are the only ethnic group denied by their occupiers both citizenship and separate statehood (Henry Siegman, 4/22/03, Financial Times)
International law recognises a major difference between the rules that apply in a war between armies and an occupying power, for an occupying army has special obligations to the population under its control. Thus, when military activities ended in Iraq, entirely new standards of conduct were applied to the coalition force. They are now judged by how well they protect and meet the needs of a civilian population under their occupation. That is why the US now faces international criticism for failing to prevent looting and lawlessness in Iraq and for delays in re-supplying power and drinking water, and in repairing infrastructure.

It seems not to register with many Israelis that they are occupiers and as such have inescapable responsibilities towards those in their custody and an obligation to end the occupation as speedily as possible. It is an obligation reinforced by Israel's decision after the 1967 war not to grant citizenship and equal rights in the Jewish state to the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, even in return for Israel's permanent retention of the occupied territories. The inescapable corollary of this decision is that Israel must grant Palestinians the right to their own state. The alternative is permanent disenfranchisement and subjugation of the Palestinians.

Palestinians are not the only ethnic minority denied separate statehood. The Kurds, the Albanians in Kosovo, and others have been denied a separate homeland. In the case of the Kurds and the Kosovo Albanians, the international community intervened so they would at least be granted the same rights as the majority. However, Palestinians are the only ethnic group denied by their occupiers both Israeli citizenship (which in any case Palestinians do not want) and separate statehood. Mr Sharon's notion of a Palestinian "state" in less than 50 per cent of the West Bank and in parts of Gaza would create South African style bantustans entirely under Israel's control.

The Sharon-led government opposes a viable Palestinian state, and a political process that may result in one, on the grounds that it would serve as a haven for Palestinian terrorism impossible for Israel to control. It is a disingenuous argument. The contrary is the case: it would be far easier for Israel to deal with terrorism from a neighbouring state than terrorism from 3.5m people it is deeply intertwined with and whose national aspirations it represses. This, too, is the lesson of Iraq, where the US and Britain devastated Iraqi forces using measures they could never have used against an occupied population.

But it is Israel's own experience that best demonstrates the difference between internal terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism. There is no cross-border terrorism into Israel from any of Israel's Arab neighbours. This is not because any of them have a special affection for Israel, but because they have experienced the devastating price of allowing such terrorism. And the terrorism Israel failed to subdue when it occupied southern Lebanon for two decades ended immediately when Israel withdrew and threatened a full-blown war should terrorism continue. There is no reason to doubt that a neighbouring Palestinian state would be similarly constrained.

These are exactly the reasons why Yasser Arafat and those in the Palestinian leadership whose goal is the destruction of Israel, rather than an independent Palestine, have always undercut the peace process when it looks like it might be succeeeding. A Palestinian state is a greater threat to them than it is to Israel, and those Israelis and supporters of Israel who seek to put off statehood until a later date are, sadly, de facto allies of the Palestinian extremists.

April 21, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:05 PM

DOES ACME SELL A PRODUCTIVITY KIT?

The Productivity Gap: European governments are worried because their workers aren't as efficient as Americans. (Irwin M. Stelzer, 04/15/2003, Weekly Standard)
The Europeans are worried about the productivity gap. Their studies show that America leaves them in the dust when it comes to producing goods and services efficiently. Since the only way a nation can increase the welfare of its citizens is to have each worker produce more, this productivity gap is worrisome. After all, what good European wants to contemplate a future in which the gap between U.S. and E.U. living standards progressively widens?

So in this one regard they want to become more like the otherwise despised United States. One answer the Europeans have concocted is to meet--year after year--and promise a variety of "reforms" to make it easier for new firms to set up shop, and existing firms to hire. So far, no luck. Unemployment in Germany is over 10 percent, and in France is approaching double digits--and rising. Only Britain is doing moderately well, and even there rising taxes and continental-style regulations are starting to take their toll.

The Europeans understand that without rapid economic growth, the funds for the cherished expansion of their welfare states just won't be available. So they try to talk like Americans. In the words of Europe's most savvy finance minister, Chancellor Gordon Brown of the UK, they are promising they "will learn from American competition and enterprise. . . ."

But in looking to America for guidance, Europe seems to have learned too much from Franklin Roosevelt and too little from Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. FDR followed the advice of an adviser who promised "We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect." The result was a prolonged depression that ended only when America entered WWII. Kennedy and Reagan took the road less traveled, cut taxes, and set in train periods of extended and rapid growth.

Not Europe's politicians. Brown has raised taxes steadily since taking office. Jacques Chirac was elected on a promise to cut taxes by 30 percent over five years, but after an initial reduction of 5 percent, gave a Gallic shrug and reversed course. Gerhard Schroeder's economic recovery plan seems to change daily.

Meanwhile, deficits in all of these countries continue to rise, and now exceed the 3 percent of GDP that the European Central Bank considers prudent. Such deficits are probably appropriate in a period of slowing growth, and the Europeans like to point out that they are merely following the lead of President Bush in spilling some red ink. But there is a difference. Europe's deficits are the result of massive overspending by the public sector America's deficit, on the other hand, will result from a tax cut that puts more money into the hands of consumers to spend in the private sector. Not for E.U. politicians the teaching of leading experts such as Princeton's William Baumol and his colleagues: "Restraining public expenditures," they conclude, "can make private investment easier and more rewarding financially."

There is worse. Europe's leaders see a productivity gap and feel called upon to develop government programs to eliminate it.

Here's the odd thing: in the Road Runner cartoons, when Wile E. Coyote runs off the cliff and his feet churn for awhile, he's fooled into thinking he's still on solid ground, but the viewer's in on the joke. But, where Europe is concerned, an astonishing number of pundits and politicians seem not to have noticed that the long plunge awaits.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 PM

BETTER LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE

Baghdad and Beyond: Another Victory for the Bush Doctrine (Alan W. Dowd, April 15, 2003, Hudson.org)
The Bush Doctrine of coercive diplomacy, preemptive action, and regime termination has passed another important test: After destroying the terrorist regime run by the Taliban and bankrolled by al Qaeda, it has dismantled the Saddam Hussein vast prison state, thus eliminating one of the centerpieces of global terrorism and preempting the use or transfer of weapons of mass murder onto the American homeland. But there?s more to come?and there?s more happening than meets the eye.

While the U.S.-led coalition swept through Iraq, the Pentagon quietly continued its ongoing operations throughout the eastern hemisphere?a fact underscored by large-scale raids in eastern Afghanistan timed to coincide with the initial assault on Saddam?s regime. In Pakistan, the Bush Doctrine?s coercive diplomacy has converted President Pervez Musharraf from the Taliban?s only friend into a dependable ally in the War on Terrorism. U.S. Special Forces now roam freely along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, conducting search and destroy missions on both sides of the border?sometimes deep inside Pakistani territory, and often with the assistance of Pakistani troops.

In the Philippines, teams of U.S. troops are conducting what the diplomats call ?counterterrorism training missions? with the Philippine army. But if it?s training, it?s on-the-job training. As in Afghanistan, the U.S.-led force has smashed and scattered the enemy. Likewise, in Georgia and other former Soviet republics, U.S. troops are training and equipping local forces to clean out al Qaeda and its kindred movements.

From their perch in Djibouti, U.S. intelligence agents and military taskforces are conducting operations in and around Yemen (recall the Predator strike on al Qaeda commanders in November 2002), monitoring terrorist activity in the lawless lands of eastern Africa, reminding the Sudanese and Libyans that there?s a new sheriff in town, and intercepting suspicious ships transiting the vital waterways around the Horn of Africa. One of those ships was a North Korean vessel loaded with SCUD missiles bound for Yemen. Although the ship was allowed to continue to its destination, the episode sent an unmistakable message to North Korea and its ilk: America is watching and can strike at will.

Yet all of this was little more than background noise as the United States waged and won two major military campaigns in the span of eighteen months. Like some twenty-first-century posse, U.S. Special Forces rode into Afghanistan on horseback, the Marines by helicopter. The warplanes came from the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the former Soviet Union and the continental United States. The Taliban promised another Vietnam, a replay of the Soviet?s Afghan nightmare. But what the world witnessed was liberation in its fullest sense, as this improbable taskforce rewrote military history and helped Afghanis take their first steps toward freedom in a generation.

Then, before a new government was even installed in Kabul, the United States swung its sites to Iraq and began assembling an invasion force like no other. Once called into action, it moved across the sands and skies of Iraq like lightning across the heavens. Saddam promised a Stalingrad, a Mogadishu. He wanted oil fires and mass casualties to show the world that the allies were no different than his thugs. But what the world has witnessed is the power of restraint, the shock and awe of a military juggernaut limited only by the conscience of a moral people. From the airmen and sailors using their missilery like a sniper?s rifle to the Marines and soldiers sharing food with Saddam?s victims after destroying his armies, America?s finest have risked their own lives to limit the bloodshed.

Saddam?s Baathists have done the very opposite. Cribbing their battle plan from bin Laden?s al Qaeda and Arafat?s al Aqsa Martyrs, they marched noncombatants in front of tanks, used school buses and pregnant women as time bombs, and converted holy sites into missile sites. Yet none of this deterred the liberators of Iraq. Instead, they fought harder and plunged deeper. Could it be that every fake surrender, every suicide attack, every atrocity, reminded the Americans of the men who planned and executed September 11?

In all of this, one recalls what an awestruck Churchill observed in the middle of World War II: "With her left hand," he marveled, "America was leading the advance of the conquering Allied armies into the heart of Germany, and with her right, on the other side of the globe, she was irresistibly and swiftly breaking up the power of Japan." Such is the reach of a wounded America.

The most remarkable aspect of all of this is that by the end of Condi Rice's first term of office, in 2012, we'll be returning to our natural isolationist posture. This is all, from the Phillipines to Yemen, really just something we do when sufficiently annoyed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 PM

SAFE HAVEN?

France still roiled by 2002 election (Elizabeth Bryant, 4/21/2003, United Press International)
A year after National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen placed second in French presidential elections, the country's political establishment continues to digest the seismic results.

From a spate of analyses and editorials of the April-May 2002 voting, to the government's hardening line against fundamentalist Islam, to polls showing voters may not have changed all that much over a year, the fallout of the far-right's influence is being felt in ways large and small.

The anniversary was marked most obviously by the National Front itself, which had its annual congress last weekend in Nice. [...]

A new poll suggests Le Pen's party continues to wield influence among the French electorate. Seven out of 10 French believe a far-right candidate could again place second in the 2007 presidential race, according to the Ipsos survey, to be broadcast Monday on France 2.

It's not hard to envision a near-future France where the two major contenders for power are an anti-Muslim nationalist party and an Islamic party--winner gets to exterminate the opposition.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 PM

SHOOTING THE MOON

No. 18 on Most-Wanted List Arrested in Iraq (Fox News, April 21, 2003)
Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi, who played a key role in the brutal suppression of the Shiite Muslim uprising of 1991, was arrested Monday in Iraq, the U.S. Central Command said.

Al-Zubaydi, a former member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council and central Euphrates regional commander, was No. 18 on a list of the 55 most-wanted figures from Saddam Hussein's regime. [...]

He was the queen of spades in the deck of former Iraqi officials distributed to U.S. forces.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM

NEOCONSPIRACY

Neo-socialists versus neoconservatives (Avraham Tal, 4/21/03, Ha'aretz)
Besides the Histadrut labor federation, the parliamentary opposition, and dozens of social organizations, a broad front of social affairs experts has come out against the government's economic austerity program. In the past, professors and lecturers from social work schools and other schools had reservations about individual issues, but it seems that the social aspects of the current plan have evoked an unprecedented level of vehement and broad criticism.

It's possible to understand when criticism is leveled at the specific social elements of a plan, but in this case, what's amazing are the generalizations some critics have employed to couch their critiques. With a tone of absolute certainty, they have reached sweeping conclusions that they would likely not allow for within their own scientific research.

Particularly bothersome is their reading of the program as a deliberate attempt by the planners to wipe out the welfare state, or at least "delegitimize its ideas," as one of them was quoted in an April 16 article by Ruth Sinai. Another thinks the plan "is clearly meant to harm the social security of the citizens of Israel," because the government believes "it's a shame to waste money on the weak sectors of the population, since they are not productive."

Such nonsense is barely worthy of a fire-breathing politician from the opposition, let alone someone who wears the cloak of academia. "The right does not regard education as productive, only as a social expense," says another, while ignoring the fact that spokesmen for the right, just like spokesmen for the left, are committed to the position that the future of the state's security is dependent on the level of education given to the next generation (which doesn't mean there is no room for efficiency measures). "The neoconservative position cynically exploits the distortions created by political bribery (to the Haredim - A.T.) to destroy the welfare state which they fundamentally do not believe in," adds a spokesman for the neo-socialists, who then analyzes the ramifications of globalization from the social perspective: global systems have no commitment to the poor in Dimona, only to maximizing profits, and in that same spirit, the state is now ridding itself of responsibility for the weakest in society.

Neo-cons get a powerful voice (Robert Manne, April 21 2003, The Age)
Among the political intelligentsia a kind of public conversation concerning values is perpetually going on. Unlike the US and Britain, Australia does not have influential intellectual magazines. As a consequence, it is mainly in the pages of our quality newspapers - The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Australian - that this conversation is conducted.

If one of these papers changes political direction, the ears of the intelligentsia prick. In recent months many of its members have been privately discussing the rather rapid ideological shift of The Australian towards the kind of neo-conservatism currently dominant on the right side of the "culture wars" being fought out in the US. [...]

Neo-conservatism is the ideology founded on the 1970s marriage of anti-communism with free-market liberalism. At its centre is the belief in the possibility of spreading Western economic and political values across the globe and the conviction that, to achieve this victory, the baleful influence exercised by self-hating left-wing intellectuals on the home front must be destroyed.

As David Brock shows in his defection memoir, Blinded by the Right, in the US Rupert Murdoch has been the most important financier, in both the serious and popular media, of the neo-conservative cause. Given this, it should come as no surprise that in Australia his flagship paper has finally been mobilised in the service of the crusade.

Is there anywhere in the world that the neocons aren't secretly running the show?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 PM

THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

Arafat rejects plan by Abu Mazen to disarm Fatah militia (Arnon Regular, 4/21/03, Ha'aretz)
The dispute between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Palestinian prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) over the formation of a new government centers around the latter's plans to dismantle Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades and his intentions to deal with the other armed factions in the territories.

Most reports have focused on Abu Mazen's plan to make Mohammed Dahlan, the Gazan strongman and former head of the Preventive Security Services in the Gaza Strip, head of the new government's security services. However, Palestinian sources said the dispute actually revolves around the premier-designate's plans for establishing a new PA security policy, and whether he must win Arafat's approval for every decision he makes.

The sources said Abu Mazen's plans to disarm the underground armed wing of Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and how he will confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad are at the heart of the dispute.

Yasser Arafat can not be allowed to stand in the way of what may be the best chance ever for some kind of tolerable deal for the Palestinians.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:39 PM

FOOL THEM ONCE...

The Most Dangerous President Ever: How and why George W. Bush undermines American security (Harold Meyerson, 5.1.03, The American Prospect)
[W]here, in the panoply of American presidents, do we situate Bush? He's not the first president to try to reconstruct the economic order. But the president who really attempted a general fix -- Franklin Roosevelt -- did so because the old order was plainly collapsing. No such situation exists today. Worse yet, what Bush is proposing is to erect a new economy by giving more power to the shakiest element -- the private-sector safety net -- of the old.

Just over a century ago, William McKinley set America on the course of acquiring a colonial empire, setting off a debate over America's proper role in the world every bit as impassioned as the one raging today. McKinley's path was a radical departure from past practice, but the United States was still a second-tier power. The shift did not destabilize the world. A half-century before that, James Polk plunged us into war with Mexico over considerable northern-state opposition (including, in the later phases of the war, that of Congressman Abraham Lincoln), but at that point, America was a third-tier power.

The three presidents who sought to build a multilateral framework for international affairs were Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Wilson's plan was killed in its crib when Congress refused to ratify our entry into the League of Nations. Roosevelt's and Truman's contributions -- setting up a structure of international law, bringing prosperity and freedom to Western Europe, cementing alliances with other democracies, containing and eventually defeating Soviet communism -- are the enduring triumphs of U.S. foreign policy. Bush seems bent on destroying Roosevelt's and Truman's handiwork, however, and substituting a far more grandiose version of Polk's and McKinley's, in what is distinctly
a postcolonial world. As with his assault on Roosevelt's New Deal order, he professes to replace an architecture that may be flawed but certainly isn't broken -- in this case, with an empire not likely to be backed up by the consent of the governed.

None of these presidents, great or awful, seems quite comparable to Bush the Younger. There is another, however, who comes to mind. He, too, had a relentlessly regional perspective, and a clear sense of estrangement from that part of America that did not support him. He was not much impressed with the claims of wage labor. His values were militaristic. He had dreams of building an empire at gunpoint. And he was willing to tear up the larger political order, which had worked reasonably well for about 60 years, to advance his factional cause. The American president -- though not of the United States -- whom George W. Bush most nearly resembles is the Confederacy's Jefferson Davis.

Yes, I know: Bush is no racist, and certainly no proponent of slavery. He is not grotesque; he is merely disgraceful. But, as with Davis, obtaining Bush's defeat is an urgent matter of national security -- and national honor.

Our thanks to Mr. Meyerson for clearing up last week's controversy over the assertion that he'd compared George W. Bush to Nathan Bedford Forrest because of Forrest's association with the KKK rather than his military prowess. One doubts even Harry will continue to argue that Mr. Meyerson's motives were innocent.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:45 PM

THE PROPAGANDIST OF RECORD:

'Republic of Fear' (Cynthia Cotts, Village Voice, 4/16/2003, via Andrew Sullivan)
[B]etween July and October 2002 ... Raines killed several stories by Golden and fellow reporter David Kocieniewski. For months, the two had been pursuing allegations of influence peddling by former New Jersey senator Robert Torricelli, who was running for re-election. The New York Observer reported last week that Raines felt the pieces he spiked had been "reckless."

Times insiders tell another story: They say editors asked Raines to spell out his complaints about the spiked pieces, but he declined, citing only his aversion to "piling on" or to giving prosecutors too much credence. After all, the Justice Department had declined to press charges, and the Senate only gave the senator a severe reprimand....

Adding insult to injury, someone else got the scoop. On September 26, after some of the Times pieces were spiked, WNBC ran a special Torricelli report by Jonathan Dienst, featuring a jailhouse interview with Chang and an inventory of evidence. According to someone close to the Torricelli case, key sources tired of waiting for the Times to use their info, so they turned it over to WNBC. Four days after the WNBC report aired, Torricelli pulled out of the race, expressly to avoid further harm to the party.


It appears the New York Times editors spike stories that would hurt Democratic politicians, just as CNN spikes stories that reflect unfavorably on foreign tyrants. This introduces a systematic bias in their news reporting. Whatever their personal preferences may be, these media outlets are objectively pro-Democratic and pro-tyrant.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:51 PM

NEARLY NASTIAN:

EDITORIAL CARTOON: Hannibal? (Jim Borgman, Cincinnati Enquirer)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:31 PM

PERSONAL PLASTICITY:

Does a Ring Bring Happiness, or Vice Versa? (Shankar Vedantam, April 21, 2003, Washington Post)
[Richard E.] Lucas's study concludes that people have a happiness "set point" to which they return after marriage and other life events. The study is part of a broad inquiry into psychological adaptation, the notion that people "are doomed to experience stable levels of well-being because, over time, they adapt to even the most extreme positive and negative life circumstances."

Studies have shown, for example, that people who win large amounts of money through the lottery get a temporary boost in happiness from winning, but the emotional high quickly subsides to pre-winning levels.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that people who face tragedy -- such as a devastating spinal cord injury -- also adapt. One study of such disabled people found that while negative emotions overwhelmed them immediately after the misfortune, patients' feelings were more positive than negative eight weeks later.

David Lykken, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, conducted a study comparing the happiness of middle-aged twins. Though siblings experienced very different life circumstances, genetically identical pairs had similar levels of happiness. Lykken's conclusion: "Happiness varies around a genetically determined set point."

Still, adaptation studies have been difficult to conduct on questions of romance and happiness, because they run into chicken-and-egg questions. By examining long-term happiness levels in a large group of people before they got married, after marriage, and if they divorced, Lucas and a team of other researchers were able to tease apart the happiness mystery.

When people are asked to rate how happy they are on a scale of zero to 10, most score between 5.5 to 8, Lucas said. People who eventually got married scored, on average, a quarter-point higher on this scale before marriage.

During the year before marriage -- presumably a period of courtship and falling in love -- these people's happiness rose by another fifth of a point. Immediately after marriage, they got a boost of yet another fifth of a point.

Given that most people rate their happiness within a 2.5-point range, a total difference of two-thirds of a point is considerable, said Lucas. But two years after marriage, he found that the married people's happiness levels had dropped back down to a quarter point higher than average -- exactly what they were before marriage. [...]

While the study examined heterosexual marriage and happiness, Lucas said his "intuition is these processes apply to lots of other relationships," including gay and cohabiting couples.


Though skeptical about the survey--before you can use a twin study to even begin to show it's nature not nurture it would have to be twins separated at birth--two eternal truths are implicated by the discussion: (1) of course people adapt even to catastrophic injury, which is one reason why euthanasia, which preys on people at their low points, is so evil; (2) the idea that straight couples are "intuitively" similar to gay couples is ludicrous.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:20 PM

WHAT WALL?:

Pols find place to live in D.C. with secretive group (LARA JAKES JORDAN, April 21, 2003, AP)
Six members of Congress live in a $1.1 million Capitol Hill town house that is subsidized by a secretive religious organization, tax records show.

The lawmakers, all Christians, pay low rent to live in the stately red brick, three-story house on C Street, two blocks from the Capitol. It is maintained by a group alternately known as the ''Fellowship'' and the ''Foundation'' and brings together world leaders and elected officials through religion.

The Fellowship hosts receptions, luncheons and prayer meetings on the first two floors of the house, which is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a church.

The six lawmakers--Reps. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)-- live in private rooms upstairs.

Rent is $600 a month, said DeMint, a Presbyterian.

''Our goal is singular--and that is to hope that we can assist them in better understandings of the teachings of Christ, and applying it to their jobs,'' said Richard Carver, a member of the Fellowship's board of directors.


If only our biggest problem was politicians living in group religious housing when away from their families.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 AM

RIGHTY RUMINATIONS REDUX:

How to understand freedom (Jonathan Rosenblum, Jewish World Review)
We are commanded to make our holy days contemporary. As the Haggada puts it, "In every generation each person is required to view himself as if he himself were escaping from the enslavement of Egypt..."

In his laws of the Seder, Maimonides instructs the father to point to contemporary examples of slaves in order to make the bitterness of our slavery in Egypt tangible. The quest for contemporaneity, however, can be easily distorted. In recent years we have witnessed a proliferation of Haggadas designed not so much to make the experience of the Exodus alive through current examples, but to completely remove the story from its particularistic Jewish context. The goal is not to relive the birth of the Jewish people as a nation, but to universalize the Jewish experience in a modern-day context. This universalizing tendency can be found in various "Freedom" Haggadas, in which the narrative is likely to devote as much time to Selma, Alabama, as Egypt, to Nelson Mandela as Moses.

Lost in the process for Jewish participants at those "Seders" is any deepened sense of connection to their people. Yet it is far from clear that anything is gained in terms of identification with other oppressed people, if recent events provide any clue. Opinion polls consistently showed American Jewish support for Operation Iraqi Freedom to be significantly lower than that of the general American public. Jews were over-represented at antiwar rallies.

While these facts at least give lie to the claim of Pat Buchanan and many others that the war in Iraq was foisted on an unwitting American public by Israel and its "Amen corner" in the United States, they do not say much for Jewish concern with enslaved people.

Notable by their absence from every antiwar rally were any Iraqis. Organizers were concerned lest hearing about the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein might deflate the moral superiority of the demonstrators as they held aloft their witty signs about President George W. Bush being the greatest threat to mankind since Hitler and ignored completely the more than one million dead attributable directly to Saddam.

Yet the Jews marching at the antiwar demonstrations were most likely to be those who demand that their Haggadot be au courant and who read the Torah, if they read it at all, as a brief for the Left wing of the Democratic Party.

IN TRUTH, it would be hard to find a better modern-day example to make the slavery of Egypt real for us than the affliction of the Iraqi people under Saddam.


The paradoxical political position of many American Jews as regards the war to free Iraq calls to mind a discussion that David Cohen and I had last August, which we'll simply republish here:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM

THE CRIME OF SARINDIPITY:

Bush and Blair and the Big Lie (ERIC MARGOLIS, April 20, 2003, Toronto Sun)
A California superior court judge sent me the following quotation, which is well worth pondering:

"We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."

This declaration was made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel L. Jackson, America's senior representative at the 1945 Nuremberg war crimes trials, and the tribunal's chief prosecutor.

Those now exulting America's conquest of Iraq should ponder Judge Jackson's majestic words. Particularly now that the U.S.-British justifications for invading Iraq are being revealed as distortions.


This is an emblematic expression of the modern Left's position, but the important thing to note about it is the silent corollary: "We must make it clear to the Germans that had they merely gassed Jews and gypsies and not attacked neighbors, we'd have no quarrel with them." This notion, that so long as you restrict your atrocities to your own population your sovereignty will be kept inviolable by the international community, has the advantage of providing a logic for pacifism, but the obvious drawback of making even genocide a right of any state. It is in this sense that it seems fair to say that the anti-war movement is fundamentally selfish, placing their own personal desire to avoid the difficult conditions of war above the very lives of people in oppressed nations. Mr. Margolis got his wish, as Canada stayed out of the war, but it did so by siding with Saddam Hussein and his regime and against the Iraqi people. That seems a high moral price to pay for your own comfort.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM

LEGITIMATE TARGETS:

Arab Media's Conduct During War Indicative of a Deeper Malaise (Dr. Abdulhamid Al-Ansary, April 21, 2003, Arab News)
Why did the Arab media consent to align itself with the Iraqi regime while at the same time pretending that it was with the people?

It is my view that the answer was stated by the director of one of the satellite channels: "It is competition. In such circumstances, either we win the viewers or others win them." Thus he summarized the way of most of those in the Arab media. Their aim is to win the street at any price. The street is emotional and has little confidence in the Americans. It can be won by fanning the flames of its emotions and encouraging its feelings with dreams of a great Arab victory and a great American defeat.

To a large extent, the Arab media was characterized by selectivity, and it was decidedly on the side of the Iraqi regime. Our intellectuals took over the line and constantly repeated it. Our media then devoted special programs to disseminating and repeating the falsehoods of Sahaf. Their biased point of view was imposed on listeners. Our media attempted to increase the degree of hatred against the coalition by concentrating on the degree of the destruction and the number of civilian victims, without making clear that this was because the regime positioned its forces and tanks in civilian areas. The army of Saddam of which they were so proud because it was the only army which could protect civilians in fact used the civilians to protect itself.

It was the Arab media itself which claimed that the aims of the war were to destroy Iraq, put an end to its capabilities, and, in the end, to occupy it. It did not for a moment consider the role of Iraq's ruler in the destruction and ruin of the country over a period of more than thirty years. It did not consider how he had destroyed the country’s environment, education, health and legal systems. He also set oil wells on fire and destroyed bridges, and he transformed the cities, especially in the south, into wretchedness, deprived even of clean drinking water.

The Arab media attacked the Iraqi opposition and imposed a collective boycott while satellite stations played host to everyone but the Iraqis who were, after all, the ones most concerned. The Kuwaiti media was the sole exception to this rule. Not one satellite channel had the courage to transmit scenes of welcome to the coalition troops in the liberated cities. Instead, the satellite stations made a great fuss over what they called the crimes of the coalition and ignored the crimes of the regime. The correspondents continued to impose their political points of view on viewers. Not one of the satellite stations, except Kuwait, had the courage to show a tape of the chemical strike against Halabja. It was the same with the air attack of the 1991 uprising in which holy places were hit and hundreds of Shiites were killed and tortured. More than 250,000 Iraqi citizens were killed in the uprising.

Nor was their selectivity of topics confined to analysis. It extended even into the presentation of the news. One Arab channel deliberately blamed the weapons and ammunition hidden by Saddam's soldiers who were in civilian clothes in a house. This was shown in its entirety by CNN. The aim of the Arab satellite stations was to suggest that the allies were "savage" in their treatment of civilians. Furthermore, respectable newspapers were not considered to be devout if they did not cover the sorrowful and tragic accident of the journalists who were killed by the coalition forces--in order, they said, to silence Arab satellite stations. Again, the question: Is it possible for the Arab media to be objective?

In my view, it is not possible because the Arab media is controlled by the prevailing general atmosphere and by people who have been fed on the slogans of incitement and inflammatory propaganda for more than half a century.


All of which calls into question the fetishization of press outlets in unfree countries by Western "civil libertarians". Al Jazeera and others, by seeking to fan the flames of anti-Americanism, in effect made themselves combatants. If people are serious about how we need to win hearts and minds, they need to get serious about defeating those who control those same minds now.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM

"RUN THE EXPERIMENT!" FILES::

-REVIEW: of A Brief History of Crime by Peter Hitchens (Theodore Dalrymple, Daily Telegraph)
Not long ago, I was talking to a policeman who was on the verge of retirement. He was pleased to leave the force, he said, because it had not only become unbearably bureaucratic, but morally and intellectually corrupt. Chief constables were now politicians and spin-doctors, not policemen; policing was more a matter of public relations than of enforcing the law. "In the old days", he added wistfully, "it was different. We were nice to the nice people and nasty to the nasty people."

Under our brave new dispensation, a strange inversion is happening: it is the nasty people to whom the police feel increasingly obliged to be nice. Of course there must have been room for abuse in the old days: not every nasty person is a criminal, and not every policeman's judgment was sound. Still, the system worked as a whole, as evidenced by the astonishingly low crime rate. [...]

Mr Hitchens places the blame firmly where it belongs: on a supine and pusillanimous political establishment that, for four decades at least, has constantly retreated before the verbal onslaught of liberal intellectuals whose weapons have been mockery allied to sentimental guilt about their prosperous and comfortable lives, and whose aim has been to liberate themselves from personally irksome moral constraints, without regard to the consequences for those less favourably placed in society than themselves.

In his, in my view justified, rage at what has been done to British society, Mr Hitchens sometimes over-eggs the pudding or makes a mistake. For example, in trying to prove that prison is no longer any kind of punishment or humiliation for the wrongdoer, he states that prisoners who attempt to escape are not now dressed in the absurd clothes that warned prison officers of their intentions - but this is not so. E-men (as would-be escapees are called in the splendid argot of prison) are still put in "stripes": a blue and yellow outfit that looks like the costume of a Shakespearean fool in a bad school production.

But occasional inaccuracies do not detract from the burden of what he says; and it is clear to me that his outrage is of the genuine and generous variety that comes from a real understanding of the conditions which millions of people now endure - unlike the simulated and self-regarding outrage that is common among liberal reformers.

Most of the reforms that have turned so much of Britain into an urban nightmare were not enacted because of any groundswell of opinion from below.It was the intellectual elite that demanded that the police should be emasculated, that the law's teeth should be drawn, that perpetrators should be treated as the victims of their own behaviour, and so forth. Mr Hitchens traces the genesis of these reforms, and in every case finds the self-satisfaction of people such as Roy Jenkins, who introduced lenient treatment for criminals without ever having personally to face the social concequences.

Mr Hitchens doesn't ask - and a fortiori doesn't answer - the question of why the British political establishment should have proved so craven over the years. Personally I suspect it had something to do with the loss of Empire and world power - what the Chinese call the loss of the Mandate of Heaven. I also think Hitchens is too optimistic about the prospect of the nation coming to its senses: the march of "progressive" sociology through the institutions has been so thorough that there is no constituency left which could preserve the kind of traditional limited polity that he believes Britain once was and which he would like to see restored.


A society that enacts the fever dreams of its intellectual elites at the expense of traditional morality and the common sense of the vast majority of its people is always embarked on an experiment that will go disastrously wrong. Sadly for Britain, as they integrate further into the EU, things will get even worse as they become a laboratory for Franco-German quackery.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM

IT AIN'T EASY BEING WE:

The Rules for Covering Brutal Dictatorships Aren't Black and White (Ethan Bronner, 4/21/03, NY Times)
Covering totalitarian states forces a journalist to act in compromising ways. Anyone who has reported from such countries knows that it is one of the most challenging tasks a journalist faces, involving daily calculations over access, honesty, freedom of movement and fear of reprisal. Some governments assume a foreign journalist is a spy. The way they treat you forces you to act like one. [...]

One solution is to report only from the places where the story is accessible. In the Middle East, this usually means Israel. But those who complain about CNN would certainly complain if it or other news organizations produced even more stories about Israel and still fewer about the countries around it. Coverage from the region already suffers from a terrible imbalance on this score.

I was a Middle East correspondent through much of the 1990's, and while I never faced a choice as agonizing as the possible death of an employee, I did struggle with complex dilemmas. In 1994, I wrote a short article about the marriage of President Hafez al Assad's strong-willed daughter, Bushra. She wed a politically ambitious man of whom her father disapproved, something I learned from people who knew her. Officials at the Syrian Information Ministry screamed at me over the telephone and barred me for about 18 months, saying I had shown disrespect for the president and his family. Did I make the right decision to write it? I'm not sure. I told readers something they didn't know. But at what cost to my coverage? If I had saved that interesting but not significant little story, might I not have gained more information on later visits about more important things in Syria? But would I not be betraying my readers and my mission by withholding information?

The fact is that each time I visited Syria or Iraq or Iran, I learned a lot — and I believe my readers benefited either from the articles I wrote from those places or broader ones later looking at the region as a whole. I was often able to move around without a minder (perhaps easier for a print reporter than one in television). There is simply no way to understand a place without setting foot in it. Yet by going there, you are forced to contend with a set of rules that are abhorrent. This is the dilemma faced by CNN and everyone else in a place like the old Baghdad.

It's easy to say Mr. Jordan and CNN made the wrong choice. It certainly allows for a comforting moral clarity. And it may be that they stepped over a line in pandering to Iraqi officials. But I, for one, would be very slow in condemning them. Anyone who has faced the choices forced on journalists in those circumstances knows exactly what I mean.


You ever notice how everyone thinks that the ethical rules of their own profession are uniquely difficult to live within and impossible for folks outside the profession to appreciate? Mr. Bronner proposes a solution which he apparently believes none of us would accept, that journalists forego "access" where it is severely restricted, but he's wrong. Why not refuse to report from within totalitarian nations? Is the byline--"Ethan Bronner, reporting from Baghdad, Iraq"--really worth so much commercially that a journalist should seek it even at the expense of honest reporting? Or, if you choose to report from such places, why not begin each story with a disclaimer that, because of the nature of the regime and the restrictions placed upon you, your report should be considered inherently inadequate and likely untrustworthy? After all, what individual detail in the story that follows can possibly be more significant that the regime's denial of human freedoms, in general, and exertion of control over your story, in particular? In essence you'd be borrowing a page from Cato the Elder, the Roman statesman, who, when he finally determined that Rome could no longer accept the predations of the Carthaginians, took to ending his every speech with the phrase: Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

WE CAN RECOMMEND A BOOK OR TWO...:

TV Turnoff Week
TV-Turnoff Week 2003 is April 21-27

The real reason to shut off your tv is, of course, not to be trendy but because almost everything on it is dreadful. If you're looking for some books to read, perhaps we ccan be of service.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 AM

IF ONLY HE'D MARRIED CLARA HARRIS...:

The dispensable truth (Paul Greenberg, April 21, 2003, townhall.com)
Thank you, David Kendall, for a moment of comic relief amid all the war news. Last week the Clinton Follies were back in Little Rock, and the former president's lawyer was the star.

The occasion was a seminar on the Clinton presidency, and Counselor Kendall could have just walked onto a television set some time in 1999. His spin hadn't changed a bit. Once again he was denouncing the case against his client as "constitutional vandalism" -- much ado about not very much.

The effect of the Clinton impeachment, he warned the students, would be to lower the standard for impeaching future presidents. After all, the charges were small potatoes: perjury and obstruction of justice.

It's one thing to argue that The Hon. William Jefferson Clinton wasn't guilty of those offenses, another to contend that they were not serious accusations -- sufficiently serious to warrant removing a president from office.


We'd have impeached him for the adultery. Anyone who would violate their wedding vows can not be trusted to honor their oath of office.

April 20, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 6:58 PM

LIBERATE WHACKHDAD.

Secession! Why stick around? The Bay Area is already a nation unto itself (G. Pascal Zachary, San Francisco Chronical) (via The Corner)
I wish to propose an immodest remedy for this sorry situation: We, the people of the Bay Area, need to leave the United States. We are held prisoner by a foreign power, colonized by an alien civilization. We require cultural and social self-determination. We demand, in short, a declaration of independence -- and our own nation. . . .

In U.S. history, preservation of "the Union" has long been presented as virtually a religious necessity. Our greatest national myth remains the inevitable rightness of the Northern victory in the Civil War. We are taught again and again about the greatness of Abraham Lincoln, who held our nation together. Yet at what price? Lincoln freed the African American slaves, but they fell victim to "Jim Crow," the peculiar institution, to paraphrase historian Kenneth Stampp, that maintained racial separation in the South (and sanctioned violence against blacks) well into the 1960s. With the South in tow following the Civil War, the United States subdued the Native Americans in the West in the most brutal fashion, seized Cuba and the Philippines from Spain in 1898, thus ushering in an era of imperialism. American hegemony in the second half of the 20th century might have been impossible without a Northern victory in the Civil War.

First of all, the idea of the Bay area seceding is so brilliant, so obvious in hindsight, so well-calculated to lead to the betterment of the country as a whole, that it is hard not to suspect the subtle hand of Karl Rove at work here. I'm not sure there's any downside, other than the intense pressure to readmit the Bay area when the whole thing comes crashing down 10 months later.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 PM

FTC FILES:

Hosts of CBC show launch on-air war debate (Mary Vallis, April 19, 2003, National Post)
In the latest dust-up over political comments on-air at CBC, the hosts of Inside Media exchanged barbs on Thursday night as one flashed a peace sign and the other brandished an American flag.

Antonia Zerbisias, the show co-host, has been using the peace symbol as her signoff since December. In response, her counterpart, Matthew Fraser, waved a small U.S. flag and questioned whether his colleague should be making the gesture during the war in Iraq.

Ms. Zerbisias is the Toronto Star media columnist and Mr. Fraser writes a media column for the National Post. Their television show, which debuted last fall on CBC Newsworld, has frequently focused on the media working in Iraq and issues related to covering the conflict.

"I am hired here for my opinions, just as you are. You come from the right, I come from the left. What's wrong with this?" Ms. Zerbisias asked, making the peace sign with her fingers during an informal discussion at the end of this week's show.

"I'm not advocating anything partisan, I am not saying anything about any state, I am not saying anything about any government, I am not saying anything about an administration. I just want this to be one great, big happy planet."

During the conversation, Mr. Fraser reached into his jacket and pulled out the flag, saying he wanted to show solidarity with "the great republic to the south and our American friends."

"Most Canadians, according to polls, agree with that and you are in a minority," he told Ms. Zerbisias.

Mr. Fraser smiled and waved the flag at the end of the show while Ms. Zerbisias leaned over and flashed the peace sign next to his head.


If they had a decent government they could wave their own flag as proudly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:46 PM

WE WANT SOME FACE CARDS:

Iraq Opposition Says Saddam Son-In-Law Surrenders (Reuters, April 20, 2003)
The long-exiled Iraqi National Congress said on Sunday that Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Jamal Mustafa Sultan had surrendered to them and would be handed over into U.S. custody within hours. [...]

Sultan is the nine of clubs on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:13 PM

OUR MAN IN KURDISTAN:

-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Journalist Charles Sennott (Fresh Air, April 17, 2003)
Charles Sennott is foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe. He was recently in northern Iraq where he traveled independently with a group of journalists. He was in Kirkuk when allied forces took the city from Baathist control. In Afghanistan, in 2001 Sennott traveled with the Northern Alliance. He is also the author of the new book The Body and The Blood: The Holy Land's Christians At the Turn of a New Millennium (PublicAffairs). Sennott was the Globe's Middle East bureau chief.

Great interview with our favorite Middle East correspondent--the story he tells about the fedayeen who nearly killed his brother, who he (Charles) then unknowingly helped, is kind of spooky.

Posted by David Cohen at 4:32 PM

HAPPY EASTER, OJ

Today's Doonesbury has Zonker sitting around a table with Reverend Whathisname. The Rev says "You know, its hard to believe we have a President who doesn't believe in evolution. It means the leader of the free world has closed his mind to vast areas of human experience and knowledge." Now, I have no idea if this is true and I'm not particularly willing to take Doonesbury's word for it but, in my experience, the point being made is exactly wrong.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:08 PM

IS EUROPE REALLY A SAFE HAVEN:

War hatred targets French Jews: Rising anti-Semitism and an explosion of vicious attacks has left the Jewish community worried for their future. (Rob Parsons, 20 April 2003, Sunday Herald)
It was not meant to happen this way. The demonstration through the centre of Paris was a massive and largely spontaneous rejection of the war in Iraq. Trade unionists, students, teachers, professional people of all kinds -- a reflection of French public opposition to military action against Iraq . But amid that flood of humanity, drowned beneath the incessant chants and beat of drums, pulsed something altogether more ugly.

A wave of anti-semitism is sweeping France and it's being linked to events in the Middle East. Blamed for the policies of the Israeli government, Jews now fear that they will act as scapegoats for US policy in Iraq.

France, like many European countries, has a long history of anti-semitism. Indeed, the state has only recently accepted the responsibility for the role of Vichy France in the rounding up of French Jews for Hitler's concentration camps. Yet this is something different. The new wave has its deepest roots in the burgeoning Islamic community -- at almost five million, the biggest in Europe. [...]

A recent investigation by France's National Consultative Committee on Human Rights (CNCDH) found that the number of anti-semitic attacks in 2002 increased by six times since 2001, adding that this might be the tip of the iceberg as most attacks went unreported.

The report says the figures were part of a wider trend, which has brought the highest levels of racist violence in 10 years. Last year 38 people were badly hurt in racist attacks throughout France and one man died. Racism, of course, is not peculiar to France but what is unusual is the anti-semitism. According to CNCDH, 74% of all recorded racist attacks last year were anti-semitic.

'While the increase in the number of attacks directed at the immigrant community is significant, the number of attacks directed against the Jewish community has truly exploded,' the report claimed.

Many Jews blame government policy in the Middle East, which they say, has repeatedly failed to draw a distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism. When the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin refers to the 'pro-Zionist' lobby in the US administration and claims the Washington hawks are in the hands of Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, they see proof of their suspicions. The fear is that the anti-war sentiment encouraged by President Jacques Chirac could degenerate into widespread violence against Jews. It is perhaps the reason for the recent surge in Jewish emigration from France to Israel.


This is a society whose currency you'd choose over the dollar?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 AM

FROM THE "RUN THE EXPERIMENT" FILES Real Self-Esteem Builds On Real Achievement (SHARON BEGLEY, Wall Street Journal) (subscription required, unfortunately)

At the annual meeting of psychology researchers in Boston three years ago, two scientists weighed in on a question that seemed to be as much in need of investigation as whether the sun rises in the east.

The pair had asked a professor to send weekly e-mail messages to students of his who had done poorly on their first exam for the class. Each missive included a review question. In addition, one-third of the students, chosen at random, also received a message -- advice to study, for example -- suggesting that how well they did in the course was under their own control. The other third received the review question plus a "You're too smart to get a D!" pep talk aimed at raising their self-esteem, which everyone knows boosts academic performance.

Oops.

Compared with the other e-mail recipients, the D and F students who got the self-esteem injection performed notably worse on later tests. [...]

In the case of the struggling students, the likely reason the self-esteem intervention backfired speaks volumes. Students work hard partly because it helps them do better academically; 95s feel better than 65s. But "an intervention that encourages them to feel good about themselves regardless of work may remove the reason to work hard -- resulting in poorer performance," suggest psychologist Roy Baumeister and colleagues in a monograph to be published next month in Psychological Science in the Public Interest. (The four were tapped by the American Psychological Society to undertake the study.) If you get to feel good without learning Maxwell's equations or the causes of the Korean War, why bother?

It isn't just school performance. From the 200-plus studies they analyzed, the APS group found no evidence that boosting self-esteem (by therapeutic interventions or school programs) results in better job performance, lowered aggression or reduced delinquency. And "high self-esteem does not prevent children from smoking, drinking, taking drugs, or engaging in early sex," it concluded.

Of course, self-esteem and school or job performance are correlated. But long overdue scientific scrutiny points out the foolishness of supposing that people's opinion of themselves can be the cause of achievement. Rather, high-esteem is the result of good performance. [...]

Amid the ashes of self-esteem, the APS team finds one benefit: High self-esteem makes you happier. But that jolly outcome ensues whether your self-esteem is justified or delusional.

As we persist in praising children even for mediocre work and trivial accomplishments, I can't resist ending with a plea from the APS scientists: "Psychologists should reduce their own self-esteem a bit and humbly resolve that next time they will wait for a more thorough and solid empirical basis before making policy recommendations to the American public."


Perhaps while the kids are saying the Pledge every morning, educators could borrow a pledge from Hippocrates (?): "First, do no harm..."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM

KILL ONE, GET ONE FREE? (via Richard Compton):

Laci Peterson case tied to Roe debate (Rob Jennings, 04/20/03, The Daily Record)
The head of the National Organization for Women's Morris County chapter is opposing a double-murder charge in the Laci Peterson case, saying it could provide ammunition to the pro-life lobby.

"If this is murder, well, then any time a late-term fetus is aborted, they could call it murder," Morris County NOW President Mavra Stark said on Saturday.

Prosecutors in California announced Friday their intention to charge Scott Peterson, 30, of Modesto, both with killing his wife and their unborn son. Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant when she disappeared Dec. 24. [...]

Marie Tasy, public and legislative affairs director for New Jersey Right To Life, countered that a double-murder charge against Scott Peterson is appropriate. She assailed pro-choice activists for opposing fetal homicide statutes.

"Obviously he was wanted by the mother," Tasy said.


As the story goes on to note, Connor Peterson was due to be born on February 10th, just a little over six weeks after he and his mother were murdered. No one who has ever seen an ultrasound of a seven-month old fetus could think it anything but a human being.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM

KURD YOUR APPETITES:

Must Iraq Stay Whole? (Ralph Peters, April 20, 2003, The Washington Post)
Traditional wisdom insists that Iraq must remain in one piece. Washington subscribes to that belief. The Bush administration insists it will not permit the breakup of Iraq.

But what if some Iraqis prefer to live apart from others who slaughtered their families?

Certainly, our efforts to rehabilitate the region would go more smoothly were Iraq to remain happily whole within its present borders. Our initial efforts should aim at facilitating cooperation between and the protection of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups. But we also need to think ahead and to think creatively if we are to avoid being blindsided by forces we cannot control.

What if, despite our earnest advice, the people of Iraq resist the argument that they would be better off economically and more secure were they to remain in a single unified state? What if the model for Iraq's future were Yugoslavia after the Cold War, not Japan or Germany after World War II?

The key lesson of Yugoslavia was that no amount of diplomatic pressure, bribes in aid or peacekeeping forces can vanquish the desire of the oppressed to reclaim their independence and identity. Attempts to force such groups to continue to play together like nice children simply prolong the conflict and intensify the bloodshed.

We are far too quick to follow Europe's example and resist the popular will we should be supporting. If the United States does not stand for self-determination, who shall?

This is not an argument for provoking secession by Iraq's Kurds or Shiites. Objectively viewed, Iraq's advantages as an integral state are indeed enormous, while the practical obstacles faced by any emerging mini-states would range from the problems of a landlocked Kurdistan in the north to the threat of religious tyranny in the Shiite south.

But reason does not often prevail in the affairs of states and nations. Passion rules.


It is really up to the Kurds to decide whether there will be a federated Iraq or a Kurdistan, and then we should support their decision. After all, there are more Kurds than there are Iraqis and the Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of their own.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 AM

PEDANTRY, POETRY, OR POWER?:

Hard Jobs Require U.S. Power (William Shawcross, April 20, 2003, LA Times)
I heard a neoconservative joke recently.

A Frenchman, a German and an American were all facing a firing squad in Africa and each was given a final wish.

The Frenchman asked to sing the "Marseillaise"; the German asked to give a lecture on the use of force and international law. The American said: "Please, please shoot me first. I don't want to have to hear that lecture -- or that song." [...]

During the Cold War, you Americans and we Europeans had a common project -- the containment of the Soviet Union. It was a long and exhausting war, but it succeeded. And with the Soviet collapse, the U.S. became the strongest power in the world.

Inevitably, the gap between Europe and the United States grew. When the European Union and the U.S. split over how to deal with the fall of Yugoslavia and the consequent conflicts in the Balkans, the entire NATO agreement seemed in jeopardy. One EU dignitary declared that the "Hour of Europe" had come -- but it ultimately went without Europe distinguishing itself.

In the Balkans, all Europe could do was introduce United Nations peacekeepers, who did indeed save lives but could do nothing to save the situation. The conflicts were ended only when the Clinton administration finally went in and applied force.

Kosovo marked the first time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as such had undertaken military action. The effort succeeded in driving the Serbs from Kosovo, but it exposed serious imbalances in the alliance. The U.S. flew the overwhelming majority of the conflict's missions and dropped almost all the precision-guided munitions.

In all, some 200,000 people died in the Balkans on Europe's watch. It was America that stopped that. In 2001, it was only America that could have liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban.

The results in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan are not perfect. But all those areas are better off than they were, and only the U.S. could have made those changes. Tony Blair understands that; many other European leaders do not.


Mr. Shawcross raises the flipside of the concerns expressed by Niall Ferguson and Paul Kennedy below: a world where the U.S. does not act like a superpower is a world without any adult supervision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

EASTER PRAYER (1771) (Samuel Johnson 1709-1784):

Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now about to commemorate once more in Thy presence, the redemption of the world by our Lord and Savior Thy Son Jesus Christ.

Grant, O most merciful God, that the benefit of His sufferings may be extended to me.

Grant me faith, grant me repentance.

Illuminate me with Thy Holy Spirit.

Enable me to form good purposes, and to bring these purposes to good effect.

Let me so dispose my time, that I may discharge the duties to which Thou shalt vouchsafe to call me, and let that degree of health, to which Thy mercy has restored me, be employed to Thy Glory.

O God, invigorate my understanding, compose my perturbations, recall my wanderings, and calm my thoughts, that having lived while Thou shalt grant me life, to do good and to praise Thee, I may when Thy call shall summon me to another state, receive mercy from Thee, for Jesus Christ's sake.

Amen.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM

SOMEONE TELL OSAMA:

'Every plan of Saddam a disaster' (SCOTT PETERSON AND PETER FORD, April 20, 2003, Chicago Sun Times)
As the capital still smolders, senior Iraqi officers are beginning to absorb the scale of their defeat--and examine what went wrong.

The day that Baghdad fell, April 9, is one that Iraqi army Maj. Saleh Abdullah Mahdi Al Jaburi remembers with shame.

''A military driver took me to my house in Tikrit,'' Jaburi recalls. ''As soon as I got home, I took my uniform off, went to my bedroom and stayed there for five days. I was so shocked.''

Faced with America's firepower and technological superiority, three Iraqi officers--who fought in different parts of Iraq--say they never expected to win this war. But they voice dismay at the number of Iraqi errors--deployment of militia groups instead of army units, for example--and at the effect of U.S. psychological operations.

Despite their anger, these men could prove to be the voice of a new professional Iraqi army that may emerge, with American assistance, in the aftermath of this conflict.

And they know whom to blame: Saddam Hussein and his sons Qusai and Odai made all key military decisions.

''We are already used to his mistakes from the Iran-Iraq war and Kuwait,'' said Col. ''Asaad,'' who asked that a pseudonym be used. ''Every plan of Saddam was a disaster.''

Iraqi armed forces had also never recovered from being pulverized in the 1991 Gulf War. ''You can't fight with what was left ... and this war was not just about what you learn at the military academy--it is technological, and we recognized that,'' Asaad said. ''The army believed that from the first bullet fired by the British in the south, it would lose.''

And so it came to pass. Jaburi, a lean and weary battalion commander with the Iraqi army's 2nd Infantry Division, knew defeat was inevitable.

''But we were expecting that the war would last longer than it did,'' he said. ''We were desperate when Baghdad fell so quickly. If we were not Muslims, we would have done like the Japanese and committed suicide, [but] ... our religion forbids it.''



Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

MUSCULAR DIPLOMACY:

Bush looks to tie Mideast peace efforts to Syria (JOHN YAUKEY, April 20, 2003, Gannett News Service)
An old Middle Eastern maxim says Arabs cannot make war without Egypt or peace without Syria.

Egypt is no longer the military colossus it once was, but Syria remains a pivotal player in Middle Eastern peace. Perhaps this explains why the Bush administration has taken a sudden interest in the nation that supports some of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the region.

President Bush is concerned about the recent accusations some of his top officials have hurled at Syria, namely that it might be harboring Iraqi war criminals and is almost certainly making chemical weapons.

But experts say Bush has more immediate and constructive plans for Damascus than setting it up for regime change with a list of charges.

He is actually trying to leverage some cooperation.

With the war in Iraq winding down, next on the Bush agenda is jump-starting the long stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks under a plan called the ''road map.'' Perhaps more than any other Arab nation, Syria is positioned either to help the talks advance by suppressing the anti-Israeli terrorists it holds sway with or allowing the peace process to again explode in violence.

The recent accusations by the Bush administration were a form of muscular diplomacy, essentially putting Syrian President Bashar Assad on notice while also providing an option for redemption.


With? Or Against?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM

MESSENGER SERVICE:

Antiwar Movement Tries to Find a Meaningful Message (KATE ZERNIKE, April 20, 2003, NY Times)
On Tuesday, the leaders of the antiwar coalition Win Without War will gather for a two-day retreat outside New York City to discuss their group's future now that the war has ended. One of the items on the agenda: Should it change its name to Win Without Wars?

The question of whether to go plural reflects how the antiwar movement is trying to move forward now that the conflict it so passionately wanted to avert - and for a time, thought it might avert - has ended.

Leaders in the movement do not like to focus on the notion that they lost. Yes, they failed to stop the war. Yes, the public has overwhelmingly supported President Bush's actions. With a swift United States victory over a brutal dictator and fewer casualties than most experts predicted, it is particularly hard for antiwar organizers to argue that their dire forecasts were right.

They focus instead on how much strength the movement gained so quickly - it was largely invisible just six months ago - and on their next moves, even if they are not quite certain what those might be.

Throughout the war, these organizers worked hard to stay in harmony - if not quite in tune - with the American public, emphasizing that this peace movement is patriotic and mainstream. After violent protests at the beginning of the war angered officials in several cities, they emphasized the civil in civil disobedience.

Now again, the challenge is to find a message that resonates.


Here are four causes they might adopt:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM

EVEN NAURU MATTERS MORE THAN FRANCE:

Up to 20 N.Korea Scientists, Military Defect-Paper (Reuters,
4/19/03)
Up to 20 high-ranking North Korean military officers and nuclear scientists have defected to the United States and its allies under a plan involving several countries including the Pacific state of Nauru,
an Australian newspaper said on Saturday.

The defections began last October after 11 countries agreed to provide consular protection to smuggle North Koreans from China, The Weekend Australian said.

The man seen as the father of North Korea's nuclear program,Kyong Won-ha, was believed among the defectors, the newspaper said.

It said a U.S.-based lawyer approached Nauru's former president, Rene Harris, with an offer to foot the bill for establishing Nauruan embassies in Washington and Beijing, ostensibly to boost trade ties with those
countries.

But the real reason for the Beijing embassy was "to expedite the movement of these very important people," the paper said, citing Harris.

Nauru's former finance minister, Kinza Clodumar, was quoted as saying he was briefed on what was dubbed "Operation Weasel" while with a Nauruan delegation in Washington in October. [...]

Countries believed to have been involved include the United States, Nauru, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Thailand, the Philippines and Spain, the report said.


Given this, it seems even more likely that the North Korean nuclear program is a greater threat to the North Koreans than to anyone else. What are the odds they can run a reactor and produce weapons without a disaster taking place?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

IS PARIS BURNING?:

Chirac's Great Game: France is in a diplomatic pickle, wanting both to heal the rift with America and to play up the nation's newfound prominence. How will its president balance the two desires? (Carla Power, 4/28/03, NEWSWEEK)
Late in life, Francois Mitterrand let slip the news of a secret war. "France does not know it yet, but we are at war with America," reports his biographer, Georges-Marc Benamou. "A permanent war... a war without death. They are very hard, the Americans-they are voracious. They want undivided power over the world."

FRANCE'S CURRENT PRESIDENT, Jacques Chirac, likens himself more to Charles de Gaulle than to Mitterrand. But never mind. The message is the same. America and France are at war-and it's no secret anymore. With the conflict winding down in Iraq, both sides are assessing the fallout from their diplomatic battles. The French-85 percent of whom opposed the war-are beginning to realize the consequences of dissent. "If Jacques Chirac persists in making the U.N. his next battlefield... he'll be dignified, glorious, solitary, and maybe even moving," opined the weekly L'Express. But the magazine also noted that he would be "without relevance."

As for Washington? Chirac may claim that his threatened Security Council veto in the run-up to war was a matter of principle. But the White House took it personally. If administration hawks get their way, France will pay. Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia, national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice reportedly said in Moscow last week. George Bush himself is said to deeply mistrust Chirac. U.S. officials fully expect the French to obstruct the next round of Iraq diplomacy at the United Nations. "What is their strategy?" asks one sarcastically. "Are they going to refuse to recognize the new Iraqi government? Are they going to recognize the government of Saddam Hussein?" The last thing anyone wants to see is Iraq's future bogged down in Paris.

So where does Chirac go from here?


Who cares? They haven't mattered since 1815.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM

WHO'S GONNA COLLECT?:

The True Cost of Hegemony: Huge Debt (NIALL FERGUSON, April 20, 2003, NY Times)
Some economists argue that th[e] transformation from creditor to debtor is nothing to worry about. Capital flows into the United States, they say, simply because it is a great place to invest and foreigners want a piece of the action. In any case, the foreign investors seem ready to settle for markedly lower returns when they invest in the United States than the returns Americans get when they invest overseas. That is the only way to explain why the United States consistently receives higher investment income from its investments abroad than it pays out to foreigners who have put their money into American assets.

This might lead to the conclusion that Mr. Rogoff of the I.M.F. has little to worry about. But while being a hyperdebtor may not matter in economics, it can matter in the realm of strategy.

When the last great English-speaking empire bestrode the globe a hundred years ago, capital export was a foundation of its power. From 1870 to 1914, net capital flows out of London averaged from 4 to 5 percent of gross domestic product. On the eve of World War I, the capital flows reached an astonishing 9 percent. This was not only an extraordinary diversion of British savings overseas. It was also a remarkable attempt to transform the global economy by investing in commercial infrastructure - docks, railways and telegraph lines - in what we now call less developed countries. [...]

SECOND, there can be no guarantee that foreign investors will be willing indefinitely to put such a large chunk of their savings in American government bonds and other low-risk securities. Right now they seem to be content with the prospect of a third year of disappointing returns on Wall Street and the lowest yields in Treasury bonds since 1962. But will they stay content?

Not so long ago, from 1984 to 1987, dollars were being dumped on the currency markets. Another crisis of confidence is not impossible to imagine, especially if all those foreign holders of bonds worry about the Bush administration's combination of increased military spending and decreased taxation.

Since the creation of the euro, investors have a whole new range of securities in which to invest. European bonds might look attractive if foreigners, and not just Americanophobic French millionaires, start to think of the euro as safer than the dollar. Al Jazeera recently ran a cartoon of Uncle Sam weeping as the euro was run up a flagpole in place of the once-mighty dollar. [...]

Balzac once said that if a debtor was big enough then he had power over his creditors; the fatal thing was to be a small debtor. It seems that Mr. Bush and his men have taken this lesson to heart.


Even after reading James MacDonald's terrific recent book on national debt, I'm not at all clear on these issues. But a few things do seem clear:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM

BOOKNOTES:

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman (C-SPAN, April 20, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 AM

THE STUBBLING OF THE WEST:

'Know Ye Not Me?': America sees and defeats the face of evil. (DANIEL HENNINGER, April 18, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
John Milton, in the 1600s, lived in a place and time when everyone was a practicing Christian, no matter what they believed in private. Milton for 14 years labored on poetry that struggled with the most fundamental issues of good and evil; he gave all the best lines to the "Fiend," "Satan," for Milton never doubted the power, the appeal and the reality of evil's presence in the souls of some men. "Know ye not mee? . . . Not to know mee argues yourselves unknown."

Some 350 years later, no matter how much this particular weekend burns with ritual, it is evident that secular society, however real its benefits, doesn't dwell much on Satan or evil. It's not a subject. Even organized religion, both Catholicism and Protestantism here and in Europe, has recently dedicated its energies to more secular goals such as material justice rather than to purely spiritual goals, such as salvation or damnation, which once defined our common understanding of good and evil. Inside or outside the churches, it's not clear who believes what anymore, which wasn't true in Milton's time. What is now clear is that they don't believe in evil as John Milton believed in it, and as does, evidently, George Bush.

If this is true--that years of declining belief have diluted evil to an abstraction--it isn't surprising that for a great many people in the Iraq debate the idea that Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi regime were evil enough to require elimination from the civilized world simply did not compute; that's been deleted from their software. Despite the beheadings of women and the severing of dissenting tongues (Amnesty International report, 2000), the now-revealed prisons for children, the torture chambers with meat hooks, nine years of meticulous U.N. archiving of programs to produce weapons of mass destruction, the homicidal gassing of Shiites and Kurds, and a son, Uday, whose life reveals the Husseins to be, more than anything, Neronic voluptuaries, despite what this so obviously adds up to, it could never be "sufficient cause."

Milton thought that should evil win, then earth's base was "built on stubble." Not yet.


One of the most remarkable moments in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 came in the most unlikely of settings, a PBS show with Bill Moyers and Andrew Delbanco discussing evil:
BM: Do you believe in evil?

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

BM: Evil is defined as?

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

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

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

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

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


Here were two archetypal liberals, on the East Coast Establishment's network, forced to resort, however inadequately, to the only language and concepts available to us to sensibly describe what we'd just seen. What made this particularly ironic was that Mr. Delbanco was presumably on the show because of his book, The Death of Satan : How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil, which he describes as follows:
[T]he story I have tried to tell is the story of the advance of secular rationality in the United States, which has been relentless in the face of all resistance. It is the story of a culture that has gradually withdrawn its support from the old conception of a universe seething with divine intelligence and has left its members with only one recourse: to acknowledge that no story about the intrinsic meaning of the world has universal validity.

But once you surrender the ideas of the soul, transcendence, and intrinsic meaning you are left with a world that is wholly material and have nothing on which to ground the concepts of good and evil. For if you and I are merely temporary agglomerations of atoms, it can hardly matter what we do to one another, any more than it matters that lightning strikes a tree or a meteor smashes into the moon. If there are no universals, if everything really is relative, then what basis is there for judging what Mohammad Atta did on 9-11 to be evil and what Mark Bingham did to be heroic?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 AM

GRANT HIM HIS MARTYRDOM:

Palestinian PM storms out of talks after Arafat snubs new security (AFP, 4/20/03)
The moderate new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmud Abbas, stormed out of overnight talks with Yasser Arafat over the Palestinian leader's refusal to appoint Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan as head of internal security, officials here said. [...]

Dahlan, a former colonel in the security force tasked with preventing attacks on Israel, quit his post last year after falling out with Arafat, who is accused by Israel and the United States of doing too little to fight "terrorism."

Dahlan is seen as a tough figure whose appointment would be welcomed by the United States, which is expected to put pressure on both sides to find a solution to the 30-month crisis after it has brought the situation in Baghdad under more control. [...]

Abbas helped co-found the mainstream Fatah faction with Arafat at the end of the 1950s, but has staked out his ground as a moderate, calling this year for a suspension of armed attacks on Israel to allow peace talks the chance to resume.


Arafat may have to be removed one way or another, either killed by the Israelis or arrested and tried here.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 AM

CALCULATING:

German spies tried to help Saddam in run-up to war (AFP, 4/19/03)
Germany's intelligence services tried to develop links with Saddam Hussein's secret service a few months before Berlin announced its opposition to any US-led war on Iraq.

In return, Iraqi authorities offered lucrative contracts to German companies if Berlin helped to prevent a US invasion of the country, the Sunday Telegraph reported, quoting documents recovered from the bombed-out Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad.

It said a German agent, Johannes William Hoffner, met with the head of Iraq's secret service, General Taher Jalil Haboosh, on January 29, 2002.

Haboosh told the German that Baghdad was keen to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover" through Hoffner, according to the documents seen by the newspaper.

It said the German replied: "My organisation wants to develop its relationship with your organisation."

Haboosh suggested that Germany would be rewarded with lucrative contracts if it offered international support to Iraq, the Sunday Telegraph said.

"When the American conspiracy is finished, we will make a calculation for each state that helps Iraq in its crisis," Haboosh said, according to the newspaper.


What were France and Russia promised?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 AM

CHANGE THE BUILDING:

After the War, New Stature for Rumsfeld (MATTHEW PURDY, April 19, 2003, NY Times)
There is a pattern to Mr. Rumsfeld's life. He takes over organizations and shakes them up — often hard.

After the Ford administration, Mr. Rumsfeld became president of a struggling pharmaceutical company, G. D. Searle. Two years later, he wrote to shareholders that there were new occupants in "roughly half of the top 65 management positions."

Mr. Rumsfeld shed 20 Searle businesses and reassigned or let go hundreds of people from administrative jobs. "I think he was totally convinced that the people who left, he was doing them a favor," said Ned Jannotta, the chairman of the William Blair investment banking firm, who advised Mr. Rumsfeld at Searle. Eventually, Searle's stock rose and the company was sold.

Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Mr. Rumsfeld's background in pharmaceuticals gave him a taste for experimentation, which led him to insist on building myriad options into the Iraq military plan. That allowed for launching ground troops before the air war, which contained an element of surprise, General Pace said.

His corporate experience, and his long friendship with Vice President Dick Cheney, also made him attractive to the Bush administration for the Pentagon job. Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Rumsfeld told President Bush, "If you want me to change the building, I'll change the building." But many experts say Mr. Rumsfeld has had less effect at the Pentagon than on the battlefield.

At a Pentagon briefing last October, Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, which monitors government procurement, said Mr. Rumsfeld "was obviously frustrated with the obstacles to his agenda."

Ms. Brian said that according to her notes from the meeting, Mr. Rumsfeld pointed out the opposition in Congress to his cancellation of the Crusader artillery system. "It was as if I shot a little old lady in the grocery store," she quoted Mr. Rumsfeld as saying.

Common wisdom says the war will strengthen Mr. Rumsfeld's hand with Congress. But Michael Vickers, the director of strategic studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said similar speculation followed the Afghan war, although there were few changes in weapons systems. "People are now saying, `Look at this great victory in Iraq, now there are going to be all those changes,' " said Mr. Vickers, a former Army special forces officer. "I'm not so sure."


In its way, making sweeping changes to the Defense Department--as to any of the various government bueaucracies--would be more useful in the long term than any of the various wars that will be waged on his watch, but it's unlikely to happen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:19 AM

CUBA LIBRE:

U.S. ready in case of major exodus from Cuba (ALFONSO CHARDY, Apr. 20, 2003, Miami Herald)
Coast Guard cutters operating off South Florida's shores have picked up fewer Cuban migrants in the first three months of the year than Haitians and Dominicans combined. But the absence of large numbers of Cuban migrants headed for South Florida may be the calm before the storm.

A wave of repression in Cuba in recent weeks has been so alarming that U.S. officials have begun to wonder whether Cuba may unleash a new Mariel-style exodus -- a typical Cuban response in times of crisis. American officials are so worried that they have already quietly advised Cuba not to attempt any such action.

But if a new exodus occurs, officials say they will activate a classified federal contingency plan designed to deal with migrant surges. Operation Distant Shore would trigger a dramatic escalation in the number of Coast Guard and other military vessels patrolling the Florida Straits -- a veritable floating wall designed to interdict as many migrants as possible at sea.

Talk of the plan is all the more relevant in the wake of reports last week that President Bush was preparing punitive steps against Cuba along with a possible public warning to Fidel Castro not to resort to a new exodus. No one will say when Bush would deliver the warning, but officials at the White House's National Security Council and the State Department have left no doubt that Washington is concerned. [...]

Some Cuba analysts in the United States believe that the Camarioca departures in 1965, the Mariel boatlift in 1980 and the rafter exodus in 1994 were ''engineered migrations'' -- political weapons designed to punish the United States for real or imagined actions and coerce it into softening policies toward Cuba.

Cuba expert Kelly M. Greenhill argued in a landmark study last year of Cuban mass migrations that Castro launched the rafter exodus to ''manipulate'' fears in the United States of another Mariel to compel a shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba.

The exodus ended when the United States and Cuba began to negotiate new migration accords under which Washington eventually agreed to return migrants stopped at sea to Cuba. Until then, Cuban migrants rescued at sea were brought to the United States and allowed to stay.


American talk of freedom abroad must turn to ashes in our mouths when we contemplate our willingness to collaborate in exercises like this. Every day that Castro oppresses Cuba is an indictment of the United States.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:18 AM

WHAT ABOUT BACK HAIR?:

Is the potbelly the new gay ideal?: Forget the six-pack. Instead, flaunt your paunch with pride (Paul Flynn, April 18, 2003, The Guardian)
A new gay silhouette is emerging that isn't on the Atkins' diet. The stomach is expanding. It is both out and, shockingly, proud. Keeping trim used to be the obsession of gay clubbers. But owing to its proximity to the Tottenham Court Road branch of McDonald's, young men and their fashion-student hangers-on are often seen in the queue for Nag Nag Nag - London's most celebrated gay night - eating chicken nuggets. Somehow it all fits neatly as part of their look. Eyeliner: check. Cheap hair rinse: check. Outsized silver Nike hi-tops: check. Potbelly: check. Chip wrapper: why not?

Larger boys have always been big with girls. I've choked on my pint when female friends have confessed to their deviant fantasies about Peter Kay, Ricky Gervais or even Johnny Vegas. The payoff line is always the same. Funny is sexy.

But for boys? And boys involved in same-sex sexual activity? Homosexual males are traditionally the most preening, pouting, moisturised, eye-gelled, self-critical, fitted, kitted and spun-dry gym bunnies on the block. Even the ugly ones are aware that Clinique is not French for hospital. They are the only men in the western world for whom Botox has become the stuff of birthday presents.

The rise of the potbelly is a dawn-of-destruction moment for the kind of gay man who prizes the body beautiful above all else. In certain gay cliques, the six-pack is still a Masonic handshake of both introduction and entry. For the topless gay massive that dominated the dreary night- time landscape for the best half of the last decade, it was not just a uniform - it was the only thing to get you into the club.

Thankfully, people are beginning to notice that this six-pack living is tedious. In the new issue of i-D magazine, sexually uninhibited fashion designer Jeremy Scott castigates his interviewer for his embarrassment at a potbelly. Scott, one of the few men who can claim to have done both full nude for the genius Dutch gay fashion/porn fanzine Butt and designed razzy evening wear for a Minogue, said: "I think potbellies are the sexiest. I always hated being skinny. It wasn't until I first came to New York that people were into my body, but you are what you are." [...]

The rise of the paunch should come as welcome news to everyone who likes a regular tipple and a handsome portion come dinnertime. As Jeremy Scott says, quite reasonably: "You should be happy with what you are." If you are a man coming to terms with the fact that all his trousers are too small and are destined for Oxfam, you are now not only a style icon, but a sex symbol. Tell your gay best friends of our general potbelly rule of thumb: a 36 inch waist is acceptable, 38 is just greedy.


This is one gay trend we heartily approve of: considering fat men to be sexy.

April 16, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM

DECADES WASTED (via Brian Boys):

After Empire (Theodore Dalrymple, Spring 2003, City Journal)
The explanations usually given for Africa's post-colonial travails seemed to me facile. It was often said, for example, that African states were artificial, created by a stroke of a European's pen that took no notice of social realities; that boundaries were either drawn with a ruler in straight lines or at a natural feature such as a river, despite the fact that people of the same ethnic group lived on both sides.

This notion overlooks two salient facts: that the countries in Africa that do actually correspond to social, historical, and ethnic realities-for example Burundi, Rwanda, and Somalia-have not fared noticeably better than those that do not. Moreover in Africa, social realities are so complex that no system of boundaries could correspond to them. For example, there are said to be up to 300 ethnic groups in Nigeria alone, often deeply intermixed geographically: only extreme balkanization followed by profound ethnic cleansing could have resulted in the kind of boundaries that would have avoided this particular criticism of the European mapmakers. On the other hand, pan-Africanism was not feasible: for the kind of integration that could not be achieved on a small national scale could hardly be achieved on a vastly bigger international one.

In fact, it was the imposition of the European model of the nation-state upon Africa, for which it was peculiarly unsuited, that caused so many disasters. With no loyalty to the nation, but only to the tribe or family, those who control the state can see it only as an object and instrument of exploitation. Gaining political power is the only way ambitious people see to achieving the immeasurably higher standard of living that the colonialists dangled in front of their faces for so long. Given the natural wickedness of human beings, the lengths to which they are prepared to go to achieve power-along with their followers, who expect to share in the spoils-are limitless. The winner-take-all aspect of
Africa's political life is what makes it more than usually vicious.

But it is important to understand why another explanation commonly touted for Africa's post-colonial turmoil is mistaken-the view that the dearth of trained people in Africa at the time of independence is to blame. No history of the modern Congo catastrophe is complete without reference to the paucity of college graduates at the time of the Belgian withdrawal, as if things would have been better had there been more of them. And therefore the solution was obvious: train more people. Education in Africa
became a secular shibboleth that it was impious to question.

The expansion of education in Tanzania, where I lived for three years, was indeed impressive. The literacy rate had improved dramatically, so that it was better than that of the former colonizing power, and it was inspiring to see the sacrifices villagers were willing to make to enable at least one of their children to continue his schooling. School fees took precedence over every other expenditure. If anyone doubted the capacity of the poor to make investments in their own future, the conduct of the Tanzanians should have been sufficient to persuade him otherwise. (I used to lend money to villagers to pay the fees, and-poor as they were-they never failed to repay me.)

Unfortunately, there was a less laudable, indeed positively harmful, side to this effort. The aim of education was, in almost every case, that at least one family member should escape what Marx contemptuously called the idiocy of rural life and get into government service, from which he would be in a position to extort from the only productive people in the country-namely, the peasants from whom he had sprung. The son in government service was social security, old-age pension, and secure income rolled into one. Farming, the country's indispensable economic base, was viewed as the occupation of dullards and failures, and so it was hardly surprising that the education of an ever larger number of government servants went hand in hand with an ever contracting economy. It also explains why there is no correlation between a country's number of college graduates at independence and its subsequent economic success.

The naive supposition on which the argument for education rests is that training counteracts and overpowers a cultural worldview. A trained man is but a clone of his trainer, on this theory, sharing his every attitude and worldview. But in fact what results is a curious hybrid, whose fundamental beliefs may be impervious to the education he has received.


One is struck by how much Mr. Dalrymple's analysis echoes the prediction of Chinua Achebe in No Longer At Ease, a depressing 43 years ago.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 PM

HOW DO TEENAGE BOYS EVEN REACH ADULTHOOD ALIVE?:

Teen blinded when frog shot from potato gun (Associated Press, April 16, 2003)
A teenager was blinded after being struck in the face with a frog shot from a so-called "potato gun."

Daniel Benjamin Berry, 17, received the injury after he looked down the barrel of the gun's PVC pipe barrel and was hit in the face by the frog.

"He is going to be blind in both eyes," Daniel's mother, Lisa Berry, said.

Potato guns are made of pipe with one end sealed. A potato is wedged into the open end and a flammable liquid put into a sealed chamber is ignited, launching the object.

Denton County Sheriff's Department spokesman Kevin Patton said the accident occurred about 1 a.m. Sunday when Daniel Berry joined a crowed of teenagers watching the gun be fired.

When it misfired, Daniel Berry looked down the barrel to see what was wrong when the gun went off, Patton said.


PETA today asked that he be prosecuted for harming a frog.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM

MAKING GUMBY LOOK STIFF:

Tank plant speeds armor: Tristate reacts to war (Associated Press, April 13, 2003)
Faced with a vulnerable spot on U.S. tanks, Army engineers sketched an idea on a napkin. Seven days later, 20 custom pieces of armor were to be shipped to Iraq on Saturday to protect Abrams M1A2 tanks.

Engineers, cutters and welders at the Lima Army Tank Plant worked around the clock to fix the weak spot - exhaust and air intake vents - that led to the loss of several tanks in the first weeks of the war, said Lt. Col. Damon Walsh, plant commander.

"It's incredible," he said. "Guys in the desert are going to be that much safer because of what they do here."


One of the (many) reasons that the possibility of someone like a China ever becoming a realistic military threat to us is because of this kind of flexibility, which is built into the systems by which we govern ourselves and run our economy. Contrary to the expectations of even the wisest observers, like de Tocqueville, it turns out that liberal democracy (coupled with free market capitalism) has inherent advantages, which predominate over the disadvantages, when it comes to waging war.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:08 PM

THEY ALL GOT THE MESSAGE--SYRIA, IRAN, N. KOREA, THE SPECTATOR...:

Tony Blair's Syrian connection (Douglas Davis, 4/12/03, The Spectator)
Tony Blair has staked much of his personal and political prestige on attempting to tame the young Syrian President, Bashar Assad. His hard work has been rewarded with embarrassment and humiliation. When the Prime Minister visited Damascus in October 2001, preaching a message of sweet reason and an end to violence, he was forced to listen in silence as Assad defended Palestinian suicide bombers and compared them to the French Resistance fighters against the Nazis: "Resistance to liberate land is an international right that no one can deny."

Then, when Bashar visited London in December, he made Blair squirm again as he described the plethora of Palestinian terror headquarters in Damascus as "press offices". And between lunch in Downing Street and afternoon tea with the Queen, he managed to paint his host as "an ostrich that buries its head in the sand" for believing that a reformed Palestinian Authority would produce peace in the Middle East.

It is difficult to know just who persuaded Blair that he could charm Bashar and pacify Syria, but it was a massive policy miscalculation, and one that Blair seems determined to pursue.


Was there a regime change at The Spectator too? Typically a redoubt of High Tory Europhilia and Ameriphobia, it not only runs this Syria-bash, but turns over its cover to American neocon Michael Ledeen, The end of the beginning: Syria and Iran are preparing to launch a terrorist campaign against coalition forces. The only answer is regime change in both countries (Michael Ledeen, 4/12/03, The Spectator), and has a the newly conservative William Shawcross praising America, Pax Americana: Europeans are hypocritical, isolationist and deluded in their attempts to hobble the greatest power on earth (William Shawcross, 4/12/03, The Spectator).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:38 PM

TWELVE (MORE) REASONS THAT ALL HUMOR IS CONSERVATIVE (via Rick Turley)

Twelve Reasons Why President Bush Should Lead Iraq (Morning Edition, April 15, 2003, NPR)
Commentator Patt Morrison says the next leader of Iraq should be President George Bush himself. She claims Iraq and Texas have more in common that one might think. This is one of Morning Edition's occasional commentaries in a series offering a range of opinions on the war in Iraq.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM

MUDDLED MESSAGE:

Egypt dissident says war sends message (DAVE NEWBART, April 16, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
The war in Iraq has put advocates for democracy in the Middle East like Saad Eddin Ibrahim in a tough position.

On the one hand, the Egyptian scholar does not believe democracy can be imposed by a foreign power, and especially not by force.

But as a critic of totalitarian Arab regimes who was just released from an Egyptian prison last month, he acknowledges that the U.S. action could help shake those regimes' hold on power in the region, opening a window for democratic groups.

The United States "has no business imposing democracy by military means,'' Ibrahim said Tuesday at an address at the University of Chicago. But the war "put all dictators on notice that if they do not reform, they will be subject to similar unpleasant predicaments like Saddam Hussein.''


America can't get rid of totalitarian regimes but if the totalitarians don't liberalize they risk the possibility that America will get rid of them--this is what passes for an Egyptian intellectual?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM

CLOSING THE CIRCLE:

'Buried alive in a concrete grave' (Nick Parker, April 16, 2003, Times of London)
BRITISH troops were racing against time last night to free prisoners believed to have been buried alive by Saddam Hussein’s fleeing henchmen.

Army engineers were called in after British officers heard scratching beneath a wrecked statue of Saddam in al-Faw. Local people said they had seen two coachloads of prisoners being sealed into a secret chamber under the site.

Hundreds of Iraqis kept a vigil yesterday as engineers with pneumatic drills and a bulldozer worked to break through a yard of concrete believed to have been poured into a stairwell leading to the dungeon.

Several British troops said they had heard a response after they stopped digging, called for quiet and knocked on the ground.

The sound of a series of scratching noises has been distinct at least twice since work started on Monday afternoon.


You can't help but notice the parallel to the digging for hoped-for survivors of the WTC attack. Another reminder that the war on Iraq was the war on terror. May these survive.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM

OR YOU CAN SKIP THE WITCH TRIAL:

Mexican villagers stone 'witch' to death (AP, April 14, 2003)
An angry crowd stoned to death an Indian man accused of practicing witchcraft in a southern Mexico town with a long tradition of religious violence.

The man, Domingo Shilon Shilon, was also hacked with machetes Sunday by the crowd in San Juan Chamula, a majority Catholic township on the outskirts of the colonial city of San Cristobal, 460 miles (735 kms) southeast of Mexico City.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM

60-40 VISION:

Ex-Ill. Gov. Eyed to Replace Fitzgerald (DENNIS CONRAD, Apr 16, 2003, Associated Press)
Within hours of Illinois Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (news, bio, voting record)'s surprise announcement that he will not seek re-election, top Illinois Republicans were courting former two-term Gov. Jim Edgar to become the party's standard bearer in 2004.

"He's clearly our dream candidate," said Bob Kjellander, an Illinois member of the Republican National Committee (news - web sites), who spoke with Edgar early Tuesday before Fitzgerald publicly confirmed his decision.

Edgar, a moderate who has twice rejected party appeals to run for Senate and retired as a popular incumbent in 1999, said the race was wide open and he was not ready to enter it.

"I don't want anybody to think I am doing this at this point. What I have done, at the request of party leaders, is said I would not say no and I would listen," said Edgar, who splits his time as a consultant and a fellow at the Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.


Mr. Fitzgerald was the GOP's most vulnerable incumbent, his personal weaknesses compounded by the fact that conservatives weren't going to help him out. If they can get Mr. Edgar to run they stand a very good chance of retaining the seat and an outside chance of getting to 60 seats in the Senate and a filibuster-proof majority.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM

MAY HE LIVE TO BE A THOUSAND:

Clinton blasts US approach to international affairs (AFP, Apr 15, 2003)
Former US President Bill Clinton blasted US foreign policy adopted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, arguing the United States cannot kill, jail or occupy all of its adversaries.

"Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us," said Clinton, who spoke at a seminar of governance organized by Conference Board.

"And if they don't, they can go straight to hell."

The Democratic former president, who preceded George W. Bush at the White House, said that sooner or later the United States had to find a way to cooperate with the world at large.

"We can't run," Clinton pointed out. "If you got an interdependent world, and you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your adversaries, sooner or later you have to make adeal."


In the thumbsuckers when he was leaving office, reporters speculated about how influential Bill Clinton could be, such a young and popular ex-President with a penchant for the limelight; his pronouncements could continue to shape our politics long after he his administration... Well, it's been almost two and a half years now and he hasn't said a single thing that's mattered. Now, as if to demonstrate his own insignificance, he proposes cutting deals with our adversaries? On what exactly do people base the case for his political genius?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM

THE MISSION:

U.S. Overseer Begins Meeting With Iraqis on New Government (JANE PERLEZ, April 15, 2003, NY Times)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld chose General Garner for his position. The two men know each other well from the late 1990's when the general served on a missile defense commission headed by Mr. Rumsfeld. They now talk every other night by video teleconference, and sometimes Mr. Rumsfeld calls directly, the general said.

By getting out of Iraq fast, the general said, the United States can avoid repeating past mistakes. "We're notorious for telling people what to do," he said. An example? "Start with Vietnam and the strategic hamlet concept."

General Garner served two tours in Vietnam, first in 1967-68 as an infantry adviser in the central highlands, and as a district senior adviser in 1971-72 in the strategic hamlet program, which involved relocating Vietnamese in remote villages into areas heavily defended by American forces, he said. Over all, he said, the war in Vietnam was a failure because the United States had the "wrong military objective."

"It took too long," he said. "We should have taken the war north instead of waiting in the south. Just like here. If President Bush had been president, we would have won."

The general retired from the military in 1997 after serving from 1994 to 1996 as commander of the Army Space and Strategic Defense Command. He joined SYColeman, a missile systems contractor that gives technical advice on a variety of systems, including the Patriot, which was deployed in Iraq. It was bought by L-3 Communications last year. He enjoyed his business career, he said, because "most of the guys are former military, and you make a lot of money."

After the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the general ran a mission that helped the Kurds and resulted in the creation of the semiautonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq. At that time, General Garner worked closely with an experienced civilian expert in delivering aid, Fred Cuny, who was later killed in Chechnya. The effort was deemed by many in Washington to be a success.

General Garner appeared unperturbed at the prospect of running all of Iraq, under much more intense scrutiny. He is prepared, he said, for bickering on Tuesday among Iraqi exile groups and local Iraqis. Mr. Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress who was flown to Nasariya almost two weeks ago by the Special Forces, will not attend, but has said he would send an adviser.

The general seemed to relish the prospect. The Tuesday meeting represents, he said, the first time in perhaps "several hundred years" that Iraq has had such an "open season" for dialogue.


The atmospherics of having a general run the country may be a little dicey, but General Garner, who rose from enlisted man, seems like a remarkable guy, with a track record and understanding of working with un-Western peoples.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 AM

WHAZZUP?:

Religious Instruction From Secretary Paige (Richard Cohen, April 15, 2003, Washington Post)
"I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith -- where a child is taught that there is a source of strength greater than themselves," he said recently in an interview that appeared in the Baptist Press.

Huh?

My "huh?" comes from the ambiguity of the statement. It is not clear whether this secretary of education -- this secretary of public education -- is saying that he prefers kids to be in Christian schools, in which case he is in the wrong job, or that the public schools ought to teach Christian values, in which case he is also in the wrong job. What is clear -- about the only thing, really -- is that Paige has totally blurred the line between personal belief and education policy. [...]

He talked about his own religious beliefs and how they should be inculcated in the curriculum. So when he mentioned "strong faith" as something that should be taught, he was talking about teaching religion -- not teaching about religion, which is fine and worthwhile, but inculcating religious belief, which is forbidden by the Constitution and for good reason.

The "faith" that Paige wants to be taught is clearly the Christian one. That might be fine for the 84 percent of the population that is Christian. But Jews (2 percent) might quibble and so might the growing number of Muslims, 5 million to 7 million people, according to the latest estimates. But the strongest objection might come from the 10 percent of the population that follows no religion at all. Should they be taught "faith," as if to straighten them out? [...]

The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing. The European experience, with its state religions and concomitant homicides in the name of the True Faith, was fresh to them. We have a civic faith in this country, and that is faith in our public institutions, the confidence that, no matter what our religion, these institutions belong to all of us. This is the faith that Paige does not seem to appreciate.

Maybe Paige misspoke. Maybe his tongue wandered off while his mind was distracted. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But if he truly believes what he told the Baptist Press, then he is not fit to be secretary of education. He ought to explain or he ought to resign and, for once, he ought to be clear about it.


The Founding Fathers will, in all likelihood, be relieved to hear that Mr. Cophen says they knew what they were doing. However, Mr. Cohen may be distressed to hear that they weren't doing what he thinks they were doing. Here, for instance, are a just a few of their utterances and actions as regards religion's vital role in education:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM

TRANSATLANTIC FAULTLINE:

Euthanasia for British couple with non-terminal illness (Jeevan Vasagar and Alison Langley, April 15, 2003, The Guardian)
A British couple have been helped to commit suicide by a Swiss euthanasia group even though they were not suffering from terminal illness. Robert Stokes, 59, and his wife, Jennifer, 53, flew to Zurich at the end of March, where they drank the poison pentobarbital sodium, say Swiss police.

The couple, from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, were assisted to commit suicide by Dignitas, the Swiss organisation that has aided the deaths of more than 100 people from around the world.

Both suffered from chronic, but not necessarily terminal, illnesses. They were among five people, including another British woman, who arrived in Zurich between March 31 and April 5 and killed themselves.

The number of so-called suicide tourists is becoming an embarrassment to the Swiss authorities, and alarming anti-euthanasia campaigners.

Edwin Loescher, a Zurich district attorney, said five assisted suicides in one week was "too many - it's nearly unbearable".


Court awards damages to disabled child for having been born (Tony Sheldon, 4/12/03, British Medical Journal)
For the first time in the Netherlands, a court has awarded damages to a severely disabled girl for the fact that she was borna so called "wrongful life" judgment.

It seems foolish for people to keep wondering why Europe and America have become estranged when theirs is a culture in which each individual increasingly despises everyone but himself. Why would we seek to maintain an alliance with a people who have such a strong, and perhaps warranted, death wish? Let them die off in the isolation they so assiduously seek.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

TURN OVER IRAQ AND JUST WATCH WHAT CRAWLS OUT FROM UNDER:

Palestinian Authority Demands U.S. Free Abu Abbas (Reuters, April 16, 2003)
The Palestinian Authority demanded the release of veteran Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Abbas on Wednesday, saying his detention in Iraq by U.S. forces violated an interim Middle East peace deal.

"We demand the United States release Abu Abbas. It has no right to imprison him," Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters.

"The Palestinian-Israeli interim agreement signed on September 28, 1995 stated that members of the Palestine Liberation Organization must not be detained or tried for matters they committed before the Oslo peace accord of September 13, 1993," he said.

"This interim agreement was signed on the U.S. side by President Clinton and his secretary of state, Warren Christopher," Erekat added. There was no immediate Israeli comment on Abbas' arrest by U.S. special forces.

Abbas masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in the Mediterranean.


Abu Abbas is the head of the Palestine Liberation Front, and is responsible, among his many crimes, for the murder of Leon Klinghoffer aboard the hijacked Achille Lauro. The idea that the Oslo accords can bind us to turn over terrorists but do not bar the Palestinians from an extensive terror campaign is ridiculous. Any legal effects of the accords were long ago rendered null and void by the PLO's own actions.

April 15, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 PM

THE HIGHER THE MONKEY CLIMBS:

Syria Divides Democratic Candidates (NEDRA PICKLER, Apr. 15, 2003, Associated Press)
Now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power in Iraq, a new military issue is dividing Democrats running for president, how to deal with Syria.

President Bush warned Syria on Sunday about harboring Iraqi leaders and accused Damascus of keeping chemical weapons, but he did not go as far as to threaten military action.

Presidential candidate Bob Graham, a Florida senator who voted against the resolution authorizing force against Iraq, suggested military action against Syria might be necessary.

"We threw a few cruise missiles into the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan ... that's what we may have to do in Syria," he told the Orlando Sentinel after an appearance during the weekend in his home state.


At the height of the neocon and libertarian Right's "Bush has gone wobbly" hysteria you got some amusing posturing about how angry hawks would desert the President in '04 and support Bob Graham. Just to top off the silliness, here's Senator Graham proposing the very action that George W. Bush derided when he told Senators he meant business in the war on terror: "When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." Mr. Graham, who's supposed to be the Democrats' one serious candidate on security issues, would, amazingly, appear to have adopted Bill Clinton's "Camel Butt Doctrine".
Posted by David Cohen at 8:21 PM

THE WAR ON IRAQ IS THE WAR ON TERROR.

Mastermind of Achille Lauro hijacking arrested in Iraq (David Ensor, CNN, April 15, 2003).
Abu Abbas, the Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean Sea, has been arrested by U.S. personnel in Iraq.

Abbas was arrested about 50 miles west of Baghdad after being turned away from Iraq's border with Syria, a Palestinian source told CNN.

The hijacking of the ship led to the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew. Klinghoffer was shot in his wheelchair and thrown overboard by Abbas' men.

I assume that we're now clear on the fact that international terror is a seamless web, with America's enemies all quite willing to make common cause. The second lessen here is that Abbas was apparently turned away by Syria, as he tried to escape from Iraq. Either Syria has suddenly become philosophically opposed to middle east terrorism, or something has happened to make it mind its manners. Hmm, I guess the anti-war movement was right: Tyrannical regimes will respond to the careful application of diplomacy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM

THE AMBULANCE CHASERS ON PARADE:

Anti-War Front Collapses as Iraq Gold Rush Begins (Erik Kirschbaum, Apr 15, 2003, Reuters)
They couldn't prevent the war, but that hasn't stopped the "Non-Nyet-Nein" coalition of France, Russia and Germany from staking their individual claims to a role in shaping, and profiting from, the new Iraq.

Even before the fighting stopped, the three European powers were moving to build bridges to the United States and Britain to ensure their companies get a share in rebuilding the infrastructure in Iraq.

France says it wants to be pragmatic, Germany says it is an honest broker because it has no economic interests in Iraq, and Russia says it will consider Washington's call to forgive some $8 billion in Soviet era debt.

All three have sounded conciliatory in the past week, while saying they want to see the United Nations play the lead role in post-war reconstruction -- tactics widely seen as an effort to avoid being locked out of business deals by the United States.


To paraphrase the Sage of Baltimore: No one ever went broke underestimating the principles of the French, Germans, and Russians.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:58 PM

SATCHELMOUTH:

Satchuated: Running Down the Rabbit Hole at the Louis Armstrong Archive (Gary Giddins, April 16 - 22, 2003, Village Voice)
Years ago, watching a clip of bungee jumpers, I thought, It's just like writing a biography--the long drop into the abyss, then the sudden jerk of salvation. Later I realized that was wishful thinking. There is no jerk, except yourself, plunging into the depthless mire of research, until finally you are obliged to concede, "Hold, enough!" However many bones you unearth, you know there are more, buried a little deeper. And when the boneyard is truly bare, bones already baking in the sun will be endlessly re-excavated. Otherwise there wouldn't be hundreds of biographies of Alexander, Napoleon, and Lincoln, each presuming to varnish or grind into dust its predecessors. I have never attempted a full-dress biography of Louis Armstrong, but I have written a short life and several essays, enough to have felt some confidence in understanding him, his genius, and his times. Yet seconds after curator Michael Cogswell ushered me into the Louis Armstrong House & Archives for a recent visit, I felt I was plunging down the rabbit hole.

In the short time I spent there, examining maybe .05 percent of the holdings, I found no new information. But facts and factoids have limited appeal. What you really hope for is a better purchase on the man, a jarring of the imagination that enables you to see what you already know in a clearer light. A few steps into the archive I was stopped dead by a pasteboard blowup of a photograph that had never been published, showing Armstrong and his adopted son, "Clarence Hatfield." I had never given Clarence much thought, having heard he was mentally retarded and died a long time ago, hidden away.


But here he was: beaming backstage at the Band Box, a club in Chicago, in the 1940s, nattily dressed in a double-breasted suit not unlike the pinstripe tailored for Armstrong, who also beams, with unmistakable paternal pride. Clarence and their relationship sprang to life, sending me back to Armstrong's account in Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, to appreciate for the first time its affectionate candor regarding his only venture into paternity. Clarence was born in 1915 to Louis's teenage cousin, Flora, apparently after she was molested by an old white man her father felt powerless to challenge. Louis's first sight of the baby washed "all the gloom out of me." He took it upon himself, at 14, to get a job hauling coal (immortalized in the 1925 "Coal Cart Blues") to support the baby and the ailing mother, and assumed full responsibility after Flora's death, marrying his first wife and adopting the three-year-old at 17. In that period, Clarence fell off a porch and landed on his head; doctors judged him to be mentally impaired. When Louis married Lil Hardin in Chicago, Clarence joined them, and Louis never forgave Lil--who claimed that Clarence was never legally adopted--for her impatience with him. When he left Lil for Alpha, he brought Clarence along.

Eventually, Clarence was set up in the Bronx, where he was married in an arrangement of convenience financed by Louis. Clarence's surname is something of a mystery. According to Armstrong's friend, photographer Jack Bradley, he was listed in the phone book as Clarence Hatfield--but this may have been an expediency to keep nosy fans and biographers at a distance. Before Flora died, she evidently anticipated Louis's involvement and renamed her son Clarence Armstrong. He lived a full life, dying in August 1998, and endures in Armstrong's memoir as the happy athletic boy everyone called, much to Louis's pleasure, "Little Louis Armstrong." You feel his attachment in the photograph; had I seen it 15 years ago, I would have made every attempt to find and interview "Hatfield."

Other photos are no less revealing.


By the time most of us were old enough to be conscious of him, Louis Armstrong seemed like something of a novelty act--his nickname Satchmo, dangerously close to the derogatory Sambo, his act consisting of singing hokey tunes Hello, Dolly, Mack, the Knife, and What a Wonderful World. Now, his personality was so dynamic, and obviously came across better while singing than blowing, that you can almost forgive various variety shows of the day for having him croon instead of play. But if you didn't know better, you'd have had no idea that he was a seminal jazz trumpet player and every bit as important a figure in the history of desegregation as Jackie Robinson. The latter was a function not just of the industries and venues that men like Robinson, Armstrong, Sidney Poitier, and others integrated, but of their becoming heroes to generations of young Americans of all races. In some sense, one of the first step towards making America a color blind society was to make young whites want to grow up to be like black heroes. As for his trumpet playing, check out his Hot Fives & Sevens and this companion site to Ken Burns' Jazz.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:03 PM

DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT (via Ed Driscoll):

Dear Mr. Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut, 3.24.03, In These Times)
I’d love to know your thoughts for a woman of 43 who is finally ready to have children but is wary of bringing new lives into such a frightening world.

Elizabeth Gratch
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Dear Elizabeth,

Don’t do it! It could be another George W. Bush or Lucrezia Borgia.

The kid would be lucky to be born into a society where even the poor people are overweight, but unlucky to be in one without a national health plan or decent public education for most, where lethal injection and warfare are forms of entertainment, and where it costs an arm and a leg to go to college. This would not be the case if the kid were a Canuck or Swede or Limey or Frog or Kraut. So either go on practicing safe sex or emigrate.

Kurt


Have you ever noticed how people on the Left are fond of saying things like this, but you can never get them to act on their own words? If America is so bad, why doesn't Mr. Vonnegut leave himself?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:42 PM

PAGING STACY KOON:

Police: Rodney King Slams SUV Into House (AP, Apr 15, 2003)
Rodney King, whose videotaped beating led to the deadly 1992 riots in Los Angeles, was hospitalized with a broken pelvis after he lost control of his SUV while weaving through traffic at 100 mph and crashed into a house, police said.

King, 39, was spotted Sunday by a police officer who said King was speeding and weaving through traffic in his 2003 Ford Expedition when he slammed into a utility pole, a chain-link fence and then the home, police said. No one in the home was injured.

King was in fair condition Monday afternoon, hospital spokesman Jorge Valencia said. His condition was not available Tuesday as hospital officials did not answer phone calls.

Police said they suspect that King was intoxicated, and a blood sample was drawn to determine his blood-alcohol level. Test results have not yet been released.


The first Rodney King incident--to achieve fame anyway--just happened to occur while I was in law school. One day, when all and sundry were making the appropriate politically sensitive noises about how terrible the beating was, I pointed out that if some black crackhead came racing through their neighborhood doing 100 mph and then resisted arrest, they'd be out on their lawns rooting on the cops. Let's just say this was met with some disagreement.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:25 PM

FIRST TO FOLD?:

Iowa Challenges Hawkish Lieberman (DAVID LIGHTMAN, April 14 2003, Hartford Courant)
The Iraq war should be a political triumph for Joe Lieberman. But he spent the days after the fall of Baghdad in Iowa, the so-called peace state, and too often found that his stance for war magnified his other political troubles here.

Iowa will be the first caucus state in 2004, and whoever wins, or at least beats expectations, will likely be dubbed a front-runner. Lieberman's expectations are lower than Iowa cornstalks in January, yet he keeps trying to win supporters. [...]

Lieberman is still a blur of sorts in Iowa, someone whom people just can't put into focus. He's a friendly, decent man who promotes himself as a centrist in a state where Democrats are generally liberals, but his voting record leans left on most key issues.

His campaign has stymied by quirky logistical tangles - his first scheduled 2003 trip was to have begun on the day the space shuttle Columbia exploded. It was canceled.

The rescheduled visit went on two weeks later, but without his staff, stuck in Washington in a snowstorm. Last week's trip was cut short because the senator had to rush back to Washington for a rare Friday afternoon vote, so a crowd that had gathered in Ames heard son Matt Lieberman address them by speakerphone instead.

He addressed the strange degree of difficulty his father faces from his political history and personality. He's well-known, since he ran in 2000 for vice president, and generally well-liked. But many question whether he's too much a symbol of the past and too gentle to take on President Bush.

"Some people give off lightning," Matt Lieberman said. "Some give off a warm, steady glow. Right now, especially now, America needs the steadiness of his leadership." [...]

"I'm going to come up the center," he told a Fort Dodge crowd, "and unite all parts of the party behind me." And by positioning himself in the middle, he explained, he can paint Bush as a right-wing extremist out to only help his friends and the wealthy.

Good stuff, some said. "It's a very strong message. He's very presidential," said Seth Grote, a McClelland farmer.

But Lieberman's centrist style and talk, while useful in a general election, may make it more difficult for him to get that far, especially in places like Iowa.

Lieberman's forces believe that in a multi-candidate field, as little as 20 percent of the vote in Iowa would be seen as a good showing and maybe even a win.

But even getting 20 percent is hardly a safe bet, and Lieberman has a tough choice to make in the months ahead - whether to contest this state hard, or do as Arizona Sen. John McCain did in 2000, spend his time and money where the results will be more to his favor.

"The dynamics of this race change day by day," Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer said. "At the beginning, there was a push back as people questioned the war; now it's turned around. Tomorrow, who knows?"


In the race for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination, Al Sharpton is widely dismissed as the token black candidate, Carol Mosely Braun as the token black woman, Dennis Kucinich as the token progressive...so why is Joe Lieberman not treated as the token Jewish candidate? After all, it's not as if he has any chance to win. Iowa is a state that requires organization--he has none. It is pro-farm and anti-war. He supports the war and opposes ethanol subsidies. Then the contest moves to NH, where favorite son candidates routinely win (though, this being a Republican state, those sons typically hail from MA). True to form, John Kerry and Howard Dean are running very strong here. Then, in early February the Democrats move on to SC, with two Southerners in the race and two blacks, there's awful lot of that electorate already claimed, and what remains likely leans farther Left than the Senator from CT. So three primaries into the process Mr. Lieberman is going to have been shut out and probably badly so. Given the expectations for his candidacy and his certain failure to meet them, he may not even make it as far as SC. In fact, it seems fair to ask: why is he running, except to represent the tribe?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:01 PM

CUTTING TO THE CHASE (via E.F. Brown):

Antiwar Groups Shifting Their Focus to Bush: Voter Registration, Search for Congressional Candidates Among Strategies Considered (Evelyn Nieves, April 14, 2003, Washington Post)
The antiwar rally here Saturday began much the same way as a half-dozen others before it, with thousands of placard-carrying protesters marching through the streets. But this one was also noticeably different.

Among the crowd of a few thousand, there were clear signs that war protesters are embarking on a new phase. Many more of the protesters' placards took aim directly at President Bush: "Bush Must Go!" "Impeach Bush!" Voter registration tables urging protesters to "Vote for change!" also dotted the city park that served as the rallying point.

Although this demonstration, like the others across the country Saturday, was set before Baghdad crumbled, antiwar organizers said they were already preparing to shift their attention beyond protesting the war to a more ambitious agenda. In broad terms, according to leaders of some of the largest national peace groups, the antiwar movement is reshaping itself to become an anti-Bush movement.

Just how the antiwar movement plans on challenging the president depends on which group you ask. Some are focusing on registering voters to challenge Bush in 2004. Others say their emphasis will be on finding congressional candidates to run against those who have supported or acquiesced to the Bush administration. Still others say they will emphasize creating permanent community-based groups that will fight the administration's policies. Some also say that while they plot their next big moves, they will continue to hold teach-ins, protests and other forums to criticize the current military policies and practices in Washington and fortify their ranks.


Were one sufficiently cynical, one might suspect that Karl Rove is helping to fund these nitwits. What more could George W. Bush ask than to be opposed by their likes and have his Democrat opponents dancing to their tune.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:35 PM

WHAT IF?:

Fortuyn gunman spared life term: Van der Graaf could be freed in 12 years (BBC, 4/15/03)
The man who killed Dutch anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn has been jailed for 18 years.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence for 33-year-old Volkert van der Graaf, who shot Fortuyn as he left a radio studio last year.

But the court in Amsterdam ruled that Van der Graaf should receive the lighter 18-year sentence to give him the chance of rehabilitation. He could be freed by 2014.

Van der Graaf said he killed Fortuyn - the then leader of the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) - to protect Muslim immigrants and other "vulnerable" members of society.

The shooting in Hilversum on 6 May, 2002, stunned the Netherlands - it was the country's first political killing since World War II.

Van der Graaf's lawyers had argued that a life sentence - usually reserved for serial killers who show no remorse - would be extraordinarily harsh in this case.

The judges told the court on Tuesday that they agreed.

"All considered, a sentence of life imprisonment would not be appropriate in this case," said presiding judge Frans Bauduin. "Therefore we are giving a fixed term of imprisonment."

The judges said they had taken into account that the murder had damaged Dutch democracy, had been premeditated and had been carried out "at close range and with deadly precision".

"The political values and the way we engage in the democratic debate were violated in an extreme manner and the crime has shocked the legal order severely," said Mr Bauduin.

But he said there was only a small possibility of Van der Graaf offending again, and he deserved a chance to be rehabilitated.


One of the staples of speculative fiction and late-night barroom chatter is the "what if...", and few what if's are more popular than: what if someone had assassinated Hitler before he turned Europe into a charnel house. Of course the tenor of such discussions is almost uniformly that it would have been a very good thing. So, one wonders why it is that when a new European demagogue, his politics equally fueled by racial hatreds, and this one an open advocate of child-rape to boot, is actually assassinated, the event is greeted with such uniform horror. Van der Graaf is an obvious nut--his lunatic claim, after the fact, to be acting on behalf of Muslims is unworthy of serious consideration--who should never be let out of prison, and the Dutch judges would seem to have set a damned low price on their democracy, but the canonization of Pim Fortuyn is indicative of intellectual vacuousness on the part of many people who should know better.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 AM

GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY...:

What Happened in Salem?: The little-known role of Indian wars in an infamous historical episode. (Thomas S. Kidd, March/April 2003, Books & Culture)
Sevententh-century New Englanders believed that people sometimes covenanted with Satan to acquire the powers of witchcraft. That this assumption was nearly universal in Massachusetts made it no different from other European societies, where witches had been prosecuted, tortured, and executed with some regularity since at least the 11th century. But there is no doubt that something strange occurred in Salem in 1692—by far the largest outbreak of witchcraft accusations, prosecutions, and executions in colonial North American history, with 19 people dying and hundreds more accused before the trials were stopped. [...]

Most Americans who know anything about the Salem witchcraft crisis probably have had their impressions shaped by Arthur Miller's 1953 play (and 1996 movie) The Crucible, which saw parallels to 1950s McCarthyism in Salem's trials. For their part, historians have offered many competing accounts, most of them focused on the accusers' motivations. Probably the most influential recent approach is Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum's Salem Possessed (1974), which interprets the crisis as a boiling over of long-simmering animosities between the "haves" and "have-nots" within Salem Village, the newer, more agrarian neighbor of old Salem Town. Books and articles on the trials continue to appear at a remarkable pace. Marilynne K. Roach's The Salem Witch Trials is representative of this ongoing interest: her "day-by-day chronicle" will find a place on the shelves of researchers and history buffs for whom the fascination of Salem never palls.

Mary Beth Norton, however, is not satisfied with this vast literature, and her ambitious and complex In the Devil's Snare argues that most of the work on Salem witchcraft has failed to connect the accusation patterns to the one factor that may finally help us understand why the outbreak became such a torrent: the external wartime setting that provided the trials' context. We have heard these sorts of claims before, as many writers have claimed that they will reveal the one compelling piece of evidence that others have overlooked. But Norton's analysis of the witchcraft crisis in the context of the ongoing wars does make a significant new contribution, probably the most important since Boyer and Nissenbaum.

Historians have done a great deal in recent years to begin understanding the North American colonies in their Atlantic context, and in the case of Massachusetts one should remember that the Puritan experiment did not occur in isolation. Beginning with the Pequot War of the 1630s, New Englanders had regular military conflicts with their Native American neighbors. In the 1670s New Englanders barely beat back the resistance of Wampanoag sachem Metacom in King Philip's War, which they also called the "First Indian War." They saw the hostilities that began in 1689 with French-sponsored Wabanakis as the "Second Indian War," in which Maine settlers faced regular Wabanaki attacks, and lurid reports emerged from the front of surprise attacks, the torturing and dismemberment of English farmers and their families, raids that seemed to come from the pit of hell. (How the Indians saw the colonists is another story.)

This war with the Wabanakis provides Norton's critical backdrop to the witchcraft crisis. Though she cannot produce a "smoking gun," Norton provides much circumstantial evidence to show that many accusers and accused had connections to the Indian wars. [...]

Norton's analysis of the connections between the Second Indian War and the Salem crisis works well because context is crucial to understanding any such historical event. Arthur Miller was, in this sense, wrong to lead us to believe that the backdrop of historical context (1690s Massachusetts or 1950s Cold War America) is largely irrelevant. No one reading this book can come away doubting that the Second Indian War colored the entire Salem episode. But we are still left wondering if Norton really has explained why the crisis came when it did. Though we will likely never have a definitive explanation of Salem witchcraft, the very difficulty in providing one fuels our enduring fascination with it.


One of the strangest things about the Salem Witch Trials is that the most obvious explanation is ignored: the prosecuted practiced witchcraft. This is not to say that they were able to perform magic, which is impossible, but that they engaged in the wide range of behaviors that made up the superstitious and pagan rituals of traditional folk beliefs. These have best been described in the British context, by Keith Thomas in the splendid Religion and the Decline of Magic, but must surely have been carried to the New World.

April 14, 2003

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:53 PM

NO STANDING INTELLIGENTSIA:

The Most Hated Professor in America (Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/18/2003)
Chronicle: One organizer of the teach-in called what you said "idiotic."
de Genova: To defensively denounce what I said as "idiotic" merely contributes to the pro-war campaign of vilification. There are people with a very vested interest in exploiting this issue and manipulating it for their own ends, and attacks against me are therefore attacks against the entire antiwar movement.
Chronicle: The comment you made linking patriotism and white supremacy has also caused controversy. Can you expand a bit on that?
de Genova: It's an oversimplification ... to say that I am simply calling anyone who is a patriot of the United States a white supremacist. But I did trace a historical relationship between U.S. invasions and conquests and colonization to the history of white supremacy and racism in the U.S.
Chronicle: If you had it to do over again, would you make the same remarks?
de Genova: Had I known that there was a devious yellow journalist from a tabloid newspaper among the audience, I certainly would have selected my words somewhat more carefully. But I would not have changed the message.

Nicholas de Genova is unrepentant. Indeed, he even accuses Eric Foner, the radical professor who organized the teach-in and has been quoted as uncertain which is "more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House," of joining a pro-war campaign of vilification. Nice to see that leftists haven't stopped turning on one another.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 PM

ON DECK:

Bush administration nominates Latino to 9th circuit (Howard Mintz, Apr. 14, 2003, San Jose Mercury News)
A San Francisco judge has been nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second time this year that the Bush administration selected a Latino for the nation's largest and most controversial federal appeals court.

The White House to day announced the nomination of Superior Court Carlos Bea, who must now be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. President Bush chose Bea, 68, to fill one of three vacancies on the 28-member 9th Circuit, which interprets law for California and eight other Western states.

Bea would only say today that he is "honored'' by the nomination.

The 9th Circuit's Latino representation could soon triple as a result of Bea's nomination and the president's selection in February of Sacramento state appeals court justice Consuelo Maria Callahan. If Bea and Callahan are confirmed, they would join the 9th Circuit's only current Latino judge, Richard Paez, a Clinton appointee.

At this point, Bea, a Stanford University law school graduate who played for the Cuban national basketball team in the 1952 Olympics, is not expected to encounter the type of major opposition being mounted against many of Bush's judicial picks, including 9th Circuit nominee Carolyn Kuhl of Los Angeles.

Bay Area lawyers say Bea has enlisted enough support among influential Democrats to steer clear of controversy. Perhaps the most unusual aspect to Bea's nomination is his age -- he is older than most judges who first join the federal bench, and would immediately become one of the 9th Circuit's eldest members.


It would be worth nominating Bob Hope if you could get him confirmed to the 9th, the worst circuit in America.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 PM

SHOCK AND AWE:

Israeli military amazed, 'jealous' at U.S. war against Iraq (WORLD TRIBUNE.COM, April 14, 2003)
Israeli defense officials and military commanders have expressed amazement over the capture of one of the largest and most powerful Arab countries by what they say amounted to fewer than three U.S. Army divisions.

The officials said the U.S. strategy of avoiding enemy troop concentrations as well as exploiting combat air supremacy comprises methods far more advanced than those employed by the Israeli military.

"This has been a very strange and unprecedented war and it will take us awhile to learn what took place," Yuval Steinetz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said. "We will have to learn from this war and draw the conclusions."

"I am jealous of them [U.S. military]," Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, head of the Israel military's C4 directorate, said. "They have advanced in areas that we were leading in only a few years ago. They have the ability to put everything together in command and control. Our navy and air force have systems. but we have to integrate them." [...]

Steinetz, regarded as one of the most prominent Israeli strategists in government, said Israel will have to understand the significance of technology in combat. He said Israel's military must absorb the U.S. model of avoiding direct engagement with enemy troops.

Israeli officials said the military will have to learn the war strategy espoused by the late British general Basil Henry Liddell Hart. In a series of books, Liddell Hart advocated the "indirect approach" to warfare where attacking forces avoid enemy troop concentrations and focus on key targets that could result in the downfall of the regime. The approach stresses maneuver, cunning, and forces the enemy to prepare for multiple contingencies.


It's no big deal to scare the bejeezus out of Syria, Iran, and North Korea, but to astound the Israelis is really something.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 PM

HAWKS, DOVES, & EAGLEBURGERS:

US warns Syria not to provide haven for wanted Iraqis (Ben Russell, 14 April 2003, Independent uk)
Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, increased the diplomatic pressure on Damascus while Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defence, extended his rhetoric against the Syrians, insisting that "there's no question" that some senior Iraqi leaders had fled to Syria. "We certainly are hopeful Syria will not become a haven for war criminals or terrorists," Mr Rumsfeld said.

President George Bush added to the pressure, saying: "Syria just needs to co-operate with the United States and our coalition partners, not harbour any Baathists, any military officials, any people who need to be held to account." Speaking to reporters later, he appeared to threaten Syria with possible military action, by pointedly saying that Damascus held chemical weapons, and that the Iraq war showed that "we're serious about stopping weapons of mass destruction". [...]

Hawks in the Bush team have raised the prospect of action against Syria. Mr Rumsfeld warned that Syria would be "held to account" if it provided military equipment to Iraq.

General Powell, considered a moderate within the administration, joined the chorus of disapproval despite concern over deteriorating relations between Syria and the West. He said: "We think it would be very unwise ... if suddenly Syria becomes a haven for all these people who should be brought to justice who are trying to get out of Baghdad ... nor do I know why Syria would become a place of haven for people who should be subject to the justice of the Iraqi people." [...]

Lawrence Eagleburger, who was US Secretary of State under George Bush Snr, told the BBC: "If George Bush [Jnr] decided he was going to turn the troops loose on Syria and Iran after that he would last in office for about 15 minutes. In fact if President Bush were to try that now even I would think that he ought to be impeached. You can't get away with that sort of thing in this democracy."


Mr. Eagleburger was a fine public servant, but he's kidding himself and BBC listeners. With even the supposed dove, Colin Powell, rattling his saber, it would not be difficult to persuade an American people, whose blood is up, that one Ba'athist dictatorship is much like another.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 PM

JUST ANOTHER SOCIAL PROGRAM:

No more Gulf War Syndromes (MICHAEL FUMENTO, April 10, 2003)
The war is winding down, with remarkably few coalition casualties. Yet soon somebody will try to start another casualty list, that of a second Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). The only way to stop it is to finally acknowledge that, in any meaningful sense, no such thing as GWS exists.

Over a decade of published scientific studies have shown that while naturally some of the 700,000 Gulf vets have died in the 12 years since the war and others have acquired various illnesses, on the whole they are at least as healthy as people their age who didn't deploy.

Consider the mother of all GWS epidemiological studies, which appeared in the January 2000 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. It matched the medical records of 650,000 Gulf vets to those of 650,000 non-deployed vets of similar age and demographic backgrounds.

Researchers looked at illness ranging from cancer to heart disease to mental disorders to skin diseases for a total of 14 diseases. They further divided these by the three hospital systems involved, for a total of 42 data "slices." Statistically significant increased problems were found in four of the 42 slices. But the researchers also found significantly decreased levels of illness in 11 slices.

Smaller epidemiological studies have repeatedly come to the same conclusion, that Gulf vets as a group are a remarkably healthy bunch. Researchers have also repeatedly found that they are no more likely to have miscarried children or children with birth defects.

Yet the scare stories abound, only to be proved groundless time and again. [...]

The true definition of GWS is nothing more than any disease that any Gulf vet has or thinks he has. The symptom lists stands at over 120, including: hair loss, graying hair, weight gain, weight loss, irritability, heartburn, rashes, sore throat, kidney stones, sore gums, constipation, sneezing, leg cramps and athlete's foot.

If you haven't suffered a dozen "GWS symptoms" over the last year, it's bad news because it means you're an android. One major new newsmagazine even reported the claim of a vet who said that GWS gave him genital herpes. How convenient!

"If you go out on the street in any city in this country, you'll find people who have exactly the same things and they've never been to the Gulf," declared Dr. Edward Young, head of the VA Medical Center in Houston until the VA sacked him for that "insensitive" observation.

Yet true insensitivity is putting our vets in permanent fear of contracting a disease that doesn't exist. It may be too late to remove the ingrained myth of GWS, but we can and must prevent the crime that would be the fabrication of GWS II.


NPR is maddening enough, but virtually any call-in show on the war features a vet from Gulf War I who is home on disability payments for his Gulf War Syndrome and NPR on his speed-dial. Hosts like Diane Rehm naturally lap it up, because it serves their political purposes. But, like Agent Orange, it is pure bogosity.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:08 PM

YOU TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH...& MANGLED THEM:

Paige's Remarks on Religion in Schools Decried: Critics Call On Education Secretary to Repudiate Published Statement or Resign (Alan Cooperman, April 9, 2003, Washington Post)
Civil liberties and education groups called yesterday for Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige to apologize or resign after he told a Baptist publication that he believes it is important for schools to teach Christian values.

"All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith," Paige said in an interview published Monday by the Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. [...]

Paige, who serves as a deacon at Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston, said the animosity against God in public school settings is puzzling, according to the Baptist Press article.

"The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system," he said. "In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."

Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union representing 1.3 million teachers, said Paige should quickly clarify or recant his comments.

"Secretary Paige is right about one thing: Our public schools are filled with, as he said, many different kinds of kids with different values. But it is insulting for the secretary -- who should be the advocate for the over 50 million children in our public schools -- to say their diversity somehow compromises those schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is precisely what makes our public schools great," she said.


Secretary Paige's remarks, as we noted last week, seem rather unexceptionable, certainly unworthy of the hysteria generated amongst the Teachers' Unions. But, the contoversy is even sillier once you see what he said, verbatim, in the interview, TRANSCRIPT: Interview with the Secretary of Education (Baptist Press News, Apr 11, 2003):
EDITORS' NOTE: On April 7 Baptist Press published a report by Todd Starnes about an interview with the U.S. Secretary of Education, the Honorable Rod Paige, conducted on March 7. The report accurately portrayed the substance of Dr. Paige's faith in God but contained factual and contextual errors in other respects. We regret the misrepresentations by the writer. Todd Starnes has been a trusted correspondent but no longer will be employed to write for Baptist Press. To counter any confusion, we are publishing the full-text transcript of the interview below.
--Baptist Press [...]

STARNES: The Bush Administration has been very open and supportive of having, you know, more religion in the schools or at least having the acceptance of religion in the schools. Tell me, what is your personal opinion of that? Do you think that we should be embracing, you know, religious values in our schools?

THE SECRETARY: Absolutely. I think that religious values are wonderful values that we should embrace in our daily lives wherever we are, and this would [unintelligible] kids are in school. But I think it's even more important that they embrace these values in homes.

STARNES: Uh-huh. The results of that, what do you think the results of that would be if people did that?

THE SECRETARY: I think we'd have a much calmer and more gentle and compassionate society if people did that. [...]

STARNES: What do you think one of the chief benefits of a religious education is?

THE SECRETARY: Because of the strong value system support. Values go right along with that. In some of our other schools, we don't have quite as strong a push for values as I think we would need. In a religious environment the value system is pretty well set and supported. In public schools there are so many different kids from different kinds of experiences that it's very hard to get consensus around some core values. [...]

STARNES: One final question, Mr. Secretary, we're hearing a lot in the Christian colleges and universities about Christian world view education. Do you have any comment on that, what you think about that?

THE SECRETARY: No, I really haven't -- I've not heard enough about that to formulate a view, so I probably need to take a pass on that one.

STARNES: Given the choice between private and Christian - or private and public universities, what do you think -- who do you think has the best deal?

THE SECRETARY: That's a judgment, too, that would vary because each of them have real strong points and some of them have some vulnerabilities. But, you know, all things being equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school where there's a strong appreciation for values, the kind of values that I think are associated with the Christian communities, and so that this child can be brought up in an environment that teaches them to have strong faith and to understand that there is a force greater than them personally.


Unless the "[unintelligible]" portion lasts 18 minutes and includes some kind of Nixonesque anti-Semitic tirade, a bunch of editorial pages owe Mr. Paige an apology.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:11 PM

SOME ARE MORE CHOSEN THAN OTHERS:

GOD'S REAL ESTATE (RALPH PETERS, April 13, 2003, NY Post)
ONE of the greatest blessings enjoyed by the United States is that God hasn't claimed any local real estate. The insistence in so much of the world that one divinity or another cherishes a specific handful of dust remains one of humankind's great curses.

Viewed honestly, the competition between faiths and creeds over sacred ground remains a cancer of the human condition. Whether we speak of millennia of bloody contests for control of Jerusalem or the bloodshed over plans to build a Hindu temple on the site of a razed mosque in Ayodhya, the importance of Karbala in Iraq or the destruction of Sufi shrines by Muslim fundamentalists, competing claims over bits of earth have spawned the world's most enduring and inherently insoluble conflicts.

The amount of suffering human beings are willing to inflict on one another over a corner of dirt is impossible to reconcile with the basic tenets of any of the world's leading religions. Men will fight for their religion, but they will massacre for their religion's totems. And sacred earth is the greatest totem of all, the ultimate idol.

CERTAINLY, some religious groups in the United States value specific pieces of land, from the national shrine of the Virgin in Emmitsburg, Maryland, to the grounds of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. But the roots do not run sufficiently deep to tap history's underground rivers of blood and, still more vitally, the sanctified ground is not contested. [...]

THERE are many respects in which the United States differs wonderfully from the old worlds we Americans left behind. But is there any more important advantage in continuing to build our unprecedented multi-ethnic, multi-faith society than the inability of zealots in our midst to convince us that God favors one bit of earth over another?

When our congregations outgrow our churches, temples or mosques, we build anew on a bigger plot, either down the street or miles away in a suburb. Communion in the "little brown church in the vale" has always been a movable feast. This flexibility grants us a tremendous strategic and moral advantage.

Of course, we Americans have strong religious traditions. The vision of a "city on a hill" is part of the fabric of our national being. But that city has never been a physical place, except in the sense of the nation as a whole. The simple fact that God - again, by any name or names - doesn't do real estate in the United States is so great a blessing that one almost suspects that we are - all of us, no matter our faith - truly a chosen people.


We would though have it known that God favors New Hampshire quite a bit more than Vermont. Many of you will know that the two states are separated by the Connecticut River, but few realize that the border is not mid-River but at the low tide mark on the Vermont side. The river belongs to us.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:52 PM

THE GLASS IS HALF FULL, AND WATER'S COMING IN:

A friend of Brothers Judd blog, T. Crown, recently noted that conservatives are traditionally pessimistic, yet American conservatives, especially Reagan conservatives, are full of optimism. T. Crown wonders if this optimism is justified.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:50 PM

IDEAS, NOT BLOODLINES (via No Left Turns):

Family cheers as 'their Marine' leads statue's destruction (Rose Arce and Dana Garrett, 4/09/03, CNN)
Cheers erupted Wednesday morning as a Brooklyn family watching television recognized their son and brother as the Marine who played a lead role in toppling a statue of Saddam Hussein in a central square in Baghdad.

The image of Cpl. Edward Chin, 23, of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, was broadcast on TV screens around the world as U.S. troops joined a crowd that was attacking the statue.

In central Baghdad's Firdos Square, Chin climbed the outstretched arm of an M88 Tank Recovery Vehicle to fasten a cable around the statue's neck, and while he was there, briefly covered its face with an American flag.

After the M88 pulled the statue down, the crowd placed a pre-Gulf War Iraqi flag on the statue's base.

Iraqis broke the statue into pieces and dragged its head through the streets, while others -- including children -- pounded it with shoes, an act considered a supreme insult in the Arab world.

"I [am] so, so proud, so very proud," said an emotional Nai Koon Chin, the Marine's mother. "He used to play like GI Joe as a little boy. He always dreamed he would be a Marine."

An immigrant from Burma, she said the family left the country seeking "American freedom" in 1980, and she gave birth to Edward a week later.

"We like our children have a good life, good schools. We want American freedom. Now Edward bring American freedom, " she said.


From oppressed to liberator in one generation, an American Tale.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:28 PM

HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON:

Let America Be America the Liberator Again! (Stephen Schwartz, April 11, 2003, FrontPageMagazine.com)
We have long been told our Civil War involved only us, and was irrelevant to the rest of the world. This is wrong, for our Civil War involved more than a conflict between our own people. It also defined who we are as a nation: America the liberator, a representative of the transforming idea of freedom, throughout the world.

I see today the mighty battles of our Civil War transferred to the planetary scale, and the emergence of a global Civil War, to determine whether freedom or tyranny will dominate the future of humanity.

I see today an evil, terrorism, that like the evil of slavery, reflects the power of vast, entrenched interests.

I see today a commodity, oil, that like cotton then, is treated as a value above all others, determining the fates of whole nations.

I see today a captive people, the Muslims of the world, who like the African Americans of a century and a half ago, labor under the tyranny of terror and the terror of tyranny.

I see today a Europe that, like Europe in the 1860s, disrespects the moral values that inspire the leaders of our cause.

At the time of our Civil War, the European statesmen declared they would support the Union if it truly sought freedom for the slaves, but they scoffed and argued that our intentions were low and mercenary, and that we were fighting merely to maintain our colossal presence in the world, and not for any higher principle. They called our Civil War a war over cotton, impossible to win against the hardy and committed southern forces. So today they scoff and argue that our intentions are imperialistic, and that this is a war over oil, impossible to win against millions of Arabs.

At the time of our Civil War, the European statesmen revealed that although they hated slavery they feared American power more, just as today they show that while they fear terrorism they fear our power more.

At the time of our Civil War, many among those in Britain who supported the cause of our Union, nonetheless believed peace and order were superior to liberty, and shrank from the recognition that blood might have to be spilled to pay the cost of freedom, just as today many who support our struggle to rid the world of terrorism draw back when they see the sacrifices that will be demanded by it.

At the time of our Civil War, the European press portrayed our secretary of state, William Henry Seward, as a fanatic willing to turn the Civil War into a world war should the European powers obstruct our path, just as the neoconservatives within the present administration have been painted as ideological extremists. And the European press described secretary Seward’s defiance of European meddling as a gambit to divert attention from the failures of the Lincoln administration by starting a foreign war, just as the European media, and a section of our American media, describe the liberation of Iraq as an attempt to distract our people from the alleged domestic failures of the Bush administration.

At the time of our Civil War, the rotten powers of Europe proposed to halt the conflict between north and south and to impose peace upon us, without removing the cancer of slavery and liberating the oppressed millions in our southern states, just as the United Nations has sought peace in Iraq without removing the terrorist dictatorship of Saddam.

At the time of our Civil War, our president was slow to embrace direct action to free the slaves, as the present administration was slow to commit itself to the strategy of liberation in the Arab and Muslim lands, but, once having taken the decision, followed through with it. And the European powers, which had demanded that the war be fought over slavery, then described the Emancipation Proclamation, the 140th anniversary of which we mark this year, as a dangerous act that might provoke a slave uprising and a race war, just as today they predict that the liberation of the Iraqi people will produce a wholesale war of all against all in that martyred land.

Secretary of state Seward commented then, "at first, the [Union] government was considered unfaithful to humanity in not proclaiming emancipation, and when it appeared that slavery, by being thus forced into this contest, must suffer, and perhaps perish in the conflict, then the war had become an tolerable propagandism of emancipation by the sword."

So are we told today that our president has committed our nation to an intolerable program of democratization by the sword.

But our cause is that of all humanity, as it was 140 years ago. Our cause, as it was then, is that of Moses, for when God commanded him to free the House of Israel from bondage, God did not tell him to inform Pharaoh that inspectors would be sent into Egypt and the United Nations entrusted with the work of liberation. And I will tell you that traditional Muslims love the Prophet Moses, and will not oppose our cause if we act in loyalty to the great inspiration of freedom that moved him.

But today the United Nations has come to resemble our congress as it existed in the decades before the Civil War: a place wherein the evil influence of tyranny and terror hold sway, serving only to prevent the actions of brave and moral leaders from carrying out the worthy mission of defeating the oppressors.

And I recall to you, in reflecting upon the degeneracy of the United Nations, the great words of secretary of state Seward, who declared that such deliberative bodies have "no power to inhibit any duty commanded by God on Mount Sinai," or by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount of Olives.

Seward also spoke with clarity in 1858, as the Civil War drew near, of the Democratic party of that time, a party that had made itself the protector of the slave power. He said, in words I believe apply fully to the Muslim and Arab peoples, "I know, and you know, that a revolution has begun. I know, and all the world knows, that revolutions never go backward. [S]enators and...representatives proclaim boldly in Congress today sentiments and opinions and principles of freedom which hardly so many men, even in this free State [of New York], dared to utter in their own homes twenty years ago. While the government of the United States, under the conduct of the Democratic party, [have] surrender[ed] one plain and castle after another to slavery"--and if we substitute the word "terrorism" for that of "slavery" his words become truly exact in their parallel--"the people of the United States have been no less steadily and perseveringly gathering together the forces with which to recover back again all the fields and all the castles which have been lost, and to confound and overthrow, by one decisive blow, the betrayers of the constitution and freedom forever."

Today I see the Republican party reborn in its original, magnificent incarnation, as the party of liberation, the party of American power in the service of freedom, the party of Lincoln. And I will say that I am grateful to God for having allowed me to live to see this mighty outcome.

We have turned a page in our history. As our president has said, our cause is just. Freedom has come for the Iraqi people. Liberation will come to the Muslim and Arab peoples. Let America be America the liberator again!


One of the problems pointed up by this analysis is how few in the West any longer feel that there are any duties commanded us by God/Jesus, because they no longer believe in Him. They, therefore, view the world as one in which all is "rights" one holds against others, with no corresponding duties to others. And, absent anything else to ground them in, these rights proceed from the State and are, therfore, restricted within the borders of each state. Because there are no universal human values, there are no universal human rights (nevermind duties), and so those who live under tyranny are just out of luck. They're simply stuck in a bad State and how is that the concern of anyone else?

Posted by David Cohen at 1:48 PM

BEST LINE OF THE DAY.

The World Is Their Coop (Denis Boyles, National Review Online).
[O]n French TV, ... scenes of Baghdad looting were accompanied by lengthy passages from the Geneva Convention, which, for France, is the Bill of Rights.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM

THE TASK AHEAD:

Democracy in the Arab world (Associated Press, April 12, 2003)
ALGERIA Multi-party state with elected parliament and president. The National Liberation Front, dominant party since independence from France 40 years ago, won 2002 parliamentary elections that were marred by violence. In 1991, the army, fearing the Muslim fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front would be elected, they aborted the final round and sparked a bloody insurgency.

BAHRAIN Declared a constitutional monarchy in 2002 as part of reforms that paved the way for the first legislative elections in 30 years. Women voted and ran in elections, which secularists narrowly won. Most power resides with the king, Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

EGYPT President Hosni Mubarak took over from assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981 and his security apparatus and National Democratic Party have almost absolute control over the elected parliament. Mubarak periodically stands as only candidate in referendums in which Egyptians are asked to vote yes or no on whether his presidency should con- tinue.These always produce a yes vote of over 90 percent.

IRAQ U.S.-led coalition expected to run country for at least six months until new Iraqi-run government replaces Saddam Hussein’s 35-year dictatorship. Washington has promised the new Iraq will be democratic, but its history of repression and deep divisions in society will make that difficult.

JORDAN King Abdullah II, who succeeded his late father, King Hussein, has virtually absolute power. Elected parliament has not met since being dissolved in 2001, but Abdullah has promised new parliamentary elections later this year.

KUWAIT Politics are controlled by an emir, or prince Sheik Jaber Alhmed Al Sabah, and his family. Kuwait was pioneer in elections in 1963, but the emir regularly dismisses national assemblies and women are barred from voting and running for office.

LEBANON Elections regular and lively, but not open because of power-sharing agreement meant to prevent resurgence of the 1975-90 sectarian civil war. Legislative seats apportioned equally to Christians and Muslims, prime minister must be Sunni Muslim, president must be Christian. Syria, a dictatorship, wields great influence of Lebanese politics.

LIBYA Moammar Gadhafi has held absolute power since 1969 military coup.

MOROCCO King Mohammed VI appoints the prime minister and members of government following legislative elections and can fire any minister, dissolve parliament, call for new elections, or rule by decree. Incumbent socialist party won September, 2002 parliamentary elections praised as clean and fair. Conservative Islamic parties did well.

OMAN Sultan Qaboos became ruler after overthrowing his father in 1970. Family has ruled for about 250 years. Has no political parties nor elected legislature.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat under growing pressure to share power after four decades of sole control. The post of Palestinian prime minister was recently created.

QATAR Expected to have parliamentary elections in two or three years after holding its first municipal elections in 1999, with women fully participating. Famous as home of the al-Jazeera satellite TV station; the most liberal in the Arab world.

SAUDI ARABIA Crown Prince Abdullah rules on behalf of ailing King Fahd; no elected legislature. In a sign royal family is feeling pressure to reform, government recently allowed international human rights monitors to visit for the first time and Abdullah has proposed all Arab states encourage greater political participation by the masses. He met recently with 40 Saudi reformers.

SYRIA President Bashar Assad possesses near-absolute power and has disappointed those who expected the young, Western-educated doctor to open up politics. He succeeded his father, longtime dictator Hafez Assad, who died in 2000.

SUDAN President Omar el-Bashir has led country since 1989 coup. El-Bashir recently moved to lessen influence of fundamentalist Islamic leaders, but democratic reform not on agenda.

TUNISIA Republic dominated by single party, the Constitutional Democratic Assembly, since independence from France in 1956. Opposition parties have been allowed since 1981.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Federation of states each controlled by an emir and his family.

YEMEN President Ali Abdullah Saleh presides over largely feudal society. Despite constitution, elected parliament and lively press, power rests with military and tribes.


It's a great irony that two of the most hopeful states in the Arab world--as far as pending political freedoms are concerned--are Iraq and Palestine. However, if King Mohammed VI and his successors can retain their prerogatives but develop counterbalancing institutions and allow the representative bodies to exercise greater day to day power, Morocco would seem to offer the best model for these Arab states to follow: a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature (half elected/half appointed). The trick, of course, will be to gradually vest these various mechanisms with real authority, so that the monarchy becomes just a brake on abuse of power and genuinely dangerous governance.
Posted by David Cohen at 11:41 AM

AUDITIONS BEGINNING FOR NEW MEMBER OF AXIS OF EVIL

Floral basket to Kim Jong Il from Yasser Arafat (Via Travelling Shoes)
Pyongyang, April 8 (KCNA) -- Kim Jong Il received a floral basket from Palestinian Yasser Arafat on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his election as Chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission. Today it was conveyed to DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun by Palestinian Ambassador to the DPRK Shaher Mohammed Abdlah.
"Palestinian Ambassador to the DPRK." There's a phrase to remember.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 AM

NAFTA, NOT EU:

Eurozone benefits would not balance the costs (Christopher Smallwood, April 13 2003, Financial Times)
The gains from joining the eurozone are not likely to be spectacular. According to the European Commission, the savings in transaction costs could amount to 0.1-0.2 per cent of gross domestic product, worth 1bn-2bn a year. But the capitalised value of this stream of savings is not much greater than the change-over cost that would be required to produce them.

Equally, eliminating exchange risk may boost trade with eurozone countries, but economic theory and empirical studies suggest the impact will be limited because the risk, in any case, can largely be diversified away in modern capital markets. And since the pound has been more stable against the dollar over the past 20 years than the euro - if we reconstruct the euro historically - any benefit will be offset by greater volatility against the dollar and those currencies in effect tied to it.

Even if we consider benefits such as price transparency or deeper European capital markets, the answer is the same - yes, worth having, but in each case not worth more than a fraction of one per cent of GDP a year.

By contrast, subjecting the UK to inappropriate macroeconomic policies may cause a loss of output amounting to several per cent of GDP a year for many years.

The damage that would be done by joining the euro at too high an exchange rate is widely recognised. Modelling by Oxford Economic Forecasting has suggested that entering at an exchange rate that was 10 per cent overvalued would cause GDP to fall about 4 per cent, and industrial production about 5 per cent, below the levels that would otherwise have been expected. These falls would be deeper and longer-lasting than those associated with a high pound at present, because the opportunity to react by cutting UK interest rates would not be available.

What is less widely appreciated is that the loss of the Bank of England's control of interest rates would be felt long after entry, in part because our industry and foreign trade is structured differently from the eurozone's. For example, we trade more with North America and Asia.

As a result, economic developments would affect the UK differently from the rest of the eurozone. Renewed recession in the US, further global falls in equity prices, or a purely domestic development such as a downturn in the housing market and consumer borrowing - any of these would hit the UK harder than the eurozone generally. But the European Central Bank, watching its Europe-wide indices, would not cut interest rates to the extent required for the UK. The resulting downturns in the UK would therefore be deeper and more prolonged than if the country had been outside the eurozone.


If Britain is to have a future, it lies in the Anglospere, not the EU. And we devoutly believe it should choose to have a future.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 AM

MEANWHILE, IN NEWS OF INTEREST MAINLY TO ALI:

Masked Wrestler Wins Japan Assembly Seat (Reuters, Apr 14, 2003)
Who is that masked man? One of Japan's newest politicians.  

A professional wrestler who fought his way to victory in local assembly elections under his ring name and wearing his trademark mask has vowed the mask will not leave his face even after he enters the staid halls of Japanese politics.

"This is my face," the wrestler -- known as "The Great Sasuke" -- was quoted by the Nikkan Sports newspaper as saying of his black and white full-face mask with bright scarlet streaks and golden wings by the eye holes.

"I won support from voters with this face, and to take it off would be breaking promises," the 33-year-old wrestler, whose real name is Masanori Murakawa, said of his victory in conservative Iwate prefecture, some 460 km (290 miles) north of Tokyo.


C'mon Sasuke, even Robert Byrd removed his hood once he was elected.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 AM

CHAOS CALLS INTO QUESTION AMERICA'S WAR, NATION'S FUTURE:

Rowdy Gophers fans get out of control after hockey victory (Bill McAuliffe, April 13, 2003, Star Tribune)
Thousands riot after big loss: Pepper gas used; 90 people arrested (Concord Monitor, Apr 14, 2003)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

A DAY LATE, BUT NOT TOO LATE:

The Next to Go: Yasir Arafat (DAVID MAKOVSKY, 4/14/03, NY Times)
It has become de rigueur in Europe and the Arab world to proclaim that the problem in the Middle East is that the Bush administration is not "engaged" in restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Yet the United States has been engaged in important ways, and hopeful signs are now coming from Israel and the Palestinians. To exploit this moment, the European and Arab states themselves must now also become engaged.

While everyone was focused on Iraq, some promising developments have occurred. First, Yasir Arafat was forced to accept Salam Fayyad, a highly respected veteran of the International Monetary Fund, as the Palestinian Authority finance minister. Then last month, reformers in the Palestine Legislative Council, over Mr. Arafat's fierce objections, ratified the moderate Mahmoud Abbas (widely known as Abu Mazen) as the Palestinians' first prime minister.

These changes did not happen in a vacuum. First, Israel's resolve not to capitulate to violence became clear. Hopes that it would pull out of the West Bank as a result of suicide bombs were dashed when the army went house to house to round up militants last spring.

Second, last June President Bush made clear that Washington would no longer view Mr. Arafat as a legitimate interlocutor. Faced with Mr. Arafat's calls for Palestinian "martyrdom," Mr. Bush insisted on working with "leaders not compromised by terror."

Finally, because Mr. Arafat's legitimacy at home rested in part on his influence abroad, the American move to isolate him aided his domestic critics. Mr. Arafat could no longer deflect domestic complaints about corruption in his regime, authoritarian-style leadership and a general dearth of good governance. Polls of Palestinians started to show a desire to end the violence of recent years, which had not led to progress. Ironically, it was the American position, read by some as a lack of "engagement," that emboldened the authority's Legislative Council, until now largely toothless, to push reform. Breaking from past practice, even the European Union and United Nations envoys threatened to disengage, securing the promotions of Mr. Fayyad and Mr. Abbas.


In fact, Mr. Arafat predeceased Saddam Hussein, as, contrary to the Times's contemptuous dismissals, Mr. Bush proved it possible to remove an unpopular leader mainly by force of rhetoric, though the other two important factors were Israeli military pressure and a Palestinian populace that appears to have already determined that its political future, oddly enough, must more closely resemble the Israeli model than that of their fellow Arabs. The moment is ripe in Palestine for statehood and, in ways that it may not be elsewhere, for a rather representative and relatively free state at that. Good of the Times to notice what's been going on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM

IS TONY FOR TURNING?:

Britain tries to build bridges between Syria, US (Reuters, 14 Apr 2003)
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, trying to build bridges between Syria and a tough-talking United States, began a Gulf Arab tour on Monday stressing the need for dialogue with Damascus.

U.S. leaders, on a roll after toppling the Iraqi government and smashing its army in a stunning show of military might, have bombarded Syria with accusations of harbouring Iraqi leaders and chemical weapons.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged Washington on Monday to tone down its rhetoric, saying it would be better to make "constructive statements" that would help lower tension in the region.

Israel, moving quickly to take advantage of the U.S. pressure on its hostile neighbour, weighed in with a list of demands of its own, focusing on Syria's alleged support for guerrilla groups that have long been a thorn in Israel's flesh.

Syria, which strongly opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq, has rejected specific U.S. charges about sending military equipment to Iraq, but remained silent on others.

Straw, speaking in Bahrain at the start of a four-nation tour, said Britain and the United States had no intention of invading Syria after Iraq, but Damascus had "important questions" to answer.

"As far as 'Syria on the list', we made clear that it is not," he told reporters. "There is no next list."

"What is important...is for Syria fully to cooperate over these questions that have been raised about the fact that some fugitives from Iraq may well have fled into Syria and other matters including whether they have in fact been developing any kind of...chemical or biological programmes," he told BBC radio.


Hopefully the Brits are just playing "good cop", because Syria's unlikely to eschew Ba'athism except at the barrel of a gun.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:13 AM

THE NEW SPACE RACE:


Secretary Rumsfeld Speaks on "21st Century Transformation" of U.S. Armed Forces (via Robert Musil)
Instead of building our armed forces around plans to fight this or that country, we need to examine our vulnerabilities, asking ourselves, as Frederick the Great did in his great General Principles of War, what design would I be forming if I were the enemy, and then fashioning our forces as necessary to deter and defeat those threats.

For example, we know that because the U.S. has unparalleled land, sea and air power, it makes little sense for potential adversaries to try to build up forces to compete with those strengths. They ... will likely seek to challenge us asymmetrically, by looking at our vulnerabilities and building capabilities with which they can, or at least hope, to exploit them.

They know, for example, that an open society is vulnerable to new forms of terrorism. They suspect that U.S. space assets and information networks, critical to our security and our economy, are somewhat vulnerable. And they are. They see that our ability to project force into the distant corners of the world where they live depends in some cases on vulnerable foreign bases. And they know we have no defense against ballistic missiles ...

Before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington we had decided that to keep the peace and defend freedom in the 21st century our defense strategy and force structure must be focused on achieving six transformational goals:

  • First, to protect the U.S. homeland and our bases overseas.
  • Second, to project and sustain power in distant theaters.
  • Third, to deny our enemies sanctuary, making sure they know that no corner of the world is remote enough, no mountain high enough, no cave or bunker deep enough, no SUV fast enough to protect them from our reach.
  • Fourth, to protect our information networks from attack.
  • Fifth, to use information technology to link up different kinds of U.S. forces so that they can in fact fight jointly.
  • And sixth, to maintain unhindered access to space and protect our space capabilities from enemy attack.


Rumsfeld's points four and five are critically dependent on space-based systems. We have seen in the Iraq war how important the Global Positioning System is to today's military. Very likely the military's planned global internetworking connections (currently provided through airborne platforms) will be provided via satellite as well. Thus, point six: the key to the transformed military is control of earth orbit and of the things that pass through it -- from ballistic missiles, to satellites, to enemy satellite-killers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 AM

ORWELL PRE-REVIEWS "A FEW GOOD MEN":

Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
-George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950)


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:50 AM

HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE:

Bouncer fatally stabbed in brawl over New York City smoking ban (AP, 4/13/2003, via Drudge)
A bouncer at a Manhattan nightclub died Sunday after he was stabbed in a brawl that police said began when he tried to enforce the city's new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Dana Blake, 32, died about 11 hours after the late-night fight in an East Village nightclub....

Blake's older brother, Tony Blake, said Sunday he blamed the death on the smoking ban. "I'm very bitter," he said. "It's a senseless murder because of this stupid cigarette law. That's the reason this guy was killed."


Tocqueville wrote of the "spirit of liberty"; I suppose its opposite would be the "spirit of authority," the spirit of those who believe that some central authority should dictate how things will be and everyone else should submit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM

THE MIDDLE EAST AS KITTY GENOVESE:

No Apologies (William Raspberry, April 14, 2003, Washington Post)
[T]hose who thought it was a bad idea for America to launch what was the moral equivalent of unilateral war on Iraq have nothing to apologize for. [...]

If the Iraqi people end up better off as a direct result of America's insistence on launching the war without the support of the United Nations, it won't be the first time that good outcomes have resulted from bad means. I don't doubt that there are some children who are healthier and happier than they would have been if they hadn't been stolen from their parents. Can't we wish the best for those children without condoning kidnapping?

Why can't those of us who thought the war was a bad idea (or, at any rate, a premature one) let it go now and just join in celebrating the victory wrought by our magnificent military forces?

A number of answers come to mind, perhaps the most important being: The war isn't over.

I accept that Iraq is probably over, save for a military mopping up and maybe a decade of rebuilding. But I can't dismiss two worrisome thoughts: First, that the loudly proclaimed justification for launching the war in the first place was Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, which have yet to materialize. Could it be that our leaders took us into war not believing what they swore to us was true?

And second: The neoconservative ideologues who brought us this war have spoken publicly and repeatedly about the need to go the rest of the way toward replacing all the Middle East dictatorships with democratic governments -- whether or not we are invited to do so.

Is Syria next? Iran? Egypt?

I'd love to see democracies in all those places. I just don't think my country should be using its unmatched military power to install them.


Though it's asinine to compare a perfectly legal war to a kidnapping, let's take the bait: would it have been morally wrong to kidnap Qusay and Uday from Saddam Hussein when they were young? Obviously not, and the notion that we should leave them in the clutches and wish them well marks the abandonment of moral responsibility for any but our selves--it is selfish individualism carried to its liberal extreme. The Democrats, as noted below, have taken to asking "how we can spend $80 billion to free Iraq when we can't find the money to pay for (insert your audience's favorite boondoggle here)?" Here's the more important question: how can we spend $2.25 trillion on ourselves when fellow humans like the Cubans, Koreans, Syrians, etc. suffer under brutal dictatorships that we could easily dispatch?

April 13, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 PM

THE BITTER LIMITS OF SCIENCE:

A Brief History of the Multiverse: This idea of multiple universes, or multiple realities, has been around for centuries. The scientific justification for it, however, is new. (PAUL DAVIES, 4/12/03, NY Times)
How seriously can we take this explanation for the friendliness of nature? Not very, I think. For a start, how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes, but somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification.

Extreme multiverse explanations are therefore reminiscent of theological discussions. Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen Creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.

At the same time, the multiverse theory also explains too much. Appealing to everything in general to explain something in particular is really no explanation at all. To a scientist, it is just as unsatisfying as simply declaring, "God made it that way!"

Problems also crop up in the small print. Among the myriad universes similar to ours will be some in which technological civilizations advance to the point of being able to simulate consciousness. Eventually, entire virtual worlds will be created inside computers, their conscious inhabitants unaware that they are the simulated products of somebody else's technology. For every original world, there will be a stupendous number of available virtual worlds--some of which would even include machines simulating virtual worlds of their own, and so on ad infinitum.

Taking the multiverse theory at face value, therefore, means accepting that virtual worlds are more numerous than "real" ones. There is no reason to expect our world--the one in which you are reading this right now--to be real as opposed to a simulation. And the simulated inhabitants of a virtual world stand in the same relationship to the simulating system as human beings stand in relation to the traditional Creator.

Far from doing away with a transcendent Creator, the multiverse theory actually injects that very concept at almost every level of its logical structure. Gods and worlds, creators and creatures, lie embedded in each other, forming an infinite regress in unbounded space.

This reductio ad absurdum of the multiverse theory reveals what a very slippery slope it is indeed. Since Copernicus, our view of the universe has enlarged by a factor of a billion billion. The cosmic vista stretches one hundred billion trillion miles in all directions--that's a 1 with 23 zeros. Now we are being urged to accept that even this vast region is just a minuscule fragment of the whole.

But caution is strongly advised. The history of science rarely repeats itself. Maybe there is some restricted form of multiverse, but if the concept is pushed too far, then the rationally ordered (and apparently real) world we perceive gets gobbled up in an infinitely complex charade, with the truth lying forever beyond our ken.


It is, of course, impossible to believe in infinity and still believe that our universe contains all of reality. The universe, after all, had to have come from somewhere--something precedes the Big Bang. And once you grasp this you perceive how profoundly little even our most audacious science can actually explain. This must be galling to those whose hubris has led them to believe that Man can know all of Creation's secrets, and it must be particularly bothersome that it brings them up against a "creator", even if just some kind of incident from which our universe develops, who/that is quite beyond the limits of our capacity to know or explain. How appalling that at the ends of reason we are left with nought but faith. But then again, we begin from faith, because one of the other great unknowables, besides how we got here, is whether we really are here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 PM

SAVING ISRAEL FROM ITSELF:

Sharon: Israel Would Yield Settlements for Peace (Gwen Ackerman, Apr 13, 2003, Reuters)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published on Sunday that Israel would have to remove some settlements to get peace with Palestinians, and called the fall of Saddam Hussein a chance to end the conflict.

Expanding for the first time on previous references to "painful concessions" Israel would make for peace, Sharon also voiced objections to parts of a U.S.-backed "road map" that sets out steps on the way to creating a Palestinian state by 2005.

As an Israeli team headed for Washington with 15 reservations about the peace plan, moves by Palestinian prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas to meet the U.S. condition for releasing the blueprint to end 30 months of violence hit a snag.

Abbas, a leading moderate also known as Abu Mazen, presented a list of cabinet members, including reformist legislators, to President Yasser Arafat, Palestinian sources said.

But sources close to Arafat said he rejected the roster in which Abbas had taken for himself the powerful interior ministry portfolio that oversees Palestinian security forces.

The United States has said release of the "road map" must await installation of an Abbas-led cabinet that Washington hopes will pursue financial transparency in the Palestinian Authority and crack down on militants behind attacks on Israel.

Sharon, long a right-wing champion of Jewish settlement on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, told the liberal Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz he was ready to take steps "that are painful for every Jew and for me personally."

"Our whole history is bound up with these places: Bethlehem, Shiloh, Beit El. I know that we will have to part with some of these places," the former general said in an interview. "There will be a parting from places that are connected to the whole course of our history ... As a Jew, this agonizes me. But I have decided to make every effort to reach a (peace) settlement."


There's been a great deal written recently about the coming clash between Bush and Sharon, but such stories ignore the possibility that the "clash" is just a sophisticated good cop/bad cop routine. Mr. Sharon seems to genuinely want peace and to recognize that means many of the settlements are lost causes. In selling this to his own people--and to hardline Americans--it is very helpful to be able to say that it is necessary because Washington demands it. It is also useful to be able to say to the Palestinians that he's already made as compromises as he realistically can without losing support at home. Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon have effectively turned the negotiation process into one between America and Israel, with the Palestinians given little role but to say "yes" to a deal that's been worked out at a level above their pay grade. So long as George Bush at the same time keeps equal or greater pressure on Israel's Arab neighbors to liberalize, and retains the threat of forcible regime change for the worst of them, Mr. Sharon has great room within to function and achieve a deal, or impose one, that's as good as Israel can get, having already lost the argument over an eventual Palestinian state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM

NORWAY--WE'RE 84% OF AMERICA:

Workweek Woes: Americans now work 1,978 hours annually, a full 350 hours--nine weeks--more than Western Europeans. (JOHN DE GRAAF, 4/12/03, NY Times)
The harmful effects of working more hours are being felt in many areas of society. Stress is a leading cause of heart disease and weakened immune systems. Consumption of fast foods and lack of time for exercise has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Many parents complain that they do not have enough time to spend with their children, much less become involved in their community. Worker productivity declines during the latter part of long work shifts.

By contrast, over the past 30 years, Europeans have made a different choice--to live simpler, more balanced lives and work fewer hours. The average Norwegian, for instance, works 29 percent less than the average American--14 weeks per year--yet his average income is only 16 percent less. Western Europeans average five to six weeks of paid vacation a year; we average two.

Work and consumption are not necessarily bad. But producing and consuming can become the focus of a person's life--at the expense of other values.

Americans should reflect on those values. Later this year, on Oct. 24, will be the first Take Back Your Time Day, the goal of which is to encourage Americans to lead more balanced lives. The date falls nine weeks before the end of the year, nine weeks being how much more, on average, Americans work each year than Western Europeans. Perhaps this day will help American workers realize that, in the end, there's no present like the time.


Here are some of the values we might reflect on: because we work harder than Europeans we are able to afford both a welfare state and a serious military, the only great military remaining anywhere; because we work harder than the Europeans and reproduce at replacement rate we are not completely dependent on immigration in order to prop up our welfare system; because we work harder than Europeans we can easily afford the children that keep us at replacement rate, could in fact afford and must have more; because we work harder than Europeans we have just about the only healthy economy in the West, one which has been growing for roughly twenty years now; because we work harder than Europeans we feel comfortable telling our poor to go get jobs themselves, rather than just putting them on the dole; because we work harder than Europeans (along with many other reasons) we have a more creative and productive economy than they, inventing most of the world's new intellectual property; etc., etc., etc....

Posted by David Cohen at 8:49 PM

GEN. McCAFFREY: INVASION CAN NOW PROCEED

Advance Elements of Vaunted 4th Infantry Division Enters Iraq (AP, April 13, 2003)
Meeting no resistance, advance elements of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division entered southern Iraq late Sunday to reinforce the American war effort.

The advance units were scouting the way for a convoy expected to roll in early Monday and continue throughout the day, said Maj. Mike Silverman. He said no resistance had been met.

With the advance of American troops into Tikrit on Sunday and the last vestiges of Iraqi resistance crumbling, it was not clear whether the division would see any action or take more of a stabilization role.

Gen. McCaffrey is an experienced commander and a professer of military science. I'm a schmo with good internet access. But he was wrong, wrong, wrong and he was wrong for an interesting reason: he didn't notice that the world had changed.

Posted by David Cohen at 8:16 PM

WATCH MY LIPS.

Bush issues new warning to Syria; President says Iraqi neighbor 'needs to cooperate' with U.S. (MSNBC, April 13, 2003)
President Bush warned Syria on Sunday not to harbor fleeing Iraqi leaders and asked for patience as the United States and its coalition allies restore order in Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier Sunday that some top members of Saddam Hussein's government had taken refuge in Syria. Some have remained in Syria, while others have moved on to different countries, Rumsfeld said.

"THE SYRIAN government needs to cooperate with the United States and our coalition partners and not harbor any Baathists, any military officials, any people who need to be held to account for their tenure," Bush told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he returned from Camp David.

On the one hand, the President is subject to malapropisms; on the other hand, he usually means what he says. Did he mean that Syria "needs to . . . not harbor any Baathists?" We can only hope.
Posted by David Cohen at 7:39 PM

FREEDOM'S BEAN COUNTERS.

The candidates for the Democratic nomination comment on the fall of Baghdad (Compiled by Newsweek)
"The reason I didn't support the war -- and I continue to maintain this position -- is because it opens up a new, dangerous pre-emptive doctrine.... We're going to spend a lot of money in Iraq.... It's going to be $200 billion. For $200 billion, we could insure every child under the age of 18 in this country, just like we do in the state of Vermont.... We've gotten rid of him (Saddam Hussein), I suppose that's a good thing, but there's going to be a long period where the United States is going to need to be maintained in Iraq and that's going to cost the American taxpayers a lot of money that could be spent on schools and kids."
- Former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont

"I have always supported the cause in Iraq. I think it is a just cause. I think that what we're doing there is right. I think it is a fight, among other things, for the liberation of the Iraqi people. We have to now show that we went there for the right reasons: by, as soon as we reasonably can, turning over the governing of the Iraqi people to the Iraqi people, by turning over the oil fields and the revenue from those oil fields to the Iraqi people."
- Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina

"Our highest responsibility is to keep our people safe. And the reason I supported this action was that I do not want to have another 9/11. I don't want weapons of mass destruction used in this society, and I think we have to do what we have to do to defend the security of our people. We also should feel very proud tonight of the young men and woman who are in Iraq putting up their lives and their injuries for us to be safe.... We are going to have more deficits as a result of this war. We have to get rid of almost all of the Bush tax cuts -- the one last year and whatever he tries to put on the books this year."
- Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri

"I voted against the resolution to authorize the president to use force against Iraq. I did so because I thought the war against Iraq would make us less secure, not more secure. Saddam Hussein is an evil person; he lives in a neighborhood with a lot of evil people. The question is where do we put our priorities for the safety of Americans? In my judgment those priorities should be to eliminate the shadowy groups of international terrorist organizations which killed almost 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11. I believe that the war in Iraq has actually reduced our ability to effectively carry out the war against terrorism."
- Sen. Bob Graham of Florida

"I support disarming Saddam Hussein, but I have been very critical of the way this administration went at it because it leaves the American people carrying a greater financial burden and an enormous repair job with NATO, the United Nations, the European community and the rest of world. And now this administration is laying out enormous plans for building roads, schools, hospitals, and providing books in Iraq, and it's time for us to demand that they lay out a plan that they do the same here in the United States of America."
- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts

"We have to know the difference between defense and offense. I also think this war was about a pretext. It was not about whether they had weapons of mass destruction. Let's face it: Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction, homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction, lack of adequate education is a weapon of mass destruction, our children not having good neighborhoods is a weapon of mass destruction. We're blowing up bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates, (but) we're not building bridges in our own cities."
- Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio

"I supported the war and I did because I believe one of the first responsibilities of government, as our Constitution says, is to 'provide for the common defense.' History teaches us that if you leave a brutal, immoral dictator with weapons of mass destruction, eventually he will use them and all of our liberty and everything else we strive for will be compromised. But the choice between security for our nation and a better life for our children is a false choice. ... If we pull back this outrageously unfair and irresponsible tax cut program of President Bush, we could both protect our security and provide a better life for our children."
- Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut

"If we spent $80 billion to kill Saddam Hussein that's $79 billion too much. I'd rather see that money spent on providing health care for children, universal health care for our country, to build schools and provide quality education, to deal with domestic concerns of the American people. … Charity begins at home and if we're going to attend to our priorities we should take care of America first and American children first."
- Former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois

"I opposed the war and I'm still saying that I do not see the necessity for the war. I do not see where we've seen the nuclear weapons that we were told were there. I do not see the imminent danger. I do not see the necessity for the military action. I'm glad Saddam was toppled, but I also would like to see things toppled in this country, like no health insurance, like illiteracy, like childhood obesity. The real question to me is if we can come up with billions to occupy Iraq, why can't we come up with money for the budgets of the 50 states we already occupy?"
- Rev. Al Sharpton of New York

[Emphasis added.]

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:35 PM

EUROPE'S PROBLEM -- NOT ENOUGH SALT?:

Anglosphere: Why do they hate us? (Jim Bennett, UPI, 4/12/2003)
Why do they hate us?... [I]t is worth considering the possibility that the root source of anti-Americanism in the world lies in the deep-rooted anti-modern tradition of Continental Europe.

[T]he broader anti-Americanism currently fashionable on all continents comes ultimately from what some have called the Industrial Counter-Revolution. This is a comprehensive category for the various reactions in Europe against ... liberalism in the classical sense -- individualism, free markets, and technological and social progress....

Continental European Jews, because they owed their very presence in the larger civilization to the values of liberalism and modernism, were one of the first and most obvious targets of the Industrial Counter-Revolution.... Those European Jews who were left alive at the end of [WW II] overwhelmingly desired to leave, and they left to two destinations: Israel, and the Anglosphere.

With this emigration, on top of the previous great Jewish emigration to London and New York in the late 19th century, much of the energy, creativity and contributions of European Jews were given to the Anglosphere rather than the Continent....

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform.... It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews....

The modern world was first carried forward by two great civilizations. The Anglosphere was one. The dynamic industrializing culture of 19th century Continental Europe, to which the spark of the Judaeo-Christian encounter was so important, was the other. That culture committed suicide in the '30s. Perhaps its successor is not the revival of that culture, but rather its zombie....

And we should not be surprised if [modern Europeans] hate us.


Jesus said to an audience of Jews: "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world.... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:04 PM

"HI, I'M ISLAM AND I'M AN ADDICT":

The Sand Wall (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, April 13, 2003, NY Times)
Throughout this war, Saddamism was peddled by Al Jazeera television, Arab intellectuals and the Arab League. You cannot imagine how much distress there is among certain Arab elites that the people of Iraq preferred liberation by America to more defiance under Saddam. The morning after Baghdad was liberated, Abdul Hamid Ahmad, editor of The Gulf News, wrote, like so many of his colleagues: "This is a heartbreaking moment for any Arab, seeing marines roaming the streets of Baghdad."

The wall of Saddamism, which helped bad leaders stay in power and young Arabs remain backward and angry, was as dangerous as Saddam. "The social, political, cultural and economic malaise in this part of the world had become a threat to American security — it produced 9/11," said Shafeeq Ghabra, president of the American University of Kuwait. "This war was a challenge to the entire Arab system, which is why so many Arabs opposed it. The war to liberate Kuwait from Iraq [in 1991] was outpatient surgery. This war was open-heart surgery."

But this open-heart surgery will succeed in toppling both Saddam and Saddamism only if we are successful in creating a healthy Iraq — an Arab state where people can find dignity, not just by saying no to the West, but by building a decent, tolerant, modernizing society that they can be proud of, an Arab state where people can speak the truth and that other Arabs would want to emulate. The widespread looting that has followed the fall of Saddam tells me just how hard that will be. So far, all that we have unleashed in Iraq is chaos, not freedom. There is no civil society here. We are starting from scratch.
And then we must also take down the third wall — the wall of cement, fear and barbed wire being erected between Israelis and Palestinians. We must defuse this conflict. If we let this Israeli-Palestinian wall stand, it will reinforce the wall of Saddamism. Arab dictators will hide behind this conflict as an excuse not to change, Arab intellectuals will use it to delegitimize U.S. power out here, and the enemies of the new leaders in Iraq will use it to embarrass them for working with us.


If we might borrow, and correct, Mr. Friedman’s medical metaphor, this war was less surgery and more of an "intervention". As the very existence of "Saddamism" shows, the Arab world has, not a heart problem but, an addiction. They are drunk on self-destructive ideas like Saddamism, Islamicism, pan-Arabism, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, etc. The unusual problem with addiction is that, unlike a mere physical problem that can be treated by a doctor, addicts have to want to be cured.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:44 PM

TYRANNY>LIBERAL REVOLUTION>TYRANNY:

The twilight of tyrants: And the promise of liberal revolution (Paul Berman, 4/13/2003, Boston Globe)
THE TUMBLING STATUE of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad last Wednesday did look like something out of the revolutions of 1989, and this resemblance ought to plunge us into thought. A thousand experts have told us that, by fighting in Afghanistan and now in Iraq, America has thrown itself into the clash of civilizations, and that reality in the Muslim world bears very little in common with reality in the West. Even so, that falling statue looked exactly like one of those colossal statues of Lenin and the other Communist leaders that used to stand guard in public plazas all over Eastern Europe.

There is a reason for this. Saddam's Ba'ath Party has always claimed to be restoring the ancient national glory of the Arab people, from the glory days of the Caliphate of the seventh century, when the Arab Empire was on the march. But the Ba'ath is not, in fact, an ancient Arab institution. The party was founded in Damascus in 1943 on the basis of doctrines from the 1920s and `30s, which were subsequently updated to include a number of doctrines from later times, as well. These ideas were pretty much Mussolini's and those of the extreme right in Europe, mixed with a few ideas from the Stalin era of Soviet communism and given a distinctly Arab varnish. The iconography of Saddam's Ba'ath looks like the iconography of modern Western totalitarianism because that is, in fact, exactly what it is.

The modern age has been the age of totalitarianism, but it has also been the age of totalitarianism's demise. In one country after another, totalitarianism's overthrow has led to scenes of statue-toppling and dancing crowds-scenes of revolution. And so, it is natural to wonder if revolution is the scene before our eyes in Baghdad, too-if we are observing not just the superficial fact of a tyrant's fall or what is cynically called ''regime change,'' but the deeper reality of a growth in human freedom, the beginning of a revolution for the liberal values of individual and minority rights, the rule of law, tolerance, and justice.

This is a question for the long haul, not just for today. […]

Some people have worried about something even more dangerous-that a renewed hubris might take hold of the leaders in Washington, a further twist on the arrogance that drove away some of America's potential allies in the months before the war. In the wake of military victory, the US government could succumb to the wildest fantasies of omnipotence, a trigger-happy impulse to fight wars on a thousand fronts or an imperial disdain for the newly freed Iraqis. These worries strike me as entirely realistic.

Let us fear, then. But let us also remember that, at moments like this, every possibility is still in play-the worst, but also the best: the road that leads to Yugoslavia, as well as the road to Poland. Iraq could go either way right now. So let us hope, too. Let us press for greater American involvement, a more generous budget, an all-is-forgiven attitude that welcomes and even requests support from the rest of the world-a big campaign of reconstruction and not a small one.

Building a society of greater freedom than ever before in Iraq, a safer society for its own people and its neighbors and (not least) for us in far-away America-this possibility does exist, even if not in a fairyland version. There is a two-word name for this possibility: liberal revolution. If falling statues of tyrants are a familiar symbol to us, that is because, in modern times, more-or-less successful revolutions have also become familiar. And now let us get ready for the long haul.


Mr. Berman manages to make it an entire column without attacking George Bush, so that’s a positive. The negative is his failure to recognize that totalitarianism is but the final expression of liberalism. If you focus only on freedom and the state you end up with only the state and a people demanding that their fellow citizens be restrained, leading to the loss of freedom, a process well underway in the EU which he seeks to involve in building a new Iraq.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:32 PM

HE SO BAD HE IN THE HIST’RY BOOK, HIST’RY BOOK:

Doubt and Death on Drive to Baghdad (STEVEN LEE MYERS, April 13, 2003, NY Times)
The rapid march that Capt. Adam J. Morrison had at first called "the cannonball run" threatened to become a crawl, if that.

A single shot to the head killed Specialist Gregory P. Sanders on March 24 as he stood beside his tank in the Najaf area. He was 19 and the brigade's first soldier to die. Sgt. Roderic A. Solomon died on the 28th when the Bradley he was in crashed into a ditch. He was 32.

Four more from the same company — Pfc. Michael R. Creighton Weldon, Specialist Michael E. Curtin, Pfc. Diego F. Rincon and Sgt. Eugene Williams — died a day later when a bomb in a taxi exploded at a checkpoint. None had turned 25 yet.

That was the day, March 29, when Maj. Morris T. Goins, a tall, easygoing North Carolinian who is the First Brigade's operations officer, swore.

"You ain't going to get there," he shouted at another officer, gesturing toward Baghdad, "if all you're worrying about is what's back there."

Those were the darkest days of the division's sweep across Iraq, when fear, anger and doubt cut into soldiers in the desert like the grit in the wind. In faraway places, which to the brigade's soldiers, meant places like Kuwait and Washington, commanders and commentators questioned the Pentagon's strategy, contemplated an "operational pause," and debated the semantics of words like "bogged down."

But where the desert meets the fertile crescent of the Tigris and the Euphrates, the division's mechanized forces remained largely intact, even if bloodied on its flanks by fedayeen fighters. The division needed only the order to move again.

That order came sometime before the moonless hours after midnight on April 2, when the brigade's armored forces began to move again. The renewed advance had been preceded by days of aerial bombardments of Iraqi forces guarding the southern approaches to Baghdad.

A little of the cool swagger of Major Goins, the brigade's operations officer, returned that day. He never seemed happier than when the division was moving.

"Thirty-six hours," he told a dozen soldiers from the brigade's mobile command post as they began to break camp in the desert at last. "Then we'll be in the history books forever."



Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

FURTHER FRUITS OF FTC:

PM to Haaretz: Iraq war has created chance with Palestinians (Ari Shavit, 4/13/03, Ha'aretz)
Sharon: "The Iraqi leadership was a horrific and murderous one. As early as 20 years ago they understood it was impossible to acquire an Islamic bomb, and therefore it had to be manufactured. So the removal of Iraq as a threat is definitely a relief. However, this does not mean that all of the problems we are facing have been removed. Iran is making every effort to produce weapons of mass destruction and is engaged in making ballistic missiles. Libya is making a very great effort to acquire nuclear weapons. What is developing in these countries is dangerous and serious. In Saudi Arabia, too, there is a regime that grants sanctioned aid to terrorist organizations here.

Are you saying that what happened in Iraq has to happen, in one way or another, in Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia?

"In the matter of Iraq, the United States showed leadership at the highest level. I don't think it is realistic to think that immediately after the conclusion of one campaign, another will begin. Even a superpower has limits. When you win, you are also weakened to a certain degree.

"But we face the possibility that a different period will begin here. The move carried out in Iraq generated a shock through the Middle East and it brings with it a prospect of great changes. There is an opportunity here to forge a different relationship between us and the Arab states, and between us and the Palestinians. That opportunity must not be neglected. I intend to examine these things with all seriousness." [...]

Do you consider Abu Mazen a leader with whom you will be able to reach a settlement?

"Abu Mazen understands that it is impossible to vanquish Israel by means of terrorism."


Mr. Sharon, like President Bush, understands that "The Road Map" is merely an inset in a wider map for liberalizing the Middle East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 AM

7 CAME HOME:

U.S. Forces Push Into Tikrit; Americans Rescued (Hassan Hafidh, 4/13/03, Reuters)
U.S. troops entered the Iraqi town of Tikrit on Sunday bringing the war to Saddam Hussein's birthplace -- the last major center yet to fall to the invading forces.

During their push out of Baghdad, U.S. Marines rescued seven Americans who had gone missing during the 25-day war, although initial details of the recovery were sketchy.

As U.S. soldiers hit Saddam's hometown, key cities under U.S. control returned to a degree of normality after days of looting, but tensions between rival Muslim Shi'ite factions appeared close to boiling point in the holy city of Najaf.

U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks said Marines marching on Tikrit, which lies 110 miles north of Baghdad, had met little resistance, but he cautioned against hopes that the war was about to end.

"I wouldn't say it's over, but I will say we have American forces in Tikrit right now," Franks told CNN Television.


We're thankfull they survived.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 AM

AN ESPECIALLY REVELATORY SECTION OF THE STORY POSTED BELOW:

"Right after the sandstorm ended, we started getting indications that they were getting pounded," said a senior military officer. And when the Air Force's "bomb damage assessments" finally arrived that weekend, the results were astonishing. The Army had wanted to hold back until the Medina Division was judged to be cut to 50 percent of its original combat effectiveness. Instead, the Medina was assessed to be at just 20 percent.

The result, said a senior military officer, is that the war looked very different to ground commanders than it did to Franks or to his bosses at the Pentagon. "There are real disconnects," he said. But, he added, "I don't think there has ever been a battle where there hasn't been a strategic-tactical disconnect."

The most important meeting of the war may have been the one held on the morning of Saturday, March 29 on a wooded ridge in the Maryland countryside, at the Camp David presidential retreat. Some retired generals were arguing that U.S. forces in Iraq should wait for reinforcement from the 4th Infantry Division, and some Army officers on active duty privately agreed with that view.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is close to Rumsfeld and a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, recalled that the discussion was a turning point. "You had this moment when the old Army was pounding away, saying that we were out there and facing the Republican Guard" with too small of force, said Gingrich. "That was the moment of optimum danger. A less confident administration might have paused and waited for another division to come up."

At the Saturday morning meeting, held as a video teleconference, President Bush "was not an impatient person," recalled a senior administration official. "He was prepared to let things unfold."

The meeting's conclusion, said a presidential adviser, was that the campaign should remain "Baghdad-centric," and that the forces should push on to the capital as soon as possible, rather than try to secure their supply lines and consolidate their positions in southern Iraq. The thinking, recalled this adviser, "was that if you cut off the head of the snake, the rest of the snake wouldn't be able to eat you."

The president also had another agenda, said this official. Several people close to Bush said the calculated risk of plunging ahead was driven partly by the realization that it was important for Rumsfeld's ambition of transforming the military into a lighter, more agile force. Slowing down on the battlefield threatened to suggest a reversal of the administration's key defense policy.

"The people who were bad-mouthing the plan were the anti-transformation forces, the heavy-Army guys," said this person, who participated in numerous war-planning meetings. "They wanted 600,000 troops in there. By not waiting around, it had the effect of winning that debate." The message that came down the chain of command from that meeting, said a senior military officer, was, "Stay the course."


The two big, but as yet underreported, stories implicated here are, unfortunately, the raw number of Iraqis we killed and, hopefully, that Iraq was fought as much as a demonstration case as anything else.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 AM

SLAPPING AT THE FOG:

Confused Start, Swift Conclusion: Invasion Shaped by Miscues, Bold Risks and Unexpected Successes (Rick Atkinson, Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks, April 13, 2003, The Washington Post )
It was the low point of the war for the two generals.

On March 27, outside the city of Najaf, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, commander of the U.S. Army's V Corps, met with Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. As they sat on gray folding chairs in the desert wasteland, the war seemed to be in dismal shape.

The critical crossroads city of Nasiriyah had degenerated into a shooting gallery for U.S. convoys. An Army maintenance unit was ambushed on an overextended supply line. In just one day, 36 U.S. soldiers and Marines were killed, taken prisoner, or missing. That night, the first deep strike by AH-64D Apache attack helicopters was beaten back by small-arms fire that downed one chopper and riddled 33 others with bullets. Then a harsh sandstorm swept in, grounding U.S. helicopters, jamming some weapons, bringing most operations to a halt, and demoralizing the troops. And they had not yet engaged the Iraqi Republican Guard, which they expected would greet them with chemical weapons.

Wallace, wearing cotton cavalry gloves and Wiley-X sunglasses, said in an interview after the meeting with Petraeus that, in light of the damage sustained by the Apaches earlier in the week, it was not clear how they could be used in Iraq. He added, "We're dealing with a country in which everybody has a weapon, and when they fire them all into the air at the same time, it's tough."

Just 13 days later, Baghdad fell.

What ended as a military victory that toppled the Iraqi government in 21 days was filled with moments of uncertainty, miscues and unexpected successes for U.S. forces. This article is an anatomy of the war as described by dozens of military officials and commanders, including key participants in the decision making on the battlefield and in Washington. They provided an inside look at a conflict that upended a host of specific assumptions about how the war would unfold even as it delivered the final collapse of Iraqi resistance that commanders had forecast.

Some of these participants said the war got off to an unexpected and confused start. But it reached a swift conclusion in Baghdad in part because of the debilitating impact of air power against Iraq's Republican Guard divisions.

In particular, they said, a Special Operations campaign to guide bombing attacks against Iraqi forces even in the midst of a howling sandstorm appears to have been far more effective than generally realized.
But another Special Operations effort, to persuade Iraqi forces to surrender at the outset of the campaign, was suddenly overtaken by the decision of Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the overall war commander, to start the ground offensive a day earlier than planned. This decision, the commanders and officials said, sparked a roiling argument within the military's elite Special Operations units about whether the start disrupted the surrender plan. Some officers say the course of the war would have been far smoother, with fewer casualties, had they been allowed to bring the surrender appeal to fruition.

Despite the successful drive to Baghdad, some commanders still believe the invasion force was too small, and that their supply lines were so stretched that there was a chance that front-line units would run out of food and water.

Finally, officers and Pentagon officials said that during the critical second week of the war, when the two generals met outside Najaf, a sharply different assessment of the state of the war emerged between the field commanders and officials in Washington.


If, like me, you found the war parts of War and Peace terribly confused the first time you read it and thought maybe Tolstoy just had no hand for describing battle, try reading Isaiah Berlin's great essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox. In fact, it's worth considering, before reading anything that anyone has to say about a war in progress.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 AM

SLOW LEARNERS:

Europe still hasn’t learnt the lesson of US power (Ferdinand Mount, April 13, 2003, The Sunday Times )
Publicly, Jacques Chirac denounces the bloodthirsty Anglo- Saxons. Privately, we are told, he rings Blair and asks for France to be included in the post-war relief and reconstruction effort. And when, in the face of the anarchy and looting in Iraqi cities, Chirac declares that only the UN can run the country, he cannot expect anyone to take him seriously. In fact, Chirac’s diplomacy seems rather like Napoleon’s attitude to his foreign minister: "I don’t employ Talleyrand when I want a thing done, but only when I want to have the appearance of wanting to do it."

There are signs in any case that the French public, though hostile to the war, are wearying of their government’s relentlessly negative view. Paris Match is now praising Blair’s courage. Le Figaro welcomes "a historic victory", and Liberation says Chirac faces an uphill struggle to avoid France being marginalised.

But still the resentment is grinding on. Gallant little Belgium’s prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has denigrated the United States as "a deeply wounded power that has now become very dangerous". Now he is holding his own mini-summit at the end of the month with France, Germany and Luxembourg to further the EU’s ambitions to set up a rival to Nato and cut out the Americans.

Nor is the resentment confined to the Continent. You can see it spill over into the anti-war arguments of the Tory Europhiles. Ken Clarke, who earlier ventured a comparison to Vietnam, now says we must move on and stop being automatic followers behind the Americans. Chris Patten said he didn’t see why the continentals should pay to clean up after a war they didn’t support, and more or less accused American religious fundamentalism of being as much to blame for conflict as Islamic fundamentalism.

My reaction to all this is to say, grow up. American power is a fact. You have to learn to work with it and try to push it in the direction you favour — as Blair has in pressuring a previously unenthusiastic Bush to commit himself to a viable and independent state of Palestine, something which all the niggling from the EU never began to accomplish.

There must be a temptation now for Blair to smooth over the hard feelings. For all his determined leadership in the face of passionate opposition, he remains someone who likes to see smiling faces about him. If he cannot deliver on the euro as yet, perhaps he might let the new European constitution slide through without too much fuss.

I have always wanted to see the EU adopt a constitution which would offer a final settlement and spell out the division of powers. What we don’t want is a blueprint for a superstate, which is exactly what the drafts from Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s constitutional convention seem to be offering us. According to articles 10-12, the EU is to have exclusive or shared competence in almost every important policy area.

Even where the competence is shared, the member states may act only within the limits defined by Brussels, just as local authorities in Britain may act only within limits laid down by the government. Article 13 says "member states shall actively and unreservedly support the Union’s common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity". It has also been suggested that no member should be allowed to withdraw from the Union unless two-thirds of the other members give their consent.

The driving idea is to transform the EU from a voluntary association of like-minded nations into a cohesive, indissoluble rival to the US. In other words, deep down it derives from the same anti-American impulse that has torn Europe apart these past weeks — and will do so again if it is not resisted. At this rate I am not sure which will take longer to rebuild, the shattered cities of Iraq or the bruised egos of Europe.


It’s odd that while the U.S. is portrayed as immature and emotion-driven in foreign affairs, it’s the wise, old European realists who are biting off their collective nose to spite their face.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:34 AM

SPEAKING OF ODIOUS DEBT:

Russia ministers says Moscow won't drop Iraq debt (Reuters, 4/12/03)
Russia will not forgive Iraq some $8 billion in Soviet-era debt, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Saturday, a day after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow could consider wiping clean Baghdad's slate.

Speaking from Washington where he is taking part in a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations, Kudrin said Moscow would not forgive loans granted to Iraq under Saddam Hussein until Russia's own Soviet debts were written off.

"No one has forgiven Russia's debt, regardless of what kind of regime it was and regardless of the country's clout," he told Russian state television.

"For this reason, international law and our membership of the Paris Club of creditor nations will allow us to press for the repayment of our loans."

Russia inherited some $100 billion in Soviet-era debt. It faces a debt repayment peak of $17 billion in 2003.


He's right--they should refuse to pay that odious debt too. People have to learn to stop lending to dictators, the hard way.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 AM

NOT NEWSWORTHY:

Masters Telecast Shuns Talk of Protest (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 12, 2003)
They talked birdies and bogeys, Tiger and Phil, dogwoods and azaleas. They ran long, sappy montages about caddies and past champions, the whispering Georgia pines and the mystery of the Masters.

What CBS announcers didn't do Saturday was talk about the protests taking place down the street from Augusta National, a front-burner topic here for much of the last nine months.

``The focus of CBS Sports is on golf,'' network spokeswoman Leslie Anne Wade explained.


Now if they’d just adopt a similar policy for anti-war protests…
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 AM

WHAT DID PUTIN KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?:

Revealed: Russia spied on Blair for Saddam (David Harrison, 13/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Top secret documents obtained by The Telegraph in Baghdad show that Russia provided Saddam Hussein's regime with wide-ranging assistance in the months leading up to the war, including intelligence on private conversations between Tony Blair and other Western leaders.

Moscow also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.

The documents detailing the extent of the links between Russia and Saddam were obtained from the heavily bombed headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service in Baghdad yesterday. […]

The documents, in Arabic, are mostly intelligence reports from anonymous agents and from the Iraqi embassy in Moscow. Tony Blair is referred to in a report dated March 5, 2002 and marked: "Subject - SECRET." In the letter, an Iraqi intelligence official explains that a Russian colleague had passed him details of a private conversation between Mr Blair and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, at a meeting in Rome. The two had met for an annual summit on February 15, 2002, in Rome.

The document says that Mr Blair "referred to the negative things decided by the United States over Baghdad". It adds that Mr Blair refused to engage in any military action in Iraq at that time because British forces were still in Afghanistan and that nothing could be done until after the new Kabul government had been set up.


Two words: odious debt.

April 12, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:49 PM

ON TO DAMASCUS:

U.S. cuts Iraqi oil supply to Syria (WORLD TRIBUNE.COM, April 12, 2003)
The United States has halted the flow of Iraqi oil to Syria. Western intelligence sources said U.S.-led coalition forces shut off the oil pump outside the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday. The Kirkuk facility was pumping about 250,000 barrels of oil via a pipeline to the Syrian port of Banyas, Middle East Newsline reported.

"It's a major move by the United States and will have a significant affect on Syria," a senior intelligence source said. "The Syrians are very upset."

Intelligence sources said Iraqi oil pumped to Syria over the last two years had been a major source of revenue for the regime of President Bashar Assad. Iraq had sold the oil to Syria for about $11 a barrel and the Assad regime exported the fuel at market prices and kept the difference.


The next battle has already begun. Look for leaks about Iraqs Ba’athists escaping to Syria and WMD having been hidden there.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:41 PM

WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU FORCE THE CONTRADICTIONS:

IRAN PROPOSED REFERENDUM TO NORMALISE TIES WITH WASHINGTON (Safa Haeri, 4/12/03, Iran Press Service)
Iranian ruling ayatollahs, seriously concerned at the perspective of being the next on the America’s list of rogue regimes to be removed from power, paved Saturday the way for normalising relations with the United States, suggesting to organise a national referendum on the subject.

The proposal was made by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in an interview with "Rahbord" (Strategy) periodical, saying the problem of Iran's thorny relations with both the US and Egypt could be resolved through a referendum or by referring it to the Assembly for Discerning the Interests of the State (ADIS, or Expediency Council).

As some political analysts interpreted the suggestion as a "turning point" in the 24 years-old life of the Islamic Republic or describing it "a great leap forward", other cautioned against "over simplification" and said it is a "new cup of poison" the clerical leaders are drinking in order to save the regime, referring to the dramatic decision taken by the leader of the Islamic Revolution in 1989, accepting a United Nations resolution proclaiming cease-fire in the war with Iraq.

"Now that the ruling ayatollahs have realised the danger that looms over their head, that this American Administration is serious in its menaces, they try to get out of the pit in which they had plunged themselves", commented Mr. Ahmad Ahrar, a seasoned political analyst.


North Korea Blinks? (Carl Limbacher, 04/12/2003, NewsMax.com)
In the wake of the U.S.'s stunning military victory in Iraq, North Korea has reportedly relaxed its demands that the Bush administration engage in one-on-one talks with Pyongyang to resolve the nuclear standoff between the two countries.

"If the U.S. is ready to make a bold switchover in its Korea policy for a settlement of the nuclear issue, the [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea] will not stick to any particular dialogue format," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.

The statement was a "hint" that North Korea would accept U.S. demands for multilateral talks to end the nuclear dispute, the Associated Press said. Since North Korea announced it had resumed its nuclear weapons program last October, Pyongyang has insisted on direct talks with Washington, D.C.


To paraphrase Dr. Johnson: the prospect that regimes will be changed in the future tends to focus the totalitarian mind wonderfully.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:35 AM

STILL CATCHING UP TO MR. MORRISON:


'Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books' by Azar Nafisi (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post, 4/10/2003)
Under the rule of the mullahs, "life in the Islamic Republic was as capricious as the month of April, when short periods of sunshine would suddenly give way to showers and storms," [Azar Nafisi] writes ...

She decided to continue to teach, but in secret....

"I had explained to them the purpose of the class.... I mentioned that one of the criteria for the books I had chosen was their authors' faith in the critical and almost magical power of literature, and reminded them of the nineteen-year-old Nabokov, who, during the Russian Revolution, would not allow himself to be diverted by the sound of bullets. He kept on writing his solitary poems while he heard the guns and saw the bloody fights from his window. Let us see, I said, whether seventy years later our disinterested faith will reward us by transforming the gloomy reality created of this other revolution."...

To live in the Iran of the mullahs was to be "victims of the arbitrary nature of a totalitarian regime that constantly intruded into the most private corners of our lives and imposed its relentless fictions on us." It was absurdism carried to an absurd degree: "The chief film censor in Iran, up until 1994, was blind" ... The class that Nafisi organized was therefore "an attempt to escape the gaze of the blind censor," a place where "we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom."...

[Nafisi] is grateful to the Islamic Republic, she says, because it taught her "to love Austen and James and ice cream and freedom."


Submission to tyranny is not peace. Peace is found only in freedom; tyranny is but a perpetual war of the tyrant against the enslaved. This is why Mr. Morrison's "unbridled support for peace" was, in fact, an unbridled support for perpetual war; and why heroines like Azar Nafisi, who resisted tyranny, are the true supporters of peace.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:12 AM

STILL FIGHTING THE COLD WAR:


A Man Who Thinks Otherwise (Richard Monastersky, Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/11/2003)
It was hard to be apolitical at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1930s, especially as a graduate student of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Mr. Morrison was one of Oppenheimer's most promising protégés, and like many physicists in that circle, he belonged to the Communist Party, which fought for liberal causes such as organizing farmworkers and promoting civil rights for African-Americans....

Mr. Morrison felt driven to promote peace, but he foresaw that growing tensions with the Soviet Union might hinder freedom of expression. So he declined an invitation to return to the physics department at Berkeley. "I knew that Berkeley was going to be one of the most vulnerable of places," he says. "A state university can't stand out against a majority opinion, even if it is weak and poorly supported."

Instead, in the summer of 1946, he headed for Ithaca, N.Y....

But even there, Mr. Morrison could not hide from the Federal Bureau of Investigation or from red-baiting members of Congress and the press....

The attacks from Communist hunters diminished as the '50s closed, but it would be many more years before the country would catch up with Mr. Morrison's unbridled support for peace.


Truly, all the old leftists will have to die before the Cold War fighting ends. Still, it is nice that the Chronicle helps us younger folk find out what the Communist Party stood for. I suppose the reason you don't hear much about them any more is that, farmworkers having won unions and African-Americans civil rights, they decided to disband.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:45 AM

CNN GIVES UP ACCESS FOR OBJECTIVITY:

The end of embedding? (Digital Spy, 4/11/2003)
CNN has moved all embedded journalists in Baghdad over to independent status, and is apparently sending in reinforcements. Nic Robertson, who was kicked out of the capital by the Iraqi authorities during the opening stages of the war, has returned to the city. The network seems very much to be marketing itself as an independent news outlet - also announcing today that it will not allow its news broadcasts to appear on the coalition "Towards Freedom" channel in Iraq.

A certain news network willingly abandoned objective reporting (BroJudd blog post will be here soon) in order to gain access to government news sources in Baghdad. It's a sign of CNN's high journalistic ideals that they're now giving up access to U.S. military sources in Baghdad in order to preserve their reputation for accurate, unbiased reporting.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 AM

WILL THE LAST DECENT PERSON TO QUIT THE LEFT PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS:

The left has lost the plot: By defending sovereignty in the name of anti-imperialism, opponents of war undermine their claim to champion the oppressed (John Lloyd, April 11, 2003, The Guardian)
(This is an edited extract of an article from this week's New Statesman, explaining ex-editor John Lloyd's reasons for resigning as a columnist.) [...]

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, UN leaders have spread the message that their organisation could now enter into its own - as a protector of the downtrodden who, most often, are trodden on by their own rulers. This movement culminated, less than two years ago, in a Canadian-sponsored report, A Responsibility to Protect - a brilliant summation of the arguments for stripping tyrants of sovereign inviolability. Of the major government leaders, only Blair has embraced the report, as the logical extension of the ethical dimension in foreign policy that Labour promulgated when it came to office.

Most of the left refused to follow this line. For some, it has been enough to declare all ethical dimensions phoney, since states such as Britain continued to shake hands with tyrants. For others, state sovereignty seems a necessary protection against what they see as the largest threat to the world: US imperialism.

US imperialism, in this view of a now resurgent part of the left, is composed of a mixture of things: efforts to control energy resources, principally oil; the repression of the Palestinians to ensure the security of the US "client state" Israel; a US refusal to tolerate any power that counterbalances its own; a hatred of all cultures other than its own, and a determination to destroy such cultures to make the world passively receptive to American values and merchandise.

Will the end of the war and the effort to rebuild decent government in Iraq change the view of the left? It would seem unlikely: the anti-US reflex is too ingrained, the dislike of Blair too great.

Yet the left's programme now should be to argue in favour of committing resources to those multilateral agencies that work, and to seek agreement from those forces everywhere in the world that are committed to democratic (or at least more responsive) government and to an observation of human and civil rights. The aim, as the US political scientist Michael Walzer has put it, should be a "strong international system, organised and designed to defeat aggression, to stop massacres and ethnic cleansing, to control weapons of mass destruction and to guarantee the physical security of all the world's peoples".


The issue of sovereignty would seem to be the key to the questuion of whether the Free World can act to liberate oppressed peoples. The once honorable Left and establishment Churches seem to have settled into a position that holds national sovereignty inviolable. This has the great advantage of discrediting all wars, but the enormous disadvantage of sanctioning all kinds of evil acts by regimes, apparently up to and including genocide. This turn of events, which has placed two segments of Western society that have long and proud traditions of resisting State authority on the side of homicidal totalitarian dictatorship is genuinely sad--in no case more so than that of the Pope--but for anyone who loves liberty must be a clarion call to treat doctrinairely "anti-war" clerical authorities and liberal activists as what they are become, enemies of human freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 AM

NO DOLCEOLA?:

Lift Him Up: The gospel truth about Christian blues pioneer Washington Phillips (MICHAEL CORCORAN, 2/13/03, Dallas Observer)
Wash Phillips didn't die in the nuthouse. And he probably didn't play an instrument called a dolceola. But the rest of his legend remains. 

The mystery begins the first time you hear the flowing gospel of Washington Phillips, whose entire recorded output consists of 18 tracks recorded in Dallas from 1927-1929. His sacred porch songs, bathed in a celestial haze of notes from a strange instrument identified as a dolceola, sing out the existence of a higher power, for how could man alone create music for the angels?

Chicago has been credited as the genre's birthplace, but a trio of Texans (Phillips, guitar evangelist Blind Willie Johnson and piano player Arizona Juanita Dranes) were laying the foundation for Christian blues--which is all gospel music is, really--at a time when "the father of gospel," Thomas A. Dorsey, was still playing juke joints as Georgia Tom. Before Dorsey first mixed the spiritual with the secular on 1928's "If You See My Savior," Phillips was putting religious lyrics to 12-bar blues, blind sanctified songleader Dranes was inventing the gospel beat by spicing spirituals with barrelhouse piano and Blind Willie was sliding a knife over his guitar neck and moaning crucifixion songs.

When gospel's glory years erupted in the '30s, Phillips, Dranes and Johnson had already been tucked back into obscurity. They remain virtually unknown except to cults of rabid musicologists, who revel in the mystique of these artists who emerged out of nowhere as fully formed visionaries, then almost as quickly disappeared.

In Phillips' case, the ending of his recording career is easily explained in the liner notes to his only American CD, I Am Born to Preach the Gospel (released by Yazoo in 1991), which reports that the singer was committed to the state sanitarium in Austin in 1930 and died there of tuberculosis eight years later. The All Music Guide, a favorite Internet reference source for critics and fans, repeats the information, taken from the death certificate of a Washington Phillips of Freestone County.

The truth, however, is that another man of the same name, from the same place, is the one who Ry Cooder briefly resurrected in the '70s with covers of "Denomination Blues" and "You Can't Stop a Tattler." After just five recording sessions, the "real" Washington Phillips returned to the farming life in the black settlement of Simsboro, content to play for neighbors and churchgoers. When he died in 1954 from head injuries suffered from a fall down the stairs at the welfare office in nearby Teague, the local newspaper got his last name and age wrong. "Wash Williams, 77, Negro, Dies After Fall" was the headline on the 2-inch story that never mentions a music career. Phillips was 74 when he passed away. The man who was previously believed to be the gospel singer died in the state hospital at age 47.

I didn't know about this case of mistaken identity a couple of months ago when I stood over a grave on the old "colored" side of the Austin State Cemetery thinking that I'd found the music pioneer's final resting place.


Somehow he deserves a better epitaph than: didn't die in a nuthouse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:40 AM

EDUCATION?:

And also related . . . (Christianity Today: Weblog, 4/11/03)
In the current issue of Theory and Research in Education, the University of London's Michael Hand lays out an argument for the abolition of religious schools. Here's his summary:

1. Faith schools teach for belief in religious propositions.

2. No religious proposition is known to be true.

3a. Teaching for belief in not-known-to-be-true propositions is, when successful, indoctrinatory, except where teachers are perceived to be intellectual authorities on those propositions.

3b. Teachers in faith schools are not perceived to be intellectual authorities on religious propositions.

Therefore,

4. faith schools are, when successful, indoctrinatory.

. . . Whatever else may or may not be wrong with them, faith schools, insofar as they succeed in their religious mission, are indoctrinatory. And, since the religious mission of faith schools is precisely what distinguishes them from common schools, this is an argument not for the reform of faith schools, but for their abolition.


Mr. Hand is correct, but goes no where near far enough. We can't know anything to be true, not even that we exist, one of the knottiest problems in all of philosophy. So all schools are indoctrinary. If our standard is that there should be no indoctrination then we should just ban all schools. It's not certain they'd be missed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 AM

RIGHTS WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITIES:

You are what you speak (Rabbi Berel Wein, 4/11/03, Jewish World Review)
This week's Torah portion, Metzora, deals with the plague of tzoraas, the punishment, according the Talmudic sages, for transgressing the sin of slander and abusive speech.

In contemporary society, where everyone demands the right to know everything about everyone at anytime, it is difficult to promote the ideas of privacy, correct speech and avoidance of gossip and unnecessary curiosity of others. Yet while the exact plague of tzoraas is no longer apparent in our lives, the damages of loose talk can be seen all around us. Tzoraas is not only a plague that affects the individual affected by it. Rather, it is a plague that damages society at large as well.

A civilization that approves gossip, condones verbal abuse, insults, obscenities and shameful statements, is itself already plagued. The level of public discourse, as well as that of private conversation, requires elevation and care.

A drive to arrest loshan hara (evil speech) has been prominent in the Jewish world over the last few decades. It is difficult, of course, to assess its true success, but the mere fact that such a drive was initiated and is maintained is in and of itself a positive thing.

In a world of free speech, which is certainly a basic right, self-discipline in exercising that right is necessary. Otherwise, free speech becomes destructive speech. And destructive speech must be avoided at all costs.


It's a strange society we live in where it is insisted that privacy rights cover everything from adultery to abortion, but none of us can shut up about ourselves. One of the things we here are all especially proud of though is that even heated discussions are generally carried on with a great deal of civility--for that we thank you all.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 AM

MINI-MOABs:

Grain of Terror: Why do we drink beer while watching sports? (Dave Faries, 4/10/03, Dallas Observer)
[M]ore than half of those who watch sports--college sports in this case--typically binge when drinking, according to a Harvard University study. More than two-thirds of all property damage and 64 percent of all violent behavior on American campuses occur as a result of rapid consumption. Win or lose, the big game generates wild melees and serious carnage.

Professional sports offer even more explicit ties to alcohol, from the Milwaukee Brewers to Rusty Wallace's promise to reward fans with free six-packs if he won the Daytona 500. The combination of beer and sports even turns San Franciscans from gentle, latte-sipping, Whole Foods-shopping wussies to demonic terrors who could level Baghdad faster than George W. could find it on a map.

"It's not about sports," says Chris Michael of Nikita, "it's about participation in a hysteria that makes the whole thing worth doing."

Hysteria and an ice-cold drink. These mini-MOABs result, oddly enough, from excessive consumption of the weakest alcoholic product this side of wine coolers. Beer generally contains a meager amount of alcohol, 5 percent and sometimes less. Vodka, scotch, bourbon, varnish, vanilla extract and other products pack 40 percent or more. Yet, as Will Morgan, bartender at Champps in Las Colinas points out, "at any sports event, it's beer, beer, beer, beer and more beer."

Why? Given the overwhelming popularity of vodka drinks, the influx of aged tequilas and rums, the availability of good scotch, why do we continue to drink beer while watching sports? [...]

Despite inflated prices at The Ballpark and other venues, beer remains an inexpensive option, especially when buying for friends. "Most people don't want to spend the money," says Mike, settling in for happy hour at Champps, "so when they have the guys over to watch a game, they buy a case of beer." In other words, a few six-packs lends the appearance of generosity, without draining the bank account.

"Beer is cheap, and men are cheap," echoes Kim, also drinking at Champps and apparently bearing some sort of grudge.

So the points to remember are these: Beer is inexpensive, low in alcohol and convenient. Beer makes certain sports tolerable. It is, as Ron Davis, bartender at Cape Buffalo, points out, "America's other favorite pastime."

Oh, one more thing: Just to be safe, avoid women named Kim until whatever it is blows over.


Beer...good enough for the Founders; good enough for us.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 AM

THE SHADOWS LENGTHEN AND BURN AWAY THE PAST:

Made With Love: Rosanne Cash is the friend who will say, or sing, what you can't (Robert Wilonsky, 4/10/03, Dallas Observer)
There's a reason rock critics--and Nation writers--love Rosanne Cash: because she's a writer of prose and essays who also happens to play guitar, possess a wondrous voice (Metaphor No. 148: warm steam off a frozen pond at dawn; Metaphor 593: a down comforter on a winter's night; there's plenty more), conjure resonant melodies and have for a father one of music's most legendary figures she's now comfortable to talk about. At last, they even sing together on Rules of Travel: The song's called "September When it Comes," and though it could and should apply to any child making peace with an aging, ailing parent, the fact it's Johnny and Rosanne trading lines about lengthening shadows that will "fly me like an angel to a place where I can rest" makes it feel like a family heirloom.

"But if it was just about me and my dad, then it kind of reduces it to narcissism," she insists. "It's about that exchange that goes on with an adult child and a parent facing mortality and the changes that happen then and that adult child coming to some sort of resolution about her childhood and past, which is common to all of us, if you're the least bit awake. Then it's served its purpose; then it is of service. Just about me and my dad--ultimately, who cares?" [...]

[J]ust as war broke out, Cash posted to her Web site, www.rosannecash.com, an essay in which she condemned the Bush administration for launching a pre-emptive first strike against Iraq and those who would damn war protesters for being anti-American. "I am American by birth, by choice and by love, and the right of free speech is the tenet I hold most dear," she wrote. "Therefore I am not afraid to say, as an American and a mother, that I think this war is a grave mistake, but I do support the young men and women who have been sent to fight it, and I wish them a hasty return home." Though it's doubtful her anti-war stance will affect album sales--she's no Natalie Maines, that coward--it sure ain't gonna help her.

"But it wasn't a career move," she says, with that familiar tinge of defiance. "I mean, the way I was raised was that you have to have the courage of your convictions, even if they're unpopular. And I'm a citizen, too. I get to say what I think. Yeah, I didn't do myself any favors in one regard, but in another regard, I can tell my grandchildren that I was against the war and I said so. I get letters from people saying they're going to tell everybody not to buy my records and calling me every name in the book. I'll tell you something really funny, though.

"My daughter, who's 21, she's really good at doing fan mail and stuff, so I hired her to go through the e-mails. If they're just photo requests or something, she refers them where to send their requests, all that stuff. So, the poor thing, right after I signed the petition and did the press conference with David Byrne and Russell Simmons, I got, you know, 500 e-mails, and a lot of them were incredibly nasty--name-calling, abusive, blah blah blah. She's not supposed to write back to these people, but she said, 'Mom, I just couldn't help it.' And I was like, 'Oh, my God, what did you say?' She said, 'I told her, "If you ever talk to my mother like that again, I will hunt you down. I am not peaceful like she is."' I thought it was so great. 'I am not peaceful like she is.'"


The tune with her Dad is outstanding:
SEPTEMBER WHEN IT COMES (Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal)

There's a cross above the baby's bed
a savior in her dreams
but she was not delivered then
and the baby became me
There's a light inside the darkened room
a footstep on the stair
a door that I forever close
to leave those memories there

When the shadows lengthen
into a copper sun
first there's summer, then I'll let you in
September when it comes

I want to crawl outside these walls
close my eyes and see
fall into your heart and arms
touch your face and breathe
I cannot move a mountain now
I can no longer run
I cannot be who I was then
in a way I never was

I watch the clouds go sailing
watch the clock and sun
I watch myself depending on
September when it comes

When the shadows lengthen
and burn away the past
I will fly me like an angel to
a place where I can rest
When winds begin I'll let you in
September when it comes


Johnny Cash singing "I cannot move a mountain now. I can no longer run. I cannot be who I was then, in a way I never was." is heartrending.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:34 AM

REBOOT:

MATRIX2: Bullet Time was just the beginning. F/x guru John Gaeta reinvents cinematography with The Matrix Reloaded. (Steve Silberman, May 2003, Wired)
I'm sitting in a former naval barracks in Alameda, California, watching the digital assembly of a human face. Bones, teeth, glistening eyes. Layer upon layer. Finally the hair and skin, the creases and tiny scars that make us who we are. The face blinks and breathes. Then it snarls, and my skin crawls.

Agent Smith is back, and he's pissed.

You'll be seeing a lot of Agent Smith this year. Neo's man-in-black nemesis returns on May 15 in The Matrix Reloaded, the continuing story of a young hacker who learns that the apparently real world is an elaborate computer simulation. In November, a second sequel, Matrix Revolutions, will take up where Reloaded's nail-biting climax leaves off.

Things have changed since 1999. In the last shot of the original film, Neo, played by ex-slacker Keanu Reeves, flew up out of the frame, demonstrating that his mental abilities had become stronger than the enslaving delusion of the Matrix. Now he's a full-fledged superhero, soaring over the skyline at thousands of miles an hour and making a rescue as trucks collide head-on. The bad news: Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, is a rogue virus in the Matrix, able to multiply himself at will. And the last free human city, Zion, in a cave near the Earth's core, is under attack.

What hasn't changed is the dark, richly nuanced aesthetic of brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski, a pair of Hollywood outsiders who wrote and directed what became the most successful movie in the history of Warner Bros. The Wachowskis had always conceived of Neo's odyssey as a trilogy, but to release both sequels months apart - plus the videogame Enter the Matrix and an anime series called The Animatrix - required a year of intense collaboration, as the scripts, sets, and shot designs all evolved together.

The Matrix raised the bar for action films by introducing new levels of realism into stunt work and visual effects. For Reloaded and Revolutions, the Wachowskis dreamed up action sequences that were so over-the-top they would require their special-effects supervisor, John Gaeta, to reinvent cinematography itself.


It's been strange to have three different film cycles going that you're actually anxious for the next entry in--Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter. It would seem germane that all three tap into fundamental Western themes and come at a time when we're anxious to recall those themes, to better comprehend what is at risk in our struggles with Islamicism and European nihilism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 AM

A MILLION CHICAGO'S:

More Than a Million Mogadishus, We Need One Good Chicago (Terrence Moore, April 2003, Ashbrook)
This country began with a healthy fear of the damage to life and liberty standing armies can do when employed by cruel dictators. The pages of history are littered with the ravages of such regimes. Saddam Hussein has certainly employed new discoveries in science to oppress the people of Iraq, but nothing about his politics would have surprised the Founding Fathers. To allay the people’s fear of military dictatorship, General Washington assured the fledgling nation at the onset of Revolution, "When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen." Following the noble restraint of Washington, America’s Cincinnatus, he and the other Founders later formed a government in which citizens, or civilians, would give orders to soldiers rather than the reverse. As a continuation of this principle, before being given arms today, young men and women in the armed services must swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Thus the American Founders solved a political problem as old as Plato: how to control and direct the potentially dangerous energies of the "spirited" men of the political order. Plato, you will recall, urged that the guardians of his imaginary republic be like good watchdogs, able to distinguish between friends and enemies. Accordingly, they must also combine two qualities seemingly opposed in nature, fierceness and gentleness. This ability and this combination Plato called "philosophic." Over the last three weeks, Americans have been viewing from their living rooms the actions of philosophic warriors that would astonish even Plato. Young men and women fighting in the desert heat, going without sleep for days at a time, not knowing whether an artillery round from the enemy might carry deadly chemical or biological agents, knowing very well that the Iraqi civilian waving a white flag from an oncoming car might be delivering explosives, these young warfighters are sparing foreign civilian lives, sometimes at the cost of their own, as they are defeating the enemy in proportions reminiscent of the Persian Wars. These troops matter-of-factly attribute their success to their rigorous training. They have been trained how to shoot and also when not to. They have been trained how to work in large units and small. They have trained for combined-arms and special operations, as that seen in the heart-warming recovery of Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

Were we to put embedded reporters in the classrooms of our most prestigious colleges and universities, would we see a civilian education comparable to this rigorous military training, one that produces such heroic citizens? To what do the nation’s professors owe their allegiance? What rules of engagement do university presidents set for their campuses? Does what is taught and learned contribute in any way to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the American people for which those in the armed services are willing to risk their lives? [...]

The American Founders feared and properly controlled for the abuse of military power. They took fewer precautions against the abuse of intellectual power. Perhaps they thought higher academe would ever follow in the footsteps of Princeton’s President John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration and teacher to a generation of responsible revolutionaries, whose course in moral and political philosophy prepared his students to act as citizens in the new republic. Up until Vietnam, certainly, Ivy League graduates were not only taught to be good civilian leaders but also were over-represented among the fallen in this nation’s wars. Today, military recruiters cannot even canvass for officers on many of this nation’s leading campuses because of student protests. Today under the protection of "academic freedom," a concept unknown to countries outside the West, a known ideologue can
attain degrees at one of the most reputable universities in the country, land a coveted job at another prestigious university, and thereby preach his own brand of anti-Americanism to students whose parents are paying a small fortune, in a city where three-thousand people were killed only a year and a half ago by dangerous young men who also hated America. The Chicago-Columbia connection, formerly the axis of great-books intellectualism, has become, at least in De Genova’s case, a research partnership in anti-Americanism. The military would never think of training young people to use weapons against fellow Americans or to undermine the Constitution. Yet higher academe trains young people to use their minds, as dangerous as weapons, against the very principles upon which this nation is founded. Certainly, De Genova should be allowed to speak his mind in some forum. But that is a far cry from saying that his intellectual idiosyncrasies should virtually guarantee him a position at an Ivy League institution. We can only wonder when liberal education might again mean not "say anything you like in the name of academic freedom," but rather "teach young men and women to be good and to love and defend the truth." When shall we see some brave academic, perhaps an Ivy League or University of Chicago president, stand up and say, "When we assumed the scholar, we did not lay aside the citizen"?


It's long forgotten now that the Founders supported the idea of public education not because of the three R's but because they thought a democratic republic would have to train its young to be good citizens or else perish. As the hysteria over Secretary of Education Rod Paige's remarks indicates, teaching values is the one thing that's now banished from public schools.

April 11, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 PM

Brian in MN sends us this link: uttering their slogan is a hanging offense in NH.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM

WAIT, IT'S NOT THE JEWS--IT'S THE CHRISTIANS!:

An unholy alliance with the Christian right (Akiva Eldar, 4/11/03, Ha'aretz)
On the first day of the AIPAC convention, a man named Gary Bauer took the podium. He reminded the cheering thousands that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and, therefore, there is an absolute ban on giving it to another people. Bauer is not a member of the National Religious Party, nor of the Likud central committee. He's not even Jewish. He is a leading preacher from the Christian right in America, one of those who believe the Jews are The Chosen People and one day will even choose the right messiah. Bauer is a leading spokesman for arch-conservative policies, including a total ban on all abortions and favoring government funding for religious schools.

These are the people generating the spiritual energy fueling George Bush's war on global terrorism. Evangelist Christians from South Carolina paid for the huge billboard on the Ayalon Highway declaring "There's no land for peace." TV evangelist Pat Robertson last week reprimanded Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, saying "Who do you think you are, handing Jerusalem over to Arafat?"

With Christian friends like these close to the president's ear, the right-wing government in Israel does not need Jewish friends to rebuff political initiatives like the road map. But the Jewish activists are not giving up. The religious sources of the values that drive the Christian right are not preventing some Jewish organizations from turning them into a natural ally.


Mr. Eldar better talk to Mr. Lind (see below) and get their stories straight. Although, the one thing we're all agreed on is that George W. Bush is a mere cipher, being run by someone else.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:11 PM

WEIRDNESS:

The weird men behind George W Bush's war (Michael Lind, 7th April 2003, New Statesman)
America's allies and enemies alike are baffled. What is going on in the United States? Who is making foreign policy? And what are they trying to achieve? Quasi-Marxist explanations involving big oil or American capitalism are mistaken. Yes, American oil companies and contractors will accept the spoils of the kill in Iraq. But the oil business, with its Arabist bias, did not push for this war any more than it supports the Bush administration's close alliance with Ariel Sharon. Further, President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are not genuine "Texas oil men" but career politicians who, in between stints in public life, would have used their connections to enrich themselves as figureheads in the wheat business, if they had been residents of Kansas, or in tech companies, had they been Californians.

Equally wrong is the theory that American and European civilisation are evolving in opposite directions. The thesis of Robert Kagan, the neoconservative propagandist, that Americans are martial and Europeans pacifist, is complete nonsense. A majority of Americans voted for either Al Gore or Ralph Nader in 2000. Were it not for the over-representation of sparsely populated, right-wing states in both the presidential electoral college and the Senate, the White House and the Senate today would be controlled by Democrats, whose views and values, on everything from war to the welfare state, are very close to those of western Europeans.

Both the economic-determinist theory and the clash-of-cultures theory are reassuring: they assume that the recent revolution in US foreign policy is the result of obscure but understandable forces in an orderly world. The truth is more alarming. As a result of several bizarre and unforeseeable contingencies - such as the selection rather than election of George W Bush, and 11 September - the foreign policy of the world's only global power is being made by a small clique that is unrepresentative of either the US population or the mainstream foreign policy establishment.

The core group now in charge consists of neoconservative defence intellectuals (they are called "neoconservatives" because many of them started off as anti-Stalinist leftists or liberals before moving to the far right). Inside the government, the chief defence intellectuals include Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence. He is the defence mastermind of the Bush administration; Donald Rumsfeld is an elderly figurehead who holds the position of defence secretary only because Wolfowitz himself is too controversial. Others include Douglas Feith, the number three at the Pentagon; Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a Wolfowitz protege who is Cheney's chief of staff; John R Bolton, a right-winger assigned to the State Department to keep Colin Powell in check; and Elliott Abrams, recently appointed to head Middle East policy at the National Security Council. On the outside are James Woolsey, the former CIA director, who has tried repeatedly to link both 9/11 and the anthrax letters in the US to Saddam Hussein, and Richard Perle, who has just resigned from his unpaid defence department advisory post after a lobbying scandal. Most of these "experts" never served in the military. But their headquarters is now the civilian defence secretary's office, where these Republican political appointees are despised and distrusted by the largely Republican career soldiers.

Most neoconservative defence intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right. They are products of the largely Jewish-American Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed into anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history. Their admiration for the Israeli Likud party's tactics, including preventive warfare such Israel's 1981 raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, is mixed with odd bursts of ideological enthusiasm for "democracy". They call their revolutionary ideology "Wilsonianism" (after President Woodrow Wilson), but it is really Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism. Genuine American Wilsonians believe in self-determination for people such as the Palestinians. [...]

For a British equivalent, one would have to imagine a Tory government, with Downing Street and Whitehall controlled by followers of Reverend IanPaisley, extreme Eurosceptics, empire loyalists and Blimpish military types - all determined, for a variety of strategic or religious reasons, to invade Egypt. Their aim would be to regain the Suez Canal as the first step in a campaign to restore the British empire. Yes, it really is that weird.


Even by Mr. Lind's appallingly low standards this is pretty vile, as he attacks both Jews and Christians because of his own pathological hatred of religion. Even worse than his bigoted theme though are the various mistakes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 PM

A SRI LANKAN MOMENT:

After listening to Daniel Schor opine on NPR about how George W. Bush would have some explaining to do if no WMD are found, Brian Boys came up with a new definition of a word that was coined for the title of an episode of Chicago Hope:

SARINDIPITY: Going to look for weapons of mass destruction, but in the process finding you've freed 20 million people from a life of daily terror.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:33 PM

SERIOUS NON-PROLIFERATION:

Indian defence minister joins Pakistan pre-emptive strike chorus (AFP, 4/11/03)
Defence Minister George Fernandes reiterated Indian warnings that Pakistan was a prime case for pre-emptive strikes.

"There are enough reasons to launch such strikes against Pakistan, but I cannot make public statements on whatever action that may be taken," Fernandes told a meeting of ex-soldiers in this northern Indian desert city on Friday.

The renewed warning came just hours after US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington would strive to cool tensions between nuclear enemies Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since 1947.

Fernandes said he endorsed Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha's recent comments that India had "a much better case to go for pre-emptive action against Pakistan than the United States has in Iraq."


Don't talk about it; do it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 PM

IF ONLY THERE WERE OIL IN THE BAY OF PIGS...:

Meanwhile, in Cuba, the tyranny goes on (Jeff Jacoby, 4/11/03, Jewish World Review)
I met Hector Palacios when I went see the tiny lending library maintained by his wife in their cramped third-floor walkup. (In Cuba, lending books is also a crime.) Ninety percent of Cubans no longer believe anything Castro says, Palacios estimated, and if they were free to leave, 5 million of them would do so. Formerly an official in the Communist Party, he had soured on the government in 1980, when he saw people beaten in the streets for wanting to emigrate.

If he could send a message to the American people, Palacios was asked, what would it be? "I would tell them that there are two embargoes affecting Cuba," he said. "There is the US economic embargo against Cuba. And there is Castro's embargo against the Cuban people."

For engaging in peaceful dissent, Palacios was sent to prison twice in the 1990s, each time for 1-1/2 years. The latest wave of repression has just swept him behind bars again -- this time for 25 years.

Champions of "constructive engagement" have long insisted that the surest way to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba was to flood the island with tourists and foreign trade. They have loudly blasted the US embargo, which restricts Americans' freedom to travel to Cuba or do business there. Their minds have not been changed by the fact that hundreds of thousands of tourists and hundreds of millions of dollars already surge into Cuba annually, all without appreciably increasing the liberty of ordinary Cubans. Most of the influx is Canadian and European, but a significant chunk is American: 80,000 US citizens travel to Cuba each year via a third country.

Every few years Castro unleashes a brutal crackdown, sweeping scores of innocent victims -- dissidents and democrats guilty of nothing more than thinking for themselves -- into his dungeons. It isn't something he does because he has been insufficiently exposed to commerce and tourism, or because he resents the US embargo, or because Jimmy Carter and other credulous liberals haven't lavished him with his usual quota of flattery.

He does it because he is a ruthless tyrant who craves power above all else. For 44 years, he has let nothing weaken his stranglehold on Cuba, and neither concessions nor sanctions nor international condemnation will change his behavior now. The only one way to reform a totalitarian despot like Castro is to topple his regime. Peacefully if possible, by force if necessary.


Imagine how much suffering would have been averted if JFK had just effected regime change during the Missile Crisis?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 PM

FORCING THE CONTRADICTIONS (cont.):

Cellucci derides Ottawa's policy on war fugitives: 'Incomprehensible': Harper compares Manley to Iraq's information minister (Robert Fife and Sheldon Alberts, April 11, 2003, National Post)
The fallout from Canada's refusal to join the war in Iraq turned to heated recriminations yesterday as the Canadian Alliance compared John Manley, the Deputy Prime Minister, to the disgraced Iraqi information minister and pointed to additional criticisms from Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador, as evidence of deteriorating relations between the two countries.

In a speech on Wednesday to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Mr. Cellucci slammed the Liberal government's "incomprehensible" policy of refusing to hand over Iraqi fugitives from Saddam Hussein's regime to the U.S. forces.

Mr. Cellucci said Washington was stunned at Ottawa's order to the Canadian commander of a multinational task force in the Persian Gulf to refuse to turn over any captured Iraqi war criminals and senior members of the regime. [...]

Also in the Commons yesterday, Mr. Manley accused the Official Opposition of damaging Canada's relations with Washington by giving interviews with U.S. news outlets that publicized anti-American comments by Liberal MPs.

Mr. Manley said the Alliance appearances have had the negative effect of amplifying remarks about the United States that otherwise might have received less attention.

"Some people said some things that have been regretted and have been apologized for. Why repeat them? That is what members opposite have been doing," Mr. Manley said. "They think that there is some reason for them to go to the United States and report things to the Americans to make them angry at us. Why? ... If they would show a little discipline, we would be building a new and better relationship."

The charge prompted Stephen Harper, the leader of the Alliance, to compare Mr. Manley to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Information Minister who defiantly predicted a U.S. loss in Iraq until the day before the fall of Baghdad.

"The Canadian Alliance is the one party in this country that has stood by our American friends through all of this, at every moment. Frankly, what John Manley is doing is kind of like the Information Minister of the government of Iraq," Mr. Harper said.

"They slander our American friends. They refuse to apologize for it. They say it is free speech, and then they try and blame their internal opposition for the problem. I mean, this is a communications tactic worthy of Saddam Hussein."


You'd think, if nothing else, the Canadian Right could revive a serious conservative alternative to the Liberals out of all this, and make Canada a two party state again.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

IF NECESSARY, THEN GOOD:

The Dick Staub Interview: War Is Not a Necessary Evil: The author of When God Says War Is Right says early Christians weren't pacifists but looked at the entire Bible for advice on war. (Christianity Today, 04/01/2003)
"War is a dreadful thing," wrote C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. "I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely mistaken. What I cannot understand is this sort of semi-pacifism you get nowadays, which gives people the idea that though you have to fight, you ought to do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it."

This quote begins the recent book When God Says War Is Right (Waterbrook Press, 2002) by Dr. Darrell Cole, assistant professor of religion at Drew University.

Cole argues that war is not merely a "necessary evil." Instead, he writes, it's sometimes the right thing for a Christian to do.

[Q:] Why shouldn't we view war as a necessary evil?

[A:] There are no necessary evils in Christian morality. We sometimes have to take the lesser of two courses, but that doesn't make it evil. We should always abstain from evil, and we should follow Paul who said, explicitly, "Never do evil that good may come."

If you're entering into something with a long face or a troubled conscience, that's probably a good indication you shouldn't be doing it. We can't stoop to evil just to bring about a good consequence.

[Q:] Why do we have the impression that most early Christians were pacifists?

[A:] We've gotten that idea because a great many scholars early in the 19th century were basing their research on incomplete data. Those researchers were generally very much liberal humanists. They wanted to see Jesus, Jesus' followers, and the early church in their own way of life.

Research over the past 50 or 60 years has shown that the term pacifism, as we use it to mean that all bloodshed as inherently evil-simply did not exist in the early Christian community. Early Christians did not participate in war because the Roman soldiers distrusted them and because in order to be a Roman soldier you had to participate in pagan rites.

As soon as those two things fell apart, Christians started joining in droves. So by the time you get to Constantine, in the early 4th century, you've got whole Christian battalions.

[Q:] How did the early church view Jesus' teachings about war in the broader context of the entire Bible?

[A:] They said, "Look, we have to pay attention to the whole Bible." Their enemies were saying that you could just lop off the Old Testament. More than that, they argued that you could lop off pieces of the New Testament that didn't fit in with what you wanted.

The church fathers were very adamant. "No, we've got to pay attention to the whole Bible," they said. "We've got to pay attention to the whole New Testament, so we don't make up a religion out of one and two verses that are the gospels."

The early church said that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus is a God of love and peace, but Jesus is also a God of wrath. We find out in the last book of the Bible that Jesus is leading the Lord of Hosts back into battle to defeat the enemies of God. Jesus is also read into the Old Testament, most particularly, as the divine figure who encourages Joshua before he battles against Jericho.

To sum this up quite quickly, the Old Testament God is generally characterized as one as being wrathful and vengeful, but he's also very merciful and very loving to his children. Jesus is usually characterized as being loving and merciful, but he is also very wrathful when the time comes.


Those who wish Christ to be a pacifist, willing to tolerate injustice rather than resort to violence, have some trouble explaining this:


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM

EVEN GOD CAN'T HIT A ONE IRON...:

Faith on the Fairways: Evangelical Christianity delivers hope, perspective for a significant number of touring pros (Tim Townsend, March 21, 2003, Golf World)
On the par-3 13th hole of her second round at last year's Sybase Big Apple Classic, LPGA pro Jamie Hullett hit her tee shot into abunker. She flubbed her next shot, barely escaping the sand. Hullett, a Christian who was wearing the smiley-face logo of her sponsor, a company called "Life is Good," needed a good finish to play on the weekend, something she wasn't able to do often in 2002. Hullett scrambled for a bogey but clearly was rattled.

At the 14th tee Hullett's caddie and fellow Christian, Maria "Loopy" Lopez, leaned toward her and whispered, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still," verse 14 from the 14th chapter of the Bible's book of Exodus. Hullett stepped up to her ball and smacked it down the middle of the fairway.

From the "Church Pew" bunkers at Oakmont CC to Lee Trevino's famous contention that "even God can't hit a 1-iron," religion has always played a role in golf culture. For most professional golfers, the game itself has been a temple with its own spiritual covenant. But for a growing collection of tour pros, religion has become the focus of their lives, and by association, a major part of their game.

"It's not seen as so strange anymore for a player to be open about his faith," says former tour pro and current CBS television announcer Bobby Clampett. "They're no longer called 'The God Squad' or 'Jesus Freaks' like we were 20 years ago. Now it's cool."

Many religions are represented on the major tours, and there are many pros who are as casual about faith as people who don't play golf for a living. But it is the evangelical vein of Christianity that stands out in professional golf and whose presence goes beyond the athletes to touch caddie shacks, broadcast booths, sessions with sport psychologists, charity affiliations, celebrity pro-ams and merchandise vendors.

Evangelicalism is often mistaken for other Christian movements that subscribe to fire-and-brimstone preaching, speaking in tongues or slick televangelism. In truth, the brand of Christianity practiced by tour evangelicals is quiet and thoughtful. Most golf fans will only know which pros are evangelical Christians when they win a tournament and happen to thank Jesus on national television. But evangelical and nonevangelical golfers across the tours acknowledge that a certain sector of each tour has a unique bond: a devoted fellowship with one another in the name of Jesus Christ.


You know the old adage: there are no atheists in U.S. Open rough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM

THE SOUTHERN FRONT:

Nigerian election to test democracy (David White, April 10 2003, Financial Times)
This is where it all broke down before. On Saturday, Nigeria, Africa's biggest electorate, will choose its legislators and a week later its president. It is only the third time in Nigeria's history that an elected administration has held elections.

The first time was in 1963-64. Barely a year after general elections, the army took power. The next time was 1983 and the army returned three months later. For all the defects and violence of its struggling democracy - and the peculiarity of having two former dictators as the main presidential candidates - Nigeria will be moving into new territory if it gets safely past this election.

Tentatively, unevenly, and belatedly, democracy is gaining ground in Africa. While some countries are still bloodbaths away from it, others now have more political competition, freer media and greater civil liberties than at any time since the first flush of decolonisation.A push for transparency on oil revenues

Apart from Nigeria, 16 of Africa's 54 nations are now considered fully fledged or emerging democracies, compared with around four at the end of the 1980s, according to political analysts. The rest are a mixed bunch of aspiring democracies, pseudo-democracies, semi-authoritarian, authoritarian and collapsed states.

Could the domino effect spread African democracy in the way it once spread military coups? Kenya's change of government last December set an example, in a country that had been widely expected to implode under the weight of old political habits. Its neighbour Uganda is now contemplating a switch to open party competition.

But in Zimbabwe political repression has become worse. Ivory Coast, once envied for its stability, is teetering on the verge of breakdown. And Africa's first military coup in more than three years took place last month in the Central African Republic.

Much of the continent is still mired in the morass it fell into in the 1960s. Indeed, power struggles, ethnic conflict, mismanagement, profiteering and political corruption characterise much of Africa.

Democracy is viewed as the social, political and economic answer. On the whole, democratic countries tend to be better off financially than non- democratic ones. It is not a coincidence that Botswana, among the countries that have found new mineral wealth, should be the only one to have managed its resources effectively and also one of the most established democracies on the continent.

"It is not a question of resources," says Daniel Bach of the Black Africa Study Centre in Bordeaux. "[Nigeria, the continent's biggest oil producer,] is one country in Africa that has everything going for it. In theory."

Surveys show that satisfaction with elected government in Nigeria has fallen sharply since 2000, but that the idea of democracy still commands support of more than 70 per cent.


Getting Africa on a path to democracy and economic growth is worthwhile in its own right, but, as a bonus, imagine the pressure such a turn of events will place on the Arab Middle East.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM

BLAIR'S WAR:

This war was not worth a child's finger: Victory in just three weeks, relatively few western casualties and now, at last, even dancing on the streets. So, asks Julian Barnes, did those of us who opposed the Iraq conflict get it wrong? (Julian Barnes, April 11, 2003, The Guardian)
In the past three weeks, I've had emails from friends in different parts of the world. Almost without fail, they have expressed incredulity at our prime minister's position. "We can understand Bush, we see exactly where he's coming from, we aren't surprised by his gross limitations and gross ambitions. But what is your Blair up to? He seems a civilised, intelligent man. What does he think he's doing? And what on earth does he think he's getting out of it?" Oil? Reconstruction contracts? Hardly. As for what he thinks he's doing: it seems, I explain, to be a mixture of deluded idealism (finding a moral case for war where neither the Anglican bishops nor the Pope - moral experts he might acknowledge - can see one) and deluded pragmatism: he really does believe the military conquest of Iraq will reduce the likelihood of terrorism.

This is Blair's War; and as he reminded us, history will be his judge. But since we'll all be dead by the time history comes along, three key Blair moments should be pondered. The first came long before the war was mooted. The prime minister was asked in the House of Commons about Iraq and replied with a satisfied gleam: "Saddam is in his cage." At the time I merely noted the crudeness of the diction, which is why the phrase has stuck. What few of us realised at the time was that the self-appointed zookeepers were abrogating to themselves the right to shoot the beast.

Then the question of the second UN resolution. Do you remember being told that we wouldn't go to war without a second resolution? How quickly came the slippage. On the February 15 anti-war march, one of the talking-points was how Blair seemed to have shafted himself: if he didn't get a second resolution, he would have to choose between going back on his promise to the British people or going back on his friendship with Bush. Soon, we knew his choice, which led to a third key moment. When accused once too often of being Bush's poodle, Blair responded that, on the contrary, if Bush had proved timorous over Iraq, he, Blair, would have been pressing him harder to take action. Not a typical example of our "restraining influence".

Well, peacenik, are you happy now that peace is coming? No, because I don't think this war, as conceived and justified, was worth a child's finger. At least, are you happy that Saddam's rule is effectively over? Yes, of course, like everyone else. So, do you see some incompatibility here? Yes, but less than the incompatibilities in your position.

And in return, warnik, I have two questions for you. Do you honestly believe that the staggering bombardment of Iraq, televised live throughout the Arab world, has made Britain, America, and the home town of Torie Clarke, safer from the threat of terrorism? And if so, let me remind you of another statement by your war leader, Mr Blair. He told us, in full seriousness, that once Saddam was eliminated, it would be necessary to "deal with" North Korea. Are you getting hot for the next one - the humanitarian attack on Pyongyang?


An estimated two million Koreans have died since the confrontation over its nuclear program began in 1994. Had we just attacked then, even at a loss of several hundreds of thousands of lives, far more would have been saved and the quality of life for the rest of the people in the North would have been improved immeasurably. In what sense is that not humanitarian? Is Mr Barnes really back to the argument that it is better for dictators to cause millions of deaths than for us to blow off one child's finger? This is a moral calculus that makes no sense.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:56 AM

FRANCE MISOVERESTIMATES:

Flow of Oil From Postwar Iraq May Be Blocked by Rifts at U.N. (WSJ, 4/11/2003)
Saddam Hussein may have vanished, but United Nations economic sanctions devised to contain him remain in force, creating a diplomatic tangle that could tie up U.S. plans to fund Iraq's reconstruction with its oil revenue.

The U.N. sanctions can't be changed legally without the approval of the Security Council....

"The French have been threatening to veto resolutions [on Iraqi reconstruction] before they've even been circulated," one council diplomat said....

[O]il companies ... have to wait for the new diplomatic standoff to be resolved, so someone can be authorized to sell to them....

Unlike the war itself, which the Bush administration initiated without explicit Security Council approval, U.S. diplomats acknowledge they need council assent to lift the embargo. "There is no suggestion whatsoever of going outside of the system," said one U.S. official....

"We are no longer in an era where one or two countries can control the fate of another country," French President Jacques Chirac told a press conference in Paris earlier this week. "Therefore the political, economic, humanitarian and administrative reconstruction of Iraq is a matter for the United Nations alone."


In any negotiation, you have to be prepared to walk away, otherwise you'll get the worst possible terms. We have to be prepared to walk away from the U.N., which means selling Iraqi oil outside the sanctions regimen in the same way that Russia, France, and China sold arms to Iraq outside the sanctions regimen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 AM

RIGHTS WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITIES:

The News We Kept to Ourselves (Eason Jordan, April 11, 2003, NY Times)
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard--awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.

We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).

Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman's rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed. [...]

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.


So, getting the news from Baghdad was so important that it was worth putting their own people through this, but then they failed to tell us the news they gathered? And he assumes all the other reporters there have been dissembling to us in similar fashion? Mr. Jordan, in fact, knew of a plot to assassinate the leader of an American ally, yet did not mention this during the past year when the main topic of conversation has been whether Iraq is part of the terror network or not? What in the name of Sam Hill was the point? The gist of this story is that not a single report from Iraq by a Western media source could be considered trustworthy, so why were they there and why were their stories presented as if they were valid?

April 10, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 PM

RUN THE EXPERIMENT?:

I, Clone: The Three Laws of Cloning will protect clones and advance science (Michael Shermer, March 10, 2003, Scientific American)
In his 1950 science-fiction novel I, Robot, Isaac Asimov presented the Three Laws of Robotics: "1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law."

The irrational fears people express today about cloning parallel those surrounding robotics half a century ago. So I would like to propose Three Laws of Cloning that also clarify three misunderstandings: 1. A human clone is a human being no less unique in his or her personhood than an identical twin. 2. A human clone has all the rights and privileges that accompany this legal and moral status. 3. A human clone is to be accorded the dignity and respect due any member of our species.

Although such simplifications risk erasing the rich nuances found in ethical debates over pioneering research, they do aid in attenuating risible fears often associated with such advances. [...]

Instead of restricting or preventing the technology, I propose that we adopt the Three Laws of Cloning, the principles of which are already incorporated in the laws and language of the U.S. Constitution, and allow science to run its course. The soul of science is found in courageous thought and creative experiment, not in restrictive fear and prohibitions. For science to progress, it must be given the opportunity to succeed or fail. Let's run the cloning experiment and see what happens.


Sometimes they make it to easy for you. Here's a recent story we noted about another experiment men have conducted on themselves with disastrous results:
EUROPE SHRINKING AS BIRTHRATES DECLINE (Mark Henderson, TIMES of London)
Europe's population will continue to decline for decades even if birthrates improve significantly, researchers have calculated. Trends towards smaller families and later motherhood mean that there are too few women of childbearing age to reverse the decline in the near future, according to an Austrian study. The year 2000 marked a turning point, with the population's "momentum" becoming negative; there will be fewer parents in the next generation than in this one.

The findings come from a study by Wolfgang Lutz, of the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, and Brian O'Neill, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, using data from the European Demographic Observatory. They show that Europe's population could decline by as much as 88 million people if present trends continue for another 15 years. The population of the European Union was about 375 million in 2000.

The decline made Europe the scene of a significant social experiment, Dr Lutz said. "Negative momentum has not been experienced on a large scale in world history so far," he added.


And today comes word that the experiment that Mr. Shermer, and many others, advocate might well, at this point, be little more than systematic slaughter:
Current technique may scupper key primate egg proteins. (HELEN PEARSON, 11 April 2003, Nature)
Whether or not rogue scientists could clone a human is hotly debated. After 6 years trying, on over 700 monkey eggs, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh says not.

The current technique, his team conclude, robs primate eggs of proteins they need to survive. The 'nuclear transfer' procedure used to create Dolly the sheep "paralyses the egg", Schatten says. Key proteins are sucked out when the egg is stripped of its DNA to be replaced with genetic material from another cell1.

Cloning has worked in mice, sheep and other animals because their eggs contain back-up supplies of these proteins, says Schatten. The conventional technique "will have to be modified" to make it work on primates, including humans, agrees Roger Pedersen, who studies cloning at the University of Cambridge, UK.

The study casts doubt on the latest report that a human clone has been created. Early this week, fertility doctor Panayiotis Zavos of the University of Kentucky in Lexington published a study revealing a cloned human embryo that grew to a size of 8-10 cells2.

It is not clear whether this embryo would survive much longer. The same concerns were raised over a 2001 report from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) in Worcester, Massachusetts, showing cloned human embryos of a few cells.


Those who demand that we charge full speed ahead with cloning and other genetic engineering techniques, without regard to the consequences, display a disturbing contempt for life.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 PM

WE'RE SKEPTICAL, BUT CONVINCIBLE:

NOOSE TIGHTENS ON IRAQ-SEPT. 11 CONNECTION (Michael Smerconish, Apr. 10, 2003, Philadelphia Daily News)
WHAT DO an Oklahoma City investigative reporter and a Philadelphia trial lawyer have in common?

It sounds like a riddle with a bad punch line, but the answer is far more somber.

In a post-9/11 version of "Six Degrees of Separation," both identified a terrorist link between Iraq and al Qaeda long before a discovery this week that supports the connection.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM

THE DEMOCRATS VS. RELIGIOUS VALUES:

Ed. Chief Defends Pro-Christian Remarks (BEN FELLER, April 10, 2003, AP)
Education Secretary Rod Paige's attempt to clarify his views about religion in schools may not satisfy those pushing him to recant his comments and apologize.

In a story run by a religious news service, Paige was quoted as showing a preference for schools that appreciate "the values of the Christian community." He told reporters his expression of personal faith has no bearing on his role as the nation's education chief. [...]

"I respect his personal faith. But he tied it to a generalized belief and a preference of Christian values in schools," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "If he meant to say 'character' or 'traditional values,' then that's what he should have said the first time."

Democrats in Congress showed signs they do not plan to let the issue drop. [...]

"The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system," Paige was quoted as saying. "In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school, where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."


Boy, you just can't wait for Democrats to explain why they oppose religious values in schools, which are extremely popular with voters.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 PM

DOES ANYBODY EDIT THE POST?:

Preemptive Peace (Harold Meyerson, April 8, 2003, Washington Post)
From the folks who brought us preemptive war, here comes preemptive peace.

The Defense Department intellectuals who have emerged as the dominant force in U.S. foreign policy had it all mapped out. While the debate raged over whether to go to war in Iraq, they dispatched a couple of hundred thousand troops to the region, establishing a fact on the ground that ultimately made the war unstoppable. Now, while the debate is just beginning over the nature of the interim government in postwar Iraq, they have dispatched a postwar government of their choosing to the Kuwait Hilton.

With the assistance of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush has emerged as an apt pupil of Nathan Bedford Forrest. In war and now in peace, he gets there first with the most men. Deployment precedes -- and damn near obviates -- debate.


The comparison of President Bush to the founder of the Ku Klux Klan is fairly standard for the Left these days, which has no coherent arguments to make, only epithets to sling, but surely the Post has some standards about what they allow even mere opinion writers to call people, no? One of Forrest's successors, David Duke, sides with Mr. Meyerson as regards the war, but in what way does that knowledge and implicit tarring advance the political dialogue?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM

ARE WE ALL MULTICULTURALISTS NOW?:

The Meaning of the American Revolution: A letter to H. Niles (John Adams, 13 February 1818)
The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease?

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as ministers ordained of God for their good; but when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen State congresses, &c.

There might be, and there were others who thought less about religion and conscience, but had certain habitual sentiments of allegiance and loyalty derived from their education; but believing allegiance and protection to be reciprocal, when protection was withdrawn, they thought allegiance was dissolved.

Another alteration was common to all. The people of America had been educated in an habitual affection for England, as their mother country; and while they thought her a kind and tender parent, (erroneously enough, however, for she never was such a mother,) no affection could be more sincere. But when they found her a cruel beldam, willing like Lady Macbeth, to "dash their brains out," it is no wonder if their filial affections ceased, and were changed into indignation and horror.

This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

By what means this great and important alteration in the religious, moral, political, and social character of the people of thirteen colonies, all distinct, unconnected, and independent of each other, was begun, pursued, and accomplished, it is surely interesting to humanity to investigate, and perpetuate to posterity.

To this end, it is greatly to be desired, that young men of letters in all the States, especially in the thirteen original States, would undertake the laborious, but certainly interesting and amusing task, of searching and collecting all the records, pamphlets, newspapers, and even handbills, which in any way contributed to change the temper and views of the people, and compose them into an independent nation.

The colonies had grown up under constitutions of government so different, there was so great a variety of religions, they were composed of so many different nations, their customs, manners, and habits had so little resemblance, and their intercourse had been so rare, and their knowledge of each other so imperfect, that to unite them in the same principles in theory and the same system of action, was certainly a very difficult enterprise. The complete accomplishment of it, in so short a time and by such simple means, was perhaps a singular example in the history of mankind. Thirteen clocks were made to strike together -- a perfection of mechanism, which no artist had ever before effected.

In this research, the gloriole of individual gentlemen, and of separate States, is of little consequence. The means and the measures are the proper objects of investigation. These may be of use to posterity, not only in this nation, but in South America and all other countries. They may teach mankind that revolutions are no trifles; that they ought never to be undertaken rashly; nor without deliberate consideration and sober reflection; nor without a solid, immutable, eternal foundation of justice and humanity; nor without a people possessed of intelligence, fortitude, and integrity sufficient to carry them with steadiness, patience, and perseverance, through all the vicissitudes of fortune, the fiery trials and melancholy disasters they may have to encounter.


A few folks have seemed surprised at some comments here that have expressed no little skepticism about the immediate prospects for democracy in Iraq. First let me repeat my response:
I'm a theocon, not a neocon. The neocons would appear to think democracy is itself a set of inherently stable institutions that can be planted anywhere and will flower. Theocons think democracy is a rather secondary function of healthy non-governmental institutions. The soil of the Arab world seems like infertile ground for democracy
.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM

CUE THE LONE RANGER THEME:

Knife Thrower Slices Assistant on Live TV (Reuters, Apr 10, 2003)
A record-breaking knife thrower shocked Britons on Thursday when one of his daggers sliced into the head of his assistant on live TV.

Circus performer Jayde Hanson, 23, was demonstrating his skills when one of his knives hit his assistant and girlfriend, 22-year-old Yana Rodianova.

As she clutched the side of her head, horrified presenter Fern Britton shouted: "Oh my God, there is blood, quick -- get her off."

Over one million viewers had been watching as Hanson, who works for the British-based Cottle and Austen Circus, showed off how many knives he could hurl at Yana in 60 seconds.

He had been trying to emulate the pace of his world record-breaking effort of 120 knives thrown in two minutes which he achieved as part of National Circus Day on Tuesday.

"He felt confident as he has been throwing his mother's kitchen knives since the age of 10," the show said on its Web Site before the accident. [...]

"In 11 years of performing, I've only hit my assistant on five occasions," he told the Daily Mail newspaper recently.


Heck, I only hit the Other Brother five times when we used to do this and I'm no professional.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM

GOOD BUSINESS/BAD TASTE:

Sony leads charge to cash in on Iraq (Julia Day, April 10, 2003, The Guardian)
Japanese electronics giant Sony has taken an extraordinary step to cash in on the war in Iraq by patenting the term "Shock and Awe" for a computer game.

It is among a swarm of companies scrambling to commercially exploit the war in Iraq, which has killed more than 5,000 soldiers and civilians in the space of three weeks.

MediaGuardian.co.uk has learned that Sony is set to launch a computer game called "Shock and Awe", having registered the defining phrase of the coalition's military campaign as a trademark in the US.

It registered the term as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office on March 2 1 - just one day after war started. It wants to use it for computer and video games, as well as a broadband game played both locally and globally via the internet among PlayStation users.

The phrase, coined by former US navy pilot Harlan Ullman, was adopted by Washington to describe the fierce bombardment of Baghdad on the second night of the war - the military tactic designed to bully the Iraqi resistance into submission.

However, the crassness of the phrase was seized upon by critics of evidence of US arrogance in a war that the UN, and notably France and Russia, refused to support.

A spokesman for Sony PlayStation in the UK admitted the company might not stock the game in Britain and Europe owing to political sensitivities.


Why not cut to the chase and call it Nuclear Holocaust?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM

THE UNRELIEVED UNSERIOUSNESS OF THE COMMENTARIAT:

Can we please have a moratorium on all of this "the easy part is over" nonsense? We've already lost about 100 fellow citizens and killed untold thousands of Iraqis (given the "disappearance" of the Republican Guards, it seems possible that we may have killed scores of thousands), with no guarantee that the worst is over. Now we face some significant expense for rebuilding costs and a better than even chance that the replacement regime will be rather dicey. But we have more money than we know what to do with and there are plenty of crappy governments and unstable states around (if the Iraqis don't want a decent society, we won't be able to force one on them no matter how hard we try). Lives on the other hand are precious. Suppose Iraq fragments into three distinct states and remains as politically and economically backwards as its neighbors and the American taxpayers end up being on the hook for $100 billion in rebuilding costs: does that not all seem rather trifling compared to the flag draped coffins that mourning Americans will be burying in days to come and to all the fatherless, husbandless Iraqis the war leaves in its wake? The war was (and is) just, but to minimize it and its costs, particularly by comparison to a tax bill and some administrative difficulties, is to diminish our own humanity. The hard part is almost over; the annoying part awaits.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:09 PM

LEFT MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY (via Brian Boys):

So, will the left apologise? (Janet Daley, April 10 2003, Daily Telegraph)
I have this delightful fantasy of left-wingers throughout the Western world putting their hands up and saying: "Well, actually we got that a little bit wrong." And maybe even deciding that, since their analysis of the war was mistaken, their diagnosis of the peace might be open to question too.

But I'm not holding my breath. Those for whom America is always wrong will not be slowed down by this momentary setback. Rather like Mr al-Sahaf, they will not even appear to notice the tanks in the streets of their ideological neighbourhood. They will look away from the welcoming crowds of Basra (yes, they really did cheer, once it was safe to do so) and just move smartly on to the next American "crime against humanity".

I am off to Washington at the end of the week, where a think tank has invited me to discuss European anti-American attitudes. What shall I say to them? That the obvious truth - America is resented because of its enormous power - is only a fragment of the picture? That the foundation of anti-Americanism lies deep in the pathology of a Europe that has never recovered from its own guilt and self-loathing over the two great wars of last century?

How to make Americans, most of whom are descended from the most despised and wretched of the populations of the Old World - poor southern Italians, landless Irish peasants, ghetto Jews of eastern Europe - understand that much apparently political resistance to them is grounded in pure snobbery? The great American virtues - self-improvement, ambition, individualism - are, in European establishment eyes, the characteristics of vulgarity.


The reason that all this is so hard for Americans to process is because we can't wrap our minds around the idea that the French feel they have sufficient stature to look down on us. They look in the mirror and see Gulliver, we look at them and see Lilliputians.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:53 PM

AH, THE SACROSANCT MOSQUES...:

Iraqi Shi'ite Leader, Aide Assassinated in Najaf (Mehrdad Balali, April 10, 2003, Reuters)
Senior Iraqi Sh'ite leader Abdul Majid al-Khoei and his aide were assassinated in an attack in the holiest shrine in the central Iraqi city of Najaf Thursday, members of his family foundation told Reuters.

Ali Jabr of the London-based Khoei Foundation said Abdul Majid, who is the son of the late leader of Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority, was killed at the Grand Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf Thursday afternoon.

Later, fellow Khoei foundation member Ghanem Jawad told al-Jazeera television that Khoei's aide Haidar Kelidar was also killed by what he described as a mob in the mosque attack.

Iraqi opposition sources in Kuwait said Khoei's assassination could trigger infighting among Iraqi Shi'ites, who make up 60 percent of the population, as the United States tries to bring together rival groups in a post-Saddam Iraq.

Dissidents say Abdul Majid's rapid return to Iraq -- and the United States' obvious backing for him -- had sparked intense criticism from other Iraqi Shi'ite dissidents eager to assert their authority after the fall of Saddam.

Abdul Majid's critics also allege he was not as fiercely opposed to Saddam as he wanted his followers to believe. Supporters of Khoei said the U.S. forces had given him the authority to administer Najaf -- another sore point for other Shi'ite groups.

A spokesman at U.S. Central Command war headquarters in Qatar said he had heard reports about an incident in the Najaf area involving a local leader, but could not give details.


Which is why we should punt Chalabi and let those who stayed decide who they want to run the country, and why we should get out as fast as the infantry can get to Damascus.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM

LEGITIMATE TARGETS:

Covering the War (NY Times, 4/10/03)
The death of an Al Jazeera journalist was a regrettable mistake and should be acknowledged as such.

Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that the killing was regrettable and that it was a mistake, both dubious propositions, the last part of this formulation does not follow. We are well served by leaving the idea in peoples' minds that if they essentially serve as the propaganda arm of the terror movement they are in the line of fire and must accept the consequences.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM

REAL MEN WANT TO DO BEIJING:

Surgeon claims cover-up over Sars in China (Mure Dickie in Beijing and Joe Leahy in Hong Kong, April 9, 2003, Financial Times)
World Health Organisation officials have appealed to China for greater clarity on an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome after a senior Chinese military surgeon said the government had understated the spread of the disease in Beijing.

Chinese officials have said fewer than 20 people have been infected with Sars in the Chinese capital but Jiang Yanyong, a doctor at Beijing's No. 301 army hospital, said one affiliated institution alone had dealt with 60 cases.

And while the government has reported only four Sars fatalities in Beijing, Dr Jiang said he knew of seven patients at one hospital who had died of the disease.

"If [WHO experts] doubt what I have said, they should go to the hospital themselves to check. I will take full responsibility if there is any mistake," he said on Wednesday.

The rare public contradiction of the government's line could harm Beijing, which has been kept off a WHO list of Sars affected areas because of official claims that cases in the capital have been few and all "imported" from elsewhere.

His allegations will also fuel the kind of concerns that on Wednesday prompted Malaysia to stop issuing visas for most travellers from China and the Philippines to discourage the importation of Chinese meat.


We salute the bravery of this doctor, who is presumably now being paraded through the streets in a dunce cap, though he may not be merelyt brave but foolish. The wife heard a story about him in which, when asked if he was afraid of government retaliation, he responded that would not be a problem because he's protected by the Chinese constitution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:44 PM

THE FISH ROTS FROM THE HEAD:

Rumsfeld Compares Lenin to Hitler (Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY, 2003-04-10, PRAVDA.Ru)
Donald Rumsfeld today proclaimed that Saddam Hussein will join others in the annals of the history books as a failed dictator, naming "Hitler, Stalin, Lenin and Ceausescu".

For Donald Rumsfeld's information, Vladimir Ulyanov came to power on a message of "bread and peace", setting in motion a process which was to bring a Medieval state to the front line of development and give to an oppressed, illiterate population with a near to zero chance of social mobility every opportunity for a good education, a guaranteed job, house, retirement pension, food, vodka, health care and cultural and sports opportunities second to none.

Vladimir Ulyanov set in motion a process which sees the Russian people today as well or better prepared than their peers abroad to perform any job anywhere on earth.

Vladimir Ulyanov set in motion the mechanism to create the Soviet Union, which heroically defeated the fascist forces of Hitler, who Rumsfeld mentions in the same breath as Lenin, which lost 20,000,000 of its souls and whose armed forces, under Stalin, who Rumsfeld also mentions in the same breath, killed 90% of all German soldiers in the war.

That everything was not perfect in Vladimir Ulyanov's Russia is patently clear. However, to compare him to Hitler is wholly inappropriate and demonstrates a degree of arrogance and ignorance shocking in a person at the political level which Rumsfeld has somehow attained.


The outrage expressed here nicely illustrates one of the least understood aspects of the fall of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev, like Kruschev before him, thought Communism could be saved if only you acknowledged the errors that had arisen within an otherwise healthy system, mostly as a function of one man's evil, Stalin's. So during the period of Perestroika, Gorbachev threw open the doors to criticism of Stalin but, to his shock and horror, the dissident intellectuals immediately lit into Lenin and thereby discredited the entire Soviet system from its birth. Whoever Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey is, he apparently hasn't gotten the message.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM

IN DARWIN WE TRUST (via Charles Murtaugh)

Is Evolution a Secular Religion? (Michael Ruse, March 7, 2003, Science)
Darwin himself was an invalid from the age of 30, and any profession building had to be done by his supporters, in particular by his "bulldog," Thomas Henry Huxley. In many respects, Huxley played to Darwin the role that Saint Paul played to Jesus, promoting the master's ideas. But just as Saint Paul rather molded Jesus' legacy to his own ends, so also Huxley molded Darwin's legacy. At the time that the Origin of Species was published, Britain was a country desperately in need of reform, as revealed by the horrors of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. Huxley and others worked hard to bring about change, trying to move public perceptions into the 20th century. They reformed education, the civil service, the military, and much else. Huxley's own work was in higher education, and he succeeded best in the areas of physiology and morphology. He realized that to improve and professionalize these fields as areas of teaching and research, he needed clients (a must in all system building). Huxley sold physiology to the medical profession, just then desperate to change from killing to curing. Huxley's offer of a supply of students, ready for specialized medical training, with a solid background in modern physiology was gratefully received. Morphology, Huxley sold to the teaching profession, on the grounds that hands-on empirical study was much better training for modern life than the outmoded classics. Huxley himself sat on the new London School Board and started teacher training courses. His most famous student was the novelist H. G. Wells.

Evolution had no immediate payoff. Learning phylogenies did not cure belly ache, and it was still all a bit too daring for regular schoolroom instruction. But Huxley could see a place for evolution. The chief ideological support of those who opposed the reformers--the landowners, the squires, the generals, and the others--came from the Anglican Church. Hence, Huxley saw the need to found his own church, and evolution was the ideal cornerstone. It offered a story of origins, one that (thanks to progress) puts humans at the center and top and that could even provide moral messages. The philosopher Herbert Spencer was a great help here. He was ever ready to urge his fellow Victorians that the way to true virtue lies
through progress, which comes from promoting a struggle in society as well as in biology--a laissez-faire socioeconomic philosophy. Thus, evolution had its commandments no less than did Christianity. And so Huxley preached evolution-as-world-view at working men's clubs, from the podia during presidential addresses, and in debates with clerics--notably Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He even aided the founding of new cathedrals of evolution, stuffed with displays of dinosaurs newly discovered in the American West. Except, of course, these halls of worship were better known as natural history museums.

As with Christianity, not everyone claimed exactly the same thing in the name of their Lord. Yet, moral norms were the game in town, and things continued this way until the third phase, which began around 1930. This was the era during which a number of mathematically trained thinkers--notably Ronald Fisher and J. B. S. Haldane in England, and Sewall Wright in America--fused Darwinian selection with Mendelian genetics, and thus provided the conceptual foundations of what became known as the synthetic theory of evolution or neo-Darwinism. Rapidly, the experimentalists and naturalists--notably Theodosius Dobzhansky in America and E. B. Ford in England--started to put empirical flesh on the mathematical skeleton, and finally Darwin's dream of a professional evolution with selection at its heart was realized. But there is more to the story than this. These new-style evolutionists--the mathematicians and empiricists--wanted to professionalize evolution because they wanted to study it full time in universities, with students and research grants, and so forth. However, like everyone else, they had been initially attracted to evolution precisely because of its quasi-religious aspects, regardless of whether these formed the basis of an agnostic/atheistic humanism or something to revitalize an old religion that had lost its spirit and vigor. Hence, they wanted to keep a value-impregnated evolutionism that delivered moral messages even as it strived for greater progressive triumphs. [...]

There is professional evolutionary biology: mathematical, experimental, not laden with value statements. But, you are not going to find the answer to the world's mysteries or to societal problems if you open the pages of Evolution or Animal Behaviour. Then, sometimes from the same person, you have evolution as secular religion, generally working from an explicitly materialist background and solving all of the world's major problems, from racism to education to conservation. Consider Edward O. Wilson, rightfully regarded as one of the most outstanding professional evolutionary biologists of our time, and the author of major works of straight science. In his On Human Nature, he calmly assures us that evolution is a myth that is now ready to take over Christianity. And, if this is so, "the final decisive edge enjoyed by scientific naturalism will come from its capacity to explain traditional religion, its chief competition, as a wholly material phenomenon. Theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline". An ardent progressionist, Wilson sees moral norms emerging from our need to keep the evolutionary process moving forward. In his view, this translates as a need to promote biodiversity, for Wilson believes that humans have evolved in a symbiotic relationship with nature. A world of plastic would kill us humans, literally as well as metaphorically. For progress to continue, we must preserve the Brazilian rainforests and other areas of high organic density and diversity.

So, what does our history tell us? Three things. First, if the claim is that all contemporary evolutionism is merely an excuse to promote moral and societal norms, this is simply false. Today's professional evolutionism is no more a secular religion than is industrial chemistry. Second, there is indeed a thriving area of more popular evolutionism, where evolution is used to underpin claims about the nature of the universe, the meaning of it all for us humans, and the way we should behave. I am not saying that this area is all bad or that it should be stamped out. I am all in favor of saving the rainforests. I am saying that this popular evolutionism--often an alternative to religion--exists. Third, we who cherish science should be careful to distinguish when we are doing science and when we are extrapolating from it, particularly when we are teaching our students. If it is science that is to be taught, then teach science and nothing more. Leave the other discussions for a more appropriate time.


This is a helpful admission, though rather disingenuous. For the fact of the matter is that if evolutionists restrained their claims to what they can prove scientifically no one would pay much attention to them. No one has observed evolution, you can't replicate it in the lab or other experimental settings, most of the most widely hailed "proofs" (like the infamous peppered moth) proved nothing more than breeding within a species to begin with and have been shown to be tainted by academic fraud at any rate; and so on and so forth. Furthermore, what all this adds up to is not a case for Creationism, but a case for healthy skepticism towards a theory (evolution via natural selection) whose main support partakes more of religious faith than scientific rigor.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:24 AM

THE 'ARAB STREET' IS ACTUALLY THE ARAB FACULTY LOUNGE:

Don't listen to the Arab elites (Amir Taheri, Times of London, 4/10/2003)
A regime regarded by every sane person as the worst the Arabs have seen in contemporary history has collapsed....

Logically, the Arabs should be jubilant. But some of the Western media tell us that they are not. Are the Arabs masochists? The answer is: no.

The Arabs can be divided into three groups with regard to the war to liberate Iraq. The first consists of Arab regimes, most of them despotic, who secretly wished to see the end of Saddam while praying that they would escape a similar fate. The second consists of the Arab masses who, as yesterday’s scenes of jubilation showed in Baghdad, are happy to see at least one of their oppressors kicked into the dustbin of history....

Then we have the “long-distance heroes”, corrupt and confused elites who, tortured by what is left of their numbed consciences, still hope that someone else’s sacrifices will somehow redeem them. These are not Iraqis. They are people far from the scene of the conflict who urged the Iraqis to die in large numbers so that they could compose poems in their praise or pen incendiary columns inciting them to “martyrdom”. They dreamed of a second Vietnam or, failing that, at least a “Stalingrad in Baghdad”....

The Iraqis did not wish to suffer the fate of the Palestinians, that is to say to die in large numbers for decades so that other Arabs, safe in their homes, would feel good about themselves. The Iraqis know that had the Palestinians not listened to their Arab brethren, they would have had a state in 1947, as decided by the United Nations Security Council. The Iraqis know that each time the Palestinians became heroic to please other Arabs they lost even more.

These days the Arab media are full of articles about how the Arabs feel humiliated by what has happened in Iraq, how they are frustrated, how they hate America for having liberated the people of Iraq from their oppressor, and how they hope that the Europeans, presumably led by Jacques Chirac, will ride to the rescue to preserve a little bit of Saddam’s legacy with the help of the United Nations....

Are the “long-distance heroes” humiliated? If they are, so what? They should jump in a river. Today, Iraq is free and, despite its legitimate concerns about the future, cautiously happy.


Amir Taheri, whose every column is a can't-miss, hits another one out of the park.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM

WHAT ABOUT THE STEEL TARIFFS?:

Bush Meets C. American Leaders on Trade (JENNIFER LOVEN, Apr 10, 2003, Associated Press)
The negotiations for yet another tariff-lowering agreement, begun in January and expected to wrap up by the end of the year, were to dominate a session Thursday in which Bush was welcoming the leaders of Costa Rica, El Salvador (news - web sites), Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to the White House. [...]

Bush, a staunch believer in free markets, has aggressively pursued deals to lift trade barriers as he seeks to nudge the economy into better shape.

In addition to the pending pact in Central America, the White House wants to complete negotiations with Morocco this year and with Australia and five countries in Southern Africa in 2004. Deals were recently inked with Chile and Singapore. The idea is to push ahead on these several smaller fronts and create momentum for bigger deals.

The administration is currently involved in 34-nation talks to create the world's largest free trade zone, covering the Western Hemisphere, and global trade talks involving the 144 nations that are members of the World Trade Organization.


You gotta think there are an awful lot of pundits who are deleting their old files just as fast as Ba'athists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM

NO NO-NUKES LALOOSH?:

Stung by anti-war criticism, Hall cancels `Bull Durham' festivities (BEN WALKER, April 9, 2003, AP)
The baseball Hall of Fame has canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of the film "Bull Durham," and the shrine's president said it was because of anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Hall president Dale Petroskey sent a letter to Robbins and Sarandon this week, telling them the festivities April 26-27 at Cooperstown, N.Y., had been called off.

Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, said recent comments by the actors "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger."

Reached Wednesday night, Robbins said he was "dismayed" by the decision. He responded with a letter he planned to send to Petroskey, telling him: "You belong with the cowards and ideologues in a hall of infamy and shame." [...]

In his letter, Robbins said he'd been looking forward to "a weekend away from politics and war." He said he remained "skeptical" of the war plans and told Petroskey he did not realize baseball was "a Republican sport."

"I am sorry that you have chosen to use baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make a political statement," Robbins wrote. "I know there are many baseball fans that disagree with you, and even more that will react with disgust to realize baseball is being politicized.

"To suggest that my criticism of the President put the troops in danger is absurd. ... I wish you had, in your letter, saved me the rhetoric and talked honestly about your ties to the Bush and Reagan administrations.

"You invoke patriotism and use words like 'freedom' in an attempt to intimidate and bully. In doing so, you dishonor the words 'patriotism' and 'freedom' and dishonor the men and women who have fought wars to keep this nation a place where one can freely express their opinions without fear of reprisal or punishment."

Robbins signed his letter with a reference to an old World Series champion.

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets -- all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in," he wrote.


So here's the question: why shouldn't the Iraqis get to enjoy those three things too?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM

WORD OF THE DAY:

clerihew (KLER-uh-hyoo) noun (Wordsmith, 4/10/03)
A humorous, pseudo-biographical verse of four lines of uneven length, with the rhyming scheme AABB, and the first line containing the name of the subject.

[After writer Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), who originated it.]

Here is one of the first clerihews he wrote (apparently while feeling bored in a science class):
Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.


Hussein Saddam
coveted a nuclear bomb.
By the UN and EU he was trusted
By the Anglosphere (sans Canada) bunker-busted.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 AM

"I WANT TO FEEL THAT I'M A HUMAN BEING"

Iraqis Now Feel Free to Disagree (Anthony Shadid, April 10, 2003, Washington Post)
From government offices, state-owned companies and U.N. buildings came computers, appliances, bookshelves, overhead fans, tables and chairs. From military bases came new Toyota pickups, without license plates, that were careering through Baghdad by afternoon. An elderly woman made her way down Saadoun Street, her back sagging from a mattress she was carrying. Others rode on top of white freezers they wheeled down the road. Throughout the day, trucks piled high with booty roamed the capital.

"People believe these things belong to them," said Faleh Hassan, 51, as he sat at Abu Ahmed restaurant in the Karrada neighborhood. At lunchtime, he served customers kebab and kufta grilled on a charred stove crafted from an air-conditioning duct. He spoke with an ease that seemed to delight him, saying in public what he believed in private.

"The situation has changed," he said, "so even our speech is different."

Hassan, like so many in Baghdad, had his grudges. In the war with Iran from 1980 to 1988, he was arrested for deserting the army, drawing a death sentence that was later commuted. His brother, Ahmed, was killed by thugs he said came from Hussein's home town of Tikrit. Over tea, he looked back at 30 years during which one of the world's richest countries became a nation of paupers.

"It's a long story, the history of Iraq," he said.

He said he was tired of the fear, tired of the repression, tired of the isolation that he blamed for the loss of his once-fluent English. He was thankful for Hussein's end. But he was suspicious of the Americans.

"We feel peaceful and we feel relieved, but we are still frightened by tomorrow," Hassan said, dragging on a cigarette. "We will see the American and British intentions over the next few months."

A current of such ambivalence raced across Baghdad along with jubilation and surprise. Relief was tied up with trepidation, joy with anxiety. What next, many seemed to ask. Hassan, a little weary, hoped the future would be better than the past.

"I want to feel that I'm a human being, I want to feel that I'm free and that no one can take it away," he said. "I want to work, so that my family has enough to live. I want to live like everyone else in this world who lives in peace."


April 9, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:51 PM

NONE SO BLIND:

Arabs in Shock, Denial at Toppling of Saddam (Paul Taylor, April 9, 2003, Reuters)
Ahmed, 35, a Cairo taxi driver, shook his head in disbelief at the toppling of Saddam's statue. "There is no way ordinary Iraqi citizens would have done that. Impossible! They are probably Kurds or Shias," he said.

But some people said Saddam's fall should be a warning to other Arab leaders.

Egyptian political commentator Salama Ahmed Salama told Reuters: "The gap between Arab governments and the people represents a source of anxiety for different Arab regimes. But whether they'll learn the lesson or not, I don't know."

The Iraqi example showed that the backing of a party, clique or tribe was not enough to sustain a legitimate government.

"The scene of the statue being brought down showed how Iraqis were dissatisfied with (Saddam's) regime. Maybe this is going to be a lesson and an example to other Arab leaders who consider themselves like gods," said Ali Hassan, a shopper in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Some Arab broadcasters made a point of telling viewers Saddam's demise was the end of a unique tyranny, not a precedent for other states ruled by unelected monarchs or autocrats.

"The Iraqi situation is exceptional, we can't compare it with Iran or Egypt...or a country like Saudi Arabia. This is...a regime outside history," Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi said.


It's interesting to note both that the Shias and Kurds aren't "Iraqis" and that the regime must be removed from "history". The task before us remains the same: demonstrate that history has found Islamicism wanting.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 PM

LETTING THE PEOPLE LEAD THE NEWS:

The power of freedom (LARA MARLOWE IN BAGHDAD AND JAMES DOHERTY, 10 Apr 2003, The Scotsman)
ARM outstretched in vainglorious defiance, the remains of the statue erected last year to mark the 65th birthday of Saddam Hussein were last night scattered across the streets of Baghdad.

United States marines had approached from the east; there was no resistance. Instead, a small, almost bemused crowd of Iraqi traders swelled behind the tanks and armoured personnel carriers as they surrounded the Ferdoos Square, completing the strategic link to their forces stationed on a nearby bridge across the Tigris. The centre of Baghdad had fallen and, as the marine corps secured their positions, ordinary Iraqis climbed the 20ft statue to bring down a physical symbol of tyranny.

A rope was found, and then a ladder. Climbing on to the statue, bystanders cheered as what resembled a noose tightened round the neck of Saddam's effigy.

Their makeshift hanging could not be completed, with the rope too short to topple the dictator's statue. Undeterred, men slammed a sledgehammer into the marble plinth keeping it aloft.

Despite the best efforts of one burly Iraqi, stripped to his vest, it would not move.

As night drew closer, and amid fears that expressions of joy and exuberance could injure bystanders, US soldiers intervened, driving an M88 tank-recovery vehicle face to face with the symbol of tyranny.

Mobbed as liberators, two marines used their vehicle to lasso the head with wire rope. The black statue was briefly adorned with the Stars and Stripes, to muted applause, before a civilian clambered on to the vehicle to offer a tattered Iraqi replacement.

As US soldiers held back the throng, the vehicle choked into life, reversing slowly, its grip tightening.

The depiction of a regal Saddam, tipped and twisted to the horizontal, dislodged by popular force, cemented by coalition might. Then, with another pull, it snapped, leaving only the feet and two protruding bars to waves of chanting and cheers.

The Iraqis danced on their quarry, smashing it with their shoes, baring the soles of their feet, the ultimate humiliation for a crumbling regime and its leader.

What had started with an attempt to decapitate Saddam some three weeks ago showed signs of ending as, with nightfall, his oppressed people prised the head from his monument and danced as they dragged it through city streets.


Something important happened today, but you may have missed it. You may have missed it because it's actually something that didn't happen. As he did after the election in November, George W. Bush stood back from the cameras and allowed others to be the story. Imagine, if you can, that Bill Clinton were president today--what would he have done? Of course, he'd have tried to make himself the story. George Bush, instead, let the Iraqis themselves have the day, with a proper nod to Rumsfeld & Meyers. There is a rare grace to this man.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 PM

THE A TEAM:

Jerusalem Urges Bush: Next Target Hezbollah: Warns of Threat To U.S. Security (ORI NIR, 4/11/03 FORWARD)
Critics of Hezbollah argue that the group's global network of sleeper cells and its ability to destabilize the region with missile attacks against Israel make it impossible for the Bush administration to ignore. Israeli sources said that one plausible scenario would be an American green light for Israeli strikes against Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, following American diplomatic measures to ensure that such Israeli actions would not spark a Syrian reaction.

"Clearly, we would have to work together closely on this one," said an Israeli diplomat in Washington.

Several experts warned that any military or diplomatic action by the United States against Hezbollah could trigger a string of devastating, retaliatory terrorist strikes.

"They have dormant cells around the world, which they can easily decide to use," said Gal Luft, an expert on Hezbollah who co-directs the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a small Washington-based advocacy group dedicated to ending America's dependence on Arab oil.

Israel's position is that after stabilizing the situation in Iraq, the United States should act against Hezbollah, regardless of the organization's behavior during the war, sources said.

Israeli sources told the Forward that even if Hezbollah does not actively fight with Iraq in the war, action must be taken because the organization has both the motivation and the ability to launch future attacks. Israeli officials have warned that Hezbollah boasts a military capability exceeding that of some Arab states, and a global network of dormant cells with the ability to hit American targets around the world.

Also, Israeli officials warn, Hezbollah could at any moment destabilize the region by provoking Jerusalem with cross-border attacks.

"Hezbollah can easily flare up Israel's northern border and drag us into a war with Syria," said an Israeli diplomat in Washington. "This is potentially very dangerous." [...]

During a conference on terrorism last September, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said that "Hezbollah may be the 'A team' of terrorists," while "Al Qaeda is actually the 'B team.'"

Armitage said that Hezbollah is "on the list, their time will come, there's is no question about it." He continued: "they have a blood debt to us and... we're not going to forget it," referring to several anti-American attacks for which the group has claimed credit.

"All in good time we're going to go after these problems, just like a high school wrestler goes out for a match: we're going to take [them] down one at a time," he told the conference, hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace.


This one probably has to wait until there's a Palestinian state, so that the main irritant is removed and we can take Syria while Israel goes back into S. Lebanon.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 PM

A WALK'S AS GOOD AS A HIT:

Senator asks $50M to aid Iran dissidents (Mark Benjamin and Eli Lake, 4/8/2003, UPI)
A leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to introduce legislation Wednesday authorizing $50 million a year to aid democratic activists inside Iran seeking a peaceful end to that country's regime.

A copy of an amendment to be offered by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, obtained by United Press International, says, "It shall be the policy of the United States to support efforts to achieve democratic reform inside Iran, including support for the thousands of protesters who have expressed a desire for the government to hold a referendum vote that could permit Iran to move toward a secular, democratic government that respects human rights and does not seek to possess weapons of mass destruction."

The senator plans to attach the legislation to a bill authorizing next year's foreign assistance budget for the State Department. [...]

Under Brownback's proposed legislation, the State Department would allocate $50 million annually to an Iran Democracy Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to support "pro-democracy broadcasting to Iran," such as the satellite television and radio stations based in Los Angeles that many Iranians watch and listen to already; support training for the Iranian-American community to reach out to Iranian dissidents; and fund human rights and civil society groups working inside Iran.

The proposal is very similar to ideas proposed last June by Pentagon staffers in the Bush administration's Iran policy review discussions. But consensus was never reached inside the government.

The amendment does not call for regime change per se, but it does state, "Democratic change within Iran would contribute greatly to increasing the stability of the entire region and would serve as a beacon to the people of Iraq and Saudi Arabia to also seek democratic reform from within."

This language in the amendment is very similar to the Iraq Liberation Act, which Congress passed in 1998. That legislation first enshrined regime change as an open policy goal for the United States in Iraq. Sen. Brownback was an early supporter and author of the legislation.


If Palestine and Iran can both reform from within, while we take care of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria (and maybe Libya) militarily, the pressure on places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt will be unbearable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 PM

SWINGING AWAY:

Another big inning for Bush (HOWARD FINEMAN, 4/09/03, MSNBC.COM)
Like the rest of the world, I've just watched (live) a historic moment: a statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to earth, pulled from its pedestal by relieved GIs and jubilant Iraqis. Grave challenges lie ahead in the war on terrorism, to be sure. But since I cover American politics, I'll focus on what I know, which is this: It's George W. Bush, in a sense, who toppled that statue. The guy doesn't play small ball; he goes for the Big Inning -- and doesn't waver. Bush is what I'd call a disciplined radical, pursuing sweeping aims with an almost blinkered determination. At least for now -- since Sept. 11, 2001 -- it's working. A month ago I wrote in this space that never had so much blood and treasure been risked on the hope that people would smile. Well, watch MSNBC. There they are. [...]

Throughout this dark time, I nagged my White House sources, trying to glean what little I could about the president -- his mood, his orders, state of mind. A few outsiders not in position to know (and who loathe his war policy for various reasons) spread word that he had grown snappish and weary. I think they were wrong. My sense is that he burrowed deeper into himself (and ran extra miles on the treadmill), steadily monitoring the war but never losing faith (or sleep) about his momentous decision to take out Saddam with a U.S-U.K coalition.

Why such confidence? I've written a lot about it. As a family, Bushes think they are born to lead. This particular Bush relishes decision-making. He picks people he trusts and trusts them to make the right call. He tends not to sweat the details, thereby avoiding the ups and downs of any one hour or day. His religious faith gives him a disciplined belief in the rightness of his cause. All the spin about his dedication to diplomacy notwithstanding, this is a guy who is more than comfortable at war. He likes the role of commander in chief. He's more comfortable in it than any other presidential mode. The fall of the Twin Towers, it turns out, found a man in the White House who likes the idea of leading troops in battle. [...]

There are risks in a Big Inning Presidency. One is arrogance. [...]

And if you score big in one inning you can pursue the strategy too far -- and strike out. Europeans with whom I've spoken in recent days are worried that Baghdad is just the first stop on an even more ambitious Bush Plan to bring "regime change" to Teheran and Damascus, the latter being the last stronghold (other than, perhaps, Tikrit), of the Baathist Party. The Europeans may be right to be concerned. "If I were a mullah in Iran or Bashir Assad in Syria I'd be thinking 'I'm next,'" a leading American expert on the region told me. "But the Iranians are much smarter and craftier than Saddam. The next step would be tougher."

The biggest risk is that the Big Inning strategy -- a combination of sweeping aims (the democratization of the Arab world) and military might -- won't achieved the desired result, which is to rid the world of terrorism.


This laudatory piece seems a good place to repeat something we've remarked on several times. When the books are written about the Bush years, one of the most remarkable achievements of this period will be one that has gone nearly unnoticed, even by those who are willing to give credit when due: he has forced regime change in Palestine merely by the force of his rhetoric.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 PM

AREN'T HER FIFTEEN MINUTES OVER?:

Hisses for Rosie's war tirade (RICHARD JOHNSON, April 9, 2003, NY Post: Page Six)
ROSIE O'Donnell was booed by like-minded liberals when she started criticizing President Bush at a fund-raising dinner for GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

O'Donnell took the stage Monday at the Marriott Marquis to accept the Vito Russo Award. Regarding Michael Moore's widely criticized anti-Bush Oscar rant, she said, "If [Moore] wants to use the Oscar stage to express his views against a war that doesn't make sense, he should be supported and applauded."

O'Donnell then ripped into Bush and grumbled that the war was "killing Iraqi women and children."

"Rosie received some polite cheering, but there were audible boos from the crowd," our spywitness reports.


Let's assume that Saddam didn't allow GLAAD to have an Iraqi chapter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE HOT DOG MEN...:

Hot Dog Vendor Gets Terrorism Insurance: Policy Covers Vendor, Customers (Channel 4000, April 8, 2003)
A hot dog cart vendor in Harrisburg is making sure he's prepared for the worst.

"I'm the first hot dog vendor in all of Pennsylvania to have terrorism insurance," vendor Daniel Krehling said. "It's a $1 million policy."

Krehling knows he may not be a huge target, but his stand is sandwiched between City Hall, the county courthouse, and lots of downtown high rises.

Krehling said the policy covers anything that happens to anyone or anything in a 50-foot radius of his hot dog cart, which includes him and his customers.


Frankly, insurance salesmen relish red hot customers like this weenie.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 PM

NEW DEMOCRATS:

Why Democrats got boost from sex offenders (John Patterson, April 07, 2003, Chicago Daily Herald)
A former state worker with Democratic ties at a Joliet treatment center for the state's most dangerous sex offenders registered more than 125 of them to vote last fall.

Voting patterns show the child molesters, rapists and other sexual deviants overwhelmingly supported Democrats. But a spokesman for the state agency responsible for their treatment said the worker was doing her job and nothing improper happened.

Will County records show in the months leading up to the November 2002 elections, 127 of the sex offenders being treated in Joliet were registered to vote by Fran Aden, who worked at the center.


So Joe Lieberman, Pat Moynihan, & Bob Kerrey voting to define deviancy downward paid off, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 PM

THE DOCTRINE OF HOT PURSUIT:

Opposition leader: Saddam is alive (CNN, April 9, 2003)
A key Iraqi opposition leader says he has information that Saddam Hussein survived an airstrike in Baghdad and escaped from the capital with at least one of his sons.

However, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he did not know whether Saddam was dead or alive.

"He's either dead, or he's incapacitated, or he's healthy and cowering in some tunnel someplace trying to avoid being caught. What else can one say?" Rumsfeld said.

Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi told CNN Wednesday the unconfirmed reports indicated that the Iraqi president had taken refuge in the city of Baqubah, northeast of the Iraqi capital.

"We have no evidence they have been killed in that attack. We know at least that Qusay, his son, has survived and he is occupying some houses in the Diyala area," Chalabi said.

The same reports indicated that Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majeed -- nicknamed "Chemical Ali" -- was wounded but alive and in the same area.


Our sources tell us that Ali made it to Damascus, Uday to Tripoli, Qusay to Pyongyang, and Saddam to Havana. Pass it on...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:36 PM

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (via Brian Boys):

Palestinians stunned by collapse of Saddam's regime (KHALED ABU TOAMEH, Apr. 9, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
There was shock and disbelief in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Wednesday as Palestinians gathered around TV sets to watch US Marines and Iraqi residents knock down a giant statute of Saddam Hussein in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad.

"I'm stunned and appalled. I can't understand what is happening," said Rustum Abu Ghazalah, a 30-year-old shopkeeper in the center of Ramallah.

He and grim-faced fellow shopkeepers zapped from one Arab TV station to another with the hope of discovering that what they were hearing and watching was nothing more than a US-produced Hollywood film.

"This can't be true," grumbled Abu Ghazaleh. "Where are the suicide bombers? Where are the Fedayeen of Saddam? Where are the heroic Republican Guards?" [...]

"This is a sad day for all the Arabs and Muslims, particularly the Palestinians," said Nael al-Am, a 36-year-old grocery owner in Ramallah. He is one of the few merchants who still keep a large-size poster of the deposed Iraqi president. Friends describe him as a staunch supporter of Saddam.

"I invested a lot of money in buying a satellite dish and a new TV set because I wanted to watch the day the battle for Baghdad begins," explained the bearded shopkeeper. "I was sure that this was going to be one of the great battles of the century, where an Arab army would inflict heavy losses on theinvading crusaders. I feel as if a dagger has been stuck in my heart when I see American soldiers strolling in the heart of Baghdad." [...]

Older Palestinians said the events in Iraq are reminiscent of the Six Day War, when Arab radio stations and leaders told their audiences that Israel wason the verge of defeat. They said the TV appearances of the Iraqi information minister, who remained defiant till the last minute, insisting that everything was under control and that the enemy had been defeated.

"Sahhaf reminded me of [Egyptian radio propagandist] Ahmed Said, who during the 1967 war, told us that the Israeli warplanes were falling likeflies," said Abed al-Zamel, a 70-year-old retired schoolteacher from Silwad village near Ramallah. "Once again the Arabs have fallen victim to the lies of their leaders and media. We never learn from our mistakes. When the war erupted, I warned my sons not to watch Arab TV stations so they would not be disappointed and depressed when the truth eventually comes out."


These epiphanic scenes are why we should continue on with regime change in at least Syria and Libya--the point must be driven home, again and again, until it sinks in, that the tide of history has left the current iteration of Islam behind and that it must radically reform itself in order to catch up. The future belongs to free men, but there's no reason that should not include Muslims.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:14 PM

JUST BARELY PARODY:

Whatever You Say... (Michael Graham, Charleston City Paper)
Iraqi citizens looked on in horror today when, at the orders of President George W. Bush, American soldiers and marines began retreating from Baghdad to return to the United States.

"We're sorry," one local commander told panicking Baghdad residents as he mounted his Bradley fighting vehicle to catch a flight out of the newly-re-renamed Saddam International Airport, "We were winning on the streets of Baghdad, but we couldn't take Hollywood Boulevard."

The administration's sudden reversal in Iraqi policy was announced at a hastily-called press conference where an apologetic President Bush explained his change of heart to the American people.

"I just didn't want to be viewed as a 'Hitler' for the rest of my presidency," a dour-faced Bush told the American people. "And the more I thought about it, the more I decided that the people calling me a fascist were right. Sending in the military to defeat Saddam Hussein, empty his torture chambers and allow Jews to once again practice their faith in Iraq is exactly what the Nazis would have done. So I stopped."

President Bush signed the "Michael Moore Is Right" Act in a private White House ceremony, where he was joined by several Democratic presidential hopefuls including Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Sen. John Kerry stood in the doorway, where he repeatedly pointed out to reporters that one of his feet was still in the foyer. Also in attendance were members of numerous anti-war organizations who continued to call for an immediate end to the war in Iraq even after American soldiers had taken Saddam's presidential palace in Baghdad.

"Hey--war is just wrong," said Nirvana Hempfinder, president of "Students Halting Intolerance and Terror." "I don't care how many Iraqis throw flowers at our soldiers. If they really understood that all this 'freedom' and 'liberty' the Army is bringing is just a plan to trap Iraq in America's dominant consumer culture, the people of Iraq would give back all that food and medicine we’re giving them and go back to eating...well, um, whateverÉ."

The anti-war movement declared an immediate victory and urged the president to keep his word and remove all American forces as soon as possible.

"The invading and occupying forces of the Bush military should return the nation of Iraq to the state in which they found it," said Didi Bididi of the Coalition To Stop All Republicans From Ever Doing Anything Whatsoever. When asked if that included returning Saddam Hussein to power, Bididi declined to answer. "My job is to fight against oppression and evil. What's that got to do with Saddam Hussein?"


This would be funnier if so many on the Left didn't truly feel this way.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM

WORDS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON (via Don Rumsfeld):

Born in a land of liberty, having early learned its value, having engaged in a perilous conflict to defend it, having devoted the best years of my life to secure its permanent establishment in my country, my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes, are irresistibly attracted, whensoever in any country I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banner of freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:34 PM

LET A HUNDRED AL-SHAMMEREE'S BLOOM:

Iraqi Shiite Goes Home — as U.S. Marine (Fox News, April 09, 2003)
At age 13, Tony al-Shammeree was in Iraq being trained in the use of guns, grenades and other weapons as part of the failed Shia Muslim uprising against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War.

Now he's girding for a rematch — this time as a U.S. Marine.

Iraqi dissident groups in the United States consider al-Shammeree a rarity because he actually enlisted in the military rather than just helping U.S. officials as translators or as sources of intelligence.

Ala Fa'ik, a spokesman for the nonprofit group Iraqi Forum for Democracy, said the choice to enlist makes perfect sense if you consider the 24-year-old lance corporal's background.

"For somebody who is born in Iraq and has seen the oppression of Saddam Hussein, they would have a much stronger sense in seeing the need to get involved in getting rid of that regime," Fa'ik said.

Al-Shammeree's admiration for the Marines began when his family was aided by a group of the military branch's soldiers on the road to Basra, and later at a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia.


The few, the proud...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:20 PM

HEY, THERE WAS A PONY IN THERE SOMEWHERE!:

Iraqis Scramble to Take Horses From Govt. (ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, 4/09/03, Associated Press)
It was enough to make a Texan president's heart swell: Hassan Atiya, an Iraqi on horseback, riding off into the chaos of wartime Baghdad with a vigorous wave and an exclamation — "I love you, America."

And when it came to horse-wrangling Wednesday, he wasn't the only one.

As forces from the U.S. 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing claimed Fort Rashid, a sprawling compound in southeastern Baghdad, they found among their prizes a field filled with 40 Arabian-Appaloosa horses in brown, gray and glorious chestnut.

What followed was a scramble — a weirdly good-natured permutation of the looting elsewhere in Iraq this week.

Ordinary Iraqis took to the field and the stables beyond, corralling the horses suddenly available to them. Their scramble — filled with laughter and grins — began early Wednesday and continued late in the afternoon, testimony to the elusiveness of their equine quarry. [...]

Atiya was one of those who succeeded. As he prepared to ride off, he complained of a life with "no food and no rice" for his two children, his wife, and the third baby on the way.

"I love you, America!" he shouted before drawing his finger across his throat as he said one more word: "Saddam."

Then, bareback and barefoot, he pointed his horse toward the road and was on his way.


Think any correspondents filed reports after the liberation of Paris where they referred to the French as "weirdly good-natured"? It's strange how the freeing of the Iraqi people is demonstrating the Western elites' "soft bigotry of low expectations".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 PM

THE LEFT VS. REALITY:

Diane Rehm Show (NPR, 4/09/03)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 PM

SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS:


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 AM

ASK NOT FOR WHOM THE BELLI TOLLS...:

U.S. Official: Iraq a Lesson for Others (VICTOR L. SIMPSON, April 9, 2003, The Associated Press)
A top U.S. State Department official said Wednesday that the war on Iraq should be a lesson for other regimes pursuing weapons of mass destruction, but insisted that the United States is seeking the peaceful elimination of those weapons programs.

John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, spoke to reporters after meetings with Vatican officials on proposals for humanitarian assistance and postwar reconstruction in Iraq.

He was asked about speculation that Syria and Iran could be America's next targets after the war in Iraq.

"We are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest," Bolton said.

He called the pursuit of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs a terrorist threat and said it "will remain our priority to achieve a peaceful elimination of these programs so that supporters of terrorism cannot use them against innocent people."


Baby Assad doesn't seem like all that fast a learner.

Posted by David Cohen at 11:37 AM

IT'S GOOD TO BE AMERICAN.

Iraqis Attack Saddam Statues, Posters in Baghdad (Hassan Hafidh and Sean Maguire, Reuters)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM

REASON TO HOPE, IF NOT TO GET GIDDY:

Sharing, Alaska-Style (STEVEN C. CLEMONS, April 9, 2003, NY Times)
Most revolutions that produce stable democracies expand the number of stakeholders in the nation's economy. America's occupation of Japan succeeded not just because the United States purged Japan's warmongers and established a peace constitution but because it imposed land reform. American occupiers broke up vast estates held by the Japanese aristocracy and redistributed the land to farmers, thus linking Japan's most lucrative resource to millions of citizens. Now America should do the same with Iraq's most lucrative resource, oil.

Here is where Alaska comes in. In the 1970's, during the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the state realized that the new oil leases would produce an enormous windfall. Its citizens set up the Alaska Permanent Fund to manage this income, directing that the revenue be invested, the principal remain untouched and the gains be used for state infrastructure investments. A part of the proceeds was distributed as dividends to every Alaskan. By July 2002, the fund had grown to more than $23.5 billion. Dividend payments to Alaskan families averaged about $8,000 per year.

Iraq's annual oil revenue comes to approximately $20 billion. A postwar government could invest $12 billion a year in infrastructure to rebuild the nation. The other $8 billion could anchor an Iraq Permanent Fund, to be invested in a diverse set of international equities. The resulting income would go directly to Iraq's six million households. These payments would make a huge difference to families in a country whose per capita gross domestic product rests at about $2,500.


If only real life worked like plans on paper...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM

MOGADISHUKRIEG:

Lessons of Somalia bolster US successes: Iraq's battle plan likely sought to create a 'Black Hawk Down' scenario. (Brad Knickerbocker, 4/09/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
Looking back at the US experience in Somalia 10 years ago, Saddam Hussein thought he saw the key to winning a war with the United States. Mix his paramilitary forces among civilians, fade back into urban combat, and inflict more casualties than Americans back home could stomach. Then he'd count on the US to pull out, leaving the Iraqi leader in control of his country and more powerful than ever in the eyes of fellow Arabs across the region. It would be a Mogadishu redux.

What he apparently failed to realize was that the Pentagon and its political leaders had also learned important lessons from what had been a military disaster for the US in the streets of Somalia's coastal capital back in 1993.

Those lessons - about intelligence-gathering, a flexible mix of conventional and Special Operations forces, focusing on capturing or killing the enemy's leadership, and generating political will - now are focused on Mr. Hussein himself.

Those four 2,000-pound "bunker buster" bombs that rained down on the place where Hussein, his sons, and other important regime leaders were thought to be this week are the starkest evidence yet that these lessons have been effective. Yet throughout the war, this approach has been evident - particularly in the use of clandestine forces, now on the ascendancy within the military establishment.

Such units have seized airfields in southern and western Iraq, secured oil fields, landed transport aircraft on highways at night to disgorge Humvees and small bands of Special Operations troops, tapped into phones and computers, and prevented the launch of Scud missiles.

They also rescued Pfc. Jessica Lynch, tracked senior Baath Party members and Republican Guard officers for capture or killing, and secured suspected chemical and biological weapons sites. They're searching underground bunkers and tunnels, working with Iraqi informants, and recently intercepted communications leading them to believe that Hussein's son Qusay is running Iraq's security forces.

In the process, they've been working with British, Australian, and Polish Special Operations units. Together they total some 10,000 troops, the largest percentage of the overall force since the Vietnam War.

"It's probably the most effective and the widest use of Special Operations forces in recent history," says Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a Pentagon briefer who has commanded Army Ranger units.


All that suff is great, but the single greatest change from then to now is a president and a people who think trading 18 American lives for a thousand of the enemy (in Iraq the ratio is going to turn out to be even more lopsided--with less than 100 American dead there have to be over 100, 000 Iraqi dead, don't there?) is a cost that our freedom may exact from us and that we're willing to pay, however reluctantly. The lesson relearned on 9/11 was one taught by Douglas McArthur: "The inescapable price of liberty is an ability to preserve it from destruction."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM

TWO SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT:

Weak confidence may tip EU into recession (George Parker, April 8 2003, Financial Times)
Europe's growth forecasts for 2003 tumbled on Tuesday, with warnings that the continent could fall into recession if tensions over Iraq endure and consumers suddenly lose confidence.

The gloomy spring forecast by the European Commission cut baseline eurozone growth predictions from 1.8 per cent to 1 per cent. Italy risks joining Germany, France and Portugal in breaching the EU's budget rules.

Most of the bright spots in the report arise from countries outside the 12-member eurozone.

Gordon Brown, the British finance minister who presents his 2003 budget on Wednesday, will be pleased that the Commission believes the UK has weathered the downturn "rather well", albeit with a rising budget deficit.

The 10 EU candidate countries, mainly from the former communist bloc, also continue to outstrip the performance of the eurozone countries, with growth predicted to be 3.1 per cent this year and 4 per cent or more in 2004.

Pedro Solbes, EU economy commissioner, said Europe needed to pursue tough policies to "inspire confidence" at what he described as "a crucial juncture" in the EU's history.


Let's go out on a limb and assume that by "policies to 'inspire confidence'" Mr. Solbes does not mean increases in birthrates; reductions in regulation, government spending, and taxes; and reform of entitlement programs--so he's really not serious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 AM

NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLES I SEEN:

With God on Our Side: Today's Pop-Gospel Albums Affirm the Persistence of Faith Through Adversity (Carol Cooper, April 4th, 2003, Village Voice)
Much the way there are no atheists in foxholes, you'll find even fewer unbelievers in Black America. Constant danger, risible ironies, and ontological uncertainty remain spirituality's best friend. An index of our particular attachment to Judeo-Christian beliefs can be found in the music we make based on the tenets and parables provided by the Old and New Testaments. Black Americans claim and transform Judeo-Christian traditions as if they had never been used to justify American chattel slavery. We continue to rework these traditions in our own image because geopolitical history shows us key Biblical events taking place comparatively "close to home" in parts of Asia and Africa. And contrary to vintage white Anglo-Saxon Protestant propaganda, Africans didn't need to be enslaved by WASPs (or Catholics!) to have access to monotheism and the good news of Christ. Not when Christian, Muslim, and Jewish converts were wandering the Mother Continent long before European slavers got there. Not when the Apostle Mark wrote down the first of the four transcribed Gospels while establishing the Christian church in Egypt 15 years after the Crucifixion.

So we skeptics needn't begrudge Black America its Judeo-Christian obsessions, especially when they yield such delights as the following five gospel albums. The first thing you'll notice is that each record incorporates a regional flavor. Chicago's status as the "golden era" gospel stronghold is the stepping-off point for the praise and worship team known as Shekinah Glory Ministry. The sophisticated swing of New York session players pervades the black Israelite choir Voices of Shalom. Aaron Neville steeps his eclectic selection of folk hymns and pop-rock spirituals in the multiethnic sensuality of New Orleans. Detroit-bred evangelist Dorinda Cole-Clark does justice to her hometown legacy of Aretha Franklin, Motown, and the Clark Conservatory of Music with soulful solo testimony. Meanwhile, Kirk Franklin survives being sued by members of the Family—his first big crossover choir—to dance and shout like a Texan tent-revival leader through an ambitious autobiographical recording so rich in stylistic diversity it should have been titled "Songs in the Key of God." All five albums exist largely to affirm the persistence of faith through adversity . . . which is actually the main characteristic they have in common.


Which is worse: to pretend, during a time of war no less, that being black in America is like being in a "foxhole"; or, to maintain the delusion that the Egyptians were black?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:07 AM

THOSE SAVAGES, THEY'RE ACTING EUROPEAN:

AGREEMENTS AND POSTWAR AGGRAVATIONS: RIGHTEOUS REDEMPTION (Frank Smitha, World History)
In Yugoslavia, between 20 and 30 thousand believed to have collaborated with the German occupation forces were shot dead in what has been described as a frenzy of retribution. In Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, those who had collaborated with the Germans were also hunted.

In France toward the end of the war the resistance movement assassinated Germans, collaborators and others they deemed unworthy of living, such as black marketers. According to rough estimates, the French Resistance killed 2500 people between the autumn of 1943 and June 6, 1945.


We in the West are, unfortunately, but inevitably, prepared to believe the very worst of the entire Arab world right now. But there's been a disturbing amount of talk in recent days about potential reprisals against the regime by those they've oppressed and about the looting of the regime institutions, banks and the like, and the talk has seemed to suggest that for these things to go on would mark both a failure of the Allies and something almost barbarous on the part of the Iraqis themselves. This is just foolishness and deeply antihistorical. The people of Iraq have a ways to go and a fair amount of blood to extract before they match European levels of retribution from WWII and, just as no one mourned those who served the Nazis, we need not be over sentimental about those who helped Saddam; rough justice is, nonetheless, justice.

April 8, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM

GETTING TO "YES":

Bush to Focus on Palestinians After Saddam Is Gone (Adam Entous, April 8, 2003, Reuters)
President Bush promised on Tuesday to turn his focus to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was removed from power.

Bush held out the Northern Ireland peace process, spearheaded by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as a possible model, saying he was "willing to spend the same amount of energy in the Middle East."

"The end of Saddam's regime will ... remove a source of violence and instability in the Middle East," Bush said after his third face-to-face meeting in less than a month with Blair, his main ally in invading Iraq.

At Blair's urging, Bush has promised to publish a so-called "road map" peace plan, which envisions creation of a Palestinian state by 2005, as soon as Palestinian lawmakers confirm a new cabinet under prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas, widely known as Abu Mazen.

Saying he was "pleased" with the selection, Bush told reporters after a two-day summit meeting: "I look forward to him (Abbas) finally putting his cabinet in place so we can release the road map."

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday that Arafat was undermining Abbas's bid to establish a government committed to reform and the premier-designate was considering pulling out rather than presenting his cabinet on Thursday as expected.

A senior Palestinian minister close to Arafat denied the report. "There are no pressures being exerted on Abu Mazen. Any talk about this is completely unfounded," Saeb Erekat said.


Victory in Iraq isn't enough: Israel holds the key to peace (Anton La Guardia, 09/04/2003, Daily Telegraph)
In advocating freedom from Arab tyrants, America and Britain must also be champions of freedom for Palestinians. Israelis would rightly resent an imposed settlement, but despite the Right-ward move in Israeli politics, there is a deep desire to see the end of the conflict.

This requires a more trustworthy Palestinian leader than Arafat. It needs a man who, like Nelson Mandela, finds the words and actions to address the fears of the more powerful foe. But it also needs an Israeli leader who can give confidence that, should violence end, then the occupation of 1967 will also end.

Having completed his father's unfinished war, Mr Bush should also complete the peace started by his father with the Madrid conference of 1991.


Obviously the best alternative as regards Palestine would be a leader who would accept the statehood that is implicit in any talks with Israel and that has been offered repeatedly, most generously by Ehud Barak. The difficulty that Abu Mazen is having putting together a cabinet is a hopeful sign, because it suggests he is indeed independent from Arafat. If he is and if he's ready to be the Father of his country, a deal is there for the making, though it will not entail all that Barak offered.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 PM

A WAR THAT PAYS FOR ITSELF:

Gas Prices Will Keep Falling, U.S. Says (H. JOSEF HEBERT, Apr 8, 2003, AP)
After falling nearly a dime in three weeks, gasoline prices are expected to keep sliding to a national average of $1.56 a gallon this summer thanks to lower oil prices and optimism about the war in Iraq, the government says.

The Energy Department's statistical agency revised its price forecast sharply downward Tuesday to reflect the recent fall in crude oil prices. But it also warned of uncertainties that could cause prices of both crude oil and gasoline to rebound.

The price of crude, which hit a high of nearly $40 a barrel on Feb. 27, was around $28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday. It has dropped by about 20 percent since the war began in Iraq.

A month ago, before the war in Iraq, the agency predicted gas prices would average more than $1.70 a gallon through the summer, hitting 1.76 this month.

Instead, gasoline prices have dropped about 10 cents a gallon over the past three weeks from a high of $1.73 a gallon in early March. The national average was $1.63 a gallon on Monday, according to the EIA.

"I believe we have seen the peak," agreed Kyle Cooper, an energy analyst for Citigroup in Houston.


If this war is about the oil, we won.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 PM

BACKBONES & PUNCHLINES:

Saving Private Lynch (Steve Sailer, 4/03/03, UPI)
From a traditional perspective -- supported in recent years by the new science of evolutionary psychology -- it makes sense for many men to risk their lives to try to free a beautiful young woman. Humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in small bands. Fertile females were the critical resource. Even if all the males in the band but one died, he could still face up to his tribal duty and impregnate all the women in the band.

But if too many younger females were killed or stolen by an enemy group, the band's survival was in doubt. As University of Florida zoologist Laura A. Higgins wrote in 1988, "Because fewer of them are needed to produce and maintain offspring, from a population maintenance perspective, males are more expendable than females."

On the other hand, this primordial instinct can get in the way of rational war fighting. In the opening months of the 1947-1948 Israeli War of Independence, women were fully integrated into frontline ranks, but later in the war, the government began withdrawing women from combat. City College of New York sociologist Steven Goldberg pointed out, "The argument that clinched Israel's decision to not use women in combat was the experience of male soldiers taking militarily unwarranted risks to save female soldiers in trouble." Israeli women were then banned from combat roles until a 1996 Israeli Supreme Court ruling.

Lynch's rescue was extremely well planned and executed, and the risks were kept to a minimum. But risks there were. And the political bonanza it reaped shows the pressures and temptations commanders face regarding the fate of nice-looking female soldiers.

[H]ow did we arrive at a situation in which we place young women in harm's way in the first place?

Enlisted women have shown little enthusiasm on average for getting into combat. And the civilian wives of soldiers and sailors tend to dislike the military deploying their husbands in cramped quarters with servicewomen, fearing that their man will father another woman's baby. (The pregnancy rate among enlisted women is about the same as among civilian women of the same ages). Still, the desire for ambitious female officers to get as close to the front lines as possible to advance their careers has resonated forcefully with ambitious career women in other fields, and their voices have spoken loudest.

Nonetheless, the remarkable reaction all across America to the pictures of the girl-next-door from Hometown, USA, is a reminder that polling often fails to plumb the deepest human passions. And, fortunately, on this occasion, these passions include joy and relief at her deliverance.


As long as we've slipped into self-reference, a story: The most unpleasant cinematic experience the Mother Judd has ever had was one Christmas when she took the Brothers, the Wife, and the Sister to see A Few Good Men. I, at least in theory, am an attorney. The Other Brother was a soldier. The Wife is a doctor. The Sister is a real attorney, and was in ROTC in college. There was not a single scene in the movie that at least one of us didn't tear apart as utterly implausible or fatally flawed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 PM

IF THE BA'ATHISTS AREN'T ODIOUS, WHO IS?:

Odious Debt (Michael Kremer and Seema Jayachandran, June 2002, Finance & Development)
Many developing countries are carrying debt incurred by rulers who borrowed without the people's consent and used the funds either to repress the people or for personal gain. A new approach is warranted to prevent dictators from running up debts, looting their countries, and passing on their debts to the population.

Under the law in many countries, individuals do not have to repay if others fraudulently borrow in their name, and corporations are not liable for contracts that their chief executive officers or other agents enter into without the authority to bind the corporations. The legal doctrine of odious debt makes an analogous argument that sovereign debt incurred without the consent of the people and not benefiting the people is odious and should not be transferable to a successor government, especially if creditors are aware of these facts in advance.

The doctrine of odious debt originated in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. During peace negotiations, the United States argued that neither it nor Cuba should be held responsible for debt the colonial rulers had incurred without the consent of the Cuban people and not used for their benefit. Although Spain never accepted the validity of this argument, the United States implicitly prevailed, and Spain took responsibility for the Cuban debt under the Paris peace treaty. Soon after, legal scholars elaborated a similar doctrine. [...]

What can be done to eliminate odious debt? In a recent study, we argued for the creation of an independent institution that could assess whether regimes are legitimate and declare any sovereign debt subsequently incurred by illegitimate ones odious and thus not the obligation of successor governments. If structured correctly, such an institution could restrict dictators' ability to loot, limit the debt burden of poor countries, reduce risk for banks, and lower interest rates for legitimate governments that borrow. This policy can be viewed as a form of economic sanction that no one would have an incentive to evade.

As it stands now, countries repay debt even if it is odious because, if they failed to do so, their assets abroad could be seized and their reputations would be tarnished, making it more difficult for them to borrow again or attract foreign investment. However, if there were an institution that assessed, and announced, whether regimes were odious, this could create a new equilibrium (that is, market outcome) in which countries' reputations would not be hurt by refusal to repay illegitimate debts, just as individuals' credit ratings are not hurt by refusal to pay debts that others fraudulently incur in their name. For example, if the world's leading powers, international organizations, and financial institutions declared a regime odious and announced that they would consider successor governments justified in repudiating any new loans the odious regime incurred, a private bank-even an unscrupulous one-would think twice before lending to the regime. This argument draws upon a well-known result in game theory that repeated games have many possible outcomes and that simply making some information public can create a new-and, in this case, better-one.

There is no guarantee, however, that everyone would coordinate on this new equilibrium. We propose two mechanisms to ensure that lending to odious regimes is eliminated. First, laws in creditor countries could be changed todisallow seizure of a country's assets for nonrepayment of odious debt. That is, odious debt contracts could be made legally unenforceable. Second, foreign aid to successor regimes could be made contingent on nonrepayment of odious debt. In other words, donors could refuse to aid a country that, in effect, was handing the funds over to banks with illegitimate claims. If foreign aid is valuable enough, successor governments will be compelled to repudiate odious loans, and banks to refrain from originating them. (Interestingly, the same reasoning suggests a potential way to solve the moral hazard problem associated with foreign aid. [...]

In short, the international community or even a few major countries, possibly in concert with nongovernmental agencies, could create a new norm under which a country would not be responsible for odious debt. Creditors therefore would not issue odious debt in the first place. This new approach would be in line with the growing recognition in international law that some uses of power by government officials might be illegitimate or criminal, the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes being just one example of this trend.

The policy we have laid out would help legitimate creditors and debtors. Creditors would benefit from knowing the "rules of the game" in advance. Currently, there is a movement to nullify some debt on the grounds of odiousness, but it is hard for creditors to anticipate which loans will be considered odious in the future. If odiousness were declared in advance, banks would avoid lending to odious regimes in the first place and no longer face the risk of large losses if a successful campaign nullified their outstanding loans. Less uncertainty has the added benefit that interest rates for legitimate borrowers would be lower. But most important, dictators would no longer be able to borrow, use the proceeds for illegitimate purposes, and then saddle the people with their debts.


Very cool--I no sooner rant about this than NPR's Marketplace interviews a guy who's written seriously about it and it turns out to have a history and theory behind it. This concept, of odious debt, seems like an important thing to pursue if we are really going to bring pressure to bear on unelected governments and those who truckle with them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM

THE SKULL STACKER:

The Reason Why (GEORGE MCGOVERN, April 21, 2003, The Nation)
I most certainly do not see God at work in the slaughter and destruction now unfolding in Iraq or in the war plans now being developed for additional American invasions of other lands. The hand of the Devil? Perhaps. But how can I suggest that a fellow Methodist with a good Methodist wife is getting guidance from the Devil? I don't want to get too self-righteous about all of this. After all, I have passed the 80 mark, so I don't want to set the bar of acceptable behavior too high lest I fail to meet the standard for a passing grade on Judgment Day. I've already got a long list of strikes against me. So President Bush, forgive me if I've been too tough on you. But I must tell you, Mr. President, you are the greatest threat to American troops. Only you can put our young people in harm's way in a needless war. Only you can weaken America's good name and influence in world affairs.

We hear much talk these days, as we did during the Vietnam War, of "supporting our troops." Like most Americans, I have always supported our troops, and I have always believed we had the best fighting forces in the world--with the possible exception of the Vietnamese, who were fortified by their hunger for national independence, whereas we placed our troops in the impossible position of opposing an independent Vietnam, albeit a Communist one. But I believed then as I do now that the best way to support our troops is to avoid sending them on mistaken military campaigns that needlessly endanger their lives and limbs. That is what went on in Vietnam for nearly thirty years--first as we financed the French in their failing effort to regain control of their colonial empire in Southeast Asia, 1946-54, and then for the next twenty years as we sought unsuccessfully to stop the Vietnamese independence struggle led by Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap--two great men whom we should have accepted as the legitimate leaders of Vietnam at the end of World War II. I should add that Ho and his men were our allies against the Japanese in World War II. Some of my fellow pilots who were shot down by Japanese gunners over Vietnam were brought safely back to American lines by Ho's guerrilla forces.

During the long years of my opposition to that war, including a presidential campaign dedicated to ending the American involvement, I said in a moment of disgust: "I'm sick and tired of old men dreaming up wars in which young men do the dying." That terrible American blunder, in which 58,000 of our bravest young men died, and many times that number were crippled physically or psychologically, also cost the lives of some 2 million Vietnamese as well as a similar number of Cambodians and Laotians, in addition to laying waste most of Indochina--its villages, fields, trees and waterways; its schools, churches, markets and hospitals.

I had thought after that horrible tragedy--sold to the American people by our policy-makers as a mission of freedom and mercy--that we never again would carry out a needless, ill-conceived invasion of another country that had done us no harm and posed no threat to our security. I was wrong in that assumption. [...]

The destruction of Baghdad has a special poignancy for many of us. In my fourth-grade geography class under a superb teacher, Miss Wagner, I was first introduced to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the palm trees and dates, the kayaks plying the rivers, camel caravans and desert oases, the Arabian Nights, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (my first movie), the ancient city of Baghdad, Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent. This was the first class in elementary school that fired my imagination. Those wondrous images have stayed with me for more than seventy years. And it now troubles me to hear of America's bombs, missiles and military machines ravishing the cradle of civilization.

But in God's good time, perhaps this most ancient of civilizations can be redeemed. My prayer is that most of our soldiers and most of the long-suffering people of Iraq will survive this war after it has joined the historical march of folly that is man's inhumanity to man.


Speaking of the Vietnam era and man's inhumanity to man, here's what Mr. McGovern had to say about the relative merits of America vs. the Khmer Rouge:
The growing hysteria of the administration's posture on Cambodia seems to me to reflect a determined refusal to consider what the fall of the existing government in Phnom Penh would actually mean.... We should be able to see that the kind of government which would succeed Lon Nol's forces would most likely be a government ... run by some of the best-educated, most able intellectuals in Cambodia.

As he sided with evil then, so he sides with evil now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:40 PM

IT'S WORSE THAN YOU THINK:

Weak Muscles: The unbearable lightness of Brussels. (Geoffrey Wawro, April 8, 2003, National Review)
I met with an American official who deplored the "capabilities gap" dividing the U.S. from its European allies: America buys two thirds of the hardware consumed by NATO and invests three quarters of the alliance's military research and development. In the essential functions of modern war, Europe drops farther and farther behind, spending more on tomato subsidies each year than we spend on an entire Stryker brigade of medium-armored vehicles. Pity the poor European troops hung out on the not-so-sharp end of this system. "Americans," a European officer told me glumly, "suppress air defenses this way: they fly into the enemy air space and zap everything — nothing works afterward, no phones, no computers, no radars, no missiles. None of us Europeans have that capability. Instead, we fly into the enemy air space, trigger his SAMs, and then try to evade them." He pondered for a moment: "We need to get closer to the American system." Indeed: Portugal spends 85 percent of its small defense budget on personnel, and 50 percent of that on pensions. Germany, unable to shed tenured employees to make room for procurement, spends just $40 million a year on new vehicles and $1 billion to repair the old ones. [...]

Since the really important things in Europe are arranged behind closed doors by the national governments (not in the 626-seat EU parliament), Europeans are always grousing about their "democracy deficit." Indeed, the exact nature of Europe's parliamentary system befuddles most Europeans, who see no linkage between their votes in EU elections and the 95,000 pages (at last count) of European laws and regulations, all of which seem to issue from unelected Eurocrats in the EU Commission and Council. Despite those vast crowds surging through the streets of Europe to protest Operation Iraqi Freedom, the European parliament has little impact on EU foreign or security policy, which remains the province of foreign and defense ministries in the member states. Revealingly, the EU has no commissioner for military affairs. Environment, fisheries, social affairs, and culture merit commissioners, but not the armed forces. [...]

The EU will probably not fail, but it will not overpower the U.S. anytime soon. It will expand as a kind of nanny state, customs union, and international-relations ombudsman. It speaks now in the name of the U.N. because its most strident member has a Security Council seat and because Brussels has no working military machinery of its own to assist or obstruct the U.S. In Iraq, the EU failed to confront a tyrant and rescue a suffering people, preferring to repeat old patterns of appeasement that have their root in domestic worries and military weakness, the same factors that caused European appeasement in the 1930s. The U.S. must work with the Europeans and hear and respect their views, but it should never weaken strong policy initiatives — like Operation Iraqi Freedom — for the sake of a false or hypocritical consensus.


It's disturbing when even the critics don't get it. The EU will, of course, fail. As a burgeoning nanny state with a declining population in real terms and a declining ratio of natives to Islamic immigrants it is not merely destined for economic and geo-political decline, it is most likely headed towards massive internal disruptions as young are pitted against old, "Europeans" are pitted against "Arabs", and more successful economies (Ireland's) are pitted against disastrous ones (France's). Here is what Europe's future looks like.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

A QUESTION FOR HOSNI MUBARAK:

Jailed Iraqi children run free as marines roll into Baghdad suburbs (AFP, 4/08/03)
More than 100 children held in a prison celebrated their freedom as US marines rolled into northeast Baghdad amid chaotic scenes which saw civilians loot weapons from an army compound, a US officer said.

Around 150 children spilled out of the jail after the gates were opened as a US military Humvee vehicle approached, Lieutenant Colonel Fred Padilla told an AFP correspondent travelling with the Marines 5th Regiment.

"Hundreds of kids were swarming us and kissing us," Padilla said.

"There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back."

"The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party," he alleged. "Some of these kids had been in there for five years."

The children, who were wearing threadbare clothes and looked under-nourished, walked on the streets crossing their hands as if to mimic handcuffs, before giving the thumbs up sign and shouting their thanks.


Are these the hundred Arabs who will be turned into bin Laden's by this war?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:56 PM

WHO BELIEVES IN PEACEFUL MULTILATERAL DETERRENCE?:

The Future of Iraq: Liberated Baghdad shouldn't have to pay Saddam's French debts. (The Wall Street Journal, 4/07/03)
What matters over the long run isn't the blessing of the Security Council but the success and stability of a post-Saddam Iraq. The country is simply too big and too complicated to even consider a significant U.N. administrative function. "Iraq is not East Timor, Kosovo and Afghanistan," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice noted Friday.

Equally important is keeping the U.N.'s hands off Iraqi oil. The oil-for-food program is now being administered by Secretary General Kofi Annan under a 45-day arrangement that expires May 12. But the French and Russians want to keep it going indefinitely. Their game is as transparent as it is cynical.

Many French and Russian companies benefit by participating in the program. More important, if Paris and Moscow can get the U.S. to concede the program's continuing legality, they will use their veto to blackmail the U.S. and a new Iraqi government into honoring the dirty oil contracts and loans they arranged with Saddam Hussein's regime.

This is a rhetorical battle the U.S. can win easily if it decides to fight. The oil, after all, belongs to the Iraqi people. As for Saddam's debts, what do Iraqis owe the creditors who helped an illegitimate regime oppress them? The continuation of oil-for-food would give France and Russia an effective veto over the purse strings and a tremendous and unjustifiable influence in post-Saddam Iraq. If France and Russia really want to help postwar Iraq, they could forgive Saddam's debts.


This is an issue of paramount importance if we are to deter nations and businesses from dealing with dictators. It would be reprehensible to ask the Iraqi people, Saddam's victims, to honor what are essentially his personal debts. No contract with a dictatorial regime should ever be enforceable against the people of said nation. If American bankers and the French and Russians want to do business with every tin pot dictator in the Third World, let them assume the risk that when freedom dawns the debts are gone. If Jacques Chirac wants what Saddam owes, let him follow the tyrant to Hell to collect.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM

FORGIVE ME A SELF-REFERENTIAL MOMENT:

Dear Coach Boeheim,

1987 is forgiven.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM

AS REGARDS THIS ECONOMIST'S WRITING, SUPPLY EXCEEDS DEMAND:

The Last Refuge (PAUL KRUGMAN, 4/08/03, NY TIMES)
In 1944, millions of Americans were engaged in desperate battles across the world. Nonetheless, a normal presidential election was held, and the opposition didn't pull its punches: Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, campaigned on the theme that Franklin Roosevelt was a "tired old man." As far as I've been able to ascertain, the Roosevelt administration didn't accuse Dewey of hurting morale by questioning the president's competence. After all, democracy--including the right to criticize--was what we were fighting for.

It's not a slur on the courage of our troops, or a belittling of the risks they face, to say that our current war is a mere skirmish by comparison. Yet self-styled patriots are trying to impose constraints on political speech never contemplated during World War II, accusing anyone who criticizes the president of undermining the war effort.


Economists we know swear to me that Paul Krugman's forehead was not always pressed against his own prostate, that he was once a respected economist; on this issue I'm agnostic because I know little of academic economics. On the other hand, I'm not unfamiliar with history and politics, so I feel well qualified to say that when it comes to these subjects Mr. Krugman is murmuring through his rectum. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of American history and the sad presidency of FDR would be aware that Mr. Roosevelt cared so little for the civil rights of potential dissenters--the potential existing only in his own fevered imagination and that of Earl Warren--that he had Americans of Japanese descent rounded up and placed in concentration camps.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:33 AM

LOST FRIENDS:

El Paso becomes hostile territory for German troops (Sydney Morning Herald, 4/5/2003)
For 35 years, there has been a single permanent force of foreign troops on US soil, here on the western tip of Texas, home of the largest air defence training centre in the world and the permanent home of Germany's Air Force Command.

On joint training exercises, over pilseners at the Soldatenstube pub, the two forces have coalesced as partners, a proud emblem of post-World War II alliances.

But the war against Iraq is beginning to weaken that cherished solidarity. As Germany's opposition to the war has grown increasingly strident, as the mood here plunges with word that Iraqis have killed or captured at least 15 Fort Bliss soldiers, the troops are suddenly viewing each other with a wary, distant eye. After all these years, they are - once again - strangers more than allies....

[S]ome military personnel at Fort Bliss grumble about the irony of welcoming German troops only to watch them lay their arms down when America went to war....

Ilse Irwin, 73, was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, near Frankfurt, and emigrated to the US as a Fulbright scholar in 1954. A practising Catholic, the retired university professor devotes much of her time to fighting hatred and genocide, largely by working with the area's Jewish community. Irwin volunteers at the local Holocaust museum, and lately has steeled herself every time she has to guide German airmen through an exhibit or take them on a tour of a local temple.

Repeatedly, she said, they have been hostile about her work. Some have raised questions about the US's agenda and suggested that the motivation for the war is oil and the close relationship between the US and Israel - a common charge in Western Europe.

"I've had a terrible time," she said. "They say that Israelis are just modern-day Nazis. I defend Israel, but I get very nervous because I don't want to blow my cool. I don't hear it too often. But I hear it often enough."


Action requires decision; and decisions reveal character. War, always a time of action, reveals the truth about people and nations. And the truth is not always pleasant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM

"I TREMBLE FOR MY COUNTRY":

Our Animal Allies: U.S. Military Drafts Creatures To Help With Mine Detection And Other Tasks, Provoking Questions About Risks And Morality (STEVE GRANT, April 4, 2003, The Hartford Courant)
Is an animal's life more expendable than a human life? Is life any less precious to an animal than it is to a human? These are philosophical questions, the kind that could fuel an hourlong argument in a college dorm, but they are far from abstract thumb-suckers.

America is at war, and animals have been deployed to do certain tasks, usually to take advantage of one of their especially acute senses. And that can put the animals at risk.

Already, a team of highly trained dolphins dispatched by the Navy to find mines in the waters off Iraq has brought to the surface questions about the appropriate use of animals in war.

These are big, ethical questions, difficult to answer, and resistant to consensus. Should we have the consent of an animal before it takes on a dangerous task? If so, how do we do that?


There are moments that must make even those who are not conservatively inclined despair for the state of the culture and the future of the nation: the printing of this article is surely such a moment. Simply to ask the questions that Mr. Grant does as if they were open to serious debate is a sign of a horrifying pathology within the body politic. One suspects that he is quite wrong and that if you polled people you'd find a rather strong consensus that would be willing to trade as many dolphins, sea lions, dogs, chickens, and whatever else we've used, as it took to save the life of any one of the soldiers who has died, but there is a growing "animal rights" movement that actually believes there's an ethical question implicated here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 AM

MEANWHILE, FROM THE FENCING THE WRONG BORDER FILES:

Imam apologizes for call to holy (Kate Jaimet, April 08, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)
Ottawa's leading Muslim cleric issued a public apology late Monday for saying he supports a holy war in the Middle East, remarks that caused a storm on Parliament Hill and threatened a review of his citizenship status.

Imam Gamal Solaiman, leader of the Ottawa Mosque, said he deeply regrets remarks he made on Global television on Sunday.

"I do not support or promote violence in any form against any country or any group of people," the imam said in a written statement sent to the Citizen shortly before 11 p.m.

"I deeply regret and sincerely apologize for my misunderstood comments and the hurt which they may have caused. I hope and pray that peace will prevail in all regions of the world."

It was hasty about-face for the cleric, who had repeated the thrust of his remarks yesterday, just as they were being soundly condemned by federal politicians.


Here's what he had to say initially:
Muslims across the Middle East should take up arms to expel American troops from Iraq, the imam of the Ottawa Mosque said yesterday.

"If I were there, I would fight with them," said Imam Gamal Solaiman, who endorsed the call for a jihad against the United States.

"I would fight the Americans with my nails and teeth."

But he said terrorist attacks should not be conducted against Americans on U.S. soil.

"Not every American is against Arabs. So it is not open to go and kill Americans. No. The Americans who are coming to kill you, yes, you can face them to defend your country," Mr. Solaiman said. "When any Arab goes to America and makes mischief, that is totally objectionable."

Mr. Solaiman made the comments in an interview after his appearance on the Global television current affairs show Ottawa Inside Out yesterday morning. [...]

On the air, Mr. Solaiman said he supports the call for a jihad issued by besieged Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and many Middle Eastern religious leaders.

"I do [support the jihad]," Mr. Solaiman told the television panel. "Because to my mind it, [the American-led military action] is not a war for justice. It is not a war for principle."


Some of his fellow Canadian Islamicists appear to agree:
Last week, Mohamed Elmasry, the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said the heroic resistance of the Iraqi people against the coalition forces is extraordinary.

''It's a fact, they're heroic. The invading power is the most powerful military machine in human history. With no air power and modern technologies, they've stood against the invading forces for two weeks,'' Mr. Elmasry said.

Yesterday, Mr. Solaiman said he believes the U.S. government's motive is not merely to overthrow Saddam but to gain power in the Middle East. He said he believes that after occupying Iraq, the U.S. armed forces will try to overthrow governments in neighbouring Arab countries. For that reason, he said, Muslims from neighbouring countries should join the fight in Iraq.

"The Muslims there, in that area, they will be fighting for survival. They will be fighting to defend their lifestyle, to defend their resources, to defend their land," he said.


Mr. Elmasry is, of course, right; other Arab dictators are in danger from the U.S.. So the question for Muslims is: which are you first, democrats or Arabs? If you are defined by your blood, by all means join the tyrants. But if you believe in Western ideals--liberty, democracy, etc.--then your place is at our side, fighting to liberate your benighted brothers and sisters in the Middle East, just as German-Americans and Japanese Americans fought in WWII to defeat fascism in their former homelands.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM

THAT TRAIN DONE LEFT THE STATION:

72% believe Canada should have backed war: Split between verbal or military support (Michael Higgins, April 08, 2003, National Post)
A large majority of Canadians -- 72% -- believe Canada should have supported the U.S. at the start of the war against Iraq, according to an exclusive National Post/Global News poll.

The COMPAS survey shows 41% of people believe Canada should have given verbal support to the United States two weeks ago while 31% said the backing should have come in the form of both words and troops.

Still, only a slim majority, 56%, agreed with the U.S. decision to launch an invasion to bring down Saddam Hussein, while 34% opposed the attack.

Jean Chretien is to give a speech in the House of Commons today endorsing the Bush administration's "mission" in Iraq and asking MPs to declare formal support for a quick victory by coalition forces.


And gentlemen in Canada now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Naw Ruz day.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:10 AM

HOW DO YOU TELL IF THERE'S A SYRIAN IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR (via Tacitus):

U.S. Seizes Palace and Says It Intends to Remain in Baghdad (New York Times, 4/7/2003)
At one of the palaces, half a dozen Syrian soldiers were found, one of them hiding in a refrigerator, military officials said. The Republican Guards responsible for the security of the palace had fled.

I hope we took a picture of his footprints in the butter. We'll need such evidence to persuade moderate Democrats to back the next war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 AM

STRANGERS TO REASON:

Intellectual Speaks of the Arab World's Despair (SUSAN SACHS, April 8, 2003, NY Times)
Early in the morning, while most of Cairo is asleep, Ahmed Kamal Aboulmagd watches the war on television and despairs over the path taken by the United States. Even in the gloom of 4 a.m., this is not a normal emotion for Mr. Aboulmagd, a sprightly man of 72 who has lived through more than his share of revolutions, wars and international crises, yet has maintained a marvelously sunny outlook. [...]

Mr. Aboulmagd is one of Egypt's best-known intellectuals, a senior aide to former President Anwar el Sadat, consultant to the United Nations and ever-curious polymath whose interests range across the fields of Islamic jurisprudence, comparative religions, literature, history and commercial law. [...]

He has devoted decades of his life and his writings to the cause of modernizing Islamic life and promoting understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Now those efforts, Mr. Aboulmagd said, have been set back by President Bush's "exaggerated" response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, a response he believes only encouraged mutual enmity and suspicion by painting Muslims and Arabs as potential enemies to be reformed or destroyed.

"I find what is happening to be a serious setback in the endeavors of noble people who have realized the commonalities among different civilizations and nations," he said.

The problem, he said, is that the war on Iraq is widely seen in the Arab world as an attack on all Arabs, meant to serve the interests of Israel with no compensating outreach to aggrieved Arabs.


Here's the problem with multiculturalism: the depth of Mr. Aboulmagd's beliefs does not make them any less asinine. Yet an overweaning desire to "respect" his culture forbids the Times and others on the Left from making that rather basic point. Having lost any belief in objective truths, unless proven by the scientific method, Timesmen and the like are unable to look at what is being said here and admit, even if just to themselves, that when a culture's leading intellectuals believe things that are this patently false then that culture is seriously dysfunctional.

April 7, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 PM

FROM A SECURE LOCATION IN NEBRASKA:

If you've been having trouble finding Patrick Ruffini today, he's moved here, temporarily


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 PM

WITH A WHIMPER, THEN A BANG?

MSNBC.com is reporting that, based on an "extremely reliable" tip, we bombed and are believed to have quite possibly killed Saddam tonight.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 PM

LIVING LEGEND:

Spinning Blues Into Gold, the Rough Way (BERNARD WEINRAUB, March 2, 2003, NY Times)
What defines Mr. King's style is the interplay of his strong voice and guitar as extensions of each other. He sings and plays and sings again. His guitar and voice, as Mr. King once said, come "from different parts of my soul." He added that he wanted his guitar to "sound human."

"By bending the strings, by trilling my hand - and I have big, fat hands - I could achieve something that approximated a vocal vibrato," Mr. King said in his 1996 autobiography, "Blues All Around Me," written with David Ritz. He added: "I could sustain a note. I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions."

Peter Guralnick, author of the acclaimed two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, "Last Train to Memphis" and "Careless Love," offered a particularly rounded assessment of Mr. King's enormous contribution to blues and rock:

"It was King's style of rapidly picked single notes, embellishing and extending the vocal and rarely supporting it with full-bodied chords, which prevailed to create a whole blues-tinged vocabulary for modern rock.

"He never played while he was singing. He essentially played single notes that extended the vocal line. When the vocal was over, the guitar was introduced to play single notes that extended the vocal line. He made use of the treble end of the scale for dramatics in a way quite different from John Lee Hooker or Muddy Waters or traditional blues singers."

This made him a groundbreaking contributor to the genre, and coupled with the deeper values he embodied, it created the context through which "almost single-handedly B. B. King introduced the blues to white America," Mr. Guralnick said. He added that this was achieved by Mr. King - rather than by other blues legends - because of "the urbanity of his playing, the absorption of a multiplicity of influences, not simply from the blues, along with a graciousness of manner and willingness to adapt to new audiences and give them something they were able to respond to."

Mr. King's eclectic style - nurtured for years on the "chitlin circuit" of black clubs and dance halls - was derived from various sources: jazz, gospel, country, even Frank Sinatra and other stars. By contrast, the purer, Delta-rooted style of Muddy Waters, with its piercing slide-guitar attack, while exalted by critics and musicians for its energy and authenticity, had a narrower appeal. (On the other hand, the Waters song "Rollin' Stone" inspired the names of a band and a magazine.) [...]

He was born Riley B. King on Sept. 16, 1925, in a sharecropper's cabin near Indianola, Miss. His father, Albert, often worked two consecutive double shifts, 48 hours, at 50 cents a shift. Mr. King's parents separated when he was 4, and his mother took him to her family in Kilmichael, in the hills east of the Delta. Mr. King walked six miles round trip to a segregated one-room schoolhouse. He earned 35 cents a day picking cotton.

At 7 he became fascinated with the gospel singing and guitar playing of a sanctified preacher, Archie Fair, a distant relative, at the Church of God in Christ. That preacher let the young Riley play his guitar and urged him to become a minister. But against the wishes of his deeply religious mother, who called the blues "devil music," the boy listened to Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson on the radio.

At 9 Mr. King was left alone. His mother died at 25, perhaps of diabetes, and then his grandmother died. He said that a plantation owner named Floyd Cartledge and his family allowed him to live by himself on their property and earn his keep by performing house chores and milking cows. They kept a paternal eye on him. In his autobiography Mr. King said that while other plantation owners were "coldblooded racists," Cartledge - whom he still calls "Mr. Flake" - was decent enough to advance him $15 to buy a cherry-red Stella guitar when he was 12.

A brief, unhappy reunion with his father - who had remarried - led Mr. King to strike out on his own at 13. He moved to Indianola, picked cotton and worked as a tractor driver on another large farm. He consumed himself with music, joining a group of gospel singers and listening to bluesmen like Tampa Red and Big Boy Crudup on the radio. He began playing gospel and blues on his guitar on Saturday nights on street corners in Indianola, hoping to pick up spare change. It was here he learned that the money was in the blues.


Unable to afford his own guitar at first, he put nails in a wall and then tied strings between them and, if I'm not mistaken, was one of seemingly hundreds of great Southern musicians to buy his first guitar through the Sears catalogue. Having him around and performing still is like getting to see Babe Ruth play baseball.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 PM

FINAL EXAM:

North Korea and the US 'on a slide towards conflict' (Tracy McVeigh, April 6, 2003, The Observer)
War in North Korea is now almost inevitable because of the country's diplomatic stalemate with America, a senior UN official claims.

Ahead of this week's crucial talks between members of the UN Security Council, Maurice Strong, special adviser to the Secretary General Kofi Annan, was gloomy on the chances of a peaceful settlement.

'I think war is unnecessary, it's unthinkable and unfortunately it's entirely possible,' he said.

Strong, who has just returned from a private mission for Annan in North Korea and is due to report to UN officials in New York tomorrow, said he felt both North Korea and America seemed to think they had time on their side but were both
on a slide towards war.

On Wednesday the UN security council will hear America's demand for sanctions against North Korea, which it accuses of planning to develop nuclear weapons.

The Communist state has already said it would regard any such move as an 'act of war' and yesterday further warned that it would ignore any UN resolutions on the issue.


Here's an excellent final chance for the UN to demonstrate that it is not entirely irrelevant. If they can't bring themselves to impose conventional sanctions against a communist tyranny that is engaged in nuclear proliferation then pulling the plug on the institution would be a mercy killing.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:02 PM

THE COMING SHIA-AMERICAN ALLIANCE:

Shiite Schism (Amir Taheri, Wall Street Journal, 4/7/2003)
Ayatollah Ali Mohammed Sistani is a happy man. For the first time since 1988 he is not only not under house arrest but free to travel wherever he wishes. What's more, 22 of his relatives, held hostage by the Iraqi government since October, have returned home. A contingent of American Marines patrols Najaf, his hometown, widely regarded as the most sacred city in Shiite Islam....

The 75-year-old ayatollah is the undisputed A'alam al-ulema (the most learned of the learned) of the mullahs who minister to the religious needs of Shiites.... This follows his fatwa last week -- the first pro-U.S. fatwa in modern political Islam -- in which he ordered Iraq's Shiites not to resist U.S.-led coalition forces.

The news is potent, and potentially tectonic in its impact. And with Saddam's regime disintegrating, Ayatollah Sistani is already talking of restoring Najaf's position as "the heart of Shiism."

What does this mean? Speaking on a satellite phone to this writer, the ayatollah said he had advised "believers not to hinder the forces of liberation, and help bring this war against the tyrant to a successful end for the Iraqi people." His emissaries have also gained control of mosques and seminaries in Karbala, to the north, the second most sacred city of Shiism. On Saturday, a delegation of his followers arrived in Baghdad, to "guide believers on the right path." "There is good in what happens," he said, quoting the Prophet Muhammad. "Our people need freedom more than air [to breath]. Iraq has suffered, and it deserves better government."

Ayatollah Sistani's close entourage goes further in its support of the U.S.-led coalition. "We shall never forget what the coalition has done for our people," says Hojat al-Islam Abdel Majid al-Khoi, son of the late grand Ayatollah Khoi, who was Iraq's supreme religious leader for almost 40 years. "A free Iraq shall be a living monument to our people's friendship with its liberators."


The friendship that is rising between Shia leaders and the United States is founded on something much deeper than a common interest in Saddam's defeat, and will long outlast that defeat. I am hopeful that this friendship will prove stronger than that which binds us to Japan and Germany, because it is founded in shared spiritual values.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM

AND IF YOU BELIEVE IN FREEDOM, YOU ARE OUR BROTHER:

For Immigrants, a Special Sacrifice: War Takes Toll on Foreign-Born in Armed Forces (Amy Goldstein and Sylvia Moreno, April 7, 2003, Washington Post)
Pfc. Diego Fernando Rincon, 19, flew a Colombian flag from the rearview mirror of the Mustang he bought with his Army signing bonus. Cpl. Kemaphoom A. Chanawongse, 22, created a Web site with photographs of himself in Marine uniform under the title, "the Thai import with a baby face." Just before Lance Cpl. Jesus A. Suarez Del Solar enlisted in the Marines, he went back to Mexico and bought a figurine of the Aztec warrior he considered himself to be.

Chanawongse now is classified as missing in action in Iraq. Rincon and Suarez Del Solar have been killed. Their fates attest to the toll the Iraq conflict is taking on young men and women who are fighting a war for a country that was not originally theirs.

After the war's first 2 1/2 weeks, the Pentagon has disclosed the names of 71 U.S. service members killed, seven missing and seven captured in Iraq. Of those, eight of the dead, two of the missing and two prisoners of war had immigrated to the United States, according to interviews with relatives and friends. Just four of the immigrants were U.S. citizens when the war began.

Their presence among the war's early victims outstrips the representation of immigrants in the U.S. military overall. Yet it reflects the military's attractiveness to foreign-born residents as they come of age -- an appeal that is fostered, in part, by policies that offer a quick path to citizenship for those who enlist.

As they explained it to their families, the attraction is a blend of wanderlust, economic aspiration and adoptive patriotism. Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Rincon approached an Army recruiter, who had wandered into a Conyers, Ga., gym where the teenager worked, and announced that he wanted to help fight terrorism. On March 29, Rincon was one of four soldiers killed in a car bombing in Iraq.

This cadre of immigrants, now missing or dead, talked of an indelible pride in the armed services, in the nation's elemental values. Yet their individual identities persisted.


The Judds arrived in America in 1630 and, to be perfectly honest, would have been perfectly happy to freeze immigration the moment they stepped ashore; thus has it ever been. Which makes it all the more humbling to read the lists of those who've died so far fighting for the nation we all share, Coalition Troop Casualties, POWs, MIAs (The Guardian, April 7, 2003)
DEATHS:

April 4:

Army Capt. Tristan N. Aitken, 31, State College, Pa., combat

Army Pfc. Wilfred D. Bellard, 20, Lake Charles, La., vehicle fell into ravine

Army Spc. Daniel Francis J. Cunningham, 33, Lewiston, Maine, vehicle fell into ravine

Marine Capt. Travis Ford, 30, Oceanside, Calif., helicopter crash

Army Pvt. Devon D. Jones, 19, San Diego, vehicle fell into ravine

Marine Capt. Benjamin Sammis, 29, Rehoboth, Mass., helicopter crash

Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, 33, of Tampa, Fla., combat

April 3:

Marine Pfc. Chad E. Bales, 20, Coahoma, Texas, non-hostile accident

Army Sgt. Wilbert Davis, 40, Hinesville, Ga., vehicle accident

Marine Cpl. Mark A. Evnin, 21, South Burlington, Vt., combat

Army Capt. Edward J. Korn, 31, Savannah, Ga., combat

Army Staff Sgt. Nino D. Livaudais, 23, Utah, combat

Army Spc. Ryan P. Long, 21, Seaford, Del., combat

Army Spc. Donald S. Oaks Jr., 20, Harborcreek, Pa., combat

Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy Rehn, 36, Longmont, Colo., combat

Army Capt. Russell B. Rippetoe, 27, Colorado, combat

Army Sgt. Todd J. Robbins, 33, Hart, Mich., combat

Marine Cpl. Erik H. Silva, 22, Chula Vista, Calif., combat

April 2:

Army Capt. James F. Adamouski, 29, Springfield, Va., helicopter crash

Marine Lance Cpl. Brian E. Anderson, 26, Durham, N.C., non-hostile accident

Army Spc. Mathew Boule, 22, Dracut, Mass., helicopter crash

Army Master Sgt. George A. Fernandez, 36, El Paso, Texas

Marine Pfc. Christian D. Gurtner, 19, Ohio City, Ohio, non-combat weapons discharge

Army Chief Warrant Officer 4th Class Erik A. Halvorsen, 40, Bennington, Vt., helicopter crash.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Scott Jamar, 32, Granbury, Texas, helicopter crash

Army Sgt. Michael Pedersen, 26, Flint, Mich., helicopter crash

Army Chief Warrant Officer Eric A. Smith, 42, Rochester, N.Y., helicopter crash

April 1:

Army Sgt. Jacob L. Butler, 24, Wellsville, Kan., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph B. Maglione, 22, Lansdale, Pa., non-combat weapon discharge

March 31:

Army Spc. Brandon Rowe, 20, Roscoe, Ill., combat

March 30:

Marine Capt. Aaron J. Contreras, 31, Sherwood, Ore., helicopter crash

Marine Sgt. Michael V. Lalush, 23, Troutville, Va., helicopter crash

Marine Sgt. Brian McGinnis, 23, St. Georges, Del., helicopter crash

March 29:

Marine Staff Sgt. James Cawley, 41, Layton, Utah, combat

Army Cpl. Michael Curtin, 23, Howell, N.J., suicide attack

Army Pfc. Diego Fernando Rincon, 19, Conyers, Ga., suicide attack

Army Pfc. Michael Russell Creighton Weldon, 20, Palm Bay, Fla., suicide attack

Marine Lance Cpl. William W. White, 24, New York, vehicle accident

Army Sgt. Eugene Williams, 24, Highland, N.Y, suicide attack

March 28:

Army Sgt. Roderic A. Solomon , 32, Fayetteville, N.C., vehicle accident

March 27:

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, 33, Tracy, Calif., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus A. Suarez Del Solar, 20, Escondido, Calif., combat

March 26:

Army Spc. William A. Jeffries, 39, Evansville, Ind., illness

Marine Maj. Kevin G. Nave, 36, White Lake Township, Mich., vehicle accident

March 25:

Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Vann Johnson Jr., 25, Little Rock, Ark., combat

Marine Pfc. Francisco A. Martinez Flores, 21, Los Angeles, combat

Marine Staff Sgt. Donald C. May, Jr., 31, Richmond, Va., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick T. O'Day, 20, Santa Rosa, Calif., combat

Marine Cpl. Robert M. Rodriguez, 21, New York, combat

Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, Boise, Idaho, grenade attack

March 24:

Marine Cpl. Evan James, 20, La Harpe, Ill., drowned in canal

Marine Sgt. Bradley S. Korthaus, 29, Davenport, Iowa, drowned in canal

Army Spc. Gregory P. Sanders, 19, Hobart, Ind., combat

March 23:

Army Spc. Jamaal R. Addison, 22, Roswell, Ga., combat

Marine Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, 31, Ventura, Calif., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Rory Buesing, 20, Cedar Key, Fla., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. David K. Fribley, 26, Fort Myers, Fla., combat

Marine Cpl. Jose A. Garibay, 21, Costa Mesa, Calif., combat

Marine Cpl. Jorge A. Gonzalez, 20, Los Angeles, combat

Army Pfc. Howard Johnson II, 21, Mobile, Ala., combat

Marine Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Jordan, 42, Enfield, Conn., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick R. Nixon, 21, Gallatin, Tenn., combat

Marine 2nd Lt. Frederick E. Pokorney Jr., 31, Tonopah, Nev., combat

Marine Cpl. Randal Kent Rosacker, 21, San Diego, combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Slocum, 22, Thornton, Colo., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Williams, 31, Yuma, Ariz.

March 22:

Navy Lt. Thomas Mullen Adams, 27, La Mesa, Calif., helicopter collision

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric J. Orlowski, 26, Buffalo, N.Y., machine gun accident

Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, Easton, Pa., grenade attack

Army Reserve Spc. Brandon S. Tobler, 19, Portland, Ore., vehicle accident

March 21:

Marine Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin, 36, Waterville, Maine, helicopter crash

Marine Capt. Ryan Anthony Beaupre, 30, St. Anne, Ill., helicopter crash

Marine 2nd Lt. Therrel S. Childers, 30, Harrison County, Miss., combat

Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22, Los Angeles, combat

Marine Cpl. Brian Matthew Kennedy, 25, Houston, helicopter crash

Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, 29, Baltimore, helicopter crash

Date not given:

Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Blair, 24, Broken Arrow, Okla., combat

Marine Sgt. Nicolas M. Hodson, 22, Smithville, Mo., vehicle accident

Army Spc. James Kiehl, 22, Comfort, Texas, combat

Army Sgt. George Edward Buggs, 31, Barnwell, S.C., combat

Army Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, Cleveland, combat

Army Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, El Paso, Texas, combat

Army Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata, 35, Pecos, Texas, combat

Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, 22, Tuba City, Ariz., combat

Army Pvt. Brandon Sloan, 19, Bedford Heights, Ohio, combat

Army Sgt. Donald Walters, 33, Kansas City, Mo., combat

CAPTURED: