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May 31, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 PM

EVEN THE FRENCH KNEW BETTER

Picasso in Paris: A Suspect, Never a Citizen (ALAN RIDING, 5/28/03, NY Times)
After his death in 1973, France honored Pablo Picasso with the museum that carries his name in Paris. Yet during his first four decades as a French resident, the Spanish-born Picasso was viewed with suspicion by the French police and intelligence services. When he sought French nationality in 1940, he was turned down on the ground that he was an anarchist with Communist tendencies.

The extent of French misgivings about Picasso's politics have just become known with the discovery of the artist's police files from 1901 to 1940. They were among millions of French documents seized by German occupation forces in 1940 and transferred to Berlin. After the defeat of Germany in 1945, they were taken to Moscow. Only since the collapse of the Soviet Union have they been gradually returned to France. [...]

On April 3, 1940, Picasso wrote to the minister of justice requesting naturalization. He was also required to swear he had no criminal record, to demonstrate he was up to date on his tax payments and to show the lease for his two apartments at 23 rue de la Boetie. He was then summoned for interrogation by the neighborhood's police commissioner, who in a report dated April 30, 1940, concluded: "Good information. Favorable recommendation."

But a separate report by the General Information Directorate, dated May 25, was hostile to Picasso. It recalled that Picasso was "identified as an anarchist" in 1905, and it noted acidly that in 1914 "he offered no service to our country during the war." It called him "a so-called modern artist," accused him of sending his wealth abroad and declared that "Picasso has retained extremist ideas evolving toward Communism." The report noted that Picasso sent money to the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War, that he had recently been heard criticizing French institutions and praising Moscow and that he had told friends that he would bequeath his works to the Soviet Union, not France. The report said little had been learned from Picasso's neighbors. "Because of his arrogant and stuffy character, he is little known in his neighborhood," it added.

The report's conclusion is unsurprising: "As a result of all the information gathered, this foreigner has no qualification to obtain naturalization. Further, in the light of the above, he should be considered suspect from a national point of view." There is no evidence that Picasso was informed of the rejection of his request. Three weeks after the second report was completed, German troops entered Paris.

Mr. Daix and Mr. Israil write, "France lost a celebrated man whom it could have been proud to have included among its citizens." And the absurdity, they point out, is that this ruling was rooted in misinformation about Picasso's anarchic sympathies gathered by a police agent in 1901.

What is not known is whether France opened a fresh police file on Picasso after World War II, but on Oct. 5, 1944, just six weeks after the liberation of Paris, Picasso formally joined the French Communist Party.

"Proud to have included among its citizens"? He was a Stalinist and a particularly vile person. Even the French couldn't be proud of him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 PM

THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

The Force That Drives the Flower: What is it about fecundity that so appalls? Is it that with nature's bounty goes a crushing waste that threatens our own cheap lives? (Annie Dillard, November 1973, The Atlantic Monthly)
The growth pressure of plants can do an impressive variety of tricks. Bamboo can grow three feet in twenty-four hours, an accomplishment that is capitalized upon, legendarily, in that exquisite Asian torture in which a victim is strapped to a mesh bunk a mere foot above a bed of healthy bamboo plants whose woodlike tips have been sharpened. For the first eight hours he is fine, if jittery; then he starts turning into a colander, by degrees.

Down at the root end of things, blind growth reaches astonishing proportions. So far as I know, only one real experiment has ever been performed to determine the extent and rate of root growth, and when you read the figures, you see why. I have run into various accounts of this experiment, and the only thing they don't reveal is how many lab assistants were blinded for life.

The experimenters studied a single grass plant, winter rye. They let it grow in a greenhouse for four months; then they gingerly spirited away the soil--under microscopes, I imagine--and counted and measured all the roots and root hairs. In four months the plant had set forth 378 miles of roots--that's about three miles a day--in 14 million distinct roots. This is mighty impressive, but when they get down to the root hairs, I boggle completely. In those same four months the rye plant created 14 billion root hairs, and those little things placed end to end just about wouldn't quit. In a single cubic inch of soil, the length of the root hairs totaled 6000 miles.

Other plants use water power to heave the rock earth around as though they were merely shrugging off a silken cape. Rutherford Platt tells about a larch tree whose root had cleft a one-and-a-half-ton boulder and hoisted it a foot into the air. Everyone knows how a sycamore root will buckle a sidewalk, a mushroom will shatter a cement basement floor. But when the first real measurements of this awesome pressure were taken, nobody could believe the figures.

Rutherford Platt tells the story in The Great American Forest, one of the most interesting books ever written:

In 1875, a Massachusetts farmer, curious about the growing power of expanding apples, melons, and squashes, harnessed a squash to a weight-lifting device which had a dial like a grocer's scale to indicate the pressure exerted by the expanding fruit. As the days passed, he kept piling on counterbalancing weight; he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw his vegetables quietly exerting a lifting force of 5 thousand pounds per square inch. When nobody believed him, he set up exhibits of harnessed squashes and invited the public to come and see. The Annual Report of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, 1875, reported: "Many thousands of men, women, and children of all classes of society visited it. Mr. Penlow watched it day and night, making hourly observations; Professor Parker was moved to write a poem about it; Professor Seelye declared that he positively stood in awe of it."

All this is very jolly. Unless perhaps I were strapped down above a stand of growing, sharpened bamboo, I am unlikely to feel the faintest queasiness either about the growth pressure of plants or their fecundity. Even when the plants get in the way of human "culture," I don't mind. When I read how many thousands of dollars a city like New York has to spend to keep underground water pipes free of ailanthus, ginko, and sycamore roots, I cannot help but give a little cheer. After all, water pipes are almost always an excellent source of water. In a town where resourcefulness and beating the system are highly prized, these primitive trees can fight city hall and win.

Magazines like The Atlantic, the New Yorker, The Nation, New Republic, TIME, and others, that have been publishing for decades and longer, have so much great material in their archives, it's too bad they don't post more of it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM

"WEEPY MOJO"

How do chick flicks make women weep?: University study says it's all about the 'power of emotion' (Chris Lackner, May 30, 2003, National Post)
The common, stereotypical definition of a chick flick is simple: a film that will reduce its female audiences to tears while keeping men away in droves. How and why this exactly happens is the subject of ongoing research at the University of Manitoba.

According to a study by Brenda Austin-Smith, a professor of English and film studies, classic chick flicks act as a psychological release for their female audience, even though women realize they are being manipulated by Hollywood gender stereotypes and emotional cues.

"A lot of research has been done on the patriarchal stereotypes and pop-cultural messages in films that [cater to a female audience], but they never directly talk about the power of emotion," said Austin-Smith. "What makes women weep?"

Her research focused on classic Hollywood weepies produced between 1920 and 1940, such as 1939's Dark Victory featuring Bette Davis as a woman battling blindness, 1937's Stella Dallas starring Barbara Stanwyck as a mother fighting to provide her daughter with a future, and Madame X starring Lana Turner as a scorned wife forced into prostitution and charged with the murder of a crook.

These films always portrayed woman as a tragic heroines, battling issues such as the loss of a child or spouse, raising a child on their own, or terminal illness, she explained.

Austin-Smith has done extensive interviews and film screenings with 37 women whose ages range from 35 to 83. She focused on women who either lived in the era in which classic weepies were released or who may have grown up watching them with their mothers.

These movies had the tendency to be more reality-driven, and often captured the life experience of the women who lived during their era, she noted.

"These films gave women a safe place to cry," she said, adding her study also set out to determine whether such films still have the same emotional impact on modern audiences. "I found these films still have their weepy mojo."

Most women can not afford to be emotional because they need to be strong for their families, partners, children or careers, but weepies offer them a cathartic release from life's burdens, she explained.

Is there a man anywhere who wouldn't build a special room onto his house so his wife could have a "safe place to cry" if she'd just stop making him watch these insipid movies?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 PM

WHAT WMD?

INSIDER INTERVIEW: House Minority Leader Pelosi: 'One District At A Time' (National Journal, May 28, 2003
Q: What would your response be if no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq?

A: People have lost their lives. I would not want to leave the impression that because we have not found weapons of mass destruction, it was not a worthy sacrifice. So, I don't place a high premium on it. I said from day one that the intelligence did not support the threat [from Iraq] that the administration was putting forth, in terms of weapons of mass destruction. As far as chemical and biological weapons, it's a very dangerous neighborhood. A number of countries in the region are developing those programs. It would be likely that Iraq would have them too. They may be found. They may not. But I would not want to diminish in any way the sacrifice of those who went and fought.

Q: Did the president mislead us?

A: I would never characterize the president taking us into war as misleading us, because it's just too serious a decision for him to make. We just have to go beyond this, though other countries will not. But the sacrifice has been made.

The press may not have figured out yet that the presence or absence of WMD in Iraq doesn't much matter, but the Democrats who have to try and win back the Congress certainly have.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:52 PM

ONE CASUALTY TOO MANY

Jihad's Hidden Victim: The Casablanca bombings destroyed not just life and property, but a tolerant nation's view of itself (BRUCE CRUMLEY, 6/02/03, TIME Europe)
When the smoke had cleared and the wreckage and bodies were being carted away, stunned Moroccans turned their attention to another casualty of the May 16 Casablanca terrorist bombings: the nation's sense of itself. Morocco has long tried to occupy a middle ground between its European and North American allies on one side and the conservative, Islam-dominated societies of fellow Arab countries. Now Moroccans fear they may have the worst of both worlds: the strain of jihadist militancy rooted in the affluent nations of the Middle East, and the vast, economically stricken populations from which al-Qaeda networks have so effectively recruited in the West. [...]

The goals of greater democracy and tolerance of all religions are at the heart of King Mohammed VI's social program. But there is now ample reason for the government to crack down on Islamist groups, and a long-stalled antiterrorism law--decried as authoritarian and repressive--got new life in the wake of the attack, clearing a major legislative hurdle last week. Even before the bombings, expected advances by Morocco's two Islamic parties led the government to postpone nationwide local elections slated for June.

Moroccan democracy might be further undermined if foreign tourists and investors steer clear of the country and deprive it of resources needed to battle poverty. That "would have dire consequences for everyone," warns Andre Azoulay, an adviser to Mohammed VI. "It would demonstrate that Western examples of democracy, plurality and economic modernity couldn't be applied to the world's most progressive Arab state--and indeed aren't compatible with Arab society. The only people who would benefit from that are the Islamist radicals." Moroccans are desperate to prevent that: millions of employees respected a five-minute work stoppage Friday to pray for victims of the attacks, and hundreds of thousands were expected in Sunday's marches denouncing religious extremism and terror. Now Morocco and the world must demonstrate to people like those in Sidi Moumen that they have more to live for than kill for--and then begin to make the same point in Arab and European ghettos where radical Islamists cultivate jihad.

It seems well worth it to pump US aid into the all too few Arab states that are moving in a Westerly direction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM

I PULL THE STRINGS

To believe that we can end tyranny by self-improvement and restraint (Amity Shlaes, Jewish World Review)
This past winter I returned to Berlin to find the locals pessimistic. My friends and I chatted about different things, but our conversations always ended up at a single place: Iraq. At dinners in the new Berlin Mitte (yesterday's news to them, but still amazing to me) one Berliner or another shouted about the "impossibility" of the Iraqi project. My friends seemed to believe that the best thing they could do was to retreat to that 1950s nuclear freeze motto, ohne mich, "without me".

They seemed to assume that the more modest, the smaller Germany made itself, the safer it and the rest of the world would be. On the sixth week of my visit, 500,000 Berliners protested against the war in Iraq, lining streets from Alexanderplatz into the west. If only we can mount a demonstration big enough, they seemed to be saying, we can improve life the globe over. To many of us - British and Americans - this attitude was irritating.

Where was all the good will our governments had earned through aid and restraint? Where was the lesson of Yugoslavia, which showed that blue helmets alone could not prevent massacres, and that regime change was necessary? But the real problem with this view was that it seemed a fallacy. Germany might want to pretend it is Switzerland. But this is as pointless as an elephant hiding behind a slender palm. For there is, alas, no such thing as a big neutral country. As much as Germany wishes not to take sides, it is, in effect, taking sides no matter what it does.

And no matter how much one disapproved of the Bush administration, one could not help but see that Saddam Hussein was emboldened by his discovery that there was a gap to be exploited between the US and its allies. In this context the mid-war discovery that Russian generals had helped Saddam did not come as a complete surprise. But where did this experience leave me and my friends? For the first time in my long relationship with Germany, the differences began to feel serious.

For me and for many American and British people, the second world war seemed a legitimate and powerful argument for the war in Iraq. For Berliners, it was not. The arguments of my friend Karin were, as usual, the clearest. Hardly a a day went by, she said, that she did not think of "it" - "it" being the second world war of her childhood. She had believed the crumbling of the wall to be the end of that war; now we, the Americans and British, were starting just such a war again. Pondering all this, I cycled one morning to Glienicke. There, for the first time, I noticed a plaque commemorating the return of the bridge to everyday life after so many years. "Glienicke Bridge," it read, "open as a result of the peaceable revolution in the GDR." How wonderful it must be, I thought without irony, to believe that by self-improvement and restraint, we can end tyranny. Would that it were so.

We noted earlier in the week that this notion, though it appears to be grounded in powerlessness, is actually a claim of extravagant power over the behavior of others. The idea in this case is that Germans can control the behavior of others towards them by modifying their own behavior. If only they stay out of the rest of the world's business, the world will leave them alone. Not only is this a dangerous form of egomania and a denial of reality, it is also put to the lie by their own recent history, when much of the West tried to convince itself that if the Germans were left alone they'd leave others alone.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 PM

DO NOT GO GENTLE

The Incredible Shrinking People: The fact that there are so few Jews in the world places a great responsibility on the Jews that do exist. (Rabbi Berel Wein, Jewish World Review)
In 1950, according to the census of the Jewish Federations in North America at that time, the Jewish population of North America was approximately six million people. That meant that there were six million people in North America who identified themselves as Jews.

According to the natural increase in population as exhibited in the general population in North America there should now be at least fifteen million people in North America who identify themselves as Jews.

In stark reality, however, there are barely five million people in North America who do so.

That means that there are ten million people--potential Jews--who have disappeared in the last half-century, and their absence is out of personal choice and not external enmity. That statistic is certainly one of the saddest ones for Jews in this doleful past century.

Sixty years ago, there were nineteen million Jews in the world. Today, there are approximately thirteen million Jews in the world. A half-century after the Holocaust, we have not replenished the numbers that the Germans and their cohorts extinguished. This ugly and sad fact only intensifies the tragedy of the Holocaust in the current Jewish world.

It would be a world historical tragedy if all Jews were to take away from these numbers is the lesson that Rabbi Wein seems to be teaching--that the shrinking few realize how special they are. The end point such a teaching is fairly obvious: the fewer there are the more special each is, until the point when the last one left is the most special of all. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter the Jews, who brought us Judaism--the single most important set of ideas in human history--will pass from existence. On that day, in the all too imaginable future, the world will be a colder, darker place and we will all be diminished as a species.

This end should therefore be intolerable to us all, but must obviously be most intolerable to Jews themselves. This is no time to turn inward, to gaze at your navel and say how special you are, but a time to turn outward, to renew the people, to strengthen belief, to be fruitful and multiply, to rage against the dying of the children of the light.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:09 PM

ALL YOU NEED IS FIVE FINGERS, A FOE, AND A FROSTY BEVERAGE

School Holds Rock-Paper-Scissors Contest (The Associated Press, May 29, 2003)
Thomas Shaffer, who organized a rock-paper-scissors tournament at his high school, says the game is based on patterns, so the odds of winning increase when a player better observes his opponent.

"At first I was one of the believers that it is a game of luck," Shaffer said. "I'll let you in on a little secret: Most people open with scissors. Novice players rarely throw the same thing twice in a row."

Shaffer recruited 75 classmates at Elizabethtown Area High School to compete, got the school to let him hold the contest in the gym and even convinced a sponsor to donate money for trophies. A dairy donated chocolate milk.

Shaffer managed to back up his bluster about the game's intricacies, making the final round by winning 19 matches in a row.

Though inexplicably underappreciated, Rock-Scissors-Paper is the perfect drinking game. It has two great advantages over all others: (1) you always have the required equipment with you; (2) because it's non-verbal it can be played at the loudest party or tavern.

DISCLAIMER: This is for information purposes only and should in no way be taken as a Brothers Judd recommendation that you try such a thing. Alcohol is dangerous when consumed in large amounts and is nothing to be toyed with. In addition, if you drink too much in college and law school, the Red Cross may refuse to accept blood donations because of elevated liver enzymes. Or so we hear...

Posted by David Cohen at 3:59 PM

TOO BAD "NAACP" IS ALREADY TAKEN.

Socially Acceptable Bigotry (Willy Stern, Metro Pulse Online, 5/29/03)
Because of my background and my appearance--dark curly hair and a fairly sizable proboscis--most of the world reaches similar conclusions as to my political leanings as did Suzi. Scarcely a week has gone by since I hit 7th grade at Edgemont High School during which somebody did not make a derogatory comment about Republicans in my presence. I hear them, well, practically everywhere...at Starbucks, at job interviews, and while picking up my son at Congregation Micah, Nashville's open-minded reform synagogue. I hear them in the hallways of Vanderbilt University (where I teach part-time), around the copy machines at the Nashville Scene (the alternative newspaper which employs me) and in the carpool line at the University School of Nashville, (the progressive private school which my older child attends).

Press me and you'll learn that—to the degree one can be labeled--I reside in the liberal wing of the Republican Party. I believe in free markets and free people. Social issues notwithstanding, that generally lines me up with the Republicans.

When somebody makes a prejudicial comment about Republicans in my presence, I play a private game. I replay the sentence in my mind—only I substitute a word like "black" or "lesbian" or "Mexican" in place of the word "Republican." In performing this verbal sleight-of-hand, it becomes increasingly apparent that the speaker of the sentence may harbor views not generally considered to be tolerant or open-minded.

But are they bigots? Bigot, after all, is a strong and charged word. And how about Suzi? Is she a bigot? . . . There is no group better qualified to answer that question than the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a not-for-profit group respected around the globe for its authoritative work to counteract discrimination and anti-Semitism. So are comments like "All Republicans are assholes," expressions of bigotry? According to Caryl M. Stern, ADL's associate national director (and no relation to the author), the answer is yes.

To be sure, in this era of diversity and sensitivity, a veritable cottage industry has sprung up to stamp out bigotry and intolerance. Many of those who have dedicated themselves to the eradication of bigotry tend to be Left-leaning, self-styled progressives. In researching this essay, I interviewed a number of these tolerance gurus. Interestingly, most had no problem labeling all Republicans "a--holes." One prominent sociologist at a top university explained earnestly that he was no bigot but, of course, wouldn't want his sister to marry a Republican.

This is fundamentally silly. Although these leftists are prejudiced, by the exact definition, they are not bigots, nor are Republicans or conservatives an oppressed minority. Not only should we conservatives be reluctant to expand the scope of minorities to be protected, we should welcome the close-mindedness of our adversaries, which makes them that much weaker, as well has hypocrites.

But I also have to say that Mr. Stern's experience has not been mine, though I'm a Massachusetts Jew living among five of the more leftist colleges and universities in the country. I never hear comments like this. My guess is that other people can't spend any great length of time with me without figuring out where I stand on the issues of the day. This may be because, unlike Mr. Stern, I'm not embarassed by my beliefs. (Let's face it, "I'm Republican because my parents were" is pretty weak.) Nonetheless, this type of reaction -- based as it is on the refusal to even learn about Republicans -- does ring true. Modern liberalism is founded on ignorance and a general desire, where personal knowledge is lacking, to simply accept the "compassionate" view without investigation. Time and again, I have found that, with the exception of politicians, public school teachers and academics, even the most liberal people are conservative when it comes to the issues they know the best, or which personally effect them. They're often glad to find a sympathetic ear in which to confess their apostasy. So, I say to Mr. Stern and others, rightists of the world unite, you have nothing to lose except listening to a lot of mindless blather.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:02 PM

QUO VADIS?

Clymer to co-workers: Stop feeding this monster (Posted By: Jim Romenesko, 5/30/2003, Poynter.org)
To: xxxxx@nytimes.com
From: Adam Clymer (xxxx@nytimes.com)
Subject: The Times
Colleagues,

I think it's time to take a deep breath and think about the New York Times.

I share your contempt for Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg. And I share your anger at some of the failures of management that enabled them. I agree with a lot of what Times people have told outside reporters, either directly or in internal E-mails that have quickly found their way to the Internet. In particular, Peter Kilborn made the case against Bragg's excuses with telling effect.

But I think by now we have hit back, fairly and convincingly, and Blair and Bragg are gone, belatedly, from our ranks. The time has come to stop feeding this destructive monster. The Times that we are honored to work for will be damaged if we continue to fight with each other in public. And that's more important than our own grievously, justifiably injured pride.

Like any conservative, but especially those who came of age in the 60's and 70's, I've a great deal of contempt for the press and for no press outlet more than the Times. So it has been a tremendous pleasure, not at all guilty, to watch the Gray Lady implode over the last few weeks.

Mr. Clymer's letter captures, almost accidentally, something of the reason why this is so. The "beast" to which he refers is, ironically enough, the very media that the Times is a part of. Like so many institutions before it, but usually at its own hands, the Times has discovered that once there's blood in the water the sharks go into a feeding frenzy and no one really gives a good goddamn about collateral damage, reputations, strict adherence to the facts, etc. [One story in particular that has always infuriated me concerns Oliver "Billy" Sipple, who struck at Sarah Jane Moore as she fired a gun at Gerald Ford, perhaps saving the President from assassination. How was this ex-marine repaid for his heroic act? The SF Chronicle revealed that he was, unknown to friends and family, a homosexual and destroyed his life.] What makes the Times' agony so enjoyable though is that the insufferable mavens of the press have been telling us all for thirty-plus years--ever since they decided they didn't much care for Vietnam or Nixon--that it is their solemn duty to pursue the story no matter where it leads and no matter who gets hurt, because the "truth" must out (so to speak).

Indeed, in one of the most appallingly self-righteous moments in television history, several newmen explained how their precious code of ethics would even prevent them from saving the lives of American soldiers if it might interfere with their story. Here's an account from MediaWatch:
In a future war involving U.S. soldiers what would a TV reporter do if he learned the enemy troops with which he was traveling were about to launch a surprise attack on an American unit? That's just the question Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree Jr, as moderator of PBS' Ethics in America series, posed to ABC anchor PeterJennings and 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace. Both agreed getting ambush footage for the evening news would come before warning the U.S. troops.

For the March 7 installment on battlefield ethics Ogletree set up a theoretical war between the North Kosanese and the U.S.-supported South Kosanese. At first Jennings responded: "If I was with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans."

Wallace countered that other reporters, including himself, "would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover." Jennings' position bewildered Wallace: "I'm a little bit of a loss to understand why, because you are an American, you would not have covered that story."

"Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?" Ogletree asked. Without hesitating Wallace responded: "No, you don't have higher duty... you're a reporter." This convinces Jennings, who concedes, "I think he's right too, I chickened out."

Ogletree turns to Brent Scowcroft, now the National Security Adviser, who argues "you're Americans first, and you're journalists second." Wallace is mystified by the concept, wondering "what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by North Kosanese on American soldiers?" Retired General William Westmoreland then points out that "it would be repugnant to the American listening public to see on film an ambush of an American platoon by our national enemy."

A few minutes later Ogletree notes the "venomous reaction" from George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel. "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans."

Wallace and Jennings agree, "it's a fair reaction." The discussion concludes as Connell says: "But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists."

No one who saw the show--at least no one with a scrap of human decency, an iota of moral sense, and a smidgen of patriotism--will ever forget how this contemptible performance by two of America's most celebrated newsmen made the gorge rise in one's throat.

So as the press now becomes Oroborus, the beast that feeds on itself, you'll pardon us if we crack open a Pabst, open a bag of Cheez-Waffles, and enjoy the spectacle. We feel like Christians getting to watch the Romans be fed to the lions.


MORE:
Fresh embarrassment for New York Times (Ciar Byrne, May 29, 2003, The Guardian)

Posted by David Cohen at 2:59 PM

UM, THIS REALLY ISN'T HELPING.

Firestorm in the Newsroom (Seth Mnookin, Newsweek Web, 5/28/03).

Infuriated by Rick Bragg's description of the workhabits of New York Times national correspondents, Peter Kilborn defends himself and his fellows as follows:
"I was really offended," Kilborn said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "I bust my ass chasing facts and I go to weird places I've never been and I have to root around to get the story. The whole idea [of using stringers to do the bulk of the reporting] is anathema to decent journalism."
Kilborn goes to "weird places." Kilborn is a national correspondent; the places he goes are all within the country.

Now, it's no surprise that Manhattanites think that the rest of the country (absent maybe Westchester County, the Hamptons, Fire Island and parts of Los Angeles) is weird. But is this really a defense the New York Times wants to promote: The National Paper That Even Sends Famous Reporters To Weird Places. And, by the way, has anyone ever made a stronger case for New York parochialism than Kilborn has made inadvertantly?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:18 PM

BECAUSE I SAID I WOULD

Bush's Road Map: A post-Iraq journey to mend fences in Europe, Mideast (Ken Fireman, May 31, 2003, Newsday)
One of President George W. Bush's most cherished maxims, according to aides, is that political capital must be used rapidly to promote a leader's goals or it will soon dissipate.

With that in mind, the president began an ambitious trip Friday aimed at applying prestige from the victory in Iraq to the effort to solve one of the world's most intractable problems: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The trip's high point is expected next week when Bush meets with Arab leaders in Egypt, and with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, in Aqaba, Jordan. [...]

Several factors have convinced Bush that it is time for a major commitment of presidential prestige. First, the Palestinian Authority recently met one of his key demands by naming a prime minister, Abbas, who is formally committed to squelching terrorism and overhauling the authority's political and economic structures.

Second, in the runup to the Iraq conflict, Bush made commitments to key allies, Tony Blair of Britain and Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, and to Arab leaders, that he would release the long-planned road map at a propitious moment and press a reluctant Sharon to support it. That moment came earlier this month, and Sharon got a divided Israeli cabinet to give provisional backing.

Finally, administration officials believe that the U.S. ouster of Saddam Hussein changed the power balance in the region in Washington's favor - but that this will not last forever.

For all these reasons, Bush said in an interview with foreign journalists shortly before departure, he decided it was time to act.

"I believe in the possibilities of peace," he said. "I trust the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority when he condemns terror. I believe that provides an opening for the United States and others to expend the necessary energies to move the process forward."

Bush added that his trip may help to mitigate what he acknowledged was Arab skepticism about his commitment to pursue the peace process. "I told a lot of the leaders that after the Iraq situation I would work toward peace in the Middle East," he said. "I want them to look me in the eye so they can see that I am determined to work to make this happen."

President Bush continues to use the cunning ploy of saying what he's going to do and then doing it...positively fiendish...

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:19 PM

)

Today's Senate Confirmation Battles and the Role of the Federal Judiciary (Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, Ninth Circuit Judge)
In short, to contend that the Constitution is an eminently mutable document ... renders the central fact of our nation’s founding -- namely, the promulgation of a written document designed to bind the will of future majorities -- a mere afterthought, if not a nullity. In so doing, it threatens to undermine the long-term health of the unique polity established by that great charter.

Judge O’Scannlain's speech is outstanding -- read the whole thing -- but here is one of the main points. The contention over judicial nominees is merely the natural consequence of the overthrow of the written Constitution and its replacement by judicial fiat. Once the judiciary is a law-making branch, then everyone else must contend to influence it, however they can. Confirmation is simply the most obvious point of influence.

Justice Scalia has clearly explained the link between judicial activism and contentious confirmations. See, for instance, Scalia: Politics play role in judiciary (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 5/10/2003):

The appointment of judges is an increasingly political process in which applicants personal views are becoming more important than their legal expertise, a panel of prominent judges led by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Friday in Fairbanks....

Scalia ... said he's not surprised that judicial applicants' political views have become the major consideration in whether they are confirmed by the Senate.

"I've been predicting the current crisis for 20 years," Scalia said. "I don't think it's extraordinary that members of the Senate want to ask new judges what new rights will they acknowledge."

He added there's little that can be done to change the current situation, considering the checks and balance system for federal courts is the judicial selection process.

"You're not looking for good lawyers anymore; you shouldn't be looking for good lawyers," Scalia said. "You should be looking for people that agree with you."

Yet this contention, I think, will be the fever that breaks the infection. The judicial activists on the left will never change their behavior as long as it continues to work -- that is, as long as judicial fiat is treated as binding law, and leftists allowed to dominate the judiciary. Once those conditions change, they will reconsider their position. And judicial activism is so destructive of the rule of law that, I believe, liberals and moderate Democrats (spurred by Republican political majorities) will soon reverse their support for it.

So, onward! The more conservative the nominees, the sooner the fever breaks.


Posted by David Cohen at 12:07 PM

WHAT ARE THE OTHER SIGNS OF THE APOCAPLYPSE?

Scott Simon Essay: Weapons of Mass Destruction, (Scott Simon, Weekend Edition Saturday, 5/31/03).

Although you wouldn't guess it by the title, and it doesn't seem to be available online, in this commentary Scott Simon comes perilously close to endorsing the Brothers Judd view of the Iraqi war and weapons of mass destruction: who cares? Now that "human rights groups" have now increased the number of victims they estimate the Iraqi Ba'athists tortured, Mr. Simon concludes that the regime was evil. It was, in his words, the biggest weapon of mass destruction. He even admits that it's unlikely the President Bush and Tony Blair were out and out lying about wmds, though of course he is concered that serious allegations have been raised and believes that an investigation is warranted. He will back away from this sentiment sometime in the next week, but the point remains: if the Democratic refuseniks have lost NPR, do they have any chance of winning over America?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:42 AM

DON'T THROW ME IN THAT BRIAR PATCH, BR'ER FOX!

Kerry promises Iowans that war on terror will be key issue (Boston Herald, 5/31/2003)
Sen. John F. Kerry accused President Bush yesterday of failing to protect Americans at home and promised to make the war on terror a major issue in the 2004 presidential race.

"I think this administration has not done what's necessary ...," Kerry said.

"So I intend to make it an issue."

Come into my parlor, said the spider ...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

MANUFACTURED EVIDENCE

Lacking Evidence (Valley News, 5/30/03)
A recent report that compared the effectiveness of job-training programs run by faith-based charities with those run by secular organizations is surprising, not so much for what it concludes as for what it is unable to conclude.

The Indiana study, reported in a Washington Post story that appeared in the Valley News earlier this week, looked at government-funded job training programs run by 11 religious and 16 secular organizations in two counties, from 2000-2002. It found no difference between the programs when it came to job-placement rates or starting wages, but clients of the faith-based groups worked fewer hours, on average, and were less likely to receive health insurance.

Now certainly this seems to undercut the premise of President Bush's faith-based initiative, which is that religious charities can provide many social services at lower cost and more effectively than secular organizations. But the university investigators who did the study were appropriately careful to warn against drawing broad conclusions from their research, noting that they dealt with only two urban counties and one type of social service.

With so much ignorant opinion around it's sometimes hard to tell what is genuine and what is willful obfuscation, but givenn how consistently organs of the Left have gotten this story wrong it seems more intentional than not. The editorialist conflates two issues here in order to attack a straw man. What conservatives actually say is that social services can be provided more effectively by non-governmental institutions and that once government starts funding such organizations, religious groups should be eligible. There are some services that it is indeed claimed are best provided by religious groups--including substance abuse and the like--but job training, considered generically, is not among these. This study then seems to seek to disprove something that no one says is true.

A more useful study might be done though--even in the discrete area of job placement--one which would look at three questions: (1) how do non-governmental programs compare to government programs?; (2) do similar clients have significantly different placement experiences depending on which type of program they are placed in?; and (3) is the clientele different for the three? It's is entirely possible, though we doubt it, that government run progtrams do the best job of the three, at the lowest cost, and do so regardless of how difficult a case the client presents. If that is the case, it would be an excellent though not dispositive argument for bigger government even at the expense of the social/religious sphere. The cited study though tells us nothing of the kind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM

AS JEMMY SPINS IN HIS GRAVE

Madison Versus Bush: The United States is at a crossroads. It can either continue in a policy of unilateralism and projection of raw power. Or it can realize that it needs to coexist within a multilateral world framework. Edward Goldberg explains how the origins of the U.S. constitution play into this choice. (Edward Goldberg, May 19, 2003, The Globalist)
Americans like to see their country as earnest, optimistic and youthful, individualistic, idealistic, and a team player. "We give the underdog a chance" and "We play by the rules," Americans tell themselves.

Fortunately for America, a wise group of men came together 214 years ago to establish the rules that would make it safe for these attractive traits to blossom.

The checks and balances in the Constitution which these men created would not only protect the rights of the individual.

But, it would also force conflicting power bases within society toward compromise in order for society as a whole to be able to move forward.

The U.S. Constitution safeguarded the political system from abuse of power and from abuse of dogma. It forced each side's concepts to face the light of pragmatic concerns. James Madison and his friends knew well that, to preserve liberty, power needed to be balanced and checked.

This concept of checks and balances is integral to American political philosophy. But strangely, it is apparently not considered relevant by the Bush Administration in the formation of its foreign policy.

As far as I can tell, this guy's serious, though we'd be easy to convince that this is meant to be a parody.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM

CHIDING THE PILOT FISH

'It will take some time' to mend this fence: In interview with Post, Rice lays bare U.S. disappointment with Canada: Divided on war, deficit (Peter Morton, May 31, 2003, National Post)
Washington has not forgotten Canada's refusal to support its campaign against Iraq and will need "some time" to heal the wounds inflicted by Ottawa's repeated criticisms, Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. national security advisor, told the National Post.

"I think there was disappointment in the United States that a friend like Canada was unable to support the United States in what we considered to be an extremely important issue for our security," Ms. Rice said in an interview before joining George W. Bush at this weekend's G8 summit in Evian, France.

"That disappointment will not go of course away easily and it will take some time [to heal].

"When friends are in a position where we say our security's at stake, we would have thought, as we got from any of our friends, that the answer would have been, 'Well, how can we help?' " she said in the most expansive expression yet of U.S. unhappiness over the Canadian position.

She said Mr. Bush is also puzzled by this week's comments by Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister, who criticized the U.S. President's economic policies and suggested he himself has done a better job.

Ms. Rice said the US$330-billion tax-cut package and other stimulus measures taken by the Bush administration will lead to greater economic growth and more jobs. "And one of the great beneficiaries of that, of course, will be Canada because it is an economy that is extremely connected to the American economy and so the President is doing what he can to stimulate economic growth.'' [...]

Ms. Rice said a "disproportionate" share of dealing with international terrorism fell on the shoulders of the United States, which looked for allies in the battle because "these are values we share with our long-time friends."

"So, yes, there was some disappointment that there seemed to be some questioning of American motives and some lack of understanding that we were simply trying to do in support of our own security and support of everyone's else security," she said.

Note the subtlety with which she makes it clear that Mr. Chretien is only in a position to criticize Mr. Bush because Canada gets to ride the gravy train of the U.S. economy without sharing the security burden that it benefits from.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

TORIES--THE LESS LEFT

Tory leadership convention filled with pretty faces lacking vision (Susan Riley, May 31, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)
All the federal Tories can hope is that Peter MacKay, who is expected to win today's leadership vote at yet another pivotal party convention here, will keep the seat warm for Catherine Clark -- or for some other future leader with a lot more poise and depth than the leading contenders to replace her father have displayed so far.

This convention is supposed to showcase a "new generation of leadership," but what we are seeing is the party's B-team -- public-spirited, intelligent and hard-working candidates whose only virtue appears to be their youth.

The 37-year-old MacKay, a Nova Scotia MP and son of former Mulroney minister Elmer, was the most professional in his delivery, but his speech confirmed the worst fears of his critics -- that the party's caucus star is a pretty face void of vision. Even by the undemanding standards of the genre, MacKay's effort was more worthy of a candidate for student council than of a prime ministerial hopeful.

He would "restore Canada's place in the world," offer "leadership that listens to an engages Canadians" and, quite honestly, it is hard to find any quotes more penetrating than that. [...]

Predictably, it was David Orchard -- a strong and visible second place here, but too uncongenial to diehard Tories to muster enough support to win -- who delivered the most thoughtful, coherent speech (albeit to the wrong convention), replete with quotations and curious historical asides.

If Orchard is looking for work next week he should apply to run the new Canada History Centre. Few contemporary politicians communicate the ideas and personalities of our history as passionately.

Why are Canadian and British Tories members of their respective parties if not to run as conservatives? Take a look at this essay by Mr Orchard--What makes me a Conservative--and try to figure out how he'd be any different than Jacques Chretien? Meanwhile, Mr. MacKay, supposedly writing about social capital, somehow manages to call for its exact opposite, government actions, rather than social networks. And, of course, the single payer health care system is holier than a cow is to a Hindu. These guys are hopeless.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:14 AM

CUT THOSE SALARIES

Concerns grow over pay gaps between professional-school professors and everyone else (Chronicle of Higher Education, )
The way Marvin Johnson sees it, business professors at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa get up every morning, teach classes, do their research, and advise students -- just as he does in the university's music school.

So when he learned last fall that the average assistant professor in the business school was earning $72,691, while the average full professor in the humanities made $63,531, he was shocked, he says. "It seemed completely out of whack."

As he began poring over salary records that were provided by the university's institutional-research office, he discovered that the spread between some disciplines was even larger. For example, he learned that the highest-paid faculty members -- those in the law school, with an average salary of $102,462 -- were earning nearly three times as much as those in library science, the lowest-paid discipline at $35,991. (The university's medical school, which is on a different campus, was not included in the data.)

He decided that something had to be done. At his urging, the university's Faculty Senate voted last month to endorse a proposal that would put a cap on raises for the most highly paid professors on the campus, many of whom are in law and business.

It is truly shocking that English professors get paid $63,000 a year to read novels, while other English Ph.D.'s, equally talented, wait tables. Universities should reduce these salaries until the supply of would-be professors equals the demand for novel-readers. I expect this would happen at about $5,378 per year. Anything more than that is a gross injustice.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:13 AM

CONSERVATIVISM IN WOODEN SHOES?

New government in The Netherlands (Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep, 6/1/2003, via PoliticalTheory.info)
Prime Minister Balkenende said, for instance, that we have to discuss norms and values. At first everybody laughed, but then people said: 'He has a point. There is senseless violence in society. And of course the government has to uphold the law, but we have to do something ourselves, too. We have to go back to the ideas of responsibility, social cohesion, social trust.'

We can recognize both the mocking spirit of fashionable liberalism and the good sense of conservatism. Perhaps there is hope for Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM

THE LEFT'S NATIONALISM PROJECT

Historians Trace an Unholy Alliance: Religion and Nationalism (ALEXANDER STILLE, 5/31/03, NY Times)
When Shiite Muslims in Iraq took to the streets to protest the presence of American troops as well as Saddam Hussein, was the world witnessing the birth of nationalism? When President Bush used the term crusade to describe the war on terrorism, was he inadvertently revealing religious roots in American patriotism? In short, is religious sentiment, long considered the prime enemy of nationalism, actually one of its founding elements?

This iconoclastic theory has been gaining ground among historians. Until recently, there was a growing scholarly consensus that nationalism was a distinctly modern phenomenon, a product of post-Enlightenment culture. Public celebrations of the Fatherland, the creation of national anthems and devotion to the flag all occurred in the wake of the French and American Revolutions. [...]

[P]eter Sahlins, a historian at the University of California at Berkeley, who is working on a book on the nature of citizenship in early modern France, says the idea that religious intolerance is the "original sin" of nationalism is getting more and more attention. "I think it's a healthy corrective to the modernist consensus," he said.

Mr. Sahlins notes that prevailing theories of nationalism have a way of following the mood of the times. When Serbs, Croats and Muslims were killing one another in the Balkans, many commentators originally pointed to the eternal and atavistic origins of ethnic violence, not recognizing that the different groups had lived in relative harmony under the Ottoman Empire and even under Tito.

"Now the context in which we see nationalism has completely changed," he said. Faced with the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, the West is more open to looking at the role of religion in the formation of nationalism. [...]

Linda Colley, a historian at the London School of Economics and the author of the 1992 book "Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837" (Yale University Press), agrees that religion is central to nationalism.

According to Ms. Colley and Mr. Marx, nationalism begins with an act of demonizing a religious "other" and creating a sense of community by defining an "us" and a "them." Recognizing this, they argue, may help Westerners better understand, for example, the contemporary phenomena of Islamic fundamentalism and Arab nationalism

Suddenly the incomprehensibility of yesterday's patriotism is nationalism essay becomes clearer. Note the oddity here of defining Islamicism/pan-Arabism as "nationalism". What nation?

Religious fundamentalism [or any universalist ideology, from liberalism (in the classic sense) to Marxism] may be problematic, but it is a far different problem than nationalism. It is the peculiar power of ideology that it can unite people across national borders--so, for instance, al Qaeda can see the "struggle" of a Mohammed Farah Aidid in Somalia and of a Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and of an Abu Sayyaf in the Phillipines as its own, despite obvious national differences.

If you want to criticize religion, that's a reasonably good hook to hang your case on. But nationalism, particularly in its most virulent form, would appear to be a quite different beast, one based on a kind of tribalism, an identification of a given ethnicity as superior to others within and without the nation. Indeed, if we look for the likely wellspring of nationalism we could do worse than seek it in scientific materialism. If Darwin is right and even minor differences in genetic makeup render us significantly different than one another and therefore competitors for survival, then such ethnic hatreds are natural. But even if Darwinism overstates or misstates the case, so long as we accept it as true it can form the the perfect basis of ethnic hostility.

Unfortunately, the idea that the main alternative to religious belief is likewise responsible for violence between peoples hardly advances the Left's cause, so it would appear a sytstematic attempt is being made to simply redefine nationalism in a variety of dubious ways in order to escape its implications.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 AM

HERE'S YOUR RECIPE, IF ONLY YOU HAD THE INGREDIENTS...

Constitutionally, a Risky Business: Drafting a constitution is often the first step in transforming a country to democracy, but the questions seem to be endless. (FELICIA R. LEE, 5/31/03, NY Times)
In the last 35 years, more than 100 countries have tried to accomplish what Iraq is trying to do: create a democratic constitution.

While some countries have succeeded, many others have been stymied by ethnic and religious hatreds, differences over power divisions and deeply rooted corruption or violence.

Drafting a constitution is often the first step in transforming a country to democracy, but the questions seem to be endless.

If you start a democracy with a constitution you've already gone tragically wrong. A functional constitution is necessarily a conservative document--restraining change and providing predictability--so it must be preceded by the development of a series of social and governmental institutions that are worth preserving. Among these are family, neighborhood associations, churches, unions, a military, a precedential legal system (with property rights), a relatively market-oriented economy, etc.. It is the desire to protect these things that gioves the citizenry a vested interest in the success of the constitutional order. In the absence of these things, all a constitution is likely to do is determine who will get to exercise authority over the nation or, in some ways worse, who will hold office but not have the actual authority to govern. Either of these alternatives naturally tends to undermine the people's faith in constitutionalism itself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:08 AM

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE DIXIE CHICKS

Weimar Whiners (JAMES TRAUB, June 1, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
Have you heard that it's 1933 in America? God knows I have. Three times in the last few weeks I have been told -- by a novelist, an art historian and a professor of classics at Harvard, none of them ideologues or cranks -- that the erosion of civil liberties under the Bush administration constitutes an early stage, or at least a precursor, to the kind of fascism Hitler brought to Germany. I first heard the 1933 analogy a few months back, when one of the nation's leading scholars of international law suggested at a meeting of diplomats that Bush's advisers were probably plotting to suspend the election of 2004.

Now, I think I understand the argument that compares the United States with imperial Rome, or with one of the unwitting great powers of 1914. But 1933? Hitler? That's grotesque; and the fact that is has achieved such currency among what the French call the bien pensant is vivid proof that in much of the left, 9/11 and its aftermath have increased the visceral loathing not of terrorism or of Islamist fundamentalism but of President George Bush.

Like all forms of reductio ad Hitler, the 1933 analogy constitutes a gross trivialization of the worst event in modern history. Do we remember what actually happened in 1933? Hitler ascended to the chancellorship, suspended constitutional rights and banned all opposition political parties, sent the Brown Shirts into the streets and issued the first decrees stripping Jews of their rights. To compare the passage of the U.S.A. Patriot Act and the proposed -- but scotched -- program to get ordinary citizens to pass along tips about suspicious dark-skinned strangers, not to mention the cancellation of Tim Robbins's invitation to appear at the Baseball Hall of Fame because he might criticize the war in Iraq -- to compare these and other inroads on our liberties to Hitler's budding terror state is repellent.

But 1933 theorists, at least the more sophisticated ones, look beyond current policy to what they consider the structural similarities between contemporary America and various fascist states. In a recent article in The Nation, Sheldon Wolin, an emeritus professor of politics at Princeton, described the contemporary Republican party as ''a fervently doctrinal party, zealous, ruthless, antidemocratic and boasting a near majority.''

That last bit from Mr. Wolin is particularly delicious: just because the majority is not Democratic does not mean they aren't democratic. Fascist is not the opposite of Leftist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 AM

BALL OF CONFUSION, THAT'S WHAT THE WORLD IS TODAY, HEY, HEY

-REVIEW: of Hobbes, Locke, and Confusion's Masterpiece: An Examination of Seventeenth Century Philosophy by Ross Harrison (Duncan Ivison, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)
The title of the book is taken from Shakespeare's Macbeth, and Macduff's lament for the murder of King Duncan, the consequence of which is that "Confusion now have made his masterpiece!". For Harrison, Shakespeare's portrayal of the undermining of moral and political order provides a leitmotif for thinking about seventeenth century political philosophy in general. The greatest works of this century--here meaning those of Hobbes and Locke--emerged out of moral and political confusion. Religious disputes over the nature of belief and religious practice generated murderous civil and international conflict. Philosophical disputes, and especially the revival of ancient skepticism and newer forms of modern skepticism, sowed deep philosophical doubts about the possibility of knowledge, natural or otherwise. Older philosophical frameworks, such as Aristotelianism and Thomism, were found wanting, and philosophers struggled to find new arguments to arbitrate between various warring doctrines, or indeed to transcend them.

For Harrison, skepticism is the most pressing moral and political problem faced by seventeenth century philosophy, and especially by Hobbes and Locke. And the problem of skepticism infects "the most fundamental problem in political philosophy" - the problem of political obligation. At times Harrison seems to suggest these are still our problems, and that one way we gain insight into them is by seeing the various options for their resolution as presented by Hobbes, Locke, and Grotius, among others. We gain this kind of insight by taking the history of philosophy seriously, and especially the contexts within which moral and political arguments are formed. Not surprisingly, since these remain our problems, Hobbes emerges as the most clear-headed in this history since he seems most willing to bite the bullet when it comes to the clash between self-interest, politics and morality. We need politics (the commonwealth) to solve the moral problem, given his subjectivist account of what is good and bad and of moral judgment. In a lovely aside, Harrison tells us that at one point he contemplated calling the last chapter "What's the Use?" in order to "reflect more generally on the possibility of political philosophy and on the use for political philosophy of the historical philosophers I have been describing". His answer to this question is rather elusive, but I take it that it is Hobbes? insight about the need for politics to help solve our moral conflicts that Harrison is suggesting is the master stroke of the "new" natural law. This and the various attempts at refuting Hobbes' argument, such as Cumberland's, point to the "beginnings of the contractualist method" of discovering the good by discovering those things into which everyone would contract. Harrison even suggests that Locke gestures at something like it in his 1692 note "Ethica A". But in another much bleaker note written the following year (which Harrison doesn't cite), Locke suggests that without God and his divine law what we get is moral chaos. Harrison admits that Locke is only "waving" at something about which Hobbes is much clearer.

As it stands, the main claims of the book are hardly novel. The central focus on skepticism fits into a pattern of thinking about the history of the seventeenth century that has its roots in Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy, and which has been central to the work of historians of philosophy like Richard Popkin, amongst others. Richard Tuck and Knud Haakonssen have also argued recently at great length and with great skill that the political thought of the seventeenth century--especially that of Hobbes and Grotius--was profoundly shaped by the challenge of skepticism mounted by writers such as Montaigne and Charron. But what is interesting about the book, at least for me, is the way it tries to balance historical and philosophical approaches to these questions in a manner not often attempted in the existing literature. To over-generalize somewhat, historically minded scholars often provide beautiful reconstructions of the context of an argument or period, but avoid asking the kinds of philosophical questions that inevitably emerge as one reflects on the relation between arguments then and now. On the other hand, and much more frequently, contemporary philosophers tend to wrench early modern arguments out of context altogether, and criticize or put them to work in modern guise without any hesitation whatsoever. Harrison tries to strike a balance between these two extremes, and it provides an interesting background for the work as a whole. [...]

Now Harrison argues that political philosophy has essentially three tasks. First, the task of explanation, that is, "promoting understanding of political aspects of our (social) world". Second, the "task of justification . . . we want to know why or whether we should have it, or in what way", and in this sense political philosophy is a normative subject, "a part of applied ethics". Third, it must explain motivation, that is, why people are or could be motivated to "produce" the desired outcomes or institutions. These various aspects can come apart and combine in various ways, as Harrison shows very nicely with regard to both Hobbes and Locke. But the crucial task for political philosophy is justification--in fact, the need for justification is entailed by the confusion caused by skepticism, and the responses by Hobbes and Locke are "masterpieces of justification". The structure of justification that Harrison presupposes goes something like this. Rationally binding norms are either self-grounding, on the basis of some account of self-interest, moral realism, or a conception of man as a rational self-governing being, or they bind in virtue of the superior wisdom and/or power of God.

It is the failure to find a "self-grounding" justification that has left us with only two alternatives: either morality must be grounded in God or else all behavior must be regulated by the State (this is regulation rather than morality precisely because it proceeds from the abandonment of the attempt to find justification). The main differences among the several nations of the West seem to be a function of how far along the path from Godish morality to Statism they find themselves, with America having proceeded the shortest distance and therefore being the most free of State control.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 AM

VICTORY IS ITS OWN JUSTIFICATION

Europe Awaits, With Bated Breath (RICHARD BERNSTEIN, May 31, 2003, NY Times)
Referring to "weapons of mass destruction," the conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in an editorial today:

"America and Great Britain grounded their military operation on the argument that the dictator in Baghdad was building W.M.D., that no inspections regime could really do anything about it and, given the seriousness of the threat, there was no time to lose. Since the end of the war, much has been unearthed to show the criminal nature of the Hussein regime, and that gives moral justification to a regime change. But up to now there has been no evidence for the W.M.D. that were used as grounds for war."

The newspaper argued that the Bush administration's justification for the war had crumbled, and American "credibility and legitimacy" were therefore weakened.

Mr. Bush arrives in a Europe whose various publics generally opposed the Iraq war, regardless of the position taken by their governments - France and Germany loudly opposed, and Britain, Spain and Italy in support. Still, as time has passed, and as reports of the horrors of life in prewar Iraq have appeared, some of the antiwar passion of ordinary Europeans seems to have dissipated.

There were, for example, no large demonstrations being planned to coincide with Mr. Bush's visit, which would probably not have been the case only a few weeks ago.

The lack of protesters effectively denies the notion that the lack of WMD matters. Even the Left tends to have some trouble turning out the crowds once the killing fields are exposed and the argument that war was justified but on different grounds is unlikely to move the masses. We're right back where we started. The diehards on one side don't care whether there was WMD or not (that's us); those on the other don't care how murderous Saddam was. Folks in the middle are happy to have won so easily but will have forgetten the war and Iraq by the 4th of July. On to North Korea.

May 30, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM

THE REAL SOLZHENITSYN

-REVIEW: of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology By Daniel J. Mahoney (Robert P. Kraynak, First Things)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer and former Soviet dissident, is not yet dead, but he is in danger of fading into oblivion in the West and of being dismissed as a crank in his own country. This is a terrible shame. For Solzhenitsyn is one of the giants of the twentieth century-a heroic witness to truth who resisted Communist tyranny and exposed the horrors of Soviet forced-labor camps in The Gulag Archipelago. He is also a powerful novelist whose works of historical fiction-The First Circle, August 1914, Cancer Ward, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich-depict the enduring struggles between good and evil in the human heart.

If these achievements are not enough to save Solzhenitsyn from premature death, then one can read Daniel Mahoney's inspiring new book Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology to appreciate the philosophical and spiritual reasons for keeping him alive. The most important reason, Mahoney tells us, is Solzhenitsyn's understanding of "the permanent propensities of the modern mind"-namely, the fatal attraction to utopian ideologies and the totalitarian temptation to radically alter human nature. Solzhenitsyn not only dissects these propensities; he also provides a way out-an "ascent from ideology," in Mahoney's words, that aims at healing the human soul by recovering the God-given natural order of things as well as the spiritual basis of political freedom.

In presenting a reasoned defense of Solzhenitsyn, Mahoney joins a distinguished group of scholars, including Edward Ericson and Alexis Klimoff, whose mission is to rehabilitate Solzhenitsyn in Western eyes. Their task is formidable, because most Westerners have accepted the demonized caricature of Solzhenitsyn as a Russian "ayatollah," a Tsarist reactionary, a nationalistic extremist, and, to boot, an anti-Semite.

These scholars must also contend with the bias of modern intellectuals against any attempt to portray Solzhenitsyn as a spokesman for responsible political freedom. As Mahoney points out, "Contemporary intellectuals and journalists will not tolerate any serious challenge to the enlightenment or progressivist assumptions underlying modern liberty." What he means is that Western intellectuals are intolerant because they are hardly aware of decent alternatives to the secular theories of freedom and rights flowing from the Enlightenment. Hence, it is almost inconceivable to them that Solzhenitsyn could hold traditional beliefs about God, Orthodox Christianity, the mystical basis of the Russian nation, and the soul's eternal destiny while also being a spokesman for responsible political freedom (meaning constitutional limits on power, moderate nationalism, private property, and local self-government). And yet this is the real Solzhenitsyn, according to Mahoney, not the demon of Western journalism. [...]

Mahoney begins by arguing that the most reliable statement of Solzhenitsyn's political views is not the sensational Harvard Address of 1978 but rather the largely ignored Liechtenstein Address of 1993. This is a bold and original way to interpret Solzhenitsyn. The Harvard Address created a huge stir because it criticized Western liberal democracies for their loss of courage during the Vietnam War and for their adherence to legalistic rights without moral restraints. The Harvard Address was strident (though also powerful and inspiring, in my view) and seemed to offer no third way between the spiritual exhaustion of Western democracy and the tyranny of Soviet communism.

The later Liechtenstein Address continues the criticism of modern Western life, challenging its notion of progress for diminishing the human soul by glorifying materialism and trivializing death. Yet the address also sounds a new theme by praising the moral strengths of Western democracy-especially Ronald Reagan's inspiring political leadership that enabled the West to win the Cold War, as well as the constitutional restraints on power that protect personal liberty. The mature Solzhenitsyn, Mahoney demonstrates, is a man capable of prudent political judgment who clearly recognizes that political freedom is indispensable for survival as well as for spiritual renewal.

Mahoney locates a crucial element of Solzhenitsyn's political teaching in his analysis of Peter Stolypin, the Prime Minister of Russia from 1906-11. Solzhenitsyn's appreciation of Stolypin has been largely unknown because it appears in the second edition of August 1914: The Red Wheel I (1989), which few have read. What Solzhenitsyn claims in the Stolypin chapters is that a moderate alternative to Tsarist autocracy existed in Russia in the early twentieth century-namely, a peaceful evolution toward a European-style constitutional monarchy under the enlightened statesmanship of Prime Minister Stolypin.

The main features of Stolypin's plan were the preservation of the Romanov dynasty and Orthodox Church, combined with economic and political reforms-reforms that would have given land to peasants and established local self-governing councils. Tragically, Stolypin was assassinated by terrorists who feared the success of his plan (which Solzhenitsyn estimates could have created an independent peasantry in twenty years and prevented Communist revolution). Mahoney's analysis shows Solzhenitsyn to be a Burkean-style admirer of constitutional monarchy that gradually evolves toward ordered liberty while preserving his nation's distinctive traditions.

Had Mr. Solzhenitsyn been content to demolish the legitimacy of the Soviet Union, his contribution to mankind would have been more than sufficient. That he also showed us the rot creeping into the foundations of our own culture makes him one of the most extraordinary men of our time.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 PM

TOFU IS MURDER

The Paradoxes of American Nationalism: As befits a nation of immigrants, American nationalism is defined not by notions of ethnic superiority, but by a belief in the supremacy of U.S. democratic ideals. This disdain for Old World nationalism creates a dual paradox in the American psyche: First, although the United States is highly nationalistic, it doesn't see itself as such. Second, despite this nationalistic fervor, U.S. policymakers generally fail to appreciate the power of nationalism abroad. (Minxin Pei, Foreign Policy)
Nationalism is a dirty word in the United States, viewed with disdain and associated with Old World parochialism and imagined supremacy. Yet those who discount the idea of American nationalism may readily admit that Americans, as a whole, are extremely patriotic. When pushed to explain the difference between patriotism and nationalism, those same skeptics might concede, reluctantly, that there is a distinction, but no real difference. Political scientists have labored to prove such a difference, equating patriotism with allegiance to one's country and defining nationalism as sentiments of ethno-national superiority. In reality, however, the psychological and behavioral manifestations of nationalism and patriotism are indistinguishable, as is the impact of such sentiments on policy. [...]

American nationalism is hidden in plain sight. But even if Americans saw it, they wouldn't recognize it as nationalism. That's because American nationalism is a different breed from its foreign cousins and exhibits three unique characteristics.

First, American nationalism is based on political ideals, not those of cultural or ethnic superiority. That conception is entirely fitting for a society that still sees itself as a cultural and ethnic melting pot. As President George W. Bush said in his Fourth of July speech last year: "There is no American race; there's only an American creed." And in American eyes, the superiority of that creed is self-evident. American political institutions and ideals, coupled with the practical achievements attributed to them, have firmly convinced Americans that their values ought to be universal. Conversely, when Americans are threatened, they see attacks on them as primarily attacks on their values. Consider how American elites and the public interpreted the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most readily embraced the notion that the attacks embodied an assault on U.S. democratic freedoms and institutions.

Second, American nationalism is triumphant rather than aggrieved. In most societies, nationalism is fueled by past grievances caused by external powers. Countries once subjected to colonial rule, such as India and Egypt, are among the most nationalistic societies. But American nationalism is the polar opposite of such aggrieved nationalism. American nationalism derives its meaning from victories in peace and war since the country?s founding. Triumphant nationalists celebrate the positive and have little empathy for the whining of aggrieved nationalists whose formative experience consisted of a succession of national humiliations and defeats.

Finally, American nationalism is forward looking, while nationalism in most other countries is the reverse. Those who believe in the superiority of American values and institutions do not dwell on their historical glories (though such glories constitute the core of American national identity). Instead, they look forward to even better times ahead, not just at home but also abroad. This dynamism imbues American nationalism with a missionary spirit and a short collective memory. Unavoidably, such forward-looking and universalistic perspectives clash with the backward-looking and particularistic perspectives of ethno-nationalism in other countries.

This is a fairly odd essay. It ignores what has always been understood as the difference between Nationalism and American patriotism--that the former is ethnicity-based while the latter is ideology-based--so that the author can then read the differences between the two into a sweeping definition of Nationalism and then castigate Americans for not recognizing that they fit this newly coined definition. Most bizarre of all, she does this even as she notes the signifigance of each difference.

One might just as well redefine vegetables as meat and then chide those who call themselves vegetarians for deluding themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 PM

ORDERED LIBERTY STARTS WITH ORDER

What Palestinians Can Learn From a Turning Point in Zionist History (ETHAN BRONNER, May 30, 2003, NY Times)
In the final years of the British mandate in Palestine, there was not one Jewish militia but several, just as there are competing Palestinian groups today. The main one, the Haganah, was led by Mr. Ben-Gurion. A more violent and radical one, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, often called simply the Irgun, was led by Menachem Begin. The Irgun, along with an even more radical group, the Stern Gang, was responsible for a massacre of more than 200 Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin in April 1948.

A month later, after the British walked out of Palestine and Mr. Ben-Gurion declared the state of Israel, Arab armies attacked. On June 1, the Haganah and Irgun agreed to merge into the Israel Defense Forces, headed by Haganah commanders. The accord called on Irgun members to hand over arms and terminate separate activity, including arms purchases abroad.

But there remained the question of an old American Navy landing vessel bought by the Irgun's American supporters and renamed the Altalena. The ship, whose purchase had predated the June 1 agreement, was packed with 850 volunteers, 5,000 rifles, 3,000 bombs, 3 million cartridges and hundreds of tons of explosives.

Mr. Ben-Gurion wanted every soldier and bullet he could get and ordered the ship to dock. But Mr. Begin said the arms should go to Irgun troops. Mr. Ben-Gurion refused; at that point, Irgun men headed to the beach to unload the arms.

Mr. Ben-Gurion realized the challenge he faced. As he put it in his memoir, "I decided this must be the moment of truth. Either the government's authority would prevail and we could then proceed to consolidate our military force or the whole concept of nationhood would fall apart." [...]

The point for the Palestinians is that until their radical militias are put out of action, those groups will always be in the position of spoilers. In 1996, the Palestinian Authority showed itself capable of confrontation, making widespread arrests of extremists in the wake of several suicide bombings. Thousands of militants were arrested. But most were eventually let go. The Palestinians must do it again and in a definitive manner. The Altalena is a symbol of that task because it involved genuine confrontation yet little loss of life.

It is the essence of the State that only it be allowed to mete out death. Sooner or later--hopefully sooner--Mr. Abbas will have to establish the existence of this kind of monopoly power if the idea of a Palestinian nation is to be taken seriously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:43 PM

BREAKER WEPT

It'd pay for blokes to have the babies (Richard Glover, May 31 2003, Sydney Morning Herald)
Sydney filmmakers, it has emerged this week, are making a documentary about fathers who pretend to breastfeed their new babies. Apparently, the fathers believe that this aids the bonding process.

At the same time, a Herald report claims men will soon be able to create babies, without the assistance of any female genetic material.

It's great that men want to be women, and women want to be men, but what will it all mean? Here's a list of just some of the ways the world would change if men and women swapped roles: [...]

People would stop publishing baby manuals, since no man has ever started a job by reading the instructions.

Instead of the question "Do I look good in this dress?", there would always be a statement: "You've got to admit I look great in this dress."

The length of the labour would be recorded on the child's birth certificate; rather like the way big-game fishermen record the length of battle for a particularly fine marlin.

Workplace productivity would fall to new lows as men everywhere were distracted by the alluring sight of their own breasts.

Apparently Aussie men don't have the same masculinity problem as Canadian men.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM

TRANSPARENCY

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with Sam Tannenhaus, Vanity Fair (United States Department of Defense, May 9, 2003)
Q: Since you brought that up let me ask you something related to that. I've looked at the remarkable Defense Policy Guidance of 1992 --

Wolfowitz: Wait a minute. Did you look at the guidance or did you look at the draft that was leaked before I saw it?

Q: That's a very good point. Actually all I saw were summaries of it. Is there a big discrepancy as to what was reported and what was in it?

Wolfowitz: Yes. In short. At some point I guess it's acquired such a life of its own I ought to go back and refresh my memory.

But the way I remember it approximately is as follows. I gave a quite substantial briefing to Secretary Cheney and what was then called I guess the Defense Resources Board on a post-Cold War defense strategy, the essence of which was to shift from a strategy for being prepared to fight a global war, to being focused on two possible regional conflicts. And to downsize the U.S. military by some 40 percent.

That was sort of taken to the President, promulgated in a speech in Aspen on August 2, 1990, which you may recall happened also to be the day that Iraq invaded Kuwait. In fact we had, in that briefing that I gave in May I think, it focused on the Iraqi threat to the Arabian peninsula as one of the regional problems we needed to be prepared to deal with. At the time that was considered a revolutionary idea. By the time the President gave the speech it had already happened. [Laughter]

Then that general briefing had to be translated into a guidance document for the department. Some people on my staff wrote a draft. Before I even got to see the draft someone leaked it to the New York Times, apparently because they didn't like it. The New York Times then wrote about the draft.

If you go back, and you can do this with Lexis/Nexis. If you go back, the excerpts from the draft are nowhere near as hysterical as the way the New York Times reported it. So people in the first place were reacting to the New York Times description of the draft as opposed to the actual text of the draft which the Times in fact did publish.

I repeat, it was not a draft that I'd even reviewed yet.

As I recall, one of the pieces of hysteria was the idea that this is a blueprint for a massive increase in U.S. defense spending, when in fact it was a blueprint for a 40 percent reduction in U.S. defense spending. It goes on from there.

When we did a revised draft that in fact I had reviewed carefully, the State Department initially didn't want us to put it out, I think because it was a little too much. Well, I don't know why. They didn't want us to put it out. I don't want to speculate on motives. But in January of 1993 as we were about to leave, I said to Cheney don't you think we should publish it? And he said yes, we should. So it's available in the full text as the Regional Defense Strategy of January, 1993.

I know people say oh well, they just sanded off the corners because the real thing received such an adverse reaction. But the truth of the matter is what the Times was writing about was something that I'd never seen. What is published, while I will admit some of the corners are rounded off on it, reflects my views. [...]

Q: [Y]ou have been skeptical about Clinton's, the sentimental liberalism in his ideas, his approach to foreign policy, right?

Wolfowitz: Well, yes but let's remember that -- I think they made a serious over-reach in Somalia when they went beyond just ending starvation and tried to do nationbuilding. I think Haiti was a waste of American effort. I think, as we've learned, the North Korea Framework Agreement was delusional. But on two of the key things they did, namely Bosnia and Kosovo, Bob Dole supported Clinton quite strongly and I would say courageously on Bosnia and I'm proud to claim some credit in having advised --

Q: You did too.

Wolfowitz: I did too, but I also was there when Dole was being pushed by some of his Republican colleagues to go after Clinton saying this would be a catastrophe. I said no it won't be, and moreover, it's the right thing to do.

If they had dropped the arms embargo on the Bosnians as they promised to do when they came into office it might not have been necessary to still have thousands of foreign troops in Bosnia. But by the time you got to it in 1995 it was the only alternative.

And similarly, on Kosovo, when Bush was deciding whether to support it or not, I was strongly urging him to do so. When some Republicans tried to undercut Clinton on Kosovo, it was Bush and McCain together who told them don't do that. It's wrong.

So it's not that everything they did was wrong, but I think things like Haiti and Somalia were over-reached and generally there was, I think, a difficulty in distinguishing what was American interest from what were sort of vaguely seen as international community preferences. But I'm not a unilateralist by any means. In fact I don't think you can get much done in this world if you do it alone.

Q: Do you think there was a reluctance on their part even to use the threat of force? To make force an option in the way that it's now become -- I think about North Korea, Syria and Iran, and actually --

Wolfowitz: And Iraq.

Q: And Iraq. When I think about it, these other three that have now been brought up, being discussed, have actually been very kind of multinational and diplomatic and yet it's partly the threat of force that seems to strengthen the approach, doesn't it?

Wolfowitz: There's no question that in certain -- First of all, diplomacy that it's just words is rarely going to get you much unless you're dealing with people who basically share your values and your interests. I'm not against, I mean sometimes it does help to just have a better understanding.

But if you're talking about trying to move people to something that they're not inclined to do, then you've got to have leverage and one piece of leverage is the ultimate threat of force. It's something you need to be very careful about because, as Rumsfeld likes to say, don't cock unless you're prepared to throw it.

By the way I think there was a tendency to cock it too often with Kosovo. If you go back and look at the year and a half or so leading up to when we finally did use force there were so many empty threats issued that Milosevic clearly concluded, ultimately wrongly, that we weren't serious.

So I think yeah, I think the threat of force is one of the instruments of diplomacy, but it's one that needs to be used carefully.

It's hard to recall a public official who has ever been portrayed quite so ominously in the media but who comes across so well when the media actually talk to him.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:26 PM

)

Jesus was gay - $51,000 says so (News.com.au, 5/29/2003)
JESUS was gay – the University of Queensland gave $51,000 of public money to a PhD student to reach that conclusion....

As well as his revelation about Christ, Dr McCleary has also reached the conclusion that three – or possibly four – of Jesus's chosen disciples were also gay....

Dr McCleary also believes that gay people find it easier to be Christian. "You don't have to be gay to be Christian, but it would be easier," he said....

He said Jesus's astrological chart, clues in the scriptures to which the churches had been blind and accurate biblical translations had all played a part in his conclusions. "The starting point is the matter of John, who always referred to himself as Jesus's beloved disciple," Dr McCleary said.

I, frankly, don't want to know Dr. McCleary's interpretation of Jesus's last commandment, the mandamus ("Love one another as I have loved you," John 15:12). But I will say this: he makes a good case for separation of church and state. Also for separation of education and state, and separation of historical research and state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:25 PM

VOTE DEMOCRAT IN '04--WE NEED MORE MANSONS

Dem Blues: The left, turning right, was plain wrong to attack pop culture (Robert Wilonsky, 5/29/03, Dallas Observer)
You've been warned: This is a column about politics wherein a popular-culture critic (dunno what that is either, but says so on my tax returns) interviews a former rock journalist-turned-publicist-turned-band-manager-turned-record-label-executive about how the Democratic Party alienated everyone under the age of death. You may take this with a grain of salt; you may take it with an entire salt lick. Wouldn't blame you a bit, as all I know about politics could fit inside the head of the Green Lantern action figure sitting on my desk, and the record-label exec in question did sign Jewel to a major-label deal, which should make you immediately suspicious of anything he has to say, think, write or, for that matter, do.

All that said, Danny Goldberg is probably the perfect guy to talk Democratic politics with when all you know about Democratic politics is that Joe Lieberman's going to get his salami handed to him on a seder plate come Election Day 2004. The 52-year-old Goldberg is not only the quintessential liberal--supports higher taxes to fund national health care and better pay for teachers, has been an officer in the American Civil Liberties Union since the mid-1980s, believes labor unions should be stronger--but he's also a longtime rock-and-roll pusher man. He's worked with Led Zeppelin (as publicist and head of Swan Song, the band's label), Nirvana and Sonic Youth (as manager, when he owned Gold Mountain), Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams and R.E.M. (as the head of one of several labels for whom he's worked, including Warner Bros., Mercury and Atlantic) and now Warren Zevon and Steve Earle (as owner of his own label, Artemis Records).

Ever since Robert Plant was a golden god, Goldberg has been selling culture to kids. He has been witness to rock's occasional revolutions and a party to its intermittent downward slides (he signed Hootie and the Blowfish); he helped organize the No Nukes concert in 1980 and was on the front line of the Culture Wars long before Tipper Gore ever fired a shot. And from his vantage point, the war's going badly for his side: Used to be it was only right-wingers who hated what he was selling. Now you can't find a Democratic candidate, outside of maybe Al Sharpton, who'll own up to owning music you can move to.

As Goldberg insists in his book Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit, which arrives in stores in two weeks, Democrats can't get kids to vote anymore because they've spent the last decade, if not longer, attacking young voters and those coming of political age--especially Democrat front-runner Lieberman. It was Lieberman who, along with Hillary Clinton, introduced the Media Marketing Accountability Act of 2001, which wanted the Federal Trade Commission to go after record companies selling rock and rap records to kids under 17. Lieberman insisted, hey, he just wanted to put "ratings" on CD covers; what he really wanted was to make it a criminal act to sell Eminem and "the vile, hateful and nihilistic" Marilyn Manson to kids. Lieberman--don't kid yourself, he's Bill Bennett in a yarmulke.

Well, Mr. Wilonsky does start by warning us he knows not whereof he speaks. but by the time he gets to the point where he thinks Joe Lieberman did himself political damage by attacking the likes of Marilyn Manson he might have thought better of handing in the column.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:27 PM

"PROGRESS"IVES

DNC Proposal Raises Controversy (Brain Faler, May 30, 2003, Washington Post)
The Democratic National Committee backed away yesterday from reports that it plans to lay off nearly a dozen minority staffers -- a proposal criticized by several prominent black politicians -- saying it has not made any decisions on its staffing.

The DNC had proposed laying off 10 African American staffers as its retools the party in preparation for the 2004 campaign. But that plan was roundly condemned by several prominent black leaders, including party strategist Donna Brazile, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) and DNC executive committee member Minyon Moore.

"I'm just outraged," Brazile had told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "They started reading me the names and I said, 'Oh, oh -- they're all black.' I went through the roof."

DNC communications strategist Jim Mulhall said yesterday that his party has not made any decisions on who it might dismiss and when. He called the number of staffers cited in the reports "inaccurate," but declined to estimate how many might lose their jobs or when the party might make its decisions. "It's a work in progress," he said.

Tell Old Pharoah, let my people go...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:10 PM

RAVING IDIOCY

When Holding a Party Is a Crime (JACOB SULLUM, May 30, 2003, NY Times)
During Prohibition, the government required that industrial alcohol be poisoned, typically with methanol, to keep it from being converted into cocktails. If bootleggers did not completely remove the adulterant, it could cause blindness, paralysis and death. Thus a measure aimed at discouraging alcohol consumption made it more hazardous for those who continued to drink.

A similar dynamic can be seen in today's war on drugs. The latest example is a law President Bush signed last month. The measure, attached to the Amber Alert bill by Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, holds club owners responsible for drug use on their property. The main target--reflected in the rider's original name, the Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy (RAVE) bill--is the all-night dance parties, or raves, where the drug MDMA, also called Ecstasy, is popular.

The act prohibits "knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using any controlled substance." Given this broad language, anyone who organizes or rents space for an event where drug use takes place could face criminal charges. Not only is the law unlikely to keep people from using Ecstasy, it could magnify the drug's dangers by pushing raves further underground and discouraging voluntary efforts to protect users from serious harm.

One of the lynchpins of libertarian orthodoxy is that people are rational actors. This is necessary in order to argue that if I leave you alone you too will leave me alone and that we don't need the state to intervene between us. Of course, the lynchpin gets heaved out the window when it's inconvenient to other libertarian arguments. For example, Mr. Sullum asks us to accept the contradictory notion that this act will make Ecstasy use more dangerous, even lethal, but that this fact won't affect usage. Is he asking us to believe that people do not behave rationally or that Ecstasy is so seductive and addictive that users can't stop? Of course, it hardly matters because either is an argument for more rigorous control of a damaging substance, not less.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM

MASCULINITY IS HATRED

Men's groups promoting hatred, federal report says (Michael Higgins, May 30, 2003, National Post)
A federally funded report says "masculinists" are orchestrating a backlash against feminism and blaming women for oppressing and discriminating against men.

The report's authors claim that masculinists portray men as victims and link feminism with boys' poor performance in schools, male suicide, loss of male identity and discriminatory divorce and child custody laws.

"A process of levelling the power relationships of men over women is taking hold, not only to mask continued inequality but also to attack some of the gains made by the women's movement," says the $75,000 report, School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist Discourse.

The report says "masculinist discourse" aims to discredit feminism and challenge the gains made by women in education, at work and in family life.

The feminists may well be right, but if we're having a gender war mightn't they want to think about the imbalance in gender ratios that the abortion of female fetuses is creating? Uniltateral disarmament seems a bad idea in the midst of a war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 AM

COMITY COMEDY

Bush-GOP ferocity alters American politics (E.J. Dionne, 5/30/03, Washington Post)
President Bush's signature on his big tax cut bill Wednesday marked a watershed in American politics.

The rules of policy-making that have applied since the end of World War II are now irrelevant. A narrow Republican majority will work its partisan will, no matter what. Democrats, at least until 2004, will have the grim satisfaction of being a relatively unified opposition that will suffer just enough defections to fail at the finish line.

Until now, Congress was a forcefully independent branch of government. Presidents as diverse as Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Clinton and even Reagan could not count on automatic support from members of their own party in the House and Senate.

Only President Lyndon B. Johnson had the power to see his programs to passage largely unscathed. And he had that power for only two years, 1965 and 1966, when Democrats enjoyed 2-1 majorities in both houses.

With a very slim congressional majority, Bush would have been expected to seek genuine compromise--under the old rules. But Washington has become so partisan and Bush is so determined to push through a domestic program based almost entirely on tax cuts for the wealthy that a remarkably radical program is winning despite the odds against it and lukewarm public support.

This is a shock to congressional Democrats, most of whom came to political maturity under the old arrangements that placed a heavy emphasis on comity and the search for the political center. In all the years when progressive interest groups and foundations were attacking partisanship as a dismal force in politics, conservatives such as presidential adviser Karl Rove, antitax activist Grover Norquist, Tom DeLay and, yes, Newt Gingrich, were building a great Republican machine. The new tax bill is a monument to their success.

Faced with an administration intent on moving the political center to the right, Democrats are torn between old impulses and a recognition of the new order. This week, Democrats were by turn patting themselves on the back for their own unity and acknowledging the new world Rove, Norquist and Co. have created.

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

Oh my stars and garters..that's just hilarious. Don't we all pine for the days of bipartisanship and comity when Democrats ditched the South Vietnamese and the Contras, despite the pleas of Republican presidents and the congressional minority, and all those other non-partisan moments....

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:31 AM

ROUSSEAU, NOT LOCKE; VOLTAIRE, NOT LUTHER; EURIPIDES, NOT JESUS

Draft Preamble of Euro-Constitution Omits Mention of Christianity (Zenit, 5/29/2003)
The draft Preamble of the future European Constitution fails to mention the Christian roots of the Old World.

The draft, published Wednesday, refers to "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe which ... [was] nourished first by the civilizations of Greece and Rome" and "later by philosophical currents of the Enlightenment."

According to the document, this foundation "has embedded within the life of society its perception of the central role of the human person and his inviolable and inalienable rights, and of respect for law" ...

Giorgio Rumi, professor of contemporary history at the University of Milan, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire: "I feel profoundly offended as a European citizen and as a historian."

"I think that between Athens, Rome and the Enlightenment -- the three mentioned -- there is something decisive in-between," he said. "I am not speaking of confessional pretensions, but of that name in which whole generations have lived and hoped. Is it possible that the mention of Christ causes so much fear still today?"

Professor Rumi offers an insightful suggestion: Europe's secularists fear Christ. The ancient Greeks are safely dead, but Christ lives, and may yet frustrate their project.

But there is happy news in the Constitution's list of philosophical fathers. They left out Marx.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 AM

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES...

Layton calls caucus deal a Martin coup d'etat (Anne Dawson and Bill Curry, May 29, 2003, National Post)
With Jean Chretien out of the country, the Liberal caucus yesterday hammered out a backroom deal that would delay the Prime Minister's political financing law until 2005, a year after he retires.

Emerging from yesterday's weekly closed-door caucus meeting, Stan Keyes, chairman of the Liberal caucus, announced the ''vast majority'' of Liberal MPs will allow the bill through Parliament by the summer recess providing there are changes to the law that would see their party receive another $2.5-million annually in public funds, or allow it to receive more corporate money.

The proposal was immediately criticized by Jack Layton, the NDP leader, who accused Paul Martin supporters of ''hijacking'' the Liberal caucus while the Prime Minister is away, to ensure ''big money'' remains a fixture in federal politics. Mr. Layton called on the Prime Minister to carry through with his threat to call a snap election on the issue.

''Well, the Prime Minister leaves and Paul Martin takes over. It's a little coup d'etat for big money in politics evidently in the Liberal caucus this morning. It's completely unacceptable. If the Prime Minister was serious about getting money out of politics, he should show up and insist that the caucus vote for his bill and if not, we should have an election. We would support a call for an election,'' Mr. Layton said.

''He's clearly lost control of his caucus. If they can't even pass something as basic as democratic reform to get big money out of politics, then he should go to the public for a vote to determine who's right.''

One would have hoped that when the coup came Mr. Chretien would have been taken to where Madame LaFarge waits, aknitting, but this is a start...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM

HOW FRANCIS FUKUYAMA RESEMBLES BILL JAMES

New Europe Old Economy: Poised to join the E.U., Poland is America's new best friend. But the country is also in deep distress. (ANDREW PURVIS, TIME Europe)
The war in Iraq may have raised temperatures in Europe and America and opened a dangerous new rift in the transatlantic alliance, but in Poland there was never much question about which side to be on. President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the man in charge of foreign policy, watched the antiwar movement in Western Europe with a mixture of incomprehension and disgust. When France, Germany and Belgium forced NATO (which Poland recently joined) to reject Turkey's request for antimissile defenses, Kwasniewski wondered what solidarity among allies really meant to them. And when Jacques Chirac suggested that Eastern Europe's leaders "missed a good opportunity to stay quiet" after they failed to back his antiwar policy, Kwasniewski was furious. In the end, it was like choosing a spouse: a gut feeling about who would make a loyal partner for life. "We had a chance to change the brotherhood of words to the brotherhood of blood," says Marek Siwiec, Kwasniewski's National Security Adviser. "And we took it." So Poland cast its lot with the superpower across the sea. It's no coincidence that George W. Bush's first stop on his first foreign trip since the fall of Baghdad, later this week, will be Krakow. The American President doesn't forget people who stand by him in the clutch. The last time Bush came to Poland, in 2001, he arrived after a stony reception in Western Europe. But in Warsaw, the crowds were so rapturous that one diplomat described him emerging, as in The Wizard of Oz, from a black-and-white world into living Technicolor.

For Poland too, the colors are suddenly vivid, and a risky but exhilarating journey lies ahead. This is starting to look like a good century for the Poles. [...]

Poland's other battle is raging closer to home. The country's E.U. advocates got a nasty surprise in April when Hungary, arguably the E.U.'s most enthusiastic candidate, managed a measly 46% turnout in its referendum (pre-vote polls had predicted 70%). In Poland, 50% of voters must cast ballots to validate the result. As a result, the clamor to vote tak (Polish for yes) has reached fever pitch. Kwaysniewski, who remains popular, ski-jumping sensation Adam Malysz and even some Dutch and Greek diplomats are barnstorming the countryside, touting the virtues of E.U. subsidies and the greater European family. In TV ads, children are shown dreaming of playing for Real Madrid, jobs are plentiful and every Pole is vacationing on the French Riviera. "It's their first time!" whispers one spot, showing young lovers on a date. "First time to vote."

The former dissident Adam Michnik, who was jailed for six years under communism and now edits the country's biggest newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, says Poland's accession to the E.U. will seal its transformation from communist satellite to full partner in the Western world. Puffing on a Gitanes cigarette at his top-floor office in a leafy Warsaw suburb, Michnik says a yes vote is his dream, a no his nightmare. "I am not an enthusiast of Chirac or [German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder," he says. "But I prefer them to [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko." [...]

Another reason why support for the E.U. may be gaining ground is the sputtering economy. It's shedding so many jobs that the only thing keeping many Poles off the streets is the "gray" or shadow economy, which experts say makes up about 27% of overall GDP, higher than Poland's southern neighbors, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but comparable, roughly, to Italy and Greece. Socialist-era dinosaurs have not modernized fast enough and face more layoffs. The coal sector alone was hemorrhaging $1 billion a year until a few years ago; that figure is down to $130 million now, but analysts say at least 12 more mines must shut, swallowing about 35,000 jobs. [...]

"Sometimes I have the feeling we can't accomplish all we need to do at the same time," muses Jacek Piechota, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy, Labor and Social Policy. But critics say the government, which plans to cut corporate income tax from 27% to 19% while abolishing most tax breaks and exemptions, is not doing enough--especially to cut social spending and invest in infrastructure like roads.

Yesterday we mentioned how most baseball management seems unable to learn the rather simple lessons that statisticisns like Bill James have taught--as witness the Arizona Diamondbacks trading the Red Sox a front-line pitcher yesterday for Shea Hillenbrand, who has just 45 walks in about 1300 career at-bats. Perhaps we shouldn't be so hard on these mere sports executives since entire nations--including ours--have put their futures at risk by not learning the fairly simple lessons that theoreticians like Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, Albert Jay Nock, FA Hayek, Milton Friedman, Francis Fukuyama, and the rest, have taught us. What Poland requires--cutting and rationalizing taxes and reducing the welfare state--is similarly required by most (all?) industrialized nations, but instead we keep adding Shea Hillenbrands.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM

KENTUCKY REIGN KEEPS POURING DOWN

KEEPING GOP AT BAY WILL REQUIRE FINESSE: For once, Democrats will sweat an election (Charles Wolfe, May 26, 2003, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Kentucky's Democratic ticket enters the fall campaign doing something it hasn't done in a generation. It's running scared.

Republicans have a ticket that seems formidable for the most part. At the top are squeaky clean Ernie Fletcher and Steve Pence, thumping the drum for change after eight consecutive Democratic administrations.

It is not just the governorship that Republicans covet and have been denied for more than 30 years. Not one of the undercard offices (attorney general, auditor, agriculture commissioner, treasurer or secretary of state) has been won by a Republican since 1967.

But now the Republicans are emboldened, and Democrats hear footsteps. Not only do voters feel obvious ambivalence about the Democrats, the Democratic candidates have a message problem as well.

After 32 years in power, persuading voters to keep them in power for 36 years is going to require some finesse. Witness state Treasurer Jonathan Miller, the only constitutional officeholder eligible to run for re-election this year.

Miller said at a Democratic "unity rally" last week that the November election will "decide not only what happens over the next four years but over the next four decades."

Asked to elaborate, Miller said: "If Republicans win the governor's mansion, we're going to see a one-party dominance. Prospects of that would be very bad for Kentucky and very bad for our children's future."

Saying that if the GOP is elected they'll be popular enough to hold power for decades doesn't exactly seem like finesse...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

TAKING LIBERTIES WITH THE FACTS

Maureen Dowd not wanted here (MARC R. MASFERRER, 5/30/03, The Lufkin Daily News)
The New York Times' considerable credibility problem is now our problem, as well.

But unlike the Times, which has been engaged in a torturous exercise of naval gazing and self-flagellation, with its accustomed arrogance, since it was revealed that one of its younger reporters had committed all sorts of journalistic sins, we are doing something about it, and fast.

Until she explains to our satisfaction her own ethical transgression--an apparently deliberate distortion of a comment by President Bush--you will not find the work of Times columnist Maureen Dowd on this page. [...]

Dowd, it seems, may have taken the title of her column--"Liberties"--way too far.

Here's what Dowd wrote in the column in question:

??Al-Qaida is on the run,' President Bush said last week. 'That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated ... they're not a problem anymore.'"

Here's what Bush actually said:

?"Al-Qaida is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al-Qaida operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."

New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets offered a perfect criticism of what Dowd did.

"The words in italics were replaced in Dowd's column by three little dots. Those dots say to the reader: Trust me, I'm abbreviating here, but what I'm leaving out doesn't change the meaning.

"But the dots did change the meaning," Chafets wrote. "In fact, they turned it upside down. Far from declaring al-Qaida 'spent,' Bush was warning the country against complacency. The only terrorists the president declared 'no longer a problem' were the ones already jailed or dead."

Dowd quietly "corrected" herself by including the full quote in a subsequent column that appeared in The Lufkin Daily News on Thursday.

That's not good enough, and until Dowd, and her newspaper, fully account for her infraction, her column will not appear on this page.

Such is the legacy of Howell Raines: The Lufkin Daily News, worried about its credibility, doesn't find his product "fit to print".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 AM

PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER

Rumsfeld pushes for regime change in Iran (Guy Dinmore in Washington and Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Iran, May 29 2003, Financial Times)
Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, is spearheading efforts to make "regime change" in Iran the official policy goal of the Bush administration, but his campaign is meeting with considerable resistance from other senior figures, according to officials and analysts. [...]

"Rumsfeld sees this opportunity to adopt a formal policy of regime change," said Flynt Leverett, who left his post as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council in March and joined the Brookings Institution think-tank.

He said the view of hawks in the Pentagon is that the struggle in Iran is not between hardline clerics and elected reformists led by President Mohammed Khatami, but between the people and the system.

"They [in the Pentagon] see the whole superstructure as discredited, a house of cards ready to be pushed over the precipice," Mr Leverett added. The European Union, which has hitherto adopted a softer line than the US towards the regime in Tehran, is also expressing increasing concern over Iran's nuclear programme, adds Judy Dempsey in Brussels.

A senior EU official said: "We now have reason to believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons. We would be fooling ourselves if we thought it was anything else."

The regime may be in for what we used to call a "long, hot summer" in the streets.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 AM

CEASE AND DESIST (via John Resnick)

WD-40 Maker Protests Texas Dems' Nickname (Connie Mabin, May 26, 2003, Associated Press)
Talk about slippery politicians.

The makers of the lubricant WD-40 are objecting to some Texas lawmakers calling themselves "the WD-40s"--a name they say describes them because they're white Democrats over 40.

The group entered the spotlight two weeks ago when they were among 51 Democrats who fled Texas to Ardmore, Okla., in protest of a Republican-pushed congressional redistricting bill. Republicans hold the majority in the state Legislature.

"It is extremely important to WD-40 Company that its trademark not be associated with any political party or political group," attorney Kathleen Pasulka, representing the company, said in a cease-and-desist letter to the leaders of the so-called WD-40s.

In the rest of Red State America white men over 40 already have a name: Republicans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

<~text text="What is humility? It is that habitual quality whereby we live in the truth of things: the truth that we are creatures and not the Creator; the truth that our life is a composite of good and evil, light and darkness; the truth that


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

LUCY MOVES THE FOOTBALL

Hillary Clinton Taking Fire From Left as Well as Right (RAYMOND HERNANDEZ, May 30, 2003, NY Times)
After years of being vilified by conservatives, Hillary Rodham Clinton is suddenly facing mounting criticism from an unlikely quarter: liberals.

Core Democratic constituencies that helped Mrs. Clinton win her Senate seat in New York two and a half years ago are expressing deep disappointment in her, saying she has been unwilling to challenge President Bush and Republican leaders in Congress on issues of importance to them.

Those who have expressed disappointment in Mrs. Clinton include gay rights advocates, antiwar organizers and even advocates for children and the poor, a group with which she has been closely associated for decades.

Political analysts and critics on the left say Mrs. Clinton appears to be modeling herself on her husband, Bill Clinton, who was also criticized for abandoning the Democratic Party's liberal base to win larger political appeal. In Mrs. Clinton's case, they say, she appears to be taking for granted her liberal allies, a strong source of support, in favor of cultivating a broader audience.

Gosh, what are the odds?--a Clinton looking out for themself instead of their "allies". She wants to be president and you don't get there by carrying
water for liberal activists.

May 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 PM

THE VELVET GLOVE...

Bush says "Vive la France" on road to G8 summit (Reuters, 5/29/03)
Declaring "Vive la France", U.S. President George W. Bush said in an interview to be published on Friday he hoped a G8 summit would restore battered relations between Washington and Paris in the wake of the war in Iraq.

Bush, interviewed by the French daily Le Figaro ahead of the June 1-3 Group of Eight summit in Evian, France, also said Paris needed to show it was ready to cooperate with Washington.

"Evian will not be a summit of confrontation. On this trip I am determined to work with France and French leaders," Bush was quoted as saying."It will be a pleasure to talk with Jacques Chirac," he said, adding in French: "Vive la France" (Long Live France). [...]

Bush was asked in the interview whether Washington would take retaliatory action against Paris for an anti-war stand that prevented Washington from getting U.N. approval for the invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"My citizens did not understand the decision of French leaders to systematically block the efforts of the United States and her allies to secure the liberty and security of Iraq. Yet, this negative behaviour will not influence my policies with regard to France and Europe," he said.

...hides an iron fist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:33 PM

AT LAST, VISIBLE EVOLUTION

Two-headed tortoise found in South Africa (Ananova, 29th May 2003)

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:25 PM

THE PRICE OF BLOGGING IN CHINA

4 Chinese sentenced for talking of politics (NY Times, 5/29/2003)
BEIJING - Four young friends who met on university campuses to discuss their progressive politics and posted occasional essays on the Internet have been sentenced to long prison terms, accused of "subverting state power."

The Beijing Intermediate People's Court sentenced Xu Wei, 28, and Jin Haike, 26, to 10 years. Yang Zilin, 32, and Zhang Honghai, 29, were sentenced to eight years ...

This reminds me of a story from Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. A man was sentenced to 20 years in the gulag, and a guard asked him what he had done. The man replied, "Nothing at all." The guard then beat him, saying, "You're lying! The punishment for nothing at all is ten years."

How lucky we are to be Americans.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:27 PM

DIVORCED FROM RED AMERICA

Just Get Married!: Bells will be ringing as a new pro-marriage, anti-poverty plan takes root in Texas (Mark Donald, 5/29/03, Dallas Observer)
Marriage education is the centerpiece of the Bush administration's Healthy Marriage Initiative, a controversial social experiment that
seeks to use federal welfare funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program to promote marriage and reduce divorce, particularly among the poor, whose children are five times as likely to live in poverty if raised in mother-only households. But family disintegration knows no economic boundaries, and states such as Oklahoma, which has become a national pro-marriage model, are already preaching a get-married, stay-married agenda to couples of every stripe. Simpson hopes to be at the forefront of a broad-based "marriage promotion program" in the Dallas area, using much of the same material she developed for the Army.

Though at first blush, the pro-marriage movement seems the agenda of the family-values crowd--religious conservatives locked in a cultural war with single moms, cohabitants and Hillary Clinton--a body of research from respected social scientists has given renewed zeal to those whose primary weapon had been a few selected verses of scripture. This research suggests that marriage confers undeniable benefits on children, couples and country. It has also drawn together an odd confluence of conservatives, sociologists, marriage educators, fathers' rights activists and divorce-law reformers who have found enough common ground to consider themselves a movement.

But weaving research into sound public policy is another matter. With the election of President Bush, marriage promotion found its champion and is now being touted as a palliative for poverty, a way for unwed mothers to wean themselves off welfare and for distant dads to reconnect with their kids--and a damn attractive family value for the rest of us.

Cynics might call the Bush agenda brilliant politics, the marriage of liberal social science with a conservative pro-family (anti-gay) agenda. Even less jaundiced critics claim the research results are overstated and filtered through an ideological lens that is unrealistic, simplistic and narrow-minded. Several women's groups fear that promoting marriage will coerce some women into abusive marriages and discourage others from leaving them. Advocates for the poor think the failure to marry is more a consequence of poverty than a cause. Liberals believe that valuing marriage over other family structures denies the reality of millions of children who are being raised by single parents, extended families, gay and lesbian couples or movie stars. Libertarians wonder what the hell the government is doing in the marriage business anyway.

Not content to merely oppose the Boy Scouts, the Left opposes marriage? Is this some kind of weird anti-political politics designed to appeal only to a tiny minority of voters?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:16 PM

FROG MARCH

Marching orders from Paris (Michel Gurfinkiel, May. 28, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
English-speaking pundits may or may not have noticed, but the road map for an Israeli-Palestinian peace is being rendered into French as a feuille de route "travel warrant." A very awkward translation, indeed.

A road map is just a map. It shows you destinations and distances, but whether you travel, and in what direction, depends on you alone.

A travel warrant, however, is a binding document. When a soldier gets one, he must go no matter how he feels about it, and he must not deviate from the route. Of course, the semantic shift from "road map" to feuille de route is not accidental.

The French use this rather incorrect translation because their media use it. Their media, in turn, are just parrotting the term coined by the state-run news agency, AFP. [...]

The problem is that the feuille de route concept is gaining ground even when Americans use the term "road map."

The original peace plan outlined by George W. Bush last June was a remarkably balanced proposal that provided for an independent Palestinian state but made it conditional on the rule of law, an end to terror, and no-nonsense security guarantees for Israel.

But the June speech was surreptitiously rewritten by the Quartet, comprised of the US State Department, the UN, EU bureaucrats, and the Russian foreign office. It comes as no surprise that most of the Quartet participants are anxious to assert their own transnational or national standing and, like the French, relish imposing a peace settlement.

It is all too predictable that the same UN, EU, and Russia that were lukewarm or hostile toward US policy in Iraq will not care too much about Bush's intentions regarding Israel and Palestine. It is logical that players who were unsympathetic to Israel over many years will continue to be unsympathetic. Nevertheless, the Quartet lumbers on, with US sufferance, and is gradually being seen as the ultimate peace marshall something it is not and can never be.

It is time for America to worry about words, and what words may hide.

There's never a bad reason to bash the French, but it's a mistake to take the specifics of the road map to seriously. All that matters in the end is that it got the process going again and it leads to a Palestinian state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM

MAKING AN ASSAD OF HIMSELF? (via ef brown)

Iran Again (David Warren, May 28, 2003)
It is now emerging from intelligence sources that the reason the U.S. was able to give Saudi Arabia the heads-up it ignored on the terror bombings in Riyadh, is because the CIA had been intercepting communications between Al Qaeda operatives in Arabia and Iran. The hits themselves helped to clarify co-ordinates; and there is thus little doubt remaining in American minds that Iran is sheltering senior Al Qaeda leaders. The ayatollahs are most likely trying to integrate surviving Al Qaeda resources with those of Hizbullah, their own main horse in terror international.

I read some hint of that into the strange remarks made by the Syrian President (Syria is Iran's closest ally), to the effect that Al Qaeda no longer exists. He spoke rhetorically, as if Al Qaeda had been a figment of George Bush's paranoid imagination all along; but Bashir Assad, who is not very intelligent, has a track record for unconsciously spilling beans.

The whole thing is interesting, but that point about Assad's odd comments especially so.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM

IT ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO THE G.U.T.

The Blue Pill Choice: about the closest we'll get to Mars anytime soon is in our dreams and at the movies (John Carter McKnight, May 29, 2003, The Spacefaring Web 3.11)
In The Matrix, the hero chooses the red pill, symbolizing awareness and the struggle for human freedom. Most of the space community, along with much of our society as a whole, however, has enthusiastically embraced the blue pill alternative - willful ignorance and life in a fantasyland. Only by consistently "just saying no" to those blue pill choices will we get into space to stay.

The Matrix, and its current sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, portrays the real world as a place of struggle - grubby, unglamorous, dangerous and challenging.

The computer-generated fantasy world of the Matrix, by contrast, is a place where skills can be instantly uploaded rather than slowly mastered, where pesky laws of nature can be circumvented, and where style points definitely matter.

It is, in short, utopia for a people without patience or concern for consequences, who want their cake without the calorie burden of actually eating it. [...]

Anthropology professor John J. Donohue elaborated on America's blue-pill infatuation in "Virtual Enlightenment: The Martial Arts, Cyberspace and American Culture" (Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Volume 11, No. 2, 2002).

He describes "an interesting cultural phenomenon of contemporary America: an enthusiasm for entertainment that focuses around strenuous physical activity in a population grown increasingly sedentary, the allure of imaginative interaction without true personal engagement, and a desire for mastery without effort."

He contrasts Matrix-like cyberspace martial arts with the real thing: "[t]he period of apprenticeship in traditional martial arts systems was not only long, uncomfortable and boring, but was also designed to weed out individuals who lacked the maturity of character necessary to reach a level of mastery." [...]

All the more credit, then, to the few who take the red pill and stay through the lean, unglamorous years.

This was our original understanding of The Matrix, though reviews of the sequel suggest they may, sadly, be headed elsewhere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:32 PM

)

The road ahead for Democrats is bumpy (Tony Blankley, May 28, 2003, townhall.com)
To the Democratic Party, I say, look in the mirror: Do you see Robert Taft, Wendell Wilkie or Ronald Reagan? The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, similar to where the Republican Party found itself in 1940: increasingly ineffective as a reactionary, old guard opposition party, flirting with mimicking successful governing party positions, and unconscious of the possibility of applying its abiding principles to the changing world of the near future. In 1940, after eight years of reactionary opposition to FDR's New Deal and internationalism, the GOP rejected the old guard presidential nomination candidacies of Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenberg, and nominated Wendell Wilkie -- the recently former Democrat who endorsed FDR's internationalism, while criticizing his Tennessee Valley Authority domestic radicalism.

For the next 40 years the Republican Party nominated presidential candidates who endorsed most of the liberal FDR programs and agenda (with the exception of 1964, when they nominated Barry Goldwater), but said they could manage it better and a little cheaper. When the Democrats stumbled (Harry Truman in Korea, Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam), the Republicans would pick up the White House -- but they remained in Congress and in the hearts of the public -- the minority party, until 1980. And even then it took another 14 years before they took back the House of Representatives. Me-tooism, as those 40 years came to be known, permitted Republicans in safe House, Senate and state seats to hold on to their offices -- but at the cost of ever winning the nation's mind and heart to Republican principles.

Today, the Democrats face the same dilemma.

The tragedy of the Republican Party is that it did not run Taft in '48 or '52 when he would have won and restored the two party system. By settling for liberal lite, in the form of Dewey/Ike/Nixon, they put off the reclamation of the Party until 1964 and put off victory until 1980, allowing the Left an extra thirty years to damage the country.

The difficulty for the Democrats is that they squandered their Taft, when Bill Clinton ditched the New Democrat rhetoric he ran on--which represented an opportunity to turn the Party into a basically conservative party, as Tony Blair did with Labour in Britain--and governed instead as a garden variety liberal. Now they face a similar decision to the one the GOP had in '64: they can keep dipping into the same well that has rendered them a minority party or they can seek to restore the Party to first principles, but following the former scenario they might win, while following the latter means a period of years in the wilderness, waiting for the country to move back to the Left. And this latter is a particularly dicey proposition for them because they are not a party of ideas but a coalition of interests groups, and there's no guarantee that they can keep the loyalty of those groups if they are out of power and unable to serve their interests. Will unions, blacks and Hispanics still be voting overwhelmingly Democrat twenty years from now if they've been getting nothing in exchange, especially if the GOP makes some effort to woo them away? When the GOP restored its conservative ideology it hardly stood to lose its conservative base, but what is the ideology that holds the Democrats together? How do the unprincipled return to first principles?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:10 PM

NUMBERS GAME

Evaluation By Numbers Is Beginning To Add Up (Thomas Boswell, May 29, 2003, The Washington Post)
Guess what: "Revenge of the Nerds" may be playing in a ballpark near you. [...]

* Analyze all hitters through on-base percentage. Getting on base, while making the fewest outs, is the heart of offense. Walks are wonderful. Hitters who know the strike zone drive pitchers crazy. High on-base hitters usually take many pitches, foul off two-strike pitches and, as a result, exhaust the pitch limits of most quality starters. Result: Crummy relievers enter the game and get waxed. Even in a three-game series, the high on-base team wins a war of pitching attrition. The Yankees teams of Joe Torre have used this theory in recent years. The Red Sox do now.

* Slugging percentage is the only other vital offensive statistic. Power matters. Combine on-base and slugging averages, with much more emphasis on the former, and you'll automatically build a high-scoring lineup. Hard as it is to believe, many high on-base average players come cheap. Walks are boring. Nobody comes to see, or pays big salaries to, walkers. (So, Beane grabs 'em easily.) As for batting average, ignore it. Irrelevant. Forget stolen bases, too. Until your success rate is over 70 percent, attempting to steal is, mathematically speaking, a waste of time.

* A superstar, such as Giambi, can be replaced -- at reasonable cost -- in pieces. When the A's lost Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and DH Olmedo Saenz after '01, they added David Justice, Hatteberg and Jeremy Giambi. The combined on-base percentage and slugging percentage of the three new players roughly equaled the comparable statistics of the three lost players. Jason Giambi wasn't missed.

* Any decent pitcher can be turned into a star closer because any solid pitcher should be able to pitch one inning when he always enters with the bases empty. Once you create such an overrated star, you immediately trade him at peak value. Then just develop a new closer since it's so easy to do. Repeat as needed.

* To evaluate pitchers, use the breakthrough DIPS theory of stat man Voros McCracken that's been invented in the last three years. DIPS stands for "defense independent pitching statistic." It's a stunner. Nobody believed it at first, but now most serious stat geeks accept it. Once a batter hits a pitch, it's very close to pure luck whether it gets caught or not. From one season to another, for example, Greg Maddux's ERA may fluctuate by 1.5 runs even though he pitches identically. One season a lot of hits find holes. The next, they don't.

Like most baseball geeks, I've been a huge fan of Bill James and Tom Boswell for twenty years, and have long believed in their numbers, even when they suggest extraordinary things--like that Robbie Alomar, because he gets to so few balls, is a below average second baseman. So, as Mr. Boswell says, it's been a vindication this year to watch the Red Sox, under the insanely courageous young Theo Epstein, put these kinds of statistical analyses to work and have them work.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:53 PM

)

Memo on abortion and liberal bias by Los Angeles Times Editor John Carroll, May 22, 2003 (LA Observed)
To: SectionEds
Subject: Credibility/abortion

I'm concerned about the perception---and the occasional reality---that the Times is a liberal, "politically correct" newspaper. Generally speaking, this is an inaccurate view, but occasionally we prove our critics right. We did so today with the front-page story on the bill in Texas that would require abortion doctors to counsel patients that they may be risking breast cancer....

I wondered as I read it whether somewhere there might exist some credible scientist who believes in [the link between abortion and breast cancer].

Such a person makes no appearance in the story's lengthy passage about the scientific issue. We do quote one of the sponsors of the bill, noting that he "has a professional background in property management." Seldom will you read a cheaper shot than this. Why, if this is germane, wouldn't we point to legislators on the other side who are similarly bereft of scientific credentials?...

Apparently the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don't need to waste our readers' time with it.

The reason I'm sending this note to all section editors is that I want everyone to understand how serious I am about purging all political bias from our coverage. We may happen to live in a political atmosphere that is suffused with liberal values (and is unreflective of the nation as a whole), but we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times.

The offending story is here.

Now a brief perusal of the medical journals could have found studies showing a link. But if that's too hard, the LA Times could have consulted a liberal friend of the BrothersJudd, Charles Murtaugh, who on March 9 wrote:

Gee, I wonder why the abortion-breast cancer studies don't make the front page of the Washington Post?

(Actually, a quick LEXIS-NEXIS search finds that they do, when those studies come to the opposite conclusion. On Jan. 9, 1997, the Post ran a front-page story on a Danish study that "disputes breast cancer, abortion link." However, this finding was only relevant to first trimester abortions, which wouldn't be predicted to lead to increased risk anyway -- the hypothesized risk depends on growth of mammary tissue during pregnancy, which doesn't kick in until after the first trimester. In fact, the Danish study confirmed an increased breast cancer risk associated with second- and third-trimester abortions, but the Post buried this inconvenient fact in the second-to-last paragraph.)

Carroll's memo to his editors is nice, but it would be even nicer if the LA Times did a new front-page story explaining the evidence for a abortion-breast-cancer link.

My question is: what must conservatives do before newspapers actually start publishing news that makes liberals uncomfortable -- and hiring to create a more diverse "political atmosphere" so that their paper will not be "suffused with liberal values"? Complain vigorously? Or start competing news sources, a la Fox News, and steal away customers from the liberals?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM

LACK OF INTELLIGENCE

Former British FM calls for parliamentary probe over Iraqi weapons (AFP, May 29, 2003)
Former British foreign secretary Robin Cook called Wednesday for an inquiry after the United States said Iraqi forces may have destroyed the country's alleged weapons of mass destruction before war broke out.

"If (US Defence Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld is now admitting the weapons are not there, the truth is the weapons probably haven't been there for quite a long time," Cook, who resigned from the government over the war, told the BBC.

"I think that has to be investigated. A (parliamentary) select committee is one way of doing it," Cook later told Channel 4 News.

We've always assumed (and still do) that plenty of WMD would be found, but hoped it wouldn't be--thus making the removal of the regime the sole point of the war. However, if no WMD is ever found it counterintuitively serves the hawks rather than the doves in two specific ways. First, it makes the point that, even though Iraq was the number one target of our post-Cold War intelligence gathering, we had absolutely no idea what was going on there. The idea that we do not need to get rid of hostile regimes via military means because we can know what they're up to is simply false. Second, it will reveal once again that our intelligence mistakes are always of the same type: they overestimate the capacity of the enemy. Thus the Soviet Union was always much weaker than our intelligence claimed it was and could likely have been defeated rather easily at every point during the Cold War and we conceded victory to a North Vietnam that we had effectively defeated. Both of these lessons tend to teach that force should be a more ready recourse when confronting hostile regimes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM

THE OPPORTUNITY CLINTON MISSED

Auditors tell Tories that party is no longer viable (Andrew Pierce, May 29, 2003. Times of London)
INDEPENDENT auditors are refusing to sign off the Conservative Party?s accounts because they fear that it is no longer a going concern.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which must approve the accounts within weeks, has told Tory officials that there is not enough income to guarantee the party?s viability.

A senior Tory source said: ?It is worrying. The auditors have raised with us the fear that we are no longer a going concern because spending outstrips income. We struggled last year, but this year it is much worse. The accounts were signed off last time because we had commitments of loans from benefactors, but they are not forthcoming.?

Thankfully Bill Clinton's only concern was himself, because if he'd governed on the agenda he ran on in 1992, the GOP might be in as bad a shape as the Tories.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM

HE'S HIDING IN SYRIA

No Bunker where U.S. Bombs Targeted Saddam-CBS (May 28, 2003, Reuters)
The Baghdad bunker which the United States said it bombed on the opening night of the Iraq war in a bid to kill Saddam Hussein never existed, CBS Evening News reported Wednesday.

The network quoted a U.S. Army colonel in charge of inspecting key sites in Baghdad as saying no trace of a bunker or of bodies had been found at the site on the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital, known as Dora Farms.

"When we came out here, the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics, and basically, what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies," Col. Tim Madere said.

Heck, if they weren't even meeting in a bunker, but above ground, the bombs definitely would have gotten him, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 AM

TAX LEGISLATION LIKE SEA MONKEYS

Tax Law Omits Child Credit in Low-Income Brackets (DAVID FIRESTONE, 5/29/03, NY TIMES)
A last-minute revision by House and Senate leaders in the tax bill that President Bush signed today will prevent millions of minimum-wage families from receiving the increased child credit that is in the measure, say Congressional officials and outside groups.

Most taxpayers will receive a $400-a-child check in the mail this summer as a result of the law, which raises the child tax credit, to $1,000 from $600. It had been clear from the beginning that the wealthiest families would not receive the credit, which is intended to phase out at high incomes.

But after studying the bill approved on Friday, liberal and child advocacy groups discovered that a different group of families would also not benefit from the $400 increase — families who make just above the minimum wage.

Because of the formula for calculating the credit, most families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625 will not benefit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, says those families include 11.9 million children, or one of every six children under 17.

Let's see the Democrats vote against fixing this....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM

CONDITION CRITICAL

President Signs Tax Cut Package Into Law (JENNIFER LOVEN, May 28, 2003, Associated Press)
President Bush signed the third-largest tax cuts in U.S. history on Wednesday, saying they already are "adding fuel to an economic recovery." The IRS posted new withholding tables that will add money to paychecks starting next month and began preparing refunds due in parents' mailboxes later this summer.

Democrats said the cuts will greatly increase federal deficits that will in time depress the nation's gross domestic product and drain jobs.

"This bill will give millions to those who don't need it and very little to those who do," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. "It will add a trillion dollars to our national debt; spend the Social SecurityTrust Fund, and ultimately lose more jobs." [...]

Still, as Bush thanked members of Congress Wednesday for sending him even less than that, the key word in his remarks was "quick." It won't be long before millions of Americans feel the law's impact.

The Internal Revenue Service put new tax tables on its Web site so employers can reduce the amount of federal income tax withheld from workers' paychecks as the bill prescribes. Employers were told to use the new tables by July 1, making it possible that some employees will see larger checks starting next month.

Starting in the last week of July, the government will send checks to the 25 million parents who claimed a 2002 child tax credit. The automatic refunds--no phone calls or forms required--will be advance payments on their 2003 credits, in an amount equal to the increase provided by the new law up to $400 per child.

If there's a baseline for the Democrats it has to be this: when the government is handing out money, the checks should have the Party's fingerprints all over them. How inept is their leadership that they are left criticizing the checks instead? They really do resemble the Republicans of the New Deal/Great Society era--out of power and out of touch--but they add a revolutionary new element to the mix: out of sync with their own ideology.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:29 AM

A METAPHOR TURNED TO RUBBLE

Lieberman Vows 'Productivity Goal' (NEDRA PICKLER, May 27, 2003 , AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman criticized President Bush on Wednesday for a sluggish economy that has kept Americans out of work. [...]

"The administration of George W. Bush has pursued a Flintstones agenda in a Jetsons world," Lieberman said in remarks prepared for delivery at the University of California, San Diego, on Wednesday. "And in so doing, George Bush has let the sparks of innovation fall to the floor. As your president, I will make sure they spread to a much bigger, broader fire."

So, if I followed all that: Wilma's hair is on fire?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 AM

A TRILLION HERE, A TRILLION THERE

US 'faces future of chronic deficits' (Peronet Despeignes, May 28 2003, Financial Times)
The Bush administration has shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury that shows the US currently faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totalling at least $44,200bn in current US dollars.

But the Bush administration chose to keep the findings out of the annual budget report for fiscal year 2004, published in February, as the White House campaigned for a tax-cut package that critics claim will expand future deficits.

The study asserts that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts or a painful mix of both are unavoidable if the US is to meet benefit promises to future generations. It estimates that closing the gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 per cent across-the-board income tax increase.

The study was being circulated as an independent working paper among Washington think-tanks as President George W. Bush on Wednesday?signed into law a 10-year, $350bn tax-cut package he welcomed as a victory for hard-working Americans and the economy.

$44 Trillion is only four years of GDP--that's chump change. The wife and I, having both been to grad school, have at times owed as much as ten times our annual income. What's the big deal?

May 28, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 PM

IS THIS A JOKE?

Red Scare: Fifty years after his death, Stalin's crimes are still morally shocking--and politically vexing: a review of Gulag by Anne Applebaum (Bruce Clark, Washington Monthly)
In her new book, Anne Applebaum tells an instructive story about Vice President Henry Wallace's first visit to the Soviet Far East in May 1944. Determined to think the best of America's wartime ally, Wallace took an instant liking to his Russian host, a senior secret policeman called Ivan Nikishov. The visitor was struck by the similarities between America and Russia as pioneering nations with vast natural resources, and he listened sympathetically as Nikishov told him how the town of Magadan, with 40,000 residents, had sprung up over the last 12 years. What Wallace hardly seems to have realized is that he was visiting a giant prison: Magadan was the "capital" of an area several times the size of France, where hundreds of thousands of people were sent to incarceration or exile. Many did not even arrive, because the ships that ferried prisoners to Magadan were notorious death traps. And work in the nearby Kolyma gold fields was so back-breaking that very few survived it for more than a couple of years. The town Wallace so admired had been built by penal labor; the singers and musicians who performed for him were captives (albeit under strict instructions not to reveal the fact); even the local embroidery which he politely praised was the work of prisoners.

What this story reminds us, of course, is that when a nation or coalition has focused all its attention on the defeat of a single enemy, it can easily become blinded to the faults, indeed the downright evil, of other forces in the world--especially if those other forces happen to be helping in the struggle against the main adversary. Winston Churchill, to his credit, was aware of this paradox: He once declared that if Hitler had invaded hell, Her Majesty's government would at least have sent a friendly diplomatic note to the Prince of Darkness. And most people would agree that when a nation is engaged in the heat of a life-and-death struggle with a clearly defined enemy, such as Nazi Germany, it is reasonable to accept help from almost any partner, however unsavory--as long as you do not deceive yourself, as Wallace appears to have done, about that partner's real nature. The wisdom of cultivating dubious allies--on the old "enemy of my enemy" principle--is much less self-evident when the war you are fighting is long, multi-fronted, and has an important moral and psychological dimension as well as a military one. That description applied to the Cold War, and it also applies to the current war against terrorism.

Since 1945, not many observers of the Soviet Union have been as naive as Wallace; but Anne Applebaum believes that Westerners--especially on the political left--have never ceased to underestimate the radically evil nature of the Soviet system, and the degree of suffering it inflicted on its own citizens. [...]

She is right to say that some Westerners underestimate the evil perpetrated under the Soviet flag. But surely, it is going too far to regard Western tactics during the Cold War as beyond reproach. It is true, of course, that any moral assessment of that period must take full account of the horrific nature of the Soviet penal system, and of the fact that whenever it had the chance, the Soviet regime imposed similar horrors on other countries. Western leaders would stand condemned by history if they had not worked tirelessly to avoid the imposition of that system on their own countries--and in the long run, to roll back repression inside the Soviet empire.

But the fact that one party to a con-flict practiced terrible wickedness does not imply that the other behaved with disinterested perfection. With full knowledge of the Soviet Union's crimes against its own subjects, it is still possible to argue that at certain times, America and its allies stoked the fires of superpower competition and put humanity's survival at risk. The expression "military-industrial complex"--meaning an alliance of interests between the Pentagon and the arms industry which had an agenda of its own--was not coined by some soft-minded apologist for communism; it was coined by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican and supreme commander of Allied forces during World War II. As Applebaum herself notes, Stalin's jailers--especially after 1945--shored up their own authority at home by citing the imperative to achieve and maintain parity with the country that had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This does not necessarily imply that the Western side in the Cold War should have slackened its own efforts in the naïve hope that the Soviet regime would have softened as a result. But it is not being treacherous or soft-minded to study the Soviet-American contest as a self-compounding process in which one side's fearful and suspicious behavior fueled the other's.

Nor was the practice of terrible forms of repression, including the widespread use of incarceration, torture, and extrajudicial killing, any monopoly of the communist side in the Cold War. In countries like Chile, Iran, Indonesia, and Greece, precisely those crimes were perpetrated in the name of the "free world"--and they were justified, or actively abetted, by America's keenest Cold Warriors on grounds that "our sons of bitches" should be forgiven almost anything as long they fought the good fight against the Reds.

This does not mean that communism and liberal capitalism are morally equivalent routes to modernity and industrialization. At least in its purer form, the Cold War theory of convergence, which held that American and Soviet societies were becoming almost identical--was utter nonsense. But in any sustained conflict, whether personal or geopolitical, there is an ever-present possibility that the two sides will imitate certain aspects of each other's behavior. It is not only our spouses, or our pets that we grow to resemble, but also, to some extent, our enemies. To put it another way, our adversaries--ideological and geopolitical--do not merely threaten us by preparing to attack and defeat us; in a more subtle way, they also threaten us by making us more like them. It would be absurd to suggest that America itself had any equivalent of the Soviet gulag, but Cold War logic did make the United States more tolerant of its allies' repressive behavior.

The only possible explanation for this is that it was intentionally run in the April issue and is meant to be a joke, right? Mr. Clark has no sooner run through the litany of what made the Gulag radically evil, as Ms Applebaum has argued in her book, than he proves her point about the Left not coming to terms with this fact by comparing it to the Shah's Iran and Pinochet's Chile and by basically accusing either the US of "imitating" the Soviet Union or, possibly even more outrageous, them of imitating us, as if the whole homicidal regime was our idea. One need merely note that Stalin murdered between 17 and 22 million of his own people just in the 1930's, long before America's Cold Warriors made the Soviets more like us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 PM

)

The Essence of Conservatism: Adapted from The Intelligent Woman?s Guide to Conservatism (Russell Kirk, The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal)
Modern conservatism took form about the beginning of the French Revolution, when far-seeing men in England and America perceived that if humanity is to conserve the elements in civilization that make life worth living, some coherent body of ideas must resist the leveling and destructive impulse of fanatic revolutionaries. In England, the founder of true conservatism was Edmund Burke, whose Reflections on the Revolution in France turned the tide of British opinion and influenced incalculably the leaders of society in the Continent and in America. In the newly established United States, the fathers of the Republic, conservative by training and by practical experience, were determined to shape constitutions which should guide their posterity in enduring ways of justice and freedom. Our American War of Independence had not been a real revolution, but rather a separation from England; statesmen of Massachusetts and Virginia had no desire to turn society upside down. In their writings, especially in the works of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, we find a sober and tested conservatism founded upon an understanding of history and human nature. The Constitution which the leaders of that generation drew up has proved to be the most successful conservative device in all history.

Conservative leaders, ever since Burke and Adams, have subscribed to certain general ideas that we may set down, briefly, by way of definition. Conservatives distrust what Burke called ?abstractions?--that is, absolute political dogmas divorced from practical experience and particular circumstances. They do believe, nevertheless, in the existence of certain abiding truths which govern the conduct of human society. Perhaps the chief principles which have characterized American conservative thought are these:

(1) Men and nations are governed by moral laws; and those laws have their origin in a wisdom that is more than human--in divine justice. At heart, political problems are moral and religious problems. The wise statesman tries to apprehend the moral law and govern his conduct accordingly. We have a moral debt to our ancestors, who bestowed upon us our civilization, and a moral obligation to the generations who will come after us. This debt is ordained of God. We have no right, therefore, to tamper impudently with human nature or with the delicate fabric of our civil social order.

(2) Variety and diversity are the characteristics of a high civilization. Uniformity and absolute equality are the death of all real vigor and freedom in existence. Conservatives resist with impartial strength the uniformity of a tyrant or an oligarchy, and the uniformity of what Tocqueville called ?democratic despotism.?

(3) Justice means that every man and every woman have the right to what is their own--to the things best suited to their own nature, to the rewards of their ability and integrity, to their property and their personality. Civilized society requires that all men and women have equal rights before the law, but that equality should not extend to equality of condition: that is, society is a great partnership, in which all have equal rights--but not to equal things. The just society requires sound leadership, different rewards for different abilities, and a sense of respect and duty.

(4) Property and freedom are inseparably connected; economic leveling is not economic progress. Conservatives value property for its own sake, of course; but they value it even more because without it all men and women are at the mercy of an omnipotent government.

(5) Power is full of danger; therefore the good state is one in which power is checked and balanced, restricted by sound constitutions and customs. So far as possible, political power ought to be kept in the hands of private persons and local institutions. Centralization is ordinarily a sign of social decadence.

(6) The past is a great storehouse of wisdom; as Burke said, ?the individual is foolish, but the species is wise.? The conservative believes that we need to guide ourselves by the moral traditions, the social experience, and the whole complex body of knowledge bequeathed to us by our ancestors. The conservative appeals beyond the rash opinion of the hour to what Chesterton called ?the democracy of the dead?--that is, the considered opinions of the wise men and women who died before our time, the experience of the race. The conservative, in short, knows he was not born yesterday.

(7) Modern society urgently needs true community: and true community is a world away from collectivism. Real community is governed by love and charity, not by compulsion. Through churches, voluntary associations, local governments, and a variety of institutions, conservatives strive to keep community healthy. Conservatives are not selfish, but public-spirited. They know that collectivism means the end of real community, substituting uniformity for variety and force for willing cooperation.

(8) In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country ought to set an example to the world, but ought not to try to remake the world in its image. It is a law of politics, as well as of biology, that every living thing loves above all else--even above its own life--its distinct identity, which sets it off from all other things. The conservative does not aspire to domination of the world, nor does he relish the prospect of a world reduced to a single pattern of government and civilization.

(9) Men and women are not perfectible, conservatives know; and neither are political institutions. We cannot make a heaven on earth, though we may make a hell. We all are creatures of mingled good and evil; and, good institutions neglected and ancient moral principles ignored, the evil in us tends to predominate. Therefore the conservative is suspicious of all utopian schemes. He does not believe that, by power of positive law, we can solve all the problems of humanity. We can hope to make our world tolerable, but we cannot make it perfect. When progress is achieved, it is through prudent recognition of the limitations of human nature.

(10) Change and reform, conservatives are convinced, are not identical: moral and political innovation can be destructive as well as beneficial; and if innovation is undertaken in a spirit of presumption and enthusiasm, probably it will be disastrous. All human institutions alter to some extent from age to age, for slow change is the means of conserving society, just as it is the means for renewing the human body. But American conservatives endeavor to reconcile the growth and alteration essential to our life with the strength of our social and moral traditions. With Lord Falkland, they say, ?When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.? They understand that men and women are best content when they can feel that they live in a stable world of enduring values.

Conservatism, then, is not simply the concern of the people who have much property and influence; it is not simply the defense of privilege and status. Most conservatives are neither rich nor powerful. But they do, even the most humble of them, derive great benefits from our established Republic. They have liberty, security of person and home, equal protection of the laws, the right to the fruits of their industry, and opportunity to do the best that is in them. They have a right to personality in life, and a right to consolation in death. Conservative principles shelter the hopes of everyone in society. And conservatism is a social concept important to everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom and all the lovable old ways of humanity. Conservatism is not simply a defense of ?capitalism.? (?Capitalism,? indeed, is a word coined by Karl Marx, intended from the beginning to imply that the only thing conservatives defend is vast accumulations of private capital.) But the true conservative does stoutly defend private property and a free economy, both for their own sake and because these are means to great ends.

Those great ends are more than economic and more than political. They involve human dignity, human personality, human happiness. They involve even the relationship between God and man. For the radical collectivism of our age is fiercely hostile to any other authority: modern radicalism detests religious faith, private virtue, traditional personality, and the life of simple satisfactions. Everything worth conserving is menaced in our generation. Mere unthinking negative opposition to the current of events, clutching in despair at what we still retain, will not suffice in this age. A conservatism of instinct must be reinforced by a conservatism of thought and imagination.

One of the concepts that seems hardest to grasp is that: where those who seek to deny the claim of tradition and faith on our behavior believe themselves to be liberators, they in fact end up being allies of the centralizers and collectivizers. Though they may not recognize it as such, their project is to transfer questions of right and wrong and activities like charity from churches to the government. Despite singing from the hymnal of freedom they practice Statism. It is this implicit alliance with the enemies of freedom that must make atheism and libertarianism matters of concern to conservatives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:55 PM

THE WORLD'S SMARTEST MORON

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (DAVID E. SANGER May 28, 2003, The New York Times)
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit last week to President Bush's ranch in Texas was punctuated by an unannounced, last-minute surprise: Mr. Bush invited his house guest to sit in on his highly classified morning intelligence briefing, the daily global review of terrorist threats, loose nukes and brewing hot spots.
?
Just a few weeks before, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia got similar insider treatment at the ranch: he was given a precious seat at the table for Mr. Bush's strategy session with the American negotiators with North Korea.

Last week Mr. Bush pulled out all the stops for the president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo even enduring a formal news conference in the East Room, one of Mr. Bush's least favorite venues to make clear to her constituents half a world away that they would be rewarded for allowing the American military to pursue terrorists on their territory.

Such efforts to rebuild and reshape alliances and to make clear which foreign leaders are considered members of the Bush inner circle are part of an effort by the White House to compensate for the breaches with the traditional allies that became so visible during the war in Iraq.

While many presidents have used private visits to Camp David and state dinners to impress and honor foreign leaders, Mr. Bush is taking the process a step further: since the fall of Baghdad, he has issued invitations to reward allies who have signed on to his view of the world and are willing to join him in the next steps of his plans to confront both terrorists and so-called rogue states.

David Frum has written about how one of the ways Mr. Bush secures loyalty and demonstrates trust is to share information or a thought with people that could embarrass or harm him if they leaked it. Pretty savvy for a guy who's supposed to be an idiot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:46 PM

IT'S PAT

The radicalization of Middle America (Pat Buchanan, May 28, 2003, World Net Daily)
"A well-heeled audience booed the Dixie Chicks plenty during country music's biggest night of the year Wednesday ? proof that patriotism continues to run deep through America."

So writes Jennifer Harper, embedded correspondent of the culture wars for the Washington Times, about the reception given the famous girl group every time their name came up at the Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. [...]

There are other signs that America's patience with what it sees as anti-Americanism, from Hollywood and the Big Media, is running out.

Legendary liberal talk-show host Phil Donahue was booed and hooted at the commencement at North Carolina State. The New York Times' Chris Hedges was shouted down and had the microphone plug pulled on his anti-war tirade to the graduates and their families at the Rockford College commencement in Illinois.

Two decades ago, singer Anita Bryant lost her contract as the voice of Florida orange juice for leading an anti-"gay"-rights campaign in Miami. Liberals said the former Miss Oklahoma had it coming. But now that actor Danny Glover has been cashiered as the public voice of MCI, after signing an ad supporting Fidel Castro, the left is no longer laughing. It is wailing and whining about "a new McCarthyism."

After Gen. Tommy Franks' Centcom put out its deck of cards of Iraqi war criminals, Newsmax.com decided to created its own deck of cards: "The United Nations of Weasels." Featured are Jacques Chirac as ace of spades, Martin Sheen as the ace of hearts, and Dan Rather, Barbra Streisand and Peter Arnett. The deck is one of the hottest sellers on the Internet.

There are other signs Americans are no longer willing to hide their loathing of the left. That egg on the face of editor Howell Raines of the mighty New York Times, after having been bamboozled and snookered by affirmative-action poster boy Jayson Blair, has most of America laughing.

When feminist Martha Burk declared she would break the all-male tradition at Augusta National Golf Club by leading a boycott of sponsors of the Master's tournament, and the New York Times took it up as the civil-rights cause du jour, Middle America rallied behind Augusta president "Hootie" Johnson. Hootie dissed Martha, ignored her boycott and protests, and carried off the Masters in style.

When a Republican governor took down the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's state capitol and a Democratic governor cut a midnight deal to strip a replica of the battle flag from the Georgia state flag, both pols saw their careers terminated by voters. Children in the South now defy school edicts that forbid them from carrying or wearing replicas of the battle flag. In Pennsylvania, a schoolteacher has risked dismissal rather than take off the Christian cross she was wearing.

In Montgomery, Ala., a 5,600-pound granite stone, with the Ten Commandments chiseled on it, sits still in the rotunda of the state judicial building in defiance of court orders. The chief judge of the Alabama Supreme Court, who put it there, refuses to remove it.

There is a spirit of rebellion in Middle America, sustained by voices on talk radio, talk TV and the Internet, where the cultural hegemony of the American elite simply does not extend.

Pat Buchanan has taken a lot of unfair heat for his 1992 Convention Speech...:
The central organizing principle of this republic is freedom. And from the ancient forests of Oregon, to the Inland Empire of California, America's great middle class has got to start standing up to the environmental extremists who put insects, rats and birds ahead of families, workers and jobs.

One year ago, my friends, I could not have dreamt I would be here. I was then still just one of many panelists on what President Bush calls "those crazy Sunday talk shows."

But I disagreed with the president; and so we challenged the president in the Republican primaries and fought as best we could. From February to June, he won 33 primaries. I can't recall exactly how many we won.

But tonight I want to talk to the 3 million Americans who voted for me. I will never forget you, nor the great honor you have done me. But I do believe, deep in my heart, that the right place for us to be now--in this presidential campaign--is right beside George Bush. The party is our home; this party is where we belong. And don't let anyone tell you any different.

Yes, we disagreed with President Bush, but we stand with him for freedom to choice religious schools, and we stand with him against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.

We stand with President Bush for right-to-life, and for voluntary prayer in the public schools, and against putting American women in combat. And we stand with President Bush in favor of the right of small towns and communities to control the raw sewage of pornography that pollutes our popular culture.

We stand with President Bush in favor of federal judges who interpret the law as written, and against Supreme Court justices who think they have a mandate to rewrite our Constitution.

My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.

...but this summons to "culture war" was the high point of the Bush re-election campaign and offered the only hope Mr. Bush had for winning (overnight polling during the convention had Mr. Bush faring best against Bill Clinton after Mr. Buchanan spoke). This is a well-earned "told ya' so".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 PM

THE WRITER'S DUTY (via Andrew Rhodes)

William Faulkner: Nobel Banquet Speech (City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1950)
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

The tragedy of modern art is that so few artists and authors accept this duty, to remind Man of what is best about him and to celebrate the glories of the past. The turning inwards to examine only the artist's self and the given moment has rendered much of modern culture quite worthless. The particularist trend reached its reductio ad absurdum with things like performance art, where we are supposed to consider contemplating the artist to be an artistic experience in itself, and in the use by artists of their own wastes as art objects, suggesting that even their body functions should interest us. Perhaps this fascination with the self is just a reflection of the society-wide focus on the individual, but it seems like art in particular should aim higher and seek to lift our gaze to the universal, not encourage us to rub our noses in the gutter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 PM

BLOOD ON THE TRACKS

How the US set a course for war with Iraq (Quentin Peel, Robert Graham, James Harding and Judy Dempsey, May 26 2003, Financial Times)
In the first week of January, when most of the Paris elite was still on the ski slopes, a top French diplomat delivered a blunt warning to his boss at the foreign ministry in the Quai d'Orsay. Gerard Araud, director of strategic affairs and security, told Dominique de Villepin that the US administration was absolutely intent on going to war in Iraq.

"We seem to be acting as though we believe the train has not left the station," he told the foreign minister. "In fact, it has already departed. All we are doing is lying down on the tracks in front of it." France, he added, must choose between finding a diplomatic way of supporting the inevitable war and preparing for outright opposition.

Mr Araud, a close observer of Washington politics, sounded his alarm just three days after George W. Bush had addressed US troops preparing to leave for the Gulf from their base at Fort Hood, Texas. "We are ready," the president declared, in the ringing tones of a leader all set for war.

The realisation that war in Iraq was inevitable was not universally shared in Europe. In London that week, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, declared that the odds were 60 to 40 in favour of a peaceful diplomatic solution. In Berlin, the German government was still clinging to the hope that the process of weapons inspections launched by the United Nations Security Council in November would avert any need for military action.

How is it that Americans are always accused of being less sophisticated than Europeans and of not understanding political realities as well as they, yet even in January of this year the Euroipeans hadn't figured out yet that George W. Bush was going to take Saddam out?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 PM

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST

Do not mourn the end of the west (Mark Mazower, May 27 2003, Financial Times)
What has happened to the idea of the west? The transatlantic community, whose rise and eventual triumph was charted by postwar historians and routinely evoked by cold war politicians, has emerged in tatters from the crisis provoked by the war on Iraq. The rift between Washington and Donald Rumsfeld's "old Europe" has not yet been bridged. But does this mean the west is dead and, if so, does it really matter?

In truth there was always something a little self-righteous about the concept. In the second half of the 20th century it evoked a community of values, a shared inheritance of Judaeo-Christian and Roman traditions that had, supposedly, bred in the peoples of the Atlantic seaboard a special attachment to liberty, democracy and parliamentary institutions. Never mind that this made for some bad history: the ideology provided a justification for American commitment to European affairs and defined the common cause against the threat of Soviet communism. And there were convergent political and strategic interests, as Nato partners concurred in seeing Europe as the chief battleground of the cold war.

But, as the near-paralysis of Nato itself indicates, the geopolitical interests of America and Europe are no longer defined in such similar ways. [...]

If the west turns out to have been an idea that shielded Europeans from the consciousness of their own decline, the disappearance of the west may not be a bad thing.

Peter (in Canada) mentioned recently his grim amusement when he visits our site to see what nation we've consigned to the ash heap of history that day. But we do so not out of any sense of triumphalism, but one of deep regret. The West was worthwile and remains worth saving. How can we not mourn the death of the "special attachment to liberty, democracy and parliamentary institutions" in countries that used to share that attachment with us? Is there not at least a chance that if the non-American West reckons with its decline it may seek to reverse it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

AGENDA?

After Iraq, The Left Has A New Agenda: Contain America (Jonathan Rauch, May 23, 2003, National Journal)
Unless you live at the bottom of a well, you've probably noticed that 9/11 and Iraq have had a transforming effect on the American Right. The short formulation is that so-called neoconservatism has triumphed. In 1999, Republicans bitterly opposed U.S. action against a rogue state in Central Europe; in 2000, their presidential nominee ran on an inward-looking, reactive, "humble" foreign policy. All of that is history now. It is hard to find a conservative who does not believe, as the neocons do, in robust and pre-emptive American action against tyrants and terrorists.

That change is, I believe, a watershed, akin to Democrats' side-switch on civil rights in the 1960s and Republicans' switch on budget-balance in the 1980s. In the rush to notice neocons, however, another transformation has been overlooked. A new kind of leftist agenda has emerged from 9/11 and Iraq, one that both mirrors and inverts neoconservatism, and one whose implications seem just as profound.

To understand "neoleftism" (as I might as well call it), consider an ostensibly odd fact: Many neoleftists saw not failure for their side in the fight against the Iraq war, but success.

Success? Even though the Left's street demonstrations around the world failed to stop the war? Even though the quick victory and Iraqi celebrations seemed to vindicate neocons' predictions? Well, yes. Here is how The Nation, which is to the neoleftists something like what Commentary once was to the neocons, put it in an April 7 editorial:

"If we are present at the creation of a new American empire, we are also present at the creation of another superpower -- the largest, most broadly based peace and justice movement in history, a movement that has engaged millions of people here and around the globe."

President Bush's arrogance and aggression, in this view, have catalyzed the truly international sort of activist network that the Left has long dreamed of. At last the globalized economy faces a globalized Left, one that can come together at the speed of e-mail to oppose corporate power -- and American power.

Where'd they go? We kept hearing about how the millions of marchers represented a new movement--where are they? What do they want? What's next?

Aren't they in fact just a reactionary force that can be mobilized once in awhile to try and stop something they don't like? In what sense are they a constructive, forward-looking force?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

EATING THE WORLD: What four-letter word links desertification, landfills, obesity, the WTO, Walmart and the end of the family? 'Food', of course. A scrumptious essay on the philosophies, cultures, and the globalisation of eating. (ROGER SCRUTON, 5/15/03, Open Democracy)
[E]ating, for us, is not what it is for the other animals. A person?s encounter with food may be an occasion of festivity and celebration; it may also be deeply unsettling, compromising and humiliating. It can even be (for the Christian) a petition for divine forgiveness and an avenue to redemption. Eating has in every traditional society been regarded as a social, often religious, act, embellished by ritual and enjoyed as a primary celebration of membership. Food has therefore become part of the self-consciousness of humanity, and differences in diet often reflect far-ranging differences in the rhythm, ethos and expectations of competing lifestyles.

Indeed, the difference between humans and other animals is never more vividly to be witnessed, than in their contrasting attitudes to food. Animals feed, while people eat. This distinction (between fressen and essen) is one on which Leon Kass has meditated at length in his eloquent book, The Hungry Soul.

Kass concludes that rational beings defy their own nature if they regard food purely as fuel for the body and not also as a moral and spiritual challenge. Rational beings are nourished on conversation, taste, manners and hospitality, and to divorce food from these practices is to deprive it of its true social significance.

The special relation of people to their food finds emblematic expression in the face. Human beings have neither claws nor fangs. They do not eat by pressing their mouth to their food, but by raising their food to their mouth, which is the organ of speech and therefore of reason. The mouth is the centre of the face, and it is in the face that the human person is most immediately encountered, in the form of looks and glances, smiles, grimaces and words.

People therefore place their food into their mouths with special care, usually by means of instruments that create a distance between the food and the face, so that the glance, the smile and the self remain visible while eating. The instruments of choice in African society are the fingers, and we will be carrying an interesting account of the way in which this practice shapes not just the meal that is eaten, but the social outlook of those who eat it.

People rejoice less in filling themselves than in the sight of food, table and guests dressed for a ceremonial offering. Their meals are also sacrifices, and anthropologists have occasionally argued that the origin of our carnivorous ways lies in the burnt offerings of ancient ritual. Only rational beings make gifts, and it is the giving of food, usually as the central episode in a ceremony, that is the core of hospitality, and therefore of those actions through which we lay claim to our home and at the same time mutely apologise for owning it.

(Cat lovers may dispute that sentence, believing that their favourites bring gifts of mouse, frog and lizard into the house. But those would be gifts only if the cat, in surrendering them, simultaneously affirms and relinquishes a right of ownership. That is not something that can be accomplished, by a creature that lacks the concept of a right.)

We are unique among the animals, or nearly so, in our omnivorousness. Our eating is motivated occasionally by need, but also by a love of superfluity
that causes us to rearrange our world and to engage in ceaseless experiment. At the same time we bind ourselves in laws--such as the dietary laws of Leviticus--which reinforce the idea of food as a spiritual commodity.

Vegetarianism can be seen as an attempt to recuperate this idea, by reintroducing a conception of dietary sin. We will debate this idea with the publication of an important article by Steve Sapontzis. Omnivorousness, in the human species, is the result of reason; so too is the refusal to be omnivorous.

There is nothing rational about the refusal to eat a hamburger.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM

UNSCRAMBLING THE EGGS

W.'s Christian Nation: How Bush promotes religion and erodes the separation of church and state (Chris Mooney, 6.1.03, American Prospect)
In November of 1992, shortly after Bill Clinton was elected president, a telling controversy arose at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. When a reporter asked the governors how their party could both satisfy the demands of Christian conservatives and also maintain a broad political coalition, Mississippi's Kirk Fordice took the opportunity to pronounce America a "Christian nation." "The less we emphasize the Christian religion," Fordice declared, "the further we fall into the abyss of poor character and chaos in the United States of America." Jewish groups immediately protested Fordice's remarks; on CNN's Crossfire, Michael Kinsley asked whether Fordice would also call America a "white nation" because whites, like Christians, enjoy a popular majority. The incident was widely seen as exposing a rift between the divisive Pat Robertson wing of the GOP and the more moderate camp represented by then-President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Fast-forward a decade. Republicans have solved their internal problems, and the party is united under our most prayerful of presidents, the born-again believer George W. Bush. Though not originally the favored candidate of the religious right -- John Ashcroft was -- Bush has played the part well. Virtually his first presidential act was to proclaim a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving; soon he appointed Ashcroft to serve as attorney general. Since then the stream of religiosity from the White House has been continuous. With the help of evangelical speechwriter Michael Gerson, Bush lards his speeches with code words directed at Christian conservatives. In this year's State of the Union address, Bush mentioned the "wonder-working power" of the American people, an allusion to an evangelical Christian song whose lyrics cite the "power, wonder-working power, in the blood of the Lamb" -- i.e., Jesus.

Bush also uses his office to promote marriage, charitable choice and school vouchers as conservative Christian policy objectives. Yet he has never endorsed, at least not explicitly, the time-honored religious-right claim that the United States is a Christian nation. Nor has he seconded Pat Robertson's cry that the separation of church and state is "a lie of the left."

Mr. Mooney might prefer that things were otherwise, but the three points here that he seems to find controversial are instead self-evident. America is a nation structured around the ideals of white European Judeo-Christianity and "separation of church and state" is an aconstitutional lie of the Left. There are perfectly legitimate arguments against too direct a mingling of Church and State without resorting to this kind of historical obfuscation. The problem lies in the fundamental unpopularity of such arguments, which leaves secularists no good alternative but to claim to be defending tradition, rather than attacking it.

Yes, government should be essentially secular. No, there should be no established Church and the State should be neutral between various religions or between religious institutions and other types of institutions. But no government can exist in a religious nation without becoming entangled to some degree or another in religious matters, particularly when that government extends its reach into so many areas where it does not belong. If government is to encroach in these realms--marriage, charity, education, etc.--then separation is simply unrealistic. Want separation? Get government out of the social sphere.

MORE:
In Shift, U.S. to Offer Grants to Historic Churches (LAURIE GOODSTEIN and RICHARD W. STEVENSON, May 28, 2003. NY Times)
In a reversal of a longstanding policy, the Bush administration said yesterday that it would allow federal grants to be used to renovate churches and religious sites that are designated historic landmarks.

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton announced the change in an afternoon news conference at the Old North Church in Boston, where in 1775 Paul Revere spotted two lanterns hung to signal the advance of British troops. Ms. Norton said the church, which still houses a congregation, would receive a federal grant of $317,000 to repair windows and make the building more accessible to the public.

"Today we have a new policy that will bring balance to historic preservation and end the discriminatory double standard that has been applied against religious properties," said Ms. Norton, standing below the church's famed steeple.

The decision was the latest step by the White House to remove barriers to government financing of religious organizations, and it received mixed reviews from constitutional experts.

This is a good example of the problem: if the government is to have such programs then religious buildings must be eligible for them just like non-religious buildings. If you don't want to help restore churches, scrap the program.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:08 AM

THE PENDULUM OF THE LEFT

What Pendulums Do (David Warsh, Economic Principals, 5/25/2003)
It’s been nearly thirty years since its stirrings reached my little corner of America and swept me up and carried me along — me and half my generation and most of the next....

For some years the term that seemed to describe it adequately was "the Turn to the Right."

But the more my friends and I reflected on our own experience, the more the Left/Right distinction lost its capacity to illuminate what had happened to us. We still felt ourselves to be "of the Left" ...

Yet we were nearly as enthusiastic about the new reforms — stable money, deregulation, corporate restructuring, tax simplification, auctions, emissions-trading and the rest — as were any of our friends on the Right. So the shorthand we came to employ among ourselves was to speak of "the Market Revolution." It is hard to convey now how surprising it was to those of us who became involved....

It wasn’t conservatism that conquered the world in the last quarter of the 20th century — it was capitalism....

Robert Nozick called it "the zig-zag of politics." Henry Adams described a 36-year cycle of governmental expansion and contraction. Arthur Schlesinger Sr. called his similar schema the "tides" of American politics. Albert Hirschman writes of "shifting involvements" between the public and private speres. Or as the newspaper columnist Nancy Nall put it just last week, "It's only a matter of time before the pendulum does what pendulums do."

It seems to me that the left is subject far more than the right to vagaries of fashion. (We conservatives would say that that is because leftists have few principles and little logic to ground their thought, but I am sure leftists would have alternative explanations -- perhaps that their minds are more open.) I would say that there have been few pendulum swings on the right; the right's changes have largely been reactions to swings on the left, as conservatives have searched for new ways to engage and persuade, or rebut, the arguments of the left.

Warsh is a fine economic journalist; he was a long-time columnist for the Boston Globe until the New York Times acquired it and pushed him out, but thankfully he continues on the Web. Here he makes an excellent point about a major pendulum swing on the left. The domestic successes of Ronald Reagan's presidency -- 1981's tax cut and 1986's tax reform -- were achieved with the help of Democrats, and not just conservative Democrats but liberals like Bill Bradley. Socialism and big government had been discredited by the end of the 1970s, and liberal fashion turned toward the free market.

Unfortunately, today the left's pendulum has swung back toward radicalism, and George W. Bush has a less pliable Congress to deal with, though it has Republican majorities.

Let me speculate as to the next pendulum swing: it will be driven by a growing recognition of the importance of cooperative, not coercive, institutions in spheres that the left has traditionally considered "non-market." George Bush's faith-based initiative, for instance, is a small nudge pushing traditional welfare programs in a more cooperative direction, in which the government no longer dictates methods, but supports private-sector parties. Here the left's rhetoric about "choice" will help us make our case. And, though Democratic politicians remain at an extreme, at the grassroots and in academia the pendulum is already swinging our way. I hope the Republican Party is ready to act; for, as history shows, the pendulum may be near the right for only a few years.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM

THERE'S PLENTY OF ROOM THERE ANYWAY

Progressive Tacks: The Democrats turn left. (William Saletan, May 27, 2003, Slate)
Last week, seven Democratic presidential candidates addressed a forum convened by EMILY's List, an organization that raises money for pro-choice, Democratic women candidates. Compared to previous debates before Democratic audiences, this event was notable for signs that the candidates are growing increasingly comfortable with liberal themes. Here are a few of those signs. [...]

Dean and the counterculture. It's one thing for Dean to oppose the Iraq war while supporting the use of force against terrorists. It's another thing to convey distrust of the military alongside other icons of American culture. Here's how Dean explained to EMILY's List his objections to Bush's 2001 education bill:

It says that every school has to certify there's constitutionally protected school prayer in your local public school. It says the Boy Scouts have to be able to meet in every school building in this country. It says that the names of rising juniors and seniors go to the higher education establishment and the military. That is law, supported by us as well as the Republicans. If people can't tell the difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, why wouldn't they vote for the Republican Party? We have got to stop that kind of thing.

Prayer, the Boy Scouts, and the military. That's way too much to take on at one time, even if you're as clever and confident as Howard Dean. "I don't pay attention to polls, because this campaign is not just about winning; this campaign is about educating and moving America," Dean told the crowd. "If you stand up for the things we believe in, people start to come to you." Maybe so, but a lot of those people will be carrying baseball bats.

It says everything we really need to know about the Democrats that it's good politics within the Party to run against the Boy Scouts.

May 27, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 PM

THE AVOIDANCE OF A "REALLY DANGEROUS IDEA" (via Andrew Rhodes)

Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction (Richard B. Woodward April 19, 1992, NY Times)
A man's novelist whose apocalyptic vision rarely focuses on women, McCarthy doesn't write about sex, love or domestic issues. "All the Pretty Horses," an adventure story about a Texas boy who rides off to Mexico with his buddy, is unusually sweet-tempered for him -- like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer on horseback. The earnest nature of the young characters and the lean, swift story, reminiscent of early Hemingway, should bring McCarthy a wider audience at the same time it secures his masculine mystique.

But whatever it has lacked in thematic range, McCarthy's prose restores the terror and grandeur of the physical world with a biblical gravity that can shatter a reader. A page from any of his books -- minimally punctuated, without quotation marks, avoiding apostrophes, colons or semicolons -- has a stylized spareness that magnifies the force and precision of his words. Unimaginable cruelty and the simplest things, the sound of a tap on a door, exist side by side, as in this typical passage from "Blood Meridian" on the unmourned death of a pack animal:

"The following evening as they rode up onto the western rim they lost one of the mules. It went skittering off down the canyon wall with the contents of the panniers exploding soundlessly in the hot dry air and it fell through sunlight and through shade, turning in that lonely void until it fell from sight into a sink of cold blue space that absolved it forever of memory in the mind of any living thing that was."

Rightful heir to the Southern Gothic tradition, McCarthy is a radical conservative who still believes that the novel can, in his words, "encompass all the various disciplines and interests of humanity." And with his recent forays into the history of the United States and Mexico, he has cut a solitary path into the violent heart of the Old West. There isn't anyone remotely like him in contemporary American literature. A COMPACT UNIT, SHY OF 6 feet even in cowboy boots, McCarthy walks with a bounce, like someone who is also a good dancer. Clean-cut and handsome as he grays, he has a Celtic's blue-green eyes set deep into a high-domed forehead. "He gives an impression of strength and vitality and poetry," says Bellow, who describes him as "crammed into his own person."

For such an obstinate loner, McCarthy is an engaging figure, a world-class talker, funny, opinionated, quick to laugh. Unlike his illiterate characters, who tend to be terse and crude, he speaks with an amused, ironic manner. His involved syntax has a relaxed elegance, as if he had easy control over the direction and agreement of his thoughts. Once he had agreed to an interview -- after long negotiations with his agent in New York, Amanda Urban of International Creative Management, who promised he wouldn't have to do another for many years -- he seemed happy to entertain company for a few days. [...]

In a long review of the book in The New Yorker, Robert Coles called McCarthy a "novelist of religious feeling," comparing him with the Greek dramatists and medieval moralists. And in a prescient observation he noted the novelist's "stubborn refusal to bend his writing to the literary and intellectual demands of our era," calling him a writer "whose fate is to be relatively unknown and often misinterpreted."

"MOST OF MY FRIENDS FROM those days are dead," McCarthy says. We are sitting in a bar in Juarez, discussing "Suttree," his longest, funniest book, a celebration of the crazies and ne'er-do-wells he knew in Knoxville's dirty bars and poolrooms. McCarthy doesn't drink anymore -- he quit 16 years ago in El Paso, with one of his young girlfriends -- and "Suttree" reads like a farewell to that life. "The friends I do have are simply those who quit drinking," he says. "If there is an occupational hazard to writing, it's drinking."

Written over about 20 years and published in 1979, "Suttree" has a sensitive and mature protagonist, unlike any other in McCarthy's work, who ekes out a living on a houseboat, fishing in the polluted city river, in defiance of his stern, successful father. A literary conceit -- part Stephen Daedalus, part Prince Hal -- he is also McCarthy, the willful outcast. Many of the brawlers and drunkards in the book are his former real-life companions. "I was always attracted to people who enjoyed a perilous life style," he says. Residents of the city are said to compete to find themselves in the text, which has displaced "A Death in the Family" by James Agee as Knoxville's novel.

McCarthy began "Blood Meridian" after he had moved to the Southwest, without DeLisle. "He always thought he would write the great American western," says a still-smarting DeLisle, who typed "Suttree" for him -- "twice, all 800 pages." Against all odds, they remain friends. If "Suttree" strives to be "Ulysses," "Blood Meridian" has distinct echoes of "Moby-Dick," McCarthy's favorite book. A mad hairless giant named Judge Holden makes florid speeches not unlike Captain Ahab's. Based on historical events in the Southwest in 1849-50 (McCarthy learned Spanish to research it), the book follows the life of a mythic character called "the kid" as he rides around with John Glanton, who was the leader of a ferocious gang of scalp hunters. The collision between the inflated prose of the 19th-century novel and nasty reality gives "Blood Meridian" its strange, hellish character. It may be the bloodiest book since "The Iliad."

"I've always been interested in the Southwest," McCarthy says blandly. "There isn't a place in the world you can go where they don't know about cowboys and Indians and the myth of the West."

More profoundly, the book explores the nature of evil and the allure of violence. Page after page, it presents the regular, and often senseless, slaughter that went on among white, Hispanic and Indian groups. There are no heroes in this vision of the American frontier.

"There's no such thing as life without bloodshed," McCarthy says philosophically. "I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous."

This tooth-and-claw view of reality would seem not to accept the largesse of philanthropies. Then again, McCarthy is no typical reactionary. Like Flannery O'Conner, he sides with the misfits and anachronisms of modern life against "progress." His play, "The Stonemason," written a few years ago and scheduled to be performed this fall at the Arena Stage in Washington, is based on a Southern black family he worked with for many months. The breakdown of the family in the play mirrors the recent disappearance of stoneworking as a craft.

"Stacking up stone is the oldest trade there is," he says, sipping a Coke. "Not even prostitution can come close to its antiquity. It's older than anything, older than fire. And in the last 50 years, with hydraulic cement, it's vanishing. I find that rather interesting."

Even if half of it's just schtick, it's hard not to like him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM

THE EURO VS. REALITY

Euro hits a bump on strength of U.S. data: Currency touches $1.19, a record, before slipping back (Eric Pfanner, May 28, 2003, The International Herald Tribune)
Europe's single currency sailed into uncharted waters Tuesday, trading at its highest level ever against the dollar, but ran into headwinds when new evidence underscored the disparity between a weak European economy and the slightly better-off United States.

The euro, which last weak surged past its initial rate against the dollar, on Tuesday briefly traded above $1.19, a level it had never touched in its four years, before ending lower for the day.

Relatively upbeat reports on the U.S. housing market and consumer confidence, following more weak data from the 12-nation euro zone, gave currency traders pause Tuesday, but analysts said the euro's climb could continue unless policymakers take action to stop it. [...]

Analysts say one reason for the euro's rebound is the higher level of interest rates in the euro zone, which provides greater yields to European bond investors who keep their money at home. While the U.S. Federal Reserve has cut its base interest rate to 1.25 percent, the European Central Bank has been reluctant to lower borrowing costs, keeping the comparable rate at 2.5 percent--a policy that has drawn heavy criticism from analysts.

The Central Bank's stubborness, even if a mistake, shows what you can achieve when you eschew democratic controls. They're helping to drive Europe into a recession and receiving rather little heat over it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM

LEFT BEHIND

Do the Democrats Have a Prayer?: To win in '04 the next nominee will need to get religion. (Amy Sullivan , June 2003, Washington Monthly)
Democrats stand to gain the most support among two particular religious constituencies--"freestyle evangelicals" and "convertible Catholics." Although some commentators often refer to the "evangelical vote" or the "Catholic vote," more astute political observers understand that both of these religious communities are actually a collection of sub-groups characterized by regional, socio-economic, ethnic, and sometimes theological differences. And their political attitudes and behaviors are far from monolithic. "There are sub-constituencies among the religious of America who are more persuadable," says Shaun Casey, professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary. "What Karl Rove has seen is that if the Bush campaign can go into traditional Democratic constituencies and peel off 5 percent of the vote, that is a huge victory." Democrats could do the same thing if they understood the territory better.

Who are these religious swing voters? Freestyle evangelicals--so named by Beliefnet.com founder Steven Waldman and political scientist John Green--are a growing subset of the largest religious community in the United States. Twenty-five percent of American adults are evangelical Christians, but 40 percent of those (or 10 percent of the adult population) are freestyle evangelicals. This group is tied not to controversial figures such as Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, but to shared cultural touchstones like the Left Behind book series or Michael W. Smith concerts. Sociologist Alan Wolfe refers to the "maturation of American evangelicals" as an indication of the changing demographics of the community. They are just as likely to send their children to public schools as the next person, and many throw back beers on a Saturday night just as happily as they attend church the next morning--often at so-called "megachurches," which have expanded rapidly in the suburbs, reflecting the spread of evangelicalism up the rungs of the socio-economic ladder and into the mainstream.

Although theologically conservative, this group is politically independent; freestyle evangelicals supported Clinton in 1996 and Bush in 2000. They are fairly conservative on social issues--most are pro-life, although they are not single-issue abortion voters--and express particular concern about popular culture. "They worry a lot about their kids, about declining standards, about what they see as 'smut' on television," says Green. "But they have a much broader agenda--they are interested in social welfare issues, they care about the environment." These voters supported Tipper Gore's successful campaign for music warning labels in the 1980s, and like many parents shared Lieberman's worries about the omnipresence of explicit television shows, movies, and Internet sites. Yet in the 2000 campaign, the Gore-Lieberman team inexplicably ignored these touchstone issues.

Free-style evangelicals are not the only "persuadable" religious voters. Conservative older Catholics (read: pre-Vatican II) are a dwindling group, and a potential coalition of "convertible Catholics" is taking their place. On a range of issues, especially economic issues, these Catholics are natural Democrats: They tend to have urban ethnic roots, support unions, and don't automatically hate "big government." But as religiously minded voters, they also feel alienated from the Democratic party over a range of moral and cultural issues, including abortion. In the 1980s, many of them who had once voted Democratic left the ticket to vote for the Gipper, hence the term "Reagan Democrats." But they were never fully at home in the GOP either. Clinton brought many Catholics back into the fold with initiatives like the V-Chip and mandatory school uniforms. But in 2000, Bush campaigned hard for their votes. He pursued a strategy similar to the one used to court evangelicals, granting one-on-one interviews with conservative Catholic publications like Crisis magazine and cultivating key alliances with conservative Catholic intellectuals. His aggressive courtship won back many Catholic voters. In 2000, both Bush and Gore drew 20 percent of their total support from Catholics, a relative gain for the GOP.

Over the long term, though, winning the Catholic vote will depend on winning the Hispanic vote. The vast majority of Hispanics are Catholic, but they tend to be culturally Catholic, not necessarily committed churchgoers. In part because of their loose ties to local churches, this group has been extremely difficult to mobilize. In 2000 and 2002, Hispanic Catholics had the lowest turnout rates of any of the religious voting blocs. But when they do vote, they overwhelmingly support Democrats. Although white Catholics divided their votes between Clinton and Dole, Latino Catholics voted for Clinton by a wide margin. A survey by the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life project found that, in 1996, Hispanic voters supported Clinton at a higher rate (81 percent) than did any other ethnic group, including blacks. As Green observes, "There is a huge potential there, not only because they're growing as a group, but because there is an untapped set of votes there." If Democrats could get Hispanic Catholics excited about the next election, they could pick up a great number of votes.

So, the Democrats, despite being so closely identified with Hollywood, abortion, gay rights, opposition to school choice, etc., can still appeal to "theologically conservative" voters? Either "theologically" or "conservative" must not mean what it used to.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM

CRANK UP THE VCRs

'Commanding Heights' PBS series a triumph (Lou Marano, 5/27/2003, UPI)
Can a discipline that's been called the "dismal science" be the subject of a six-hour TV documentary that will glue you to your set and keep you coming back episode after episode? Surprisingly, yes.

The PBS series "Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy" combines historical sweep, narrative flow, and cinematic appeal. The theme is globalization, and the
"battle" is between market forces and government intervention. [...]

The series, based on Yergin's book written with Joseph Stanislaw, is being broadcast for a second time. Episode 3, "The Agony of Reform," will be shown on Thursday, May 29, at 10 p.m. A companion Web cast with in-depth interviews can be found at pbs.org/commandingheights/.

If you've not seen this, it is a terrific series.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:47 PM

SECURITY VS. FREEDOM FDR-STYLE

FDR's Wise Take on U.S. Security (Cass R. Sunstein, May 27, 2003, LA Times)
It was on Jan. 11, 1944, that Roosevelt delivered his greatest and most reflective State of the Union address. He unified his speech around a single concept, security: "that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security." [...]

Roosevelt insisted that Americans "have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all, regardless of station, race or creed."

And then Roosevelt listed the relevant rights: "The right to a useful and remunerative job the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; the right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him a decent living; the right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies the right of every family to a decent home to adequate medical care the right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment; the right to a good education."

Do we get to vote on that 2nd Bill of Rights?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:30 PM

TO AN IDIOT EVERYTHING'S A PARADOX

U.S. Rearms While Telling Others To Disarm (Helen Thomas, May 24, 2003, Hearst Newspapers)
While the United States tells other nations to disarm, the Bush administration appears eager to take steps toward expanding our nuclear arsenal.

How much do you have to hate your own country to think that the world would be a worse place if America were the only nation with nuclear weapons?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

BORED TO TEARS

The Reluctant Fan: Professional baseball's lachrymose and soporific spell: a review of May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy by Andrew Zimbalist (David Kipen, June 2003, Atlantic Monthly)
My wife drew a blank this morning when I asked her what Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, and Ted Williams had in common. Thinking cap firmly in place, she did hazard a guess: "They're all baseball players?" (She meant this as a joke, she says now.) "They all hit home runs? In the World Series?" This was getting us nowhere. It was time to turn over all the cards, as they used to say on What's My Line?, and spill. Unfortunately, I was spilling already-misting up, or starting to, as I sometimes do when the conversation turns to baseball.

Misting up is one of two physiological reactions the game tends to produce in me. The other, a symptom I regularly present in the later innings of most game broadcasts, is unconsciousness. At first, when on the couch with the remote, or in the study with the computer, or in bed with an ear over the pillow speaker, I'm in heaven. Too soon, though, heaven is forsaken for dreamland. Something about a postgame show always wakes me up, but sleep usually makes a comeback before I can hear what the final score was. It's like radio traffic reports: We wait forever to hear one, but when we do, our attention falters before the announcer can get around to the route we want. "Hey, did she mention the 101 yet?"

Tears and snores. One wouldn't think the same stimulus could produce two such divergent responses, but then, baseball has never been an oasis of strict causality. Sneak a bad pitch past a napping hitter and you're a hero. Snap off a wicked curveball and get beat on an excuse-me swing. Logical it's not. How to explain a game (to the uninitiated, or even to initiates) that has us choking up like a pesky bunter one minute, and nodding off the next?

The stock answers are that we weep from nostalgia, and we doze out of boredom. According to this line of thinking, we're tired of greedy owners, and of overpaid ballplayers who change teams so often that we're left rooting for little more than an empty uniform. We pine for the game of our childhoods, when salaries were lower, tickets cheaper, and all the grass-if not greener -was at least real.

Andrew Zimbalist is here to tell you that the stock answers are, like a batting-practice pitcher's aim, all too true-yet inadequate. A professor at Smith, Zimbalist argues persuasively that the biggest problem with baseball today is the monopoly power exercised by the owners running it.

The other leagues don't seem to be run any better and they have no anti-trust exemption.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM

STICKS, STONES, & 4 JUMBO JETS

Islam is hardly the only religion with extremists (ANANT RAMBACHAN, May, 16, 2003, Pioneer Press)
In a column published Wednesday, Cal Thomas contended that the call, by the National Association of Evangelicals, to conservative Christian leaders to tone down their condemnation of Islam is misplaced. Such appeals must be directed instead to Muslim clergy since, according to Thomas, Islam is the primary source of "incendiary language."

It is difficult to disagree with Thomas about the need for the moderate voices in Islam to reclaim the tradition from extremists who seek to privilege their own understanding and who are ready to violently silence alternative interpretations.

It is also important, however, to remember that religious extremism is not unique to any single religion, although it becomes prominent in some traditions at specific historical moments. We must be attentive to the plurality, complexity and ambiguity of all religions and take note of the fact that extremism is one strand among many others.

What is glaringly unbalanced and disquieting about Thomas' column is that he nowhere acknowledges that the characterization of Islam by the Revs. Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others as "wicked" and "violent" is unfair and problematic. [...]

The contentious issues identified by Thomas--such as the Islamic attitude to converts to other religions, the position of the Quran on violence and state-church relationships--ought not to be ignored in the process of seeking to foster constructive relationships between Muslims and people of other faiths. Such issues cannot be glossed over in the interest of a superficial amiability, and a space has to be found in interreligious relationships for mutual critique and questioning.

Constructive dialogue over contentious issues, however, requires cultivating and nurturing a relationship of mutual trust.

Problematic? Doesn't that mean true but with qualifications?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:55 PM

IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN (via ef brown)

Greens Consider Standing Behind Democrats in '04: Party Still Mulling Its Own Ticket (Brian Faler, May 27, 2003, The Washington Post)
The lesser of two evils doesn't seem like such a bad choice these days to some Greens.

As the Green Party hashes out its plans for next year's presidential election, some of its activists are urging the party to forgo the race and, instead, throw its support behind one of the Democratic candidates -- all in the hopes of unseating President Bush.

That'll help the Democrats reconnect to mainstream America, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM

SUMMERTIME...AND THE LIVIN' IS EASY

RECIPE: TRENETTE AL PESTO: The King of Pestos with Pasta, Broccoli, and Potatoes (Lynne Rossetto Kasper, May 27, 2003, The Splendid Table)
Serves 6 to 8 as a first course, 3 to 4 as a main dish

1 large clove garlic, any green center removed
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2/3 tightly packed cup fresh young basil leaves
2 heaping tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Fiore Sardo sheep cheese or domestic Fontinella
Scant 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 to 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Ligurian preferred: Roi, Ardoino,
or Rainieri brand)
1 medium red-skinned potato, peeled and thinly sliced
6 quarts boiling salted water
3/4 pound trenette, linguine, or spaghetti
1-1/2 cups broccoli flowerettes
Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the salt. Gradually add the basil and then the pine nuts, crushing everything into a rough paste. Add the cheeses and then finally enough oil to bring the pesto to the consistency of heavy cream. Turn it into a pasta bowl.

2. Drop the potato into the boiling water and boil 5 minutes. Add the pasta and broccoli and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite. Take out 1/3 cup pasta water and stir it into the pesto. Drain the pasta in a colander and immediately toss it with the pesto. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM

THAT'S NOT NARROWING; IT'S WINNOWING

Lost in translation: the narrowing of the American mind (K.A. Dilday, May 1, 2003, Open Democracy)
The indifference of American public culture to the imaginative experience of other peoples is reflected in the dearth of work translated from foreign languages. As the world becomes more complex and its literary voices more varied and challenging, the damage of this complacency is not only to unheard, unread writers, but to the American mind itself. [...]

It is detrimental to deprive our intellectual exchange of the rich and varied stimuli that results from the infusion of different views, but, as Americans learned on 9/11, we need to know what is going on in the rest of the world as a matter of self-preservation. It shouldn?t be that, as an editor at Oxford University Press remarked drily during a seminar on world literature, ?Everything seems to take Americans by surprise.?

Politically, America has become infamous as the beast that feeds only its own appetite, but this isn?t surprising since, given the nature of the US publishing industry, our own appetites are all that we know. And there is much to fear from a global power whose people remain unaware of cultural contradiction, uninterested in the passions of others; contented with mother?s milk from birth to death.

About 3% of the fiction and poetry published in the United States in 1999 was translated (approximately 330 out of the total 11,570 fiction and poetry titles published). America compares unfavourably to almost every other country and most unfavourably to western Europe, the region closest to an ideological sibling.

There, Germany translates the most works - about six times as many as the US each year. Spain is close behind, while the French publishing industry exceeds the US by four times.

Without translations, Americans, who are notoriously monolingual, have access only to the perspectives of those who write and speak in English; thus the ideas of millions are lost to them.

An article from the Index Translationum, the global database of lingual exchange that Unesco has maintained since 1948, reports:

?Several writers writing in languages other than English be it French, Arabic or Hindi complain of the overwhelming influence wielded by the Anglo-Saxon publishing industry. There is a certain arrogance, they claim, on the part of British and American publishing houses. It is as if they consider anything published in another language to be automatically inferior to what appears in English. They are reluctant to translate foreign books. So widespread is the influence of English as a language that publishers in Japan will accept a book for translation only if it has first been translated in English, as if being accepted by the publishing industry there had added intrinsic value to the work. And then the translation is often done from the English version, not from the original.?

When the Nobel Prize for literature is announced each year, most people in the United States have never heard of the winner unless the writer is American or British. As ideas traverse borders with increasing ease, among some American intellectuals it seems to be a point of pride to stay focused solely on the minds at home. [...]

The writer Primo Levi wrote this in an essay about translation (translated by Zaia Alexander):

?Furthermore, there are many people who believe, more or less consciously, that a person who speaks another language is an outsider by definition, a foreigner, strange and, hence, a potential enemy, or at least a barbarian; that is, etymologically, a stutterer, a person who doesn't know how to speak, almost a nonperson. In this way, linguistic friction tends to turn into racial and political friction, another of our maledictions.?

Since 1970, more books have been translated into German than any other language. It may be that Germany?s moral pain has given Germans an active need to humanise the rest of the world. Shame is our bitter literary guide when intellectual rigour has failed. If only intellectual hunger would send us skidding to hinterlands in search of stimuli, we might avoid some corrosive human indecencies.

The peregrine voracity of the American appetite is infamous, the parochial nature of our reading tastes anomalous. As Steve Wasserman says, ?I find it an irony in a land when there is much chest thumping about the merits of globalisation that we are becoming an ever more provincial people.?

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Berlin Wall came down and the US ascended, Francis Fukuyama speculated that it might mean ?the end of history.? The phrase well describes the domesticity that has landlocked the US publishing industry, and the intellectual and moral complacency that has allowed the American public to accept it.

This is an odd essay. The world has at long last accepted that the liberal democratic capitalism established several hundred years ago within the Anglosphere is the only sensible way to structure a society. Humanity is converging on a set of ideas that has a tradition here in America and Britain--a history, a music, an art, a literature, an architecture, a mythos, etc., etc., etc.. Yet K. A. Dilday can't understand why people read our books while we don't much read theirs. Mind you, we do have university departments that specialize in all these literatures, studying them like relics of the lost and/or failed civilizations that they represent. But, take for instance one example from the story: Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Mr. Marquez did indeed win a Nobel Prize. He also, mere months ago, reiterated his support for Fidel Castro. What exactly is it that Marxism still has to say to us that we need to hear? People like Mr.Marquez are not "potential enemies"; they are real enemies and deserve to be treated as no better than "nonpersons". It is not his race that is at issue, but his ideas--and his ideas are not worth reading.

Posted by Stephen Judd at 3:46 PM

IT'S STILL A MOUSE

Speedy Evolution Detected in Windy City's Wild Mice (Scientific American, 05/22/2003)
The white-footed mouse isn't much to look at, but a new study suggests it may be a superstar when it comes to evolution. According to a report published today in the journal Nature, a group of the animals in the Chicago area has undergone significant genetic change over the last 150 years. The findings suggest that a mammalian genome can evolve much more rapidly than previously thought.

One might think the headline would cite genetic change instead of evolution, since it isn't clear that the mouse has "evolved" at all.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:17 PM

DOG BITES MAN ALERT

Seeing Islam as 'Evil' Faith, Evangelicals Seek Converts (LAURIE GOODSTEIN, May 27, 2003, NY Times)
In evangelical churches and seminaries across the country, lectures and books criticizing Islam and promoting strategies for Muslim conversions are gaining currency. More than a dozen recently published critiques of Islam are now available in Christian bookstores.

Arab International Ministry, the Indianapolis group that led the crash course on Islam here, claims to have trained 4,500 American Christians to proselytize Muslims in the last six years, many of those since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The oratorical tone of these authors and lecturers varies, but they share the basic presumption that the world's two largest religions are headed for a confrontation, with Christianity representing what is good, true and peaceful, and Islam what is evil, false and violent.

The criticism is coming predominantly from evangelicals, who belong to many independent churches and Christian denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention.

Evangelicals have always believed that all other religions are wrong, but what is notable now is the vituperation. [...]

Most of the authors and teachers preach a corollary of the Christian dictum to "love the sinner and hate the sin." They assert that while the vast majority of Muslims are not evil, they have been deceived by a diabolical religion based on a flawed scripture that can never bring them salvation.

I don't personally think that Islam is an "evil" faith, but do think it may be so flawed that it can not form the basis of a modern society and that it has--perhaps because of that--been hijacked by men who can not be reconciled to modernity, despite the fact they have no choice. Given that context, establishing Christianity as a viable alternative in the Islamic world seems a very good thing. Meanwhile, whoever wrote the headline "Evangelicals Seek Converts" is, shall we say, not the brightest bulb in the box.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:09 PM

WHAT HAVE THEY DONNEZ FOR US LATELY?

Weird political science (Ed Quillen, Denver Post, 5/25/2003)
I am disappointed that I have not read of a French politician delivering a speech that went something like this:

"It brings me sorrow to find fault with one of our oldest allies, but I have no choice but to criticize the American ingratitude.

"If had had not been for French blood and treasure - the four regiments under Comte de Rochambeau in 1779, the millions of livres of financial assistance for arms and food for the army of General Washington, the fleet under Admiral de Grasse in 1781 - then the Americans would never have gained their independence.

"And if we had not in 1803 given them one of the best real-estate deals known to history - three cents an acre for the Louisiana Purchase - then they might still be a minor middling nation, not a superpower.

"Further, we might have advanced our own commercial interests in 1862. We could have formally recognized the Confederacy, whose cotton exports were vital to our textile industry. We could have dispatched our navy to destroy the Union blockade, and their nation might have been permanently divided.

"The Americans would not even have a country without our support, let alone a single nation of continental dimensions, and yet they now toil day and night to denounce our people - what sort of ungrateful wretches are they?"

Mr. Quillen might note that:

* Rochambeau arrived in America in 1780, and spent his first year dancing: "Rochambeau established his headquarters in Newport and settled into the social life with considerable success. The French military bands were a particular success at the many balls which Rochambeau hosted." The only action the French saw in the war was at Yorktown, where little French blood was shed.

* Talleyrand thought he got an excellent deal for Louisiana, which the French could not defend and preferred in American to British hands.

* The fact that France decided not to go to war with us in 1862 is something we should be grateful for -- why? Isn't not going to war what nations are supposed to do? If this kind of argument works, the U.S. deserves French gratitude for not fighting alongside Prussia in 1871.

But, aside from the shortage of causes for gratitude, the biggest defect of Mr. Quillen's argument is that it fails to tote up all items on the other side of the relational balance sheet. Jews might be grateful to Zola and allies for eventually getting Dreyfus freed, but they would not ignore Vichy collaboration in assessing their debt of gratitude to France. So too with the Franco-American balance sheet: France's assets with us are antique and depreciating, her liabilities are growing quickly, and the bottom line is close to insolvency.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 AM

HOW'S AL QAEDA DOIN'?

Moroccans Turn Out Against Terrorism (Reuters, May 26, 2003)
Tens of thousands of demonstrators chanting "no to terrorism" thronged the streets of Casablanca today, nine days after 43 people were killed in coordinated suicide attacks in the city.

"I am here for myself and for them, the next generation," said Abdellatif Ghanam, an unemployed night watchman, gesturing to his 6-year-old son. "The people who did those attacks are not followers of Islam in its true sense."

Morocco's largest opposition party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), was banned along with other Islamic groups from taking part in the march, which was led by Prime Minister Driss Jettou.

The PJD has condemned the five almost simultaneous bombings that are believed to have been carried out by a small, ultra-conservative Islamic group, Assirat al-Moustaquim (the Righteous Path).

At a similar demonstration a week ago in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, young men threw tomatoes at PJD marchers.

Having lost three favorably disposed heads of state (Taliban, Saddam, Arafat), they now turn the infamous "Arab street" against themselves. Meanwhile, Democrats here claim they're "winning". If this is victory, we wish the Osamists further "success".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

DENIAL RUNS THROUGH ISRAEL

Sharon Defends Peace Plan Against Critics in Likud (GREG MYRE, May 27, 2003, NY Times)
In the face of scathing criticism from his own right-wing party, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today staunchly defended his support for the latest Middle East peace effort. "Ruling three and a half million Palestinians cannot go on indefinitely," he declared.

A lifelong hawk, Mr. Sharon hit back at his critics in the Likud Party with language that sounded as if it were coming straight from Israel's liberal peace camp.

"You may not like the word, but what's happening is occupation," he told Likud members of Parliament. "Holding 3.5 million Palestinians is a bad thing for Israel, for the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy. We have to end this subject without risking our security."

Mr. Sharon's rightist cabinet on Sunday gave conditional approval to the Middle East peace plan, known as the road map. The vote energized diplomatic efforts but also brought a firestorm of criticism from right-wing Israelis, who accused the prime minister of plunging the nation into a process they view as a potential disaster.

While Mr. Sharon battled with his traditional allies, the Israelis and Palestinians pressed ahead with preparations for top-level meetings intended to build on the current diplomatic momentum.

Mr. Sharon and the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, are expected to meet this week, probably on Wednesday, diplomats said. They are expected to join President Bush for a summit meeting in the region, probably next week.

It's been paiful to watch this train approach, as hawks denied the obvious: Ariel Sharon long ago reconciled himself to the inevitability of a Palestinian state, but sees an opportunity to establish it on his own terms.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Back in Political Forefront: Iran-Contra Figure Plays Key Role on Mideast (Michael Dobbs, May 27, 2003, Washington Post)
A cycle of disgrace and redemption has brought one of Washington's most accomplished -- and controversial -- bureaucratic infighters back to the center of U.S. foreign policy decision-making.

When Elliott Abrams stood in front of a federal judge in October 1991 and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress, few imagined he would ever return to government. At age 43, he had become one of the casualties of the Iran-contra scandal, detested by Democrats for his combative political style and mistrusted by human rights activists for playing down the crimes of right-wing dictatorships in Central America.

Twelve years later, Abrams is helping to shape White House policies toward many of the world's trouble spots. Appointed in December as President Bush's senior adviser on the Middle East, his responsibilities extend from Algeria to Iran. But nowhere is his influence more evident than on the Arab-Israeli peace process.

A self-described "neo-conservative and neo-Reaganite" with strong ties to Jews and evangelical Christians, Abrams has become a flash point for the debate on how much pressure the Bush administration is prepared to apply to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Last week, the White House sought to address Israeli concerns about a U.S.-endorsed "road map" on Israeli-Palestinian peace by saying they would be considered during the implementation phase. [...]

After Harvard, Abrams followed a classic neo-conservative trajectory, taking a job with Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, a hawkish Washington Democrat. "They hit it off more or less immediately," said Richard N. Perle, a Pentagon official during the Reagan administration who introduced Abrams to Jackson. "He was comfortable with Scoop's combination of a tough foreign policy and a liberal domestic policy."

Abrams joined the neo-conservative aristocracy in March 1980 through his marriage to Rachel Decter, daughter of conservative pundits Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter. By the time Ronald Reagan was elected president later that year, Abrams had become a Republican. As an assistant secretary of state, he found himself implementing the Reagan doctrine of "rolling back communism" in Central America.

For Abrams, fighting communism and promoting human rights were one and the same. Although he criticized the right-wing Augusto Pinochet regime in Chile, he played down or ignored human rights violations by pro-American governments in Central America, where the struggle for geopolitical influence with the Soviet Union was most intense. In an exchange with the human rights activist Aryeh Neier on ABC's "Nightline" in 1984, Abrams insisted that widely reported massacres by right-wing death squads in El Salvador "never happened."

"Elliott was willing to distort and misrepresent the truth in order to promote the policy adopted by the administration," Neier said. "His approach was that the ends justified the means." Abrams has replied to past criticism by Neier by describing his human rights work as "garbage" and "completely politicized."

Abrams also had problems with Congress over the Iran-contra scandal. In 1991, he was forced to admit in court that he had not disclosed his knowledge of a secret contra supply network and his solicitation of a $10 million contribution for the contras from the sultan of Brunei. He received a pardon from President George H.W. Bush in December 1992.

An administration official brushed aside questions about the plea bargain, noting that Abrams had received a full pardon. In a 1993 book, "Undue Process," Abrams forcefully defended his actions, describing the legal proceedings against him as "Kafkaesque" and his prosecutors as "filthy bastards."

One can't help but envy heroes like Richard Perle and Elliot Abrams who will have played key roles in the defeat of communism and Islamicism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM

THE RETURN OF REAGANOMICS

Stating the Obvious (PAUL KRUGMAN, 5/27/03, NY Times)
Although you wouldn't know it from the rhetoric, federal taxes are already historically low as a share of G.D.P. Once the new round of cuts takes effect, federal taxes will be lower than their average during the Eisenhower administration. How, then, can the government pay for Medicare and Medicaid--which didn't exist in the 1950's--and Social Security, which will become far more expensive as the population ages? (Defense spending has fallen compared with the economy, but not that much, and it's on the rise again.)

The answer is that it can't. The government can borrow to make up the difference as long as investors remain in denial, unable to believe that the world's only superpower is turning into a banana republic. But at some point bond markets will balk--they won't lend money to a government, even that of the United States, if that government's debt is growing faster than its revenues and there is no plausible story about how the budget will eventually come under control.

At that point, either taxes will go up again, or programs that have become fundamental to the American way of life will be gutted. We can be sure that the right will do whatever it takes to preserve the Bush tax cuts--right now the administration is even skimping on homeland security to save a few dollars here and there. But balancing the books without tax increases will require deep cuts where the money is: that is, in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Yes, that was the Left's theory about the Reagan deficits, but unfortunately they unleashed twenty years of economic boom times and made it
impossible to reform anything but welfare, a lower class rather than a middle class entitlement. Likewise, the Reagan defense build-up turned us into the only credible military power--and therefore, when joined with our economy, the only truly safe investment--in the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM

OF COURSE, JIMMY STEWART FLEW FOR SAC

Hitchens v Hitchens, but not what you'd expect in the battle over Iraq. (Stephen Barton, May 22, 2003, Online Opinion)
Peter Hitchens wrote in The Spectator before the war began, "There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control". War, Hitchens seems to say, is the product of grand ideas, and perhaps that includes boastful American liberalism. Hitchens feared the destructive power of the not-so-quiet American, "for the attacker war is no longer terrible enough. Some people have grown too fond of it. They are not conservatives in any serious meaning of the word". [...]

The implicit question was: are British, indeed Western, interests served by such a course of action? Is Iraq worth the bones of one British squaddie? Not surprisingly we find here a similarity with Enoch Powell's arguments against the first Gulf War.

Powell argued that any talk of appeasing Saddam was "nonsense", continuing:

Saddam Hussein may not be nice and his form of government not to our taste. That is no business of ours nor of the United States ? The world is full of men engaged in doing evil things. That does not makes us policemen to round them up nor judges to find them guilt and to sentence them ? we as a nation have no interest in the existence or non-existence of Kuwait. I sometimes wonder if, when we shed our power, we omitted to shed our arrogance.

Powell places the same emphasis on interests rather than ideas, and we also see the conservative's mournful pessimism on the character of man and his
works.

In an interview with the Atlantic Monthly, Stephan Schwartz, author of the Two faces of Islam, typifies the position that Peter Hitchens and Parris react against.

We are going to help the Arab and Muslim nations find their own way to democracy, prosperity and stability on their own terms ? If I'm proven wrong and in the end we do stick by the reactionary wing of the Saudi regime, then I guess I'll have to admit that I was wrong in trusting our leaders, and I have to go back to the left ? I truly and with absolute sincerity believe that Dr Wolfowitz is on the same page with me on this ... He is a supporter of world-wide democracy ? I want America to be the powerful nation that brings democracy and freedom to those oppressed. I want America to be the liberator.

Such a comment would leave some conservatives both in the UK and the US profoundly shaken. What is curious is that people like Schwartz have heard in Republican George W Bush a call to arms. When George W Bush spontaneously called to rescue workers on the rubble of the World Trade Centre on 14 September, "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people ? And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon", he set the scene for this unlikely alliance.

Bush's call that day was no Gettysburg address but it served its purpose. In an era of carefully scripted phrases and considered rhetoric, it was both intensely powerful and moving. For liberals and neo-cons alike, it was firmly in the tradition of Kennedy's "bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the success and survival of liberty". It was an outburst of instinctive American idealism.

Jonathan Holmes' unfairly maligned Four Corners documentary of the neo-cons summed up this mood with the title, American Dreamers. Such idealism instantly arouses the suspicion of some conservatives. Peter Hitchens' opposition, like that of many British conservatives, seems to be the reflex revulsion at the vulgar American.

This idealistic American repels Hitchens. He instead believes in an alternative America with its "generous citizens in their quiet towns and peaceful suburbs which I love so much". One can't help thinking that Hitchens' preferred America is some idyllic New Hampshire village, perhaps the kind of place where a real life Jimmy Stewart character would make his dignified way through life.

Mr. Powell, subconsciously, nails it when he mentions the loss of British power. For the Tory far Right opposition to America is a function of bitterness over British decline, rather than a matter of principle. Meanwhile, as a resident of an idyllic New Hampshire village, though n Jimmy Stewart, let me assure the author that the generous, peaceful citizenry mostly wants to bomb France on the way to bomb Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM

HEY BIG SPENDER...

Democratic analysts wary of '04 proposals: Fear spending war among candidates, losing an advantage (Ronald Brownstein, 5/26/2003 , Los Angeles Times)
Even with the federal government facing record budget deficits, many of the 2004 Democratic presidential contenders are advancing much larger spending programs than Al Gore was willing to risk as the party's 2000 nominee.

Some Democratic analysts are increasingly concerned that the substantial new proposals may threaten the party's ability to challenge President Bush in next year's election on what could be a major vulnerability: the federal budget's sharp deterioration, from record surplus to massive deficits, under his presidency.

''At some point, the Democrats will be called to task to see if their own programs meet the fiscal test they are holding up for the Bush administration,'' said Elaine Kamarck, senior policy adviser to Gore in 2000. [...]

Health care is only the beginning of the Democrats' spending plans. Without yet providing specifics, Gephardt has also promised a teacher corps, a homeland security trust fund, a new federal effort to rebuild ''crumbling schools,'' and new tax credits to encourage conservation and the use of renewable energy sources.

Kerry has proposed a $50 billion, five-year increase in homeland security spending and a $3-billion-a-year plan to expand Clinton's AmeriCorps national service program. Kerry's website also promises programs to expand access to preschool, reduce class sizes, and subsidize school construction.

Dean hasn't laid out many specific programs beyond his health care plan. But he has promised to increase spending on homeland security, ''provide incentives'' for young people to teach, fund a ''serious investment in our children,'' and increase federal infrastructure spending ''as a last resort'' to stimulate the economy.

Although moving more cautiously on health care, Edwards, Lieberman, and Graham are accumulating other obligations. All have pledged significantly more spending on homeland security.

There's always the Fritz Mondale approach: promise to raise taxes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM

THE INMATES RUNNING THE ASYLUM

U.S. Youths Rebel at Harsh School in Costa Rica (TIM WEINER, May 27, 2003, NY Times)
Dundee Ranch, the latest foreign outpost in a far-flung affiliation of behavior modification programs that promises to convert troubled American teenagers into straight arrows, lasted 19 months before the students rose up in revolt and overthrew their masters.

The rebellion erupted after Costa Rican officials visited the ranch--an old hotel on a rutted red-dirt road--and told the children of their rights after complaints about the program from a former director.

"They told us you have the right to speak, you have the right to speak to your parents, you have the right to leave if you feel you've been mistreated," said Hugh Maxwell, 17, of Rhode Island. "Kids heard that and they started running for the door. There was elation, cheering and clapping and chaos. People were crying."

Adults beat some of the children to quell the uprising, according to six people present. The academy's owner, Narvin Lichfield, was jailed for 30 hours, may face criminal charges and has been ordered by a judge to remain in Costa Rica. Four staff members feared by the children are being deported to Jamaica, government officials said. Most of the children are going home, many to an uncertain future. [...]

"I can't say the program did no good," said Dustin Sanow, 17, of Mississippi, "but it's pretty traumatic. Parents have no idea what's going on. I feel they manipulated my folks."

His mother, Anita Sanow, an Air Force major, did not find out that Dundee Ranch had collapsed until Sunday afternoon. "I feel that people were less than honest with me about the program," she said. "I feel they misrepresented things. I feel like the dollar mattered more than the kids."

Dustin's friend Hugh Maxwell said: "I support the program. It provides you with a chance to change. But it deprives you of so much, too. It's a last resort. It's desperation."

If it weren't traumatic is there any reason to believe it would reach the kids?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM

FRANK N SENSE

The End of History and Its Discontents: a review of Latin America at the End of Politics by Forrest D. Colburn (Paul Berman, Spring 03, Dissent)
Francis Fukuyama introduced his notion of "The End of History" in the National Interest in 1989 and added a few lively elaborations in The End of History and the Last Man in 1992; and though people all over the world snickered at the naivete of his idea in 1989, and snickered again in 1992, and have kept on snickering, Fukuyama's marvelous provocation has never entirely faded into the past, as provocations usually do. And there is good reason for this. In presenting his theory about the capital-letter End of History, Fukuyama made three related points. He argued that challenges to liberal democracy from other ideological and social systems had failed, and any new such challenge in the foreseeable future was likewise bound to fail. He argued that liberal democratic societies were therefore destined to dominate the world. And he argued that liberal democracy's triumph was going to be, all in all, a disappointment-a triumph of the gray, the ignoble, and the mediocre. Such was his three-pronged provocation. It was a stimulating idea, if only because it challenged us to tally up the ways in which he was wrong-and right. So let us draw up a tally. How does the End of History look today, fourteen years after Fukuyama first broached his theme?

In Europe today-Fukuyama's End of History was, I think, mostly a theory about Europe-his three points seem to me, in retrospect, all too accurate. Totalitarian movements have pretty much disappeared from the European landscape. Nor does any other kind of social system, something different from liberal democracy, seem to be in the offing, even as a remote possibility. A specter is not haunting Europe. Everyone knows that, in Russia and other Slavic zones far to the east, Europe's transition to liberal democracy has turned out to be, at best, slow and shaky; in Belarus and a few other places, non-existent. Still, Fukuyama's argument never promised liberal democracy for everyone. The argument predicted, instead, liberal democracy's domination over other systems, and that is the case in Europe. Mafias and tyrants may have kept their hold on power, here and there; but mafias and tyrants do not seem to be the wave of the European future.

On the other hand, nobody could argue today that Europe's liberal democracy has turned out to be especially noble or inspiring. The European democrats have shown themselves to be admirably gifted at securing the good life for themselves, and often they have been generous to other people, too. But not when it comes to taking a risk. Europe's democrats have proved to be noticeably reluctant to put up a fight on behalf of anyone else, or even on behalf of their own European civilization. No sooner did Fukuyama's book come out, back in 1992, than the Europeans threw up their hands in helpless despair at the fate of Europe's principal indigenous religious minority, the Muslims of the Balkans. Europe would not defend its Jews, sixty years ago, and Europe would not defend its Muslims ten years ago. It was principally the American military, not the rich and powerful Europeans, who rescued Bosnia and Kosovo. Liberal democracy in Europe turned out to be a gated community, intended to create a perfect society for the fortunate populations within the gates, with alms and best wishes for the rest of the world. Some of the Europeans have lately been showing a little more fight in Afghanistan and even in the Middle East, which is good to see. But, taken in sum, Fukuyama's three-pronged prediction in regard to Europe has turned out to be reasonably accurate, as predictions go.

As is Mr. Berman's wont, the piece gets shakier as it goes alon, but that bit's quite good.

May 26, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 PM

A PROOF TOO FAR

Decencies for Skeptics: Is religion necessary to make a moral society? No; but reverence is. (Roger Scruton, City Journal)
Religious belief fills our world with an authority that cannot be questioned and from which all our duties flow. No better device has ever occurred to the human race for the quelling of selfish appetites and the transmission of moral ideas.

Human reason, in which the Enlightenment rested all its hopes, has shown itself singularly embarrassed in its attempts to come up with a substitute. Kant attempted to derive all morality from the Categorical Imperative, which tells me to act only on that maxim that I can will as a universal law. But Kant?s magnificent system raises moral duty to such a height of abstraction that it seems to break free from the world of real temptations and float serenely in the intellectual stratosphere. Even if it is true that I must obey the Categorical Imperative, this does not provide me with the daily bread of moral feeling as I pick my way through a crowd of selfish strangers. The Kantian morality is too cool, too reasonable, too?detached from the contending emotions over which it claims to legislate. There may indeed be those who live by it, but they are not the people who are likely to cause the social disorder of which conservatives complain. For the mass of mankind, evil appetites must be blocked by some countervailing fear. And whence comes this fear, if not from a religion?

Yet there is something despondent in the search for a religious solution to the problems of secular society. All too often, the search is conducted in a spirit of despair by people who are as infected by the surrounding nihilism as those whose behavior they wish to rectify. Their message is simple: ?God is dead--but don?t spread it around.? Such words can be whispered among friends but not broadcast to the multitude. It is true that Disraeli, like many nineteenth-century conservatives, combined private skepticism with public endorsement of the established church. But he lived at a time when religion had such vitality that public opinion was still shocked by those, like Nietzsche, who protested against its power. Since that time, too many people have heard of the death of God, and too many people have built an empire of appetite upon this unsubstantiated rumor. The genie of skepticism can?t be re-imprisoned in its bottle.

Besides, as all conservatives know, the religious instinct is too vast and deep a force to be conjured from the depths to which it has retreated without at the same time jeopardizing a host of precious achievements--religious freedom itself being one of them. Those who call for a religious revival are not, as a rule, galvanized by images of the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the burning of heretics. The only religious revival reshaping modern society--Islamic fundamentalism--has about as much appeal for a Western conservative as a visit from Ghengis Khan. In fact, the religion that is esteemed by the conservative conscience is precisely a religion that has lost its vital force and become something quieter, more routinized, less all-embracing in its demands than is typical of a newfound faith. It is a religion typified by Christianity and Judaism in their latter days, tempered by the necessary toleration of urban life and nourished by the ordinary decencies of a law-abiding community.

Like many English conservatives, I look back with nostalgia to the Christian heritage passed on to me through church and school. The religion that I absorbed made little distinction between the law of God and the law of England. It referred to Christ?s passion only in order to remind me that the stiff upper lip has an irreproachable precedent. It filled my thoughts with gospel stories and parables, the standard interpretation of which coincided with the Boy Scout?s code of honor. It taught me that faith was a useful acquisition, but not one to show off about or with which to embarrass your neighbors. Religion is fine in its place but should not be imposed on others. Besides, faith is honest only when freely chosen, and for an Englishman honesty is the best policy. [...]

Whatever the state of their religious convictions, people are unconsciously aware that the customs of society embody more wisdom than could emerge in a single generation. They may struggle against this awareness, as liberals do. But it is far more reasonable, far more congenial, to acquiesce in it. The decencies and hesitations that once surrounded sex, for instance, are not the arbitrary injunctions of a departed ruling class. They are the voice of the collective dead, alerting us to a duty that we could never hope to understand through our own experience alone, and the questioning of which is the height of folly. Modern America has questioned this duty and is now paying a heavy price for its presumption. Even if the genie is out of the bottle and nobody has any clear idea how it might be coaxed back in, it is surely only a naive faith in human ingenuity that would lead anyone to think that sexual liberation has been anything but a disaster.

Those who hope to safeguard ?natural piety? through a return to religious faith jeopardize the thing they treasure. For they make piety as irrational as the beliefs to which they attach it. But piety is not irrational at all. It is the voice that tells us that the goods of society are inherited and could never be rediscovered by the generation that foolishly rejects them. The true conservative should be prepared to acknowledge that his audience lives in modern times. Religious belief is a bonus that we cannot assume. But piety is a social necessity; it speaks of duties that lie above and beyond our desires and contracts. If people cease to recognize such duties, society will crumble into ?the dust and powder of individuality,? as Burke described it.

Conservatives should therefore be gentle with their unbelieving colleagues. It may be right to hope for a religious revival, but not to work for it. The conservative task in the modern world is to scoff at the scoffers, to ridicule the prejudice against all that Burke promised under the rubric of ?prejudice,? and to support the institutions in which piety is born. What, in modern life, carries the spirit of history? To what school or club or college should our children belong, in order to acquire the deep-down awareness that the world was not born with them, and that their happiness depends upon the approval of people who are no longer living?

Mr. Scruton represents that worthwile but tragic strain of British thought that combines skepticism and nostalgia to produce a kind of conservatism by inertia--we can't believe in anything, but Britain was great when we did, so let's not get rid of everything we had then, let's act as if we still believe in something. This is the Right's version of "freeloading atheism".

But rational skepticism has a fatal flaw--one that renders it quite dubious as the basis of a political philosophy--it ultimately disproves itself and reason entirely. Having once denied that we can know anything with certainty about reality through the exercise of pure reason, one has denied the reality, reason, and the self. They can only be recouped by the exercise of faith. So the great response to the skepticism of Hume and Berkley is not an elaborate theory but Samuel Johnson kicking a large stone and exclaiming: "I deny it thus". No matter how taut their theory may be, no one will choose to live their life by it. We all believe certain things to be real, most especially ourselves, and, therefore, accepting their proof as valid, we all proceed from a stance of faith. That genie too is out of the bottle.

When Mr. Scruton then argues, quite accurately, that reason can offer no coherent basis for morality, that only religion can, we must ask: so what? Reason couldn't prove that you and I exist, but that does not truly make us doubt that we do. And when we turn to lokk at all of humanity today and all of human history, if we perceive, as we must, that you and I are rather insignificant, but that morality matters greatly, who is so self-absorbed that they would argue that faith is sufficient to prove our own measly existence but we can have no recourse to it to prove that the morality upon which decent human society depends likewise exists? The claim that I can utilize personal faith in order to know myself to be real but that any faith I disagree with, including (especially) one shared by billions of my fellow men, is necessarily illusion, because mere faith, is nought but egomania.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 PM

UN-AMERICAN

McCarthy's Secret Show (Victor Navasky, May 8, 2003, The Nation)
The other night I went to see Trumbo, an Off Broadway trial run of Christopher Trumbo's play based mostly on his father, Dalton Trumbo's, amazing letters about life under the Hollywood blacklist and other assaults on individual liberty in the name of national safety and security. The evening includes his famous dictum that those too young to remember the McCarthy era should not waste time searching for "villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims." Survivors are still debating the moral implications of his generous injunction, but as it turns out, those too young to remember that dark time may have only too many opportunities to revisit it.

By coincidence, the showing of Trumbo (it plays only on Mondays) coincided with the release by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs of five volumes of secret testimony from 160 closed hearings held during Senator Joseph McCarthy's redbaiting rampage through our democracy fifty years ago.

Press commentary has ranged over McCarthy and his chief counsel Roy Cohn's bullying tactics, the fact that while they turned up some Communist smallfry, nobody went to prison and gossipy tidbits about the people called, who ranged from the famous, such as Aaron Copland (not a Communist), Paul Robeson's wife (she denied any personal experience with Communism) and James Reston, Dashiell Hammett and Langston Hughes, to bit players like Annie Lee Moss, the State Department file clerk who didn't know who Karl Marx was. Also starring among the witnesses and attorneys were many old Nation friends (Corliss Lamont, Harvey O'Connor, James Weinstein, Leonard Boudin and his partner, Victor Rabinowitz).

The closed hearings, it turned out, were a sort of dress rehearsal for later public hearings--show trials. Many witnesses who held their own were never called. Trumbo notwithstanding, there are heroes and villains in these pages, especially Roy Cohn at his witness-badgering worst and Democratic senators like Stuart Symington and Henry "Scoop" Jackson in supporting roles, out-McCarthying McCarthy in their efforts to prove the un-Americanism of Fifth Amendment-invoking witnesses.

But what most of the commentators have missed--and the reason Trumbo, the five volumes of declassified testimony and the latest batch of political memoirs are relevant today--is the apparent failure of our political culture to grasp a distinction one would have thought was elementary, the core of our Constitution and its values, the first principle taught in Democracy 101, namely, the difference between dissent and disloyalty.

If we accept the definition of insanity as making the same mistake over and over again but thinking it will work this time, Mr. Navasky may be insane. Whatever you may think of McCarthyism in general, Dalton Trumbo was an unrepentant Stalinist who used his "art" to do the subversive political bidding of our enemies. He was disloyal and deserved to be persecuted and prosecuted.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:48 PM

THE VIEW THROUGH THE CRYPTONEOCROMICON

The Neocons in Power (Elizabeth Drew, May 14, 2003, NY Review of Books)
The conflict within the Bush administration in recent months over policy for postwar Iraq has caused much confusion and has already damaged the reconstruction effort. The stakes are enormous not just for the US and for the people of Iraq, but for the entire Middle East, and the rest of the world. Almost from the outset of the Bush administration there have been battles between the State Department and the Defense Department, but the controversy over postwar Iraq has brought out bitterness and knife-wielding of a sort that Washington has seldom seen.

To some extent, the tension between the two departments is inherent because of their different missions. This conflict spills over into the White House and the think tanks and the offices of various consultants around town. It is really a conflict between the neoconservatives, who are largely responsible for getting us into the war against Iraq, and those they disparagingly call the "realists," who tend to be more cautious about the United States' efforts to remake the Middle East into a democratic region.

The word "neoconservative" originally referred to former liberals and leftists who were dismayed by the countercultural movements of the 1960s and the Great Society, and adopted conservative views, for example, against government welfare programs, and in favor of interventionist foreign policies. A group of today's "neocons" now hold key positions in the Pentagon and in the White House and they even have a mole in the State Department.

The most important activists are Richard Perle, who until recently headed the Defense Policy Board (he's still a member), a once-obscure committee, ostensibly just an advisory group but now in fact a powerful instrument for pushing neocon policies; James Woolsey, who has served two Democratic and two Republican administrations, was CIA director during the Clinton administration, and now works for the management consult-ing firm Booz Allen Hamilton; Kenneth Adelman, a former official in the Ford and Reagan administrations who trains executives by using Shakespeare's plays as a guide to the use of power (http://www.moversandshakespeares.com); Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense and the principal advocate of the Iraq policy followed by the administration; Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, the Pentagon official in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq; and I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. Two principal allies of this core group are John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control (though he opposes arms control) and international security affairs, and Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser. Cheney himself and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld can be counted as subscribing to the neocons' views about Iraq.

A web of connections binds these people in a formidable alliance. Perle, Wolfowitz, and Woolsey have long been close friends and neighbors in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The three have worked with one another in the Pentagon, served on the same committees and commissions, and participated in the same conferences. Feith is a prot?g? of Perle, and worked under him during the Reagan administration. Adelman, a friend of Perle, Wolfowitz, and Woolsey, is very close to Cheney and Rumsfeld. The Cheneys and the Adelmans share a wedding anniversary and celebrate it together each year; Adelman worked for Rumsfeld in three government positions, and the Adelmans have visited the Rumsfelds at their various homes around the country. Woolsey and Adelman are members of Perle's Pentagon advisory group. At the outset of this administration Perle made sure that it was composed of people who share his hawkish views. (Perle recently resigned the chairmanship over allegations of conflicts of interest with his private consulting business, but he remains a member of the advisory board, and his power isn't diminished.) Bolton, over the objections of Colin Powell, was appointed to the State Department at the urging of his neocon allies. (A State Department official said to me recently, referring to the Pentagon, "Why don't we have a mole over there?")

Perle, Woolsey, and Wolfowitz are all disciples of the late Albert Wohlstetter, a University of Chicago professor who had worked for the RAND corporation and later taught at the University of California. Throughout the cold war he argued that nuclear deterrence wasn't sufficient--that the US had to actually plan to fight a nuclear war in order to deter it. He strongly advocated the view that the military power of the USSR?was underrated. Wolfowitz earned his Ph.D. under Wohlstetter; Perle met Wohlstetter when he was a high school student in Los Angeles and was invited by Wohlstetter's daughter to swim in their pool. Later, Wohlstetter invited Perle, then a graduate student at Princeton, to Washington to work with Wolfowitz on a paper about the proposed Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which Wohlstetter opposed and which has been abandoned by the Bush administration. Wohlstetter introduced Perle to Democratic Senator Henry ("Scoop") Jackson of Washington, an aggressive cold warrior and champion of Israel's interests. Woolsey (who calls himself "a Scoop Jackson Democrat") came to know Wohlstetter in 1980, when they both served on a Pentagon panel. Of Wohlstetter Woolsey said in a conversation we had in mid-April, "A key to understanding how Richard and Paul and I think is Albert. He's had a major impact on us."

And through Wohlstetter, Perle met Ahmed Chalabi, then an Iraqi exile who had founded the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella organization of Iraqi groups, many of its members in exile. [...]

The neocons' assurance that the United States could not only remove Saddam Hussein but also convert Iraq and the rest of the Middle East into democratic nations relies on several false analogies. Wolfowitz, his neo-con allies, and the journalists who circulate their ideas often cite Germany and Japan after the Second World War as examples of countries that were transformed into democracies. But unlike Iraq, Japan had a largely homogeneous culture and a symbol of national unity, the Emperor, who kept his title if not his power. Japan, in any case, has had essentially one-party rule since the end of the war. And Germany, which also had a cohesive society, had a democratic constitution and parliamentary institutions until Hitler was barely elected chancellor in 1933. Moreover, the US occupied Japan for seven years and Germany for four. Rumsfeld has said that no time limit can be set on the US occupation of Iraq, but US officials are aware that the longer it goes on the greater will be the danger to US troops there--and perhaps domestic pressures to bring them home. (The neocons--as well as officials of previous administrations and some academics--also assert that democracies don't make war on each other, but this is a highly debated proposition.)

Because some--but certainly not all--of the neoconservatives are Jewish and virtually all are strong supporters of the Likud Party's policies, the accusation has been made that their aim to "democratize" the region is driven by their desire to surround Israel with more sympathetic neighbors. Such a view would explain the otherwise puzzling statements by Wolfowitz and others before the war that "the road to peace in the Middle East goes through Baghdad." But it is also the case that Bush and his chief political adviser Karl Rove are eager both to win more of the Jewish vote in 2004 than Bush did in 2000 and to maintain the support of the Christian right, whose members are also strong supporters of Israel.

Hard to know what to make fun of first here, but did she just suggest that the pre-conditions for a stable democracy already existed in Germany because of its experience from the end of WWI until 1933? That's rich.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:03 PM

MILITARY HISTORIAN FIGHTS ACADEMIC WAR

The farmer (Laura Secor, Boston Globe, 5/25/2003)
The Other Greeks (1995) is probably [Victor Davis] Hanson's signature work. In it, he argues that the values of classical civilization originated not among the urban elites of fifth-century Athens but among the communities of middling farmer-soldiers who dominated Greece's pre-classical era....

Had he left it at that, Hanson might today be simply an eminence among classicists. Instead, Hanson "really alienated himself from the field," says Charles Hedrick, a classicist at Santa Cruz.

In the 1998 jeremiad "Who Killed Homer?", Hanson and the Santa Clara University classicist John Heath diagnose the field of classics as terminally afflicted with trendy literary theory, multiculturalism, low standards, and mandarin professors who ought to emulate the Greeks they teach but instead shun the classroom in favor of rarefied research and left-wing political indoctrination.

The tone of the book was stinging and superior. Critics charged that Hanson and Heath's claims were exaggerated and their prescriptions reactionary. Even like-minded classicists felt that Hanson and Heath had unfairly slighted valuable feminist scholarship in their blanket condemnation of new developments in the field.

Of all Hanson's battles, however, the most peculiar was with a University of Maryland Latinist named Judith Hallett. In a 1999 issue of the journal Arion, Hanson published a devastating review of an anthology Hallett had edited. But as Hallett pointed out on a classics listserv and in The Wall Street Journal, Hanson had neglected to make an important disclosure.

Several years earlier, confessed Hallett, when the FBI had released sketches of the Unabomber and suggested he lived in northern California, Hallett had called the tip-line and offered Hanson and Heath's names as possible associates. Their politics fit the description, she claimed, and both men resembled the sketch. Surely Hanson had gotten a call from an investigator and should have recused himself from reviewing Hallett's work.

Hanson and Heath countered that they had received no such call....

"When someone attacks me, I reply with twice that," says Hanson, who has penned many a blistering response to a negative review. It's not unlike the tactic Hanson recommends in war: "You do that a few times, and people stop attacking you."

I love Victor Davis Hanson, but his faith in the efficacy of head-on, aggressive attacks upon enemies seems to me exaggerated. H.L. Mencken, a very successful controversialist, had the opposite prescription: ignore your critics -- "it's best to leave them in uncertainty." Even in military affairs, the recent trend in military strategy -- as we've seen in the two Iraq wars -- has been to look for ways to avoid head-on clashes with enemy strengths, but to fight the enemy when and where he is weak. George Bush has followed the Mencken approach adroitly, ignoring those who oppose him while aggressively pursuing his own positive goals.

On the other hand, academia is a little different than the battlefield: the costs of contention are counted in little more than hurt feelings, and maybe a lost job or two. But to observers, witnessing experts contend can be very educational; to the experts themselves, it can be a spur to improving their work. Thank goodness we still have warriors like Victor Davis Hanson. On this Memorial Day, it's well that we honor their martial spirit.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 AM

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

America Goes Backward (Stanley Hoffmann, May 15, 2003, NY Review of Books)
Less than two and a half years after it came to power, the Bush administration, elected by fewer than half of the voters, has an impressive but depressing record. It has, in self-defense, declared one war--the war on terrorism--that has no end in sight. It has started, and won, two other wars. It has drastically changed the strategic doctrine and the diplomatic position of the United States, arguing that the nation's previous positions were obsolete and that the US has enough power to do pretty much as it pleases. At home, as part of the war on terrorism, it has curbed civil liberties, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, and the access of foreign students to US schools and universities. It holds in custody an unknown number of aliens and some Americans treated as "enemy combatants," suspected but not indicted, whose access to hearings and lawyers has been denied. The Republican majority in both houses of Congress and the courts' acceptance of the notion that the President's war powers override all other concerns have given him effective control of all the branches of government. The administration's nominees to the courts would consolidate its domination of the judiciary.

The Justice Department is also supporting efforts to have the Supreme Court reverse its previous decisions on affirmative action and on women's rights. The social programs that have softened the harshness of capitalism since the New Deal, inferior as they are to those of other liberal democracies, are threatened by the Republicans' relentless war against the state's welfare functions, their preference for voluntary over mandated solutions to health care, and for private over public schools. Large numbers of old, sick, or very young people, mainly among the poor, will be deprived of financial assistance as the result of administration policies. Those policies include the cuts that will result from the huge deficits caused by military expenditures and reduced taxes and revenues, and the gradual transfer of many welfare and educational costs to states that are broke, must balance their budgets, and receive little aid from the federal government.

The political forces that many expected to question policies and express dissent have been remarkably meek and mute. The Democrats are reluctant to attack a popular president. Before the war against Iraq and during the war itself, the press and television gave Bush the benefit of the doubt, with chauvinistic support being offered under the guise of patriotism. Anyone who tunes into BBC radio and television can only be struck by the contrast in style and substance between its news programs and those on the American networks. (In no US newspaper or broadcast that I have seen has the French position on Iraq been accurately presented. ) It sometimes seemed that the press had become "embedded" not only in the fighting forces but in Washington officialdom itself.

The US remains a liberal democracy, but those who have hoped for progressive policies at home and enlightened policies abroad may be forgiven if
they have become deeply discouraged by a not-so-benign soft imperialism, by a fiscal and social policy that takes good care of the rich but shuns the
poor on grounds of a far from "compassionate conservatism," and by the conformism, both dictated by the administration and often spontaneous
among the public, that Tocqueville observed 130 years ago. Some will say that it could have been worse; but a blunter form of domination might have
resulted in sharper and more organized opposition.

Mr. Hoffmann may seek to comfort himself that the Administration's victories come solely because of the war, but that ignores the tax cuts, education bill, abortion rollback, fetal stem cell ruling, judicial appointments, Faith-based rule changes, environmental changes, etc., etc., etc. that came prior to 9-11. Indeed, other than security measures, it's difficult to see any domestic policy where Mr. Bush has won because of the war. Recall that if you go back and look at the columns being written at this time two years ago, the Left was complaining that Mr. Bush was pursuing his radically conservative agenda despite not having a mandate for it. To portray his successes as merely a function of wartime hysteria is dishonest or ignorant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 AM

IF THE SKATE FITS...

Forces reject logo for 'sissies': DND's latest effort to redo 'bland' design draws harsh reviews (Jack Aubry, May 26, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)
The latest effort by the Department of National Defence to replace the Canadian Forces' logo has once again rejected by the public and soldiers, with one design proposal panned by military members as being directed toward "sissies," a newly released government report says. [...]

One new proposal, which was designed by an outside firm, removed the word "Canadian" from the logo and drew negative comments that it was "tacky" and "looks like a tie clip." Some in the focus groups also commented that they "see the French flag" in the logo because of its colour blocks.

"In the Canadian Forces (focus) groups, the perceived target audience was ... soft individuals -- perhaps sissies," said the report.

Redesigning the logo, which a military spokesman acknowledged was still a work in progress, is an attempt to simplify and modernize the Canadian Forces' identity.

The recently released report identified a third proposal, which was designed in-house, as the one most preferred by those tested, but it "still requires improvement." Viewed as a complete departure from the current logo, its strength was "the modern and fresh image projected" and its popularity among members of the Canadian Forces.

But others suggested that its arc-like shape gave off a message that was confusing, "too abstract and generic" and "missing something."

Still others said it was too difficult to understand, lacked a focal point and did not "communicate history."

A fourth proposal, which was also designed in-house, received a mostly negative reaction, with some in the public even suggesting that it "implies that we just lost the war" or "death and loss" and that its "colour is drab and weary." The report said the sepia monochrome colour was a major weakness of the logo, along with the accompanying negative theme of sadness and war.

Here's a logo they could use:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM

WRONG QUESTION

Syrian president: Does al-Qaida exist? (AP, May 26, 2003)
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Sunday that he doubts the existence of al-Qaida.

''Is there really an entity called al-Qaida? Was it in Afghanistan? Does it exist now?'' Assad asked, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anba.

Osama bin Laden, the Islamic extremist who heads al-Qaida, ''cannot talk on the phone or use the Internet, but he can direct communications to the four corners of the world?'' Assad said.

''This is illogical.''

Such speculation is popular among some in the Arab world who say Washington has manufactured or exaggerated the threat posed by al-Qaida in order to paint Muslims as dangerous.

The more important question is why does Mr. Assad still exist?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM

THE FIRST CASUALTY OF THE PRESS

Vote of No Confidence (Howard Kurtz, May 26, 2003, Washington Post)
One of the lingering mysteries of the Jayson Blair affair is why the people whose quotes were fabricated or plagiarized didn't complain to the New York Times.

The Associated Press managing editors surveyed 3,000 people through its Credibility Roundtables Project, and many people said they don't contact newspapers about mistakes. "What's the point?" said Deborah Hudgins of Manchester, Md. "Do they really care?"

"Why waste the time," said John Martin Meek of Green Valley, Ariz., adding that the local paper has never responded to his calls or e-mails. Newspaper errors, said Karen Johnson of Otis Orchards, Wash., are really "deliberate embellishments or fabrications to make the story more interesting." Pretty depressing stuff.

Obviously it's his profession so he has a sentimental attachment to it, but Mr. Kurtz can't really be surprised that we distrust the press, can he?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 AM

A MATTER OF DEATH AND LIFE

Life: Defining the Beginning by the End (Maureen L. Condic, May 2003, First Things)
The question of when and under precisely what conditions people are viewed as ?dead? has itself been the subject of considerable debate. Traditionally, the medical profession considered a person dead when his heart stopped beating--a condition that rapidly results in the death of the cells of the body due to loss of blood flow. As the life-saving potential of organ transplants became increasingly apparent in the 1960s, the medical community undertook a reexamination of the medical standards for death. Waiting until the heart stops beating results in considerable damage to otherwise transplantable organs. After a long and contentious debate, a new standard of death was proposed in 1968 that defined ?brain death? as the critical difference between living persons and corpses, a standard that is now widely (although not universally) accepted throughout the world.

Brain death occurs when there has been irreversible damage to the brain, resulting in a complete and permanent failure of brain function. Following the death of the brain, the person stops thinking, sensing, moving, breathing, or performing any other function, although many of the cells in the brain remain ?alive? following loss of brain function. The heart can continue to beat spontaneously for some time following death of the brain (even hearts that have been entirely removed from the body will continue to beat for a surprisingly long period), but eventually the heart ceases to function due to loss of oxygen. The advantage of brain death as a legal and medical definition for the end of life is that the quality of organs for transplant can be maintained by maintaining artificial respiration. So long as oxygen is artificially supplied, the heart will continue to beat and the other organs of the body will be maintained in the same state they were prior to death of the brain.

Defining death as the irreversible loss of brain function remains for some a controversial decision. The fact that the cells and organs of the body can be maintained after the death of the individual is a disturbing concept. The feeling that corpses are being kept artificially ?alive? as medical zombies for the convenient culture of transplantable organs can be quite discomforting, especially when the body in question is that of a loved one. Nonetheless, it is important to realize that this state of affairs is essentially no different from what occurs naturally following death by any means. On a cellular and molecular level, nothing changes in the instant of death. Immediately following death, most of the cells in the body are still alive, and for a time at least, they continue to function normally. Maintaining heartbeat and artificial respiration simply extends this period of time. Once the ?plug is pulled,? and the corpse is left to its own devices, the cells and organs of the body undergo the same slow death by oxygen deprivation they would have experienced had medical science not intervened.

What has been lost at death is not merely the activity of the brain or the heart, but more importantly the ability of the body?s parts (organs and cells) to function together as an integrated whole. Failure of a critical organ results in the breakdown of the body?s overall coordinated activity, despite the continued normal function (or ?life?) of other organs. Although cells of the brain are still alive following brain death, they cease to work together in a coordinated manner to function as a brain should. Because the brain is not directing the lungs to contract, the heart is deprived of oxygen and stops beating. Subsequently, all of the organs that are dependent on the heart for blood flow cease to function as well. The order of events can vary considerably (the heart can cease to function, resulting in death of the brain, for example), but the net effect is the same. Death occurs when the body ceases to act in a coordinated manner to support the continued healthy function of all bodily organs. Cellular life may continue for some time following the loss of integrated bodily function, but once the ability to act in a coordinated manner has been lost, ?life? cannot be restored to a corpse--no matter how ?alive? the cells composing the body may yet be.

It is often asserted that the relevant feature of brain death is not the loss of integrated bodily function, but rather the loss of higher-order brain activities, including consciousness. However, this view does not reflect the current legal understanding of death. The inadequacy of equating death with the loss of cognitive function can be seen by considering the difference between brain death and ?persistent vegetative state? or irreversible coma. Individuals who have entered a persistent vegetative state due to injury or disease have lost all higher brain functions and are incapable of consciousness. Nonetheless, integrated bodily function is maintained in these patients due to the continued activity of lower-order brain centers. Although such patients are clearly in a lamentable medical state, they are also clearly alive; converting such patients into corpses requires some form of euthanasia.

Despite considerable pressure from the medical community to define persistent vegetative state as a type of brain death (a definition that would both expand the pool of organ donors and eliminate the high medical costs associated with maintaining people in this condition), the courts have repeatedly refused to support persistent vegetative state as a legal definition of death. People whose bodies continue to function in an integrated manner are legally and medically alive, despite their limited (or absent) mental function. Regardless of how one may view the desirability of maintaining patients in a persistent vegetative state (this being an entirely distinct moral and legal question), there is unanimous agreement that such patients are not yet corpses. Even those who advocate the withdrawal of food and water from patients in persistent vegetative state couch their position in terms of the ?right to die,? fully acknowledging that such patients are indeed ?alive.? While the issues surrounding persistent vegetative state are both myriad and complex, the import of this condition for understanding the relationship between mental function and death is clear: the loss of integrated bodily function, not the loss of higher mental ability, is the defining legal characteristic of death.

What does the nature of death tell us about the nature of human life? The medical and legal definition of death draws a clear distinction between living cells and living organisms. Organisms are living beings composed of parts that have separate but mutually dependent functions. While organisms are made of living cells, living cells themselves do not necessarily constitute an organism. The critical difference between a collection of cells and a living organism is the ability of an organism to act in a coordinated manner for the continued health and maintenance of the body as a whole. It is precisely this ability that breaks down at the moment of death, however death might occur. Dead bodies may have plenty of live cells, but their cells no longer function together in a coordinated manner. We can take living organs and cells from dead people for transplant to patients without a breach of ethics precisely because corpses are no longer living human beings. Human life is defined by the ability to function as an integrated whole—not by the mere presence of living human cells.

What does the nature of death tell us about the beginning of human life? From the earliest stages of development, human embryos clearly function as organisms. Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances. The embryo generates and organizes distinct tissues that function in a coordinated manner to maintain the continued growth and health of the developing body. Even within the fertilized egg itself there are distinct ?parts? that must work together—specialized regions of cytoplasm that will give rise to unique derivatives once the fertilized egg divides into separate cells. Embryos are in full possession of the very characteristic that distinguishes a living human being from a dead one: the ability of all cells in the body to function together as an organism, with all parts acting in an integrated manner for the continued life and health of the body as a whole.

Linking human status to the nature of developing embryos is neither subjective nor open to personal opinion. Human embryos are living human beings precisely because they possess the single defining feature of human life that is lost in the moment of death--the ability to function as a coordinated organism rather than merely as a group of living human cells. [...]

Postnatal humans run very little risk that embryos will someday organize politically to impose restrictions on the rights of ?the born.? However, once society has accepted a particular justification for denying rights to one class of individuals, the same justification can readily be applied to other classes by appealing to the simple argument: ?Society has already determined that form, ability, or preference defines human life and thereby restricts human rights. Why should the same standard not be applied in this case?? In American society and jurisprudence, arguments from accepted precedent carry great emotional and legal force. Society must determine whether it is willing to accept the current subjective and arbitrary basis for determining the status of prenatal human beings as a legitimate precedent for future legislation on human rights.

Embryos are genetically unique human organisms, fully possessing the integrated biologic function that defines human life at all stages of development, continuing throughout adulthood until death. The ability to act as an integrated whole is the only function that departs from our bodies in the moment of death, and is therefore the defining characteristic of ?human life.? This definition does not depend on religious belief or subjective judgment. From the landmark case of Karen Ann Quinlan (1976) on, the courts have consistently upheld organismal function as the legal definition of human life. Failure to apply the same standard that so clearly defines the end of human life to its beginning is both inconsistent and unwarranted.

The conclusion that human life is defined by integrated (organismal) function has wide-reaching implications, both political and moral. While the public domain has limited authority to promote morality, it does have both the power and the responsibility to prevent harm to individuals. A consistent definition of what constitutes human life, both at its beginning and at its end, requires that current legislation dealing with prenatal human life be considered in light of both biological fact and accepted legal precedent regarding the definition of human life. If current legislation enables and supports the killing of human beings based on a scientifically flawed understanding of human life, laws can and should be revised. Clearly, such a
revision would not be without political cost. Yet allowing life-or-death decisions to be based on arbitrary or capricious definitions is also a course of action that is not without considerable social and moral cost.

That term "postnatal humans" is especially clever, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

THE ONE PARTY STATE

Democrats Seek a Stronger Focus, and Money: More Americans say they are Democrats than Republicans. But Democrats lack unity, a coherent message and money. (ADAM CLYMER, 5/26/03, NY Times)
[T]here is at least some evidence of Democratic revival efforts, though hardly any Democrat who appears to be a quick fix. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, talks of using computers to "find Democratic voters in those red states" (the ones that television showed going Republican in 2000) and to build a base of small donors. For more than 30 years Democratic chairmen have promised to go after small donors, and then have let it slide.

But this time the effort seems real, as the national committee is using various commercial lists to find out more about its existing donors and to identify prospects like them. One early return is that e-mail fund-raising, a very inexpensive method, raised $486,000 in the first four months of this year, compared with $115,000 a year ago--a pittance compared to Republican successes, but still a significant increase.

Other projects include an effort by Governor Richardson to create a political action committee to train Hispanic political operatives and unify Hispanic voters across current divisions of those with Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or Central-American ancestors. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. has set up the Partnership for America's Families, an institution headed by the federation's former political chief, Steve Rosenthal, to do the on-the-ground organizing that political parties used to do (and Republicans have started to do again) including going house to house to get voters registered and discuss issues.

Another project nearing realization is the creation of a foundation like that of the conservative Heritage research group. The Democrats' organization will be led by John D. Podesta, President Clinton's last chief of staff. In September, Mr. Podesta said he expected to open the tentatively named American Majority Institute as "a think tank that both generates new ideas and provides a hard-hitting and consistent critique of the conservatives."

But Democratic efforts to build a new infrastructure pale next to the layers of affiliated political groups, research groups and like-minded media organs that the Republicans have fortified over the decades, especially since the election of Mr. Reagan as president in 1980. And, as Mr. Hart noted, Democrats are not trying to make inroads into Republican constituencies, like white male conservatives (who gave Mr. Gore only 11 percent of their votes in 2000) the way Republicans are going after African-Americans and Hispanics. On the other hand, Hispanic voters are becoming an ever-larger part of the electorate, and still give Democrats a solid majority of their votes.

If there is one thing all kinds of Democrats agree on, it is that they need a better message. Republicans have a very simple agenda of lower taxes, less government and more defense while Democrats have generalities like being for the little guy and attacking more than they propose.

Robert S. Strauss, the former Democratic national chairman who says Democrats seem to win the White House only on Republican mistakes like Watergate or that of the elder Bush in ignoring the faltering economy, calls last fall's performance on issues disgraceful.

"We didn't stand for anything," Mr. Strauss said. "We got what we deserved — nothing."

Will Marshall, an ally of Mr. From and Mr. Reed who leads the Progressive Policy Institute, said the party must "show that we can make progressive government work, not just defend the old New Deal monuments."

Bill Carrick, a more liberal Democratic strategist who is working for the presidential campaign of Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, said his party had "run out of gas." Mr. Carrick said Democrats would continue to fail if they chose to be "the party of incremental reforms, whether it's anything from school uniforms to prescription drugs, to patients' bill of rights." He said, "We've got to make the move away from incremental new reforms to big and broad issues."

There are two major elements of the Democrats' message problem. One is defensive--on the issue of security. The public strongly prefers Republicans on national defense, and even though most Democrats in Congress backed the war on Iraq, at least a third of the rank and file was unhappy with it, which makes it difficult for party leaders to get too far out in front.

Democrats have argued that the Bush administration is weaker than they are on the other element of security--domestic defense--but have made no headway despite the fact that Democrats wanted a department created to coordinate the effort before Mr. Bush would accept it and have urged greater spending on domestic security than the Bush administration would accept.

A more general problem was identified by Governor Richardson. In an interview, he said it was "very vague, but I think it's out there, that we're not the party of optimism and opportunity, that we're the party of malaise, and we're the party of class warfare."

One massive problem for the Democrats is that there are no new ideas for them to latch on to because the GOP has co-opted them. If the Democrats are fundamentally the party of government and the welfare net and if the 20th century established beyond argument the efficacy of competition and markets, then it should be they proposing the various free market reforms of social programs: Medical Savings Accounts, school vouchers, privatized retirement accounts, etc. All of these still require the diversion of private monies into government mandated institutions, but by allowing citizens/consumers greater choice about how that money is used, they bring market forces to bear on programs that were previously run from the top down and were insulated from competition. One needn't be a starry-eyed disciple of Milton Friedman to believe that such a system will inevitably function better than its predecessor. Yet Democrats, because they are captives of the unions and interest groups that have a vested interest in the inefficient older system, have proven themselves incapable of embracing reform.

Meanwhile, Republicans, who in their heart of hearts might well oppose even the government mandates, have recognized that they have no choice but to accept that there is going to be a governmental safety net, but have had the sagacity after facing this to push for making it as market-driven as possible. Conservatives, who for many years simply opposed things like welfare and Social Security, are now big supporters of such things and of public education, precisely because they afford a battlefield upon which to test their ideas.

This leaves us with a politics where the Democrat argument--that Republicans oppose social programs in their entirety--is demonstrably wrong, while the Republican argument--that Democrats oppose any kind of reform to a system that is obviously inefficient, sclerotic, and destined for bankruptcy--is exactly right. In this sense at least, Governor Richardson is right: the GOP is optimistic even on issues that Democrats used to own, while the Democrats seem to have given up. George W. Bush believes that if you let parents choose their children's schools, the parents will become more involved, the schools will be forced to respond, and the kids will get better educations. Democrats counter this by saying that, even if education would improve (I've never heard anyone argue it wouldn't), rich families will get money they don't need, public school teachers will be hurt, and religious schools might benefit. Republicans are arguing ideas and saying they'll work. Democrats are doing nothing beyond pitting groups against each other in order to defend the malaise.

We've said many times that conservatism is a minority ideology and can never enjoy long-term success in competition with liberalism, which is more self-consciously selfish. But, in an astoundingly inept feat, the Democrats have handed conservatives even the most selfish issues--redistribution of wealth via social programs--and so we may be in for a Republican epoch.

May 25, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 11:39 PM

IT TAKES AN ECONOMIST . . .

A few posts down, Orrin demolishes a Paul Krugman piece from today's New York Times, in which Krugman writes about what he sees as the real chance of a liquidity trap developing in the US because our situation is so similar to Japan's. As Orrin shows, we are not Japan, most notably in our demographics. This is, in fact, a point to which Krugman should be more open. Before becoming a execrable opinion hack, Krugman was a good economist. One of his best pieces developed a simple and accessible but rigorous model of Japan's liquidity trap. The most notable part of that piece, for our purposes, follows:

Japan's Trap (Paul Krugman, May 1998)
If Japan is in a liquidity trap, however, why?

In the model of sections 1-3, a liquidity trap will arise only if future productive capacity is actually lower than current capacity. Before loosening that constraint, we can ask why one might expect Japan's future capacity to be relatively low compared with today's. And the obvious answer is demography: Japan's combination of declining birth rate and lack of immigration apparently means a shrinking rather than growing labor force over the next several decades. In the absence of productivity growth, potential output, say, 15 or 20 years out - y* in the model - could actually be below current capacity. Moreover, the labor force will drop faster than the population, because of shifting composition, so it is substantially easier to make the case that per capita productive capacity might actually be lower at some future date than it is today.

The case that a negative real interest rate is necessary can be strengthened if we allow for heterogeneity among individuals plus imperfect capital markets. Suppose that at any given time some people expect their future income to be higher than their current income, others expect it to be lower. In a perfect capital market those who expect their income to rise would tend to engage in dissaving. But suppose that this is difficult - that consumption loans are hard to come by. Then those who expect their income to rise will not contribute as much to the demand for funds as those who expect it to fall contribute to the supply, and the equilibrium real interest rate will be lower than it would have been in a more efficient capital market. Notice that we need not argue that Japanese capital markets are especially inefficient: this can be viewed simply as a reason why aggregate capacity need not actually be falling to require a negative real interest rate. But it is also true that at least some Japanese institutional pecularities - the relatively small use of credit cards, the high downpayments required on expensive houses (see Ito 1992) may contribute to the problem.

Moving outside the formal model, the prospects for a liquidity trap also depend on investment demand. Here demography again comes into play: the prospective decline in the labor force reduces the expected return on investments. And institutional problems, such as the troubles of the banking system, may also lead to some credit rationing that deters investment. And to the extent that firms are financially constrained by the debt run up in the past, they may be unable to invest as much as they otherwise would.

On the whole, while it is quite easy to make the case that Japan really is in a liquidity trap, it is much harder to give a convincing explanation of why. Demography seems to be the leading candidate; other "structural" reasons that are widely cited, while they do amount to an impressive litany of sins, do not necessarily explain why demand should be inadequate, as opposed to simply causing garden-variety microeconomic inefficiency. This lack of a clear link between the structural issues and the proximate problem has some important policy implications, as we will soon see.
Another way to think of this, though it boils down to the same analysis, is that in a time of expected deflation, the population will conclude that future yen will be more valuable than current yen. That is, even with near zero interest earned on savings, a yen tomorrow will be worth more (because of lower prices) than a yen today. Obviously, then, the rational response, caterus parebus, is to defer spending as long as possible. Lower spending reinforces the deflationary spiral, thus increasing the incentive to defer savings, etc., etc., etc. Consider that, if deflation is expected, a loan today bears a real interest rate higher than the nominal rate, because it will have to paid back with that more valuable yen. It becomes clear why, if deflation is expected, nobody buys nothin'.

Krugman's solution to this problem is to break the expectation of deflation. He suggests that, although structural reforms and fiscal policy can help, only a credible promise of permanent inflationary policies by the central bank will suffice to conquer deflation in the short term. Of course, all the major central banks have just spend the last thirty years making credible their promises to fight inflation. Even Krugman understands that this promise will have to be false -- the central banks will have to know that, once deflation has been turned around by the promise of inflation, they will have to once again fight inflation. If Krugman knows it, and the central banks know it, then the market will know it, meaning that the market won't believe the promise to reinflate as a permanent policy, which means that the promise won't work. This is part of why it's called a "trap." The only way around this, and this is me, not Krugman, is to convince people that, through increased productivity, GDP will grow faster than the population. If people expect to have more money in the future, they will spend money now, which will help insure that they will have more money in the future.

Now, can anyone name an industrialized economy in which the population is growing, productivity is growing, per capita GDP is growing, this growth is expected to continue and each member of the economy is convinced that he ought to be richer tomorrow than he is today. I can only think of one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 PM

DON'T DRINK THE WATER

Have we seen you some place before, George?: Bush takes the waters at Evian this week wearing the mantle of Truman (Tim Hames, May 26, 2003 , Times of London)
The second, presently fashionable, idea, which writers such as Martin Wolf in The Financial Times have embraced, is focused more directly on the President personally. It pits two of his predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, against each other. The argument is that Roosevelt personified a nationalist, assertive foreign policy with little interest in securing the consent of others, while Wilson promoted an internationalist, essentially pacific strategy in which it is possible for the planet as a whole to develop laws, norms and rules not unlike those which apply within a contemporary democracy. Europeans, the contention runs, bought Wilsonianism from the Americans after 1945 but have discovered to their horror that the Bush Administration has, unreasonably, reverted to the Rooseveltian model.

It is a clever contrast, but is it compelling? It is surely open to question. There are, I think, three respectable arguments that can be marshalled against it. The first is that it is debateable whether American foreign policy has actually been consistently and credibly ?Wilsonian?. The second is whether it is really fair to brand Mr Bush?s outlook on the world as ?Rooseveltian?. Finally, if it is necessary to pick any former President as the forerunner of the current one (and it is a dubious practice), then there is a figure who suits this President better than either Wilson or Roosevelt.

American foreign policy has never been wholly Wilsonian. Indeed, it wasn?t that Wilsonian when Wilson was President ? as the Senate?s decision not to endorse his beloved League of Nation testifies. It has had certain Wilsonian moments, such as when the United States negotiated the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 in which nations formally renounced war as a means of policy (it was no great success, that one) but, unsurprisingly, it proved difficult to sustain a foreign policy on the basis of love, peace and all holding hands in a circle to resolve international disputes.

It would not be unduly cynical to suggest that presidents assume Wilsonian clothing when they are either searching for an excuse for inaction or want others to do something for them that they cannot mobilise a domestic consensus to do alone. To that extent, Bill Clinton did have a Wilsonian foreign policy of sorts. But one based on Harold Wilson, not Woodrow.

Nor can it reasonably be asserted that Mr Bush is a ?Rooseveltian? President. Europeans might like to think that he speaks softly and carries a big stick, but they exaggerate the extent to which the Pentagon dominates foreign policy in Washington. They overstate the numbers and influence of the so-called ?neo-conservatives? in this Administration. There are a number of people who broadly fit that label but to insist that they are running the show is akin to saying that because there are several members of the British Government who are committed Christians, it follows that the final verdict on the euro will be taken only after a prayer meeting.

If Mr Bush should be compared with anyone it is Harry Truman. Truman was a slightly accidental President (he took office on the sudden death of Franklin Roosevelt), widely mocked by American and European elites. He was swiftly confronted with the end of the Second World War, the invention of nuclear weapons and the emergence of the superpower struggle. He had to shape foreign policy on the hoof, invent institutions at home and abroad to match new circumstances, set precedents and draw lines in the sand. Substitute the chads of Florida, religious terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and it is not a bad (if imperfect) fit.

This is in fact an opportune moment to contemplate Trumanism, the Truman Doctrine, as it happens, being 56 years of this week (May 22, 1947). The comparison to President Bush is, needless to say, a laughable fit. Had George W. Bush pursued Truman's disastrous containment policy, this time applied to expansionist Islamicism, we'd be sending aid to decrepit but friendly regimes and building up massive conventional military forces and transnational institutions to hem in the Talibans, Ba'athists, al Qaedas and PLOs of the world. We'd be looking at a debilitating long term commitment of dollars (a military budget averaging at least two and a half times the currrent level) and a system of alliances with powers we otherwise would find reprehensible--from Iraq (an anti-Islamist state) to China.

Instead, Mr. Bush is intent on destroying the axis of terror--having already toppled regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, with Iran and N. Korea next to go--pressuring insufficiently liberalized allies (like the Sauds) and doing it all without regard to the internationalist bodies that Truman and his fellow containers crafted--like the UN & NATO. Had Mr. Truman pursued a Bush Doctrine in 1947 the world would have been spared tens of trillions of pointless military expenditures, tens of millions of lives, the rise of terrorism, etc., etc., etc. Thankfully, Bush is no Truman.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 PM

CAN'T SPELL CONDESCENDING WITHOUT C-O-N-D-I

Rice Quoted Saying U.S. to Ignore Schroeder (Reuters, May 25, 2003)
Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) was quoted in a German magazine Sunday saying the Bush administration was trying to patch up strained relations with Germany but would continue to ostracize Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Focus magazine reported President Bush's national security adviser told a German visitor recently that relations between Bush and Schroeder were ruined because of the German leader's outspoken opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"We're now doing everything we can to improve relations to Germany at all levels," the unnamed German visitor quoted Rice as saying. "But we're going to work around the chancellor. It's better to leave him out."

"The Bush-Schroeder relationship will never be what it was and what it should be," Rice was quoted as saying in Focus.

She was also quoted as saying that Bush was aware of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's past as a street-fighter turned politician and doesn't believe he is suited to be a statesman.

Finding the Hun at your feet so often, who could resist the urge to kick them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 PM

A HAMILTON FOR PALESTINE

The Radical Bean Counter (JAMES BENNET, May 25, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
This is a story about fighting Palestinian chaos and corruption, about seeking to throw off Israeli occupation and build a democratic state of Palestine. It is about these things, because it is about one man's lonely pursuit of direct deposit.

The man is Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian minister of finance, the kind of Palestinian you rarely hear about, an economist trained in Texas who has never fired a gun, sent men into battle or served time in prison or exile. He met recently in Gaza City with half a dozen men who had done these things -- who do some of them still -- the chiefs of Yasir Arafat's Gaza security services, the most hardened of Palestinian warriors. It was Fayyad's intention to intimidate them.

As the chiefs arrived at the Saraya, the military headquarters in Gaza, some of them wore fatigues and were trailed by men carrying guns. Fayyad, as usual, arrived alone, carrying his black satchel and wearing his nice blue jacket, red-and-blue tie and spectacles.

Fayyad did not tell these men everything he thought: that he was horrified by the system, if it could be called that, for paying the 53,000 security officers from the dozen independent security agencies in the West Bank and Gaza; that he thought it was morally wrong to dole out $20 million in cash monthly, in plastic bank bags, to the security chiefs, to be handed out to their men, one by one; that he worried that some of the money, ''paying'' for ghost employees, might be lining the wrong people's pockets, perhaps even financing the kind of violence the security agencies were supposed to stop.

He did not make a point obvious to everyone in the room: that the power of the purse is power, period, and that his reform would help shift control of the officers from these chiefs, and from Yasir Arafat, to the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. In theory, Fayyad now reports to Abbas; in practice, he checks in with both him and Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who appointed him last June; in reality, he is choosing his battles for himself.

Fayyad presented his idea as a common-sense change that anyone who favored efficiency and clean government -- as security officers naturally did -- would support. He had already divided the chiefs by previously persuading two of them. Now he, the economist, not any of the military men, began pounding the table. Unless the chiefs switched to direct deposit of paychecks, he said, he could not guarantee that their salaries would be paid. Foreign donors would cut them off. Did they want to be forced by outsiders to change, or to act with a sense of pride? [...]

This is a terrible time to be the average Palestinian, and so it is a golden time to become an exceptional one. The Palestinians are at a historic moment in search of historic leaders -- the Jeffersons, Hamiltons and Washingtons who can wrest a viable, competent state from Israelis (even on the left) who are distrustful and angry; from a Bush administration that is chilly and distracted; and from Islamists who seem bent on endless conflict. [...]

Fayyad, an ally of the prime minister and one who would clearly like to have his job someday, presents a different case study in the use of power. He dismissed the security detail that the Palestinian Authority offered him, in the belief he should never show fear. He travels by car service and taxi, walks alone across checkpoints and fields his own calls nonstop on a cellphone. The father of three children in a Jerusalem private school, he left a much more lucrative job to become finance minister at about $1,200 a month, and Israeli and American officials who study the Palestinian Authority say he is an honest man. He has been praised by Colin Powell, Ariel Sharon and Yasir Arafat; despite that, he has flourished politically. His suits, hair and skin are all rather gray, like the dense cloud of cigarette smoke in which he moves. At 51, he is fidgety, ambitious, profoundly sure of himself. He is a small, assuming man.

''If you have the authority, use it,'' Fayyad likes to say. ''If you don't have it, create it.''

The challenge to such new leaders is to fight two revolutions at once: against the Israeli occupation and against the aristocracy of revolution that has shaped the Palestinian national dream for 35 years. Arafat got his people very far -- within sight of their state -- but he has not delivered them.

The idea that Palestine's future depends on discovering a generation of leaders similar to our Founders is rather depressing, even if accurate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM

THE SUN WON'T COME OUT TOMORROW (OR THE NEXT DAY...)

Fear of a Quagmire? (PAUL KRUGMAN, May 24, 2003, NY Times)
The particular type of quagmire to worry about has a name: liquidity trap. As the I.M.F. report explains, the most important reason to fear deflation is that it can push an economy into a liquidity trap, or deepen the distress of an economy already caught in the trap.

Here's how it works, in theory. Ordinarily, deflation--a general fall in the level of prices--is easy to fight. All the central bank (in our case, the Federal Reserve) has to do is print more money, and put it in the hands of banks. With more cash in hand, banks make more loans, interest rates fall, the economy perks up and the price level stops falling.

But what if the economy is in such a deep malaise that pushing interest rates all the way to zero isn't enough to get the economy back to full employment? Then you're in a liquidity trap: additional cash pumped into the economy--added liquidity--sits idle, because there's no point in lending money out if you don't receive any reward. And monetary policy loses its effectiveness.

Once an economy is caught in such a trap, it's likely to slide into deflation--and nasty things (what the I.M.F. report calls "adverse dynamics") begin to happen. Falling prices induce people to postpone their purchases in the expectation that prices will fall further, depressing demand today.

Also, deflation usually means falling incomes as well as falling prices. In a deflationary economy, a family that borrows money to buy a house may well find itself having to pay fixed mortgage payments out of a shrinking paycheck; a business that borrows to finance investment may well find itself having to pay a fixed interest bill out of a shrinking cash flow.

In other words, deflation discourages borrowing and spending, the very things a depressed economy needs to get going. And when an economy is in a liquidity trap, the authorities can't offset the depressing effects of deflation by cutting interest rates. So a vicious circle develops. Deflation leads to rising unemployment and falling capacity utilization, which puts more downward pressure on prices and wages, which accelerates deflation, which makes the economy even more depressed. The prospect of such a "deflationary spiral," rather than the mere prospect of deflation, is what scares the I.M.F.--and it should. [...]

Our own situation is strikingly similar in some ways to that of Japan a decade ago. Like Japan circa 1993 or 1994, the United States is now facing the aftermath of a huge stock market bubble--the Nikkei and the Standard and Poor's 500 both tripled in the five years before their respective peaks.

Also like Japan, we face a problem not of sharp downturn but of persistent underperformance--an economy that grows, but too slowly to prevent rising unemployment and falling capacity utilization.

What's different is that we have Japan as a cautionary example. Is forewarned forearmed?

Of course the differences between Japan and America are even greater than the similarities and Mr. Krugman has never demonstrated much understanding of those differences, so that in the late '90s, almost a decade after Bill Emmott's dispositive The Sun Also Sets, Mr. Krugman thought Japan had only short term problems. Even when he began to realize things went deeper, he was rather slow to comprehend how deep. For instance, he's argued innumerable times that Japan needs to inflate its currency, but, to the best of my knowledge, has not called on them to inflate their population. How can you ever create enough new money that fewer people will be paying more and more for less and less?

The Japanese stock market fell and then failed to rise because it was always a bad investment--the long term economic prospects of a country with a declining population; a lack of the kind of creation, innovation, and intiative that leads to new products and breakthroughs; and an economic model based on assembling things better and cheaper than the United States is damned bleak. (The last is important because there are dozens of other countries that can put stuff together as well as but cheaper than the Japanese--thereby driving wages down.) Combine all this with protectionism, over-regulation, the welfare state, and the way that the Japanese "invest" their supposedly wonderful savings--in actual savings accounts in banks that pay negligible interest--and you've got a recipe for a long slide into oblivion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 PM

EMPIRE OF THE WILLING

Ill-Suited for Empire (Joseph S. Nye, May 25, 2003, The Washington Post)
The military victory in Iraq seems to have confirmed a new world order. Not since Rome has one nation loomed so large above the others. Indeed the word "empire" has come out of the closet. Respected analysts of both left and right are beginning to refer to "American empire" approvingly as the dominant narrative of the 21st century.

But those who openly welcome the idea of an American empire mistake the underlying nature of American public opinion. Neoconservatives such as Max Boot argue that the United States should provide troubled countries with the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets. But as the British historian Niall Ferguson points out, modern America differs from 19th-century Britain in our "chronically short time frame."

Some say the United States is already an empire and it is just a matter of recognizing reality. It's a mistake, however, to confuse the politics of primacy with those of empire. The United States is more powerful compared with other countries than Britain was at its imperial peak, but it has less control over what occurs inside other countries than Britain did when it ruled a quarter of the globe. For example, Kenya's schools, taxes, laws and elections -- not to mention external relations -- were controlled by British officials. The United States has no such control today. We could not even get the votes of Mexico and Chile for a second U.N. Security Council resolution. Devotees of the new imperialism say not to be so literal. "Empire" is
merely a metaphor. But the problem with the metaphor is it implies a control from Washington that is unrealistic and reinforces the prevailing strong temptations toward unilateralism.

Despite its natal ideology of anti-imperialism, the United States has intervened and governed countries in Central America and the Caribbean as well as the Philippines. But imperialism has never been a comfortable experience for Americans, and only a small portion of the cases led directly to the establishment of democracies. American empire is not limited by "imperial overstretch" in the sense of costing an impossible portion of our gross national product. We devoted a much higher percentage of GNP to the military budget during the Cold War than we do today. The overstretch will come from having to police more and more peripheral countries -- more than public opinion will accept. Polls show little popular taste for empire.

In fact, the problem of creating an American empire might better be termed imperial under-stretch. Neither the public nor Congress has proved willing to invest seriously in the instruments of nation-building and governance as opposed to military force.

"Imperial under-stretch" is a clever term and precisely right. There's an excellent case to be made for having a more powerful and advanced nation govern a less advanced and developed one for a period of time to, counterintuitive as it sounds, instill an ethos of liberal democracy--look around the world and note how many of the most democratic or democratizing nations of the developing world were once British or American colonies or where we intervened heavily: from obvious places like India and the Phillipines to more subtle ones like Iran. However, there is no longer any stomach in the Anglo-American leadership or citizenry for the kind of repression of nationalist ambitions, even though it's benign repression, that this kind of colonialism requires.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

BOOKNOTES

Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (C-SPAN, May 25, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)
The Gulag - the vast array of Soviet concentration camp -was a system of repression and punishment whose rationalized evil and institutionalized inhumanity were rivaled only by the Holocaust.

The Gulag entered the world?s historical consciousness in 1972, with the publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn?s epic oral history of the Soviet camps, The Gulag Archipelago. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, dozens of memoirs and new studies covering aspects of that system have been published in Russia and the West. Using these new resources as well as her own original historical research, Anne Applebaum has now undertaken, for the first time, a fully documented history of the Soviet camp system, from its origins in the Russian Revolution to its collapse in the era of glasnost. It is an epic feat of investigation and moral reckoning that places the Gulag where it belongs: at the center of our understanding of the troubled history of the twentieth century.

Anne Applebaum first lays out the chronological history of the camps and the logic behind their creation, enlargement, and maintenance. The Gulag was first put in place in 1918 after the Russian Revolution. In 1929, Stalin personally decided to expand the camp system, both to use forced labor to accelerate Soviet industrialization and to exploit the natural resources of the country?s barely habitable far northern regions. By the end of the 1930s, labor camps could be found in all twelve of the Soviet Union?s time zones. The system continued to expand throughout the war years, reaching its height only in the early 1950s. From 1929 until the death of Stalin in 1953, some 18 million people passed through this massive system. Of these 18 million, it is estimated that 4.5 million never returned.

But the Gulag was not just an economic institution. It also became, over time, a country within a country, almost a separate civilization, with its own laws, customs, literature, folklore, slang, and morality. Topic by topic, Anne Applebaum also examines how life was lived within this shadow country: how prisoners worked, how they ate, where they lived, how they died, how they survived. She examines their guards and their jailers, the horrors of transportation in empty cattle cars, the strange nature of Soviet arrests and trials, the impact of World War II, the relations between different national and religious groups, and the escapes, as well as the extraordinary rebellions that took place in the 1950s. She concludes by examining the disturbing question why the Gulag has remained relatively obscure, in the historical memory of both the former Soviet Union and the West. Gulag: A History will immediately be recognized as a landmark work of historical scholarship and an indelible contribution to the complex, ongoing, necessary quest for truth.


MORE:
BUY IT: Gulag by Anne Applebaum (Amazon.com)
-BOOK SITE: Gulag (Doubleday)
-EXCERPT: Chapter One of Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum
-Anne Applebaum (Author Website)
-COLUMN ARCHIVES: Anne Applebaum (Washington Post)
-COLUMN ARCHIVES: Anne Applebaum (Jewish World Review)
-ESSAY: Author Essay: The Almost Forgotten History of the Gulag (Anne Applebaum, Borders)
-ESSAY: Slippery Pole: Poland?s new premier is a repressive ex-communist. Anne Applebaum wonders why Tony Blair is his new best friend (Anne Applebaum, 3/23/03, The Spectator)
-ESSAY: The Gulag Argumento: Martin Amis swings at Stalin and hits his own best friend instead. (Anne Applebaum, August 13, 2002, Slate)
-ESSAY: How the World Has Changed (Anne Applebaum, September 21, 2001, Slate)
-ESSAY: TERRORISM: The New New World Order: If we can't learn better ways of dealing with the outside world even after September 11, then the outside world will once again come to us. (Anne Applebaum, Hoover Digest)
-ESSAY: Gauging Success (Anne Applebaum, October 8, 2001, Slate)
-ESSAY: The great error: the wretched folk who refuse to leave the city built on the bones of Stalin?s victims (Anne Applebaum, 7/28/01, The Spectator)
-ESSAY: Spurning Bush: The US President may make friends in Europe this week but, says Anne Applebaum, his visit will be accompanied by a wave of hatred (Anne Applebaum, 6/16/01, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan (Anne Applebaum, Daily Telegraph)
-REVIEW: of REGIONS OF THE GREAT HERESY: BRUNO SCHULZ, A BIOGRAPHICAL PORTRAIT By Jerzy Ficowski (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of THE LAST EMPIRE By Gore Vidal (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of The Oligarchs: Wealth And Power In The New Russia by David E. Hoffman (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of Isadora: The Sensational Life Of Isadora Duncan by Peter Kurth (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of The Nazi Elite In Allied Hands, 1945 by Richard Overy (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of The Author Of Himself by Marcel Reich-Ranicki (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)
-Anne Applebaum (lying in ponds: The absurdity of partisanship)
-ARCHIVES: The New York Review of Books: Anne Applebaum
-ARCHIVES: Anne Applebaum (Slate)
-ARCHIVES: "anne applebaum (The Spectator)
-ARCHIVES: "anne applebaum" (Find Articles)
-REVIEW: of Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (Steven Merritt Miner, NY Times Book Review)
-Remembering the Gulag: a review of Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (Hilton Kramer, New Criterion)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (David Remnick, The New Yorker)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (The Economist)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Michael Ledeen, National Review)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Brian Richard Boylan, SF Chronicle)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Adam Zamoyski, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (David Frum, AEI)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Vladimir Bukovsky, The Sunday Times)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Melana Zyla Vickers, Weekly Standard)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Lesley Chamberlain, LA Times)
-REVIEW: of Gulag (Richard Overy, Daily Telegraph)

GENERAL:
-ESSAY: Inside Stalin's Terror (Stefan Wagstyl, February 4 2003, Financial Times)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

TRIBAL LEADER

A Very Mixed Marriage (HOWARD FINEMAN AND TAMARA LIPPER, NEWSWEEK)
It's a landmark in the history of strange bedfellows: Tom DeLay says kaddish. It happened last February, the day the space shuttle Columbia fell apart. Among the dead astronauts was an Israeli, Ilan Ramon. In Florida, at the Boca Raton Resort, some big machers had gathered to hear a speech by House Republican leader DeLay, an evangelical Christian from Sugar Land, Texas. Mixing Churchill and the Bible, DeLay talked of a destiny shared by America and Israel. He asked for "divine assistance" in protecting both. In closing, to the astonishment of his audience, he recited--in Hebrew--the last lines of the Jewish prayer for the dead. The crowd, many in tears, joined in. (DeLay had been coached by a Jewish former staffer.) "It was quite a moment," said Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who was there.

QUITE AN UNDERSTATEMENT. Though they welcomed him as an ardent supporter of Israel, many in the audience at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference were wary of DeLay's view on a host of social issues--he's pro-life, anti-gay-rights, pro-voucher, pro-gun, pro-school-prayer. Nor are they fond of his occasional declaration that what America needs most is more Christians in office. "Some would argue that it's a mistake for Jews to get into bed with the religious right," said Jess Hordes of the Anti-Defamation League.

Too late.

There's something inherently strange in a religious group that would be offended that their allies are "pro-life, anti-gay-rights, pro-voucher,...pro-school-prayer".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM

ONE WILD & CRAZY GUY

Behind Baghdad's fall : Hussein son's wild orders led to Iraq military collapse (Robert Collier, May 25, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
In the final days before Baghdad fell, Saddam Hussein's son Qusai issued a series of military orders that sent thousands of elite Republican Guard troops to their certain death in the open countryside.

According to accounts provided to The Chronicle by more than a dozen Iraqi military officials -- some of them still hiding from American forces -- the orders exposed the core of the Iraqi military to devastating U.S. air attacks and left the capital's defenses markedly weakened. [...]

The Iraqi leaders failed to follow through on prewar plans to mount a comprehensive urban guerrilla defense for Baghdad.

Despite Iraqis' frequent pronouncements before the war that they would fall back into Baghdad and fight house to house, they did nothing of the sort. Instead, they stuck to a largely conventional defense comprised of three concentric rings, extending as far as 30 miles outside of Baghdad.

Gen. Alaa Abdelkadeer, a Republican Guard commander in Baghdad, said that prewar plans had also included such tactics as mining streets and bridges. "There was even a plan to mine the airport, to blow it sky high if the Americans took it," he said. "But none of this was carried out."

When asked why, he shrugged. "Because we thought Baghdad was very safe. We never thought the Americans would be able to enter the city."

An officer in the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "(Baghdad) was like a castle. The Americans could never come close -- we were sure of it."

This comports with the idea that Saddam was killed or incapacitated on the first night of the war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

TOLERANCE AS AN END

When Tolerance Becomes Intolerance: Religion Increasingly Pilloried in the Public Square (Zenit.org, 2003-05-24)
The note by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith points out that Christians and non-Christians alike can contribute to the democratic process. "The life of a democracy could not be productive without the active, responsible and generous involvement of everyone, 'albeit in a diversity and complementarity of forms, levels, tasks and responsibilities'".

Yet, the document notes how, "the value of tolerance is disingenuously invoked when a large number of citizens, Catholics among them, are asked not to base their contribution to society and political life--through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy -- on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good". [...]

A commentary on the note by moral theologian Robert Spaemann observed that when tolerance becomes a supreme value "it is transformed into intolerance of what alone, in reality, gives tolerance its value: the sacredness of conscience."

Writing in the English weekly edition of L'Osservatore Romano of March 12, Spaemann explained that firm convictions are important because the dignity of the human person is based on a reference to the truth. If we adopt a purely relativist position we run the risk of falling into either anarchy or tyranny, he said. Arguing in favor of measures that respect an order founded on the nature of the human being is not imposing a religion on anybody, but is rather a defense of human dignity.

Elsewhere, Robert Kraynak in his book "Christian Faith and Modern Democracy" explains that a defects of modern liberal democracy is its tendency to promote a limited conception of the good life, reduced to a one-dimensional materialism of middle-class society. The dominant schools of modern liberalism, Kraynak writes, "have followed a flawed strategy of trying to vindicate human dignity by denying the objective existence of a greatest good, thereby allowing each person or nation to determine its own identity."

What Christianity can offer to remedy this is a concept of dignity based on the creation of human beings made in the image of God and redeemed by Christ. The rich doctrinal resources of Christianity "rescues liberalism from its descent into nihilism and breathes into it moral and spiritual vitality," Kraynak contends. Excluding this valuable Christian contribution from politics would only impoverish democracy.

No one has ever been more forthright about the intentional demoralizing of human society that is the intent of toleration than the British philosopher John Gray:
The first signs of postmodern political institutions are most clearly observable in Europe. The institutions of the European Union are not the institutions of a modern state writ large. The EU is not, and will not become, a modern federal state. It is an association of nation states that have embarked on a common project of shedding much of the sovereignty that distinguished the modern, "Westphalian" state. This project embodies the wager that nineteenth-century balance-of-power relations between the Union's nation-states can be rendered redundant in the context of the EU's common institutions.

The wager this project entails is on the possibility of enduring and stable political institutions that do not presuppose a common political culture and are not legitimated by a unifying ideology. This is the postmodern dimension of the European project. It is the attempt to found political institutions whose cultural identities are not singular, comprehensive, or exclusive (after the fashion of nineteenth-century nationalism and twentieth-century weltanschauung-states), but complex, plural, and overlapping.

This is not the project of privatizing cultural identity in the realm of voluntary association that is advanced in the standard liberalisms of today. That project, in practice, can only entrench the dominant cultural identity of a generation or more ago. This project instead attempts to enable plural identities to find collective expression in overlapping political institutions. The institutions of the European Union constitute the single most convincing exemplar thus far of the postmodern project of founding political legitimacy not on a common national culture or on any universalist ideology, but on a common acceptance of cultural difference. In East Asia, the fascinating experiment that is underway in Singapore may amount to an exercise in postmodern state-building and the conditions of postmodernity may have been present for generations in Japan. There may be a future for postmodernity in East Asia by virtue of the fact that some of its diverse cultures have modernized very successfully without thereby accepting any Enlightenment ideology.

It is in this historical context that an amended Hobbesian liberalism of fear may be salient. The animating interest of European institutions, as they have developed over the past 30 years or so, is an interest in peaceful coexistence without loss of cultural diversity. This points to the first radical revision that is needed in the Hobbesian view-namely, an acknowledgment of the political relevance of the human need for strong and deep forms of common life. Hobbes's thought needs to be fertilized with the insights of Herder. The abridgment of Hobbesian individualism that this entails is plainly considerable and necessitates consideration of how participation in common cultural forms can find political expression.

Mr. Gray, in his book, Two Faces of Liberalism, speaks of the task before us the creation of a modus vivendi. Like Rodney King, his plea is that we all just find a way to "get along". That this means we completely subject ourselves to political institutions, that our nations subject themselves to transnational institutions, that we abandon the idea that life has a purpose and that truth exists, etc., matters not in the least to him. All that matters is that everything be tolerated so that there is no tension in our increasingly diverse society.

Two things about this vision seem especially problematic. The first is that it assumes that men are responsible enough not to take advantage of this kind of complete tolerance, that having once granted that people are entitled to think and do whatever they want in their own lives that they'll not behave in ways which even the most tolerant among us can not stand. Second, it assumes benevolent government, since with no cultural norms and traditional morals to guide behavior there'll be nothing left but government power to restrain men. Though we find nothing attractive about this vision even if it could be realized, we suspect that what would follow would be not a utopia but something closer to the prediction of Os Guinness, The Dust of Death (1973):
With the death of absolutes, the prospects are grim for any lover of justice, freedom, and order. Western culture will lurch drunkenly between chaotic lawlessness and countering authoritarianism, in which some particularly abysmal vacuum of confidence could finally issue in a supreme dictatorship, mocking the Western aspirations for democracy as ineffective and demonstrating the strong alliance between technology and the state. Until then, violence -- blood brother of such a totalitarianism -- will play ts fateful part, naked or disguised, in an inevitable power struggle on all levels.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 AM

RECKONING

The meaning of 'painful concessions' (Yossi Klein Halevi, May 8, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
Most Israelis have decided that withdrawal is both necessary and inevitable. And the man who built the settlements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, now agrees with them.

Still, as we approach our moment of decision, the language of euphemism with which we speak about withdrawal feels increasingly untenable. As a people, we need to courageously confront the consequences of uprooting - what Sharon calls, with rare understatement, "painful concessions." We need an advance account of the enormity of that pain, not in order to dissuade ourselves from accepting the brutal decree of history, but to do so without illusions. The failure of the Oslo process hasn't released us from the necessity of withdrawal, but it does demand an end to self-deception. And a key element of that self-deception has been our unwillingness to concede the human, social, and historical consequences of withdrawal.

The deception begins with the sterile phrase, "land for peace." "Land" implies a pristine landscape, devoid of human presence. In fact, the formulation means a destruction of worlds - neighborhoods and homes, schools and synagogues, hangouts and hitchhiking stations. It isn't "land" and it probably won't be "peace" - at least not a peace that means recognition of our right to exist and respect for the inviolability of our borders.

The human toll that will result from the destruction of organic communities is incalculable. After the Sinai town of Yamit was destroyed in 1982, many never recovered; for some, the result was depression and divorce. At its peak, Yamit contained perhaps 5,000 residents. Increase Yamit by tens of thousands and you can begin to imagine the implications for Israeli society that will result from a similar uprooting - the real word is "transfer" - in Judea and Samaria.

And Yamit was barely a decade old when it was destroyed. By contrast, some communities in Judea and Samaria are well into their third decade. Unlike Yamit, a native generation has grown up in Judea and Samaria for whom Israel lies across the green line. And a third generation is now being formed there. Think of that next time you read a newspaper account that refers to children killed or wounded in a terrorist attack in Judea and Samaria as "settlers." Beyond the personal is the national trauma. The towns and villages of Judea and Samaria are the legacy and symbol of this generation of religious Zionists. The destruction of dozens of communities that form the emotional core of religious Zionism will be a blow from which it may not fully recover.

The implications for the state are profound. The religious Zionists, after all, aren't a marginal community but the last collective repository of idealistic Zionism. For a state under siege, their invigorating presence has been essential.

Mr. Halevi has hit upon one of the worst effects of the hawks' refusal to take seriously the idea that Ariel Sharon is committed to Palestinian statehood. By fighting a doomed rearguard action, to prevent that statehood, they're failing to prepare themselves and Israel to deal with the soon to be fundamentally altered realities.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 AM

THE DIVINE WIND BLOWS

Long downturn has worn on Japanese (KOJI SASAHARA, May 25, 2003, AP)
People are afraid to spend, too worried about life after retirement--or worse still, life after ''risutora,'' the Japanese for ''restructuring'' and the euphemism here for layoffs. [...]

Japan's unemployment rate is now at a near-record 5.4 percent. Joblessness among the young is peaking at its highest levels in half a century.

The main index for the Tokyo stock market has slid lately to 20-year lows. Some smaller companies are collapsing as banks tighten lending, weighed down by massive bad debts. [...]

''There is a danger that the so-called lost decade of the 1990s could continue for another decade,'' said Masaaki Mizuno, strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in Tokyo.

Another decade? Why will it only last another decade? By the end of the 00s Japan will be in the grip of depopulation. If folks are worried about their retirement now, just wait until they have a society that's devoid of young people to pay for those retirements. Japan is the West's canary in a coalmine, and it's dying.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:49 AM

GIVE US THE CHILD, WE'LL GIVE YOU THE MAN

The Young Hipublicans (JOHN COLAPINTO, May 25, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
The mission of today's college conservatives is, in many respects, no different from what it was in [David] Brock's day, and even [William] Buckley's. But today's movement also differs markedly from ones that came before. Influenced as much by the mood and mores of MTV as it is by the musings of Allan Bloom, today's movement has shaped itself around a new demographic of young right-wingers, one that includes a heavy contingent of women and that draws some of its fiercest ideologues from the middle class. Having spread beyond traditionally conservative hotbeds like Dartmouth, it's a movement that operates in an atmosphere that did not even exist when Buckley and [Dinesh] D'Souza were undergraduates: campuses governed by speech and behavior codes introduced more than a decade ago. A result is a new breed of college conservative, one poised to inherit the responsibility of shaping the Republican Party in the years to come.

The Bucknell University Conservatives Club has its origins in the fall of 1999, when a freshman named Tom Elliott arrived on campus. His father is Bently Elliott, former director of speechwriting for Ronald Reagan. Growing up in Alexandria, Va., and attending Easter-egg hunts on the White House lawn, Tom Elliott absorbed by osmosis the central tenets of conservatism: smaller government, less taxes, more military spending, welfare reform, no abortion on demand. He'd never questioned his right-wing beliefs until he entered Bucknell, where, he says, he found his ideas coming under attack from his professors.

''In my spare time, I started visiting conservative Web sites,'' he says, ''so I could arm myself.'' In his sophomore year, he wrote right-wing columns in the student paper, The Bucknellian. Styling himself after his journalistic heroes, like Hunter S. Thompson, Elliott strove for an in-your-face attitude in his writing and came to enjoy his status as the campus's provocateur. But it was not until the summer after his sophomore year that he called on his contacts with conservative interest groups, like the Leadership Institute, to move on his idea of starting a conservatives club and his own right-wing campus newspaper. Elliott enlisted a fellow Bucknell sophomore, Michael Boland, a square-jawed evangelical Christian from Cooperstown, N.Y., the only other ''out'' conservative on campus at the time.

It was, in many respects, an odd marriage. Elliott, a hard-partying frat boy from a privileged background, fits a common stereotype of the college conservative of the 1980's: affluent, confident, connected (his father is a Bucknell alumnus and trustee). When Elliott offers that he ''doesn't take school too seriously, and my grades reflect it,'' you know he's telling you that he doesn't have to worry too much about a career and money (after graduating this month, he plans to ''travel and maybe write a book in the future''). Mike Boland, by contrast, is like many of today's young right-wingers. Determinedly middle class (his dad is an X-ray technician, his mom a teacher's aide), Boland can afford Bucknell's $35,000 in tuition and fees only with the help of financial aid. Studious and abstemious, he works hard to keep up a 3.9 G.P.A. For Boland, the effort that has taken him from a modest background to the top ranks of an elite university bolsters his conservative beliefs on self-reliance. ''If you don't earn it,'' he says, ''you don't appreciate it.''

Boland agreed to join Elliott in starting Bucknell's conservatives club. The two don't agree on every issue (Elliott is against capital punishment; Boland supports it), and they often clash when it comes to how best to spread their message (Elliott likes to use satire and ridicule to raise hackles; Boland prefers close reasoning), but the two share a mind-set common to virtually every college conservative you meet. They describe themselves as defenders of ''individuality'' and ''freedom'' against a campus, and world, overrun by groupthink liberalism and pious political correctness. They also share a belief that despite the common perception of youth being synonymous with progressive, liberal ideals, the true spirit of their generation is solidly, if quietly, conservative.

The polls bear this out. According to the U.C.L.A. Higher Education Research Institute, which has been tracking the attitudes of incoming freshmen at hundreds of colleges nationwide since 1966, student conservatism is increasing in many areas. Asked their opinion about casual sex, 51 percent of freshmen were for it in 1987; now 42 percent are. In 1989, 66 percent of freshmen believed abortion should be legal; today, only 54 percent do. In 1995, 66 percent of kids agreed that wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes; now it's down to 50 percent. Even on the issue of firearms, where students have traditionally favored stiffer controls, there has been a weakening in support for gun laws. ''We're at a record low on this item,'' says the U.C.L.A. Institute's associate director, Linda Sax, an associate professor of education at U.C.L.A. ''We've seen a decline over the last four consecutive years.''

Yet according to Sax, this conservative trend on issues does not necessarily mean that students call themselves right-wingers, or even Republicans. ''Students' opinions of particular issues are not always in line with their own self-placement on an ideological spectrum,'' she says.

Still searching for their identities, many of these kids are not yet prepared to declare a particular political affiliation. This is where the conservative campus activists come in. Having recognized the importance of conservativism to their own lives, they have committed themselves to the task of bringing out the unacknowledged conservatism in other students. The mission of today's activists involves less an act of persuading their peers to accept an ideology than in awakening them to the fact that they already embody it.

One of the more interesting effects of this--though I only know of this anecdotally, and statistics may not bear it out--is the flight from the humanities into the sciences on campus. Departments like English and History are so rotten with leftovers 60s types that students find it easier just to not take the courses they teach and instead opt for courses of study that are less politicized and unradicalized.

May 24, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 PM

F-TROOP BACK TO NORMAL

Buoyed by Resurgence, G.O.P. Strives for an Era of Dominance (ADAM CLYMER, May 25, 2003, NY Times)
The Republican Party's dream of becoming the dominant party was on full display the other day at the Ottawa County Lincoln Day dinner here. Although George W. Bush lost Michigan in 2000 and the state elected a Democratic governor last November, the national and state party officials heaping roast beef and chicken onto their plates at the local fish and game club were buoyantly predicting they would take the state in 2004.

The attorney general of Michigan, Mike Cox, elected in 2002 by 5,200 votes after carrying Ottawa County by 40,712, said President Bush could count on a "grass roots army of the people who got me in office."

Jack Oliver, deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the county exemplified the Republican Party's renewed focus on "putting people back to work in politics, going door to door, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor."

With the Congress thinly divided along partisan lines, another presidential election taking shape and the rules of campaign finance in legal limbo, the two national political parties are at crucial turning points.

Republicans are the most encouraged. Party officials around the country, convinced that this may be their moment, are raising the prospect of an era of Republican dominance.

Republicans already hold the White House, expect to continue to control the House of Representatives and have a majority in the Senate. For the first time in 50 years, a majority of state legislators are Republicans. Almost as many Americans (30 percent) call themselves Republicans as call themselves Democrats (32 percent), the narrowest gap since pollsters began measuring party identification in the 1940's.

But Republicans are not stopping there. In Michigan, as well as in other large industrial states that Mr. Bush lost, the Republican Party, nationally and at the state level, is making big investments in building new grass roots operations that its leaders contend will pay huge dividends in the next election--and put the party in an even more commanding position.

One of the architects of Republican growth, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, summed up where his party stands. "We are at parity right now," he said, "with a slight edge and good prospects."

It's easy to loose track of just how good a week President Bush--and therefore the party he leads--had last week. Just suppose that at the end of last year, someone had told you that by Memorial Day 2003: the UN would lift sanctions on a now US-run Iraq; another major tax cut would have passed; Ariel Sharon and America's hand-picked leader of Palestine would have signed on to a Bush peace plan for the Middle East; and, just to ice the cake, Congress would fund the most significant public health effort in Africa's history, a pet project of the President's. You'd have thought they were nuts.

Mr. Bush just keeps rolling the dice and winning and when he falls behind he doubles his bet and rolls again. Streaks like that tend to run out sooner or later, but they must be sweet when you're on them. If this one lasts until November '04--and at this point all it would require is a reasonable economic recovery and no terrorist attacks on US soil--the next election could reshape our politics for a couple generations, returning the country to what is arguably a natural Republican dominance after a long period of Depression-induced liberal experimentation and failure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 PM

60-40 VISION

Why Tom Daschle may not run again (Albert Eisele, 4/09/03, The Hill)
If what I read in my own newspaper is right, and it usually is, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) better get ready to face a stiff challenge from former Rep. John Thune next year.

Thune, who was the handpicked choice of President Bush--and?Karl Rove--to knock off Daschle?s junior Democratic colleague, Sen. Tim Johnson, last year, but fell 524 votes short, is apparently gearing up to try again, this time against the state?s most popular politician.

It?s a tall order. Beating Daschle is as daunting as rappelling up the face of Mount Rushmore. Even if Bush were to buy a ranch in the Black Hills and spend every weekend there, I wouldn?t bet against Daschle. I?ve traveled around the state with him, and even Republicans are proud that he was their state?s first Senate majority leader and could be that again.

Aye, but that?s the rub. I?m not convinced Daschle is going to run, and I?ll tell you why. There are several reasons, the first of which is that Democrats aren?t likely to recapture control of the Senate next year...

This may all come down to how serious the candidates are that the GOP recruits to run against Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, & Blanche Lincoln.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM

DOMINIQUE THE VILE

European allies refuse to cut ties with Arafat (Nicholas Kralev, May 24, 2003, The Washington Times)
America's European allies yesterday rejected a call from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to sever ties with Yasser Arafat, the beleaguered Palestinian leader, even as U.S. officials accused him of "undercutting" his new prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who met with Mr. Powell during the annual meeting of top diplomats from the Group of Eight ? the seven most industrialized countries and Russia ? said he would visit Mr. Arafat when he goes to the Middle East early next week.

That strikes us as an opportune moment to launch a missile attack on Mr. Arafat--two birds with one stone so to speak...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM

THE GULF BETWEEN PERCEPTION & REALITY

Official: Gulf Syndrome 'is a myth' (Colin Brown, 25/05/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Gulf War Syndrome does not exist, an official scientific report has concluded.

The Medical Research Council study found "little evidence" that multiple vaccinations were the cause of Gulf veterans' illnesses and declared: "There is no unique Gulf War Syndrome."

The report reviewed all scientific research into the condition and found no evidence of a link between the illnesses and the use of depleted uranium shells or nerve agents. [...]

Lewis Moonie, the Armed Forces minister with responsibility for Gulf veterans, said: "This review shows there is no case to justify a separate Gulf War Syndrome." He said it would not save the MoD money as veterans were paid according to their disabilities.

The report by the council - a government group which promotes research into all areas of medical and related science--said that symptoms were similar despite different exposures to vaccination, nerve agents, oil fire smoke and other potential hazards.

It added: "In short, there is no evidence from UK or international research for a single syndrome related specifically to service in the Gulf."

The symptoms - tiredness, headaches, lack of concentration, memory loss and numbness or weakness in the arms and legs - were also seen in other studies of non-Gulf veterans, scientists said.

"The only common Gulf conflict-related experiences seem to involve ill veterans' perception of their health."

Of course much of the problem lies in the way the media and Left politticians, who opposed the war for political reasons, feed the story in order in order to discredit the policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM

THE HEAVENLY ARCHIVES

Farewell, My Lovely! (Lee Strout White, 1936-05-16, The New Yorker)
I see by the new Sears Roebuck catalogue that it is still possible to buy an axle for a 1909 Model T Ford, but I am not deceived. The great days have faded, the end is in sight. Only one page in the current catalogue is devoted to parts and accessories for the Model T; yet everyone remembers springtimes when the Ford gadget section was larger than men's clothing, almost as large as household furnishings. The last Model T was built in 1927, and the car is fading from what scholars call the American scene-which is an understatement, because to a few million people who grew up with it, the old Ford practically was the American scene.

It was the miracle God had wrought. And it was patently the sort of thing that could only happen once. Mechanically uncanny, it was like nothing that had ever come to the world before. Flourishing industries rose and fell with it. As a vehicle, it was hard-working, commonplace, heroic; and it often seemed to transmit those qualities to the persons who rode in it. My own generation identifies it with Youth, with its gaudy, irretrievable excitements; before it fades into the mist, I would like to pay it the tribute of the sigh that is not a sob, and set down random entries in a shape somewhat less cumbersome than a Sears Roebuck catalogue.

The Model T was distinguished from all other makes of cars by the fact that its transmission was of a type known as planetary-which was half metaphysics, half sheer friction. Engineers accepted the word "planetary" in its epicyclic sense, but I was always conscious that it also meant "wandering," "erratic." Because of the peculiar nature of this planetary element, there was always, in Model T, a certain dull rapport between engine and wheels, and even when the car was in a state known as neutral, it trembled with a deep imperative and tended to inch forward. There was never a moment when the bands were not faintly egging the machine on. In this respect it was like a horse, rolling the bit on its tongue, and country people brought to it the same technique they used with draft animals. Its most remarkable quality was its rate of acceleration. In its palmy days the Model T could take off faster than anything on the road. The reason was simple. To get under way, you simply hooked the third finger of the right hand around a lever on the steering column, pulled down hard, and shoved your left foot forcibly against the low-speed pedal. These were simple, positive motions; the car responded by lunging forward with a roar. After a few seconds of this turmoil, you took your toe off the pedal, eased up a mite on the throttle, and the car, possessed of only two forward speeds, catapulted directly into high with a series of ugly jerks and was off on its glorious errand. The abruptness of this departure was never equalled in other cars of the period. The human leg was (and still is) incapable of letting in a clutch with anything like the forthright abandon that used to send Model T on its way. Letting in a clutch is a negative, hesitant motion, depending on delicate nervous control; pushing down the Ford pedal was a simple, country motion-an expansive act, which came as natural as kicking an old door to make it budge.

The driver of the old Model T was a man enthroned. The car, with top up, stood seven feet high. The driver sat on top of the gas tank, brooding it with his own body. When he wanted gasoline, he alighted, along with everything else in the front seat; the seat was pulled off, the metal cap unscrewed, and a wooden stick thrust down to sound the liquid in the well. There were always a couple of these sounding sticks kicking around in the ratty sub-cushion regions of a flivver. Refuelling was more of a social function then, because the driver had to unbend, whether he wanted to or not. Directly in front of the driver was the windshield-high, uncompromisingly erect. Nobody talked about air resistance, and the four cylinders pushed the car through the atmosphere with a simple disregard of physical law.

There was this about a Model T: the purchaser never regarded his purchase as a complete, finished product. When you bought a Ford, you figured you had a start-a vibrant, spirited framework to which could be screwed an almost limitless assortment of decorative and functional hardware. Driving away from the agency, hugging the new wheel between your knees, you were already full of creative worry. A Ford was born naked as a baby, and a flourishing industry grew up out of correcting its rare deficiencies and combatting its fascinating diseases. Those were the great days of lily-painting. I have been looking at some old Sears Roebuck catalogues, and they bring everything back so clear.

As this semi-pseudonymous essay by the great E. B. White and the one below by his step-son (?) Roger Angell demonstrate, if the New Yorker were to put its archives on-line there would really be no other reason to visit any other website. Here's a nice story about Mr. White by one of the few of our generation who's a worthy heir.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:26 PM

ARAFAT MUST DIE

Jews are the victims. Abbas is the target (Neill Lochery, May 24, 2003, National Post)
The clear message of the suicide bombers who struck Israel this past week is that there will be no deal on Israeli-Palestinian peace without Yasser Arafat's participation. Israel and the United States have tried to push Mr. Arafat into irrelevance, and prefer to deal directly with newly appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Mahmoud Abbas. But Arafat, the PA Chairman, has retained control of much of the Palestinian security apparatus. And as the power struggle between Arafat and Abbas develops, there is increasing evidence that the radical Islamic group Hamas and elements of Arafat's own Fatah movement are co-ordinating their attacks on Israel. Indeed, the funding and infrastructure of the radical secular and Islamic groups appears not to be as separate as was previously presumed.

Once sworn enemies, Arafat and Hamas have found common ground as they both struggle to remain relevant in Palestinian society. While Arafat has been weakened by his international isolation, Hamas is threatened both by Israel's assassination of its key leaders, and by George W. Bush's war on terror, which has reduced the flow of funding from wealthy Saudi donors.

As the lines of Palestinian politics are redrawn, both Arafat and Hamas need to remind the world that they still command popular support among key segments of the Palestinian population. Thus, though both groups say they are fighting for a Palestinian state, they will both do everything in their power to prevent Mahmoud Abbas from securing one.

Yasir Arafat should have been killed thirty years ago, when it could have been done in immediate retaliation for one of his own terrorist acts. But there's no statute of limitations and he now stands in the way of a resolution--however unsatisfactory to either side or both--to the Palestinian question. Kill him. Or, if it would make folks feel less queasy, arrest him, bring him here, try him, then kill him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:19 PM

HELL IN A VERY SMALL PLACE

Belgium's general election: A model for Europe?: Belgium's peculiar system of national politics is failing to heal ethnic divisions or to stem the rise of the xenophobic far-right (The Economist, May 22nd 2003)
The delegates arguing for the existence of a European demos might be a little less confident if they read the local newspapers in Belgium. Forget about Europe; there is still no Belgian demos. Linguistic divisions have proved too powerful to create a single political culture even in a small country of 10m people-a fact demonstrated once again by the Belgian elections of May 18th. Indeed, the very term "Belgian election" is misleading. Two elections were held on the same day in the country called Belgium, featuring different parties and leaders, depending on whether the vote was taking place in Dutch-speaking Flanders or French-speaking Wallonia.

In the Flemish election the Liberal party led by Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian prime minister, won a narrow victory ahead of the Flemish socialists, Christian Democrats and the far-right Vlaams Blok. In the francophone elections the francophone Socialists emerged as the biggest party, just ahead of the francophone Liberals. The only genuinely common theme was the Greens' collapse-in both Flanders and Wallonia.

Belgian politics now requires the various political parties to form a governing coalition. An unstated requirement is that the prime minister almost certainly has to be Flemish, given that 60% of the population are Dutch-speaking. No Walloon has got the top job since the 1970s. So it is all but certain that Mr Verhofstadt will continue as prime minister, probably at the head of a four-party coalition of Liberals and Socialists.

A second term in office will let the boyish 50-year-old prime minister start working on his image as a European elder statesman, perhaps with a view to landing a top job in the European Union.
But further years of a Verhofstadt government will also underline the extent to which politicians are hamstrung by the consensual coalition-building ways of Belgian politics.

When Mr Verhofstadt first emerged on the national scene, he was a vigorous and unusual proponent of economic liberalism. He was even nicknamed "Baby Thatcher". Yet, though his political origins place him on the centre-right, the need to form a coalition with the Socialists means that he has had to govern from the centre-left. The early Verhofstadt who spoke of privatisation and the need to encourage entrepreneurs has given way to a prime minister who flirts with the anti-globalisation movement and whose liberalism is largely expressed through social legislation, such as the legalisation of gay marriage and euthanasia.

Remind us again about the culture we share with Europe...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:42 PM

60-40 VISION FILES

Poll: N.C. not enamored of Edwards (JOHN WAGNER, 5/24/03, News & Observer)
If the 2004 election were today, President Bush would prevail over Edwards in his own state, 57 percent to 39 percent, according to a new poll commissioned by The News & Observer. The margin is virtually unchanged since January, when Edwards announced his intention to seek the White House.

Five months into the race, more North Carolinians still disapprove of Edwards' running for president than those who favor his bid. The latest poll, conducted Sunday through Wednesday, found 51 percent disapprove while 45 percent approve.

"He's just not doing anything to make North Carolinians fall in love with him at this point,'' said Del Ali, president of Research 2000 of Rockville, Md., which conducted the poll for The N&O.

The poll also found that support for Edwards' Senate re-election has slipped in recent months. Edwards has not said what he plans to do about his Senate seat, which is on the ballot in 2004. But if he were to run, the poll found that 32 percent would vote to re-elect Edwards, while 33 percent would consider voting for another candidate and 35 percent plan to vote to replace him.

The percentage who would vote to re-elect Edwards has dropped 7 points since January, while the percentage of those who would consider voting for another candidate has jumped 8 points in the same period. The percentage who plan to replace him also has climbed by 3 points.

In a hypothetical matchup with U.S. Rep. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican seeking the GOP's Senate nomination, Edwards would prevail, however, 47 percent to 36 percent, according to the poll. Seventeen percent remain undecided.

Burr said he was "delighted'' with the numbers, given how much better known Edwards is across North Carolina right now.

"Anytime you see the incumbent below 50 percent, you know there's a vulnerability,'' said Burr, whose candidacy is being pushed by the White House.

It's a new concept: Mr. Edwards is running as a least-favorite son.

MORE:
Hollings plans to run again (RAJU CHEBIUM, May 23, 2003, GANNETT NEWS SERVICE)
Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings said Friday he plans to seek a seventh term in November 2004 but acknowledged that his wife isn't too keen on the idea.

"I'd like to beat the hell out of the Republicans," the South Carolina Democrat said in an interview with Gannett News Service. "Right now, I'm scheduled to (run). But my wife - I've got some personal considerations. After seven races, come on. She doesn't want to go for an eighth time right this minute. We're arguing about it. We'll see what happens."

Hollings, 81, was South Carolina governor from 1958-1962 and has been U.S. Senator since 1967. He also served in the state House.

Earlier this week, he gave the go-ahead to the state Democratic Party to look for other candidates, fueling speculation that he's getting ready to retire. Rep. Jim DeMint, R-Greenville, has said he will seek the Republican nomination for the Senate.

One of the problems for Mr. Hollings is the example of Strom Thurmond, who, no matter how beloved, was an embarrassment by the end of his too-long career in the Senate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:36 PM

LEAVING FANTASY ISLAND

New York publishers shift right in a drive for readers (Hillel Italie, 5/21/2003, Associated Press)
The operators of the Book-of-the-Month Club announced yesterday that they are forming a new club, as yet unnamed, devoted to works with a conservative point of view. Within the past month, Penguin Putnam and the Crown Publishing Group have started branches with a conservative bent.

''We don't think we've done enough in this area. We have featured conservative authors like Bill Bennett, but we've never presented them in a coherent way,'' says Mel Parker, senior vice president and editorial director of Bookspan, which runs the Book-of-the-Month Club and several other clubs.

Bookspan is co-owned by Bertelsmann AG and AOL Time Warner Inc., and its new club is scheduled to begin operations by early next year. Brad Miner, a former literary editor with the conservative National Review, will serve as editor.

Miner should have plenty of material. Penguin and Crown (a division of Random House Inc.) plan to publish about 15 books a year, each with conservative readers in mind. Regnery Publishing, a conservative press based in Washington, D.C., puts out 25 to 30 titles a year.

If you want to understand this phenomenon, here's all you have to do: read just about any liberal best-seller from the 50s/60s and a conservative text written around the same time. Even for a conservative it is shocking to see how badly the Left's ideas fared and how timeless the Right's have proven. President Bush could practically run his next campaign on the platform Barry Goldwater enunciated in Conscience of a Conservative while even the Communist Chinese no longer believe in the worldview that John Kenneth Galbraith laid out in The Affluent Society. The literature of the Left has been sideswiped by reality.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:22 PM

OUR GANG

Osama & gang hit hard times (OWEN MORITZ, May 24th, 2003, New York Daily News)
Terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden, whose personal fortune was once pegged at $300 million, is nearly broke, and his dwindling army of Al Qaeda operatives are strapped for cash, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Bin Laden squandered his fortune years before he masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the magazine said, citing an intelligence windfall.

Instead, Al Qaeda's finances have been built on a foundation of charities, mosques, fund-raisers and businesses, most with Saudi connections, according to the magazine. [...]

The United States' relentless anti-terrorism campaign has turned up a trove of secret Al Qaeda documents, led to the assassination and capture of Bin Laden's key lieutenants and exposed his operation as less than sophisticated.

The organization's computer files are rarely encrypted, the magazine said, and when they, are U.S. officials have broken the codes easily. Phone calls are rarely encrypted.

"They continue to make basic tradecraft mistakes," said one official. "And one of them is you never talk over the phone."

There's an understandable desire, in the wake of 9-11, to believe that these folks are evil geniuses, but in truth they are not now and never were a realistic threat to the United States. They are a lethal annoyance, one we should deal with ruthlessly, but not inflate to the point where we terrorize ourselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM

AN AXIOMATIC TO GRIND

Character Witness (Peter Beinart, 05.22.03, New Republic)
To conservatives, the Bush administration is everything its predecessor was not: decent, ethical, honest. It doesn't abuse government power or the public trust. As Wall Street Journal columnist and presidential hagiographer Peggy Noonan has put it, "Bush brings character to the table."

That's the claim. Here's the record over the last eight months:

TEXAS
Since at least the 1960s, congressional redistricting has been governed by a simple rule: It occurs once per decade, following the national census. (The exception being when courts invalidate a state's redistricting plan, thus requiring a second one.) Usually, then, states draw the maps. But, when they cannot do so in a timely fashion, the Supreme Court has stated that judges may draw them themselves.

That's what happened in Texas in 2001. The state legislature deadlocked, so a three-judge panel drew new U.S. House districts. In November 2002, voters elected candidates in those new districts, and everyone assumed that would be that.

But those same elections handed the GOP control of both houses of the state legislature. And so Texas GOP boss and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay did something unprecedented: He redrew the map to create four more Republican seats. Republicans rushed the new plan through the state legislature until desperate Democratic legislators fled the state, thus preventing a quorum.

FILIBUSTER
Throughout the Senate's history, its members have been able to block legislation through endless debate, or filibuster. Under Bill Clinton, Republicans filibustered the 1993 economic stimulus plan, campaign finance reform, and higher cigarette taxes. Now the Bush administration is upset that Democrats are filibustering two of its judicial nominees. So Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has called for eliminating the filibuster as we know it. Breaking a filibuster requires 60 votes, but Frist proposes changing that so 60 are required only on the initial filibuster vote; subsequent votes would require 57, then 54, then 51. The filibuster, in other words, could be broken with a simple majority--rendering the device virtually useless. Frist has also threatened to employ a rare parliamentary maneuver to ban filibusters on judicial nominees altogether. Had the Clinton administration tried that during the GOP's (far more frequent) filibustering in the 1990s, I suspect conservatives might have said something about abuse of executive power. Today, they seem unconcerned.

IRAQ
Once upon a time, conservatives thought presidential duplicity was a grave offense. Not anymore. On October 7, 2002, President Bush declared in a nationally televised speech that "Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States." That was a functional lie. Iraq's drones, the Bush administration later admitted, had a maximum range of several hundred miles. They could reach the United States only if flown from a warship stationed off America's coast (a virtually impossible scenario given Iraq's almost nonexistent navy). [...]

These stories of Bush administration dishonesty and abuse have not been denied in the conservative press as much as they have been ignored. In researching this column, I could not find a single substantive defense of Bush's UAV claim, or his filibuster plan, or his uranium allegation, in any elite conservative publication. Fred Barnes last week defended the Texas redistricting plan in The Weekly Standard but, incredibly, never acknowledged the key issue: that states traditionally limit themselves to one redistricting per decade. For conservatives, it seems, this administration's decency and honesty are ideological axioms that require no empirical defense. President Bush is not President Clinton. That's all they need to know.

Mr. Beinart seems to believe in the principle of--if you'll excuse the expression---once screwed, screwed for good. If his column cited George W. Bush's signing of the Campaign Finance Reform bill, which the President himself said violates the First Amendment, we'd agree that's an abuse of power. The examples he chooses instead represent not genuine abuses of power but mere politics and despite his implicating Mr. Bush in them, it's not clear what role, if any, he's played in a couple. To begin with, the Texas redistricting of 1991 rather notoriously shortchanged Republicans. Then, as he notes, the two parties deadlocked in 2001 so the courts drew up the new districts. What he fails to mention is that the court used the '91 districts as its starting point, thereby once again giving the Democrats greater representation than the votes of Texans would warrant. Now the GOP has sufficient control of the legislature--despite these anti-democratic Democratic shennanigans--and they're getting a little revenge. Boo hoo! Did the New Republic complain about the "abuse" by the Texas Democrats in '91?

As to the filibuster, this is merely a Senate rule. The majority in the Senate may change the rule because the minority is "abusing" it. It's not clear, nor does Mr. Beinart make any effort to demonstrate, that this is a White House initiative. Even if it is, it will require a Senate vote. How would encouraging people to vote on an issue constitute abuse of power?

We'll almost give him Iraq. President Bush may well have over-stated the threat from Iraq, though on the specific issue of a UAV, why couldn't it be shipped to and assembled here? But he also never rested the case for war solely on the threat that Saddam himself posed, but also on the possibility that he might supply weapons to terrorists. If Mr. Beinart is conceding that the UAV program was real, he would also have to acknowledge at least the possibility that once operational they could have been used by terrorists against targets either in the United States or against Americans in the Middle East, right? Oh dear, has Mr. Beinart abused the public trust by not acknowledging this possibility?

At any rate, if these three are the best examples he can muster of President Bush's indecency, dishonesty, and "abuse" of power, that's pretty pitiful. That he also thinks conservatives should be up in arms about this pifflery is absurd. The first two examples in particular are nothing more than cases of the GOP getting back at Democrats for their own "abuses"--welcome to politics, pally.

Now, if Mr. Bush should mire himself in a Watergate or Iran-Contra scandal, Republicans will be right there helping to investigate, just as they did in those cases, in marked contrast to the way Democrats obfuscated the many Clinton scandals. But until something serious comes along, we'll leave the nit-picking to the Beinarts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 AM

SOMETHING SMELLS VICHY

Intelligence team finds French passports in Iraq (Bill Gertz, 5/24/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
A U.S. military intelligence team in Iraq has uncovered a dozen French passports, and defense officials believe other French passports from the same batch were used by Iraqis to flee the country.

Defense officials are still investigating whether the passports were provided covertly by the French government, or were stolen or forged by Saddam Hussein's regime, said defense officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A State Department official said the French provision of passports to the Iraqis was like "Raoul Wallenberg in reverse" - a reference to the Swedish diplomat who helped Jews escape Nazi Germany during World War II.

The comparison is even more apt when you consider they acted as reverse-Wallenbergs in WWII also--trading French Jews for chocolate and nylons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM

THE UNKINDEST CUT

Sorenstam misses cut by 4 strokes (JOEL BOYD, May 24, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
With her ball-striking not as sharp as it was in a first-round 71, Sorenstam put pressure on her short game, considered her weakness. It came through early, with sand saves on Nos. 1 and 3, but as the day wore on, she repeatedly left chips and putts well short of the hole.

After sticking a 9-iron to seven feet on No. 2 for her lone birdie, Sorenstam bogeyed No. 5 after her drive caught a tree limb, added another at No. 6 after a poor chip and three-putted Nos. 8, 10 and 12. She righted the ship on the last six holes, parring in for a 36-hole total of 5-over 145.

That left her tied for 96th and ahead of only 11 of the 111 players who finished 36 holes. Still, that group included Bob Estes, ranked 16th in the world, and former PGA Championship winner Mark Brooks. [...]

She also won over some of her harshest critics, her fellow competitors.

''Some of the guys who have said less positive things have come up and told me they were proud of me,'' Sorenstam said. ''Most of the guys have been very supportive. I couldn't have asked for a better reception.''

The fallout from Sorenstam's performance might be less positive. Critics are likely to point to her position in the field and say her shortcomings were exposed over 36 holes.

At least one player hopes that doesn't happen. Dan Forsman, tied for the second-round lead with Kenny Perry at 8-under 132, said the top-ranked LPGA player should be allowed to play as many tournaments as she wants.

''I guess some of the guys will say, 'I told you so,' and others will say she had a heck of tournament,'' Forsman said. ''Others will say she's nothing but class, and frankly I'm in that camp.

''It's clear there is a gap. But what I'd hate to see happen is people be so critical of this to where they make these girls feel like it's ridiculous. Because I don't think it is.''

Neither does Pia Nilsson, Sorenstam's former coach and mentor. Nilsson disputed the idea that Sorenstam's score showed women don't belong on the PGA Tour.

''Some may think so,'' Nilsson said. ''But this proves women's golf, when it's the best in the world, is played at a very high level.''

Though we predictably think it's one short step from here to cats and dogs sleeping together, we'd not have a big problem with her playing in Men's Tournaments so long as she goes to Q-School and wins a tour card. What's most objectionable is allowing women athletes to play in events they are not qualified to compete in.

Meanwhile though, the coverage of her effort seems terribly patronizing. She is a more dominant player on her tour than Tiger is on his, winning 11 women's events last year. She hand-picked a tournament she thought she could perform well in and played as well as she's capable of on Thursday, not as well on Friday. Yet she still missed the cut and would have if it had been made on Thursday night. Regardless of what one thinks of the propriety of the event, it demonstrated rather conclusively that the divide between the sexes, at least as regards professional golf, is gaping. As Tom Boswell predicted earlier in the week, it would appear that best female golfer in the world--maybe the best ever--is roughly as good as the 100th best player among the men.

That does not mean we shouldn't admire her courage and the way she handled herself this week--she seemed every inch a lady--but it does mean that all the talk about how she "proved" something is mere hyperbole.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 AM

WHY DON'T WE GET DRUNK AND SUE

Celts claim to be oppressed by Ireland and its alcohol (Steven Edwards, May 24, 2003, National Post)
Indigenous leaders from around the world were left scratching their heads yesterday after the UN included Celts from Ireland in a conference aimed at promoting native rights.

Though Celtic blood flows in the veins of the vast majority of Ireland's citizens, activists from an Irish group called Retrieve Foundation took the podium to say that Celts, as an "oppressed people," should be acknowledged under the UN's Indigenous Charter.

In particular, the group says drugs and alcohol were used to keep the Celts down.

The Indigenous Charter is principally meant to promote the rights of such clearly definable indigenous peoples as Canada's First Nations or Australia's Aborigines.

It is also extended to distinctive groups such as the Pygmies in central Africa, the Saami (formerly Laplanders) in Scandinavia and various indigenous groups throughout Asia.

Speaking for Retrieve Foundation, Margaret Connolly said the Irish government had "neglected" Celts, who, for "2,000 years, had been forced to adapt to a culture that was foreign to them."

She said "drugs and alcohol were the tools of an oppressive society" and that "too many young Celts were on drugs and alcohol." [...]

But despite Ireland's history as a colony of Britain, its people in both the north and the south remain predominantly Celtic.

In the Republic, the first official language is the Celtic tongue of Irish. Even the Prime Minister is called the Taoiseach.

Willie Littlechild, a Cree from Canada who was among 1,800 delegates representing about 500 indigenous groups at the conference, said it was sometimes difficult to know who could be classed as indigenous.

"People from China once told me they were all indigenous, so I welcomed all two billion of them," he quipped.

It's just one big gathering of people we're proud to have oppressed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:38 AM

AND WRITES LIKE ONE

The Old Folks Behind Home (Roger Angell, Spring 1962, The New Yorker)
Sarasota, March 21

Watching the White Sox work out this morning at Payne Park reassured me that baseball is, after all, still a young man's sport and a cheerful one. Coach Don Gutteridge broke up the early pepper games with a cry
of "Ever'body 'round!" and after the squad had circled the field once, the ritual-the same one that is practiced on every high-school, college, and professional ballfield in the country-began. Batters in the cage bunted one, hit five or six, and made room for the next man. Pitchers hit fungoes to the outfielders, coaches on the first and third baselines knocked out grounders to the infield, pepper games went on behind the cage, and the bright air was full of baseballs, shouts, whistles, and easy laughter. There was a raucous hoot from the players around second when a grounder hopped over Esposito's glove and hit him in the belly. Two young boys with fielders' gloves had joined the squad in the outfield, and I saw Floyd Robinson gravely shake hands with them both. Anyone can come to watch practice here, and fans from nearby hotels and cottages wandered in after their breakfasts, in twos and threes, and slowly clambered up into the empty bleachers, where they assumed the easy, ceremonial attitude-feet up on the row in front, elbows on knees, chin in hands. There were perhaps two dozen of us in the stands, and what kept us there, what nailed us to our seats for a sweet, boring hour or more, was not just the whop! of bats, the climbing white arcs of outfield flies, and the swift flight of the ball whipped around the infield, but something more painful and just as obvious-the knowledge that we had never made it. We would never know the rich joke that doubled over three young pitchers in front of the dugout; we would never be part of that golden company on the field, which each of us, certainly for one moment of his life, had wanted more than anything else in the world to join.

The Cardinals, who have been having a fine spring, were the visitors this afternoon, and their high spirits infected everyone. Minnie Minoso, grinning extravagantly, exchanged insults with his former White Sox teammates, and Larry Jackson, the big Cardinal right-hander, laughed out loud on the mound when he got Joe Cunningham, who was his teammate last year, to miss badly on a big curve in the first inning. Stan Musial had the day off, and Al Lopez, the Sox' manager, had filled his lineup with rookies. My eye was caught by the Chicago shortstop, a kid named Al Weis, who is not on the team's regular roster but who was having a nifty day in the field. He started double plays in the first and second innings, and in the third he made a good throw from deep short to get Jackson, and then robbed Gotay with a diving spear of a low liner. At the plate, though, he was nervous and uncertain, anxious to succeed in this one short-and, to him, terribly important-afternoon. He struck out in the first inning and again in the second, stranding two base-runners.

At about this time, I began to pick up a dialogue from the seats directly behind me-a flat, murmurous, continuous exchange in Middle Western accents between two elderly men.

"Look at the skin on my hands, how dry it is," said one.

"You do anything for it?" asked the other.

"Yes, I got some stuff the doctor gave me-just a little tube of something. It don't help much."

I stole a look at them. They were both in their seventies, at least. Both were sitting back comfortably, their arms folded across their stomachs.

"Watch that ball," said the first. "Is that fair?"

"No, it's foul. You know, I haven't seen a homer this year."

"Me neither."

"Maybe Musial will hit one here tomorrow."

The White Sox, down one run after the first inning, could do nothing with Jackson. Weis struck out again in the fifth, made a wild throw to first in the sixth, and then immediately redeemed himself with another fast
double play. The voices went on.

"This wind melts your ice cream fast, don't it?"

"Yes, it does. It feels nice, though. Warm wind."

In the top of the eighth, with the bases loaded, Weis grabbed another line drive and doubled up the runner at second base. There were chirps from the stands.

"It don't seem any time at all since spring training last year."

"That's because we're older now. You take my grandson, he's always looking forward to something. Christmas and his birthday and things like that. That makes the time go slow for him. You and me, we just watch each day by itself."

"Yes. You know, I didn't hardly think about life at all until I was sixty-five or seventy."

"I know."

Weis led off the bottom of the eighth, and popped up to left. He started still another double play in the ninth, but his afternoon was ruined. The Cardinals won the game, 2-0.

That evening, I looked up Al Weis's record. He is twenty-two years old and was an All-Scholastic player at Farmingdale High, on Long Island. In his three years in organized baseball, he has played with Holdrege,
in the Nebraska State League; with Lincoln, in the Three-I League; and with Charleston, in the Sally League. His batting averages in those years-.275, .231, .261-tell the story: good field, no hit. Time has run out for him this spring, and it must seem to him that it went too quickly. Next week, he will report to the White Sox farm camp in Hollywood, Florida, for another year in the minors.

Depending on which you read something by last, either he or Red Smith is the best baseball writer ever.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 AM

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS (DYING)

Review: of Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State by David Satter: Russia's darkness rising (Martin Sieff, 5/23/2003, UPI)
Something -- in fact, a lots of things -- went terribly wrong during the early 1990s transition of Russia from State Communism to a supposed free market economy. Many others detailed the problems of transition in detail as they were happening, but Satter maps the contours of the debris that was left.

Without any stable legal structure governing the owning and trading of property and wealth or the regulation of business transactions in the decade after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russian society became totally criminalized, not merely in its day-to-day dealings but in the widespread existential consciousness of its people. Russia's newly emergent oligarchs have often been nicknamed "Robber Barons" after the Gilded Age plutocrats of late 19th-century industrial America, but the term is a misnomer in all too many ways. Industrial titans like John D. Rockefeller in oil and Andrew Carnegie in steel built huge business empires and acquired enormous power. But they did so within an ordered society, built tremendous industrial infrastructures that generated wealth for generations after them, and felt obligations towards it. Rockefeller and Carnegie, like the Ford family after them donated hundreds of millions of dollars to enormous, organized philanthropies that immeasurably boosted education, health and culture, first across the United States and then across the wider world. The Robber Barons of President Boris Yeltsin's Russia really were that. They created an industrial and socio-economic desolation and called it peace. [...]

Things have stabilized, and somewhat improved since President Vladimir Putin succeeded Yeltsin. But the criminalized, rapacious super-oligarchs, those billionaire modern barons, retain control of the Commanding Heights of the Russian economy.

Beneath them, a society of 145 million people stretching across almost one-seventh of the land surface of the planet remain mired in poverty, despair and a moral squalor even more devastating than their physical one. Russia's population continues to implode with soaring death rates and plummeting birth rates. The underlying reason for this, far more than the collapse of living standards in the 1990s was, Satter concludes, that most of those people had lost all hope. They now despaired of things ever getting better. [...]

There is still time for Russia to stabilize and for those who wish her well to support the constructive forces for good within her. But most of the promise has been squandered, and the Hobbesian nightmare of a society of chaos, red in tooth and claw, remains the dominant reality today.

Western policy-makers, especially in Washington, would do well to study these pages and to ponder the teachings of the great Russian religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev with which Satter closes this important, troubling book: "In the soul of the Russian people there should appear ... a transfiguring and creative beginning." Only then, "the creative instincts will defeat the rapacious ones."

We harbored great hope for Vladimir Putin when he took power, believing that he might be precisely what many feared, an authoritarian. What Russia needs right now is not freedom but order and it is likely the case that only an authoritarian, even a fairly brutal one, can re-establish the order in which a future freedom would flourish. Russell Kirk put the matter typically well: "The good society is marked by a high degree of order, justice, and freedom. Among these, order has primacy: for justice cannot be enforced until a tolerable civil social order is attained, nor can freedom be anything better than violence until order gives us laws."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 AM

FROM LILLY PADS TO KNEE PADS

Irrelevant France: Cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Cowboy jingos? It's time for America and France to cut the sniping (Christopher Dickey and Tracy Mcnicoll, 5/26/03, NEWSWEEK)
Marc Llong feels penitential. Waiting to board his flight to New York, the gray-haired French retiree leafs through Le Parisien, a working-class tabloid that's full of headlines about transatlantic tensions. "We were so bad," he says, shaking his head. The French government opposed the war in Iraq, seeming to side with the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. The Americans fought anyway, and won. If the United States and France are ever going to get along again, says Lelong, "it's up to us to make the effort."

ROSEMAY MANGIN IS also at Charles de Gaulle airport, flying to Chile where she owns a hotel and cybercafe. She, too, thinks France's behavior was "shameful." What should President Jacques Chirac do now? "Get down on his knees."

Plenty of Americans-including President George W. Bush, no doubt-would be quick to agree. Along with his Defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and other crusaders in the administration, he'd be more than willing to scourge the sinner. While Southern rednecks sport T shirts proclaiming Iraq first, then France, talk-radio revels in frog-bashing. Neocon intellectuals opine on France's impudence-or worse, its irrelevance in a modern world utterly and absolutely dominated by the U.S.A. [...]

Realistically, France's economy may be the fifth largest in the world-but it's not a fifth the size of America's. Its military may be ready and willing to deploy in Africa every so often, but the forces are puny and practically immobile when compared with the juggernaut that swept from Basra to Baghdad in three weeks. In order to even dream of balancing American power, France has to think of itself as Europe, which has a collective GDP rivaling that of the United States. But Europe, despite years of French urging, has no common foreign policy or an army of its own. Nor does it see itself as France.

Three quick thoughts:

(1) "Southern rednecks"? -- is there any other group, than white males, who a major media outlet would characterize in these kinds of terms in this day and age?

(2) Is there a more exquisite irony than the fact that in order to vindicate French nationalism, France has to surrender its sovereignty in an alliance with Germany?

(3) We mentioned earlier in the week that reexamining common knowledge can ofttimes prove fruitful. Here's a case where the authors make no attempt to question the received wisdom and their essay suffers as a result. Are France and Anglo-America really the natural allies the authors assume? Or have they actually been diverging for centuries? And is it important to America and the world that America reconcile itself with France, or might we all be better served by a recognition that French statism is antithetical to the Anglo-American ideal of freedom?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 AM

ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL

Gephardt & Co. Look to Service Sector for Coveted Union Label (Ronald Brownstein, May 19, 2003, LA Times)
With this year's Democratic field so evenly divided, the unions would play a commanding role if they could back a single candidate. But top union officials, including the president of the federation, John Sweeney, say they don't yet see evidence that any Democrat can reach the two-thirds threshold. Absent such a consensus, the unions will inevitably divide their endorsements among the candidates, diluting their influence.

Many union officials believe only one candidate even has a chance to reach the two-thirds figure: Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.). The game then for the other Democrats isn't so much to win the AFL-CIO's endorsement as it is to deny the prize to Gephardt. And in that quiet but intense struggle, the critical decisions may rest with the presidents of the federation's two largest members: Andrew Stern of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, and Gerald McEntee of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.

The two men are in such a pivotal position because of their potential to either break or solidify the stalemate emerging in the labor federation. The big industrial and building trade unions with protectionist leanings have enough strength to block an endorsement of any Democrat who supports free trade - a camp that includes all of the leading contenders except Gephardt. But those blue-collar unions, which are likely to endorse Gephardt, don't have enough members anymore to lift him on their own to the two-thirds threshold.

To get there, Gephardt will need support from some of the large service-sector unions, such as the SEIU and AFSCME, who together account for one-fifth of the federation's membership. Conversely, both to block Gephardt and to offset the help the industrial unions will provide him even if the AFL-CIO doesn't make a unified endorsement, the other candidates need support from the SEIU, AFSCME, and other service-sector unions, such as the teachers'. [...]

Half of the SEIU's 1.3 million members work in health care, and Stern said that issue has become "an all-pervasive, unifying [concern] in the union." It's not surprising, then, that the three candidates who have released plans to provide near-universal coverage top his list: Gephardt, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. "Gephardt catapulted himself back into people's vision with his health-care plan," Stern says. "And the more Dean and Kerry continue to work the issue, the more they come onto our radar screen." As for Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, he says, "They haven't found their niche." {...]

Like a railbird handicapping ponies, McEntee zips through balance sheets for all of the 2004 contenders. Dean has won some converts in the union, McEntee says, but he appears dubious that the former governor's opposition to the war in Iraq will sell in a general election. He likes Edwards' energy and skill as a campaigner, but he isn't sure such a newcomer "can take off." Lieberman's connections to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council "is not in our ballpark," but he praises the senator's toughness on national security.

McEntee is impressed with Gephardt's support among his House colleagues and believes he's been bold with his health-care plan and his strong support for the war with Iraq. But McEntee seems worried about Gephardt's viability; his early fund-raising "was a bit of a disappointment," he says. Kerry clearly appears to intrigue McEntee most. In the course of an hourlong conversation, McEntee kept returning to the senator, citing his service in Vietnam (and opposition to the war when he returned), his strong record on labor issues, the quality of his campaign staff and his ability to tap the personal fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz. The AFSCME and SEIU each has said that, after it sounds out its members, it hopes to pick a candidate by early fall.

More than any other unions, these two may decide whether the labor movement places its heaviest bet on ideological compatibility, or electability, in 2004.

This is pretty devastating for the Democrats. The key to getting their nomination is union support. Getting the support of manufacturing unions requires opposition to free trade. Getting the support of service unions requires opposition to most reform of education, government, and health care, particularly any reforms that reduce the size of government itself or that require teachers and schools to meet set standards.

If the twentieth century served any useful purpose it demonstrated the efficacy of open competition and free markets as opposed to top-down government control. Labor effectively requires that Democrats disregard this lesson and fight to maintain the status quo. Thus are Democrats become the reactionary party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 AM

. Today we received a note from his Dad

AZTEC WARRIOR

Jesus A. Suarez Del Solar Navarro

Jesus was born in the City of Tijuana B.C. Mexico on the 16 of November of 1982. He received his primary education at the public school Cuahutemoc and in the Secondary Federal # 44 of the same city of Tijuana. He emigrated to Escondido, CA in the year of 1997 where he attended San Pascual High School and graduated with honors from Valley High School of Escondido,, Ca.

He joined the Marines in the year of 2001. He left for Iraq on the 5 of February of 2003 and fell in combat the 27 of March, 2003.

FATHER'S MESSAGE

The death of my son, of my Aztec Guerrero, is not in vain, since thanks to his sacrifice, thousands of we Hispanics have been united in the pain and we have been able to unite to honor its memory, as one of so many Hispanics fallen in this war. This war could be illegal, unjust, or without justification, possibly is because the government of Bush needs cheap petrol. But what is true is the immense value and sacrifice that our children did by this cause, that selflessly fought with honor so that, within their ideals, to fight the terrorism that does so much damage to the world in general.

And ironically, this war could unleash more resentment, more hatred and more terrorism in the world, for that reason the sacrifice of my son and others is symbolic to world peace, to that with no need of so many deaths we can arrive at an understanding between the nations by pacifist means, without resorting to the violence, since this only engenders more violence and destruction.

Rest peacefully, my Aztec Warrior and the many other fallen heroes.

Fernando Suarez Del Solar

LETTER TO MY ABSENT SON

Jesus, my son.

I desire that you know how proud I am of you, as a son, brother, husband, father and as a Mexican. I feel so sad to know that no longer will I be able to hug you, kiss you and to listen to your voice, but at the same time I am happy knowing that you are in a place full of light, harmony, flowers, peace, next to El Senor. You always wanted to be a soldier, for that reason you were called Aztec Guerrero, and you died fighting, with valentia [valor?] by your own ideals, your own conviction that this war will serve so that your son and all the children of the world have a place more surely to live. I know that you were convinced that this war was necessary to free us of the terrorism that assassinates thousands every year, to thousands of innocents and you, by your great heart you did not want that this continued, but I ask son of mine. What is to become of us? Of your mother? Of your sisters? Of your wife? Of your son? Of me?. How do you think that we can live without your beautiful presence? Why, son? Why did you have to leave? Forgive me, son, but I cry to know you are absent, I cry for your valentia[?], I cry for the great pain of not having you.., which I am selfish, that my fatherly love makes want to have you by my side. But I cannot help it; there is a great, an immense pain here in my chest, a great emptiness in my heart because of your painful departure, Jesus, my baby.

I want to ask your forgiveness if I was not the best father, if I was hard with you, some times I was unjust, but always I was full of love towards you, everything was so that you were what you were, a great full man of virtues, plenty of nobility.

I know that you will realize from where you are the immense love and respect that you woke up in the world-wide community and especially in Escondido; it was something that touched the heart of your mother, the knowledge that everyone loves you and respects you for the great sacrifice which you did by this world.

Jesus, my Aztec Guerrero, I know of your pride of being Mexican and want to ask your forgiveness, but we had to accept the American nationality through you, to be able to protect to your son in the future; we know that you will understand it and will pardon us for this decision.

Jesus, thanks for being my son, and as I said in your funeral, we never buried to you, we only seeded you, so that you are the seed of a new generation of young lovers of Peace and the love in the world.

God has you at His side and fills us with love my son.

I do not take leave, it is only an "Hasta Luego". [Until Later]

Your father who adores to you.

Fernando Suarez Del Solar

Quedo de ustedes a sus apreciables ordenes.

We believe quite strongly that Mr. Suarez is wrong about the nature of the war that claimed his son's life, and that the cause was indeed worthy. But we mourn his loss and honor his service to our country and hope that his father and family find peace. He lived and died the words of John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." That the friends he gave his life for were Iraqi strangers makes his devotion to the ideal all the more extraordinary. The streets of heaven today are guarded by one more U.S. Marine.

MORE:
-Guerrero Azteca
-Base mourns "Aztec Warrior" Marine (Camp Pendleton, 4/25/03)
-Fallen Marine hailed as hero (ERIN MASSEY, 4/12/03, North County Times)
-Fallen Marine honored in Escondido (ERIN MASSEY, 4/12/03, North County Times)
-Marines last seen near Euphrates (RICK McLAUGHLIN, 3/30/03, San Bernardino County Sun-News)
-Family: Marines Keep Quiet About Son's Death: Family Hears About Son's Death From Various News Reports (San Diego Channel, April 2, 2003)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: FATHER OF FALLEN MARINE: Maria Hinojosa speaks with Fernando Suarez del Solar, father of a Marine killed in action in Iraq. (Latino USA, April 18-24, 2003)

May 23, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM

WOULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN EASIER TO JUST HAVE COMPETENT EDITORS?

Report: Times Suspends Reporter Bragg (Associated Press, May 23, 2003)
The New York Times has suspended Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Rick Bragg for two weeks, the Columbia Journalism Review reported Friday, the same day the newspaper published an editors' note about his handling of a feature story about Florida oystermen.

The note said that while Bragg wrote the June 15 article and visited the Gulf Coast town where it originated, interviewing and other reporting at the scene were done by a freelance journalist working for the newspaper. The note did not make it clear whether Bragg's editors had known the role of the freelancer at the time.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 PM

THE SHRINKING FOOTPRINT (via ef brown)

Where Has Canada Gone?: The second largest country in the world is being swallowed up by its own irrelevance. TIME investigates Canada?s disappearance (Steven Frank, May 26, 2003, TIME)
Some 50 years after Canadian troops helped win World War II and Canadian diplomats helped shape the international institutions that remade a shattered globe, Canada seems to have neither the will nor the wallet to make its mark on the world. Canadians can look back with pride at their past achievements on the world stage: the heroism at Dieppe in 1942 and on D-day in 1944, the brokering of the truce that stanched the 1956 Suez crisis, leadership in dozens of U.N. peacekeeping missions in the 1960s and ?70s. But those glory years are gone. Canada?s influence these days is more like a phantom limb: it feels to Canadians as though it?s still there, but to many observers the reality is different. The nation?s ability to extend power and influence has been hacked back to a shadow of its former self. ?We are now a marginal player in the world,? says Hugh Segal, who heads the Montreal-based think tank Institute for Research on Public Policy. ?We have a series of conceits about how important we are and about how much our views count that is completely unrelated to reality.? Christopher Sands, a senior associate at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, agrees. ?Canada?s footprint in foreign affairs is getting smaller,? he says. ?It?s an important, Western, decent country but certainly not a principal player.?

Increasingly, Canada seems to be a child hiding in tangled underbrush. You know it?s there, but you just can?t find it. One Canadian diplomat in Europe feels the country?s place in the world is diminished because Ottawa has subjugated much of its foreign policy to goals involving international trade. Arguably, doing that made some sense in the 1990s, when economic globalization was all the rage. But with the return of big geopolitical questions since Sept. 11, 2001-some of them capable of solution only by the application of military power-Canada has been found wanting. ?Canada really no longer has a force capable of doing all the traditional military tasks,? says the Canadian diplomat. The nation is shrinking even from areas where it has most often been a leader, like aid to poor countries. ?Development ministers in Europe now meet regularly to find ways to deal with growing poverty,? says a senior U.N. official. ?Canada is just no longer connected there.?

Many people don?t believe it. ?Our reputation, our capability to change things, has not diminished at all,? a senior government official tells Time. ?To the contrary, I think we are still seen as a country that people look to for advice and for ideas.? Among those ideas is the basic Canadian goal of ?trying to create a sense of social justice in the world community that involves a pluralistic system where all races and nationalities can come together,? says Foreign Minister Bill Graham. Canada?s loss of stature is relative, says Graham. ?I don?t think we?ve lost our leadership capacity just because other nations are more important than they were 50 years ago.? This, to some extent, is true. Canada?s decline in influence since 1945 is an inevitable part of the way the world has changed. Emerging powers like China and India now speak with a confident voice, while Germany and Japan have the clout that goes with their wealth. But the world?s changing dynamics explain only part of Canada?s retreat. More of it is the result of conscious policy decisions made in Ottawa.

Isn't it most likely that they've chosen to sacrifice all other expenditures and focus on their sacrosanct National Health system, leave the world stage and concentrate on themselves?

Posted by David Cohen at 8:35 PM

SOMETIMES IT'S HARD TO AVOID CONCLUDING THAT

THE WORLD IS ARRANGED FOR MY AMUSEMENT.
Analysis: Israel weighing EU membership (Martin Walker, UPI, 5/23/03) (via Best of the Web).
The visiting delegation from the European Union was startled this week when Israel Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said his government was weighing an application to join the EU.

"It doesn't mean he is preparing the dossier for applying tomorrow," an Israeli spokesman said. "In principle, the minister thinks a possibility exists for Israel to join the EU, since Israel and Europe share similar economies and democratic values." . . .

But if and when Israel does achieve a peace settlement with Syria and Lebanon and the Palestinians (it already has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan), Israeli membership could make a great deal of sense for Israel and the EU alike.
This could never happen, but if it did -- a hundred years of fun for Americans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM

PLEASE, LET IT BE A TREND...

"I'll Quit," Vows Gallo After Brown Bunny Boos (Catherine Bremer, 5/23/03, Reuters)
U.S. director Vincent Gallo is so hurt by the scathing reaction to his film "The Brown Bunny," that he has vowed to make it his last.

"I'll never make another movie again. I mean it," Gallo told Reuters, after his road movie had a disastrous reception at the Cannes film festival and he was booed at a press conference. [...]

"It is a disaster of a film and it was a waste of time. I apologize to the financiers, but it was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film," he said.

Critics guffawed openly at the screening of "The Brown Bunny," which Gallo wrote, directed, produced and starred in, and groaned at the highly graphic oral sex scene at the end.

Many found the long driving scenes interminable and monotonous and the symbolic use of a toy rabbit plain just silly.

Many more directors should follow suit.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:09 PM

)

The tribute that vice pays to virtue (Daniel Davies, 5/21/2003)
[T]he single most sensible thing said in political philosophy in the twentieth century was JK Galbraith's aphorism that the quest of conservative thought throughout the ages has been "the search for a higher moral justification for selfishness". Some rightwingers are not hypocrites because they admit that their basic moral principle is "what I have, I keep". Some rightwingers are hypocrites because they pretend that "what I have, I keep" is always and everywhere the best way to express a general unparticularised love for all sentient things.... [A]t base, the test of someone's politics is simple; if their political aim is to advance all of humanity, they're on our side, while if they have an overriding constraint that the current owners of property must always be satisfied first, they're playing for the opposition.

We don't normally comment on other bloggers, but this got my dander up, and offers a good opportunity to make an observation.

About a week ago I posted on Locke's relevance today, particularly as a counter to modern liberals such as John Rawls. Of Rawls I wrote:

Rawls assumes that people behind this veil of ignorance will choose something resembling contemporary liberalism. (I suspect, BTW, that Rawls's whole construct was motivated by a common 1970s slander of conservatives: Rawls supposes that the only reason people would choose something other than liberalism is selfishness, and if you take away their knowledge of how to be selfish effectively, then they will a fortiori choose liberalism as their politics.)

Mr. Davies regurgitates John Kenneth Galbraith's version of that "1970s slander." Old malice never dies; it only fades away, over the course of generations.

But let's take a serious look at selfishness as a driver of politic views. Mr. Davies's notion that mere respect for private property is proof of selfishness we can reject out of hand: his position would condemn, for instance, all Jews and Christians who hold as their ideal of justice Micah's vision of a time when, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks ... Every man shall sit under his own vine or under his own fig tree, undisturbed." [Micah 4: 3-4] The nerve of those people, wanting to have their own vines and trees!

What is a more reasonable indicator of selfishness? Now, it is impossible to look inside another's heart and observe his motives directly. ("I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart," Jeremiah 17:10.) But we can look at actions and choices, and judge: do this person's decisions bring benefits to himself and harm to others, or do they benefit others as much as himself? A person whose choices systematically bring material goods to himself at the expense of others is more likely to be selfish than a person whose choices systematically deliver material goods to others.

Now, the American political process is a social bargaining game in which all citizens participate. In deciding which politicians to support, and which legislation, participants have to weigh their own preferences for the good of others and the good of themselves, and decide who will best satisfy their preferences. With the American system of checks and balances, supermajorities are usually required to act, so legislative outcomes will probably incorporate the views of most citizens. Thus, it is natural to assume that actual political outcomes are a rough average over the preferences of all American citizens.

For simplicity, let's model the American two-party system as consisting of only two types of citizen, the representative Democrat and the representative Republican. Suppose that one of these types consists entirely of selfish materialists, whose over-riding political goal is to maximize their own wealth without regard to the wealth of members of the opposite party. And suppose that the other type consists of public-minded people who want the best for everyone, and count others' welfare equally with their own. What would we expect the outcome of the political process to look like?

Well, as legislative outcomes are a simple average over these two types, and bargaining leads to a welfare maximum, we'd expect the outcome to be a redistribution of wealth from the public-minded to the selfish. After all, the public-minded are indifferent to seeing their own wealth redistributed to others, while the selfish are eager to receive.

Now let's look at contemporary America and class the major government disbursements by the predominant party affiliation of the beneficiaries. Outside of national defense, foreign affairs, transportation, and payments for the elderly (Social Security and Medicare) -- which benefit all citizens roughly equally -- the largest buckets of government spending are these:

  • Welfare for the poor and disabled: Democrats.
  • Spending for scientific/medical/academic research and for higher education tuition subsidies: Democrats.
  • Spending for K-12 public education: Democrats.
  • Government employee salaries: Democrats.
  • Farm subsidies: bipartisan, but where subsidies are highest -- e.g. North Dakota, where 85% of farm income comes from government spending -- farmers are strongly Democratic; where subsidies are lowest farmers are strongly Republican.

    Looking at the payers, it's hard to know which party's members pay more in taxes, but the wealthier tend to be more Republican, and we know the tax code is progressive. So Republicans may pay more in taxes, or it may be fairly even, but it's unlikely Democrats pay more.

    Comparing our result -- Democrats generally benefit materially from politics, Republicans generally lose -- to our model suggests that in America it is the Democrats who are selfish, and the Republicans who are public-spirited and concerned for the welfare of others.

    Now I happen to think that this generalization is true. I have often heard Democrats assert a sense of entitlement to profit from government redistribution -- not just poor Democrats either, but wealthy university professors. I have never heard Republicans assert that there ought to be a net flow of money from Democrats to Republicans. Can one imagine the outcry if a Republican politician were to argue that the flow of transfer payments should be reversed, and Democrats should pay roughly $500 billion a year net to Republicans?

    What is, in fact, the conservative attitude? Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." Though this is often quoted by Democrats in favor of higher taxes, it is really the foundation of conservatives' attitude to politics. Conservatives see the social bargain as a trade of taxes for civilization -- civilization meaning basic protection of life, liberty, and property against enemies foreign and domestic. We value civilization so highly that we feel we get a good bargain if we lose 30% or 40% of our income and receive nothing in return except civilization. The chief goods conservatives expect from government are national security, efficient policing, the rule of law, and above all, the preservation of freedom. And though all of these might be had for 10% of our income in a perfect world, we will willingly pay 40% in order to buy the loyalty of the selfish to these goods.

    But Democrats no longer seem to understand that this is the conservative attitude. The reason the Clinton administration drew animosity from many conservatives is not because its policies were radical -- they weren't; to conservatives, many of the policies of the Clinton administration, from NAFTA to welfare reform to telecom reform, compare favorably to the domestic policies of the two Bush administrations. But Clinton's willingness to lie under oath after signing the law that made his testimony mandatory, his willingness to launch surprise attacks against Americans suspected of minor crimes leading to the deaths of dozens of women and children from poison gas at Waco, his use of the IRS to conduct repeated audits of conservative groups, his cavalier attitude to national security, and his demonization of opponents, suggested that the Democrats were no longer willing to honor what Republicans understood to be the social contract. Democrats apparently wanted to continue taking 30% of the Republican incomes for themselves, but were no longer willing to give civilization -- the rule of law, civil courtesy, liberty and constrained government power -- in return. Conservatives felt they were no longer equals making a social contract, but serfs being exploited. And thus Clinton was despised.

    Conservatives are willing to pay an extravagant price for a good -- civilization and liberty -- that benefits all. To be called "selfish" for this, is to be insulted. Democrats ought to cease making this charge. As I've argued, the objective evidence is against it.

    One last bit of friendly advice, particularly relevant in this age of filibusters of judges. Democrats should recognize that we do have a social contract, and that if they do not honor their part of it, they cannot expect to continue receiving transfers of Republican wealth. Greater civility and charity, respect for the equal political rights of conservatives, and respect for conservatives' specific desires for lawfulness and limited government powers, would be in the Democrats' enlightened self-interest. Conservatives are now watching to see if Democrats are wise enough not to fritter away a good deal -- or if they are merely blindly selfish.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 PM

NAP TIME

Lajoie brought baseball to life in Cleveland (Bob Dolgan, 04/28/03, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
The city of Cleveland was described as being baseball-mad on the balmy afternoon of April 28, 1903, one hundred years ago today.

The game was memorable because Napoleon Lajoie was playing in his first home opener in Cleveland. The great second baseman was the best player in the American League at the time.

Even though Lajoie went hitless in Cleveland's 6-2 victory over St. Louis, he was the center of attention. He was in three pictures in The Plain Dealer, including one on Page One which had the caption, "Larry at Practice." Another photo showed him discussing the ground rules with umpires.

A record throng of 19,867, mostly men wearing derby hats and suits, was stuffed into League Park at East 66th and Lexington Avenue. A hastily constructed bleacher section in right field crashed, dropping hundreds of fans to the ground. One man's leg was broken. Another was knocked out.

The crowd overflowed onto the outfield, where it was held back by ropes and police. Thousands of fans were turned away at the box office.

The Cleveland Leader said a band played "In the Good Old Summertime," as the Indians strode onto the field, led by Lajoie and teammate Jack McCarthy. McCarthy's bulldog walked jauntily between them.

When Lajoie came to bat in the first inning, batboy Petie Powers doffed his cap, bowed and presented him with a bouquet of flowers. That was the third photo of Lajoie.

The Frenchman from Rhode Island wound up the season hitting .355, winning the league batting championship. In that period the batting title was the most important statistic in baseball.

Only a year earlier, there had been talk that Cleveland might lose its franchise, for attendance was so low. But that all changed when Lajoie was acquired from the Philadelphia Athletics in June 1902.

He immediately became the team savior as fans poured in to watch him perform.

Writers and fans of that era almost always referred to his startling grace around second base. At 6-1 and 195 pounds, he was a big man in a time when most players were about 5-9 and 160. Until Shoeless Joe Jackson came along, he was called the best natural hitter in baseball.

Popular as he was, he might not have attained that status today, when the media is quick to call an athlete a head case for minor transgressions.

Funny how hitting .420 and filling the seats turns one from a headcase to a character...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM

SPLITSVILLE (via ef brown)

Bush Approval at 66%: Few blame administration for recent terrorist attacks (David W. Moore, May 23, 2003, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted May 19-21, finds 66% of Americans approving of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president, down slightly from the 69% registered earlier this month, and the 70% he averaged in four polls conducted in April, but still above the prewar level of 58%. The poll also finds that few people are willing to assign very much blame to the Bush administration for recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and that most people have confidence in the administration to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. Americans are less likely now than earlier this year to believe that there will be further acts of terrorism in the United States.

Especially interesting, given the divisiveness surrounding everything from FL in '00 to the anti-war movement, is that his disapproval is only 30%. Given that a number closer to 40% was typical for both Reagan and Clinton and seemed to reflect a country that was split 40% to 40% with 20% in play, you have to wonder if the Democratic Left hasn't experienced some slippage. Even if it's just a 42% to 38% nation now (the numbers being relative, of course), that's significant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 AM

PATTON WOULD BE IN PRISON

Colonel Collins: new inquiry into how he ran regiment: Fresh claims prompt MoD to launch second investigation (Richard Norton-Taylor, May 23, 2003, The Guardian)
The Ministry of Defence is to conduct a far-reaching inquiry into the Royal Irish Regiment, the unit commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins, the officer at the centre of allegations that he seriously mistreated Iraqis in the recent war.

It emerged last night that the inquiry, though linked to a suicide of a young soldier in the regiment, will be much broader. It will investigate what the ministry described yesterday as the "military environment" which has existed within the Ist Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment under the command of Col Collins.

Defence sources made plain that it would delve into how he commanded the regiment and probe allegations of a culture of bullying.

This inquiry is entirely separate from an investigation by the military police into allegations made by a US army major that the senior British officer pistol-whipped an Iraqi civil leader - a claim the ministry suggests is an exaggeration; shot at the feet of Iraqi civilians; and shot at the tyres of vehicles when there was no threat to his soldiers.

Col Collins was feted by some of the media and praised by the Prince of Wales and President George Bush after he delivered a rousing speech to his troops on the eve of the Iraq invasion.

The commander, known for wearing sunglasses and chomping cigars, told them: "If you are ferocious in battle, remember to be magnanimous in victory...You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest."

In the event, his regiment did not see combat, and spent most of the war protecting the Rumaila oilfields in southern Iraq and prisoners of war.

As he was defended yesterday by some of the media as a hero, a former chaplain of his regiment told the Guardian that he had made an official complaint against Col Collins alleging "unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour".

This seems almost inevitable: he's apparently suspected of establishing a "military culture" in his command. As opposed to?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM

WHY CAN'T YOU BE LIKE ENDICOTT?

To be a Jew (Rabbi Berel Wein, 5/24/03, Jewish World Review)
Judaism is not a quick-fix faith. It carries with it myriad obligations and sees life as a marathon run and not as a sprint race. This is what the rabbis of the Mishna had in mind when they taught, "the reward is consistent with the effort and toil." Life is not a lottery where a lucky ticket solves all problems. This may not be too popular a message but it is a true one and honesty always brings its own rewards.

In this spirit, we can appreciate the presence of the doleful message of the "tochacha" in this week's Torah portion. To our sorrow, but to the vindication of the Torah as being G-d's word, every single event foretold in the "tochacha" has actually occurred over the span of our history.

G-d's warning as to the consequences of abandoning the ways of the Divine and Israel, of attempting to be just like "everyone else," of refusing to toil in the vineyard of Torah remains as relevant as ever. The message of harsh realism that this Bible portion conveys is that there are serious consequences, both individually and nationally, to our behavior and attitudes. All bills must eventually be paid and all shortcomings made good.

The "tochacha," with its litany of punishments and sad events, is the stark reminder of the realities of Jewish life. Warnings may perhaps be ignored since they are uncomfortable. But actual events afford us very little room to wriggle our way out of the realities of life. The sweep of Jewish history -- especially of the past century -- leaves little room for indolence and apathy.

Since this Torah portion concludes the Book of Vayikra/Leviticus, the custom in the synagogue is to rise at the end of the Torah reading and to recite in unison the hope "chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek" "to be strong, to be strong and to strengthen each other." Over the long centuries of the Jewish experience, in spite of the "tochacha" and its punishments, Jews have strengthened themselves and others by toiling in the Torah and by building -- against very formidable odds and obstacles -- a Torah society and a vision of future hope and betterment.

Let us renew ourselves in that spirit as well.

Complaints about religion are legion, but it's easier to abide the shallow mewlings about what religion is than those about what it is not. Folks seem to think that because faith doesn't function like a magic formula, automatically making adherents into better people or granting their wishes (prayers), it is proven worthless. Perhaps they might better consider whether faith is not necessary to sustain us for the extraordinarily difficult effort of trying to create a "Torah society", a better future, one filled with hope.

Best not to look to the Bible for easy answers--you'll find there only "harsh realities". The question then is how we respond to them...

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:39 AM

)

How Brazil's Lula Is Fooling the World (Gerald Brant, Brazzil, May 2003)
While Brazil's new socialist government has drawn applause from the IMF and financial circles for continuing former President Cardoso's orthodox economic policies in order to maintain bond and currency market stability, it has adopted an aggressive and nationalistic foreign policy ...

The causes for concern regarding Brazil's foreign policy are in the Pal?cio do Planalto (Presidential Palace), namely with President Lula's Foreign Policy Advisor, Marco Aurelio Garcia, a hard-line Marxist operative. Garcia is a founder and executive secretary of the S?o Paulo Forum, an organization of leftist parties and revolutionary movements dedicated to "offsetting our losses in Eastern Europe with our victories in Latin America"....

One can get a glimpse of his thinking from ideas like "We have to first give the impression that we are democrats, initially, we have to accept certain things. But that won't last." Garcia has described his party, the PT, as "radical, of the left, socialist." And, in an article that he published in 2001 celebrating The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, he concluded that: "The agenda is clear. If this new horizon, which we search for is still called communism, it is time to re-constitute it."...

US Ambassador to Brazil Donna Hrinak, a career diplomat, seems to think [Lula deserves the benefit of the doubt]. The daughter of a Pittsburgh steelworker, Ambassador Hrinak's sympathies for the PT are so notorious that the running joke in Bras?lia (Brazil's capital) was to ask whether she would show up at Lula's inauguration in a red dress.

In what can perhaps be best described as an acute case of what diplomats call "localitis", Ambassador Hrinak publicly applauded the global anti-war movement and agreed to meet with Iraq's Ambassador in Bras?lia at the PT's suggestion, just weeks before US Secretary of State Colin Powell requested that all countries expel Saddam Hussein's diplomats....

Furthermore, primetime TV ads sponsored by the PT and its allied parties such as the PC do B (Brazilian Communist Party) and PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) harshly attacked President Bush for his position on Iraq. Amazingly, these attack ads generated no public response from Ambassador Hrinak.

A few days ago I saw a cartoon of President Bush playing one of those arcade games where weasels keep popping up from random holes and you have to keep swatting at them with a mallet. There's no shortage of weasels worth swatting in today's world.

It was reported a year ago that Lula, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez had created an informal alliance to promote the spread of socialism in Latin America. It may be only transient, but the recent political success of the left in South America is cause for concern.

I saw recently also that some South American leftists are bruiting about the idea of forming a "United States of Latin America," which, like the EU, could serve as a powerful competitor to the U.S. The idea doesn't seem to have traction yet, but we shouldn't be surprised that such unions are the left's response to globalization.

Of course, these people are destined to fail. Garcia can assert the need to "re-constitute Communism," but he will never find a version of Communism that works. The question is how much harm they do before their failure is complete.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM

RH R&B

-REVIEW: of The RH Factor: Hard Groove (Roy Hargrove, Verve) (ROBERT WILONSKY, May 15, 2003, Dallas Observer)
The Booker T.-Berklee grad was Wynton Marsalis' prodigy-acolyte, so it figures most of his dozen-album catalog plays it straight--real standard-time stuff, more or less, down to the Charlie Parker trib of '95 and the tangled-up-in-string-section collection that was his last release. But Hargrove, all of 33, fares better when not being so bop, as evidenced by his '97 Habana, which made like Dizzy G. and traveled to Cuba for its inspiration and returned drenched in perspiration; it swung like an elementary-school playground at recess. But finally he sounds like a young man whose childhood record collection consisted of more than well-worn Verve vinyl; he fesses up to the Earth, Wind & Fire that was the soundtrack of his life, the Funkadelic he musta heard and felt, the Stevie Wonder he musta wondered about when not taking trumpet lessons before, during and after school. Took him a little while, but Hargrove gets off the concert stage long enough to get down with the R&B crowd, which does him a world of good; far better a Clinton-Hazel cover than one more Mancini-Mercer nod, of which we need no more.

The disc is by all reports terrific.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM

WHAT ATATURK HATH WROUGHT

TURKISH MILITARY FACING DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN CHALLENGES (Nicolas Birch, 5/07/03, EurasiaNet)
Turkey?s military, which has long cast itself as the defender of the country?s secular tradition, is facing a two-front political challenge. Turkish generals have already clashed with members of the governing Justice and Development Party over recent policy moves. At the same time, the military has come under heavy criticism from top US officials for not assuming a ?strong leadership role? in Turkish regional diplomatic initiatives following the Iraq conflict.

An indicator of the challenges confronting the Turkish military was the length of the April 30 meeting of the National Security Council (MGK), which provides a monthly opportunity for Turkey?s top brass to discuss policy with civilian political leaders. That MGK session lasted seven-and-a-half hours, the longest such meeting in several years. In sharp contrast, the statement released following the meeting was startlingly brief ? one sentence reaffirming that ?secularism must be meticulously protected."

Well before it gained a landslide victory in last November?s parliamentary elections, the Islamic roots of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) prompted deep suspicion in military circles. And despite repeated AKP insistence that its political approach is moderate, and that it should not be compared to the Islamist government pushed out of power in February 1997, government-military tension has escalated in recent weeks.

Worried by a recent Foreign Ministry circular advising embassies to improve links with Milli Gorus, a conservative religious group with a wide following among Europe?s massive Turkish Diaspora, Turkish military leaders are increasingly concerned by government moves to replace senior bureaucrats with AKP-loyalists.

AKP-military tension burst into the open April 23, when top generals, along with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and opposition politicians, declined to attend a reception hosted by parliamentary speaker Bulent Arinc to celebrate the anniversary of the parliament?s foundation. The cause of the boycott was an announcement that Arinc?s head-scarfed wife would attend the reception. Those staying away from the reception viewed the announcement as a political challenge to Turkish secularism. Ultimately, Arinc backed down, saying his wife would not attend.

Turkey is another state, like Chile (see below), where the conservative military has been the ironic guarantor of liberalism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM

SEX[AGENARIAN] APPEAL

Juan back to revitalise coffee sales (James Wilson, May 22 2003, Financial Times)
Juan Valdez, the moustachioed representative of Colombian coffee for more than 40 years, is being brought out of retirement and pushed into the Hollywood spotlight as beleaguered coffee farmers woo young consumers to try to confront a market slump.

In his traditional peasant garb and played by a sexagenarian actor, Juan may not be an obvious choice as the face for a new generation. But Colombia's coffee growers are seizing on Juan's debut this weekend on US cinema screens in a cameo appearance in Bruce Almighty, the latest Jim Carrey film, as an opportunity to boost coffee's appeal for the youth market.

Global oversupply of coffee has sent prices tumbling to their lowest real levels in 100 years, according to the World Bank and International Coffee Organisation, which held a joint conference this week to address the crisis and its effect on developing nations. But in the absence of quotas or agreements to cut production, attention is turning to how to raise prices by driving up demand.

Gabriel Silva, general manager of Colombia's coffee growers' federation, says boosting consumption among the young is "critical" for the industry.

Like nearly all retrograde movement, this is an excellent idea.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM

WHEN THE BLUE SMOKE CLEARS

A Tax Cut Without End: A hard look at various elements of the $318 billion tax bill shows a plan that could lose $800 billion in tax revenues over 10 years. (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, 5/23/03, NY Times)
True, the price tag on the tax bill the House approved this morning is officially only $320 billion over 10 years, barely two-fifths of the $726 billion President Bush proposed in February.

True too, it is even smaller than the $350 billion measure initially passed by the Senate that Mr. Bush ridiculed as "little bitty."

But the $320 billion figure, which is expected to clear the Senate today, is artificial.

No one expects that tax breaks for married couples and a bigger tax credit for children, popular features of the bill, will be allowed to expire after next year. This is what lawmakers call a sunset. It was put into the measure to hold down the 10-year cost.

Nor, barring a political upheaval that puts Democrats in the White House and in control of Congress, is it likely that the lower tax rates on dividends and capital gains will be allowed to expire after 2008, another sunset in the bill.

If these elements of the tax cut are calculated on a 10-year basis, the cost in lost revenue stands to be over $800 billion, more than what the president proposed, according to the first analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priority, a liberal research institute.

More important, the tax reduction this year and next year under the Congressional agreement is significantly larger than what the president originally proposed.

The Congressional tax staff estimated that the agreement would lead to a tax cut of $61 billion in the 2003 fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, and $149 billion in 2004.

The Congressional Budget Office reported that the president's plan would have lowered taxes by $35 billion in 2003 and $117 billion in 2004.

When the fiscal "hawks" win, we all win. If George Voinovich had held out a few days longer we might have hit $1 Trillion.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 AM

FURTHER ON DOWN THE ROAD

U.S. Says Sharon Is Set to Endorse Bush's Peace Plan (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 5/23/03, NY Times)
The White House has reached a tentative agreement for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel to make, for the first time, a qualified endorsement of the Bush administration's phased plan for the creation of a Palestinian state, administration officials said today.

White House officials also said today that President Bush planned to meet next month in the Middle East with Mr. Sharon and the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

The endorsement, which could be a breakthrough in the Middle East peace effort, was hammered out on Tuesday with Mr. Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weisglass.

The wording of Mr. Sharon's endorsement of the peace plan, known as the road map, was not disclosed. Mr. Weisglass, Mr. Sharon's top aide, was due in Israel today for meetings on how to present the endorsement to the Israeli cabinet, American officials said.

The peace plan calls for a series of reciprocal steps leading to establishment of a Palestinian state and a secure and peaceful environment for Israel. The Palestinians endorsed the plan but Israel has balked.

The administration had been seeking some artful language that would allow Mr. Sharon to endorse the plan, but somewhat ambiguously, making it possible for him to tell his fractious cabinet that he had not really endorsed it in its entirety.

"The idea is that Israel accepts the principles, the framework and the process of the road map and the two-state solution," said a diplomat, referring to Israel and a future Palestine. "But Israel would not accept every detail. It doesn't mean Israel won't have comments on certain issues."

The only part of the map that matters is the final destination: statehood.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM

NAJAF ABHORS A VACUUM

Mosque and State: Theocracy in Iraq? Not to worry. (ZACHARY KARABELL, May 19, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
There's a growing apprehension that fundamentalist Islam is on the rise in postwar Iraq. It seems that not a day goes by without some publication featuring a photo, meant to be ominous, of Shiite Muslims celebrating a pilgrimage to the shrines of Najaf or Karbala, or of Sunni Muslims praying fervently at mosques in Baghdad or Mosul. As law and order continue to deteriorate, it's also been easy enough to find a mullah here or an imam there angrily denouncing the United States in the name of Allah. But while these stories make good copy, they distort what is going on, and add one more level to the layer cake of misunderstanding that most Americans, and yes, Europeans, have about the role of Islam not just in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole.

In the political vacuum of Iraq, Islamist groups are among the most organized and cohesive forces. One area of civil society that Saddam Hussein did not completely obliterate was the mosque, though his hand there was not exactly light (he did execute a number of leading Shiite clerics and drove a number more into exile). In other parts of the Arab world--including Morocco, which has now witnessed a rash of suicide bombings--the mosque or the Sufi lodge is the only place where some form of dissent can be safely voiced, and, as in the U.S., religious groups often tend to local needs such as feeding and housing the poor.

That said, the notion that Islamic government is the preferred path for people in Iraq, or that it has been the common path for people in the Middle East historically is simply wrong. In fact, Islam as a force in political life is a recent and still marginal phenomenon. There may be no explicit church-state divide in Islam, but that's mostly because, outside of Iran, there is no church. Typically, religious authorities have been answerable to the state and to rulers, and those rulers, with very few exceptions, have been uninterested in religious government. [...]

So for every image of Shiites in prayer meant to evoke the specter of another fundamentalist revolution, it's vital to remember one fact: In spite of the organized and passionate efforts of fundamentalist groups in the past decades to take advantage of economic and political stagnation and exploding population growth, the only country that has been taken over by fundamentalist theocrats is Iran. And in the Sunni world, except for the rise and fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the influence of the repressive Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, Islam as a political force has been a minority movement that has never enjoyed widespread appeal.

The danger, of course, is not that most or even many people in Iraq want Islamic government. It's that fundamentalist groups are the best organized and most cohesive and can take advantage of the vacuum and the chaos to seize control. That is a concern. But in Iraq no Sunni imam will accept the religious authority of a Shiite mullah, and the same holds true the other way around. But even more, the notion that Islamic government and fundamentalism are what most people secretly crave has little basis in the history of the region or in its recent past. There is enough to worry about in Iraq; let's stop worrying about the wrong things.

Mr. Karabell ignores what would seem to be an important point, that in the West too the Church was the best organized institution and most serious rival to the State, often better organized than the State itself. But in the West the Church was a force for freedom, not totalitarianism. A religious culture which contains no notion of rendering unto Caesar is obviously not trying to balance government power but to exercise it. That's a problem.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

WHAT PINOCHET HATH WROUGHT

Chile: Ten Steps for Abandoning Aid Dependency for Prosperity (Ana I. Eiras, May 20, 2003, Heritage Foundation)
The annual Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom provides a framework for understanding how open countries are to competition; the degree of state intervention in the economy (whether through taxation, spending, or overregulation); and the strength and independence of a country's judiciary in enforcing rules and protecting private property.

The 10 factors of the Index show the degree of economic freedom in a given country. Some countries may have a substantial degree of freedom in all factors; others may have a degree of freedom in just a few. One of the most important findings of the Index is that, as Hayek foresaw more than 60 years ago, economic freedom is required in all aspects of economic life--that is, in all of the 10 factors--in order for countries to improve their economic efficiency and, consequently, the living standards of their people.

Chile illustrates Hayek's idea. For more than 30 years, the country has persisted in opening its markets, allowing more and more competition, and fostering a strong rule of law, and these efforts have paid off in many ways. Chile today has one of the highest per capita gross domestic products (GDPs) in Latin America, has experienced high levels of economic growth, and conveys an institutional trust that has attracted local and foreign investment. Most important, it has severed itself from reliance on international aid, on which most Latin American countries depend. By following the 10 steps to economic freedom, Chile has become more prosperous. Continuing on this road will transform Chile into a developed economy for future
generations.

Chile has set the example of how a country can escape from the cycle of aid and dependence to the cycle of self-generated growth. Other Latin American countries and the rest of the developing world should be encouraged to follow the Chilean example. Many developing countries have slipped back from reforms into aid and bailout dependency, while others have never exited aid dependence at all.

The United States should do all it can to support the Chilean effort and publicize the great triumph of prosperity through free and open markets. Success breeds imitation. As more and more countries begin to imitate the "Chilean model," the world will experience more growth, development, stability, and peace.

HOW CHILE DID IT: 10 Steps...

An interesting analysis made bizarre by the failure to deal with the fact that all10 steps were possible only in the context of a right-wing government's establishment of order, political stability, and the rule of law. Can even the conservative Heritage Foundation not recognize that the healthy development of democracy and capitalism may require a period of authoritarianism first?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:40 AM

YEAH, BUT THEN WHAT?

Rethinking Secularization: Godless Europe?: Questioning Europe's devout past and secular present. (Philip Jenkins, May/June 2003, Books & Culture)
[E]urope seems prima facie to offer a classic model of the secularization thesis, the idea that religion inevitably declines as post-industrial society matures. Somewhere along the line, extensive remodeling seems to have removed the Sacred Canopy that had given Christian Europe its raison d'?tre. So familiar, in fact, is the notion of secular Europe that it is refreshing, and a little startling, to find a book that tries to battle the received wisdom. Not surprisingly, the would-be heretic is Andrew Greeley, an enormously accomplished sociologist who relishes nothing more than an academic controversy. (Incidentally, while challenging academic orthodoxies is a valuable task, does he have to be so wearyingly combative on every single issue with which he disagrees with other scholars?)

Greeley makes a number of excellent points that deserve careful consideration. One is historical. He argues that the secularization thesis wrongly assumes a decline in religiosity from some past Age of Faith, which in fact never existed. The more we examine the beliefs of ordinary Europeans in bygone times, Greeley maintains, the less evidence we see of monolithic orthodoxy or even of the near-universal notional adherence to Christianity posited by many scholars.

Turning to modern times, he is equally dismissive of the core claims of secularization. Using survey evidence, he argues that Europeans still affirm a surprising level of continuing belief in religious and supernatural doctrines, overwhelmingly in the case of the existence of God, but also with large numbers accepting life after death and miracles. Even in Britain and the former West Germany, 40 percent of respondents claim to believe in miracles. Greeley also argues, very fairly, that Europe is anything but homogenous, and that it is unwise to extrapolate from secular Britain or the Netherlands. The smaller countries often demonstrate higher levels of religious commitment, though sometimes in bizarre or wildly heterodox forms, and occult and New Age doctrines are especially strong in the former Soviet Bloc. (Oddly, in stressing the diversity of European countries and societies, he says virtually nothing about the overseas immigrants, the Asians, Africans, and Afro-Caribbeans who are reinvigorating Christian churches in so many regions).

Clearly, I am doing no more than sketching the arguments of a complex and idea-rich book, but even this brief summary raises many questions. With any luck, Greeley's work will generate a major debate about the evidence for European (and, by implication, American) religious belief and practice. Having said this, though, I want to suggest several critical areas in which his argument is questionable.

Let us begin with the history, the debunking of the Age of Faith: "The golden age of religion never existed." Everything in this debate depends on terminology, and especially the use of words like "religion." Using a number of standard social histories of medieval and modern Europe, Greeley questions whether "save in some times and some places, religious practice was ever all that intense." I would argue that the studies he cites prove the exact opposite. They demonstrate a massive commitment to religious belief and practice, defined as interest in a supernatural reality that could be accessed by ritual conduct, although these accounts raise real doubts about how much of this was carried on under the auspices of orthodox Christianity, or with the consent of established church authorities. But does Greeley want to talk about religious practice or orthodox observance? If he says that the religious life of early modern Europe was not uniformly Catholic or Protestant, fine, but that is not the conclusion he actually draws. If we define religion in broad terms, then we certainly see a massive decline in religion with the advance of industry and modern medicine, and the growth of cities: in other words, a process of secularization.

And there are other issues.

We're big believers in the value of taking a radically opposed view of the accepted wisdom. It's a very useful means of analysis, even when it brings you back to the cliches eventually, because it's at least made them justify themselves. But Mr. Greeley reminds one here of Michael Bellesiles, who argued quite plausibly (though it turned out quite fraudulently) that guns were not as prevalent in early America as people thought they were and, therefore, America's gun culture proceeded from shaky grounds. Yeah? So what? We still have a gun culture, no matter its sources.

Similarly, even if we grant Mr. Greeley's arguments--that folks weren't as faithful as they thought they were then nor are folks as faithless as they think they are now--what are we left with? No one can seriously argue that there has not been a decline in religiosity in Europe, can they? If the decline is less steep than we may think, it must still be significant. More than that, the culture-wide belief that there was an Age of Faith and there is now an Age of Secularism has to have nearly the same influence as if the thesis were true. If we all believe that faith matters, do we not act in accord with that belief? If we all think that faith is looked down upon, do we not change our behavior? we might discover tomorrow that there are
twenty-five hours in a day, but will that mean that we haven't been acting as if there were twenty-four?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:06 AM

WHO'S ON THIRD?

Bush's Poodle?: The plight of Tony Blair--and American Democrats (Will Hutton, 6/01/03, American Prospect)
One of the problems in arguing with neoconservatives is that they have taken the high idealistic ground. They want freedom for Iraqis, democracy in the Middle East, an Islamic enlightenment. They insist that universal human rights are also the prerogative of Muslims, shedding the residual racism that dogs the liberal position with all its (even if well-founded) concern that contemporary Islam is an impossibly hostile climate in which to foster democracy and liberal capitalism. If liberals counter the neocons with doubts about whether Muslims are ready for democracy and doggedly defend uninspiring international institutions, they have lost the argument. There has to be an international and multilateral idealism to counter the one held by conservatives. That Blair fought the war using a very different rhetoric than Bush has been important for the liberal cause; indeed, Blair would argue that he helped to keep the flame of liberal internationalism alive in the United States.

Equally, Bush has debts to Blair, and the president can't be comfortable that he owes them to a foreign leader who freely acknowledges taking counsel from Bill Clinton throughout the Iraq War. Clinton saw the importance of having a Blair Democrat position; he also saw that Bush would have to make concessions to his British ally, and that this would provide the Democrats with crucial political cover. In short, Blair has become, if not a kingmaker in American politics, a very helpful source of political capital -- and it is up to the Democrats to use it.

The trouble is that Bush and the neocons are wise to this risk. While they are careful to praise Blair in public, in private they calculate that he must not be allowed to derail their project. In my new book, A Declaration of Interdependence, I argue that too few people inside and outside America comprehend the ambition of the American conservative project and its ideological hostility -- both internally to any conception of an American social contract undergirding social mobility and opportunity and externally to any constraint on the exercise of preemptive autonomous American power. Moreover, the conservative coalition is deeply rooted and very powerful. It is a dangerous challenge both to the well-being of most ordinary American citizens at home and to the fragile processes that legitimize globalization abroad. If Blair and Clinton think they have held back the conservative advance, they can think again. [...]

The European Union and the United States should not be competing power blocks; they have to acknowledge their interdependence and shared interest. The United States should not be shouldering the burden of democratizing and reconstructing Iraq alone, not least because it radically reduces the chances of long-run success. The European Union should recognize that the emergence of radical Islamic terrorism has changed the rules of the game. But to reach that outcome requires more bravery from Democratic politicians in the United States -- and more realism from France and Germany.

It also requires smarter politics from Blair. American neoconservatives understand the language of power. Blair needs to say "no" to their ambitions and offer a multilateral alternative that rallies Britain's EU partners to that option and opens up more opportunities for American liberals. He has to work harder at bringing Chirac and Schroeder onside, and at standing up to Bush. There would then be a concrete policy alternative that Democrats could argue for. The difficulty is that third-way politicians fight their battles through serpentine triangulation rather than confronting the enemy head-on. Blair and Britain are paying a heavy price for this approach and the miscalculation over what neoconservative America wants. So is the American liberal tradition.

By "social contract" the author, of course, means the iopposite: a government welfare state. But once we accept that change to his scenario, it's entirely fair to characterize conservatives as he does--hostile to that State and to the surrender of national sovereignty to transnational bodies. The Left, on the other hand, supports not just welfare states in particular but the creation of a kind of super-state devoid of national sovereignty--imagine the UN as a true governing body. So, if Mr. Blair and Mr. Clinton do represent a Third Way, don't they have top try and seek some kind of middle ground here? Mr. Hutton seems to be suggesting that they are obligated to act as the Left, when their stated intention has been to break with the Left. How would siding with EUnuchs like Chirac and Schroeder amount to steering a middle course?

May 22, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 PM

OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE

There's No Reason Why Deflation Couldn't Happen Again: Modern governments have the tools to deal with deflation. The problem is, they require the will to use them. (Clive Crook, May 19, 2003, Atlantic Monthly)
Special policies may be needed to turn the economy around when it is on the brink of deflation, and even more so once deflation has actually begun. The most effective last-resort remedy-fiscal expansion financed by money creation-is one that no policy maker would ordinarily wish to use. Also, making a success of this approach calls for close coordination of policy between the central bank on one side and the fiscal authorities (in America's case, Congress and the Treasury Department) on the other. Again, in normal times, collaboration of that sort is neither necessary nor even very desirable. Deflation therefore makes heavy demands both on policy makers' flexibility in unusual times and on their willingness to cooperate when the situation demands it.

Both have been totally absent in Japan. The finance ministry and the central bank have been sluggish to the point of paralysis in recognizing the seriousness of the country's problems and in adapting their policies to suit them. On top of that, the two institutions are fierce rivals. Not only have they failed to cooperate, they have actually conspired to undermine each other's efforts (with the central bank, for instance, responding to fiscal loosening by tightening monetary policy). You see the results.

Weighing the politics and the economics side by side, deflation gives less cause for concern at the moment in the United States than in Europe. America's economy is sluggish, to be sure, but the recent fall in the dollar is helping to prop up the country's exporters, and makes it less likely that prices will start falling. Europe's big economies are already growing a lot more slowly than America's, and there the currency markets are making things worse, not better. The euro is appreciating (partly because of Europe's relatively high interest rates). Europe's exporters are therefore coming under new pressure, and inflation will keep drifting lower.

Politics gives America an even bigger advantage. Why are Europe's interest rates so high-too high, as most of the region's economists would argue? Partly because the ECB has set itself such a demanding target for inflation: less than 2 percent, rather than, say, 2.5 percent plus or minus a margin for error. It has a stricter target for inflation than other central banks, even though Europe's current circumstances (including the imminent accession of new fast-growing members) probably call for a softer one. It chose to interpret its "price stability" mandate in this unduly rigorous way for essentially political reasons.

So far as most people are concerned, the Fed and its long-serving chairman have nothing to prove. The ECB, a freshly minted institution, sees things differently. It has no stock of credibility to run down. Its officials wanted most of all to establish impressive anti-inflation credentials from the outset, and to underline their independence from European governments. In ordinary times, those would have been worthy aims. With deflation a growing risk, such priorities are decidedly hazardous.

If prices should start falling across large parts of Europe, with all the dire consequences that would follow, what then? The close cooperation between central bank and fiscal authorities that one can imagine taking place in America in such circumstances is far harder to picture in Europe. The reason, again, is politics. Japan's problems of institutional rivalry and lack of coordination would seem as nothing: In the European Union, those same difficulties would be multiplied by the fact that 15 governments (12 in the euro area plus three outside it) would need to reach agreement with the ECB on what should be done, and then apportion the fiscal measures across the different national authorities. For this maneuvering, allow 10 years. If deflation does take root in Europe, stopping it-even though economists know how-could prove even harder than in Japan.

If there's a reason other than trying to prove that the euro is a credible currency by artificially inflating it against the dollar, that the Europeans are keeping their interest rates so high, I've not heard it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:29 PM

REASON TO BELIEVE

-INTERVIEW: Faith and the God of the Philosophers: Ralph McInerny on the Importance of Natural Theology (Ralph McInerny, 2003-05-19, ZENIT: The World Seen From Rome)
Q: What is natural theology? In other words, explain what it means that it is an article of faith that God can be known by reason apart from faith.

McInerny: It is, by another name, philosophical theology; that is, the knowledge of God that can be attained from common human experience of the world, without dependence on religious faith.

Plato, and especially Aristotle, in pre-Christian times, carried the theology of the philosophers to heights which are still cause for marvel. The whole point of classical philosophy -- the love of wisdom -- was to attain such knowledge of God as is possible for the human mind. It is in contemplating God that the most perfect happiness is found. So natural theology is not just a special set of topics, but the key to philosophy.

The Catholic tradition sees in Romans 1:19-20 the scriptural basis for what was defined by Vatican I, namely, that it is "de fide" that God can be known by natural powers of man unaided by faith.

Q: Does natural theology aim to prove the existence of God?

McInerny: That is the first step, of course, and proving the existence of God is no easy matter. There is a garden-variety certainty that most people have that the universe is governed by its Maker and that we are answerable to him.

Philosophical proofs seek to make it logically inescapable that God, the first cause of all else, exists. But what is he like? The attributes of God, efforts to describe him, are the next step. He is intelligent, good, the source of order, our ultimate end, etc.

Q: Why is it important to distinguish between natural theology and religious faith?

McInerny: Faith consists of truths about God accepted on the authority of his revelation, whose interpretation is in the custody of the Catholic Church. Truths like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, forgiveness of sins, etc., cannot be proved by appeal to the ordinary canons of proof. They can be proved to have been revealed, but that is something else.

Natural theology is an achievement; faith is a gift. To demand that the mysteries of faith be proved in the usual way, is the beginning of the loss of faith.

Q: Why is natural theology important for understanding Catholic doctrine?

McInerny: As the Holy Father reminded us in "Fides et Ratio," our faith is reasonable. There is a complementarity between faith and reason, each needs the other. One of the uses of natural theology is precisely to show that it is reasonable to accept truths about God we cannot in this life comprehend. [...]

Q: How does natural theology account for and understand atheism?

McInerny: In "Gaudium et Spes," we have a remarkable little treatise on atheism and its many sources, most of which are moral. What could be more tragic than for a human being to be cut off from God, to deny his maker? The fathers of the [Second Vatican] Council saw contemporary atheism as a chief obstacle to evangelization.

Natural theology gives only indirect comfort to the heart wounded by injustice and misfortune. Unless the pursuit of reason is complemented by the pursuit of virtue it can become a snare and delusion. Our natural theology tradition goes hand in hand with the realization that without the support of religious faith even natural truths becomes obscured and lost.

The motivation for natural theology is to be found in the faith itself, as the reference to Romans and Vatican I makes clear. Any suggestion that acceptance of the mysteries of faith is akin to belief in the Great Pumpkin must be thoroughly rejected. Faith has as its object the first truth who is God and its truths, again, cannot be in conflict with truths gained by natural reason.

It is noteworthy that in "Fides et Ratio," the Holy Father comes to the defense of reason at a time when many, many philosophers have lost confidence in our ability to attain the truth. The epistemological turn taken by Descartes continues to cut the human mind off from reality. Philosophy becomes interpretation, a subjective account of our experience, unable to reach an objective basis in the things that are. This is why the Thomistic revival inaugurated by Leo XIII remains of vital importance.

Q: Does the natural law require the existence of God for its claims to be valid?

McInerny: One must distinguish between the content of natural law -- common moral truths -- and the theoretical account of such knowledge. The latter makes reference to God explicitly but this may be only implicit in the ordinary recognition of right and wrong.

A philosophy without theism, without natural theology, can never give an adequate account of morality. Natural theology and natural law provide a lingua franca in which believer and nonbeliever can communicate. That is why the Church is such a champion of both.

The last point--the inability of philosophy to render morality without recourse to theism--has long seemed to us a sufficient basis for faith in a God.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:27 PM

THE FREE EXERCISE OF JUDICIALISM

McDonald’s to sponsor kosher ed after lawsuit (Jewish Telegraph Agency, 5/22/2003)
McDonald’s and kashrut? Only in Israel, one might think.

But an Illinois court ruled Tuesday that the world’s most ubiquitous burger joint must sink $1 million into education about Judaism’s kosher laws.

The money is part of $10 million that McDonald’s must divide among a variety of plaintiffs after it was found that french fries and hash browns advertised as vegetarian in fact contained some beef flavoring....

Ultimately, $6 million was assigned to vegetarian groups, $2 million to Hindu and Sikh organizations, $1 million to children’s charities and $1 million to Jewish groups.

Jeff Rubin, director of communications for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life — which will receive $300,000 in the settlement — compared the case to the Chanukah miracle.

"It's another positive thing that came out of hot oil," he said.

It's a good thing Justice Stevens's opinion was the minority in the Cleveland school voucher case, or this new Chanukah miracle might have been doused before the oil got warm. After all, Justice Stevens held that the Establishment Clause forbids government-facilitated religious education.

But is it really fair that secular groups get 60% of the money, and Hindus more than Jews? Supreme Court precedent requires state governments to treat all religious viewpoints equally. Maybe this case could go to the Supremes after all.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 PM

IT'S ONLY GERMANY...

Think-tank warns on eurozone deflation (Ed Crooks, May 21 2003, Financial Times)
The eurozone's economy is likely to fall into deflation if the euro returns to its equivalent peak levels of the mid-1990s, according to one of Britain's most respected economic forecasters.

Simulations by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, prepared for European central banks and finance ministries that use them for comparison with their own models, suggest that if the euro rises by about another 20 per cent, there is a roughly two in three chance that it will push average inflation for the eurozone below zero. [...]

Ray Barrell of the NIESR said: "At the moment, the chances of inflation falling below zero in the eurozone as a whole are quite low: perhaps 5 per cent. But if the euro were to rise to those 1995 peaks, then the chance of deflation in the eurozone is better than even."

It would also take up to 1.8 per cent off the eurozone's gross domestic product, he said, threatening to push it into recession, or at least a further period of slow growth.

A rise in the euro against the dollar is also likely to be bad for global growth as a whole, because it hurts the eurozone more than it benefits the US. "Because the eurozone economy is nowhere near as flexible as the US, eurozone output will fall more than US output rises," Mr Barrell said.

The impact would depend on how the euro moved against other currencies apart from the dollar: if other currencies are also rising, the effect would be less.

Most economists do not currently see deflation as an imminent threat to the eurozone.

"I don't think it is just around the corner, except in Germany," said Robert Barrie of Credit Suisse First Boston.

If the eurozone economies are integrated to any significant degree and the predominant economy within the eurozone--Germany's--falls into deflation, how do the others avoid its effects?

MORE:
-Deflation Primer (Financial Times)
-This Deflation Is Not a Monetary Phenomenon (Stephen Roach, May 21, 2003, Morgan Stanley)
Don't listen to the monetarists. They would lead you to believe that both inflation and its diabolical mutation--deflation--are simply monetary phenomena. As long as central banks have control over the printing press, goes the logic, rest assured--they will never abdicate control over the aggregate price level. I would argue, instead, that the current perils of deflation have little or nothing to do with your favorite monetary aggregate. Today's strain of deflation risk is first and foremost a story of the cyclical imbalances and structural flaws in real economies--problems that are far from amenable to the so-called monetary fix. That's especially the case in the United States, where the deflation debate now rages.

As most of the world has finally caught on to the risk of deflation, it's worth reviewing why. It's not just that America's price statistics are now flashing ominous warning signs. It's that the analytical underpinnings to the case for deflation suggest there could well be more to come. As I see it, there are three powerful forces at work... [...]

Lest I be accused of fixating on the image in the rear-view mirror, it’s the prognosis of the future that I find so disconcerting. The confluence of forces that have given rise to this outcome--the business cycle, the bubble, and globalization--remains very much in place. Barring the immaculate conception of policy traction in a post-bubble US economy, the case for a prompt and sustained resurgence to a vigorous aggregate demand path remains a weak one, in my view. Meanwhile, an increasingly self-absorbed world seems to be flirting with the perils of competitive currency devaluation as a means to temper deflationary pressures. If anything, that makes the future even more worrisome. Deflation risks should be viewed as
a wake-up call for a dysfunctional global economy. Global rebalancing is the only way out. Monetarism is not the answer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM

IT'S NOT A DOUBLE STANDARD, BUT TWO STANDARDS

There is a double standard - why? (Ryan Jones, May 22, 2003, Jerusalem Newswire)
Recent events have rekindled simmering feelings in Israel that its chief ally and supporter - America - actively applies a glaring double standard when it comes to how to deal with the terrorist threat facing the citizens of both nations.

This issue was thrust back into the limelight last week after tens of people were slaughtered in Riyadh in a well-executed Al Qaida homicide bomb attack. Following that atrocity, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell intimated that while the Riyadh bloodbath was clearly terrorism, no such component existed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I don't attribute [the attack] to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I attribute it to terrorism," Powell said during a press conference in Amman, Jordan.

A short time later, President George W. Bush vowed that the killers involved in the attack would "come to know the meaning of American justice." His meaning was clear.

Statements such as these have left people in Israel wondering if Washington views American lives as more valuable and more worthy of justice than the lives of Israeli Jews.

It has also called into question with the average Israeli the veracity of Washington's proclaimed friendship, as similar attacks against the region's Jews are met, not with calls for justice, but with demands on Jerusalem to show restraint and practice appeasement.

By its behavior, Washington has displayed a certain degree of acceptance for the Palestinian assertion that terror against Israel, even if it is the wrong way to go, is justified political opposition to "Israeli occupation."

Meanwhile, Washington openly rejects Al Qaida's political reasoning that its terror campaign is aimed at ending U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, particularly its large military presence in Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian violence towards Israel is, it would seem obvious, justified--what kind of people would not fight to take back their lands and achieve self-governance? This is precisely what the Israelis did themselves. States are carved with violence. The problem is that the Palestinian terrorists, rather than restrict themselves to legitimate military and political targets, kill indiscriminately, intentionally targeting the innocent. This is unacceptable.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda has no similarly legitimate grievance against America and it kills indiscriminately. Thus we treat it differently.

Why the confusion?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:38 AM

THE NEW ROBBER BARONS

Miami should be ashamed of trying to bilk high school (Orlando Sentinel, 5/21/2003)
The Miami Hurricanes obviously need the money; why else would they be making this unfathomable power play? Why would they risk the wrath of their one-time friends? Why would they put years of tradition up for sale just for the sake of protecting their bottom line?

No, we're not referring to UM's impending decision to wreck the Big East. We're talking about the Hurricanes trying to crush little Umatilla High.

"I guess we got Miami worried when we won the district championship last year," cracked Kent Merrill, president of the Umatilla High School booster club. "I thought Miami was trying to join the ACC, not the FHSAA (Florida High School Activities Association)."

If you think the other Big East schools were shocked when they learned about Miami's ACC money grab, think of how Umatilla felt when they received a "cease and desist" letter from UM lawyers recently. The letter informed Umatilla that the "U" in its logo was too similar - criminally similar - to Miami's....

We're talking Umatilla here, folks. This place is so small that the local library closes whenever somebody borrows the book. Umatilla is a suburb of Eustis, for crying out loud....

Miami has told Umatilla it can keep using the logo - as long as it pays UM $2,000 a month.

The Umatilla money would help defray Donna Shalala's $475,000 salary as UM President.

For those who have not been following the ACC-Big East tussle, here's a capsule. The ACC's television contract expires in 2005; it was an extraordinarily rich contract, and they are threatened with a far smaller payout in the next contract. Meanwhile, the Big East's contract expires in 2007, and pays much less -- it was negotiated after Miami went 5-6 -- even though Big East football gets better ratings than the ACC. To add to the mix, Bobby Bowden is 73 and will soon retire from Florida State; the Seminoles went 8-4 last year and recruits are already shying away, so if nothing changes the ACC may soon be without a marquee program. Moreover, NCAA rules allow 12-team leagues to hold a TV-revenue-rich championship game. So the ACC schools, looking to enhance their football revenue, are trying to attract Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College from the Big East, and Miami and Boston College, at least, are eager to go. This, of course, would greatly diminish the Big East and dry up revenues at the remaining Big East schools.

Orrin posted the other day a link to this essay, arguing that universities gave up their religious identities in exchange for money. So academic money-hungriness is no new thing, and abandoning a football league is hardly the greatest betrayal in academic history.

It's no wonder social science models hold that people are motivated primarily by greed. Academics are judging by those around them.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM

DOES THE MEDIA LIVE ON THE SAME PLANET AS THE REST OF US?

Gay Issue Causes Little Pain For Santorum Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Pennsylvania Voters Back Bush Over Likely Dems (Quinnipiac University, May 22, 2003)
Pennsylvania voters say 75 -- 17 percent that Sen. Rick Santorum should not resign his U.S. Senate leadership position because of his remarks about homosexuality, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released May 22.

Voters say 58 - 27 percent that homosexual behavior is morally wrong, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. But voters say 45 -- 35 percent that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal.

Sen. Santorum has a 55 -- 33 percent approval rating, with 12 percent undecided, compared to a 55 -- 20 percent approval in an April 10 Quinnipiac University poll, when 24 percent were undecided. [...]

President George W. Bush has a 64 -- 31 percent approval among Pennsylvania voters, and tops likely Democratic challengers in an early look at the 2004 presidential race.

The idea that Senator Santorum's remarks might do him political harm, especially in a state like PA, was always delusional.

Meanwhile, if George W. Bush can stay over 50% in PA, the 2004 election is over.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM

THE GILLIGAN'S ISLAND QUESTION

What All the Fuss is About: A contrarian view of the Matrix phenomenon. (Eric Cox, The American Enterprise)
The basic idea behind the Matrix movies is simple: What we think we know and what is true are not necessarily the same things. Moral: What we want might therefore not be what?s good for us. Take away the dark sunglasses, the black overcoats, the martial arts, and the semantic sophistry, and the Matrix movies are The Truman Show (1998) or The Wizard of Oz (1939), or any number of other stories with similar themes. (The filmmakers at least pay tribute to the latter movie with several clever leitmotifs.)

Interesting, yes. Profound, hardly. There is nothing profound about mysticism. Indeed, once you entertain the notion that the world is not what it seems, that reality is not reality, you can come up with any number of intriguing notions (recall that one theory has the universe resting on the back of a turtle?now that would make for an interesting movie).

As to the films? supposed critique of technology?and it might not be fair to suggest, as most critics do, that the films even attempt to offer one?nothing resembling a coherent, let alone subtle, critique is offered. The films certainly posit that it is possible for machines to become so complicated that they will one day develop minds of their own and attempt to destroy us (even Rod Serling saw that one coming), but so far, at least, the films haven?t been interested in suggesting how we might stop such a thing from happening.

In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo and another character pause to consider this question in the subterranean colony where humans who have chosen to resist the matrix hold fort, but they come to the common-sense conclusion that destroying all machinery is certainly not the answer, and beyond that, like most of us, they can only offer a shrug. (It is convenient for the film?s contrast between high technology and basic humanity that it has the humans living in primitive-looking caves and relying at least partially on torchlight for a hundred years, but that hardly seems plausible, given that there are surely one or two folks down there who could figure out how to generate enough electricity to hang up some more light bulbs.)

Enough hype. The Matrix (1999) was a good movie; The MatrixReloaded?oversexed and over-reliant on fight sequences and cheap sentimentality?is not even that.

It?s no wonder, though, that both movies have become the phenomena that they are: in addition to being entertaining (the first one more so than the second), they suggest that a smorgasbord of shallowly conceived religions and philosophies are enough to cope with the perplexities of what many people today take to be a complicated world.

One wonders if maybe Mr. Cox hasn't missed the more interesting question raised in The Truman Show and The Matrix as well as in Brave New World--we call it the Gilligan's Island Question: if it were you there, would you want to leave? As far as Gilligan's Island is concerned, the answer has seemed to me--since I was five--heck no, it looked like fun. The castaways were given the opportunity to create a society of their choosing--to start the world anew.

But where the other three are concerned, where humans have had their freedom taken from them and are being manipulated by tv directors, computer programs, and drugs (respectively), we see the opposite scenario. Each world features a certain security, but is that level of security worth the sacrifice of control of your own life? The important thing here is that, though generations of us were brought up reading Brave New World as a dystopic novel and The Matrix is shot in such darkness as to imply dystopia, they are in reality utopias for many technophiles and Leftists. What, after all, is the promise of the Leftist project isf not that your every need will be satisfied at the hands of someone else? If egalitarianism and the satiation of material want is the end goal of your political philosophy, what exactly is wrong with Truman's life? Why leave the village? If happiness is what you seek, why leave the Brave New World? And if good looks, long life, physical happiness, etc., are the end goal of your philosophy, why leave the Matrix? How do Neo and Trinity (assuming they can control the program too) differ from the bioengineered/nanoteched beings that the clonophiles hope to become?

So here's the Gilligan's Island Question: would you break the matrix?



N.B.: I thought the Wachowskis' answer, in the first film, was: yes. However, as as Charles Murtaugh pointed out to us, Chris Suellentrop, writing in Slate, has warned that their answer may well be: no. Perhaps we might think of it this way: if "yes", the series will represent the Judeo-Christian/Anglo-American vision of Man's existence--to live in freedom; if "no", the French--to live in security.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:48 AM

STICKS AND STONES (via Drudge)

Chirac to embarrass Bush at G8 conference (Telegraph, 5/22/2003)
President Chirac is preparing to embarrass President Bush at the forthcoming G8 summit in France by laying out an agenda heavy on environmental, development and economic issues and light on the fight against terrorism....

He made clear yesterday that, despite the debacle over Iraq, he is clinging to his vision of a global balance of powers, with France as an alternative to America.

He said Evian's main goal would be "to build the institutions and rules of a global democracy, open and interconnected" ...

On the eve of the summit, 50 fires will be lit on the nearby Lake Léman to create a "lake of fire". Anarchists are planning an "anti-capitalist, anti-war" village.

I suspect the main purpose of "global democracy" is to end the freedom of the members of this "democracy" to go their own way. If so, it is another name for "global dictatorship." And it appeals mainly to those who hope to establish an anti-capitalist, anti-war "global village." Chirac and the anarchists aren't so far apart.

Be that as it may, all Bush has to do is smile and ignore Chirac and his issues. No reason whatsoever to be embarrassed. In fact, I would be embarrassed if he is embarrassed.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:30 AM

FRENCH HATCH NEW PLOT TO TAKE OVER EUROPE

France's Baby Boomlet (Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal Europe, 5/22/2003)
[Paris], so associated with history, style and the pleasures of consenting adults, is today overrun by kids. Everywhere you turn, in a park or on a narrow street, babies. Naturally, there are plenty of pregnant women too. In my office, five out of eight people have just had or are expecting a child....

Hard numbers confirm the French, to the surprise of demographers and policy makers, are in a fecund mood, just when most European countries, especially their fellow Catholic Latins, are decidedly not. The fertility rate has nudged up to 1.9 children per woman, up from 1.6 eight years ago. France is now on a par with Ireland, Europe's most fertile land, and just a notch below the U.S., at 2....

Other Europeans can merely envy France's predicament. The rapid aging of Europe has long been acknowledged as a threat to state-funded pension schemes. But it may have other consequences too. The Continent might see its population decline in coming decades, opening up another, and perhaps most serious, gap with America. True to form, France has stepped up to check the power of a growing hegemon across the Atlantic....

The other day, a government clerk was giving me great trouble with my temporary residence card, when I mentioned my daughter. "Why didn't you say you were the father of a French national before," said the official, her tone annoyed, before giving me a warm smile. "That changes everything." As a small contributor to the greatness of France, I'm suddenly on the fast track for a passport.

For Francophobes like me, this report is very encouraging. If they're tackling their demographic crisis already, can addressing their economic woes be far behind? A little freedom may soon be on its way to France. And once it takes hold, why shouldn't our nations be friends?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

FRIENDS TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE

Opposition blame Clark for fate of free trade deal (SHARON LUNDY, 22.05.2003, New Zealand Herald)
The United States rejection of a free trade deal with New Zealand is devastating for New Zealand and Prime Minister Helen Clark must take responsibility, opposition parties say.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick yesterday dashed hopes of a free trade agreement, citing too many objections from US farmers.

"A lot of their agricultural exports are ones that are very sensitive here," Mr Zoellick told the US House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, referring specifically to lamb and dairy products.

Mr Zoellick said the US was also disappointed with recent actions by New Zealand.

"There's been some things done recently that would make (a free trade agreement) harder to carry" to the US Congress, he said.

Helen Clark had to apologise to US President George W Bush's administration last month for her comments that the US would not have invaded Iraq if Al Gore were president.

However, she has stuck to her stance that New Zealand would support war in Iraq only if it was sanctioned by the United Nations.

National leader Bill English told NZPA today the blame for the rejection of a free trade deal lay squarely with Miss Clark.

"I think the US accepted that New Zealand could differ over the Iraqi war but unlike all their other friends and allies after the war started, Helen Clark went on a campaign of foot in mouth," he said. [...]

ACT leader Richard Prebble also said Helen Clark must take responsibility.

"Those statements were contrary to the national interest, they were made for partisan political reasons and Helen Clark, in order to pander to current polling, has significantly damaged the standard of living and prospects of successive generations of New Zealanders," he told NZPA.

"I'm hard-pressed to think of a foreign policy setback more serious than this one."

Miss Clark was warned her comments would have exactly the consequences they had had, Mr Prebble said.

However, she had not heeded those warnings and New Zealand's foreign affairs and trade policies were now in tatters.

"It now appears that a...nightmare is going to occur and that is for Australia to get a free trade agreement with the US, excluding New Zealand," he said.

"The Treasury's own modelling indicates that will be a very significant setback for the New Zealand economy."

The Bush administration has begun free trade talks with Australia, a strong supporter of the US war on terror, despite objections from many farm organisations.

New Zealand had hoped to eventually be linked into the US-Australia free trade pact.

But asked if that was a possibility, Mr Zoellick said: "That's not my present expectation."

More proof was offered by the fact Mr Bush planned to visit Australia, which strongly supported his Iraq action, later this year but not New Zealand.

Bush recently hosted Australian Prime Minister John Howard at his Texas Ranch and planned to reciprocate the visit in October, when he travels to Thailand for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum. No such trip was planned for New Zealand.

What's the point of carrying the big stick if you don't smack someone with it every once in awhile? New Zealand'll get their deal, but it's fun watching them squirm while the Aussies get the first class treatment.

May 21, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 PM

DOES ANYONE EDIT NEWSDAY?

Why Graham Will Win It (Jimmy Breslin, May 20, 2003, NY Newsday)
They put a drama about Hitler on CBS television, which was the idea of some complete fruitcake, and look what happens.

I am getting dressed to go to the Harvard Club to hear Sen. Bob Graham early Monday and here is Michael Bloomberg, the mayor, talking on TV about a police raid by a full dozen cops who threw in a grenade and handcuffed to death a 57-year-old working woman. Here is what Bloomberg says:

"The Police Department's motives are something that nobody should question."

How do you like him? How do you like the country he imagines he's in? The woman, Alberta Spruill, was dressing for a day of her 29th year of work. A dozen cops using some homeless bum as a stool pigeon come busting into the apartment of this black working woman, a church woman. They put handcuffs on her and frightened her to death.

When was the last time the cops broke into a white apartment?

That woman died because of her color and these 12 cops. If Bloomberg doesn't want to question the cops, then a federal grand jury should.

Bloomberg might figure out that he is the mayor of the city and not the mayor of the police.

After watching this, I went to the Harvard Club on West 44th Street, where Graham was making his first of several appearances around town. He runs for the Democratic nomination for president. I make him the favorite because I make him the favorite. The figures show that Bush lost the last election by 500,000 votes to Al Gore, the one worst stiff the Democrats could find. If you looked at Graham yesterday you saw an authentic candidate. [...]

At the Harvard Club yesterday, Graham spoke to a full room. A lot of the questions were about health issues. We must write about this later, and in careful detail. The first thing I noticed is that he happened to be sane. If you see this Bush in a crazed pose on an aircraft carrier, or Rumsfeld imitating a savage, Graham gets a vote by standing there as a reasonable, rational politician.

He said one of his issues is electability. "To win, a candidate has to be a centrist and have executive experience. Four of the last five presidents were governors. I was governor of Florida for eight years."

I despise centrists. I don't trust anybody south of Newark, N.J. And I know that another four years of these Bush people will put you in more oppression than ever seen and catastrophic violence abroad. Graham is my choice.

Graham was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and they put out a large report on the World Trade Center bombing. The administration hasn't declassified it for the public. They read 150 pages a month. "They don't want to release it," Graham said. "I use the word coverup."

He said he voted against the war in Iraq because it was going to distract us from the true danger, terrorists. He said that Saddam had limited ability to hurt us. There were no weapons of mass destruction. What we did was placate Syria because they had a vote on the UN Security Council. And Syria has conventions of terrorists.

"Let's focus on terrorist organizations. There are 100,000 terrorists. We can stand up to them. We stood up against far more Russians.

"Walls and security, a fortress America, would make this a different country."

He then went out into the bright sunshine and heavy New York traffic.

This column is so incoherent even Jayson Blair wouldn't plagiarize it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM

DON'T JUST STAND THERE...BLAME SOMEBODY

Euro a scapegoat for all ills of Europe (ALBERTO ALESINA and FRANCESCO GIAVAZZI, MAY 22, 2003, Straits Times)
THREE years ago, the European single currency, the euro, was born at an exchange rate of 1:US$1.17, which presumably was deemed to reflect appropriately price levels on both sides of the Atlantic at that time.

The euro's exchange rate has since endured a roller-coaster ride. Now, it has returned to almost exactly its opening level. So why is the European business community claiming that the 'super euro' is bringing calamity down upon their heads?

The answer is that blaming the euro is an easy way to deflect attention from the true cause of Europe's economic malaise: a surprisingly low level of productivity per capita.

Europe's low productivity reflects a simple statistical fact that fatally undermines relatively high productivity per hours worked: weak participation in the active labour force means that Europeans work a very low number of hours. [...]

Central bank intervention in the currency market is merely destabilising, and therefore counter-productive. The ECB was right to ignore the exchange rate when it fell to US$0.80, and it is right to ignore it today when it is close to US$1.20.

Most economists believe that central banks should target only inflation, which means cutting interest rates only when the economy slows down and inflation falls - which is precisely what the ECB has been doing.

The bottom line is that Europeans should worry and talk less about the euro exchange rate, and spend the time they save trying to address their real problems: low productivity, market rigidities, fiscal policies constrained by the Stability Pact, and bankrupt pension systems.

You know, some people must be surprised when the sun rises every day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 PM

THE GRAND UNIFIED THEORY

Pump-house of the heart: Zygmunt Bauman argues in Liquid Love that in the consumer age, human relationships are caught between our irreconcilable needs for security and freedom. Stuart Jeffries fears he may be right (Stuart Jeffries, April 19, 2003, The Guardian)
We're all uprooted and anxious now. Such, at least, is the contention of Zygmunt Bauman in this riveting and important book. Admittedly there's little in the way of specific class analysis here, for it is Bauman's view that all our traditional bonds are loosening their choke-holds. Those purportedly fixed and durable ties of family, class, religion, marriage and perhaps even love (we'll come back to that tricky notion) aren't as reliable or as desirable as they were. [...]

But the tone of Liquid Love isn't elegiacal, or not often. Rather, Bauman's book is a hymn to what he calls our liquid modern society. The hero of the book has no kinship ties and constantly has to use his skill, wits and dedication to create provisional bonds that are loose enough to stop suffocation, but tight enough to give a needed sense of security now that the traditional sources of solace are less reliable than ever. Bauman likes his hero's ingenuity, his upbeat determination never to be the odd man out like Hoggart's clever but doomed scholarship boys.

The metaphor of liquid courses through the book. Relationships are like Ribena for the new uprooted and anxious - taken undiluted, they are nauseating. Our deepest wish is to prevent our relationships from curdling and clotting (that, we fear, is what marriages used to be about). That's not to say that we're all hipster SDCs (semi-detached couples), the self-styled romantic revolutionaries who want separate pads from their partners and a Rolodex filled with ready lovers. We don't all want to pour water on troubled rela tionships, and the SDCs, so emblematic of the liquid modern age, provoke as much hostility as identification.

Instead, we're torn, as Freud recognised, between freedom and security, and Bauman's book is about how we try to create a livable balance between the two. Those who tilt the balance too far to freedom, are often to be found by Bauman rushing for home, desperate to be loved, eager to re-establish communities. But that's not to say that the liquid moderns want their old suffocating security back. They want the impossible: to have their cake and eat it, to be free and secure.

Sisyphus had it easy. The work of the liquid modern is likewise never done, but it takes much more imagination. Bauman finds his hero working everywhere - jabbering into mobile phones, addictively texting, leaping from one chat room to another, internet dating (whose key appeal, Bauman notes, is that you can always delete a date without pain or peril). The liquid modern is forever at work, forever replacing quality of relationship with quantity.

What's the significance of all this anxious work? For Bauman, the medium isn't the message - the new gadgets we use hardly determine who we are. Nor are the messages that people send each other significant in themselves; rather, the message is the circulation of messages. The sense of belonging or security that the liquid modern creates consists in being cocooned in a web of messages. That way, we hope, the vexing problem of freedom and security will disappear.

We text, argues Bauman, therefore we are. "We belong," he writes, "to the even flow of words and unfinished sentences (abbreviated, to be sure, truncated to speed up the circulation). We belong to talking, not what talking is about . . . Stop talking - and you are out. Silence equals exclusion." Derrida was on to something when he wrote " Il n'y a pas dehors du texte," though not for the reason he supposed. It is that the fear of silence and the exclusion it implies makes us anxious that our ingeniously assembled security will fall apart.

-EXCERPT: from CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS by Sigmund Freud
The existence of this tendency to aggression which we can detect in ourselves and rightly presume to be present in others is the factor that disturbs our relations with our neighbours and makes it necessary for culture to institute its high demands. Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one another. Their interests in their common work would not hold them together; the passions of instinct are stronger than reasoned interests. Culture has to call up every possible reinforcement in order to erect barriers against the aggressive instincts of men and hold their manifestations in check by reaction-formations in men's minds. Hence its system of methods by which mankind is to be driven to identifications and aim-inhibited love-relationships; hence the restrictions on sexual life; and hence, too, its ideal command to love one's neighbour as oneself, which is really justified by the fact that nothing is so completely at variance with original human nature as this. With all its striving, this endeavour of culture's has so far not achieved very much. Civilization expects to prevent the worst atrocities of brutal violence by taking upon itself the right to employ violence against criminals, but the law is not able to lay hands on the more discreet and subtle forms in which human aggressions are expressed. The time comes when every one of us has to abandon the illusory anticipations with which in our youth we regarded our fellow-men, and when we realize how much hardship and suffering we have been caused in life through their ill-will. It would be unfair, however, to reproach culture with trying to eliminate all disputes and competition from human concerns. These things are undoubtedly indispensable; but opposition is not necessarily enmity, only it may be misused to make an opening for it.

The Communists believe they have found a way of delivering us from this evil. Man is wholeheartedly good and friendly to his neighbour, they say, but the system of private property has corrupted his nature. The possession of private property gives power to the individual and thence the temptation arises to ill-treat his neighbour; the man who is excluded from the possession of property is obliged to rebel in hostility against the oppressor. If private property were abolished, all valuables held in common and all allowed to share in the enjoyment of them, ill-will and enmity would disappear from among men. Since all needs would be satisfied, none would have any reason to regard another as an enemy; all would willingly undertake the work which is necessary. I have no concern with any economic criticisms of the communistic system; I cannot enquire into whether the abolition of private property is advantageous and expedient. But I am able to recognize that psychologically it is rounded on an untenable illusion. By abolishing private property one deprives the human love of aggression of one of its instruments, a strong one undoubtedly, but assuredly not the strongest. It in no way alters the individual differences in power and influence which are turned by aggressiveness to its own use, nor does it change the nature of the instinct in any way. This instinct did not arise as the result of property; it reigned almost supreme in primitive times when possessions were still extremely scanty; it shows itself already in the nursery when possessions have hardly grown out of their original anal shape; it is at the bottom of all the relations of affection and love between human beings--possibly with the single exception of that of a mother to her male child. Suppose that personal rights to material goods are done away with, there still remain prerogatives in sexual relationships, which must arouse the strongest rancour and most violent enmity among men and women who are otherwise equal. Let us suppose this were also to be removed by instituting complete liberty in sexual life, so that the family, the germ-cell of culture, ceased to exist; one could not, it is true, foresee the new paths on which cultural development might then proceed, but one thing one would be bound to expect, and that is that the ineffaceable feature of human nature would follow wherever it led.

Men clearly do not find it easy to do without satisfaction of this tendency to aggression that is in them; when deprived of satisfaction of it they are ill at ease. There is an advantage, not to be undervalued, in the existence of smaller communities, through which the aggressive instinct can find an outlet in enmity towards those outside the group. It is always possible to unite considerable numbers of men in love towards one another, so long as there are still some remaining as objects for aggressive manifestations. I once interested myself in the peculiar fact that peoples whose territories are adjacent, and are otherwise closely related, are always at feud with and ridiculing each other, as, for instance, the Spaniards and the Portuguese, the North and South Germans, the English and the Scotch, and so on. I gave it the name of' narcissism in respect of minor differences, which does not do much to explain it. One can now see that it is a convenient and relatively harmless form of satisfaction for aggressive tendencies, through which cohesion amongst the members of a group is made easier. The Jewish people, scattered in all directions as they are, have in this way rendered services which deserve recognition to the development of culture in the countries where they settled; but unfortunately not all the massacres of Jews in the Middle Ages sufficed to procure peace and security for their Christian contemporaries. Once the apostle Paul had laid down universal love between all men as the foundation of his Christian community, the inevitable consequence in Christianity was the utmost intolerance towards all who remained outside of it; the Romans, who had not rounded their state on love, were not given to lack of religious toleration, although religion was a concern of the state, and the state was permeated through and through with it. Neither was it an unaccountable chance that the dream of a German world-dominion evoked a complementary movement towards anti-semitism; and it is quite intelligible that the attempt to establish a new communistic type of culture in Russia should find psychological support in the persecution of the bourseois. One only wonders, with some concern, however, how the Soviets will manage when they have exterminated their bourgeois entirely.

If civilization requires such sacrifices, not only of sexuality but also of the aggressive tendencies in mankind, we can better understand why it should be so hard for men to feel happy in it. In actual fact primitive man was better off in this respect, for he knew nothing of any restrictions on his instincts. As a set-off against this, his prospects of enjoying his happiness for any length of time were very slight. Civilized man has exchanged some part of his chances of happiness for a measure of security.

One finds it terribly disturbing to find onself agreeing--mostly--with Sigmund Freud. The whole need-to-satisfy-aggressive-tendencies schtick seems absurd, but the notion that Man is torn between competing desires to be free on the one hand but secure on the other is, we think, the tension that has driven all of human history and permeates every political issue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 PM

SORRY, FRANCE IS OFFERING A CAR IN THEIR PACKAGE...

Illegal Immigrants Get Resident Tuition (PETER PRENGAMAN, May 21, 2003, AP)
Nineteen-year-old Francisco Urenda wants to become a doctor. The state of Oregon may help him make his dream come true - even though he is an illegal immigrant.

Oregon may be about to join a growing number states that are offering cheaper, in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants in a move supporters say will help them become productive, taxpaying members of society. Opponents say the idea will only encourage illegal immigration. [...]

A bill pending in the Oregon Legislature would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition as long as they graduate from an Oregon high school, have lived at least three consecutive years in the state and show they are in the process of getting legal residency.

The bill has passed the Senate and seems to have a chance in the Republican-controlled House, despite Oregon's worst budget crisis in decades.

Supported by Democrats and many Republicans, the measure reflects the growing importance of the state's Hispanic population, which has doubled in the past decade to more than 275,000 out of Oregon's 3.4 million people.

"This is about fairness," said Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat who introduced the bill.

Jim Moore, a political analyst, said there is more at play here than altruism: "Republicans and Democrats are trying to get the Latino community to support their parties. The Latino community is up for grabs."

Because of declining birthrates and the cost of retirements, we aren't far from the day when prospective immigrants will be able to pit Western nations against each in bidding for their services.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:53 PM

WELL, THAT WAS EASY ENOUGH...

Dividend Tax Cut Cost More Than Thought (MARY DALRYMPLE, 5/21/03, AP)
Senators who approved a suspension of taxes on investor dividends last week underestimated the cost of the measure by $70 billion because of an error by congressional tax experts.

The mistake was discovered as House and Senate negotiators sat down to combine their tax bills.

The chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees met for nearly four hours late Tuesday. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., said the chairmen were "near agreement" but wanted to see a detailed analysis of the cost of the framework. "We've made some tentative agreements," Thomas said.

Democrats said the mathematical mistake discovered in the Senate's tax bill could hamper negotiations with Republicans over combining it with a version passed by the House.

"It was a significant error, and as a result will complicate the conference" committee negotiations, said Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the mistake by tax experts on the Joint Committee on Taxation could be easily fixed but Democrats refused to let them make the change. "Some Democrats apparently don't care about the policy or the cost," Grassley said. "They just want to exploit a mistake for political gain."

Discovery of the error boosts the cost of the proposed tax cuts to $420 ? well beyond the $350 billion limit that senators had imposed on themselves while writing a $2.2 trillion budget governing tax and spending bills. Democrats opposed to the dividend tax cut lost their chance to object to the amendment based on its cost.

You've got to love the way they talk about this stuff as if had they gotten the math right they were going to be able to nail the true cost of the cuts. All of these projected numbers are pretty worthless--what's seventy billion here or there?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:04 PM

PENIS ENVY

Bush's Basket: Why the President Had to Show His Balls (Richard Goldstein, May 21 - 27, 2003, Village Voice)
In the annals of infotainment, few moments match the sight of George Bush leaping from the cockpit of a fighter jet and striding across the deck of a carrier at sea. Top Gun: The Pseudo Event enchanted the public, horrified liberals, and galvanized the press. Suddenly media mavens noticed that Bush's handlers have elevated the photo-op to pure cinema. So what else is new?

Actually there was something novel about this occasion, but it passed utterly below the radar. Discretion prevented anyone from mentioning that Bush's outfit gave him a very vivid basket. This was the first a time a president literally showed his balls. Check it out--your subconscious already has.

This manly exhibition was no accident. The media team that timed Bush's appearance to catch just the right tone of sunlight must have chosen that uniform and had him try it on. I can't prove they gave him a sock job, but clearly they thought long and hard about the crotch shot. As students of the cinematic, they would know that the trick is to make the bulge seem natural, so it registers without raising an issue. Tight jeans (a staple of Bush's dress-down attire) can achieve this look, but nothing works like fighter-pilot drag, with its straps that frame and shape the groin. Most people presume this effect is merely functional. That frees the imagination to work, and work it does, in men and women alike.

Say what you will about the male body being objectified. We may expect a dude to display himself like an Abercrombie & Fitch model--but the president? Clearly Bush's handlers want to leave the impression that he's not just courageous and competent but hung. Why is this message important to send? That's a very salient question, if only because it's unlikely to be addressed.

It's hard to believe that any non-gay male would have noticed this--in fact I still don't see it--but this would manifestly not be the first such incident even if it was intentionally staged. There were minor dust-ups concerning phallocentric photos of both Al Gore and Bill Clinton.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:12 PM

HAS THE LEFT FINALLY GONE INSANE?

Rights Coalition Files Suit Over Colo. Vouchers Law (Michael A. Fletcher, May 21, 2003, Washington Post)
A coalition of civil rights groups, teachers unions and parents yesterday filed a lawsuit challenging a new Colorado law that allows low-income students attending "unsatisfactory" public schools to attend private or parochial schools at taxpayer expense.

And so we come to the point where these groups, which supposedly have the interests of the underprivileged in mind, go to court to keep children in inferior schools. Madness...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 PM

MOVIN' ON

Whitman Resigns From EPA (JOHN HEILPRIN, May 21, 2003, The Associated Press)
Christie Whitman, who has often been at odds with the White House over environmental issues, submitted her resignation Wednesday as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Whitman said in a letter to President Bush that she was leaving to spend time with family.

"As rewarding as the past two-and-a-half years have been for me professionally, it is time to return to my home and husband in New Jersey, which I love just as you do your home state of Texas," she wrote Bush.

With Whitman's departure, Bush loses one of the most prominent women in his Cabinet - a moderate former New Jersey governor selected by the president to help soften his image as a political conservative, particularly on environmental issues.

Whitman had a history of clashing with the White House, starting with the president's abrupt decision to withdraw from the international global warming treaty. She had been the administration's point person in rolling back environmental protections initiated by previous administrations.

As his re-election campaign gears up, Bush's senior staff and advisers consider the next few months as optimum time to leave the government; otherwise, they will be expected to remain aboard until after the 2004 election. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer announced Monday that he will resign in July.

Ms Whitman was on The Diane Rehm Show yesterday, and sounded like she was ready to move home to be with her husband, though she didn't announce it was imminent.

This would be an ideal time for George W. Bush to strip the administrator of Cabinet rank and fold the agency into the Interior Department. Won't happen.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:27 AM

THE ULTIMATE WELFARE STATE

The delusional American vision (Israel Harel, Ha'aretz, 5/21/2003)
Let us assume that for the sake of realizing Bush's vision Israel will uproot the settlements and withdraw to the June 4, 1967 lines. The area of the Palestinian state would then be some 5,500 square kilometers - 5,210 sq.km. in Judea and Samaria and 380 in the Gaza Strip. In that small area there are about 3.2 million people. That's just over 580 people per sq.km....

In the Gaza Strip, for example, there are now 1.25 million people living in 376 sq.km. or 3,300 per sq.km. The natural increase in Gaza, according to statistics compiled by the World Bank, is the highest in the world - about 7 children per family. The population of the strip, according to those same statistics, will double in another 17 years. This means that in 2020 this piece of land, which is smaller than some ranches in Texas, Wyoming or North Dakota, will be home to 2.5 million people, or 6,600 persons per sq.km.

Who will be able to provide housing, health, education or sewage - never mind jobs - for these overcrowded, unemployed, hungry and frustrated millions?...

In 2020 Judea and Samaria will have more than 3 million inhabitants ...

[C]lose to 75 percent of Gaza's population and about 70 percent of the population of Judea and Samaria are under the age of 20 ...

There is no doubt that the Palestinians, and not just so that their state will be viable, will not and cannot make do with a tiny area of 5,500 square kilometers. If they are not given additional land, such as in Sinai or on the other side of the Jordan river, they will target their frustration on Israel. Even after a full withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, [Israel] will continue to control 80 percent of the land the Palestinians view as their homeland. Then, with the status of a state in the full sense of international law, they will renew their bloody war. That is the outcome we may expect from the American president's vision.

One of the untold stories of the Palestinian catastrophe is the corrupting effects of their dependency on international welfare. For decades in Gaza and in the refugee camps of the West Bank, Palestinians have had no real economy, and been supported by international aid. The result of welfare dependency is social atomization, selfishness, and a general inability and unwillingness to cooperate with or serve others. And a favorite way to relieve the tedium is babymaking -- creating children whom others will support.

A solution to the Palestinian problem is difficult because some of the key moral supports for civil society are missing. The terrorists can be defeated; but the challenge of building a civil Palestinian society in the wake of Arafat and the UN will be great.

Mr. Harel asks "who will provide for these millions?" He should rather ask how they can be become productive members of a voluntaristic economy.

Mr. Harel, though he supposes himself to be making a case against Palestinian statehood, actually makes a strong argument for Orrin's recommendation: a unilateral Israeli declaration of Palestinian statehood. Does Israel really want to maintain some sort of responsibility for 5.5 million Palestinians, 70% of them children?

Mr. Harel makes a common mistake -- treating Palestinian sentiment as inevitable and immutable. In truth, Israel has given the Palestinians no attractive reasons to change their sentiments: Palestinian terror has never proven costly, it has even been rewarded with concessions; and Palestinian gentleness has not been rewarded. Israel has to become tougher against terror and tyranny, and those who support terror and tyranny. If Israel maintains its sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, then it has to protect ordinary Palestinians and create space for civil associations and independent views, by defending ordinary Palestinians and punishing perpetrators of crimes like this, just as it would if the victims were Israelis. And if Israel prefers to create a Palestinian state, and if that state wages war via terror, Israel must lose its qualms about responding with deadly force.

As for the U.S., we could make a positive contribution just by pushing to reduce international aid to the Palestinians. Aid should be conditioned on an end to terror; and we should have a long-term goal of weaning Palestinians from international aid entirely. This is a time for "tough love," not sentimentality.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:48 AM

INTO THE LION'S DEN

Bush Weighs Mideast Trip as Peace Plan Ebbs (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 5/21/03, NY Times)
President Bush, intervening to salvage his administration's battered Middle East peace plan, today called the new Palestinian prime minister for the first time, and administration officials said he was considering traveling to the region in the next few weeks for the first time as president.

Administration officials said that in his conversation with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Bush urged him to take "concrete steps" to disarm Hamas and other groups that have carried out attacks against Israelis. He later telephoned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, they said, asking him to ease the harsh conditions for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

The president's unusually direct involvement in the Middle East situation reflected what administration officials said was a growing fear that without more assertive involvement from Washington, the chances to settle the Israeli-Palestinian disputes could disappear into a vortex of more violence. [...]

In a separate development, administration officials said that to rekindle the prospects for peace, Mr. Sharon was being pressed to consider doing something dramatic that would not directly affect Israeli security, like dismantling a small number of Jewish settlements established in the last two years.

A couple of weeks ago, these officials said, two top White House aides--Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, and Elliott Abrams, director of Middle East affairs on the national security staff--took a helicopter trip across Israel with Mr. Sharon.

Administration officials said at the time that the trip was an attempt by Mr. Sharon to show them the precariousness of Israel's security situation, as he had done with other visitors, including Mr. Bush before he was president.

In fact, the officials said, the helicopter trip was partly intended for them to get a bird's eye view of Jewish settlements to see which ones would eventually be frozen or even dismantled as part of the peace negotiations. The peace plan calls implicitly for settlements to be dismantled as part of a final settlement, its drafters say.

A trip by Mr. Bush to the Middle East was uncertain, administration officials said, and his aides were said to disagree over whether he should become more personally involved at all in the Israeli-Palestinian morass.

They should go even further--Mr. Bush should meet with Mr. Abbas on Palestinian territory. It would not only send an important message to the Palestinian people, but the courage required would wash away the bad taste of his scurrying to Nebraska on 9-11.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

CONFUSING HONESTY

A Weakened Treasury (NY Times, May 21, 2003)
Somewhere, Alexander Hamilton must be having a fit. The once considerable prestige of his Treasury Department is much eroded these days. The Bush administration's pursuit of its reckless fiscal policy of tax cuts at any cost and its brazen willingness to embrace protectionist measures like farm subsidies have undermined America's ability to lead on global economic matters, one of a Treasury secretary's key missions.

It was often said in the first two years of the Bush presidency that there was a considerable stature gap between Mr. Bush's foreign policy and defense team, on the one hand, and his economic team. So halftime substitutions were made. Out went Paul O'Neill, the gaffe-prone Treasury secretary who lacked credibility because he made it known that he did not fully believe in the policies he was being asked to sell. In came John Snow, whose credibility is impaired by the fact that he may actually believe in those policies, which are now discredited by everyone from the chairman of the Federal Reserve to many on Wall Street. Even worse, if he does not believe in them--Mr. Snow was once known as a deficit hawk--he is still willing
to act the part of committed salesman.

His credibility in question, Mr. Snow has had a difficult time in recent weeks explaining the administration's policy on the dollar, which has lost almost a third of its value against the euro in the past year. The greenback had been overvalued, and its slide is not all bad. It gives American exports a boost and helps counteract deflationary pressures. But the euro's rise may harm the continent's already struggling economies.

The Treasury is right not to intervene to prop up the dollar, but the secretary is antagonizing America's trading partners by erring in the other direction by suggesting--without quite saying--that the administration has abandoned its strong dollar policy and that the currency still has a way to fall. That sows dangerous confusion in currency markets. If foreign investors are sufficiently unnerved, they could cause a financial panic by taking their money and investing it elsewhere.

I must have missed something here--how precisely does the Administration's rather blunt disbelief in the Clinton policy of intervention in currency markets sow "dangerous confusion"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 AM

AN APOLOGIST'S MANIFESTO

The Obsessions of Kim Jong Il: America should focus less on Kim Jong Il's eccentricities and more on his ideology, which has nothing in common with Soviet-style communism. (B. R. Myers, 5/19/03, NY Times)
There was a time when the specter of communism frightened Americans into digging bomb shelters in their backyards. Today, improbably enough, the frequent characterization of North Korea as a Stalinist or hard-line Communist nation appears to be having a calming effect, perhaps because it evokes a happy time when all America's enemies were cold-hearted materialists who could therefore be reasoned with.

If it takes misperceptions to get everyone talking, then maybe they're not such a bad thing. But it would be dangerous for America to believe that it has negotiated successfully with Kim Jong Il's kind before. Mr. Kim is not a Stalinist in any relevant sense, and his party's "juche" ideology has nothing in common with the Soviet-style communism his father espoused during the Korean War. [...]

While communism was always an internationalist movement, juche (literally, self-reliance) sees the world in ethnic terms. North Korean propaganda makes no distinction between American capitalists and American workers; the entire "Yankee" race is presented as inherently evil, degenerate and ugly. Dictionaries and textbooks suggest that Americans be described with bestial attributes ("snout" for nose, for example).

The central villain of Han Sorya's novella "Jackals" (1951), the country's most enduring work of fiction, tells of an American child who beats a Korean boy so brutally that he ends up in a hospital--where he is murdered by the American's missionary parents. Since the South Korean government began pursuing its policy of rapprochement, the North's ethnocentric world view has become even more stark; the United States is now presented as being exclusively responsible for all tensions on the peninsula.

This propaganda appears to be effective even among North Koreans opposed to the rule of Kim Jong Il. When I visited a resettlement center for refugees near Seoul last year, many of those to whom I was introduced as an American recoiled in terror or glared at me in hatred.

The glorification of spontaneous violence, sweeping hatred of the American people, and a budding nuclear capacity: the combination is liable, as P. G. Wodehouse would say, to start a train of thought. Perhaps some in Washington can sleep better by believing that Kim Jong Il has an urbane and sensible take on the political culture he inherited from his father in 1994. But none other than Mr. Kim was at the head of the party's propaganda apparatus when it went into overdrive in the mid- to late 1960's. Too much is made of his much-publicized love of pizza and Hollywood videos; while his hedonism may make him a hypocrite, it's highly unlikely that it signifies any real affection for the West.

In short, Mr. Kim stands for more than just a desire to stay in power. America should focus less on his eccentricities and more on his ideology, especially since the anti-Americanism at its core is as heartfelt and popular as the anti-Americanism that led to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. Diplomacy cannot succeed until the Bush administration begins addressing the historical basis for this hatred.

A good start would be a public apology for the excesses of the American air campaign in the Korean War: the saturation bombing of North Korean cities, the use of napalm, the attacks on irrigation dams in order to cause flooding.

We too would suggest that Mr. Bush offer an apology--to the people of North Korea for not liberating them fifty years ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM

THE LEOPARD'S SPOTS

Hanging the Judge: Crouch, Jazz & the All-American Skin Game (Daniel King, May 14 - 20, 2003, Village Voice)
In a recent issue of JazzTimes magazine, Stanley Crouch accuses white critics of elevating white musicians "far beyond their abilities" to "make themselves feel more comfortable about . . . evaluating an art from which they feel substantially alienated." Crouch also claims that white writers, who were born in "middle-class china shops," ensure "the destruction of the Negro aesthetic" by advancing musicians who can't swing at the expense of those who can. While people can argue whether that column, "Putting the White Man in Charge" (April 2003), is typical Crouch, the usual does allegedly include sniping at performers and critics, cursing out colleagues, and receiving more complaints than any other contributor. Still, when JazzTimes, the most widely read magazine in jazz, fired him after running that column, questions arose as to whether there was a connection between his accusations and his removal.

"Hi, Stanley--We've decided to end your column," begins the e-mail, sent to him a few weeks ago. "You've made your point many times about what jazz is and who can play it, and we feel the column has now run its course. It's time for us to move on. Thank you for your contributions to JazzTimes over the past year."

"He was also routinely late with copy," adds Chris Porter, the magazine's managing editor. "His columns were becoming tedious, generally alternating between vitriolic rants and celebrations of his buddies."

"Sure, I was late, but then I ceased to be late," answers Crouch. "That a writer of my status and reputation would be dismissed in this way, with no discussion at all, constitutes some serious brand of injustice.. . . How does my article constitute a 'vitriolic rant'? Because I challenge ideas without holding your hand?"

To a JazzTimes contributor--23, white, and close friends with Porter--Crouch's allegations, and his pink slip, are fiercely personal. Crouch is writing about writers like me, whose white editors apparently fire black critics for criticizing us. Crouch's dismissal arises from the fact that we whites do get upset when we're attacked; that we often use tardiness and redundancy to deflect allegations that we are, as he says, "intimidated by Negroes," and that we "use that Negro as a weapon" against our "own middle-class backgrounds." Instead of providing Crouch's in-your-face ideas a platform in the magazine, Porter censored any more such views, at least in his backyard.

Obviously they're under no obligation to provide him with a forum for his ranting, but why hire him if not to be provocative? This is like when radio stations fire shock-jocks after they inevitably say something stupid. Why is the management that hired such people never held accountable?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

BAYHWAYS

Bayh?s vote for tax cut vexes Dems (Geoff Earle, May 21, 2003, The Hill)
Several Senate Democrats voiced surprise and disappointment Tuesday at Sen. Evan Bayh?s (D-Ind.) decision to vote for President Bush?s tax cut proposal.

Some of them have also questioned Bayh?s political reasoning, noting that he holds a relatively safe seat in a Republican leaning state.

?I don?t think any of us expected Bayh?s vote,? said one Democratic senator who declines to be quoted by name.

With Bayh?s help, the tax cut cleared the Senate last week by a slim 51-49 majority. [...]

Two other Democrats, Sens. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) also supported the Senate version.

Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), the Democrats? chief deputy whip and a key negotiator on tax issues, said: ?I didn?t know what [Bayh] was going to do. I hadn?t talked to him about it.?

Breaux added that the Democrats didn?t conduct a whip count on the vote. ?It was a surprise. Everyone?s got to do what he thinks he needs to do to represent his own state. It?s his deal.?[...]

Bayh, who heads the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of Democratic centrists, has been considered a rising star in Democratic politics. He turned down a chance to run for governor of Indiana, a job he already held for two terms.

His popularity and wide name identification (buoyed by his father Birch Bayh?s long Indiana political career) have given him a relatively safe seat, even though Indiana is considered a largely Republican state. Bayh is up for reelection in 2004.

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Tuesday that Indiana is not a top-tier target for the group.

Bayh has also been mentioned as a candidate for national office, although he declined to join several other Senate colleagues in jumping into the race for the presidency. He has also been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick, although one Democratic senator questioned how Bayh?s tax cut vote might play among Democratic base voters.

?He?s a guy who is interested in national office at some point,? said the senator. ?In terms of being put on a ticket this year as a second choice, that vote isn?t in the right direction. I would think it would be hard voting for that bill to be warmly received by a convention.?

It's quite astonishing that this story ignores the fact that Evan Bayh was the campaign manager for his three-term incumbent father, Birch, in 1980 when he lost a safe Senate seat to an inconsequential bit of fluff, Dan Quayle. That's not the kind of lesson that politicians ever forget. And given that George W. Bush carried Indiana by 16% in 2000, while he was losing the popular vote nationwide to Al Gore, one can easily imagine him posting a 20% margin this time. Mr. Bayh is a popular former governor of the state and should win, but he'd be a fool to take it for granted.

The other possibility that's ignored here is that Mr. Bayh sees his best chance of moving up to the national stage as serving in the next Bush cabinet. After the 2004 Senate election, Democrats may well be reduced to not only a long-term but a vetoable minority. With Southerners like Bob Graham, John Edwards, and Fritz Hollings on their way out, possibly along with the current "moderate" leadership--Tom Daschle and Harry Reid--Mr. Bayh also faces a caucus likely to be led by the Party's more liberal members, who will proceed with an agenda antithetical to his own political interests, if not his personal views. Being a Senator may be one of the best jobs in the world, but being an out of favor member of a semi-permanent minority can't look very inviting. On the other hand, absent the bitterness of the Florida debacle, President Bush is likely to be able to prevail on some Democrats more substantial than Norm Minetta to join his next government. Mr. Bayh's moderate politics and gubernatorial experience--joined with a few helpful votes on major legislation--would make him a natural choice for a significant post.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

SPREADING THE LACK OF WEALTH

Study Shows Poverty in U.S. Less Concentrated (ROBERT PEAR, May 18, 2003, NY Times)
Poverty in the United States became far less concentrated in the 1990's as public housing projects were torn down and millions of poor people left urban slums for other neighborhoods, a new study of Census Bureau data says.

The number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods declined by 2.5 million, or 24 percent, to 7.9 million in 2000 from 10.4 million in 1990, the researchers said.

The author of the study, Paul A. Jargowsky, an associate professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas, described this as "a significant turnaround from the 1970-1990 period, during which the population in high-poverty neighborhoods doubled."

In 1990, 15 percent of all poor people lived in high-poverty neighborhoods. By 2000, the proportion had declined to 10 percent, according to the study, issued today by the Brookings Institution.

"Concentrated poverty - the share of the poor living in high-poverty neighborhoods - declined among all racial and ethnic groups, especially African-Americans," Mr. Jargowsky said.

In 1990, 30 percent of poor blacks lived in high-poverty neighborhoods. Ten years later, the proportion was 19 percent.

Mr. Jargowsky said the changes were generally beneficial.

No social policy was ever more disastrous than the warehousing of the underclass in massive public housing projects, which did nothing more than concentrate pathologies to the degree that they seemed like normalcy. The movement of the poor back into the mainstreams of American life can only be to the good. Both housing and school vouchers seem like effective means to achieve this end.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 AM

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED



On this day in 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh landed his plane near Paris. If all you know of him is the Nazi-sympathizer caricature that FDR and his other political enemies hung on him, both his own self-written, Pulitzer-winning memoir, The Spirit of St. Louis, and A. Scott Berg's recent biography, Lindbergh, are outstanding.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:02 AM

A RACING BULLDOZER

To increase "trust," armed Palestinian guards allowed into Sharon's office (Ellis Shuman??May 21, 2003, Israeli Insider)
In an exceptional move, armed Palestinian guards accompanying Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen were allowed into the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when the two leaders met in Jerusalem on Saturday night, ynet reported exclusively today. Politicians called for the head of the Shin Bet security service to resign as a result, but others said this was a necessary step to build trust between the sides.

According to the strict security measures that the General Security Service (GSS - Shin Bet) enforced after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister's Office is considered a "sterile area" and no one except for the guards in the Personal Protection Unit of the GSS are permitted to carry weapons in it. [...]

"I am shocked at the report and call for the head of the Shin Bet to resign," said MK Yehiel Hazan (Likud), in response to the ynet report. "Based on the bad experiences we have had with the Palestinians, I don't see Abu Mazen as trustworthy, and certainly not his guards."

But MK Ehud Yatom (Likud) said allowing the armed guards into Sharon's office "was a correct step to build trust and clear the air. Armed Israeli security guards are also allowed into President Bush's quarters," he said.

Mr. Sharon is well out in front of the hawks--in Israel and in America--who can't bring themselves to believe he's serious. They'd better catch up fast, because, regardless of the stale rhetoric the government feels compelled to offer after terrorist acts, he's going to deliver a Palestinian state whether
folks are ready or not.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 AM

BEGINNINGS

A political culture is born (Noga Tarnopolsky, May. 20, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
[A]bu Mazen, who can still count on more than a few obstacles and more than a few difficult days ahead, courtesy of Fatah, is not the issue here.

The issue is the fact that his appointment was accepted, even demanded, by the Palestinian people. That is the important move. Abu Mazen himself may well fail, for any number of reasons. He may even attempt something awful and Arafatesque, such as lying openly to the president of the United States and not just to another Israeli premier.

But if he does, another prime minister will follow. The simple fact of having a prime minister is the important step. The position itself counts more than the man.

Having heard the open fights "yes Dahlan", "no Dahlan" will lead the way, eventually to more arguments, more demands.

What we are talking about is the creation of a political culture. Eventually, after immeasurable bloodshed, the Palestinian Sadat will arise to Arafat's Nasser. And it will remain for us to find a new Begin.

Difficult as it is for those who have known him as the Bulldozer for 50 years to believe, Ariel Sharon appears to recognize that Israel's best chance for peace is for him to be that new Begin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 AM

AMERICAN TRAGEDY

We just posted our review of Gordon S. Wood's Pulitzer-winning Radicalism of the American Revolution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

A FEW FEWER GOOD MEN

Slain Gay Soldier's Case Slows a General's Rise (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5/18/03)
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has delayed for the second time a vote on the promotion of an Army general who commanded a base where a gay soldier was beaten to death by a fellow soldier. The delay gives the committee more time to consider the general's responsibility for what happened.

Maj. Gen. Robert T. Clark was commander of Fort Campbell, Ky., in 1999, when Pfc. Barry Winchell, 21, was bludgeoned to death in his barracks at the end of a beer-soaked evening.

The committee had been expected to vote on General Clark's promotion to lieutenant general as early as next week, Senate aides said. Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who is chairman of the committee, postponed the vote after meeting with Private Winchell's parents. [...]

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay rights group that monitors military justice, is leading the effort against General Clark's promotion. The group has been joined by the Democratic National Committee, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Organization for Women and People for the American Way.

"Diversity and tolerance should be the pillars that hold this nation together," said Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The organizations seeking to block General Clark's promotion contend that Private Winchell's slaying was a hate crime rooted in homophobia, and that the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy has left gays and lesbians in the military to suffer in silence or leave. [...]

Other soldiers at Fort Campbell said Private Winchell had been called names and subjected to an inquiry into his private life, although such inquiries are supposed to be forbidden by military policy. Opponents of General Clark's promotion contend that the taunts directed at Private Winchell were part of a culture that the general should not have allowed to develop at the base.

An investigation by the Army's inspector general exonerated all officers, including General Clark, and said no climate of homophobia existed at the base. But the investigation also found that some members of the unit in which the killing took place, a company within the 101st Airborne Division, held antigay attitudes.

In 1999, Calvin Glover of Sulphur, Okla., a private at Fort Campbell, was found guilty of premeditated murder in the case and sentenced to life in prison.

Ever get the feeling that the purpose of reality is to confirm
Tom Wolfe
?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM

JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM

Numbers Alone Expose a Bad Lie (Thomas Boswell, May 20, 2003, Washington Post)
In discussions of what Annika Sorenstam will shoot this week in the Colonial, only one aspect of her performance is overlooked: the facts.

You would think that no human had ever before moved back and played from a different set of tees. Actually, few things are more common in golf.

You would think that no one had ever calibrated the difference in difficulty between one set of tees and another, then, after examining thousands of rounds, reduced that difference to a simple number. Yet exactly such numbers are on the scorecards of almost every first-rate golf course.

You would think that nobody had ever noticed that men on the Champions Tour (formerly the Senior Tour) play on courses of similar length to many LPGA events. In fact, there's no great difference in how a normal Champions Tour event and many top LPGA events are "set up."

Given the parallels between conditions on the Champions Tour and the LPGA Tour, you'd think everybody would intuitively ask: "Well, how many strokes higher do Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw shoot when they take a crack at the PGA Tour? Annika will shoot about that much higher, too."

But, so far, nobody has asked such questions. Certainly no one in Las Vegas, where the "over-under" line on Sorenstam's first round at Colonial is 76.5. The guys in Vegas better polish up that line before all the female golfers in America find out about it and end up owning the Strip.

Even Sorenstam couldn't hold her tongue when told about that cynical gambler's estimate of her ability. "I can do better than that," she told lpga.com.

By any and all available statistical methods, it is reasonable to assume that Sorenstam's average score, if she played the PGA Tour, would be about 71, perhaps 71.5 -- compared to her stroke average of 68.7 on the LPGA Tour last year. Above 72 is almost out of the question.

In other words, if Sorenstam played the PGA Tour full time, she'd probably crack the top 100, make the cut about half the time and, perhaps a couple of times in her career, win a regular weekly Tour event.

All of the data available, and there's a ton of it, indicates that Sorenstam, whose average drive this season is 275 yards, should feel right at home at Colonial. She's not out of her league. Actually, she's probably right in the middle of it in terms of talent. She's a typical PGA Tour pro. Most likely, this is the first time she's been in the right golf league for her. On the LPGA Tour, where she won 11 times '02, she's just much too good.

Who is she like statistically? Probably a Tour player such as 5-foot-9 Jay Williamson. He had a 71.38 scoring average last year and had an average drive of 275.8 yards. He's finished 125, 106, 109 and 144 on the money list the last four years and made the cut 47 percent of the time. He has never won on Tour, but he was once fourth at Pebble Beach and has been a contender at the Kemper Open twice. Last year, he was ninth
here.

Who the heck is Jay Williamson?

May 20, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 8:35 PM

I COULD READ THAT MIDDLE SENTENCE OVER AND OVER . . . (via Bob Barnes)

Muslims save Baghdad's Jewish community centre from looters (SMH.COM.AU, 4/14/03).
Iraqi Muslims came to the aid of Baghdad's tiny Jewish community yesterday, chasing out looters trying to sack its cultural centre in the heart of the capital.

"At 3am, I saw two men, one with a beard, on the roof of the Jewish community house and I cried out to my friend, 'Hossam, bring the Kalashnikovs!'" said Hassam Kassam, 21.

Heither Hassan nor Hossam, who is the guard at the centre, was armed at the time but the threat worked in scaring off the intruders.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM

"AS EARLY AS 1968"? (with apologies to Bryan Franceour)

In Latin America, the Cult of Revolution Wanes (LARRY ROHTER, May 18, 2003, NY Times)
Initially, Latin American intellectuals were drawn to the Cuban revolution in part because Mr. Castro, unlike leaders of their own countries, was willing to stand up to the United States. He also promised an egalitarian society, in direct contrast to the seemingly ineradicable class divisions and social injustices that bedevil most Latin American societies.

That attitude was reinforced at prestigious university campuses, where largely middle- and upper-class students were exposed to a glamorous, seductive vision of the possibilities of revolution, in which the mystique of a Che Guevara merged admiration for past heroes like Sim?n Bol?var and Emiliano Zapata. To be of the left, and to see revolution as the hope for a better society became the default position of the bright, energetic and entitled youth of Latin America.

Of course, some intellectuals quickly came to see Mr. Castro as a dictator. As early as 1968, the Cuban poet Heberto Padilla was forced to make a degrading public self-criticism of his work, which led to his imprisonment three years later on charges that his poetry "supplied arguments to the enemies of the revolution."

At that point, distinguished figures, including Mr. Vargas Llosa, the Mexican poet and future Nobel laureate Octavio Paz and the novelist Carlos Fuentes, defended Mr. Padilla's right to self-expression and criticized Cuba's repressive actions. But Mr. Garcia Marquez, the Argentine novelist Julio Cortazar and many others remained loyal to Mr. Castro and his revolution.

In recent years, though, Mr. Castro, now 77, has seemed more and more of an anachronism - someone mocked by comedians and caricatured by editorial cartoonists. José Saramago, the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, recently admitted that Mr. Castro "has lost my confidence, destroyed my hopes and deceived my illusions." [...]

Still, the loyalty of many older intellectuals has not waned, even as evidence of the injustices and economic failure of the Castro regime has grown.

"Ultimately, you may have to resort to a psychological explanation," suggests Paul Hollander, the author of "Political Pilgrims," a book about the fascination of Western intellectuals with Communist regimes. "It becomes very difficult for people to let go of these beliefs and commitments, especially when they were made at a young age. Their sense of identity derives from the political stance they have taken."

There's no discernable difference between Mr. Garcia Marquez and Franz Liebkind:
LIEBKIND:

Achhh, those were the days. Vat good times ve had. Dinner parties vit lovely ladies and gentlemen, singing und dancing. You know, not many people knew about it, but the Fuhrer vas a terrific dancer.

BIALYSTOCK:

Really, I never dreamed ...

LIEBKIND (flies into an indignant rage):

That's because you were taken in by that verdampter Allied propaganda. Such filthy lies. But nobody said a bad vord about Winston Churchill, did they? Oh no, Vin Vit Vinnie!

(he gestures V for victory)

Churchill, vit his cigars and his brandy and his rotten paintings. Couldn't even say Nazi. He would say Narzis, Narzis. Ve vere not Narzies, ve vere Nazis. But let me tell this, and you're getting it straight from the horse, Hitler vas better looking than Churchill, he vas a better dresser than Churchill, had more hair, told funnier jokes, and could dance the pants off Churchill!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM

THE NO GLOAT ZONE

Why I fear today's brave new world: Francis Fukuyama, sage for the 21st century, predicted that liberal democracy would win over political totalitarianism. But new moral perils lie ahead and they may yet destabilise the world (Michael Gove, May 16, 2003, Times of London)
WHAT WOULD Karl Marx have thought if he had lived to see Lenin carry out his revolution? Prophets rarely have the chance to see politicians put their words into action. But Francis Fukuyama has. And he's far from delighted.

It was the collapse of Marxism that catapulted Fukuyama to global attention as a guru and seer. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published in 1992 while the dust was still settling from the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It was an instant success, commercially and intellectually, speaking of the need for a guide to the new world being remade after the Cold War.

Fukuyama's thesis, which has often been wilfully misinterpreted, was certainly sweeping but far from simplistic. He argued that the global struggle between different ideologies to assert that they were the best answer to modern man's needs had ended with decisive victory for liberal democracy. During the 20th century rival models, whether fascist, authoritarian, theocratic or communist, had all been tried. And all had palpably failed to deliver. All had produced misery rather than the freedom, and comfort, which the citizens of the West had come to enjoy.

Fukuyama did not argue that all would now be for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but he did maintain that history as it had been seen in the 20th century, as a competition between rival models of modernity, had ended with liberal democracy as the clear victor.

Now that another, briefer but hotter, war has ended, and another conflict has been concluded in which liberal democracies have emerged the victor, it might be expected that Fukuyama would be permitted a quiet gloat. After all, if he was the prophet of liberal democracy's eventual universal reign shouldn’t he be applauding George W. Bush and his neoconservative allies for giving history, and democracy, a powerful helping hand in Iraq? As the Marx of the West shouldn't he be delighted by the Lenin-like determination of Bush to revolutionise the Middle East?

"Actually, I'm a little pessimistic," Fukuyama declares, gently but firmly, when we meet for tea in a Soho hotel. "I'm sceptical of what Bush has done." [...]

The reservations Fukuyama goes on to raise are much closer to the European than the American consensus, and the slight, scholarly thinker seems much more at home sipping tea in a London drawing room than he would be quaffing a daily dose of Java in Dubya's West Wing. He explicitly sympathises with those continental Europeans who feel that the Bush bandwagon rode a little roughly over their sensibilities.

"I agreed with the view that something had to be done about Iraq. The case made by the Administration on the threat to world peace from terrorism, made more powerful because of weapons of mass destruction, was right. But the need to deal with this had to be weighed against alliance relationships. American arrogance undercut those other political relationships. I would have proceeded more slowly and deliberately, to bring the maximum number of people with us." [...]

"There are deep underlying differences between the US and Europe. But Americans should realise it's unhelpful to argue these are Europe’s fault.

"Europe’s reluctance to embrace military solutions is a consequence of historic factors. A continent ravaged by two great wars is going to be understandably more reluctant to endorse war. We should appreciate the historic roots of European attitudes. But because the Iraq war ended quickly there’s room to rebuild the transatlantic relationship and we should try. Ad hoc coalitions of the willing are all very well, but we should seek stability through international institutions. That makes life more predictable, and prevents us returning to a more unstable, 19th-century world."

This respect for international institutions such as the UN, and the plea for America to pay more heed to European sensibilities, sounds almost Blairite.

"I have a lot of admiration for Blair," Fukuyama says. "He made the right judgment on Iraq but he didn’t get a lot of help from the Bush Administration. He deserves credit. And his modernisation of Labour is impressive, too. He has detached his party from its trade union base in a way other European social democrats, like the Germans, have failed to."

The sense that Blair, and Britain, inhabit a middle ground between the US and Europe is reinforced in Fukuyama's mind by deeper factors.

"The US is built on Lockean principles (derived from the British liberal philosopher John Locke). There's a contract between state and people, and a belief in limited government. On the Continent their vision of the state owes more to (the French philosopher) Jean-Jacques Rousseau. They see the state as an expression of the 'general will'. The US is more individualist and entrepeneurial but also more disorderly. In the EU states have a higher degree of social solidarity but they’re less adaptable. The UK sits in between, tilting at the moment slightly closer to the EU."

That seems like a greater difference than Mr. Fukuyama is willing to concede, the statism of Europe vs. an America that places greater value on the individual and the society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 PM

PATRIOTIC ASSIMILATION

We Need a Patriotic Assimilation Policy (John Fonte, 5/14/2003, American Outlook)
In America, today as in the past, immigration and assimilation are bound together like Siamese twins. It makes no sense to discuss immigration without talking about assimilation, nor does it make sense to develop an immigration policy without an assimilation policy. The United States has the most successful tradition of immigration in the history of the world for one basic reason: the triumph of what I have termed "patriotic assimilation"--the assimilation of immigrants as loyal members of the American body politic.

For more than two hundred years, immigrants to America and their children have been successfully assimilated into what has been called the American way of life. This civic or patriotic assimilation of immigrants into the American constitutional regime did not happen naturally. Patriotic assimilation was the end result of a sometimes explicit (and other times implicit) long-range vision formulated by America's leaders. From the days of George Washington continuing through the era of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and supported in the past decade by such public figures as Barbara Jordan, this strategic vision has helped to define immigration-assimilation policy by articulating two interconnected ideas: (1) welcoming immigrants and (2) assimilating those immigrants into the mainstream of American civic life.

George Washington wrote John Adams that he envisioned immigrants becoming "assimilated to our customs, measures, laws," and because of this, he predicted, native-born citizens and immigrants would "soon become one people." In the same vein, more than a century later Theodore Roosevelt stated, "The immigrant who comes here in good faith [and] becomes an American and assimilates himself to us . . . shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin. But that is predicated upon the man's becoming an American and nothing but an American. . . ."

In a similar manner, Roosevelt's chief political rival, President Woodrow Wilson, told immigrants at a citizenship ceremony, "I certainly would not be one even to suggest that a man cease to love the home of his birth and the nation of his origin--these things are very sacred and ought not to be put out of our hearts--but it is one thing to love the place where you were born and it is another to dedicate yourself to the place to which you go. You cannot dedicate yourself to America unless you become . . . with every purpose of your will thorough Americans. . . ."

Closer to our own time, in a 1995 New York Times oped entitled "The Americanization Ideal," the late Texas Democratic congresswoman Barbara Jordan wrote, "Immigration imposes mutual obligations. Those who choose to come here must embrace the common core of American civic culture," but the native-born must "assist them" in learning about America, and, at the same time, must oppose prejudice and "vigorously enforce" laws against discrimination.

In different ways, Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, and Jordan all advocated what I have called patriotic assimilation. Clearly, there are different types of assimilation. Economic assimilation implies that immigrants are doing well financially and joining the middle class. Linguistic assimilation means that newcomers are learning to speak English. Cultural assimilation could mean that immigrants are becoming absorbed (for better or worse) into the mainstream popular culture of twenty-first century American life. Although economic, linguistic, and cultural forms of assimilation are clearly significant, nothing is more important to the health of American democracy than the patriotic assimilation of the millions of immigrants who have come to our shores.

Patriotic assimilation does not mean giving up all of one's ethnic traditions, customs, cuisine, and birth language. It has nothing to do with the food one eats, the religion one practices, the affection one feels for the land of one's birth, or the languages a person speaks. Multiethnicity and ethnic subcultures have enriched America and have always been part of our past. Historically, the immigration saga has involved "give and take" between immigrants and the native-born. That is to say, immigrants have helped shape America even as this nation has Americanized them.

Patriotic assimilation occurs when a newcomer essentially adopts American civic values and the American heritage as his or her own.

This is what we advocate too. The most important element being that immigration is a privilege not a right and imposes certain obligations on the immigrant himself. But we'd welcome every healthy non-criminal willing to accept the obligations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:45 PM

LIE DOWN WITH DOGS (via John Resnick)

Rockford Speaker disrupts RC graduation: A New York Times reporter delivers an antiwar speech that offended many. ( CARRIE WATTERS, May 20,2003, Rockford Register Star)
New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage Saturday at Rockford College's graduation because he gave an antiwar speech.

Two days later, graduates and family members, envisioning a "go out and make your mark" send-off, are still reeling.

Guests wanting to hear the author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter are equally appalled.

And College President Paul Pribbenow is rethinking the wisdom of such controversial topics at future commencements. This is Pribbenow's first graduation.

Hedges began his abbreviated 18-minute speech comparing United States? policy in Iraq to piranhas and a tyranny over the weak. His microphone was unplugged within three minutes.

Voices of protest and the sound of foghorns grew.

Some graduates and audience members turned their backs to the speaker in silent protest. Others rushed up the aisle to vocally protest the remarks, and one student tossed his cap and gown to the stage before leaving.

No one who bothered to read his memoir can be surprised that he gave such a scurrilous speech.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:34 PM

)

-REVIEW: of The Economics of World War II. Edited by Mark Harrison (Harold G. Vatter, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 30.1 (1999) 120-121
This book affords a quantitative and analytical survey of the wartime economies of the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union. It compares the contribution of the respective economies to their war effort and touches on the condition of those economies in the immediate aftermath years. Each case also contains a brief treatment of how the wartime upheaval changed the relationships of government to the market system during the entire Cold War era.

Harrison contributes an overview chapter, as well as the chapter about the Soviet Union. [...]

Harrison's chapter is of particular interest in view of the disintegration of the Soviet system since the end of the 1980s. He calls the Soviet Union "the defeated victor," arguing that, in general, it was "the only one of the victors to suffer a significant, long-lasting economic setback from World War II". To an important extent, this setback is linked with the heavy peacetime defense burden of the Cold War, the chief internal vehicle for which was a military-industrial complex tightly connected with the Communist Party and ethnic Russians.

Hard to believe there are still folks who need to be convinced that the Soviet Union was a basket case at the end of WWII and that the Cold War kept it that way. It was always ripe for the plucking yet we waited until it had rotted out. That's a decision we still pay for in myriad ways, not least in the current ethos of terror in the Middle East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:47 PM

DAVID'S WISH IS PALESTINE'S COMMAND

Angry Palestinians Lash Out at Militants (IBRAHIM BARZAK, May 20, 2003, Associated Press)
Palestinian residents of a northern Gaza town demonstrated Tuesday after Israelis destroyed buildings and farms there in a five-day invasion, but in a rare twist, their wrath was directed at Palestinian militants for firing rockets from their property, not at the Israelis. [...]

Two hours after the pullback, angry residents of Beit Hanoun, a town of 35,000, took to the streets in a spontaneous demonstration, complaining that the militants had caused Israel to destroy their property. It was a rare outburst; most Palestinian demonstrations are aimed against Israel.

The residents said the Israeli military demolished 15 houses, uprooted thousands of trees and damaged the water and sewage systems.

The demonstrators blocked a main road with trash cans, rocks and burning tires in a show of outrage against the militants. Most of the rockets are launched by members of the violent Islamic Hamas.

"They (the militants) claim they are heroes,'' said Mohammed Zaaneen, 30, a farmer, as he carried rocks into the street. ``They brought us only destruction and made us homeless. They used our farms, our houses and our children ... to hide.''

The great mass of Palestinians must inevitably share these sentiments.

Posted by David Cohen at 3:18 PM

BUT IF IT'S SO BIG, HOW DO I SNEAK IT PAST THE WIFE?

PluggedIn: New TVs play sharper-than-ever pictures (Lucas van Grinsven, Reuters, 5/20/03).
Consumers want bigger televisions. But TV makers cannot just "scale up" screens because it would be like blowing up a cheap digital photo: the picture just blurs.

Instead, electronics makers have grasped the black art of writing software and loading it into cheap but powerful semiconductors that can invent picture details on the fly.

"The latest TVs display eight times more detail than available in the original broadcast," says Michiel Klompenhouwer, a research scientist in video processing and visual perception at Philips (AMS:PHG), Europe's largest TV maker and the world's largest glass display maker in two joint ventures with South Korea's LG. . . .

A series of innovations since the mid-1990s has doubled the number of horizontal lines displayed on a TV screen while the number of tiny pixels on each line has also doubled.

TV makers have also added software to again double the number of images during a movie broadcast, shot in 24 frames a second, while adding software that predicts how objects move.

Even on bigger screens these innovations provide much more detail while ridding the TV set of irritating flicker.

"That kind of improvement you can get when you use sophisticated software in digital devices. We've moved from curved analog TVs to flat digital TVs," says Barry Young, an analyst at research firm DisplaySearch in Austin, Texas.

Add sensors that check if you're watching TV in broad daylight and three-dimensional sound, and it becomes clear why consumer electronics makers are hopeful about their TV business despite the 10 percent annual price erosion in basic TV tubes. . . .

Sales of tube TVs with so-called "real flat" displays, which often feature the picture-improving gizmos, are seen doubling to 60 million units over the next three years. . . .

Some of the most recent TV improvements are being led by the new players. Sharp has just launched the first TV with a three-dimensional (3-D) picture in Japan. Others are racing to develop what is considered to be the Holy Grail of TV viewing. . . .

Other improvements come from small upstart companies like British-based NXT, which has invented a transparent vibrating film that functions as a loudspeaker and is spanned over a display. Japan's NEC has just launched the first two commercial PC monitors using this technology, with sound coming straight out of the picture, rather than from the sides.
On some crackpot theory that this makes us better parents, we don't even have cable. Our tv viewing is restricted to the three major networks (which come in with varying amounts of static, depending upon the weather) and PBS, which comes in clear. Occasionally, we manage to hear a Fox program, and can sort of make out what's happening. Whenever we're at someone else's house watching their tv, we're constantly saying "So that's what he [or she] looks like." Last month we were at Circuit City, and saw a 42" flat screen plasma tv. Wow. A golf tournament was playing and it freaked us out. We really don't want to see those people that clearly. But, all the same, Wow. Sometimes all we can do is admit that we're Fallen, and revel in it.

Posted by David Cohen at 1:58 PM

THE ALL-ISLAMIC CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS.

Weapons and Terror: Did the Iraq war really boost al-Qaida? (Christopher Hitchens, Slate, 5/20/03).
This is where all our political and cultural intelligence will be required. In a civil war within the Islamic world, secularists and liberals have the chance to make many allies against theocracy and its gruesome tactics. It is not just Christian Nigerians who oppose the imposition of sharia law in that country and the stoning of Amina Lawal. As the jihadists begin to explode themselves and their devices on Arab streets, they will not fulfill the usual prediction of bringing ever more recruits to Bin Laden. Quite the contrary. Instead, and as in Afghanistan and Iran, there will be more people willing to oppose theocratic absolutism. Of course this political project can be called a "war" because it does also necessitate the use of remorseless force. But when the murderers strike next on American or European soil, it won't prove that it was wrong to fight them, and it certainly won't demonstrate that we brought it on ourselves by making them cross (i.e., by fighting back). It will remind us that it is indeed a war. So, it's depressing to see that, just as many Arabs and Muslims are turning against Bin Ladenism, some Western liberals are calling for a capitulation in the mind and hinting that this war is either avoidable or, even worse, not worth fighting, lest it offend the enemy.
I'm quite taken (guess I've been reading too many Brits) with the idea that the west has been hit with the by-blows of an Islamic civil war. This is, oddly enough, an optimistic view of the war on terror. It suggests that we have real allies in the region and that, by putting our thumb on the scale, we can help give birth to real change. I like this view, but I'm not convinced it's correct. One thing that would convince me is if a chastened Saudi Arabia now committed itself to stamping out the extremists. Another thing would be some sign of a popular Palestinian movement against Arafat and the terrorists.

I am very happy to see that the Democrats are not getting away with their ploy of trying to make President Bush the absolute guarantor of our safety. It would be astonishing if there were no more terrorist attacks on US soil. I hope that this ploy, which is too thin to pass, will just end up being another nail in the Democrat's coffin, but I do think that, if there is another act on the scope of 9/11, all bets are off. I just don't know how the American people would react.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 PM

DEMOCRACY IS A FUNNY THING

Praise the Lord, pass the votes: The Republicans' pact with the religious Right reflects a growing divide between the US and other nations (Will Hutton, May 18, 2003, The Observer)
America has always been a nation of churchgoers, with invocations to God part of the national conversation. But over the past 20 years the longstanding American churches - Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Methodist - have been haemorrhaging members to the fast growing Pentecostal movement which takes scripture literally as the word of God and believes in salvation earned by individualistic virtue rather than via the mediation of the church. The Republicans have struck a Faustian pact with the Pentecostal movement; they will concede its arguments that abortion and even stem cell research are against biblical text in return for the church mobilising its members to vote Republican. Christianity is no longer above politics.

For the Republican high command this is not just a cynical exercise in coalition building. It believes that America is mired in moral decay, and that the character of the nation must be rebuilt, which begins with improving the virtues of individual Americans by celebrating patriotism and religion. Thus there are prayers before Bush cabinet meetings. Thus routine meeting by interest groups with the administration are punctuated by calls to praise God and the Bible. And thus one of the great benefits of the war with Iraq; it has made patriotism even more pervasive - helping to remoralise the nation around individualism and self-reliance, banishing to the sidelines the role of the social and the commonwealth in supporting good character. Gerrymander and alliance with Pentecostals alike serve the great cause.

American liberals feel their country is being taken from them - and rage in impotent fury. It is impossible to underestimate, they say, how 9/11 has changed the rules of the political game. Security has become the Republicans trump card, and under its cloak the country is being driven unassailably to the Right. This generation of Republicans respect neither the letter of the constitution nor its custom or practice. What they want is an entrenchment of their power and their own idiosyncratic world view - whether prioritising tax cuts to enrich the 'investor class' and so boost Wall Street, or insisting that pre-emptive unilateralism must rule in the name of homeland security. The troika deemed to be in their way - the United Nations, France and the New York Times - are mocked and savaged.

It is such a seismic change in America's political geography, yoking ancient visceral feelings about American exceptionalism with contemporary conservatism, that a growing group of liberal intellectuals believe that not even a Democrat President in 2004 could move the country back to any multilateralist international framework. Professor Charles Kupchan, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and part of the task force set up to examine how transatlantic relations could be improved is pessimistic. In a well-regarded book, The End of the American Era, he argues that America is set on a path of economic, political and military isolationism. Over the next decade the paths of the European Unions and US will diverge - whoever runs the US. The trends are too deep-seated to overturn.

We'll set aside for the nonce Mr. Hutton's confusion of Pentacostalism with Evangelism, and merely note that it's not the Religious Right if it's an overwhelming governing majority--it's the Middle. That's why you have to doubt that there's a long term basis for such a politics of moral restoration. We'll get back to catching up to Europe on its long downward slide soon enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM

AMEND IT, DON'T END IT

Religion-free zone?: America's public schools are in a bind. A new law requires them to allow 'religious expression' on school grounds - or risk losing federal funds. But they risk a lawsuit if they do. (Marjorie Coeyman, May 20, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
It's already been a tough year for Mary Czajowski.

As superintendent of the 4,400-student school district in Agawam, Mass., she has spent much of the school year worrying about testing, school choice, teacher certification, and paperwork - all to comply with the No Child Left Behind federal education act of 2001.

But now, as graduation approaches, the law is creating a new worry. As the result of a little-noticed provision in NCLB, Dr. Czajowski's schools - like all US public schools - face a double-barreled threat.

If schools allow any religious speech at the graduation ceremony, most are aware that they could face a lawsuit. But now, if they don't - according to the dictates of NCLB - they could risk losing federal funds.

"School districts are in a very, very difficult position," Czajowski says.

The decades-old struggle over the place of religion in American public schools may be about to flare up yet again. A provision in NCLB mandates that if a school has any policy in place that curtails a student's right to "religious expression" as spelled out in recent government guidelines, it could lose its federal funding.

For groups that advocate greater freedom of religion in public schools, the guidelines mailed out to all districts Feb. 7 from the US Department of
Education are cause for rejoicing.

The threat to cut off funding "gives [these guidelines] teeth," says Anthony Picarello, vice president and general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington. For too long, he says, school administrators frightened of lawsuits have squashed legitimate religious discourse on school grounds. From now on, Mr. Picarello adds, "the safest course will no longer be to break all ties with religion."

But for groups that promote the separation of church and state, the guidelines spell danger.

"The 800-pound gorilla of these regulations is the threat of cutting off financial aid," says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in Washington.

Especially with graduation season approaching, Mr. Lynn worries that "the [Education Department] guidelines are so heavily weighted toward supporting alleged student-speech rights that schools will ignore legitimate concerns that a captive audience at graduation will be subjected to evangelism."

Unfortunately for Mr. Lynn and his cohorts, the Constitution explicitly protects speech (though not for children) but is silent as regards a right of not being subjected to evangelism. If the latter is a right that he and most other Americans believe in, it's easy enough to amend the Constitution, rather than do its clear meaning violence.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:23 AM

WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE FINLAND

God save the Brits -- from madman Blair (Heather Mallick, Toronto Globe and Mail, 5/17/2003)
Every day, Britain becomes more American. Canada was allowed to take the best of America -- its generosity and enjoyment of life -- and the best of Britain -- its cleverness and wisdom.

That's gone. I hope Canada can develop a sufficient sense of itself to live in a world where there is no other nation to admire fully, although I'm researching the Scandinavians.

If Scandinavia doesn't work out, there's always Cuba.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 AM

THE IRRESISTIBLE TAR BABY

Democrats Now Attacking Bush on Security (RON FOURNIER, 5/19/03, AP)
Bush opened himself to second-guessing when he said in early May, "Al-Qaida is on the run. Right now, about half of all the top al-Qaida operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem any more."

A few days later, explosions rocked Riyadh, the Saudi capital, in an attack on compounds housing Americans, other Westerners and Saudis. That was followed by bombings in Morocco.

"The president keeps saying, `We're going to get them.' Well, it's not working," Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt told an audience of 75 at an Ottumwa, Iowa, union hall.

Gephardt supported war in Iraq, a position that drew criticism from the liberal Democrats, who tend to dominate in primary races. Now he says Bush is guilty of having "one-dimensional answers" to terror threats, a reference to military power.

Another war supporter, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed Monday that Bush failed to ensure that suspected weapons of mass destruction sites were quickly secured and has mishandled the management of the Iraqi oil industry. [...]

Kerry told CBS that the administration should have insisted on better security at the Saudi sites, which housed Americans and other Westerners. On the nation's overall anti-terrorism effort, he said: "We need to be stronger and smarter and tougher."

In Des Moines, national security dominated a union-sponsored forum with five of the candidates Saturday.

Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina said the administration has failed to gives states and local governments enough money to meet their emergency and other homeland defense needs.

Al Sharpton of New York cited the failure to catch terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, and said: "We need to go after those who went after us."

Sitting in the back of the crowd, Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford said the Democrats seemed to be finding their voice.

"They're challenging Bush on his own terms," he said. "They're finding that nice balance--attacking Bush while still showing that Democrats are concerned about national security."

Let's see if we have this straight, homeland security has not been breached by terrorists since 9-11 and three terror supporting governments have been toppled, so the Democrats are reduced to the following: be tougher; impose greater security measures on the Saudis; take better care of Iraq's oil; give the states more money anyway. If the Democrats really are finding their voice, it's Pee Wee Herman's. Barring a major attack on U.S. soil they sound ridiculous.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

WRONG TRINITY

Why psychology has got it wrong: Psychoanalysis was one of the "backbone" sciences of the 20th century, yet depression and behavioural problems are rife today. In the first of two articles, our correspondent explains why psychology has failed (Peter Watson, 5/14/03, Times of London)
THE 20TH CENTURY BEGAN with an incredible coincidence. In 1900 three ideas were born almost simultaneously. First, the unconscious was revealed by Freud in his book The Interpretation of Dreams. Then came the gene, when scientists rediscovered and amplified the work on plant breeding by the Benedictine monk Gregor Mendel. Thirdly, there was Max Planck?s theory of the quantum: that energy exists in tiny packets called quanta. These three ideas ? psychoanalysis, genetics and quantum physics ? can reasonably be called the scientific backbone of the 20th century.

Their growth and development, however,could not have been more different. Scientific breakthroughs in genetics and physics have occurred regularly over the past 100 years, often demonstrating surprising links between the two. Psychology, by contrast, is sinking in a morass of jargon, flawed research and scientific disagreements ? and is clearly failing the people that it is supposed to help.

Just this week, scientists at Bristol University overturned another accepted psychological ?fact?. After studying 14,000 families, they found that children whose mothers go out to work suffer no psychological damage.

Yet it is also true that British children are suffering from an unprecedented epidemic of behavioural problems. Between 1997 and 2001 the number of prescriptions for Ritalin, given to children to help them calm down and concentrate on schoolwork, soared from 921,000 to 2,085,000. In 2001 the number of children expelled from school for bad behaviour was more than 9,000, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year. Among adults, the average 25-year-old is up to five times more likely to be depressed as 50 years ago. Adults are 28 times more likely to have been victims of violent crime as in 1953.

What is going on? On the psychological side, life seems to be going from bad to worse, when it ought to be getting better. For the past 100 years, we are supposed to have been living in ?the psychological century?. Psychoanalysts and psychotherapists did not exist before Freud, yet by the 1970s there were 200 therapies on offer, ranging from Synanon to Insight to Rolfing. At certain points in the 20th century there were more psychology graduates than any other kind. The psychological jargon that has entered the language stretches from paranoia to penis envy, and from id to identity crisis to inferiority complex. So why, amid all this new professional apparatus, are behavioural problems more widespread, depression more common and psychotherapeutic drugs taken in unprecedented quantities? Could it be that psychology is failing? I think so. In fact, I think it has failed big-time. Furthermore, it has failed not just in the sense that more people are ill or unhappy, it has failed technologically, philosophically and is already in an advanced stage of decomposition.

Freud has taken a bashing recently, especially over the efficacy (or otherwise) of his method of treatment, so I?m not going to harp on about that (although I think the criticisms are fair). Instead, an historical approach is more original and more revealing.

The problem with Mr. Watson's comparison is that Freudianism resembles not genetics and quantum physics, which are sciences, but Darwinism and Marxism, which are likewise religions, which is why the latter comparison has stood the test of time. The similarities of the latter trio include: revelation; a single prophet to whom the "truth" was revealed (note that all three (like any cult of personality) are named for their prophets, whereas genetics is not Mendelism nor quantum physics Planckism); a lack of the fundamental features that define a science--susceptibility to experimentation and falsifiability and the like; descent into bitter sectarian infighting representing a competition for the mantle of the prophet; etc.; continuing on into a failure when applied in the real world, as opposed to the closed world of the theory.

MORE:
Here's an interesting and somewhat related story about how the university was turned into a secular seminary:
Who Paid for Secularization?: The agenda?and money?behind a social shift. (Christian Smith, May/June 2003, Books & Culture)
"The central claim of this book," writes Christian Smith in the preface to The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Life, just published by the University of California Press, "is that the historical secularization of the institutions of American public life was not a natural, inevitable, and abstract by-product of modernization; rather it was the outcome of a struggle between contending groups with conflicting interests seeking to control social knowledge and institutions." Edited by Smith, with essays by a number of scholars, the book offers a bracingly revisionist account of secularization that is sure to generate debate. To whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from Smith's introduction.:

Revolutions and social movements are not simply the result of interested and aggrieved activists capitalizing on new political opportunities. To mobilize and prevail, activists also need access to material resources sufficient to sustain their cause. In some cases, the difference between successful and failed revolutions and movements can be traced largely to increasing and decreasing supplies of resources. The secular revolution succeeded in part because new sources of material resources outside of the control of Protestant authorities became available for secular activists to deploy in the cause of secularization. This story is long and complex, and varies in different spheres of public life. Given space limitations, I focus here on the core economic transformation that shaped activists' secularizing of American higher education and science: the boom and incorporation of industrial capitalism. [...]

Perhaps the most obvious and crucial influence that expanding corporate capitalism exerted on American higher education was its financial patronage of secular research universities, which effectively marginalized religion. Most of America's Christian colleges depended financially on the support of local towns, affiliated denominations, and student tuition. The education they managed to produce with these limited funds was impressive, all in all. But corporate capitalism's centralization of the production and ownership of wealth at the end of the 19th century created vast new pools of financial assets, some of which many industrial philanthropists chose to devote to the cause of reforming higher education.

As it turns out, the most important American research universities that self-consciously pioneered functionally secular education and scholarship were either created ex nihilo or were significantly endowed by affluent capitalist benefactors: Johns Hopkins University by Johns Hopkins, Cornell University by Ezra Cornell, the University of Chicago by John D. Rockefeller, Stanford University by Leland Stanford, Clark University by Jonas Gilman Clark, and so on. Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon, Cornelius Vanderbilt, James Duke, and many other wealthy industrialists also had a hand in endowing what became major research universities. Industrial money also flowed into secular universities through Rockefeller's General Education Board, founded in 1902 with assets of $46 million; through the Carnegie Corporation with assets of $151 million in 1911; and through the Commonwealth Fund established by Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness in 1918 through a $43 million endowment.

This massive supply of new financial resources for universities came with few mandates seeking to preserve substantial religious interests in higher education. Rather, the concern of these capitalist patrons was to rationalize American higher education through uniform national standards and to promote advanced scientific research modeled on the German university system. This they viewed as serving the interests of the nation and its economy. In effect, the hundreds of millions of dollars that capitalist moguls pumped into their new research universities created the financial basis for autonomy from religious bodies. They also decisively institutionalized a new model of specialized, secular scholarship and learning, which quickly became the national ideal standard for higher education and scholarship.

In some cases, big corporate money actually came with explicitly anti-religious mandates. In 1905, for example, Andrew Carnegie gave $10 million to establish a professors' pension fund. Carnegie put Henry Smith Pritchett in charge of the project, the secularized son of a Methodist preacher, of whom it was said that "[h]is 'faith' was science." Pritchett's rules governing access to funds stated that all denominational colleges and universities were categorically excluded from the plan; only schools with no formal ties to religious denominations could participate. Pritchett argued that denominational influences on colleges made for unsound education, encouraged the existence of too many small schools, were institutionally inefficient, and compromised the public good. In response, 15 colleges immediately severed their ties with their religious denominations in order to get a share of the Carnegie money?including Wesleyan, Dickinson, Swarthmore, Brown, Bowdoin, Rutgers, Rochester, and Occidental.

All of this reflected in part the fact that corporate capitalist interests required a different kind of graduate than those earlier Christian colleges had been educating. In the previous economic era, American colleges specialized in training and graduating gentlemen broadly educated in the classics and intellectually socialized into a coherent Protestant moral universe. They would go into the traditional professions to become leaders and sustainers of the prevailing social order. But corporate capitalism did not need classically educated gentlemen. It needed technically and professionally trained employees in management, finance, law, advertising, engineering, and other material sciences.

Similarly, corporate capitalism needed scholars in higher education whose research agendas differed from those dominating earlier Christian colleges. Traditional faculty scholarship in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin languages, moral philosophy, theology, literature, science as inductive Baconian specimen-gathering, and the like contributed little to the industrial corporation's production of material wealth and accumulation of capital. Rather, corporate capitalist interests were better served by technical knowledge generated by basic and applied scientific research producing scholarship useful for boosting material production and economic growth. Not geology focused on harmonizing with the Genesis creation account, but geology intent on
locating and excavating minerals and petroleum was what corporate capitalism, by systemic logic, was interested in?regardless of the particular religious beliefs of any individual capitalist magnate. Capitalism thus undercut the justification for the scholarly task of a college system that privileged religious knowledge in its education, bolstering instead a rationale for a kind of technical, instrumental scholarship that was at the very least indifferent to religious concerns and interests. The moral order of Christian higher education simply did not much aid the interests of an expanding corporate capitalist system, and the material rewards for academic achievement shifted to a different version of success in higher education.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 AM

"INDISTINGUISHABLE"

Chimps 'should be reclassified as humans' (Steve Connor, 20 May 2003, Independent)
A molecular comparison of the chimpanzee with man has concluded that our closest living relative is closer than we ever imagined and that its genetic similarity even gives it a right to join life's most exclusive club - being human.

Researchers who have compared the working genes of chimps and humans believe that the two species are so alike at the level of their DNA that they should both be classified as members of the human genus Homo.

Traditionally chimpanzees, also known as Pan troglodytes, have been classified as belonging to the pongid family as they were considered to be closer to other non-human primates, such as gorillas and orang-utans, but the latest study by Morris Goodman of Wayne State University in Detroit puts chimps close enough to humans for them to become practically indistinguishable.

"What we found was that at the genetic level chimps are more like humans than gorillas. The finding would support those who want to extend legal controls to stop the abuse of chimps," Professor Goodman said. "Our results lend weight to the idea that it wouldn't be ethical to treat them in the way laboratory animals like rats or mice are treated," he said.

The research team found that some of the most important genes of chimps and humans share about 99.4 per cent of their genetic sequence, bringing them far closer together than the 98 per cent similarity which previous studies have suggested.

Shakespeare, inevitably, wrote one of the great speeches reminding us of the commonalities among various humans:
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

There's a fair bit there that applies to chimps too, but here are two things that it seems rather important don't apply: no chimp could write it, nor any speak the lines. When they can, we should reconsider their genus. Until then, such suggestions do not exalt the animals, but do devalue humans.

May 19, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 PM

THE PRIMUM MOBILE (via Tom Morin)

The choices French diplomacy made (Francoise Thom, Translated by Douglas Gillison, 2003/05/06, Institut Hayek Institute)
To evaluate a foreign policy, one must ask oneself two questions. The first is whether this policy favors the realization of the desired objectives. The second consists in asking whether those objectives correspond to the real interest of the nation.

The prime objective of French diplomacy is the unconditional containment of the United States.

Whatever the Americans do, France feels it is absolutely necessary to put a stick between their spokes. The neo-Gaulists think that France will attain a role worthy of itself in the international scene if it takes the lead in opposition to the American "hyper-power."

Chriac's France is European because it views Europe as a rival pillar to the United States and it easily imagines itself in an hegemonic position in this anti-American Europe.

Chirac's France champions the UN, which general de Gaulle once called a "contraption," because it thinks its seat on the Security Council is a privileged instrument for the containment of the United States while bestowing a certain gravity upon France in the international community, to which neither its economic successes nor its cultural importance permit it to lay claim.

And therefore the goals that Chirac's foreign policy has set for itself are the struggle against American unilateralism, the transformation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy from a statement of intentions to an institutional reality and the elevation of France to the status of a power whose voice is heard on the global stage. [...]

Now for the fundamental point, namely: to what degree does the attitude of French diplomacy correspond to the real interests of our country.

In its foreign policy, France has in a way put on the boots of the defunct Soviet Union:

*same obstructionist policy at the UN,
*same third-world-ist demagoguery,
*same alliance with the Arab world,
*same ambition to take the lead in a coalition of "anti-imperialist" states against Washington.

France has resurrected Primakov's old Eurasian master plan, which consisted in creating a Paris-Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis against the Anglo-Saxons, a goal in which Putin's Russia no longer believes but in which it encourages Paris because Russia sees it as a way of improving its position in negotiating with Washington.

The anti-American obsession means that France is less than inquisitive as to the nature of regimes to which it lends its support in the name of multipolarity. Iraq, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Sudan: in a word, France seems to get on better with the rogue states and failed states than with the United States whose civilization it shares. It claims to defend international law by leaning on states that ignore all laws.

The comparison to the Soviet Union goes further than it may seem. Indeed, French diplomacy is less inspired by a cynical Realpolitik (whence the failures mentioned above) than by an ideological view of the world. Its anti-Americanism is the projection of its internal jacobinism onto the global stage. The unhealthy French communion in anti-Americanism reveals the start of a drift towards totalitarianism in our country, which was already noticeable by the second round of the elections: Bush has replaced Le Pen in the role of enemy of the people. "Anti-Bushism" can be compared to the "anti-fascism" of the `30s and `40s: it conceals an obligatory communist-type consensus.

Like those in the USSR of Brezhnev, French leaders compensate with a ruinous foreign activism for their inability to begin crucial internal reforms, which are impossible because they would call into question the socialist dogma at the foundation of the French state. In both cases, foreign activism both accelerates and accentuates the internal crisis. We saw what became of the Soviet Union.

This is excellent on the too-little comprehended point of the American/French confrontation, a point that is particularly obscured because of the proximity of the American and French Revolutions in time, and the desire of Left academia to see the French Revolution carried out here: we represent the opposite sides of human nature and must ever be at odds.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 PM

LOWERING THE BAR

The New Yorker Goes to War (DANIEL LAZARE, June 2, 2003, The Nation)
The New Yorker has not been the only publication to fall into line behind the Bush Administration's war drive, but for a number of reasons its performance seems especially disappointing. One reason has to do with the magazine's track record. One doesn't have to be a William Shawn devotee to agree that the magazine has published some astonishing journalism over the years--Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem," James Baldwin's "Letter from a Region of My Mind," Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," Jonathan Schell's pieces on Vietnam and Pauline Kael's wonderful demolition job on Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, to name just a few. During the Vietnam War, it was one of the few mainstream publications to try to unmask the sordid reality behind the brass's regular 5 o'clock press briefings. And if it published too many long and hyperfactual stories in the 1980s about wheat or geology, at least it preferred being trivial and obscure to the glories of being a team player in Washington, which is a moral stance of a sort.

Though its style may have been genteel, The New Yorker succeeded in challenging middle-class sensibilities more often than any number of scruffier publications. Another reason to mourn the magazine's lack of resistance is that it represents an opportunity lost. Just as the magazine helped middle-class opinion to coalesce against US intervention in Vietnam, it might well have served a similar function today by clarifying what is at stake in the Middle East. Rather than unveil the reality behind a spurious War on Terrorism, though, The New Yorker helped obscure it by painting Bush's crusade as a natural and inevitable response to the World Trade Center/Pentagon attack and, as a consequence, useless to oppose. Instead of encouraging opposition, it helped defuse it. From shocking the bourgeoisie, it has moved on to placating it at a time when it has rarely been more dangerous and bellicose.

Are those really the examples that Mr. Lazare wants to cite? Ms Arendt famously referred to the banality of evil in that piece, but somehow managed not to mention her own relationship with a famous soulless Nazi. Even the NY Review of Books made fun of the Baldwin essay. Ms Kael's pan of Shoah seems to have been intended to provoke readers. Jonathan Schell has followed up being wrong about the Vietnam War with being wrong about the entire Cold War and most recently wrong about the Iraq war. And Silent Spring is widely derided by all but the most doctrinaire liberals.

Doesn't having Sy Hersh write nonsense every week pretty much meet the standards that Mr. Lazare has set?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM

WHY THE RIGHT'LL SIT TIGHT

ADVICE AND DISSENT: The fight over the President's judicial nominations. (JEFFREY TOOBIN, 2003-05-19, The New Yorker)
Even more than Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush campaigned for the Presidency promising an ideological transformation of the federal judiciary, which includes six hundred and sixty-five district judges, a hundred and seventy-nine appellate judges, and nine Supreme Court Justices, all with lifetime appointments. Bush has cited Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as the Supreme Court Justices he most admired. Last year, he told an audience, "We've got to get good, conservative judges appointed to the bench and approved by the United States Senate." That statement has been born out by his nominations, especially to the circuit courts of appeals. So far, Bush has nominated two hundred federal judges; more than half of them have been confirmed, as will most of the rest. But the Democrats, even with their diminished status in the Senate, have managed to stop several of the President's most controversial nominations. That struggle presages the even more significant battles that will take place if, as expected, one or more Supreme Court Justices retire in the next year or so. In part, the Democrats' effort has been fuelled by the personal dynamics of the Senate, where an aggrieved minority can accomplish, or at least thwart, a great deal of legislative activity. But the confirmation disputes trace their roots to the Constitution itself, and to the shifting meanings of the senators' obligation to advise and consent to the President's choices of judges. Also, to be sure, the fight over the Bush judges reflects the legal battle-two generations old and counting-over abortion.

Nominations for lower courts stir little public interest, despite their manifest importance. Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster, says, "We have never seen an issue that people are less concerned about than nominations to the federal bench." But, he adds, "the core activists on both sides do care very deeply." So do the senators. Dianne Feinstein told me, "In the Senate, what goes around comes around. During the Clinton years, especially after 1994, when the Gingrich crowd took over in the House, our Judiciary Committee really changed, too, especially at the freshman end. Many of Clinton's nominees went years without getting their hearings. That left a very bad taste in our mouths." In 1999, Hatch, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, refused to hold any hearings for six months, in a bid to get an ally nominated to a judgeship in Utah. (He got his judge.) Clinton nominated people for two vacancies on the District of Columbia Circuit, including the one Estrada sought to fill, but Republicans never allowed the nominations to be brought up for a vote. And, even though Clinton generally picked moderate nominees, after 1995 Republicans in the Senate blocked about a third of them.

Owing to the lack of public interest, a sort of secret society of confirmation junkies carefully follows developments. The opposing groups have almost identical names, which challenge outsiders to break the code. In the universe of the Alliance for Justice (liberal), the Committee for Justice (conservative), and the Institute for Justice (libertarian), September 9, 2001, marked an important date in the Bush Presidency. That was the day Miguel Estrada was nominated to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is generally regarded as the second most important court in the nation, after the Supreme Court. At the age of thirty-nine, Estrada had impeccable legal credentials and an inspiring personal story. He had emigrated to New York from Honduras as a teen-ager, attended Columbia College and Harvard Law School, clerked at the Supreme Court (for Anthony Kennedy), and served as a federal prosecutor and assistant solicitor general. Given the Bush Administration's long-standing efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters, Estrada looked like a prime candidate to become a Supreme Court Justice. (Three former D.C. Circuit judges-Scalia, Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg-serve on the Supreme Court.)

But, for all his accomplishments, Estrada had virtually no paper trail. "Unlike many nominees, he has never written anything, he has never given speeches, plus he was very vague in his answers to the committee," Feinstein told me. "He's a cipher." Estrada did, however, belong to the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers that has served as an essential networking tool on the right, and in the Washington legal community activists on the left and the right spread word that Estrada was a hard-core conservative in the tradition of Scalia and Thomas. So liberal groups, including several Latino organizations, mobilized against Estrada and began examining his past for ethical missteps that might be used to stop his confirmation. When Estrada was nominated to the D.C. Circuit, Democrats still controlled the Senate, and Patrick Leahy, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, showed no hurry to move the nomination along.

The search for dirt came up empty. But Senator Schumer was building the framework for a more potent attack on the nominee-and, indeed, on the Bush effort to reshape the judiciary. "When I came to the Senate, I knew I had the ability to help choose judges," Schumer told me recently over lunch in the Senate dining room. "And I chose three standards for myself-excellence, moderation, and diversity. I don't think the third branch of government should be all white males. Then Bush took over, and it became clear right from the start that he was changing the ways judges are nominated, by picking people who are almost all far to the right. On a scale of one to ten, with ten the most liberal, Clinton chose a lot of sixes and sevens-lots of partners in law firms and former prosecutors. Bush said during the campaign that he was going to pick judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, but I thought it was just campaign talk. Then it became clear that that was exactly what he meant."

This pretty much makes nonsense of the Economist piece below and the idea that Bush is selling out social conservatives.

(via Kevin Whited):
George Bush and the social conservatives: A troubled marriage (The Economist, May 15th 2003)
Gay marriage is not the only ?betrayal?. Mr Bush has been far more willing to spend his political capital on tax cuts than on faith-based initiatives (which have been allowed to wither on the vine). Many fundamentalists dislike his insistence that Islam is a peaceful religion. Some are even angry that John Ashcroft, their main man in the cabinet, has taken such a draconian line on civil liberties: they worry that a future attorney-general may be able to spy on conservative religious organisations.

Does all this noise matter? Some of the smartest observers of the political scene doubt it. Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, calls it a ?toothless bark?. Would social conservatives really be willing to hand the White House over to the pro-abortion, pro-gay Democrats? [...]

[T]here are still three good reasons to think that the barking from the right may not be entirely toothless. To begin with, social conservatives are not as pragmatic as the deal-doing business conservatives are. They are absolutists, who are willing to go to the stake for certain issues.

Second, social conservatives are now buried deeper inside the Republican establishment than ever before. In the 1990s conservative Christians tended to work through outside organisations such as the Christian Coalition. More recently they have worked from within, taking the battle to precinct meetings and the like. According to a study in Campaigns and Elections, a Washington magazine, Christian conservatives now exercise either ?strong? or ?moderate? influence in 44 Republican state committees, compared with 31 committees in 1994, the last time the survey was conducted. They are weak in only six states, all in the north-east. Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition leader until 1997, now runs the Georgia Republican Party.

Anyone who doubts the clout of these Christian conservatives within the party should study the fate of last year's bankruptcy-reform legislation, which the business wing of the party wanted. Social conservatives destroyed the bill because it included a provision designed to crack down on anti-abortion protesters.

A third reason for Mr Bush to worry about social conservatives is that they do have an alternative to voting Republican: they can stay at home. Karl Rove points out that some 4m Christian conservatives who voted in 1994 failed to vote in 2000. The return of many of these voters to the fold in 2002 helped the Republicans pick up vital Senate seats in Georgia and Missouri. If they feel let down in 2004, it could hand a close election to the Democrats.

It will not get any easier. The White House's strategy for the next year is to focus on conservative causes that have overwhelming public support?such as opposition to cloning and late-term abortion. But it will also have to deal with several issues that could drive a wedge between conservative activists and swing voters.

The most important decision will involve the Supreme Court. At least one Supreme Court justice may retire in the next year or so. Conservatives see the selection of a new justice as an issue on which they are prepared to break with the president. ?We will not put up with another [David] Souter,? says Ms Schlafly, referring to a judge appointed by George Bush senior who has since voted in a liberal manner. On the other hand, moderate suburban women would be horrified by the idea of another conservative in the court, particularly an anti-abortion one.

To understand how someone got a story so wrong, you really need read no further than this line: "They [social conservatives] are absolutists, who are willing to go to the stake for certain issues." This is sort of the conservatives-as-Taliban theme that the Left likes to try and convince us of periodically. We'd merely not that, amidst innumerable stories about how conservatives distrust George H. W. Bush's son and his "compassionate conservatism", George W. Bush has upset a sitting VP in a time of peace and unprecedented prosperity and scored a midterm victory that defied over two centuries of American political history. The idea that conservatives will not go to the polls for him in a re-election bid--when even moderates and independents will give him a majority--is truly silly.

Meanwhile, this exact same Ashcroft story was floated last July in the Times and was pretty decisively shot down at that time.

MORE MORE: THE SHAKY BASE:
Conservative religious groups rejoice as Senate passes AIDS bill (Christianity Today: Weblog, 5/19/03)
Early Friday morning, the U.S. Senate passed the House's Global AIDS Bill, which triples the country's anti-AIDS expenditures to $15 billion. Included in the bill are conditions that one-third of AIDS prevention funds be used to promote sexual abstinence before marriage and that religious groups opposed to condoms would neither be forced to distribute them nor be denied funding.

Conservative profamily groups, which had lobbied hard for those two amendments, rejoiced at the news.

"We now know what works: abstinence and marital fidelity," Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, told the Associated Press. "The passage of this bill may prove to be one of the greatest events in the history of Africa."

Focus on the Family, which devoted its Friday broadcast to supporting the bill, issued a congratulatory press release within hours of its passage.

"The passage of this bill represents a landmark effort to end this deadly plague by ensuring that the only successful approach?abstinence?will be a priority," said Tom Minnery, Focus's vice president of public policy.

"AIDS sufferers in Africa will no longer continue to be offered only condoms?the same faulty approach that has increased sexually transmitted diseases in America. We look forward to seeing more successes like the ones we've seen in Uganda. . . . Just a couple of weeks ago the Senate was headed in the wrong direction, but thanks to the strong leadership of President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the Senate changed course and passed a bill that will begin to address this global problem. We are grateful for their leadership on this bill and for their sincere efforts to relieve the suffering of so many afflicted by this horrible disease."

Likewise, the organization's Family News in Focus ran a story Friday on the bill's passage, asking supporters to contact the White House and Senate Majority Leader Frist with thanks for their hard work. Focus also asked supporters to "give thanks to God that the Congress has passed a bill for fighting AIDS that honors God's principles." Unlike most press releases and articles from profamily groups, the Family News in Focus article examines the bill beyond the abstinence measure (which, even with the conservatives' amendment, will receive less than 7 percent of the bill's total funds).

Meanwhile, liberal groups are steaming.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM

RE

FUND:Who Framed John Fund? (Eric Alterman, June 2, 2003, The Nation)
So the right-wing journalist John Fund may not be a model citizen, but contrary to the implications of many left journalists and gossip columnists, he's likely not the kind of guy who pretends to want to marry women and then beats them up.

Sure, Sidney Blumenthal fingers Fund as the original source for the malicious rumor, published by Matt Drudge, alleging that Blumenthal had a history of spousal abuse. (Fund denies this.) And his record vis-a-vis the late Vince Foster and the entire nefarious "Arkansas Project" while working as a Wall Street Journal editorial writer brings him no honor, either as a journalist or a citizen. I'm sure a careful study of his work would fill a "how not to" book for journalism schools across the land.

Naturally, it was fun to imagine, after he got himself arrested last year, that Fund was really a monster who had walked out on a planned marriage with his girlfriend and then beat her up--the dastardly deeds of which he was publicly accused in 2001. Even better, to his ill-wishers, was the rumor that Fund had long ago had an affair with the woman's mother, and knocked up both of them.

Well, it's a fact of life in our scandal-besotted culture that it does not take much in the way of evidence to publish charges that can ruin a man's life. The charges against Fund appeared most prominently (and repeatedly) in Lloyd Grove's gossip column in the Washington Post and Richard Johnson's Page Six in the New York Post. They were trumpeted across the Internet on various leftist sites like American Politics Journal; by the controversialist John Connolly, who posted them on weaselsearch.com; and by Village Voice media reporter Cynthia Cotts, who reported on them twice and even escorted Fund's accuser to David Brock's Manhattan book party for Blinded by the Right, where Cotts introduced me to the woman in question, Morgan Francis Pillsbury.

Personally, I always thought the story was too good to be true. I discussed the accusations briefly, in this column and in my book What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News. In both places, I spoke of them as cautionary tales for conservative scandalmongers but added that I believed Fund's denials, absent any compelling evidence to the contrary. I knew Fund a bit from our time together at MSNBC, and as I said in both places, he always struck me as a perfect gentleman (for such a political scoundrel). And Pillsbury and her mother, as I also wrote at the time, both struck me as "a little bit nutty," to borrow Brock's nefarious phrase. But I admit I enjoyed it. Right-wing smear artists had abused the constitutional impeachment process and all but destroyed Bill Clinton's presidency for a lot less. Their scandal machine had now backfired on one of its own. I didn't want to play myself, but I didn't mind that others were eager and willing.

The details were pretty distasteful. Among Fund's crimes trumpeted by Cotts in the Voice, for instance, was poor housekeeping. His apartment, she reports, was full of "dirty dishes, unopened mail, and bottles of alcohol from hotel minibars"; the floor was "covered with piles of black socks and dirty underwear."

Pillsbury felt so betrayed by my calling her story into question earlier this year that she circulated an Internet attack against me for lacking the guts to call Fund to account. I wondered what the hell Fund had done to get involved with someone like this--and if he was completely innocent, why did he lose his high-profile gig at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and end up writing for its benighted little brother, opinionjournal.com?

Over the past few weeks, I've received a set of documents from a close friend of Fund's--now posted on the Internet--that demonstrate to almost any fair-minded person that Fund is probably the victim of a deeply disturbed person. [...]

It's true, John Fund did live by the sword. But liberals and leftists must ask ourselves whether we really want to live by David Talbot's famous claim, made in the context of revealing a decades-old adulterous affair of Henry Hyde's, that "ugly times call for ugly tactics."

Is Mr. Alterman, saying, as he seems to be, that because John Fund seems not to have done what he's accused of that Bill Clinton didn't do what he admitted?

Posted by David Cohen at 5:04 PM

ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT IN BLACK AND WHITE.

Truth, Lies And Subtext (Bob Herbert, New York Times, 5/19/03)
Listen up: the race issue in this case is as bogus as some of Jayson Blair's reporting.

Mr. Blair was a first-class head case who was given a golden opportunity and responded by spreading seeds of betrayal every place he went. He betrayed his readers. He betrayed his profession. He betrayed the editors who hired and promoted him. But there was no racial component to that betrayal, any more than there was a racial component to the many betrayals of Mike Barnicle, a columnist who was forced to resign from The Boston Globe in 1998 after years of complaints about his work.

Although Mr. Barnicle is white, his journalistic sins have generally — and properly — been seen as the sins of an individual.

But the folks who delight in attacking anything black, or anything designed to help blacks, have pounced on the Blair story as evidence that there is something inherently wrong with The Times's effort to diversify its newsroom, and beyond that, with the very idea of a commitment to diversity or affirmative action anywhere.

And while these agitators won't admit it, the nasty subtext to their attack is that there is something inherently wrong with blacks.

Jayson Blair should have been yanked away from his computer long ago. There had been plenty of warnings. The failure to act on those warnings was a breakdown in management for which the paper is paying a heavy price. I don't want to hear that the devil — in this case a devil named diversity — was to blame.
As right wing reactionaries go, I'm pretty soft on Blairgate. I believe, with Mr. Herbert, that the individual primarily responsible for Jayson Blair's fall was Jayson Blair. I think that if the Times wants to tip the scales in favor of black journalists, it has a perfect right to do so. Heck, I think it has a consitutional right to say, "Quality, shmaulity [it is the New York Times], we're hiring the next black who walks through that door. I only hope she's a lesbian." But Mr. Herbert is so blind to the arguments against affirmative action that he walks right off a cliff.

First, what about the idea that the people injecting race into this controversy are "the folks who delight in attacking anything black, or anything designed to help blacks." I assume that he means conservatives, or Republicans or white men, in other words, me. So, just to keep the record straight, let's say again that the primary reason to reject affirmative action, on pure policy grounds, is the evident and substantial harm it does to blacks, by making it possible that blacks can find themselves in the world not as well-educated, not as driven, not as tested, as other Americans, a point that Jayson Blair has helped to illustrate so nicely.

Second, who, exactly, played the race card first? Howell Raines and the Times have gone out of their way to publicize who well their pressroom diversity program has worked. Why, it resulted in them hiring a very talented young reporter who they might not otherwise have hired, named Jayson Blair. Who, now, is taking refuge in the race question? Faced with the eivdence that Jayson Blair should have been fired months, if not years, ago, Raines suggested that he, a guilty white boy from Alabama who has overcome his paleoducation, might have given Mr Blair the benefit of a few too many doubts, because he is black. I guess Mr. Raines must "delight in attacking anything black", which at least fits the facts. (It's also worth noting that Mr. Herbert is just wrong about Mike Barnicle, as he must know. Mr. Barnicle was discovered lifting a joke from George Carlin. He was disciplined, but not fired. However, another columnist, a black woman, recently had been fired for making things up. The usual suspects -- if you want a list, find a Cambridge phone book -- screamed about the double standard and how Mr. Barnicle would have been fired if he were black. So . . . )

What Mr. Herbert entirely misses is the extent to which this is a "see, I told you so" moment for conservatives. Everything he blames conservatives for: injecting race into every issue, seeing blacks as inherently less qualified, suspecting that lying is a black trait, assuming that every successful black has had his path smoothed (usually by rolling over more qualified whites), either are the left's unspoken assumptions in backing affirmative action or are the entirely too predictable results of affirmative action. What makes it particularly sweet this time is that conservatives can now point to the Bush cabinet, more diverse and more competent than any Democratic cabinet, to show what true black achievement looks like. Bob Herbert is a smart guy, but he is blind to the very possibility that he is wrong. He can't even concede that his opponents mean well, let alone that we are right. As a result, he is pushing and pushing for a solution that will make the problem worse and worse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM

SOLOMON GRUNDY

Bush's Spokesman, Ari Fleischer, Leaving White House (DAVID STOUT with TERENCE NEILAN, May 19, 2003, NY Times)
Ari Fleischer, the public and generally good-natured face of the Bush administration, will resign in July to enter private business.

"I've decided my time has come to leave the White House," Mr. Fleischer said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Mr. Fleischer, who is 42 and was married six months ago, said he had decided that this was the time to step down as the chief White House spokesman, unless he were willing to commit himself for another four years.

"I've just been thinking about what I want to do, when I want to do it," he told The A.P. "I believe deeply in this president, his policies and the man. But there comes a time in public service when you have to decide when it's time to go."

Mr. Fleischer's announcement comes slightly more a year after Mr. Bush's chief media adviser during the 2000 campaign, Karen P. Hughes, left her White House post of counselor to the president to spend more time with her family, though she continues to advise the president.

Heard some sillytalk this morning that he was being forced out. Here's an easy way to determine such things. If the announcement is on a Friday, it's a firing; on Monday a resignation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 PM

WHY THE FAITHFUL WELCOME SCIENCE (via Mike Daley)

Absent fathers linked to teenage pregnancies (Rachel Nowak, 15 May 03, New Scientist)
Numerous studies show that girls reach puberty younger, become sexually active earlier and are more likely to get pregnant in their teens if their father was absent from the home from when they were young. But the usual explanation - that such families are under more stress - is now being challenged by a long-term study of girls in New Zealand and the US, the Western countries with the highest teen pregnancy rates. [...]

A team led by psychologist Bruce Ellis of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, followed more than 700 girls from preschool to age 17 or 18, monitoring 10 different aspects of their lives including family income, behavioural problems, exposure to violence and parenting styles.

They confirmed that teenage girls raised without fathers are more likely to suffer from depression, drop out of school and have other behavioural problems.

But while these problems were clearly linked to psychosocial stress, it was the presence or absence of a father that had the biggest impact on the girls' early sexual behaviour.

"The study rules out that these teenage girls are at risk for early pregnancy only because absence of the father introduces stressors into the home such as poverty," says Ellis, whose results appear in Child Development.

Why they are at risk is not clear. "The study certainly suggests that some Factor X triggers early sexual activity in girls who grow up without their fathers, but it is difficult to work out what the mechanism might be," says James Chisholm, an expert on early puberty at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

It is not simply the absence of a father figure. Other work by Ellis's team suggests that girls raised with stepfathers engage in sexual activity even earlier. One possibility is that the girls learn "dating" behaviour earlier by mimicking their mothers.

One of the conceits of the rationalists is that Reason (Science) is the enemy of Faith (Religion). So the faithful always find it amusing that science continually affirms--and never contradicts for very long (see for example the debunking of things like the non-geocentricity of the Universe, spotted moths and the notion of genes for alcoholism and homosexuality)--what are thought to be mere unthinking traditional prejudices. Of course, the reasons for this affirmation are easy enough to comprehend: Western Civilization is the product of thousands of years of experimentation, so the answers it offers to questions have been tested many times. It takes a bravely foolish (or cynically nihilistic) person to disagree with the wisdom of the ages. Sadly, such are never in short
supply.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM

FANFARE FOR THE COMMUN MAN

The dirty deeds of Joe McCarthy (William Rusher, May 15, 2003, WorldNetDaily)
As a stellar example of successful defiance [of Joe McCarthy], she cites the composer Aaron Copland, who "fiercely defended himself, declaring, 'I have not been a communist in the past and I am not now a communist,'" and was not compelled to testify in public.

As it happens, I have considerable personal knowledge of this general subject. In 1956 and 1957, I was associate counsel to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee – not McCarthy's committee (a subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee, and thus confined to investigating the government), but the body charged by the Senate with oversight of the nation's internal security. Such committees hold hearings to inform the Congress and the American people of matters that may require legislative action.

In the case of committees seeking testimony from people who may have something to hide (and that, of course, includes secret communists), it is common practice to hear the witness first in "executive," or secret, session. And, curiously enough, the chief purpose in doing so is to protect witnesses who want to cooperate.

More than once we asked a witness, in executive session, if he had ever been a communist, only to have him sigh and reply, "Yes, and I've wanted to get this off my chest for a long time." Then he would tell us frankly the story of his involvement, including the names of the other communists with whom he worked. When the session was over, we would thank him for his cooperation and he would go home, without the media so much as learning his name.

If, on the other hand, he refused to answer all questions about his communist involvement by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, he would be required to do so in a public session, from which Congress and the American people could draw their own conclusions.

In the case of Copland, the composer forthrightly denied communist membership under oath, so the McCarthy committee saw no point in a public session. But its curiosity about him isn't hard to understand, for Copland was a world-class joiner of communist fronts, having belonged to more than 20 (including the Committee of Professional Groups for Browder and Ford, 1936, which supported Communist Party Secretary Earl Browder for president over FDR).

But the Times didn't mention that. Reasons of space, I guess.

In an interview conducted by Jayson Blair the composer denied those memberships.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

FEAR OF FENWICK (via Randal Verbrugge)

Rage, Hubris, and Regime Change (Ken Jowitt, April 2003, Policy Review)
Throughout the 1990s, intellectuals and journalists, partly in response to the proliferation of prefixes ? post-Cold War, post-communist, even postmodern ? engaged in a competitive and seemingly imperative quest to name an era. The results of this effort at authoritative naming were phrases like the ?end of history,? the ?clash of civilizations,? an ?age of anarchy,? and, of course, ?globalization? ? none of which, to the authors? undoubted frustration, swept the field. I saw the 1990s as a ?Genesis age,? a period of history when the world was not biblically ?void? but was most assuredly beginning to see its ?form,? i.e. its shaping institutions (the nuclear family, nuclear deterrence, the nation-state), begin to lose their unchallenged status. Lacking the parsimonious elegance and dogmatism of many others, I also saw the 90s as a ?Toga period,? a decade when the world responded to the unique reality of American global dominance by imitating ? not assimilating ? everything from legislative democracy to golf (the American ?toga?).

With al Qaeda?s attack on the U.S. in September 2001, the competitive scholastic exercise over naming was replaced by a more momentous political effort by the Bush administration to identify the threatening, and to author the defining, features of our age. The result is novel to the point of being radical and, unlike academic exercises, consequential.

According to the administration, the essential element of our era is the threat emanating from a combination of tyrannical states and what I have called ?movements of rage,? a malignant political coalition that relentlessly pursues and may succeed in possessing and using weapons of mass destruction (wmd) against the United States and its allies. The Bush national security doctrine is a response to the likely proliferation of horrendous ?wildcat violence? when state disintegration and/or the covert actions of tyrannical regimes offer movements of rage access to insidious weapons whose advanced technology demands only global reach, not global power. Largely in response to this possibility, the Bush doctrine stresses American military predominance, military preemption, and political transformation. From an historical point of view, these are extraordinary ambitions. More, they represent the practical (not necessarily successful) integration of international relations with non-Western political development in the form of an American foreign policy based on the ideological concept, and political-military pursuit, of democratic regime change.

The first ?person? in the new Bush ?trinitarian? doctrine is military predominance ? or, if you like, dominance. In the administration?s words, ?our [military] forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build up in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the United States.?3 This tenet has no immediate bearing on the international issues facing the United States because it will most likely take at least a decade for any imaginable nation to be taken seriously as a military competitor (unless, of course, Japan undergoes radical regime change on its own nationalistic terms).

But if the administration is looking at the long term, so will I. Suppose, for example, the European Union becomes a stable, effective, legitimate political entity in world affairs. As such, its expanding population would be greater than ours, its economic power nearly equal, and its military potential the same. [...]

Preemption, the second ?person? in the trinitarian doctrine, is indeed a radical departure from deterrence as a strategy against hostile regimes. The difference between preemption and deterrence is simple: In the former case, you attack first. You don?t wait for an attack and then counter-attack. However, both deterrence and preemption rely on evidence of a hostile power?s weapons capacity, not simply its desire or search for such. The Bush doctrine rests on something much more radical (though, if Thucydides is correct, not historically unprecedented) than preemption: anticipation. The logic behind an anticipatory attack against a country like Iraq is that its leader will never cease in his search for military weapons of unprecedented destructiveness, and that once he possesses them, he will certainly use them against us in the form of blackmail, veto, or aggression. As I see it, the dangers of wmd in the hands of such a regime are threefold. First, the United States would suffer very high casualties trying to destroy a hostile regime that develops both wmd and the means to deploy and whose only restraint against using them is self-imposed. Second, a hostile regime with wmd would be more willing to harbor and sponsor stateless ?movements of rage? and add to the latter?s global reach insidious types of violent and traumatizing weapons. Third, the success of any single regime of rage would encourage the emergence of replica regimes of rage in other parts of the world--exactly the role Mussolini played for Hitler.

So the logic behind an anticipatory strategy is powerful. However, its strategic application demands the combined wisdom of Pericles and Solomon. To begin with, the premise for an anticipatory attack posits a hostile leader and regime platonically impervious to any environmental changes whether domestic or international. This is not always a mistaken premise--Hitler and Pol Pot are cases in point--but it is almost always mistaken. Over time, most regimes do change substantially if not essentially. One has only to look at the Soviet Union after 1956 and China after 1978.

An anticipatory strategy also relies on American presidential administrations with an unerring ability to identify which leaders and regimes are impervious to environmental changes. Any mistake in identification would result not in preemption or anticipation, but in a war that could have been avoided.

Finally, adoption by the United States of an anticipatory strategy creates the possibility that other nations will justify military action against their existing or potential enemies on the same hard-to-prove assumption that their adversaries, when and if they possess wmd, will use these weapons against them. When Australia declares its right to preempt, it is only a bit more serious than Peter Sellers?s Duchy of Grand Fenwick in The Mouse that Roared. China, however, might very well use the Bush security doctrine?s logic to launch an anticipatory attack on Japan and/or a united Korea before they too ?go nuclear.?

In the third section, on the unlikelihood of democratic revolution sweeping the Middle East and actually creating stable democracies, Mr. Jowitt begins to make more sense, but as to dominance and pre-emption he makes little. Beginning an argument with a hypothetical about Europe not only becoming a unified and coherent rival but one with a growing population, ranks right up there with, "Suppose the Red Sox win the World Series against the Cubs this Fall..."

As far as pre-emption is concerned, his objections don't seem terribly serious. Sure we might end up fighting a war we need not have--so what? All wars are avoidable, so long as you're willing to live with the alternative. Would not the world be better off today had we attacked the Soviet Union in 1955? or China in 1977? or kept going in Korea and Vietnam? or taken out Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis? What exactly is there to recommend "peace" when confonting terror regimes?

Even more dubious is the idea that we need worry that enemies will choose pre-emption as a strategy. Let 'em. A pretext to destroy the Chinese communist government and its nuclear capability would even save us the trouble of justifying pre-emption. One assumes the Chinese actually recognize that fact and this alone will keep them in their box.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:38 AM

WE DO NEED A FEW GOOD BUS DRIVERS (via Bob Barnes)

Close, but No Cigar (Lloyd Grove, Washington Post, 5/15/03).
Mazel tov to 59-year-old Fox News star Geraldo Rivera -- who will wed his 28-year-old girlfriend, television producer Erica Levy, at New York's historic Central Synagogue on Aug. 10, The Post's Christine Haughney reports. "You can't be my age and getting married and not be an optimist," Rivera, the son of a Jewish mother and Puerto Rican father, told us yesterday. He noted that he had been to the altar four times previously and had four children to show for it. "I don't know, maybe there will be one more with Erica," he said. He added that "hundreds of people" -- including Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top Palestinian official, the foreign minister of Afghanistan and various U.S. military commanders from Iraq -- have been invited to the Reform Jewish ceremony and the reception at the Four Seasons restaurant. "I was not only bar mitzvahed; I was confirmed. But this is actually my first 'church' wedding, as opposed to some hippie thing in a back yard," Rivera said. "I'm making a conscious decision to take this whole Judaism thing seriously. I think the Jews need me right now."
Can't some other religion be chosen, just this once?

Posted by David Cohen at 10:32 AM

BONJOUR, MON AMIS.

Today, my local NPR station ran a story on Madeleine Albright's commencement address at Smith College this weekend. In one portion of her speech, Ms. Albright spoke of the great things the graduates might accomplish. Among others, she said that one of them might "write a play so sophisticated that it can only be understood by a genius, or the French."

When Madeleine (!) Albright starts picking on the French, I say its time to lay off. What's the point of being a Francophobe if it's the same as being a regular person?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM

OPPOSITE!

Israel Pulls Back From Peace Plan After 4 Attacks (JAMES BENNET, 5/19/03, NY Times)
The new Middle East peace effort stalled today, after a barrage of four Palestinian attacks killed nine bystanders, prompting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to postpone a trip to see President Bush and to decide that Israel would shun foreign representatives who met with Yasir Arafat,
Israeli officials said.

After convening his cabinet tonight, Mr. Sharon issued an implicit repudiation of a new international peace plan, which calls for simultaneous concessions by both sides and rapid political progress to achieve peace and a Palestinian state in just three years.

"Peace can only be achieved after terror has been eradicated and there is quiet here," read a statement released by Mr. Sharon's office. "Only then will we be able to make progress through political channels."

Israel imposed a "general closure" on the West Bank, barring any Palestinians from crossing the boundary with Israel.

Despite the violence, Mr. Sharon told his cabinet ministers tonight that he intended to continue meeting with the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli officials said.

Mr. Sharon continues to seen hellbent on peace, as witness his determination to continue working with Mr. Abbas despite the pro-forma language repudiating the peace plan. Of course to interrupt the process now would merely hand the terrorists another victory, allowing them to forestall indefinitely the Palestinian statehood they fear.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM

SO THE BLIND MAN DESCRIBES THE ELEPHANT

God and George W. Bush (BILL KELLER, May 17, 2003, NY Times)
Is President Bush a religious zealot, or does he just pander to that crowd? That, crudely put, is probably the most persistent question I
hear about Mr. Bush when I travel outside the country, and it comes up all the time in the less godly American precincts (universities, Bush-hater Web
sites, Hollywood, the island of Manhattan). On issues from Saddam to sodomy, the assumption is that Mr. Bush is an evangelist for a moralistic
agenda that grows from his born-again Christianity. Or else (the more cynical variation), regardless of what he believes in, he has handed over the
presidential portfolio to the preacher pols of the religious right in exchange for their influence as campaign ward heelers.

I understand the critics' discomfort with Mr. Bush's public piety. It contributes to an image of crusading arrogance abroad, and to a fear of invasive
moralism at home. Most recently, the president's reluctance to offend Senator Rick Santorum--a Catholic theocrat who believes that states should have
the power to arrest gay lovers in their bedrooms, or even to criminalize couples who use contraceptives--was an occasion to wonder what, exactly, Mr.
Bush was born-again into.

But I've been talking to people who think seriously about religion, including some who know Mr. Bush, and I'm convinced that the notion of a White
House powered by fundamentalist Christianity badly misses the point. The critics are right that Mr. Bush's religion is both the animating force of his
presidency and one of his greatest political assets, but not in the ways they assume.

I've long suspected the essential fact about Mr. Bush is that God was his 12-step program. At the age of 40, Mr. Bush beat a drinking problem by
surrendering to a powerful religious experience, reinforced by Bible study with friends. This kind of born-again epiphany is common in much of
America--the red-state version of psychotherapy--and it creates the kind of faith that is not beset by doubt because the believer knows his life got
better in the bargain.

There are lots of ways to describe Mr. Bush's religion. By church affiliation, he is a Methodist. In theological terms he would be called a pietist,
referring to a tradition in which religion is more a matter of the heart than the intellect. One of his fellow believers describes Mr. Bush's Bible study
milieu as "small-group evangelicalism." However labeled, Mr. Bush's faith entails a direct relationship between the believer and God. It does not
provide a pope, or any other intermediate authority figure.

Nor does Mr. Bush's religion provide a very specific playbook, except the Bible, and among born-again Christians that book can be regarded as
anything from a collection of inspirational poetry to a literal recipe for life. (Mr. Bush gives no sign of being among the literalists.) According to
people who have worked closely with him or who travel in evangelical circles, Mr. Bush's faith is therefore highly subjective. It enjoins him to try to
do the right thing, but it doesn't tell him what the right thing might be. It is faith without a legislative agenda.

So how does religion influence this presidency? Gregg Easterbrook, a liberal Christian who has written extensively about the modern search for
meaning, suspects that for starters Mr. Bush is simply more comfortable with religious people than with nonbelievers. That may explain the
atmosphere in the White House, where, as Mr. Bush's former speechwriter David Frum put it, "attendance at Bible study was, if not compulsory, not
quite uncompulsory."

But it is a nonsectarian comfort. Mr. Bush has talked of bonding with Vladimir Putin over the story of a crucifix Mr. Putin's mother gave him.
According to Deborah Sontag's reporting in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday, Mr. Bush startled Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the devout
Muslim who now leads Turkey, by declaring: "You believe in the Almighty, and I believe in the Almighty. That's why we'll be great partners."

It is probably not entirely irrelevant to our international relations that Tony Blair is, as one British columnist put it, "the most overtly pious leader
since Gladstone," while Jacques Chirac of France and Gerhard Schroeder of Germany are adamantly secular. Mr. Schroeder was the first German
chancellor to refuse to end his oath of office with the customary "so help me God."

"I suspect Bush takes the view (which may prove right) that the ultimate argument will be between people who believe in something larger than themselves, and people who believe that it's all an accident of chemistry," Mr. Easterbrook said.

Mr. Keller is a near-perfect example of a problem that continues to haunt the major media: he likes George W. Bush, an evangelical Christian, but hates such Christians. This, after all, is the same Bill Keller who said the following:
Nor can Mr. Bush be claimed by the culture warriors of the Christian right, although he gave them John Ashcroft and occasionally throws them a steak. The president is not a bigot, or a pessimist.

Obviously if you think conservative Christianity is inherently bigoted it must make it difficult to write impartially, even positively, about the world's leading advocate of the ideology.

So Mr. Keller is forced--just as folks did with Ronald Reagan--to minimize the possibility that Mr. Bush's faith is intellectual as well as emotional. The President's Christianity in this scenario is devoid of any moral component and consists of nothing more than "red-state version of psychotherapy". Mr. Keller's belief that this is a non-sectarian he's writing about seems especially foolish when one recalls the famous incident when Barbara Bush brought in Billy Graham to convince her son that Jews are not barred from Heaven. Similarly, Ronald Reagan, who was always portrayed in the press during his presidency as only casually religious, was revealed after he left office to believe that we might well be living in the End Times and that apocalypse might be imminent.

The problem with reporting like Mr. Keller's is that, to take the Santorum kerfuffle as an example, it forces one to always take the most cynical viewpoint. Thus, Mr. Keller has to assume that the reason Mr. Bush didn't destroy Senator Santorum--the way he did Trent Lott--is because he wants to win PA, MI, IL, etc., more than he wants to do what he knows in his heart is right. Suppose instead, as all the evidence seems to suggest, that Mr. Bush agrees that homosexuality is immoral, that the Constitution doesn't protect it, that to claim it does would open us up to further degradation of society, and that people should be free to debate the matter openly, rather than be cowed by the Thought Police. That may make Mr. Bush a moralist and a "homophobe", but it also happens to comport with his religious faith. Mr. Keller has effectively cut himself off from this more logical analysis--that has to be a problem for the Times.

Finally, the last point here, the one that the terrific Gregg Easterbrook makes, reveals just how significant even a de minimus belief like the one that Mr. Keller has outlined will have on Man's future. This is the divide that separates the two sides of the political spectrum: there are those who are concerned only with themselves, and the secularized, demoralized, welfare state is the ideal vehicle for realizing their desires; on the other hand there are those who believe that the self is relatively unimportant, a mere part of an eternal chain of being, of the culture, of society, of family, etc. For the latter, traditions, revealed knowledge, moral absolutes, independence from government, and freedom generally are vital. Ultimately, even this lowest common denominator religiosity ends up being determinative of the kind of society we will have.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM

WHICH ECONOMY WOULD YOU BET ON?

A declining dollar will put Europe on edge (Moises Naim, May 18 2003, Financial Times)
The first and most obvious consequence is that Europe will be flooded by American exports, while the US will see a surge of European tourists whose apprehensions about George W. Bush's unilateralism will be tempered by inexpensive opportunities to take the children to Disney World. Americans will not switch to Californian wine because of France's vote in the UN Security Council but because French wine will become more expensive.

The fall of the dollar will make life more difficult for European industries while making American companies more competitive. The US private sector has already been sharpened by its ruthless and profound restructuring in response to the bursting of the stock market bubble, a slow economy, corporate scandals and the shock of terrorism and war. In contrast, Europe's labour market rigidities, heavy business regulation and closed corporate ownership structures have reduced the ability of many of its companies to react swiftly to changes in the global economy.

A cheaper US dollar will be a big challenge for European corporate leaders, for public policymakers and for union leaders. Managers in the eurozone will face unprecedented pressures to cut costs, policymakers to save and create jobs and union leaders to protect the generous benefits that they have secured for their members over the years. A strong euro could spur the creation of the coalitions needed to undertake long-awaited and so far postponed structural reforms.

But the reform agenda is so daunting, and implies such wrenching social and political rearrangements, that European governments may be tempted to retreat instead behind subsidies and protectionist barriers. [...]

All this suggests a paradox: that a weak currency is not always a sign of weakness. The US seems well equipped to minimise the negative consequences of a sharp devaluation of its currency while taking immense advantage of the opportunities it creates. A big factor in this is the flexibility and adaptability of the US economy, particularly of a private sector that is less fettered by regulations than its European counterpart and that must try to satisfy demanding shareholders.

The European decision to keep the euro artificially high, in order to maintain the delusion that the continent still matters, just keeps looking like a bigger and bigger mistake--and the odds against them undertaking serious reform are astronomical.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 AM

BOMBING THEIR WAY TO OBLIVION

Bombings may spur antiterror unity: Nations tighten ranks after attacks in Morocco and Saudi Arabia show terrorists target more than the US. (Howard LaFranchi, 5/19/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
The Sept. 11 attacks convinced Americans that Al Qaeda sees the US as its principal enemy. That is still true. But the strike in Casablanca, Morocco, on Friday - targeting a Spanish cultural center, the Belgian Consulate, a Jewish community center, and a cosmopolitan hotel--as well as the recent bombings in Saudi Arabia demonstrate how radical Islam is fixed on other totems as well. These include Western influences in Muslim culture, economic globalization, and modernization in general.

In one sense, that reality makes vanquishing groups like Al Qaeda seem all the more daunting because their targets are so diffuse. But the most recent bombings may also bring more of the world together in trying to quell terrorism. To the extent that such attacks continue and include non-American targets, they reinforce the notion temporarily lost during the animosity over the Iraq war that much of the world is vulnerable to terrorist violence and that strong international cooperation is needed curb it.

"These tragic events ... have been a massive jolt to Saudi Arabia, to the US, to all peace-loving people around the world that we have to redouble our efforts and we have to pursue the terrorists vigorously," said Adel Al-Jubeir, the foreign policy adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, in a recent Washington press conference. [...]

At home, the Bush administration is already facing criticism on the issue. Democratic presidential candidates, in particular, are chiding the White House for its handling of the war on terrorism. In an appearance in Iowa Saturday, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida said the administration had "let Al Qaeda off the hook" with the focus on Iraq.

Such comments may indeed revive broader criticisms that the war in Iraq could hurt the war on terrorism, while also adding pressure to repair foreign ties to better fight global terror.

"Remember it was people like Brent Scowcroft [national security adviser to the first President Bush] who before the war in Iraq said, 'Hey, wait a minute, don't divert your attention when we haven't won the war on terrorism yet,' " says Lawrence Korb, a former Reagan administration official now at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Their point was, you don't want to alienate the people you need to fight the war that involves the biggest threat to your national security."

These recent blasts point out the deep stupidity of two groups: (1) the terrorists and (2) the "realists". The terrorists' stupidity lies in just how counterproductive these acts are, serving merely to drive Arab nations closer to America and turning what have been relatively safe havens for them into serious participants in the war on terror. Meanwhile, the realists' (like Mr. Scowcroft & Mr. Korb) argument that people we'd alienated would try to teach us a lesson by allowing terrorists to operate freely from their soil was never worthy of any serious consideration. At the end of the day,
America has rather little to fear from Islamicists, while those who are angry with us--France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, etc.--need be terrified. What
realistic possibility was there ever that they would ignore a vital internal security problem just to spite us?

Posted by Stephen Judd at 5:58 AM

LEGALLY QUESTIONABLE?

Supreme Court Seat Shuffle? Judges' retirements would spark first shift in decades (Timothy M. Phelps and Tom Brune, 5/18/03,NEWSDAY)
Both sides expect a brutal battle, with the Republicans even threatening to force a legally questionable change in Senate procedure to prevent a Democratic filibuster. Such a move could itself force a constitutional crisis.

I'm uncertain about the plans of any of the justices, and retirements have been consistently predicted for the last few years...indeed this seems to be a replacement for the old Kremlin watches.
However, I note in the article the phrase "legally questionable." See the US Constitution, Section 5, Clause 2:
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

How is the Senate changing its rules legally questionable?

May 18, 2003

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:37 PM

LOCKE VS. RAWLS CAGE MATCH

God, Locke and Equality: Christian Foundations of Locke’s Political Thought (Victor Nuovo, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003.05.04)

Orrin has already discussed this essay, but I want to comment also. These are the interesting passages to me:

In God, Locke and Equality, Jeremy Waldron argues that Locke’s mature writings present an idea of basic human equality, grounded in Christian theism, and that this idea is “a working premise of his whole political theory” whose influence can be detected in “his arguments about property, family, slavery, government, politics, and toleration”. Waldron also argues that contemporary liberalism lacks just such a well founded and versatile idea as well as the resources to supply it. Its self imposed secular stance is the reason for this deficiency. Since Locke’s idea of human equality is rooted in theism, it is only reasonable that contemporary liberalism should relax its restrictive stance and consider religious reasons such as Locke’s for its commitment to equality....

John Dunn, who was the first to present Locke’s political theory in its religious context [The Political Thought of John Locke, Cambridge, 1968] has said [that Locke's liberalism is founded on Locke’s Christian beliefs].... Dunn refers to a brief handwritten note circa 1693 [Bodleian MS Locke c. 28, fo. 141], in which Locke contemplates the consequences for mankind if there were no God and no divine law. The result would be moral anarchy. Every individual "could have no law but his own will, no end but himself. He would be a god to himself, and the satisfaction of his own will the sole measure and end of all his actions."... Locke not only was able to imagine the consequences of ’the death of God’, he also in a sense anticipated it by his own failure to show that human rationality is sufficient to discover the theistic foundations of the political morality that he takes for granted in the second Treatise. This was the task that was promised but never fulfilled in Locke’s Essay. Locke’s argument for the necessity of revelation in The Reasonableness of Christianity is taken by Dunn as a tacit admission of this failure....

Since contemporary liberal theory, at least in its dominant Rawlsian version, excludes Christian theism, along with all sorts of comprehensive moral outlooks, religious or secular, from political discussion, [Waldron's campaign for the contemporary political relevance of Locke’s theism] must show that this exclusion is self-defeating ...

Public reason, on Rawls’ account, consists of all the reasons that ideally may be employed in a pluralistic democratic society to justify its basic institutions and to advocate fundamental justice. It is a restricted domain, excluding elements of comprehensive moral doctrines, whether religious or secular, from public discourse and deliberation ... Waldron suggests that Rawls’ idea of moral personality and Locke’s theism perform the same function of establishing a meaningful equality; both are intended as antidotes to nihilism. If this is so and if both are adequate, then it would seem arbitrary to include one and not the other.

As Dunn showed, in modern terms, Locke is at once a Christian, a conservative, and a libertarian. Locke's A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul (also his Common-place book to the Holy Bible) shows that Locke began with the assumption that Scripture was divinely revealed and derived his libertarian philosophy from Biblical principles. But, as the bolded passage shows, though he believed in libertarian principles of justice and minimal government, Locke was convinced that morality - indeed, the morality that Christianity teaches - was essential to social health. It is around this Lockean philosophy that America's founding fathers clustered and that the modern Republican party has centered itself. By showing that conservate moralism, libertarian justicialism, and Christian faith are mutually supporting, Locke is in a sense the philosopher of today's Republican coalition.

Locke, Dunn says, experimented with liberalism before ultimately rejecting it. Liberalism flourished in the latter 1600s and was motivated by horror at the preceding century of religious warfare. Its goal was to ground politics on a set of non-controversial assumptions that could draw universal assent, while allowing diverse opinions on matters inessential to political comity. Liberalism had two great branches. British liberalism was largely Christian-inspired and could have taken the motto of the great Puritan, Richard Baxter:

In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.

The "necessary things" of British liberalism were, by and large, the core Judeo-Christian commandments. But French liberalism thought religion would always be a source of controversy, and sought to eradicate religious understandings from the grounding assumptions of liberal politics. We see the ideas of French liberals like Voltaire transmitted directly down to such moderns as Harry Eager and John Rawls.

The liberal project is problematic for fundamental reasons. From a few weak assumptions little can be derived; but strong assumptions will not draw universal consent. It is not at all clear that we can find a set of assumptions strong enough to derive a universal politics, yet weak enough to draw universal assent. And without this assent, liberalism fails.

Locke, as Dunn showed, experimented with liberalism. His attempt to derive a liberal politics without drawing on Scripture as an assumption motivated the Essays. But the attempt failed, and convinced Locke that no such effort could succeed. Locke, in a sense, began his philosophical career as one of the most important liberals and ended it as one of the most important conservatives. As a conservative, he turned back to Scripture as the foundation of sound society and sound politics.

Rawls, like the early French liberals, seeks to ground liberalism on a minimalist set of assumptions. He first assumes that a political vision worked out behind a 'veil of ignorance' will be superior to one worked out with full knowledge of the consequences of choice. (Curiously, this echoes the story of the Fall: before eating of the tree of knowledge Adam and Eve could produce a better politics than afterward.) This is rather paradoxical -- economists would hold that more knowledge almost always allows better optimization. But even if it is granted, Rawls then assumes that people behind this veil will choose something resembling contemporary liberalism. (I suspect, BTW, that Rawls's whole construct was motivated by a common 1970s slander of conservatives: Rawls supposes that the only reason people would choose something other than liberalism is selfishness, and if you take away their knowledge of how to be selfish effectively, then they will a fortiori choose liberalism as their politics.) But both assumptions are highly dubious.

It seems to me that the liberal idea is wrong-headed: The best approach to political theory is not to minimize assumptions, but to maximize fruitfulness. We should accept a rich set of assumptions, and let the resulting theory prove itself by its success in the world. Empirical evidence should be the touchstone of ideology, not the plausibility of theoretical assumptions to ignorant judges. "By their fruits you shall know them," Matthew 7:20.

With this approach, we must concede that conflict is not going to disappear from the world. Liberalism, at least, holds out hope that if its project could succeed, all basis for conflict would be eliminated. Europe appears to cling to the great liberal hope. We conservatives regard Europe's hope for a world without fundamental disagreement as vain utopianism. That this argument was lived out in the thought of Locke himself makes Locke perhaps the most meaningful philosopher for our times.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:12 PM

)

God and George W. Bush (Bill Keller, NY Times, 5/17/2003)
Is President Bush a religious zealot, or does he just pander to that crowd? That, crudely put, is probably the most persistent question I hear about Mr. Bush when I travel outside the country, and it comes up all the time in the less godly American precincts (universities, Bush-hater Web sites, Hollywood, the island of Manhattan)....

Mr. Bush's public piety ... contributes to an image of crusading arrogance abroad, and to a fear of invasive moralism at home....

I've long suspected the essential fact about Mr. Bush is that God was his 12-step program. At the age of 40, Mr. Bush beat a drinking problem by surrendering to a powerful religious experience, reinforced by Bible study with friends. This kind of born-again epiphany is common in much of America — the red-state version of psychotherapy — and it creates the kind of faith that is not beset by doubt because the believer knows his life got better in the bargain....

Mr. Bush's faith is ... highly subjective. It enjoins him to try to do the right thing, but it doesn't tell him what the right thing might be. It is faith without a legislative agenda....

Mr. Bush's frequent invocation of the Almighty in his speeches grates on the ears of worldly Europeans, who, when the president says, "God bless America," imagine they hear, "And to hell with everybody else."...

As for the enduring notion that Mr. Bush takes his instructions from the organized Christian right, it misses a much more interesting story: as an independent political structure, the Christian right is dying....

The Moral Majority is long gone. The Christian Coalition is withering....

At the same time, noted Mr. Green, who has studied the Christian right, many local activists have gravitated into the Republican Party as county chairmen and campaign consultants. Once an independent force hammering at the president and Congress, they are now an institutional part of the party base.... Karl Rove, the White House political genius, has a master plan for enlarging that ecumenical array of believers — churchgoing Catholics, Mormons and Jews as well as the evangelicals — and welding them permanently into the Republican mainstream.

The interesting story, then, is not that Mr. Bush is a captive of the religious right, but that his people are striving to make the religious right a captive of the Republican Party.

The original zealots were Jews who believed that the Roman attribution of divinity to Caesars meant that Roman tyranny was unacceptable and had to be resisted by revolutionary activity. I suppose it's fitting, then, that New York Times readers - the closest thing we have to a self-imagined ruling class - should think of the religious right as zealots; for religious conservatives would surely rebel against rule by Times readers.

Be that as it may, charges of zealotry against Bush just won't stick, and Keller knows it. Bush combines piety and public prayer with an unthreatening personality and politics, and this mixture disarms the critics of public religion.

Consistent with unofficial Times policy, Keller offers scraps of support to Krugman/Dowd theses -- "Bush is dangerous because he doesn't doubt," "Bush has alienated our European allies," "Karl Rove, aka Machiavelli, has a master plan." But his main point is that Bush's faith is nothing for liberals to worry about. This is yet another sign that Bush is gradually calming the Clinton inflammation of American politics. The article even refrains from a favorite argument of the multicultural left -- that, regardless of whether Mr. Bush's religion is in fact dangerous, the fact that others fear religion means it should be banished. If multicultural leftism can't get a mention in the Times, it must be dying.

As Orrin noted below, the Republican Party needs the religious right. But it's because the Republican Party and the religious right have become so close that groups like the Christian Coalition and Moral Majority have died. Republicans and evangelicals were once segregated, now they are integrated; and this may influence our politics as much as other forms of desegregation.


Posted by Stephen Judd at 1:51 PM

JOHNS TO RESCUE OLD EUROPE?

'Pleasure Tax' on Brothels (May 16, 2003, REUTERS)
With the German economy on the brink of recession, cash-strapped cities are resorting to slapping a "pleasure tax" on brothels to help balance budgets.
[...]
Tax officials are checking out sex venues and prostitutes working from home to see if they are eligible for the tax, which amounts to 5.60 euros ($6.40) per 10 square meters (107 sq ft) of business space per day. Any smaller establishment is exempt.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

THE ENGAGEMENT WENT WELL; NOW LET'S GET MARRIED

Church as Civics 101: The robust civic engagement of Protestant clergy (John Schmalzbauer, May/June 2003, Books & Culture)

Have Americans withdrawn from civic life? Have we become a "nation of couch potatoes," choosing HBO over the PTA, MTV over the YMCA? Political scientist Robert Putnam thinks so. Putnam argues that Americans have become increasingly disengaged from voluntary associations since the 1960s, spending more time in front of the television and less time with their fellow citizens. While surveys show that Americans devote less time to clubs and groups and belong to fewer of them, organizations such as the Red Cross, the PTA, labor unions, and fraternal organizations report steady declines in membership. Even worse, fewer Americans belong to bowling leagues, preferring to "bowl alone."

The publication of Putnam's article, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital," along with a subsequent book, has led to a vigorous debate about the level of civic participation in America. Citing rival surveys, some scholars argue that participation in voluntary associations has actually increased.

Others argue that Putnam has focused on the wrong sorts of groups. To be sure, they concede, membership in bowling leagues and fraternal organizations has declined, but what about soccer leagues and Habitat for Humanity?

And what about churches? Religious congregations remain the most widespread form of voluntary associations in American society. Has participation in American congregations also declined? In Bowling Alone, Putnam estimates that "attendance and involvement in religious activities has fallen by roughly 25 to 50 percent" since the 1950s and 1960s.  Despite a temporary post-9/11 surge in religiosity, church attendance is back where it was before the attacks on Washington and New York.

But do attendance figures tell the whole story? In Congregation and Community, sociologist Nancy Ammerman argues that Putnam seriously underestimates the civic vitality of America's 300,000 congregations. Her own study found that many churches serve as civic places, "hosting community gatherings and political debates."

Providing even more evidence of the civic role of religious congregations, a growing body of research in the field of political science suggests that churches "function quite effectively as political communities." As political scientists Michael Welch, David Leege, Kenneth Wald, and Lyman Kellstedt point out in Rediscovering the Religious Factor in American Politics, "overt political messages and subtext are often interwoven in the conversations among parishioners, the context of church bulletins, and other symbols (e.g., artwork and posters) of a congregation's collective stance on sociopolitical issues." In their estimation, the "most important role in this process of political communication is played by the clergy."

Indeed, for much of the 20th century, mainline Protestant clergy encouraged their congregations to get involved in public issues, preaching the "Social Gospel" and crusading for social change. In Martin Marty's terminology, mainliners stood for a "Public Protestantism," focusing on "the social order and the social destinies of men," while evangelicals embraced a "Private Protestantism" that emphasized "individual salvation out of the world" and a "personal moral life."

Much has changed since the 1960s. While mainline Protestant clergy are still known for their political and social engagement, they preside over a much smaller flock. Today much of the religious activism in American politics takes place in evangelical churches. Walk into many evangelical churches and you are likely to see copies of Focus on the Family magazine
and Christian Coalition literature. Stroll through the parking lot and you are apt to encounter bumper stickers proclaiming "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart" and other prolife slogans. If it's a presidential election year, the SUVs and minivans may also feature endorsements of the Republican ticket. It would seem that evangelical clergy and congregations have become as politically engaged as their mainline counterparts.

According to The Bully Pulpit: The Politics of Protestant Clergy, that is exactly what has happened. The most extensive survey of clergy politics since the 1960s, the book?published five years ago, but losing none of its relevance in the interim?is an indispensable guide to the political attitudes and activities of both evangelical and mainline Protestant pastors. Coauthored by James Guth, John Green, Corwin Smidt, Lyman Kellstedt, and Margaret Poloma, it is based on surveys of over 5,000 clergy in four evangelical denominations (Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist Convention, Evangelical Covenant Church, Christian Reformed Church) and four mainline denominations (Reformed Church in America, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church-USA, Disciples of Christ).

Using a battery of theological questions (on biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Jesus and salvation), the authors divide their sample into "orthodox" and "modernist" clergy. One of the most striking findings of the book is that orthodox clergy are increasingly likely to report a high level of interest and involvement in politics. For example, 79 percent of the "most orthodox" and 83 percent of the "most modernist" pastors reported a "high level of interest in politics." Likewise, 95 percent of the "most modernist" and 92 percent of the "most orthodox" said they had taken a public stand on a political issue.

The political transformation of evangelical clergy from private to public Protestants can be seen most dramatically among Southern Baptist respondents. Between 1980 and 1992 the percentage of the "most orthodox" Southern Baptist pastors approving of protest marches "rose from 19 percent to 52 percent; of action groups, from 42 percent to 55 percent; and of joining national political organizations, from 31 percent to 42 percent."

While modernists were more likely to have formed a political study group in their church, contributed money to a political candidate and joined a national political organization, there were much smaller differences between modernist and orthodox approval of pastoral "cue-giving activities." In fact, the surveys show that orthodox clergy were more likely than their modernist counterparts to approve of pastors taking a public stand on a "moral issue," and more likely to say that they have endorsed a candidate from the pulit or publicly prayed for a candidate. The very denominations that have grown the most since the 1960s (the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God) have also experienced a surge in clergy activism.



It is not too much to say that the resurgence of the Republican Party nationally coincided with the re-engagement of the Religious Right in politics.  What was cause and what effect is harder to trace, but this much is certain: if the GOP does not keep the loyalty of the religious, it can't win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM

TRY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT

Fiddleheads: Euell Gibbons revisited (Olga Gize Carlile, 5/12/03, Journal Standard)

Oh, what wonderful memories were stirred up for us aswe discussed nettles and wild foods of the woods.

There are so many spring delicacies. [...]

If you find the bright green fiddleheads in the woods, wash them and blanch or stem them as you would asparagus.

Best way to clean the fiddleheads is to brush them with a vegetable brush, cutting off tough ends and discarding any slimy ferns. Wash them in cold water, sloshing them around.

Cook the fiddleheads in low-salt chicken broth for 2 to 3 minutes - just until tender. Then drain and dry and finish the dish by saut/ing in butter and garlic with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

That is called "saut/d fiddlehead ferns - a new vegetable for many. Or try combining fiddlehead ferns with mushrooms and chicken.

One chef suggested - 1 walleye baked filet with 2 asparagus spears and 2 fiddlehead ferns.

My foraging friend who knows how to cook nettles shares her recipe with our "In the Kitchen" readers.

"Yes, I usually only take the top three sets of new leaves - that might be a little less than 3 inches sometimes. I usually don't fix them in the frying pan with bacon. To me that is just very special," she told me.

She wears rubber gloves or just swishes them around with kitchen tongs and rinsing them again.

Usually the water clinging to them is enough and she allows them to simmer 5 to 10 minutes till tender. "It doesn't take long, and they have lost their sting. I just season with butter and salt and pepper. Delicious,"she says with exclamation in her voice.

She emphasizes again to be sure NOT to use your bare hands when washing them.

She adds this P.S. "Cooking completely removes the plant's stinging abilities. It converts the very material the nettle uses in its stinger into very good, high-protein food. For the nettle has more protein than any other leafy material known."

It was Euell Gibbons, the wonderful author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus, who informed us that where nettles grow well you will find soil of almost perfect balance in plant nutrients.

And we learned there is a Northumberland Cheese Company that produces a nettle cheese!

Some use nettles in soups and stews in place of spinach.

And there are people who grow them in their gardens for butterflies.

Euell Gibbons' "Stalking the Wild Asparagus," became an instant hit in 1962.

He also authored "Stalking the Healthful Herbs" and "Stalking the Blue-eyed Scallop."

These books are filled with real-life experiences "in a countrified story-telling style that's informative, fun and endearing," wrote John Kallas.



By the time most of us were old enough to know he was, poor Euell Gibbons had become a punchline, as the Grape Nuts pitchman who ate bark and stuff.  But his books are marvelous, combining an eye-opening glimpse of how many of the wild plants around us are quite edible with warm remembrances of growing up eating them. No one who's read Stalking the Wild Asparagus can help but think of him at this time of year when the fiddleheads come out.

MORE:

-BIO: Euell Gibbons: The Father of Modern Wild Foods (John Kallas, Ph.D., Wild Food Adventures)

-BIO: GIBBONS, EUELL THEOPHILUS (1911-1975) (Handbook of Texas Online)

-RECIPE: Mead (Euell Gibbons, from Stalking the Wild Asparagus)

-RECIPES: Fiddleheads (Nor-Cliff Farms)


May 17, 2003

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:13 AM

IF POLITICS IS A WAY OF HOLINESS, WHITHER FAITH?

Robert Schuman Nearing Beatification, Exemplified Faith and Politics (Zenit, 5/16/2003)
As former head of the French government, minister, and first president of the European Parliament, Robert Schuman's process for beatification offers testimony to a politician's exemplary life.

Robert Schuman (1886-1963), the man who made possible the birth of the European Union, might soon be a saint. Jacques Paragon, the postulator of the cause of beatification, announced on May 15, that the diocesan investigation of the cause of beatification is due to conclude, possibly this year.

Schuman, head of the French government, minister, and author of the May 9, 1950 Declaration -- providing the basis for European construction -- was able to open a new way in international relations based on political negotiation.

He was the first president of the European Parliament from 1958-1969. Pope Paul VI described him as "an indefatigable pioneer of European unity."...

Paragon mentioned the book by Rene Lejeune, president of the 'Institut,' whose title evokes the central message of the Father of Europe: "Robert Schuman, Father of Europe: Politics, a Way of Holiness."

Though I'm a Catholic, I hope for little more from the Vatican than that they do not dilute the 2000-year tradition by more than 0.01% per year. Pope John Paul II has been one of the greatest of popes, but his declining years are starting to resemble the last years of Ronald Reagan's presidency: the staff is starting to run the place. The Vatican, however, seems to have a hundred Oliver Norths, and they're all from "Old Europe."

I am adding something to my prayers: please Lord, let us not see the beatification of Alger Hiss, for his role in creating the United Nations.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:32 AM

THE LATEST EXTRA-LEGAL STANDARD FOR REPUBLICAN REVOLUTIONS

Raw Deal: Why Bush is behaving like FDR, and why he needs to be stopped (Bruce Ackerman, TAP, 5/14/2003)
Most successful transformations have been the product of political movements that gained grass-roots support for decades before their final triumph.... But this isn't true of the new politics emerging out of 9-11....

Rather than being the "do nothing" president of historical myth, Hoover in fact desperately tried to fight the Depression -- just not at the cost of smashing the existing constitutional framework of limited government. It was only after this effort at adaptation failed that the country was ready for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's effort to revolutionize constitutional understandings. The New Deal generated a sustained crisis of legality that came to an end only when the president had won a landslide re-election and threatened the Supreme Court in his famous court-packing plan of 1937.

George W. Bush is no Hoover. He is not responding to the new threat by governing within the existing legal framework. His war against terrorism is generating a crisis of legality of Rooseveltian proportions....

As Roosevelt was, Bush should be required to return to the people for re-election before he can claim a mandate to revolutionize constitutional doctrine....

If Republicans sweep in 2004, Bush will follow Roosevelt and use his second term to transform the Supreme Court with judicial partisans of the newly ascendant orthodoxy. In the 2000 campaign, Al Gore failed to convince the American people that there were large differences between him and George Bush. But nobody should doubt that the next campaign will be among the most fateful in American history.

Ackerman's admission that the New Deal created a "crisis of legality," and "smashed the existing constitutional framework of limited government," is welcome. Of course, Ackerman's claims that locking Taliban up in Guantanamo represents a comparable smashing of the legal order are baseless. Numerous federal judges have held the anti-terror actions of the Bush administration to be lawful, and with excellent precedent. The notion that only Presidents who have been re-elected can lock up Taliban is too ludicrous for words.

Ackerman's underlying principle, that revolutionizing constitutional understandings is legitimate for those who win Roosevelt-sized majorities but not those who win Bush-sized electoral college majorities, seems to me a novel and dangerous view. It implies that the grade-school lessons we were taught -- that Constitutional law is changed by amending the Constitution, and that the Constitution leaves broad scope for lawmaking, such laws being changed by Congressional statute -- which have the benefit of procedural clearness and universal acceptance, are to be replaced by a fuzzy process of revision to vague "constitutional understandings" which may be changed by any president with a large enough majority (or a long enough string of electoral victories) -- the standard of "large enough" or "long enough" again being vague. Whose "understandings" are these, by the way? Surely not the understanding of random names from the Peoria telephone book. Presumably they are the understandings of our legal elite. And who has consented to respect this fuzzy process? As far as I know, only Bruce Ackerman. And he might change his mind.

Ackerman, in short, seeks the replacement of a straightforward process of legal change that everyone understands and consents to, with a new and ill-defined process that couldn't help but generate conflict.

I no longer call leftists liberals, because they have abandoned the liberal tradition. The heart of the liberal idea -- and remember that the liberal tradition arose in the wake of a century of religious wars -- was to find a small set of ideas that everyone could agree on, and build consensual government on that limited set of shared values, "agreeing to disagree" on the rest. Our modern-day left seems more nihilist than liberal: where shared understandings exist, as on the standards for electoral victory or legal change, they seek to introduce controversy; where diverse views exist, they hasten to impose their views, a la Roe v. Wade. What has been lost is the humility and moderation of genuine liberalism.

Let us give Michael Dukakis his due: he was the last Democrat who was proud to call himself a liberal. The Democrats won't recover until they rediscover the liberal tradition.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:54 AM

DEFLATION REARS ITS FOOT

Fears grow that US economy faces deflation (Financial Times, 5/17/2003)
Fears of deflation in the US rose on Friday as stock prices fell and government bond yields dipped to 45-year lows after a key measure of inflation dropped to its lowest level in 37 years.

The concerns were heightened by reports that Japan's deflation gathered pace in the first quarter with prices down 3.5 per cent from a year ago, their fastest 12-month drop on record.

Orrin's deflation fears are looking prescient. We may be in the midst of an economic pattern that seems to occur once a lifetime: a great boom, fueled in part by a grand expansion of credit, followed by an extended spell of debt liquidation, deflation, and economic weakness.

The last such spell was, of course, the 1920's-1930's. A recent Barron's article, "The Debt Bomb," noted that total household, business, and government debt was less than 100% of GDP in 1921, but rose to over 260% of GDP by 1932, before falling back to just over 100% in 1951. From there it gradually rose to 130% of GDP in 1980, before beginning a steep climb to 295% of GDP ($31 trillion) in the most recent Fed statistics. If anything, this debt burden is underestimated; it does not take into account unfunded liabilities for future Social Security and Medicare obligations. If pension promises globally were counted as debt, then the expansion of the welfare state since the 1960s has been the greatest debt boom in history.

The Federal Reserve seems to be following the orthodox economic prescription here, buying federal bonds aggressively with printed money. Currency in circulation is currently $687 billion, up from $570 billion three years ago, a growth rate of 6.5% per year. This is fairly loose; but there is room to print money more rapidly should they choose.

Personally, I think slow growth is much more likely than a new depression, although the next ten years may feel like a depression in misgoverned countries like France and Germany. I do believe that economists haven't learned much since the 1930's about how to deal with such problems, nor has their influence on policy-makers increased. My most reliable prediction: The next decade will offer plentiful opportunities for policy criticism and I-told-you-so's from economists such as Brad DeLong.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 AM

"NEVER COULD LEARN TO DRINK THAT BLOOD"

The gospels according to Bob Dylan (DAVID MENCONI, May 12, 2003, Raleigh News & Observer)

"It's probably one of the most consistent themes of Dylan's career, his relationship with a higher power," says Jeffrey Gaskill, executive producer of the new multiple-artist tribute album, Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan (Columbia Records).

Still, nothing could have prepared the faithful for Dylan's sudden metamorphosis in 1979. With that year's Slow Train Coming, the one-time master of the counterculture emerged as a Bible-toting, fire-and-brimstone believer telling his fans: The end was coming and they'd better get right with God.

To many fans' dismay, Dylan's concerts turned into sermons in which he played only his new religious songs like "When You Gonna Wake Up," "When He Returns" and "I Believe in You."

"A lot of his fans were repulsed by the religiosity," says producer Jerry Wexler, who worked on two of Dylan's gospel albums. "There was all kinds of trouble and hell-raising. But ('Slow Train Coming') has withstood the test of time and is a great record."

In retrospect, "Slow Train Coming" sounds like full-on Southern gospel-soul. Its songs sound even more so on the "Gotta Serve Somebody" tribute, as covered by the Fairfield Four, Chicago Mass Choir, Aaron Neville and Sounds of Blackness.

In the early 1980s, Dylan moved on from his preachy phase. Secular songs returned to his onstage set list, and to his 1983 album "Infidels." But that album also had plenty of religious references, plus a picture on the sleeve of Dylan touching the ground on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.

The Bible continued to be a source for his lyrics, too. In the 1992 book "The Bible in the Lyrics of Bob Dylan," author Bert Cartwright finds scriptural references in 67 of the 88 songs Dylan recorded and released between 1979 and 1990. There are more recent examples, too.

"If the Bible is right, the world will explode," Dylan sang in his Oscar-winning 2000 song "Things Have Changed." Dylan's most recent album, 2001's "Love and Theft," also packed ample fire and brimstone.

At the same time, Dylan has remained connected to the Jewish heritage he grew up with. He played at a 1997 charity benefit for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and has actively supported other Jewish causes.

"Dylan has been accused of spiritual schizophrenia," Marshall says.

"Why was he supporting Orthodox Jewish causes at the same time he was singing 'Gotta Serve Somebody'? But he seems to have no problem embracing contradictory things, like his Jewish heritage and a belief in Jesus."

"Gotta Serve Somebody" is another case in point. Not only did Dylan give the project his blessing, but he chose to participate by dueting with Mavis Staples on "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking." It's hard to imagine he would do that if he didn't retain at least a vestige of his Christian faith.



Not sure what it all means, but I've always thought this song, from Empire Burlesque particularly lovely:

Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)

Well, I had to move fast

And I couldn't with you around my neck.

I said I'd send for you and I did

What did you expect?

My hands are sweating

And we haven't even started yet.

I'll go along with the charade

Until I can think my way out.

I know it was all a big joke

Whatever it was about.

Someday maybe

I'll remember to forget.

I'm gonna get my coat,

I feel the breath of a storm.

There's something I've got to do tonight,

You go inside and stay warm.

Has anybody seen my love,

Has anybody seen my love,

Has anybody seen my love.

I don't know,

Has anybody seen my love?

You want to talk to me,

Go ahead and talk.

Whatever you got to say to me

Won't come as any shock.

I must be guilty of something,

You just whisper it into my ear.

Madame Butterfly

She lulled me to sleep,

In a town without pity

Where the water runs deep.

She said, "Be easy, baby,

There ain't nothin' worth stealin' in here."

You're the one I've been looking for,

You're the one that's got the key.

But I can't figure out whether I'm too good for you

Or you're too good for me.

Has anybody seen my love,

Has anybody seen my love,

Has anybody seen my love.

I don't know,

Has anybody seen my love?

Well, they're not showing any lights tonight

And there's no moon.

There's just a hot-blooded singer

Singing "Memphis in June,"

While they're beatin' the devil out of a guy

Who's wearing a powder-blue wig.

Later he'll be shot

For resisting arrest,

I can still hear his voice crying

In the wilderness.

What looks large from a distance,

Close up ain't never that big.

Never could learn to drink that blood

And call it wine,

Never could learn to hold you, love,

And call you mine.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 AM

DAMNED NUISANCES

Army Ants Have Defied Evolution For 100 Million Years (Space Daily, 5/12/03)
Army ants, nature's ultimate coalition task force, strike their prey en masse in a blind, voracious column and pay no attention to the conventional wisdom of evolutionary biologists.

The common scientific belief has been that army ants originated separately on several continents over millions of years. Now it is found there was no evolution. Using fossil data and the tools of a genetics detective, a Cornell University entomologist has discovered that these ants come from the same point of origin, because since the reign of the dinosaurs, about 100 million years ago, army ants in essence have not changed a bit.



Fortunately, if you're an evolutionist, you just pretend that they're perfectly adapted and ignore all the changes that have occurred around them in those 100 million years, which you might otherwise think they should have responded to, at least a smidge.

May 16, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM

THE QUINTESSENTIAL ONE HIT WONDER

Pie Charting: Three decades after penning one of the best known yet most enigmatic songs known to man and karaoke warblers, Don McLean still isn't letting on what American Pie is really about. In fact, it may all have been a dream. (Alan Taylor, 11 May 2003, Sunday Herald)
A LONG, long time ago -- February 3, 1959 to be precise--Buddy Holly died in Texas in an air crash. That same day, so the story goes, 13-year-old Don McLean was delivering papers as usual. As he placed the bad news on doorsteps in his home town of New Rochelle, New York, he cried for Holly's widowed bride. At least he thinks he may have done. The truth is he can't quite remember. Be that as it may, something surely touched him deep inside and years later, after he'd given up his paper round and started to carve out a career in showbiz, he would describe it as the day that music died, taking Holly's untimely death as the inspiration for an epic song about the state of America on the cusp of the 1970s.

American Pie and Don McLean go together like Bernstein and Woodward. Released in 1971, American Pie made its composer -- the reluctant bard of 'a generation lost in space' -- very rich and very famous. For what seemed like an eternity it was the soundtrack at almost every social occasion. Lasting over eight minutes -- almost three times the length of most pop songs -- it crept insidiously into lives and homes, ultimately achieving ubiquity in karaoke clubs where tin-eared inebriates droned on about driving a Chevy to the levee as if they been brought up on the banks of the Mississippi. Like me, of course, most of them didn't have a clue what a Chevy was, let alone a levee.

But the same could be said of most of American Pie's lyrics. For over three decades sad people who ought to get out more have pored over them like Talmudic scholars in a vain search for meaning. Is the song a Bible-tinged foretelling of the apocalypse, an oblique account of the Kennedy assassination or a lament for the innocence of the 1950s? The speculation was fuelled by McLean's refusal to offer any explanation, believing that if he did it would destroy the very magic which made the song special in the first place. All he would say was that it has less to with 'the stupid nostalgia thing that everyone tacked on to it' than with the theme that 'commercialism is the death of inspiration. If only one person can relate to it on that level I'd be satisfied.'



It's always seemed like it was the song's elegiac quality, coming in the midst of a dreaful era--when we all knew that something we valued about America had died--that struck such a chord.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:48 PM

THE MAN OF STALIN:

Toward a red planet: This Superman is leading the Soviet Union to Cold War victory
(Jeet Heer, 5/12/03, National Post)


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:10 PM

MODUS TOLLENS, MODUS PONENS, MODUS DEMOCRATICUS

Squandering Prosperity (Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect, 6/1/2003)
George W. Bush has the worst economic record of any president since Herbert Hoover.

Have you noticed that Democratic intellectuals don't seem to reason forward from assumptions toward unknown conclusions, but backward from conclusions toward rationalizations? And the conclusions, generally, are political slogans. This one -- "worst economy since Herbert Hoover" -- has been the Old Faithful of Democratic campaigns since Ike.

My prediction: we'll hear it a lot next year.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:51 AM

)

EDITORIAL: The Right needs to write with reason (Univ. of New Mexico Daily Lobo, 5/19/2003)
The Daily Lobo ... has carried the moniker of Daily Liberal for quite some time and letters received by Lobo editors indicate that this reputation has arisen through content printed in the Opinion section. Whether this epithet is deserved or not is an object of debate....

But is the Daily Lobo the crux of liberal "propaganda" on campus? And if so, is this necessarily the fault of Lobo editors?

It should come as no surprise that institutions that expose the truth tend to be seen, at least in the public square, as leaning more toward the left than the right. A quick analysis of the attitude taken toward the media by Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984 will confirm this view. And although 1984 describes a totalitarian state, many of the techniques used by Big Brother are exaggerations of modern day conservative practices, i.e. the demand for more governmental control (of course, ironically, laissez faire is also desired) and the willingness to deceive the public in order to conceal unpalatable truths.

Thus, as a media source and revealer of facts, the Lobo is already stereotyped as moderate - exposure of the truth is often deemed dangerous by conservatives for fear of revealing too much.

But conservative qualms in this regard are not entirely unfounded. Despite newsmakers' efforts to reveal as little critical information as possible in their coverage of the war against Iraq, live broadcasts from American newsagents were assuredly being viewed by Iraqi intelligence officers. It's entirely possible, as many have vocalized, that reporting live from the battlefield actually assisted in Iraqi resistance, providing the "enemy" with helpful information.

However, magazines such as the Standard Review and the National Review are renowned for their reactionary conservatism, so not all news sources are necessarily branded overtly liberal....

Or perhaps the real reason [the Daily Lobo rarely prints a conservative opinion] is that conservatives on campus aren't saying much that's worth printing.... [O]ne can't squeeze blood from a stone.

I think that "quick analysis" is Lobo-ese for "uninformed analysis," and "stereotyped" is Lobo-ese for "authoritatively classified." I suppose the Daily Lobo didn't notice that it was a conservative administration that embedded journalists with its army in order to increase the volume of truths reaching the public, and conservatives who applauded the move, while liberals worried about the embeds getting too sympathetic with the troops and sending back the unpalatable. It would have been courteous to buttress accusations ("conservatives demand more government control") with examples. Those slips aside, this essay surely accomplished its ostensible purpose, of welcoming conservative contributors into the Daily Lobo's pages while refuting charges of immmoderation.

But the real purpose of my post is this: can anyone point me to the URL of the Standard Review? It sounds like something I might want to read.


Posted by Stephen Judd at 10:38 AM

0% FINANCING TOO HIGH

Consumer Price Stall Ups Deflation Fears (ERIC BURROUGHS, 5/16/03, Reuters)

Consumer prices excluding energy and food eked ahead at the slowest year-over-year pace in 37 years in April, while the once robust housing market cooled during the month, according to government data that fanned fears of the danger of deflation.


The core Consumer Price Index (news - web sites) rose at just a 1.5 percent pace for the 12 months ended in April, its slowest clip since March 1966, the Labor Department (news - web sites) said on Friday. The core Consumer Price Index (CPI) was flat for a second straight month -- the first time since 1982 the core index hasn't risen in any two consecutive months.

The overall CPI fell 0.3 percent in April, but like the big drop in wholesale prices reported a day earlier it was driven down by a big drop in oil prices since the start of the Iraq (news - web sites) war eased worries of supply disruptions.

The figures raised the prospect of a further slowing in core consumer prices that has investors fearing that deflation, or an extensive decline in prices across the economy, could ensnare the U.S. like it has Japan.


While I doubt we're headed the way of Japan real soon, deflation is clearly a greater threat to our economy than inflation is right now. Particularly worrisome is the implication true deflation would have on the debt burden of Americans.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM

WHAT IS POST-RELIGIOUS JUDAISM?:

Democracy in Israel: How Jewish can a democratic state be? (ZACKARY SHOLEM BERGER , 5/16/03, Forward)

How Jewish can a


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:14 AM

GROPING TOWARD ALLIANCE

India's startling change of axis (Sultan Shahin, Asia Times, 5/13/2003)
India has renewed its bid for an axis with Washington and Israel to counter Pakistan, which Delhi describes as the hub of Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism. The terminology being officially used for this proposed axis is rather innocuous - democratic alliance against terrorism....

While the US has not come up with any response yet, Indian opposition parties have attacked the ruling coalition for its "strange and perverse" obsession with Israel. The most vocal among these has been the Congress. It attacked the BJP-led government on Saturday. "Obsession with Israel on the part of the coalition government is strange and perverse ... when Israel is facing international isolation. It shows the intellectual insolvency of the government," party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy said....

The BJP-led government has indeed shown a great keenness in trying to convince the US for such a strategic alliance since it came to power. It has not let any opportunity go to repeat its interest in such an axis. Whether it was the issue of national missile defense (NMD) mooted by President George W Bush or the terrorist strikes of September 11, India was the first to offer its total support and cooperation, even without being asked for it....

September 11 found India in the same mood as Britain after Pearl Harbor. British columnist William Rees-Mogg recalled that his country's reaction to Pearl Harbor was one of "horror, but also a huge sense of relief that the USA was now involved in World War II". India, too, hoped that the US would now be involved in the war against terrorism that India has been fighting for the past two decades, first in the state of Punjab and then in J&K, not to speak of the seven states in its Northeast and the Maoist insurgency in the eastern state of Bihar and the western state of Andhra Pradesh.

An alliance between India and the United States makes so much sense that it will eventually come about, but the U.S. attitude is presumably akin to the young St. Augustine's attitude toward chastity -- "give it to me, Lord, but not yet."

The biggest trouble, I think, is that the Muslim world would not respond well to a public alliance between the world's leading Hindu, Jewish, and Christian nations. It is important that Muslims understand that the war on terror is not a war on Islam, but a war on tyranny and terror. Note that even the Congress Party is appealing to concerns of Indian voters that the BJP's interest in Israel is motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments, rather than shared democratic values. If the BJP is having trouble persuading Indians, it's going to have even more trouble with foreigners. The phrase "democratic alliance" is a good start: but to persuade Muslims that it was really an alliance of democracies, not an alliance of competitors to Islam, the alliance will have to include Turkey and other Muslim democracies.

Another point is that freedom is more important than democracy in America's scale of values. India's socialism and its Hindu nationalism that promotes repression of Muslims and Christians are both barriers to a strong alliance.

Finally, the last barrier to this alliance is game-theoretic. The Bush administration thinks that as the sole superpower, it is in America's best interest not to form rigid alliances with countries that may not share our values. Rather, we should be a broker who is in relationship to and accessible to everyone, but gets to shift the balance of the scales on every issue. The U.S. will not want to alienate China, for instance, with an open alliance with India.

If India liberalizes its economy and softens the Hindutva movement, then as free and democratic Muslim states like the new Iraq emerge, it will be possible to imagine an alliance of free nations in South Asia. The U.S. will probably encourage such an alliance, but remain publicly aloof. But look for a free trade agreement, if India is willing.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:33 AM

BELGIUM, MEET ARGENTINA

Belgium Will Pay For This Election (Johan Van Overtveldt, Wall Street Journal Europe, 5/16/2003)
If it is true that a country's citizens get the politicians they deserve, then Belgians, and especially the Flemings, have a major problem on their hands. Opinion polls in the run-up to this Sunday's federal elections consistently show Steve Stevaert of the Flemish Socialist Party to be by far the most popular politician in Flanders....

Mr. Stevaert, you see, owes his popularity to the fact that, in government, he developed himself into "Mister For-Free."

In his hometown of Hasselt he made public transportation free for large parts of the population, a trick he has since repeated throughout Flanders, the northern and more economically significant, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. He also coerced private electricity producers into giving a limited amount of electricity for free to Belgian families.

Once democratic voters lose their sense that they are in a cooperative venture with their fellow citizens, and feel rather that they are in a competitive fight and must exploit their fellow citizens before they themselves are exploited, then society goes to hell. The state becomes a kleptocracy, an instrument in the hands of the politically powerful to steal from the politically weak. And the more theft occurs, the more is the sense that citizens are fundamentally at war with one another exacerbated. Therefore the combat tends to escalate, ending in destruction of the economy and, usually, the rise of dictators. This is the path that Argentina followed under the Peronists.

We increasingly see such combative attitudes here in the U.S. from Democrats. They see politics as governed by the law of the jungle -- it is "dog eat dog" -- and view Republicans as enemies, not partners. They look for opportunities to take from Republican taxpayers and give to themselves. With their trial lawyer allies, they've turned our courts into instruments of theft, as damage awards increasingly bear no relation to the pre-existing agreements and expectations of the contending parties. They promote the idea that corporations or the wealthy are enemies to Democratic voters. They promote among blacks the idea that white conservatives are enemies, as in the James Byrd advertisements during the 2000 campaign.

These attitudes are greatly promoted by the atomization of society that is created by big government. When people work together with others in cooperative ventures, they tend to bring a cooperative view to politics. When people spend their whole life in dependence upon the state, whether in welfare dependency or academic-university dependency or government-job dependency or affirmative-action-privilege dependency, they tend to see their fellow citizens as competitors for political spoils. It is no coincidence that Republicans are the more cooperative party, Democrats the more partisan one; that Republicans more often forgive offenses and give ground to obtain compromises, much to the chagrin of the VRWC.

I am only a distant observer of Europe, but I imagine these problems are present there as well, and probably much more advanced. The popularity of a politician who offers the lure of stealing from one's fellow citizens is a bad sign for Belgium. I wonder if their economic collapse will await their demographic collapse circa 2050, or come much sooner, as the kleptocratic hyenas nip and tear at the flanks of the productive. For who, in Old Europe, is stepping forward to stop the bleeding?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 AM

<~text text="Senate Adopts a Tax-Cut Plan of $350 Billion">

The Senate approved a sweeping tax cut bill tonight that would reduce then suspend taxes on stock dividends before restoring them in 2007, adopting at least for now the central element of President Bush's tax plan.

Vice President Dick Cheney cast a vote breaking a 50-50 tie on the dividend measure. Several hours later, the bill was approved 51 to 49 when a Democrat who had voted against the dividend aspect, Evan Bayh of Indiana, voted for the overall bill.

The bill will now go to a conference with the House, which passed a substantially different tax cut package last week.

Mr. Bush wanted to eliminate the tax on dividends for the full 10-year period covered by the legislation, but the bill approved tonight was viewed favorably by the White House.

"The Senate bill contains all the elements of the President's plan,'' Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said tonight.

The measure would exclude half of a taxpayer's income from stock dividends from taxation this year and eliminate taxes on dividends altogether for three years, from 2004 through 2006. But to keep the 10-year cost of the bill within the $350 billion limit set by the budget the Senate adopted last month, dividend taxes would be fully reinstated in 2007.

The bill's sponsors expressed confidence that once the taxes were off the books they would never be allowed to reappear.

Democrats ridiculed the temporary suspension, called a sunset, as an irresponsible gimmick. Republicans said it would let Congress revisit the issue after a few years to see if eliminating the tax bite on dividends proves to be as effective in bolstering the stock market as its sponsors hope. [...]

The dividend vote mostly followed party lines. Only two Democrats, Zell Miller of Georgia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted for the measure. Three Republicans, John McCain of Arizona, Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, were opposed. [...]

The House-Senate conference committee will begin next week to resolve the differences in size and policy.

In the last few weeks, Republicans in Congress have tried not so much to draft a tax bill that might become law as to assemble packages that could win majorities in the House and Senate so the final details could be worked out in the conference.

The Senate bill would reinstate the full tax on dividends after four years and would also eliminate after two years a new tax break the bill would provide this year for married couples. These sunsets keep the cost of the measure artificially low, since the sponsors actually expect Congress to re-enact the tax benefits before they expire.

Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, called the sunset ``a huge yo-yo tax provision, now you see it, now you don't.''

"This is absurd,'' Mr. Baucus added. ``This is irresponsible tax legislation.''

Two interesting subtexts here: (1) Ben Nelson (D, NE) remains the Senator most likely to switch parties, especially if the GOP runs up its numbers significantly in '04; (2) The Democrats almost psychotically allowed this to be another 50-50 vote. This doesn't matter all that much if the economy is still not growing in November 2004, but if it picks up steam, as most expect it will, every Senator up for re-election this cycle--except, significantly, Evan Bayh, whose father lost his IN seat in the Reagan landslide of '80--will see ads saying that had just one vote been different theirs would have killed the tax relief that got us back on the path to prosperity. Sure that's nonsense, but it's effective nonsense and they've put themselves in this position before, when they hiked taxes in the first Clinton term and then got annihilated at the polls in '94. By betting on prolonged slow growth, it seems like they've potentially inflicted another needless wound on themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

FILLING THE FRAME TO FRAME THE MESSAGE

Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights (ELISABETH BUMILLER, May 16, 2003, NY Times)
George W. Bush's "Top Gun" landing on the deck of the carrier Abraham Lincoln will be remembered as one of the most audacious moments of presidential theater in American history. But it was only the latest example of how the Bush administration, going far beyond the foundations in stagecraft set by the Reagan White House, is using the powers of television and technology to promote a presidency like never before.

Officials of past Democratic and Republican administrations marvel at how the White House does not seem to miss an opportunity to showcase Mr. Bush in dramatic and perfectly lighted settings. It is all by design: the White House has stocked its communications operation with people from network television who have expertise in lighting, camera angles and the importance of backdrops.

On Tuesday, at a speech promoting his economic plan in Indianapolis, White House aides went so far as to ask people in the crowd behind Mr. Bush to take off their ties, WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported, so they would look more like the ordinary folk the president said would benefit from his tax cut.

"They understand the visual as well as anybody ever has," said Michael K. Deaver, Ronald Reagan's chief image maker. "They watched what we did, they watched the mistakes of Bush I, they watched how Clinton kind of stumbled into it, and they've taken it to an art form."

The White House efforts have been ambitious ? and costly. For the prime-time television address that Mr. Bush delivered to the nation on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used to illuminate sports stadiums and rock concerts, sent them across New York Harbor, tethered them in the water around the base of the Statue of Liberty and then blasted them upward to illuminate all 305 feet of America's symbol of freedom. It was the ultimate patriotic backdrop for Mr. Bush, who spoke from Ellis Island.

For a speech that Mr. Bush delivered last summer at Mount Rushmore, the White House positioned the best platform for television crews off to one side, not head on as other White Houses have done, so that the cameras caught Mr. Bush in profile, his face perfectly aligned with the four presidents carved in stone.

And on Monday, for remarks the president made promoting his tax cut plan near Albuquerque, the White House unfurled a backdrop that proclaimed its message of the day, "Helping Small Business," over and over. The type was too small to be read by most in the audience, but just the right size for television viewers at home.

"I don't know who does it," Mr. Deaver said, "but somebody's got a good eye over there."

Watching Simon Schama's History of Britain tonight--the episode on Elizabeth I--and he said that she understood that "stagecraft is statecraft".

May 15, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 PM

IF ONE GOES, WE ALL GO

Heart of eurozone skips a beat as Germany slips into recession (Larry Elliott, May 16, 2003, The Guardian)
Gerhard Schroeder's embattled government was plunged into fresh crisis yesterday when a second quarter of falling output pushed Europe's powerhouse economy into recession and caused growth to grind to a halt across the 12-nation eurozone.

The Netherlands joined its larger neighbour in suffering two consecutive periods of retrenchment, with falling output in Italy in the first three months of 2003 piling additional pressure on the European Central Bank to boost growth through an emergency cut in interest rates. [...]

Economists said Germany would barely grow at all in 2003 after its economy contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Italy's GDP fell by 0.1% and that of the Netherlands by 0.3%.

Martin Essex, an analyst at Capital Economics, said: "As GDP contracted in the final quarter of last year in Germany and the Netherlands, both are technically in recession. Moreover, no end to Germany's woes is in sight. Interest rates remain too high, the stability pact restricts the government's ability to loosen fiscal policy, the chancellor is too weak to tackle structural problems and the euro's strength has worsened conditions for the external sector at a time of slack domestic demand."

Yet Britain's Europhiles want Tony Blair to yoke the nation to this dying team?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:53 PM

THE FIERCE RACE

On Being Modern-Minded (Bertrand Russell, January 9, 1937, The Nation)
The desire to be contemporary is of course new only in degree; it has existed to some extent in all previous periods that believed themselves to be progressive. The Renaissance had a contempt for the Gothic centuries that had preceded it; the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries covered priceless mosaics with whit-wash; the Romantic movement despised the age of the heroic couplet. Sixty-five years ago Lecky reproached my mother for being led by intellectual fashion to oppose fox-hunting: "I am sure," he wrote, "you are not really at all sentimental about foxes or at all shocked at the prettiest of all the assertions of women's rights, riding across country. But you always look upon politics and intellect as a fierce race and are so dreadfully afraid of not being sufficiently advanced or intellectual." [...]

The belief that fashion alone should dominate opinion has great advantages. It makes thought unnecessary and puts the highest intelligence within the reach of everyone. [...]

In former days men wished to serve God. When Milton wanted to exercise "that one talent which is death to hide," he felt that his soul was "bent to serve therewith my Maker." Every religiously minded artist was convinced that God's aesthetic judgments coincided with his own; he had therefore a reason, independent of popular applause, for doing what he considered his best, even if his style was out of fashion. The man of science in pursuing truth, even if he came into conflict with current superstition, was still setting forth the wonders of Creation and bringing men's imperfect beliefs more nearly into harmony with God's perfect knowledge. Every serious worker, whether artist, philosopher, or astronomer, believed that in following his own convictions he was serving God's purposes. When with the progress of enlightenment this belief began to grow dim, there still remained the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Non-human standards were still laid up in heaven, even if heaven had no topographical existence.

Throughout the nineteenth century the True, the Good, and the Beautiful preserved their precarious existence in the minds of earnest atheists. But their very earnestness was their undoing, since it made it impossible for them to stop at a halfway house. Pragmatists explained that Truth is what it pays to believe. Historians of morals reduced the Good to a matter of tribal custom. Beauty was abolished by the artists in a revolt against the sugary insipidities of a philistine epoch and in a mood of fury in which satisfaction is to be derived only from what hurts. And so the world was swept clear not only of God as a person but of God's essence as an ideal to which man owed an ideal allegiance; while the individual, as a result of a crude and uncritical interpretation of sound doctrines, was left without any inner defense against social pressure.

All movements go too far, and this is certainly true of the movement toward subjectivity, which began with Luther and Descartes as an assertion of the individual and has culminated by an inherent logic in his complete subjection.

One does not typically look to either Bertrand Russell nor the Nation for wisdom, but this essay touches on many topics we've been discussing here lately. In particular, note how he follows the course of unbelief/reason/enlightenment/secularism/atheism/materialism/humanism/individualism/whatever-you-want-to-call-it as it begins with a dream of setting men's' minds free and ends with them locked back in conformity, but now conforming to whatever nonsense mass opinion settles upon rather than on ideals of Truth, Good, and Beauty. The modern mind is no freer than the ancient, we've just lowered our standards--from that which is transcendent to that which is most common. Folks call it progress...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 PM

THE ONLY CAUSES WORTH FIGHTING FOR (via Mike Daley)

"Live" with TAE: Judith Martin: America's favorite authority on manners and personal conduct says our national vision of a more egalitarian society is influencing etiquette and behavior across the globe. (John Meroney and Patricia Beauchamp, June 2003, American Enterprise)
TAE: Europeans have traditionally turned up their noses at American manners and culture. Is this still true?

MARTIN: Well, there's this sense among some Europeans that America has a crude culture and that we have no standard of manners. Many Europeans believe that our etiquette is a rough imitation of their standard. The English often think of Americans as failed Englishmen in manners and language. While American etiquette indeed has European roots, it also has a heritage from all over the world. As I state in my book, there are two major factors in American etiquette: the mixture of influences--because this is a nation of immigrants--and the revolutionary decision to condemn hierarchical distinctions.

TAE: American culture is often said to permeate the most remote corners of the globe. If that's true, how has our culture affected Europe?

MARTIN: European governments have become much more egalitarian than they once were. Citizens have a higher sense of how they ought to be treated. Also, American belief in the accomplishment of the individual has spread to Europe.

TAE: In America, even the richest of the rich, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and Warren Buffett, for example, continue to work after they've made their fortunes.

MARTIN: Yes. Americans don't think very highly of those who don't do something useful even if they can afford a life of relaxation. The European ideal used to be to rise above having to work. It was the preferred lifestyle to go hunting, look after property, and pursue other leisure activities. That
ideal has totally changed, largely because of America.

TAE: So America is exporting her manners?

MARTIN: For better and for worse, yes. American openness and friendliness is very much an influence now in Europe. Europeans have even embraced those unfortunate exaggerations of it, such as instant intimacy--the refusal to distinguish between old friends and new acquaintances in nomenclature. As a result, the distinction between the informal second person--"tu" in many countries--and the more formal one is being lost in European languages.

TAE: The French have a reputation for being rude to Americans. To them, we're uncouth. What kind of reception awaits the average American in France in 2003?

MARTIN: When I was in Paris a few years ago I was astonished at how polite and warm everyone was. Europeans love our movies, and they wear sweatshirts that bear the names of our colleges. But despite all that, there's still this view that we don't know how to behave. It has nothing to do with actual day-to-day contact with us; such views are based on a myth.

TAE: What does the Declaration of Independence, especially its line, "All men are created equal," have to do with manners?

MARTIN: "All men are created equal" is a revolutionary idea that inspired many to immigrate to this country. It meant that people who'd been living in a certain stratum of life, such as masters and servants, weren't destined to be there permanently. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about master-servant relationships in various countries, and he said the key factor in America is that both parties realize they might change places tomorrow.

TAE: So the equality championed by Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders has something to do with whether we're mannerly today?

MARTIN: Of course. When I started writing my newspaper column 25 years ago, people thought that etiquette was some kind of silly antiquated torture device used by people who had nothing better to do than humiliate others. The idea that in order to have a pleasant community we need some paralegal system that controls behavior has been many years in coming. The proposition that "all men are created equal" has helped us see that it's not acceptable to be a bigot or go around insulting large groups of people. However, when this country started, "all men are created equal" didn't mean all people. The Founders certainly didn't mean slaves and women. So we've been expanding that. [...]

TAE: Is there a link between manners and morality?

MARTIN: Sure. Philosophers always considered behavior indicative of the great philosophical and moral questions. The connection between morality and manners is a bit like the one between law and etiquette: The law deals with what affects life, limb, and property; etiquette is supposed to deal with the less lethal aspects of behavior that interfere with the community good. The moral foundation to manners is that we ought to recognize the existence and rights of other people.

TAE: Several years ago, companies started the concept of "casual Friday," the one day of the week when employees don't have to wear suits. What do you think of it?

MARTIN: It's a silly idea. People dress as if for leisure but they still try to look as if they are in charge. It requires more effort, not less--which undermines the objective.

TAE: In your book, Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium, you write on the subject of dress, "Total relaxation does not seem to inspire creative flirtation or wit." Are people who dress formally really more charming than those who opt for a more casual look?

MARTIN: No--they have more choices. Do people make more of an effort to be charming when they're dressed up? Often, yes.

TAE: Is there something wrong with dressing casually?

MARTIN: Look, life is a drab affair if there's no sense of solemnity or festivity to relieve the ordinary routine. People should comb their hair and wash up for family dinner so that there's something special about that daily event. What I have trouble with is people who try to sabotage formality. They think that dignity is pretentious. They love expensive wines and audio-visual entertainment but also love to denounce the trappings of formality as materialism. The reality is that formality is neither unfriendly nor pretentious. It's merely an alternate style, appropriate to dignified occasions.

The attempt to restore some manners to the American scene is necessarily a conservative project, requiring as it does that one think first of the other and only then of themself and also that there be some universal agreement on when and who we should defer to. No one has done more to advance this cause than Miss Manners.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:56 PM

LET IT BLEED

Let It Be: The greatest development in modern religion is not a religion at all?it's an attitude best described as "apatheism" (Jonathan Rauch, May 2003, Atlantic Monthly)?
It came to me recently in a blinding vision that I am an apatheist. Well, "blinding vision" may be an overstatement. "Wine-induced haze" might be more strictly accurate. This was after a couple of glasses of Merlot, when someone asked me about my religion. "Atheist," I was about to say, but I stopped myself. "I used to call myself an atheist," I said, "and I still don't believe in God, but the larger truth is that it has been years since I really cared one way or another. I'm"?that was when it hit me?"an ... apatheist!"

That got a chuckle, but the point was serious. Apatheism?a disinclination to care all that much about one's own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people's?may or may not be something new in the world, but its modern flowering, particularly in ostensibly pious America, is worth getting excited about.

Apatheism concerns not what you believe but how. In that respect it differs from the standard concepts used to describe religious views and people. Atheism, for instance, is not at all like apatheism; the hot-blooded atheist cares as much about religion as does the evangelical Christian, but in the opposite direction. "Secularism" can refer to a simple absence of devoutness, but it more accurately refers to an ACLU-style disapproval of any profession of religion in public life?a disapproval that seems puritanical and quaint to apatheists. Tolerance is a magnificent concept, John Locke's inestimable gift to all mankind; but it assumes, as Locke did, that everyone brims with religious passions that everyone else must work hard to put up with. [...]

I believe that the rise of apatheism is to be celebrated as nothing less than a major civilizational advance. Religion, as the events of September 11 and after have so brutally underscored, remains the most divisive and volatile of social forces. To be in the grip of religious zeal is the natural state of human beings, or at least of a great many human beings; that is how much of the species seems to be wired. Apatheism, therefore, should not be assumed to represent a lazy recumbency, like my collapse into a soft chair after a long day. Just the opposite: it is the product of a determined cultural effort to discipline the religious mindset, and often of an equally determined personal effort to master the spiritual passions. It is not a lapse. It is an achievement.

The short-sightedness of this idea is apparent enough if you simply consider the possibility of a world in which you truly don't care whether your neighbor shares the same morality as you. It seems a pleasant enough notion when it means you take no notice of his sexual preferences and he doesn't mind the woicker man you burn in your yard once a year. But what happens you have no way of knowing whether he's comfortable with the idea of sex between adults and children or when your new neighbor's religion tells him that it's okay to murder infidels?

At any rate, drivel like this makes W. B. Yeats seem all the more prescient:
The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:15 PM

THE DEMOCRATS' NEOCON PROBLEM

The 'D' in DLC Doesn't Stand for Dean (David Von Drehle, May 15, 2003, Washington Post)
More than 50 centrist Democrats, including Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, met here yesterday to plot strategy for the "New Democrat" movement. To help get the ball rolling they read a memo by Al From and Bruce Reed, the chairman and president of the Democratic Leadership Council.

The memo dismissed Dean as an elitist liberal from the "McGovern-Mondale wing" of the party -- "the wing that lost 49 states in two elections, and transformed Democrats from a strong national party into a much weaker regional one."

"It is a shame that the DLC is trying to divide the party along these lines," said Dean spokesman Joe Trippi. "Governor Dean's record as a centrist on health care and balancing the budget speaks for itself."

As founder of the DLC, From has been pushing the Democratic Party to the right for nearly 20 years. He was in tall cotton, philosophically speaking, when an early leader of the DLC, Bill Clinton, was elected president in 1992. As Clinton's domestic policy guru, Reed pushed New Democrat ideas -- such as welfare reform -- that were often unpopular with party liberals.

"We are increasingly confident that President Bush can be beaten next year, but Dean is not the man to do it," Reed and From wrote. "Most Democrats aren't elitists who think they know better than everyone else."

The memo took a milder shot at Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) for his proposal to guarantee universal health insurance coverage, which From and Reed deemed far too costly. "Every primary season unleashes the pander virus," they wrote.

The McGovern-Mondale wing is in reality the bulk of the Party. It is the DLC that represents a mere wing--a wing whose logical final resting place is in the GOP.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:06 PM

UP IS DOWN

When Is a Good Liar Better than a Good Reporter? (Farai Chideya, May 12, 2003, AlterNet)
Now that we've established journalists aren't perfect, let's get to the bigger issue. News organizations -- hell, all organizations -- like their employees to fit into the culture. That's not bad when there's some flexibility. But too much conformity leads into the trap that Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter describes in her now-classic "Men and Women of the Corporation." The people who advance the quickest in a company tend to look (usually white and male) and act the most like their superiors. Blair wasn't white, but I suspect he was a skillful mimic who used his knowledge of the corporate culture to get by.

Liars like Blair are shapeshifters who spend at least as much time ingratiating themselves with others as they do on their work. Since his days on the college paper, Blair was known as someone who used his charm to get by. (One wonders, given the outrageousness of the stunts he pulled, exactly how much ass-kissing he had to do.)

This type of charming liar possesses qualities that, at least in the short term, are very appealing to editors. No assignment is too difficult, no request off-base. Real reporters get stuck, or at least find out that the story they uncover is different from the one assigned. Liars don't have this problem.

The best reporters today -- including the best black reporters -- follow the story, not the assignment. This tends to be problematic for many black reporters whose editors challenge their independence, particularly on stories of race. Talented reporters of color who see important story suggestions get shot down too often are branded "troublemakers" and leave the business. That's one reason that the biggest diversity challenge news organizations face is not hiring reporters of color, but retaining them.

As Brian Boys--who sent the story--pointed out, the reverse logic here is breathtaking: the problem is the Times's culture is too white, male, conservative and Jayson Blair was forced to mimic that culture to advance! That's an astonishing assertion given that this is the same paper that has been on a jihad against institutions like marriage, the Boy Scouts, and the Masters and which is proudly described by its own staff as essentially being run by homosexuals. That's hardly a traditional corporate culture.

Posted by David Cohen at 12:19 PM

NOTHING'S MORE FASCINATING THAN EVIL.

This started as a comment in my 5th commandment post, in response to a question from OJ on whether I think that evil is just physical overindulgence. It's too long for the comments, so here it is.

OJ -- I'm certainly trying not to say that. There are two different issues here to be clarified. (I note that I'm leaving Jewish theology behind. The views expressed here are my own. For a good basic primer on Judaism, which takes a different view of some of these issues, see Judaism 101.)

First, although in our society physical overindulgence is a common path to sin, it is not the only path. Spiritual overindulgence can be just as wrong. In His Commandments, G-d struck a balance that we should not second guess. We are not more Godly if we "go beyond" that which is required. See bin Laden, Osama and some of the blacker episodes in religious history. If we keep kosher, then we don't eat pork. We're not more holy if we then go beyond the commandment and give up meat entirely, even if it seems to us that the rule against pork also implies vegetarianism.

Second, sin and evil are related but, to my mind, distinct concepts. If I eat a slice of pepperoni pizza, or drive on Saturday, I'm breaking a commandment, but I'm not -- I don't think -- evil. Equally, although we can distinguish between Stalin, Hitler, Hussein and Dahmer, evil is a binary concept, not infinitely variable. It would be silly to take someone who, for example, lied to his wife about how many drinks he had at a party and say, well, he's evil too, but only one-one hundred millionth as evil as Stalin.

To make this more concrete, let's consider Harry. It does seem to be pick on Harry day on the blog. (I should make clear that I am speaking of the purely theoretical Harry we know through his posts, not the actual Harry, about whom I know very little.)

I gather that Harry is a materialist. He believe that only those things exist that can be observed, measured and weighed, either directly or, through their effects, indirectly. Having rejected the Church based upon what he observed of the actions of the Bishop of Podunk, Tennessee fifty years ago (and Podunk is clearly where the Church sends its master catechists), Harry has also rejected god. And yet, unwilling to live a life of mere physicality, Harry has set his mind to develop a reason-based set of rules for living the good life. Coincidentally, his rules seem to track pretty much with six or seven of the Ten Commandments.

Now, Harry would argue, I assume, that he started with first principles and then reasoned out his modus vivendi. If he wouldn't say this, then there are any number of atheists that would. My interpretation, of course, is that his innate desire to comply with God's commands -- real but repressed -- informs every one of his moral rules, though it has been made subservient to reason, a manifestation of our physical lives. In this, we can see that this atheistic attempt to lead a moral life based on rationality -- founded on first principals that are as ethereal as any theism -- is an expression of our innate wish to follow G-d and is, in fact, a form of worship. (Of course, in saying this I'm giving in to my "physical" desire to annoy the atheists, but does that make this post sinful?)

The elevation of rationalism over G-d is error, but the desire to live a good life informed, at least implicitly, by religious values, is not in any way evil. Judaism allows for the possibility of the righteous gentile and should probably allow for the righteous atheist.

Finally, if sin and evil are separate, where is the line between them? On that, I must stand with Potter Stewart. I know it when I see it. The rest of you will just have to ask me.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:05 AM

ETHICS IN ACTION

Editor of Times Tells Staff He Accepts Blame for Fraud (Jacques Steinberg, New York Times, 5/15/2003)
The Times meeting was closed to news coverage. As a result, Mr. Steinberg, The Times's media writer, did not attend it.

In the Times's view, apparently, journalistic ethics require that no one with first-hand knowledge report on this event. Only second-hand knowledge will do.

I don't read the Times but I suppose that during the Iraq war, they didn't allow embedded journalists to report what they themselves saw, only what soldiers said they saw. And at White House press conferences, they don't report what Ari Fleischer says, but only what other journalists say he says.

This is a good rule, I think, because how can we possibly trust first-hand observations? Second-hand accounts are much more reliable. I recommend that television journalists adopt a similar rule. Rather than film events as they happen, they should film spectators describing what is happening.

It is good to see that, despite the Jayson Blair episode, the Times is maintaining its standards.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM

NOT FORSWEARING (via ef brown)

President Sees 'Progress' on N. Korea: Bush Won't Rule Out Military Action (Dana Milbank and Karen DeYoung, May 15, 2003, Washington Post)
President Bush, meeting yesterday with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun, announced "good progress" toward a resolution of the standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions but would not forswear the possibility of military action to keep the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

The two leaders, in meetings at the White House, agreed to arrange a plan for restructuring U.S. forces in South Korea that would produce a major consolidation -- and possibly reduction -- of the 36,000 U.S. troops there. The administration agreed to close a major military base near downtown Seoul; the 6,000-strong Yongsan, the focus of much of the anti-American tension in South Korea in the past, will be shuttered at an "early date," the leaders said.

The decision to move ahead with a U.S. military consolidation in South Korea indicated that despite the standoff over North Korea's moves to breach arms agreements and restart its nuclear program, the administration is willing to close bases -- even those near the demilitarized zone. Roh's government had worried that such an action in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat could destabilize South Korea's economy and security.

"We are not going to freeze in place until the nuclear issue is solved, and the South Koreans know that and they agree," a senior Bush official said last night.

Roh had come to Washington with hopes the United States would rule out a military strike and hold off on a reshuffling of its troop presence. The administration did not grant either request but agreed to assurances that it would consult closely with South Korea in all cases. The two leaders issued a joint statement saying that increasing "threats to peace and stability on the peninsula would require consideration of further steps," without specifying steps.

Bush and Roh defused -- at least temporarily -- a disagreement over whether a military strike against North Korea would be contemplated. The administration would not rule out a military attack -- a senior Bush aide said Roh did not make such a request -- but the two leaders expressed "confidence that a peaceful resolution can be achieved." [...]

Roh's meetings with Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and some lawmakers came as Reuters reported from Beijing that a number of North Korean military officials have defected to South Korea and the West. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said he could not confirm the report, "but it would not be surprising."

The combination of pulling our guys out of harm's way and ruling the military option in would have to worry Kim Jong-Il, eh? No wonder his guys are jumping ship...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

I AM BECOME SHIVA...

So how will he be judged? (Collated by Esther Addley, May 15, 2003, The Guardian)
Clare Short said in her resignation speech that Tony Blair was 'in danger of destroying his legacy as he becomes increasingly obsessed by his place in history'. But if he did step down today, just what would posterity record about the prime minister? We asked eight prominent historians for their verdict.

Ian Gilmour

I think Tony Blair will gain a small niche in history for having revived the Labour party and won (at least) two elections with landslide majorities.

More generally, he will be remembered for having dragged this country, or rather followed the US, into the most discreditable war Britain has fought for at least a century and a half. He will also be remembered as the prime minister - among a lot of competition - who has been most submissive to the US.

I agree with Clare Short that he should not be called George Bush's poodle. No self-respecting poodle would have Bush as its master. Rather, he has been Bush's lackey. [...]

Mark Almond

Enoch Powell said: "All political careers end in failure." Short's swansong emphasised Blair's lack of candour with his colleagues and the public. Much of the prime minister's appeal rested on the claim that, "I'm a pretty straight sort of bloke." When his time in Downing Street ends, loss of trust in Blair personally is likely to carry over into the death of faith in politicians in general.

Despite two landslide victories, the Blair effect on politics has been to promote apathy and disillusionment. By stealing the Conservatives most radical Thatcherite policies - war and privatisation - while offering the left nowhere to go, Blair's period in office could be seen in retrospect to mark the death of British politics. [...]

Michael Burleigh

It was a relief to learn that Short was not routinely consulted on any of the major issues of the time. It is anyone's guess what Blair's place in history will be. So many historians; so many histories.

Political historians will debate the relative importance of Blair and his Tory predecessors who pioneered the liberalisation his government now seems to be abandoning. Enterprising PhDs should patent the title Tory Tony before others use it, since I can foresee much in that predictable genre.

It's always pleasing to see the conventional wisdom congeal around something you've been saying for years, right down to the unfortunately not patented name. What Mr. Almond calls the "death of British politics" is in fact the murder of the Labour Party's socialist ideology; it was premeditated; and it was effected by Tony Blair. Part of the collateral damage from this "crime" is the death of the Tory Party, which has been supplanted by Mr. Blair's conservative Labour Party. For achieving this remarkable double murder, if for nothing else, Mr. Blair will have to be judged a historic figure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM

ABSOLUTE DRIVEL

Tension, Anger at NYT Staff Meeting Over Handling of Reporter Blair (Howard Kurtz, May 15, 2003, Washington Post)
Asked by business reporter Alex Berenson if there were any circumstances under which he would consider quitting over the handling of Jayson Blair's serial fabrications, Raines said: "My plan is to have this job and perform it with every fiber in my body as long as this man next to me," Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., allowed it. At that point, Sulzberger declared: "If he were to offer his resignation, I would not accept it."

As recounted by numerous participants, some of whom took notes, the session, attended by more than 500 people at a movie theater near the West 43rd Street newsroom, was marked both by contrition on the part of the newspaper's top editors and angry exchanges in which they appeared testy and defensive.

Joe Sexton, a metropolitan desk editor, used a profanity in demanding to know how the paper could have sent Blair, a 27-year-old reporter with a checkered record, to cover the Washington sniper case. "You guys have lost the confidence of much of the newsroom," Sexton said.

Raines told Sexton sharply not to "demagogue me" or use curse words, saying the discussion should be more civil. But he also said: "I'm sorry I don't have your trust. I hope I can win it back." [...]

What little applause there was went to Metropolitan Editor Jonathan Landman, who wrote an e-mail in April 2002: "We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now." That memo went only to the associate managing editor for administration and the assistant to Managing Editor Gerald Boyd, Raines said, adding that he never saw it until after Blair's resignation. [...]

Boyd apologized for his mistakes but said it was "absolute drivel" to suggest that he had acted as a mentor to Blair, who, like the managing editor, is African American. "Did I pat him on the back? Did I say 'hang in there'? Yes, but I did that with everybody."

Blair had been cultivating Boyd, nominating him for a National Association of Black Journalists award and writing up the prize in an employee newsletter.

Boyd said he had had only two serious talks with Blair ? one after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Blair's behavior became more erratic, and again after Blair was accused of plagiarizing an article from the San Antonio Express-News, urging him to come clean.

"This is not about a failure of minority journalists," Boyd said, or about being "too compassionate. . . . Let's not make this about race or youth or anything that divides the most talented newsroom in the country and indeed the world."

Fair or not, one thing that this story does is insert a parenthetical in Mr. Boyd's name: (Quota Hire). That is but one of the tragedies of racial preferences, that they call into question the legitimate achievements of all memnbers of the group they are supposed to be helping.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM

CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION

Humanity did not justify this war (Gareth Evans, May 14 2003, Financial Times)
This is not a new debate. It ran through the 1990s, stimulated by the hopelessly inadequate response to the massacres in Rwanda in 1994 and Bosnia a year later, and by the UN Security Council's failure to agree on intervention in Kosovo in 1999. With global opinion starkly divided, the Canadian government established an international commission to report to the UN on rules that might attract broad consensus. Our report still offers the clearest list of criteria for intervention.

The first criterion, just cause, sets the bar high for military action. War is always ugly. It must be confined to exceptional circumstances - large-scale loss of life or "ethnic cleansing". For Iraq, this test is a close call. It would have been easily met a decade or more ago (when the west was indifferent or worse) but much less so in recent years. Subject human rights violators to targeted sanctions and international prosecutions, the commission argued. But keep war for the worst cases, otherwise consensus will evaporate and there will be no sense of obligation even to deal with another Rwanda.

Even if Iraq passes the first test, the next four are harder. There is the question of right intention: was the primary purpose of this intervention to halt or avert human suffering? There is the question of last resort: were all reasonable non-military options exhausted? There is the issue of proportional means: were some 2,500 civilian and 10,000 military deaths an appropriate trade for the end of Saddam Hussein's capacity to persecute? And there is the test of reasonable prospects: were the consequences of the action worse than those of inaction? These are all tough calls, particularly the last one. We cannot answer it until we know how long Iraq's postwar misery will last, whether it is going to become a democracy or a theocracy, whether the war has concentrated other dictators' minds and whether al-Qaeda will now find it easier to recruit.

Last, there is the criterion of right authority, which essentially means having Security Council endorsement. This was lacking for Iraq and so ends the argument about legality but not necessarily the one about moral legitimacy. As the commission noted, if the Security Council declines to act in a clear and conscience-shocking case, when all other criteria for military intervention are met, it may put the credibility of the UN system at risk. But it is a very large call to claim that all the other criteria were satisfied.

We discussed most of these prior to the war, but there's a particularly idiotic formulation here: that we must judge the "reasonable prospects" by what actually happens. The Iraqi people have been handed--quite literally--an opportunity to build a decent society, run by themselves. But there is, and can be, no guarantee that they'll seize the opportunity and use it wisely. Given how few decent societies exist now or ever have it seems highly unlikely that they will build one. But they do have a chance and that's a whole heckuva lot more than they had three months ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:14 AM

STILL LIFE IN THE OLD GIRL YET

Thatcher's back and gunning for the French (David Charter, 5/15/03, Times of London)
Lady Thatcher said: ?For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain --but enough about the French. So deep had the rot set in that the UN security council itself was paralysed.?

She spoke of her pride at the way Britain stood by America over Iraq: ?Our own Prime Minister was staunch and our forces were superb. But, above, all, it is President Bush who deserves the credit for victory.?

Lady Thatcher said that she had ?drunk deep from the same well of ideas? as her great ally, the former US President Ronald Reagan. Both instinctively knew what worked, she said, including low taxes, small government and enterprise. ?We knew, too, what did not work, namely socialism in every shape or form. Nowadays socialism is more often dressed up as environmentalism, feminism, or international concern for human rights. All sound good in the abstract.

?But scratch the surface and you will as likely as not discover anti-capitalism, patronising and distorting quotas, and intrusions upon the sovereignty and democracy of nations.?

Lady Thatcher warned that America and Britain faced ?a pervasive culture of anti-Westernism" that needed to be challenged. "There are too many people who imagine that there is something sophisticated about always believing the best of those who hate your country, and the worst of those who defend it."

Her we'd consider cloning...

May 14, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 PM

LOVE AND DEATH

"The English Patient": A Classical Tragedy of Love and Paradox (Juliana Geran Pilon, Humanitas)
At the very essence of morality is the principle of treating others as ends in themselves. Yet love is sometimes, perhaps more often than not, curiously incompatible with morality—which the lovers, in classical terms, transgress at their peril. The paradox is that love itself makes all danger, including death, entirely subservient to the inescapable, all-consuming passion that defines such love. Which is itself a kind of redemption. But is that enough to render it moral?

Admittedly, death itself is the ultimate redemption. And in a way so is passion itself, since it is equivalent to death-by-fire, death by all-consuming fire, destroying as it exalts. But much more important is the fact that passion not only betrays but also begets life.

In a strikingly ambivalent, most dramatic scene, Katherine slaps Laszlo hard in anger, desperate at her own need for him, even as she comes to him for the first time, dressed in white, presenting herself as his true (though certainly not legal) bride who needs him more than she can bear. She hates and loves him at the same time; is ecstatically happy and miserably unhappy at the same time—as she confesses to him, fully aware of what is happening to her, yet unable and ultimately unwilling to resist it.

It is not irrelevant that Katherine is married. Her status as "forbidden fruit" must surely add to the dramatic tension between the two lovers—not unlike the tension between Romeo and Juliet, and countless others in literary history. But while Juliet's love for Romeo was forbidden only by political circumstance, that of Katherine for Laszlo implied betrayal, defying both Truth and Goodness. Can Beauty do that and still be ravishing? So it seems.

The betrayal is not only adulterous (although it is that primarily, and the eventual cause of the horrible deaths of all three people caught in this tragic triangle). Loving Laszlo, Katherine also violates her own choice to stay, in effect, spiritually a virgin: by having married her best friend from childhood rather than anyone who would cause her pain, she had made a conscious decision to shun passion. She betrays her emotional celibacy when she tells Laszlo that what she likes most is to swim alone, and to take baths alone (decidedly "not with someone else" she tells him even as she is in the bath with him). And what does she hate most? To lie, she answers promptly, without blinking. Yet this is precisely what she must do to keep her lover a secret.

Laszlo too realizes, almost from the moment he lays eyes on Katherine, that he is doomed. Writes Paz: "Love begins with a look: we gaze at the person to whom we are attracted, and he or she gazes back. What do we see? Everything and nothing. After a moment we avert our eyes. Otherwise we would be turned to stone."

One of the most sensual moments in the movie is, improbably enough, the scene by the campfire where Katherine tells the gathered (all male) explorers a story from Herodotus. The camera focuses on her with almost impudent, intrusive closeness as she describes the night when the ancient queen undresses (unknowingly) in the presence of a man who will be her future lover. The close-up of Katherine shows her subliminally aware of the fact that the erotic moment she describes embraces her as well, that she is actually addressing Laszlo at whom she looks as she speaks—with the camera following that gaze. And as her figure is blurred while the focus sharpens on him, we know that Laszlo is himself the stunned voyeur, finding himself unable to resist undressing her—the willing lover/raconteuse—with his eyes. He is destined to be the inevitable victim of the splendid Medusa/Katherine whose magnificence will turn him not to stone but to burning fire. He does not avert his gaze, but looks on, mesmerized, unable to believe. The fact that he will later die as a result of literal burns is only meant to underscore the fact that he has already started to be consumed by the flame inside his body, the flame of passion and, eventually, devotion.

This man who shouts that "There is no God," who states that he does not want to be owned by anyone—that is to say, he wishes to be his own god—seems unwilling to believe that he can succumb to the greater force of love. That only insures that he will fall so much the harder for resisting, denying, desperately fearing it; he is hopelessly drawn into it for the simple reason that he happens to be human. He too had vowed to stay celibate, no less than Katherine. He detests above all "ownership"—the kind that love commands, that he cannot escape. But later, having just made love to her, he demands that he possess a part of her body, the delicate hollow in her collar bone—when in fact what he truly needs is not only every inch of her but her entire soul, which he cannot be sure he can ever possess. The fact that she loves him as much does not change that truth. These are both tragic Greek characters who fully realize the danger of passion.

Descendants of Adam and Eve, they try to avoid tasting the forbidden fruit—but, like the pre-Christian Greeks, they know that the road to love's precarious paradise leads through hell. They know that the price of their surrender must be everything. This is why they fear it and why they (and only such as they) have the privilege and misfortune to succumb to it.

Every word of this review may be true, but this much certainly is: even the author, Michael Ondaatje, wanted to see the lovers dead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM

THE TERROR

Trial unravels Elf corruption web (Philip Delves Broughton, 15/05/2003, Daily Telegraph)
The financial and political corruption at the heart of the French state is being unravelled by a trial whose daily revelations are gripping Paris and terrifying its political class with fear of exposure.

This week the ex-president of Elf, Loik Le Floch-Prigent, confirmed an open secret: that for decades the state-owned energy giant provided cover for all manner of political shenanigans, including secret party funding.

"Elf money went to Africa and came back to France," he said, adding that some of its recipients were still in power. So far, he has refused to name names, keeping the capital on tenterhooks, but has made veiled reference to President Jacques Chirac and his former party, the RPR.

Our hearts bleed...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 PM

)

-REVIEW: of Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth By Stephen F. Knott (Barry Shain, First Things)
Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth is a book from which one can learn a great deal, but neither about Alexander Hamilton nor the persistence of myth. It is concerned with American history-more specifically, the history of the American Founding. It focuses on two representative symbols, Jefferson and Hamilton, and the persistent bifurcation in Americans' self-perception as a nation committed, on the one hand, to democracy, equality, localism, populism, strict constitutionalism, and agrarian economics-and, on the other, to limitations on popular political expression, hierarchical organization, centralization, elitism, a loose construction of the Constitution, and commercial economics. Jefferson and Hamilton quickly became the symbolic expressions of these competing socioeconomic programs, and it is the history of this association and their changing character that Stephen F. Knott tells.

What makes Knott's story compelling is the polemical nature of the historiography surrounding the Founding, as well as the changing national characterizations of Jefferson and Hamilton as alternating waves of vilification and hagiographic praise swept across the historical landscape. As Knott shows, these patterns responded with predictable regularity to changes in the economic and social environment. In particular, Hamilton's standing rises and falls with the stock market. Yet, in spite of our overall prosperity, Knott perplexedly reports that Hamilton has regularly been on the losing side of this national battle, as indicated by the disparity in Washington real estate devoted to each man. But what makes this work stand out is the detailed manner in which Knott draws to the reader's attention the persistence of politicization surrounding early American historiography. The cumulative effect of this unfortunate story is likely to undermine confidence in past historical objectivity, or even our current ability to do better.

These depressing possibilities are not conclusions that Knott reaches. But anyone reading his book who is not a "believer" (and it does approach religious zealotry) in the truth or righteousness of either Jeffersonianism or Hamiltonianism is likely to reach similar conclusions concerning the difficulty, if not impossibility, of writing balanced early national American history. In his telling of this story, one should not expect much from politicians, but what is less expected is the consistent partisanship displayed by the most preeminent of nineteenth- and twentieth-century historians. As Knott observes, FDR's promotion of Jeffersonianism was politically excusable, but "less justifiable was the lowering of scholarly standards by the nation's intellectuals, who promoted a simplistic common folk versus plutocratic view of American history . . . [and] offer[ed] a glaring example of historians in the service of a political movement." Across the historical landscape, Knott shows (sometimes inadvertently) that historians (and political scientists) have served as apologists for Jefferson or Hamilton as they advanced both their political and professional interests.

It is this story, then, that Knott, modeling his effort on Merrill Peterson's The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, tells so powerfully. Knott shows that Hamilton, from the days after his death to the early years of the twentieth century, was regularly lauded in New England and the Middle Atlantic states, and vilified in the South and West. [...]

But with the Great Crash, admiration for Hamilton fell along with the market, and this provided an opening for the progressive historians' attacks on him. Contempt for Hamilton was also common among a number of Northern poets, including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Stephen Vincent Benet, Carl Sandburg, and John Dos Passos. Knott concludes that "with poets and novelists voicing the despair of depression-era America and Hamilton branded as the cause of that despair, the 1930s witnessed a hemorrhaging of his reputation the likes of which had not been seen since the age of Jackson." Yet things would get worse.

As partisan as these historians and poets were in their treatment of Hamilton, more unbalanced still was the fanatical devotion to Jefferson among the next generation of early American historians. This is where Knott's account has the greatest bite. Indeed, it is at the pinnacle of the historical community that one finds some of the most passionate political actors writing in the service of their politics and in devotion to its preferred symbol. The writings of Merrill Peterson, Julian Boyd, Dumas Malone, Adrienne Koch, and Henry Steele Commager, to say nothing of the more honest zealotry of Howard Zinn and Staughton Lynn, are filled with anti-Hamilton partisan rancor, and Knott is quite effective in exposing it.

Richard Brookhiser wrote a nice, short biography, Alexander Hamilton, American, but he could fairly be charged with trying to refurbish a conservative's reputation. A more flattering portrayal then may be that in A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy (2003) by James MacDonald, which leaves one with little doubt that the financial footing that Hamilton put the young Republic on was as important to America's surprising success as anything any Founder did. And it's amusing to see how William Carlos Williams critiqued Hamilton in the poem Paterson:
[Y]ou wanted to organize the country so that we should all/
stick together and make a little money.

On the Left that's a bad thing, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM

THE LIES WE LIVE BY

Remembering the Gulag: a review of Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (Hilton Kramer, New Criterion)
What has to be understood, of course, is that the horrors of the Soviet system had never penetrated the public imagination in this country on anything like the scale that made the Nazis a familiar symbol of evil and criminality. Even as kids Americans of my generation recognized the swastika as an emblem of the “bad guys,” if only from the movies we saw and the comic books we read. No Soviet symbol ever acquired a comparable status in the public mind. Nor did Hollywood make any movies about heroic anti-Soviet resistance movements. As Anne Applebaum writes in the introduction to her magisterial study of the Soviet camps—Gulag: A History, a book that is certain to remain the definitive account of its subject for many years to come—

The Cold War produced James Bond and thrillers, and cartoon Russians of the sort who appear in Rambo films, but nothing as ambitious as Schindler’s List or Sophie’s Choice. Steven Spielberg, probably Hollywood’s leading director (like it or not) has chosen to make films about Japanese concentration camps (Empire of the Sun) and Nazi concentration camps, but not about Stalinist concentration camps. The latter haven’t caught Hollywood’s imagination in the same way.

Besides, Russia (as most people still called the Soviet Union) had been an ally in the war against Hitler, and was thus identified in the public mind as somehow belonging to “our” side. In the mainstream media and entertainment industries, the Soviet Union remained exempt from critical scrutiny, and the Gulag did not exist. Yet, as Ms. Applebaum also writes:

[N]ot all of our attitudes to the Soviet past are linked to political ideology… . Many, in fact, are rather a fading by-product of our memories of the Second World War. We have, at present, a firm conviction that the Second World War was a wholly just war, and few want that conviction shaken. We remember D-Day, the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, the children welcoming American GIs with cheers on the streets. No one wants to be told that there was another, darker side to the Allied victory, or that the camps of Stalin, our ally, expanded just as the camps of Hitler, our enemy, were liberated. To admit that by sending thousands of Russians to their deaths by forcibly repatriating them after the war, or by consigning millions of people to Soviet rule at Yalta, the Western Allies might have helped others commit crimes against humanity would undermine the moral clarity of our memories of that era. No one wants to think that we defeated one mass murderer with the help of another. No one wants to remember how well that mass murderer got on with Western statesmen. “I have a real liking for Stalin,” the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, told a friend, “he has never broken his word.” There are many, many photographs of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt all together, all smiling.

This is why The Gulag Archipelago and Solzhenitsyn himself met with such resistance and hostility in this country after his expulsion from the Soviet Union. “Soviet propaganda was not without its effect,” writes Ms. Applebaum. “Soviet attempts to cast doubt upon Solzhenitsyn’s writing, for example, to paint him as a madman or an anti-Semite or a drunk, had some impact.” Let us never forget the infamous passage in George Steiner’s New Yorker review of The Gulag Archipelago in 1974: “To infer that the Soviet terror is as hideous as Hitlerism is not only a brutal simplification but a moral indecency.” Nor was Steiner alone in his hostile response to Solzhenitsyn’s revelations. The late Irving Howe, who had found so much to admire in Leon Trotsky, took to the pages of The New Republic to offer Solzhenitsyn moral instruction on the correct way to think about socialism.

Has anything really changed in our public comprehension—or incomprehension—of the Gulag since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the final dismantling of the Soviet camps?

There must surely be others, but the only three excellent fictional portrayals of the Gulag I can recall are: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963); Forever Flowing (1970) by Vassily Grossman; and Archangel by Gerald Seymour. And the degree to which we've had to lie to ourselves about how complicit we were in the Soviet Union's crimes is amply displayed when folks protest that there was no way we could have done anything otherwise than leave the regime in place at the end of WWII, thereby making a necessity of what was in truth an expediency.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 PM

CRAWLING FROM THE WRECKAGE

Roadside Sex Romp Captivates Commuters (Reuters, 5/14/03)
An amorous Albanian couple's very public highway hanky panky mortified motorists this week in a country emerging from decades of social conservatism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 PM

MODERN INDENTURE

'Old Europe' and getting older (William G. Shipman, May 14, 2003, Washington Times)
The epithet "Old Europe" has another meaning, one that will be more determinate of the Continent's future than any perceived cultural advantage or inherited wisdom. Europe's population is aging: People are living longer, women are having fewer children, and the number of workers relative to retirees is shrinking. These trends will cause their Social Security systems and, more generally, the welfare state — part of Europe's DNA — to collapse. Old Europe, as we know it, is dying.

The beginnings of the welfare state were introduced by Germany's Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1889 when he adopted what is now called Social Security. Over the following years and decades many other nations, including the United States, followed his lead by also offering government benefits in large part to replace income lost to old age, disability, sickness, death, work injury and the like. As time progressed, the benefits became significant as did their costs.

In most cases these benefits are financed with a payroll tax, using what is often referred to as pay-as-you-go financing. In such systems benefits for today's elderly are paid by taxing today's young. And benefits to be paid to today's young will be financed by taxing tomorrow's young. This system is a simple transfer of wealth from young workers to older retirees. There is no saving or investment of resources for future economic growth.

For both taxes and benefits to remain reasonable, for the financial structure to remain stable, it is necessary that there always be many workers to tax relative to those who are benefit-eligible. This ratio of workers to beneficiaries is determined mainly by two variables: life expectancy and the birthrate. In Old Europe, both are moving in a direction that upsets this stability.

Throughout the Continent people are living longer. This is a result of, amongst other variables, better living and working conditions, better nutrition and health systems and greater wealth. According to the United Nations, life expectancy at birth in Germany, France and Italy is about 78 years of age; in the 1950s it was about 67.

And throughout much of Europe families are having fewer children. The birthrate that ultimately stabilizes a population is called zero population growth or ZPG for short. It is about 2.1 births per woman of childbearing age. Forty years ago most of Europe experienced birthrates well above ZPG. No more. Today, the birthrates are for France 1.7, Germany 1.4, Italy 1.2 and Spain 1.16, the lowest ever recorded for the human race. As has been reported before, "There is no single country in Europe where people are having enough children to replace themselves when they die."

The combination of rising life expectancy and falling birthrates results in a fall of workers relative to benefit-eligible retirees. According to the IMF, the ratio of contributors to retired beneficiaries in 1995 for France and Germany was 2.5 and 2.3, respectively. They have been on a steady decline and over the next five decades they are expected to drop to 1.4 and 1.2.

Imagine the social tension in a society where not only do all of your taxes go to support just one retiree, but a retiree of a different race, faith, etc....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 PM

MORE GLOOM

Deflation Boogeyman (Robert J. Samuelson, May 14, 2003, The Washington Post)
Inflation looks defeated. In March the consumer price index was up 3 percent from a year earlier; that's unimpressive, but much of the increase stemmed from soaring oil prices that are now receding. What's called "core inflation," without erratic energy and food prices, is rising at about a 1 percent annual rate. Moreover, prices for many expensive items have been dropping for several years. Since March 2000, prices have declined 2.8 percent for cars, 3.4 percent for major appliances (including washers, dryers and microwave ovens), 9.9 percent for women's suits and 57 percent for personal computers.

These price decreases reflect new technology, better management and intense competition, including imports. But a few falling prices don't make deflation if -- as is now true -- other prices are rising faster. Since March 2000, prices are up 19.5 percent for college tuition, 16 percent for nursing-home care, 10.5 percent for car repair and 8.8 percent for haircuts. It's often said that deflation can't happen because services (about 60 percent of the consumer price index, covering everything from health care to housing) don't experience productivity gains and prices don't decline.

This argument is weaker than it sounds. Big price declines for goods (cars, computers, etc.) could overwhelm modest increases in services. And some services do benefit from productivity gains; prices for cellular phone services have declined 14.6 percent since March 2000. Elsewhere, other services (airfares, hotel rates) drop because they can't defy the law of supply and demand. And suppose deflation does occur? Why would that be bad? Lower prices would allow people to buy more with their wages; the economy could benefit.

But what's also true is that deflation poses dangers: (1) lower prices could squeeze corporate profits, hurt the stock market and pressure companies to fire workers and cut wages; (2) falling prices could lower overnight interest rates to near zero, making it harder for the Fed to stimulate the economy; (3) companies and farmers might default on loans, which are fixed while the prices they receive fall, and (4) consumers might delay purchases, believing future prices will be lower. In the Depression, the dangers materialized. From 1929 to 1933, retail prices dropped 24 percent. Thousands of businesses and farmers went bankrupt. About 40 percent of banks failed. By 1933 unemployment was 25 percent. Although the Fed cut interest rates, the economy didn't respond. (In the summer of 1931, the Fed's discount rate was 1.5 percent; but prices were down 9 percent, meaning that loans were repaid in more expensive dollars and that the true cost of money was almost 11 percent.) Still, deflation doesn't always spell disaster. From 1870 to 1896, prices fell about 1.2 percent a year, reports a study by economists Michael Bordo of Rutgers and Angela Redish of the University of British Columbia. Despite periodic slumps and banking crises, the economy grew about 4 percent annually. Income per person rose about 1.6 percent a year. Industrialization spread. From 1870 to 1890, iron and steel production quintupled, cigar production almost quadrupled and sugar production nearly tripled. Farmers' complaints about falling prices and oppressive debts triggered a populist backlash, but mainly workers and companies adapted.

A year ago the Fed published a study by its economists on Japan's deflation. The chief conclusions were that the Japanese hadn't anticipated deflation and that their countermeasures were too little too late. Once deflation becomes a possibility, the study said, a government should undertake economic stimulus "beyond the levels conventionally implied'' -- an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. It may be that even lower interest rates and, temporarily, even bigger budget deficits are necessary. This is, as yet, a lesson that still makes Washington uncomfortable.

What should frighten people is that it has been obvious that the conditions for deflation were forming for several years now, and yet, with near universal approval, Mr. Greenspan and the Fed spent the last year (or more) of the Clinton administration raising interest rates to fight inflation. Meanwhile, Mr. Samuelson is the best economic columnist in America, but nothing in this column suggests that even he has a grip as yet on what's going on and most of his peers haven't even figured out this much yet.

MORE:
US Treasury yields hit 45-yr low, deflation eyed (Eric Burroughs, May 14, 2003, Reuters)
U.S. Treasuries rallied on Wednesday, driving benchmark yields to 45-year lows as weak retail sales and a record drop in import prices stoked expectations the Federal Reserve may soon cut interest rates to fight the threat of deflation.

Thirty-year bonds jumped nearly 2 full points on the session, pushing their yields to all-time lows as bond investors anticipated that the Fed, with little room left to keep cutting rates, may have to take up extreme policy weapons like buying Treasuries.

"If we get a run of weak data, you will hear a lot more chatter about unconventional Fed action," said Michael Cloherty, fixed-income strategist at Credit Suisse First Boston. "The odds are still very low, but it's moved into the conceivable."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:51 PM

WHEN LESS PEOPLE MAKE MORE FASTER, SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE

Import Prices Fell 2.7% in April, Biggest Drop in 14 Years (Joseph Rebello, May 14, 2003, Yahoo!)
Prices of imported goods registered the biggest drop in at least 14 years despite a slide in the value of the U.S. dollar last month, highlighting fears that the country's sinking inflation rate could develop into outright deflation.

Overall import prices fell 2.7% in April, marking the biggest decline since the government began keeping track of them in 1989, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The drop mainly reflected plummeting petroleum prices after the U.S. military victory in Iraq. But nonpetroleum prices also slumped.

Over the last six months, the Federal Reserve has grown increasingly nervous about the gradual decline in inflation, measured by consumer prices and the price index for personal consumption expenditure. Economists fear the PCE index could drop below 1% this year, the lowest level in decades.

Given that Chairman Greenspan testified before Congress that archaisms in the inflation measures overstate the rate by about 1%, that is deflation, right?

WHICH BEARS IN INTERESTING WAYS ON THIS:
WHY DO SOME SOCIETIES MAKE DISASTROUS DECISIONS? (JARED DIAMOND, April 28, 2003, Edge)
Education is supposed to be about teachers imparting knowledge to students. As every teacher knows, though, if you have a good group of students, education is also about students imparting knowledge to their supposed teachers and challenging their assumptions. That's an experience that I've been through in the last couple of months, when for the first time in my academic career I gave a course to undergraduates, highly motivated UCLA undergraduates, on collapses of societies. Why is it that some societies in the past have collapsed while others have not? I was discussing famous collapses such as those of the Anasazi in the U.S. Southwest, Classic Maya civilization in the Yucatan, Easter Island society in the Pacific, Angkor Wat in southeast Asia, Great Zimbabwe in Africa, Fertile Crescent societies, and Harappan Indus Valley societies. These are all societies that we've realized, from archaeological discoveries in the last 20 years, hammered away at their own environments and destroyed themselves in part by undermining the environmental resources on which they depended.

For example, the Easter Islanders, Polynesian people, settled an island that was originally forested, and whose forests included the world's largest palm tree. The Easter Islanders gradually chopped down that forest to use the wood for canoes, firewood, transporting statues, raising statues, and carving and also to protect against soil erosion. Eventually they chopped down all the forests to the point where all the tree species were extinct, which meant that they ran out of canoes, they could no longer erect statues, there were no longer trees to protect the topsoil against erosion, and their society collapsed in an epidemic of cannibalism that left 90 percent of the islanders dead. The question that most intrigued my UCLA students was one that hadn't registered on me: how on Earth could a society make such an obviously disastrous decision as to cut down all the trees on which they depended? For example, my students wondered, what did the Easter Islanders say as they were cutting down the last palm tree? Were they saying, think of our jobs as loggers, not these trees? Were they saying, respect my private property rights? Surely the Easter Islanders, of all people, must have realized the consequences to them of destroying their own forest. It wasn't a subtle mistake. One wonders whether - if there are still people left alive a hundred years from now - people in the next century will be equally astonished about our blindness today as we are today about the blindness of the Easter Islanders.

This question, why societies make disastrous decisions and destroy themselves, is one that not only surprised my UCLA undergraduates, but also astonishes professional historians studying collapses of past societies. The most cited book on the subject of the collapse of societies is by the historian, Joseph Tainter. It's entitled The Collapse of Complex Societies. Joseph Tainter, in discussing ancient collapses, rejected the possibility that those collapses might be due to environmental management because it seemed so unlikely to him. Here's what Joseph Tainter said: "As it becomes apparent to the members or administrators of a complex society that a resource base is deteriorating, it seems most reasonable to assume that some rational steps are taken towards a resolution. With their administrative structure and their capacity to allocate labor and resources, dealing with adverse environmental conditions may be one of the things that complex societies do best. It is curious that they would collapse when faced with precisely those conditions that they are equipped to circumvent." Joseph Tainter concluded that the collapses of all these ancient societies couldn't possibly be due to environmental mismanagement, because they would never make these bad mistakes. Yet it's now clear that they did make these bad mistakes.

My UCLA undergraduates, and Joseph Tainter as well, have identified a very surprising question; namely, failures of group decision-making on the part of whole societies, or governments, or smaller groups, or businesses, or university academic departments. The question of failure of group decision-making is similar to questions of failures of individual decision-making. Individuals make bad decisions; they enter bad marriages, they make bad investments, their businesses fail. But in failures of group decision-making there are some additional factors, notably conflicts of interest among the members of the group that don't arise with failures of individual decision-making. This is obviously a complex question; there's no single answer to it. There are no agreed-on answers.

What I'm going to suggest is a road map of factors in failures of group decision making. I'll divide the answers into a sequence of four somewhat fuzzily delineated categories. First of all, a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives. Secondly, when the problem arrives, the group may fail to perceive the problem. Then, after they perceive the problem, they may fail even to try to solve the problem. Finally, they may try to solve it but may fail in their attempts to do so. While all this talking about reasons for failure and collapses of society may seem pessimistic, the flip side is optimistic: namely, successful decision-making. Perhaps if we understand the reasons why groups make bad decisions, we can use that knowledge as a check list to help groups make good decisions. [...]

[H]uman societies and smaller groups may make disastrous decisions for a whole sequence of reasons: failure to anticipate a problem, failure to perceive it once it has arisen, failure to attempt to solve it after it has been perceived, and failure to succeed in attempts to solve it. All this may sound pessimistic, as if failure is the rule in human decision-making. In fact, of course that is not the case, in the environmental area as in business, academia, and other groups. Many human societies have anticipated, perceived, tried to solve, or succeeded in solving their environmental problems. For example, the Inca Empire, New Guinea Highlanders, 18th-century Japan, 19th-century Germany, and the paramount chiefdom of Tonga all recognized the risks that they faced from deforestation, and all adopted successful reforestation or forest management policies.

Thus, my reason for discussing failures of human decision-making is not my desire to depress you. Instead, I hope that, by recognizing the sign posts of failed decision making, we may become more consciously aware of how others have failed, and of what we need to do in order to get it right.

Note that the barking dog here is environmentalism, while the dog that didn't bark is the population implosion. It appears possible that Mr. Diamond is a part of the very kind of problem--intellectuals blind to what's going on for religious reasons--that he's talking about.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 PM

LIME?

Rove In the Limelight (David S. Broder, May 14, 2003, washingtonpost.com)
Some of the current attention being paid to Karl Rove is beginning to suggest that a variation on a famous old bit wisdom might apply in his case: "Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make famous."

This presidential counselor is on his way to becoming very famous -- two books detailing his life and activities published in the past six months and innumerable magazine articles, the most recent a characteristically insightful New Yorker profile by Nicholas Lemann.

We are three generations past the time when scholar Louis Brownlow advised that those who work for the president should have "a passion for anonymity." Since that time, White House staffers from FDR's Louis Howe to Bill Clinton's Leon Panetta have become at least vaguely familiar to newspaper readers.

None, so far as I know, has drawn his own biographers even while remaining on the presidential payroll, and most -- but not all -- have had the decency to delay their memoirs until their boss has left office.

But Rove has offered his cooperation and made time available for journalists and authors who have approached him with the goal in mind not of gaining insights into President Bush but of telling and retelling the saga of the political consultant who helped put him in the White House.

Yeah, you know the old saying: If it's in the New Yorker on Monday, they'll be talking about it at every truck-stop, water-cooler, and feed store in America by Tuesday...

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:08 PM

)

GOP eyes 'nuclear' end to filibuster (Washington Times, 5/14/2003)
Now, 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. Republicans want to change that requirement to a simple majority....

If Mr. Frist and his fellow Republicans use the option, they can thank some of the very Democrats leading today's filibusters for paving the way 25 years ago.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and influential member of the committee, were among those who voted in 1975 to force changes to Senate rules with a majority vote.

At issue in 1975 was a growing consensus in the Senate that a 67-vote requirement for breaking filibusters was too onerous. Democrats reduced that requirement to 60 using the bare-majority nuclear option.

"We cannot allow a minority, a small group of members, to grab the Senate by the throat and hold it there," Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Montana Democrat, said at the time....

By February of 1975, frustration about the filibusters had grown so intense that a majority of senators, mostly Democrats, favored using the nuclear option. They pointed to Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution, which reads, "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings."

So in a series of votes on complex parliamentary procedures in the winter and spring of 1975, the Senate established its right to set and alter the rules of the Senate with a simple majority vote, free from the threat of filibusters.

In the end, the requirement to break filibusters was lowered to 60 votes.

In addition to Mr. Leahy, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Byrd, Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Delaware Democrat, and Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, also supported the change.

Is there anything Democrats criticize that they haven't been guilty of themselves?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM

WHO'LL ADVOCATE FOR MULTILATERALIST INSTITUTIONS NOW?

Franks may face war crimes charge: Belgium under pressure to amend law allowing case to proceed (Ian Black, April 30, 2003, The Guardian)
Belgium is coming under pressure from the US to block a potentially explosive war crimes case against General Tommy Franks, commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Jan Fermon, a Brussels lawyer, confirmed yesterday that 19 Iraqi plaintiffs were seeking to bring charges that would name the general and other US soldiers who had allegedly committed crimes.

Mr Fermon claimed there were 17 violations of Belgium's controversial 1993 war crimes law, which allowed universal jurisdiction until it was amended early this month.

The legal move could prove embarrassing for the government of Guy Verhofstadt, who opposed the war in Iraq along with France and Germany, and is now seeking to mend fences with the US.

When President Bush refused to subject U.S. citizens to the International Criminal Court, this was precisely the kind of scenario that he and others who believe in our own sovereignty were worried about. Democrats and other transnationalists assured that these concerns were overblown. We eagerly await the first Democratic presidential candidate to announce he/she too thinks that General Franks should stand trial for war crimes.

Posted by David Cohen at 11:14 AM

IS W. THE MAN I THINK HE IS?

Talking Points Memo (Joshua Micah Marshall, 05/14/03).
Several days ago a friend who is renowned for his expertise on al-qaida and Islamist terrorism generally told me that there had been a wave of shootings of Westerners in Saudi Arabia recently. But the Saudis had dismissed them as simply criminal incidents arising out of disputes over the illicit trade in liquor. I don't know the precise numbers. I don't think we're talking about that many people. But it seemed to make him wonder whether these might actually be low-level terror attacks which the Saudis were simply covering up, by deceptively categorizing them. Perhaps they were a prelude to what happened yesterday?
I, too, have seen these reports, which tie in nicely with some bomb attacks on Britains in Saudi Arabia that were also dismissed by the Saudis as "routine" crimes. Now, according to the most recent news, seven Americans have been killed by a carefully coordinated terrorist attack.

Bill Clinton's great failing as President was the approach he took to the several terrorist attacks on Americans overseas during his presidency. He favored, as many on the left wished to do after 9/11, the criminal justice paradigm for fighting terrorism and, to give him his due, had some success in bringing to justice many people directly involved in the attack. The problem was that Al Qaeda and its supporters were contemptuous of this response. They were fighting a war and we were content in arresting individual soldiers. What we saw as a carefully modulated response they saw as no response at all. This may not be even a but/for cause of 9/11, but it certainly was no impediment.

George Bush immediately rejected the criminal justice paradigm after 9/11. We were at war and he acted on that fact. As many have noted, however, the Saudi's seem to have been cut a break. Now, I hear on NPR this morning, a team of FBI agents is being sent to Saudi Arabia to assist in the investigation. This is a bad sign. It is what the Clinton or Gore administration would have done. If W is the man I think he is, he realizes that the only proper response to terrorism aimed at Americans is an immoderate response.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:49 AM

THE UR-DEBATE

Honoring the 5th: Why our family doesn't do Mother’s Day. (Rabbi Daniel Lapin, NRO, 5/14/03)
Whether you like it or not, most would agree that the Ten Commandments lie at the core of Western civilization. Why, even retaining our seven-day week in place of what would be a vastly more convenient calendar based upon a five-day week, is only on account of the fourth Commandment regarding the Sabbath day. Without that pesky fourth Commandment, we could reuse our calendars year after year since every year would be identical.

Well, the fifth Commandment doesn't instruct us to honor our fathers and mothers only on two special days each year, does it? No, the Commandment is valid for 365 days each year and 366 in leap years. My wife and I have always suspected that observance of an annual Mother's Day or Father's Day actually diminishes observance of the fifth Commandment. Not wanting to run the risk of that happening, we just declared from our children's' infancy that in our home, Mother's Day and Father's Day was everyday!

To my relief, our children accepted this, but on growing a little older, they inquired about another verse found early in the 19th chapter of Leviticus, "Everyone should fear his mother and father." Contrasting this with that fifth Commandment which did so much for our family's lifestyle, they asked, "Why reverse the order?" In Exodus, honor your father and mother but in Leviticus fear your mother and father? Does the Bible instruct us to honor our fathers more than our mothers but to fear our mothers more than our fathers?

Of course not! The Bible never asks us to do the easy and the natural. In fact, its very greatness is how it introduces us to the revolutionary idea that makes Western civilization possible. Namely that it is not only possible, but vital that we overcome nature, particularly our own. [Emphasis added]
In the Comments to one of Orrin's posts below, on why Athens needs Jerusalem, we have been discussing the story of the Garden of Eden from the view point of the three Abrahamaic religions. Although I find Rabbi Lapin's main point -- that Mother's Day and Father's Day detract from observing the 5th Commandment -- banal, his argument goes to the heart of Jewish understanding of Adam's fall.

In Jewish theology, we are all born with two instincts: to honor G-d and obey his commandments, on the one hand, and to satisfy our physical needs, on the other. In the Garden of Eden, before the Fall, these two instincts were in equipoise; Adam and Eve didn't feel any conflict between them. By preferring their desire to eat the fruit to their desire to obey G-d, Adam and Eve set in motion the conflict between body and soul, clean and unclean, abstinence and hedonism that undergirds all of human history. What we lost in the Garden was peace, what we gained was conflict.

As an aside, these two instincts are sometimes oversimplified as an instinct towards good versus an instinct towards evil. It is not that simple. G-d created us with appetites and with the ability to enjoy food, drink, love and life. It is not wrong, in and of itself, to satisfy these urges or even to revel in them, unless G-d has commanded otherwise. Some Rabbi's teach that a self-conscous asceticism beyond that commanded by G-d can be as straight a path to sin and error as the most epicurean of lifestyles. The good life is lived by rediscovering (or more properly, since we can never actually attain this rediscovery, striving towards) the equipoise between these two urges that was gifted to Adam and Eve.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

JOE WON

What McCarthy messed up (James Lileks, May 13, 2003, Jewish World Review)
Reading these transcripts, you wish you could jump in a time machine, head back half a century and give Joe McC the testimony of his miserable career:

"Oh, I'll name names, Senator. I'll name one. Yours. We all know now about the stick of butter you eat to calm your guts before these hearings. And it's not even Wisconsin butter. For shame, sir! For shame! And how do we know this? Because Roy Cohn bugged your liquor cabinet and passes everything on to The Party. Khrushchev knows everything. Even about the late-night calls where you speak in baby-talk to Hoover.

"Now listen up, you fool. There are Communists at work in the land. There are men who write movies who have a sophomoric comprehension of the world and who cling to Communist nonsense. And there are double agents. Sympathizers. Fellow travelers. Just because the Salem witch trials convicted innocent women doesn't mean there wasn't some crone burning hair and casting spells in the town down the road.

"But you have killed your cause -- and what's more, you have poisoned debate for decades to come. In the future, the very accusation of Communist sympathies will be dismissed out of hand because few will want to be associated with your loathsome precedent.

"And even after Communism itself has been defeated -- which it will be, but not by men such as yourself -- the term McCarthyism will be used to shut down debate. The accusation will be the absolution. On behalf of everyone who opposed the totalitarians, the collectivists, the mealy-minded fans of charismatic brutes yet to come -- thanks for nothing.

"And now I must return to the 21st century, where U.S. astronauts have just completed a mission with their Russian comrades. Oh, and that Aaron Copland fellow you were so worried about? We play his Fanfare for a Common Man when the aircraft carriers return to port.

"Here's your grave, Joe. Lie down. Start spinning."

You have killed your cause -- and what's more, you have poisoned debate for decades to come.

It's easy enough to attack Senator McCarthy; he was an ignorant opportunist and his unseriousness about the task at hand not only led to irresponsible charges but allowed other communists to slip through the net. However, there are a few things we should consider before we dismiss him entirely. The first is that McCarthyism worked--it created a political climate so charged with anti-Communist passion that it made even token support for the Soviet Union dangerous and association with the CPUSA suicidal. Sure it created unhealthy tensions in society and many of the charges were over the top, but just as Vietnam War protestors take no responsibility for shredding the social fabric in their cause, Senator McCarthy might justly claim that he had to crack a few eggs to make his omelet.

Secondly, once we grant that there were more dangerous communist spies who we didn't catch because of McCarthy's shenanigans, the question must be asked: where were Harry Truman and the serious members of Congress all this time? Truman, of course, simply refused to acknowledge that his government was riddled with communists, something he presumably found easier having turned a blind eye to the corruption of his friends in the Kansas City political machine for all those years. In Congress meanwhile, though Richard Nixon's exposed Alger Hiss in a textbook piece of investigation (earning the
undying enmity of the Left for being right), credible charges (of either active subversion or indifference to same) against a wide variety of other government officials, scientists, artists, and others were not pursued with the vigor that was required. Worst of all, the U.S. military, which had broken the Venona code and could have revealed the truth behind many of even the wildest seeming charges--including those against Harry Hopkins and Robert Oppenheimer--apparently concealed its discoveries from even President Truman rather than let the Russians know they'd been penetrated. (If Truman was in fact informed then he was an even worse president than previously stated.) In effect, because the "good" people left a vacuum, they allowed the "bad" people--McCarthy, Cohn, Bobby Kennedy--filled it.

Lastly, the press--including Mr. Lileks who usually knows better--seems to have seized on the Aaron Copland example to "demonstrate" that Senator McCarthy was out of control. But the composer was a communist; were those investigating communism supposed to ignore that? Imagine for a moment that the Dixie Chicks, rather than just saying stupid things, started doing benefit concerts for al Qaeda; what voices would we hear raised in protest when John Ashcroft called them in for an interview and would we pay them any attention?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:37 AM

MORE PC IDIOCY

Minuteman faces P.C. onslaught (RON CHIMELIS, 05/07/2003, The Republican)
Having stood up bravely to the British more than 200 years ago, the Minuteman is finding he may be no match for 21st century political correctness and marketing savvy at the University of Massachusetts.

By September, the UMass Gray Wolves men's and women's teams may be charging onto the field, while the gun-toting, single-gender Minuteman - a UMass symbol since 1972 - is sent to the showers for good.

Not since the arrow was removed from the pilgrim's hat on the Turnpike signs has such a debate raged over how the Colonial period is being portrayed in modern Massachusetts.

"Am I for the change? I'm for the process," UMass Athletic Director Ian J. McCaw said. That process began with the hiring of Phoenix Design Works of New York City, which introduced the Gray Wolves to eight focus groups involving 85 people.

The passion of the debate has not matched the levels reached in 1972, when the Minutemen nickname replaced the ethnically controversial Redmen name.

But there's no question the discussion level is growing.

"Gray Wolves would be unique in Division I college sports, and it's indigenous to the area," McCaw said. "The design company expressed some concern with the single-gender ethnicity of the Minuteman, and the fact he's carrying a firearm (in the logo) is also a concern."

Several years ago, when Colgate (alma mater) was discarding its Red Raider mascot because of its insensitivity, I had what I am forced to immodestly admit was a stroke of sheer genius. The school was founded as a Baptist seminary and still draws more than its faire share of legacies, though it has rather little connection to religion any longer. So why not adopt a name that fit--that's historically accurate, indigenous, complimentary, unique...the whole nine yards: The Colgate Scrappy Baptists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM

PRIVATION

A sense of invisibility, powered by technology---get a life, folks! (Mark Bowden, Jewish World Review)
I got an urgent e-mail last week from a friend who had discovered a devilish new computer trick.

If you enter a 10-digit telephone number into a popular search engine, it will tell you the address where that number is located. Other search engines will quickly print you a map and even an aerial photograph of the property. My friend was shocked. She felt that the modern world had just invaded her privacy again, an apparently widespread fear.

A recent Fox News report on the subject breathlessly began:

"How would you feel if your name, address and even directions to your home were listed on the Internet for all to see? It's a scary thought and it's happening to a lot of people."

Get a grip.[...]

What many people see as new intrusions on privacy are, in fact, restoring a more traditional community. I grew up in a world where people could find my house if they knew my telephone number, and where shopping was something done in public. It wasn't so bad. If my online movie renter or bookseller knows my preferences, it's like the old corner bookshop owner who would tip me to the latest Patrick O'Brien or Elmore Leonard novel.

The good news is that most of this technology is optional. Cookies can be rejected, TVs can be turned off, and you don't have to use your credit card on the Internet. You can order by mail or phone, or actually go shopping.

And as for the nefarious telephone number/Internet trick, here's a high-tech tip: Get an unlisted number.

On Monday the dentist called our house twice and work three times but wouldn't leave a message because of the new privacy act: the message, when I finally got it, appointment on Tuesday at 4:00pm for a teeth-cleaning.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM

DEFENDING THE ANTICONSTITUTIONAL

The Debate to End All Debate (NORMAN ORNSTEIN, 5/14/03, NY Times)
Dr. Frist, the Senate majority leader, last week called for changing the filibuster rule to compel eventual votes on judicial nominees. Failing that, Republican senators are contemplating a unilateral prohibition of filibusters against presidential nominations, forcing votes on the two appeals court nominees, Miguel Estrada and Patricia Owen, who are being blocked by Democrats.

This change--accomplished not through rules but by fiat--may allow Republicans in the Senate to get their nominees confirmed. (Fair or not, no court would likely intervene in an internal Senate dispute.) But the damage to the Senate would be enormous. [...]

[I]n 1961, Senate leaders adopted a two-track approach, allowing other business to go on while a filibuster took place, avoiding the cots-in-the-hall drama and pain of the old-fashioned filibuster. Instead, there would be periodic votes to see if the three-fifths quota could be reached.

This had the effect of making filibusters almost routine. Filibusters now happen all the time, but basically change nothing about Senate business--except to raise the bar for passage from 51 votes to 60. This is wrongheaded and unfortunate. For most issues, a sliding scale of cloture votes, to allow for extended debate but also force eventual votes, makes sense. (For significant and highly charged issues--including judicial nominations--the traditional 24-hour filibuster process still should apply.) Dr. Frist has proposed something similar for all presidential nominations. But reform should proceed in a straightforward fashion under existing rules.

Otherwise, Dr. Frist will be putting both the Senate and his own party at risk. The Senate is a unique and fragile legislative body. Its members have to get along for the simple reason that most basic Senate business--from scheduling action on a bill to calling a committee meeting--requires unanimous consent. Consensus and bipartisanship are absolutely necessary.

If Republicans unilaterally void a rule they themselves have employed in the past, they will break the back of comity in the Senate. Democrats could block Republican legislative efforts at every turn. For a short-term victory now, Republicans would reap the whirlwind.

A mere Senate rule, not contemplated by the Constitution (which specifically mentions super-majorities where it thinks them necessary), allows those who have lost the election to deny the president his choice of executive officers and judiciary members, despite the fact that majorities favor confirmation of those individuals, even within the Senate, never mind the Congress or country at large. More than just affecting staffing, it has worked a fundamental alteration of the Constitution, by changing the vote total needed for passage of a law from a simple to a super-majority. Yet Mr. Ornstein asks us to place "comity" above these concerns?

Here's an idea: if getting along is the central goal of the Senate, drop the filibusters, confirm the nominees and lets move on. Or are Democrats exempt from the obligation to consensus--which already exists behind the nominees, else filibuster would not be required to stop them?

May 13, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM

COMPETING BOGOSITIES

Has Science Found God? (Kenneth Silber, 05/08/2003, Tech Central Station)
What does science tell us (or not tell us) about God? This question has received stepped-up attention in recent years. There have been numerous articles reporting growing connections between science and religion. ("Science Finds God," Newsweek announced on its cover in 1998.) There have been science-and-religion conferences. The Templeton Foundation has given its lucrative Prize for Progress in Religion to a number of scientists.

There are, to say the least, differences of opinion on the subject. A new book Has Science Found God?: The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe, by physicist Victor J. Stenger, is an interesting dispatch from the skeptical end of the spectrum. Stenger argues persuasively against claims that science has found evidence for God or cosmic purpose. He is less persuasive, however, in arguing that science provides strong grounds for atheism. [...]

Stenger asserts that if a supernatural being has major effects upon the world, these would be detectable and confirmable by science. If an intelligent cosmic creation occurred, there would be signs of it in the structure of the universe. If God responds to prayers, that would be discernible in controlled experiments. But it is far from clear that this is true. A God of anything like the traditional sort would be powerful enough to avoid showing up in the physics equations or biology data, if so desired. Of course, a deity that doesn't exist would also avoid detection. It will be hard for science to settle the matter.

The notion that Creationism and Intelligent Design do no better a job explaining Creation than science itself no more disproves God than it does science.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM

MPGA

Singh Joins Dissonant Chorus on Sorenstam (LENA WILLIAMS, May 13, 2003, NY Times)
Vijay Singh is the latest PGA Tour member to express disapproval over Annika Sorenstam's plans to play against men in next week's Colonial tournament.

Singh, the winner of the 1998 P.G.A. Championship and the 2000 Masters, threatened to withdraw from the Colonial yesterday if he were paired with Sorenstam.

"I hope she misses the cut," Singh was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. "Why? Because she doesn't belong out here. If I'm drawn with her, which I won't be, I won't play.

"What is she going to prove by playing? It's ridiculous." [...]

Nick Price, the defending champion at the Colonial, suggested recently that Sorenstam should have declined the invitation to compete and said her decision "reeks of publicity."

Scott Hoch, a member of the 2002 United States Ryder Cup team, was quoted as saying that he wanted Sorenstam to play well in the tournament but only to prove a point: If she plays well and still finishes back in the pack, Hoch said, it will demonstrate "how much separation there is between us and the ladies' tour."

Even Tiger Woods, the No. 1 golfer in the world, who considers the 32-year-old Sorenstam a friend, has questioned the wisdom of her decision to play. Woods said in February, after Sorenstam made her announcement, that Sorenstam could damage women's golf if she did not play well.

Singh, a 40-year-old native of Fiji, is mild-mannered and normally low-key. In the early 1990's, when some in golf tried to use the dark-skinned, broad-shouldered Singh to temper the sport's segregated, country club image, he simply let his golf do the talking. Yet Singh, who is ranked No. 7 in the world, held nothing back in an interview with The A.P. as he left the locker room at Quail Hollow on Sunday after the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C. "She's the best woman golfer in the world, and I want to emphasize 'woman,' " Singh said of Sorenstam. "We have our tour for men, and they have their tour."

There are no more conservative athletes in the world than golfers, even if you include NASCAR drivers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 PM

YET THE EURO RISES?

Mass Pensions Demos Test French Government (Brian Love, 5/13/03, Reuters)
More than a million people took to the streets of France on Tuesday as strikes over pension reforms crippled air and rail links and shut schools in an eerie reminder of unrest that forced a government into retreat in the 1990s.

The CGT union said close to two million took part and even a police estimate of 1.1 million was far bigger than the rallies that served notice to the last conservative government in 1995 before three weeks of winter strikes.

Some trade unions called for sporadic follow-up strikes on Wednesday at state railways, urban transport networks, schools and state power utilities, while the union movement as a whole set its sights on another nationwide protest on May 25.

Following Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's warning that "it's not the streets that rule France," Civil Service Minister Jean-Paul Delavoye went on television at the end of "Black Tuesday" to say all was not lost and negotiation was not over.

"This is not the same frame of mind as 1995, even if we have to listen to the voices in the streets. It would be traumatic if the reform did not pass," he said, noting that unions would meet himself and Labour Minister Francois Fillon on Wednesday.

Unions were encouraged by a turnout and commentators seized on parallels with late 1995, when former Prime Minister Alain Juppe ditched pension reforms after weeks of protests and unrest that are also widely blamed for him losing power in mid-1997. [...]

As seas of chanting protesters made their way through Paris and some 100 towns, Fillon fought off fiery attacks from the opposition ranks in parliament over pension reform plans that are due to be approved by cabinet on May 28.

The plans as they stand now would force people in the public sector to pay into the state-run retirement benefit system like private sector employees for 40 years instead of 37-1/2, and to eventually shift both public and private sector workers to 42 years of pension contributions.

It's just outrageous to ask the civil service to be treated like private employees, let alone to begin to pay for their own retirements, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 PM

HOW DO THEY REACT WHEN THE CONSENT FORM IS READ?

Fetus Heart Races When Mom Reads Poetry; New Findings Reveal Fetuses Recognize Mother's Voice In-utero (Science Daily, 2003-05-13)
New research findings on the ability of a fetus to recognize its mother's voice and even distinguish it from other female voices confirms what scientists have speculated about for more than 20 years - that experiences in the womb help shape newborn preferences and behaviour.

Dr. Barbara Kisilevsky, a Queen's University professor of nursing along with a team of psychologists at Queen's and obstetricians in Hangzhou, China, found that fetuses are capable of learning in the womb and can remember and recognize their mother's voice before they are even born. Their research findings are published in the current issue of the international journal Psychological Science.

While previous research on infant development has demonstrated that newborns prefer to listen to their own mother's voice to that of a female stranger and will even change their behaviour to elicit their mother's voice, Dr. Kisilevsky's research proves that this "preference/recognition" begins before birth.

"This is an extremely exciting finding that provides evidence of sustained attention, memory and learning by the fetus," says Dr Kisilevsky. "The fetuses learn about their mother's voice in the womb and then prefer it after birth. Our findings provide evidence that in-utero experience has an impact on newborn/infant behaviour and development and that voice recognition may play a role in mother-infant attachment."

The findings also suggest that the foundation for speech perception and language acquisition are laid before birth, says Dr. Kisilevsky. Therefore, the precocious language processing abilities observed in newborns and young infants may not be due to a hardwired speech-processing module in the brain as has been assumed, but instead stems from the interaction of the fetus with its environment.

One notes both that they seem to be rather human and that it's a triumph for nurture over nature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM

ON NOT GOING GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

Texas Democrats flee to Oklahoma and refuse to come back, leaving House at a standstill (APRIL CASTRO, 5/13/03,The Associated Press)
Rebellious Democrats who fled the state Capitol spent a second day in Oklahoma on Tuesday and criticized U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for pushing the GOP drive in Texas to redraw the state's congressional districts.

"We have a message for Tom DeLay: Don't mess with Texas," House Democratic Legislative Caucus leader Jim Dunnam said at a news conference in Ardmore, Okla. "We did not choose the path that led us to Ardmore, Oklahoma. Tom DeLay chose that path."

Fifty-eight Democrats sneaked out of Austin on Sunday after spending several days discussing ways to derail the GOP redistricting plan. Although three Democrats returned to the Capitol Tuesday, more than 50 remained in Oklahoma, denying Republicans a quorum needed to conduct business for a second day.

Delay, also a Texas Republican, has been the driving force behind the redistricting effort. The Democrats said his involvement in redistricting, which they dubbed a power grab, as the key reason for their walkout.

The GOP redistricting plan could add five to seven GOP House seats to the 15 it already has. The state has 32 congressional districts.

In Washington, DeLay said the Democrats were disloyal for fleeing Texas. "I have never turned tail and run," DeLay said. "Even when I'm losing, I stand and fight for what I believe. It's so Texas contrary."

You have to admire the Democrats for the way they're raging against the dying of the light. The GOP spent sixty years in the political wilderness after the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and, other than a brief rearguard action in the Supreme Court and the HUAC hearings, rarely uttered a peep. Judges got rammed down their throats, the House was run like a banana republic, and they had no say in most redistricting fights. Like the prospective victim in the Confucian adage, they laiid back and enjoyed it.

Democrats, who since 1994 have gotten a taste of what it means to be superfluous and who face even darker days ahead, are at least willing to bring democracy to a grinding halt rather than give up power easily. Bully for them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM

THEY'RE MYSTICAL UNTIL ONE'S SHREDDING YOUR BACK

Stalker: He's a loner, he's lethal, and he's got your scent. Feline phantom, ultimate predator, the cougar has ghosted back into the American wild-and your backyard. (Hey, Marge, have you seen the poodle lately?) (Elwood Reid, May 2003, Outside)
Once, when Shaw was giving a lecture at Saguaro National Park, a woman rancher asked him, "What good are they?"

"Instead of answering with the usual cliche about how lions are necessary for the balance of nature," Shaw says, "I told her that I liked knowing they were out there." For Shaw, they represent the part of him that will always want to forgo civilization and live in a wild landscape—as he puts it, "a rather mythical vision of perfect freedom." For others, the cougar is something else—a focal point for hostility, a survivor worth protecting, a night stalker, a Native American talisman of power. "The secret to the allure," Shaw says, "is how we each incorporate the creature into our own private myth."

We have conquered the West, transformed the shrinking forests into safe places to stroll and sweat, but sometimes the woods bite back. And when they do, we respond with ancient fear and loathing. We forget that wilderness is supposed to be wild, that a hundred years ago almost nobody went into the woods without a gun or the sharp awareness that there were things out there that could kill you.

Today more people die from bad egg salad than cougar attacks, but that does nothing to diminish our fixation on the remote possibility of a silent hunter pouncing on our backs. The wilderness crank in me says this is a good thing, because even the most used-up patch of forest, river bottom, or rock field comes alive once you know there is something out there that will eat you, or at least try to, given the right circumstances. It forces you to pay attention, to unplug. Each cougar lurking out there is a stubborn reminder that, even as we pave ourselves into tight grids, they'll keep coming, against long odds—ghostly relics of a time not so long ago when the forests teemed with their predatory presence. And if we don't understand their place in our midst, all we'll have left is our fear.

Two very different things end up conflated here: the cougar in the wilderness and the one in your backyard. The former is neat; the latter seems like a bad idea.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 6:23 PM

BETTER WELL-DISCUSSED FAILURE THAN SUCCESS WITH A POKER FACE

Europe Won't Be Fooled Again (Olivier Roy, New York Times, 5/13/2002)
The official war objectives given to the allies were these: destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; fighting terrorism; getting rid of a tyrant....

For Old Europe, the poverty of the official American arguments gave rise to suspicion that there was a hidden agenda....

And, in fact, there had always been a not-so-hidden agenda ... [T]he rationale for the military campaign in Iraq was not that Iraq was the biggest threat but, on the contrary, that it was the weakest and hence the easiest to take care of. The invasion was largely aimed at ... [r]eshaping the Middle East ... through military pressure and ... democratization....

This American agenda is very risky and full of pitfalls, but it is logical, perhaps laudable, and should have been put on the table. At least then the real issues could have been debated....

Would Europe have accepted the real agenda? Certainly not. But at least the debate would have been based on the relevant issue: does it make sense to reshape the Middle East through military pressure?

Mr. Roy is a talker, not a doer. He acknowledges that a grand plan to reshape the whole of the Middle East would have been resisted by Europe, while 18 European nations embraced the more limited plan of regime change in Iraq. He might have added that setting forth a grand plan to begin with would have united America's Middle Eastern enemies against us at once, and foreclosed certain post-war options. He might further have added that the grand plan could not have won the necessary Congressional support in the U.S., while war on Iraq did. In other words, Mr. Roy's plan would have failed every which way.

As every successful businessperson knows, success in any persuasive venture is built out of patience and tenacity. To get a deal done, one must argue from the premises that one's counterparty believes, and proceed only to mutually acceptable conclusions. One successful businessman told me that relationship-building is like fishing: you must patiently understand the fish's preferences, offer the fish something attractive, patiently court the fish, and, once hooked, reel it in neither too aggressively nor too daintily.

George Bush made himself into a successful business executive. He's doing an excellent job applying his skills to governing. Meanwhile, the intelligentsia are busy wondering why he doesn't prefer talk without accomplishment. They haven't realized: that's their job.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:22 PM

MEET DICK GEPHARDT, SCAPEGOAT

Gephardt finds a lack of 'intense loyalty' in House (Hans Nichols, The Hill, 5/13/2003)
A grievance against Gephardt that has gradually been coming to the boil is his role in pressing campaign finance reform. Some Democratic lawmakers are now blaming their party’s growing soft money disadvantage on him, claiming he convinced wavering members to accept mutual disarmament as the best way to achieve fundraising parity with Republicans.

The strategy is now seen as a deep self-inflicted wound among Democrats ...

Democratic lawmakers have developed a case of buyer’s remorse, leading them to question Gephardt’s political astuteness.

"Dick Gephardt did a lot of arm-twisting to get campaign finance [legislation] passed," said another member of the CBC....

But Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) ... continued: "Most members didn’t want to be bothered with the detail, they didn’t want to be perceived as anti-reform."

Of course Gephardt was responsible for the votes these Democratic lawmakers cast in favor of Shays-Meehan. After all, they're not supposed to think for themselves, right?

The Democrats are, once again, the victim of their own prejudices and the prejudices of their unreflective base. They deserve the long spell in the political wilderness that is soon to be theirs.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM

THE BIG 5-0

New Jersey is Bush Country: Survey of Likely Voters Shows President?s Strength in Ballot Match-ups (Politics NJ, MAY 13, 2003)
A statewide survey of 500 registered, likely voters conducted on May 6-7, 2003 shows that President Bush would defeat Joe Lieberman, John Kerry or Richard Gephardt if the Presidential election were being held today.?? The margin or error for a survey of 500 likely voters is +/- 4.36%.

?The poll, conducted by National Research Inc., asked voters the straight ?head to head? ballot matchups.? The questions themselves, as well as the choices within each question, were rotated to avoid order bias.

President Bush defeats Joe Lieberman 51%-33%.? The President defeats John Kerry 51%-32%, and Bush beats Richard Gephardt 49%-33%.

?These are amazing numbers considering the fact that New Jersey went for Gore in 2000,? said Adam Geller, the president of National Research Inc.? ?This time around, voters seem to be saying that they are quite comfortable with President Bush as the Commander in Chief.? In fact, it is really only one third of likely voters -- a vast majority of them Democrats -- who would support the Democratic candidate."

It's well worth the Party's time dumping some resources--including the President's time--into NJ, a state they were competitive in until the 90s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM

THE HEADLESS CHICKEN RUNS AWHILE, BUT REALITY CATCHES UP

A doomsday scenario for Europe's economy: French research group projects gloom (John Vinocur, May 13, 2003, International Herald Tribune)
For a doomsday scenario, this one paints Europe heading for the dungeons of history as an economic force.

"The enlargement of the European Union won't suffice to guarantee parity with the United States," it says. "The EU will weigh less heavily on the process of globalization and a slow but inexorable movement onto 'history's exit ramp' is foreseeable."

By 2050, under this scenario, Europe's share of the world economy is only 12 percent, against 22 percent today, while the euro is a second class currency. North America maintains its "technological hegemony," Greater China, which includes Taiwan, grows to represent almost a quarter of the world's economy, and the Japan-Korea region's share of trade, along with the yen, declines sharply in importance.

Roughly a half century from now, goes the scenario, an EU of 30 member states will have a growth rate of 1.1 percent, the North American free trade grouping, 2.3 percent, and Greater China, 2.6 percent.

This vision of Europe's misery-to-come is projected in a new report called "World Trade in the 21st Century" by the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (Ifri). [...]

For Ifri, Europe has two basic problems. The first is its dwindling population. From 2000 to 2050, the institute projects a decline in the EU's active population from 331 million to 243 million. Over the same period, the active populations of Greater China and South Asia move ahead, while the North American grouping rises from 269 million to 355 million.

The second involves technological progress and capital accumulation. In these areas, according to the reference scenario, North America "continues to suck in a good part of the world's savings," while Europe depends on "savings and domestic investment" for capital. North America remains "the locus of innovative activity," the projection says, even though Europe will make gains in productivity, cutting the size of its lag behind the leaders.What can Europe do? If things go along as at present, according to the reference scenario, "the decline of Europe is confirmed and the EU with 30 members becomes a second rank economic power."

The report is far too optimistic about China which faces a future of dwindling population, bride shortages, Balkanization, and continued misrule.

MORE:
A Struggling Economy? It Depends on Your Perspective: Most nations would be only too grateful to have America's current set of economic problems. (Clive Crook, Atlantic Monthly)
Bouncing back from the shallow recession of 2001, American output grew by 2.4 percent last year; it is projected to rise by 2.5 percent this year, and by a strapping 4 percent in 2004. Employment failed to grow in 2001 and fell by 1 percent in 2002; but the forecasts say it will rise by 0.6 percent this year and by nearly 2 percent in 2004. That would be enough, first, to stabilize the unemployment rate, at just under 5.8 percent, and then to put it on a gently falling trend.

Compare this with Germany. Output there grew by just 0.2 percent last year and is expected to rise by only another 0.3 percent this year. In 2004, when America is expected to be growing at 4 percent, Germany will be growing at less than 2 percent, according to the OECD's forecasters. German employment fell by 0.6 percent in 2002, not as bad a drop as America's 1 percent decline. But employment in Germany is expected to fall another 1 percent this year, compared with the expected rise of 0.6 percent in the United States?and then to be static in 2004, compared with America's rise of nearly 2 percent. As a result, Germany's unemployment will stay stuck at well over 8 percent of the labor force.

If that does not work for you, try Japan. After years of stagnation, its output rose only 0.3 percent last year, fully 2 percentage points less than growth in America. The OECD expects Japan's growth to be 1 percent this year and about the same next year. In other words, the gap between America and Japan will widen further. Employment in Japan continues to trend downward. It fell by 0.2 percent in 2000, 0.5 percent in 2001, and 1.3 percent last year. It is predicted to fall another 0.6 percent this year and another 0.2 percent in 2004. The unemployment rate is now 6 percent?extraordinarily high by Japanese standards, and greatly understated as well, because much of Japanese unemployment is disguised?with no sign yet of topping out.In some ways, this divergence in the post-bubble global recovery is even more startling than were the gaps of the late 1990s. America raced ahead back then, but one expects America to race ahead from time to time. The other countries should now be catching up. Instead, they are falling further behind.

This is not to say that all is well with the American economy. People and firms are financially overextended. Over the next year or two, consumption needs to grow moderately?but in an orderly way, not too abruptly. Business investment then needs to pick up. The data show signs that this is happening, but it is best to take nothing for granted.

Until the mix of output and demand has completed that necessary transition, the American economy is also vulnerable to other risks. The current-account deficit, which must be financed by borrowing from abroad, remains massive. This exposes the dollar to the danger of a further sharp devaluation; if that went too far, it could spur inflation and oblige the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates again. The administration, in addition, has embarked on a dangerous course of heavy borrowing: Projected deficits will stay large even after the economy has fully recovered from its slowdown. That will keep long-term interest rates higher than they should be.

So the United States is not free of economic risk or errors in economic policy. What is remarkable is that, bubble or no bubble, the downside risks?not to mention the mistakes in economic policy?are so much larger in the world's other big economies. Where is the justice?

The trade-off between risk and return that one associates with investment projects or stock market gambles is nowhere to be seen. America has faster and steadier growth. The key to both, evidently, is economic flexibility. For that is what America so conspicuously has?and what Germany, the rest of Europe, and Japan so conspicuously lack. [...]

The bottom line for all of the world's economies is long-term growth in productivity. Combined with projections for labor-force growth, this yields predictions for growth in potential output. In presenting their new forecasts, the OECD's economists take a stab at estimating such growth for all the major economies.

They reckon that growth in potential output will be 3.1 percent for the United States between 2005 and 2008, down just a shade from the 3.3 percent estimated for 1996-2004. All except the most fervent new-economy types ought to find that impressive. But see just how impressive: OECD expects Germany's potential output to grow by just 1.5 percent in both periods; Japan's by 1.3 percent in 1996-2004, and 1.1 percent in 2005-08. And Americans think their economy is in trouble.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:27 PM

PARTS IS PARTS (cont.)

Individual body parts have price tags (JENNIFER SARANOW, May 6, 2003, The Wall Street Journal)
People want your body. And they are willing to pay for it.

Even as the medical community debates the wisdom of giving people incentives to donate organs, the free market is increasingly putting a price tag on individual body parts. A 1984 federal law makes it a crime to sell vital organs, but it specifies only what can't be sold, not what can.

Many replaceable parts, or those extracted without causing harm, can be legally sold, and these days that market is expanding well beyond the traditional lineup of sperm, blood plasma and hair. Not only is demand for eggs growing as more people turn to fertility clinics, but the Internet has also helped create a tiny industry in breast milk. There is even a niche for urine, as the growing use of drug tests prompts people with tainted samples to seek out ones that will pass muster.

The market demand "has created a kind of eBay of the body," says Arthur Caplan, director for the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Anger at private clinic's IVF deals (Isabel Oakeshott, Evening Standard)
A London fertility clinic is today accused of exploiting women in less wealthy areas who need IVF treatment.

The Cromwell IVF and Fertility Centre has just opened a clinic in Darlington, joining others in Swansea, Cardiff and Newcastle.

The clinics encourage women who cannot give birth by offering them free treatment, worth thousands of pounds, in return for their eggs. Dr Kamal Ahuja, the Cromwell's scientific director, admitted the new scheme was designed to increase the number of eggs available. Demand is soaring in the affluent south.

Leading campaigner Josephine Quintaville, of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "I think the Cromwell are sailing pretty close to the wind. This is clearly taking advantage of poorer people. The rich can get their hands on eggs, whatever the cost to the donor."

Where else can a purely materialistic worldview lead but to the commodification of the human being?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM

PRACTICALLY POETIC

Liberty Quote (May 13, 2003)
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
--William Boetcker (1873-1962) German-born Presbyterian clergyman

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UNLIKELY

Six Technologies That Will Change the World: Imagine robots that can read your mood and ink-jet printers that can crank out transplantable hearts. The visionaries you are about to meet have not only imagined these things -- they're hard at work building them. (David Pescovitz,?May 2003, Business 2.0)
Six Technologies That Will Change the World:

God's Ink Jet
Robots You Can Relate To
The Plane That Does Hong Kong and Back in a Day
All-Day Portable Power
Electronic Paper
A Swarm of Sensors

One must question the likelihood of developing the technology for one and two and doubt the cost/benefit of #3, but 4-6 seem probable and useful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM

FLIRTING WITH DISASTER

Tension Between Dean and Kerry Helps Recast Race for Democrats (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 5/12/03, NY Times)
The political fortunes of two New Englanders battling for the Democratic presidential nomination, Howard Dean and John Kerry, have become entangled in a way that has sharpened tension between them and recast the dynamics of the party's presidential competition.

The tension was evident in their edgy exchanges over the Iraq war at the first Democratic debate last week: Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, and Senator Kerry, of Massachusetts, became so animated that three of their colleagues advised them to calm down. Dr. Dean and Mr. Kerry now say they regret, at least to some extent, the way they acted during parts of the forum.

But the early animosity reflects calculations by the two candidates as they compete for many of the same voters and look to what their aides describe as a critical contest in 2004: the primary in a state with which their home states both share a border, New Hampshire.

Beyond that, the clash has offered an insight into the style of two generally liberal Democrats from New England who beyond that could hardly be more different in manner or temperament and who do not seem to like each other very much.

Dr. Dean is a scrappy if diminutive candidate who has commandeered attention with his antiwar platform and sometimes impolitic abandon. Mr. Kerry is a solemn and towering Vietnam war veteran who is given to measured words and nuanced positions as he presents himself as the established front-runner.

Democratic party leaders said a fight like theirs was not helpful for Mr. Kerry, given his presumed stature in the race, and Mr. Kerry and his aides have tried in recent days to ratchet down the volume.

But the attention it has drawn for the underfinanced Dr. Dean may prove to be just what the doctor ordered. And it does not appear to be going away any time soon, in no small part because of Dr. Dean.

Even though the structure and dynamics of the Democratic presidential race made this almost inevitable, having the campaign turn into Dean vs, Kerry is a disaster. The two start to the Left of their own Party and will only push each other farther and farther out of the mainstream, yet one's going to win NH, get a big bounce by beating the other, and be the front-runner in a compressed primary season.

May 12, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM

ENDLESS OFFENSE

White House eyes annual tax cuts: GOP says it will push for new cuts every year Bush is in office
(Dana Milbank and Dan Balz, 5/11/03, THE WASHINGTON POST)
With the House’s passage of a $550 billion tax cut plan, Congress is moving toward the third tax reduction in as many years for President Bush--the same number passed in an entire generation before he came to office.

YET THE IMPRESSIVE trio of reductions is but a small step toward the administration’s goal: nonstop tax cuts.

White House officials have told allies they will attempt a new tax cut every year Bush remains in office, and there is already talk of another round. The ultimate target--overhauling the tax code and sharply reducing the size of the government--may never be achieved. But the incremental steps in that direction help to keep the Republican Party unified and the president in an unending debate with Democrats over the tax burden on Americans.

One thing this White House is brilliant at is taking a situation where the press and Democrats think they've put Mr. Bush on the defensive and just heaving the ball even further down the field.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:13 PM

SABER RATTLE REDUX (via ef brown)

Syrian Reforms Gain Momentum In Wake of War: U.S. Pressure Forces Change In Foreign, Domestic Policy (Alan Sipress, May 12, 2003, Washington Post)
For more than 20 years, Syrian boys and girls have worn military-style school uniforms, olive green with stripes on their epaulets to signify their grade and caps to match.

So parents were surprised by a pair of brief articles in the state-run press two weeks ago reporting that these required outfits would be eliminated come fall. Instead, elementary school students will wear blue uniforms similar to those in some U.S. parochial schools, including vests over light-blue shirts for boys and rose blouses for girls. High school students will don gray uniforms over light-blue shirts and rose blouses.

Though no public explanation for the change was offered, Syrians close to the country's leadership said it is part of an effort to reverse the long tradition of militarism in their society and one in a series of reforms gaining momentum after the U.S. ouster of President Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq.

With tens of thousands of U.S. troops positioned just to the east and U.S. officials warning Syria it could be the next object of American ire, Syrians acknowledge they are feeling vulnerable. These regional developments -- nothing less than an "earthquake," according to Khalaf M. Jarad, editor of the state-run Tishrin newspaper -- have prompted Syria to alter its foreign policy to accommodate U.S. demands, while rethinking its domestic affairs.

"When your neighbor shaves, you start to wet your cheeks," said Nabil Jabi, a political strategist in Damascus, citing an Arabic proverb. "It means you must study the new situation in your neighborhood."

As the San Andreas is to California, so is George W. Bush to the Middle East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM

ME IZ ILLITERATE (via ef brown)

A More Constructive Internationalism (George S. McGovern, May 12, 2003, washingtonpost.com)
In his May 1 op-ed piece, Will Marshall praised presidential candidates Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry and John Edwards as "Blair Democrats" -- internationalists who are willing "to use force in the national interest." He rejoiced that the Democratic Party "is moving away from McGovernism and back to its international roots."

One wonders why Marshall went to Britain for an example of how American Democrats ought to behave. It is more puzzling why he concluded that I'm opposed to internationalism and the "use of force in the national interest." I first used force in the national interest during World War II, when I flew 35 combat missions in Europe. American involvement in that war was clearly in our national interest, and that is why I volunteered at the age of 19 to be part of it.

It is true that I opposed the American war in Vietnam, but not because I had ceased to be an internationalist. That war was a disastrous folly, as all literate people now acknowledge. We were never more isolated from the international community than when our troops were deepest in the Vietnam jungle. A close second in isolating us from the international community was the invasion of Iraq, a largely defenseless little desert state that posed no threat to us and had taken no action against us.

Via Ed Driscoll, here are some fellow Americans who don't think defending South Vietnam was folly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 PM

CHECKING THE PEOPLE

-REVIEW: of Thomas Paine, 'Common Sense,' and the Turning Point to Independence by Scott Liell (Ronald K.L. Collins, LA Times)
Common Sense, first published on Jan. 10, 1776, in Philadelphia, is one of the great documents in the history of freedom. An astonishing 150,000 copies of the 2-shilling pamphlet, carrying zealous messages about rights and revolution coupled with broadsides against monarchical rule, were snatched up in its first few months. The story of that amazing pamphlet is vividly and economically recounted in Scott Liell's stimulating book, 46 Pages: Thomas Paine, 'Common Sense,' and the Turning Point to Independence.

Liell, a Connecticut writer and member of the Thomas Paine National Historical Assn., outlines the origins of Common Sense and how it was that this work of fierce, wild and indignant prose came to settle in the colonial mind. "Paine's aim," as Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn put it, "was to tear the world apart--the world as it was known and as it was constituted."

Liell notes that Paine's heretical mission was to attack not the individual tenets of those who favored reconciliation with the king "but the ideological infrastructure upon which those tenets rested." Of course, such an undertaking was all the more challenging given that many of the colonists felt more of a bond to monarchical than to republican government.

Common Sense greatly stimulated the discourse of dissent that ultimately led to the American Revolution. But things did not start out that way; Paine's uncompromising ideas were seditious to some, senseless to others and stirring to those few bent on revolution. It took countless debates, elections, town-hall meetings, tavern disputes and a few constitutional conventions before Paine's prophetic message became reality.

[T]roubling is the scant and unduly dismissive account Liell offers of John Adams' critique of Common Sense as set out in his Thoughts on Government (1776). There, Adams, supportive of Paine's call for independence, took perceptive exception to Paine's almost blind trust in a unicameral assembly tempered by no meaningful checks and balances. Even those who rightfully admire Paine must concede that he was more a political firebrand than a political philosopher. He took chances while others took time; and in the process he awakened the American mind to the glory of freedom.

At a time when love of country and love of liberty are sometimes treated as clashing values, Paine's Common Sense serves as salutary reminder that they need not be so, that the patriot and dissenter can indeed speak with the same voice.

Here's Adams:
A representation of the people in one assembly being obtained, a question arises, whether all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be left in this body? I think a people cannot be long free, nor ever happy, whose government is in one assembly. My reasons for this opinion are as follow:--

1. A single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies, and frailties of an individual; subject to fits of humor, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities, or prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments. And all these errors ought to be corrected and defects supplied by some controlling power.

3. A single assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and after a time will not hesitate to vote itself perpetual. This was one fault of the Long Parliament; but more remarkably of Holland, whose assembly first voted themselves from annual to septennial, then for life, and after a course of years, that all vacancies happening by death or otherwise, should be filled by themselves, without any application to constituents at all.

4. A representative assembly, although extremely well qualified, and absolutely necessary, as a branch of the legislative, is unfit to exercise the executive power, for want of two essential properties, secrecy and despatch.

5. A representative assembly is still less qualified for the judicial power, because it is too numerous, too slow, and too little skilled in the laws.

6. Because a single assembly, possessed of all the powers of government, would make arbitrary laws for their own interest, execute all laws arbitrarily for their own interest, and adjudge all controversies in their own favor.

But shall the whole power of legislation rest in one assembly? Most of the foregoing reasons apply equally to prove that the legislative power ought to be more complex; to which we may add, that if the legislative power is wholly in one assembly, and the executive in another, or in a single person, these two powers will oppose and encroach upon each other, until the contest shall end in war, and the whole power, legislative and executive, be usurped by the strongest.

The judicial power, in such case, could not mediate, or hold the balance between the two contending powers, because the legislative would undermine it. And this shows the necessity, too, of giving the executive power a negative upon the legislative, otherwise this will be continually encroaching upon that.

To avoid these dangers, let a distinct assembly be constituted, as a mediator between the two extreme branches of the legislature, that which represents the people, and that which is vested with the executive power.

Let the representative assembly then elect by ballot, from among themselves or their constituents, or both, a distinct assembly, which, for the sake of perspicuity, we will call a council. It may consist of any number you please, say twenty or thirty, and should have a free and independent exercise of its judgment, and consequently a negative voice in the legislature.

These two bodies, thus constituted, and made integral parts of the legislature, let them unite, and by joint ballot choose a governor, who, after being stripped of most of those badges of domination, called prerogatives, should have a free and independent exercise of his judgment, and be made also an integral part of the legislature. This, I know, is liable to objections; and, if you please, you may make him only president of the council, as in Connecticut. But as the governor is to be invested with the executive power, with consent of council, I think he ought to have a negative upon the legislative. If he is annually elective, as he ought to be, he will always have so much reverence and affection for the people, their representatives and counsellors, that, although you give him an independent exercise of his judgment, he will seldom use it in opposition to the two houses, except in cases the public utility of which would be conspicuous; and some such cases would happen.

Never mind the superiority of his vision to Paine's, that's surprisingly close to the eventual structure of the Constitution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM

HOW TO CARRY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

How to Build a Better Democrat: Fire the consultants, find some core values and speak from the heart, and then maybe one of the candidates will have a chance against Bush (Joe Klein, May. 11, 2003, TIME)
[T]he Democrats have excelled at futility for more than 30 years. They have elected two Presidents during that time, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Both were Governors of Southern states. Neither was a well-known party leader. Neither ran on what many Democrats would consider a traditional--that is, liberal--agenda. Carter was the first born-again Christian President; Clinton once owned a pickup truck with AstroTurf carpeting in the back. Carter won because he seemed a simple, honorable antidote to the excessive dishonesty of the Nixon era. Clinton won because he was far more talented than his opponents--George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole--but also because he rejected his party's orthodoxy on crime (especially the death penalty), welfare reform, free trade and fiscal conservatism. One could argue that the only winning strategy for Democrats in the past nine presidential campaigns has been camouflage.

Which brings us to 2004, another election the Democrats should lose. They are facing a popular incumbent who has just won a war. George W. Bush is everything Democrats have not been--bold, decisive, uncomplicated, a man of real convictions who has not been afraid to take unpopular positions. Furthermore, unlike his father, this Bush is a political animal. He has a clever team. If the Democrats do happen to find a winning issue, you can be sure that Karl Rove, the President's strategist, will figure out a way to trump or co-opt it (as he did with education and Medicare prescription-drug benefits in the election of 2000). And the Democrats enter the fray with all the shape and substance of fog. "People have no idea what we stand for," says Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster. "They have a vague sense that we were against the war in Iraq and a vaguer sense that things were somehow better economically when we were in power. Beyond that, nothing."

For these reasons and others, some Republicans are quietly predicting that 2004 will be not just a Bush landslide but also a transformational election--an election that creates a new Republican majority, just as the 1936 election created an enduring Democratic majority for Franklin D. Roosevelt. There is a problem with this notion, though. The last transformational election was not 1936 but 1968--the year that Richard Nixon created a new political reality by exploiting Southern white resentment of the civil rights movement (and of Vietnam War protesters). The solid Democratic South became the solid Republican South, a truly momentous event in American political history, and the pendulum has been swinging right ever since. The laws of politics, to say nothing of physics, would indicate that a second conservative transformation, an election that moves the center of gravity even further to the right, is unlikely.

In fact, despite the hot Republican rhetoric, it's difficult to imagine what else conservatives can conserve on the federal level (although the world would be a better place if monstrosities like last year's farm-subsidies act were repealed). The past two years have shown a renewed public appetite for a stronger federal presence--not merely in the pursuit of terrorists but also in the regulation of Wall Street and corporate boardrooms, and perhaps in the stimulation of an economy that the Federal Reserve Bank has indicated may be approaching a deflationary contraction. The brutal cutbacks looming on the state and local levels may also have an impact on the political climate. There will be fewer police, fire fighters and teachers. There will be more potholes. Civilians may remember how valuable government can be. We could be on the cusp of an era where government is regarded once more with mere skepticism, rather than the out-and-out disdain of recent years.

And so, yes, the Democrats do have a chance in 2004. A chance, but they will have to become something different from the Democrats we have come to know and ridicule. They face challenges on three different fronts: patriotism, optimism and confidence. They will have to convince the public that they are as committed to national defense, and to the judicious use of military force, as the Republicans are. They will have to shed their congenital pessimism. They can't just rant against the Administration and hope for bad news to confirm their prejudices. They will have to propose firm, reasonable policy alternatives that are easy to understand and defend. If they oppose the Bush tax cuts, they will have to lay out, in some detail, what they would do instead.

Finally, they will have to change the mingy, defensive, consultant-driven style of recent campaigns. They will need a candidate who is easy in his skin, who sounds different from other politicians--freer, perhaps; funnier, certainly--and who is confident enough to risk broad, bold themes that capture the national imagination rather than parsing the special yearnings of enough demographic slivers to win the election. Camouflage will not be enough this time. [...]

There is much that we don't know about this election. There may be another terrorist attack, or not. The economy may sag, or not. The President may try one too many cowboy tricks, or he may simply be seen as the guy who got us through a tough time. The country post-Sept. 11 may be entirely different from the country before the outrage occurred. It may be a more serious electorate, less tolerant of political boilerplate, more favorably disposed toward serious governance and ready to make sacrifices for the common good. Or not. If the world stays quiet and the economy picks up, the Democrats may face an unbeatable incumbent in 2004, no matter how hard they try. All the more reason to act as Democrats haven't in quite a while: Speak your minds, dream a little, tell people some truths they don't want to hear. Get angry. Be funny. But, above all, provide a real alternative. The Republicans offer smaller government. The Democrats, at their best, offer serious government. A direct clash on those principles would be an argument worth having, and one the country badly needs.

It is the mark of the true believer that you consider your party's best hope to lie in returning to first principles. But it's odd to hear this argument from Joe Klein, who early on pegged Bill Clinton as just the kind of guy who could get elected president by discarding such liberal baggage and running as a "New Democrat". Equally weird is his argument that the GOP has no room to its Right--this at a time when the federal budget is $2.3 Trillion; such conservative initiatives as Social Security privatization, school voucherization, and the faith-based intiative have yet to be enacted; and social issues like abortion, cloning, the death penalty, guns, drug legalization, homosexuality, immigration, affirmative action, slave reparations and the like are still hot button issues. Just consider for a moment the agenda a Democrat would have to run on if he/she decided to play to the orthodox Left on all these matters:

(1) Increased spending & no tax cuts

(2) Oppose entitlement reform

(3) Oppose education reform

(4) Oppose alternatives to current social welfare programs.

(5) Pro-abortion

(6) Pro-cloning

(7) Anti-death penalty

(8) Anti-gun

(9) Pro-drug

(10) Pro-gay rights

(11) Pro-affirmative action

(12) Pro-immigration

(13) Pro-reparations

Are we starting to get some sense of why the only Democrat presidents in recent years have been "conservative" white Southern Christians?

SEVERAL REVIEWS TOUCHING ON THE TOPIC:
-The Strange Death of American Liberalism
-Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
-The Emerging Democratic Majority

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM

TIME TO MAKE HIM A HOLEY GHOST

Sins of the Son: Kim Jong Il's North Korea Is in Ruins, But Why Should That Spoil His Fun? (Peter Carlson, May 11, 2003, Washington Post)
The Dear Leader is a pudgy 5-foot-3-inch Stalinist who wears elevator shoes and a puffy pompadour in an unsuccessful attempt to gain stature. Like Hitler, he's an arty aesthete who prefers kitschy artifice to grim reality: While more than a million of his people starved to death in the last decade, he spent billions on gigantic monuments and elaborate stadium spectacles to deify his father and himself. He's a movie producer who says he has always wanted to direct. And he once sent thugs to kidnap a South Korean actress and her director husband so he could force them to help build his country's film industry.

His own bizarre story could make an interesting movie -- a surreal epic with drunken orgies, exotic dancing, gourmet pizza, Michael Jordan, a crying contest, magical albino animals and a mummified corpse that reigns as "President for Eternity."

"One of the most interesting questions about Kim Jong Il is: What does it mean to be the son of God?" says Jerrold Post, a George Washington University psychiatrist and a former psychological profiler for the CIA. "It's hard enough to succeed a successful father, but it's quite another thing if the father is elevated to a godlike stature."

Kim Jong Il's father was an uneducated guerrilla who transformed himself into a quasi-divine emperor known as the "Great Leader."

Installed in power by the Soviet army after World War II, the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, ruled North Korea as a Stalinist dictatorship for nearly 50 years. In 1950 he invaded South Korea. He failed to conquer it, but after four years of war and more than a million deaths, he retained absolute power over his devastated nation, and he proceeded to kill or jail all his rivals, real and imagined.

The Great Leader had an insatiable craving for adulation. By the late '80s he had erected more than 34,000 monuments to himself. His photograph was displayed in every building and pinned to the clothing of every citizen, right over the heart. Benches where he'd once sat were sealed in glass and turned into relics.

Like a king or a Mafia don, the Great Leader groomed his eldest son to succeed him. He dubbed Kim Jong Il "the Dear Leader" and called him "a genius of 10,000 talents."

Apparently, one of those talents was literary. According to North Korean mythology, during the Dear Leader's years at Kim Il Sung University, he wrote 1,500 books -- an average of almost a book a day, a feat