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June 30, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 9:25 PM

OH, BRAVE NEW WORLD.

Spectre of babies from the unborn (David Derbyshire, Telegraph.co.uk, 7/01/2003).
Women seeking fertility treatment could one day be offered donor eggs grown from the tissue of an aborted foetus, researchers said yesterday.

In an experiment that raises the prospect of babies with "unborn mothers", ovarian tissue was removed from seven dead foetuses and kept alive in a laboratory for four weeks.

The egg-producing follicles in the tissue continued to develop normally but did not reach the stage at which they released a healthy egg cell.

One of the scientists working on the experiment said the study could help solve the worldwide shortage of donor eggs for fertility treatment and medical research.
"You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM

DOOMED EITHER WAY

The Baathists' Blundering Guerrilla War (Gary Anderson, June 26, 2003, Washington Post)
If the Baathists had followed the classic insurgency doctrines preached by masters such as Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh, they would have kept a low profile, spreading agitation and propaganda while the U.S. occupation forces waned in strength. They should have waited for a struggling, post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi central government to try to take control in the region before striking. Instead of a weak, fledgling democratic Iraqi regime, the Baathists are facing a seriously aroused U.S. liberation force still at the height of its power and competence.

In the classic first stage of an insurgency, the rebels build on public discontent to create local covert sanctuaries and muster their strength. They engage in hit-and-run attacks to show the population that they exist, but they try not to draw undue attention to their activities. The high-profile attacks on U.S. forces and Iraqi allies in recent weeks are more like the second stage of a classic insurgency, in which the guerrillas have established a base of public support and have covert sanctuaries among the general population. The Baathists have neither. They remain unpopular, a residual cancer, operating only in the region where they have some civilian support. And they have many enthusiastic enemies among the civilian population, backed up by American firepower that is increasingly in search of retribution. This is not the way to start a popular revolution.

Any successful revolution needs a popular cause. The Baathists want the Americans out of Iraq. But if there is a popular sentiment in Iraq that trumps a desire to see an eventual U.S. withdrawal, it is the desire of the vast majority of people to have seen the last of the Baath Party. Again, this is not a promising building block for a popular liberation front.

The structure of this essay is quite strange because he nboth counsels that the Ba'athists should be fighting their insurgency differently and explains why it would be doomed if they did.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 PM

CULTURAL IDEALS

Where Hatred Trumps Bread: What does the Palestinian nation offer the world? (CYNTHIA OZICK, June 30, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
The salient attribute of any culture is originality and its legacies. Genius, no matter how rare, is a human universal. It sends into the world new perception and new experience, inspiring duplication: Out of Israel came monotheism, out of Greece philosophy, out of Arab civilization science and poetry, out of England the Magna Carta, out of France the Enlightenment. What has been the genius of Palestinian originality, what has been the contribution of the evolving culture of Palestinian sectarianism? On the international scene: airplane hijackings and the murder of American diplomats in the 1970s, Olympic slaughterings and shipboard murders in the 1980s. And toward the Jews of the Holy Land, beginning in the 1920s and continuing until this morning, terror, terror, terror, terror.

But the most ingeniously barbarous Palestinian societal invention, surpassing any other in imaginative novelty, is the recruiting of children to blow themselves up with the aim of destroying as many Jews as possible in the most crowded sites accessible. These are not so much acts of anti-history as they are, remarkably, instances of anti-instinct. The drive to live is inherent: The very mite crawling on this sheet as I write hastens to flee the point of my pen. The child who has been taught to die and to kill from kindergarten on, via song and slogan in praise of bloodletting, represents an inconceivable cultural ideal. And it is a cultural grotesquerie that Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a pediatrician entrusted by his vocation with the healing of children, is in fact a major recruiter of young suicide bombers. (When his wife was asked by a neighbor why her husband did not outfit his own teenage son in a bomber's vest, the good doctor instantly sent the boy abroad.)

Confronted by this orgiastic deluge of fanaticism and death, there are some who would apply the term psychopathological. But it is metaphysics, not Freud, that is at stake: the life force traduced, cultism raised to a sinister spiritualism--not because the "martyrs" are said to earn paradise, but because extraordinary transformations of humane understanding are hounded into being. A Palestinian ethos of figment and fantasy has successfully infiltrated the West, particularly among intellectuals, who are always seduced by novelty. We live now with an anti-history wherein cause and effect are reversed, protection against attack is equated with the brutality of attack, existential issues are demoted or ignored--"cycle of violence" obfuscations all zealously embraced by the State Department and the European Union.

The Road Map permits no contradiction to the Palestinians' emerging nationhood. But if it is teachings and usages that characterize a nation, then what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches out of Bethlehem to be born?

One would find Ms Ozick's anti-instinct argument more compelling if the West weren't murdering its own children at such a horrific pace. Forty million abortions after Roe v. Wade who are we to tell the Palestinians that they don't value their children sufficiently?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 PM

WHICH CAME FIRST

LAW OR THE STATE?:NATURAL LAW AND THE RULE OF LAW (Joseph F.  Johnston, Jr., April 26, 2003, The Philadelphia Society National Meeting)
When America's founders adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they based their action on certain "self-evident" truths, specifically, that men are endowed by God with inalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that governments are instituted to secure these rights.  From the very outset of the nation, therefore, its independence was based upon the tradition of natural law, which holds that there are objective rights of liberty and property, and that these rights in turn rest upon a higher moral law.  The natural law is in sharp contrast to the opposing theory of legal positivism, which asserts that law is merely the will of the sovereign.  In the real world of today, the will of the sovereign means the power of the state.  The difference between these views of law is critical: if there is no "higher law," then there is no conceptual basis for arguing that any human law is unjust.

We live in an age in which the public is understandably captivated by the achievements of science and technology.  Sometimes this attachment to science becomes excessive and results in attempts to apply scientific method to subjects that cannot be quantified or tested by the methods of experimental science.  One of these subjects is the law.  Ever since the late nineteenth century, a series of doctrines has appeared purporting to reduce law to an empirical or experimental discipline using, to the maximum extent possible, the methodology of science.  These efforts have proceeded under a number of labels, including legal positivism, sociological jurisprudence, legal realism and, more recently, "law and economics."  All of these variations are "positivist" in the sense that they tend to separate law from its moral sources.

In this cultural climate, natural law appears to many lawyers to be a throwback, an obsolete category that ought to be discarded altogether.  If confronted with the term "natural law," a practicing lawyer today is likely to say that there is no such thing, or that it is a religious notion that has no place in legal analysis.  On the other hand, if you mention "the rule of law," he will probably indicate that he knows what this refers to, that it is a good thing and that we ought to preserve it.  And yet many if not all of the basic principles that we usually include under the rubric "rule of law" can be derived directly or indirectly from natural law sources.  Today, unfortunately, the connection between natural law and the rule of law, which formerly was so close as to amount to virtual identity, is largely neglected by the law schools and the legal profession.

This is a great shame, because the defense of the rule of law becomes much more difficult when it is unhinged from its intellectual, historical and moral roots.  As Professor Ellis Sandoz has argued in a recent paper, under the rule of law "there is an appeal to a higher standard of law and justice than the merely mortal or, at the least, than the enacted law of merely contemporary rulers."

In the end this is very nearly all that the argument between conservatives on the one side and libertarians, the Left, atheists, etc. on the other comes down to: do our rights and responsibilities precede or are they created by the state? The Founders explicitly stated the former, which is what conservatism assumes, but this depends on a belief in God who sets absolutes that govern our behavior. Deny those absolutes, deny God, and you are left with only the State, are in fact a statist.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM

IT'S ALL IN THE QUESTIONS

Six in 10 Americans Agree That Gay Sex Should Be Legal (Frank Newport, June 27, 2003, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE)
The Supreme Court decision is not a political one, of course, but there are other laws and proposed laws that are political -- including in particular those relating to gay civil unions and marriages.

An appeals court in Ontario, Canada recently changed the definition of marriage to include "two people" rather than a man and a woman, and there are indications that the Canadian government will pass laws legalizing same-sex marriage across Canada in future months.

Conservatives reacting to Thursday's Supreme Court decision have argued that it could lead to a higher probability of legal sanctioning of gay marriage or gay civil unions.

Our latest poll shows great ambivalence on the issue of gay civil unions that have "some of the legal rights of married couples," although the percentage of the public favoring such arrangements has increased over the last three years:

Would you favor or oppose a law that would allow homosexual couples to legally form civil unions, giving them some of the legal rights of married couples?

Favor 49%
Oppose 49%
No opinion 2%

Wow, could that question be any more wishy-washy? Given that one of the legal rights of the married is to engage in sexual congress and you've just gotten 60% of respondents saying they favor granting homosexuals that right it's hardly surprising that many favor some kind of civil sanction. The real question though is: Would you favor or oppose a law that would allow homosexual couples to marry, giving them all of the legal rights of married couples? Because the answer to that is likely still 60% "No" or higher (note that there's still a majority willing to say that homosexual behavior is immoral), this is still a good political issue for conservatives, as Bill Frist demonstrated by calling for a constitutional amendment defending marriage. It's especially useful because the Democratic presidential candidates can't afford politically to oppose gay marriage, which will show them to be extremists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 PM

ALANIS MORISSETTE ISN'T AMERICAN?

The final irony: 'Isn't it ironic?' You hear it all the time - and, most of the time, actually no, it isn't. Hypocritical, cynical, lazy, coincidental, more likely. But what is irony and why did pundits think it would die two years ago, after September 11? (Zoe Williams, June 28, 2003, The Guardian)
There are a few reasons why we think the Americans have no sense of irony. First, theirs is rather an optimistic culture, full of love of country and dewy-eyed self-belief and all the things that Europe's lost going through the war spindryer for the thousandth time. This is all faith-based - faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity, etc - and irony can never coexist with faith, since the mere act of questioning causes the faith fairy to disappear. Second, they have a very giving register that, with a sense of irony, would be unsustainable (how can you wish a stranger a nice day with a straight face?). Third, because we think Canadian Alanis Morissette is American, and she proved some time ago, with her song Ironic, that she didn't know what irony meant (this is so ironic - first, because we think we're the more sophisticated and yet don't know the difference between America and Canada, second because America sees Canada as such a tedious sleeping partner, and yet Canada is subversively sending idiots into the global marketplace with American accents. Of course, I'm being ironic. Canadian accents are not the same as American ones!)

...and what would the fact that someone's a stranger have to do with whether you hope they have a nice day?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:58 PM

DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK

For Jefferson, Liberty Without Learning Was Unthinkable (Terrence Moore, June 2003, John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs)
Anyone who doubts the power of ideas or the efficacy of a classical education should consider these words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." [...]

On the national holiday, let us take a brief history quiz. Ask your children these questions.

1. From where are the lines in the first paragraph above taken?
2. Who wrote them?
3. Fill in the blank. "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each
other our _____, our ________, and our sacred _____."
4. What English philosopher most influenced Jefferson's writing of the Declaration?
5. Who was King of Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution?
6. What is the legislature of Great Britain called, on which our Congress is modeled?
7. True or False: Jefferson also wrote an influential pamphlet titled Common Sense.
8. True or False: The first government of the United States was the present Constitution.
9. Thomas Jefferson was the ___ President of the United States elected in ____.
10. Jefferson helped found which university?

If your children score below 70%, we have a lot of work to do as a nation.

The children? How may parents would get 70%?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM

THE FUTURE OF THE WEST LIES ELSEWHERE

The African Lion Roars in the Western Church: Anglican liberals are fretting, conservatives rejoicing, and all are scrambling to their history books: whence this new evangelical force on the world scene? (Chris Armstrong, 06/27/03, Christianity Today)
Five summers ago, the lion of African Anglicanism roared. This week, it has bared its claws.

The summer of 1998 saw the every-ten-years Lambeth Conference of the worldwide Anglican communion absorbed with issues of human sexuality. At its meetings, African Anglicans led a campaign against the liberalizing of the church's teachings on homosexuality.

Joining in the African "roar" was Bishop John Rucyahana of Shyira, Rwanda, who issued this warning to the liberalizing contingent in Western Anglicanism: "We don't like your First World way of speaking ambiguous words and not being straight on the issues." Rucyahana and his colleagues were heard, and heeded: the conference passed a resolution (526 to 70, with 45 abstentions) that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Scripture."

In the wake of Lambeth, liberals in American Anglicanism (the Episcopalian Church) resented this new voice of "African fundamentalism," while a conservative like bishop Jack Iker of Ft. Worth, Texas could observe with some satisfaction: "No longer does the United States or England speak for the Anglican Communion but the church in Africa and Asia does."

This week, one branch of African Anglicanism seems to be moving from rhetoric to action in the conservative cause. In a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of the Nigerian Church (Anglican Communion)—a church representing 17 million of Anglicanism's 70 million members—has threatened to break communion with the worldwide body over the same issue that dominated discussion at Lambeth: Williams has supported the appointment of the openly gay Dr. Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, in England.

Said Nigerian Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola: "We cannot continue to be in communion with people who have taken a step outside the biblical boundaries."

We noted below the delightful irony that even as Europe commits suicide the Christianization of the Third World means that Western ideas will be kept alive by non-Westerners.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:23 PM

CORRECTION

Last week I posted a gripe about the bad manners of Mr. Harry Potter, wizard-hero. I wrote,
There is not one "I'm sorry; please forgive me" in the whole book....

I do not recall an instance of "please" or "thank you" in the book.
My niece informs me that the word "sorry" appears on pages 66, 81, 233, 292, and 293; and the word "thanks" appears on pages 182, 185, 249, 262, and 285. She reports no sightings as yet of "forgive" or "thank you."

I offer Ms. Rowling my sincere apologies for exaggerating the facts, and beg her forgiveness.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:48 PM

I'VE LOOKED AT LIFE FROM BOTH SIDES NOW...THIS ONE SUCKS

Two Sides of Political Reality for New Lawmakers (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 6/30/03, NY Times)
Candice S. Miller was riding high last week, flush with the glow of being a freshman Republican in the House of Representatives.

On Thursday, she dipped into Washington's famous pork barrel, when the House approved a military construction bill that included $9.6 million for a new health care center at a base in her Macomb County, Mich., district. Next, in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, her party squeaked out a one-vote victory on the Medicare prescription drug benefit bill.

Then Representative Miller jetted off to Rome, to spend the early part of her July 4 recess talking with European leaders about hydrogen fuel and bioengineered foods as part of her first "Codel" --a taxpayer-financed trip abroad by a Congressional delegation.

"I feel very optimistic," she said shortly before she left.

Optimistic is not exactly the word one would use to describe Raul M. Grijalva these days. Resigned is more like it. Representative Grijalva, a freshman Democrat from Tucson, voted against the prescription drug bill, just as he voted against the repeal of the estate tax and every other piece of legislation Republicans have pushed through this year. For the July 4 recess, he is going home to Tucson, where he expects to tell constituents, "We're putting up a fight."

For Mrs. Miller, a self-described "George W. Bush Republican" from a middle-class neighborhood outside Detroit, and Mr. Grijalva, an unabashed liberal from one of the poorest corners of Tucson, the last week was not much different than any other since they joined Congress in January. These lawmakers, whose first year is being chronicled by The New York Times, represent a microcosm of life in the House, where the political reality these days is stark and simple: Republicans win and Democrats lose.

People have been wondering in recent weeks iif Democrats aren't becoming more frantic and hysterical in their hatred of George W. Bush. Given the President's rather pleasant demeanor and the lack of hugely controversial issues at the moment it seems like on odd time for the Democrats to go postal. To the contrary, as stories like this and the one last week in the Post, on the takeover of lobbying by the GOP, suggest, Democrats are waking up to the cold hard reality of what it's like to be the permanent minority party, a reality that Republicans had to live with for sixty dispiriting years. You can hardly blame them for raging at the dying of the light.

MORE:
Republicans Rule (Howard Kurtz, June 30, 2003, Washington Post)
Is D.C. becoming a one-party town?

With the Republicans controlling all the levers of power -- 1600 Penn, both Hill chambers and the high court -- have Democrats slid into a state of near-irrelevancy?

That's debatable, to say the least, but it's hard to think of a time in the past half-century -- even during the Reagan years, they controlled the House -- when the Dems had less power inside the Beltway. The only Democratic weapon of any potency at the moment seems to be a Senate filibuster. And the party is not wildly optimistic about ousting Bush in '04.

Now the question is whether GOPers are cementing their hold on power by installing their folks in a sort of quasi-permanent government around these parts: the lobbying community.

On one level, Republicans aren't doing anything different than the Democrats did when they ruled Congress. You try to use your clout to soak up the available sources of big corporate cash, and you try to strong-arm the trade associations to support your legislative needs. The lobbying firms, in turn, realize that they need to hire folks (often former officials) with high-level entree to the party that controls the Hill machinery, including such basics as which bills get brought to the floor.

But the Republicans have gotten really, really good at this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:12 PM

COURT COMMANDED CULTURAL CONSENSUS

How the Supremes Redeemed Bush: The conservative court's decisions on homosexuality and affirmative action boost Bush's image with moderates (Joe Klein, Jun. 29, 2003, TIME)
Most Americans aren't extremists, and they are not at war. The lovely paradox of 21st century America is that we seem to be
increasingly united by the celebration of our differences. That is what the Supreme Court acknowledged in its decisions on homosexuality and affirmative action last week.

"The court legitimized and endorsed a cultural consensus," says Paul Gewirtz, a professor of constitutional law at Yale University. That consensus walks a socially sensible but legally clumsy line between tolerance and outright acceptance. Scalia noted that many Americans might not be comfortable with an openly gay business partner, scoutmaster, schoolteacher or boarder. True enough, but most people would also say that what Tyron Garner and John G. Lawrence did in the privacy of their Texas bedroom is none of our business. The court's affirmative-action decision was just as pragmatic. Most Americans disapprove of specific, codified racial preferences, like the now famous 20 points granted minority applicants to the University of Michigan. But American life, happily, is no longer plain vanilla. Anything all-white--law-school classes, corporate suites or presidential Cabinets--is not merely aesthetically displeasing, as Clarence Thomas asserted in his dissenting opinion, it is also considered socially deficient, inappropriate, un-American. Our diversity is the wellspring of American creativity, one of our competitive advantages in a global economy.

There is also a consensus on abortion: tolerable during the first few months of pregnancy but with severe limits after that. In fact, the rationale for Roe v. Wade--the right to privacy--was cited in the gay-rights decision. That the court's controversial abortion decision is now being used as a template for privacy cases is remarkable. It means that Roe is probably settled for the foreseeable future.

The political implications of all this are, I suspect, good for both the Republic and George W. Bush. The Republic is always strengthened by a reassertion of sanity.

Perhaps in order to be a liberal it is necessary to deny reality, because if Mr. Klein believes that there are currently any limitations, never mind "severe limits", on abortion after the first trimester he's delusional. And the Court's ruling on homosexuality is a disaster for the Republic for precisely the same reason: it removes from the political process our right as a society to legislate morality and turns an already overly-permissive culture into one where such moral laxity is required by law. Far from indicating that Roe v. Wade is settled law, this makes it all the more important for Republicans to appoint justices who will obliterate the notion that there is a right of privacy in the Constitution. Contrary to Mr. Klein's assertion, the Republic is always weakened when intellectual elites find it necessary to impose via judicial fiat that which they are incapable of securing through the political process. This is not only socially divisive but serves to alienate Americans from their own government and its institutions.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 PM

OUT IT

Sorting through a shift toward a consumption tax (David R. Francis, 6/30/03, CS Monitor)
Conservatives are rejoicing. They see the United States already on a path of fundamental tax changes that will accelerate economic growth.

"Stealth tax reform," it has been called. That's because relatively few voters are aware of the significance of the changes in the system proposed by President Bush and incorporated in the three tax-cutting measures passed by a Republican-led Congress since he took office.

"George W. Bush is the first president to actively understand and embrace the fundamental core principles of tax reform," says Ernest Christian, a founder of the Center for Strategic Tax Reform in Washington. [...]

The next likely "baby step" is the revival of the Lifetime Savings Account proposed by Bush last January, and later dropped for fear it would distract from the White House goal of selling its main tax package. The radical measure would allow taxpayers to contribute up to $7,500 a year of after-tax income into an investment account where it could grow untaxed and be withdrawn tax-free later for retirement, education, or other purposes.

"That is coming back," says Chris Edwards, a fiscal expert at the Cato Institute in Washington. He sees it as having political appeal in an election year. And its revenue loss is small in the 10-year window used by Congress in looking at tax bills.

The measure would also move toward a consumption tax by easing the tax burden on money not spent, that is, savings.

This seems like a worthwhile national goal, but one that should be talked about in this coming election.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM

NOT EITHER/OR

G.O.P. Senate Bid May Take the Fall, for Bush's Sake (RAYMOND HERNANDEZ, 6/30/03, NY Times)
Gov. George E. Pataki and the Republican machinery he controls are determined to rally a huge voter turnout for President Bush next year, in a bid meant to bring New York Republicans the sort of national stature that has eluded them since the days of Nelson A. Rockefeller.

But in an intriguing subplot, Mr. Pataki and his advisers appear to have all but abandoned plans to seriously challenge Senator Charles E. Schumer, a popular Democrat, mindful that it would mobilize the opposition and thus undermine Mr. Bush's prospects in New York. [...]

[R]epublicans say the sudden shift in the party's priorities reflects the surprising level of support that Mr. Bush has picked up in New York, a heavily Democratic state that no Republican presidential candidate has won since Ronald Reagan swept it in 1984.

A poll recently released by Marist College, for example, showed that 58 percent of voters who were surveyed in New York rated Mr. Bush's job performance as good or excellent.

But as much as anything else, the strategy also underscores another hard political reality that New York Republicans have been forced to reckon with: the early electoral strength of Mr. Schumer, who has already amassed nearly $15 million in his war chest and whose job-approval rating is at an impressive 58 percent in recent polls.

This is on the one hand the classic mistake that the GOP made in 1980 and 1994 and, on the other, the mistake that Ronald Reagan made in 1984 and one would hope that Republicans and Mr. Bush will avoid repeating past errors. When the landslide is coming you need to recruit the best candidates possible so that they can win re-election. The crop of nitwits, weirdos, and shut-ins who were carried in by the two juggernaiuts of '80 and '94 ended up having great difficulty defending their seats, even though they had initially beaten seemingly invincible incumbents. You don't look at a Chuck Schumer, a Barbara Boxer, etc., and decide to toss up a scarificial lamb because of the unique circumstances in their liberal states. National tides sweep out even such "safe" Senators. But six years from now, in an off year election after 14 years of GOP rule, it will be hard to maintain these seats if you've elected knuckleheads this time around. So go with the best you've got.

Meanwhile, the Bush campaign needs to run as if they're going to win and win big, because they're going to, and that means crafting the party, the agenda, and the Congress that you want to head into the coming years with. Losing NY is an unlikelihood but it wouldn't matter in the bigger picture. Mr. Bush will still win re-election. But getting that seat for the GOP, getting closer to a veto-proof majority, and putting a potential star in office--say Rudy Guiliani--could be huge.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM

)

The Everything Expert: a review of My Brother's Keeper: A Memoir and a Message by Amitai Etzioni (ROBERT S. BOYNTON, July 14, 2003, The Nation)
Etzioni's media profile faded in the late 1990s. The communitarian message didn't feel so fresh, and some of its policies seemed downright creepy. Despite Etzioni's embrace of Buberian "dialogue," his presentations felt more like monologues: No matter what the subject, "balancing rights and responsibilities" was always the answer. In 1994 the Guardian asked, "Is Etzioni just a Jerry Falwell in cap and gown? Could communitarianism be a thinking person's Moral Majority?" Etzioni dutifully records that the movement's media citations peak in the mid-1990s. "By the late 1990s, there were more and more days, then weeks, when no one called. Invitations to speak and to attend conferences ceased to pose scheduling problems; there were no longer any who wanted me to be in two places at the same time."

Much of the difficulty had to do with his "third way" communitarian message. The political blood-sport of the Clinton era made Etzioni's plea for nonpartisanship sound naïve, if not disingenuous. If Clinton could gut welfare while simultaneously praising communitarianism ("You are my inspiration," Clinton told Etzioni one New Year's Eve), maybe the movement was more style than substance. Were communitarian ideas merely protective coloration for politicians of the left and right? Was a movement admired by Bill Bennett, Dick Morris and George W. Bush itself worth admiring?

And the more closely people considered Etzioni's proposals, the more it became apparent that many were either stunningly obvious ("If the advocates of civil rights and those of public safety would stop butting heads, we would see all kind of ways to advance our security while minimizing intrusions on our liberty") or absurdly utopian (a "megalogue" on values between members of a super "community of communities"). Wish-and-make-it-so public policy.

I think the reason communitarianism never had the impact of, say, neoconservativism has to do with its message as well as its method of
implementing its ideas. Communitarianism speaks the language of reform, not revolution. It seeks to temper the primacy of the individual, to tame the logic of the market, to alleviate our reliance on government and its laws. It is more "liberalism rightly understood" than an ideology in its own right. Etzioni is less a prophet for a new idea than a publicist for a worthy, but not particularly novel, point of view.

Liberalism rightly understood--a liberalism which supposes responsibilities as well as recognizing rights; which tempers individuality; which tames logic of the market; which doesn't rely on government--is indeed a worthy, even a classic philosophy, that of our Founders and of Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville and Albert Jay Nock and myriad other great figures in the history of Anglo-American thought. It is reformist, even counter-revolutionary, precisely because the democratic revolution had already been won (largely in Britain in the 17th Century) by the time they all wrote. Our task as citizens of liberal societies is not revolution but perfection of the revolution already won.

If communitarianism has a great weakness though--and I believe it does, despite the generally high regard in which I hold Mr. Etzioni and his fellow believers--it lies in the failure to recognize that it must be essentially a retrograde rather than a progressive movement if it is to vindicate its eminently sensible critique of modernity. The community and civil society in which they rightly place so much faith are competitors with government and in particular with the social welfare state. The Communitarian Epoch can not be realized in conjunction with an era of big government, but will only come as we return to the social structure of an earlier day, when individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, churches, and the like resume their place at the center of our lives and the role of government is drastically diminished. That's a difficult reality for folk of the Left--which most communitarians are or were--to grapple with and they've by and large failed to do so.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM

THE WRITER VS. THE MAN

-TRIBUTE: A Seer's Blind Spots: On George Orwell's 100th, a Look at a Flawed and Fascinating Writer (Glenn Frankel, June 25, 2003, Washington Post)
"Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent," George Orwell wrote in 1949. He was referring to the recently assassinated Mohandas Gandhi, but these days the same test might well apply to himself, for in the 53 years since his death Orwell has become a secular saint, acclaimed by the political left and right and many in between, revered as a seer and truth-teller, honored for his moral courage, his razor-sharp intellect and his diamond-hard prose.

"The first saint of our age," as social historian Noel Annan once described him, "quirky, fierce, independent and beholden to none."

Somewhere along the way, however, amid all of the hero worship, the real man -- the idiosyncratic, squeaky-voiced, tubercular Englishman who dressed like a pauper, rolled his own cigarettes, chased after women and practiced a wobbly but sincere brand of socialism -- seems to have gotten lost, and perhaps the real writer has as well. Orwell has suffered the famous author's ultimate fate: He is revered and invoked more than he is read. [...]

But even while the orgy of praise and hagiography gathers steam, let's pause for a moment to remember the man himself, starting with all of the flaws that made him human. Based upon his self-critical writings and the accounts of those who knew him, Orwell was a strange and difficult person who had few friends, mistrusted foreigners and harbored a streak of self-righteousness. The characters in his novels are stiff and unconvincing, his portraits of women are one-dimensional and bear the distinct odor of unrepentant misogyny, and his occasional references to Jews are uncomfortable at best. And, oh yes, let's not forget this: As a prophet he was almost always wrong; 1984, as we now know, looked nothing like "Nineteen
Eighty-Four."

Notice how you have to seek outside the text to make Orwell complex and contradictory? The writings speak for themselves and say something quite other than his personal life and purported politics.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

WHAT RIGHT?

Bush, Looking to His Right, Shores Up Support for 2004 (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 6/30/03, NY Times)
Again and again in interviews, leading conservatives drew favorable contrasts with the first President George Bush, who endured a debilitating primary challenge from Patrick J. Buchanan, contributing to his defeat by Bill Clinton.

"It's night and day," said Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group. "Every group that this president has kept faith with, the previous president double-crossed."

David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said: "In the first Bush administration, the conservatives were asked to be
spectators--and it was hoped that they would applaud the action in the field. In this one, they have a president who wants them to be part of the team."

Mr. Bush's effort to tend to the conservative wing of his party has emerged as a crucial part of his early campaign preparations.

The Bush campaign has begun sending a representative to a meeting of conservative leaders that takes place in Washington every Wednesday, joining
a delegation of as many as eight administration officials.

Party officials say Mr. Bush's advisers--starting with Karl Rove, his senior political adviser, and Ken Mehlman, his campaign manager--are now in regular contact with about 60 conservative leaders across the nation, discussing issues of concern to the White House and the re-election campaign.

Mr. Bush has named Ralph Reed, who first rose to prominence as executive director the Christian Coalition, as a senior member of his campaign team. Beyond that, Mr. Rove and Mr. Mehlman are viewed by conservatives as advocates for their point of view in the White House.

Asked about efforts to mobilize conservative support, Mr. Mehlman responded: "Ultimately good policy is good politics. This is a president who has strongly pushed numerous policies that appealed to a lot of different groups--including conservatives."

Many conservatives say Mr. Bush's alliance with their wing of the Republican Party is as solid as that enjoyed by Ronald Reagan. Some suggest it is even stronger.

If you didn't know better, you might think Mr. Bush himself is conservative...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

U.S. OUT OF IRAQ NOW

Who's killing Americans? Loyalists, Islamists, criminals (AP, June 30,
2003)
The Pentagon is puzzling over how many resisters there are, how well they are organized and how they can be stopped.

Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, confirmed Friday to replace war commander Gen. Tommy Franks as head of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate that there are three main groups causing the violence:

**Leftover cells from Saddam's Baath party in a triangle bounded by Baghdad, Ramadi and Tikrit.

**Anti-American fundamentalist Islamists, including some foreigners.

* A criminal element including some of the 100,000 prisoners Saddam freed from jail before the war.

Three groups that we are ill-equipped to identify but the Shiites are easily able to--turn the country over to them and they'll handle it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

IF RACE IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT THEN CONSTRUCT YOUR OWN

What the Supreme Court doesn't know about race (Paul Greenberg, June 30, 2003, Jewish World Review)
I am sitting here tying to think of when I became race-conscious. And I can't. Maybe I never did - another of my numerous failings. I've gone all the way back to childhood, to the kitchen behind the shoe store on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. And I can't find that one decisive moment, that loss of innocence recorded in portentous tones in one Southern novel after another.

Now, roughly ages later, I sit and read a Supreme Court decision that says race matters after all. It matters so much that you need a certain number of this race and that race in law school classes in order to, yes, break down artificial racial categories. You've got to discriminate in order to end discrimination. It may be the funniest Supreme Court decision I've ever read, if unintentionally so.

What's more, you need a certain number of black students in law schools in order to form a "critical mass," whatever that is, but it doesn't take as many Hispanic students to do so, and it takes even fewer American Indians. I give up. Here is still another foreign language. Only this one doesn't make sense, as if it were written for some purely abstract world that exists out in space, or only in law books.

It's all so much hocus-pocus to me, like the idea of race itself so long ago on Texas Avenue. I sit here reading Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion, and I'm puzzled. I can't get my mind around it. I laugh out loud here and there, and think: Shoot, I knew better than that when I was 6 years old.

Here's what we'd like to know: do college admissions departments do geneaologies and blood tests? Why don't white kids just start saying they're African-American or Native-American or whatever ethnicity is stylish these days? Who's going to check up on them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM

STAR POWER

Schwarzenegger contemplates political run (Carol
Devine-Molin, June 30, 2003, Enter Stage Right)
Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes, "My kids are normal kids. They go to the mall and pass out recall petitions".

And, on a recent "Tonight" show, Schwarzenegger facetiously remarked to Jay Leno, "There is no money over there (in Iraq). There's no leadership – pretty much like California." Rapper Snoop Dogg was also on the program and promptly dubbed Schwarzenegger "The Notorious GOP" in good fun.

Watch out Governor Davis! Auh-nuld might indeed be gearing up to "terminate" your political career in the state of California. Clearly,
Schwarzenegger is testing the political waters at this juncture.

This is exactly what the CA GOP needs to get itself energized and could quickly re-establish the party's viability.

June 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 PM

STRONG RELIGION. WEAK SECULARISM (via Tom Morin)

The Great Revival: Understanding Religious "Fundamentalism": a review of Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms Around the World by Gabriel A. Almond, R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan (David Aikman, July/August 2003, Foreign Affairs)
Almost anyone interested in the rise of Christian conservatism (to use a nonpejorative term) as a cultural and political concept in the United States will quickly discover that although Protestant fundamentalism is indeed an identifiable movement in American history, it was numerically superseded by the late 1950s by what is now called "evangelicalism." Evangelicals believe as ardently as Protestant fundamentalists in the need to propagate the gospel, but they were determined to break out of precisely the enclave mentality into which the fundamentalists had chosen to retreat from the 1920s onwards. Strong Religion refers a few times to Bob Jones University, certainly a bastion of American fundamentalist thinking, but overlooks the important point that Bob Jones, Sr., virtually excommunicated evangelist Billy Graham from fundamentalism in 1957 because Graham wanted evangelicals to work with any Christian church that would accept them.

This fact is important to understand because the evangelical, not the fundamentalist, brand of Christianity seems to be expanding faster than any other religious movement in the world today, including Islam. (It is worth noting that fundamentalist Protestant Christians generally oppose strongly the Pentecostalist or charismatic experience, which is at the heart of much of the Christian growth in the developing world.) The evangelical Christian phenomenon in the southern hemisphere has been thoughtfully examined by Philip Jenkins in The Next Christendom. Jenkins argues that the southward expansion of Christianity in Africa and Latin America will have more profound consequences globally than the ongoing phenomenon of Islamism.

Although perhaps uncomfortable with going into what particular Christian groups believe, the authors of Strong Religion are certainly aware that it is the evangelicals who are expanding their influence both in the United States and around the world, whereas those Christian groups that have sought to accommodate secularism are in decline. Interesting statistics cited in the book for the United States include the rise of Southern Baptists from 10 million in 1960 to 17 million in 2000, a fourfold increase in the adherents to American Pentecostal denominations, and a massive decline in the Episcopal Church from about 3.5 million in 1960 to 2 million in 2000. The Southern Baptists and the Pentecostals have been much more supportive of positions such as biblical inerrancy than the Episcopalians, many of whom appear to have abandoned much of the historical Protestant orthodoxy.

Strong Religion is undoubtedly correct in noting that it is their response to modernity that generally determines whether fundamentalist groups prosper or wither. But how helpful is the book's definition of fundamentalism as "an aggressive, enclave-based movement with absolutist, reactive, and inerrantist tendencies"? This strongly negative depiction does not capture the nuances of modern religious groups.

In Indonesia, for example, the Islamic revivalist movement Nudhat'ul-Ulama is both pro-democracy and pro-pluralism. But it is probably also in favor of "inerrancy" in the Islamic context, thus fitting at least one of the authors' criteria for a fundamentalist group.

Or take the role of religious revivalists elsewhere in the developing world. In Guatemala, many sociologists have observed that communities where Pentecostalism is strong usually manifest what German sociologist Max Weber a century ago defined as "the Protestant ethic": self-discipline, frugality, hard work, and saving. A similar pattern can be seen in China today, where there may be more than 60 million Protestant Christians (compared with 700,000 in 1949). Some Chinese sociologists have noted the "coincidence" that the most significantly Christianized city, Wenzhou, where some 14 percent of the population is now Christian, is also one of China's top performers in domestic commerce and foreign trade.

One of the central beliefs of the rational humanists is that over time secularism will displace superstitious religiosity. They view this as both
inevitable and salutary, but it appears to be neither. Europe, which is secularism's test case, is dying while America remains stubbornly religious and is thriving--this despite the efforts of our own elites to impose secularism. Meanwhile, Christianity is spreading like wildfire in Latin America, Africa, and China. Indeed, Christianity is being reimported to the United States via Latino immigrants.

It's truly staggering just how wrong "reason" has turned out to be both in theory and application. In fact, given that its adherents continue to believe in it despite its conspicuous lack of success, one might conclude that it is merely a successor superstition, and an inferior one at that.

MORE:
-ESSAY: China's Next Great Leap: China may be on its way to becoming a Christian nation. (Terry Eastland, September 30, 2002, Dallas Morning News)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 PM

ROOPER-DOOPER

How to Build the Perfect Democratic Contender (ADAM
NAGOURNEY, June 29, 2003, NY Times)
"The self-deprecating charm of Joe Lieberman--you have got to start with that," said Anita Dunn, a Democratic strategist. "And Bob Graham's resume. Al Sharpton's one-liners! No one has better one-liners than Al Sharpton. Howard Dean's ability to excite activists and new people." [...]

[J]ohn Edwards, the North Carolina senator, may seem a little too young and slight to be Leader of the Free World; in White House circles, he is mockingly known as the "Breck Girl." But it is not hard to find Democrats who would like to bottle his charm and personable campaign style. John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, may not seem as if he would be happy eating corndogs in the jostling crowd at the State Fair in Des Moines. But leave the congeniality to the resume-challenged Mr. Edwards: Mr. Kerry has a war record that any candidate would love--two tours in Vietnam that brought him a few medals, and a tour back home leading the opposition to the war.

Mr. Lieberman's campaign is introducing many Americans to the customs of the observant Jew, such as not working on Saturday. It also appears to have awarded him the franchise on the moral and ethical issues. The penchant of Senator Bob Graham to keep detailed notebooks chronicling the most mundane of chores--think: got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head--may give Democrats pause. But Mr. Graham, as a former member of the Senate intelligence committee, has authority in his challenges to Mr. Bush's efforts to protect the nation from terrorism. Better than that, he is from Florida.

Is there any candidate who can boast more legislative experience and ties to traditional sources of Democratic support than Representative Richard A. Gephardt, the former House minority leader? (Of course, that could be his big weakness as well.) Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, may seem ideologically out of step with a lot of voters, but he has already shown his ability to draw a lot of new people into the system.

Ummm...anybody happen to notice what's missing here? How about a candidate with some popular ideas?

The Democrats are brain dead and have been since Walter Mondale lost in 1984. Bill Clinton had sense enough to borrow the opposition's ideas and won by running as not just a moderate but a conservative Republican--tax cuts, executions, anti-China, etc.. But there's no room to George W. Bush's right and the Democratic Party faithful are tired of being the GOP Junior League. So, incredibly, this batch of candidates seems to have returned to that Mondalism--anti-anti-Saddam instead of anti-anti-communist; take back the Bush tax cuts, as Mondale wanted to take back the Reagan cuts; pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, anti-religious, anti-Vietnam (are they aware the war ended--disastrously for the Vietnamese people--thirty years ago?), etc.. They really have revivified dead flesh and made it walk (well, stumble) again.
Posted by David Cohen at 10:34 PM

YEAH, THIS'LL WORK.

Statements of Fatah and Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the Cessation of Military Operations.
Fatah

Out of the desire of the Palestinian political factions on the higher national interests of the Palestinian people in this critical period of our national struggle and stressing the high importance of the national Palestinian unity in our ability to struggle, steadfast to our achieve our fair goals and not to give any chance to harm it on the basis of sticking to the national rights of our people, adopted by the national Palestinian councils of the P.L.O. and the Arab summits, U.N., nonallied and African summits and friends and honorable people in the world, and the full commitment for the continuous struggle to achieve it on top of it the right of our people to return and self-determination and establishing the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as a capital on all lands occupied in the year 1967 and in response to all the Arab efforts and the Quartet, we declare for all the countries and lovers of peace and freedom in the world our following initiative:

Cessation of all military operations in accordance with the Egyptian initiative.

At the same time we call upon all the states and peoples and governments worldwide and especially those interested in achieving peace, security and stability in the area to (urge) the Israeli side to implement the following:

First, the immediate stop of all acts of Israeli violence against our people, including stopping assassinations, arrests, deportation, massacres against our communities, cities, villages, refugee camps and to stop the incursions and destruction of the buildings, the economic infrastructure, the official and public institutions, (destruction) of agricultural lands and lands confiscation, and to stop the Judeaizing measures.

Second, to lift the closure from the Palestinian people and its legitimate elected leadership.

Third, to release all the prisoners and detainees from the Israeli prisons.

Fourth, not to harm the Islamic and Christian holy places, especially the Haram al-Sharif, the Church of the Nativity and the al-Ibrahimi Mosque.

Fifth, immediate stop of confiscating of lands and building settlements and expansion in the existing settlements as an introduction to removing them and to remove the separation walls.

Sixth, begin the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces to where they were before Sept. 28, 2000 and to implement the road map plan to quickly send the international monitors to supervise its implementation according to the international legitimate resolutions and to establish a just and lasting and comprehensive peace in the area."

Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Out of our desire for the unity of our Palestinian ranks at this dangerous phase which our people and our cause are going through, and in order to protect our national unity achieved by the intifada and the resistance and documented by the blood of the martyrs, and as the contribution from us to consolidating Palestinian national dialogue on the basis of adherence to the rights of our people, and in order to protect our internal front from the danger of schism and confrontation, and in order to block the enemy from having any excuse to wreck it, and in an assertion of the legitimate right to resist the occupation as a strategic choice until the end of the Zionist occupation of our land and until we achieve all our national rights, and in response to efforts by many in the Palestinian and Arab arena who care about the unity of the Palestinian national ranks, we declare the following initiative:

A. Suspension of the military operations against the Zionist enemy for three months, effective today, in return for the following conditions:

1. An immediate cessation of all forms of Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people including incursions, destruction, closures and sieges on cities, villages and refugee camps, including the siege imposed on President Yasir Arafat, house demolitions, leveling of agricultural land and assaults against land, property and Christian and Islamic holy sites, especially the holy Al Aksa Mosque. In addition, the immediate cessation of all individual assassination operations, massacres, collective measures, all arrests and deportations against our people, leaders, cadres and fighters.

2. The release of all prisoners and detainees, Palestinian and Arab, from occupation prisons without condition or restriction and the return to their homes first and foremost of those who have spent long periods and those with lengthy sentences, women, children, the sick and elderly.

B. In the event that the enemy does not act according to these conditions and commitments, or violates any of them, we see ourselves unencumbered by this initiative and we hold the enemy responsible for the consequences.

Above all, it's their sincerity I find impressive.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 PM

FAREWELL TO THE QUEEN

Katherine Hepburn is reported to have died.

Four pictures that we'd particularly recommend: Bringing Up Baby; The Philadelphia Story; The African Queen, and The Lion in Winter.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM

DUPE-OFF

The Gullible Mr. Kerry: The senator gets fooled again. (Christopher Hitchens, June 24, 2003, Slate)
So, the junior senator from Massachusetts has finally come up with a winning line. "Vote for me," says John Kerry. "I'm easily fooled." This appears to be the implication of his claim to have been "misled" by the Bush administration in the matter of WMD. And, considering the way in which Democratic Party activists generally portray the president as a fool and an ignoramus, one might as well go the whole distance and suggest a catchy line for the campaign: "Kerry. Duped by a Dope."

Given that Kerry once went all the way to Vietnam under some kind of misapprehension about a war for democracy and launched a political career on the basis of what he finally learned when it was much too late, one might be tempted to discern a pattern here. But that temptation should probably be
discarded. The Tonkin Gulf resolution was fabricated out of whole cloth (by a Democratic president, building on the legacy of another JFK from Massachusetts), and not even the most Stalinized of the Vietnamese leadership ever ran a regime, or proposed an ideology, as vile as that of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, Ho Chi Minh in 1945 modeled his declaration of independence on the words of Thomas Jefferson, appealed for American help against France, and might have got it if FDR had lived. Uncle Ho shared in the delusion that there could be an anti-colonial and anti-dictatorial empire. If that is indeed a delusion.?

Maybe someone who isn't over his own Ho Chi Minh infatuation should go easy on tossing accusations like "dupe" around?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:24 AM

APOLOGIZE?

Knights Templar bury the hatchet with Rome.: Whatever next? An apology to Islam, perhaps (Hilary Clarke, 29 June 2003, Sunday Herald)
Multi Templi Scotia, the Scottish branch of the order, now includes people of all denominations. James Ritchie, Grand Herald of the order, said he would welcome both improved relations with the Catholic Church and an apology to the Islamic world for the Crusades. 'I would be in favour of anything that gives us greater understanding of different religions and people,' he said.

Any attempt to issue an official apology for the crusades will, however, be fraught with political difficulties, not least because of the different beliefs of members of the order in different countries.

The grand commander of the US order, James Carey, was a rear-admiral in the US Navy during the first Gulf war. He served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, father of the present President Bush, and has been an outspoken supporter of the current administration in this year's war against Iraq.

How about we apologize for trying to retrieve the Holy Lands if they apologize for taking them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 AM

ARE WE ALL TAFTIANS NOW?

Old and in the Way: The American Street has sized up best the new paradoxes of foreign policy. (Victor Davis Hanson, June 27, 2003, National Review)
During this entire crisis tired voices of convention have misunderstood the nature of this war and the temporary presence of Americans in exotic places like the Asiatic provinces of the former Soviet Union, the Gulf, or Kurdistan. Instead of seeing such deployments in their proper context of ad hoc military efficacy and reaction to 9/11, they have instead shrilly alleged some sinister conspiracy to harness the world's oil through the use of permanent military deployment abroad and perpetual war.

Fools! The real danger is not that we are interventionists, but rather are on the verge of a weird insularity not seen since the 1920s - a paradox of still being engaged abroad but not in the usual manner of the past. The American Street is in a strangely revolutionary - read "fed-up" - mood. It is growing distant from Europe. It is angry with the Arab world especially, and it is tired with South Korea - and most whiny nations that either take billions of dollars in direct American aid or ankle-bite under the aegis of American arms.

The result is while hothouse analysts in Paris and spoiled teenagers in Seoul with Reeboks and football jerseys damn America the imperialist, the United States they knew is changing right before their eyes in ways that they might not like in the next decade - but that will in fact relieve most Americans. [...]

The real global story is not "anti-Americanism," but perhaps a growing American weariness with strident allies and the braggadocio of pathetic Middle Eastern despotisms. If I were a functionary of the European Union, I would either have an emergency meeting right now to explore ways of stemming a rising, grassroots tide of Middle America's anger against Europe or alternatively allot 400 or 500 billion Euros per annum for its own unilateral and collective defense. We in America are waiting for sober Europeans to question their current frightening leadership that came of age in 1968, but now shrug that the Schroeders, Fischers, and Villepins may not be so aberrant after all. The EU, remember, is now being asked by Mr. Abbas on the West Bank to stop subsidizing Hamas.

So in response, what should we do?

Keep quieter and carry a far bigger stick.

There's an amusing definition of insanity, that it consists of making the same mistake over and over again but expecting the outcome to change. One wonders if observers of America are insane, given that they seem incapable of accepting the fact that America only rouses itself from isolationism long enough to swat down annoyances, then withdraws back into itself. The tragedy of the Cold War was that we failed to swat and so stayed abroad far too long at far too high a cost. But there seems little inclination on the part of the Administration or the people to stay engaged in the world this time, a few more pummelings and we'll come back home. All this Empire nonsense will soon be forgotten...until next time.

MORE:
-Principles Without Program: Senator Robert A. Taft and American Foreign Policy (John Moser, September 2001, Dialogues)
What conclusions, then, may we reach regarding Taft's overall importance for the history of U.S. foreign relations? As the revisionists have pointed out, he was remarkably prescient on many of the problems inherent in a highly interventionist foreign policy: unprecedented accretion of power in the hands of the executive branch of government, curtailment of civil liberties at home, the charge of "imperialism" arising from American influence abroad, and most importantly the danger of what Paul Kennedy referred to as "imperial overstretch"-the extension of overseas commitments beyond the ability of a nation to meet them. Even his contemporary critics, such as John P. Armstrong, admitted that the senator played an important role as a check on the internationalism of the Truman administration, raising difficult questions about particular policies even if only to be voted down. Indeed, in the wake of the Vietnam War many liberals, including (most ironically) Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., proved willing to embrace many of Taft's positions on foreign affairs.

But while it certainly would not do to reject Taft's importance out of hand, it is equally erroneous to claim that he offered a coherent alternative paradigm for the conduct of foreign affairs. Republican party platforms in the late 1940s and early 1950s to a large extent echoed the interventionism of their Democratic counterparts. The reason for this was twofold: first of all, Taft never felt comfortable enough with the subject to put the sort of effort into foreign policy as he did into, say, domestic economic matters; and secondly his intense partisanship led him to view foreign affairs as little more than a stick with which to beat the Democrats. Thus to some he appeared as merely a mindless "isolationist," while others failed to recognize any consistent viewpoint whatsoever.

It is probably a mistake, however, to place all the blame for this on Taft. The late 1940s and early 1950s were, after all, a period of America Triumphant, a time when almost all Americans believed in the role of the United States as leader of the free world, and very few questioned the wisdom of extensive overseas commitments. Taft himself seemed to accept these premises in his book, A Foreign Policy for Americans (though in it he often hedged about how to best follow through on them). Therefore even if he had mapped out a clear and coherent plan for foreign affairs derived from his core principles, it is unlikely that he would have found much support for it. It was when he was being most consistent and true to his principles, such as when he opposed the North Atlantic Treaty, that he appeared to be the most out of step with the times. It was not, therefore, until the 1960s and the doubts raised by the Vietnam War that a serious reevaluation of Taft's foreign policy was possible. And indeed, as policymakers of the post-Cold War era struggle with the issue of foreign affairs, perhaps it is time for another such reconsideration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:02 AM

HARK, HEROLD

The new Joan of Arc on a crusade to stop French unions causing misery to millions (Philip Delves Broughton, 04/06/2003, Daily Telegraph)
France's exhaustion with its unions has found its voice in a 21-year-old student, Sabine Herold, who is challenging the silent majority to revolt against the strikes crippling her country and causing havoc for British travellers.

With schools and government offices closed yesterday, Channel ferries halted, and airlines cancelling most of their flights to and from France, Mlle Herold called the union members 'reactionary egotists'

They "claim to defend public services but are just defending their own interests", she said.

With her pale blue mascara and long eyelashes, she makes an unlikely Joan of Arc. But her words have found an echo in large protests by students and parents against repeated strikes by teachers and threats to disrupt this summer's exam schedule.

She has also become an emblem for the many in French society who believe that economic reforms are long overdue. She blames President Jacques Chirac for caving in repeatedly during his career to union pressure. The many British travellers who have been affected by the strikes in France can only hope her campaign succeeds.

One recalls how the Maid of Orleans ended up...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM

GREAT SLIGHT NORTH

Our cultural icons: the flag, beer 'Two-fours,' Shania Twain, brewskies with Trudeau top list of Canadiana (Chris Nuttall-Smith, June 29, 2003, CanWest News Service)
If we had our way this Tuesday, most beer-drinking Canadians would spend Canada Day ogling Shania Twain while sharing a brewski with Pierre Trudeau in Quebec -- home to Canada's sexiest people -- before closing out the festivities with sex on a beach in the Maritimes, a new poll shows.

Wow...and we worry about the state of American culture...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM

THE ANSWER

"CRY":What would Captain Cook say? (Roger Kimball, 6.28.2003, Armavirumque)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM

POST-DEMOCRATIC AMERICA

Ralph Nader: The US Needs Regime Change: He's the most radical US politician alive, blamed for losing Gore the 2000 election and allowing America's most conservative president ever to gain power. Now, he has a message for the world (Chris Lee, 29 June 2003, Sunday Herald)
'Not enough Americans are rolling up their sleeves as active citizens and as a result, they are watching their country be hijacked by giant corporations and their political allies in Washington,' he says. 'With 9/11, the politicians have seen a political advantage. We are moving away from democracy and into a plutocracy. This is an extremely serious condition.'

Call it a leadership disorder. In Nader's mind, Bush's wartime presidency and his quixotic war on terror are responsible for an era of eroded civil liberties and the reckless build-up of the munitions and defence industries. Government corruption and distortion of the truth, Nader feels, are taking place on the most serious level possible. 'The president has lied to the American people,' he exclaims. 'We were misled, or worse, about Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction, his ties to al-Qaeda, his threat to the rest of the world. This is an impeachable offence. Now the president is emphasising the 'liberation of the Iraqi people' because that's the only reason left. Everything else has been shown to have been phoney. More people are getting killed and injured every day while his propaganda enriches corporations and the president's friends, not to mention his re-election campaign. But as long as he beats the drum of war and struts as a wartime president, he's able to camouflage what is essentially a losing presidency and inoculate himself from impeachment.'

To hear Nader tell it, the White House is in the grip of big-money contributors and conservative ideologues. And Bush's prime motivation for launching an invasion of Iraq is the same one that many observers suspect prompted the first Gulf War: oil. [...]

Furthermore, Nader believes that the US -- and, perhaps, the UK -- teeters on the brink of its own regime change. 'There has to come a time when people say 'Are you exaggerating the war on terrorism? Are you exaggerating the terrorist threat?' Iraq? It's in Bush's interests to keep saying that there are terrorist cells here and there. But no Democrat has asked if there are al-Qaeda cells all over the United States and if they are suicidal and they are funded and they hate us, why hasn't anything happened?' he says. 'If whistle-blowers start leaving the Pentagon or the CIA, he is going to be in serious trouble. If Tony Blair gets in more serious trouble, then the trouble is going to spill over here. They are one step away from serious political disaster. That step is if the parents of the troops killed over in Iraq convene for a news conference and accuse them [Blair and Bush] of costing their sons' lives, they'll be in serious trouble.'

Supposing for a moment that we accept the Left's hysteria as a legitimate response to the turning of America into some kind of repressive police state and international agressor, doesn't this argument answer Mr. Nader's last objection? "Why hasn't anything happened?" Because crypto-fascism is working?


MORE:
-Rage. Mistrust. Hatred. Fear. Uncle Sam's enemies within: While the US fights a war on terror, it is also systematically crushing its citizens' rights. Neil Mackay on the alarming rise of a new tyranny (Sunday Herald, 29 June 2003)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

IDLING

Economy is set on idle: Nation's use of capacity is nearing a modern low (JOHN SCHMID, June 28, 2003, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Airlines these days fill little more than half the seats on their planes, leaving hundreds of the world's aircraft sitting idle.

America's automakers have the capacity to build 2 million more cars each year than people buy.

And in 2001 and 2002, the nation's paper-making heartland - concentrated in Wisconsin - decommissioned 104 paper-milling machines, each the length of a football field.

From greasy tool-making machinery to high-speed fiber-optic data lines, the United States has mothballed more industrial equipment this year than it has since 1982.

The shuttered offices and factories - some mutely awaiting an upturn and others closed for good - are a legacy of the longest economic expansion in post-World War II America. The giddy years of the late '90s,before the boom abruptly turned to a bust, left the economy saddled with more capacity than the marketplace can absorb.

And in the view of economists, the years of over-investment are now impeding a broad-based economic revival.

"If you have 26 percent of the capacity of the economy sitting idle, it is hard to sell to your board or your bank that you need to invest in new capacity," said Charles W. McMillion, chief economist of MBG Information Service, a forecasting firm in Washington, D.C.

The reference to "1982" is cause for hope, as we've enjoyed 20 years of uninterrupted economic expansion since that year.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 AM

GOOD SAMARITANS

Graham's works defy anti-Muslim image (VAN KORNEGAY, Jun. 26, 2003, The State, SC)
Many will brand [evangelist Franklin] Graham as intolerant and divisive for his words, but they should also consider his work before trying to banish him from the Muslim world. It is work that has not only alleviated human suffering but also has given Christians and Muslims the chance to rub elbows rather than cross swords.

In the summer of 1999 in a boggy field on the Albanian coast, I saw a dozen Samaritan's Purse staffers build and run a small tent town for 2,000 mostly Muslim refugees who had fled ethnic violence in Kosovo. In less than two months' time they worked like characters in a fast-forward video erecting tents, digging latrines, installing a water system and starting a bakery.

For many of these refugees, the Serbs were the only people calling themselves Christians they had ever known, and it was these same Christians who had terrorized them and driven them from their homes. It's no wonder they were a little perplexed that a Christian organization was now coming to their aid.

Samaritan's Purse relief workers came from all walks of American life -- college students and professors, nurses, doctors, retired military, even a short-order cook. They lived in tents alongside the refugees, ate the same food, used the same pit latrines and provided a humane haven from the oppression the Albanians had known for more than 10 years.

The refugees had the freedom to worship any way they wanted, and Samaritan's Purse training materials even proscribed how staffers should dress and act in order to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities.

One wonders what charitable works groups like People for the American Way and other critics of Mr. Graham undertake in the Muslim world.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 AM

BACKWARD LONGING

What a kick: Kickball enjoys comeback -- by adults (Robyn Dochterman, June 28, 2003, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
In a world where everything old is new again, the kickball craze probably shouldn't surprise anyone. The rubbery smell of the red ball has the power to take adults back to simpler times on grade school playgrounds. But unlike freeze tag or Big Wheels, kickball seems to translate to adulthood with surprising ease.

More than 1,100 people participate in organized leagues in the Twin Cities area. The Midwest Unconventional Sports Association (MUSA) and the Cities
Sports Connection (CSC) have nearly 400 players each. Edina, Plymouth, Apple Valley, St. Louis Park and other city leagues make up the balance. The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA), which has 6,000 players nationwide, is starting a Twin Cities league. [...]

The sun is sinking. The swimming pool near the kickball field closes and three kids weave their bikes along the sidewalk, trying to ride without hands. When they spot the game, they wheel into the grass to watch. A player kicks a high foul ball, and it spins into the street. A city bus nearly flattens it as it bounces crazily down the slope.

The pleasure of diving for pennies, telling knock-knock jokes or catching lightning bugs might fade as kids grow up and go to work. But the urge to reach back to those days, and the desire to have simple, sheer fun, is still alive -- and kicking.

Kickball translating to adulthood is hardly surprising, it is after all a game even spazzes can play. Kill the Guy With the Football would be surprising.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:58 AM

THE LOOSENING

Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse (Timothy J. Dailey, Ph.D., Family Research Council)
Scandals involving the sexual abuse of under-age boys by homosexual priests have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, defenders of homosexuality argue that youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts should be forced to include homosexuals among their adult leaders. Similarly, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a homosexual activist organization that targets schools, has spearheaded the formation of "Gay-Straight Alliances" among students. GLSEN encourages homosexual teachers-even in the youngest grades-to be open about their sexuality, as a way of providing role models to "gay" students. In addition, laws or policies banning employment discrimination based on "sexual orientation" usually make no exception for those who work with children or youth.

Many parents have become concerned that children may be molested, encouraged to become sexually active, or even "recruited" into adopting a homosexual identity and lifestyle. Gay activists dismiss such concerns-in part, by strenuously insisting that there is no connection between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of children.

However, despite efforts by homosexual activists to distance the gay lifestyle from pedophilia, there remains a disturbing connection between the two. This is because, by definition, male homosexuals are sexually attracted to other males. While many homosexuals may not seek young sexual partners, the evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners. In this paper we will consider the following evidence linking homosexuality to pedophilia:

Pedophiles are invariably males: Almost all sex crimes against children are committed by men.

Significant numbers of victims are males: Up to one-third of all sex crimes against children are committed against boys (as opposed to girls).

The 10 percent fallacy: Studies indicate that, contrary to the inaccurate but widely accepted claims of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, homosexuals comprise between 1 to 3 percent of the population.

Homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses: Individuals from the 1 to 3 percent of the population that is sexually attracted to the same sex are committing up to one-third of the sex crimes against children.

Some homosexual activists defend the historic connection between homosexuality and pedophilia: Such activists consider the defense of "boy-lovers" to be a legitimate gay rights issue.

Pedophile themes abound in homosexual literary culture: Gay fiction as well as serious academic treatises promote "intergenerational intimacy."

Here for instance is that "martyr" of libertarianism, Pim Fortuyn:
In chapter 1 about the 1950s, I wrote about my early sexual experiences, experiences that I see as an enrichment. Today, an experience like that in the park could easily lead to a complaint by parents to the police because of paedophilia, and the relevant young man would be in trouble. But why?

He didn't do me any harm. On the contrary, he showed me something that was incomprehensibly exciting and I could feel and touch it, but today we are ready to interfere with complete teams of professionals. By interfering in such an irritating and grown-up way in the world of children, we make an enormous problem of something that for a child is no problem at all and is only exciting.

It would be absurd to argue that we can as a society embrace homosexuality as normal and an integral part of human liberty but then turn around and reject the core elements of this sexuality. If we are to love not just the sinner but the sin, then these behaviors can't be considered sinning any more. As surely as night follows day anti-paedaphilia laws must follow anti-sodomy laws into oblivion. As Maureen Dowd admonishes Antonin Scalia today, it's time for conservatives to "Loosen up...baby."

MORE:
-ESSAY: Pedophilia Chic: If you thought sex with children was taboo--think again.
(Mary Eberstadt, 06/17/1996, Weekly Standard)
-ESSAY: "Pedophilia Chic" Reconsidered: The taboo against sex with children continues to erode. ( Mary Eberstadt, 01/01/2001, Weekly Standard)
-ESSAY: The Elephant in the Sacristy : Beneath the scandals now consuming the Catholic church is a cluster of facts too enormous to ignore. (Mary Eberstadt, 06/17/2002, Weekly Standard)
In the end, one must believe one of two things about the offenders: Either they were born with a sexual "orientation" toward molesting children; or somehow, just maybe, the experience of being molested themselves affected their future sexual feelings. If one holds to the "orientation" view, one faces the serious problem of explaining away as "coincidence" a broadly shared experience of childhood or adolescent molestation--one out of proportion to the general population. But if, on the other hand, sexual predators are made, not born, a currently forbidden hypothesis suggests itself: that other "sexualities," too, may be affected by experience.

Today, the few researchers and clinicians who dare touch this subject are treated as professional lepers. Think only of the calumny that has come the way of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which provides counseling to homosexual men and women who believe that sexual "orientation" is susceptible to change. Public opprobrium has also been the fate incurred by groups like Courage, a ministry to homosexuals from the perspective of traditional Catholic teaching. There is no doubt that the experience of groups like these--similar to those of the few writers who have dared dissent from the contemporary secular articles of faith about homosexuality--has had a chilling effect on public discussion, including discussion that could help identify, diagnose, and treat offenders in the future.

And here is where a contemporary secular taboo--that of questioning the ideology of "orientation"--crashes head-on into the greater public good. What the priest scandals demonstrate beyond argument is that what we need, right now, is in-depth study of the victim-to-perpetrator causal chain. We need answers to questions that, properly understood, will help prevent other boys from being preyed upon in the future--for example, why some children who are abused do not go on to become abusers themselves; why others become compulsive offenders whose victims number as high as the hundreds; and how institutions of all sorts might better screen and thwart and help the adults tempted by this profound evil. Today, however, because the ideology of "orientation" has effectively foreclosed discussion of just these issues, there is a tragically short supply of such theoretical and clinical exploration--and likely an even shorter supply of personal will and fortitude among potential researchers. As the JAMA article cited earlier noted suggestively--in a review, recall, of the clinical literature on the sexual abuse of boys--"No longitudinal studies examined the causal relationship between abuse and gender role or sexual orientation." There should be such studies. Interestingly, among the proposed reforms the bishops will discuss in Dallas, one promises that "we offer to cooperate with other churches, institutions of learning, and other interested organizations in conducting a major research study in this area"--namely, "the problem of the sexual abuse of children and young people in our society."

Such information would not only be useful to the bishops and the rest of the public in contemplating the matter of deterrence. It might also shed light on human sexuality more generally. In particular, it might help explain the prominence of the theme of man-boy seduction--which I have documented in two essays in these pages--in gay literature, journalism, and culture. It is now over 20 years since gay eminence grise Edmund White observed that "sex with minors" was one of two features of gay life "likely to outrage the straight community" (the other, he believed, was "sex in public places"). In the wake of the priest scandals, a few other gay voices have acknowledged just such a homosexual/heterosexual divide on the question of minors. As a writer for the Washington Blade put it with surprising candor, "These cases--where the 'victim' lies somewhere in between childhood and adulthood, and the 'abuser' may or may not also have a gay adult sexual life--prove far murkier than either the Catholic Church or many gay rights advocates seem willing to admit." But no gay writer has sounded a more poignant note than the unnamed man who wrote in a letter posted on Andrew Sullivan's website--which contribution Sullivan deserves credit for publishing: "I must disagree with your disavowal of any homosexual complicity in the Church scandal. . . . Until all queers are able to face the fact that we have created for ourselves a culture that values youth and beauty above all else, and to realize that this obsession creates, in at least some gay men, a deviant and abusive tendency toward sex with minors, we are doomed to continue to create victims as surely as the atrophied Church."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:24 AM

MAJORITY DREAMS

Bush Plays It Fast, With Hard Money (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, 6/29/2003,. NY Times)
By early next March, Democrats will probably have settled on a nominee for president.

At that point, with no opposition in the primaries, President Bush's re-election campaign is expected to begin spending the massive amount of money it is raising to paint an unfavorable picture of the Democratic candidate in voters' minds and to establish the terms of the fall contest in a way that benefits the president.

It is almost certain that the Democrats will not have the money to respond. "They will be flat on their backs," said Scott Reed, an experienced Republican consultant who is not involved in the 2004 presidential race, "tired from an exhausting primary campaign, still at each other's throats and completely broke." [...]

But Mr. Bush is forgoing matching money, so there will be no limit to what he can spend. His campaign says it plans to raise $170 million, almost twice what Mr. Bush had in 2000 when he also refused matching money and faced stiff primary opposition, and many times more than any other candidate has ever spent. [...]

Because Mr. Bush plans to accept public financing for the general election campaign, he can use the money he is raising only between now and the Republican National Convention in New York in September 2004.

"It's a bonanza for them," said Tony Coelho, who for a time was Al Gore's campaign manager in the last presidential race. "There's no way they can spend this amount of money just for themselves."

Mr. Coelho said he expected the Bush campaign to contribute millions of excess dollars to Congressional campaign committees and state and local Republican parties to be used to improve the party's position in Congress. "What they want to do is not just target Bush's re-election but also make the Republican Party the majority party for the rest of the decade if not longer," he said.

The big thing at this point is for the Party to avoid the Reagan/Clinton mistake of not running on any agenda. You need to make your landslide look like an endorsement of the things you want to get done--in Mr. Bush's case, counter-revolutionary entitlement and tax reform--whether it is or not.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 AM

TOO LONG AT THE FAIR

Who says Al's our pal? (Neil Cavuto, June 29, 2003, Town Hall)
So Alan Greenspan and his buddies on the Federal Reserve Board lowered interest rates again this week. Another quarter-point bone to the masses, for which we're to be eternally grateful. Pardon me, but I don't think so.

First off, it should have been a half-point cut. That would have sent an unequivocal message to the markets and the rest of us that this Fed gets it. Things are still dicey, so there's no time for fooling around.

By moving as conservatively as they did, Al and his pals sent quite the opposite message: that things are fine, just you wait. Well, for better than three years' worth of rate cuts, we've been waiting, and the Fed has been dithering. This latest cut only continued the trend, and was one of the big reasons why the Dow fell 98 points the day the Fed moved. Too little, too late.

What amazes me is despite the disappointment, few criticize Al himself. He's held in remarkably high regard almost everywhere. Wall Street loves him. Congressmen trip over themselves praising him. And even the Bush administration is afraid to say boo to him. Why? What has this guy done to warrant such unanimous love?

I'll tell you, in one word: nothing.

Mr. Greenspan hasn't understood the economy since Paul Volcker and Ronald Reagan destroyed inflation--time to enjoy a well deserved retirement.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:46 AM

WHAT EVER BECAME OF EUROPE?

Aging Europe Finds Its Pension Is Running Out (RICHARD BERNSTEIN, June 29, 2003, NY Times)
[W]hile pension reform is the urgent political issue of the moment in Germany, Austria, France and other countries, many experts see it as a harbinger of things to come, a sign of a demographic shift with important implications not only for the welfare of retirees but also for European societies as a whole. The crucial factor is age.

One study by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, predicts that the median age in the United States in 2050 will be 35.4, only a very slight increase from what it is now. In Europe, by contrast, it is expected to rise to 52.3 from 37.7.

The likely meaning of this "stunning difference," as the British weekly The Economist called the growing demographic disparity between Europe and the United States, is that American power--economic and military--will continue to grow relative to Europe's, which will also decline in comparison with other parts of the world like China, India and Latin America.

With its population not only aging but shrinking as well, Europe seems to face two broad possibilities: either it will have to make up the population shortfall by substantial increases in immigration, which would almost surely create new political tensions in countries where anti-immigrant parties have gained strength in recent years, or it will have to accept being older and smaller and therefore, as some have been warning, less influential in world affairs.

"The European countries are aging in a world that is becoming younger," Mr. Frey said in a telephone interview. "And in a global economy, they're not going to share in the energy and vitality that comes with a younger population." [...]

"In reality, a legal retirement age of 80 is what we should aim at," Erich Streissler, an Austrian economist, wrote in a newspaper article.

It's hard to know whether media like the Times are finally waking up to the most important story of the late 20th Century/early 21st--the death of Europe--or whether this is just a case of their best writer, Richard Bernstein, doing a story he's noticed because he's pretty conservative. Folks have a tendency, perhaps because the implications are so dire, to pooh-pooh these stories and say the decline so far isn't too bad and can be easily reversed. But one of the studies cited in the story and linked below does a nice job of explaining what happens when "negative momentum" takes hold, as it has already in Europe, with ever smaller generations duplicating the infertility of the previous generation.

Can't you just imagine what the streets of Paris will look like when a government tells the French they have to work until they're 80 to get their pensions? Like a nursing home production of Les Miserables...


MORE:
-Europe's Population at a Turning Point (Wolfgang Lutz, Brian C. O'Neill, Sergei Scherbov, Science)
Europe has just entered a critical phase of its demographic evolution. Around the year 2000, the population began to generate "negative momentum": a tendency to decline owing to shrinking cohorts of young people that was brought on by low fertility (birthrate) over the past three decades. Currently, the effect of negative momentum on future population is small. However, each additional decade that fertility remains at its present low level will imply a further decline in the European Union (EU) of 25 to 40 million people, in the absence of offsetting effects from immigration or rising life expectancy. Governments in Europe are beginning to consider a range of policy options to address the negative implications of population decline and rapid aging. Social policies and labor laws aimed at halting the further increase in the mean age of childbearing--which contributes to low fertility--have substantial scope for affecting future demographic trends. They also have an additional health rationale because of the increasing health risks associated with childbearing in older women.

-ALL 10 MILLION EUROPEANS: The last two generations grew up with the idea of the "population explosion". For a century the world has lived with constant upward revision of population forecasts: the only question was if the growth would be fast, or very fast. And the last generation faced the question: how many billions can this planet support? So it is a culture shock, when new projections of global population include scenarios of dramatic population decline - without any meteorite impacts, new epidemics, or famines. Or when a UN report suggests that Europe needs 700 million immigrants to maintain its age structure... Is the future population nightmare not rural Bangladesh, but rural Estonia? (Paul Treanor, March 2003)

June 28, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM

YOU'VE GOTTA BE FARUQUIN KIDDING

-REVIEW: of Islam Under Siege by Akbar S Ahmed (Ahmad Faruqui, Asia Times)
One would be hard pressed to disagree with the core argument of the book, which is directed at Muslims. It consists of two parts. First, don't blame the "Great Satan" for all your ills. Second, be inclusive and compassionate toward other human beings regardless of their faith, because that is what God has willed the believers to do. Many (but not all) of the problems facing the Muslim world are indeed self-inflicted, and blaming the West for all of them has set the Muslims back on the path to progress. Conspiracy theories dominate Muslim views of the West, which is believed to be plotting for the extermination of Islam while indulging in an orgy of sex and violence. It is too often the case that the lives of Muslims are cloaked with a fatalism based on a misunderstanding of God's will. [...]

He also mentions that the freedom of speech and religion in the US prior to September 11 had created an atmosphere that could be compared to that of Muslim Spain (Andalus) when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived side by side in peace. However, everything changed after the terror attacks, as the US came in the grip of hyper-group solidarity. Muslims could be arrested anywhere and held without charges indefinitely, merely for being Muslims. Many who were arrested had their beards shaven forcefully.

Hopefully Mr. Faruqui understands Islam better than America, but that bit in the second paragraph doesn't instill much confidence in his analytical abilities.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:52 PM

ONE MORE FOR THE ASH HEAP

U.S. Policy Change Toward Beijing (J. Michael Waller, June 26, 2003, Insight)
The People's Republic of China (PRC) is losing its hard-won image as a force for stability in Asia as key thinkers in and around the Bush administration are beginning to view it as a dangerous and often reckless power that is fomenting fear and instability. If this change sweeps through the government leadership like other recent paradigm shifts - for instance, the quickly spreading view that Saudi Arabia no longer is a stable force in the Middle East but a corrupt and unpopular financier of terrorism - Sino-American relations will be headed for the rocks. That's bad news for the Chinese Communist Party leadership and the U.S. and other companies that have built their fortunes on it. [...]

The Chinese leadership has used its "partner" status in the world war on terrorism to crack down even further on religious, political and social movements. According to Al Santoli, editor of the American Foreign Policy Council's China Reform Monitor, "Beijing is using the war on terror as an excuse to imprison and execute political opponents and religious leaders," including underground Roman Catholic clergy, democracy activists and the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Even the State Department responded to this, at least expressing "deep concern" over the life sentence imposed on Wang Bingzhang last February, stressing that "the war on terrorism must not be misused to repress legitimate political grievances or dissent."

The sheer volume of evidence presents a damning indictment of the PRC as a fomenter of instability and fear, a purveyor of weapons of mass destruction to the world's most dangerous state-sponsors of terrorism, a supplier of nuclear-missile technology to the planet's most tense hot spots and a unilateral force committed to changing the world's political map. Analysts see Beijing pursuing a two-track strategy of sustained, low-level military pressure with positive inducements of trade, loans, development assistance and even security cooperation - which combined create a sense of fear and dependency on the part of China's neighbors. [...]

Beijing's "long-term strategic objective is to drive American bases and influence out of the Pacific region and to exercise hegemony over it," according to Australia-based sinologist Peter Zhang. "I wrote those words nearly four years ago," he said in a recent essay for the New Australian. "Since then events in the region have only strengthened my assessment."

They're not a threat to us in the short or long term, but they aren't a partner in any way either. We should bring America's full rhetorical pressure to bear on them--"the PRC is one of the most murderous regimes in human history, remains repressive, and is incapable of satisfying the demands for freedom and prosperity of its people"--and base our military-space program on destroying their satellite and missile capability. This latter will be useful even as and after China disintegrates, because it will give us the capability to destroy missiles in other lesser nations. Prepare for China and the Saddams and Kim Jong-Ils are a snap.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 PM

THANK GOODNESS FOR SHARIA

Iran Reportedly Nabs Bin Laden's No. 2 Man (Fox News, June 28, 2003)
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Usama bin Laden's right-hand man, was reported last night to be in custody in Iran along with several other top Al Qaeda leaders.

The Arabic news channel Al-Arabiyah said the fanatic Egyptian-born doctor is under arrest in Iran along with bin Laden's son Saad and Al Qaeda's infamous spokesman Abu Ghaith.

The report said they may be sent back to their home countries.

Al-Zawahiri has been sentenced to death in Egypt for his role in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

Well, he definitely won't be a head man in al-Qaeda for much longer.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:29 PM

THERE'S ALWAYS A STATE RELIGION

Our state religion is secularism (Ted Byfield, June 27, 2003, National Post)
Canada's state religion is secularism, which proclaims that if there is a God, man could know nothing about It. Therefore, any viewpoint that contends otherwise should be dismissed as an absurdity, and above all permitted no role in the determination of public policy, because religion must be regarded as a purely "private" affair.

Claims of individuals to know anything as actually true, or morally good, should be disparaged, and school curricula must be designed to discourage such assumptions. Influence over children should be gradually taken away from parents and vested in the state. In particular, the ability of parents to imbue their children with any religious viewpoint should be thwarted through public education.

The purpose of human life is pleasure, the centre of all human endeavour is properly the self, and the chief vehicle for all human fulfillment and advance is the state. Finally, the source of all moral authority must be vested in what Plato called "the Guardians," which in our day would mean the professoriate, the luminaries of the liberal media, the educators, and the bureaucracy. Judges, the intelligentsia, commentators and assorted "experts," these are the priests and the prophets.

Such is the state religion of Canada. Its chief adversary is Christianity, and Christianity has no media voice. When The Report magazine folded, this was the real loss.

It's strange that people believe you can try to erradicate religion from public affairs without replacing it with some other set of ideas, as if the
opposite of Truth weren't No Truth.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:20 PM

CON COM

Miller Emerges as New Voice for Bush Re-Election (Reuters, 6/28/03)
A new voice has emerged in the re-election campaign of President Bush, that of Dennis Miller, who is gaining a reputation as a conservative comic by attacking Democrats with biting humor.

Miller flew on Air Force One from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the president on Friday, and later gave a stand-up routine at a Bush fund-raiser in Los Angeles. [...]

Bush remained offstage until after Miller's often caustic comic performance during the fund-raiser that drew in $3.5 million, most of it in $2,000 checks from 1,600 people. [...]

"[Howard Dean can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearms, he's never going anywhere," Miller said.

New?
Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 4:36 PM

WHO ON EARTH IS LEO STRAUSS?

Philosophers and kings (Lexington, 19/06/2003, The Economist)
FROM the moment George Bush moved into the White House, the search has been on for the man (or woman) who is pulling his strings. But now all are forgotten in the fuss about the most surprising suspect of all: Leo Strauss, a political philosopher who died in 1973 and produced a series of learned studies of political theorists (such as Xenophon's Socratic Discourse) that are variously described as seminal and utterly opaque. But his real talent was for teaching.

One reason why Strauss is so controversial is that a little selective quotation can be used to give his thinking a decidedly sinister tinge. Strauss emphasised both the fragility of democracy and the importance of intellectual elites. He was also a devotee of Plato, who famously argued that “philosopher kings” sometimes had to be willing to tell “noble lies” in order to keep the ignorant masses in line. The implication: Mr Wolfowitz and his fellow Straussians deliberately lied about Saddam Hussein's nukes to advance their political cause. This is stretching it. Strauss was critical of democracy in much the same way that Winston Churchill was: he believed (unlike Plato) that it was the worst political system apart from all the others. He focused on the weaknesses of liberal democracy—particularly its habit of underestimating the dangers of tyranny—precisely because he had seen the Weimar Republic destroyed at close hand.

The rise of the Straussians suggests that American conservatism has shifted its focus from liberty to virtue. Ronald Reagan was surrounded with free-marketers in Adam Smith ties. But Mr Bush is an intensely religious man who has no qualms about using big government to improve people's behaviour. Strauss was an agnostic, but he also stressed the cultivation of personal virtue, and his followers (perhaps traducing him, and certainly outraging Plato) have argued that organised religion is a necessary buttress of civilisation. Strauss's paternalist side would have warmed to the way that Mr Bush has expanded the Department of Education, has started promoting marriage through the Department of Health and Human Services and has toughened America's drug policies. Straussians such as Mr Walters (the current drug tsar) and Mr Kass (head of the council of bioethics) have helped to clothe Mr Bush's Christian instincts in the non-religious language of moral philosophy and practical policy.

The rise of the Straussians also illustrates an odd point about modern American conservatism. Despite all their bile about Old Europe, the American right has repeatedly found its inspiration in European thinkers. A few years ago, it was an Austrian libertarian called Friedrich Hayek. Now it is a German Jew who regarded ancient Greece as the fountain of all wisdom. With European constitution-makers seeking inspiration in the Philadelphia Convention, and American conservatives embracing European philosophical tracts, perhaps transatlantic relations aren't quite as bad as all that.

Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 4:23 PM

YET ANOTHER DEAN ARTICLE

Meet Howard Dean (Lexington, 26/06/2003, The Economist - subscription required)

HOWARD DEAN admits that when he decided to run for president even his mother said it was preposterous. He meant nothing to anybody except his fellow Vermonters and a handful of health-care bores. Now, he is the Democrat to watch. He is selling himself as the embodiment of authenticity: an anti-politician who is not afraid to express outrage. And he is turning his sharp-edged personality into an asset, proof that he is not just another blow-dried mediocrity from the Beltway. The result is huge enthusiasm. “Howard Dean” bumper stickers are replacing “Peace Now” stickers on the nation's Volvos. In the first quarter of this year he raised more money in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Beverly Hills than Mr Kerry or Mr Lieberman.

Mr Dean is actually rather an odd champion for the party's Democratic wing. As governor of Vermont for 11 years the doctor-turned-politician was a pragmatic New Democrat in the Clinton mould. He resisted irresponsible spending increases, fought with the state's Progressive Party and vigorously upheld the right of Vermonters to carry concealed guns. He even defied a national trend by changing his mind in favour of the death penalty. He continues to sell himself as a “deficit hawk” and “balanced budget fiend” (the Bush fiscal policy, he says, is modelled on Argentina's). His health-care plan is much more market-driven than the Clinton administration's plan, and much cheaper than Dick Gephardt's ($88 billion compared with $214 billion). His views on the Middle East are pretty close to the Israeli lobby's. He is against medical marijuana laws and the anti-global-warming Kyoto protocol.

So would Mr Dean be able to repackage himself as a centrist if he won the nomination? Hardly. His views on guns count for little compared with his strident opposition to war in Iraq and his determination to repeal “every dime” of Mr Bush's tax cuts. For good or ill, Mr Dean has decided to climb on the back of the leftist tiger. He cannot climb off without being eaten alive. On Capitol Hill Democrats worry that a Dean candidacy will not only allow Mr Bush to sweep the electoral college but also to cull vulnerable Democrats in the conservative south and the middle-American heartland. What chance has a liberal north-easterner backed by money from Beverly Hills and Harvard Yard of helping the Democrats in vulnerable Senate seats in Arkansas, South Carolina and the two Dakotas?

Besides, Mr Dean does not have to win for his party to lose. His insurgency is already tugging other candidates to the left. Hardly a day goes past without the other front-runners producing some new piece of populist rhetoric. This week Mr Gephardt promised that as president he would use executive orders to countermand “any wrong thing that the Supreme Court does”. The problem for the Democrats is not just the man from Vermont but the rank-and-file rage that he embodies. Far too many Democrats are just too angry to think straight at the moment. And far too many would rather go down to glorious defeat than make the irritating compromises necessary for power.

2004 = 1932.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM

RYAN'S OUR HOPE

Senate hopeful gets bad rap (THOMAS ROESER, June 28, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
A misleading rumor has circulated that Republican Jack Ryan, candidate for the U.S. Senate, is a Rockefeller Republican. Not so. [...]

Ryan is a conservative--at least as conservative as George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and in some ways more.

On the social issues Ryan is pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother (same as Bush and Reagan). On gay marriage or registry, if legislation were to create ''any special rights, I'm against it. . . . I'm against any special rights attached to someone's sexual orientation.'' On stem cell research he has the same position as Bush: favoring research on existing lines of stem cells, but creating life for experimentation is the wrong thing to do.

He favors the Bush tax cuts and Iraqi war, but what intrigues me is where he takes a rightward departure from the president. He says the
administration spends too much and cites $80 billion in corporate subsidies that can be cut. He points to a Cato study that criticizes the Advanced Technology program, where government does poorly what private business should do for itself. Next is a so-called Partnership for the Next Generation of Vehicles, a Commerce Department project that spends public dollars on automotive research, and another Commerce Department effort that attempts to advertise U.S. products. He says that if elected, he would hope to serve on the Appropriations Committee, where such boondoggles can be cut. Education Department expenditures could be pared, too, if school choice were implemented.

Ryan wants to reduce the capital gains tax to zero, abolish the Commerce Department's minority business development arm and focus resources instead to the education of minority youth on how to gain access to capital.

On foreign-defense policy, he believes our stake in Europe should be drastically reduced. The European countries spend about 1.5 percent of their gross national product on defense, he says. We spend 3 percent of our GNP on arms in part because ''we are subsidizing their defense.'' NATO countries' GNP is very close to our own.

Karl Rove and the President need to get into IL and strongarm the Party into backing this guy, the way they did for folks like Norm Coleman and John Thune last cycle. Then the 2004 campaign should focus on IL, CA, WA, NV, NY, etc. (even HI), places where the Democratic candidate for president will have to play defense and a win by the President could synergistically carry in a GOP Senator or vice versa.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM

PROVOCATIONS

Pentagon Delays Releasing 5 Syrians Hurt in U.S. Raid: This delay has come despite objections from Syria, the U.S. State Department and even American military officers on the ground. (DOUGLAS JEHL and ERIC SCHMITT, 6/28/03, NY Times)

Now close your eyes, open them again, and read the following:

War Department Delays Release of Five Soviets Hurt in Berlin Clash: This delay has come despite objections from Stalin, the U.S. State Department and even American military officers like General Bradley. (NY Times, 6/28/45)

How easy it would have been...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM

)

Contemplating the L-word: Six reasons why the stars could be aligning for a Bush landslide in 2004. (Fred Barnes, 06/27/2003, Weekly Standard)
THE POLITICAL STARS are suddenly aligned for President Bush for a smashing re-election victory in 2004. This doesn't guarantee he'll win. And it doesn't preclude anything of political significance changing the situation between today and Election Day 16 months from now. What it does mean, though, is that if all goes as expected--and that's a big "if"--Bush will be in an extremely strong position against his Democratic opponent.

The stars consist of six factors, all of which appear favorable to Bush at the moment. They are: an improving economy, a successful war, a big domestic triumph, a boatload of campaign money, an opposition party in disarray, an a discredited big media. [...]

Again, the caveats. Nothing is assured. One can imagine a Democratic ticket--Lieberman-Graham perhaps--that would be competitive. Political scientist Larry Sabato calculates the 2004 contest now with 278 electoral votes probable or leaning for Bush and 260 for the Democratic challenger. That's a Bush lead, but not a landslide. And, of course, it's only a projection. But you have to like Bush's chances a lot better than any Democrat's at the moment.

Neither is this sudden nor are the caveats terribly sensible; it's just a fact of modern politics that all but our worst presidents get a second term and get it by a significant, even landslidish, margin. Hoover, Ford, Carter, and Bush I were denied but they required a Depression, Watergate, the Iran hostage situation, and the violation of a tax cut pledge in order to lose--with Ford nearly winning anyway. Meanwhile, Harry Truman won in 1948 despite facing general election challengers from the racist (Dixiecrat) and socialist (Henry Wallace) wings of his own party. Competent incumbents win.

And they win pretty big, at least in electoral terms. You could sit down and draw up all the reasons that Truman, Ike, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II should face close re-elections, but that's not what happens. Truman won 303 to 189. Ike won 457 to 73. LBJ won 486 to 52. Nixon won 520 to 17. Reagan won 525 to 13. And Clinton won 379 to 159. So, imagine that you want to argue that the closeness of 2000 and the conservatism of George W. Bush will mitigate against a landslide. Given that Mr. Bush's first victory most closely resembles the narrowness of Nixon's first and that his ideological extremism most closely resembles Reagan's, their re-election bids seem like proper comparisons for 2004 and they suggest the possibility of a 500+ electoral vote total. This may seem absurd at first, but add in the fact that Mr. Bush carried thirty states even in 200 and that the Senate will have about a 60 seat Republican majority after the 2004 election and you begin to see the massive advantage Mr. Bush starts with. Then take a look at the most significant "Blue" states and you find things like the following: Nixon and Reagan both carried CA, NY, NJ, MI, PA, IL in their re-election bids and all those states had Republican governors just before their current governor or, in the case of NY, still have one. PA even has two Republican Senators. And MN, which Reagan lost, and MA, which Nixon lost, both have Republican governors.

In short, no Red state is in play while every Blue state is winnable by Mr. Bush. A landslide is not only possible but nearly inevitable. There are three conceivable eventualities that could prevent it--Mr. Barnes scenario of a Lieberman/Graham ticket would make a landslide more likely not less, as it would drive away black voters without attracting any whites--they are:

(1) Terror. A domestic terrorist attack or series of attacks of such magnitude, daring, and success that they suggest gross incompetence on the part of the administration's anti-terror team. But even this would require that the administration's retaliation be ineffectual. Take out Bashir Assad and Muammar Qaddafi and few would quibble over their noninvolvement while the action would appear "strong", even if not proportionate.

(2) Economic collapse. This would require a massive spike in unemployment and a drastic drop in the stock market. This may be possible, but seems unlikely

(3) Scandal. If Mr. Bush himself were to be implicated in a personal scandal, some Clinton-type episode of accosting a young woman--or even worse young boys--he'd be toast. No other President in memory is so closely identified with the personal qualities he brings to the job. Other decent men have been president in modern times (TR, Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Ike, Reagan in particular come to mind) but none became president specifically because they were decent, as Mr. Bush arguably did. It was this dynamic that made the revelation of a twenty year old drunk driving arrest so devastating in 2000, perhaps costing Mr. Bush several Midwestern Catholic states.

A major sexual scandal would destroy him because his own constituency would take out their disappointment on him. This seems though like a rather thin reed for Democrats to rest their hopes on.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM

HOUSING PROJECT

Davis Backs Expanding House for D.C. Seat: GOP Plan Would Give District a Vote in Congress, Balanced by Republican Slot (Craig Timberg, June 27, 2003, Washington Post)
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III is working on a proposal to expand the House of Representatives by two seats, giving the District of Columbia its long-sought vote in Congress while not upsetting the partisan balance of power there.

The Davis plan, which an aide said is months from being in final form, was hailed by city officials as a crucial step toward giving residents their rightful say in the nation's lawmaking, military actions and spending decisions. [...]

The Davis plan likely would give mostly Republican Utah, which lost a seat in the last round of redistricting, a fourth House seat, counterbalancing the presumably Democratic seat for the District, where the party holds an 11-1 registration edge. [...]

The size of the House of Representatives is set by law, not by the Constitution, and can be changed by Congress. The number of districts was increased to 437 after Alaska and Hawaii were added as states in the 1950s. Then in 1963 the number reverted to 435, where it has stood since.

If you're going to give the District a seat just do so, don't try to balance it racially and politically. That's embarrassing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 AM

SEPARATED AT BIRTHDAY

Here's an odd juxtaposition: it's the birthday of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), an author so silly he made liberty sound bad and Mark Helprin (1947-), an author so gifted he made Bob Dole sound good.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM

YOU WILL BE MINE, ALL MINE

THE MOYNIHAN GAMBIT (Edward Driscoll, June 27, 2003)
I've long been a fan of Stanley Crouch, ever since I first saw him on Charlie Rose's show in the late 1980s or early 1990s. In his latest New York Daily News column, he praises Bush's outreach towards blacks, as he dedicated June Black Music Month at a White House event entitled Harlem's Song:

"If this event was indeed part of a grand strategy, Bush seems well on his way to redirecting the ethnic tone of the Republican Party in a way that may not automatically make black people feel friendly toward it but that could, over time, bring issues of importance to Afro-Americans to the front and put party affiliations in the back.

I thought about all of that walking around the White House as the rehearsals were going on. Integration was everywhere. It felt good to see the military personnel and all the guests representing the many faces of the nation just as much as they did under President Bill Clinton.

Further, with Bush's emphasis on educational policy, with his appointments of Rice and Powell, with his pledge to refurbish Frederick Douglass' home, with his $15 billion relief package for black Africa and with his recent admonishment that federal law enforcement agencies should not profile any ethnic community unless the issue of terrorism is at hand, this President is changing his party."

Brother Driscoll says this could be part of a "Moynihan Gambit". We hope he's right. Consider only this: if the GOP could consistently get just 20% of the black vote, they'd never lose a national election and few statewide.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM

SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY

Justices Extend Decision on Gay Rights and Equality (LINDA
GREENHOUSE, 6/28/03, NY Times)
In an immediate application of its new protective approach to gay rights, the Supreme Court today vacated the sodomy conviction of a Kansas teenager who received a 17-year sentence for having oral sex with a younger boy. [...]

Matthew R. Limon had just turned 18 when he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old boy at the residential school for developmentally disabled youths where both were living.

Typically when something occurs like the Court's anti-sodomy ruling conservatives bemoan the slippery slope we've been placed on and the Left protests that this is nonsense. Here the Court clears the matter up by okaying sexual assault on a retarded child, placing us fairly close to the bottom of the slope right off the bat.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 AM

DUE REGARD

Daily Philosophical Quotation (28 Jun 2003)
Licentiousness, or rather the frenzy of liberty, has taken possession of us, and is throwing everything into confusion. How happy do I esteem it, that in all my writings I have always kept at a proper distance from that tempting extreme, and have maintained a due regard to magistracy and established government, suitably to the character of an historian and a philosopher!

-David Hume, Letters
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM

THE ABANDONED TASK

Christian Quotation of the Day (June 28, 2003)
To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.
    -Simone Weil (1909-1943)

June 27, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 PM

MAYBE NOT QUITE APPALLING

10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq (Christopher Scheer, June 27, 2003, AlterNet)
LIE #1: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program ... Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment need for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." - President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in Cincinnati.

FACT: [...] Department of Energy officials, who monitor nuclear plants, say the tubes could not be used for enriching uranium. [...]

LIE #2: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." - President Bush, Jan.28, 2003, in the State of the Union address.

FACT: [...] based on a document [...]

LIE #4: "[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." - CIA Director George Tenet in a written statement released Oct. 7, 2002 and echoed in that evening's speech by President Bush.

FACT: Intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and al-Qaeda in the early '90s [...]

LIE #6: "We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States." - President Bush, Oct. 7.

FACT: Said drones can't fly more than 300 miles [...]

LIE #7: "We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons [...]

FACT: Despite a massive nationwide search by U.S. and British forces, there are no signs, traces or examples of chemical weapons being deployed in the field, or anywhere else during the war.

LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." - Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council.

FACT: [...] these stocks...were well past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder. [...]

LIE #10: "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited." - President Bush in remarks in Poland, published internationally June 1, 2003.

FACT: This was reference to the discovery of two modified truck trailers [...]

So if you take a monkeywrench to context (also called Dowdification these days), here's what you come away with:

(1) Iraq tried purchasing these tubes.

(2) There was a document saying they tried to purchase uranium.

(3) Saddam had contacts with al-Qaeda.

(4) Iraq was developing drone aircraft.

(5) Iraq had chemical and biological weapons but may not have deployed them.

(6) AlterNet's own investigations prove Iraq had WMD.

(7) Iraq had those two modifed trucks.

You could obviously choose to give Saddam the beneft of the doubt on all those points, but it doesn't seem like an administration that did so would be doing its utmost to protect our national security or that of friends in the region.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 PM

THEY CAN GO WHEN THE JIHAD ENDS

In the Land of Guantanamo (TED CONOVER, June 29, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
It feels surreal to be on an American naval base inside the territory of a Communist country. And it feels doubly strange -- like a parody of a David Lynch movie -- to cruise slowly by little town-house subdivisions, past batting cages and even by a rocky outcrop where high-school students spray-paint their names, then come suddenly upon a prison camp in the ''war on terror'' wreathed in razor wire.

Prisoners from the Afghan war first arrived at ''Gitmo,'' as locals call the base, in January 2002. The first 110 men were brought to a makeshift set of cages called Camp X-Ray and were made to kneel, shackled and blindfolded with special blacked-out goggles, while soldiers trained rifles on them, an image captured in the first news photographs of them. Then, last spring, they were all moved to a newer, larger facility, Camp Delta. Unlike X-Ray, Delta has running water, indoor toilets and plenty of unused capacity. (There are 680 prisoners housed there now, with room for about 1,000.) Soldiers call Camp Delta ''the Wire,'' and it has plenty of that -- rows of chain link and concertina. Rising behind them are plywood guard towers, some draped with American flags, and an array of lights for night.

At the camp's main gate, a 4-foot-by-8-foot sign attached at eye level says ''Honor Bound to Defend Freedom.'' This is the slogan of J.T.F./Guantanamo, the joint military task force -- 2,000 strong -- that runs the detention-and-interrogation operation. It is printed on handouts and official documents and signs and is constantly recited, soldier to soldier, at the camp's checkpoints. As I arrived at the main gate for the first time, I turned to the first lieutenant who was escorting me. ''Isn't that a little strange,'' I offered, ''a slogan about freedom on the gate of a prison camp?''

He looked at me flatly. ''Doesn't seem strange to me,'' he said. ''Does it seem strange to you?''

What a lovely reference to the slogan over the gates of Auschwitz: "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Will Set You Free). Mr. Conover was on NPR talking about this piece today and was followed by Anthony Lewis who was complaining that he was unfamiliar with any instance in our history of our holding "prisoners of war" indefinitely. One would have liked the interviewer to ask: did we really send captured soldiers back to Nazi Germany before the end of that war?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM

HELLO, JUSTICE GONZALES

The Texas Clemency Memos: As the legal counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush, Alberto R. Gonzales-now the White House counsel, and widely regarded as a likely future Supreme Court nominee-prepared fifty-seven confidential death-penalty memoranda for Bush's review. Never before discussed publicly, the memoranda suggest that Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some of the most salient issues in the cases at hand (Alan Berlow, July/August 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
During Bush's six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas-a record unmatched by any other governor in modern American history. Each time a person was sentenced to death, Bush received from his legal counsel a document summarizing the facts of the case, usually on the morning of the day scheduled for the execution, and was then briefed on those facts by his counsel; based on this information Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one. The first fifty-seven of these summaries were prepared by Gonzales, a Harvard-educated lawyer who went on to become the Texas secretary of state and a justice on the Texas supreme court. He is now the White House counsel.

Gonzales never intended his summaries to be made public. Almost all are marked CONFIDENTIAL and state, "The privileges claimed include, but are not limited to, claims of Attorney-Client Privilege, Attorney Work-Product Privilege, and the Internal Memorandum exception to the Texas Public Information Act." I obtained the summaries and related documents, which have never been published, after the Texas attorney general ruled that they were not exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Public Information Act.

Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die. Each is only three to seven pages long and generally consists of little more than a brief description of the crime, a paragraph or two on the defendant's personal background, and a condensed legal history. Although the summaries rarely make a recommendation for or against execution, many have a clear prosecutorial bias, and all seem to assume that if an appeals court rejected one or another of a defendant's claims, there is no conceivable rationale for the governor to revisit that claim. This assumption ignores one of the most basic reasons for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes.

A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.

This is an act of sheer brilliance by the White House, shifting the topic of Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings from abortion, on which conservatives are suspicious of him, to the death penalty and putting him on the Right while the Democrats will be going after him and the President for executing criminals.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 PM

"IN THE LAND OF THE PLOW HORSES"

A Nation of Grinders (DAVID BROOKS, June 29, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
So how about Abraham Lincoln as the defining capitalist figure for our age? [...]

Lincoln began life with high anticipations of glorious success. When he was young, he had a little boat, which he kept on the Ohio River. One day a pair of travelers asked him if he would row them to the middle of the river, where they could intercept a steamboat. Lincoln took them out, and as the men boarded the steamboat, they each threw a silver half-dollar into the bottom of his boat. ''You may think it was a very little thing,'' Lincoln later recalled, ''but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day. . . . The world seemed wider and fairer before me.''

He became a fervent believer in social mobility and came to see, as the historian Allen C. Guelzo has pointed out, that self-transformation is almost a moral responsibility for the aspiring American. [...]

In the land of the plow horses, wealth is acceptable because it is legitimized by the creed of social mobility, which in many ways originated with Lincoln and the Whig Party, of which he was a member for most of his career. According to this creed, affluence is admired because it is the product of hard work, and it does not corrupt because you continue to work even when you don't have to anymore. According to this creed, social mobility is the saving fire that redeems society. Social mobility opens up horizons because people can see wider opportunities and live transformed lives. Social mobility reduces class conflict because each person can build his own fortune, rather than taking from the fortunes of others. Social mobility unleashes creative energies and keeps everything new and dynamic. It compensates for inequality, because the family that is poor today may become richer tomorrow. It is the very essence of justice, because each person's destiny is somehow related to the amount of talent and effort he or she pours into life. The purpose of government is to ensure that there is, to use Lincoln's words, ''an open field and a fair chance'' so that everyone can compete in the race of life.

This is the sensible, steady and admirable ethic of American life. And people who hew to this ethic are still rewarded. If you get an education, get married and stay married, the odds are overwhelming that you will rise. If you migrate here from a developing country, and if you work hard, the odds are pretty good that you and your children will enjoy brighter and more open futures.

The salient point here is just how much of this depends on oneself. No task is more worthwhile to our culture than restoring this idea of "self-transformation".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 PM

WHERE ARE THE NEOCONS?

Liberian President Appeals for U.S. Help to End Rebel War (SOMINI SENGUPTA, June 27, 2003, NY Times)
Embattled President Charles Taylor of Liberia appealed to the United States for help in rescuing his country from civil war today but said that he would not abandon power until an international military force arrived to guarantee peace.

In a radio address aired late this afternoon, Mr. Taylor said he wanted the United States to lift ``Liberia and Liberians out of this mess.'' He said he remained open to negotiations to end the bloody conflict.

His plea came a day after President Bush called on President Taylor to resign in the interest of halting a three-year rebel conflict that has fractured this West African country, spurred a regional refugee crisis and left hundreds dead.

Part of the burden of being a great power is that we do have some moral obligation to intervene here, especially when we're asked to.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 PM

WHAT BUSH GOT RIGHT

Israeli sources: IDF pullout in Gaza could begin Monday (Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Nathan Guttman and Arnon Regular, 28/06/2003, Haaretz)
Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached an agreement Friday for an IDF pullback in the Gaza Strip and a transferal of security control to the Palestinians, during a meeting between Palestinian Minister for Security Mohammed Dahlan and Israel's coordinator in the territories, Major General Amos Gilad.

No agreement was reached on a transfer of security control in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, but talks on the matter will take place in the coming week.

Officers in the field from both sides will meet Sunday to finalize details and the pullout from Gaza is estimated to begin as soon as Monday, sources in Jerusalem said.

If we concede that opponents of the war were right and neither Saddam Hussein nor WMD existed in Iraq, will they concede that the administration was right and that winning the war has completely changed the dynamics of the Middle East in our favor?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 PM

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

The Transformer: Is Tony Blair what Bill Clinton should have been? (David Brooks, July/August 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
Shortly after becoming the leader of the Labour Party, Blair said, "If you really want to understand what I'm all about, you have to take a look at a guy called John Macmurray. It's all there." Macmurray was a Christian socialist who after World War II became a pacifist and joined the Society of Friends. He emphasized social action and is sometimes credited with having invented communitarianism.

Macmurray rejected politics as it is traditionally understood, with its emphasis on conflict, competition, opposition groups, and partisanship. He regarded the family as the primary unit of society, and believed that people should come together to form communities based on friendship, love, and the Golden Rule. He argued that it is the job of citizens to heal rifts and build partnerships. [...]

A frequent paradox of communitarianism is that whereas more-traditional politicians, who are not averse to conflict, bind themselves firmly and fiercely to one party or team that helps them attain their goals, the peace-loving communitarian is often more or less alone, dreaming of an abstract community but lacking in the here and now an intimate group to help realize the vision. While other students at Oxford were banding together and issuing angry manifestos, Blair was charting his own course, and showing no signs of anger or alienation. He moved to London and trained to be a barrister; he had little interest in political office until he met his future wife, Cherie Booth, who had earlier in her life talked about becoming Britain's first woman Prime Minister. Both Cherie and Blair unsuccessfully sought a Labour Party nomination for Parliament in 1981; Blair won a seat in Parliament in 1983.

At first Blair went along with the Labour Party doctrines of the day-unilateral disarmament, the nationalization of industry, withdrawal from the European Community-without fervently believing in them. He gradually discovered his own style of politics, which almost always involves reconciling opposites: fiscal discipline with social spending, tough anti-crime policies with compassionate welfare support, the free market with government activism.

And like all communitarians, the great frustration one has with Mr. Blair is that he ultimately lacks confidence in the family and community in which he supposedly believes and, therefore, balks at reducing government and returning to a reliance on the private sphere.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 PM

UNPROTECTED SPEECH

National Do Not Call Registry

This seems clearly violative of the First Amendment as civil libertarians wish us to read it. So we're all for it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 PM

A DEBATE WORTH HAVING, SO WE WON'T

With Interest: Why Democrats should campaign against the tax cut by appealing to Americans' self-interest (Michael Tomasky, 6/25/03, American Prospect)
[T]he question comes down to this: Is there a point at which tax cuts work against regular Americans' self-interest? I think there is, and it can be articulated in two ways.

The first has to do with the hideous situation in the states. Virtually every state in the union is raising income or property taxes, cutting services to middle-income people, charging fees for things that were once free, and raising fees on things that were once cheap. They're doing this for the obvious reason that they're getting no help from the feds; and they're getting no help from the feds because the feds don't have any money because the feds keep passing tax cuts. In Connecticut, for example, conservative Gov. John Rowland (R) has been pushing $250 million in spending cuts -- and has just agreed to $250 million in tax increases (actually, a rollback of a local property-tax credit).

That's on top of the $650 million in tax increases agreed to in a February deficit-reduction plan. And even after all that, the state is left with a $300 million gap.

Connecticut is closer to the rule than the exception. An argument that the federal tax cuts are just forcing tax hikes on the other end is one that will make intuitive sense to people. It can put the White House on the defensive. And it appeals to Americans' self-interest: It explains to them that in exchange for their $400, they're getting hosed in other ways that probably add up to the same thing.

The second line of attack on the tax cuts will take more courage and imagination. It has to do with Democrats having the gumption to defend government.

These are exactly the grounds on which the election should be played out. The two basic questions are: (1) should tax and spending decisions be made at the local level or in Washington; and (2) should you or the government determine how your education, retirement, health care, and unemployment insurance taxes are spent. Mr. Tomasky understands little about Americans if he thinks they'll answer those two questions in favor of the Democratic Party in Washington, DC.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM

HOME AND ABROAD

Round-the-World Ruling (Jim Hoagland, June 26, 2003, washingtonpost.com)
The Supreme Court's reasoned, fundamentally fair majority rulings in two affirmative action cases -- and the acceptance by U.S. institutions, politicians and citizens of the binding validity of those rulings even as they debate them -- should provide a useful contrast to the American rogue superpower image that public opinion polls show is so rampant abroad right now.

They should at least raise the question for critics of whether a nation that emphasizes the importance of fairness, openness and legality at home -- as the United States does -- could long sustain brutal power politics and armed force as its chief instruments of policy abroad. Could the United States, or any other great power, really be John Locke at home and Thomas Hobbes abroad for very long?

I think not. Governments ultimately behave toward the rest of the world as they behave toward their own citizens. That was why Saddam Hussein was a grave international danger and why China's government still has far to go before attaining international legitimacy.

That is why the Bush administration must not think that dictators who may be momentarily useful in the war on terrorism can be counted on to promote democracy and liberty in their regions if given a little time and coaching. And finally, it is why President Bush has such limited opportunity to become world dictator (a goal often imputed to him abroad) when he and his government are under constant scrutiny and challenge at home.

This analysis also suggests why the natural foreign policy posture of the United States is isolationist and why it can be roused to intervene against especially despicable tyrants, but then does so badly in the nation-building afterwards.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:42 PM

THE GRIP OF THE LIE (via Tom Morin)

I SAW THE PASSION (Church of the Masses, The Blog of Barbara Nicolosi, Director of Act One: Writing for Hollywood)
So, here's my take...

The Passion is a stunning work of art. It is a devout, act of worship from Mel and his collaborators - in the way that Handel's Messiah and Notre Dame were artistic acts of worship in previous times.

Let's get the controversy out of the way right at the top. The film is faithful to the Gospel, particularly St. John. It is no more anti-Semitic than is the Gospel. There are at least two members of the Sanhedrin who come forward to protest on Jesus' behalf during the sham trial. The Romans are just as guilty of cruelty and hatred against Jesus in the film. And best of all is a final look right into the camera of Mary, holding her dead Son. She is looking at all of us with a kind of , "Look what you've done"/This is for you" expression. A cinematic Pieta worthy of Michelangelo.

Having seen the film now, I can only marvel that the attacks are pretty much demonic.

"Demonic" might be overstating it, but the suggestion that Christians not portray the moment that is the very core of their religious belief is troubling. Here's how Richard John Neuhaus described that moment in Death on a Friday Afternoon:
In perfect freedom, the Son become the goat become the Lamb of God is condemned by the lie in order to bear witness to the truth. The truth is that we are incapable of setting things right. The truth is that the more we try to set things right, the more we compound our guilt. It is not enough for God to take our part. God must take our place. All the blood of goats and lambs, all the innocent victims from the foundation of the world, all the acts of expiation and reparation ... all strengthen the grip of the great lie that we can set things right. The grip of that lie is broken by the greatest of lies, 'God is guilty!' ... God must die. It is a lie so monstrous that to suggest it invites instant annihilation--except that God accepts the verdict.

It sounds like that glimpse of Mary may expose the lie.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:29 PM

THE FIRST FAMILY

The Mouth of the Young Dems (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris, Nicola Corless, Smita Kalokhe, and Joanna Schubert, June 27, 2003, CBS News)
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., son of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and no stranger to controversy, has stepped into the gossip pages again.

The Washington Post reports that Kennedy, while delivering a speech to a group of Young Democrats, was a tad more candid than his staff might have liked.

"I don't need Bush's tax cut. I have never worked a [bleeping] day in my life," Kennedy said shortly after presidential candidate Howard Dean addressed the crowd. One of those present told the Post that Kennedy then "droned on and on, frequently mentioning how much better the [Democratic presidential] candidates would sound the more we drank." The source added that he eventually "had to be stopped by a DNC volunteer."

There's not enough alcohol in America to make them sound sensible.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 PM

PAUL KRUGMAN IS RIGHT

Toward One-Party Rule (PAUL KRUGMAN, 6/27/03, NY Times)
A forthcoming article in The Washington Monthly shows that the foundations for one-party rule are being laid right now. [...]

Why isn't the ongoing transformation of U.S. politics--which may well put an end to serious two-party competition ? getting more attention? Most pundits, to the extent they acknowledge that anything is happening, downplay its importance. For example, last year an article in Business Week titled "The GOP's Wacky War on Dem Lobbyists" dismissed the K Street Project as "silly--and downright futile." In fact, the project is well on the way to achieving its goals.

Whatever the reason, there's a strange disconnect between most political commentary and the reality of the 2004 election. As in 2000, pundits focus mainly on images--John Kerry's furrowed brow, Mr. Bush in a flight suit--or on supposed personality traits. But it's the nexus of money and patronage that may well make the election a foregone conclusion.

The only real error in this column is Mr. Krugman's necessary blindness to the fact that politics is playing the largest part in this and that it is a typical situation in our history. America was Democratic until the Republicans won the Civil War, Republican from then until the Depression, Democratic from then until Republicans won the Cold War, and now we're headed into what is likely to be a long period of GOP dominance that will end only when the Democrats jettison minorities and make a naked appeal to white middle-class greed, as Europe's socialist parties do.

The money and patronage is following the politics, not leading it. But the press is pretty much missing the story.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM

FEED THE BEAST OR BE ITS FEAST

Dean's Dilemma (Howard Kurtz, June 27, 2003, Washington Post)
[N]ow that Dean has boosted himself into top-tier status, news organizations are starting to take a second, and harder, look at some of his fudges and inconsistencies, including his apologies to some of the other Democratic candidates.

As the Baltimore Sun's Paul West observes: "He has not become the darling of the national media corps, which regards him as thin-skinned and prone to complain about tough reporting, sometimes even before an article has appeared in print."

Carl Leubsdorf writes in the Dallas Morning News that some top Democrats "fear a repetition of the electoral disasters" created by George McGovern in 1972 and Walter Mondale in 1984, and that Dean has "gained a reputation for nastiness that could create problems."

One of the smart things that John McCain did was suck up to the press so that they were essentially co-opted into his campaign. Mr. Dean needs to buy the bus.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:22 PM

EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY

£1 'superpill' could cut heart attacks by 80% (Nigel Hawkes, June 27, 2003, Times of London)
By combining four therapies, the proposed “polypill” could eliminate 200,000 premature deaths a year in Britain alone. Aimed mostly at the over 55s, it would end the need for complex screening, and might be sold in supermarkets and pubs for less than £1 a day. [...]

“Those who can be identified as at risk are a minority. But a third of people over 55 who would otherwise suffer heart attack or stroke would benefit, and gain on average an extra 12 years of life.

“Chasing risk factors is a mistaken strategy. By giving this pill to everybody we can reverse the damage of a lifetime. We have been telling people to change their lifestyles, but the practical effect is small. In Western society the risk factors are high in us all, so everyone is at risk.”

And you don't have to change your lifestyle? Bonus!
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM

SECOND, BUT NO LESS

Friends, family pay last respects to Doby (Steve Strunsky, June 24, 2003, Associated Press)
Friends, family and fellow Hall of Famers gathered Monday to remember Larry Doby, 56 years after he became the American League's first black player.

Doby died last Wednesday at his home in Montclair after a long illness. He broke the AL's color barrier when he joined the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League.

Doby, who played 13 seasons in the major leagues and was selected for seven All-Star games, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

During an afternoon memorial service at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montclair, Doby was remembered as a man of quiet dignity who never said an unkind word, even about those hostile to his joining the Indians. [...]

Lawrence Eugene Doby Sr. was born Dec. 13, 1923, in Camden, S.C., but he grew up in Paterson, N.J., then moved to Montclair 40 years ago, and has been adopted by New Jersey officials and institutions as one of their own.

According to Harvey Frommer's fine book, Rickey and Robinson, Branch Rickey had an opportunity to sign Larry Doby too, but wanted other teams to integrate so passed him up. He was an important pioneer in his own right and by all accounts a terrifically decent man.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:12 PM

PAST TIME

Bearing witness: In 1932, the Pulitzer Prize went to a foreign correspondent who concealed a famine and the deaths of millions. Ukrainians want that prize revoked. (Charles Leroux, June 25, 2003, Chicago Tribune)
After 300 years of Russian occupation, many urban Ukrainians had become Russianized, maybe speaking Russian in preference to Ukrainian, maybe adding a Russian ending to a last name. But the rural people remained staunchly nationalistic, and Stalin -- seeking to consolidate his power -- wanted to stamp out Ukrainian nationalism. He turned the famine -- which conveniently stopped at the border with Russia -- into an opportunity to force farmers to move to industrial jobs in the cities.

He also, the Ukrainian community says, intensified the famine into what they call the Holodomor, roughly translated as "famine-genocide," the "H" intentionally capitalized to emphasize a parallel with the Holocaust.

"My grandparents stayed on the farm and died of starvation. Two uncles died in prison," Kolomayets said. "The children of one of the uncles, a boy and a girl, 5 and 6, came to live with us. One day, my cousins went out looking for food and we never saw them again. My mother heard they had been killed and eaten."

Reporters other than Duranty -- principally Welsh journalist Gareth Jones and The Guardian's Muggeridge -- described scenes of great suffering. One such report told of grain stores (the Soviets exported grain to the West during the famine) guarded by armed Russian troops while Ukrainians died of starvation nearby. Jones wrote, "I walked alone through villages . . . everywhere was the cry, `There is no bread. We are dying.'"

Jones wrote his accounts only after he had gone home. Muggeridge smuggled his articles out to England in diplomatic pouches. In those pieces, he described peasants kneeling in the snow, begging for a crust of bread.

"Whatever I may do or think in the future," he wrote in his diary, "I must never pretend that I haven't seen this. Ideas will come and go, but this is more than an idea. It is peasants kneeling down in the snow and asking for bread. Something that I have seen and understood."

Muggeridge's reports were discredited. He was fired, his reputation as a reporter slandered. Duranty chimed in on the vilification, and in an
August 1933 New York Times story called Muggeridge's and Jones' work "an exaggeration of malignant propaganda." At that time, Duranty
reportedly had told a British Foreign Office acquaintance that at least 10 million people had died.

Communist dupe Lincoln Steffens had a line that nicely covered the Left's attitude: "Treason to the Tsar wasn't a sin, treason to Communism is."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

FROM THE "AXIS OF GOOD" FILES

Australia Outlines New Foreign Policy (PETER O'CONNOR, June 26, 2003, Associated Press)
The Australian government on Thursday branded multilateral forums such as the United Nations "ineffective and unfocused" and said its foreign policy will increasingly rely on "coalitions of the willing" like the one that waged war in Iraq.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also said that in Canberra's view, other nations' sovereignty was "not absolute."

The assertive new doctrine outlined by Downer came a day after Australia announced it would lead an international force of troops and police to restore order to the violence-wracked Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific.

Downer's speech reflected comments late last year by Prime Minister John Howard that Australia would be prepared to launch pre-emptive strikes against terror targets in Asia -- words that sparked outrage in Asia.

Downer's doctrine is likely to cause further unease among Australia's Asian neighbors. For example, Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation and longtime critic of Australia, has accused Howard of acting like a deputy sheriff to President Bush.

It increasingly looks like the future belongs to the Anglosphere (at least those portions ruled by conservative governments) and its allies.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:03 AM

LOOK AWAY

Ex-S.C. Sen. Strom Thurmond Dies at 100 (DAVID ESPO, 6/26/03, AP)
Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a one-time Democratic segregationist who helped fuel the rise of the modern conservative Republican Party in the South, died Thursday. He was 100 and the longest-serving senator in history.

Thurmond died at 9:45 p.m. after having been in poor health in recent weeks, his son Strom Thurmond Jr. said. He had been living in a newly renovated wing of a hospital in his hometown of Edgefield, S.C., since he returned to the state from Washington earlier this year.

"Surrounded by family, my father was resting comfortably, without pain, and in total peace," Thurmond Jr. said in a statement released by the hospital.

Speaking of populists, he was one of the greats, though he made a grave mistake by joining the popular side of the race issue.

MORE:
Strom's legacy will be his service to the state and people he loved (The State, Jun. 26, 2003)
Strom Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100: Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was a central figure in the political transformation of the South and the longest-serving senator in American history. (ADAM CLYMER, 6/27/03, NY Times)

June 26, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 PM

THE BROTHERS JUDD HOME FOR BAD JEWS

Be a good Jew and vote Democratic: Jews shouldn't vote for Jewish candidates because they're Jewish, but they should vote for the Democratic Party because of Jewish values. (Bradford R. Pilcher, June 26, 2003, Jewsweek)
Forgive the partisan tone, but the Democratic Party is simply more in line with Jewish values today. Conservative Jews will protest, of course, and they could certainly cite some examples to bolster their case. Some Democrats have openly vilified the Jewish state to a degree that is simply absurd if not anti-Semitic. But issues like these are exceptions rather than the rule. On the whole, the Republican agenda is largely out of step with Judaism. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is filled with political Yiddishkeit.

Take abortion and sexual politics. There's a fair share of controversy over how permissive Judaism is of abortion, but nobody can question that Judaism allows for it in some circumstances. Yet Republicans aggressively pursue the repeal of Roe v. Wade and obstinately block exceptions in cases of rape or a danger to the mother's life from their attempts to restrict abortion. It's Democrats who seek to make the procedure "safe, legal, and rare."

Fine. Let's adopt only the abortion restrictions provided by Jewish law, which conveniently appear elsewhere in the magazine, Abortion distortion: Roe v. Wade's 30th anniversary is bringing the abortion debate back into the spotlight. Why Jews should support pro-life. (Rabbi Avi Shafran, June 26, 2003, Jewsweek.com):
The assertion that Jewish law allows a woman to terminate a pregnancy at will in no way reflects accepted -- or even seriously entertained -- rabbinic opinion. And if anything undermines basic tenets of Judaism, it is the notion that the Torah allows unfettered "access to reproductive services" -- i.e. Roe v. Wade-style abortion-on-demand.

To be sure, the Talmudic sources are clear that the life of a pregnancy-endangered Jewish mother takes precedence over that of her unborn child when there is no way to preserve both lives. And, while the matter is not free from controversy, there are respected rabbinic opinions that allow abortion when the pregnancy seriously jeopardizes the mother's health. But those narrow exceptions certainly do not translate into some unlimited mother's "right" to make whatever "choice" she may see fit about the child she carries.

And in the case of "partial birth abortion," the procedure approaches -- in fact, likely crosses -- the border between abortion and infanticide, where Jewish law does not even recognize a "life of the mother" exception.

Whatever Hadassah and its allies might wish were the case, the Torah clearly affords fetal life significant protection. There is absolutely no source in halacha, or Jewish religious law, for the contention that a mother may "choose" to terminate a pregnancy at will.

Who's closer: Republicans or Democrats?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 PM

THREE STRIKES FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ME

Orrin Hatch: Software Pirate? (Leander Kahney, Jun. 19, 2003, Wired)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested Tuesday that people who download copyright materials from the Internet should have their computers automatically destroyed. [...]

Hatch on Tuesday surprised a Senate hearing on copyright issues with the suggestion that technology should be developed to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Net.

Hatch said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights," the Associated Press reported. He then suggested the technology would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

You ever notice how many folks are all law-and-order and fry-the-criminals until it's a matter of their own criminal behavior?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM

IMPEACHMENT GOES MAINSTREAM

The media politics of impeachment (Norman Solomon, 06.23.03, Working for Change)
Early summer has brought a flurry of public discussion about a topic previously confined to political margins -- the possibility of impeaching President George W. Bush. The idea is still far from the national media echo chamber, but some rumblings are now audible as people begin to think about the almost unthinkable.

Wanna bet Mr. Solomon can describe, in interminable detail, every nook and cranny of his navel?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:13 PM

POPULISM ISN'T POPULAR

Seriously Now: Howard Dean's transformation from protest candidate to populist (David Kusnet, 6/24/03, American Prospect)
Howard Dean has been well-served by the rusty ritual of presidential contenders pausing from their campaign travels to go home and formally declare their candidacies.

Subtly but effectively, in yesterday's "announcement speech," Dean recast his candidacy from a protest campaign targeting his fellow Democrats at least as much as President Bush to a populist movement "to take our country back." [...]

While one speech doesn't define a campaign, Dean's announcement can rescue him from being the latest in a line of losing Democratic candidates whose appeal was based on their being intellectually and morally superior to their rivals and, implicitly, their fellow citizens as well. Starting out as refreshingly free from political cant, Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas, Eugene McCarthy and Adlai Stevenson all ended up appealing to affluent voters who saw politics as an expression of their cultural identities, not a way to improve their own lives and others'. With this announcement speech, Dean has the opportunity to reverse his predecessors' path and inspire at least a segment of those discontented voters whom he gracefully admits understand the nation's problems better than he did when he began his campaign.

Of course the problem is that it's not the people who believe in "populism" but those elites. In fact, one irony is that Governor Dean's slogan, "take our country back", is borrowed from the conservative populist movement to Take Back Vermont, a reactionary grassroots campaign against gay marriage, environmental regulation, and the use of statewide property taxes for public education. Sadly for the Left, the people are wahoos.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 PM

TALES OF THE CREEPING COUP

Targeting Lobbyists Pays Off For GOP: Party Earns More Funds, Influence (Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, June 26, 2003, Washington Post)
Nearly a decade after Republicans launched a campaign to oust Democrats from top lobbying jobs in Washington, sometimes through intimidation and private threats, they are seizing a significant number of the most influential positions at trade associations and corporate government affairs offices -- and reaping big financial rewards.

Partly because of the "K Street Project" -- and partly because of GOP control of Congress and the presidency -- virtually every major company or trade association looking for new top-level representation is hiring or seeking to hire a prominent Republican politician or staffer, according to Republicans and Democrats tracking the situation.

This year, General Electric, Comcast, Citigroup and many other Fortune 500 companies have hired Bush administration officials and former GOP congressional advisers for top lobbying posts. A Republican National Committee official recently told a group of GOP lobbyists that 33 of 36 top-level Washington positions he is monitoring went to Republicans, according to someone who attended the meeting.

The trend could deeply influence Washington politics, policy and fundraising for years. Already in control of the White House and Congress, Republicans are tightening their grip on the largely unseen but vital world of big-time lobbying. Lobbyists for major trade groups not only represent clients' interests but also play key roles in political fundraising and often help shape legislation. [...]

This trend worries Democrats, who say it gives Republicans both an unfair legislative and fundraising advantage. Former representative Tony Coehlo (D-Calif.), who aggressively targeted business in Congress in the 1980s, said Republicans are "going too far" by pressuring companies to hire Republicans only and threatening retribution to those who disobey.

"They've put the fear of God in these businesses and few of them are able to withstand it," Coehlo said. Indeed, several top officials at trade associations and corporate offices said privately that Republicans have created a culture in Washington in which companies fear hiring Democrats for top jobs, even if they are the most qualified.

Republicans have done this with a few, well-publicized warnings to companies they felt were too cozy with Democrats. The most famous and ominous warning came in 1998 from then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). The two leaders held up a vote on intellectual property legislation in protest of the Electronics Industry Association's plan to hire a Democrat to run the group. The House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his tactics in the incident. It was a slap on the wrist by congressional ethics standards, and Republicans say that was a small price to pay for the fear it put in companies thinking about hiring a Democrat. [...]

Dan Mattoon -- who left the National Republican Congressional Committee a few years ago to partner with Democrat Tony Podesta to represent several corporations -- and his wife contributed $90,000 in the last election, with almost all of it going to GOP candidates.

"There is a recognition that Republicans are in a position to continue to control both houses of Congress for the next 10 years, and the K Street community should be reflective" of the party with power, Mattoon said.

Two thoughts:

(1) Democrats don't hate Tom DeLay nearly as much as they should, given how effectively he's kicked their butts.

(2) How is it that everyone who watches politics for a living understands that the GOP is going to be running things for at least the next decade, but the press won't talk about it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 PM

WHITTAKER CHAMBERS WAS PROBABLY ILL TOO

Blacklisted writer says illness clouded Orwell's judgement: Survivor tells Guardian that author was 'losing his grip' (Fiachra Gibbons, June 24, 2003, The Guardian)
A founding member of the SDP who appeared on George Orwell's list of communist sympathisers yesterday dismissed it as the work of a dying man whose mind was clouded by illness and bitterness about the Spanish Civil War.

Professor Norman Mackenzie, now 82 - and the only known surviving member of the 38 "crypto-communists and fellow travellers" who Orwell claimed should not be trusted - said the writer was gravely ill with TB and "losing his grip on himself" when he handed over the list to a murky Foreign Office propaganda unit in 1949. [...]

"Tubercular people often could get very strange towards the end. I'm an Orwell man, I agreed with him on the Soviet Union, but he went partly ga-ga I think. He let his dislike of the New Statesman crowd, of what he saw as leftish, dilettante, sentimental socialists who covered up for the Popular Front in Spain [after it became communist-controlled] get the better of him."

The fact that the magazine's editor was Kingsley Martin, who rejected Homage to Catalonia, Orwell's dispatches from Spain, where he survived being shot in the neck, may have been the root of his loathing. "[The list] represents everything he hated about the New Statesman - that it was full of fluffy-headed fellow travellers and that it was intellectually dishonest, which is probably true."

Of course he can't have fingered themn because he thought the Left was a threat. That would mean...oh, never mind.

MORE:
Orwell Up Close: On the 100th anniversary of his birth, a clutch of new biographies explores the wintry genius of George Orwell - a hero claimed by left and right (DONALD MORRISON, June 30, 2003, TIME Europe)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM

HE AIN'T HEAVY

James and the Giant Reach (Jeremy Lott, 6/25/2003, American Spectator)
"James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Those words, translated from Aramaic, lit a fire under the archaeological community, when Biblical Archaeology Review announced last year that it had found a limestone burial box in a private collection from the first century AD with just such an inscription.

Because it was exceedingly uncommon to carve a brother's name into a burial box, and because some fancy mathematical analysis showed that while James, Joseph, and Jesus were fairly common names in the first century, the lottery-like lineup of a James who was a son of Joseph and brother of Jesus was a rare occasion, many concluded that this was the final resting place of the brother of the Jesus. [...]

One person closely watching the blow-by-blow in all this was Acadia Divinity College's professor Craig A. Evans (full disclosure: I took classes under him before he left Trinity Western University), who has his own book on ossuary inscriptions due out in the fall. Though he initially expressed relief that had taken a neutral position with regard to the inscription's authenticity, and thought that Shanks had "tons of egg" on his face, Evans quickly changed his mind as the story developed. As things stand now, of those who have closely examined the patina:

"We have four geologists?who think it is genuine, and one?who thinks it isn't... Shanks still thinks the inscription is genuine; he is calling for further testing... Rochelle Altman and others who all along claimed the ossuary was a fake do not want further testing. Interesting, eh?"

More interesting than the question of authenticity is the way believers and unbelievers fight over this as if the box itself would prove or disprove the divinity of Christ. Don't we have to assume that James would have thought being the brother of Jesus was important regardless?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 PM

FROM THE "ALL HUMOR IS CONSERVATIVE" FILES

Mallard Fillmore
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 PM

ALL ABOUT THE OIL

Bush threatens to pacify Liberia (Tim Butcher, 27/06/2003, Daily Telegraph)
An American military operation to restore order in Liberia looked likely last night as President George W Bush called for peace in the war-torn West African republic.

He drew cheers and applause from an audience of businessmen, academics and African leaders when he called on Liberia's President Charles Taylor, an indicted war criminal, to stand down.

"President Taylor needs to step down so that his country can be spared further bloodshed," he said. [...]

With a US Navy amphibious assault ship, the USS Kearsarge, just off the Liberian coast carrying 1,200 marines, Mr Bush has the option of ordering a significant deployment to one of Africa's most chaotic countries.

Liberia has close historic and traditional links with America. It was founded in the early 19th century as Africa's first republic by freed slaves from the United States.

It's long past time for the U.S. to take a more constructive role on that godforsaken continent.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM

CONDOMS = DEATH

United Nations Report says Condoms have 10% Failure Rate against AIDs (LifesiteNews.com/CWN, 6/24/03)
The United Nations AIDS agency (UNAIDS) has published a draft of a study, due out at the end of the month, which shows that condoms are ineffective in protecting against HIV an estimated 10 percent of the time. The admission from the UN, which is far lower than some studies which have shown larger than 50 percent failure rates, is a blow to population control activists which have aggressively marketed condoms in the Third World as nearly 100 percent effective.

The Boston Globe, which reviewed the draft report, demonstrates the false marketing of the population control advocacy group, Population Action International (PAI). A September 2002 report, ''Condoms Count,'' published by PAI, said, ''Public health experts around the globe agree that condoms block contact with bodily fluids that can carry the HIV virus and have nearly 100 percent effectiveness when used correctly and consistently.''

The report examined two decades of scientific literature on condoms, and UNAIDS says lead author Norman Hearst "makes a cogent argument that we should be talking about safer sex, not safe sex, with condoms."

For close to twenty years now the Left has marketed two lies where AIDs was concerned, one which was just meant to destigmatize the disease, but the other of which was murderous. We've been told that everyone is at risk of AIDs, even though it is not possible for a straight male to contract the disease via sexual intercourse. And we've--but more importantly gay men have--been told that it's perfectly safe to continue having frequent random sex so long as you use a condom. We'll never know how many people believed this latter lie, nor, given their other pathlogies, whether being told the truth would have made a difference, but it is undeniably one of the most shameful episodes in the history of public health.

MORE:
-ESSAY: The Spin on Condoms: Study shows lack of evidence for condom effectiveness in preventing STDs (Kathryn Hooks, 6/26/2003, Concerned Women for America)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 PM

TONY BLAIR, THE CONSERVATIVE VERSION OF MUSSOLINI?

A chip off the old block?: What do Fascism's belligerent founding father and our own democratically elected Prime Minister have in common? A great deal more than you might imagine. (Nicholas Farrell, 25 June 2003, Independent uk)
Indeed, despite all the uncanny similarities between the two leaders, there are, of course many differences, not the least of which is that Blair is in many ways more right-wing. Mussolini, for example, founded Italy's welfare state. Presumably, most people would agree that such a move was fairly left-wing. Blair, on the other hand, is doing his best not just to hack away at the welfare state but also at workplace rights traditionally regarded by the left as sacred. Clause Four - the Labour Party's commitment to common ownership of the means of production - went years ago and Blair has forged an axis with the European Union's two Thatcherite leaders, Jose Maria Aznar and Silvio Berlusconi, to make the labour market in Europe more flexible - making it, for example, easier to sack people.

While Blair has doggedly pursued Daily Mail-reading Sierra Man, Mussolini despised the middle classes above all (like all left-wingers, he called them the bourgeoisie) even more than communists, whom he called "state capitalists", because his view was that the middle classes were riddled with parasites. They lived, Mussolini sneered, "la vita comoda", the comfortable life.

This is all presumably meant to be pejorative, but seems pretty accurate (other than underestimating the leftist nature of fascism), and reasonably complimentary.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 PM

MIDDLE CLASS ENTITLEMENT

True confessions of a middle-class welfare recipient: A high-quality university degree is a bankable commodity. I should know (Tim Watts, June 25 2003, The Age)
Hello. My name is Tim and I'm a middle-class welfare recipient.

It's not an easy thing to own up to, but I can now admit it: Australian taxpayers subsidised more than 70 per cent of the cost of my tertiary education.

Even though I'm now out earning more than $60,000 a year, I will never pay back a cent of the cost of my tertiary education. My HECS fees were paid upfront and so I got a substantial additional discount from the Government.

My Melbourne University commerce/arts degree has proven very valuable in the employment market. I find it opens doors that are closed to my friends who went to other universities.

It has given me critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities that have led to a succession of interesting, fulfilling jobs and to steady rises in my income. I own a house and have the capacity to save thousands of dollars a year, unlike many of my Generation X peers.

It hurts to admit it, but I have achieved this on a form of middle-class welfare: the old HECS tertiary education funding system. I call it welfare because I feel taxpayers basically paid me to get an elite education that is not universally available.

Even worse, the universal availability of other forms of education aid drive an inflation in that sector that would not otherwise exist.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM

DAY OF THE DONUT

President Hailed By Over A Million In Visit To Berlin (ARTHUR J. OLSEN, June 26, 1963, The New York Times)
President Kennedy, inspired by a tumultuous welcome from more than a million of the inhabitants of this isolated and divided city, declared today he was proud to be "a Berliner."

He said his claim to being a Berliner was based on the fact that "all free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin."

In a rousing speech to 150,000 West Berliners crowded before the City Hall, the President said anyone who thought "we can work with the Communists" should come to Berlin.

However, three hours later, in a less emotional setting, he reaffirmed his belief that the great powers that must work together "to preserve the human race."

This was in many ways the low point of the Cold War, as President Kennedy placed the U.S. metaphorically in the position of Berlin, surrounded and embattled by a superior foe. The psychology of this was just appalling and compares especially badly to Ronald Reagan's visit when he ordered the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 PM

QUIZZICALLY HE READ

Overblown: THE REAL RISK ISN'T DEFLATION (Noam Scheiber, 06.23.03, New Republic)
There are two key reasons the prices of certain goods are falling, neither of which has to do with the money supply. First, all the equipment and information technology that companies invested in during the last 20 years--particularly during the late '90s--has dramatically increased productivity, enabling companies to produce the same amount of goods more cheaply than ever before. Second, that investment has led to excess capacity, meaning companies are able to produce more goods than the market can absorb. According to The Wall Street Journal, for example, the global-production capacity for automobiles stands at about 80 million per year, while global demand is about 60 million. Companies that overproduce tend to cut prices to move all their extra goods. [...]

The mantra repeated again and again in the Fed's "Preventing Deflation" paper is that the costs of overcompensating to avoid deflation are exceedingly low. As a practical matter, what the Fed means by overcompensating is that a central bank facing the risk of deflation should determine where interest rates should be based on that risk and then push them even lower. What's more, it should keep them low for longer than it otherwise would. In general, this will lead to a period of higher-than-desired inflation once the risk of deflation passes. But that extra inflation is relatively harmless, the thinking goes, and in any case a cost worth bearing when you consider the horrible alternative.

All of which assumes, of course, that falling prices are, in fact, a horrible alternative. As we've established, they're not--unless the falling prices reflect a contraction of the supply of money and credit. But no sentient central banker would ever allow that to happen. The Fed gets weekly data on the money stock--meaning, according to Meltzer, that it would require a "massive error on its part" to allow the money supply to shrink. "You couldn't do it without knowing about it," he says. But, even if that error somehow got made and prices began to fall as a result, it wouldn't be so hard to correct: You just start printing money and injecting it into the economy.

In fact, not only is deflation not a serious risk today, but its mirror image, inflation--and the rising interest rates that accompany it--is. Thanks primarily to a recent orgy of tax-cutting, the projected ten-year federal deficit now stands somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion. Even more alarming, according to a report ordered by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill but subsequently suppressed by the Bush administration, is that the current value of the gap between all of the government's future liabilities and its future revenue is $44 trillion. Shortfalls like this are highly inflationary since they stimulate demand for goods and services in the short run, which raises prices, and because they often get paid for in the long run by printing money. Likewise, the dollar's recent decline--it has fallen by over 20 percent against the euro and almost 10 percent against the yen in roughly the past year--is also inflationary, since a weaker dollar raises the prices of imports.

In this context, the problem with "overcompensating"--that is, pushing short-term interest rates lower, and keeping them there longer, than you otherwise would--is that it compounds the inflationary pressure created by large federal deficits and the weakening dollar. That's especially problematic because inflation is very difficult to root out once it gets embedded in people's expectations: Consumers expect prices to rise quickly, so they bargain for higher wages; companies expect wages to rise, so they set higher prices.

Here are two things I don't get about this essay, most of which I agree with:

(1) Isn't it kind of disingenuous to talk about real interest rates later in the essay but ignore them early? Is an 8% interest rate in an inflationary environment worse than a 2% one in a deflationary environment if both represent a "real interest rate" of 4%? And isn't the problem that the Fed fought imaginary inflation pressures for several years in the late nineties & 2000, thereby creating usurious real rates?

(2) Isn't it kind of disingenuous to talk about the psychology of inflation but not of deflation?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 PM

SLEEPER HOLD

Negatives vs. Affirmatives: Countermeasures against racism have gone too far for much too long. (Jim Sleeper, June 24, 2003, LA Times)
The court has diverted us all from two basic truths. For conservatives, the more important one is that damage caused by racism is severe enough to require transitional but daring public investments in early child-rearing and primary education. That kind of heavy lifting requires civic unity. Enforcing diversity in the military, which conservatives defend, works only because generals can order soldiers to remedy their deficiencies, on the taxpayer's dime.

But for liberals, the important truth is that some racist damage can be repaired only by the damaged themselves, with clear moral signals from a cohesive and, yes, demanding society. That's a different kind of heavy lifting. To shirk it is to discount the dignity of racism's victims. When low expectations demoralize and demobilize the poor, conservatives have an excuse for providing virtually no public investments at all.

The court should have forced us back to basics. Instead, its diversity rationale delays introducing the only D-words that should matter in American education and public life: daring and dignity.

Mr. Sleeper is interesting chiefly as a case study in how certain ex-liberals find it difficult or even impossible to follow where their observations lead.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:16 PM

I DON"T WANNA BE YOUR BEAST OF BERLIN

You Want Propaganda?: Now This Is a Story About Propaganda (Thomas Fleming, 6-23-03, History News Network)
Wilhelm II was a juicy target. Before the war, Lord Northcliffe, the conservative British press lord, had regularly abused him as a warmonger and a menace. A grandson of Queen Victoria, the Kaiser had a prickly relationship with his British royal cousins and a tendency to shoot off his mouth about Germany's martial prowess and its right to a "place in the sun." He was also fond of discoursing on the danger of "the yellow peril" -- the growing power of Japan -- and the superiority of white northern European Protestants. One pundit dubbed him a German version of Theodore Roosevelt.

Prone to nervous breakdowns -- he suffered three in the five years preceding the war -- the Kaiser was extravagantly fond of gorgeous military uniforms, perhaps an attempt to achieve masculinity in spite of a withered arm. At his desk, he sat in a saddle because it made him feel like a warrior. His gaunt face, which featured haughtily curled mustaches, made him a hostile cartoonist's dream.

Soon the Kaiser, who had little more control over his armies than King George V of England had over the British Expeditionary Force, was being blamed for rapes and murders in Belgium and called a megalomaniac with a hunger to rule the world. From here it was only a short step to calling him "the Mad Dog of Europe" and "The Beast of Berlin."

Same as it ever was...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:03 PM

LEADING FROM BELOW

Palestinian public pushes deal: Militant groups discussed a three-month halt on violence Thursday. (Cameron W. Barr, June 27, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
The Palestinians are inching toward a cease-fire that could prove more durable than previous attempts if it leads to an easing of measures Israel has used to punish and prevent Palestinian attacks.

US and Israeli pressure is only one reason why Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has tried so hard in recent months to convince Hamas and other militant groups to lay down their arms.

Another is that Palestinians today are demanding an improvement in their situation more loudly than they are clamoring for attacks against Israel.

"We are looking for someone to ease our suffering," says longtime Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid. "And Hamas is just increasing it."

It is now commonplace to hear Palestinians say that nearly three years of intifada, or uprising, against Israel have yielded nothing but Israeli-imposed closures, restrictions, and checkpoints that make day-to-day living nearly intolerable.

Mr. Abbas's strategy, Palestinian analysts say, is to arrange a cease-fire in order to win from Israel an easing of the measures imposed in the name of security. "The priority for me," says Mr. Eid, "is to take off the checkpoints rather than to fix the borders of the Palestinian state."

The cease fire won't hold because the terrorists can't afford to let it, but the point is that Palestinians, just like you and I, would rather have a functioning state and economy than an extra three feet of territory. It's almost like they're normal human beings, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:53 PM

ROCK ONTO ELECTRIC AVENUE

-REVIEW ESSAY: AMERICAN ELECTRIC: Did Franklin fly that kite? (ADAM GOPNIK, 2003-06-30, New Yorker)
Franklin had just given up his career as a printer when he began his work as an "electrician," fascinated by the small shocks you could make out of amber rods and glass jars. Electricity was not yet a serious science. Though everyone agreed that it was a phenomenon, no one was sure at first if it was a phenomenon like the hula hoop or a phenomenon like gravity. People played with it for fun. Then, in the seventeen-forties, the Leyden jar, an early capacitor, showed that an electrical charge could be held in place and made to pass through glass. Essentially, you could collect and store electricity; and in 1749 Franklin reported to the Royal Academy in London that he had created the first electric battery.

In his correspondence with the academy, he understood that he would inevitably be viewed as a provincial, and that it paid to play the clown a little. In the midst of his serious submissions, he also wrote to the academy, apropos the state of "American electricity," that "a turkey is to be killed for our dinners by the electrical shock, and roasted by the electrical jack, before a fire kindled by the electrified bottle, when the healths of all the famous electricians in England, France and Germany, are to be drank in electrified bumpers, under the discharge of guns from the electrical battery." The metropolis, while it mistrusts an upstart, forgives a lovable provincial eccentric. (Though he was being funny about the American enthusiasm for electricity, he wasn't entirely joking. He electrocuted at least one turkey, and boasted of how tender it was, a thing typical of the way he could turn a joke into a fact.)

Previously, it had been proposed that there were two different kinds of electricity, both fluid: one generated by glass and one generated by resin. Franklin, experimenting with varieties of electric shock, swiftly arrived at a fundamental insight: that electricity was a single fluid, and that what he was the first to call "positive" and "negative" charges came from having too much or too little of it. The importance of Franklin's theory, as the great historian of science I. Bernard Cohen has shown, was not only that it insisted on the conservation of charge but that it accepted "action at a distance": there didn't have to be holes for the charge to pass through, or invisible levers in the sky to send it along; electricity was just there, like gravity.

Many people, whatever theory they held, had noticed that lightning in the sky looked a lot like electricity in a jar, only there was more of it. In 1749, it seems, Franklin himself made a list of the resemblances, a list that reveals the tenor of his scientific mind, at once disarmingly particular and searching for unity: "Electrical fluid agrees with lightning in these particulars. 1. Giving light. 2. Color of the light. 3. Crooked direction. 4. Swift motion. 5. Being conducted by metals. 6. Crack or noise in exploding. 7. Subsisting in water or ice. . . . Since they agree in all particulars wherein we can already compare them, is it not probable they agree likewise in this? Let the experiment be made." The lightning experiment would be suggestive about the centrality of electricity in an essentially Newtonian world picture. The simpler the world picture, the less intricate the celestial mechanics, and the greater the play of universal forces, however bizarre their action. E pluribus unum applied-a motto that Franklin, once again running from the absurd to the solemn, took from a classical recipe for salad dressing.

Did he really do it?

We highly recommend Edmund S. Morgan's recent Franklin bio.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 PM

WHAT HAROLD KNEW

James Thurber: The Art of Fiction X-Excerpt (Interviewed by George Plimpton and Max Steele, Fall 1955, The Paris Review)
INTERVIEWER

Could [The New Yorker editor, Harold Ross] develop a writer?

THURBER

Not really. It wasn't true what they often said of him-that he broke up writers like matches-but still he wasn't the man to develop a writer. He was an unread man. Well, he'd read Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi and several other books he told me about-medical books-and he took the Encyclopedia Brittanica to the bathroom with him. I think he was about up to H when he died. But still his effect on writers was considerable. When you first met him you couldn't believe he was the editor of The New Yorker and afterwards you couldn't believe that anyone else could have been. The main thing he was interested in was clarity. Someone once said of The New Yorker that it never contained a sentence that would puzzle an intelligent 14 year old or in any way affect her morals badly. Ross didn't like that, but nevertheless he was a purist and perfectionist and it had a tremendous effect on all of us: it kept us from being sloppy. When I first met him he asked me if I knew English. I thought he meant French or a foreign language. But he repeated, "Do you know English?" When I said I did he replied, "Goddamn it, nobody knows English." As Andy White mentioned in his obituary, Ross approached the English sentence as though it was an enemy, something that was going to throw him. He used to fuss for an hour over a comma. He'd call me in for lengthy discussions about the Thurber colon. And as for poetic license, he'd say, "Damn any license to get things wrong." In fact, Ross read so carefully that often he didn't get the sense of your story. I once said: "I wish you'd read my stories for pleasure, Ross." He replied he hadn't time for that. [...]

INTERVIEWER

Did he have much direct influence on your own work?

THURBER

After the seven years I spent in newspaper writing, it was more E. B. White who taught me about writing, how to clear up sloppy journalese. He was a strong influence and for a long time in the beginning I thought he might be too much of one. But at least he got me away from a rather curious style I was starting to perfect-tight journalese laced with heavy doses of Henry James.

INTERVIEWER

Henry James was a strong influence then?

THURBER

I have the reputation for having read all of Henry James. Which would argue a misspent youth and middle-age.

INTERVIEWER

But there were things to be learned from him?

THURBER

Yes, but again he was an influence you had to get over. Especially if you wrote for The New Yorker. Harold Ross wouldn't have understood it. I once wrote a piece called The Beast and the Dingle which everybody took as a parody. Actually it was a conscious attempt to write the story as James would have written it. Ross looked at it and said: "Goddam it, this is too literary; I got only 15% of the allusions." My wife and I often tried to figure out which were the 15% he could have got.

Thus the unreadable Henry James.

MORE:
Where Charlotte Wove: On a visit to E.B. White's Farm, we find the animals gone but the place still enchanted (Andrew Ferguson, July 12, 1999, Time)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:14 PM

THE PATH TO POWER

Hillary To Replace Daschle? (Fox News, June 26, 2003)
Democratic lawmakers and aides said Wednesday there is growing interest in tapping Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Senate Democratic leader if Sen. Tom Daschle retires next year.

Sources said elevating Clinton - in the Senate for only two-and-a-half - would be the best way to raise the party's profile in the face of a popular president and at a time when both houses of Congress are ruled by Republicans.

For the former first lady, the powerful post could offer her a high-profile platform from which to pursue the White House in 2008, as many believe she wants to do.

"It makes perfect sense," said one source. "Some people may have a hard time with it but it would be a perfect fit."

This begins being interesting with its assumption that Tom Daschle is in such tough shape back home that he won't even bother running for re-election. Even more interesting is the degree to which Democrats and Clintonites are kidding themselves.

The Party can't afford her as its public face any more than the GOP could afford Newt Gingrich. Such figures of intense controversy are necessary to a political party and can even make effective leaders nationally, but are seldom suited to leadership of legislative bodies.

From Ms Clinton's perspective, the position makes no sense because it makes it almost impossible for her to run for President. You'll recall that Bob Dole quit the Senate entirely in order to run and Mr. Daschle determined he couldn't run from the position. JFK is the last Senator elected to the presidency and he was hardly a leader of the party, let alone a Senate officer.

You really have to wonder if the folks running the Democratic Party these days understand politics and history at all.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM

SURRENDERING OUR RESPONSIBILITIES

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy (JOEL BRINKLEY, June 26, 2003, NY Times)
The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law today that forbids homosexual sex, and reversed its own ruling in a similar Georgia case 17 years ago, thus invalidating antisodomy laws in the states that still have them.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 6-to-3 Texas decision, said that gay people "are entitled to respect for their private lives," adding that "the state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer agreed with Justice Kennedy. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor sided with the majority in its decision, but in a separate opinion disagreed with some of Justice Kennedy's reasoning.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent and took the unusual step of reading it aloud from the bench this morning, saying "the court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda," while adding that he personally has "nothing against homosexuals." Joining Justice Scalia's dissent were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Scalia said he believed the ruling paved the way for homosexual marriages. "This reasoning leaves on shaky, pretty shaky, grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples," he wrote.

The court's actions today would also seem to overturn any law forbidding sodomy, no matter whether it deals with homosexual or heterosexual activity.

You can defend or oppose anti-sodomy laws on the merits, but there's something no one can do who cares about constitutional government: concede the notion that the Court can strike down ancient laws on the basis that they violate some newfound liberty. If such laws are to be stricken it should be done only by legislatures or via the constitutional amendment process.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:03 PM

IT TAKES A FAMILY - AND MAYBE RELIGION TOO

Can Harry Potter Rescue U.S. Children's Media? (Andrew Ferguson, Bloomberg, 6/24/2003)
The Potter books and their British author, J.K. Rowling, have charmed everyone, apparently, by reviving the most ancient medium, words- on-paper, with the most basic technique: excellent stories, told with intelligence and taste.

So why, with all its enviable success, hasn't the Potter series been more influential among those who produce entertainment for young people? Why is children's media -- from the cartoon violence of the X-Men to the mindless potty-mouthing of Eminem -- still a swamp of silliness and worse? Why aren't there more Harry Potters?...

A new book from Johns Hopkins University Press, Kid Stuff: Marketing Sex and Violence to America's Children, compiles essays by writers, liberal and conservative, who dare to ask [if parents are to blame]...

"Are parents reluctant to exercise their responsibilities as adults?" the editors write. "Many seem to be fearful of being considered prudes by their peers."

The result of this massive abdication of authority, writes the researcher Kay Hymowitz, is a "race to the bottom" by entertainment producers whose product never passes through the censor of a parent's higher expectations and values. In the marketplace of kids' media nowadays, only kids are setting the standards....

[P]arents have to assert their own authority and impose their own standards on the market. Maybe then, miraculously, there will be more Harry Potters - and, delightfully, fewer Eminems.

Hannah Arendt said that civilization is invaded by barbarians every generation -- they're called "children." It is the responsibility of parents to pass on to their children certain moral norms and tastes -- known as "culture" -- that have been proven over time to be good for humans. If we fail in this duty, then civilization may be displaced by barbarism.

The crowning accomplishment of liberalism and cultural Marxism in recent decades has not been in politics, but in the discrediting of efforts to conserve traditional culture. They have used moral suasion and legal coercion (see the Elks post) to persuade us that it is wicked to preserve and transmit culture by moral suasion.

Andrew Ferguson is pointing here to a loss of confidence so great that we do not teach our convictions even to our own children. Though I have no data, I would speculate that this loss of confidence coincides with an absence of religious faith. Without faith, how many generations can civilization survive?


Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM

SILLY STORY OF THE DAY

Doctors ignoring guidelines, study says (JANET McCONNAUGHEY, 6/25/2003, The Associated Press)
Doctors fail to take nearly half the recommended steps for treating common illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes, suggesting that health care in the United States isn't nearly as good as many people thought, researchers say.

Treatment guidelines, many written by medical specialty organizations, outline recommended approaches to many common ailments, ranging from painkillers and exercise for arthritis to surgery for breast cancer.

However, the guidelines are often ignored, indicating that even people who have good insurance and doctors they like don't always get the best care, said Elizabeth McGlynn, a researcher with the Rand Corp. think-tank who led a study published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. [...]

The report, based on a review of medical records for 6,712 people in 12 cities, looked only at how often their doctors followed the rules, not whether they suffered any ill effects from the lapses.

This is absurd. The most brilliant ploy that unions use as a weapon against employers is following work guidelines. The longshoremen basically shut down the West Coast docks just by doing their jobs the way they are written. You'll note that they did not test the effects of this "deficient" treatment, because they're most likely beneficial. It's certainly more efficient.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM

WAH

Intrusive health care (Robert Novak, June 26, 2003, Town Hall)
Desperate to control the congressional embrace of prescription drug subsidies, the House Republican bill would apply means testing to catastrophic illnesses. That laudable effort, however, carries an unexpected consequence. The health insurance industry would have access to the income data of every senior citizen in America.

You can't suckle at the public teat and complain that you live in a Nanny State. Want privacy? Pay for your own care.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM

LOBOTOMY

Veteran neo-con advisor moves on Iran (Jim Lobe, 6/26/03, Asia Times)
When The Washington Post published a list of the people whom Karl Rove, President George W Bush's closest advisor, regularly consults for advice outside the administration, foreign policy veterans were shocked when Michael Ledeen popped up as the only full-time international affairs analyst.

"The two met after Bush's election," the Post reported cheerfully, quoting Ledeen about Rove's request that "any time you have a good idea, tell me". "More than once, Ledeen has seen his ideas, faxed to Rove, become official policy or rhetoric," noted the newspaper.

"When I saw that, I couldn't believe it," said one retired senior diplomat. "But then again, with this administration, it seemed frighteningly plausible." [...]

Throughout his career, Ledeen has insisted that war and violence are integral parts of human nature and derided the notion that peace can be negotiated between two nations.

Though America is often portrayed as naive and idealistic, these days it is only Americans who still understand that human nature is fairly base and extraordinarily selfish. Mr. Lobe, the Left, and Europe all share a vision of man as rather peaceful and communal. They're wrong.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM

CAN'T LOSE FOR WINNING

The virtues of building communities by leading them from behind. (Mark Randell, June 18, 2003, Online Opinion)
In one of my children's books, the lion is made fun of for "leading from behind" while searching for the monster of the story. Subtly, it is implied that cowardice is behind the move, and the lion loses and regains his voice with the ebb and flow of his courage and his position in the pack.

Yet I would argue "leading from behind" - or at least by walking beside, rather than in-front of your charges - is exactly what is needed for leaders of all kinds (corporate, governmental, community) in the new century.

This is hardly a new idea. The notion is referred to directly in the Tao te Ching, that 1000-year old classic of Chinese literature: "When a good leader is finished, the people think they did it themselves". That is, lead through empowerment of the people, rather than by undertaking all tasks yourself - or at least make it look that way, make people believe they are making the decisions, providing the solutions. [...]

I was once asked by a CEO, in a meeting with his executive, what kind of leadership would be necessary in the 21st century. My reply - met with blank stares from the gathered management team - was "Taoist leadership". I was referring to the quote I have already made from the Tao te Ching. The type of leadership we need from all quarters is "facilitative" leadership, "empowering" leadership, humble leadership, Taoist leadership. We need leadership from those who would build us up and stand aside, insisting that we take all the credit. We need leaders who truly understand the first principle of community development: "Work yourself out of a job". If a good leader does good work, they render themselves virtually obsolete: the workers, the community, the team becomes self-sufficient.

Yet few of today's leaders - particularly in government - would be willing to "hand the credit" to others; they all want their moment in the spotlight, their 15 minutes. Credit is necessary to their continuing success as politicians, bureaucrats. Indeed, we set the entire "system" up that way from the beginning: We believe in the heroic leader, we build hierarchical enterprises where "the boss" is the only public face of the enterprise, we clammer for "doorstop" interviews with the leader, the Minister, the head honcho, as the only one who can give us the pearls of wisdom we crave. We focus our media on the people, we subscribe to the twin cults of personality and celebrity.

President Bush has actually carried this to a level beyond zen, wherein his opponents claim victory even as he gets his way. So, for instance, the Democrats won on Campaign Finance Reform, guaranteeing their annihilation on 2004; Ted Kennedy's Education bill leads inevitably to vouchers; the French win in the UN Security Council destroyed the institution; and the Democrats, after drawing a line in the sand on taxes, proceeded to insist on an immediate third round of tax cuts "for the poor", effectively bleeding the very government budgets they claim to defend. If you let your foes "win" you can apparently get away with anything.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM

SOMETIMES SUNSHINE IS THE BEST INFECTANT (via Mike Daley)

South Korea 'did pay North for summit' (Andrew Ward, June 25 2003, Financial Times)
South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday said that former president Kim Dae-jung's government paid $100m to secure North Korea's participation in the two countries' historic summit three years ago.

Two senior aides to Mr Kim were indicted in connection with the secret payment, following a 70-day investigation into the "cash-for-summit" scandal.

The findings threatened the credibility of Seoul's "sunshine" policy of engagement with North Korea and tarnished the reputation of Mr Kim, who won the Nobel peace prize for the summit.

"The government was involved in secret cash remittances [to North Korea], which were made through improper channels," said Song Doo-Hwan, the special prosector who led the probe.

The payments add to the embarrassment but are really beside the point, which is that any negotiations at all with N. Korea represent a victory for the regime. You aren't negotiating their demise so you've already conceded the only issue that matters.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM

TOO SHY

For Norah Jones, Nights Are Made for Sentiment and Slow Dancing (BEN RATLIFF, 6/26/03, NY Times)
Halfway through Norah Jones's concert on Tuesday night at the Beacon Theater, her five-member band left her alone onstage. She sat at the grand piano and played Duke Ellington's "Melancholia," singing her own lyrics about not missing a lover who had checked out. "Melancholia" is one of Ellington's slow, exotic songs with chord changes that make it too weird for standard repertory. And Ms. Jones's voice--bright, precise and drawling--did very well by it.

Then the band reappeared, and the concert--her first major theater concert in New York since winning five Grammys in February--became a crashing bore again, just as the first half had been. There was a sense in Ms. Jones's show--expressed in the songwriting, in the arrangements (such as they were) and in the basic elements of stagecraft--that the kids had taken over and weren't sure what to do with their power. If ever a singer and a band could benefit from the guidance of elders, it is this one.

For sure, one quality that makes the 24-year-old Ms. Jones so likable is her unpretentiousness. I don't think I've seen a headlining pop star who has sold 14 million copies worldwide of a first record seem less sure about what to say to her audience. But would she be betraying that likable personality by using more effective arrangements, some changes in key and tempo?

Perhaps we'll find out on her second album, but for now--during a three-night sold-out stand at the Beacon and the rest of a national tour--her job is to play the songs and the style of the first one, her Grammy-winning "Come Away With Me."

For whatever reason, early success in sports is an indicator of greatness but in music and literature it's often an omen of doom. Who will ever forget the heart-rending evening on Solid Gold where they announced that Kajagoogoo was breaking up because of "creative differences", never to be heard from again. One would hope Ms Jones does not become the Hootie and the Blowfish of the aughts.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

SO ENDS THE ASIAN MIRACLE (via Tom Morin)

Don't Delay Pension Reform (Paul F. Gruenwald, May 23, 2003, Chosun Ilbo)
Korea currently faces some difficult decisions about reforming its National Pension System. As many readers know, the public pension system will come under increasing financial strain in the coming decades as the population ages rapidly; indeed, the OECD projects that Korea will age faster than any other industrialized country. While it is tempting to dismiss such concerns as being too distant, there is a strong case to act now. Delaying reform to future generations will only shift the burden of fixing the system, and then more drastic actions will be needed. The IMF urges the government to adopt gradual reform measures now to ensure a smooth transition to a financially sound pension system, and to ensure fairness across all generations of Koreans. [...]

There is widespread agreement that the finances of the National Pension Fund (NPF)in essence, the savings account of the NPS will deteriorate markedly in the coming decades as the Korean population ages. At present, the NPF runs an annual surplus equal to more than 2 percent of GDP, with accumulated assets of almost W100 trillion. However, these rosy numbers reflect the relative youth of Korea’s population. To conclude that all is well with the pension system would be a mistake. By the mid-2020s expenditures will exceed contributions, based on reasonable economic assumptions, and by the mid-2040s the financial resources of the NPF will be completely exhausted.

Ensuring the long-term solvency of the public pension system will inevitably require some combination of lower benefits and higher contributions.

Just wait until they try to reassimilate N. Korea.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

HOW YOU FUND TERROR (via Tom Morin)

Aid Used to Produce Narcotics (Kim Kwang-in, 4/07/03, Chosun Ilbo)
Fertilizer that South Korea gives to North Korea is used to grow opium plants, said an organization of South Koreans who fled the North during the Korean War.

The group, called Iebukdominhoi, reported in its newsletter Donghwa Shinmun this week that a defector support organization in China said that Room 39 of the North's Labor Party, which specializes in earning hard currency, has been distributing the fertilizer given by the South. The paper said the fertilizer had gone to farms throughout at least four provinces - North Hamgyeong, South Hamgyeong, Jagang and Yanggang - and that North Korea authorities have mandated that at least 30 percent of the acreage on some farms be devoted to growing opium poppies. Those farms had staff that specialize in growing the poppies, the report said. [...]

North Korea started growing poppies in 1992 on the orders of former President Kim Il Sung. The project was called "Baikdoraji Saeop," which translates to "white balloon flower project." The current leader Kim Jong Il changed the name of the project in 1999 to "Piramidon Saeop" - the meaning of which is not quite clear.

Buy drugs, support terror.

June 25, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 PM

THE SKIRTS AND THE SKINS

Outrage as black judge attacks affirmative action (David Rennie, 26/06/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Clarence Thomas, the only black judge on the United States Supreme Court, has triggered liberal anger by denouncing positive discrimination as a "cruel farce".

In his most personal remarks, Mr Thomas wrote that when some blacks are given a helping hand, "all are tarred as undeserving" whether or not they were actually qualified in their own right.

"When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin colour played a part in their advancement," he wrote. Maureen Dowd, a liberal pundit in the New York Times, called the judge "barking mad" in a commentary on his remarks.

"It's poignant really: it makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race," she wrote. "It's impossible not to be disgusted at someone who could benefit so much from affirmative action and then pull up the ladder against himself."

One does admire Ms Dowd her consistency: as a quota hire herself she wants to keep the ladder down to help other undeserving women take men's jobs. That is what she means, right?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 PM

AMERICAN BEAUTY

U.S. Finds Nuclear Materials Buried in Iraq (Fox News, June 25, 2003)
An Iraqi scientist has led the CIA to nuclear materials buried in his backyard, Fox News has learned.

Mahdi Obeidi told U.S. agents in Iraq he was ordered in 1991 to hide documents and parts for a centrifuge to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

"A box of parts and a bunch of documents were buried under the rose bushes in his backyard," one U.S. official told Fox News.

Obeidi also said he was told the materials should remain buried in the backyard of his Baghdad home until sanctions against Iraq ended, when they would be dug up and used to reconstitute a program to enrich uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

"This shows how hard a job it will be to find stuff when it's under people's rose bushes," the U.S. official added.

Obeidi told the CIA he was one of four Iraqi nuclear scientists told to hide such plans and parts. He did not know the identities of the other three and the CIA has so far been unable to locate them, a senior U.S. official told Fox News.

You have to question the competence of a government that took this long to plant bogus evidence. Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ must be so ashamed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM

TOO MUCH ORDER

Stop Blaming, Wise Up to Postwar Realities: A clever foe may have an 'occupation fatigue' strategy for victory (Caleb Carr, June 25, 2003, LA Times)
The continuing violence means that Iraq is not yet ready for the Middle Eastern Marshall Plan we were once so convinced that the Iraqis wanted. Let's remember that in order to implement the Marshall Plan, we destroyed Germany and dealt with the German populace ruthlessly. Had anyone in the former Nazi Reich mounted the kind of violent dissatisfaction with the pace of our charitable intentions that we're seeing in Iraq, they would have been arrested or wiped out, no questions asked.

Do we now want to shift gears toward a similarly draconian preparation for reconstruction in Iraq? Perhaps not, but the war is clearly not over, despite what Bush said during his patently silly amateur theatrics on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

The Pentagon must, however reluctantly, send in not only additional Special Forces units (the only troops we have that are capable of handling this situation without alienating the Iraqi people) to pick apart the resistance machine, but also police troops to meet the public safety emergency, as well as extra engineering units to restore services quickly.

We were all supposed to be happy friends in Iraq by now. But our antagonist may have proved, once again, to be a damnably clever opponent. Before we get entirely swept up with finding people on our own side to blame (there will be ample time for that later), we ought to be about the business of devising new schemes to neutralize our foe - schemes even more imaginative than those admirable plans that brought us into Baghdad so quickly.

The problem in Iraq right now is actually the opposite of what folks are saying it is. We restored order too quickly and are maintaining it too tightly. When we liberated European nations from their German oppressors in WWII there were healthy periods of vicious vengeance-taking against those who had collaborated. Iraq could use a stiff dose of the same therapy. We should devolve power to the Shiites as quickly as possible so that they can undertake the massive and murderous reprisals against the Sunnis that will make it crystal clear to the Sunni minority that they will never again be able to lord it over the Shiite majority and make the country governable again.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 PM

HOWARD DEAN?

Dean Struggles With His Voice: Former Vermont Gov. Seen as Great Orator, but Interview Raises Questions (Terry M. Neal, June 25, 2003, washingtonpost.com)
Until recently Dean was virtually unknown outside of New England. But he has been more successful than any Democratic candidate in improving the position from where he started a few months back. The former governor has proved himself to be a scintillating speaker. Tapping into liberal rage, he has given the party's activists the undiluted, uncut stuff in a way that brings them to their feet every time.

Speechifying is Dean's thing. Interviews and debates appear not to be.

Good Dean and Bad Dean were both on display this week. First Dean delivered what has to be one of the worst Sunday morning news show performances in recent memory. Then the next day he delivered one of his typically passionate and rousing speeches in his presidential announcement in Burlington, Vermont.

Dean actually gives the Rev. Al Sharpton a run for his money in the oratory department, but he has the added benefit of being seen as electable by many in the party.

Great orator? Scintillating speaker? Electable? Howard Dean?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:50 PM

LORD, PLEASE WHISPER HOW TO GET TO 60 IN THE SENATE

'Road map is a life saver for us,' PM Abbas tells Hamas (Ha'aretz, 6/26/2003)
According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

This seems to me good diplomacy: the Palestinians claim to know Allah's will, why shouldn't Bush claim to know God's? Of course, on the lefty sites it is being taken to mean that Bush hears voices in the air and follows their instructions. Luckily, the voices are canny political strategists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM

JUST SAY, YES

Tories want to pull out of EU, says Blair (Andrew Grice, 24 June 2003, Independent uk)
Tony Blair clashed angrily with Iain Duncan Smith yesterday as he accused the Conservative Party of supporting Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

The Tories said the Prime Minister had deliberately misrepresented their policy after he claimed that the Opposition backed the idea of "associate membership". He said that would be the result of proposals by the Eurosceptic Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory, a member of the convention that drew up a new EU blueprint.

During a Commons statement on last week's EU summit in Greece, Mr Blair said Mr Heathcoat-Amory's alternative draft treaty would mean redrawing the terms of Britain's EU membership. This policy, which he claimed was endorsed by the Tory front bench, would be "wholly inconsistent with Britain's present membership".

Rejecting calls for a referendum, he told Mr Duncan Smith: "That is the true dividing line. The reason that you want a referendum is so that you can say 'no', so that you can paralyse the EU, so that you can get out." Mr Duncan Smith told MPs: "The Conservative Party does not want Britain to leave the EU. We want to make it work."

Imagine the excitement if IDS had just said: "Yes, that's right. We reject the Franco-German superstate in favor of unfettered British sovereignty. We say: No to submerging Britain in a European Union." Take that to the nation and the Tories would revive their currently moribund party.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:22 PM

BREYER PATCH

How to Head Off a Fight Over the High Court (David S. Broder, June 25, 2003, Washington Post)
It would greatly disappoint the warring armies of interest groups in Washington, salivating for a fight over the next Supreme Court vacancy. But there is a way out of such a debilitating battle, with all its ominous implications for the independence and reputation of the judiciary, if key players at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are willing to show some flexibility.

The path around such a knock-down, drag-out fight has been opened by Democratic senators who have urged President Bush to "consult" with Capitol Hill before deciding on his choice for the high court.

No one knows when there may be a vacancy to fill, but with the current term coming to an end, speculation is rife that Chief Justice William Rehnquist or Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, both in their seventies, may be ready to retire.

In anticipation of that possibility, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has written to Bush urging him to engage "in meaningful consultation with members of the Senate, including those in the other [Democratic] party, before deciding on nominees."

Leahy's proposal was quickly endorsed by Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who wrote the president that "should you be willing to convene a meeting of Senate leaders from both parties to begin a bipartisan process of consultation . . . we believe it is not necessary to have a divisive confirmation fight over a Supreme Court appointment."

This is an exquisite trap for the Democrats tp place their heads in and the White House would be wise to spring it. Ask the Senate Democrats to suggest a list of nominees they would support. First of all, just putting the list together will turn into a hilarious political exercise because it will have to represent every race, gender, religion, sexual preference, etc., and each Senator will have his/her own favorites who will have to be included. The final list could have two or three hundred names.

Meanwhile, in order to be taken at all seriously the list will have to include conservatives and Republicans, who thereupon become bulletproof. If not, or if the list does not include the White House's first choice, they can simply dismiss it as partisan hackwork. It's a win/win situation for the GOP.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:01 PM

CLOSELY WATCHED TRAIN WRECKS

Original Party Animals: Democrats say they are hopeful about the coming election. But then, they have to say that (Mike Mosedale, 6/25/03, City Pages)
Last week, when Democratic bigwigs from across the country assembled in St. Paul to take a look-see at the party's presidential aspirants, one buzzword trumped all the others. Optimism. Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, state committee functionaries, candidates--they were all so inflated with hope you worried that one of them might explode and set off a chain reaction. [...]

But insofar as the optimism on display this weekend was genuine, it may have sprung from a more elemental source: helpless, baseless rationalization. When things look as bad as they do for the Democrats right now, how likely is it that they'll get any worse?

Unfortunately for the Democrats, the answer may well be "pretty damn likely." Why? Well, look at the candidates. Of the six who spoke, none emerged as anything near a consensus favorite. That may not seem surprising. But by many accounts, it was Bill Clinton's impressive showing at this same meeting in the summer of 1991 that propelled him to the front of the '92 field.

But the Dems' lack of distinction hardly ends there. You can start by noting that the best orator among the participants, the Rev. Al Sharpton, is also the most unelectable. Sharpton was the funniest of the speakers as well, though in one sense his best jabs were at the essential unseriousness of the event. Asked how he would handle the federal deficit, Sharpton said he was uniquely qualified because "I've been in a deficit most of my life." The line that got the heartiest laughs: "Some people say, 'Al, can you win?' Well, Bush didn't win and he's president!"

If Sharpton were mounting a serious campaign for the nomination, he would not have been received so warmly. But he cozied up to the insiders
by effectively declaring his candidacy the front for a voter-registration drive.

Alan Keyes won just about every Republican debate he was allowed to attend, but there was no natural constituency in the lilly-white GOP for his candidacy asa a racial matter and the eventuals nominees were inevitably going to be nearly as conservative as he, so it didn't matter how well he did. But the Democrats are unlikely to nominate a genuine liberal and there is a racial constituency for the Reverend in their party, so he can stay in the race as long as he wants to and make a difference in more than a few states.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:41 PM

IT'S BASEBALL, JAKE

What's in a Number?: Stat love and baseball love (Brad Zellar, 6/25/03, City Pages)
This season more than ever before, I find myself spending so much time poking holes in strategic moves or personnel decisions and arguing with the damn game that I end up pissed off rather than entertained. And that's just plain wrong. Armed with so many statistics, and with the opinions formed by those numbers, and determined with each new frustrating skid in the season to dig further into the stats in search of answers, I often feel like one of those scientists who gets so lost in the mysteries of physics that she's no longer capable of recognizing what an everyday miracle this world really is.

And the bottom line is that baseball, despite its essential and attractive order and the fact that so many of its components can now be subjected to rigorous statistical evaluation, is still a largely unpredictable sport, a game in which intangibles and absurdity continue to play regular roles in the outcomes of games. You could pick virtually any great game in the history of baseball whose outcome was affected by anomalous events and obscure, mediocre--even lousy--players whose moment of glory could not have been predicted by any statistical formula or pool of data.

The players understand this better than the writers and the stats junkies do. To them there is virtually no mystery, bizarre occurrence, or unexpected event on a field that can't be explained with a shrug and the oldest clubhouse cliche in the book: "That's baseball."

We offer in evidence: Jimmy Qualls.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM

NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION

Should Americans Who Don't Pay Taxes Have a Say? (Robert R. Eberle, 07/08/03, Insight on the News)
There is a classic slogan in America that is probably as old as the country itself. You've heard it many times, and it goes like this: There are only two sure things in life - death and taxes.

Unless the fountain of youth is discovered or secret advances are made in human cloning, I think we still can count on passing from this earth at some point. However, the paying of taxes is not the certainty it once was. With each passing tax bill, more and more Americans no longer are paying income taxes. Thus, the question arises: Should these nontaxpayers have a say in what America does as a nation?

The proper parallel would seem to be to the disenfranchisement of residents of Washington, DC, who were expected to have too vested an interest in the operations of the Federal government. There's an obvious threat to liberty from allowing those who are dependent on government to have a say in how that government is funded and run. We'd not allow them that say.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

THE DADDY PARTY

The GOP Changes Its Estrada Strategy: They’ll now force Democrats to vote on ending the filibuster. (Byron York, March 4, 2003, National Review)
Republican Sen. Rick Santorum has just announced a major change in the party's strategy in the Miguel Estrada confirmation fight. Santorum told reporters minutes ago that Republicans will file for cloture today, which will lead to a vote on Thursday.

So far, Republicans can count on just four Democratic votes in favor of Estrada, which will leave them short of the 60 votes needed to stop the Democratic filibuster. "We've sort of hit a wall now," Santorum said. "We haven't had anybody come forward in a week and a half, and at some point, you're going to have to change strategies to make this happen."

Santorum said the Republican strategy now "will be to put people on the record" through a cloture vote. Anticipating that Republicans will at first fail to reach 60 votes, Santorum added, "This will be one of many cloture votes."

"My guess is we will do another cloture vote next week and wait and see what happens," Santorum said. "If we're successful and pick up a vote, we may have some other options."


Why do Republicans always have to be the ones who behave responsibly? Just make the Democrats filibuster 24/7.

UPDATE:
Okay, Senate rules are famously complex, so I may well have this wrong--if you see differently please tell us--but it appears from this that by forcing a vote, the GOP would be effectively bringing Senate business to a halt until the filibuster ends, whereas as right now other measures can be considered on the floor while the filibuster goes on.

UPDATE:
That's apparently completely wrong. Please check the comments for more informed instruction.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

HOIST ON HIS OWN PETARD

God, Satan and the Media (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, March 4, 2003, NY Times)
Claims that the news media form a vast liberal conspiracy strike me as utterly unconvincing, but there's one area where accusations of institutional bias have merit: nearly all of us in the news business are completely out of touch with a group that includes 46 percent of Americans.

That's the proportion who described themselves in a Gallup poll in December as evangelical or born-again Christians. Evangelicals have moved from the fringe to the mainstream, and that is particularly evident in this administration. It's impossible to understand President Bush without acknowledging the centrality of his faith. Indeed, there may be an element of messianic vision in the plan to invade Iraq and "remake" the Middle East. [...]

I tend to disagree with evangelicals on almost everything, and I see no problem with aggressively pointing out the dismal consequences of this increasing religious influence. For example, evangelicals' discomfort with condoms and sex education has led the administration to policies that are likely to lead to more people dying of AIDS at home and abroad, not to mention more pregnancies and abortions.

But liberal critiques sometimes seem not just filled with outrage at evangelical-backed policies, which is fair, but also to have a sneering tone about conservative Christianity itself. Such mockery of religious faith is inexcusable. And liberals sometimes show more intellectual curiosity about the religion of Afghanistan than that of Alabama, and more interest in reading the Upanishads than in reading the Book of Revelation.

This is priceless. Here's how the Times has handled the evangelicals in just two particularly notorious recent examples that we've noted:
The first was a really despicable slur by Bill Keller, labelling the entire Christian right "bigots", The Soul of George W. Bush (Bill Keller, NY Times) :
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.

the second a rather breathless front page piece about Christian radio stations crowding out NPR, Religious and Public Stations Battle for Share of Radio Dial (BLAINE HARDEN, September 15, 2002, NY Times)
The Rev. Don Wildmon, founding chairman of a mushrooming network of Christian radio stations, does not like National Public Radio.

"He detests the news that the public gets through NPR and believes it is slanted from a distinctly liberal and secular perspective," said Patrick Vaughn, general counsel for Mr. Wildmon's American Family Radio.

Here in Lake Charles, American Family Radio has silenced what its boss detests.

It knocked two NPR affiliate stations off the local airwaves last year, transforming this southwest Louisiana community of 95,000 people into the most populous place in the country where "All Things Considered" cannot be heard.

which prompted this from the Times editors, Some Things Considered (NY Times,9/17/02):
Every devoted radio listener has experienced it at some time or another--a favorite station changes its format. The effect is unsettling. Last year, National Public Radio listeners in Lake Charles, La., experienced something even more alarming.

Nice the way they just assume that folks in Lake Charles must have found it "alarming", eh?

Now, these may not necessarily be indicators of liberal bias at the Times; they may just demonstrate grotesque insenitivity to the religious beliefs of a plurality of Americans. But, whichever is the case, surely Mr. Kristoff's crusade against the "sneering tone"of media coverage of Christians should begin at home, shouldn't it?
Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at 3:31 PM

MUCH HAJDU ABOUT NOTHIN'

Wynton's Blues: For two decades Wynton Marsalis ruled the jazz universe, enjoying virtually unqualified admiration as a musician and unsurpassed influence as the music's leading promoter and definer. But after a series of sour notes?he parted from his record label, has been caught up in controversy at Jazz at Lincoln Center; and has been drawing increasing fire from critics and fellow musicians alike for his narrow neotraditionalism?perhaps the biggest name in jazz faces an uncertain future. Just like jazz itself. (David Hajdu, March 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)
For twenty years the fates of Marsalis and jazz music have appeared inextricably intertwined. He was a young newcomer on the New York scene at a time when jazz seemed dominated and diminished by rock-oriented "fusion," marginalized by outr? experimentation and electronics, and disconnected from the youth audience that has driven American popular culture since the postwar era. Extraordinarily gifted and fluent in both jazz and classical music, not to mention young, handsome, black, impassioned, and articulate, especially on the importance of jazz history and jazz masters, Marsalis was ideally equipped to lead a cultural-aesthetic movement suited to the time, a renaissance that raised public esteem for and the popular appeal of jazz through a return to the music's traditional values: jazz for the Reagan revolution. In 1990 Time magazine put him on the cover
and announced the dawn of "The New Jazz Age." Record companies rediscovered the music and revived long-dormant jazz lines, signing countless young musicians inspired by Marsalis, along with three of his five brothers (first his older brother, Branford, a celebrated tenor saxophonist; later Delfeayo, a trombonist; and eventually the youngest, Jason, a percussionist) and his father, Ellis (a respected educator and pianist in the family's native New Orleans). By the 1990s Wynton Marsalis had become an omnipresent spokesperson for his music and also one of its most prolific and highly decorated practitioners (he was the first jazz composer to win a Pulitzer Prize, for Blood on the Fields, his oratorio about slavery)?something of a counterpart to Leonard Bernstein in the 1950s. He took jazz up and over the hierarchical divide that had long isolated the music from the fine-arts establishment; the modest summer jazz program he created won a full constituency at Lincoln Center. In 1999, to mark the end of the century, Marsalis issued a total of fifteen CDs?about one new title every month.

In the following two years he did not release a single CD of new music. In fact, after two decades with Columbia Records, the prestigious and high-powered label historically associated with Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis, Marsalis has no record contract with any company. Nor does his brother Branford, who just a few years ago was not only one of Columbia's recording stars but an executive consultant overseeing the artists-and-repertory direction of the label's jazz division. (Branford recently formed an independent record company.) Over the past few years Columbia has drastically reduced its roster of active jazz musicians, shifting its emphasis to reissues of old recordings. Atlantic folded its jazz catalogue into the operations of its parent company, Warner, and essentially gave up on developing new artists. Verve is a fraction of the size it was a decade ago. In addition, jazz clubs around the country have been struggling, and the attacks of September 11 hurt night life everywhere; New York's venerable Sweet Basil closed in the spring of 2001, after twenty-five years in operation, and later reopened as a youth-oriented world-music place. In the institutional arena, Carnegie Hall discontinued its in-house jazz orchestra at the end of the 2001-2002 season.

For this grim state of affairs in jazz Marsalis, the public face of the music and the evident master of its destiny, has been declared at least partly culpable. By leading jazz into the realm of unbending classicism, by applying the Great Man template to establish an iconography (Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Coltrane), and by sanctifying a canon of their own choosing (Armstrong's "Hot Fives," Ellington's Blanton-Webster period, Parker's Savoy sessions, Coltrane's A Love Supreme), Marsalis and his adherents are said to have codified the music in a stifling orthodoxy and inhibited the revolutionary impulses that have always advanced jazz.

"They've done a lot to take the essence of jazz and distort it," the composer and pianist George Russell told The New York Times in 1998. "They've put a damper on the main ingredient of jazz, which is innovation."

A former executive with Columbia Records who has worked intimately with five Marsalises says, "For many people, Wynton has come to embody some retro ideology that is not really of the moment, you know?it's more museumlike in nature, a look back. I think as each day passes, Wynton does lose relevance as a shaper of musical direction. He's not quite the leader of a musical movement any longer. That doesn't mean he's not remarkable, or without considerable clout, or that he's not the leader of a cultural movement. But within the record industry the Marsalises are no longer seen as the top guys."

Interesting piece on Wynton... I have a lot of thoughts on it, so in no particular order:

1) Yesterday, I went to a master class taught by Paquito D'Rivera....something Adriana saw and surprised me with a ticket. It wasn't a normal master class (in which everyone brings their horns, and the teacher uses the students to demonstrate his points), rather just Paquito talking about elements of jazz and Latin music...with him (accompanied by a piano player) making his own points on alto and clarinet....it was a great time for someone like me...anyway, here's the tie to Wynton: at one point, Paquito was talking about what he thinks is lacking in a lot of instrumentalists, and one of the things he mentioned was articulation (which in wind instrument refers to the differentiation of individual notes by using the tongue). He said not enough guys anymore really articulate well, and even fewer do so with any personal imprint. He went on to cite Wynton as an example of a guy who is a "genius" of articulation and dynamics, which results in him having a beautiful, exciting sound. He then mimicked Marsalis's sound with his voice. Well, I admire the hell out of Paquito D'Rivera, and if Wynton is good enough for him, who am I to argue?

2) I'm not that familiar with Hadju or his views on jazz, but I have read his best-known work, his biography of Billy Strayhorn, which I liked very much. I know he must know a lot about the music, and maybe his opening in this article was exaggerated for dramatic effect, but I find it hard to believe he had to sit there for 4 songs before he was sure the trumpet player was Wynton. Separate and apart from whether someone likes his music, Marsalis does have a distinctive (and remarkably beautiful) tone on the trumpet....if I had been in the club, I would have known it was him even if I had been blindfolded...it struck me as unbelievable that the author, and the jazz man sitting next to him, couldn't tell...

3) Hadju makes a surprising number of references to Wynton and women: that he has kids with 2 girlfriends, that he has access to lots of good looking girls, that Crouch lured him to the surprise birthday party by telling him they were going to meet to girls, etc. I thought it was a bit out of place for an article that was supposed to be comparing the State of Jazz to the State of Wynton. It wasn't quite "Mandingo", but I don't know that "black man as sex machine" was really relevant to the main thesis. (Especially without any allegations that Wynton mistreats women or doesn't take care of his kids....in fact, the author made the opposite point: that Marsalis is seemingly polite and solicitous to all of his fans and acquaintances and takes the kids during vacations, etc.)....

4) Hadju shouldn't have taken his appearance at a club in late August as a shock. The summer is typically when musicians make the "Jazz Festival" circuit...Montreaux, Newport, JVC (in NY), Telluride, Italy, Japan, etc. The festivals are usually over by mid-August. So, at that point, Wynton is home, a great musician who he would respect (McPherson) is playing at the most famous jazz club in the world (the Village Vanguard), so Wynton, who lives a $5 cab ride away, stops in for a few sets. All that shows me is that Marsalis wasn't b.s.'ing the writer when he told him he loves to play. I find it remarkable and admirable (but not surprising) that a world-famous musician, who plays to sold out concert halls everywhere, loves to play so much that he'll drop in for a few tunes with a friend. At my club, I've seen guys like Joe Williams, Alan Broadbent, and even Miles freaking Davis himself, come out of the audience to sit in on a song or two.

5) I chuckle at the attempt to draw distinctions between Branford and Wynton. Yes, Branford has done some pop stuff, but his first release on his own record label features his interpretations of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite"....so, unlike his brother, he obviously doesn't hold the old masters in reverence or anything.

6) He makes a good point about the difficulty posed to critics by Wynton when he acts as a critic. Tough to have a guy invade your turf who can actually do the thing at a high level and he knows as much about the history as you do.

7) Finally, Hadju says about 5 times that the jazz club business is struggling throughout the country since 9/11, and he uses the cut backs at some labels as an indicator that the music is dying. Now, I don't doubt that there has been a drop off at places like the Blue Note in NY which always catered to busloads of Japanese and German tourists. But whenever I'm in NY (3 or 4 times a year) and go by Iridium or the Vanguard, they are always packed. And, I'm happy to say, the Catalina Bar and Grill has seen a significant increase in business since 9/11...we don't' know why, but I suppose it's because people from LA may not be taking as many vacations, so they go out to do something special in town. On the record side, interesting, avant garde (for want of a better, less pejorative word) new comers like Jason Moran, and established non-traditional players like David Murray, Arthur Blythe and Wayne Shorter have all released new albums in the last few months. Mainstream guys like Hank Jones (in his 80's), Kenny Barron, Larry Coryell, Cedar Walton, etc., etc., are going strong....and Jackie McLean and Sonny Rollins (both in their 70's) can still outplay anyone on the planet, and continue to make fresh, challenging music that doesn't rest on their laurels from the 1950's and 60's..... Oh yeah, and back to where I started, with Paquito: guys like D'Rivera and Sandoval, and players from all over the world (Paquito's piano player is Israeli) are coming to this country, adopting jazz and adding touches of their home cultures.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

STILL A SLEEPING GIANT

Europe's dreams of muscle dashed: The EU's hopes of becoming a defence superpower are looking less realistic (Ian Black, December 6, 2002, The Guardian)
[A]s transatlantic tensions mount over Iraq and the "war on terrorism", the signs are that the EU's faltering attempts to get its own act together are in a state of serious crisis. It is only two weeks since Nato - the institutional embodiment of European-US relations for half a century - decided at its Prague summit to build new military capabilities that would allow it to meet the strategic challenges of the 21st century.

The main intention is to narrow the gap between the US and Europe - in big transport planes, modern ships, precision-guided weapons, hi-tech surveillance equipment and secure communications. This kit is intended for use either by the alliance or by the EU, if there is a conflict, say in the Balkans, in which the US does not wish to be involved. Eleven of the union's 15 members are also in Nato.

So the decision by Germany to slash its military spending comes as a grave if predictable blow to these already slow-moving efforts. If Europe's biggest country and economy cannot do more to help it punch above its weight, some gloomy analysts believe, then the whole project may simply be doomed. [...]

The figures show just how stark the contrast is: Germany spent 1.5% of its GDP on defence in 2001, compared with an average of European Nato members of about 2.1%. Britain and France spent 2.5% and 2.6% respectively while the US spent 3.2%. And after September 11 US spending was increased by a staggering $48bn dollars (£31bn) for 2003, more than any European annual defence budget.

What is truly staggering about all this is how little we spend on Defense now, as this chart shows:

We'd have to more than double our spending just to reach the historic average. That's one reason all the catterwauling over George W. Bush being a big government liberal is truly silly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

PEDRO DON'T PREACH

The Roar of Life: Seattle's Pedro the Lion tells it like it is. (Annie Holub, 11/21/02, Tucson Weekly)
As easy as it is to write off Pedro the Lion as depressing, slit-your-wrist music, the sadness is only skin deep. Underneath the stories of failed politicians, marriages and families, there is something uplifting in [David] Bazan's songs, something redemptive and forgiving in all the sex and booze that color the tracks. Bazan confronts the denizens of 21st-century middle-class life and doesn't try to idealize their lives. In Bazan's songs, people have extramarital affairs in cheap motel rooms; they go to Grandma's house for tea and cake and leave their little brother wandering lost in the woods; they admit they like girls better when they shave their legs; they disappoint their parents; and they may not love Jesus every day. And it's OK. The people in Bazan's songs are real. They screw up and they may be unhappy, but listening to their stories is kind of like watching bad TV: Your own life, suddenly, doesn't seem so dire in comparison. [...]

Pedro the Lion has been a loud rock band at times and the outlet for Bazan's quieter musical side at others. But even at its most simplistic, the songs resonate with intensity. Control is the story of a failing marriage: The first song has a couple walking along the beach and one saying to the other, "I could never divorce you/ without a good reason/ though I may never have to/ it's good to have options." The next song, "Rapture," shows the husband in the throes of adultery: "This is how we multiply/ pity that it's not my wife." Later on the record are two more songs about infidelity, and the saga culminates with "Priests and Paramedics," where the wife kills the husband with a knife.

Not that Bazan is condoning unfaithfulness; he's merely acknowledging its existence and exploring the emotions and factors involved. Bazan is Christian and the fact that many of his songs are spiritually themed leads many to conclude that Pedro the Lion is more Christian rock than indie rock. But he's not preaching anything.

"The prevailing notion of Christian music is that the singer or the writer is attempting to present a message, and through that message, trying to convert people to their way of thinking," said Bazan. "I think that that just contradicts the purpose of what art is and what music is, in that I feel like it's art, and so that's not really what I'm trying to do. I think if I was to sit down and have a conversation about it, I'm not sure if they would categorize me personally as a Christian or not, but nonetheless I value the Bible and Jesus's teachings and whatnot, but how it interacts with the music is really kind of up to the moment of creativity and doesn't really have anything to do with me setting out to write about certain things or having an agenda or anything like that."

Even realizing that Kajagugu was already taken, what a rotten name for a band.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

LOUISIANA VALUES

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

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

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

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

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

That may be harsh but it seems fair. For too long the GOP has practiced unilateral rhetorical disarmament on the abortion issue, allowing Democrats to portray them as anti-woman with impunity. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that folks like Ms Landrieu, Mario Cuomo, and Joe Lieberman—to name a few--violate the tenets of their professed faiths when the keep abortion on demand legal.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

FIELD VS. HOUSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet two weeks from today, in Louisianna, a Senate seat will be decided by how many blacks turn out to vote for Mary Landrieu. How long will blacks keep giving something for nothing?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

GIVE US BACK OUR MONEY

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

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

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

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

One would also note how well Social Security privatization held up, despite a barrage of negative ads from the Democrats and virtually no defense of the idea by the GOP.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM

BOOKNOTES

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

Mr. Krass lives here in Hanover and his book's terrific.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:23 PM

NO PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK

Hot on the Trail: Australia's first great adventure was part Lewis and Clark, part Donner Party-searing proof that fame is a four-letter word (Mark Jenkins, June 2003, Outside Magazine
The Dig Tree is a gnarled coolibah that stands in the burnt heart of the outback, beside the warm, green water of Cooper's Creek. It is the most famous tree in Australia, on account of the cryptic instructions carved into its trunk and the part it played in that country's most notorious expedition.

In 1860, Robert Burke and William Wills set out to become the first white men to cross Australia, a historic south-north traverse from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Their eight-month journey took them through the Tibooburra region in October of that year, en route to a base camp on Cooper's Creek, and then into vast, desperate stretches of the interior. Burke and Wills were like the Lewis and Clark of Australia, famed icons of early outback exploration-although, by the time it was all over, they'd be-come legends for very different reasons.

"Burke and Wills-now they were some bloody tough bastards!" says the bartender, suddenly animated. "I hope they're still teaching the schoolchildren about our heritage."

If you're lucky, your local video store might have the fine but harrowing film version of this story Burke and Wills.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:06 PM

GOVERNMENT OF THE JUDGES, BY THE JUDGES, FOR JUDICIAL SUPREMACY

Club Codes (Eugene Volokh, National Review Online, 6/25/2003)
The Franklin Lodge of Elks in New Hampshire faced a controversy about whether women should be allowed to be members. During the controversy, some of the male members made offensive statements about the women who were trying to get in....

Just two weeks ago, the New Hampshire supreme court affirmed the commission's decision, and held that the club was legally liable. And the court didn't just hold that the women were entitled under state law to be admitted to the club — it also upheld the decision to assess damages against the club for its members' "sexual harassment" of the women plaintiffs. Speech that offends fellow club members based on sex, and presumably also on "age, . . . race, creed, color, martial status, physical or mental disability or national origin" or "sexual orientation," is now legally punishable....

The total damages in the Elks case were $40,000, which amounted to over 25 percent of the club's yearly budget....

What about the First Amendment? Neither the commission nor the New Hampshire supreme court even mentioned it. It's as if the term "harassment" has become the universal solvent of constitutional rights....

The statements in the Elks case have no place in polite company. Under the First Amendment, though, the proper way to deal with such offensive speech is through moral suasion and social pressure, not through legal coercion.

It was bad when courts, responding to cases in which thousands of dollars of damage was done, levied punitive damages in the millions or billions, thereby enriching locals at the expense of out-of-staters. It was worse when courts diminished freedom of contract, removing all contractual mechanisms for avoiding such juridical property-takings. It was worse yet when they attacked freedom of association by insisting that courts could remedy race or gender discrimination by forcing private persons to associate with particular persons. Now we see that freedom of speech must also fall, so that judges can make sure no one is offended.

Harassment law is a double-victory for the authoritarian left: it broadens the scope of legal coercion, making government stronger; and it inhibits moral suasion and social pressure by subjecting them to coercive punishment, thereby undermining cultural, moral, and religious norms and making civil society -- government's great competitor -- weaker.

It's curious the path the law has taken. Traditional rights to liberty and property, the basis for cooperation among free adults, have been assaulted. Meanwhile, new rights which undermine traditional institutions and moral norms are promoted. There may be no aspect of traditional liberty or property which is beyond infringement by a juridical process of "law" (due or not) -- but the right to kill unborn babies stands secure.

MORE: Law professor and blogger David Bernstein will soon be out with a book that looks good: You Can't Say That!: The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Law.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:03 PM

DISUNION

Solidarity? Not Quite (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris, Nicola Corless, Smita Kalokhe, and Joanna Schubert, 6/25/03, CBS News)
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is using all his negotiating skills these days trying to heal a breach inside the union movement over how to conduct political affairs in the 2004 elections. Roll Call reports that there will be a political committee meeting on Thursday attended by AFSCME President Gerald McEntee and SEIU President Andy Stern at which Sweeney will try to "mediate a nasty internal dispute" over a planned multi-million dollar political operation run by former AFL political director Steve Rosenthal.

McEntee left the board of the new tax-exempt 527 organization, Partnership for America’s Families, that was formed this year by Rosenthal to try to deal with the restriction imposed by the McCain-Feingold bill on using union money for political purposes. Rosenthal was hoping to raise $30 million from unions and other liberal donors for a massive get-out-the-vote program to help Democrats in 2004, when the fight erupted over how to best target minority voters.

Democratic Party officials are nervous that the split will hurt their campaigns next year, but are powerless to do anything to mend it. "It is very, very important for them to be united," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "I am very sorry there’s a split but I hope they can heal it and pull together."

McCain-Feingold, the gift that keeps on giving...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:00 PM

TRY THE SHOE ON THE OTHER FOOT

Gibson's Jesus Pic Faces More Anti-Semitism Charges (Gregg Kilday, June 25, 2003, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter)
Continuing to raise concerns over "The Passion," the Mel Gibson-directed film about the last days of Jesus Christ, the Anti-Defamation League of America (ADL) charged Tuesday that, based on a study of an early version of the screenplay, the project could be "replete with objectionable elements that would promote anti-Semitism."

The ADL embraced the findings of an interfaith committee of scholars that has raised objections to the unreleased film -- even though the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has distanced itself from the same group.

In its statement, the ADL contended that Gibson and his collaborators "must complement their artistic vision with sound scholarship, which includes knowledge of how the passion accounts have been used historically to disparage and attack Jews and Judaism. Absent such scholarly and theological understanding, productions such as 'The Passion' could likely falsify history and fuel the animus of those who hate Jews."

Imagine for a moment that the "must complement" standard were to be universally applied, that Schindler's List and The Pianist opened with a statement that Jews were hated in Europe because they were blamed for the Crucifixion or that Hitler rose to power because of the Treaty of Versailles. Would giving that context not tend to be offensive?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:45 PM

TAKE A GANDER AT THE GOVERNOR

A Democrat leaps in and lands on his face (Zev Chafets, June 25, 2003, NY Daily News)
Last Sunday on "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert asked Howard Dean if he knew the size of the American military. "Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 or 2 million," the former governor of Vermont replied. (The correct answer is 1.4 million.)

Now, half a million is a fairly large margin of error for someone who comes from a state of 608,000 people. Especially if that someone wants to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces. When Russert pointed this out, Dean - who evidently regarded the whole subject as a trick - snapped: "That's like asking me who the ambassador to Rwanda is."

Yeah, Rwanda, that dumb place. Nothing ever happens there.

These pop quizzes are obviously inane, but were considered to prove that George W. Bush was an idiot. What's good for the goose...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 PM

LIEBERMAN '04--"PUTTING ME FIRST"

Lieberman's Focus: Raising Cash: Heads West In Midst Of Medicare Voting (DAVID LIGHTMAN, June 25 2003, Hartford Courant)
Joe Lieberman headed west Tuesday, in search of California gold, ready to miss nearly a week's worth of votes on the most sweeping Medicare reform in 38 years so he can raise enough money to stay competitive in his White House bid.

At the end of the day what's more important your own personal ambitions or the legislation your party claims is the most important you've ever had a chance to vote on?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

THE ASPIDISTRA, THOUGH TATTERED, STILL FLIES

George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] was born one hundred years ago today in Motihari, Bengal, India. We have a number of links to more information about and by him. If you notice broken links or know of others that should be added please let us know (it looks like several of his essays were taken down, presumably for copyright reasons). Or if you have a favorite we'll add it at the front here so others can share in it.

There's much bickering these days over who is entitled to his legacy, with the Left staking their claim on the basis of his professed socialism, and nothing else that can be discerned. But to understand how profoundly conservative he really was you need to read two of his lesser known novels--Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up for Air--which express an overwhelming love for middle-class England, especially as it existed before WWI. Here's more on his conservatism, in relation to Christopher Hitchens's book, which similarly is a product of a former-Leftist's move to the Right: AB HONESTO VIRUM BONUM NIHIL DETTERET (Brothers Judd Blog, 2/11/03).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM

, AND ANTI-ANTI-SEMITISTS CONVERT MUSLIMS?

Should Christians Convert Muslims?: A new flock of missionaries has launched a campaign to take the Gospel to Islamic countries. But will they inspire more backlash than belief? (DAVID VAN BIEMA, Jun. 22, 2003, TIME)
In the broadest theological sense, Josh and other emissaries of Christ are answering Jesus' call in the Gospel According to Matthew, known as the Great Commission: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Since the Middle Ages, missionaries—revered by some, reviled by others—have been among history's great cross-cultural pollinators.

In the past century, as mainline Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. adopted a social gospel that stressed aiding the poor over preaching to the unenlightened, evangelizing at its purest fell to Evangelicals. Rare is the conservative Protestant church that doesn't send its teens off on short-term mission trips or play host to a stream of missionaries on home leave, their stories full of exotic places and changed hearts. Although they would never admit it, the returnees are Evangelicalism's paragons, making its philosophy of relentless outreach their lives' work. Says Beth Streeter, a Moraga, Calif., health-care consultant who left on a short mission trip to Egypt with her husband and two young children shortly after Sept. 11: "When you believe at your core that the love of Jesus Christ really is the best gift to humankind, you want to find ways and places for people to hear that for themselves. Sometimes it drives us places that can be awkward and uncomfortable."

Through the 1970s, the great missions fields were Latin America, where conservative Protestantism competed with Catholicism for the hearts of the poor, and (for the more daring) Africa and the Iron Curtain countries. Gradually, however, the focus shifted. A missions strategist named Ralph Winter suggested in 1974 that Christians turn their attention from areas already exposed to Christ to "unreached people groups" who had never heard the Gospel. The plan held special allure for those who read literally another verse in Matthew suggesting that when every nation is reached, the long-awaited end times can commence. In 1989 Argentine-born evangelist Luis Bush pointed out that 97% of the unevangelized lived in a "window" between the 10th and 40th latitudes. This immense global slice, he explained, was disproportionately poor; the majority of its inhabitants "enslaved" by Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism and, ultimately, by Satan.

In a later paper, Bush urged Christians, "Put on the full armor of God and fight with the weapons of spiritual warfare." (He has emphasized to Time that he did not mean military action.) Of Islam specifically, he wrote, "From its center in the 10/40 Window, Islam is reaching out energetically to all parts of the globe; in a similar strategy, we must penetrate (its) heart with the liberating truth of the gospel." Many mustered themselves to the Window. [...]

Evangelicals assert again and again that their message is based in love. They are far better informed and more actively concerned than the average American citizen about the Islamic world's material needs, and their desire to share Christ springs in the main from a similarly generous impulse. Claims that Christian aid groups engage in charity as a "cover" for proselytizing do a disservice to the sometimes heroic humanitarian efforts by workers who believe that Christians should heed not just Jesus' message of salvation but also his example as a feeder and a healer. Yet there should be no question that while most evangelical missionaries love Muslims, they hope to replace Islam. Some cringed at Graham's "evil and wicked" description, but their critique was more about tone than substance. A few would suggest that only parts of Islam, and not its whole, are misguided. But most would subscribe to Luis Bush's generalization about Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism: "Satan wants to keep people as miserable as possible for as long as possible."

Clearly, this ideology is at odds with President Bush's statements that Islam is a religion of peace, his visit to a Washington, D.C., mosque and his invitation to prominent Muslims to break their Ramadan fast at the White House. Sufficiently amplified, it could also presumably complicate American efforts to bolster moderate Islam in the Middle East. The Administration, however, does not see it that way. Government officials admit the existence of a few "cowboys," but by and large, says one, missionaries "are often helping people, and not simply because they want to convert them," and Muslims are happy for the aid. During discussion of Graham's role in Iraq, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development noted to a reporter for the Beliefnet website that the government could not in any case control private charitable organizations. And a senior Administration official told Time that given the President's close ties to the Christian right and his support of faith-based charity work, there was little chance the White House would discourage Christian aid organizations from going to Iraq.

The national debate over missionaries in Iraq has provoked a parallel discourse in the evangelical community, or rather, a new chapter in the ongoing dialogue about how best to deliver God's word. At a gathering called last month by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington think tank, fervor and self-criticism mixed with a sense that Christianity's overtures to Muslims might be entering a critical stage. "If we don't get this right this time, we could become irrelevant," worried one participant. Another, Serge Duss of the Christian charity World Vision International, asserted that the current controversy is "merely a blip on the screen." The value of Christian missions would not be judged on the past few months but on the past half-century, during which, "because we love God and love our neighbor," they have been "in the forefront of providing not only humanitarian aid but development, child health care, sanitation and communications." At times, Duss said, "we have been able to be more overt about our Christian faith and at times not. And this," he added, "is where we need to be very wise."

there's something deeply silly about the notion that we should try to bring the Middle East the fruits of Judeo-Christianity--capitalism, democracy, protestantism--without planting the roots.

MORE:
Missionaries in Islamic countries stand the test of Time (Ted Olsen,
06/23/2003, Christianity Today: Weblog)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 AM

THE LOST OPPORTUNITY OF 1944

Syrians Wounded in Attack by U.S. on Convoy in Iraq (DOUGLAS JEHL, 6/24/03, NY Times)

So we see how easy it would be to stage a provocation when armed forces inevitably come in contact with one another in a war zone.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM

I'LL BE BACK FOR YOU, AND WE'LL LET THE MACHINES SPEAK

Controversial Win Puts Gordons At Odds Once Again (MIKE MULHERN, Jun 24, 2003, Media General News Service)
The smoke won't settle soon, and don't expect the Gordons, Robby and Jeff, to be sharing Thanksgiving dinner or exchanging Christmas cards this year. In fact, they could be bumping heads in just a few weeks at Loudon, N.H., where - remember - Robby got his first Winston Cup win in the long-delayed finale to the 2001 season by punting Jeff out of the way in traffic over the final laps.

Robby certainly knows how to get Jeff's goat. At Loudon 18 months ago, Jeff was so angry that after the race he dropkicked Robby hard at the end of the backstretch in a rare display of anger. Again Sunday, Jeff was irate afterward with Robby, spending most of his post-race energy berating Robby.

"He should mind his own business,'' Robby said in response to Jeff's complaints that he shouldn't have passed teammate Kevin Harvick in a race back to the yellow flag at the 140-mile mark of the 220- mile race. ``Now Kevin may be mad at me ... but it is what it is.''

Harvick wanted to keep out of the verbal fray: "I think Jeff said it best,'' was all Harvick would offer after his third- place finish, after listening to Jeff Gordon rant.

Our son's first words were: "Jeff Gordon is evil".
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:09 AM

SPARKING AN IMPROVED POLITICS

Savant for a Day (Lawrence Osborne, NYT Mag, 6/22/2003)
My forehead was connected, by a series of electrodes, to a machine that looked something like an old-fashioned beauty-salon hair dryer and was sunnily described to me as a "Danish-made transcranial magnetic stimulator." This was not just any old Danish-made transcranial magnetic stimulator, however; this was the Medtronic Mag Pro ...

The Medtronic was originally developed as a tool for brain surgery: by stimulating or slowing down specific regions of the brain, it allowed doctors to monitor the effects of surgery in real time. But ... people undergoing transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, could suddenly exhibit savant intelligence -- those isolated pockets of geniuslike mental ability that most often appear in autistic people....

Hooked up to the machine, 40 percent of test subjects exhibited extraordinary, and newfound, mental skills.

I see the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004 stepping up to the debate podium with this contraption on his head, and for two hours talking like a conservative.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:12 AM

JUST SAY, NO, TO EUROPE

Poll shows Blair is hurting Labour (Alan Travis, June 24, 2003, The
Guardian)
Tony Blair's personal unpopularity is seriously damaging Labour's poll rating for the first time, according to the results of this month's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The June ICM survey shows that the prime minister's popularity has fallen again, and Labour's lead over the Conservatives has plunged from 12 points last month to only four points now - its lowest level since the petrol crisis two and a half years ago.

Last fortnight's fudged euro decision, the botched reshuffle and the row over taxes have hit Labour. It share of the vote is down by three percentage points on the month, to 38%, while the Tories are up by five points, at 34%. The government's four-point lead is its smallest on the Guardian/ICM poll since 2000.

The poll also shows that the government's "not yet" statement on the single currency has proved disastrous for the pro-euro camp, and support for joining the eurozone has fallen to its lowest level since March 2001. According to the monthly ICM/Goldman Sachs tracker poll, support for the euro fell by nine percentage points to only 21%, after the statement by Mr Blair and the chancellor, Gordon Brown.

It continues to mystify us why neither Mr. Blair nor the Tories can figure out that their political fortunes are tied to outright opposition to the EU.

June 24, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 PM

BLUEBLOOD OF THE RED STATES LURES BLUE COLLARS

The Bad News for Big Labor: Blue Collars Love This Blueblood (Richard S. Dunham, 6/26/03, Business Week)
Labor's basic problem: It's up against a plain-spoken, tough-guy President who commands the affection of blue-collar workers. Democratic consultant Brian Lunde, an unabashed Bush admirer, compares the President's rank-and-file support to that of Ronald Reagan, who captured a six-pack bloc dubbed Reagan Democrats. "Once in a while, strong leadership and personal character traits can trump interest-group issues checklists," says Lunde.

Worried union leaders want to make sure that this flirtation with the GOP remains a fleeting infatuation. Otherwise, the political consequences could be devastating for Democrats. If Bush makes major inroads among working-class voters in 2004, it could tip the balance in swing states throughout the industrial heartland that Al Gore carried in 2000. Among them: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Polls show the President riding a wave of blue-collar popularity, particularly among whites. In Michigan, Bush receives a 63% favorable rating from white unionists and 59% from labor women, according to a May 18-22 EPIC/MRA poll. Among the families of white union members, the President leads an unnamed Democrat by 56% to 32%. Many working stiffs "still like Bush even if they have profound disagreements on [economic] policy," says Catholic University political scientist John Kenneth White. "It's values, stupid, and Democrats still don't get it."

Four major factors worked against George W. Bush in 2000, making his victory improbable:

(1) He was up against a popular incumbent VP in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

(2) He'd had a very difficult primary battle that did him particular harm in what should have been an area of strength--the Catholic Midwest.

(3) He had a reputation for being a lightweight.

(4) The last minute revelation of a drunk driving arrest nearly sank him.

Despite all of these negatives, he still managed to win.

Now he heads into a re-election where he'll be renominated by acclamation, after having dispelled most peoples' doubts by leading the country through one of its more difficult periods, to face a challenger of lilliputian stature who will himself have had a bruising primary fight and who will have no money all Summer, while Mr. Bush will be all over the airwaves.

Unlike his father, Mr. Bush had the good fortune to inherit a slowing economy so that he will be running during an obvious recovery. The
Republicans control both houses of Congress and with a chance to pick up more seats, especially in the Senate, will be the more energized party at the grassroots level. There is no major divisive issue--nothing that rises to the level of degregation or Vietnam--that has the country at war with itself at this time (abortion could be such an issue but is tending in favor of the Right so has become fairly quiet). The President's health is not an issue--as it was for FDR, Ike, and Reagan when they sought re-election--but his vice president's is, and this could give him the opportunity to name a black woman running mate from California, one of the great political trifectas of all time.

The stars are all lining up for what could be a rout of historic proportions in November 2004. Neither Democrats nor the press have yet come to grips with this, but when they do things are going to get very ugly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 PM

MADISON'S REVENGE

Democrats pledge support for affirmative action (AP, June 23, 2003)
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day," said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

This is the first good idea we've heard from a Democratic presidential candidate. The Court should not have the final word on the Constitution and to allow such an obviously anti-Constitutional scheme to continue is to abdicate our responsibilities as citizens.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 PM

CUE RANDY NEWMAN

Short Men, Short Shrift. Are Drugs the Answer? (NATALIE ANGIER, June 22, 2003, NY Times)
There is a harsh rule of thumb about male height, and it measures six feet and counting. As study after study has shown, tall men give
nearly all the orders, win most elections, monopolize girls and monopolies, and disproportionately splay their elongated limbs across the cushy unconfines of first-class cabins. By the simple act of striding into a room, taller than average men are accorded a host of positive attributes having little or nothing to do with height: a high IQ, talent, competence, trustworthiness, even kindness.

And men who are considerably shorter than the average American guy height of 5-foot-9 1/2? These poor little fellows are at elevated risk of dropping out of school, drinking heavily, dating sparsely, getting sick or depressed. They have a lower chance of marrying or fathering children than do taller men, and their salaries tend to be as modest as their stature. If they are out striving to make their mark, they are derided as "Little Napoleons." Call them whatever you please, and chances are you won't get called on it, for making fun of short men is one of the last acceptable prejudices.

Small wonder, then, that an advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration has just recommended that the agency approve the use of genetically engineered human growth hormone for healthy children who are "idiopathically" short - that is, children who are at the bottom-most tail of growth curves, yet who, unlike a small subset of very short children, do not suffer from growth hormone deficiency. [...]

ARE we really willing to subject our kids to buttock or thigh injections three to six times a week, year after year, just so that the local Dudley Dursley will taunt them about their big ears and good grades, rather than their stature?

Good racket for the drug companies because taller men will just start taking it to keep their lead.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 PM

LEMME HEAR YA' SAY, YEMEN!

Yemeni troops launch assault on fugitive Islamist extremists hiding in mountainous region in south Yemen (Hammoud Mounassar, 6/24/03, Middle East Online)
Hundreds of Yemeni troops backed by tanks and helicopters on Tuesday launched an operation in this mountainous region in south Yemen to net a group of fugitive Islamist extremists.

The sweep unfolding in Jabal Hatat, 120 kilometres (75 miles) northwest of the port city of Aden, was being led by Defence Minister General Abdullah Ali Eleiwah himself, a correspondent reported.

The assault is aimed at netting a group of around 80 extremists accused of having launched Saturday's attack on an army medical convoy that left seven wounded, a military official told journalists at the scene.

The extremists hidden out in the rugged and largely inaccessible region comprises elements from the Islamic Jihad group and the Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan, as well as sympathisers with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network, the official said.

Robert D. Kaplan's recent essay on Yemen is invaluable.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 PM

GAME ENDER

Moral Stupidity (Orson Scott Card, June 16, 2003, The Rhinoceros Times)
I had just finished an interview at a public television station, and a staff member was kindly presenting me with a tape of the program, when I saw on a monitor a CNN report that Hamas had declared total war on Israel.

I laughed and said, "And how will that be different from what they've already been doing? Once you've spent a few years blowing up babies and schoolchildren and old people, how can you make your war more total than that?"

To my astonishment, she clucked her tongue and said, "It's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the two sides."

I couldn't believe she actually meant that. "Israel hasn't been targeting helpless civilians," I said.

To which she contemptuously replied, "They just use the regular army to achieve the same result."

Then she picked up a phone and made a call, rudely turning her back on me. I was, apparently, no longer worthy of serious attention.

Her rudeness, of course, was entirely understandable -- the politically correct are above the rules of ordinary civility, once they have identified you as an unbeliever in their religion.

A better novelist and essayist than Bruce Sterling.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 PM

WILL THE TRENT LOTT FALLOUT NEVER END?

Schwegmann switches to GOP: She launches bid for lieutenant governor (New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 24, 2003)
State Rep. Melinda Schwegmann announced Monday that she is switching her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and will run for her former office of lieutenant governor in the October primary.

Addressing the House floor on the last day of the legislative session, the New Orleans representative said she "felt somewhat abandoned by many Democrats, while at the same time, I have been embraced and encouraged to run by numerous Republicans."

Schwegmann, who was lieutenant governor from 1992 to 1996, the first woman to hold that office, said she will expand upon the inroads the office has made in encouraging tourism and would be a champion for the state's senior citizens.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM

GOING NUCLEAR

Senate Committee Passes 'Nuclear Option' Filibuster Rule (Jeff Johnson, June 24, 2003, CNSNews.com)
Anticipating a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court later this year, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee Tuesday passed what opponents
have called the "nuclear option" to end the Democrats' strategy of filibustering judicial nominees they do not have enough votes to defeat. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) predicted Democrats will be able to block the resolution, just as they have been successful in blocking the president's judicial nominees. [...]

The full Senate must vote on the resolution before it can take effect. Rules changes require only a simple majority - 51 votes - to pass, but opponents can filibuster the resolution under a special rule that would let only one-third of the senators block a vote on the proposal.

Given that the GOP is more likely to get to 60 than the Democrats to 50, it seems unwise of Mr. Daschle & company to play hardball.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 PM

THE SCALE JUSTICE HOLDS IS BINARY, IS IT NOT?

A Mathematician Crunches the Supreme Court's Numbers (NICHOLAS WADE, June 24, 2003, NY Times)
The voting pattern of the Rehnquist court over the last nine years "shows that the court acts as if composed of 4.68 ideal justices," says Dr. Lawrence Sirovich, a mathematician at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan whose day job is figuring out how the visual system works.

By another measure, "the decision space of the Rehnquist court requires only two dimensions for its description," he writes in the issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences being published today.

Nine independent thinkers who focus solely on the merits of cases might be expected to vote in all possible combinations over a long enough period. Dr. Sirovich's analyses indicate that the Supreme Court voting falls a long way from that pattern.

His first measure entails considering that if two members were twins who always voted the same way, the court would effectively have eight members, not nine. On a court with nine members, there are 512 possible voting patterns, or half that number if a vote is marked as being in the majority or not.

But the actual number of voting patterns is very much less, as if generated by a smaller number of wholly independent individuals.

Analyzing nearly 500 opinions issued since 1995 - the court membership has not changed since Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined it in 1994 - Dr. Sirovich calculates, based on information theory, that 4.68 ideal justices would have produced the same diversity of decision making.

By ideal, Dr. Sirovich means a justice whose voting is uncorrelated with any other's. His measure, thus, points up the high degree of correlation in the court's voting pattern.

Is complete randomness really a desirable quality in a system of justice?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 PM

INSIDE BASEBALL TO THE NTH DEGREE

Re-Elect Bush: Beta Version: A sneak preview of the president's 2004 campaign. (Timothy Noah, June 24, 2003, Slate)
Presumably by accident, somebody left a live prototype of President Bush's 2004 campaign site on the Web for a few hours today. (It's locked up behind a password now, so all links in this item are to snapshots Slate took earlier.) At least Chatterbox thinks it was a live prototype. An editorial by former Justice Department spokesperson Mindy Tucker is headlined, "Placeholder for Mindy's Editorial," with the intriguing subhead, "Mindy's editorial on women." The editorial itself reads like radical feminist poetry:

"This is the body this is the body this is the body this is the body this is the body this si th body asdf asdf sdf asdfsadf sadfsdfsdfsadf"

Other gems include a hot link, "See more Hispanic photos," underneath the caption to a photograph of Laura Bush reading to Hispanic children. (As her father-in-law would say, "Message: I care.")

In what sense is this journalism that truly tells us something about the '04 campaign, rather than a bit of snarky childishness?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM

HEADS WE ACT, TAILS WE ACT HARDER

LOOKING FOR LEGITIMACY IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES (Robert Kagan, Foreign Policy)
"Legitimacy" is an intangible factor in foreign policy, but like so many intangibles it can have great practical significance. Neither this nor any future American administration wants to be regarded as behaving illegitimately when it goes to war; hence President George W. Bush sought U.N. support before the conflict. A perceived pattern of illegitimate behavior can limit the cooperation other countries are willing to offer and put sand in the gears of even a sole superpower. Nor are Americans likely to be comfortable consistently acting in ways that much of the world, and especially other like-minded peoples, deem illegitimate. [...]

In addressing the problem of legitimacy, a simple institutional legalism will not avail. If the United States seeks legitimation for its actions, and it should, it will have to earn that legitimacy the old-fashioned way. It must promote and appear to promote not only its own national interest narrowly conceived, but also the common interests of the liberal democratic world. Even if the Cold War alliances cannot be re-created, this quality of American leadership during the Cold War can and should be emulated today.

The problem of legitimacy, like most international problems, can never be definitively solved. Perhaps the best test of American foreign policy in the coming years will therefore be whether, through an active and generous diplomacy and through successful actions in the common interest, the United States can win the argument that it has acted in the common good more often than it loses it.

The contradiction inherent in this argument is that if our interventions in the Middle East leave it a worse place than it is today--frightening though, eh?--the Europeans will be begging us to act more forcefully, to just annihilate the Arab world and put it out of our misery. It's not like we can foment instability and violence and then have folks tell us to walk away.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM

OUR PRICES ARE LOW, LOW, LOW

Is bargain aisle also deflation alley?: Low and falling prices are becoming ingrained in the consumer psyche - for better or worse. (Ron Scherer, June 18, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
Cost-conscious shoppers have been seeing prices plunge on goods such as computers, blue jeans, sandals, and even Harry Potter card games. Bargains are evident from Circuit City to the local auto mile. And while food prices haven't fallen overall, alert buyers at this Stop & Shop can find hot deals from Aisle 1 to Aisle 10: half-price bottled water, discounted razors, and more.

Welcome to "I can get it for you cheaper" America. It's a phenomenon that has Alan Greenspan watching prices as closely as Mr. Tamres. The Federal Reserve chairman worries that tumbling prices on many goods - while they make shoppers happy - could lead to broader deflation that harms the economy. [...]

The low prices are having an affect on the way consumer expectations. The University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers has found that consumers expect the inflation rate to average 2.6 percent annually for the next 10 years. "It's lowest since we started asking in the mid-1970s," says survey director Richard Curtin.

Here's the question: subtract out those goods and services where the Federal government artificially drives prices higher--housing, medicine, education--and is there anything you think will cost more a few months or years from now than it does today? And if we undertook a rational reform like putting people into Medical Savings Accounts, who thinks that health care prices wouldn't start falling too?
Posted by David Cohen at 6:51 PM

WE DROPPED ONE BOMB ON SOME JAPANESE CITY? SO WHAT?

Donald Regan (The Economist, 6/19/03) (may require registration)
One of his continuing problems was what he called the “shadowy distaff presidency” run by Nancy Reagan. The president's wife had faith in the clairvoyant talents of a woman in San Francisco she called My Friend. From a study of Mr Reagan's horoscope the friend claimed to pick good days and bad days in the president's life. Mrs Reagan would in effect veto activities arranged by Mr Regan if they fell on bad days. Mr Regan described the vexing problem in his book “For the Record”:
The president's schedule is the single most potent tool in the White House, because it determines what the most powerful man in the world is going to do and when he is going to do it. By humoring Mrs Reagan we gave her this tool, or, more accurately, gave it to an unknown woman in San Francisco who believed that the zodiac controls events and human behavior and that she could read the secrets of the future in the movement of the planets.
The friend was particularly busy with advice when Mr Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev at summits at Geneva and Reykjavik. She prepared a horoscope of the Russian leader as well. Nothing much resulted from these meetings so perhaps, inadvertently, they were held on bad days. For Mr Regan anyway there must have been quite terrible days when he regretted taking the job. Until he had become chief of staff, his life had been one long much-praised path to good fortune.
This is a uncharacteristically pedestrian obituary of a man who, had he ever been close to achieving anything, might have been a great tragic hero. But, much more importantly, does The Economist not realize that, in terms of making the modern world, the most important date since 1945 was October 12, 1986. On that date, to the consternation of leftists everywhere and against the wishes of many of his political and diplomatic advisers, President Reagan walked away from the table in Reykjavik and sealed the Soviet Union's doom.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 PM

A BUREAUCRATIC MESS, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT

Where to file it: Europe's constitutional convention has produced a lamentable piece of work (The Economist, Jun 19th 2003)
There was always a risk that the convention would not design a particularly good constitution. What was harder to imagine was that the convention would produce a text which would worsen the very problems it had been instructed to address. This is what it has somehow contrived to do. In many ways the draft constitution, more than 200 pages long, makes the Union's constitutional architecture harder to understand than it was before. That is an incredible feat. Worse, it weaves perpetual constitutional revolution more securely into the Union's legal fabric. The draft, admittedly, gets one or two things right: it is not entirely devoid of sense (see article). But for the most part the text is sound on points that are relatively unimportant. Everything that is crucial it gets wrong.

The most important task for any constitution is to assign powers while ensuring that the officers and institutions exercising those powers are held in check, accountable to citizens. This central preoccupation is plain in the constitution of the United States. Europe's constitutional convention has barely troubled itself with the question.

It is here that we see why it matters that America's Founders took a rather Hobbesian view of human nature, while the Europeans (really just the French because they're the only ones who matter) take their cue from Rousseau. Consider only the words of Thomas Jefferson, the most French and democratic of our Founders: "In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution." A constitution that doesn't limit the power of the governors is hardly worthy of the name.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:57 PM

WHY COPY ERRORS?

Seeing Red: Philip Foner influenced a generation of young labor historians, but critics call him a plagiarist who helped himself to their research (SCOTT McLEMEE, June 27, 2003, Chronicle of Higher Education)
The question remains: Why did his colleagues put up with it?

Younger labor historians in the 1970s and '80s "tended to be people with left sympathies, who felt the man had suffered enough," says Mr. Dubofsky. "So even the people whose work he had borrowed from freely did not want to say anything." [...]

"If you look at the whole of his body of work, a lot of historians think that my uncle's most important contributions are things that aren't being discussed at all in this," says Eric Foner. "He edited the writings of Frederick Douglass at a time when, believe it or not, nobody remembered him. He edited seven volumes of documents on the history of black labor in the United States, and collections of material from black political conventions in the 19th century. And he did all of it without research assistants or grants. This debate is not doing justice to his contributions to scholarship."

The New York Labor History Association has no plans to revoke the lifetime-achievement award it gave Foner in 1994, according to the group's president, Irwin Yellowitz, a professor emeritus of history at CUNY's City College. "I was on the board, and there was a discussion about the rumors that he had been cutting corners," he says. "But the decision was finally made that the award would be given in recognition of the body of work as a whole, even if it was not always of the very highest quality all throughout."

Eric Foner is sort of right: his uncle's Marxism mars his work more than his plagiarism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 PM

)

Muslims studying American religion (Shari Rudavsky, 6/22/2003, Boston Globe)
Voices rose in agreement and dissent. Hands gesticulated to make a point. At first glance, the 40 people in the Hebrew College classroom could all have been Talmudic scholars, arguing over the fine points of the tale of the sacrifice of Isaac.

But only about half of the heads sported kippahs, the skullcaps observant Jews wear, and 16 of the participants had never before studied Torah, the sacred Jewish text. Rather, they were Muslim scholars on a four-week mission to learn more about the United States' religious practices.

Hosted by Boston College's Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, the 16 academics spent one recent weekend, for example, attending Saturday services at Temple Shalom in Newton and heading the next day to the New Covenant Church in Mattapan, an African-American charismatic church.

Khaldun Malek, a participant from Malaysia reared on a steady diet of Walt Disney, ''Sesame Street,'' and ''The Brady Bunch,'' found the contrast simultaneously dizzying and edifying. ''America from looking at the outside is something you can easily grasp, but from the inside it's one of the most diverse countries that I have ever encountered,'' said Malek, a Muslim who teaches political theory at the University of Malaya.

But even from inside there's no explaining the Brady Bunch...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM

THE ARGUMENT FROM SIMPLICITY

The Justification of Theism (Richard G. Swinburne, OrthodoxyToday)
The hypothesis of theism is that the Universe exists because there is a God who keeps it in being and that laws of nature operate because there is a God who brings it about that they do. He
brings it about that the laws of nature operate by sustaining in every object in the universe its liability to behave in accord with those laws. He keeps the Universe in being by making the laws such as to conserve the matter of the Universe, that is, by making it the case at each moment that what there was before continues to exist. The hypothesis is a hypothesis that a person brings about these things for some purpose. He acts directly on the Universe, as we act directly on our brains, guiding them to move our limbs (but the Universe is not his body-for he could at any moment destroy it, and act on another universe, or do without a universe). As we have seen, personal explanation and scientific explanation are the two ways we have of explaining the occurrence of phenomena.

Since there cannot be a scientific explanation of the existence of the Universe, either there is a personal explanation or there is no explanation at all. The hypothesis that there is a God is the hypothesis of the existence of the simplest kind of person which there could be. A person is a being with power to bring about effects, knowledge of how to do so, and freedom to make choices of which effects to bring about. God is by definition an omnipotent (that is, infinitely powerful), omniscient (that is, all-knowing), and perfectly free person; He is a person of infinite power, knowledge, and freedom; a person to whose power, knowledge, and freedom there are no limits except those of logic. The hypothesis that there exists a being with infinite degrees of the qualities essential to a being of that kind is the postulation of a very simple being. The hypothesis that there is such a God is a much simpler hypothesis than the hypothesis that there is a god who has such and such a limited power. It is simpler in just the same way that the hypothesis that some particle has zero mass or infinite velocity, is simpler than the hypothesis that it has of 0.32147 of some unit of mass or a velocity of 221,000 km/sec. A finite limitation cries out for an explanation of why there is just that particular limit, in a way that limitlessness does not.

That there should exist anything at all, let alone a universe as complex and as orderly as ours, is exceedingly strange. But if there is a God, it is not vastly unlikely that he should create such a universe. A universe such as ours is a thing of beauty, and a theatre in which men and other creatures can grow and work out their destiny. The orderliness of the Universe makes it a beautiful Universe, but, even more importantly, it makes it a Universe which men can learn to control and change. For only if there are simple laws of nature can men predict what will follow from what-and unless they can do that, they can never change anything. Only if men know that by sowing certain seeds, weeding and watering them, they will get corn, can they develop an agriculture. And men can only acquire that knowledge if there are easily graspable regularities of behavior in nature. So God has good reason to make an orderly Universe and, ex hypothesi, being omnipotent, he has the power to do so. So the hypothesis that there is a God makes the existence of the Universe much more to be expected than it would otherwise be, and it is a very simple hypothesis. Hence the arguments from the existence of the Universe and its conformity to simple natural laws are good arguments to an explanation of the phenomena, and provide substantial evidence for the existence of God.

Science too hopes that the Universe is governed by a very simple set of laws, that we might be as Gods ourselves. It's foolish then to argue the unlikelihood of a God prior to the Universe. We can't know, but He seems more likely than not by reference to our own situation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM

MAD MAX?

Is Mel Gibson Plotting the Death of Jews?: Jews and Catholics warn Gibson about his film (Ted Olsen, 6/24/03, Christianity Today: Weblog)
[T]he ADL's Ken Jacobson defends his group's criticism of the film. "We have good reason to be seriously concerned about Gibson's plans to retell the Passion" he says in a letter to the New York Post, which last Thursday published a columnist's summary of the dispute. "Historically, the Passion-the story of the killing of Jesus-has resulted in the death of Jews."

Of course, the story of the killing of Jesus is told every year in thousands upon thousands of churches worldwide without any violence to Jews whatsoever, but the ADL seems more concerned about such questionable history as Oberammergau's Passion Play causing the Holocaust.

For his part, Gibson is no longer threatening to sue, and says critics should judge the film once it's actually in theaters. But will it offend Jews? "It's true that, as the Bible says, 'He came unto his own and his own received him not,'" he said. "I can't hide that." But he promises his film is"meant to inspire not offend. . . . My intention in bringing it to the screen is to create a lasting work of art and engender serious thought among audiences of diverse faith backgrounds. If the intense scrutiny during my 25 years in public life revealed I had ever persecuted or discriminated against anyone based on race or creed, I would be all too willing to make amends. But there is no such record."

Mr. Gibson could be headed for the worst career move since Michael Ovitz's.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM

A CLICHE CLINCHED

Is there scientific validity to the saying 'Red sky at night, sailors' delight; red sky in the morning sailors take warning'? H. Richardson (Joe Sienkiewicz, June 23, 2003, Scientific American)
Indeed, there is scientific validity to the adage, "red sky at night sailors? delight; red sky in the morning sailors take warning." This saying has very old roots. In the bible (Matthew 16:2-3), the following quote is attributed to Jesus: "When it is evening, ye say, fair weather: for the heaven is red. And in the morning, foul weather today for the heaven is red and lowering." There are also versions of this saying that refer to shepherds instead of sailors.

Two factors contribute to the cogency of this saying. The first is that weather systems generally travel from west to east in the mid latitudes. Because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, a rising sun in advance of an approaching weather system would illuminate the approaching mid- and high-level clouds to create a red sky in the morning. Alternatively, if the sun is setting as a weather system exits and high pressure is building, then the departing clouds would be illuminated. This would create a red sky at night with fair weather to follow.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:37 PM

)

Why Dean Isn't Going Away (Joe Klein, Time, 6/23/2003)
"It's time to shift gears," [Dean] told me, "to become a more presidential candidate with an inclusive vision, not just a bomb thrower."... And the broader vision? "We've lost our sense of community," he told me. Not exactly a new theme. The Governor road-tested "community" at the Larkspur rally, and it wasn't nearly as much fun as the bomb throwing.

I hope he develops this "community" theme, because it will help conservatives make the case that dependence on government destroys community, while the mutual dependence of free persons on their neighbors is community. Until then, it will be interesting to observe Dean's attempts at "inclusive" bomb-throwing.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM

FORGET THE MAINE ALREADY

Poll: Majority Backs Use of Force in Iran: Survey Reflects Concern on Nuclear Effort (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, June 24, 2003, The Washington Post)
Most Americans would support the United States taking military action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons despite growing public concern about the mounting number of U.S. military casualties in the aftermath of the war with Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

President Bush last week said the rest of the world should join the United States in declaring that it "will not tolerate" nuclear weapons in Iran -- a vow that most Americans appear willing to back with force. By 56 percent to 38 percent, the public endorsed the use of the military to block Iran from developing nuclear arms. [...]

Two in three -- 67 percent -- of those interviewed said they approve of the way Bush is dealing with Iraq. That's still a strong majority but down from 75 percent in late April, at the end of the conflict. Nearly as many -- 64 percent -- said the benefits of the war outweighed its cost, a drop from 70 percent in the late April survey.

Seven in 10 said they were concerned that the United States would become involved in a long and costly peacekeeping mission in Iraq, a figure unchanged in recent months.

Here's what it means to be a Democrat in post-9/11 America: you're still questioning the wisdom of attacking Saddam Hussein while the American people are ready to leave Iraq behind and move on to the next target.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:08 AM

TONY THE TORY FILES

Tories back in business (Ed Vaizey, June 24, 2003, The Guardian)
All the signs are that a turning point has been reached in the Conservatives' electoral fortunes - and Labour is doing all it can to help us. After a botched reshuffle, confusion over huge constitutional changes at home and in Europe, and internal division on tuition fees and foundation hospitals, comes Haingate.

The importance of the debate on income tax should not be underestimated. It is the return of old Labour, filling the vacuum created by the absence of any ideological anchor for New Labour. Ministers and ex-ministers such as Charles Clarke, Peter Mandelson and Stephen Byers now find themselves in the old Labour camp, again looking seriously at tax rises. It is the return of the same Kinnock-Smith agenda that failed to convince voters in the 1980s and 1990s.

This is the real agenda of the left. It is so bereft of ideas about how to solve the country's ongoing problems with schools and hospitals, and incapable of hard thinking or creative solutions, that it returns to tax and spend.

Mr. Blair seems to have paid a high price for the war, which is control over his party's basest urges. In order to become a permanent force the Third Way leadership has no other choice but to turn to its real base, conservatives. This was the accidental genius of Bill Clinton, to get himself a Republican Congress in '94 so that he could govern as a Republican, though a randy one. Mr. Blair should borrow a page from that playbook and lead the Tories back to power.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 AM

NOT A PEACE PLAN BUT A STRATEGY

The peace plan show (Barry Rubin, Jun. 24, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
PREMISE: If only Israel cooperates and makes concessions the situation will improve.

Fact: While Palestinian leaders constantly demand concessions from Israel easing security controls, withdrawing from Palestinian-populated areas, releasing Palestinians involved in terrorism, dismantling settlements, and so on they never seem to give anything in exchange. Not a finger is lifted to stop the terrorism, much less any other compromises.

Premise: Israeli attacks on terrorists are counterproductive.

Fact: Given the Palestinian determination to keep fighting, Israeli actions are the only things that can effectively reduce the level of successful terrorism by weakening the terrorists, disrupting their activities and intimidating would-be participants. It is no instant or perfect solution, but it is the only strategy that may achieve anything.

Premise: Saddam Hussein's overthrow has created a chance for progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front.

Fact: The war in Iraq has had no perceptible effect on any aspect of this issue.

Premise: The United States is in a position to advance a new peace process.

Fact: While the US certainly has incentives to show it is trying to make progress, it exercises no useful leverage on the Palestinians. It has shown no ability to strengthen Abu Mazen or gain a cessation of terrorism. It cannot even get its European allies to stop trying to build up Arafat and
unconditionally subsidize the PA.

Premise: The road map will bring European and Arab states' policies closer to the US's.

Fact: European and Arab states tend to view the road map as a plan that will automatically bring an independent Palestinian state in two years regardless of what the Palestinian leadership does.

This is wrong as to each point except the last. Israel need make no further concessions, just accept that made at Oslo, that Palestine will be an independent state rather than an Israeli possession. That will end the terrorism, because further attacks will be acts of war by a sovereign nation.

After fifty years of tit for tat, you may not think that retaliation is counter-productive, but we can all agree it isn't productive.

The Iraq war gave President Bush the leverage he needed to tell Ariel Sharon what to do and Mr. Sharon the cover he needed in order to do it.

The Europeans and Arabs are right: there will be a Palestinian state two years from now. If the Israelis weren't locked in a death dance with the Palestinians it would in fact be that state's tenth anniversary two years from now. Negotiations have been a futile mistake, as such things always are, but that has no bearing on the the conclusion that has been inevitable since Oslo: the two state solution.


MORE:
THE DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES (Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., June 24, 2003, Jewish World Review)
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:47 AM

RUMSFELD'S PUPIL

Headlines (Debka, 6/24/2003)
Jordan agrees to restore ambassador to Tel Aviv. DEBKAfile Washington sources quote Powell as advising king not to wait for Egypt which belongs to Old Middle East, while Jordan is the New Middle East.

Who says Defense shouldn't give State lessons in diplomacy?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM

I'M AFRAID OF THE RUSSIANS; CAN'T SLEEP AT NIGHT

New offensive against killer Indian jets (Raju Bist, 6/23/03, Asia Times)
In the past three years alone, 48 MiGs have crashed while on training flights. In most of the cases, the pilots have died. There have also been cases where the pilots have managed to bail out, but the fighter planes have plummeted into thickly-populated areas, killing innocent civilians. In the latest accident, a MiG-21 fighter jet crashed in Rajasthan, killing the pilot, in early June.

So immunized by a sense of deja vu, news editors of major Indian publications buried the Gadgil story - as they have subsequent accidents - in the inner pages. Two months later, two more IAF pilots, Naresh Dogra and A K Chauhan, were killed when their MiG-21 crashed into a tea estate in the east Indian state of West Bengal. It was the 22nd IAF crash that year. It took place within a week of a meeting convened by India's Defense Minister, George Fernandes, at the air headquarters in New Delhi to "get to the root of the problem" following the frequent crashes. The Indian public has not been told what happened at, or after, the meeting.

What happened? You're using Soviet weaponry, that's what happened. You should see what would happen to them in combat. Remind me again why we just didn't juke it out with those knuckle-draggers...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM

LET THE MARKET DECIDE

Bush accuses Europe of betraying starving Africa (Roland Watson and Tom Baldwin, June 24, 2003, Times of London)
EUROPE is prolonging starvation in Africa by refusing to allow the import of genetically modified foods, President Bush said
yesterday.

He urged Brussels to lift the ban and said it was the special responsibility of developed nations “to combat hunger and disease in desperate lands”.

Speaking before tomorrow’s EU-US summit in Washington, Mr Bush said that the ban, which costs American farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports, was unfounded and unscientific.

It prevented African farmers from importing the food technology, which could help to make crops resistant to disease while boosting yield, for fear that the produce would be cut out of overseas markets. “For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnolgy,” he said.

Europe’s opposition to GM foods has undermined confidence in the products in the developing world, particularly Africa. However, India has undertaken experiments with genetically modified cotton, and this month decided to feed “nutritionally enhanced” GM potatoes to
children.

Here's the beauty of the EU's oh so principled stand. Let a couple markets like India and China open to GM food and the Euros will be tripping over each other trying to get it planted.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM

SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY

Universe Slightly Simpler Than Expected (Space Daily, Jun 22, 2003)
The universe just became a little less mysterious. Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers at the University of Florida have concluded that two of the most common types of galaxies in the universe are in reality different versions of the same thing.

In spite of their similar-sounding names, astronomers had for decades considered "dwarf elliptical" and "giant elliptical" galaxies to be unique.

The findings, which appear in this month's edition of The Astronomical Journal, fundamentally alter astronomers' understanding of these important components of the universe, making it easier to understand how galaxies form in the first place.

"This helps to simplify the universe because we replace two distinct galaxy types with one," said Alister Graham, a UF astronomer and lead author of the paper.

If you'd already invented the wheel, why would you reinvent it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM

A VISION THING

$1bn sweetener for trade plan (Emad Mekay, 6/23/03, Asia Times)
The United States will negotiate free trade agreements separately with Arab countries as a first step towards setting up a US-Middle East Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA) by 2013 that will include up to 20 of the region's nations.

"Our vision is to foster the revival of a prosperous region once again united by culture, commerce and goodwill among nations," said US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in a speech on the last day of the high-profile World Economic Forum meeting in this resort town on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea on Monday.

Zoellick and US Secretary of State Colin Powell met government ministers from Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Oman, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)to discuss steps towards negotiating MEFTA, first announced by US President George W Bush on May 9. Powell told reporters that the effort would help create a more stable Middle East based on the strong links between trade and peace in the trouble region.

Damn those steel tariffs...

June 23, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 PM

)

The New Gloomsayers: Thinkers again predict American decline. Is there any reason to think they'll be right this time? (JOSHUA MURAVCHIK, June 23, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
The declinists, to use the label given to them by the political scientist Samuel Huntington, aimed "to shake Reagan's America from a decade of rose-colored . . . torpor," in the approving phrase of the New York Times. Their thesis was that "imperial overstretch," a term coined by the historian Paul Kennedy, was causing the U.S. to spend too much on defense, thus sending the nation into an economic downturn that would eviscerate the very basis of its strength. A similar theme could be heard among the heralds of a new era of Japanese supremacy, brought about by the readiness of Japan's government to intervene in the marketplace. "Japan has, as I predicted it would, become the undisputed world economic champion," boasted the economist Clyde Prestowitz in 1989. William Pfaff, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune, chimed in that America's relationship with Japan had taken on a "colonial
quality"--with America in the role of colony.

The forecasts of American decline or Japanese ascendance did not stand the test of even a very brief amount of time. Soon, the Soviet empire collapsed, followed by the Soviet Union itself, allowing, in no small measure, to Ronald Reagan's military expenditures and his "overstretched" foreign policy--that is, to the very things that the declinists had decried. Japan, meanwhile, fell into an economic tailspin from which it still, after more than a decade, shows few signs of escaping, while the U.S. economy grew enough to boost per capita income by more than 25%, widening the margin by which our prosperity outstrips that of the other industrialized countries. And just as America's political-military success came from spurning the counsel of the declinists, so its economic success flowed from ignoring those who propounded the Japanese model. The lighter hand of government in America's version of capitalism allowed our firms to adapt more readily than their Japanese or European counterparts to globalization and the revolution in information technology.

Unprecedented triumphs of U.S. policy and industry have unfolded during the 15 years since America ignored the summons to emerge from its "rose-colored torpor" and face up to a supposedly grimmer national reality. To boot, these years have also witnessed the triumph of American ideas all around the world. According to the authoritative tally of Freedom House, some 63% of the world's countries are now governed as electoral democracies, and a virtual global consensus has been reached on the validity of market economics as opposed to state planning.

Of course, new challenges have arisen, notably from terrorism and radical Islam, but these in turn have brought into view other facets of America's strength. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has scored two decisive military victories, each exceeding all forecasts of success and making mockery of the plentiful warnings of fiasco. They have served to demonstrate the extraordinary prowess and agility of American arms while also dispelling the notion that the country, has grown too soft to tolerate casualties in war.

Abroad, this astounding run of success has generated a discernible uptick in expressions of envy. At home, one reaction has been a revival of premonitory scenarios of gloom. Just as the declinists of the late 1980s took aim at the spirit of national self-confidence that had been engendered by President Reagan's upbeat rhetoric and the success of his economic and foreign policies, so today's Cassandras seek to rouse the public from the complacency of America's present vaunting status. They take aim at the very things--military mastery, the spread of democracy and markets--that others interpret as signs of American triumph. Will their warnings prove better founded than those of Messrs. Kennedy, Prestowitz and
Pfaff?

The comparison that begs to be made here is of Islamicism to the two prior totalitarianism's we defeated in world wars--Nazism and Communism--and of the supposed coming economic rivalry with a United Europe and/or China to the imagined Japanese juggernaut of the 80's. Looked at in these terms the idea of American decline relative to these threats is too absurd for words. These new pretenders to the throne suffer from nearly identical problems as their predecessors. Does anyone imagine that a new variant on the totalitarian theme is going to work any better than the old or that an increasingly amoral Europe with declining populations, sclerotic bureaucracies, and unassimilated immigrant populations is a good bet for economic success?

We, though concerned that America too has problems that need to be dealt with post haste, are inclined to the opposite view. The gap between the US and others is likely to widen, not narrow, and certainly not reverse. Europe is toast. China is going to implode. Islam is going to undergo a Reformation or continue its long decline. Meanwhile, an America that allies itself to the rest of the Anglosphere, portions of Latin America, Christian Africa, India, Israel, Taiwan, etc., and possibly to some newly democratic Islamic states, would be in for an extended period of economic and geo-political dominance even more startling than the past century's.

Avoiding decline is a near certainty but to achieve a new Golden Age two somewhat interrelated things are necessary, but one is difficult, the other perhaps impossible: we must recognize the insignificance of Islamicism and of China as strategic threats and must reprivatize our social welfare net. The first is necessary because the rebuilding and maintenance of a massive Cold War security state would indeed tend to warp our economy and society in many of the same ways they were deformed from 1941 to 1991. We can withstand another 9-11, but we'll never heal the damage done by the 60's and 70's.

More difficult, likely even undoable, we must privatize health care and Social Security, for mostly budgetary reasons, and return social services to localities, for reasons of restoring social capital. All of
this would make possible a huge reduction in the federal tax burden and a simplification/rationalization of the tax code, perhaps even a transition to something like a flat tax or system of consumption-based taxation. It would also necessitate a reknitting of family, neighborhood, church, social organizations, etc. This is assuredly unlikely, but that such possibilities are even imagined here--from President Bush's proposals for Social Security and Medicare to the Faith-Based Initiative to school vouchers--is a sure indicator of just how great are our advantages over any rivals. That such reforms might happen, even if only in part, suggests that our heyday is nowhere near done.

How fares the City? "All in all, not bad, not bad at all."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 PM

THERE ARE NO SMART MOBS

E-Mail Mob Takes Manhattan (Michelle Delio, Jun. 19, 2003, Wired)
The Mob Project is the brainchild of a man publicly known only as Bill, who says he works in the "culture industry."

"The idea is mine, and I write the e-mails, but I don't think of myself as the leader of the mob," Bill wrote in an e-mail. "In my mind (the mob) is led by whoever forwards the e-mail around. People make the mob through whoever they know."

Bill has become more secretive about Mob Project plans since the first mob event was held in May.

That event drew six police officers and one paddy wagon, after one of the e-mail recipients (now officially known to the mob as "Squealy") alerted authorities to the impending arrival of the mob.

Due to that unwanted attention from law enforcement officials, Bill opted to keep the details of the second mob action a secret until the very last possible moment.

The e-mail invite instructed participants to synchronize their watches and be waiting at 7 p.m. in one of four specified bars at a particular spot (for example, near the framed prints of the elephant and the leopard in the midtown Holiday Inn's bar).

That evening, mob representatives sporting stylish headgear appeared in the bars and passed out slips of paper containing information on where the mob was to convene and what to do once they got there.

About 200 people then proceeded to Macy's. They rode the escalators to the ninth floor rug department, where they gathered around a large carpet on display.

"We were told to say we all lived together in a big old warehouse in the suburbs," said Jenni Valton, a participant. "We all explained to the salesman that we were looking for a love rug to play on, and that we only make purchases as a group."

After discussing the merits and drawbacks of the selected carpet for 10 minutes, the mob dispersed.

"It was all perfect," Bill said of the activity.

He refused to comment on plans for the next mob event, beyond confirming that there will be another action in July.

Some mob members said they believed the project could serve as an excellent trial run for political protests.

But most said they hoped the Mob Project didn't turn political.

"I've always wanted to be able to say 'I'm a member of the mob' and now I can," said Valton. "In this city, where people seem to need a logical reason for doing anything, it's great to just have some stupid fun."

Never underestimate the capacity of people to trivialize a technology.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 6:44 PM

HARRY POTTER AND THE DISORDER OF MANNERS

Thanks to a bad case of food poisoning this weekend that left me unfit for work or play, I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Allow me a gripe. There is not one "I'm sorry; please forgive me" in the whole book, not even after Harry steals an ally's most private memories from a Pensieve. Through the book, characters get angry at those they've wronged, but they never apologize for their offenses -- they merely explain themselves in an aggrieved tone, and expect everyone to ignore the offense thenceforth.

It is not just the teenage Harry whose manners are bad. I do not recall an instance of "please" or "thank you" in the book. Nor is there moral teaching. Dumbledore does not suggest that Harry forgive those against whom he nourishes grudges, nor does he suggest that Harry apologize to those he has betrayed, even though he regards as critical Harry's reconciliation with an ally he both loathes and has betrayed. If, as Dave Kopel has argued, J.K. Rowling is a Christian writer, it is a Christianity that has lost the themes of repentance and forgiveness.

Fortunately, however, you can still tell the good guys from the bad guys. I am not yet crotchety enough to root for the Dark Lord.

MORE: Quidditch Quaintness (Richard Adams, The Guardian, 6/18/2003)
[R]eaders in this country can perceive a political bandwagon being pushed. Despite all of the books' gestures to multiculturalism and gender equality, Harry Potter is a conservative....

It's no coincidence that Rowling herself is an honorary member of the British Weights and Measures Association - which defends the ounce and pint, and calls the metric system "a political philosophy".

As Josh notes in the comments, the series is pleasingly conservative.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM

THE $64 QUESTION

Can Islam have a democratic future?: It has a glorious past and present. (Surin Pitsuwan, 19/6/2003, Online Opinion)
What you see in the Middle East is not development. What you see in the Middle East is modernity. Modernity you can buy. If you have the money you can buy all the gadgets of the latest invention, but there is very little development. That is the distinction. But in Malaysia and Indonesia you see greater efforts for human resource development, a process that forces a country to be more open. The society is diversifying. Therefore there is room for participation, access and for give and take within the same Islamic society.

I once asked President Khatami of Iran, a Shi'ite, this hypothetical question: There are two men. One lives in a closed society. Every minute of his life
is prescribed. He has to follow the rules of Islam. He has to pray five times a day. He has to fast. He has to pay his alms - his zakat. He has to do everything prescribed by the law, government, regime and police.

There is another Muslim who lives in an open society, with all the choices to be bad. Yet he remains good. He prays five times a day. He fasts. He pays his alms and does everything that the religion requires of him. Which is the better Muslim? President Khatami clapped his knees and laughed. He said, "You from south-east Asia are better than many Muslims around here".

My point is that Islam can inspire you to become a good democrat. Islam can also inspire a society to become a democracy. It depends on various factors that have to somehow work in order to propel that process of democratisation forward. [...]

I think the Muslims are just like any other human beings, aspiring to move forward but frustrated by the present circumstances that they find
themselves in. I think you should feel sympathy with some of the problems they are facing.

We're all sympathetic but Mr. Pitsuwan assumes a bit too blithely that every religion can form a suitable basis for democracy. To date it appears that only Judaism and Christianity, and conspicuously not
Islam
, are reliable foundations. That's not to say it can't be, but it has work to do first.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:30 AM

)

Robin Hood 'did not exist' (BBC, 6/19/03)
[Professor Stephen Knight] claims the Robin Hood "myth" is reinvented when people feel they are being oppressed by their own version of the Sheriff of Nottingham. [...]

"The obsession with identifying the 'real Robin Hood' is futile and misguided. The name Robin Hood existed - Hood is not an uncommon name - but it's more likely the name gave rise to the character.

"He represents resistance to local oppression - freedom and liberty in whatever shape you need it to take."

"The reality of the myth is that people believe in those values and might be guided by them."

The professor's book, Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography, describes how the core elements of the outlaw myth - links with nature, hostility to
oppressive authority, youthfulness, fun and games - have been interpreted over six centuries.

"The genuine Robin Hood is a world-wide figure of myth - he represents a utopian vision of liberty which tends to thrive especially in illiberal contexts like the late 17th Century, the early 19th Century and most recently, the 1980s."

One of the most interesting aspects of this is the way the Left tried misappropriating Robin Hood in the 20th Century to turn him into nothing more than a redistributor of wealth.
Posted by Stephen Judd at 11:29 AM

IT'S NOT THE ECONOMY, STUPID

Bad moves, not economy, behind busted state budgets Governors, legislators failed to act quickly when boom began to fade, analysis finds (Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY, June 23, 2003)
To make ends meet, some states have removed thousands of low-income adults from Medicaid and reduced benefits for others. Many states have raised college tuition, cigarette taxes and other narrowly targeted fees. Six states have increased sales and income tax rates, and several more might do so this week.

But one thing has remained constant throughout the crisis: State spending keeps growing.

It went up 6.3% for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2002, and it's on track to rise about 5% in the 12 months that end June 30. The number of people on Medicaid, which pays for health care and nursing homes for the poor, remains at a near-record 40 million. That number is up 30% since 1998, the result of efforts to sign up people who qualify. And despite anecdotal reports of layoffs -- Oregon furloughed 130 state troopers, for example -- state governments have added 74,000 workers (an increase of 1.5%) in the past two years while the private sector has registered a net loss of 2.6 million jobs (a decline of 2.4%).

By almost any measure, state governments have suffered less than businesses and taxpayers during the economic downturn. Even so, nearly every state is struggling to balance its books.

And here I thought states' only problems were a slow economy and post-911 security costs.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:17 AM

HOW PUSILLANIMOUS

Court Upholds Use of Race in College Admissions With Limits (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 23, 2003)
In two split decisions, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that minority applicants may be given an edge when applying for admissions to universities, but limited how much a factor race can play in the selection of students.

The high court struck down a point system used by the University of Michigan, but did not go as far as opponents of affirmative action had wanted. The court approved a separate program used at the University of Michigan law school that gives race less prominence in the admissions decision-making process.

The Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote.

The court divided in both cases. It upheld the law school program that sought a "critical mass" of minorities by a 5-4 vote, with O'Connor siding with the court's more liberal justices to decide the case.

The court split 6-3 in finding the undergraduate program unconstitutional. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion in the undergraduate case, joined by O'Connor and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer.

Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

Potter Stewart would be proud: they don't know what level of racism is proper, but they'll know it when they see it. This sets up courts to review every plan in the country.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM

STICK TO FICTION

New World Disorder: There are four ways to solve planet-wide problems. None of them work. (Bruce Sterling, July 2003, Wired)
At the top of the heap are the global multilaterals, the brass-plate institutions whose members include diplomats from the world's 190-plus nation-states. Examples are the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations. They might look big and scary to street protesters, but once you peek behind the velvet curtains, it's dead obvious that they're stretched thin, put-upon, weak, fractious, crooked, and low in morale. They lack public legitimacy and democratic representation. Street opinion, the "second superpower," hates and fears them bitterly. The first superpower, the one with stealth bombers, can't stand them either. That's bad news for global multilaterals.

The second system involves international treaties and conventions. These vast, clotted webs of apparent consensus are too many, too messy, and too meager to manage a teeming, boisterous world. Often treaties are signed but never ratified. Many that are ratified aren't enforced. National leaders just plain lose track of all their accords. Consider environmental agreements, more than 200 of which have been promulgated in the past 40 years. Whatever the subject, the Bushites take positive pleasure in sweeping away clutter like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the International Criminal Court treaty, and whichever target of opportunity they choose to hit next.

The third arrangement is the coalition of the willing. More of these exist than you might think, including the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations, the Group of Eight, the Group of 20, and the weirdly named Group of 77 Plus China. Coalitions of the willing are barely coalitions, they're rarely willing, and they're never broad enough. Nafta has been good at dissolving trade barriers, but outside the gates of the Nafta consumer's club, Argentina collapsed while Brazil and Venezuela turned hard left. The top willing coalition, the European Union, is a golden exception to the norm, because it boasts an occasional accomplishment.

The fourth approach is to stage glamorous international powwows like the Rio Summit, Rio Plus Five, Rio Plus Ten, the Cairo summit on population, the Durban racism summit, the Copenhagen Social Summit, and, lately, nongovernmental countersummits like the World Social Forum. These massive blabfests are ritualized and wooden. They make proper noises, but they have no teeth, no budget, and no follow-through. They're good for consciousness-raising and for swapping business cards, but they have no effect on the awful crises they purport to address.

Outside the US, most people believe the planet recently suffered a massive, bomb-flinging breakdown in the new world order. The news is worse: There never was any order to break down.

It takes a certain gift to perceive NAFTA as a failure because the countries that didn't join suffered economic dislocations recently and to think the EU, currently sliding into depression, has accomplished good things.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

RICKEY DON'T QUIT

What keeps Rickey running?: Well past his prime, a future Hall of Famer goes the independent route to prove he still can play ball (Jack Etkin, June 23, 2003, Rocky Mountain News)
Henderson created chaos on the field in a distinctive way. He was as unique off the field, renowned for not knowing teammates' names. Rockies coach Walt Weiss, an Oakland teammate, said, "If you were standing in front of your locker, he had a chance. He'd pick out a letter in your name, usually what your name started with. Like (Rich) Bordi and (Lance) Blankenship, he called them B. 'What's up today, B?' "

Fast-forward to Newark outfielder Piercy, whom Henderson calls "Burger Man." Does he know Piercy's name? "He calls me by my name," Piercy said. "So I'm not sure whether he wrote it down or somebody said it."

Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk was Henderson's Oakland teammate for 3 ½ years. Asked whether Henderson knew Quirk's name, he said, "I can't say yes or no. I don't know. Rickey would say everything but your name, so you weren't sure if he knew your name.

" 'Hey, Dude. How's it going? Hey, big guy. Hey, man.' Anything but (your name), so you're thinking maybe he doesn't know. But maybe he did."

Quirk said that as a coach, he has run into Henderson at various times, and Henderson always greeted him by name.

Even though they were teammates, Quirk said he can't "say I really know him." And that's understandable, because Henderson typically was in his own orbit. Jay Alves, the Rockies public relations director, held that title with Oakland when Henderson was there.

Billy Beane's locker was next to Henderson's, Alves said. During one season, Beane was sent back to Class AAA and, Alves said, was in the minors at least six weeks. According to Alves, when Beane returned to Oakland and went back to his same locker, Henderson said, "Man, where you been?"

Henderson was Oakland's fourth-round pick in the 1976 draft. He went to high school in Oakland, Calif., and made it to the A's in June 1979, at age 20 - he made it to stay in 1980 - and in his first major league at-bat, doubled against Texas' John Henry Johnson.

The A's traded Henderson to the Yankees after the 1984 season, and the Yankees shipped Henderson back to Oakland in 1989. That was Weiss' second full season in the big leagues. He had grown up just north of New York and was amused to hear Henderson describe Manhattan.

"He said when he was playing for the Yankees, he lived in the city," Weiss recalled. " 'Yeah, I could look out my window, see the Entire State Building.' When he told me that, I was like, 'Man, that's awesome. You can see the whole thing?' "

If Henderson's teammates sometimes laughed at him, they also marveled at his natural athletic ability. Former A's manager Tony La Russa used to praise Weiss, third baseman Lansford and catcher Terry Steinbach for being "grinders." Henderson was anything but a grinder. Steinbach calls him "a thoroughbred" and Weiss, using the word in the most complimentary sense, said Henderson is "a freak."

Rickey Henderson is one of the two guys most of us got to see play who can undoubtedly be said to have been the best all-around player ever at his position and the best at ant position in the game for a period of years, the other being Mike Schmidt. Right now he'd be no worse than the third or fourth best player on teams like the Tigers, Mets, Pirates, etc.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM

STEPPIN' FETCHITISM

Democratic Candidates Court Black Voters: At the 32nd annual conference of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Rev. Jesse Jackson's organization, seven Democratic hopefuls seemed to disagree on little. (MONICA DAVEY, 6/23/03, NY Times)
In his opening comments, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said that he had fought beside an African-American man in Vietnam. In answering a question, Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, noted that he had traveled to Africa. And several of the candidates, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, quoted the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., some weaving his words into their comments on more than one occasion.

It has been 15 years since Mr. Jackson ran for president, but he had advice for these Democrats. Before the candidates' forum, Mr. Jackson, who ran in 1984 and again in 1988, urged Democrats to pursue a "Southern strategy," and not to abandon the South to Mr. Bush, as he said the Democrats did in their 2000 loss.

"We must not write the South off, it is the key to the emancipation of the whole country and the preservation of the Union," Mr. Jackson said. "We must launch a new Southern strategy of reconciliation, shared economic security and hope and healing." [...]

In this ballroom, Mr. Jackson remains a rock star. He draws standing ovations. And his endorsement for president, which he says will come "no time soon," is a coveted prize. One sure sign of that: Only two candidates missed his forum, Senators John Edwards of North Carolina and Bob Graham of Florida. Mr. Edwards had a scheduling conflict, his spokeswoman said. Mr. Graham had to take care of personal business in Miami, and had called Mr. Jackson to let him know that before the weekend, his spokesman, Jamal Simmons, said this morning.

One person he has not been invited to meet with over the last two and half years, Mr. Jackson said, is Mr. Bush.

Kowtowing to an increasingly marginalized segment of the electorate is necessary in the Democratic primaries but death in the general. The candidates seem to have forgotten that Bill Clinton made his bones with white voters by attacking a black rap musician in front of an infuriated Jesse Jackson. He had his eyes on the prize.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM

UNHOLY ALLIANCE

Judicial Imperialism: There's one way in which America is as bad as Belgium (ROBERT H. BORK, June 22, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
We Americans are rightly amused by Belgium's claim to universal jurisdiction so that its courts can try violations of human rights anywhere in the world, having absolutely no relation to Belgium. For instance, Belgium recently opened an investigation of former President Bush, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, and Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf for alleged crimes in the first Gulf War. But while we are scoffing, we ought to consider that our courts are engaged in the same judicial imperialism.

U.S. courts are deciding cases by citizens of Paraguay against another citizen of Paraguay for acts in Paraguay; claims by citizens of
Bosnia-Herzegovina against the leader of the Bosnian Serbs; and claims against the estate of a former Philippine president, although all plaintiffs and defendants were Philippine nationals and the alleged violations occurred entirely in the Philippines. Major American corporations, such as Texaco and Unocal, are being sued when they do business abroad, for the human-rights violations of host governments. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, has just upheld suits filed here against foreign nationals who assisted our government in the seizure of criminals abroad. We may expect soon suits against our allies for capturing and extraditing alleged terrorists.

How did we get to this state of affairs? Many American courts claim authority from the little-known Alien Tort Act: "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." Early in my time on the federal appellate bench, I sat on a three-judge panel that heard Tel-Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic (1984), involving Israelis' claims against the Palestine Liberation Organization, Libya and others for a murderous attack launched in Israel. It seemed preposterous that we should decide the legality of an assault by foreigners against foreigners on foreign soil. My first thought was that the statute must be a modern excrescence. To my chagrin, it turned out to have been part of the first Judiciary Act of 1789.

There was an excrescence all right, but it was not the statute. It was what the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had made of it in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala (1980), the Paraguayan case. Torture, the court said, was a violation of customary international law and hence within the Alien Tort Act. Judge Roger Robb and I on different grounds rejected Filartiga's reasoning. Since then, most federal courts have chosen to follow Filartiga rather than Tel-Oren. Yet it is clear not only that Filartiga is wrong but that it is a serious incursion by courts into the domain of Congress, involving, as it does, the enactment of world-wide law by an unholy alliance of imperialistic judges and a leftish cadre of international law professors.

Maybe Congress can re-exert its authority as part of broader tort reform?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM

RED V. BLUE

Metrosexuals Come Out (WARREN ST. JOHN, 6/22/03, NY Times)
By his own admission, 30-year-old Karru Martinson is not what you'd call a manly man. He uses a $40 face cream, wears Bruno Magli shoes and custom-tailored shirts. His hair is always just so, thanks to three brands of shampoo and the precise application of three hair grooming products: Textureline Smoothing Serum, got2b styling glue and Suave Rave hairspray.

Mr. Martinson likes wine bars and enjoys shopping with his gal pals, who have come to trust his eye for color, his knack for seeing when a bag clashes with an outfit, and his understanding of why some women have 47 pairs of black shoes. ("Because they can!" he said.) He said his guy friends have long thought his consumer and grooming habits a little . . . different. But Mr. Martinson, who lives in Manhattan and works in finance, said he's not that different.

"From a personal perspective there was never any doubt what my sexual orientation was," he said. "I'm straight as an arrow."

So it was with a mixture of relief and mild embarrassment that Mr. Martinson was recently asked by a friend in marketing to be part of a focus group of "metrosexuals"--straight urban men willing, even eager, to embrace their feminine sides.

Up here we have rurasexuality which causes similar misunderstandings--you should see people tense up when you refer to a heifer as being dewy-eyed or a sheep as shapely.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

MY NAME IS LUCAS

Studies shatter myth about abuse (Karen S. Peterson, 6/22/2003, USA TODAY)
It is not just men who hit women. Women hit men, too. And the latest research shows that ignoring the role women play in domestic violence does both women and men a disservice.

There is little doubt that women get hurt more than men. She may slap him. But then he may hit her harder or more often.

By not understanding the mutual role they often play, women are at great risk for injury, new studies show.

Still, the newest findings challenge the feminist belief that "it is men only who cause violence," says psychologist Deborah Capaldi of the Oregon Social Learning Center. "That is a myth."

The number of women who hit first or hit back is "much greater than has been generally assumed," Capaldi says. She says she is surprised by the frequency of aggressive acts by women and by the number of men who are afraid of partners who assault them.

Capaldi and two other female researchers call for a re-evaluation of treatment programs nationwide. Such programs focus on men and ignore women. Men are court-ordered into some type of rehabilitation, and their women are told in support groups or shelters that they had nothing to do with the violence, Capaldi says.

You still can't smack them around. Defending yourself is okay, but then walk away.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM

SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT TO THEMSELVES

Today's women live faster and die younger (Christine Seib, June 23, 2003, Times of London)
LIBERATION is a danger to women’s health, official figures suggest. By the end of this century, men are likely to become the
longer-living sex.

The rise in alcohol consumption among young women and in smoking levels and stress experienced by the increasing number of working women is feared to have affected female life expectancy.

While the average life expectancy of men and women has risen over the past five years, the rate of improvement among women has declined. Should life expectancy trends continue and factors affecting lifestyle stay the same, men born this century may live longer than women, a think-tank has found.

Tony Leandro, secretary of the Continuous Mortality Investigation Bureau, whose findings are reported in The Journal, the leading insurance publication of the Chartered Insurance Institute, said: “If the trend continues, mortality rates for men and women will cross at some point in the future. You’re looking at some time at the end of this century.”

He explained that using statistics drawn up in 1999, a 35-year-old man could expect to live five years longer compared with predictions made 12 years earlier. However, he said that while women of the same age could also expect to live longer, they could not expect to be able to add as many years on to their lifespan as their male contemporaries.

“The male-female lifespan gap shrank from 4 ½ to three years in that period,” he said. “Subsequent studies have confirmed that this trend is
continuing.”

Add in things like: gender-selection abortion, which nearly always selects against women; the decline of marriage and rise in illegitimacy; etc.; and it seems fair to say that had women's liberation been a plot hatched by men it could be considered a serial hate crime.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM

DEMOCRATS STARE INTO THE ABYSS

Outsider Dean fires up left: After months on stump, the outspoken Democrat announces presidential bid. (Liz Marlantes, 6/23/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
The factor with the greatest potential to fuel Dean's campaign may be Iraq. Certainly, much of Dean's momentum has come from his opposition to the war. In the runup to the US invasion, his outspoken antiwar stance won him media attention and many liberal activists' support. More recently, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, and US troops' difficulties in securing the peace have brought more debate - and ammunition.

To some extent, Dean's stance has polarized his party. Centrists have attacked him: This spring, the Democratic Leadership Council warned that he represented "the McGovern-Mondale wing [of the party], defined ... by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home." But other aspects of his candidacy don't fit the liberal mold: He supports a balanced budget and takes a states' rights position on gun control, spurring some liberal attacks.

To many, Dean's appeal has less to do with his positions than with his bluntness, and a willingness to challenge the administration. Even the enthusiasm he has sparked among many Democrats over the war can be interpreted as "less about the substance of the issue, and more that he was willing to be a contrarian,'" says Jeff Link, an aide to Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who's hosting forums in the first caucus state. [...]

Rival campaigns acknowledge that Dean has tapped into a surprisingly strong vein of liberal rage, not only at President Bush's policies, but at Democrats' perceived timidity. But while this has given Dean short-term momentum, many see it as doomed to failure. "There's a lot of fury in [Dean's] presentation," says Jim Margolis, an adviser to Sen. John Kerry. "That can ... energize the base vote. I don't think it's a very good long-term strategy."

Rage is a fine emotion to tap into to fuel a party, drum up money, turn out the core, motivate volunteers, etc., but American presidential campaigns are never won by raging candidates, who are inherently frightening. Americans--except in races where an incumbent is running--and with the disastrous exception of Herbert Hoover--tend to choose the "less intelligent" candidate with the sunnier disposition, perhaps having unwittingly internalized the wisdom of Demosthenes: "There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 AM

DEAD AGAIN

U.S. Bombs Convoy of Fleeing Iraqis (DOUGLAS JEHL with ERIC SCHMITT, June 23, 2003, NY Times)
An American Predator drone aircraft firing Hellfire missiles destroyed a convoy last week that was believed to be carrying fugitive Iraqi leaders, and experts are trying to determine whether those killed might have included Saddam Hussein or his sons, United States government officials said today.

The officials said they had obtained intelligence indicating that senior Iraqi leaders were traveling in the convoy. They suggested that the intelligence might have come from an intercepted telephone conversation or an informant. The attack took place Wednesday near the Syrian border in western Iraq.

There was no evidence so far, the officials said, to support the idea that Mr. Hussein or his sons might have been killed in the raid, and some officials were doubtful that they were. But they said intelligence teams, including DNA experts, were at the site to review the wreckage and assess the evidence.

June 22, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM

A CONSPIRACY SO VAST

Saddam's Bombs? We'll Find Them: The search for Iraq's nonconventional weapons program has only just begun. (KENNETH M. POLLACK, 6/20/03, NY Times)
The fact that the sites we suspected of containing hidden weapons before the war turned out to have nothing in them is not very significant. American intelligence agencies never claimed to know exactly where or how the Iraqis were hiding what they had ? not in 1995, not in 1999 and not six months ago. It is very possible that the "missing" facilities, weaponized agents, precursor materials and even stored munitions all could still be hidden in places we never would have thought to look. This is exactly why, before the war, so few former weapons inspectors had confidence that a new round of United Nations inspections would find the items they were convinced Iraq was hiding.

The best evidence for the proposition that George W. Bush is an evil genius whose entire presidency is one enormous plot to extract and sell oil to enrich his family and cronies is the insidious seeding of the prior administration with operatives like Mr. Pollack, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George Tenet, Bill Cohen, and others who, as we've only now discovered, lied for eight years about the presence of WMD in Iraq. It's quite diabolical.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM

EMPOWERMENT ZONING

Bremer brings Reaganomics to Iraq (Bret Stephens Jun. 22, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
Ambassador Paul Bremer, the US civilian administrator in Iraq, spoke Sunday at the extraordinary meeting of the World Economic Forum, laying bare an agenda that stressed economic over political reform. [...]

The bulk of Bremer's 20 minute address...was devoted to economics. He talked in detail about the need in Iraq for new commercial codes, a simplified regulatory regime, a new antitrust authority, reform of the financial sector, higher standards of corporate governance, lower taxes, and"best practices in business ethics." [...]

The economics of reconstruction were evidently dear to the ambassador, who last worked in the State Department during the Reagan administration. "For the last 14 years I have been in business," he said. "We will succeed in transforming Iraq from a dead-end for business...into a country that is both free and economically prosperous."

The nations of the emerging democratic Middle East have a potentially huge advantage over the West, in that they could avoid the sclerotic welfare states, cumbersome taxes and regulations, and other accretions which are dragging us down. The strength of such institutions as family, mosque, and tribe--all of which offer private alternatives to government--would be particularly helpful in this regard.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:00 PM

"TANGLED AND HIEROGLYPHIC BEAUTY"

Art vs. Science: Matthew Barney's a bore; the Hubble Space Telescope's a blast (Brendan Bernhard, 6/20/03, LA Weekly)
The poet W.H. Auden once said that hanging out with scientists made him feel like a shabby curate. Or like a witch doctor at a
convention of neurosurgeons--I forget the exact wording. But I recalled the remark while watching a recent 60 Minutes segment on the Hubble Space Telescope in which Dr. Mario Livio, who heads up Hubble's science division, told reporter Ed Bradley that the images of the solar system produced by the telescope "are in some sense the most fantastic artworks of our time."

While it's doubtful that Dr. Livio is correct in his assessment--close up, the universe has an unfortunate tendency to look like bad psychedelia--it was fascinating to hear what he and the other scientists had to say. And I couldn't help comparing this with the boredom, verging on stupefaction, I'd experienced a month earlier while watching Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic for The New York Times, interview the conceptual artist Matthew Barney on WNET (The Cremaster Cycle: A Conversation With Matthew Barney). And this, mind you, coming from a person so unscientific that he was asked to give up chemistry, physics, biology and math in school. For the teachers' sake. They simply couldn't take it anymore.

Why is the conversation of "cutting-edge" artists so often dull and insipid?

Is there a better understood issue than the way artists' envy of scientists has led to the decline of art?

Meanwhile, the scientists don't appear to get it either: art is our paltry attempt to represent Creation. Merely photographing Creation, while it adds to our appreciation, is cheating. The telescope itself is the work of art.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:27 PM

YOU GONNA BELIEVE THE PUNDITS OR YOUR LYIN' EYES?

Untethered to Reality (Michael Kinsley, June 20, 2003, The Washington Post)
According to a Harris poll out Wednesday, a majority of Americans still think the Bush administration was telling the truth before the war when it said it had hard evidence of WMD. A Knight Ridder poll released last weekend reports that a third of the populace believes the weapons have been discovered. A Fox News poll last week found that almost half of Americans believe that the administration was "intentionally misleading" about Iraq's weapons, but more than two-thirds think the war was justified anyway. A Gallup poll released Wednesday concludes that almost 9 out of 10 Americans still think Hussein had or was close to having WMD. [...]

The most striking thing about polls such as these isn't how many people believe or disbelieve some unproven factual assertion or prediction but how few give the only correct answer, which is "Don't know." In the Fox News poll, vast majorities expressed certitude one way or the other about the existence of WMD in Iraq, the likelihood of peace in the Middle East and so on. Those who voted "not sure" (an even more tempting cop-out than the pollsters' usual "don't know") rarely broke 20 percent and usually hovered around 10. Four-fifths or more were sure about everything.

As someone who manufactures opinions for a living, it is my job to be sure. And my standards for the ingredients of an opinion are necessarily low. There may be a few ancient pundits such as George Will who still follow the traditional guild practices: days in the library making notes on index cards, a half-dozen lunches at the club with key sources, an hour spent alone in silence with a martini and one's thoughts -- and only then does a perfectly modulated opinion take its lovely shape. Most of us have no time for that anymore. It's a quick surf around the 'Net, a flip of the coin and out pops an opinion, ready to go except perhaps for a bit of extra last-minute coarsening.

Still, even the most modern major generalist among the professional commentariat likes to have a little something in the way of knowledge as he or she scatters opinions like bird seed. The general public, or at least the part of it that deals with pollsters, is not so cowardly. Most people, it seems, will happily state a belief on a question of fact that nobody knows the answer to, then just as happily do a double back flip from that shaky platform into a pool of opinions about which they are "sure."

Pollsters themselves, and the media that report their findings deadpan, are partly responsible for this. Every news report about a poll result reinforces the impression that opinion untethered to reality is valid or even patriotic (and to be "not sure" is shameful). The modern pundit culture is also partly to blame, I suppose, with its emphasis on televised argumentation. Viewers do not always grasp the difference between low standards and no standards.

Given that Saddam Hussein acknowledged having WMD--at least chemicals and missiles--and is acknowledged to have used them in the Iran war, the first Gilf war and to suppress the Kurd uprising, the American people would have to deny reality in order to arrive at the level of doubt that Mr. Kinsley and his ilk now counsel.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:23 AM

SCATOLOGY VS. LICENSE

The Book of Vices: A review of Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America, by Dan Savage (John B. Kienker, Claremont Review of Books)
[U]nderneath the pretension of sunny, daring, nothing-can-stop-me happiness, chapter after chapter betrays the dank nihilism always driving these sinful Americans, driving them further and further in hopes that they might feel something-anything-in their drifting lives. Whether it's hopeful gamblers (greed); after-work stoners (sloth); 500 lbs.+ women who can no longer walk or wash themselves (gluttony); suburban parents who've traded affection for orgies (lust); or shirtless homosexuals who just want to dance, dance, dance, while their friends die around them (gay pride)-they all need to silence society's judgmental voices before any harsh truths can penetrate the stimulations and distractions with which they've anesthetized themselves.

Even in the final chapter, when Savage himself tries to commit in a single weekend all seven deadly sins, he does so with all the gusto of a contractual obligation to his publisher. And his odyssey culminates not in heady abandon or self-actualization, but in a wince-inducing scene of his own subjection to insult and humiliation from a bullying gigolo.

Savage's feeble caricature of the American founding might be easier to shrug off if it weren't so familiar. As he rightly points out, many conservatives-particularly traditionalists and those who see the American regime as low but solid-have bought into the myth that the founders infected America with the freedom "to go your own way," that "[o]ur bodies and minds and souls are our own, and we should be free to use and abuse and dispose of them as we see fit." Conservatives just don't celebrate this sentiment the way liberals and libertarians do.

But the same Thomas Jefferson who articulated the right to pursue happiness also said that we are "free from all but the moral law." He counseled that "[h]ealth, learning and virtue will insure your happiness," and in his Notes on the State of Virginia endorsed strict penalties for, among other things, the crime of sodomy. This connection between virtue and happiness is the real expression of the American mind, and of a liberty distinct from license.

Despite Dan Savage's wishful thinking, if the author of the Declaration were to return today, upon seeing this supposed "love letter to Thomas Jefferson" he would surely file for a restraining order, or at least a change of address.

Thereby proving two of the arguments below.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM

SHOW US

Putting a name to it: As Muslim groups push for Americans to add "Islamic" to the phrase "Judeo-Christian," the argument about how to describe our values heats up (Mark O'Keefe, June 21, 2003, Newhouse News Service)
Leading Muslim organizations say it's time for Americans to stop using the phrase "Judeo-Christian" when describing the values and character that define the United States.

Better choices, they say, are "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" or "Abrahamic," referring to Abraham, the patriarch held in common by the monotheistic big three religions.

The new language should be used "in all venues where we normally talk about Judeo-Christian values, starting with the media, academia, statements by politicians and comments made in churches, synagogues and other places," said Agha Saeed, founder and chairman of the American Muslim Alliance, a political group with headquarters in Fremont, Calif.

Others take offense, arguing that to alter the phrase "Judeo-Christian" is political correctness and revisionist history at its worst.

"A lot of the ideas that underpin civil liberties come from Judeo-Christian theology," said the Rev. Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs, Colo., president of the National Association of Evangelicals. "What the Islamic community needs to make are positive contributions to culture and society so we can include them."

Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, said a "Judeo-Christian understanding of things like freedom of conscience and liberty" are embodied in the Constitution. "No offense intended," he said, "but Muslims weren't a part of that, even though they're part of the discussion now."

One would hope that eventually the new term will be appropriate, but for now count us with Mr. Haggard: you have to earn inclusion in such a high standard.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:05 AM

CRUCIFIX, HAKENKREUZ, IT'S ALL THE SAME...

Mel's Passion: Gibson's making a film on Jesus worries some Jews. (Marvin Hier and Harold Brackman, June 22, 2003, LA Times)
Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 biblical epic, "The King of Kings" offended American Jews by portraying the Jewish people - rather than the Romans - as responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. DeMille dismissed criticism, insisting that "if Jesus were alive today, these Jews I speak of might crucify him again."

But whether DeMille admitted it or not, the film did fuel anti-Semitism. Consider the following note, passed between two fourth-grade girls, that found its way into the files of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise: "Martha, I found out who killed our God. The Jews did it. I went to see King of Kings. It showed how the Jews killed him."

Now comes Mel Gibson, who insists Jews and Catholics will have nothing to worry about in his new, self-financed, $25-million film, "The Passion." It's true that the final script hasn't been made available, and there is currently no release date, or even distributor, for the film. Still, there are reasons for concern.

The passion of Christ - the crucifixion and hours leading up to it - has been used by bigots, including popes and kings, to inflame anti-Semitism through the ages. A belief that Jews were responsible for crucifying the son of God led Pope Innocent III to conclude in the early 13th century that Jews should be consigned to a state of "perpetual subservience" as wanderers and fugitives, and made to wear a mark on their clothing identifying them as Jews. His pronouncement reinforced widespread anti-Semitism that led over the centuries to millions of Jews being burned at the stake and murdered in pogroms throughout Christian Europe.

Any film about such a sensitive subject would set off alarm bells. [...]

Gibson's secrecy about his film stands in contrast with the handling of other controversial films. The producers of a recent drama about the young Hitler responded to criticism by soliciting input from responsible critics. They got good suggestions that made for a better film.

It would obviously be repellant for Mr. Gibson's film to be anti-Semitic, but what are we to make of the double standard that allows these essayists to compare the story that stands at the very heart of Christianity to a biography of Hitler? The comparison seems especially unfortunate coming as part of an argument that people be hypersensitive to how the passion is portrayed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM

DESPAIRING FOR WHILE HOPING FOR THE WOGS

Two Pulls: Questions Iran raises (Richard Brookhiser, June 19, 2003, National Review)
Events in Iran raise, for the manyeth time, a tension in fundamental conservative attitudes towards freedom struggles around the world. As a conservative, I feel two pulls.

One is Tory (often, though not exclusively, English), which might be summed up as "bloody natives." The classic 20th-century expressions were Evelyn Waugh's African novels, Scoop and the far meaner Black Mischief. The Tory attitude colors many of the ethnic observations in the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (Circassians are brave, but thievish - that kind of thing). The Tory believes that the world is full of colorful and fascinating peoples who are, however, mostly incapable of good government and self-rule. [...]

Simultaneously, and as Americans, we believe "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time. The hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them" (Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British North America). This is what our Founders believe. If they were wrong, the country sucks.

Toryism can lead to nihilism, and acquiescence in tyranny (the tyrant's plea, necessity). Americanism can lead to childish enthusiasm, and painful surprises.

Luckily, we need not choose between these two pulls. We can, indeed must be, be skeptical about the future of freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Palestine even as we hope there is one.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM

OTTOMAN DIGNITY?

Iraq exports first oil since war (ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 22, 2003)
Iraq returned to the world oil market Sunday, exporting its first crude oil since the U.S.-led invasion in a crucial step that will bring in revenue vital to rebuilding the country.

The export of crude from Iraq, which has the second largest oil reserves in the world, is a major step for the country, which is in desperate need of funding to repair battered infrastructure--including its oil facilities--and rebuild an economy devastated by more than 12 years of U.N. economic sanctions.

Turkish workers began loading 1 million barrels of Iraqi crude onto the Turkish tanker Ottoman Dignity in a ceremony attended by senior Iraqi, U.S. and Turkish oil officials at this Mediterranean oil terminal, at the end of a twin pipeline running from Iraq's northern oil fields.

The Ottoman Dignity will carry the oil to a Turkish refinery on the Aegean coast.

"This will mark the beginning of a new era and beginning of normalization," Mehmet Takiyuddin Bilgic, head of Turkey's pipeline company BOTAS, told The Associated Press.

The money from the sale will go to a U.S.-controlled fund for rebuilding efforts.

Some 8 million barrels of oil have been stored in southern Turkey since before the U.S.-led war began. Iraqi officials had said that the country could begin pumping fresh oil to Turkey as early as Sunday. But other Iraqi oil officials in Kirkuk, 150 miles north of Baghdad, said Sunday that the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline is still not ready to begin carrying crude.

Well, as long as it is all about the oil, we may as well get it pumping.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

DOWN AND DIRTY

The Paradox of Conservative Bioethics (Yuval Levin, Spring 2003, New Atlantis)
Among the more prominent peculiarities of our politics in recent years is that something called ?bioethics? has become a key conservative priority. The bioethics movement has been around in America since at least the late 1960s, when the Hastings Center was created as the first bioethics think tank. Its task was to advance the study of the ethics of biology and medicine, and to examine the moral and social significance of new developments in genetics, psychopharmacology, reproductive medicine, and other new frontiers of biological science. The movement has since grown by leaps and bounds, and bioethics has developed into a profession, if not an industry.

Some American conservatives have long shared the concerns that animate bioethics. The pro-life movement has always worried deeply about the treatment of the unborn by scientists and doctors, and many conservatives have through the years been interested in various issues surrounding medical ethics, illicit drug-use, assisted suicide, and other social and cultural matters that have much to do with modern science. But it was not until fairly recently that bioethics emerged as a general and prominent category of concern for the American right.

That concern has been particularly influenced by worries about what has been dubbed the "Brave New World." This allusion to Aldous Huxley's famous book hints at a vision of a world reshaped by biotechnology: procreation replaced by manufacture, the pursuit of happiness replaced by drugs, and human nature remade into something lower and shallower, more easily satisfied but less capable of greatness and awe. This general vision has expressed itself in specific disquiet about reproductive technologies like cloning and genetic engineering; about the transformation of human embryos into research tools and raw materials; about psychoactive drugs and assorted enhancement technologies; and about a wide array of other attempts to fundamentally reshape human life through biology and medicine. American conservatives have begun to think hard about "where biotechnology may be taking us," as Leon Kass puts it, and what we might do about it.

The resulting intellectual and political activity has melded some of the interests of the pro-life movement with those of conservatives more concerned with the general culture and its institutions, and it has formed, through that combination, an altogether plausible conservative program. This trend, together with several sensational recent advances in biotechnology, has sent bioethics toward the top of the agenda of the American right. President Bush?s first prime-time address to the nation was about his new policy on the funding of embryonic stem cell research. Human cloning has been prominent on the congressional agenda for much of the past two years. And a substantial portion of the intellectual energy of the conservative movement has been devoted to the cause of a new bioethics.

And yet, the motives and methods of this movement present conservatives with a profound and complicated problem. Bioethics is necessarily focused on the deepest and most sensitive of human moral intuitions and taboos-those surrounding birth and death, sex and procreation, pleasure and pain, and the meaning of the body. At the same time, it is also directed toward policy, which in a liberal democracy rightly means that it must be an ethics of fully public argument. It is therefore in the business of public argument about taboos-of making the most private things more public, and shining bright lights on things long left in the dark. Herein lies the paradox of a conservative bioethics. Lifting the veil from society's most delicate implicit moral sentiments is hardly a conservative enterprise, and yet one form of doing just that has become a central conservative project. To succeed, a conservative bioethics must be alert to this deep difficulty and its consequences.

Conservatives indeed make a mistake when they underestimate the force that scatology can lend their moral arguments even if it does make them squeamish. The willing degradation of human beings is not a topic that should be left to the politesse of the parlor. For instance, rather than shy away from the topics of homosexuality and AIDs, conservatives should hand out copies of Randy Shilts's great book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, with its graphic descriptions of why the disease spread so quickly in the gay community and why, given the myriad other health problems associated with anal sex, it was so hard to recognize. Similarly, two films of a couple years ago that were putatively critical of the drug war--Traffic and Requiem for a Dream--are in fact terrifying glimpses of the depths to which drugs drive people. Reality, no matter how ugly, is the ally of natural law.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

BETTER TO RECEIVE THAN TO ASK

The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life. Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of all life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him.

    -Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

Apropos our tedious disquisition on prayer of this past weekend.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE OIL

President's tumble off a Segway seems a tiny bit suspicious (Kevin Maney, 6/18/03, USA TODAY)
President Bush meant to fall off his Segway.

Oh, I'm sure of it. What we've got here is a clever conspiracy -- a pre-emptive strike to save the oil industry from a technology that could sap its power.

Over the weekend, while on vacation, Bush looked like Chevy Chase doing a Gerald Ford imitation as he stepped onto the platform of a Segway personal transportation scooter and went flying right off.

The first U.S. president to try a Segway supposedly forgot to turn it on, so the gyroscopic stabilizers couldn't automatically balance him.

But maybe Bush wanted to fall. Maybe he understands in a way few do that society is on the verge of a debate that could mold the future of transportation, much like the debate 100 years ago when cars first suggested that horses weren't the only way to travel.

And if the future veers toward little two-wheeled electric-powered personal transporters, where does that leave ExxonMobil and Halliburton and the rest of the oil industry President Bush adores? Probably in the same sad league as the old Pennsylvania coal-mining companies, with Houston as the next Wilkes-Barre. [...]

Why would the Bush team want to derail the Segway? Well, the scooter is one of the most inspired pieces of technology this country has produced in years. It looks like it should be as unstable as a unicycle. But step on, and the smarts inside it keep you balanced. Lean forward and you go forward. Lean back and you go back. Twist a handle to turn. It is as intuitive to use as a coffee cup. [...]

Unlikely as Segway domination may seem, history shows it's possible. And if it happened, the oil industry could kiss its profits and power goodbye.

This would be funnier if most of the Left didn't take the absurd notion seriously.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM

BADLY KEPT SECRETS

Sharon's not-so-secret plan (Saul Singer, June 13, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
As another mass murder seems to snuff out the Aqaba summit's ray of hope, the unavoidable question screams out: When will this ever stop? At first glance, the road map now looks like a sick joke, a pathetic attempt to impose order on a conflict that has no end.

Yet within this chaos, a new structure is emerging that could well determine the sequence of events in the years to come, and their ultimate outcome for Israel. This structure is etched in invisible ink on the road map. Once described, it can be seen out in the open, but in practice it is Bush's and Sharon's secret plan. [...]

For Sharon, the road map's "independent Palestinian state with provisional borders" is not at the bottom of the slippery slope, but a brake that prevents precisely the slide that Begin fears. The deal Sharon is offering the Palestinians is a partial state in exchange for a partial peace. You don't want to renounce the "right of return" and accept Israel as a Jewish state? Fine, says Sharon, but for that all you get is a truncated state whose borders are controlled by Israel. Why would the Palestinians accept such a deal? Because they know that the only alternatives are the status quo, in which both sides bleed indefinitely, or making a full peace, neither of which they want.

Sharon's real objective is to get to the middle phase of the road map and park there until the Arab world is ready for peace, which may or may not ever happen. It is a reasonably comfortable place for a gradualist to be. Palestine may choose to be belligerent, but Israel will have a provisional border to defend and a state to hold accountable.

And that, of course, has been the point of statehood all along.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM

LIBERTY VS. LICENSE

Declaring independence: Family ties and self-control free us from enslavement (Marvin Olasky, 6/28/03, World)
Freedom is not "just another word for nothing left to lose," as Janis Joplin sang before she drugged and drank herself to death. Actually, the word free in Old High German, as Gregory Beabout of Saint Louis University showed, stems from the Indo-European prijos (dear, beloved) and is related to the Sanskrit priyas (dear) and priya (wife, daughter).

The word free is also connected to the Old English frigu (love); Germans and Celts used it to mean neither controlled from outside the household nor enslaved, but benevolent toward and intimate with those inside. In Danish, I'm told, frie means "to make an offer of marriage," which should be done both through free choice and love. The etymology explains why the goddess Frigg was the Old Norse equivalent of Venus, the goddess of love in Roman mythology. Perhaps Fridays (the name derived from Frigg) are for lovers-and marriage is an act of freedom that promotes true love.

In the movie Braveheart, when William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) under torture near the end yells "Freedom" and envisions his murdered wife, he is thinking as a Celt would have. [...]

The 1904 version of "America the Beautiful" proclaims, "Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law." Liberty, self-control, and the external control of law all work together to keep us from being enslaved by our temporary desires. Two centuries ago, the antonym to liberty that sprang to people's lips was not slavery but license. A free person stood in the middle of a spectrum, tugged by one mob to embrace libertinism or another mob to hug dictatorship and political slavery.

A century later, we've forgotten much of that. But if we want to maintain independence, we should dare to remember.

The manner in which each extreme must lead to its opposite--libertinism provoking a crackdown and repression fomenting revolution--is nearly enough to convince you there's a divine hand at work that points us instead towards the conservative form of liberty. Nearly...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM

PHAIR GAME

Liz Phair's Exile in Avril-ville (MEGHAN O'ROURKE, June 22, 2003, NY Times)
In 1993, the year Liz Phair's "Exile in Guyville" came out, legions of young, middle-class, well-educated women found in her lo-fi debut a kind of all-purpose autobiography, and a template - smart, deadpan, but also earnest - for making sense of their own experience. Within a year Ms. Phair went from being a 26-year-old singer-songwriter who had performed live some half-dozen times to the woman on the cover of Rolling Stone with the headline "Liz Phair: A Rock and Roll Star Is Born." The obvious question was: Would Ms. Phair be able to sustain her success?

Ten years later, having put out two albums, "Whip-Smart" (1994) and "whitechocolatespaceegg" (1998), that were both greeted with mixed praise, she is now releasing her fourth - the eponymously titled and much anticipated "Liz Phair." It is, Ms. Phair has suggested, her bid for center stage - the moment when she will finally make the leap from indie-rock quasi-stardom to teen-pop levels of superstardom.

Instead, she has committed an embarrassing form of career suicide.

Well, if it's not suicide, this is for dang sure attempted career homicide.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:03 AM

THE WORLD TURNED RIGHTSIDE UP

GOP Aims for Dominance in '04 Race: Republicans to Seek Governing Majority by Feeding Base, Courting New Voters (Dan Balz, June 22, 2003, The Washington Post)
Republican strategists see the 2004 election as their best opportunity in a generation to construct a durable governing majority, and they have set in motion a systematic and coordinated strategy designed to leverage President Bush's popularity and break the impasse that has dominated the country's politics since the mid-1990s.

The president himself established the ambitions behind the 2004 strategy earlier this year, when he authorized advisers to begin planning for a reelection campaign that began in earnest last week with a series of fundraising events. According to several GOP strategists, Bush told his team: Don't give me "a lonely victory." Said one top Bush adviser, "He said, 'I don't want what Nixon had. I don't want what Reagan had.' "

It is Mr. Bush's willingness always to up the ante that is the most remarkable facet of his political personality. It would have been easy for Ronald Reagan, with a booming economy, to make such a play in '84, but to his shame he focussed on a 50 state presidential victory instead, with a truly selfish last minute stop in Minnesota, when he could have been out stumping for Republican Congressional candidates instead. For Mr. Bush to set his sights on genuine realignment even as he faces what would right now appear to be a difficult re-election bid--with a slow growth economy--demonstrates, once again, a visionary streak that few understood when he was first running for president four years ago. It is the quality that made it vital to the future of the party and the nation for him to defeat John McCain.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM

ON DEATH AND DYING

Democrats Go Off the Cliff: Powerlessness corrupts (David Brooks, 06/30/2003, Weekly Standard)
Democratic strategists are trying to put a rational gloss on what is a visceral, unplanned, and emotional state of mind. Democrats may or may not be behaving intelligently, but they are behaving sincerely. Their statements are not the product of some Dick Morris-style strategic plan. This stuff wasn't focus-grouped. The Democrats are letting their inner selves out for a romp.

And if you probe into the Democratic mind at the current moment, you sense that the rage, the passion, the fighting spirit are all fueled not only by opposition to Bush policies, but also by powerlessness.

Republicans have controlled the White House before, but up until now Democrats still had some alternative power center. Reagan had the presidency, but Democrats had the House and, part of the time, the Senate. Bush the elder faced a Democratic Congress. But now Democrats have nothing. Even the Supreme Court helped Republicans steal the last election, many Democrats feel. Republicans--to borrow political scientist Samuel Lubell's trope--have become the Sun party and Democrats have been reduced to being the Moon party. Many Democrats feel that George Bush is just running loose, transforming the national landscape and ruining the nation, and there is nothing they can do to stop him.

Wherever Democrats look, they sense their powerlessness. Even when they look to the media, they feel that conservatives have the upper hand. Conservatives think this is ludicrous. We may have Rush and Fox, conservatives say, but you have ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times. But liberals are sincere. They despair that a consortium of conservative think tanks, talk radio hosts, and Fox News--Hillary's vast right-wing conspiracy--has cohered to form a dazzlingly efficient ideology delivery system that swamps liberal efforts to get their ideas out.

When they look to the culture at large, many Democrats feel that the climate is so hostile to them they can't even speak up. During the war in Iraq, liberals claimed that millions of Americans were opposed to war, but were afraid to voice their opinions, lest the Cossacks come charging through their door. The actor Tim Robbins declared, "Every day, the airwaves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear." Again, conservatives regard this as ludicrous. Stand up and oppose the war, conservatives observe, and you'll probably win an Oscar, a National Magazine Award, and tenure at four dozen prestigious universities. But the liberals who made these complaints were sincerely expressing the way they perceive the world.

And when they look at Washington, they see a cohesive corporate juggernaut, effortlessly pushing its agenda and rolling over Democratic opposition. Again, this is not how Republicans perceive reality. Republicans admire President Bush a great deal, but most feel that, at least on domestic policy, the conservative agenda has been thwarted as much as it has been advanced. Bush passed two tax cuts, but on education he abandoned school choice and adopted a bill largely written by Ted Kennedy. On Medicare, the administration has abandoned real reform and embraced a bill also endorsed by Kennedy. On campaign finance, the president signed a bill promoted by his opponents. The faith-based initiatives are shrinking to near nothingness. Social Security reform has disappeared from the agenda for the time being. Domestic spending has increased.

Still, Democrats and liberals see the Bush presidency in maximalist terms. "President Bush's signature on his big tax cut bill Wednesday marked a watershed in American politics," wrote E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post. "The rules of policymaking that have applied since the end of World War II are now irrelevant." The headline on a recent Michael Kinsley column was "Capitalism's 'Deal' Falls Apart," arguing that the Bush administration had revoked the social contract that had up to now shaped American politics.

In short, when many liberals look at national affairs, they see a world in which their leaders are nice, pure-souled, but defenseless, and they see Republicans who are organized, devious, and relentless.

The frightening thing for Democrats has to be that this is just stage two of Kubler-Ross's stages of death:
(1) Denial

(2) Anger

(3) Bargaining

(4) Depression

(5) Acceptance

The Denial stage saw them disbelieve that the Republican Revolutions of 1980 and 1994 meant anything larger. Now they are simply raging at the realization that their time is over. Next, probably in the elections of '04 and '06, will come the bargaining phase, where their essential argument will be that they are the party that created the Welfare State and, therefore, deserve to run it. Then, as the GOP privatizes things like Social Security and Medicare, will come Depression, followed by Acceptance, when they fold up into the same moribund status that characterized the Republican Party from 1928 to 1980.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 AM

BOOKNOTES

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman (C-SPAN, June 22, 2003, 8 & 11pm)
A manifesto for an aggressive liberal response to terrorist attacks.

Paul Berman is one of our most brilliant writers on the impassioned and unpredictable life of ideas especially the doctrines that lead masses of people to try to change the world. The Terror War is nothing new or unprecedented. It is the same battle that tore apart Europe during most of the twentieth century-the battle between liberalism and its totalitarian enemies. Islam is not the cause of this war. Islam is the arena in which the war is presently being fought.

Berman shows how a genuine spiritual inspiration can be twisted into a fanatical demand for murder. He offers remarkable insights into the trends and conflicts influencing Islamic radicalism. He illuminates the surprising connections between very different political movements, and he reveals the several ways in which Islamic extremism resembles some all-too-familiar episodes in American and European experience. He is the historian of good intentions gone awry.

Berman draws on sources that range from Albert Camus's The Rebel to the Book of Revelations; from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to the Islamist scholar Sayyid Qutb's magisterial In the Shade of the Koran. Berman condemns the foreign policy "realism" of the political right, and he diagnoses the na?vet? of the political left. He calls for a "new radicalism" and a "liberal American interventionism" to promote democratic values throughout the world-a vigorous new politics of American liberalism. Berman's ability to shine a spotlight of history and philosophy on the present era makes him a peerless interpreter of today's events. This short book of original argument and dazzling prose will remain a guidepost for discussion for years to come.



MORE:
-ESSAY: Terror and Liberalism (Paul Berman, 10.22.01, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: Resolves: What Lincoln Knew About War (Paul Berman, 02.21.03, The New Republic)
-ESSAY: Why Germany Isn't Convinced: Joschka Fischer is wrong to resist the Iraq war. But he's not evil. (Paul Berman, February 14, 2003, Slate)
-ESSAY: The Philosopher of Islamic Terror (PAUL BERMAN, March 23, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
-ESSAY: Swastika School: The impious piety of the Jewish Museum's Nazi art show (Paul Berman, March 15, 2002, Slate)
-ESSAY: Labor and the Intellectuals (Paul Berman, American Prospect)
-ESSAY: Simple Math and Dimpled Chad (Paul Berman, December 12, 2000, Slate)
-ESSAY: About Those Ads: A Reply to Chatterbox (Paul Berman, November 15, 2000, Slate)

-REVIEW: of JUST WAR AGAINST TERROR: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World. By Jean Bethke Elshtain and THE GREAT TERROR WAR By Richard Falk (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of KOBA THE DREAD: Laughter and the Twenty Million By Martin Amis (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE LAST EMPIRE: ESSAYS 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Lower East Side Memories: A Jewish Place in America. By Hasia R. Diner (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World's Most Famous Passion Play By James Shapiro (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of WILD FRUITS: Thoreau's Rediscovered Last Manuscript By Henry David Thoreau (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of A COVERT LIFE: Jay Lovestone: Communist, Anti-Communist, and Spymaster. By Ted Morgan (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of God & the American Writer By Alfred Kazin (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century. By Donald Sassoon (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of In Defense of Affirmative Action By Barbara R. Bergmann; Ending Affirmative Action The Case for Colorblind Justice. By Terry Eastland; and The Affirmative Action Fraud Can We Restore the American Civil Rights Vision? By Clint Bolick (Paul Berman, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of American Pastoral By Philip Roth (Paul Berman, Slate)
REVIEW:of Latin America at the End of Politics by Forrest D. Colburn (Paul Berman, Spring 03, Dissent)
-INTERVIEW: Paul Berman on What the Left Should Want From the War (SARAH GOLD, 3/25/2003, Publishers' Weekly)
-ARCHIVES: Paul Berman (Slate)
-ARCHIVES: The New York Review of Books: Paul Berman
-ARCHIVES: "paul berman" (Find Articles)
-REVIEW: of Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman (Gary Rosen, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Terror and Liberalism (Martin Bright, The Observer)
-REVIEW: of Terror and Liberalism (Stephen Schwartz, FrontPageMagazine.com)
-REVIEW: of Terror and Liberalism (Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator)
-REVIEW: of Terror and Liberalism (Adrian Karatnycky, National Review)

-REVIEW: of Terror and Liberalism (Suzy Hansen, Salon)
-REVIEW: of A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968 By Paul Berman (Alan Ehrenhalt, Slate)
-REVIEW: of A Tale of Two Utopias (Nick Cohen, New Statesman)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:00 AM

HILLARY FACES THE TIGER

Hillary, the outside story: Review of Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph)
Chapter Two begins: " 'What you don't learn from your mother, you learn from the world' is a saying I once heard from the Masai tribe in Kenya." And you think, well, isn't that just wonderfully diverse, and she heard it from an actual tribe in Kenya! Any tribesman in particular? Or did they all yell it out in unison as her motorcade passed by? Either way, it's the sort of soothing multicultural sentiment that separates enlightened Democrats from rabid redneck Clinton-haters, and that's all you need to know. So you put the book up on the shelf and never open it ever again.

The main victim of this approach is Bill Clinton. From the moment they met, she knew he "had a vitality that seemed to shoot out of his pores", but not a lot shoots out in these pages. One reason is that all the personal details Monica got to first in her interviews with Andrew Morton for Monica's Story: Bill and Hillary's song was I'll Be Seeing You, and so was Bill and Monica's. He gave Hillary Walt Whitman's Leaves Of Grass after their first date and he gave it to Monica after their first "date". The Leaves Of Grass quote that opens Monica's Story - "All these - all the meanness and agony without end, I sitting look out upon . . ." - would be much better for Hill's, but Monica's book came out first, and to be honest it captures Bill's oozing pores better than his wife's does.

Monica's Bill is the Lounge-Lizard-In-Chief: "He undressed me with his eyes." Hillary's Bill is a clunky wonk: "While I was challenging discrimination practices, Bill was in Miami working to ensure McGovern's nomination." Monica says, "The irony is that I had the first orgasm of the relationship." Hill's account reads like she's still waiting.

Here's a question to contemplate: is it possible to humiliate a Clinton, or are they immune?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 AM

JUST DON'T CALL IT GEEK ROCK

AUDIO INTERVIEW: Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood (Fresh Air, June 20, 2003)
Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood co-founded the band Fountains of Wayne. Their new album, Welcome Interstate Managers, has just been released. The New York-based band released its self-titled debut album in late 1996. This interview first aired June 10, 1999.

It's a terrific interview, but a warning: if you listen, you'll want their cd's.

Two songs are particularly hooky and wry, Stacy's Mom (there's an audio file at the Fresh Air site), and:
Leave the Biker

Seems the further from town I go
The more I hate this place
He's got leather and big tattoos
And big scars all over his face

And I wonder if he ever has cried
Cause he couldn't get a date for the prom

He's got his arms around every man's dream
And crumbs in his beard from the seafood special
Oh can't you see my world is falling apart
Baby please leave the biker
Leave the biker, break his heart
Baby please leave the biker
Leave the biker, break his heart

Now his friend leans over and says
Looks like we got us a fag
I wonder if that guy's read one word
That wasn't in a porno mag

And I wonder if he ever has cried
Cause his kitten got run over and died

He's got his arms around every man's dream
And crumbs in his beard from the seafood special
Oh can't you see my world is falling apart
Baby please leave the biker
Leave the biker, break his heart
Baby please leave the biker
Leave the biker, break his heart

And I wonder if he ever has cried
Cause he couldn't get a date for the prom

He's got his arms around every man's dream
He crumbs in his beard from the seafood special
Oh can't you see my world is falling apart
Baby please leave the biker
Leave the biker, break his heart
Baby please leave the biker
Leave the biker, break his heart




MORE:
-LYRICS: Fountains of Wayne (All Lyrics)
FAN SITE: Fountains of Wayne
-Fountains of Wayne (All Music Guide)
-PROFILE: A band that means business: Fountains of Wayne back with 'Welcome Interstate Managers' (Todd Leopold, June 10, 2003, CNN)
-REVIEW: of Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers (G. Beato, The Washington Post)
-REVIEW: of Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers(Gary Glauber, PopMatters)
-REVIEW: of Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers (James Norton, Flak)
-REVIEW: of Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers (Mark Martelli, Pitchfork)
-REVIEW: of Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers (Roy Opochinski, GrooveVolt)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 AM

ON NOT CHANGING THEIR SPOTS

Waking Up to Europe's Uncertain Future (Jim Hoagland, June 22, 2003, The Washington Post)
If present demographic trends and tight barriers against immigration remain in place, the proposed mighty new 25-nation European Union will record a net decline in population of 50 million people by 2050, parliamentarian Elisabeth Guigou is saying. The new Old Continent's workforce will be literally decimated, and its economy will probably stultify.

But no gasps of horror, no sharp intakes of breath pierce my drowsiness. The discussion quickly bypasses such unpleasant facts of life to revert to abstract debate on the powers of the European Parliament vs. those of national governments.

While Americans sponsor radical change in the Middle East and fight a war against global terrorism, Europeans move deeper into a challenging but essentially inward-looking exercise of continental redefinition. Like the Sicilian aristocrats in Lampedusa's The Leopard, they pursue change close to home so things will remain the same. Or so they think. [...]

As Guigou pointed out at last week's seminar, there are heavy costs in maintaining the status quo and disturbing long-term trends for those who would construct Europe as a global rival and counterweight to the United States.

One is negative population growth: Birthrates in major Western European countries have fallen to 1.5 children or fewer per woman. Legal immigration is severely restricted, largely to avoid exacerbating social tensions focused on Arab and African immigrant ghettos. Meanwhile, with higher birthrates and a flow of a million new immigrants a year, the U.S. population is growing.

After an admirable run of success, France, Germany and other nations in Western Europe face serious prospects of economic decline and social dislocation.

The most remarkable aspect of this story, which the press is finally starting to wake up to, is that the Europeans have chosen to try and manage their decline, rather than at least attempt to reverse it. They've essentially given up. That's got to be especially disturbing for folks who advocate that we become as secular and statist as they.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 AM

UN TRUTHS

Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie? (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, June 22, 2003, NY Times)
The hunt for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq has been fruitless. The tax cut turns out to give no break whatsoever to millions of low-income taxpayers. In the view of some Democrats, President Bush has been lying about these and other matters, the way Lyndon B. Johnson lied about Vietnam, Richard M. Nixon about Watergate and Bill Clinton about his sex life. [...]

In fact, a review of the president's public statements found little that could lead to a conclusion that the president actually lied on either subject. But more pertinent than whether the president told the literal truth is what factors he stressed and which ones he played down.

Certainly, a strong argument can be made that he exaggerated the danger posed by banned Iraqi weapons when he was trying to convince the country and Congress of the need for a pre-emptive strike and that he overemphasized the benefits to people of modest means when he was trying to sell his tax cut.

Jim Angle of Fox News made a good point about the WMD strategy on The Diane Rehm Show on Friday: the Administration believed that the nature of Saddam Hussein's rule justified his removal, but you could hardly go to the UN with the argument that brutality, repression, and mass murder are just cause for regime change because there are about fifty states there against whom similar action would thereby be justified.

June 21, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 PM

DYSFUNCTION IS GOOD

Iraq, Israel Dominate Debate at Meeting (DONNA BRYSON, June 21, 2003, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein forced Iraq's neighbors to contemplate their weaknesses and lack of democracy, Arab leaders said Saturday in a debate that revealed fears about what Washington might have in store next for the region.

Iraq was among the main themes at the World Economic Forum, held for the first time in the Middle East, which joins influential CEOs and
entrepreneurs with politicians to discuss global issues.

More than 1,100 participants, including 11 heads of state or government and dozens of Cabinet ministers, attended the three-day meeting, which opened Saturday on the shores of the Dead Sea with the BBC-sponsored debate on Iraq.

In a speech, Jordan's King Abdullah II said much had changed since the last World Economic Forum meeting at its headquarters in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.

"Then, we talked about the looming war in Iraq. Now, we talk about speeding up humanitarian outreach ... reconstruction ... and credible Iraqi government that represents all its people," Abdullah said.

"Then, we talked about winning a commitment to the road map to peace for Israel and Palestine. Now, we talk about making that commitment a reality; a comprehensive peace; two states, living side by side, in peace and stability.

If you've never been to a 12-Step program, but have heard the term "dysfunctional" family, what they are generally referring to is the way that everyone else modifies their own behavior in order to accomodate the person who has a problem. The stability of the family, the need for some normality, makes people accept the behavior they'd otherwise condemn. The disease begins to dictate the dynamics of the group as people "enable" the addict--that is, aid the addiction.

There's quite a bit of talk these days about how the U.S. is storming around the globe oafishly, scaring the pants off of people. In effect, we've become the person with the problem. But the problem in this case, rather than alcoholism or drug abuse or an eating disorder, is our faith in democracy. Now other folks in the family of nations are trying to accommodate themselves to the "disease". The world is enabling our desire for democratic values. Nations are making themselves dysfunctional by embracing unheard of levels of democracy--and/or democratic rhetoric, which is ultimately the same thing--just to keep the peace. Let's hope they don't figure out they need to start going to Democrats Anonymous meetings to break the vicious cycle of liberty.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM

THE DEVIL WE KNOW

Historical Washington Whispers (US News, 6/24/1963)
Harry Byrd, Virginia Senator and a "conservative," on his 76th birthday quoted this definition of "conservative" and "liberal": "A conservative is one who is enamored of existing evils, and a liberal is one who wants to replace them with other evils."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM

"SHE GOT OVER THAT"

Pride (and $50) at Steak: Woman Takes a Stab at a 72-Ounce Slab of Sirloin (Lee Hockstader, 6/21/03, Washington Post)
If you've never seen a young woman in a staring contest with a 4 1/2-pound slab of red meat, it's a thing to behold.

Her nostrils flare. Her eyebrows twitch. She blinks. She exhales lightly though pursed lips. Then she picks up her serrated knife to begin sawing at her butterflied top sirloin, all 5,200-odd calories of it, cooked medium and sprawled on her dish like a catcher's mitt on home plate.

For its part, the steak is impassive.

Girl vs. Steak. That's a twist on the usual story line at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, fabled home of "The Free 72-ounce Steak." (That's "free" with an asterisk: It's only free if you finish it, plus the sides -- baked potato, salad, baby shrimp cocktail and dinner roll, in less than one hour.) [...]

Angela, who lives in Tulsa, does have a history you might call impulsive. She dropped out of high school and left home when she was 15. For a while she had blue hair. The name "Ned" is tattooed beneath her right knee. She married her husband Dennis, a co-worker in sales at the phone company, after dating him for two weeks.

And for four years, from ages 12 to 16, she was a vegetarian.

She got over that. Not long ago she polished off a 48-ounce steak without great difficulty -- a T-bone, but still.

Right now she is pumped. She's known about the Big Texan forever, and for years she's wanted to try the 72-ouncer. Today, as she and Dennis were headed to California on a motorcycle, she began seeing the billboards on the highway and bells went off. She'd do it today! Right now! And Dennis couldn't talk her out of it.

God, I love this country.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 PM

STILL TOO HIGH

US pundits say it will be 1% (Aaron Patrick, June 22 2003, The Age)
Alan Greenspan is this week likely to become the first central banker since the '50s to set US interest rates at 1 per cent.

In a remarkable illustration of the weakness of the world's largest economy, the Federal Reserve chairman is expected to cut rates on Wednesday for the 13th time since the technology bubble burst three years ago.

But the previous cuts have left Dr Greenspan with a dilemma. Interest rates are getting so low that their ability to stimulate growth is coming into question. Economists expect rates to fall by 25 or 50 basis points from 1.25 per cent. The cut will reduce rates to zero, or close to it in real terms, because inflation - excluding food and energy - is at 1 per cent.

Hardly, since the good Doctor has himself testified that inflation measures overstate the rate by at least 1%.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM

BIBI THROWS IN THE TOWEL

A Limited Palestinian State (Benjamin Netanyahu, June 20, 2003, washingtonpost.com)
In our quest for peace with the Palestinians, three imperatives unite Israelis: Terror must end, our borders must be secure, and the Palestinians must abandon the goal of destroying Israel. That is why we insist that the terror organizations be dismantled, that we not return to the indefensible 1967 lines and that the Palestinians give up their claim to a "right of return" -- a euphemism for destroying the Jewish state by flooding it with millions of Palestinians.

Genuine Palestinian peace partners will accept these elementary conditions for peace. But what will happen when Israel finds such partners? What kind of agreement can we reach?

We are told that Israel is faced with only two options: either continue to rule over millions of Palestinians or cede them full sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Yet both options are unacceptable.

Israel does not want to rule the Palestinians. The only reason our forces are deployed in Palestinian cities and towns is to prevent the savage terror attacks being launched from these places against us. As the terror subsides, we will be able to gradually withdraw those forces.

As for ceding full sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, this is doubly wrong. First, most of Judea and Samaria is barren and empty. The combined Palestinian and Jewish populations live on less than one-third of this territory. But the empty swaths of disputed land, comprising the heart of the Jewish ancestral homeland, are vital for Israel's security.

In politics they key to backing down off a limb is to set up a straw man that you can claim to have been fighting against and then declare victory over this Guy. What matters here is that Mr. Netanyahu concedes the inevitability of statehood; it matters little what final form that state takes.

MORE:
Powell said working Gaza, Bethlehem security handover (Arnon Regular, Yossi Verter and Shlomo Shamir, 6/21/03, Ha'aretz)
According to a report published over the weekend in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell toiled over final details of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to hand over control of the Gaza strip and the West Bank city of Bethlehem to the new PA government, sources on all three sides said.

Under the deal, Israel would withdraw from an area more than four times the size of the area initially discussed in the U.S.-backed roadmap. The first stage called for an Israeli withdrawal focusing only on a small northern area of the Gaza Strip, and did not mention the West Bank city at all.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:30 AM

PBR PR

The Marketing of No Marketing (ROB WALKER, June 22, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
The trend-explaining industry has mostly framed the rise of P.B.R. as part of an alleged ''retro-chic'' movement. Of course, iterations of retro-chic (Fiestaware, cocktail music, etc.) have bubbled through the culture for a decade or more now. A subset ''white trash'' theory links P.B.R. to Levi's (whose sales have actually fallen) and trucker hats (a fad that was revealed and snuffed out almost simultaneously, when Ashton Kutcher wore one on his MTV show, ''Punk'd''). One zeitgeistmeister has even suggested that P.B.R. drinkers were inspired by the blue-collar heroes of 9/11.

A person who has put a lot of thought into P.B.R. is Alex Wipperfurth, of a San Francisco marketing boutique called Plan B, whose clients have included Napster and Doc Martens. He has a particular interest in brands whose identity is created not by their owners but by consumers. Plan B did a little consulting work for Pabst last year, and Wipperfurth includes P.B.R. in a book he's completing called ''Brand Hijack.'' To Wipperfurth, P.B.R., a long-withered brand, had few negative connotations. A false rumor that Pabst was about to go out of business (untrue) worked for some as a ''rallying cry.'' P.B.R.'s scarcity, and its cheapness, also helped make it an ''underground darling.''

The single key text in Neal Stewart's codification of the meaning of P.B.R. is the book ''No Logo,'' by the journalist Naomi Klein. Published in 2000, ''No Logo'' is about the incursion of brands and marketing into every sphere of public life, the bullying and rapacious mind-set that this trend represents and evidence of a grass-roots backlash against it, especially among young people. Klein's view is that this would feed a new wave of activists who targeted corporations. Stewart's view is that the book contains ''many good marketing ideas.'' He says it ''really articulated the feelings, the coming feelings, of the consumer out there: eventually people are gonna get sick of all this stuff'' -- all this marketing -- ''and say enough is enough.''

In these circumstances, the thinking goes, P.B.R. needs to stay neutral, ''always look and act the underdog'' and not worry about those who look down on the beer, presumably because they're snobs whose negative opinion only boosts its street cred. The Plan B analysis even says that P.B.R.'s embrace by punks, skaters and bike messengers make it a political, ''social protest'' brand. These ''lifestyle as dissent'' or ''consumption as protest'' constituencies are about freedom and rejecting middle-class mores, and ''P.B.R. is seen as a symbol and fellow dissenter.'' Eventually all of this sounds like satire, but the punch line is that it isn't really that far off from P.B.R.'s strategy.

Could the fact it's good have anything to do with it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:40 AM

DISSING THE DWARVES

Dean's Hubris (Valley News, 6/20/03)
In his bid for the presidency, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has gotten far by casting himself as a politician of compassion (Dr. Dean, who fought to provide health insurance to most every Vermont family) and candor (Candidate Dean, who opposed President Bush's war on Iraq and accused fellow party members of forsaking "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party").

To those who have followed Dean's career in Vermont, those selling points ring true. But those who have watched Dean closely at home have also seen a darker side of his candor, as Dean uttered off-the-cuff remarks that disparaged fellow politicians and made clear that he considered himself the intellectual superior of many people he met.

As Dean has entered the national stage, his tendency to place foot in mouth has gotten him into scrapes -- unusually severe ones, at least this early in the campaign -- with fellow Democratic contenders. He had to apologize to U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina after wrongly accusing him of waffling on the war in Iraq. He sought a private meeting with Rep. Richard A. Gephardt after attacking the Missouri Democrat's health care proposal. An aide to U.S. Sen. John Kerry accused Dean of displaying "a pathological recklessness with the facts."

It wasn't until this week, however, that Dean put his hubris plainly on display. At a business luncheon, Dean claimed to be the only major Democratic candidate with experience appointing judges. When someone pointed out that another candidate, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, had appointed judges while serving as governor of Florida, Dean dismissed him as a bit player.

We have no more essential, and absurd, political myth than that what we really want is a candidate who will be honest with us. Nothing brings the lynch mob faster than even accidental candor.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:35 AM

THE SCIENCE OF GAYDAR? (via Brian Boys)

'Dr. Sex': A human-sexuality expert creates controversy with a new book on gay men and transsexuals (ROBIN WILSON, 6/20/03, Chronicle of Higher Education)
J. Michael Bailey clicks on an audio recording of four men: Two are gay and two are straight. Can the audience guess which ones are gay just by listening to their voices? asks Mr. Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University.

When the majority of those in the Stanford University lecture hall decide that a man with hissy s's and precise articulation is gay, the professor pronounces them correct. The lesson: You can determine a man's sexual orientation after simply listening to him talk for 20 seconds.

Sound like science?

It is billed that way in The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, a new book aimed at a popular audience and published by the prestigious National Academies Press. Mr. Bailey, who spoke at Stanford as part of a book tour that has also taken him to Emory University and the University of California at Los Angeles, is already widely known for his studies linking sexual orientation to genes. (His research on twins is mentioned in most introductory psychology texts.)

But his latest work has created a bigger buzz than most scholars hope to enjoy in their entire careers. Not only does he identify a set of interests and behaviors he says can be used to tell whether a man is gay, he ties homosexuality to transsexualism. The book is receiving praise and damnation in equal measures, and the controversy is quickly making the author one of the most talked-about sex and gender researchers in academe. [...]

It was during his visits to gay bars near his home that Mr. Bailey began to refine his research on gay men's femininity, and came to the conclusion that homosexuality and transsexuality are part of the same continuum.

Gay men have more feminine traits than straight men, he writes, including their interests in fashion and show tunes and their choice of occupations, including florist, waiter, and hair stylist. If a man is feminine, says Mr. Bailey, it is a key sign that he is gay. And if a man is gay, Mr. Bailey says he can tell a lot about what that man's childhood was like. He "played with dolls and loathed football" and "his best friends were girls," he writes in the book.

In fact, writes Mr. Bailey, some gay men are so feminine that they want to become women. He calls men who have sex changes for that reason "homosexual transsexuals." These people are typically very sexy and convincing as women, as well as extremely likely to work as escorts, or as waitresses, receptionists, and manicurists, he writes. They have trouble settling down with a mate because, like gay men, he says, they enjoy casual sex with several partners.

If nothing else, this would explain why men are so often hyper-sensitive about being hit on by gay men, even to the point of reacting violently. It's as much an accusation as an invitation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 AM

DID YOU GET YOURS?

For Famous Young Wizard, a Darker Turn (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, June 21, 2003, NY Times)
A considerably darker, more psychological book than its predecessors, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" occupies the same emotional and storytelling place in the Potter series as "The Empire Strikes Back" held in the first "Star Wars" trilogy. It provides a sort of fulcrum for the series, marking Harry's emergence from boyhood, and his newfound knowledge that an ancient prophecy holds the secret to Voldemort's obsession with him and his family. [...]

Because Harry is often in an irritable mood and spends much of the opening chapters brooding about his problems, "The Order of the Phoenix" gets off to a somewhat ponderous start.

There is also less humor in these pages than in the earlier books, and fewer Quidditch games; magic has become less of an art and more of a means of war. The benevolent headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore, is curiously absent - or distant - for large portions of the book, and so, for that matter, is Harry's Falstaffian friend, Hagrid, the school's gamekeeper. Instead, Harry and his pals, Ron and Hermione, must contend with the noxious omnipresence of Dolores Jane Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and a government spy, who conceals beneath her fluffy pink cardigan the cold heart and bureaucratic soul of a Grand Inquisitor.

Harry finds himself subject to a series of alarming, Kafkaesque dreams - filled with long corridors and closed doors - while the grown-up members of the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society organized by Dumbledore to combat Lord Voldemort, find themselves battling incompetence, denial and cover-ups by the Ministry of Magic. Dread hovers over the novel, as everyone awaits the next move of He Who Must Not Be Named and ponders the loyalties of others, like Ron's brother Percy; Sirius's petulant house elf, Kreacher; and the perennially nasty Potions professor, Snape.

What Ms. Rowling is trying to do in the novel's first half is to delineate both the increasingly grim world in which her characters find themselves after the return of Lord Voldemort in the series' previous installment (Year 4: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") and the awkward emotional changes her characters are going through as they grow up, something rarely addressed by this sort of children's story, which usually leaves its heroes frozen in a single snapshot in time. The themes of self-sacrifice and betrayal sounded in previous volumes are amplified here. New light is shed on Harry's relationship with his awful Muggle (i.e., nonmagical) relatives the Dursleys, and as Ms. Rowling has said in recent interviews, a character close to Harry dies.

If the world were to end today, what would extraterrestrial archaeologists one day make of the tens of thousands of children with lightning bolts drawn on their foreheads from last night's book parties?

MORE:
-FEATURED AUTHOR: J.K. Rowling (NY Times Book Review)
-ARTICLE: Countdown in Times Sq.: 3-2-1, It's 870 More Pages of Potter (N.R. KLEINFIELD, June 21, 2003, NY Times)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:21 AM

THERE'S YOUR PRETEXT

Captured Official Is Said to Tell U.S. Hussein Survived (DOUGLAS JEHL, 6/21/03, NY Times)
A top lieutenant to Saddam Hussein has told American interrogators that the Iraqi leader and his two sons survived the United States-led war in Iraq and that he himself had fled to Syria with the sons after the conflict, Defense Department officials said today.

The officials said they had not yet assessed the accuracy of the claims by the aide, Abid Hamad Mahmoud al-Tikriti, who was arrested in Iraq earlier this week. But they said that the United States regarded the information as having enormous potential significance, and that it had ignited an intense burst of clandestine American military activity aimed at capturing the sons, Uday and Qusay, and perhaps even Mr. Hussein himself.

A conviction among Mr. Hussein's loyalists that he is still alive, picked up by American intelligence intercepts, has emerged as a powerful motivating factor in the military resistance to United States forces in Iraq, according to American officials. If the account Mr. Mahmoud has provided to his interrogators is true, it would be the most authoritative confirmation that neither Mr. Hussein nor his sons were killed in American attacks in March and April. American officials would not say whether Mr. Mahmoud had revealed a link between the resistance and Mr. Hussein and his sons.

On the basis of those intercepts and other recently obtained evidence, American intelligence agencies have shifted their view, and now say that Mr. Hussein and at least one of his sons, Qusay, probably are still alive and still in Iraq. But Mr. Mahmoud's claim that he and the sons had spent time after the war in Syria before being expelled by Syrian authorities adds a new element to that working theory.

On to Damascus...

June 20, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM

ANTI-ZIONISTS

Within the German pale: why increasing numbers of Jews are returning to Germany (Andrew Gimson, The Spectator)
More Jews are moving to Germany than to any other country in the world, including Israel. This statement seldom fails to provoke gasps of astonishment among people whose knowledge of Germany is limited to the Holocaust. To them it seems a very strange and wonderful thing that the Jewish life which the Nazis tried with such grotesque thoroughness to extirpate should now be flowering anew on German soil.

This generous reaction is surely in the end the right one, but I must admit that my own reaction - when a colleague pointed out a news-agency report according to which 19,262 Jews moved to Germany last year from the former Soviet Union, compared with 18,878 who went to Israel and fewer than 10,000 who went to the United States - was less generous. During the six years I spent in Berlin in the 1990s, I found myself bombarded with information on Jewish subjects. The Holocaust was used, in the words of one German writer, as a kind of "moral club" with which to belabour the German public. The authorities paraded their own righteous treatment of Jews since the war, and so did some individual Germans who became wildly philo-Semitic, which led them to decorate their flats with Jewish symbols and to attend Hebrew classes. One especially preposterous German woman, prominent in every scheme to commemorate the Holocaust, even changed her name so that one could easily make the error of imagining her to be Jewish. The whole pro-Jewish thing seemed like a trendy, evasive, artificial, self-satisfied moral pose, as well as being 60 years too late.

It is true that the new German-Jewish life which is emerging will not be characterised by the profound knowledge of and reverence for German high culture which is still found among some elderly residents of Tel Aviv, but it will be enriched by Israeli influences. For the past few years, an increasing number of Israelis have been applying to regain the German passports to which Jews (and their descendants) deprived of German citizenship in the late 1930s are entitled under Article 116 of the German constitution. Applications are now running at a rate of about 200 to 250 a month. Only a minority of these Israelis expect to move to Germany, but a German passport is not perhaps quite as mal vu in Israel as it was as recently as 1996, when the then Israeli president, Ezer Weizman, said during a visit to Berlin that he could not comprehend how Jews could live in Germany after the Holocaust. They can live there and they do.

How can your initial reaction not be: "Israel is doomed"?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 PM

BLOODY NONSENSE

Mein Gott! America is the new Germany (Matthew Parris, 06/21/03, Times of London)
Germans are America's big ethnic secret. No people and no culture has contributed more to what the United States is and is becoming. In the nation's ethnic tangle, no root runs deeper than German America. As a scattered community only fitfully conscious of its own existence, none has more successfully pursued wealth, power and intellectual influence. And as a philosophical force in US politics - a whole political mindset - none has greater potency. Germany as a European state may have lost her way, the German language may struggle to keep its world grip, but the German spirit is alive and well and living in - and through - America: Bismarck's last laugh on modern history.

Yet from new Labour to the Tory Right, the British Establishment has fallen in love with the reincarnation of our former European enemy, even as our Europeanism sours. Across much of conservative Britain, an embrace with America is welcomed as a healthy, English-speaking alternative to the sinister advance of the Franco-German axis.

Why? It is understandable that the British do not feel towards America the visceral distrust that continental Europe arouses. Americans speak English. Their invasions have been peaceful. We remember the Mayflower, the Founding Fathers, and the familiar English surnames of almost all the Presidents until Roosevelt. We remember, too, that the United States did (after a slight hiccup) support us against Germany in both world wars, and we take vicarious pride in seeing another great English-speaking country - once ours - stride the globe: imperialism by proxy. We count the Americans as our cousins. These world-beaters are our kith and kin, are they not?

No, they are not. America's cousins are the Germans. This is true literally - in blood lineage - but also the personalities of the two nations. Modern America has become more Germanic than it is British. The New England aristocracies are pushed aside, Mittelamerika rides high, yet few notice and still fewer discuss the Teutonic phase the country is now entering. A common language - English - overlays deep cracks in the collective American psyche, blurring the outline of a vast community so submerged that its members have all but lost consciousness of what they have in common: an outlook.

One wonders where he thinks the Brits got their blood lineage if not from the Germanic tribes that raped their way across the country for centuries?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM

E PLURIBUS UNUM

Evolution and Ethics: E. O. Wilson has more in common with Thomas Aquinas than he realizes. (Larry Arnhart, Nov/Dec 1999, Books & Culture)
The publication in 1975 of Edward O. Wilson's Sociobiology provoked a great controversy. Our deepest intuitions of right and wrong, Wilson asserted on the first page of his book, are guided by the emotional control centers of the brain, which evolved by natural selection to help the human animal exploit opportunities and avoid threats in the natural environment. Ethics is a branch of biology. The publication last year of Wilson's Consilience renewed the controversy as he continued to argue for explaining ethics through the biology of the moral sentiments.

Wilson's critics have warned that his reductionistic explanation of human ethics as a mere expression of animal impulses promotes a degrading view of human life. Some of his Christian critics have explained this as an inevitable consequence of a scientific naturalism that denies God's moral law as the supernatural ground for our sense of right and wrong. And yet I think Wilson's position is much stronger than it might seem at first glance. Indeed, the full strength of Wilson's Darwinian ethics becomes clear only when it is seen as a form of ethical naturalism that belongs to a tradition of natural law reasoning that is compatible with Christian theology.

The biological character of the natural moral law is suggested by a famous remark by Domitius Ulpianus, an ancient Roman jurist: "Natural right is that which nature has taught all animals." As quoted at the beginning of Justinian's Institutes, this remark entered the tradition of natural law reasoning, and it was cited by Thomas Aquinas when he explained natural law as rooted in "natural inclinations" or "natural instincts" that human beings might share with other social animals. Adam Smith continued this tradition of thought in explaining ethics as expressing the moral sentiments of human nature. As influenced by Smith's ethical theory, Charles Darwin explained the moral emotions as manifesting a moral sense rooted in the biological nature of human beings as social animals. As influenced by both Smith and Darwin, Edward Westermarck defended a view of ethics as founded in moral emotions shaped by natural selection in evolutionary history. Wilson recognizes that his biological theory of the moral sentiments belongs to a tradition of ethical naturalism that includes Smith, Darwin, and Westermarck. But he does not recognize the roots of that tradition in the natural law reasoning of Aquinas and other Christian philosophers.

Uncovering the common ground between Wilson and Aquinas should make it easier for Christians to come to terms with Wilson's expansive claims for scientific knowledge. Rather than completely rejecting Wilson's Darwinian view of ethics, Christians can adopt some of Wilson's reasoning to strengthen the case for natural law by finding support for it in Darwinian science.

Wilson's explanation of ethics as rooted in human biological nature is a crucial part of his larger project in striving for "consilience" in human knowledge. He adopts the term consilience for the idea that nature is governed by a seamless web of causal laws that cross the traditional disciplines of study. He appeals to "a belief in the unity of the sciences-a conviction, far deeper than a mere working proposition, that the world is orderly and can be explained by a small number of natural laws." Against the fragmentation of knowledge into apparently unrelated do mains, Wilson argues for linking the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities in the common effort to explain everything through the universal laws of nature.

How fiercely the scientists wish for Unity...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:37 PM

PBS?

PBS Finds Faith: A new PBS documentary, "God and the Inner City," shows how faith-based programs really can make a difference. (Erin Montgomery, 06/20/2003, Weekly Standard)
NO MATTER WHAT your religion or where you live, invite the PBS documentary "God and the Inner City" into your living room on Sunday night, June 22.

"God and the Inner City" tells the story of three faith-based social service groups: Boston's Ella J. Baker House, which works to prevent street violence and provides counseling and job training under the direction of charismatic Pentecostal minister Eugene Rivers; a Maryland branch of Teen Challenge, whose nationwide programs help substance abusers go drug-free and embrace Christianity in the process; and Philadelphia's Amachi program, a mentor program based in local churches but run by Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a national secular organization that takes children of incarcerated parents under its wing.

How can they find time to broadcast it in the midst of their seeming 24/7 Suze Orman marathon?
Posted by David Cohen at 7:31 PM

SO, PRESIDENT KERRY WON'T BE CALLING ME?

Kerry says he'll filibuster Supreme Court nominees who do not support abortion rights (Nedra Pickler, Associated Press, 6/20/3)
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Friday that he is prepared to block any Supreme Court nominee who would not uphold the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

"I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties and on the laws protecting workers and the environment," Kerry said in remarks via satellite at a meeting of Democratic party officials in St. Paul, Minn.

"The test is basic -- any person who thinks it's his or her job to push an extreme political agenda rather than to interpret the law should not be a Supreme Court justice." . . .

Kerry also has said if elected president he would only appoint judges who support Roe v. Wade, while his opponents for the nomination say they would not impose a litmus test on nominees.
What do you think, two more elections before being the Democratic nominee is officially made a disability for election to the Presidency?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM

SECOND HAND SUNLIGHT

Moonlight Movies: Fifty recommended films that can be a vibrant and useful part of family life (Andrew Coffin, 6/28/03, World)
"SINCE WE MUST REST AND PLAY, where can we do so better than here-in the suburbs of Jerusalem? It is lawful to rest our eyes in the moonlight-especially [since] we know where it comes from, that it is only sunlight at second hand."

C.S. Lewis didn't have movies specifically in mind when he put down these words in his classic essay on "Christianity and Culture," but his words well describe the collection of films contained below. Some movies are harmful, but good movies are second-hand sunlight, and to the discerning viewer-to the discerning family-they can be a vibrant and useful part of family life.

Containing some easy films and some more challenging (Lewis also said that "a little sense of labour is necessary to all perfect pleasures"), this list is designed to help families dig deeper in the vast film canon of the past 100 years. It attempts to reflect an emphasis on overall quality rather than the simple absence of offensive elements or presence of positive themes.

This list ignores two important categories: films aimed for the youngest children (say 3 and under), and films aimed at adults that may be deemed suitable for older kids (R-rated films such as Schindler's List). It favors movies with broad appeal, but recognizes that families with elementary-school children will look for different films than families with high-school-age kids. So the list is broken into three categories: 15 films for young children, 15 films more appropriate for older kids, and 20 films that we hope will split the difference.

This is by no means a list of the 50 best movies of all time, although many of these films would be serious contenders for that distinction. It is, however, a group of films selected because they will delight most viewers and show a pale reflection of the sunlight that is capable of challenging our minds, softening our hearts, bolstering our courage ... and yes, entertaining us along the way to Jerusalem.

You can never have enough movie recommendations when you head to Blockbuster.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 PM

TRY VERMONT

If you should happen to visit NH this summer--and believe us when we say that's not an invitation--be sure to take the kids to Storyland. The drive up into the Presidential Range, including the spectacular Mount Washington is worth the trip by itself. Two warnings though: (1) if you're a sedentary and unadventerous adult, skip the Turtle Twirl; (2) if you're Canadian, wear white athletic socks with your shorts, not dark nylon jobs.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:34 PM

EUSELESS

EU will not match US Aids donation (The Guardian, June 20, 2003)
Tony Blair conceded today that a European Union donation to help fight Aids, TB and malaria would fall short of the $1bn (E600m) pledged by the United States.

The prime minister had made a joint call with French president Jacques Chirac for the EU to match America's commitment to the UN's Global Health Fund, set up to fight the three killer diseases.

But speaking at the EU summit in Greece, he said the smaller of the 15 existing EU members and 10 countries joining next year were not prepared to commit the money for 2004 because of "budget problems".

Europeans might not be able to retire until age 60 if they start just throwing money at humanitarian causes...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:57 PM

BEST NOT ASK TOO MUCH

Overworking "Democracy" (Sheldon Richman, June 20, 2003, Ideas on Liberty)
Whenever I re-read F. A. Hayek's classic, The Road to Serfdom, I always take away an insight or two I had earlier overlooked or forgotten. For example, Hayek shows that asking too much of representative government ("democracy") can, ironically, push it toward totalitarianism.

The push comes from the fact that people disagree-the more specific the issue, the more likely the disagreement. Take central planning under representative government: Hayek points out that while getting a consensus on generalities is easy (say, that the objective should be to secure the "common welfare"), reaching agreement on the specific path to that goal is close to impossible. He writes, "It may be the unanimously expressed will of the people that its parliament should prepare a comprehensive economic plan, yet neither the people nor its representatives need therefore be able to agree on any particular plan.... [I]t is a superstition that there should be a majority view on everything".

Here is where the seeds of totalitarianism are planted. The endless wrangling in the legislature may prompt people to reconsider not central planning but representative government. "The inability of democratic assemblies to carry out what seems to be a clear mandate of the people," Hayek writes, "will inevitably cause dissatisfaction with democratic institutions. Parliaments come to be regarded as 'talking shops,' unable or incompetent to carry out the tasks for which they have been chosen. The conviction grows that if efficient planning is to be done, the direction must be 'taken out of politics' and placed in the hands of experts-permanent officials or independent autonomous bodies".

Which would explain why the more we ask government to do the more disillusioned with it we become. The key being that when we asked we were indeed prey to illusion.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:51 PM

DEMOCRATS VOTED AGAINST THIS

RE: New Withholding Tables

In your paycheck dated 6/20/2003, you will notice that your net amount might be different than usual. The IRS has posted a "New Tax Withholding Table" effective May 28, 2003. Employers were ask to use these new tables as soon as they could work them into their payroll systems, but not later than July 1, 2003. This means employees will be getting more money in their paychecks due to the new tax law.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

That e-mail went out to our whole company this week and one like it is probably headed to one hundred million people this month. Thank you, Republican Party.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:54 PM

CARTHAGO DELENDA EST

Iran could yet be a model for the Mideast (Cameron Kamran, June 19 2003, Financial Times)
[H]ow do we harness Iran for positive change in the region? The US administration has recently resorted to tough talk to dissuade Iran from supporting terrorism, developing nuclear weapons and meddling in Iraq. But threats alone will probably backfire, forcing moderates to close ranks with hardliners - as happened after President George W. Bush included Iran in his infamous "axis of evil" last year - or giving the mullahs the excuse to crush an emerging civil society.

A more sophisticated strategy of subtle but continued pressure on the Islamic regime, combined with a vociferous effort to encourage the
overwhelming opposition to clerical rule, could work. Indeed, the Bush administration has openly applauded the recent wave of student-led protests across Iran. Some maintain that such a strategy will endanger Iranian moderates by associating them with the US, a nation Iranians have mistrusted ever since the coup in 1953, directed by the Central Intelligence Agency, that removed an elected government. But Iranian moderates have been in danger for some time as the ruling clerics have perfected the art of branding proponents of freedom as foreign stooges and rounding them up. The time to fear guilt by association has passed and the US will lose little by increasing its support for Iranian civil society as a whole. But it should do so openly, for the world to see.

If the US believes its troops fought for any worthwhile ideals in Iraq, it should pursue those ideals in Iran, albeit by peaceful means. After all, the country is poised for radical change. Seventy per cent of Iranians are under 30; they have more in common with the MTV generation than with their clerical rulers. They are among the more pro-American populations in the Muslim world and the US needs them if it is to rehabilitate its image in the region. For the sake of their future - and the emergence of pluralist civil societies in the Middle East - the US must act now.

People outside of tryannies often counsel that we should tone down our rhetoric because it aids the oppressors and unifies the regime. But then the tyranny falls and this is what we realize, Ronald Reagan (TIME 100):
As President, he kept pressure on the Soviets at a time when they were beginning to fail internally. He pushed for SDI, the strategic defense missile system that was rightly understood by the Soviets as both a financial challenge and an intimidating expression of the power of U.S. scientific innovation.

There are those who say it was all a bluff, that such a system could never have been and will never be successfully developed. Put that aside for a moment, and consider a more relevant fact: If it was a bluff, the Soviets didn't know it. And more to the point, Reagan as President had the credibility with the Soviets to make a serious threat. (And a particularly Reaganesque threat it was: he said not only would we build sdi, but we would also share it with them.) Reagan's actions toward the Soviets were matched by his constant rhetorical pounding of communism. He kept it up, for eight years, from "the evil empire" to "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," a constant attempt to use words to educate and inspire.

Margaret Thatcher said it best: he took words and sent them out to fight for us. He never stopped trying to persuade, to win the world over, to help it think about the nature of democracy and the nature of communism, and to consider which system it was that threatened the world's peace.

In doing all this--in insisting that, as the sign he kept on his desk in the Oval Office said, it can be done--he kept up the morale of the anticommunist West. And not only Americans. When Natan Sharansky was freed after nine years in the gulag, he went to the White House and asked Reagan never to stop his hard-line speeches. Sharansky said news of those speeches was passed from prisoner to prisoner in the forced-labor camps.

After eight years of Reagan and his constant efforts, the Soviet Union collapsed.

Until Iran is free, the President should end every speech with a simple phrase: The mullahcracy must be destroyed.
Posted by David Cohen at 1:42 PM

PLUS CA CHANGE, PLUS C'EST LA MEME CHOSE.

Read this and then this.

I thought I had too much time on my hands.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 PM

HOW YOU FUND TERRORISM

-INTERVIEW: The Hard Edge of American Values: Robert D. Kaplan on how the United States projects power around the world-and why it must (Atlantic Unbound, June 18, 2003 )
[Q:] You consider Colombia to be a very important example for the future of U.S. intervention in world affairs. Why should we be paying attention to that country?

[A:] I could have used the Philippines, I could have used Nepal. Colombia is important for two reasons here. First, we are deeply involved, yet no one is paying attention to it, which is an example of how we find ourselves in an imperial position in the world. There are many places where we are deeply involved that aren't even covered by the news media. The news media tends to interpret American imperialism solely through what's been in the headlines-Afghanistan first, now Iraq. Second and more specifically, the problems that Colombia presents are an exaggerated form of the kinds of problems that we are likely to face over the next ten or twenty years in managing our affairs around the world. North Korea and Iraq, the countries that have gotten the headlines recently, really have old-fashioned, Cold War, dinosaur-style regimes. So while these problems, North Korea and Iraq, will be with us for some years yet, they essentially already represent the past. Whereas Colombia is a sign of the future, in the sense that it has these guerilla organizations that are sort of centerless corporations split up into baronies and franchises, where it's hard to get your finger on the pulse. And it's very, very hard to defeat them, because you stamp out one element and there are all these other elements around the country. Colombia also represents how so much of terrorism around the world is interrelated with crime. The part of al Qaeda represented by Osama bin Laden is not an example of that. They are very utopian and ideological. But most of these groups that we're going to have to deal with have radical politics that are interrelated with crime.

Another reason why Colombia is so important, which I didn't have space to mention in the piece, is that we are constantly reading about these disputes between the State Department on the one hand and the Pentagon on the other. It's like they are these two poles of opposing bureaucracies. But when you get into the field, this totally dissolves, because any major U.S. program anywhere is an interrelationship between the State Department, the Pentagon, and other agencies. If the agencies don't work together seamlessly, the program itself doesn't work. Plan Colombia, which is the name of the whole gamut of foreign and military aid that we are providing to the Colombian government was, up until post-Saddam Iraq, the largest foreign interagency operation that the U.S. government had in the world. Plan Colombia represents billions of dollars of interagency cooperation. And interagency is really the only way we can ever operate into the future.

[Q:] You describe FARC, the main guerilla group in Colombia, as being "Karl Marx at the top and Adam Smith all the way down the command chain." Can you tell us what you mean by that?

[A:] Karl Marx means that the front that the group presents to the world is ideological, in this case left-wing/communist/socialist. But beneath that front it's all based on profits and crime. The FARC has lost its ideological edge and has kind of devolved into profit-making enterprises, involving kidnappings, drugs, and siphoning off oil-pipeline revenues.

The ads that showed a direct relationship between drug use and the unintentional funding of terrorism were much reviled, particularly by the libertarian Right. Most of the critics were presumably just ignorant of, or unable to accept, the evidence that the drug trade does indeed fund terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. But other folks seemed to believe that since they support legalization of drugs they aren't responsible for the effects of purchasing drugs while they're illegal. These attitudes combine a willful blindness and an abdication of responsibility.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:12 PM

CLOSING TIME IN THE WEST

Europe's ageing population revolts at longer work and lower pensions: Governments of right and left try to impose change (Ian Traynor and Jon Henley, June 11, 2003, The Guardian)
Marching in Paris yesterday, Martine, a 49-year-old post office worker, could see her retirement plans slipping away before her eyes. She had no intention, she said, of working longer than her allotted 37.5 years.

"My husband's a teacher, he feels exactly the same. All our working lives we've been planning around that [retirement] date, and now suddenly we're not going to be able to stop. What do they expect us to do? Die on the job?"

Martine is not alone in her anger. The hot summer of Europe's discontent is being brought to the boil by the issue of state pensions as employees are ordered to work longer for less and to dig deeper into their pockets for the privilege of getting less back from the welfare kitty. [...]

At issue is the sustainability of pay-as-you-go state pension systems in which those in work pay the pensions of the retired rather than, as many fondly
imagine, putting a nest-egg away for their own retirement.

"You can either increase contributions, reduce pensions, or work longer, given the demographic developments in these pay-as-you-go systems," said Martine Durand, deputy director for labour and social affairs of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"Increasing contributions is counter-productive in high-tax countries, reducing pensions is also politically unpopular. That just leaves raising
retirement ages."

But in France and Austria such a suggestion is politically risky, and in Germany the measure is not enough to sustain the system.

From Denmark to Italy the national pension system varies, but demographers, economists, and analysts are pretty much agreed that all face similar crises, a convergence encouraged by the single currency and the constraints on public spending enforced by the European Central Bank.

The issue is political dynamite.

This is the reason that democracy may ultimately be unsustainable in much of the West. In fact it may be unsuistainable here unless we privatize retirement rather quickly. Once a people realizes it can simply use the apparatus of the democratic state to transfer the property of others to themselves it will do so. It appears that it will continue to do so until the system inevitably goes bung. Combine this propensity with the fact that once you can make the state "care" for you there is no need to have children and you end up with a society where power lies in the hands of a rapidly aging population which is become dependent on these transfer payments and there's little prospect of making this politically powerful majority think of anything beyond themselves. In effect you've created the conditions for a Perfect Storm--witness Europe.

We'd like to believe that this is merely a fiscal crisis, but it is actually a function of our political philosophy. Democracy gives people power and people with power do things with it. Those things are seldom selfless.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 AM

BEWARE THE BOY GENIUS

Start Packing, Gray: The White House gets into the act to dump the governor (Bill Bradley, 6/20/03, LA Weekly)
Poor Gray Davis. California's constitutional deadline to pass a new budget came and went over the weekend, and there our embattled governor was, alone in the state Capitol with no legislators in sight, contemplating not success but disaster in the form of the seeming collapse of his budget strategy, a fast-moving recall signature drive and the looming prospect of the Terminator running against him.

Just a few weeks ago, a mega-deal seemed in the works, giving Davis and California a timely budget and giving some Republican legislators and the corporate community reforms of the malfunctioning workers'-compensation system and restrictions on lawsuits. But that all changed when Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte declared that he would punish any Republicans who voted for a tax increase by going all-out to defeat them in a Republican primary.

It was surprising because Brulte has a relatively moderate reputation, playing to reporters with off-the-record jests distancing himself from his party's more caveman tendencies. Yet there he was, scuttling a brewing budget deal by drawing a cavemanesque line in the sand on taxes that the business community did not. On the other hand, it's a sound strategy for Republicans because the more trouble Davis has getting a credible budget, the less likely it is that his anemic 21 percent approval rating goes up and the more likely it is that the voters fire him.

It's probable that the White House played a role in Brulte?s hard-line approach on taxes. The Weekly has learned that Brulte has been consulting with White House political guru Karl Rove on the Davis recall, which Brulte does not deny.

Well, the White House has had great success with regime change lately...
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:24 AM

)

Set bishops free with the truth (E. J. Dionne, 6/20/2003)
[The Catholic Church faces] a problem of spiritual leadership. "We're in month 18 of the most serious crisis in the history of the American Catholic Church," says Scott Appleby, a Notre Dame professor of religious history who addressed the bishops last year. "And we have yet to hear from leading figures in the church about how we should make moral, ethical, theological and spiritual sense of what happened."...

The truth may not protect bishops from lawsuits, but, as the New Testament says, it could make them free.

E.J. Dionne delivers a fine column, and Appleby hits the nail on the head. Christianity is about character and sin, about how we need to live and how we need to respond to failings to live rightly. The bishops have failed to forthrightly discuss questions of right and wrong, have failed to acknowledge their own sins and those of fellow bishops, and have failed to repent, ask forgiveness, and make amends.

The bishops seem to hoping that we will forget their sins, or at least pretend they didn't happen. They hope for cheap grace. But real grace comes to the broken-hearted: "Rend your hearts, not your garments." St. James was said to have thick callouses on his knees, for he was always on them. That is a fitting stance for America's bishops today.

MORE: The Phoenix bishop (John Allen, National Catholic Reporter)

[M]any in the Vatican believe that the heart of the American crisis lies in bishops failing to do their jobs. It is conventional wisdom in Rome that the American bishops did not need a new charter and norms to combat sexual abuse, that the Code of Canon Law gave them every tool they needed if they had been serious about confronting this behavior. The problem was not law, but will....

Hence seen through Vatican eyes, the solution is not for America’s bishops to "pass the buck," whether to independent advocates or national boards, but to step up and do the job that bishops have been ordained to do for 2,000 years.

This is true; but the Vatican should be looking at two things. First, the selection process for bishops is failing if 60% of those promoted to bishop are unwilling to do the job faithfully. Second, Judeo-Christian morals teach not only that decision-makers should resist temptation, but that others should strive to remove temptation from them. (Indeed, Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation," not, "Help us resist temptation.") The structure of the Church gives sole power to bishops, without checks or balances from other authorities and without sharing information with anyone. This structure made sense in the Middle Ages when it was extremely costly to travel more than a few miles and involve others in decision-making; but it tempts bishops to conceal embarrassing acts. It is long past time for canon law to introduce greater information-sharing, review of episcopal actions, and checks upon episcopal authority. The bishops would still retain their apostolic authority to lead, preach, and sanctify; but they would be less likely to sin.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 AM

WHAT'LL WE DO WITHOUT PATCO?

Congress and Bush Split on Privatizing at F.A.A. (MATTHEW L. WALD, 6/20/03, NY Times)
Air traffic control has become a flashpoint of the Bush administration's effort to contract out hundreds of thousands of federal jobs to the private sector.

Both the House and Senate voted last week to forbid further privatization of the air traffic system, after vigorous lobbying by the controllers' unions, supported by a group representing private pilots. Soon, negotiators for the two houses will iron out differences in the bill to which the measures were attached. The underlying bill authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to spend money for the next few years; the House version is for $58.9 billion over four years, and the Senate version is for $43.5 billion over three years.

The administration is threatening to veto the bill over the privatization provision. On June 11, it announced that "restrictions are unnecessary and would hinder" the ability of the aviation agency to manage the air traffic control system. In May, the administration said that of 850,000 government jobs that it says could be handled by private contractors, it would like to open 15 percent of them to private-sector competition in the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. Officials have said they would like to find some of those jobs at the F.A.A.

More than 200 airports, mostly small, already have "contract towers" with privately employed air traffic controllers, and as the aviation agency has bought new air traffic computers, it has bought maintenance contracts on some of that equipment from the vendors, rather than using its own technicians.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton declared that the air traffic function was "inherently governmental," but last year, the Bush administration reversed that position.

The point of privatizing the FAA is in large part that the prime example statists always use when they want to show that we all depend on
big government is: "Would you fly if there were no air traffic controllers?" [The other favorite is meat inspectors, with student loans and mortgages in a tie for third.] The belief that but for government actions there would be no air travel, safe meat, college attendance and home ownership is symptomatic of the way dependence on government has corrupted the American mind.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM

WHERE TROUBLES ARE ALL THE SAME

Democracy on a leash in Jordan (Ian Urbina, 6/21/03, Asia Times)
As most of the coverage quickly points out, recent Jordanian elections saw surprisingly few surprises. Having called off the popular vote first in 1997 and repeatedly thereafter, the Hashemite crown finally decided to roll the electoral dice and, in the end, came out all the stronger.

For a politically rocky region, this was democracy at its smoothest. A clear majority of the seats went to pro-government tribal candidates, thereby diluting what few opposition voices previously resided in parliament. Voter turnout topped 58 percent - a little lower than hoped, but still more than is typical, for example, in United States presidential elections. Jordan's Islamists added credibility to the electoral process. Rather than boycotting, as is typical, they opted to join the process, and much to the relief of the King, they scored only 17 out of 110 total seats, far fewer than expected.

With a brutal Israeli occupation continuing on one border, and a messy US occupation unfolding on another, Jordanian political parties might have decided to use the election season to air pent-up frustrations. But for the most part, they didn't. This was especially noteworthy since 60 percent of Jordanians are Palestinians and close to 90 percent of Jordanians opposed the US invasion of Iraq.

Happiest of all is King Abdullah. In one fell swoop, he reinforced the rubber-stampers he needs, and fortified the democratizer image he so cherishes. The elections were also a step forward for women. Six of the parliamentary seats were set aside for female candidates. Though none were directly voted into office, the top six candidates will be seated in the coming weeks. From a total 776 Jordanians competing for seats in parliament, 54 female candidates ran, the most ever. [...]

But by far the most important challenge lies immediately ahead. The next parliament is supposed to review every one of the "temporary laws" and have the option to accept or reject each. That the political deck has been stacked with pro-regime types raises legitimate skepticism over whether the newly elected parliament will do what is right: begin the across-the-board reversal of these anti-democratic laws. Also dubious for prospects of re-democratization in Jordan is the conservative and non-elected upper house, which has full veto power if the lower and elected parliamentarians step out of line.

The creation of democratic institutions and the resort to democratic rhetoric may well be the best way to evolve towards real democracy. Consider the nation to be a tavern, the institutions and procedures to be glasses, and the rhetoric to be salt peanuts. The government maintains control over the pitcher of beer at the moment but is stoking thirst among the patrons, by feeding them the peanuts, and by placing empty glasses before them has itself imposed the logic of how that thirst will be quenched. Sooner or later, the barkeep has to pour the beer. The trick then is getting folks to drink
in moderation.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:39 AM

)

The Backward French (New India Press, 6/20/2003)
Guess who is more backward than [India]? The French! They are behind us by 20 years to be precise! But it's not our conclusion.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said as much to Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani during their half-an-hour meeting.

Nice to see that Dr. Kissinger is still serving his country.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM

IS THE TOOTH REALLY A WORSE OMEN THAN THE MARRIAGE?

9-Year-Old Girl Marries Dog in India (AP, Jun 19, 2003)
A 9-year-old girl was married to a stray dog in a ceremony attended by more than 100 guests in a village in India's eastern state of Bengal as part of a ritual intended to ward off a bad omen, newspapers reported Thursday.

The girl, Karnamoni Handsa, had to be married quickly to break an evil spell, according to the beliefs of her Santhal tribe in the remote village of Khanyan, the Hindustan Times said.

Karnamoni's tooth had grown on her upper gum, which Santhals consider a bad omen.

You're tempted to laugh until you realize that most of the Democratic candidates for president probably consider this just a variation on the
antiquated and discriminatory institution of marriage.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM

HORMONAL HARRY

Meet Harry Potter at 15: girl trouble, hormones, death and anger (Ann Treneman, June 20, 2003 , Times of London)
HARRY POTTER is a “very angry” teenager who has his first relationship with a girl in the new book, the author J. K. Rowling says in an interview with The Times.

Her fans have waited three long years for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is 766 pages long and goes on sale at midnight tonight. In the interview, she talks frankly about fame and the wealth that she has gained through the books. [...]

Harry, who is now 15, has some excruciatingly embarrassing scenes in the new book. “He is very much in puberty,” she says. “I just think it is a very confusing time. Yes, he’s very confused in a boy way. He doesn’t understand how girls’ minds work.”

Apparently, though, Hermione has no shortage of advice for him on that subject. Rowling adds: “Harry, for the first time, does have a relationship of sorts. The emphasis is very much on ‘of sorts’ . . . That was really fun to write actually. I think you will find it painful. You should find it painful. It is painful but it was such fun to write. Poor Harry! What I put him through.”

If you have a child age three or over, your house is likely at a fever pitch of anticipation by now. If you don't, read the books yourself and it will be.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM

MEME STREETS

Increasingly, there's a furor over comparing Bush to the Führer: Continuing grief for the commander in chief. (Beth Gillin, , Jun. 18, 2003, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Did you notice that when the Architect in The Matrix: Reloaded tells Neo about human evil, the faces of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler flash on video screens?

Did you catch CBS's mini-series, Hitler: The Rise of Evil, which implicitly compared the burning of the Reichstag and the suspension of Germany's constitution to the events of 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act?

Did you see the posters of the President with a little brush mustache held aloft by protesters in antiwar marches from San Francisco to London?

It's the latest incarnation of the Nazi meme - a word that rhymes with dream and describes an idea that spreads like a virus, regardless of whether it is true or false.

In the age of the Internet, when anyone with a computer can download a peace song accompanied by a slide show of Bush and Hitler in similar poses, or print out lists of their alleged similarities, the Bush-equals-Hitler meme has spread like SARS.

Given who's making the comparison isn't it equally possible that rather than being meant to discredit George W. Bush it's meant to legitimize Hitler? Mightn't it be as much a function of anti-Semitism as anti-Bushism?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:52 AM

GUARDING COMMUNITY FROM COMMUNITARIANS

Guarding Liberty from Democracy (Roger Scruton, American Conservative, June 16, 2003)
As it proceeds, Zakaria’s argument turns increasingly towards the condition of America and the damage that untrammeled democratization is doing, as he sees it, to American social and political institutions....

But, Zakaria argues, the law has lost its dignity now that the democratic idea has taken possession of it. In a country where all have access to the law, litigation becomes a scramble for profit, and lawyers become speculative businessmen for whom justice has no special value. Indeed, Zakaria finds the pressure of democratization to be a downward-directed force that lowers the social, cultural, and intellectual level of every institution, from church to newspaper, and from Senate to school.

I wholeheartedly endorse Zakaria's main argument -- that widespread experience in voluntary private associations, which is usually attained around a GDP of $6,000 per capita, is essential to functioning democratic institutions and the survival of liberty. But Zakaria's cultural argument, which has received little attention, deserves comment. Zakaria appears to be arguing that a "spirit of democratization" can undermine private associations and community, and thereby destroy the training grounds for cooperation that alone maintain liberty and democracy. His primary example, the litigation business, is also a leading example of extreme selfishness and absence of community-feeling. Plaintiffs feel no obligation to be fair to defendants; punitive damages need bear no relation to actual damages.

In Orrin's review of Amitai Etzioni's autobiography, he points out a curious paradox in Etzioni's thought. Etzioni criticizes liberals for their unwillingness to verbally censure immoral behavior; but he also criticizes conservatives for their willingness to discriminate against the immoral. For instance, Etzioni thinks it would be wrong for a landlord to evict a sexually active gay AIDS carrier. (Etzioni quite unfairly, to my mind, accuses "social conservatives" of wanting to outlaw actions they don't like. In most cases, I believe, conservatives want only the right to be free in their own associations, which enables them to influence the immoral by withholding cooperation from them or even ostracizing them.) So Etzioni favors attempts at persuading the immoral to change, but opposes acting either coercively or non-coercively to induce them to change.

From an economist's point of view, Etzioni's approach seems designed for ineffectiveness. Talk doesn't change costs as seen by the decision-maker; talk is easily endured and easily avoided. On the other hand, eviction imposes real costs upon a tenant, and the threat of eviction might well change the behavior of our sexually active AIDS carrier. It is precisely this sort of effective response that liberals -- and Etzioni -- are most eager to rule out of bounds.

Few social attitudes have been under greater attack for the last forty years than moralism -- the idea that people should reward those who adhere to their moral principles and withhold rewards from those who don't. We associate moralism with the misery of Hester Prynne, and regard it as evil. But it is the only effective way, short of tyrannical coercion, to regularize human preferences and establish social norms. Without these regularities, conflict becomes routine; without shared norms, it is difficult to cooperatively resolve conflict. The destruction of moralism leads us to Hobbes's choice between coercive authority and an anarchy that makes life nasty, brutish, and short.

Curiously, the leading practitioners of moralism today are liberals. Liberals are not shy about urging smokers to put out their cigarettes, or about urging Christian fundamentalists to cease their denunciations of homosexual intercourse. Conservatives are generally too cowed or too well-mannered to argue for their own morality (though I think conservatives have become more assertive since Clinton and 9/11). Communitarians are good folk, but they seem to take some elements of the liberals' "public ideology" -- e.g. their assaults on moralism -- more seriously than even the liberals do. In doing so they may be inadvertently undermining the moral basis of community.


June 19, 2003

Posted by David Cohen at 10:46 PM

WHERE DOES FREE SPEECH COME FROM?

It is well known that American citizens have an almost absolute right to freedom of speech. Like all well-known facts, this is wrong. The federal constitution, properly understood, does not guarantee individual free speech and the route taken by the Supreme Court to make up this lack is problematic. But, before I start, I must face one problem head on. Americans have an almost religious devotion to both the near-perfection of the Constitution and the importance of free speech. To question whether the one protects the other invites the same response as spitting on the Torah in Temple, or stamping on the Cross in Church. Understanding this, I will nonetheless forge ahead, but let's try to separate out the questions of whether free speech is a good thing (it is) and whether it should be protected (it should) from the question of whether it is protected by the Constitution as written.

There are five possible sources in the Constitution for freedom of speech. The best known, the almost universally accepted, source, is the First Amendment, which says in pertinent part: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech."

Two other possible sources are the Ninth (The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.) or Tenth (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.) Amendments.

The two final possible sources both come from the Fourteenth Amendment, the Privileges And Immunities clause and the Due Process clause: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

To quote the First Amendment is to explain why it cannot be said to protect free speech. It does not guarantee the individual citizen any right at all. It does not say, as it might, that "Robust debate being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to free speech shall not be infringed." It is, instead, much narrower. It does not say that freedom of speech cannot be infringed, only that Congress cannot do the infringing. Far from protecting free speech, by negative implication the First Amendment suggests that it can be abridged.

This is made even clearer by looking at the source for the First Amendment. Article 12 of the 1776 Virginia Declaration Of Rights says:
That the freedoms of speech and of the press are among the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained except by despotic governments. That any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.
Notice that, even here, the right was not to free speech as we understand it, but only against prior restraint. After publication, the speaker was subject to punishment for what was said.

What about the Ninth and Tenth Amendments? The Tenth Amendment need not detain us long. If anything, it underscores the states' power to regulate speech. The Ninth, too, is of little help. Free speech cannot be a right "retained" by the people because, at least in its modern form, it wasn't a recognized right at all. English common law, which is the source of most if not all of the rights protected by the Constitution, is of no help. The English, as late as the 1690s, were drawing, quartering and hanging printers found guilty of seditious libel against the King. English common law was so far removed from what we recognize as the freedom of speech that, not only was truth not a defense to charges of seditious libel, but it was thought that truth made the matter worse. A false charge could be countered, but a truthful criticism was particularly destructive of social order. This was the law in England and in the Colonies until 1735 when, in an act of jury nullification, John Peter Zengler was found not guilty in New York of libel because what he said was true. This became the general rule in the Colonies, but not in England. (Also, the jury probably ruled as much from dislike of the crown-appointed governor as from love of freedom of speech.)

Before moving on the Fourteenth Amendment, which is where all the fun is, let's stop for a prudential point. As I noted above, Americans badly want the Constitution to protect free speech. There is, therefore, great pressure to find this right in the Constitution and, if it cannot be found in the plain language (as it cannot), then to accept whatever slight-of-hand must be done to make it appear. This is a mistake.

The federal government is a government of limited and enumerated powers. It is governed by a written Constitution, adopted by the people of the United States. It can only do those things that it is specifically allowed to do in the Constitution. That Constitution can only be changed by the people, in the manner set forth therein, and otherwise should be interpreted as written. In fact, because sovereignty is vested in the people, the Constitution as enacted is the Constitution as understood by the people corporately at the time of adoption. The only reliable guide to the intent of the adopters is the plain meaning of the language used.

Given all of this, it is important that the judiciary, the least democratic of branches, be tied as tightly as possible to the language of both statutes and, infinitely more importantly, of the Constitution. To the extent that judges, conservative or liberal, are given free rein to find even the most laudable of rights in the Constitution, the sovereignty of the people will be eroded. Each new right found decreases the very legitimacy of our government, no matter how much we might applaud the protection of that right in other circumstances.

This brings us to the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court has held, since 1931, that the Due Process clause protects freedom of speech from the states as part of the liberty that cannot be abridged without due process of law. Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359, 368 (1931) (“It has been determined that the conception of liberty under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment embraces the right of free speech.”), citing Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 666 (1925) (“For present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the press — which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by Congress — are among the fundamental personal rights and ‘liberties’ protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the States,” but rejecting the objection); id., at 672 (Holmes, J., joined by Brandeis, J., dissenting) (“The general principle of free speech, it seems to me, must be taken to be included in the Fourteenth Amendment, in view of the scope that has been given to the word ‘liberty’ as there used, although perhaps it may be accepted with a somewhat larger latitude of interpretation than is allowed to Congress by the sweeping language that governs or ought to govern the laws of the United States.”)

Many people are unhappy with anchoring the right to free speech on the liberty guarantee of the Due Process clause. The reasons for this unhappiness are pretty simple. First, as foreshadowed above, this guarantee of liberty is not detailed, but can only be given specificity by judges acting on an ad hoc basis. Second, the Due Process clause does not protect liberty absolutely, but only requires "due process" of law for its abridgement. Why isn't the deliberate action of the government of a state "due process" of law? To the extent that the individual citizen has any right to object to a law of general application, what process is he due? You can't say, simply, that laws touching on liberty require more process, because all laws touch on liberty. Every law tells the citizen "This you may not do", whether it be libeling the governor, or donating money to his campaign, or simply speeding down the highway at 80 mph.

In any event, what we really want to say about speech is that here is a liberty that is so fundamental that it cannot be abridged, regardless of the process used, unless the need is compelling. Once again, the logical implication of the language is at odds with what we want to accomplish. Why would the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment say that our liberty cannot be abridged without due process, if what they meant was that free speech is a liberty that cannot be abridged regardless of the process. Moreover, this "liberty" argument assumes its conclusion. It assumes that free speech is a fundamental American liberty, even though it is not protected absent an interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment that protects it. This same sort of bootstrapping is also fatal to the attempt to use the Privileges And Immunities clause to secure freedom of speech.

Before moving on to the Privileges And Immunities clause, though, I would like to praise (albeit with faint damnation) the doctrine of Incorporation. Incorporation is what I've discussed above; the idea that the Due Process clause incorporates parts of the Bill of Rights so that they limit the states as well as the federal government. First, I do realize that protecting free speech and the other fundamental rights in the Bill of Rights is, all other things equal, a good thing. This Incorporation does, although dishonestly. Second, Incorporation was expressly designed, mostly by Justice Black, to address the problem, noted above, of unfettered judicial sovereignty based on vague Constitutional provisions. Justice Black's insight was that the Due Process clause, which might otherwise become an avenue for enforcing judicial notions of liberty, could be limited by Incorporation to the Bill of Rights. In other words, Justice Black hoped to read the limitations of the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment in order to give the Courts actual language to guide and limit their discretion, rather than simply let them philosophize about the nature of liberty. This has not worked perfectly, but it has worked. Finally, Incorporation does answer one otherwise perplexing problem: it's obvious that the Fourteenth Amendment means something important, but, absent Incorporation, it's not clear what. (On the other hand, the great harm stemming from Incorporation has been the erasure of any distinction between the First Amendment bar on federal regulation of speech and the Fourteenth Amendment limitation on state regulation. The end result, ironically, has been to allow federal regulation of speech, which is intrusive and growing.)

Nonetheless, many people are unhappy with locating the right to free speech in the Due Process clause but, because they want it to be in the Constitution somewhere, they argue that it is one of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, and thus it cannot be abridged by the states. This is a bootstrapping argument that cannot possibly be right.

The privileges and immunities of the people of the United States can only be those that appear on the face of the Constitution (or, arguably, those that are identified as such by Congress, but that's another can of worms). So, for the privileges or immunities clause to protect free speech, that freedom must appear clearly in the text of the Constitution. The problem is that, not only does it not appear in the text, it is implicitly disavowed. "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech" is not a guarantee of freedom of speech. It is a statement that the responsibility for regulating speech is not vested in Congress. In other words, it is for the states to regulate. Again, look at this from the point of view of the individual citizen. Congress cannot regulate his speech, but his speech is still subject to regulation.

In short, the individual citizen of the United States, in 1790 or 1865 or 1922, had no assurance of free speech from the federal constitution. If found guilty under the laws of his state, he was punished accordingly, without any appeal to federal law. How then can free speech be a privilege or immunity due a citizen of the United States as a citizen of the United States? It cannot. This is the position taken by the Supreme Court in The Slaughterhouse Cases, 16 Wall. 36 (1873); and reiterated as late as 1922, just nine years before the Court held that free speech was protected by the due process clause. Prudential Insurance Co. v. Cheek, 259 U.S. 530, 543 (1922) ("neither the 14th Amendment nor any other provision of the Constitution of the United States imposes upon the states any restrictions about 'freedom of speech' . . ."). In other words, a citizen has the right that his speech not be regulated by Congress, but to "apply" that right against the states is meaningless. This is pure bootstrapping: freedom of speech is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment because it's protected by the First Amendment because it's protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. It is driven entirely by a desire that free speech be protected by the Constitution.

I'd like to end where I began: as Americans, we want our Constitution to protect free speech. We've found a way to accomplish that, though it is anti-democratic. Should we even care that it is not democratic, as it is clearly popular? I think we should care, for three reasons. First, we should care because it is not honest. Any discussion of free speech is full of praise of the First Amendment, even though it clearly does not protect the individual right to free speech. We do not dare be honest about this, and that is a clear give away that something is wrong. Second, far from acting ashamed of the lack of a Constitutional guarantee, we should be proud that free speech was so well protected and became so venerated, even though it wasn't a recognized federal right until, even arguably, 1925. Free speech is a fundamental American value because Americans want it to be. Third, as a democracy, it is important that we be intellectually honest about our history and our self-governance. Many people believe that our great achievement is the Constitutional protections afforded minorities, but this comes, in part, from a misunderstanding of the Constitution. There is nothing that is forbidden to an enduring and pervasive majority. This makes some people nervous and, I think, they wish to hide from the people what their true power is. For me, I think that we cannot be expected to handle our power wisely unless we first face up to it, and then take responsibility for it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 PM

THE COMING CHINESE CRACK-UP

Three Gorges: Cracks in the bureaucracy (Miao Ye, 6/19/03, The Asia Times)
According to a correspondent from a newspaper based in Chongqing, China's largest municipality, a local news organization's president said, "Our reports on the Three Gorges must outperform outside competitors, win news awards and bring glory to Chongqing media." The president imposed a moratorium on reporting four aspects of the project: alluvial sediment buildup, the more than 100 cracks that have already appeared in the dam, pollution/environmental damage and the return of those who were displaced from the area by the project. The first three issues are not allowed because with the passage of time, China's science and technology will improve, so they can be solved. The last taboo is forbidden because of the threat that it poses to social unity and stability. Last, the president encouraged his staff to work assiduously, since positive news related to the project is quite difficult to find nowadays.

Huang Wanli, a pre-eminent water-resources engineering expert from Qinghua University in Beijing, whose predictions regarding the Sanmen Gorge of the Yellow River were proved to be dead-on, has written many times to urge officials not to overlook sediment in the bottom of Yangtze River. According to his study, each year some millions of tons of sediment move along the bottom of the river. When the dam halts the sediment's flow, it will accumulate at the bottom of the lake. To date nobody has dared to tackle that problem. Although the issue has been mentioned before in central government-controlled television broadcasts, its serious consequences were not mentioned.

Huang Shunxing, a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) and an agricultural and environmental protection expert, said the Chinese government acted single-mindedly on the Three Gorges project and willfully ignored dissenting voices from opponents of the project. He said that in 1992, in order to adopt the resolution to implement the project, the government established many restrictions at the time when the NPC was discussing and approving the construction, even refusing to look at even the most basic relevant data. Materials presented in support of the project weighed dozens of kilograms, yet only a few brochures contained objections and/or criticisms.

We tend to be equally skeptical about libertarianism and neoconservatism around here, but China policy is one issue where the neoconservatives have been better leaders than any other faction of the Right. The pro-business Right, in order to justify its eagerness to gain access to Chinese markets and cheap labor, has had to convince itself that China will just reform its way into liberal democracy over the next couple years and that significant progress has already been made. As part of this self-hypnosis they're willing to ignore human-rights abuses, which is merely repugnant of them, but also to ignore the fatal structural weakness in China as a nation and as an economic entity, which is foolish of them. This is still China's antediluvian age.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 PM

DOMINO THEORY

Iraq democratizing Iran? (Pepe Escobar, 6/20/03, Asia Times)
Among all the misunderstandings, the Shi'ites' overall strategy in Iraq seems to be the one that is really sound. Instead of just playing the demographic card - they comprise more than 60 percent of the population - a substantial part of the Shi'ite leadership is trying to accommodate the Americans. That's the case of crucial characters like Ayatollah Bakr al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), who returned to Iraq after 23 years of exile in Iran. Even while he relishes ironic commentaries on American "democrats" who "refuse the Iraqis to elect their own representatives", he wants no confrontation. In the face of calls in some quarters for various forms of jihad against the Americans, Hakim's reaction was extremely measured, considering Bremer's delaying of the election in Najaf, as Hakim's candidate had a very good chance of winning. [...]

There are no Desert Scorpion-style operations in Shi'ite country. Najaf and the whole Shi'ite south has met the American invasion and occupation with no resistance. Unlike the Sunni triangle around and north of Baghdad, there have been no attacks against the Americans. The extremely influential Shi'ite religious leaders congregated at al-Hawza have not adhered to the calls towards a guerrilla war against the invaders. On Friday prayers, there are no anti-American slogans.

Compare this with Baghdad and surrounding areas where US and Iraqi soldiers as well as civilians continue to come under deadly attack, all of which serve to steel the resolve of the Sunni Iraqi resistance against what is widely perceived as an insensitive and heavy-handed American approach. [...]

Shi'ites are fierce partisans of democracy and the principle of "one person, one vote". And as well as the Kurds, they also want federalism: this, by the way, is the official position of the SAIRI. Whatever American schemes are concocted to minimize Shi'ite participation in a future Iraqi government, they know that ultimately Shi'ites have the demographic majority in their favor. And on top of it there is the deliberate effort not to jeopardize the departure of the Americans - which they believe could happen in a year or two - by any kind of armed offensive. [...]

Will Iran and Iraq complement each other? The answer may hinge on the impact of the more than 3,000 Iraqi Shi'ite religious leaders who came back home from exile in Iran. If a separation between religion and politics successfully takes place in Iraq, the road is paved for a secular Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi regime being able to give the Iranian theocracy a democracy lesson.

That's one heck of a big "if", but it's perhaps the most important one in Islam's history. Unless some way can be found to reduce the influence of Islam over day to day governance while retaining its central role in society, the Middle East will continue to fester.

MORE:
-US wages war from within Iran (Richard M Bennett, 6/19/03, Asia Times)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 PM

DOOMSDAY...AGAIN

British Scientist Puts Odds for Apocalypse at 50-50 (Deena Beasley Jun 9,2003, Reuters)
This is the way the world might end: A genetically engineered pathogen is released, debris from an erupting "supervolcano" blocks the sun or scientists in the biggest "bioerror" of them all accidentally trigger a matter-squeezing "big bang."

The demise of civilization has been predicted since it began, but the odds of keeping Planet Earth alive and well are getting worse amid a breakneck pace of scientific advances, according to Martin Rees, Britain's honorary astronomer royal.

Rees calculates that the odds of an apocalyptic disaster striking Earth have risen to about 50 percent from 20 percent a hundred years ago.

The 60-year-old scientist, author of the recently published "Our Final Hour," says science is advancing in a far more unpredictable and potentially dangerous pattern than ever before.

He lists as mankind's biggest threats: nuclear terrorism, deadly engineered viruses, rogue machines and genetic engineering that could alter human character. All of those could result from innocent error or the action of a single malevolent individual.

By 2020, an instance of bioterror or bioerror will have killed a million people, Rees contends.

One of the best lines in Bull Durham has Susan Sarandon speculating about which hero she was in her past lives. Kevin Costner asks why no one who believes in reincranation ever thinks they were a peasant in their past life. Similarly, there seems to be an overwhelming urge in many people to believe that they are living at the end of time. This is an affliction which entirely predictably hits at the two great faiths especially hard, claiming the scientific and the religious in about equal numbers. Thus, for every Biblical prophet and Rapturian you've got a Malthus, an Ehrlich, a Sagan, a global warmer or now a Martin Rees.

Several years ago though there was an amusing profile in The New Yorker of the physicist John Gott by excellent popular science writer Timothy Ferris. As I recall, which is generally unreliable, Mr. Gott made the point that it's extremely unlikely that you live in exceptional times, no matter how fiercely you desire to and that it's rather unlikely that you just happen to alive for the End of Days of the human species. Here's a bit about the profile which unfortunately doesn't appear to be online, Point, Counterpoint and the Duration of Everything (James Glanz, 8 February 2000, The New York Times)
In our last issue we considered the article "How to Predict Everything" (Timothy Ferris, 7/12/99, The New Yorker), which describes how physicist John Gott proposes to compute prediction intervals for the future duration of any observed phenomenon. Gott's method hinges on the "Copernican assumption" that there is nothing special about the particular time of your observation, so with 95% confidence it occurs in the middle 95% of the lifetime. If the phenomenon is observed to have started A years ago, Gott infers that A represents between 1/40 (2.5%) and 39/40 (97.5%) of the total life. He therefore predicts that the remaining life will extend between A/39 and 39A years into the future. (Given Gott's assumptions, this is simple algebra: if A = (1/40)L where L is the total life, then the future life is L - A = 39A.) Gott has used the method to predict everything from the run of Broadway plays to the survival of the human species!

At any rate, every few years some scientist or some cleric is predicting that we're at the brink of doom and, you'll have noticed, so far they've all proved wrong. One would expect this trend to continue for several millions of years, no matter how wearisome it grows.

MORE:
-Implications of the Copernican principle for our future prospects (J. Richard Gott III, Nature, 27 May 1993.)
-Predicting Future Duration from Present Age: A Critical AssessmentCarlton M. Caves, 2000, Contemp.Phys.)
-Life, longevity, and a $6000 bet (Richard Gott, 11 February 2000)
-Investigations into the Doomsday Argument (Nick Bostrom, 1996, Department of Philosophy, Yale University)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 PM

"BAD BOOKS ALWAYS LIE"

Good Books, Bad Books: Windows into the Human Heart (Steven Garber, June 10, 2003, BreakPoint WorldView)
"Bad books always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition." Walker Percy's bold assertion offended a student I had just met, and she wanted to talk.

And so on a cold winter evening in the Poconos, I sat down with this Princeton University Ph.D. candidate who had joined several dozen graduate students for a weekend of reflection. Drawing from Cornell, Columbia, Rutgers, and Princeton, they were described to me in this way: "These are bright students, and they love God-but they typically don't know how to connect what they believe with their studies. Can you help?"

As I pondered how to approach the weekend, Walker Percy's insight about literature and life-that "bad books always lie"-came to mind, and I thought that I would start with a discussion of his argument. The thesis is true beyond the world of novels, echoing into every area of human existence. All across the curriculum, the view of the human condition sets the terms of the debate. What we believe about who we are-our origin, nature, and destiny-affects everything else.

She and I sat down for what turned out to be a three-hour conversation. Several years into her work, the focus of her study was early modern Japanese literature, Buddhist literature, she explained. And she was offended at Percy's argument, where he moves from "bad books always lie" to asking, tongue-in-cheek and yet with the deepest seriousness, "Have you read any good Marxist novels lately? Any good behaviorist novels lately? Any good Freudian novels lately? Any good Buddhist novels lately?" He points out why each worldview fails to provide the necessary grist for a good story. Audaciously, given the pluralizing and secularizing character of contemporary life, he then says that novels are dependent upon the Jewish and Christian view of human nature and history.

Percy saw the issues as a line in the sand: Either one worked out of the Jewish and Christian tradition, with its narrative-shaped understanding of the human condition, or one did not have what was required for a good story. In his own words, "Judeo-Christianity is about pilgrims who have something wrong with them and embark on a search to find a way out. This is also what novels are about."

That great literature must be based on universal truths is one of the core notions behind the original Brothers Judd website and excites much hostile reaction, as for instance the comments following our review of Ulysses.
Posted by David Cohen at 6:11 PM

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Some time ago, in the comments, I diagnosed the modern disease. It is, I said, that all people, or at least all people who are not psychotic, hold two incompatible beliefs. First, that if their individual situation and the context of their actions were truly understood, they would be accepted and admired. Second, that if their innermost thoughts and motives were known, they would be disdained.

The search for a way to square this circle motivated much of the carnage of the Twentieth Century. Communism says that we can find unquestioning acceptance from the state. Psychology says that we can love and forgive ourselves. Religion says that G-d can truly know, forgive and love us.

There is one other possibility, I wrote. In a true marriage, we can be known, accepted and loved. Today, I have been in such a marriage for fifteen years.

In a life in which luck and good fortune have not been in short supply, my greatest good fortune has been marrying my wife. It was not at all obvious to me, before the event, that I should find a true marriage. I am by no means the easiest person to live with (I can supply affidavits from any number of roommates to that effect). I am, current evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, intensely private and not given to sharing or confession. I have strong views and am not inclined to squelch them. In short, although I was always likely to marry -- among other things, I can't imagine a life without children -- it was not at all preordained that mine would be a true and happy marriage.

And yet it is, for which all credit goes to my wife. She knows me as well as I can bear to be known, and loves me. She is comfortable with my love and understands me better than I understand myself. She is a true friend and a true partner. She is a wonderful mother to our children, which is a blessing beyond measure. I have known and loved her for nearly half my life; it is impossible, now, to imagine life without her.

This is, I know, not the sort of posting people look for on the Brothers Judd (sorry, Orrin). I could not, however, let the day go by without saying: "I love you, I thank G-d for your love, Happy Anniversary."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM

THAT'S WHEN I FELL FOR, LEADER OF THE PAK

Musharraf stands up and hopes to be counted (Victor Mallet, Daniel Bogler and John Thornhill, June 18 2003, Financial Times)
When General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, declared his willingness on Wednesday to send troops to keep the peace in Iraq, he had much more on his mind than the security of the Middle East.

President Musharraf - who heads to the US later this week after visiting the UK, Germany and France - has launched a vigorous diplomatic campaign to ensure that Pakistan is not forgotten in the aftermath of the Gulf war.

In an interview in London, Gen Musharraf painted a picture of a strategically vital Pakistan at the heart of the Islamic world and with influence in central and south Asia, Afghanistan and the Gulf. "It's a nation of 140m and a nuclear state," he said. "These facts cannot be ignored."

Behind the bravado, however, lurks a worry that Washington's interest in its traditional regional ally is starting to wane. The US-led "war on
terrorism" is still focused on Afghanistan and the lawless border regions of northern Pakistan, but distractions are multiplying in Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict and North Korea. India, Pakistan's rival, is steadily improving its relations with the US and China.

Fear of the U.S. and India is a perfectly acceptable motivation for doing the right things.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

ANOTHER LOST OPPORTUNITY

Remembering the Rosenbergs (NY Times, 6/19/03)
The Rosenberg case still haunts American history, reminding us of the injustice that can be done when a nation gets caught up in hysteria.

Silly us. We thought the Times was going to take advantage of the anniversary to acknowledge that they'd been gravely mistaken about the now undisputable guilt of the Rosenbergs and the many other communist spies whose "unjust" fates they've long, wrongly, bemoaned.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM

EXPERIENCE OVER THEORY

Common Sense: Chesterton & the Aristotelian Tradition (Patrick Henry Reardon, Touchstone)
Since Plato distrusted the testimony of the senses, it was probably inevitable that he should distrust also the instincts of ordinary, sense-oriented people. The thought of Aristotle, on the other hand, who insisted on commencing with the testimony of the senses, provided a justification for trusting those ordinary perceptions of ordinary people. The latter are those "common" citizens who share common impressions and instincts, such as the wetness of rain and a spontaneous disposition to come in out of it. Such folk may or may not entertain complicated theories about the nature of rain, though occasionally they do. They may or may not compose poems about the rain, though sometimes they do. What is important to both Aristotle and Chesterton, however, is that these common folk have a pretty good idea what rain is, and how it feels, and what it is capable of doing for the freshness of the air and the potatoes growing in the fields. The more observant and reflective among these common people may also detect that rain, like the sunshine, tends to fall alike on the just and the unjust. Likewise, if too much rain begins to fall, common folk will probably obey the impulse to construct a shelter or the command to build an ark.

Since he begins thought by using his five senses, an Aristotelian like Chesterton is inclined to have a soft place in his heart for these common people and their common trove of natural and inherited wisdom. He adopts the view that "the souls of all the ordinary hard-working and simple-minded people are quite as important as the souls of thinkers and truth-seekers." He tends to trust their outlook on reality over that of the abstract speculator, so lost in his inner thought that he forgets to come in out of the rain. Which is to say that the good Aristotelian, and most certainly Chesterton, cherishes a prior disposition to prefer the democratic impulses of culture. He feels more confidence in the tried-and-true experience of ordinary people than the theories of the experts. He will instinctively favor the legend told by the majority of people in the village over the book "written by the one man in the village who is mad." Like the Founder of his religion, Chesterton will pick a jury of twelve good men and true for the really important things in life, such as deciding whether an accused man will live or die.

This democratic instinct in Chesterton, for which he saw great justification in the thought of Aristotle, prompted him to place enhanced value on popular tradition, which he regarded as the proper extension of a democratic sympathy. He wrote:

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea." 

"Democracy of the dead" is an especially appealing phrase and has the advantage of celebrating democracy even as while retraining it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:57 AM

SUCH A CANDLE

Iranian Exiles Set Selves on Fire in Paris (Fox News, June 18, 2003)
Two Iranian women set themselves on fire Wednesday during a protest in Paris against a major raid at the offices of an Iranian opposition group, police said.

During the Vietnam era, the Left used the willingness of some monks to set fire to themselves as dispositive proof of the evilness of our cause. Presumably this demonstrates that Iran is properly placed on the Axis of Evil?

May these poor misguided souls share the epitaph of Hugh Latimer:
Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God's grace shall never be put out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM

THE STRATEGY OF STATEHOOD

Sharon's peace: Strategy not concept: Ariel Sharon was once a political hawk. Today Israel's prime minister embraces peace and the acceptance of a Palestinian state. Is this the same man? (Micah D. Halpern June 18, 2003, Jewsweek)
For Ariel Sharon, General Arik Sharon, peace is not a concept. It is a strategy. And Sharon has chosen peace as the strategy for achieving security for Israel. To his mind, pursuing this policy of peace is the only way to achieve real stability in the long run -- no matter how slowly it moves and how dangerous life in Israel may be at this stage.

Most politicians, even the best of them, fail to rise to historical challenges. They fail to make the kinds of decisions that will transform and improve their society. Most politicians are afraid. They are bureaucrats turned leaders, often plastic in style, who spend most of their day pushing proverbial papers around their desk, making certain not to irritate too many constituents in order to insure their reelection and the reelection of their party.

Few politicians will put their political career on the line to actually achieve the controversial goals in which they believe.

Sharon has done just that. We are privy to extraordinary political activity, which is also a rollercoaster.

Sharon is no longer an ideologue who believes in the right versus the left of Israel. He feels a responsibility for all Israel.

For all the ritual denunciations of statehood for Palestine, we've yet to hear anyone make a coherent case that Israel will be a better or safer place ten or twenty years from now if it is still an occupying power.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM

HUH?

Bush could have powerful Dem allies (STEVE NEAL, June 18, 2003, Chicago SUN-TIMES)
President Bush, the only Republican to capture the White House without Illinois electoral votes, is looking for help from a couple of Democratic friends.

Mayor Daley and Gov. Blagojevich, who have yet to endorse a fellow Democrat for the presidency, have been generous in their public comments about Bush. [...]

Hastert, with whom Daley has a close relationship, has been helpful to Daley in forging a relationship with the Bush White House.

Blagojevich, who had a solid Democratic voting record as a congressman and state legislator, has never been a shrill partisan and has many friends on the other side of the aisle. Republican National committeeman Bob Kjellander and Dallas Ingemunson, the state's deputy GOP chairman, have been helpful to Blagojevich in seeking help from the Bush administration. But as this state's first Democratic governor in three decades, Blagojevich is expected to go all-out for his party's ticket next year.

As part of his reach-out effort to Illinois Democrats, Bush last week invited Chicago Representatives Danny K. Davis, Rahm Emanuel, Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez to accompany him on Air Force One. Republican strategists recognize that to compete in Illinois, Bush must reach beyond his party's base. The images of Bush surrounded by these Chicago Democrats won't do him any harm in a Democratic town. Rep. William O. Lipinski, the dean of the city's congressional delegation, was also invited but couldn't make it.

If the GOP can't come up with a credible nominee for the Senate in Illinois, Bush may be spending even more time with Chicago Democrats. That's all right with Daley and Blagojevich.

The whole thing sounds pretty far-fetched, but you can bet there are folks at the DNC gnawing on their knuckles when they read this stuff.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 AM

TOCQUEWHO?

The Good and the Beautiful and the True: A Tocquevillian Perspective on a Charter School’s First Graduating Class (Terrence Moore, June 2003, Ashbrook)
America began with a charter, in fact with a series of charters. These charters were rather dry legal documents (which, by the way, our students have read) documents that a king would grant to a small number of people who wanted a better chance or a greater challenge than they could find back home in England doing the same, run-of-the-mill, expected things. The charter was a contract, then, full of promise, but wholly without spirit and life. It took courageous men and women, sometimes children, to give the document spirit and life. Well, you know the story from here. After these first bold pioneers, the Puritans and early Virginians, went to the new world and worked hard to build a new life in a new place and met with success, then others saw the possibilities. And many more came, generation after generation, until the multitudes of immigrants outgrew the original charters. They formed themselves into one people and discarded the narrow confines of the old charters in order to make one great charter founded upon the highest ideas of human dignity and freedom. That charter, of course, was the American Constitution.

American principles of freedom and self-government became the model for how a people ought to live together. Yet it took a foreign visitor to understand the magnitude of what the Americans had accomplished. That foreign visitor was Alexis de Tocqueville. Not only did Tocqueville explain the greatness of what the Americans had done, he also warned them of how their great achievements might be lost and undone by future generations. Specifically, Tocqueville applauded the pioneering spirit and hardiness of the early settlers. He also applauded the vast learning and wisdom and prudence of the authors of the Constitution. These men, by the way, had received a classical education. They knew their Greek and Roman history cold; they also studied the latest modern sciences, both natural science and political science. Tocqueville, the classically educated European who admired American democracy, was convinced that Americans would best preserve their liberty if they somehow combined their pioneering, can-do spirit with a love of the good and the beautiful and the true that came with a classical education (an education that heretofore only aristocrats had had the leisure and wealth to pursue).

What Tocqueville most feared about Americans was that their similarity, their equality, their sameness, their potential uniformity, their sometimes attachment to the practical over the theoretical, their seeming indifference to higher things of the mind, that all these and many other aspects of their character might lead to a stultifying mediocrity in their thought, a growing ignorance of their founding principles, and eventually a tyranny of the majority in their politics. He feared that Americans, lacking an aristocracy, would lose their taste for the good and the beautiful and the true that aristocracies had always upheld. Tocqueville, writing in the early nineteenth century, left it as an open question. Would Americans preserve their daring, their enterprising spirit--governed by a sense of the right and the true--or would they succumb to narrow envy, pettiness, and a tyranny of mediocrity in their government and their lives?

The obvious mediocrity of things like television is perhaps inevitable, but the intentional dumbing down of the education system is truly lamentable. Far better to provide a classical education, in order to ground students in their culture and their history, thus, hopefully, making them better citizens.

June 18, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM

THOMISM

The Link: He's Our Man: Evangelicals can embrace a rich inheritance from Aquinas. (A conversation with Norman Geisler, Christianity Today)
In a 1974 Christianity Today article marking the 700th anniversary of Aquinas's death, author Ronald Nash said some nice things about the deceased but ultimately judged his system of thought "unsuitable for a biblically centered Christian philosophy" and "beyond any hope of salvage." Norman Geisler disagreed with that assessment then, and he disagrees with it now. We asked Dr. Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and author of Thomas Aquinas: An Evangelical Appraisal (Baker, 1991), for his evaluation of the Angelic Doctor. [...]

[Q:] Why isn't Aquinas more popular with evangelicals?

[A:] Evangelicals have largely misinterpreted Aquinas, and they have placed on him views that he did not hold. Many people are concerned that he separated faith and reason, denied depravity (especially the effects of sin on the human mind), and stood for everything that "Roman Catholic" means to Protestants today. Let me take those concerns one by one.

Francis Schaeffer criticized Aquinas for giving rise to modern humanism and atheism by separating faith and reason. Aquinas would do cartwheels in his casket if he heard that!

He believed in the integration of faith and reason, not the separation. He made a distinction but no disjunction. Aquinas said that faith brings the highest kind of certainty and that reason, weak and fallen, cannot attain Christian faith.

Still, Aquinas held human reason in such high regard that some accuse him of denying depravity. He did not. He believed in original sin, he believed in the effects of sin on the mind, and he believed that the mind was so depraved that it could not know supernatural truths. God's revealed truths could be accepted only by faith. [...]

[Q:] What can thinkers engaged in today's theological and philosophical debates learn from Aquinas?

[A:] We can learn from him in the way he answered Muslim Aristotelianism. He answered it by fighting bad ideas with good ideas, by fighting the pen with the pen, not the sword. We're not going to win the battle of ideas by the sword. We're going to win the battle of ideas with ideas, better ones, more logical ones, more consistent ones.

Second, we can learn how important it is to understand the philosophy of the day. It's like 1 Chronicles 12:32 says, the men of Issachar "understood the times."

Aquinas studied the philosophy of the day, which was Aristotle. He understood it better than his opponents, and he could use it to refute opponents who misused it. We need to do the same thing in every field.

Aquinas is a tremendous example for us because, today, the basic battle is the battle for God. The only way we're going to defend the orthodox, historic view--held by Aquinas, Augustine, the Reformers, and the creeds and councils of the church, that God knows the future infallibly, that God is eternal and unchangeable, that God even exists--is to go back to Aquinas and his great arguments.

Here's Chesterton on Aquinas:
According to St. Thomas, the mind acts freely of itself, but its freedom exactly consists in finding a way out to liberty and the light of day; to reality and the land of the living. In the subjectivist, the pressure of the world forces the imagination inwards. In the Thomist, the energy of the mind forces the imagination outwards, but because the images it seeks are real things. All their romance and glamour, so to speak, lies in the fact that they are real things; things not to be found by staring inwards at the mind. The flower is a vision because it is not only a vision. Or, if you will, it is a vision because it is not a dream. This is for the poet the strangeness of stones and trees and solid things; they are strange because they are solid. I am putting it first in the poetical manner, and indeed it needs much more technical subtlety to put it in the philosophical manner. According to Aquinas, the object becomes a part of the mind; nay, according to Aquinas, the mind actually becomes the object. But, as one commentator acutely puts it, it only becomes the object and does not create the object. In other words, the object is an object; it can and does exist outside the mind, or in the absence of the mind. And therefore it enlarges the mind of which it becomes a part. The mind conquers a new province like an emperor; but only because the mind has answered the bell like a servant. The mind has opened the doors and windows, because it is the natural activity of what is inside the house to find out what is outside the house. If the mind is sufficient to itself, it is insufficient for itself. For this feeding upon fact is itself; as an organ it has an object which is objective; this eating of the strange strong meat of reality.

Note how this view avoids both pitfalls; the alternative abysses of impotence. The mind is not merely receptive, in the sense that it absorbs sensations like so much blotting-paper; on that sort of softness has been based all that cowardly materialism, which conceives man as wholly servile to his environment. On the other hand, the mind is not purely creative, in the sense that it paints pictures on the windows and then mistakes them for a landscape outside. But the mind is active, and its activity consists in following, so far as the will chooses to follow, the light outside that does really shine upon real landscapes. That is what gives the indefinably virile and even adventurous quality to this view of life; as compared with that which holds that material inferences pour in upon an utterly helpless mind, or that which holds that psychological influences pour out and create an entirely baseless phantasmagoria. In other words, the essence of the Thomist common sense is that two agencies are at work; reality and the recognition of reality; and their meeting is a sort of marriage. Indeed it is very truly a marriage, because it is fruitful; the only philosophy now in the world that really is fruitful. It produces practical results, precisely because it is the combination of an adventurous mind and a strange fact.

M. Maritain has used an admirable metaphor, in his book Theonas, when he says that the external fact fertilises the internal intelligence, as the bee fertilises the flower. Anyhow, upon that marriage, or whatever it may be called, the whole system of St. Thomas is founded; God made Man so that he was capable of coming in contact with reality; and those whom God hath joined, let no man put asunder.

Now, it is worthy of remark that it is the only working philosophy. Of nearly all other philosophies it is strictly true that their followers work in spite of them, or do not work at all. No sceptics work sceptically; no fatalists work fatalistically; all without exception work on the principle that it is possible to assume what it is not possible to believe. No materialist who thinks his mind was made up for him, by mud and blood and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind. No sceptic who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it as objective.

Thus St. Thomas' work has a constructive quality absent from almost all cosmic systems after him. For he is already building a house, while the newer speculators are still at the stage of testing the rungs of a ladder, demonstrating the hopeless softness of the unbaked bricks, chemically analysing the spirit in the spirit-level, and generally quarrelling about whether they can even make the tools that will make the house. Aquinas is whole intellectual aeons ahead of them, over and above the common chronological sense of saying a man is in advance of his age; he is ages in advance of our age. For he has thrown out a bridge across the abyss of the first doubt, and found reality beyond and begun to build on it. Most modern philosophies are not philosophy but philosophic doubt; that is, doubt about whether there can be any philosophy. If we accept St. Thomas's fundamental act or argument in the acceptance of reality, the further deductions from it will be equally real; they will be things and not words. Unlike Kant and most of the Hegelians, he has a faith that is not merely a doubt about doubt. It is not merely what is commonly called a faith about faith; it is a faith about fact. From this point he can go forward, and deduce and develop and decide, like a man planning a city and sitting in a judgment-seat. But never since that time has any thinking man of that eminence thought that there is any real evidence for anything, not even the evidence of his senses, that was strong enough to bear the weight of a definite deduction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:06 PM

)

"Democratic optimism" and "cultural fatalism" causing transatlantic rift: The United States and democracy are mutually identified. Americans have some difficulty imagining another form of government and another end of history. Is America's democratic passion compatible with the European spirit? (Guy Sorman, Le Figaro)
The United States and the rest of the world diverge, each on its own trajectory, without any prospect of convergence on the foreseeable horizon. A divergence that can be reduced neither to just the choices of the leaders nor to their personalities nor to their diplomatic efforts, whether these smack of appeasement, posturing, or conflict. The separation between the Old and the New World has become a rift deepened by the significant 11th of September. But the United States' new strategy - preventative war and remodelling of the global map - reflects a democratic tradition essential to the Americans and distinct from the Old World. Without claiming to exhaust the subject, I shall isolate two aspects here which Europeans in their approach to the United States tend to be unaware of or to underestimate: fear and democratic passion. [...]

While the majority of Europeans don't believe for an instant that the Arabs are capable of democracy, Americans are persuaded to the contrary. The fact that certain people in the White House exploit this popular belief does not annul the conviction that it's real. When Americans claim to install a liberal democracy in Afghanistan or in Iraq, tomorrow in Saudi Arabia and in Iran, they are probably sincere; they judge that this is the natural destiny of all peoples, the condition for their economic prosperity and for the end of terrorism. That terrorism, nationalism, or religious passion may exist on their own, as alternative ideologies to liberal democracies, doesn't shake the democratic passion. So, the emblematic philosopher of conservatism, Francis Fukuyama who announced liberal democracy as the "end of history" already in 1989, believes that the national and religious uprisings since then do not invalidate his theory; there may be accidents along the way, but this theory remains in his eyes, and for a great many Americans, in particular for the conservatives now in power, the ultimate justification for their acts.

I'm not going to decide here between these two theories, democratic optimism vs. cultural fatalism; let us simply establish that they seriously divide the Western world. And that, as for the search for weapons of mass destruction, to reduce the American strategy to cynicism and imperialism amounts to a failure to recognize the depth of the transatlantic rift. Or to a projection on America of our history which is not theirs and our passions which they do not share.

It is equally impossible to claim that one is right and the other wrong; the one thing for certain is that the one commands power in the service of its ideology and the other doesnt. But beyond this disparity of power between the United States and their critics, two visions of history, and not mere temporary interests, conflict.

It's unclear why these two visions--democratic optimism and cultural fatalism--are incompatible. Mr. Fukuyama's point is not necessarily that liberal democracy is the inevitable fate of everyone, or at least not in the near term. Rather it is that history has judged liberal democracy to be the best way we've so far found to organize a society. If the Islamic Arab world isn't capable of democratizing then it is going to keep on failing. We can defeat it militarily or just leave it to rot, but it's doomed either way. On the other hand, there seems no intrinsic reason that Arabs or Muslims should be so different from other peoples that they'll choose to live in failed societies indefinitely. Sooner or later one would think they'll demand the requisite changes that will enable their culture to succeed and thrive. Those changes will require moving in the direction of liberal democracy. What's the contradiction?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM

TOO EASILY SHOCKED

They should be ashamed (William Shawcross, June 17, 2003, The Guardian)
Tony Blair's enemies have behaved in a shocking manner over the liberation of Iraq and its elusive weapons of mass destruction. Opponents of the war predicted all manner of disasters - millions of refugees, famine, thousands of deaths in battle, and revolution on "the Arab street" throughout the region. None of these horrors happened. Instead, it is obvious that the coalition has indeed freed Iraqis from a monster and created a new reality in the Middle East - one which just might offer the region hope.

All that is unbearable to those who preferred the Saddam status quo. So they have used the missing weapons to turn on Mr Blair with self-righteous fury. They declare that the war was "a monumental blunder" (Robin Cook) and that we have been "duped" (Clare Short). This is opportunistic, irresponsible and self-serving rubbish. [...]

In December Saddam submitted a 12,000-page report on his weapons which was a tissue of old lies. It was quite clear that he was not taking his "final opportunity" to cooperate fully with the UN.

Was this a man to whom we should indefinitely have given the benefit of the doubt on such a dangerous matter? He had already invaded two neighbours, killed more than a million Muslims in his war with Iran, used chemical weapons against his own people, the Kurds of Halabja, and tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands more.

Slobodan Milosevic was a Sunday school teacher compared with Saddam Hussein. But we did not give him the benefit of the doubt over Kosovo, which we also invaded without a UN resolution - with the support of Mr Cook and Ms Short.

Unfortunately, to be ashamed you have to feel that your honor has been besmirched and there's rather little indication that this lot has any sense of honor.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:19 PM

BETTING ON THE WRONG HORSE

Don't Separate Mosque and State: U.S. should stop trying to export its secular system to Iraq (Amitai Etzioni, June 16, 2003, LA Times)
The United States should cease promoting a secular civil society as the only alternative to a Taliban-like theocracy in Iraq. We cannot quell the religious yearnings of millions of Iraqis merely by fostering democracy and capitalism.

The most effective way to counter a theocracy is to promote moderate, liberal religious institutions.

The 1st Amendment's separation of church and state is not a foreign policy tool; it's a peculiar American conception. Just because the American government is banned from promoting religion within the U.S. does not mean that it cannot promote it as part of a civil society in Iraq or Afghanistan. [...]

Favoring liberal Islam as an antidote to fundamentalist Islam is not to be confused with a related but different issue, whether Islam is compatible with democracy. I take it for granted that Iraq can and should have a democratic form of government. However, it should not treat religion as a threat but, potentially, as one mainstay. The current U.S. position ignores that potential.

The 13 points released by U.S. Central Command--that the rule of law be paramount, for instance, or that the role of women be respected--are fine, but they all speak only to secular issues. Whether deliberately or unwittingly, they reflect the concept of the "end of history"--that all ideologies are on their last legs as the world embraces the American version of democracy, human rights and the free market.

This idea, in turn, is an extension of the Enlightenment conceit that modernity is based on rational thinking. Irrational religion, then, belongs to history, and secularism--reason and science--will govern the future.

However, as we are learning all over the world, people have spiritual needs that cannot be addressed, let alone satisfied, by Enlightenment ideas. We see the explosive growth of Christianity in East Asia and Africa, a resurgence of religion in Russia and other former communist nations in Eastern Europe and a rise in Islam even in countries that had extensive secular, modern periods--most tellingly, in Turkey. People ask: Why are we cast into this world? Why are we born to die? What do we owe our children, our elderly parents and our friends and community?

Neither democracy nor capitalism speaks to these issues. Hence for the many millions of people there is religion, hard-line or moderate. Which one we should favor is clear, as long as we can get off our Enlightenment horse.

This is one of the better essays that Mr. Etzioni (whose fine memoir we've just reviewed) has written, though it's strangely right as regards Iraq but wrong as regards America.

Of course the First Amendment requires nothing like the "separation of church and state", only that there be no establishment of a state religion, which is presumably what Mr. Etzioni would want for the Islamic world too. Meanwhile, the Left having imposed the erroneous standard to which he refers has indeed tragically cut off the modern West from the ability to fill its spiritual needs, leaving it debased and materialistic in the extreme. It is precisely by moving more cautiously in secularizing--by applying the Constitutional standard but not the current Leftist standard--that the Islamic states may find they have a far brighter future than many (most?) (all?) Western states which are riding their Enlightenment horse right into oblivion.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

ON BEING TOO EXPERT TO CUT TO THE CHASE

'Road Map' Flaws Exposed (Shibley Telhami, June 15, 2003, LA Times)
One central problem in the road map is that it asks each side to take steps toward peace before knowing how the critical issues--the fate of Palestinian refugees, borders, settlements, Jerusalem, water--will be resolved. This means that every step will be fitfully taken out of the fear that it will undermine one's leverage for the next one. The certain knowledge that the opposition on both sides will challenge their leaders' every step exacerbates the situation. The same kind of dynamic helped undermine the Oslo accords, which aimed to build confidence incrementally. Instead, it gave Israeli and Palestinian militants bountiful opportunities to undermine the process.

In many ways, the road map faces more obstacles than the Oslo agreements. Among the things going for it is that most Israelis and Palestinians have reconciled themselves to the two-state solution. But the growing perception on both sides that peace is ultimately impossible may become an insurmountable hurdle.

The failure of the Oslo process, after seven years of negotiations, has made Israelis and Palestinians even more impatient. In the early days of Oslo, when optimism prevailed, both sides were willing to accept mere promises. Today, meetings, conferences, handshakes and words are occasions for cynicism. Promises are dismissed. Only acts count--violent acts, it seems. [...]

Although progress toward peace will largely depend on the parties themselves, U.S. mediation, to be successful in this difficult environment, cannot be done on the cheap. Every step called for in the road map requires spending political capital abroad and at home, possibly at the expense of other issues.

It is difficult to read such nonsense without feeling that the point of the peace process is to benefit the experts, diplomats, and others who have a vested interest in process rather than to advance the peace itself. Mr. Telhami argues, I believe correctly, that both sides are reconciled to the two-state solution that has been inevitable since Oslo and are impatient for it to be effected, but that if we use the process to get there each step will be slow and difficult and will waste the political capital of Mr. Sharon, Mr. Abbas, and Mr. Bush. He then recommends that we follow that course.

It would put a bunch of pundits, experts, and foreign officers out of work, but how about just skipping to the final step instead?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM

WIDENING THE GAP

Why Pakistan needs entente cordiale with Israel (Ehsan Ahrari, 6/18/03, Asia Times)
Watching India and Israel nurturing a strategic partnership, I frequently wonder why Pakistan is merely sitting on the fence and not building entente cordiale with the Jewish state in order to maximize its own strategic advantage.

Pakistan is a county that I thought I knew, since it was once part of "British" India. But I no longer recognize the Pakistan of today. It is a place where Islamists are busy dragging the country back to the Seventh century. It is a country where the government has used Islamist groups to terrorize Indian-administered Kashmir. It is a land where democracy has been occasionally given a chance, and only for a limited duration. It is a place whose elites have long argued that democracy is a luxury, which only the Western-educated populace can and should enjoy, and that Pakistan will not be ready for democracy for a long time. The same type of elitist malady is inordinately manifested in Pakistan by its army, an institution that has sabotaged democracy throughout its existence as a nation since 1947.

So, why am I committing political heresy by suggesting the necessity of entente cordiale between a Muslim Pakistan and a Jewish Israel? In my judgment, such a development will be a good thing for Pakistan for two reasons. First, a move on the part of Pakistan to deal openly with the Jewish state will break many taboos - most of which self-created - by that South Asian state and also by its Muslim neighbors. Islamist groups of Pakistan will hold a number of demonstrations against it. Once they blow off their steam, they will learn to live with it. Second, as the India-Israel strategic partnership is evolving, Pakistan will find itself facing yet one more reason why the gap between its conventional military power with that of India"s will be further widened.

"The gap"--between Western military power and both communist and Islamicist military and economic power--is in many ways the key to
liberalization across the globe. It was, of course, "the gap" that forced Gorbachev to try and loosen the Party's grip enough to compete with the U.S., a miscalculation which led to the crumbling of the Soviet Union. Similarly, there's good reason to believe that by forming an alliance of the main enemies of the remaining communist states (N. Korea, China, Cuba) and of the various Islamic states--an alliance that at a minimum should include Taiwan, Japan, India, Israel, Russia, Australia, and the U.S.--we can demonstrate just how massive a gap they face because of the dysfunctioning of their political systems as opposed to those of the liberal democratic protestant capitalists. This would place them in the same unenviable position that the Soviets faced: to stand still is to fall further and further behind and face certain defeat if war comes, but to liberalize is to face certain revolution from within.

Accompanying the creation of this Axis of the Good should be a shift in rhetoric, similar to that effected so brilliantly by Ronald Reagan, which begins to speak openly of Western superiority, of our inevitable victory, and of the unsustainability of these totalitarian systems. Such psychological warfare--which has the benefit of being truthful--will serve to destabilize these regimes just as surely as it did the USSR and its evil empire.


MORE:
-Beware the Gorbachev experience (Ehsan Ahrari, 6/19/03, Asia Times)
-Report debunks 'China threat' (David Isenberg, Asia Times)
In recent years the United States, in its role as global super-nanny, has expressed concern about other states' potential aggression. One of them was China. Though that country never made President George W Bush's "axis of evil", it was seen as a rising potential threat, especially with regard to a possible invasion of Taiwan. But such a scenario has been over-hyped and is very unlikely, according to a newly released report.

"Taiwan Strait II: The Risk of War", released on June 6 by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based non-profit organization, finds that "there is still some way to go before China would feel itself ready to launch a major military assault. China is operating very much at the
psychological or political, rather than military, level of conflict." In fact, the most important conclusion is that "China has since 1995 displayed a clear preference for use of military coercion against Taiwan only in a very limited, modulated and non-lethal fashion".

This policy was reflected in then president Jiang Zemin's report to the 16th Communist Party Congress last November. In his White Paper on National Defense, Zemin stated the view that it would not be until the middle of the century that China would be a "strong" and "prosperous" country, thus China should, for the foreseeable future at least, avoid a direct and large-scale military confrontation with the United States over Taiwan. The White Paper's conclusions are similar to those of a report released on May 22 by the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on Chinese Military Power, whose central finding was that China was at least two decades behind the United States in terms of military technology and capability.

Similarly, the ICG report concluded that "if China did launch an invasion it might well, whatever its ballistic-missile capability, lack the military
capability to succeed, particularly if the US intervened, and even in the best-case scenario would not be able to subjugate Taiwan without large loss of life".

Even if China did manage to occupy Taiwan it would be a Pyrrhic victory, a case of being careful what you wish for, the report states. "Such use of force could certainly be expected to lead to recognition of Taiwan, even an occupied Taiwan, as an independent sovereign country by major powers such as the US and EU. The subsequent domestic repression in Taiwan over a protracted period under a China-installed regime would ensure a total breach between China and the developed world. Such a breach would bring a near total end to China's substantial exports to the developed world and produce massive unemployment in its costal cites at a time when domestic political stability is under severe strain."

-THE STRUGGLE FOR HARMONY: Part 2: Imagined danger (Henry C K Liu, 6/14/03, Asia Times)
-China hawk settles in neo-cons' nest (Jim Lobe, 5/13/03, Asia Times)
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:37 AM

WHAT'S COOKING

Puritan pies and decadent dinners (Julian Barnes, The Guardian, 6/14/2003)
In 1923, Joseph Conrad's wife Jessie published A Handbook of Cookery for a Small House. Her husband's preface begins like this:

"Of all the books produced since the remote ages by human talents and industry those only that treat of cooking are, from a moral point of view, above suspicion. The intention of every other piece of prose may be discussed and even mistrusted, but the purpose of a cookery book is one and unmistakable. Its object can conceivably be no other than to increase the happiness of mankind....

"Good cooking is a moral agent.... The Noble Red Man was a mighty hunter, but his wives had not mastered the art of conscientious cookery - and the consequences were deplorable. The Seven Nations around the Great Lakes and the Horse tribes of the plains were but one vast prey to raging dyspepsia... [and] the domestic life of their wigwams was clouded by the morose irritability which follows the consumption of ill-cooked food."...

Philip Larkin believed "Poetry is an affair of sanity" ... Cooking too is an affair of sanity - even literally so. Stella Bowen once knew a poet in Montparnasse who had suffered a nervous breakdown and been incarcerated in a clinic. After his release, he lived in a room overlooking the street, opposite a boulangerie. The poet dated his recovery from the moment when, gazing out of his window, he saw a woman going in to buy bread. He felt, he told Bowen, "unutterably envious of the interest she was taking in the choosing of a loaf"....

"The intimate influence of conscientious cookery," [Conrad] wrote, "promotes the serenity of mind, the graciousness of thought, and that indulgent view of our neighbour's failings which is the only genuine form of optimism. Those are its titles to our reverence."

There's nothing more conservative than a home-cooked dinner. There's nothing more libertarian than a microwave oven. It is these gustatory predilections, perhaps, that are most responsible for divisions within the Republican Party. Like the Noble Red Man, doesn't it seem that the good folks at LewRockwell.com are dyspeptic?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

BREAKING NEWS! WAR ISN'T FUN

Inmates Released from Guantanamo Tell Tales of Despair
(CARLOTTA GALL with NEIL A. LEWIS, June 17, 2003, NY Times)
Afghans and Pakistanis who were detained for many months by the American military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba before being released without charges are describing the conditions as so desperate that some captives tried to kill themselves.

According to accounts in the last three months from some of the 32 Afghans and three Pakistanis in the weeks since their release, it was above all the uncertainty of their fate, combined with confinement in very small cells, sometimes only with Arabic speakers, that caused inmates to attempt suicide. One Pakistani interviewed this month said he tried to kill himself four times in 18 months.

An Afghan prisoner who spent 14 months at the camp, at the American naval base at Guantanamo, described in April what he called the uncertainty and fear. "Some were saying this is a prison for 150 years," said Suleiman Shah, 30, a former Taliban fighter from Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan.

None of those interviewed complained of physical mistreatment. But the men said that for the first few months, they were kept in small wire-mesh cells, about 6 1/2 feet by 8 feet , in blocks of 10 or 20. The cells were covered by a wooden roof, but open at the sides to the elements.

"We slept, ate, prayed and went to the toilet in that small space," Mr. Shah said. Each man had two blankets and a prayer mat and slept and ate on the ground, he said.

The prisoners were taken out only once a week for a one-minute shower. "After four and a half months we complained and people stopped eating, so they said we could shower for five minutes and exercise once a week," Mr. Shah said. After that, he said, prisoners got to exercise for 10 minutes a week, walking around the inside of a cage 30 feet long.

Implicit in complaints about treatment of these guys is that their experience should be made more enjoyable. When they go home do we want them to tell their friends and family that taking up arms in the jihad is well worth it because if you get caught the U.S. sends you to Club Med?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM

FROM THE FOLKS WHO BROUGHT YOU AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI

Iranians detained in Paris raids (Jon Henley and Ian Traynor, June 18, 2003, The Guardian)
Iranian opposition figures and western diplomats were taken aback yesterday by a huge crackdown in France on a principal pillar of the opposition to the Tehran regime.

More than 1,300 police officers raided 13 addresses in the Paris region early yesterday in what the interior ministry called an "exceptional operation" against the People's Mojahedin of Iran.

In Vienna, where the UN nuclear watchdog is discussing Iran's alleged nuclear bomb project, opposition figures attacked the French move as a "despicable act" aimed at shoring up the Tehran regime as it confronts popular protest. [...]

Although the movement is on EU and US terrorist network lists, elements are known to be in close communication with the Bush
administration.

Despicable is a height to which the French aspire...fruitlessly.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 AM

THE SHADOW KNOWS...NOTHING

Senator queries WMD claims (BBC, 6/17/03)
A senior US senator says he has evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deliberately withheld crucial information from the UN arms inspectors deployed to Iraq. [...]

Senator Carl Levin is the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee which is reviewing the information provided by the CIA to the United Nations. [...]

He told reporters that if the public had known that information about alleged top weapons sites was not being shared, there would have been "greater
public demand that the inspection process continue".

"Why did the CIA say that they had provided detailed information to the UN inspectors on all of the high and medium suspect sites with the UN, when they had not? Did the CIA act in this way in order not to undermine administration policy? Was there another explanation for this?" he asked.

Broad purges wiped out most Iraqis helping CIA (John Diamond, 6/17/03, USA TODAY)
In the 12 years between the two wars the United States fought against Iraq, Saddam Hussein waged a bloody campaign to find and kill Iraqis spying for the CIA. With a combination of skill, luck and brutal efficiency, he largely succeeded, officials with knowledge of the CIA's struggles inside Iraq say.

From 1991 to 2003, Saddam's security forces killed hundreds of U.S.-linked Iraqi agents, intelligence sources say. Sometimes security
officials ferreted the spies out and executed them, and sometimes they made what amounted to lucky kills, executing spies along with non-spies during broader purges. [...]

The largest single loss of Iraqis helping U.S. intelligence occurred in August 1996. Saddam's security forces infiltrated a U.S.-backed coup
plot and rounded up 200 Iraqis on charges of participating in the plot and executed 80 of them immediately, according to reports published at the time. Iraqi forces then invaded sections of northern Iraq that were a base for the CIA-coordinated effort, rounding up still more suspects. After that, the CIA struggled painstakingly to rebuild its base of sources inside Iraq. [...]

Despite periodic efforts, U.S. intelligence had a hard time penetrating Saddam's inner circle. In the mid-1990s, according to former CIA
clandestine officer Robert Baer, in his book See No Evil, the agency "had no human sources inside or even near Saddam's circle -
none."

It's no surprise to find out just how useless was our intelligence on Iraq's WMD program. Our inability to trust the quality of such intelligence, even as concerns what was presumably our number one post-Cold War espionage target, is however an argument for pre-emptive strikes, not against. Since we can't know with any assurance what our enemies are up to, it is necessary to strike rather than wait for them to strike first.

Meanwhile, Mr. Levin's argument that we should have shared all of our intelligence with the notoriously compromised United Nations is not just laughable but dangerous. This kind of willingness to trust the UN is a prime example of why Democrats can't be trusted with our national security.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM

DOUBLE-SECRET TRUCE

Egyptian mediation extracts a silent consent from Hamas on a Truce (Arabic News, 6/17/2003)
The attempts to reach a "truce" between the Palestinian groups and Israel reached its peak yesterday with the success of the Egyptian delegation in getting a silent approval from Hamas to halt its military operations.

This success came after the Egyptians discussed an "Israeli commitment" with American consent to halt the acts of assassinations for at least 6 months and the Israeli forces starting withdrawal from positions it had occupied after the eruption of the Intifada.

The America moves have intensified recently in more than one direction and channel.

It would be foolish to place much faith in such a truce, but it's not really important to the process that it last all that long. All that matters is the illusion of progress, which provides cover for Mr. Sharon to give Mr. Abbas a state and Mr. Abbas, unlike Yassir Arafat, to accept it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 AM

COOKED BOOKS

Anti-war Cook hit by Saddam memo (NIC NEIL, 6/18/03, Sun uk)
ROBIN Cook’s anti-war stance over Iraq was destroyed last night by a bombshell Foreign Office memo.

It was published when Mr Cook was Foreign Secretary five years ago--and warned Saddam could have an “offensive biological weapons capability” in weeks.

Mr Cook now argues we should never have gone to war because Saddam was no threat.

But the 1998 dossier warned Iraq could develop mustard gas almost immediately and nerve agents in months.

And it said Saddam may have Scud missiles which could kill thousands if armed with a VX nerve agent warhead.

The memo was used to justify Allied planes bombing Iraq in 1998.

oops...
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:21 AM

)

A new intellectual magazine gets off to a great start. Check out the self-descriptive editorial:
Our goal ... is that virtually every article in this magazine take seriously a theory that is widely considered un-obvious by our professors and our peers.

I particularly recommend an excellent essay on Rawls, Nozick, and the interplay of philosophy, economics, and political science: Theory Gets a Reality Check: Philosophy, Economics, and Politics as if Verisimilitude Mattered by Jeffrey Friedman, which is too rich to quote. More topical is a discussion of The Real Roots of Islamic Extremism by Stephen Schwartz, which has useful nuggets such as:
The rise of Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist Islamist movement, was in great part stimulated by the Palestinians’ disgust with the extortion, torture, murder, censorship, and other abuses afflicted on them by Yasir Arafat....

Wahhabism preaches an ultra-Puritanical way of life. Meanwhile the Saudi elite swims in whisky.... These mixed signals, or, more bluntly, these forms of hypocrisy, have a deranging effect on Saudi society. But they are also the essential source of Islamist extremism and terrorism.

Welcome to a promising new magazine.

June 17, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 PM

CASHING IN OUR SOCIAL CAPITAL (via Tom Morin)

Honor Thy Fathers: A Family-Friendly Reform of Social Security (J.P. Zmirak, June 16, 2003 , The American Conservative)
Before the federal government became the pension plan of first resort for most Americans, the elderly relied upon two more traditional sources of support: accumulated wealth and their grown children. These twin pillars have for millennia been the mainstays upon which retirees depended, and our current system erodes them both. By pretending to serve as what it was never meant to be-an all-purpose, complete national system of social insurance-the Social Security system has long drained away funds from private pension plans and diminished the perceived necessity of savings. It has also created in the minds of the younger generations the perception that elderly parents are meant to be financially independent in their old age, safely collecting back the contributions they made over their working lives, plus a healthy return on investment-instead of depending, in part, on the support of their adult children.

The German social philosopher and economist Wilhelm Ropke saw that the growing importance of the state as the ordinary guarantor of well being for the individual must come at the expense of the family-the bedrock unit of any healthy society. He made that point with an anecdote:

"A short time ago, a member of the House of Commons movingly described her father's plight in order to prove how inadequate the welfare state still is. But this is no proof of the urgency of public help; it is merely an alarming sign of the disappearance of natural feelings in the welfare state. In fact, the lady in question received the only proper answer when another member of Parliament told her that she should be ashamed if her father was not adequately looked after by his own daughter. "

The state, by removing the financial impetus to family unity and rendering personal responsibility for one's family unnecessary, attacks two important virtues: loyalty and accountability. Such virtues, which some have called "social capital," are the very ground upon which a free society is built. Ropke, an architect of the postwar German economic "miracle," saw that the free market is an amazingly efficient producer of wealth and distributor of goods, which cannot be replaced by the state. (He was a student and lifelong friend of Ludwig von Mises.) But Ropke argued that the government had a larger role than simply playing "night watchman," protecting private property and enforcing contracts. For the market to survive, the state must take what minimal steps were necessary to insulate individuals from market failures, to promote the cohesion of the family, and to support the very virtues that make the market economy and a liberal society possible.

Following Ropke, a genuinely social conservative approach to reforming Social Security would aim to strengthen the family, encourage individual savings, and generally contribute to creating social capital-the non-economic, apolitical reserve of spontaneous order and co-operation that predates, underlies, and makes possible the survival of a free civil society. No society that refuses to save, indeed one that lives on an extended credit-card spree (as many Americans have been encouraged to do), can remain prosperous for long. It is sobering to recall the prone, bankrupt nation of Argentina was once-as late as the 1920s-almost as prosperous as the U.S. Reckless state spending that punished thrift helped impoverish that naturally rich country; can we avoid a similar fate?

Not content with just a terrific essay, Mr. Zmirak also gets off one of the best lines of the year: "I have long said, half in jest, that the future of Europe is a brown hand pulling a white plug out of the wall."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 PM

"DISCIPLINING AMBIGUITY" (via <~text text="Political Theory">

Islam and Globalization: Secularism, Religion, and Radicalism: Far from being incompatible with it, Islam will have its place in the globalizing world. Islamic revival is part of the world-wide religious resurgence that corrects the secularist bias of European modernity. Globalization is a driving force in this process. (Sean L. Yom, 4/2002, International Politics and Society )
Not until the monotheistic Protestant establishment emerged as an articulate political actor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America did secularism as a distinct worldview coalesce and enter into public discourse in Western countries. Even since then, the rumblings of religion are still manifest in various court cases, political parties, and social movements that attempt to merge state power with religious intent in almost all Western countries, not to mention the Third World. Secularism never fully completed its vision for a comprehensive ordering of political and social relations, and so the assumption that it a finished political project flies in the face of historical and sociological evidence.

Globalization actually engages Islam rather than denying its relevance. Within the new public spaces created by globalization, religious identities interact with modern ideas and technologies. For instance, the advent of the printing press, which arrived in the Islamic world centuries after it impacted Europe, tremendously changed the structure of Islamic education, the ways by which holy texts were read, and the conceptualization of the Muslim world. As globalization continues, new technologies have continued to change relations of authority and knowledge, "reconfiguring notions of self and society" while lending a certain consciousness to previously marginalized, subaltern voices within the religion. For instance, the telecommunications revolution and the Internet have generated new intellectual possibilities for Muslim scholars wishing to both reflect upon as well as criticize Islamic notions of the right and the good; ironically, it has also allowed lay scholars and ordinary citizens in Muslim states, from Egypt to Indonesia, to contest the intellectual productions of Muslim scholars and teachers and offer new, radical interpretations of Islam to a mass audience, which consequently has helped form the basis of the new Islamic movements. In these cases, transformations within Islam have only occurred by the constant imposition of modern values and capacities, products of secular thought and alleged opponents of religion, into the discourses of religion. Meanwhile, that Islam has grown more rapidly than any other major religion rests upon the strength of globalization; it would be difficult, for example, for the faith to spread if the free movements of peoples and ideas that globalization encourages did not exist. Ironically then, globalization, predicated and articulated through a secularist bias, strengthens Islam by furthering its range and extensive influence. This paradox constitutes simply one example of how the secular-religious divide actually breaks down into interdependence rather than xenophobic distance, and how similarly the globalization-Islam opposition collapses upon itself on further scrutiny.

Expressions of Islam function as "means of disciplining ambiguity, creating boundaries and constituting, producing and maintaining political identities." This also applies to expressions against Islam, especially for global chaos theorists and the intellectual borders they have drawn around globalization that necessarily exclude Islam. However, as this investigation demonstrated, global chaos views on Islam were inaccurate for their reliance upon simplified concepts and ideas that were hastily extracted from Islamic texts. Their blurring of the boundaries between Islam and radical fundamentalism hides the real distinctions that separate these two traditions. In turn, radical Islam finds itself as one small element of the Islamic revivalist trend, itself part of the global religious resurgence, which must be seen within the broader secular-religious divide. At every level of this conceptual chain, the relations with globalization constitute interdependence and mutual reinforcement rather than categorical denial and opposition.

Debates about Islam and its role within the world as it globalizes confront the question of secular modernity and how it interacts with religion and Islam in particular. Radical Islam, of course, conceptualizes itself in opposition to modernity. But most of the Islamic revivalists do not agree with them. The deeper critique here is that Islam, in all of its emergences and expressions, cannot merely be characterized as a "self-contained collective agent," one that seems to have a life of its own. It must be understood as a performative, discursive tradition, understood as an organized, socially significant historical narrative that interacts with globalization; it functions as one powerful voice among the choir of political and moral options. Islam does not operate as some nebulous, abstract variable; rather, actors that perform behaviors under its mantle reconstitute redirect, and reify it through adherence to their own peculiar geographic, strategic, political, and economic needs, ultimately contributing to their syncretic identities. Ultimately, Islam does have a place in globalization, as much as globalization has a place within Islam. Islam will not mindlessly contest globalization; it derives meaning from it, which some Muslims-such as the radical Islamists-might interpret as threatening, while others derive more peaceful visions. Regardless of this diversity, Islam will certainly not recede from globalization?s horizons. It is very much a part of its heritage and future, and therefore a crucial strand in the universe of possibilities that awaits the globalizing world.

This much we know, Islam is not going to overcome globalization. So the forces of globalization, and of violent interaction with the West, are going to shape the future of Islam. As they do so, it seems likely that Islamic faith can be a restraining force on the worst excesses of liberal democratic protestant capitalism (which is all globalization really is) and one would therefore predict a brighter future for the Muslim world than for the secularized West, which has no longer has a capacity to restrain those forces.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 6:45 PM

INTERNATIONAL LAW TO OUTLAW PRIVATE SECTOR

U.S. Battles Europe to Narrow A Treaty Banning Corruption (Bob Davis, Wall Street Journal, 6/17/2003)
The U.S. and Europe are battling over an ambitious global treaty to ban corruption, largely because Europe wants the pact to cover businesses and the U.S. wants it restricted to governments....

U.S. officials criticize the provisions Europeans seek as too vague, too unsettled legally or simply impractical. They especially object to European plans to include business corruption in the pact, saying that many practices viewed as corrupt in government aren't improper in business, and that business customs differ among countries. Giving a salesman a gift worth $200 may be customary in Asia, for instance, but could be considered a bribe ...

"It's problematic," says William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a Washington-based trade group of large exporters. "People in other countries could sue American companies in court elsewhere claiming that [U.S. companies'] actions contravened the convention, even if that doesn't contravene U.S. law." People who lose business deals, he worries, could use the treaty to sue their rivals for alleged corrupt practices....

European negotiators say businesses sometimes make illicit payments among themselves and that those corrupt business practices should be barred. The pact would bar bribes paid from one business to another ...

Business consists of exchanges of benefits. To outlaw "bribes paid from one business to another" is to verge on outlawing business itself; it puts all business activity into a questionable legal status, enabling governments to use the threat of corruption charges to domineer over businesspersons. In fact, the treaty may well increase corruption, by enabling government officials to hold businesses for ransom under its vague and far-reaching provisions.

Meanwhile, who is to enforce the treaty against governments? Is anyone going to hold Jacques Chirac responsible for the bribes he's received from FINA-Total-Elf?

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the European goal is to diminish the global private sector and impede globalization by making international trade risky and costly. How is it that the French manage to dominate the European Union so? Perhaps the best lack all conviction.


Posted by David Cohen at 4:53 PM

NEVER MIND.

'Roe' Wants Abortion Case Reversed (CBSNews.com, June 17, 2003).
(AP) The former plaintiff known as "Jane Roe" in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion sought to have the case overturned in a motion filed Tuesday that asks the courts to consider new evidence that abortion hurts women.

Norma McCorvey, who joined the anti-abortion fight nearly 10 years ago and says she regrets her role in Roe v. Wade, said the Supreme Court's decision is no longer valid because scientific and anecdotal evidence that has come to light in the last 30 years has shown the negative effects of abortion.

"We're getting our babies back," a jubilant McCorvey said at a news conference while flanked by about 60 women, some who sobbed and held signs that read "I regret my abortion."
It doesn't really work like that.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:32 PM

SIC TRANSIT STRAIGHT TALK

Dr. Nice Guy (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Joanna Schubert, June 17, 2003, The CBS News)
Apparently unsatisfied with picking fights with just Sen. John Kerry, Howard Dean has now turned his charm on another of his Democratic rivals, Florida Sen. Bob Graham.

Just a few days after Dean said he was the only major candidate who'd actually appointed judges as a governor – apparently forgetting Graham's two terms as Florida governor – politicsNH.com reports that Dean threw this bomb during an appearance in Bedford, N.H.: "Bob Graham is a wonderful, decent human being, but at this time he's in single digits in all the states you can't be in single digits. I have enormous respect for Bob Graham, but at this point he's not one of the top-tier candidates. I think that's widely recognized."

Dean later backtracked a bit, saying, "that's not to say he couldn't get to be one.''

Dean also called the Graham campaign to apologize for his comments, politicsNH.com reports. But Graham spokesman Jamal Simmons said Dean's comments were ill-advised.

Dr. Dean may be abrasive, but what he said is manifestly true: Senator Graham's candidacy is a joke. You can't want to be the one honest candidate in the race and then backtrack just because the truth hurts people's inflated egos.
Posted by David Cohen at 12:57 PM

A WELL-DESIGNED MACHINE?

What A World!(Freeman Dyson, New York Review Of Books V. 50, No. 8, 5/15/03), reviewing The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (Vaclav Smil, MIT Press, 346 pp., $32.95).
[T]he major theme of Smil's book . . . is the difficulty of understanding the behavior of the biosphere on a global scale. Even the nonliving processes governing weather and climate are difficult to understand. The living processes governing the fertility of forests and oceans are even more difficult. As an example to illustrate the difficulties, I look at the effects on the biosphere of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is one of the subjects in Smil's book, but it is the reviewer, not the author, who is responsible for giving it emphasis here. As a result of the burning of coal and oil, the driving of cars, and other human activities, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of about half a percent per year.

Everyone agrees that the increasing abundance of carbon dioxide has two important consequences. First, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, transparent to sunlight but partially opaque to the heat radiation that transports energy from the earth's surface into space. Second, carbon dioxide is an essential nutrient for plants on land and in the ocean. The increase in carbon dioxide causes changes, both in the transport of energy through the atmosphere and in the growth and reproduction of plants. Opinions differ on two crucial questions. Are the physical or the biological effects of carbon dioxide more important? Are the effects, either separately or together, beneficial or harmful? In his last two chapters, Smil summarizes the evidence bearing on these questions, but does not presume to answer them.

The physical effects of carbon dioxide are seen in changes of rainfall, cloudiness, wind strength, and temperature, which are customarily lumped together in the misleading phrase "global warming." This phrase is misleading because the warming caused by the greenhouse effect of increased carbon dioxide is not evenly distributed. In humid air, the effect of carbon dioxide on the transport of heat by radiation is less important, because it is outweighed by the much larger greenhouse effect of water vapor. The effect of carbon dioxide is more important where the air is dry, and air is usually dry only where it is cold. The warming mainly occurs where air is cold and dry, mainly in the arctic rather than in the tropics, mainly in winter rather than in summer, and mainly at night rather than in daytime. The warming is real, but it is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter. To represent this local warming by a global average is misleading, because the global average is only a fraction of a degree while the local warming at high latitudes is much larger. Also, local changes in rainfall, whether they are increases or decreases, are usually more important than changes in temperature. It is better to use the phrase "climate change" rather than "global warming" to describe the physical effects of carbon dioxide. . . .

Roughly speaking, half of the contiguous United States, not including Alaska and Hawaii, consists of mountains and deserts and parking lots and highways and buildings, and the other half is covered with plants and topsoil. Just to see how important an unmeasurable increase of topsoil may be, let us imagine that the increased root-to-shoot ratio of plants might cause an average net increase of topsoil biomass of one tenth of an inch per year over half the area of the contiguous United States. A simple calculation shows that the amount of carbon transferred from the atmosphere to the topsoil would be five billion tons per year. This amount is considerably more than the measured four-billion-ton annual increase of carbon in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the entire earth could be canceled out by an increase of topsoil biomass of a tenth of an inch per year over half of the contiguous United States. . . .

Another environmental danger that is even more poorly understood is the possible coming of a new ice age. A new ice age would mean the burial of half of North America and half of Europe under massive ice sheets. We know that there is a natural cycle that has been operating for the last eight hundred thousand years. The length of the cycle is a hundred thousand years. In each hundred-thousand-year period, there is an ice age that lasts about ninety thousand years and a warm interglacial period that lasts about ten thousand years. We are at present in a warm period that began twelve thousand years ago, so the onset of the next ice age is overdue. If human activities were not disturbing the climate, a new ice age might begin at any time within the next couple of thousand years, or might already have begun. We do not know how to answer the most important question: Does our burning of fossil fuels make the onset of the next ice age more likely or less likely? . . .

Since we are confronted with two plausible arguments leading to opposite conclusions, the only rational response is to admit our ignorance. Until the causes of ice ages are understood in detail, we cannot know whether the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing or decreasing the danger.

The biosphere is the most complicated of all the things we humans have to deal with. The science of planetary ecology is still young and undeveloped. It is not surprising that honest and well-informed experts can disagree about facts. But beyond the disagreements about facts, there is another deeper disagreement about values. The disagreement about values may be described in an oversimplified way as a disagreement between naturalists and humanists. Naturalists believe that nature knows best. For them the highest value is respect for the natural order of things. Any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil. Excessive burning of fossil fuels, and the consequent increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, are unqualified evils.

Humanists believe that humans are an essential part of nature. Through human minds the biosphere has acquired the capacity to steer its own evolution, and we are now in charge. Humans have the right to reorganize nature so that humans and biosphere can survive and prosper together. For humanists, the highest value is intelligent coexistence between humans and nature. The greatest evils are war and poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment, disease and hunger, the miseries that deprive people of opportunities and limit their freedoms. As Bertolt Brecht wrote in The Threepenny Opera, "Feeding comes first, morality second." If people do not have enough to eat, we cannot expect them to put much effort into protecting the biosphere. In the long run, preservation of the biosphere will only be possible if people everywhere have a decent standard of living. The humanist ethic does not regard an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as evil, if the increase is associated with worldwide economic prosperity, and if the poorer half of humanity gets its fair share of the benefits.
I have a real affection for the entire Dyson family, if for no other reason than the fact that Dyson Spheres are such a cool idea. I also agree with the admission that we don't even know what we don't know about the theory of climate change and, if we did understand the theory, we still wouldn't be able to measure the effects with any certainty. I like the way Dyson draws the distinction between naturalist and humanist, as it makes clear that humanist is the only rational position to take and allows me to say, in only this special case, that I am a humanist. Finally, I find the idea that nature and man have found a stable equilibrium in which each can correct the problems of the other, to be both intuitively attractive and philosophically congenial.

Yet, there is quite a bit here for conservatives to be wary of. This is not the best of all possible worlds and we must be on guard against being mislead by our natural American optimism. Moreover, the fact that we don't know what's happening is not good news. The Earth may be healing itself, but it might not be and we don't know whether we are speeding towards a cliff or, if we are, are we at the top or the bottom. We must also be concerned about the other side of the humanist coin, what Dyson (and apparently Smil) refer to as the "noosphere," defined as "a planetary ecology designed and maintained by human intelligence." What is this but a somewhat more attractive Gaia hypothesis that puts man in the center of creation? Attempts to replace G-d with man are always with us, but they always end in desperate horror.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM

IS A FRIEND OF OURS

The excellent New Criterion now has a blog too: Armavirumque


N.B.: For an example of what makes the magazine so good, check out this essay: The "deliberate sense" of Willimoore Kendall (Jeffrey Hart, March 2002, New Criterion)
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 AM

JACKPOT

Musharraf cooks up an American banquet (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 6/17/03, Asia Times)
Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's visit to the United States and his meeting with President George W Bush on June 24 are likely to lay the foundations for landmark changes in Pakistan's policies, including those on Israel, Kashmir, its nuclear program and the army. Sources in the Foreign Office familiar with the agenda say that key decisions likely to be agreed on by Musharraf and Bush at Camp David include the following:

* A clear road map for resolution of the Kashmir conflict in which the "Chanab" formula, which envisages the division of Kashmir along religious lines, is likely to be adopted. Thus, the Muslim-majority areas would be allowed to join Pakistan, while the areas where Hindus and Buddhists are in the majority would remain with India.

* A rollback in Pakistan's nuclear and missile program pursuant to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

* Deployment of Pakistani troops in Iraq, subject to a financial deal to be agreed on by the US and Pakistan.

* Renewed assistance in Afghanistan to contain the burgeoning revival of the Taliban movement. Before the elections scheduled in Afghanistan later in the year, Pakistan will help the US to eliminate the power vacuum in the country by mediating talks with the various Afghan groups, including the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Taliban and other Pashtun factions.

* Cutbacks in the Pakistani armed forces. Pakistan has already laid off 300,000 personnel.

* Recognition for Israel. Initially, the two countries would establish "track II" diplomacy, and once the grounds were prepared, Pakistan would announce its recognition of the Israeli state. In return, the US would waiver US$1.8 billion in bilateral debt. The US has already written off $1 billion in return for Islamabad's support after the September 11 attacks and for its reversal of support for the Taliban.

The Administration has taken a lot of heat for its support of Musharraf, but that's a pretty enormous pay-off.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM

THE LONG HATE

Washington Whispers (US News and World Report, 6/17/1963)
French commentators are hinting that the American President might accomplish more by staying at home to deal with a crisis in race relations than by visiting Europe for what the French feel is a campaign tour to set bigger records than those made not long ago by Gen. Charles de Gaulle, French President.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:29 AM

THAT'S OUR STORY & WE'RE STICKIN' TO IT

Not just for kids: how telling stories about the world shapes society. (Jenny Ostini, June 16, 2003, OnLine Opinion)
Aside from entertaining children, storytelling is also fundamental to our society today. From stump speeches to policy releases to talkback radio, managerial statements, teaching, soap operas, interpersonal exchanges and even the news, we tell stories. To focus on one aspect of storytelling, what is the news but a story about the day? Every day many of us settle down with a newspaper or watch the evening news to read or hear a recounting of the events of the day.

News stories help us to make sense of what is happening, who is involved and sometimes why events have unfolded in a particular way. Stories about the world help us to understand our place in society, what is considered important by those in power, and appropriate behaviour in a range of situations. [...]

Storytelling can be thought of as a mapping of space that imposes coherence on ideas. Once stories become entrenched and repeated, that story becomes the story to the exclusion of alternative interpretations. This is particularly relevant when news stories are being examined because telling a story in a particular way can have measurable effects. Think of how a story about asylum seekers throwing their children overboard invoked ideas about how "we aren't those kind of people" and "they won't fit in here" which led to a government being able to make previously inconceivable decisions about refugee policy. So perhaps ABC critics should be anxious again.

Stories not only provide overt content but they also construct ways for us to think and in some cases allow us to think and articulate the unthinkable.

More than anything else this would seem to be the function that blogs and other online news communities serve--they help groups of like-minded or at least sympathetic people to "gather" and organize their thoughts about what might otherwise be a terribly confusing world. At best they can help us to analyze issues that we're not sure how to process and provide us with reassurance that the explanations we've come up with aren't totally demented. To this extent at least, they really do serve as communities.

Now if only someone could explain why we're the only ones to have noticed that Eric and Julia Roberts are the same person...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 AM

(YO) BUM RUSH THE SHOW

Iran's angry young adults erupt in political protest: For five nights in a row, students and families vent frustration with pace of reform. (Scott Peterson, 6/16/03, The Christian Science Monitor)
Unlike the student demonstrations four years ago, say analysts in Tehran, these protests are tapping into an unexpectedly fierce determination by thousands of ordinary Iranians - many of them young, and some families with children in tow - who are frustrated with the slow pace of political change in Iran.

In the past, unelected clerics led by Iran's conservative supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, were the target of protests. That's true again, with the first-ever public chants calling for the ayatollah's hanging. But now the reform-minded President Mohamed Khatami - whose widespread popularity during six years in office is ebbing, as reforms are systematically blocked - is also a target.

"It's scary talking to these people [the protesters]," says a seasoned political analyst reached by phone in Tehran, who asked not to be named. "There is such a determination in their eyes and their behavior. They are fearless; they are ready for combat. It's like [urban] warfare."

"They say: 'This is just the beginning, we have started it, and we are going all the way to the end,' " the analyst says. "But if you carry on the
conversation, they have no idea about what the end should look like.... It is very dangerous."

The Iranian Revolution can be considered to stand for two somewhat disturbing, but potentially useful propositions, that the Shi'a as a people can be united in opposition to even relatively mild forms of oppression rather easily but that they don't have a coherent positive program to erect in the place of that oppression. Both the mullahs and the "reformers" are toast--it's just a matter of time--but there's no telling what will rise in their place.

June 16, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 PM

NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS...

Christian Bands, Crossing Over: A new crop of bands has broadened the appeal of Christian rock by emphasizing musical originality rather than a sermonizing message. (NEIL STRAUSS, 6/10/03, NY Times)
The Christian-rock underground is now as much a steppingstone to mainstream success as any other music scene. Despite the image of Christian pop as soft and conformist, most of these bands work on the harder or more alternative edges of rock: punk, hardcore, grunge, new metal and indie-rock.

"What's interesting to me is that this is another fertile ground for development," said Tim Devine, the general manager of Columbia Records, who recently signed a Christian grunge band called Switchfoot to the label. "And other than the lyrics having a positive slant, it is not much different than other scenes that have burgeoned over the years, from the Seattle scene to the emo crowd." (Emo is a more confessional, expressive and pop-friendly variant of punk rock.)

For John Rubeli, a talent scout for Atlantic Records who signed P.O.D., a punk group from the Christian scene that cracked the Billboard Top 10, the strength of the movement is its national network of clubs.

"The whole thing about the Christian market is that all these bands are able to tour because youth groups and churches have the ability to put on shows," he said. "Like the old punk rock, you have an infrastructure that allows all these bands to play. Because much of it is in the suburbs, a lot of these kids going to the shows aren't even Christian kids, but their parents won't allow them to go to rock shows. So then they tell their moms that their friend Mike's youth group from church is putting on the show, and their parents can call Mike's mom to check. This is where I found P.O.D."

P.O.D. (which stands for Payable on Death), whose manager used to run a Christian rock club, is no anomaly. In the past year other acts from the Christian touring circuit have found mainstream success, among them Chevelle (which is on this year's Ozzfest, the summer hard-rock tour led by Ozzy Osbourne), Evanescence (whose album "Fallen" is No. 3 on the Billboard pop charts) and, the most popular of them all, Creed.

Beyond them many other bands on Christian-owned labels are bubbling just under the Billboard charts. Many are on the Seattle-based Tooth & Nail label, home to Anberlin as well as the Christian bands Further Seems Forever (whose original singer is now in Dashboard Confessional), Mae, Zao and Starflyer 59. All are being pursued by major labels. Other Tooth and Nail bands, like the Juliana Theory, MxPx and P.O.D., have already been signed by majors.

"When I talk to major labels and say that some of our bands are playing these Christian venues, they say that they've never heard of them," said Brandon Ebel, who owns and runs Tooth & Nail. "Then, when I tell them that 1,000 people are coming to the shows, they flip out." [...]

"I walked around the G.M.A.'s," said Mr. Christian, of Anberlin, referring to the Gospel Music Association's annual Nashville convention, "and I thought, `I would wonder if Jesus would be in any of these bands.' Why would he be here? God said, `Why send a doctor to those who are well; I'm going to send a doctor to the sick.' I guarantee you he would have been opening up for the Sex Pistols back in the day."

The key here is the continuing demarginalization of religion in American culture. From Presidents to TV to bestseller lists to the pop charts to a clash of civilizations, religion, which the secular humanists expected to dry up and wither away in the face of reason, is instead returning to front and center in the West's, not coincidentally, healthiest culture.

MORE RETROGRADE AMERICA:
More Moms Staying at Home With Their Kids (GENARO C. ARMAS, Jun 16, 2003, Associated Press)
Nearly 10.6 million children were being raised by full-time stay-at-home moms last year, up 13 percent in a little less than a decade.

Experts credit the economic boom, the cultural influence of America's growing Hispanic population and the entry into parenthood of a generation of latchkey kids.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 PM

THE COMMENDABLE FAILURE OF DARWINIAN FAITH

The Erosion of Civilization: The Fertile Crescent's fall holds a message for today's troubled spots. (Jared Diamond, June 15, 2003, LA Times)
Iraq sits along a stretch of land once so productive that the whole region--which included present-day Syria, Iran and Jordan--was known as the Fertile Crescent. In ancient times, the area led the world in agriculture and technology. It's hard to reconcile that history with the reality of today, when the term "Infertile Crescent" would seem more appropriate.

The Fertile Crescent's current desperation stands as testament to the steepest downturn of local fortunes since the end of the last Ice Age. For 8,000 years Iraq and its neighbors led the world as the source of most things embodied in the term "civilization." Technology, ideas and power flowed outward from Iraq to Europe and eventually to America. Iraq's decline holds lessons the world should heed.

The region's ancient dominance didn't arise from any biological superiority of its people, just as America's dominance today has nothing to do with our own biology. Instead, Fertile Crescent peoples profited from an accident of biogeography: They had the good fortune to occupy the world's largest zone of Mediterranean climate, home to the largest number of wild plant and animal species suitable for domestication. Until 8500 BC, all the world's peoples obtained their food by gathering wild plants and hunting wild animals. Then the ancient Iraqis and other Fertile Crescent peoples began to develop farming and herding, domesticating wild wheat, barley, peas, sheep, goats, pigs and cows. Even today, these species remain the world's staple crops and livestock. Agriculture fueled a population explosion, and also generated food surpluses that could be used to feed full-time professional specialists, who no longer had to devote time to procuring their own food. [...]

Iraq's decline holds a broader significance. Many other countries today face similar crippling environmental problems, including the deforestation, overgrazing, erosion and salinization that brought down the Fertile Crescent. Other countries already crippled or nearly so by such problems include Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines and Indonesia.

You may well detect a similarity between this list of looming environmental disasters and the CIA's list of overseas trouble spots, places prone to civil wars and violent regime changes--places to which we often end up dispatching U.S. troops. Those two lists are related by cause and effect. When environmental damage makes people economically desperate, they are likely to suffer from poor health and short life spans, blame their governments, kill each other, end up with crazy leaders and seek to immigrate illegally to more favored landscapes.

Actually, unless your left-wing ideology prevents you from doing so, the thing you'd detect first about that list is that if those geographic locations had been settled by the Puritans they'd all be stable democracies now and, with the possible exception of Nepal, they'd be net food exporters, whose surplus food allowed them to support not only a population explosion of any size they chose to indulge in but the influx of immigrants they'd be receiving. Does this mean that Anglo-Saxons are "superior" to the natives of these varied countries? I don't think that conclusion necessarily follows, particularly not superiority in a moral sense. But if we reduce it to Darwinian terms then, yes, quite obviously we can find direct correlations between what biological groups live on a land and the success of the resulting society. In fact, it seems absurd for those who believe in evolution to assert that the shape of a certain finch's nose reveals its brilliant adaptation to a given environment but that the ability of distinct ethnic groups to adapt better than their rivals suggests nothing of the kind. So, instead, folks like Mr. Diamond and Stephen Jay Gould and others whose political beliefs come into conflict with their scientific beliefs have an entirely healthy and admirable tendency to just deny the science--to our great amusement...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 PM

10,000 = 50

Stocks Soar as Dow Ends at 11-Month High (Reuters, June 16, 2003)
U.S. stocks rose on Monday, sending the Dow to its highest close in 11 months after a report on New York state's manufacturing sector proved surprisingly strong and sparked hopes that the U.S. economy will recover later this year.

Stocks have rallied for more than three months, as investors shrugged off tepid economic data and bet on a rebound later this year. Since hitting a low for the year on March 11, the Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 26.2 percent.

If the Dow is at 10,000 at the end of October 2004, not only will George W. Bush carry all 50 states but the GOP will get to 60 seats in the Senate (adding GA, SC, FL, NC, SD, NV, WA, AR, & then picking up one or both Nelsons (NE & FL) in party switches, while holding IL & AK).
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 PM

LONG LIVE RCRBAPP

Self-styled art vigilantes threaten to destroy public sculptures they detest (Kathy Marks, 17 June 2003, Independent)
Public artworks are often loathed by the public, but a sculpture in Sydney has aroused an unusual degree of antipathy. A group of self-styled art vigilantes is threatening to destroy the work unless the council dismantles it.

The group, which calls itself the Revolutionary Council for the Removal of Bad Art in Public Places, has set a three-month deadline for the offending sculpture to be whisked away. If the deadline is not met, it says, the work will be defaced or destroyed.

"We have blowtorches, angle grinders and bolt cutters, and we will use them if necessary," said a spokesman, Dave Jarvoo.

The work, Stones Against The Sky, is made up of seven steel poles crowned by large artificial stones. Sydneysiders call the work, in a plaza in front of an apartment block in King's Cross, the city's red-light district, "Poo on Sticks".

Having worked in the Chicago Loop, with its heinous public Picasso sculptures, this sounds like a long overdue idea.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM

IS OUR DEMOCRATS LEARNING? (via Charlie Herzog)

Grading the Philadelphia Experiment: Last fall, TIME reported on plans by for-profit firms to reform the city's schools. Here's how they did (REBECCA WINTERS, 6/23/03, TIME)
On a cloudless spring morning, among boarded-up row houses in North Philadelphia, the asphalt school yard at Wright Elementary is a blur of arriving children, many in uniforms getting a bit too tight and too short as the year draws to a close. Glasses propped on top of her head, hand on a child's shoulder, Wright's motherly principal, Anita Duke, rolls a rickety cart with a microphone and speaker into the yard for the morning announcements and starts another day. It's Duke's 29th year working in Philadelphia's public schools, her sixth at Wright, and it has been one of her best.

Despite her initial skepticism about Victory Schools, the New York City--based company assigned to manage Wright this year, Duke chose to give the firm a try, persuaded her wary staff to do the same and then hoped for the best. "We dumb-lucked out," she says. Of the three for-profits awarded contracts, Victory is the only one that has been given an additional school to run next year, and it also seems likely to manage some of the small high schools that Philadelphia schools chief Vallas would like to open in the next few years, replacing the district's massive, impersonal buildings.

Victory brought in stopwatches and scripts to teach reading, revolutionary rigidity for a school that had practiced a free-flowing literacy program that left lots of room for creativity. When some teachers fell behind the company's prescribed 20-lessons-a-month pace, Victory coaches visited their classrooms and co-taught lessons or gave demonstrations. While a backlash against such heavy-handed methods might have been expected, most of Wright's faculty instead express gratitude. Fourth-grade teacher Raynette Perry says, "I hate to admit it, but it works for my kids." Jacquelyn McPherson, Wright's guidance counselor and, as union representative, someone who could have led the revolt against such intrusion, says, "Finally! Teachers have wanted this kind of guidance for years!"

There have been some bumps along the way. The company's writing program calls for students to compose essays on core subjects in history and science, not just on personal experiences. But early in the year, Wright's teachers didn't have textbooks that incorporated the Pennsylvania state standards on which their students would be tested. Victory's staff worked with them to create three-ring binders of lessons on topics as diverse as ancient Rome and human-body cells. "Now we're no longer writing, 'I love my mom. The dog is big.' We're writing, 'There are many parts to a cell,'" Duke explains. "Educationally, it's more bang for your buck." Victory's quick response to the materials crunch was particularly heartening to the staff. "If the district were involved, that would have been an eight-month process," Duke says. "Victory went to Kinko's."

Victory also helped Duke reduce class size in lower grades from 24 in some rooms to 16, and it replaced interns who had performed administrative duties with three full-time teachers. In addition, the company brought high-quality training to Wright's faculty. Unlike many other school reformers, Victory didn't rely on what Duke calls "I train you today, you train her tomorrow" coaching on the cheap, but paid for 11 full-time coaches to work with its five schools.

Under its new contract with the district, Victory will get one more school and two more years to deliver gains. Lynn Spampinato, Victory's regional director in Philadelphia, plans to introduce a new math curriculum and expand the company's experiment in separating boys and girls in middle school. One thing she won't tinker with is Duke's leadership at Wright--a major force in the company's success there this year. "So often with school reform, if a principal isn't on board, you never accomplish a thing, no matter how good the plan is," Spampinato says. "By example, Anita showed her staff that change doesn't have to be so difficult. That was invaluable."

Schools chief Vallas learned some valuable lessons too. "The lesson is that we don't have to be ideological about school management," Vallas says. "It doesn't matter whether the cat is white or black, but whether the cat catches mice." Or raises scores.

It's 2003, but the Left still has to be convinced that the private sector would educate kids more efficiently than the public sector can and that discipline and responsibility are important tools that the former will bring to bear on the task?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM

THE DNC'S UNAMERICAN NOMINEES COMMITTEE

FLASH CARTOON: Bushenstein (DNC: Supreme Court Watch)

No one can at this late date object to the politicization of judicial nominations, but this ad is unusual--and arguably despicable--both in its joking implication that conservatives are monsters (one would think they might be a tad more sensitive at least where Clarence Thomas is concerned) and in its less jesting statement that their values aren't "American". Of course, hate-mongering may be all the Democrats have left. A party reduced to this is in dire straits.
Posted by David Cohen at 6:23 PM

FOUR HOUSES UP FROM US.

‘Territorial’ poodle loses life in standoff with bear (Kay Moran, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 6/16/03).
NORTHAMPTON - A valiant little dog named Hobbes stood his ground, but he was no match for the bear that killed him Friday.
"My territorial one was going to tell the bear, 'This is my property and you have to go,'" Jennifer Whiting of Turkey Hill Road said Sunday.

At about 3:30 p.m. Friday, Whiting had just come home and let her two black toy poodles, Calvin and Hobbes, out into the front yard. While she was talking on the phone, the dogs began to bark.

She opened the front door to check on them, only to find a bear at the foot of the porch stairs, between her and the 7-pound dogs.

"It was a step away. I could have touched him," she said.

Whiting screamed at the bear and slammed the door, trying to scare it off. Calvin retreated out of sight from the large animal, but Hobbes stood still, barking at it furiously.

"(The bear) just picked Hobbes up like he was a baby cub and just took him away," Whiting said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 PM

CAN'T GET FROM A TO C IF YOU START AT B

Four books seek to rescue America's democratic experiment -- and unwittingly point up some of its limitations. (Kimberly Phillips-Fein, June 15, 2003, Washington Post)
When Woodrow Wilson rallied the United States to "make the world safe for democracy," his critics pointed out that a true democrat would not need to look a continent away. After all, America itself was only a partial democracy. Blacks in the South had less political freedom than Russians under the tsar; women could not vote; and coal miners, steel workers and immigrant seamstresses faced violent repression if they tried to organize unions. Yet for Wilson, an idealist elected on an antiwar platform (who also claimed the dubious distinction of bringing Jim Crow to Washington, D.C.), the fight for democracy was to be waged in the European trenches, not on battlefields closer to home.

Today, the idea of exporting democracy around the world is alive and well. But four new books by leading political thinkers revisit the difficulties that we've had here in the United States in achieving a truly democratic politics. Taken together, they paint a picture of American democracy threatened by market-induced inequality and the vicissitudes of the global economy as well as the more timeless menaces of demagoguery and tyrannical majorities. And each study, in a different way, shows that invoking democratic cliches is far easier than building a politics that genuinely reflects democratic principles -- a lesson that many of today's more cynical would-be exporters of our democratic ideal might well take to heart. [...]

Each of these books is skeptical about the future of American democracy, but all are ruminative, dreamy and wide-ranging, preferring a meditative to a combative tone. Each one holds out a promise of American democracy ample and hale, hovering either in the past or in the future. Yet despite their considerably varied subjects and method, these books also share one important flaw. None of their authors seems to consider democracy an idea and a practice with inherently political content. None of them takes seriously a singular truth: that throughout history, from the American Revolution to the French Revolution to the expansion of the suffrage throughout Europe to the inclusion of women in the polity, democracy has been won only through sustained, even at times revolutionary, conflict. Any expansion of democracy requires that powerful elites relinquish political control, giving it over to the people who are ruled. Democracy is not simply a question of participation in organized groups, competition between political parties, transparent international politics or virtuoso leadership. It is a political idea, and as such it demands that people mobilize in opposition to existing inequalities.

In the words of pragmatist philosopher John Dewey, democracy is by its nature a "fighting faith." These four books, despite their strengths, miss this key dimension of democratic politics. And so in their efforts to analyze the anemia of American democracy, they inadvertently seem to mirror the political inertia they deplore.

America is, of course, quite intentionally designed to be only partially democratic, because Liberty is an end of our government, not democracy itself. And most of the steps taken to make it a "true" democracy have, predictably, tended to be destructive of that Liberty. So to speak of the American democratic experiment in the way Ms Phillips-Fein invokes the term here--particularly the equation of that experiment with expansive suffrage--is to begin the conversation with an oxymoron. No wonder it quickly goes astray in the authors' works.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:34 PM

MILITANT AMBIVALENCE

'I'm a big hypocrite': He's gone from Militant Moby to laddish rocker. Now he's looking to buy a place in the country, scrubs the cooker like mad and isn't even that fussed about his music being used in car ads (Simon Hattenstone, June 16, 2003, The Guardian)
Not only is there the appearance (small, bald, totally unremarkable except for the crucifix tattooed on his neck) there is the ideology (veganism, Christianity, socialism, pacifism, celibacy and a nice green world free of cars). But it's more confusing than that - there is also the Moby who boasts about screwing around; and the Moby who likes to talk about sensible investment; and the Moby who is happy to use his songs in commercials to sell cars and make the world a dirtier place. [...]

"I think militancy is a desire to impose structure and order into what seems a very confusing and chaotic world. It gives you a really specific prism with which to view the world, and it instantly gives you a sense of community. If you're a Leeds supporter, instantly you're best friends with all the other Leeds supporters."

These days, he says, he distrusts all extremism. Tolerance is his new belief system. Take the war in Iraq. "It's almost too complicated to have a really strong opinion. I didn't trust anybody who was really pro-war or anti-war. Neither perspective made sense to me because there were so many good reasons not to go to war and there were good reasons to go to war." He is quite dogmatic in his insistence that things are never black and white. Tolerance could be his new militancy. [...]

There is something of the chameleon in Moby. When he speaks to an English newspaper he can somehow modify his chat for the market - hence the reference to Leeds. And when interviewed by a gay magazine he announced he was bisexual. He smiles. "Yeah, it's like the movie Zelig. He has this genetic trait where he is so eager to accommodate people he actually physically changes around them."

Is he aware of it when he does it? "Not really. Maybe it's a desire to make people comfortable. But also accommodating people makes them more inclined to like me." So does he prefer men or women? He looks at me, shocked. "I've never had sex with a man. There was one time when I was in a gay bar and I was involved in a very difficult heterosexual relationship and I was looking around and thinking to myself: 'You know what, if I put my mind to it I think I could learn to be gay.'" He calls himself naive.

No pursuit could be more fruitless than to seek wisdom from musicians, but one hardly stops listening to Mozart because he was an immature cretin, does one? At any rate, from this profile it would seem that Moby may be the archetypal modern man. Note that his only consistent values are tolerance and unwillingness to hold even his own beliefs too dear. He could practically be who Yeats had in mind when he wrote: "The best lack all
conviction". The idea that elevating tolerance to the organizing purpose of our society will make the world a better place is indeed naive.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:18 PM

TRUE, BUT NOT THE WHOLE STORY

Jews and Anti-Jews (Ruth Wisse, OpinionJournal, 6/16/2003)
Unfortunately, the Arab war against Israel is no more a territorial conflict than was al Qaeda's strike against America, and it can no more be resolved by the "road map" than anti-Americanism could be appeased by ceding part of the U.S. to an Islamist enclave.... Arab rulers did not object to Israel because it rendered the Palestinians homeless. Rather, they ensured that the Palestinians should remain homeless so that they could organize their politics around opposition to Israel....

Rantisi greeted the "road map" by organizing major attacks against Israel, which he calls "our land, not the land of the Jews." America can't hope to win its war against terror while ignoring some of its major perpetrators and propagandists.

Professor Wisse's statements are undeniably correct: the terrorists want to annihilate Israel. But the roadmap is not aimed at making peace with these folk. The roadmap aims at nurturing a Palestinian peace party, at improving Israel's reputation among people of goodwill by publicly offering to satisfy every legitimate Palestinian grievance, and at exposing the terrorists as the true barriers to peace by removing their ability to masquerade as a party of Palestinian independence. The battle with the terrorists must come later, after the ground has been prepared, an alternative created and the world public prepared for the necessity of battle.

It is understandably frustrating for friends of justice and liberty that the U.S., not to mention other nations, does not denounce the terrorists more vigorously. (I do not understand the geopolitical reasons that have prevented U.S. governments from doing so, but they must be weighty because officials of all ideologies have embraced a public diplomacy of equivocation.) It is also understandable that Jews, who have been betrayed so many times in the past, should fear betrayal once again. But it is worthwhile to step back and see that the roadmap is a step forward intellectually and politically; and that such steps must be taken if the situation is to be resolved without horrific loss of life.

MORE: The Secret Plan (Saul Singer, NRO, 6/16/2003)

At first glance, the roadmap now looks like a sick joke, a pathetic attempt to impose order on a conflict that has no end....

In style, the roadmap repeats all the mistakes of Oslo. In structure it makes one critical change: In Oslo, Palestinian statehood was to be the end result; in the roadmap, the state comes in the middle.

Sharon is a disciple of Ben-Gurion and ... the peace Sharon is talking about is not a full "solution" to the conflict, but a form of livable cold war....

The deal Sharon is offering the Palestinians is a partial state in exchange for a partial peace. You don't want to renounce the "right of return" and accept Israel as a Jewish state? Fine, says Sharon, but for that all you get is a truncated state whose borders are controlled by Israel. Why would the Palestinians accept such a deal? Because they know that the only alternatives are the status quo, in which both sides bleed indefinitely, or making a full peace, neither of which they want.

Mr. Singer is one of the first pundits to come around to this view. Time, and the advance of freedom in the Middle East beginning in Iraq, will steadily make the alternative of peace more and more attractive to ordinary Palestinians. By clarifying the problem into stark alternatives of endless destructive warfare and a prosperous peace in a democratic state, and by waiting patiently for Arab minds to change while steadily increasing the benefits of peace, the Bush-Sharon strategy holds out hope for eventual resolution to the conflict without catastrophic loss of live.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 AM

REMEDIAL READING

The handwriting on the wall (Ted Belman, 6/15/03, IsraPundit)
Sharon expressed recently, that 1. Occupation of Palestinians was a bad thing, 2. It was time to divide the land, 3. A Palestinian state was inevitable and 4. It would be contiguous. All this had been agreed upon last year.

Now the piece de resistance, an international force to separate the parties. Arafat has always wanted international monitors but not until recently did the world community take up the call for same with any conviction. Mark my words; it won't be long before it is a reality. The US will defeat the forces of terror in the territories and the ME generally. At the moment it is said, that of course, such a force can't be provided unless both sides agree. But America is working to put Mazen and Dahlan in a position to deal with the terrorists. How is this to happen?

For one thing the Roadmap provides for a Palestinian state to be recognized this year with provisional borders. Not, as you might think, a provisional state with provisional borders. This would open the way for Mazen to invite international forces into its territory to help crush the terrorists. Israel would not have to agree but would welcome them as long as they were restricted to the provisional borders.

Bit by bit, step by the step, the plan to which Sharon has agreed is unfolding.

Once this is all accomplished and the final issues are being "freely" negotiated, what, if anything, has been predetermined? Obviously the Palestinians won't be able to resort to violence to achieve their demands. Will Sharon be permitted to insist on a large part of the remaining territories and Jerusalem remaining with Israel? Or that there be no return or that the state be demilitarized etc. If Israel is really entitled to negotiate freely, the Palestinians have been snookered and the situation could go on for decades.

But perhaps that's too much to hope for. Time will tell.

The best thing about Ariel Sharon's open dovishness may be that even the hawks are starting to figure out that statehood serves Israeli interests.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 AM

THE ACCELERATION OF THE NEWS CYCLE AND THE DECELERATION OF THOUGHT

Peace plan gets second wind: After violent week, Israel and Palestinians try for a ceasefire and a power shift in Gaza (Stewart Bell, 6/16/03, National Post)
Urged on by world leaders trying to salvage the U.S.-backed peace plan, Israeli and Palestinian officials met yesterday to broker a ceasefire but Hamas vowed to continue its fight and Israel said it would not stop targeting terrorists it considers "ticking bombs."

As sporadic violence continued, the two sides met to discuss a deal that would see Israeli forces pull out of northern Gaza if the Palestinian Authority agrees to take over and tackle radical groups such as Hamas that oppose any peace settlement.

The talks followed a week of violence that left more than 50 people dead in a series of Palestinian attacks and Israeli counter-strikes, and brought the peace road map proposed by the White House, European Union, United Nations and Russia to the brink of collapse.

"We have taken a decision that if Israel shows readiness to withdraw from any Palestinian territory, we will take security responsibility in this area," said Nabil Amr, the Palestinian Information Minister.

The press has become notoriuously inept at covering and the public at following any news story that takes longer than four hours to conclude and longer than two sentences to explain, but the idea that the current round of Middle East machionations, begun only a week ago, is already at the "second wind" stage or was at a "roadblock" mid-week is truly absurd. The killings of Jews and Palestinians last week matter because they were human beings, but they didn't mean much in terms of whether there's going to be a Palestine or not. If anything, by getting the West furious at Hamas (finally), they may end up hastening statehood very slightly. Hamas is contributing to, rather than detracting from, the prospects for a settlement.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM

QOTD

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.
-Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 AM

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

A question of identity (Eric Garrett, Asia Times)
Spengler's article (The neo-cons' Islamist conspiracy, June 5), has merit - by indicating, for our benefit, the sad return of religious thinking to buttress politics in the West. But I disagree with his major point that one cannot find something of Leo Strauss in the attitudes, strategies and goals of the so-called neo-conservatives driving American politics, most predominantly in the George W Bush administration and the major media that tolerate or promote this farce.

I am no expert on Strauss, but I am very close to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, with whom Strauss was enamored for nearly a decade.

As God said, Nietzsche is dead.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM

THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL

-REVIEW: of Napoleon by Paul Johnson (Victor Davis Hanson, Claremont Review of Books)
[J]ohnson tries to explain the pass given Napoleon by artists and intellectuals—the fawning by Shelley, Keats, Hegel, Carlyle, Belloc, Chesterton, Hardy, and Shaw—as the precursor of the Left's modern-day worship of odious tyrants. Attraction to a brute was not compelled, as Johnson points out, by the alternative of a decadent and corrupt French monarchy. For all his loud embrace of "the popular will," Napoleon impoverished and got more Frenchmen killed than did half-a-dozen Bourbons, and he removed republicans only to install family hacks in their place. He certainly was as dictatorial as any monarch, and aped the worst excesses—both material and cultural—of the Old Regime.

So what accounts for those who professed beauty but worshipped evil? It was not merely the romantic naivete of artists and men of letters; a wide array of them from Beethoven to Coleridge quickly sized up Napoleon's atrocities in Spain and Switzerland. Here Johnson is not so explicit in his diagnosis, but implies something more deliberate: some intellectuals, cut off as they are from the practical life, are impatient with the clumsiness of republican government. They yearn for the enlightened autocrat, the philosopher-king who can by fiat do le peuple "good." As Napoleon put it, "The people must not be judge of its own rights." We still see this leftist attraction for the military in aspects of modern-day Clintonism, which, when thwarted by Congress, looked to implement its social agenda among the military, where it could be imposed rather than ratified.

Add also a warped system of values that puts a higher premium on artistic and literary sensitivity--brilliantly and cynically exploited by the mostly ignorant Napoleon--than on mundane and unheralded morality. A Shelley no more knew or cared about typhus in Cairo, frostbite at Moscow, or mass executions of Swiss farmers than does a Noam Chomsky about the thousands murdered in Cuba, or Dominque de Villepin about the one million victims of Saddam Hussein's three-decade reign of terror. For the armchair idealist it is the grand gesture alone that matters.

Is not the reason that intellectuals worship tyrants that they can imagine that the world would be a better place if they themselves got to impose their ideas upon it. So they envy those men who got to do so, in the same way that they are jealous of those who get MacArthur grants. What after all are the Napoleonic wars, the Holocaust and the Gulag but rationalist experiments on a "heroic" scale? When a Joseph Stalin and his intellectual boosters say that "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs", we can be appalled at the belittling language with which they're dismissing the murder of millions in the Ukranian famine, but let's not lose track of the assertion that they are the cooks and the rest of us mere ingredients in their recipes.

June 15, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 PM

BUT SHE SAID WE COULD...

U.S. Troops May Have to Go After Hamas,
Lawmaker
(Lori Santos, June 15, 2003, Reuters)
A leading Republican lawmaker said on Sunday U.S. forces may have to help "root out terrorism" in the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, including taking aim at Hamas.

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Richard Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said American forces might be part of an international force to help stop attacks by Hamas, the main group behind a campaign of suicide bombings against Israelis, and other groups.

Hamas has said it would reject any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Lugar said such a force could be used to quell Israeli and Palestinian disputes, "and, maybe even more important, to root out the terrorism that is at the heart of the problem."

Asked if that meant such troops would go after Hamas or other groups, he said, "That may be the conclusion."

"...It may not be just Hamas but clearly Hamas is right in the gunsights," he added.

What's interesting here is not so much even someone as cautious as Senator Lugar saying this but the limb that the Pelosian wing of the Democratic Party has left itself out on by sending that silly letter to President Bush in which they castigated him for condemning the Israeli attack on a Hamas figure earlier this week. Having come out in favor of a policy of assassination where do they hide when the President comes to Congress and says we're going to adopt the policy ourselves?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM

COUP!

Bush Praises Iranian Pro-Democracy Protestors (Patricia Wilson, Jun 15, 2003, Reuters)
President Bush on Sunday praised pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran, calling their protests a positive step toward freedom.

"This is the beginning of people expressing themselves toward a free Iran which I think is positive," Bush said.

Thousands of Iranians in Tehran protested against their conservative Islamic rulers for a fifth night on Saturday and smaller protests were reported in two other cities in the biggest anti-establishment demonstrations for months.

"I think that freedom is a powerful incentive," Bush told reporters after he attended church services during a weekend visit to Kennebunkport. "I believe that some day freedom will prevail everywhere because freedom is a powerful drive."

Clearly sentiments like that are a function of Paul Wolfowitz clandestinely seizing control of the President's voice box.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 AM

BOSS CLINTON

Bill Clinton ready to be New York's mayor: Worldly-wise cab drivers and shoppers in the Big Apple hardly dare to believe the rumours ... Slick Willie is blowing into town and he'll win with ease (Ed Vulliamy, June 15, 2003, The Observer)
Disgraced in presidential office but redeemed in retirement as one of America's most popular politicians, Bill Clinton appears set to run for the only appointment that New Yorkers really care about - the mayor of their own city.

Amid furious rumours, encouraged by the multi-billionaire Republican incumbent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the stage seems set for one of the most gripping mayoral races in the city's memory.

It can't be good for the Democrats for Bill Clinton to become their permanent national leader and power broker, which this would go a long way to making him.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM

CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR

Human Dignity and the Limits of Liberty: Review of Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics by Leon R. Kass (John Bolt, Religion & Liberty)
Advocates of liberty as the highest political virtue are regularly confronted by what I will call the libertarian accusation. When facing a staunch defense of liberty, especially economic freedom, conservatives and collectivists alike often nervously reply, "but isn't laissez faire just morally dangerous? Don't we need government to restrain powerful business interests? Isn't it the only way we can stop greed, pollution, and oppression?" In such cases liberty is simply identified as libertarianism, where unbridled freedom trumps all moral, legal, and civic limits.

The tendency to regard a passion for liberty as straightforward libertarianism is a serious confusion, a confusion not remedied by considering the state as the only possible restraint on bad behavior by the powerful. We are then left with the choice between letting everything go or massive state control. Ironically, in both cases the consequence is a form of social Darwinism where the powerful rule unchecked. In libertarian societies there are no constraints on the powerful; there is nothing to stop them from having their way. In collectivist, statist societies the powerful are the only ones who do the constraining and are themselves unconstrained. The fabric of constraint and rule of law is arbitrary. There are no public grounds given for the rule of law other than the will of those who rule. The result is the same as in libertarianism-the powerful have their way unfettered by social norm or legal rule.

At best this is the paradox of libertarianism, at worst the tragedy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM

OUT, OUT, DAMN SPOTS

Mixing Science and Politics: Boycott of Israeli scientists sparks debate, dissent, and subtle unexpected effects (Catherine Zandonella, June 14, 2003, The Scientist)
Joel Hirsch, an Israeli biochemist at Tel Aviv University, has one more thing to worry about when he submits a scientific paper for publication: the possibility that scientists who disagree with his country's policies will shun his work. "My nightmare scenario is that the paper gets sent to a reviewer who might have an axe to grind about Israeli scientists," Hirsch says.

In the year since some British researchers called for a boycott of Israeli scientists, funding agencies have largely rejected such appeals. A subtler, possibly no less-damaging kind of boycott has surfaced, in which researchers express their outrage with the Israeli government by refusing to interact with Israeli scientists. As a result, when a talk is canceled, or a faculty member receives no reply from a European colleague, Israeli scientists can't help but think the worst. "I can't be sure if it was because I am Israeli," says Orly Reiner, a neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, about the cancellation of her invited talk at a research conference in France. [...]

The worst danger is not to individual Israeli scientists, boycott opponents say, but rather to the culture of open communication among researchers. Scientists like Segev, Marks, and Greenfield want scientific work to be judged on its merits, not on the basis of the researcher's citizenship. Any boycott or other action that puts such confidence in jeopardy has the potential to do lasting damage, the opponents say, not just to its intended target, but to the field of science itself.

Scientists worrying about the prospective politicization of their work resemble nothing so much as Madonna singing Like a Virgin.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM

PARTS IS PARTS

Electricians put their sculpture among those of artist at Dia:Beacon (Associated Press, 6/12/2003)
The phrase, ''I could do that'' is often heard at modern art museums around the United States.

Some electricians working at the Dia:Beacon museum tried to prove it.

After viewing works by John Chamberlain, a creator of abstract sculptures who uses materials such as crushed automobile parts, a group of electricians created their own work and placed it alongside Chamberlain's.

About a week passed before anyone noticed the addition to the exhibit, featuring such works as ''Norma Jean Risen,'' ''Doom's Day Flotilla'' and ''The Privet.''

The point being that if they'd painted a picture that was indistguishable from a group of Rembrandts, it would be a great work of art. But if you imitate modern art precisely both original and homage are junk.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM

THE ROSENBERGS LIVE

Yes, They Were Guilty. But of What Exactly? (SAM ROBERTS, June 15, 2003, NY Times)
"I grew up believing Ethel and Julius were completely innocent," Robert Meeropol, who was 6 years old in 1953, says of the Rosenbergs, his parents. "By the time I completed law school in 1985, however, I realized that the evidence we had amassed did not actually prove my parents' innocence but rather only demonstrated that they had been framed."

After digesting newly released American decryptions of Soviet cables a decade later, Mr. Meeropol came to a revised conclusion. "While the transcriptions seemed inconclusive, they forced me to accept the possibility that my father had participated in an illegal and covert effort to help the Soviet Union defeat the Nazis," he writes in his new memoir, "An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey" (St. Martin's Press).

Of course, the Rosenbergs weren't executed for helping the Soviets defeat the Nazis, but as atom spies for helping Stalin end America's brief nuclear monopoly. They weren't charged with treason (the Russians were technically an ally in the mid-1940's) or even with actual spying. Rather, they were accused of conspiracy to commit espionage - including enlisting Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, through his wife, Ruth, to steal atomic secrets from the Los Alamos weapons laboratory where he was stationed as an Army machinist during World War II. Mr. Greenglass's chief contribution was to corroborate what the Soviets had already gleaned from other spies, which by 1949 enabled them to replicate the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. (He confessed, testified against his sister and brother-in-law and was imprisoned for 10 years; Ruth testified, too, and was spared prosecution.)

As leverage against Julius, Ethel was also indicted on what, in retrospect, appears to have been flimsy evidence. The government didn't have to prove that anything of value was delivered to the Soviets, only that the participants acted to advance their goal.

"When you're dealing with a conspiracy, you don't have to be the kingpin, you have to participate," says James Kilsheimer, who helped prosecute the Rosenbergs. "You can't be partially guilty any more than you can be partially pregnant."

But to justify the death penalty, which was invoked to press the Rosenbergs to confess and implicate others, the government left the impression that the couple had handed America's mightiest weapon to the Soviets and precipitated the Korean War.

Records of the grand jury that voted the indictment remain sealed. But we now know the Soviet cables decoded before the trial provided no hard evidence of Ethel's complicity. And Mr. Greenglass has recently admitted that he lied about the most incriminating evidence against his sister. The government's strategy backfired. Ethel wouldn't budge. The Rosenbergs refused to confess and were convicted.

Well, that's fairly odd, the sources for the story are a co-conspirator and a son?

Here's an excerpt from Alan Dershowitz's NY Times review of the authoratative book on the case, THE ROSENBERG FILE: A Search for the Truth. By Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton:
From their study of extensive Government files opened under the Freedom of Information Act, and from hundreds of interviews, Mr. Radosh, a historian who teaches at Queensborough and the Graduate Center of the City University of New Alan M. Dershowitz, who teaches at Harvard Law School, is the author of ''The Best Defense.'' York, and Miss Milton, a freelance writer and critic, have reached six major conclusions:

* Julius Rosenberg played a central role in the Soviet espionage ring and transmitted material that he believed contained important atomic secrets.

* Klaus Fuchs had already given those secrets to the Russians, but David Greenglass's amateurish sketches provided some confirmation of his information.

* Ethel Rosenberg was not deeply involved in her husband's espionage activities but she knew about them and may have typed the notes he passed on.

* The F.B.I. was aware of Mrs. Rosenberg's limited role but deliberately exaggerated it and insisted that Federal prosecutors demand the death penalty for her in order to increase the bureau's leverage on her husband to cooperate in its investigations.

* Some of the evidence against the Rosenbergs was highly questionable and probably false.

* Nearly all those involved - from the Soviet intelligence agency K.G.B. to the F.B.I. to some of the Rosenbergs' own ''defenders'' - were willing to see the Rosenbergs die so their case could be used to serve partisan interests.

You can argue the fine points--like whether you favor the death penalty and what should have be done about prosecutorial misconduct--but it seems inarguable at this late date that the Rosenbergs conspired to commit espionage against the United States for the Soviets. That justified their execution, whether it was a necessary measure or not.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM

"A TANTALISING CYPHER"

Profile: Homer Simpson: America's Finest Dad? (Sunday Herald - 15 June 2003)
On Tuesday, as part of a debate about the USA's position in the world, BBC2 will reveal the results of an internet poll to determine who is the greatest ever American. With two days to go, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King are doing OK. But both will struggle to catch the current favourite: Homer J Simpson.

It's testament to Simpson's standing that no-one seems surprised by his popularity. But ask yourself this: what do we really know of this noble man -- apart from his predilection for beer, pork chops and hamburgers? We know his favourite movie is Look Who's Oinking. But the real Homer Simpson remains a tantalising cypher; a riddle wrapped in an enigma inside the body of a 300lb, yellow, balding man.

Born in Springfield on May 10, 1955 (or May 12, 1956, depending on which episode you believe), Simpson was, by his own admission, an underachiever at high school. He never graduated -- though he returned in triumph to claim four awards at his high school reunion: Most Weight Gained, Most Hair Lost, Most Improved Odour and Person Who Travelled The Least Distance To Be Here.

But on Father's Day, it's worth remembering the valuable advice he has passed on to his son and heir Bart, revealing the three little sentences that have seen him through life: 'Cover for me'; 'Oh, good idea, boss!' and 'It was like that when I got here'. If only Abe Lincoln had been so concise.

Did your Father ever give you any better advice than that?

MORE:
Speaking of dads (SCOTT FORNEK, June 15, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
Ray Bradbury is a master at spinning yarns about fantastic events and other worlds. But the tale the Waukegan native loves to tell over and over--at least 20 times at graduation commencements, by his estimate--is a true, down-to-earth story about his dad.

It was 50 years ago, and Bradbury was preparing to leave the country for nearly a year to write the screenplay for director John Huston's version of "Moby Dick."

"My dad came over to the house the day before we left for Europe," Bradbury said. "And he had the gold watch that belonged to my grandfather, and he took it out and gave it to me. And his eyes were wet.

"And I suddenly realized, 'My God, why do you have to be so old to realize how much your father loves you, hunh?' And I grabbed him, and I crushed him in my arms.

"So, I tell that story at graduations to young men and to their fathers there and say, 'For Christ sake, don't delay knowing your love for your father.' ... Because they're constantly saying they love their mother, but how rarely do they go and grab their dad and thank him for their lives?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM

BOOKNOTES

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser (C-SPAN, June 15, 2003, 8 & 11pm)
In Reefer Madness, the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation investigates America's black market and its far-reaching influence on our society through three of its mainstays -- pot, porn, and illegal immigrants. The underground economy is vast; it comprises perhaps 10 percent -- perhaps more -- of America's overall economy, and it's on the rise. Eric Schlosser charts this growth, and finds its roots in the nexus of ingenuity, greed, idealism, and hypocrisy that is American culture. He reveals the fascinating workings of the shadow economy by focusing on marijuana, one of the nation's largest cash crops; pornography, whose greatest beneficiaries include Fortune 100 companies; and illegal migrant workers, whose lot often resembles that of medieval serfs. All three industries show how the black market has burgeoned over the past three decades, as America's reckless faith in the free market has combined with a deep-seated puritanism to create situations both preposterous and tragic. Through pot, porn, and migrants, Schlosser traces compelling parallels between underground and overground: how tycoons and gangsters rise and fall, how new technology shapes a market, how government intervention can reinvigorate black markets as well as mainstream ones, how big business learns -- and profits -- from the underground. With intrepid reportage, rich history, and incisive argument, Schlosser illuminates the shadow economy and the culture that casts that shadow.

We have a review of his prior book, Fast Food Nation, followed by many links.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM

NO ROOM TO THE RIGHT

Centrist In Debt To JFK: Living Religion, Honing Ambition (Edward Walsh, June 15, 2003, Washington Post)
In 1988, Joseph I. Lieberman took a calculated political risk. He was Connecticut's popular Democratic attorney general, but he decided to challenge the state's imperious U.S. senator, Republican Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

"Joe had been seen as retiring, a consensus-maker, an average public speaker, Lieberman Lite and so forth," recalled former Connecticut Democratic chairman John F. Droney Jr. "And Weicker was a large, physically imposing, bombastic, self-assured good speaker. Joe just tore him apart in this one big debate at the Old Statehouse, and Weicker was stunned. Joe would just not let up on him. He was like a terrier."

Aggressively attacking the liberal Weicker from the right and mocking him in humorous television commercials, Lieberman pulled off an upset victory. [...]

Lieberman's courtesy and thoughtfulness, his self-mocking humor, his adherence to the tenets of his Orthodox Jewish faith, all have given him an enviable image throughout his political career. "Joe wanted to be all things to all people. He never wanted anybody to dislike him," recalls Lorraine Guilmartin, who once presented Lieberman with a T-shirt that said "Mr. Goody Two Shoes" when he was majority leader of the Connecticut state Senate.

But Lieberman and his allies believe it is a profound misreading of his personality to mistake geniality for an inability to know -- and get -- what he wants. Throughout his career Lieberman has displayed a keen instinct for what will work, and the central message of his campaign for president is that he not only knows how to beat Bush, but also is the only Democrat who can do it.

And the reason, he said recently to a group of Democrats in Ames, Iowa, is that his record makes him uniquely able to challenge Bush on the issues where Republicans are seen as having the advantage next year. "I believe very strongly that I am the Democrat who can stand toe-to-toe with the president in the areas where many think he's strong -- the questions of security and values -- and then defeat him where we know he's weak, on the economy and his divisive, right-wing social agenda," Lieberman said.

When someone leaves his flank as exposed on his own side of the political spectrum as Lowell Weicker did, he's always beatable. Mr. Lieberman had an ideal race: Democrats were going to support him anyway and he could get far enough to Mr. Weicker's right to pick up GOP votes. The fatal flaw of his presidential candidacy is: where's the room to George Bush's right?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 AM

THE PALEOS TALK THEMSELVES DOWN OFF THE LEDGE

Is the Neoconservative Moment Over? (Pat Buchanan, 06/14/2003, The American Conservative)
The salad days of the neoconservatives, which began with the president's Axis-of-Evil address in January 2002 and lasted until the fall of Baghdad may be coming to an end. Indeed, it is likely the neoconservatives will never again enjoy the celebrity and cachet in which they reveled in their romp to war on Iraq.

While this is, admittedly, a prediction, it rests on reasonable assumptions. But why should neoconservatism, at the apparent apex of its influence, be on the edge of eclipse?

Answer: the high tide of neoconservatism may have passed because the high tide of American empire may have passed. "World War IV," the empire project, the great cause of the neocons, seems to have been suspended by the President of the United States.

While we still hear talk of "regime change" in Iran and North Korea, U.S. forces not tied down in occupation duties by the anarchy and chaos in Iraq, are returning home.

The first signal that the apogee of American hegemony in the Middle East has been reached came as U.S. soldiers and marines were completing their triumphant march into Baghdad. Suddenly, all the bellicosity toward Syria from neoconservatives and the Pentagon, stopped, apparently on the orders of the Commander in Chief.

What's curious is not that the moment should be over so soon but that as astute an observer as Mr. Buchanan should not have recognized all along that it would be brief. A people who couldn't summon the will to finish a real war, like WWII, were never likely to finish off such an amorphous one as the "war on terror". There may be enough impetus left to stick to it until the regimes in N. Korea and Iran fall, but not much more than that. Then it's back to splendid isolation, which is our default posture towards the world.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:07 AM

THE FUTURE STILL DOESN'T WORK

Cracks in Three Gorges Dam to Be Fixed (LatelineNews: 2003-6-12)
In a rare admission of problems at the giant Three Gorges Dam in central China, officials said Thursday that cracks found in the dam could leak if not fixed.

The comments contrasted with government claims that the dam on the Yangtze river has been a success since its reservoir began to fill on June 1. The government says the water on Tuesday reached the depth necessary to allow ships to sail on the reservoir.

Inspectors have found about 80 cracks in the dam's surface, said Pan Jiazhong, head of the construction committee inspection group. He said that while they weren't a threat to safety, they could expand and cause leaking if not repaired.

"If water enters these cracks, there could be negative effects, so we are fixing them very carefully,'' Pan said at a news conference.

Chinese officials say the dam will control chronic flooding on the Yangtze and produce power needed by industry.

Critics say the dam is a waste of money and could worsen pollution by trapping sewage and industrial waste. They say an accident could cause a catastrophe in the densely populated area.

So China has mesmerized the world with artificially high economic growth levels, created by pumping money into public works projects of dubious merit, which don't even work, but we're still to take them seriously as a rising world power?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 AM

PORT-AU-DELUSION

Haiti bills France for slavery debt: $21.7 billion (Carol J. Williams, 6/15/03, Los Angeles Times)
France owes this country exactly $21,685,135,571.48, the government figures - not counting interest, penalties or consideration of the suffering and indignity inflicted by slavery and colonization.

On the 200th anniversary of the death of Toussaint Louverture, who led fellow slaves to throw off their French colonial oppressors, Haiti is making a bicentennial spectacle of refusing to take no for an answer.

In one of the most colorful campaigns to galvanize Haitians in years, the country is awash in banners, bumper stickers, television ads and radio broadcasts demanding payback.

Haiti originally raised its $21.7 billion claim on April 7; 200 years to the day after Louverture died a captive in a French prison. Seven months after his death, Haitian slaves defeated French forces and proclaimed the world's first independent black republic.

France recognized Haiti's statehood 35 years later, after the country began paying 90 million francs in gold to compensate French landowners driven out by the revolution.

The reparations demand, Haitians say, is today's value for the 90 million gold francs Paris strong-armed from Haiti in the 19th century. Reparations for moral crimes have yet to be calculated, says the government spokesman.

And anyone reading newspapers aligned with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government, or listening to state-sponsored broadcasts, would think a check for the staggering sum was all but in the mail.

Counting on French moral scruples seems a lost cause.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:41 AM

STRAW MEN

DEAN WINS STRAW POLL: Former Vt. Gov. Captures Both Categories over Kerry (Vaughn Ververs, 6/14/03, Hotline)
Former Gov. Howard Dean was victorious in a straw poll of Democratic activists at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention.

Dean beat eight competing Democrats in both categories -- delegates and alternates, and official guests.

John Kerry was second to Dean in the delegate count (126 to 33). Kerry also was second to Dean in the guest count (77 to 17).

Dean's combined total of 203 topped Kerry's combined total of 50.

Paper balloting took place on Friday and Saturday during the state convention. Dean's campaign spent a lot of energy organizing straw poll voting and other visible signs of support at the convention. Dean's convention speech also was well received. Dean, Kerry and Kucinich personally attended the convention.

If you're Kerry, and you actually attend the thing, you're required by the dynamics of campaign coverage to put some effort into winning the poll. If you don't pundits and politicos start questioning your organization.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:37 AM

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY

Father Grilled Best (Steven L. Katz, June 11, 2003, The Washington Post)
America's tradition on Mother's Day is to give Mom a day off from the kitchen by dining out. Father's Day is a different story. It is the day to launch the summer barbecue season. It's Dad's day to cook, to stoke up the grill. [...]

In our house on Father's Day, what our father brought to the grill was truly a cut above the standard grilling fare. However, the real secrets were what he already knew before he even walked out the back door to light the grill.

These are not the usual "grilling secrets" that you relearn from the latest handbook to happy grilling.

* You already know to get the grill hot -- really hot. Right?

* You already know that you're not supposed to stick the barbecue fork or any other sharp instrument into the meat -- "just to test it." Right?

* You already know that continually pressing down on the meat to "cook it faster" is another bit of misplaced cobbler's work. Right?

* You already know to let the grilled meat rest for five minutes under foil so that the juices settle back into the steak, chop, hamburger, roast or whatever you have cooked. Don't rush caveman-style from the fire to the family with the meat smoking as you yell "Come and get it!" After all, the goal is not to look as if you risked your life to produce dinner. You're supposed to avoid overcooking yourself and the food and deliver a nice meal on a shiny platter.

No, our father's secrets came from knowing something about meat, which despite the tonnage that most American's grind, grill and garnish every year, heck, just on Father's Day alone, we don't know much about. What Dad knew was highly specialized knowledge. It wasn't just a secret of his success but the secret to the success of the customers who were consistently named "Best Burger" in Chicago or who won accolades for their thick juicy steaks.

But the real secret? Cooking on Father's Day was not just a ritual in our house. Dad was sharing something with us all that was wonderful and special: heart. That's what I hope to share with my family this Father's Day by making a nice dinner for everyone.

June 14, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 PM

"A" FOR EFFORT

Of Bart and Homer, and the Many Ways of Faith (KATIE ZEZIMA, June 14, 2003, NY Times)
[The Rev. Shawn] Galyen, 31-year-old minister of the Georgetown University chapter of Chi Alpha, a Christian campus ministry, has been spreading the spirituality of Springfield by dedicating a chunk of the group's weekly meetings to discussion about "The Simpsons." Two of his Chi Alpha colleagues, the Rev. Scott Miller at Boston University and the Rev. Bryan Bessette at the University of New Hampshire, hold monthly "Simpsons" viewing sessions. [...]

One recent night, Mr. Bessette and about 20 students watched the episode "Bart Gets an F": Bart will have to repeat the fourth grade if he doesn't pass one last history test. He kneels by his bed and prays to a deity he calls Old-Timer: "I just need one more day to study, Lord. I need your help." When he wakes up the next morning, Springfield is blanketed in snow, and school is canceled. He studies all day for the test, only to receive a 59. In crying to his teacher, he makes an obscure historical reference, for which she awards him an extra point and a passing D-minus grade. Part of this D-minus belongs to God, Bart declares.

Mr. Bessette asked the students to compare Bart's prayer with "The Lord's Prayer." The students said Bart's offering lacked selflessness and a plea to help him resist enticements. "It was also too informal," said one student, Christopher Chartier. "While God wants you to talk to him like a friend, you have to respect him like a father."

Mr. Bessette also asked the students whether, as with Bart, it was possible to be sincere in the moment while not honestly seeking faith in everyday life. Arwen Temple replied that in moments of desperation, people who do not live a God-filled life seem to find religion. Mr. Bessette agreed: "Bart's a pretty good estimate of most people," he said.

I beg your kind indulgence for a brief but excruciatingly self-referential moment. To begin, let me just say that I'm a firm believer in the odd notion that we don't know much of anything, and, therefore, since so much (all) of what we understand ourselves to "know" is in fact taken on faith, there is in the end no difference between reason and faith. That which we call Reason is just another form of faith or a subset of faith.

At any rate, of all the things we truly know nothing about, that about which we have to assume we know the least is God, from whether He exists to what he wants of us to whether He's paying one damn bit of attention or grew too bored or irritated hundreds of years ago to be bothered with an obviously failed experiment. However, based on what we think we know, God would seem to be uniquely indispensable. Given that everything from our morality to our form of government to our social institutions to the value we place on human life is completely dependent on at least the idea of Him, on our Creation by Him in particular, it seems impossible to give up the core idea without sliding into the sink of Despond that places like Europe have become and without beckoning forth the darkest parts of our nature, embracing depravity because our resort to reason tells us it makes not one damn bit of difference. If the choice is between believing something that seems silly from a purely rationalist/materialist perspective or following where that perspective leads--to the charnel house--it just doesn't seem all that difficult a choice.

But what then to make of prayer? Even admitting we know nothing, it seems somehow beyond the realm of possibility that God wants us to summon his attention periodically in order to ask Him for stuff for ourselves. This happens to be precisely what a bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez, tells us, but I personally come down on the side of the VeggieTales episode with Madame Blueberry: a thankful heart is a happy heart. Prayer is a time for us to offer up, not to ask of.

Indeed, where prayer is concerned, I propose my own version of Pascal's wager: We can't know whether God exists and asking Him for stuff is manifestly ineffective, but there is a way of praying that is rewarding regardless and that is to make demands of ourself rather than of Him. As one can (must) believe in God, because He must be the absolute that defines our behavior, so too can (must) prayer be an attempt to conform ourselves to His (these) standards. Prayer then would seem an opportunity to acknowledge to Him (ourselves) that we can not always love one another as He loved us, that we can not always honor and obey, that all too often, in the words of Romans (7:18-19): "I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." In prayer we can recognize this about ourselves and regret it, then ask for whatever help He sees fit to give us as we try to do right more often:
In prayer we express deep penitence and contrition for our shortcomings, using sorrowful and self-accusing words. And this often in all sincerity. But, at other times, we are not really much disturbed about it; or, at least, not nearly so much as our heaped-up language would imply. What we imagine that we are achieving through this unreality I do not know. We shall not fool the All-wise; nor induce Him to believe that we are anything other, or better, than we actually are! Were it not saner to tell Him the truth, exactly as it is -- not that we are overwhelmed with sorrow for our sinfulness, if it is not so; but rather this, that, to all our other sinfulness, we have added this last and crowning sinfulness, that we are not much worried about it, or, at least, not nearly as much as we ought to be. Be pleased, in pity, to grant us such measure of sorrow for our failures as will lead us to a true repentance; and, through that, to a new way of life.
-A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), In the Secret Place of the Most High (1947)

And the thing of it is, even if God is nothing but a fable we made up to comfort ourselves, so long as prayer takes this form, so long as we use it to dedicate ourselves to trying to be the kind of people we believe He requires us to be, it truly doesn't matter whether He exists. This is a prayer that we have to answer ourselves, however inadequately. It's a wager that we can cause to pay off, though being merely human, the payoff will likely be in small amounts. Still, if six billion of us were to cause those small payoffs it would add up fast, no?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:49 PM

STRAIGHT AND NARROW

The Road to Aqaba (John B. Judis, 7/03/03, American Prospect)
Neoconservatives argued that the administration's success in Iraq -- measured not only by a quick victory but by the installation of a pro-Israel regime -- would lead to the resolution of the conflict in Israel. That has not happened at all. Instead, the United States, after a quick victory, has encountered profound difficulties in occupying Iraq.

It was these difficulties rather than the initial successes that finally led the Bush administration to intervene forcefully in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [...]

In a crucial June 24, 2002, speech, Bush put the onus for resolving the conflict entirely on the Palestinians: They had to replace their elected leader, Yasir Arafat, and end the armed intifada before the United States would support negotiations toward a Palestinian state. This March, on the eve of the Iraq War, Bush tried to appease his British and Spanish allies by reiterating his support for the road map. But he also suggested that he would welcome changes and amendments to the document, which was widely understood to be an invitation to the Sharon government to tamper with the document's timetable and requirements. After the war, when the quartet formally presented the road map to the Israelis and Palestinians, the United States was represented merely by its ambassador. And Bush continued to suggest that he would listen to Sharon's reservations about implementing the road map.

But midway through May, sometime during or after Powell's disastrous trip to the region, Bush and the administration abruptly changed course. Bush came out strongly in favor of the road map. He recognized Abbas' authority even though Arafat remains Abbas' superior. He rejected Sharon's insistence that the Palestinians make concessions prior to the Israelis; instead, Bush insisted that the Israelis and Palestinians make parallel concessions. He also rejected Sharon's insistence that the Palestinian leadership not merely repudiate but also eradicate terrorist organizations before negotiations could take place. Bush successfully pressured Sharon to endorse the agreement and to get the Israeli cabinet to support it.

Mr. Judis is one of those folks who keeps making the same mistake over and over again where George Bush is concerned. Because he never believed that the President was serious about Palestinian statehood, he sees the current activity as a sudden change of heart. If he'd step back a second he might see that immediately after he deposed both Saddam Hussein and Yassir Arafat the President began a push for a Palestinian state, just as he'd said he would.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:30 PM

WHAT DETOUR?

Israel and Palestinians Resume Talks Despite Violence (GREG MYRE, June 14, 2003, NY Times)
After a week of ferocious bloodshed, Israeli, Palestinian and American officials worked today to calm the region and salvage an international peace plan with a series of weekend meetings.

The main focus was a proposal for Israeli troops to pull back from volatile areas in the northern Gaza Strip and for Palestinian security forces to move in and take control.

The ugly truth is that the closer they get to a Palestinian State the more violent the Palestinian extremists will get, because the declaration of statehood is their knell.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:02 PM

FINALLY, AN ISSUE FOR THE LEFT

Ugly Stepfather (Peter Beinart, 06.13.03, New Republic)
Last week, as civil war engulfed their capital, thousands of desperate Liberians besieged the U.S. Embassy. "Take action now in Liberia to end war as they have in Iraq," implored one man, according to the Associated Press. "Send the Marines to guard us," cried a student. But the Marines stationed on the embassy roof did not venture onto Liberian soil. [...]

What are the lessons of America's abdication? First, that for all its Wilsonian rhetoric about global freedom, the Bush administration's overall human rights record is no better than that of its European allies. The White House may say it invaded Iraq to rescue a suffering people, but, in countries that lack oil and a strategic location, rescuing suffering people still falls into the reviled Clintonian category of "foreign policy as social work." Afghanistan, one might think, would have alerted the Bushies to the national security consequences of allowing poor, remote countries to descend into anarchy. Evidently not. Charles Taylor--surprise!--has harbored members of Al Qaeda, who use his diamond-smuggling operation to launder money.

Second, if the Bush administration isn't prepared to save countries like Liberia, perhaps its supporters could at least stop lecturing Europe about our morally superior foreign policy. Explaining his government's intervention in Cote d'Ivoire, France's much-loathed Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said recently, "France accepts its responsibilities." Can the Bush administration look at Liberia, America's brutalized, abandoned West African stepchild, and say the same?

We agree, and eagerly look forward to the Democratic candidates making an issue of this and the leftwing marches demanding action.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM

ECONOMIC IS A START

France says Americans waging economic war on Europe (Reuters, 06.14.03)
France's Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Saturday urged European firms to stand together to resist what she called an American "economic war".

Her remarks coincided with the opening of the Paris Air Show where European and American planemakers traditionally battle for airline orders, but which has been tainted this year by tensions over France's opposition to the recent U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"American industrialists are pursuing a logic of economic war," she was quoted as saying in an interview with Le Monde, which the paper said had been read and cleared by her office before publication.

"This attitude is not connected to the Iraq episode. Faced with this, European industry must regroup in order to be in a better position to resist," she added.

How about just regrouping to create a job or two instead of drafting us?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:56 PM

WE SET BEFORE YOU THIS DAY LIFE OR DEATH, BLESSING OR CURSE

Hunting Season (David Warren, 6/14/2003)
"Roadmap to peace" is ... [a] fatuous [saying].... If a cliché is to be insisted upon, I would choose "fight to the death" to describe the present tussle between Israel and Palestinian terrorism. Both cannot survive....

To Palestinians who want to have a state, and keep their terror militias, the kindest thing that can be said is: "Choose one." For their alternative is, to choose zero....

Mr. Sharon is thus doing Mr. Abbas a favour, which the exigencies of Palestinian politics prevent Mr. Abbas from acknowledging. The Israelis are removing on his behalf a domestic political competitor that he could not possibly remove himself....

Nor is Israel creating an impediment to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but rather removing a major impediment -- the organization that has vowed to sabotage them. The Sharon government is meanwhile proceeding with the dismantling of the first 14 "illegal" Jewish settlements, as per "roadmap" agreements. Far from choosing military over diplomatic tactics, Israel continues to use both, and in complementary ways.

Despite his mistaken criticism of the "roadmap to peace" -- indeed, he goes on to praise these "diplomatic tactics" for "complementing" the military actions -- Mr. Warren gets to the heart of the U.S.-Israeli strategy here. The key point has escaped many, for instance David Adesnik of Oxblog, who incredibly supposes that Israel's retaliation against Hamas weakens Abbas. Palestinian society is divided between the terror militias -- Arafat's Fatah and Al Aqsa, Hamas, and the rest -- and the Palestinians who desire a state, freedom, and democracy. Abbas is powerless to resist the militias today, and will not do so; so long as they remain the principal powers in Palestine, the politically savvy Abbas will play the role of Arafat's "good cop." But if Israel destroys or sufficiently damages the terror militias, Abbas may grow strong enough to lead the Palestinians to democracy and peace.

Palestinians, Abbas included, are being walked toward a stark choice between terrorism and peace. The "roadmap to peace" shows Palestinians the alternative of a democratic Palestinian state obtained through peace. The "fight to the death" shows the alternative that awaits terrorists who do not embrace the roadmap: a war of annihilation.

This approach will, if pursued vigorously and consistently, sooner or later bring peace.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

NEWT'S THIRD LAW

Dems not a hardy party (MELANIE EVERSLEY, 6/13/03, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Looking back on the wreckage of 10 years of lost elections, Democrats in Congress know it's broke. The question is how to fix it.

As they look to next year's House races, various Democratic factions -- the moderate Blue Dogs, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific-American Caucus -- are joining to tackle such issues as President Bush's tax cut and changing priorities in the federal budget.

"We're much more unified than we were in the past," said Rep. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a fund-raising organization.

Matsui says Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who is House minority leader, is pulling the party together by taking steps such as appointing Rep. John Spratt, a South Carolina conservative Democrat, as ranking member on the House Budget Committee. Matsui also credits the aggressive style of Steny Hoyer, the Democratic House whip from Maryland.

"I think we just needed a breath of fresh air, new leadership, and it's gotten the caucus to get in concert with one another," Matsui said.

Pelosi, in an interview, said the Republicans have actually helped her party find focus.

"One hundred percent of the Democrats voted against the Bush budget -- 100 percent," she said. "Almost 100 percent voted against the Bush tax cut. Our coming together is around issues, and the Republican proposals have been so outrageous that they've helped unify us, quite frankly."

It's always easy for a minority party to unify in reaction to the governing pary, the problem for Democrats is that in today's politics, unlike physics, for every [Republican] action there is an [un]equal opposite [Democratic] reaction.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

California justice could be poised to fill next top U.S. court vacancy (David Kravets, June 14, 2003, AP)
It's not hard to understand why California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown is often mentioned as a potential nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In many ways, her line of thinking mirrors both the Bush administration and recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent. A Christian black woman from the segregated South, Brown supports limits on abortion rights and corporate liability, routinely upholds the death penalty and opposes affirmative action.

As speculation surges about the rumored retirements of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor this summer, talk of potential replacements is on the rise, and Brown is among them.

"She has some real fans in Washington who are very impressed with what she's done on the California Supreme Court," said Gerald Uelman, a Santa Clara University School of Law scholar who follows both courts.

The first black woman to sit on California's highest court, Brown, 54, is one of the most conservative of the seven justices and a prolific opinion writer, authoring more opinions and dissents last term than any other justice. [...]

Some scholars suggest Bush would have a struggle to confirm Brown, given Senate Democrats' recent filibusters on two conservative federal appellate nominees.

"Her name is being circulated," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a University of Southern California legal scholar who has taken several cases to the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

"I think the question is: Does the Bush administration want to have a confirmation fight?"

Want a fight? What could be better in purely political terms than for President Bush to get to go before the cameras and defend the honor of the first black woman nominee to the Supreme Court?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM

"JUST BE PATIENT, WE ARE TRYING TO HAVE A REVOLUTION"

Student Protests in Tehran Become Nightly Fights for Freedom (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, June 14, 2003, NY Times)
A large swath of central Tehran turned into a combat zone overnight with running battles between demonstrators denouncing Iran's Islamic government and vigilantes and riot police officers determined to drive them off the streets.

What started as a small student march against the issue of university privatization on Tuesday has snowballed into violent nightly protests by demonstrators from across the social spectrum demanding more social, economic and political freedom.

The protests on Friday night were the largest and most violent to date, erupting on the campus of Shaheed Beheshti University in northern Tehran and clogging the two major highways leading to the dormitories of Tehran University.

"This is civil disobedience," said a 45-year-old man beside his car on Chamron Highway, where demonstrators ignited tires and even trees along the road. "We are standing up against them. We are resisting and protesting against the regime." [...]

As the first bonfires were lit and the traffic started to snarl, one driver yelled at a man who climbed out of his car and tried to direct traffic around a bonfire.

"Just be patient, we are trying to have a revolution," the man answered.

One interesting contradiction that many, especially conservatives, manage to hold in their heads is that nazism, communism, islamicism, etc., are disastrous principles around which to organize a society, inherently doomed to failure, but that it has simultaneously been necessary for us to confront them militarily. We expect Iran will dispel this notion, collapsing from within, just as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would have if given the chance.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

The New Right Wing Agenda (Steven E. Miller, June 13, 2003, CommonDreams.org)
What is going on in Washington? What is the larger agenda behind the amazingly aggressive right wing moves coming from the White House? According to the people I’ve been talking to and the articles I’ve been reading, the right wing agenda has three main points, each of which has precedents in earlier Republican and Democratic Administrations but which have been pushed to a qualitatively new level by the W clique:

1) Fundamentally change the role of government. In the Nation a couple weeks ago, this was described as going back to President McKinley.[...]

2) Fundamentally shifting the burden of taxation from capital (including profits and all forms of “unearned” income) to consumption. The eventual goal is to eliminate all capital gains, inheritance, and corporate taxes, as well as the entire income tax.[...]

3) Fundamentally change the nature of international relations from a “trilateral” world in which multinational elites collaborated on creating an investment-friendly world into a US-dominated “new world order” in which narrow nationalist goals are achieved through unilateral and pre-emptive use of the US’s military power and everyone else is forced to accommodate Washington’s ability to “create facts on the ground.”

If you consider going back to McKinley's America to be "new", then this is spot on.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 AM

FLEXIBLE?

Women aroused by male, female images: study: Women's sexuality 'more flexible' than men's (Adrian Humphreys, June 14, 2003, National Post)
Researchers studying female sexuality have found that women, regardless of their sexual orientation, are aroused by erotic images of both men and women, contrasting sharply with male arousal patterns.

Does this suggest women are generally bisexual?

No, it suggests that women are more attractive than men. They need studies for this stuff?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 AM

INFIDELITY

Castro makes powerful foes: Cuban leader delivers anti-Western rant, calls Spanish, Italian prime ministers fascists (Isabel Vincent, 6/14/03, National Post)
Cuban leader Fidel Castro seems to be losing all of his friends in the West.

In an anti-Western rant delivered in Havana late Wednesday, the septuagenarian Communist leader denounced the European Union, accusing it of adopting a "Nazi-fascist policy" against Cuba. The EU, formerly a reliable supporter of the Cuban leader, had decided to adopt diplomatic sanctions in response to Mr. Castro's brutal crackdown on dissidents and independent journalists in April. The EU said that it would be limiting its political and cultural contacts with Cuba.

In a three-hour speech, which was followed a day later by a government-ordered protest march in front of European embassies in the Cuban capital, Mr. Castro said the EU's policy "must have been written in a drunken state, if not with alcohol, in a state of Euro-centric drunkenness." He also called the Spanish and Italian prime ministers, Jose Maria Aznar and Silvio Berlusconi "fascists" and "bandits."

Canada is also seeking greater pressure on Cuba, urging the Organization of American States to impose diplomatic sanctions to protest the regime's execution of three ferry hijackers this spring, and the jailing of high-profile independent journalists and political dissidents.

Both Canada and the EU have historically supported Cuba and opposed Washington's economic embargo against the island.

It's a brave new world when even the Euros tire of sleeping with the enemy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:03 AM

"NOT HISPANIC ENOUGH"

Democrats Ignore Hispanic Concerns at Their Own Peril (Ruben Navarrette Jr., 6/13/03, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS)
The Miguel Estrada saga has spilled into the controversy surrounding the proposed merger between Univision Communications Inc. and the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation.

It had to happen. The nation's dominant Spanish-language television network, which wants to devour the No. 1 Spanish-language radio network, makes a fortune from those tacky prime-time soaps. And the Miguel Estrada Story is the perfect telenovela.

After being nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Honduran native finds its easier to get out of a Third World country than to get Senate Democrats to treat him like a first-class citizen. He gets grilled on hot-button topics in the hopes that he'll say something Democrats can use against him. He doesn't, and then makes history by becoming the first appellate nominee to be filibustered. All the while, Democrats insist -- with straight faces -- that Estrada's treatment has nothing to do with ethnicity, even while liberal critics blast him as a "Hispanic Clarence Thomas" and others like Rep. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., accuse him of not being "Hispanic enough."

When they're not busy trying to kneecap this Hispanic achiever, Democrats are raising a ruckus over the proposal to create the nation's largest Spanish-language radio and television company. Typical are the concerns of Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who fears that the emerging behemoth would not provide a "balanced perspective or the full range of discourse on issues."

Translation: Democrats worry that the merger would give too much power to Univision's billionaire CEO Jerry Perenchio, a registered Republican.

If the President is handed a Supreme Court opening, an eventuality that seems increasingly remote at least for this year, one would hope he'd nominate Mr. Estrada and force the Democrats to make their case against conservative jurisprudence and being the wrong kind of Hispanic in the full glare of the national spotlight. We're betting they'd fold.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 AM

NOT IN MY BEACHFRONT YARD

A Mighty Wind (ELINOR BURKETT, June 15, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
Wind is the world's fastest-growing energy resource, and after a decade of federal and state subsidies kick-starting the industry, creating enough power for more than a million American families in 27 states to tap into the breeze when they flick on their light switches. The country's oldest turbines have been part of the landscape on the Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco, for two decades. And Texans zooming along I-10 west to El Paso top a slight rise to the sight of a vast field of turbines stretching across the mesa. But energy providers in the Northeast, with its lack of wide open spaces, have long been consigned to dependence on oil, coal and natural gas, with only the occasional small-scale wind project.

Then Jim Gordon got restless. The president of Cape Wind, Gordon is a quixotic sort of energy executive. At the age of 22, he put aside his dream of becoming Francis Ford Coppola and instead started a small company that designed and installed heat-recovery systems for hospitals and factories. Ten years later, after a change in regulatory law opened a niche for independent power producers, he pioneered the building of natural-gas-generated electric plants in New England, a region long captive to highly polluting coal and oil.

Gordon eventually developed seven power plants throughout New England and became a very wealthy man. But with too much ''creative juice,'' as he puts it, to rest on what he had already done, he went looking for the next challenge. Wind became his fixation.

''Imagine tapping into this inexhaustible supply of energy right here in our own state, lowering the cost of electricity, decreasing pollution, reducing reliance on foreign fuel,'' Gordon said recently as he paced his company's boardroom in downtown Boston. ''We're feeding oil cartels whose whims move our economy and our armies. With wind, we can free ourselves from that.'' [...]

''The Europeans are years ahead of us because they have had a consistent national policy to support wind power,'' Gordon said. Undaunted by the federal government's ambivalence toward alternative energy, Gordon sent his engineers out to find the perfect locale for a water-based wind farm. What they needed were fairly shallow waters, protection from the Atlantic's perfect storms, isolation from main shipping channels, easy access to the electrical grid and, of course, wind -- an annual average of 18 miles per hour. The ideal spot, it turned out, is smack in the middle of Nantucket Sound, in the federal waters of Horseshoe Shoal, less than seven miles from the Kennedy compound.

Cape codders tend to be vain about their environmental sensitivities, so you would think they'd cheer the coming of alternative energy. But supporting the construction of dozens of towering turbines visible from their beaches, boats and waterfront homes is a very different thing from avoiding tern nesting grounds or attending a lecture on shoreline erosion. Even before Gordon finished his analysis of the shoal's sands, a forceful and well-connected army of opposition had formed.

Other than a disappointing resort to the David and Goliath Fallacy, a very amusing piece, including a delightful dig at the Kennedys.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:35 AM

OUT WITH THE OLD; IN WITH THE NEW

An Oxymoron: Europe Without Christianity (KENNETH L. WOODWARD, 6/14/03, NY Times)
Of course, the culture of modern Europe is pervasively secular. And many on Europe's left reflexively identify religion with political reaction. "We don't like God," was the reported comment of one diplomat from France, which led the secularist forces that wanted no mention of the deity in the union's constitution. Indeed, as convention president, former President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France, a practicing Catholic, almost single-handedly prevented any reference to God or Christianity in the text. But delegates from Germany, Italy, Portugal and Malta, among others, argued for inclusion.

Among those in the ambivalent middle was an Irish delegate to the constitutional convention who declared: "I am most firmly convinced that God is everywhere. I am very doubtful how apt a place Article Two in the constitution is for him to appear in." I tend to agree. Why mention God as a source of European values when most Europeans find theirs in economics? Such a gesture would be no more genuine than if the union were to print "In God We Trust" on the euro.

But the failure to acknowledge Europe's specifically Christian heritage is something else. At one point in the process, the preamble referred to the "humanism" of Greek and Roman civilization, then skipped without pause to the 18th-century Enlightenment. Those specific references to Europe's past have been cut, but the preamble still ignores Christianity's contribution to the core European values that the union is pledged to uphold: "the central role of the human person, and his inviolable and inalienable rights, and of respect for law." What kind of history is this? Surely it was Christianity that made the human person, as a child of God, central to European values. And it was the canon law of the Catholic Church, the oldest legal system in the West, that nurtured respect for law long before the rise of Europe's nation-states.

Isn't the point really that Europe no longer believes in either the dignity of the human being or the Law that precedes the State? We can argue Europe's Christian heritage until we're blue in the face, but here's its present, All hospitals 'must permit euthanasia' (Expatica, 13 June 2003):
The right to euthanasia must exist in all hospitals, negotiators forming Belgium's new government said Friday in a move to counter opposition by some Catholic hospitals that have allegedly refused to permit assisted suicide on their premises. [...]

The chairman of the Flemish liberal VLD party, Karel De Gucht said euthanasia is the business of a doctor and a patient, and that hospitals should not interfere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 AM

LEGO LOGIC (via Will Herzog)

With "Lego Logic" Army Engineers Wage Peace One Block at a Time (Thomas F. Armistead, 6/9/2003, Engineering News Record)
People swarm over the field inside a sports stadium. One cluster with rakes and shovels smoothes the ground while a pair of workers pulls a roller over it. Another cluster throws armloads of clothing into a waiting truck. At the side of the field, a vehicle-mounted loudspeaker sputters to life with lively Iraqi music. Outside the stadium, a street vendor pushes a cart with drinks and food. It feels like a community fair.

But look closer. The rakes-and-shovels crew is backfilling holes dug by Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, which used the stadium as a training ground. The cast-off clothes are uniforms, and some of the workers wear the military headgear as if it were a trophy. Elsewhere, workers squatting on their haunches sweep out dusty piles of trash from long-abused rooms of the stadium. Others patch walls, replace door frames and carry in cement sacks from trucks backed up to the door. [...]

Welcome to Task Force Neighborhood.

On Monday evening, May 12, Col. Gregg Martin, commander of the 130th Engineer Brigade, had received an assignment. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, commander of V Corps, in charge of Army operations in Iraq, wanted to make an immediate difference in the lives of the people in Baghdad's poorest neighborhoods. Long neglected or actively repressed by Saddam's regime, they now were despairing because their trash was gathering uncollected in the streets, their police force had vanished, or was powerless to protect them from crime, drains were backing up, pure water was impossible to find and many other things were just going wrong while the governing occupation authorities promised much, but delivered little improvement. Wallace's assignment was for Martin, as the corp's engineer, to apply the Army's engineering capabilities to help solve some of the people's problems.

"I want this to be a neighborhood strike force," Wallace said. To counter the impression that the authorities favored talking over doing, "we need to get Americans working with the Iraqi people. This an offensive action. We have the maneuverability to go anywhere we want to go in Baghdad. We want to exploit that." He wanted the project to start Thursday, May 15.

A meeting was quickly scheduled for Tuesday to plan the first task-force action. Wednesday was devoted to further refinement and rehearsal of the plan with V Corps staff members.

"Everyone wanted to say, `we're moving too fast; we need more reconnaissance and planning,' " says Martin. He answered that the operation would suffer paralysis by analysis, and offered what he calls the example of Legos.

"If you give a set of Lego blocks to a group of engineers and another to a group of kids, the engineers will draw up plans and designs and spend a lot of time preparing to do the job. The kids will just jump in and start building things. We need to be like those kids," he said. Armed with that logic and reinforced by the corps commanding general's order for quick action, Martin carried the day.

The fog of war you expect, but this is one damn foggy peace. From story to story you can't tell whether things are going well or to hell.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:10 AM

THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Democrats Split on Challenging Iraq Arms Hunt (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and ADAM NAGOURNEY, 6/14/03, NY Times)
The war in Iraq is once again dividing the Democratic Party, with Congressional leaders and presidential candidates struggling over how strongly to challenge President Bush about the failure so far to find biological or chemical weapons.

Many party leaders say they are hopeful that questions about the weapons can be turned into a powerful political issue. But others are concerned that it may backfire, given the strong public support for Mr. Bush's war policies, the public's apparent indifference to the absence of weapons and the prospect that such weapons could turn up any day.

Some Democrats asserted today that attacking Mr. Bush on the weapons question could undercut one of the president's greatest strengths going into next year's election, his success as commander in chief. Should no weapons be found, they said, Democrats could challenge Mr. Bush's credibility on issues beyond the Iraqi conflict.

Thus the politics, but note that nowhere in the story is there a serious policy angle raised.

June 13, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 PM

A WORTHY PREOCCUPATION

Lost in the Mists of Time: For students who don't even know when the Civil War was fought, help is on the way. (RICHARD BROOKHISER, June 13, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
Why did American educators abandon traditional history for social studies? In part, precisely because they were American. We have a tradition of believing that we are beyond tradition or history, before the Fall or outside time, as if the New World made us New Men. When our mood swings to bleakness, we take on the burden of our original national sins--from slavery to exploitation to the extermination of the passenger pigeon. That is equally unhistorical, a theology not of innocence but of damnation.

American present-mindedness and self-absorption finds an unlikely ally in determinist schools of historiography. If the world is moved by the slow grinding of tectonic plates, then the important events and great actors who once decorated history's pages must give way to the steady accretion of data. John Updike satirized this stance neatly in one of the minor characters in his novel "The Coup," a history professor who specialized in the continuity of postal service from the presidency of Millard Fillmore to that of Benjamin Harrison. As a result, he ignored the Civil War--much like the students Mrs. Bush mentioned.

Alternative models have always been available to teachers. The American character itself is mixed. When we have not ignored history, we have been obsessed with it. The founding generation was preoccupied with the example of the ancient world. After John Adams, the future second president, rode off to attend the Continental Congress, his wife, Abigail, wrote him that she asked their seven-year-old son, Johnny, the future sixth president, to read her a page or two of Roman history every day. John Adams approved: "The education of our children is never out of my mind. . . . Fix their attention upon great and solid objects, and their contempt upon little, frivolous and useless ones." Later leaders read about the founding fathers--young Lincoln read Parson Weems's biography of Washington. Theodore Roosevelt was himself a competent historian; Grant was a more than competent memoirist.

Help is available from the highest levels of the discipline. Mr. Updike's dull professor is in fact somewhat old-fashioned. Simon Schama's book on the French Revolution, "Citizens," was a sweeping narrative that dared to praise the revolutionaries who were well intentioned and condemn those who were murderous. Thanks to scholars like Bernard Bailyn, Edmund Morgan and Gordon Wood, the academic history of the American Revolution has been much more concerned with ideas and politics (what the revolutionaries themselves were concerned with) than with the postal service.

Not only was Teddy Roosevelt a fine historian, though a bad president, in a delightful irony he a wrote a biography of Gouverneur Morris , who is now the topic of Mr.
Brookhiser's latest book, Gentleman Revolutionary : Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution. If you've never read any of the series of bios of the Founders that Mr. Brookhiser has been writing the past few years, we highly recommend them, as well as the fine film he did for PBS, Rediscovering George Washington.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 PM

WHAT'S A UPC?

Tipping Point: Why President Bush fell off a Segway in Kennebunkport (Eli Kintisch, 6.13.03, American Prospect)
Yesterday in Kennebunkport, Maine, President Bush managed to tip over a Segway while attempting to ride it -- despite the fact that the recently invented motorized scooters are equipped with tilt sensors and five high-tech gyroscopes, which are supposed to prevent them from tipping over. So how did Bush manage to nearly fall flat on his face? After seeing photos of the gaffe today, I tried to find out by speaking to a number of Segway enthusiasts.

The possibilities were numerous [...]

The "I series" Segway that the president was using was a gift from the Bush daughters to their father, Ferguson said. Earlier yesterday morning, Segway inventor Dean Kamen had delivered two Segways to Bush Senior and Barbara Bush at the compound. Luckily Kamen, among the world's most accomplished inventors, left before having to witness the most powerful man in the world fall off an idiot-proof invention.

In any event, it's now clear that Middle Eastern policy isn't the only area in which Bush can be unbalanced from time to time.

It's interesting to see certain sectors of the media try to turn this truly meaningless episode into a comment on the President's intelligence. The NY Times, predictably, ran a photo of him tipping over, while many others ran the one of him and his father riding them properly. It seems reminiscent of the bogus story about George H. W. Bush never having seen a UPC scanner.

MORE:
-Google News: Bush Segway
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 PM

HIS GENERATION'S LEARNED HAND (via Brian Boys)

Time For Tubby Bye Bye?: Fat as a public health issue (Ronald Bailey, Reason)
[W]hat, if anything, should the federal government do about America's expanding waistlines? As Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest put it, "We live in a culture that supports sloth and gluttony. If the government is not willing to help them, who will?" [...]

Fortunately, AEI invited the always reasonable University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein to sort through the issues. Epstein first noted that, in general, we resort to the public health rationale when the government wants to stop an activity that can cause harm to third persons who cannot reasonably protect themselves. The classic case is forcibly quarantining someone who has a virulent disease. He then pointed out that it is a misnomer to call the increasing number of fat people an "epidemic," since being fat is not a communicable disease. With regard to nutrition labels, Epstein observed, "Most people pretty much know that eating ice cream is fattening."

So what's his solution? Instead of lawsuits, fat taxes, and endless lists of nutrition information, Epstein suggests that we allow employers, schools, insurers and so forth to "viciously discriminate against any person who is obese." He was joking about the "vicious" part, but his point is serious. First, this policy would impose the costs for being overweight on individuals, giving them stronger incentives to slim down. (I know from personal experience that such policies work. For example, I decided to quit smoking shortly after I got turned down for a job because I was a smoker.) Second, since most employers want a healthy workforce, it would give them an incentive to help employees control their weight, perhaps by doing things like restricting what's served in the company cafeteria, or offering exercise facilities.

It's never going to happen, even though he's one of the smartest and best qualified jurists in America, but Richard Epstein's Supreme Court confirmation hearings would be so amusing it would be worth nominating him and having him voted down--probably 99-0.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 PM

THE PRENUP

Ungodly Ways: The Dark Side of the European Union (Mary Jo Anderson, June 2003, The Crisis)
Christian members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and religious leaders fear that a constitution that does not recognize the Judeo-Christian foundation of European identity is in fact a threat to Europe itself. Part of that fear stems from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, set to become a "first pillar of the constitution." The charter, similar to a Bill of Rights, is considered by many to be flawed and dangerous. While it isn't yet legally binding, if the constitution is ratified, the charter becomes European law. And because the charter is a "lowest common denominator" approach, critics understand that its practical effect is to reduce rights at the national level. In other words, the anti-God policies of the EU would become law in all the member nations...even those that still retain some fidelity to Christianity.

This sobering reality is illustrated by the current negotiations between Poland and the EU. Poland is a candidate nation seeking admittance to the EU without having to give up its legal protection for the unborn at the national level. As it stands now, Poland's pro-life laws could be overturned by EU mandate.

But Poland isn't alone in fearing for its sovereignty. Consider the recent skirmish between an incensed Greek government and the European Parliament and courts. The court examined a Greek provision that permits the monks of Mount Athos to remain a men-only monastic island, as it has been since 1045. The court officially pronounced the ban on women a violation of human rights. The parliament passed a resolution that judged any exclusion of women at Mount Athos to be in violation of community nondiscrimination and gender equality legislation, as well as the provisions relating to free movement of persons within the EU. The Greek government angrily responded by reminding the court and the parliament that when Greece joined the EU, protection of the monastic community was part of its accession treaty. Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos compared the all-male situation at Mount Athos to the Vatican-a city-state-represented by men alone.

Yet, the very fact that a nation must negotiate a prenuptial agreement before joining the EU in order to preserve its cultural identity and the sanctity of life reveals the peril that awaits any rights not so well-preserved in advance. [...]

Ambitious politicians, willing to sacrifice national sovereignty for a more powerful European state, are embracing anti-Christian policies in the name of inclusiveness and tolerance. At stake are democratic self-determination for nations and traditional cultural values and legal freedoms for Christians and others to practice their faith in peace and security.

The sweeping secularism of modern-day Europe has already led to serious confrontations with Christians, particularly Catholics. From prohibiting schools from serving hot cross buns (it might offend non-Christians) to European rules requiring churches to employ atheists (or be in violation of antidiscrimination laws) to an outrageous resolution entertained by the European Parliament denouncing the Catholic Church for gender bias, examples abound.

If the constitution is accepted, the centralizing power of the EU will threaten the national laws of all member countries. Some European nations have constitutions that acknowledge God, protect life, and defend the family. Others do not. Without an explicit reference to God and the Christian heritage of Europe-as religious leaders have requested-the proposed constitution will lack a vital framework for interpreting human rights, family law, and traditional values.

And perhaps that's exactly the point.

Can there be any doubt that this is exactly the point? The point of democratic secularism is precisely to remove the most significant impediments--churches, religious beliefs, traditions--to the exercise of authority by the State, which the people imagine will do their bidding. But as Benjamin Constant warned, in On the Sovereignty of the People:
When you establish that the sovereignty of the people is unlimited, you create and leave to chance in human society a degree of power too large for itself and which is an evil no matter into which hands it is placed. Entrust it to one, to several, to all, you will equally find it an evil. You will lay the blame on the depositaries of this power, and depending on the circumstances, by turns you will accuse monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, mixed government, and the representative system. You will be wrong; it is the degree of force and not the depositaries of this force which must be charged. It is the weapon and not the arm you must deal with severely. There are maces too heavy for the hands of man.

The error of those who, in good faith with their love of liberty, have accorded to the sovereignty of the people a power without limits comes from the way in which their ideas in politics were formed. They have seen in history a small number of men, or even just one, in possession of an immense power which was doing much evil; but their wrath was directed against the possessors of the power and not the power itself. Instead of destroying it, they have thought but to move it. It was a scourge; they considered it a prize. They bestowed it upon the whole society. It inevitably passed from there to the majority, from the majority into the hands of a few men, and often into one hand alone; it has done just as much evil as before; and the examples, the objections, the arguments, and the facts against all political institutions have been repeated.

In a society founded upon the sovereignty of the people, it is certain that it becomes no one individual, no one class, to subject the rest to one's particular will; but it is false that the whole society possesses over its members a sovereignty without limits.

The universality of citizens is the sovereign, in this sense that no individual, no fraction, no partial association can arrogate to themselves sovereignty if it has not been delegated to them. But it does not follow from this that the universality of citizens, or those vested by them with sovereignty, may dispose sovereignly of the existence of individuals. To the contrary, there is a part of human existence which, of necessity, stays individual and independent, and which is of right outside of all social purview. Sovereignty exists only in a limited and relative way. Where individual independence and existence begin, the jurisdiction of this sovereignty stops. If society steps over this line, it becomes as guilty as the despot who has no qualification other than his exterminating blade; society may not go beyond its purview without proving to be a usurper, the majority, without proving to be a faction. The consent of the majority by no means suffices in all cases to legitimate acts; there exist some things which cannot be sanctioned; when any sort of authority commits such acts, it matters little from which source it emanates and it matters little whether it is called an individual or nation; it could be the entire nation minus the citizen it oppresses, and it would not be more legitimate for it. . . .

The citizens possess individual rights independent of all social or political authority, and every authority which violates these rights becomes illegitimate. The rights of the citizens are individual liberty, religious liberty, liberty of opinion, in which is included its publicity, the enjoyment of property, guarantee against all that is arbitrary. No authority may infringe upon these rights without tearing up its own title.

The problem is that where the American Republic is based on the limitation of sovereignty generally, thus our ambivalent attitude towards government, the French experiment is based on making the people sovereign in just this way, hence their worship of the State. And now the Euros are letting a Frenchman write their constitution...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:36 PM

TRYING HARD TO MAKE CHICKEN SALAD

Senate Panel Approves Medicare Plan With Prescription Coverage: House Version Offers Similar Benefits (Amy Goldstein and Helen Dewar, June 13, 2003, Washington Post)
The Senate Finance Committee, after splintering over Medicare's future for years, approved legislation last night that would help all older Americans pay for prescription drugs while also expanding the role of private health plans in treating the nation's seniors.

Starting in three years, the measure would offer subsidies to help Medicare's 40 million recipients buy insurance for medicine or to obtain the same drug coverage through private health plans, such as preferred-provider networks. The private plans would include other coverage more generous than Medicare traditionally has provided, including extra preventive care and new limits on out-of-pocket expenditures for patients with especially big medical bills. [...]

The House plan would cost the same, but would design drug benefits differently. For one thing, higher-income Medicare recipients would pay more for medicine. The House plan also would set up greater price competition between the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program and private health plans, and it would create economic incentives not found in the Senate bill for patients to join private plans. [...]

In one of the most significant differences, the House plan would require people with incomes above $60,000 -- or couples making more than $120,000 -- to pay more before they could start receiving catastrophic coverage. "People who make $120,000 a couple in retirement should at least be expected to pay a couple more dollars out of their own pocket . . . so the programs can work well for all," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.).

Adding prescription drug coverage is a bad idea any way you slice it, but establishing some kind of means testing and beginning the transition to private plans make the best of a bad situation.
Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 5:54 PM

IS THERE HOPE FOR FRANCE?

Hopeful thoughts about France's national strikes
(Matt Welch, June 12 2003, Reason)


For those who have come to view France as the harbinger of a second Holocaust or the Islamic Republic of France, it is tempting to interpret this latest round of unionista chaos as the first stages of a violent revolution. But one does not need be a frog-loving Fifth Columnist to see a few bright sides to this depressingly familiar story.

First, is the existence of the reform proposal itself. Unlike some other countries you could name, France has recognized that its low rate of childbirth will cause its pay-as-you-go retirement system to go bankrupt if not reformed, and quick. Center-right Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former government minister in charge of small business, wants to increase the amount of time state employees must work before receiving full retirement benefits from 37.5 years to 40 years, putting them on equal footing with private-sector workers by 2008. In 2012, that would be bumped up to 41 years; by 2020 it would be 42.

This sends a welcome message to France's umpteen million fonctionnaires: why the hell should people always be encouraged to work for the state? As it stands, college graduates have responded to decades of double-digit youth unemployment by fighting like wolverines for safe positions as teachers, librarians, and the like. The resulting bloat and societal schism has meant that people still talk about "the private sector" as if it's an exotic and slightly dangerous foreign country (as in, "Jean-Marc isn't showing much solidarity with the strikers." "Yeah, well, that's because he works in the private sector.")

Raffarin's common-sense proposal, as UPI points out, is being spurred on by the European Union. (Yes, that same famously bureaucratic body that has forced France to privatize state industries, allow more foreign competition and investment, open its borders, and adhere to something approaching fiscal discipline.) He has also been carefully laying the political groundwork for reform since coming to power last May, reports the Guardian's Jon Henley.

Another reason to be optimistic is that the population appears, at long last, to be getting at least slightly annoyed with the nonstop confrontation and inconvenience. Eight years ago, there was enormous popular support for a series of national strikes against the center-right government of Alain Juppe, who tried to ram through a similar pension proposal (plus other austerity measures) and was promptly booted out of office. "Striking workers from the state railway SNCF," writes Henley, "have said they no longer dare wear their uniform to go to rallies because of the insults it attracts, and one poll published yesterday suggested only 52 percent of the public backed the protest, against 66 percent a couple of weeks ago."


The French have had a dysfunctional society and government for centuries past (for an example read the account of the Mississippi banking scandal written in Charles Francis Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and compare that to the one regarding the South Sea bubble crisis which occurred in England) but who knows? Maybe this is the first tentative step away from the abyss.
Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 4:35 PM

A TRUE GENIUS

He drew pictures of Bugs Bunny (Stefan Kanfer, Spring 2003, Vol. 13, No. 2, City Journal)
Chuck Jones, who departed last year at the age of 89, was a Hirschfeld fan. The admiration was mutual. Indeed, Hirschfeld once did the impossible—a caricature of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, two creatures Jones had immortalized in his animated cartoons. Like Al, Chuck showed his gifts early, but didn’t quite know what to do with them. His father, a Micawberesque speculator who failed in business after business but always believed that something would turn up, kept purchasing reams of stationery marked with the logos of his various enterprises. As each venture went belly-up, it furnished Chuck with all the drawing paper a boy could want.

Jones pere kept moving around Los Angeles, hoping that a new house would bring him luck. Many of those furnished rental homes came with shelves of books, so Chuck devoured the collected Dickens, Austen, Poe, Trollope, and Twain, along with rows of reference volumes. Novelist Ray Bradbury, his old friend, recalled, “Chuck always read the encyclopedia as if it were the latest best-seller. Whenever he called me up and asked, 'Did you know that when the engineers on the trans-Egyptian railway ran out of fuel they burned mummy cases?' I knew he’d been at the Britannica again.”

Hollywood was still in development during Chuck’s youth, and, when he wasn’t reading or sketching, he was peering through a fence, watching the Keystone Kops, Buster Keaton, or Charlie Chaplin inventing their comedy before the cameras. Their pratfalls, along with the literary classics, became the cornerstones of Jones’s art. “I have always begun with reality,” he once recollected. “It’s something I learned from that great exponent of reality, Charles Dickens. People thought of him as an inventor, but the fact is that all his great characters have their feet firmly grounded on the streets, and sometimes in the gutter. I’ve met my share of Mr. Bumbles and Bill Sykeses in London, and there are plenty of Veneerings and Uriah Heeps right here in Hollywood.” [...]

A certain perversity attended the birth of many Chuck Jones cartoons. He concocted the hilarious “Bully for Bugs” because a Warner Brothers executive stated that there was nothing funny about a bullfight. He created Pepé because no one thought of a skunk as the least bit amorous. And he encouraged Mel Blanc to imitate a mogul’s lisp for the voice of Daffy Duck. Fortunately Leon Schlesinger was deaf to his own speech defect. Watching the rushes for the first time he exclaimed, “Jeethuth Chritht, that’th a funny voithe! Where’d you get that voithe?”

This whimsical attitude influenced Jones’s finest efforts—and there are a slew of them. “What’s Opera, Doc,” which heads the Motion Picture Academy’s list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons, simultaneously parodies Wagner’s Ring cycle (page 105) and Disney’s Fantasia. The standard cartoon of the period used some 60 different views of the action. “What’s Opera, Doc” had 140 because, in Jones’s words, “Basically what I wanted to do was squeeze all 14 hours of the cycle into a single cartoon, and drop in the X Factor—Bugs Bunny. To do all that meant that I had to give Wagner his due: elaborate sets, melodramatic lighting and a lot of different viewpoints. Plus a cast of superstars. After all, when a major figure is being satirized, he demands an outsize lampoon.”

Literary critic Hugh Kenner pronounced the effort “Joycean.” Audiences, he wrote, “know that when the figure who casts huge shadows on orange cliffs turns out to be Elmer Fudd, they’re simultaneously regarding a Fuddy emulation of the demon through whom Fantasia dramatized Moussorgsky’s violent music, and watching one more Fuddian attempt at grandiosity, and coping with an inept impersonation of Siegfried, and engaged with yet another episode of 'Kill the wabbit!' That’s four layers at least.” Such musings made Chuck Jones nervous, but he allowed there was some substance to them: “I know it sounds pretentious, but our most effective sequences always had literary, and sometimes theological, foundations. And we used classical music whenever possible. That’s why these little films have endured when so many longer ones have become antiques. We were cartooning on the shoulders of the great.”

Like pretty much anyone who's watched television the adventures of Bugs, Daffy, the Roadrunner, the Coyote and Yosemite Sam provided hours of enjoyment. I never realised so much craft went into the cartoons although in retrospect it seems obvious now.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:50 PM

OXYMORON OF THE DAY -- UN PEACEKEEPER

Congo observers slaughtered after unanswered pleas (Knight-Ridder, 6/11/2003)
For six days, two terrified United Nations military observers phoned their superiors - as many as four times a day - begging to be evacuated from their remote outpost in northeastern Congo.

They were receiving death threats, they said. They were alone and unarmed in Mongbwalu, a former gold-mining town ruled by the cannibalistic Lendu tribal militias. A U.N. helicopter from the town of Bunia could have retrieved them in 35 minutes.

But the United Nations, handcuffed by its own rules and bureaucracy, never sent a chopper. On May 18, 10 days after the two peacekeepers made their first distress call, the United Nations finally flew some armed peacekeepers to Mongbwalu.

They found the mutilated bodies of Maj. Safwat al Oran, 37, of Jordan, and Capt. Siddon Davis Banda, 29, of Malawi.

Their decomposed corpses had been tossed into a canal and covered with dirt, according to those who saw the bodies. They were shot in the eyes. Their stomachs were split open and their hearts and livers were missing. One man's brain was gone....

Col. Daniel Vollot, the MONUC sector commander in Bunia, said ... that MONUC isn't responsible for the deaths of Banda and Oran.

"We can't feel guilty," said Vollot. "Certainly, if we had arrived two or three days before, they would be alive. It's difficult, but I don't feel guilty about that."

Here's a related story: EU soldiers in Congo find their hands are tied (Guardian, 6/13/2003)
The village of Katoto was smouldering, and one house still burning, after the reported massacre of 121 people on Saturday during the latest Lendu attack. Bloodied mattresses lay scattered outside a looted mud hut. Throughout the attack the French troops stayed in their barracks. Their mandate did not permit them to venture outside Bunia, their commander said, nor to intervene in battles between armed groups.

Is there any doubt that the purpose of these missions is not to help people on the ground, but to feed the egos and political careers of the sponsoring politicians? Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan will eat sumptuously and sleep on silk tonight, but they are not storing up treasure in heaven.
Posted by David Cohen at 3:11 PM

IS THAT THE SOUND OF A FAT LADY I HEAR.

Students Roil Iranian Capital in 3rd Night of Protests
(Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 6/13/03).
TEHRAN, Friday, June 13 — A third night of student protests outside Tehran University's dormitories exploded into the surrounding middle-class neighborhoods early today, with large gangs of students fighting running street battles against vigilantes armed with sticks and chains. At one major intersection demonstrators hurled bricks at trucks of riot policemen who were rushing to lift barricades and douse fires protesters had ignited in the streets.

The protesters chanted "Death to Khamenei," a slogan that can bring a jail term in this country, where Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, goes unquestioned.

"I've been lashed, jailed for having a satellite dish," said a student, underscoring the simmering social frustrations behind the riots. "It's time to stand up for what we want." . . .

Joining the students were some older government workers and even women dressed in the sweeping black cloaks favored in poorer neighborhoods. . . .

"We want more freedom," said one 34-year-old government worker, who gave his name as Mahmoud. "For 25 years we have lived without any freedom. We want social freedom, economic freedom and political freedom," Nevertheless, he said he doubted the demonstrations would bring down the government because they were random and lacked organization. . . .

The fall of the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, although both despised by Tehran, created a certain sense of vulnerability here. The United States now has troops stationed along Iran's east and west flanks, and the Bush administration last year lumped Iran with Iraq and North Korea as part of the "axis of evil."

In the last few weeks, senior American officials have called for a change in government in Iran, accusing it of trying to destabilize Iraq, undermining the Middle East peace effort, developing nuclear weapons in secret and sheltering Al Qaeda fugitives. Senior American officials have denied any plans for military action. . . .

The sudden appearance of thousands of protesters evidently contributed to a case of jitters among some circles in Iran's jigsaw puzzle of a government.

Persian-language broadcasts beamed into Iran, mostly from Los Angeles, worked to swell the protests by urging people to take to the streets. Although satellite dishes are illegal, the channels are widely seen in the middle-class neighborhoods that cut across the northern parts of the city. . . .

Many students familiar with events in Iraq are quick to voice support for American intervention here, although they are widely skeptical of the motives of the Bush administration.

"Of course it would be better if Iranians could liberate their country themselves," said Muhammad, 21, an engineering student. "But we have reached the point where we need a foreign force."

Others are appalled by such attitudes, warning that Iranians' generally positive attitude toward the United States would evaporate the moment the first Iranian was killed.

The first day of protests was unexpectedly set off by a government proposal to consider privatizing the universities. A few cellphone calls by protesters to a Los Angeles television station prompted the station to call on all Iranians to pour into the streets. Hundreds got into their cars and went down to see the demonstration, joining the students in their chants.
Despite my optimistic tag, above, I don't think these demonstrations will bring down the government. But one of the lessons of the last fifteen years is that it is difficult to predict exactly when an unstable government will fall. These demonstrations do buttress my belief that the Iranian government is not stable and is doomed in the long run. One thing that will help is if we keep the heat on the government -- something we do by providing revolutionary programming and by having troops in the neighborhood. Nevertheless, it is in our interest for the government to be changed from inside the country. If Iraq is to be the new Germany, perhaps Iran can be the new Poland.
Posted by David Cohen at 12:56 PM

A GIANT TRIPPED BY PYGMIES.

Good Night, David: America's Solid Anchor (Tom Shales, Washington Post, 6/13 /03).
Brinkley's tenure at ABC unfortunately did not end happily. On Election Night 1996, apparently thinking he was not on the air, Brinkley reacted to Bill Clinton's victory speech by calling it "the worst thing I've ever heard." He characterized it as "goddamn nonsense" and said of Clinton, "He's a bore, and will always be a bore."

Nothing if not astutely political, Clinton still accepted an invitation to appear on the Brinkley show the following Sunday morning. Brinkley apologized, but his career at ABC News was essentially over.
This is a fine obituary of David Brinkley, but Orrin has flooded the zone, so I wouldn't ordinarily post it. I had not, however, heard before that his "doing a Kinsley" (making the mistake of telling the truth) about Clinton contributed to his leaving ABC.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 PM

EUPHEMISTICALLY SPEAKING

ECB slashes its forecasts in signal of rate cut (Tony Major in Frankfurt, Ed Crooks in London and Francesco Guerrera in Brussels, June 12 2003, Financial Times)
The European Central Bank has given a strong signal that it will cut interest rates again soon, publishing forecasts that reveal its economists expect a combination of slow growth and falling inflation.

"Slow growth" and "falling inflation" are normally referred to more forthrightly as recession and deflation.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:01 AM

)

Ulrich Blasts Military For Blasting Metallica At Prisoners (MTV News, 6/11/2003)
Metallica are particularly unhappy about certain actions the U.S. military has taken in Iraq.

Not the ones that resulted in the collapse of Saddam Hussein's empire — the ones in which the band's music was played to extract information from terrified Iraqi prisoners who'd never been exposed to heavy metal.

Speaking to the press in Europe, drummer Lars Ulrich told the World Entertainment News Network that he strongly objects to the use of "Enter Sandman" as a device of coercion. "I feel horrible about this," he said. "No one in Iraq has ever done anything to hurt me, and I don't understand why we have to be implicated in that bullsh--."

Ulrich added that if the Army is intent on using loud music to break Saddam's supporters, they should find something really grating on the ears. "What about firing up some Venom or some of those Norwegian death metal bands?"

Thanks for the suggestion, Lars! I'm sure the CIA appreciates your help identifying the world's least endurable "terror metal" bands.

What does it say that European music is unendurable to the enemy? Perhaps though they war with the U.S., their more passionate disagreement is with European culture.


Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:51 AM

THE NEW GARDEN OF EDEN

The banality of the good (New Statesman, 6/13/2003)
[T]here are two characteristic figures in Europe today: the deeply Europeanised anti-European and the deeply Americanised anti-American. We have all met him, the pinstriped Tory Eurosceptic who has a house in Tuscany, is an expert on French wines and knows a great deal more about Wagner operas than Chancellor Gerhard Schroder does. (This last may, admittedly, not be saying a great deal.) We have all met her, the ageing German anti-American peace campaigner, whose inspirations are Woodstock, Joan Baez and not the German Martin Luther but the American Martin Luther King....

There's a whole lot to be for in Europe today. Europe's horrible first half of the 20th century, from 1914 to Stalin's death in 1953, was characterised, between war, Holocaust and Gulag, by what Hannah Arendt called the "banality of evil". The past 50 years in western Europe, and the past 15 years (since the velvet revolutions of 1989) in central and much of eastern Europe (except the Balkans and parts of the former Soviet Union), have increasingly been characterised by what I would call the banality of the good.

It is the banality of the good that you see among the young Germans, Italians and now Poles and Russians making out in the cafes of Oxford, Madrid and Warsaw; the banality of the good that allows pinstriped Tory Eurosceptics to fly to the Dordogne for £4.99 and bejeaned anti-American demonstrators to join forces in Geneva for 8.50 euros; the banality of the good that has Europeans making love not war, while comparing notes, in Elf, about the latest American movie.

The Europeans believe they are creating a Paradise, in which the best the world has to offer is available, all desires may be satisfied, and war has been forever banished. Perfection on earth will soon be at hand ... All that is necessary is to deal with a few serpents ...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM

PRE-MODERN MAN

Remembering David Brinkley (George Will, June 13, 2003,
Townhall.com)
In 1981, after 38 years with NBC, Brinkley became host of ABC's ``This Week.'' He understood a fundamental truth about television talk shows: what one does on them one does in strangers' living rooms. So mind your manners; do not make a scene. Those thoughts guided Brinkley as he provided adult supervision to others on "This Week,'' the first hour-long Sunday morning interview program.

How anachronistic the maxim ``mind your manners'' seems in the harsh light cast by much of today's television. How serene, even proud, Brinkley was about becoming somewhat of an anachronism.

Evelyn Waugh's novel Scott-King's Modern Europe (1947) concludes on what can be called a Brinkleyesque note. The protagonist, Mr. Scott-King, a teacher at an English boys' school, is warned by the school's headmaster that the boys' parents are only interested in preparing their boys for the modern world.

"You can hardly blame them, can you?'' said the headmaster. "Oh, yes,'' Scott-King replied, ``I can and do,'' adding, "I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.''

Brinkley's backward-looking gentility made him regret, among much else, the passing of the days when it was unthinkable for a gentleman to wear other than a coat and tie when traveling by air. It is, then, an irony of the sort Brinkley savored that he was not merely present at the creation of television as a shaper of the modern world, he was among the creators of that phenomenon. Like the Founders of this fortunate Republic, Brinkley set standards of performance in his profession that still are both aspirations and reproaches to subsequent practitioners.

Now ABC's This Week has a host who cut his teeth fending off Bill Clinton's bimbo eruptions, in other words smearing women the governor had used, accosted, and even raped. George Stephanopoulous is certainly a fit boy for the modern world.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 AM

BEFORE YOU HEAD TO BLOCKBUSTER

Film Forum: Good, Bad, and Ugly Christians in the Movies: Readers and film critics remember the best and worst portrayals of Christians on the big screen (Jeffrey Overstreet, 06/12/2003, Christianity Today)
When we watch old-fashioned westerns today, it is almost a sure thing that we will comment on the unfortunate, naïve caricatures of Native Americans. Similarly, we often fuss and flinch over movies just a few decades old that portray women in the confines of stereotypes, brainless beauties who exist only to serve men as objects of affection, damsels in distress, trophies for heroes, or as a mindless Mom.

But Christians are often shocked and dismayed over the stereotype that won't go away: the villainous, judgmental, legalistic Christian determined to spoil the party.

One particular instance of a film's portrayal of Christians—from 1960—has recently made the news. Inherit the Wind recounts the story of the 1925 Scopes Trial and was recently shown in a sophomore biology class at Shawnee Mission East, a Kansas City high school. When parents learned that the school was showing what they argue is a flawed and anti-Christian film, they went to the school board. The matter is now in the hands of a school district special committee.

The church is frequently portrayed on the big screen in an unflattering light. God, on the other hand, usually gets a positive (if shallow) portrayal. And angels needn't worry about their reputation either: in It's a Wonderful Life they're shown as kind and helpful, if a bit sentimental, and in Wings of Desire they're powerful messengers of comfort and pilgrims haunted by questions about spiritual mysteries and death. But why does the cliche of the scowling, ranting Christian continue?

In hopes of offering some consolation for persecuted Christians of the silver screen, I asked Film Forum readers to dig up some examples of Christians portrayed properly. The result was rather surprising. So many names were suggested that they overwhelmed the mentions of unflattering portrayals. It's enough to make me wonder if the days of the stereotype are numbered—or if the stereotypes were ever enough to merit complaint in the first place. [...]

Our favorite portrayals of Christians in the movies are . . .

Here are a few omissions: Lillies of the Field; Andrei Rublev; The Song of Bernadette; and The Passion of Joan of Arc. And one that was apparently a TV-movie, so more understandable: Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace.

Meanwhile, I think they're just wrong that The Exorcist is a negative portrayal of Christians or of Christianity. Folks tend to focus on the gore and horror, but the story is terrific. If I recall correctly, Father Damian has lost his faith in God following the painful death of his mother. Called in to investigate the claims of a child's possession he's necessarily skeptical. But in confronting the fact of evil he realizes that he's placed himself in the awkward position of believing in Evil/Satan but not in Good/God (a position many found themselves sharing on 9-11). His faith restored he is able to vanquish the demon though at the cost of his own life. M. Night Shyamalan uses a similar story arc in his vastly underrated film, Unbreakable. Similarly, I wonder if they didn't miss the point of The Big Kahuna, in which it is Danny DeVito's character who is revealed to be truly Christian, rather than Peter Facinelli.

Two other good films from the list that folks may have missed are The Third Miracle and The Apostle.

And, finally, even more than most, two great films are straight retellings of the story of Christ: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Cool Hand Luke.


N.B. Another finally, since what happened in Eden is so central to Judeo-Christianity, no film list would be complete without Darren Aronofsky's Pi, one of the best cinematic depictions of the ideas that inform the Fall.

June 12, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 PM

AXIS OF GOOD FILES

Canberra picks the US over Asia (Alan Boyd, 6/12/03, Asia Times)
Prime Minister John Howard has sent shock waves across the Australian political landscape by scuttling rumors of his imminent retirement. And the outcome could be an early poll that will test Canberra's strained relationship with Asia.

After four years at the helm of the ruling Liberal-National Party coalition, Howard had been expected to step down as premier before the next election, which is scheduled to be called by November 2004. Instead, he will lead the conservative alliance into a torrid campaign that will be marred by internal leadership challenges and factional strains on both sides of the political divide. [...]

Almost any change in the political leadership would be good for Australia's on-again, off-again relationship with Asia, which has almost dropped off the agenda since Howard took over. A 2001 policy shift in effect downgraded the importance of regional ties by restoring the US-dominated Western security alliance as the core of Australia's diplomatic strategy.

Nurtured by a succession of Labor governments since the early 1970s, the Asia-first policy was also endorsed by the two Liberal coalitions that preceded Howard, and by Beazley when he was opposition leader. It led to the establishment of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) caucus, closer trade links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and active participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The preoccupation with US ties, and especially Washington's forays into Afghanistan and Iraq, has weakened Canberra's diplomatic standing with predominantly Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as such traditional allies as the Philippines. At an economic level, the government has backed away from Labor's long-standing goal of securing ASEAN membership in favor of preferential trade accords: the US is the first target.

"By continuing to identify the United States as its preferred trading partner, the Howard government is relegating Australia's trade with Asia - the region that buys 55 percent of our exports," contended Craig Emerson, Labor's trade spokesman.

Australia, obviously, is an Anglospheric not an Asian nation.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 PM

GHOST STORY

It Takes a Village to Write a Hillary Book (Gregg Easterbrook, 2003-06-10, ESPN.go.com)
Last year, TMQ pointed out that Hillary Rodham Clinton was lying when she claimed to be the author of "It Takes a Village," which was actually penned by a ghostwriter named Barbara Feinman Todd. Specifically, TMQ noted last year, "Hillary's official U.S. Senate biography states, 'In 1997, she wrote the best-selling book It Takes a Village.' This is an outright lie. Wouldn't it be a nice gesture if official Senate biographies did not contain lies?" Clinton's current Senate biography repeats the lie that she wrote "It Takes a Village," while going on to assert that Clinton "also wrote 'Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids Letters to the First Pets.' Her latest book, 'An Invitation to the White House' was an immediate best seller … in addition, the Senator has authored numerous magazine and journal articles as well as op-ed pieces." All these statements are outright lies, as the other Hillary books were also ghosted, while staff members penned the "numerous magazine and journal articles" for which Clinton now claims authorship.

Comes now "Living History," another book "by" Hillary Clinton. Set aside whether this much-hyped marketing vehicle contains so much as a single sentence that rises above the level of statements of the obvious regarding events that have already been reported in excruciating detail. Once again, Clinton is presented as the author of what is actually a ghosted book. The world learned that Barbara Feinman Todd wrote "It Takes a Village," because the publisher inadvertently issued a press release announcing the true author; Hillary threw an ego fit and demanded that all reference to Todd's existence be removed from the book and its press materials, which was presented to the world as if it were the product solely of Clinton's late-night labors. This time around, the pages of "Living History" thank three people -- the much-admired former White House speech writer Alison Muscatine, veteran ghost Maryanne Vollers and researcher Ruby Shamir -- who are assumed to be the actual authors. But the cover and the frontispiece still boldly state, "by Hillary Rodham Clinton."

If the book is anywhere near as painful as It Takes a Village, maybe the actual writers demanded that their names not be associated with it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:27 PM

THE POLITICS OF BIOGRAPHY

Ryan announces his candidacy for U.S. Senate seat (Ian Salisbury, 5/28/2003, Medill News Service)
The all black, all male students of Hales Franciscan High School on the South Side lined the walls of their gymnasium chanting and stomping their feet. Joining in on this special occasion was a group of outsiders--well dressed men and women who waved flags and politely clapped.

The warm reception Wednesday was for Jack Ryan, who had come to the school to officially announce that he would be a candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. And Ryan was right at home in the inner city school at 4930 S. Cottage Grove Ave. He has taught English and law there for the past several years. [...]

For Ryan, 43, politics and education are second careers. A tall, thin Irish Catholic, still without any gray hair, Ryan retired from his seven-figure job at the prestigious investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2000, at the peak of the stock market-- and began teaching at Hales, a Catholic prep school near the Robert Taylor housing project.

Interviewing while visiting the school last February, he told a reporter that his goal was to give everyone a decent shot at an education which he admitted, "might sound quixotic."

Ryan said then that he favors school vouchers, and advocates tax credits or scholarships to help families gain access to a good education for their children. "We have to find some way to get families out of having to send a child to a broken down, failed school," he said. [...]

Every student interviewed said that Ryan was tough, but they seemed enthusiastic anyway.

"He was very strict," said Dewayne Ward, a graduating senior. "He had a set of rules. If you didn't follow the rules there would be consequences."

But Ward added, "He made sure class was fun. It was the way he interacted. He let you goof off a little," explaining that within the constraints he had set up, Ryan was not above smiling at wisecracks.

And Ward illustrated the balance between high expectations and teasing by recounting the way Ryan addressed the students. He said, "He called everyone men. He would say 'Good morning, men.'" [...]

One of the problems Ryan may face is distinguishing himself from Illinois? other Republican Ryans: Jim, the former state Attorney General who lost the race for governor in 2002, and George, whose tenure as governor was stained with scandal. For that reason the signs at the rally read only "Jack!"

He has a compelling story to run on at any rate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 PM

YOU DON'T EVEN WANT TO IMAGINE WHO'S THIRD

Broadcaster David Brinkley Dies at 82 (FRAZIER MOORE, AP)

Oscar Winner Gregory Peck Dies at 87 (DAVID GERMAIN, AP)

Even if these things do come in bunches it's hard to recall a more deservedly respected twosome who've died on the same day. We'll always recall Mr. Brinkley, a consumate journalist, for an exquisitely unjournalistic moment, when he congratulated his ABC colleagues for their coverage of (I think) the 1996 Democratic Convention and told them how impressed he was by their creativity, then, unaware they were live, continued by saying that Bill Clinton had not a creative bone in his body which was why he was a boor and always would be. It was one of those times when the media accidentally told the truth.

Meanwhile, Mr. Peck, always a sympathetic figure on screen, gave us one of the most American moments in the history of cinema. There's a great scene in To Kill a Mockingbird, where a rabid dog shows up on the Finch family's street. Scout and Jem run for the housekeeper, Calpurnia, and she summons Atticus, who arrives shortly, Sheriff Heck Tate in tow. The bloodthirsty kids watch eagerly, anticipating that Tate will shoot the dog, but to their bewilderment he asks Atticus to do it. Atticus, who in their eyes is a sort of effete intellectual, turns out to have been the best shot in the county, though he dislikes hunting. Atticus puts the dog down as his children stare at him, mouths agape, a newfound awe and respect evident in their adoring eyes. Humbly, Atticus hands back the gun and heads back to work, an unpleasant duty done. The parallels to the nation are precise. We recognize that dangers exist but would rather someone else deal with them. Until, that is, the threat becomes immediate, and then we're the most dangerous folks in town, ready to deal lethally with the nuisance. Then, as soon as it's passed, we go back to our lives.

Both men had brilliant careers, but for those two bits we'll especially remember and now miss them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM

THE RIGHT KIND OF PEOPLE

Edwards v. Estrada (Patrick Ruffini, 6/12/03)
Senator John Edwards got a few interesting remarks in edgewise vis a vis the Estrada filibuster:

"I think we need more Hispanics on the federal bench, but we should choose people because they have the right record, not just the right last name," Edwards said.

The right "record?" Let's stack up Mr. Edwards' legal record against Mr. Estrada's. And for good measure, let's throw in the offices each is up for.

Darker-skinned blacks used to make fun of the up-scale folks at the NAACP by referring to it as the National Association for the Advancement of Certain People. Mr. Edwards seems to think only certain Hispanics should apply for the Federal bench. What's most curious is that were Mr. Estrada's last name Smith the Democrats would have let him be confirmed with little opposition.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:20 PM

ON NOT LETTING THE PERFECT BE THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD

Recall Roundup (Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker and Steve
Chaggaris, June 12, 2003, CBS News)
There's bad news on the polling and signature front for embattled California Gov. Gray Davis, who's facing an effort by political
opponents to gather enough signatures to trigger a special recall election.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that almost half of California voters want Davis removed from office in a prospective recall election. The statewide poll, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, showed 48 percent of Californians would vote to remove him, while 41 percent said they'd continue to support him. Among likely voters, Davis' numbers are just as bad, with 51 percent saying they'd vote against him and 43 percent backing him.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that recall organizers are claiming they have 600,000 to 700,000 signatures – quickly approaching the 900,000 needed to trigger a recall vote. The organizers must gather the signatures by Sept. 2 to trigger the special election, which could take place as early as this fall or as late as March 2004, depending on when (and if) the recall signatures are submitted.

A number of folks seem concerned that Arnold Schwarzenegger is too liberal--including being pro-abortion--to warrant conservative support if he runs for Governor of California. Imagine for a moment that you've been marooned on a desert island (Tom Hanks in Castaway will do for a mental image). After a nearly unbearable number of lonely years fantasizing about the world's most desirable women (Maureen O'Hara, Donna Reed, Jean Arthur, Margaret Thatcher, etc.), a shipwrecked second-tier option, say Daisy Fuentes or Patricia Heaton, washes ashore. Does one say: "can't talk now; I'm waiting for the Iron Lady?" We think not.

Well, it would be great if the Golden State were still the kind of place that would elect Ronald Reagan, but it isn't. The Terminator might not be our dream candidate, but if he can win and get people to take the moribund GOP of California seriously again, more power to him.

MORE:
Total Recall--II (John Fund, OpinionJournal, 6/12/2003)
The Terminator mentioned the recall only indirectly, however. "This is really embarrassing. I just forgot our state governor's name, but I know that you will help me recall him."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM

BREAKING THE CODE

Trotskycons?: Pasts and present (Stephen Schwartz, 6/11/03, National Review)
On June 7, the National Post, a Canadian daily, published a rather amusing article by Jeet Heer, titled Trotsky's ghost wandering the White House. The aim of the author was to illuminate two issues occasionally argued in political media: first, the scurrilous claim by a group of neofascists that the neoconservatives are all ex-Trotskyists, and second, the very real evolution of certain ex-Trotskyists toward an interventionist position on the Iraq war. In the U.S., these are fringe topics discussed only in the most rarefied circles. In Canada, however, a labor and socialist party remains a major political force (the New Democrats), and politics in general has a more European (especially, and predictably, British) flavor. In the latter milieu, Trotskyism retains a relevance it has not had in the U.S. since the 1930s.

For example, I have written on the peculiar fact that French ex-prime minister Lionel Jospin is an ex-Trotskyist who was apparently infiltrated into his position (see my "Trotsky is Dead, Jospin's Opportunism Lives On," in the Wall Street Journal Europe, June 14, 2001). Fear of Trotskyist infiltration (partisans of the movement call it "entrism") is something of a bugaboo in French politics, but, then, in France Trotskyist parties gain millions of votes in national elections. The U.S. neofascists who have thrown this accusation around use the term "Trotskyist" the same way they use the term "neoconservative:" as a euphemism for "Jew."

And the fact is that many of the original generation of neoconservatives had a background of association with Trotskyism in its Shachtmanite
iteration--that is, they belonged to or sympathized with a trend in radical leftism that followed the principle of opposition to the Soviet betrayal of the revolution to its logical end. The Shachtmanites, in the 1960s, joined the AFL-CIO in its best Cold War period, and many became staunch Reaganites.

This path had been pioneered much earlier by two Trotskyists: James Burnham, who became a founder of National Review, and Irving Kristol, who worked on Encounter magazine. Burnham was joined at NR by Suzanne LaFollette, who, piquantly enough, retained some copyrights to Trotskyist material until her death. But they were not the only people on the right who remained, in some degree, sentimental about their left-wing past. Willmoore Kendall, for example, was, as I recall, a lifelong contributor to relief for Spanish radical leftist refugees living in France. Above all, Burnham and Kristol, in a certain sense, did not renounce their pasts. They acknowledged that they had evolved quite dramatically away from their earlier enthusiasms. But they did not apologize, did not grovel, did not crawl and beg forgiveness for having, at one time, been stirred by the figure of Trotsky.

That is, of course, insufficient for some people. There remain those for whom any taint of leftism is a permanent stain...

We consider the crypto-Willkieites who supported Ike over Robert A. Taft in 1952 to be Left deviationists and won't even break bread with McCainiacs.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM

SINCE IT DOESN'T HAVE COMIC STRIPS, YOU KNOW HE DOESN'T READ IT

Pride of the Devils (YOGI BERRA, 6/12/03, NY Times)
When people ask me what I think of the New Jersey Devils, I always say, I think they're pretty darn good. I don't think it matters that they play in a so-so arena near a highway. Or that they don't have big-name stars and get knocked for being in New Jersey. So they can't decide on a good place for a parade--so what? How many teams are raising another Stanley Cup?

I've been a fan of the Devils since they moved to New Jersey more than 20 years ago. I've seen them grow from a rinky-dink team to three-time Stanley Cup champions. Now people are making a fuss over a parade--to have it in the arena's parking lot like before, or somewhere else. I say, no parking lot. Just have the parade down Bloomfield Avenue, starting in Newark and passing through the towns where lots of Devils fans live. It's not Broadway, but you'd still get a lot of people who'd appreciate it.

What a brilliant ploy by the Times, which should really just use Mr. Berra in every by-line: if he fouls up a story you can pretend it's a Yogiism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM

WHATTA BOOB

Woman caught breastfeeding while driving on turnpike (WKYC.com, June 11, 2003)

Here's a woman who obviously never saw the great film Fearless.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM

NO REST FOR THE WICKED

Rumsfeld Chides Europeans for Lack of 'Vision' (Fox News, June 11, 2003)
On his first visit to Germany since the war in Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld revived the issue of Western European opposition to the conflict, suggesting it resulted from a lack of vision.

Rumsfeld said some Eastern European countries supported the Iraq war and the previous conflict in Afghanistan. And he asked rhetorically why it was that some of those small, struggling former communist countries were able to "make such outsized contributions to peace and security?"

"The key, I believe, is that even as they are busy looking inward and rebuilding their economies and societies, they have had the vision to
look outward as well, to find ways they can contribute to a more peaceful and secure world," he said.

"It suggests that the distinction between old and new in Europe today is really not a matter of age or size or even geography. It is really a matter of attitude - of the vision that countries bring to the trans-Atlantic relationship."

While the Euros hoped to let sleeping dogs lie, Mr. Rumsfeld brought a cattle prod. Lord, love the man.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM

A HINGE OF FATE

India: Soul-searching at the top (Sultan Shahin, 6/13/03, Asia Times)
According to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani will lead India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2004 general elections. According to Advani, it will be Vajpayee.

With such confusing signals coming from the two titans, it's little surprise that the party been rocked in the past fortnight by a controversy that refuses to die down. [...]

In order to understand the scenario and its implications for Indian politics in the days to come, one needs a little perspective. The BJP is a Hindu fundamentalist party that was in its earlier incarnation called the Bhartiya Jana Sangh. Vajpayee helped found the original party almost half a century ago, but he has been at odds with it since early 1980s, while also remaining its unchallenged leader.

This contradiction has its genesis in the experiences of the mid-1970s. Congress prime minister Indira Gandhi declared an emergency (a sort of martial rule) in 1975, suspending all democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression and the right to life, to get around a court ruling depriving her of membership of parliament on account of electoral misconduct. She sent to jail most opposition leaders and many political activists, including some dissidents from her own party.

They were let out in 1977 for what was clearly going to be a sham election to satisfy world opinion, while the emergency continued. Out of jail, opposition leaders realized that they had just two options - unite, forgetting ideological positions to win the elections, or go back to jail. They chose the first option. And much to Indira Gandhi's consternation and surprise, they united overnight, helped also by the shared agony of a two-year jail stint. All parties merged their identities into a secular, socialist, democratic Janata Party.

The Janata party won the elections and a Congress faction leader, Morarji Desai, became prime minister, with Vajpayee taking the foreign affairs portfolio and Advani became information minister.

Though a life-long member of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the fountainhead of Hindu fundamentalism, Vajpayee found his vision broadened. He spent most of his time traveling the world and learning the virtues of pluralism and secularism. He became the first Indian leader to open up to Pakistan, relax visa restrictions and so on. This made him the only Hindu fundamentalist leader popular among Muslims, who benefited the most from the relaxation in travel restrictions to Pakistan. He has regularly obtained Muslim votes since - the only Hindu fundamentalist leader to do so. Branded as a dove, despite his hardline Hindutva (the philosophy of Hindu domination of the sub-continent) background, he became acceptable to the secular parties as well.

But this also made him suspect in the eyes of his fanatical Hindu supporters. When Vajpayee founded the BJP after separating from the Janata Party after Mrs Gandhi came back to power in 1980, he described the party plank as Gandhian socialism. But both Gandhi and socialism are anathema to Hindutva. Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi had been killed by a Hindu fundamentalist, Nathu Ram Godse, who remains a Hindutva icon to this day, after Gandhi proposed peaceful relations with Pakistan.

The BJP didn't have any choice. Vajpayee was irreplaceable. No one had the gift of gab with which to enchant the masses. He was the only orator in the party. Advani could not even win his own elections and had to be brought to parliament through the backdoor of the Upper House, where members are nominated. The BJP and its mentor RSS had to even sideline more committed Hindutva leaders like Balraj Madhok when they started opposing Vajpayee. [...]

On his part, Vajpayee is no longer willing to merely lend his voice to be exploited by the party. He wants to win and win on his agenda. He has left socialism behind, but he wants to hold on to Gandhi and his vision of a secular India.

Whether India secularizes and desocializes or turns further inward is far more important to everything from world peace to the global economy than the Palestinian question, but will receive one billionth the coverage in the Western media. But if a hardcore Hindu fundamentalist leadership eventually takes control and pursues war with Muslims at home and in Pakistan, we'll get the solemn editorials from columnists asking why we weren't paying any attention. We should really be playing on Indian insecurities by offering to demand for them a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and holding out trade and defense deals so long as they continue liberalizing. Make it clear that if they act like a mature nation they'll be treated like one, by America at least.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 AM

HOME, HOME, ON THE DOLE?

15 Milestones That Changed Housing: A century's worth of technology, legislation and plain old capitalism made our homes what they are today. (Dan Cray, This Old House)
Our home might still be our castle, but as the 20th century came to an end it is clear that methods of design, construction and even acquisition of the American dream are dramatically different from how things were done a century ago. On the surface, it's easy to assume the differences are simply a matter of technology's foray into the home, and indeed a fair amount of our living environment is consumed by tokens of scientific achievement. But just as our homes are a reflection of ourselves, so too can our communities of homes be considered a reflection of our culture as a whole. Perhaps regrettably, tract housing and sprawling suburbs are among the century's most notable contributions to housing's legacy. But elements of housing we consider commonplace--grass yards, large windows and roomy backyards--were equally foreign concepts to all but the wealthiest of home buyers in the 19th century. Even the very fact 68 percent of Americans now own their home is startlingly different from the situation of less than 100 years ago.

To find out just how much the American home has changed over the century, we called on Chrysanthe Broikos, an associate curator at the National Building Museum; Carolyn Goldstein, whose book Do It Yourself examines home repair in the 20th century; David Shayt, an occupational history and hand tool specialist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History; Joel Tarr, a professor of history and politics at Carnegie Mellon University; and Bill Yeingst, a specialist in domestic life at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

While the sheer number of important changes to the housing industry during the 1900s could compose volumes, 15 milestones stand apart as having had the greatest impact on housing in the 20th century.

1. The Federally Guaranteed Mortgage...

Considering how consistently high the rate of home ownership is across the Anglosphere it seems unlikely that one American program really mattered that much. For a people who consider such a thing central to their being, other ways would have have been found to purchase homes. One interesting aspect of all this though is that there's evidence to suggest that for all the societal benefits associated with home ownership, there may be dimishing economic returns due to an association with duration of unemployment, apparently caused by labor becoming immobile. Of course, one would expect such an effect, if it does exist, to be most pronounced among the most economically marginal homeowners, so few are likely to care much.
Posted by M Ali Choudhury at 6:37 AM

MULTI-CULTI GONE HUMPTY DUMPTY

Mexiflornia (Kathryn Jean Lopez, June 11, 2003, National Review Online)



Lopez: The current dilemma in California "has nothing to do with race," you say in Mexifornia. How so?

Hanson: Here in the Central Valley we have literally thousands of new immigrants of all races from southeast Asia, the Punjab, Armenia, and Mexico who arrived under lawful auspices, in numbers that do not overwhelm local facilities, and with the assumption that assimilation and acculturation alone promise success in their new country.

A multiracial society works. But a multicultural one — whose separatist identity transcends the enriching and diverse elements of food, fashion, entertainment, music, etc. — whether in Rwanda or the Balkans — does not, especially when new arrivals do not learn English, often appear as single males in the first wave, and are cynically exploited in unskilled and low-paying jobs and as a dependent collective constituency by self-appointed shepherds in the ethnic industry.

Lopez: What do you think will happen to California, if you had to make a guess? Any reason to be hopeful about the future?

Hanson: We know that when immigrants from Mexico — as in the case, for example, of Cuba — come legally, and with families intact, and are not followed by a steady cohort of illegal aliens. Within a generation or two they melt into the general fabric and America is better for their presence.

So the trick is to return to legal, controlled immigration, coupled with assimilation — the powerful engine of popular culture — and everything from Jennifer Lopez to Tiger Woods to Sammy Sosa will do the rest in creating shared appetites and habits.

Lopez: If Californians were to read Mexifornia in part as a call to action, what lesson would you want them to take from it? And those of us outside of California, too.

Hanson: Seek the truth, and shed the old fears of being called a "protectionist" by the free-market Right and a "racist" by the manipulative Left. Hand-in-glove, the two have conspired to create an alternative society of illegal aliens who are used by both groups, remain in the shadows of the law, and are fed the half-truths and excuses of "at least it is better than in Mexico" by the former, and "the borders crossed you, not you the borders" by the latter.

If we make the hard, tough decisions now, a number of positive consequences will result in the next two decades: a more united society here at home; pressure on Mexico from dissatisfied Mexicans without recourse who will force needed social and economic change there; improvement in the minimum wage and conditions for unskilled American citizens who need jobs here; and a revised school curriculum that emphasizes real knowledge rather than therapy.

Lopez: Are there people today thinking and talking realistically about immigration?

Hanson: Hardly. Instead, they mutter homilies and smile, and then go into the ballot booth and vent by voting for a number of ballot propositions — denying state aid to illegals, elimination of bilingual education, an end to affirmative action — that are quickly challenged and circumvented by elites in the judiciary, university, and government.

We live in an Orwellian state, where liberal Silicon Valley executives pick up day workers on El Camino Real in Atherton, drive them home for a few hours of trench work, and then dump them off on the street at 5 P.M., as if they are going to parachute back to Oaxaca — or conservative hoteliers, farmers, and contractors who employ for 30 years hardworking illegal aliens until their bodies give out at 50, then expect the state to provide with entitlements what the employer could not with retirement plans, lament the absence of a "work ethic" among the aliens' children — all as a preliminary to welcoming another cohort, as the tragic traffic in human capital continues in some sort of surreal life cycle.

Lopez: Why are conservatives and the Republican party so seemingly disorganized in California?

Hanson: Well, they mishandled Prop. 187 that ended state aid for illegals but was overturned by the courts. The populace voted overwhelmingly for it, but the Republican party crudely piggybacked the issue, when there was great opportunity to appeal to low-income legal residents and poor American citizens of all backgrounds who can't compete with illegal aliens wageworkers and need help and attention.

Then instead of turning to successful assimilated Mexican Americans whose hard work and success under prior protocols prove the present system is pathological, they simply panicked and caved in to the ethnic industry, as if millions would flock to "family values, anti-abortion, and religion" when the alternative was a more seductive and profitable victimhood. So now the Republicans appear as cynical trollers for the Hispanic vote without principles. Had they come out and said, "This is a tragedy for everyone involved. We are going to fix it and ensure aliens become the successful Mexican Americans that we all treasure, and to do that we need legality, proportionality, and assimilation — then a Gray Davis would never have had a chance, much less many in the legislature who somehow bankrupted the state in a mere eight years.


Hanson's book Carnage and Culture raised an interesting viewpoint although I had problems with it myself. There is no doubt however that he is one of the more unique voices around and his columns at NRO remain a must read.

June 11, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 PM

THE GOOD NEWS IS THE BAD NEWS IS WRONG

Teacher Fights for Right to Teach Religion After School (Jeff Goldblatt, June 09, 2003, Fox News)
It's been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religious clubs must have the same access to public school facilities as non-religious clubs.

But that ruling hasn't helped Barbara Wigg, who has filed a federal lawsuit against a South Dakota school district, charging her constitutional rights are being violated by not being allowed to lead an after-school religious club on school property - off the clock.

"I want to teach this and I don't know why I can't," Wigg said.

Wigg is an elementary school teacher of 19 years and currently teaches second and third grade at Laura B. Anderson Elementary School in the Sioux Falls (search) school district.

She is certified by the Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) to teach their Good News Clubs after-school Christian classes.

These ministries take place in neighborhood settings such as homes, backyards, schools and community centers and are designed to teach children ages five through 12 about the gospel and moral and character development. They are not school sponsored but often use school facilities.

According to CEF, as of August 2002, roughly one-third - 1,346 of the 4,759 such clubs - operated on public school grounds. As of April 2003, nearly 120,000 people participated in these groups nationwide. Good News Clubs Operate in five Sioux Falls elementary schools and meet for an hour once a week.

But the school district says it would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution to permit Wigg, or any of its teachers, to lead the classes.

Allowing that, the district argues, would give the impression that the school system favors a particular religion, since the teacher would be evangelizing on school property.

To begin with, the district's argument--that allowing a teacher to conduct the club creates an impression that the district itself favors a particular religion--is sheer nonsense. But, even if true, that would not be barred by the Constitution as it in no wise rises to the level of a prohibited establishment of religion.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 PM

FREEDOM TO GIVE THE GIFT

Protecting the Human Environment: Alienation as Social Critique (Kristina Johannes, March/April 2003, Religion & Liberty)
While often described as a secular nation, the United States is more correctly classified as an interfaith nation. Its founding principles acknowledge the presence of a Supreme Being from whom certain inalienable rights are received. This means that our government is based on the worldview that God exists. One could say that the existence of God is a first principle of our form of government: God is the one who endowed us with those inalienable rights. In a sense, the challenge to protect the human environment is not new at all, but rather was given to us by our Founding Fathers. Within the Declaration of Independence's reference to "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God" and the Constitution's hope of founding "a more perfect Union" is intertwined this mysterious concept of the grandeur of the human person and his or her ability to form a communion of persons conscious of God as the final destiny.

Therefore, the religious liberty that is the right of every person does not mean that government must be insulated from religious values. Quite the contrary. Government must not discourage, but rather it must encourage God-loving people to participate in the formulation of our nation's laws and policies. As has been previously alluded to, the religious believer is, in a real sense, the model citizen, because the religious believer is the one most likely to understand the importance of protecting the human environment from social alienation. In other words, the religious believer has the best standpoint from which to recognize the significance of creating an environment in which citizens are encouraged to generously give of themselves to each other according to a correct order of values established by the Creator.

Rather than expecting citizens to check their religious sensibilities at the door, society should highly regard participation from those who are fundamentally oriented toward the truth that each person must seek communion with God and neighbor. Among all citizens the religious believer stands out as a beacon most capable of guiding society to formulate policies that encourage an atmosphere conducive to the reason for human society's existence. One could say that the participation of the religious believer in the political process is our country's best hope of realizing the greatness of our foundation as a nation. As society comes to understand this, religious belief will no longer be seen as something that disqualifies a person for public service, but rather renders him or her more suitable.

The current environment in which religious believers are viewed with fear and skepticism prevents the greatness of our founding principles from being actualized. In order to truly form a more perfect union-the communion of persons-the human environment must be protected. Only then will the blessings of liberty, through which citizens enjoy the freedom to give the gift of self to others according to the order of creation, come to fruition. This is truly the essence of the culture of life. In reestablishing this culture, the religious believer must respond to the clarion call to protect and defend the human environment. This response must have personal and political components. True liberty-the freedom to act in the service of others-is necessary to allow this culture to flourish. Only by impressing this reality on citizens not religiously inclined and those who fear the reaches of big government can we answer their concerns regarding the religious believer's participation in politics.

Jacques Maritain has written well about this too and why elevation of the individual, upon which many would like to think a morality and a society can be based, must instead serve statism, destroying society and liberty:
[B]ourgeois liberalism with its ambition to ground everything in the unchecked initiative of the individual, conceived as little God, and the absolute liberty of property, business and pleasure, inevitably ends in statism. The rule of the Number [economic community, national or racial state] produces the omnipotence of the state. The indispensable condition for building a city out of liberties, beholden only to themselves, is that each member surrender his personal will to the General Will in a contract. which according to Rousseau gives birth to society. But since man in his material individuality is a part, not a whole, and since, further, in this system, the state takes the place of the genuine community, the individual is forced ultimately to transfer both his responsibilities and the care of his destiny to the artificial whole which has been superimposed upon him and to which he is bound mechanically. Of course his liberty will remain complete and unhampered, but in an illusory fashion and in a world of dreams. At the same time, he will exact from the state the satisfaction of his greeds and anarchistically reject the conditions of social life; not realizing that in this way society is driven to the insurrection of the parts against the whole, of which Auguste Comte used to speak, to the tragic isolation of each one in his own selfishness or helplessness. The very notion of the common good and the common work disappears.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 PM

SOMETIMES A SNIPER RIFLE IS JUST A SNIPER RIFLE

Dr. Ruth: Sex Sage and Ex-Sniper on Global Sexuality (Tom Foreman, June 11, 2003, National Geographic News)
Tom Foreman: You were trained as a sniper?

Dr. Ruth: We were all trained in the forerunner of the Israeli Defense Force, and for some reason that I can't explain I'm a very good sniper. I can put five bullets into this little red circle (makes circle with her fingers). I know how to throw hand grenades. I've never killed anybody. I was badly wounded.

Tom Foreman: There was a bomb that went off in the barracks.

Dr. Ruth: Yes.

Tom Foreman: Many of your friends were wounded as well?

Dr. Ruth: Yes and died. Boy you did your homework.

Tom Foreman: Do you think that some of those experiences of your life made you bolder? Many people comment that the thing that strikes them about you is that you so fiercely walk into any culture and you ask very intimate questions.

Dr. Ruth: I am what you call bold because the one thing that I've learned coming out of Nazi Germany is that I have to stand up and be counted for what I believe. And that's how people are listening to me, because they know it's not a put-on.

Just finished Amitai Etzioni's memoir, My Brother's Keeper, in which we discover that he too was a refugee from Nazi Germany who went to Palestine and joined the Palmach as a young man. Not exactly the first two people who would have sprung to mind, are they?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 PM

ARCHVILLAIN OF THE ARCHIPELAGO

America, the Gulag (Anne Applebaum, June 11, 2003, The Washington Post)
"Do you see any parallels between the security state that George Bush has created in America since 9/11 and the Gulag?" For a moment, the question struck me dumb. It had been put by a BBC radio interviewer, and we were on the air. It seemed impolitic to say, "What a ridiculous question," and I was too surprised to laugh. Finally I mumbled something about not having noticed that great a difference between daily life in George Bush's America and daily life in Bill Clinton's America, and left it at that. What I should have done was point out, tartly, that access to information is still far freer in America than it is in Britain, that immigrants are far better treated in America than in Britain, and that democracy remains a more open affair in America than in Britain. One always thinks of these things too late.

Yet in the days that followed, I did, rather surprisingly, have the opportunity to try out a few more answers. I was in London because a book I wrote about Soviet concentration camps had just been published there. For some, it seemed, the combination of that subject and my nationality offered the perfect opportunity to discuss the viciousness of contemporary American society. Several times I was asked if Guantanamo Bay should be considered a concentration camp. One reviewer, after saying a few neutral words about my book, complained that "the author has missed an opportunity to condemn human rights violations in her own country." Another interviewer asked whether people in America are often arrested for insulting the president on the Internet. [...]

This is the animus that George W. Bush personally inspires among what the British, among others, call the "chattering classes," in Europe as elsewhere. Recently, a Pew Research Center poll gave statistical backing to a phenomenon that many have observed anecdotally. Much of the world -- and Europe is no exception -- has a love-hate relationship with America. They consume our mass culture but simultaneously resent the impact of that mass culture on their own. They watch our television programs but are wary of importing them. On a host of issues, ranging from beliefs about the death penalty to preferred brands of sneakers, Europeans and Americans are actually growing closer, and the much-vaunted "values gap" is growing narrower. Yet when asked about it, Europeans often focus on what drives us apart.

Somehow -- and the Pew results support this too -- Bush has come to stand for the hate part of the love-hate relationship, symbolizing the downside of mass culture and the pushy side of our foreign policy, rather than the economic freedom and political openness that many admire. Largely this is because Bush, as a fully paid-up conservative, is at odds with Europe's left-leaning political elites, most of whom hate not only him but also the things with which he is associated, rightly or wrongly, such as a freer rein for the private sector. What they hate, in other words, is his domestic policy, more than his foreign policy.

Mr. Bush's domestic policy--things like respect for the power of markets and the private sector--is, of course, America's domestic policy. The real disconnect here is that Europeans assume he must be forcing conservatism on an unwilling nation, when in fact his policies are reasonably popular. This is why Europeans were so stunned by the midterm elections last fall. They seemed certain that the people would rise up and throw the rascals out. Instead Mr. Bush was granted even more power over the nation's agenda.

If the recovery gets under way soon, they're in for a really rude awakening in November 2004.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:59 PM

THE COMMODIFICATION OF THE HUMAN

Foetal tissue for overseas sale (TONY WALL, 10jun03, Australian Telegraph)
A SYDNEY company is involved in a secret plan to collect tissue from aborted babies and export it for medical experiments.

The sensitive proposal, to harvest some of the 90,000 foetuses aborted in Australia each year has been condemned by pro-life groups for fostering an international trade in human body parts.

The Daily Telegraph has established that a Dutch bio-tech company, Crucell, working through a Sydney contract research organisation, Parexel International, has applied to the ethics committee of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide for access to foetal material.

It is believed to be the first proposed commercial collection of foetuses in Australia, but those behind the project were hoping to carry it out without the public knowing.

The tissue would be sent to Crucell's laboratories in the Netherlands and used to grow cell lines for research into vaccines for infectious diseases such as HIV and ebola.

The abortion doctors who collect the tissue stand to make money out of the project - they would be paid an "hourly rate" for their time.

Being paid an hourly rate seems appropriate for such whoring.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:16 AM

)

Letter to the Honorable George W. Bush (Senator Charles Schumer, 6/10/2003)
Dear Mr. President:...

You, more than any other President in history, have chosen judges through an ideological prism. The White House’s reliance on ideology when it has come to selecting lower court nominees has led to conflict that has frustrated both of us....

The candidates I would advise you to consider are:

The Honorable Arlen Specter, Republican Senator from Pennsylvania.

The Honorable Ann Williams, Judge, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, nominated by President Ronald Reagan to the Northern District of Illinois [and President Clinton to the Circuit Court].

The Honorable Edward Prado, Judge, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, nominated by you and unanimously confirmed by the 108th Senate.

The Honorable Michael Mukasey, Judge, Southern District of New York, nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

The Honorable Stanley Marcus, Judge, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, nominated by [President Clinton to Circuit Court and] President Ronald Reagan [to District Court].

All of these individuals appear to be legally excellent, ideologically moderate, and several of them would add diversity to the Court.... While I would need to do additional research on them and question them personally before announcing my unqualified support, my initial review of their records is promising.

I am sure President Bush appreciates Senator Schumer's advice and will indeed nominate one of these abortion advocates in order to obtain Senator Schumer's (probable, pending further review) consent.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 AM

POLITICS IS CHARACTER

A tricky legacy for Republicans (Eric Rauchway, June 10 2003, Financial Times)
Considering a black electorate that reliably voted for Democrats, he told his staffers about civil rights: "Don't expect any credit for what you do, or any real public relations gains, just do what is right and forget about it." Personally - as the tapes proved - he held unenlightened views of blacks. Politically, he believed he had little to gain in wooing them. But he rose above personal prejudice and political gain to do something approaching what was right. Unlike future presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, he supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964; as president he put $60m towards encouraging minority-owned businesses; and more schools were desegregated during his presidency than under any previous administration.

Though conservative businessmen paid for his campaigns, he viewed his presidential role as Keynesian and spent on deficit to relieve unemployment. In a time of economic crisis he cut taxes - 6m people paid no tax under his policy. And, his connections to industrial conglomerates notwithstanding, he created the Environmental Protection Agency and restricted offshore drilling for oil.

Nixon fancied himself as a conservative steward of the nation, like Benjamin Disraeli or Theodore Roosevelt. And, like them, he knew there was political advantage in solicitude towards the citizenry. By implementing moderate policies he won support at the margins of his constituency.

But Watergate killed these stirrings of Republican stewardship. The tapes shifted attention from Nixon's policies to his character. His subsequent downfall taught Republican analysts that competent government does not pay: instead, they counselled, court only the faithful and win others over by showing good character. Nixon's idea that a conservative president could gain votes by doing what was prudent for general welfare became a notion as quaint as hoop skirts.

Consequently, Mr Reagan radiated avuncularity while composing budgets that shovelled cash to the rich and made the US the world's biggest debtor. And genial George W. Bush is carrying this fiscal revolution further. No one believes his tax policy is an effective jobs bill, or that it benefits anyone as much as the well-off, although Mr Bush says otherwise. Wise heads may find this insistence insulting to Americans' intelligence; but without a revelation on the scale of Watergate, a people bewitched by apparent strength of character may not feel the injury until it is too late.

There is an alternative here that Mr. Rauchway, for obvious reasons, ignores, which is that one's politics is an expression of one's character. Thus Nixon expressed his contempt for his fellow men both by his despicable personal behavior and by his belief that his government should run their lives for them. Presidents Reagan and Bush, on the other hand, treat people with respect both in their personal interactions with them and in their political philosophy, which holds that folks are capable of taking responsibility for themselves. Mr. Rauchway's problem is not with the only "apparent strength of character" of Mr. Bush but that his own character is opposite. His is the philosophy of "stewardship", of contempt for his fellow citizens. No wonder he, like so many on the Left, is nostalgic for Richard Nixon, the quintessential liberal.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM

FOR HOMICIDE?

More killing, please! (SPENGLER, 6/12/03, Asia Times)
"I think people are sick of [killing]," said President George W Bush of the Israeli-Palestinian war. The contrary may be true. People may want the killing to continue for quite some time, as the Palestinian radical organizations suggest. A recurring theme in the history of war is that most of the killing typically occurs long after rational calculation would call for the surrender of the losing side.

Think of the Japanese after Okinawa, the Germans after the Battle of the Bulge, or the final phase of the Peloponnesian War, the Thirty Years War, or the Hundred Years War. Across epochs and cultures, blood has flown in proportion inverse to the hope of victory. Perhaps what the Middle East requires in order to achieve a peace settlement is not less killing, but more.

Mut der Verzweiflung, as the Germans call it, courage borne of desperation, arises not from the delusion that victory is possible, but rather from the conviction that death is preferable to surrender. Wars of this sort end long after one side has been defeated, namely when enough of the diehards have been killed.

The possibility that this is true--and it seems more likely than not--is why Israel and America should simply impose a state on the Palestinian leadership. One would hope that the shock of sudden "victory" in their years long campaign might dissipate some of the homi-suicidal fury that has been cultivated. But, if not, if much more killing is required, Israel's moral and legal position is greatly strengthened if it is slaughtering enemy combatants from a coequal state than if it takes exactly the same actions against a citizenry from which it withholds civil rights, even if justified in doing so.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 AM

FOR SLOWER SUICIDE?

'Road map' demands a double suicide (David Warren, June 11, 2003, Ottawa Citizen)
I would devote more attention to fine details if I thought the large ones were generally understood. [...]

Let my reader now dwell on just one crucial, historical fact. It is the single biggest obstacle to obtaining any kind of peace between Israel and the Arabs: All the Arab states, with the arguable exception of Jordan, have consistently demanded a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and all of their descendants -- to the patch you coloured in as Israel. They have confined the great majority of these people to refugee camps for more than half a century, at the expense of the United Nations. The children and grandchildren and now great grandchildren of these refugees have thus been kept from assimilating and making new lives elsewhere, as the ultimate demographic weapon against Israel.

The State of Israel was created in 1948, by the same UN, in the face of an invasion by the armies of all its Arab neighbours. Some three-quarters of the Arabs living in what became Israel fled -- mostly on instructions from their own leaders, who promised they would soon return. The number was between 600,000 and 700,000. At the same time, Jews dispersed throughout the Arab world -- some 860,000 of them, counted on their arrival in Israel -- fled their own homes and left most of their belongings to make new lives in Israel. Forget blame -- I am only saying look at both halves of the apple.

The Jews of Israel are five million today, plus a million-and-a-quarter Arabs, the descendants of those who did not leave and, in fact, flourished. The Palestinian diaspora -- descendants of those who did leave -- has been variously estimated at now five-plus million. And almost everyone now living in the "occupied territories" can claim at least one ancestor who lived within the Green Line to clinch his own right of return. If Israel can be forced to receive them, Israel ceases to be the only Jewish state and quickly becomes the 23rd member of the Arab League.

Surprise: Israel does not agree to commit suicide. Surprise: the Arabs will settle for nothing less. The diplomatic "road map" leaves this issue to be resolved "later."

Mr. Warren tiptoes up to the edge of real insight here but then bails out to make the easy arguments. The "right of return" is not a large detail because it can never be granted. It is a mere bargaining chip, something Palestinian leaders are required to demnand for internal political prposes but which they're going to trade for statehood. So focussing on it as of it mattered is simply a way of ignoring the reality of the situation.

Here's a more fruiitful exercise based on the one he offers in his essay. Take a map of the Middle East and draw in the states today, with Israel including the territory of "Palestine". Now draw what it will look like fifty years from now--is there still a state of Israel but no second state? Now draw it one hundred years from now--still just Israel?

Now take a pencil and extend those demographic numbers that Mr. Warren mentions, where Israelis are already outnumbered by Palestinians. How much larger is the imbalance in ten years? in fifty? in one hundred? If your map of one hundred years from now still had Palestine under Israeli control, how few Israelis do you have governing how many Palestinians? How is such a place not fundamentally an Arab nation?

If, on the other hand, at any point in the exercise you've drawn two states, then you've drawn the big picture, the point of the Road Map. Everything else is just fine details.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM

GET A ROOM

GAY ANGER AT LOO SEX BAN (Sky News, 6/10/03)
A move by the House of Lords to outlaw sex in public toilets has been slammed as "blatantly homophobic" by gay rights campaigners.

Fourteen Labour peers rebelled against the Government to back a Tory amendment barring all forms of sexual activities in public loos by men and women.

But campaigners say the move is clearly aimed at stopping gay men from 'cottaging'.

Peter Tatchell, of gay human rights group OutRage!, said: "This new amendment is blatantly homophobic.

"By singling out public toilets it targets sex behaviour between gay men and ignores sex in other public places involving heterosexuals."

By definition, a ban on sex in public toilets is aimed at gay men, but if you're seeking societal acceptance why advertise your own pathologies?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM

IS OUR TEACHERS LEARNED?

Education Effort Meets Resistance: Leaders Say Teacher Certification Test Was Sabotaged (Jay Mathews, June 10, 2003, Washington Post)
Leaders of an effort backed by the Bush administration to accelerate and improve teacher training say they have met with considerable resistance from organizations allied with teachers unions and education schools, including the sabotage of a proposed new teacher certification test.

The leaking of test questions, which the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence said led it to cancel a $1.2 million agreement with the testing company ACT Inc., marks the latest battle in a long war between the new organization and several established education groups. Those groups dispute the administration's contention that education schools are not doing a good job of producing qualified teachers.

Besides trying to develop a new way for college graduates to become certified teachers, the board wants to award a special Master Teacher certificate to experienced teachers based on a measurement of student improvement in their classes. That would put the board in competition with an organization supported by teachers unions, the Arlington-based National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which grants national certificates to teachers based on their knowledge and skills, as assessed by experts.

Perhaps if they spend their time sabotaging the tests they'll have less time for what they usually do, sabotage the students.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:01 AM

ALL KIPPOT, NO CATTLE

Time tempers Jews' euphoria over Lieberman (Jill Lawrence, 6/09/03, USA Today)
As proud as most Jews are of Lieberman, he's no longer a novelty and he's not bursting onto the scene on a national ticket. He's scrapping with eight other Democrats, some of whom have more appeal to Jewish liberals than the hawkish, values-oriented Lieberman does.

And he's running in a world beset by terrorism, Middle East violence, anti-Semitism and anti-American sentiment. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process sits at a delicate early stage. All that leads some Jews to wonder if it's the right time for a Jewish president.

"Things have gotten a lot more fraught than they were three years ago," says Alan Mittleman, a religion professor at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and head of a three-year study of Jews in American public life. "Then, you could have said Lieberman was the de facto leader of the American Jewish community. I'm not sure anymore."

Jews are only about 4% of the U.S. electorate, but they have clout beyond their numbers. They are active fundraisers and contributors. In competitive states such as New Jersey, where they make up 12% of the electorate, they can be a pivotal voting bloc. Jews voted 4-to-1 for Democrats in the last three presidential elections, a ratio Republicans want to narrow in 2004.

Lieberman's pollster, Mark Penn, says Lieberman has a 93% approval rating among Jews. But only about half that percentage pick him when asked whom they'd vote for in a Democratic primary.

Given the lackadaisacal nature of his campaign, it seems like Mr. Lieberman is only in this for the honor of running, rather than taking his own candidacy seriously. He'll be done after finishing well back in IA and NH, so you have to wonder if he'll not just get out of the race before the primary season even starts.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:50 AM

TRIUMPH OF THE BUREAUCRATS

Japan: An autocracy ruled by bureaucrats (Katsuo Hiizumi, 6/09/03, Asia Times)
In Japan, politically unaccountable bureaucrats manipulate those who are politically accountable. Politicians do whatever the bureaucrats tell them to do.

There are numerous other examples illustrating this peculiar structure. Japan has a large number of mega-banks on the verge of bankruptcy. It is not an exaggeration to say that management failures were predominantly caused by the bureaucrats in the Finance Ministry who provided "administrative guidance" to incompetent managers, often themselves retired bureaucrats. Those bureaucrats paid special attention exclusively to the expansion of the banking system - reminding one of the World War II Imperial Navy leaders and their faith in battleship militarism. The Yamato was the biggest battleship in the world at the time and was ultimately blown to pieces by US air attacks in the sea near Okinawa. At present, Japanese mega-banks are, to varying degrees, the equivalents of the Yamato and have every chance of suffering the same fate.

And take a look at what the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education and Science are promoting. Widely known as "education reform", the policy can, on the contrary, be taken as "education destruction" in practice. It was agreed that there was too much pressure on primary-school students. So now, thanks to officious bureaucrats, Japanese primary education is being devastated. Teachers are forced to use 3 for the ratio for calculating the circumference of a circle instead of the previously used 3.14, a more correct approximation of pi. Making too much of English-language schooling produces children who are unable to speak, write and read proper Japanese or English. Similarly in higher education, universities are forced to merge and teaching and research plans are drawn up centrally, all in the interest of budgetary efficiency and "fairer", more uniform national standards. They
put an emphasis on the forced integration of a number of national and public universities and assess academic research plans submitted by teaching staff in order to draw up a budget. We are facing bureaucratically imposed educational totalitarianism. The study of philosophy or history, the basic issues in the humanities, is becoming impossible. Such subjects are "impractical".

Japan - after numerous failed efforts at reform - remains filled with politicians who are only interested in power and their ability to hand out concessions to stay in power. Bureaucrats rule. Japan is neither a democratic nor a liberal state. It is an autocratic state ruled by unaccountable bureaucrats manipulating unthinking politicians buying off a dwindling number of voters participating in elections.

Ezra Pound has this one covered, The Passport Nuisance (The Nation, 11/30/1927):
What, gentle reader, are bureaucrats? Hired janitors who think they own the whole building. The French, being more given to speculation than we, have recently produced several students of bureaucracy, several authors who have studied the fonctionnaire as one studies other poisonous insects, and even tried to explain and account for his actions, his inhibitions. The result is not encouraging. One can sympathize with a tyrant, led on by some megalomania or some dream of ultimate benefit to the race or some decoration of his own personal glory; one can sympathize with the crook who does it for excitement, or the poor devil who steals to feed himself or his family; but for the rond-de-cuir who sits in an office devising, in perfect safety, some inane means of annoying others, one can have no tolerance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:36 AM

STRANGE AND MOURNFUL DAY

False Hope in a Bottle: His wife's life was extended by a few months thanks to experimental drugs. But what is the real cost of extending one's life? (TOM NESI, 6/05/03, NY Times)
[A]ccording to the medical profession, the experimental treatment had worked. Susan lived almost three months longer than the average patient with glioblastoma. Somewhere in some computer database, Susan's experimental regimen will be counted a success. She was a "responder." And therein lies the terrible truth behind the approval of "miracle drugs" on the basis of "tumor shrinkage" or "extended days." Susan's life was extended. But at what cost?

During those final months, we incurred expenses for four ambulance trips, two weeks in a critical care center, a full-time home health-care aide, a feeding tube and electronic monitor, home hospital equipment, occupational therapists, social workers and medication. My wife's treatment cost at least $200,000 (most of which, fortunately, was covered by insurance). I had to greatly curtail my work schedule and hire someone to handle the myriad bills.

I still hear the words of my wife's surgeon after her disastrous third surgery: "We have saved your wife's life. . . . We have given you the ability to spend more quality time with your loved one." And the words she scribbled on a notepad two weeks later: "depressed . . . no more . . . please."

Susan's last half hour was peaceful. We gave her morphine. Her eyes fluttered. I held her hand. Finally, her breathing stopped. On the table next to her were hundreds of pills, nutrition bottles, vials, needles. No longer needed.

Where there's some prospect that someone's life may be saved and their disease defeated, even extravagant expenditures may be justifiable. But where we're talking about people just buying themselves a few more hours, days, weeks, months, it is perhaps better to help them face up to the inevitability of their own imminent mortality. And, one problem with how we deal with these issues is unintentionally revealed in the surgeon's words to Mr. Nesi: "We have given you the ability to spend more quality time with your loved one." In many (most? all?) cases the decisions end up being driven by the needs and desires of others rather than of the patient, who--weakened by disease, drugs, etc.--is unlikely to be in a state that allows them to clearly comprehend and vigorously defend their own best interests. The final indignity we heap upon the dying may well be to use them to serve our own ends.

June 10, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM

CASSEROLE FOR THE WHOLE COUNTY

BIG FISH STORY: Angler battles for hours to land 1,152-pound tuna (DOUG PIKE, June 7, 2003, Houston Chronicle)
The bigger the fish, the longer the story. That is why, nearly two weeks later, it still takes Ron Roland considerable time to recount his battle with a 1,152-pound bluefin tuna, the largest fish ever caught on rod-and-reel in the western Gulf of Mexico.

During the Memorial Day weekend, Roland and three more fishermen aboard the 50-foot Hatteras, Miss Cathy, were participants in the Baton Rouge Invitational out of Venice, La. They targeted blue marlin, wahoo, dorado and yellowfin tuna in near-perfect conditions but for many hours had missed their marks.

Most of their time was spent trolling around two deep-water production platforms, Ursa and Mars, both of which are traditional stops for Louisiana's sportfishing fleet. They dragged baits elsewhere, too, but caught nothing.

Around 10 a.m. Saturday morning, after spending the night offshore, they heard radio chatter about a rip line near another platform, Lena, 25 miles off the delta and on the way home. Boats already there had hooked a variety of fish, including a couple of blue marlin. With little to lose, they spooled up and sprinted north.

"There were chicken dolphin all over that rip," said Roland, who lives near Dallas and is a longtime friend of the boat's owners, brothers Paul and Michael Ippolito. Hours passed, and still no bites. The engines fell idle, and Roland figured that someone had called it quits.

Instead, Michael had spotted a violent surface commotion in the distance and was convinced it was caused by bluefin tuna, although Gulf fishermen rarely have encountered these giants since the 1980s.

Michael repositioned the boat, and his crew dropped six large lures into the wake.

"About 30 seconds later," Roland said, "the flat line screamed."

Should we assume that the author is pseudonymous?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM

WHERE'S THE OIL?

Looting Leaves Iraq's Oil Industry in Ruins (NEELA BANERJEE, June 10, 2003, NY Times)
Standing under the merciless sun outside his office, surrounded by employees shouting angrily about pay, Jabbar Ali al-Leaby, the director general of the South Oil Company, lost the little patience he had left.

"Be satisfied with what you got," he told the men. "Do you know what I went through to get even this money for you?"

It was only three hours into the workday, but Mr. Leaby's frustrations started, as they do every morning, when he arrived around 8 to the lone refurbished office in a complex of buildings so thoroughly ransacked that birds dart through the upper stories. Employees of South Oil, Iraq's leading oil producer before the war, are now idle because looting has brought most of the company to a standstill.

"The other day, there was looting and sabotage at the North Rumaila field," Mr. Leaby said. "The day before that, at the Zubayr field. For three months, I've been talking, talking, talking about this, and I'm sick of it."

This is now the state of the Iraqi oil industry, custodian of the world's third largest oil reserves - an estimated 112 billion barrels - and the repository of hope for the United States-led alliance and the Iraqi people themselves. Money from oil, the Bush administration has said repeatedly, will drive Iraq's economic revival, which in turn will foster the country's political stability. Many Iraqis agree.

Yet from the vast Kirkuk oil field in the north to the patchwork of rich southern fields around Basra, Iraq's oil industry, once among the best-run and most smartly equipped in the world, is in tatters.

Looting, sabotage and the continued lack of security at oil facilities are the most recent problems the industry and its American overseers must address in order to get petroleum flowing again, especially for export.

Some Iraqis believe that the looting is deliberate sabotage by people still loyal to the Baath Party rule of Saddam Hussein. Whoever is behind the pilfering and destruction, they have compounded the problems accumulated over 12 years of United Nations sanctions. And the expertise needed to get the oil flowing again often resides with oilmen now tainted by their past association with Mr. Hussein.

This is outrageous and someone owes us an explanation. From listening to Europeans, Democrats, and antiwar activists, we'd been led to believe that this was a war about oil. That we did not secure the fields and immediately begin pumping oil calls this justification for their opposition to the war into question. If they lied about this or distorted the intelligence to try and sell their case then their credibility will be severely damaged. When the next war comes and they try to tell us that America is acting out of selfish motives, why should we believe them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 PM

THE RELUCTANT EMPIRE (via Alastair)

From the evil empire to the empire for liberty (Paul Johnson, June 2003, New Criterion)
For America, September 11 was a new Great Awakening. It realized, for the first time, that it was a globalized entity itself. It no longer had frontiers. Its boundaries were the world, for from whatever part of the world harbored its enemies, it could be attacked, and if such enemies possessed weapons of mass destruction, mortally attacked. For this reason America was obliged to construct a new strategic doctrine, replacing totally that of National Security Council paper 68 of 1950, which laid down the doctrine of containment. In a globalized world the United States now has to anticipate its enemies, search out and destroy their bases, and disarm states likely to aid them. I call this defensive imperialism. It is a novel kind, but embraces elements of all the old. Significantly, NSC 68 of 1950 specifically repudiates imperialism. Its replacement will necessarily embrace it in its new form. There are compelling reasons why the United States is uniquely endowed to exercise this kind of global authority.

First, America has the language of the twenty-first century. English is already the first world language in many respects, and this century will see its rapid extension and consolidation. As first the Greeks, then the Romans discovered, possession of a common language is the first vital and energizing step towards
embracing common norms of law, behavior, and culture. A more secure world will be legislated for, policed, and adjudicated in English. Second, America has, and will continue to acquire, the technology of the twenty-first century, its lead being widened by its success in providing the clearest climate of freedom in which inventors, pioneers, and entrepreneurs of all kinds can operate. In the nineteenth century, the great age of the formal empires, the imperialist thrust was backed by the industrial revolution, producing manufactured goods much cheaper and in far greater quantity than ever before. In 1800 it was Asia which produced the majority (57 percent) of world manufactured output, the West only 29 percent; by 1900 the West was producing 86 percent, Asia only 10 percent. Today, America's production of world wealth, both absolutely and relatively, is accelerating. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, it added $5 trillion to its annual GDP. By 2050 the US share of global output will constitute over a quarter of the world total and will be as much as three times as big as, for instance, the European Union.

Traditionally, successful imperialism has reflected high birth-rates and the ability to export large surplus populations. The climax of European imperialism in the nineteenth century coincided with the European population explosion. America has never exported people overseas. On the contrary, its growing power and wealth has reflected its ability to attract and absorb them. That continues. American now accepts more immigrants than the rest of the world put together. The amazing ability of groups like the Cubans, the Hong Kong Chinese, the Vietnamese, and other new arrivals to strike roots and create wealth is a key part of America's continuing success story. But America also has a high birth rate. Its population is now coming up to the 300 million mark. By 2050 it will be over 400 million. By contrast, Europe's population will shrink and the percentage of working age will fall rapidly. Population forecasts are notoriously unreliable and some predictions of what is likely to happen in Europe (and Japan) in this century are so alarming as to be discounted. But clearly there is a marked and growing contrast between Old Europe and Young America. And the combination of an accelerating technology and an expanding world-force will be irresistible in terms of economic and military power. [...]

One thing is clear: America is unlikely to cease to be an empire in the fundamental sense. It will not share its sovereignty with anyone. It will continue to promote international efforts of proven worth, like GATT, and to support military alliances like NATO where appropriate. But it will not allow the UN or any other organization to infringe on its natural right to defend itself as it sees fit. The new globalization of security will proceed with the UN if possible, without it if necessary. The empire for liberty is the dynamic of change.

The vigor with which British conservatives (like Mr. Johnson and Niall Ferguson) are pushing the notion of America as empire is somewhat curious. It almost seems as if they think they need us to acknowledge our imperialism in order to legitimize past the British imperial past. Perhaps true Tories are so embattled across the pond that such endorsement from us is necessary to them--if so, fine, we're an Empire. But Mr. Johnson paints the definition so broadly--a "defensive empire"?--that he hasn't left all that much meaning in the term. If simply being the culture that shapes the times is all it takes to be an empire then we've been one for quite a while.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 PM

AND THUS WE EMERGED AGAIN TO SEE THE STARS

Born in the eye of the FBI: It is 50 years since Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed as spies. Their son Robert was just one of the 'red diaper' babies - children of communists, targets of McCarthy. (Gary Younge, June 7, 2003, The Guardian)
Fifty years on, the Rosenbergs' trial and execution remains the most potent emblem of this gruesome period in US history. Jean-Paul Sartre described the execution as "a legal lynching that has covered a whole nation in blood". "When two innocents are sentenced to death, it is the whole world's business," he added.

And the world duly made the Rosenbergs their business. Before their execution, American embassies across the globe were flooded with petitions and letters; one protester was killed in the crush at a "Liberez les Rosenbergs" rally in the Place de la Concorde, Paris. The liberal consensus at the time was that they were both completely innocent. Investigations and revelations since the end of the cold war have revealed that Julius Rosenberg probably did pass secrets to the Soviet Union, although nothing remotely as serious as those relating to the atomic bomb. Meanwhile, Ethel was almost certainly innocent - sentenced to death on the accusation that she typed the spying notes, but in truth because she refused to testify against her husband.

Her brother, David Greenglass, whose testimony played a major role in sending her to the chair, has since admitted that he lied. He said that he gave false testimony because he feared that his own wife might be charged, and that he was encouraged by the prosecution to lie. "I don't know who typed it, frankly, and to this day I can't remember that the typing took place," said Greenglass, who was sentenced to 15 years and released from prison in 1960 for his part in the so-called "spy ring".

If the Rosenbergs' deaths were symbolic of America's political intolerance, the fate of Robert Meeropol, and that of his older brother, illustrated the precariousness of the lives of children whose parents were members of the Communist party.

Holy mental gymnastics, Batman! No one any longer questions the fact that the Rosenbergs were Communists and agents of the Soviet Union. Yet our prosecution and execution of them constitutes "political intolerance"? What are supposed to do with traitors?

It's remarkable that even fifty years on the words of Whittaker Chambers to his children still have such resonance:
Beloved Children,

I am sitting in the kitchen of the little house at Medfield, our second farm which is cut off by the ridge and a quarter-mile across the fields from our home place, where you are. I am writing a book. In it I am speaking to you. But I am also speaking to the world. To both I owe an accounting.

It is a terrible book. It is terrible in what it tells about men. If anything, it is more terrible in what it tells about the world in which you live. It is about what the world calls the Hiss-Chambers Case, or even more simply, the Hiss Case. It is about a spy case. All the props of an espionage case are there--foreign agents, household traitors, stolen documents, microfilm, furtive meetings, secret hideaways, phony names, an informer, investigations, trials, official justice.

But if the Hiss Case were only this, it would not be worth my writing about or your reading about. It would be another fat folder in the sad files of the police, another crime drama in which the props would be mistaken for the play (as many people have consistently mistaken them). It would not be what alone gave it meaning, what the mass of men and women instinctively sensed it to be, often without quite knowing why. It would not be what, at the very beginning, I was moved to call it: "a tragedy of history."

For it was more than human tragedy. Much more than Alger Hiss or Whittaker Chambers was on trial in the trials of Alger Hiss. Two faiths were on trial. Human societies, like human beings, live by faith and die when faith dies. At issue in the Hiss Case was the question whether this sick society, which we call Western civilization, could in its extremity still cast up a man whose faith in it was so great that he would voluntarily abandon those things which men hold good, including life, to defend it. At issue was the question whether this man's faith could prevail against a man whose equal faith it was that this society is sick beyond saving, and that mercy itself pleads for its swift extinction and replacement by another. At issue was the question whether, in the desperately divided society, there still remained the will to recognize the issues in time to offset the immense rally of public power to distort and pervert the facts.

At heart, the Great Case was this critical conflict of faiths; that is why it was a great case. On a scale personal enough to be felt by all, but big enough to be symbolic, the two irreconcilable faiths of our time--Communism and Freedom--came to grips in the persons of two conscious and resolute men. Indeed, it would have been hard, in a world still only dimly aware of what the conflict is about, to find two other men who knew so clearly. Both had been schooled in the same view of history (the Marxist view). Both were trained by the same party in the same selfless, semisoldierly discipline. Neither would nor could yield without betraying, not himself, but his faith; and the different character of these faiths was shown by the different conduct of the two men toward each other throughout the struggle. For, with dark certitude, both knew, almost from the beginning, that the Great Case could end only in the destruction of one or both of the contending figures, just as the history of our times (both men had been taught) can end only in the destruction of one or both of the contending forces.

But this destruction is not the tragedy. The nature of tragedy is itself misunderstood. Part of the world supposes that the tragedy in the Hiss Case lies in the acts of disloyalty revealed. Part believes that the tragedy lies in the fact that an able, intelligent man, Alger Hiss, was cut short in the course of a brilliant public career. Some find it tragic that Whittaker Chambers, of his own will, gave up a $30,000-a-year job and a secure future to haunt for the rest of his days the ruins of his life. These are shocking facts, criminal facts, disturbing facts: they are not tragic.

Crime, violence, infamy are not tragedy. Tragedy occurs when a human soul awakes and seeks, in suffering and pain, to free itself from crime, violence, infamy, even at the cost of life. The struggle is the tragedy--not defeat or death. That is why the spectacle of tragedy has always filled men, not with despair, but with a sense of hope and exaltation. That is why this terrible book is also a book of hope For it is about the struggle of the human soul--of more than one human soul. It is in this sense that the Hiss Case is a tragedy. This is its meaning beyond the headlines, the revelations, the shame and suffering of the people involved. But this tragedy will have been for nothing unless men understand it rightly, and from it the world takes hope and heart to begin its own tragic struggle with the evil that besets it from within and from without, unless it faces the fact that the world, the whole world, is sick unto death and that, among other things, this Case has turned a finger of fierce light into the suddenly opened and reeking body of our time.

The body still reeks because the enemies of Freedom still find it necessary to lie, even about the incontrovertible past.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:56 PM

TOO CLEVER BY HALF?

Bush likes Dahlan, believes Abbas, and has 'a problem with Sharon' (Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, 6/10/2003)
Dahlan gave an excellent five-minute synopsis of the situation, and concluded by saying to Bush: "There are some things we can do and some things we cannot. We will do our best. But we will need help."

Mofaz burst in at the end of Dahlan's presentation and said: "Well, they won't be getting any help from us; they have their own security service."

You could see that Bush was irritated, says the participant, and he turned on Mofaz angrily: "Their own security service? But you have destroyed their security service."

Mofaz shook his head and said: "I do not think that we can help them, Mr. President," - to which Bush said: "Oh, but I think that you can. And I think that you will."

Then Bush turned to Abbas ... and said: "Mr. Prime Minister, perhaps you could give an overview of the situation in the West Bank and Gaza." Abbas outlined the increasingly dire situation of the territories, saying that the humanitarian crisis was deepening, and that while recent actions of the finance minister had eased the problems, the insertion of new funding was necessary.

Sharon then interrupted and said: "The insertion of new funding must be dependent on your good behavior."

Bush was again visibly irritated: "You should release their money as soon as possible. This will help the situation."

Sharon shook his head: "We have to deal with security first, and we will condition the release of their monies on this alone."

Bush peered at Sharon: "But it is their money ..."

Sharon said: "Nevertheless, Mr. President ..." and Bush interrupted him: "It is their money, give it to them."

After that meeting, Bush turned to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and said, "We have a problem with Sharon I can see, but I like that young man [Dahlan] and I think their prime minister is incapable of lying. I hope that they will be successful. We can work with them."

We can take it for granted that this dialog was staged and intentionally leaked, in order to build up a "good cop"-"bad cop" approach with Sharon in the bad cop role and Bush as the good cop. (No one, least of all Bush, could be so foolish as to believe that "Abbas is incapable of lying.")

Now, I admit Bush is pretty good at this. But sooner or later, this kind of cleverness tends to backfire. My hopes are not high.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:39 PM

A GOOD WAR

The Long Detour: The History and Future of the American Left (James Weinstein, 5.28.03, In These Times)
Today, the Soviet threat (and its identity with socialism) now appears to have been grossly exaggerated. Indeed, the Cold War itself can be seen as an historical hiatus--a ritually choreographed standoff that afforded the American ruling class with both protection from dissent and an organizing principle for its retrograde foreign and domestic policies, while it provided the Soviet Union with a rationale for the Communist Party?s unquestioned rule at home and in Eastern Europe. In short, this time of fear and conformity was a godsend for the rulers on both sides of the Iron Curtain. [...]

The difference between ritual Cold War tensions and the terrors of the new era--real and faux--is all too clear. Now we confront a true enemy, an unpredictable, amorphous, almost intangible seething mass of freelancers, many of them highly educated and civilized, others feral, but all acting out of rage against the new American Empire. These popular forces confront American-style capitalism spontaneously, through non-governmental groups that ignore national boundaries. And they operate with little institutional control. Unlike the old enemy, the new one mounts deadly terrorist attacks on symbols of American military and commercial power, is secretly and informally organized, and is widely dispersed. As such it offers few clear targets for political or military engagement.

This situation threatens the social stability that post-industrial capitalism requires to function smoothly. And it offers the opportunity for megalomaniacal right-wingers to promote their militarist policies and dreams of world domination--as the Bush administration?s actions show all too well. For all of democratic society, and especially for the left, this new (and certainly transitory) stage of history is costly and frightening. It is the price we pay for 50 years of political and intellectual stagnation, a time when the political dynamic of capitalism was sidetracked by the Cold War. As a lifelong socialist, and one-time Communist, the movement of history has always concerned me. And as a pathological optimist, I have always
viewed American history as tending inexorably, if fitfully, toward a more inclusive democracy. Like many Americans who experienced the 20th century, I see history moving forward, driven by the progressive interaction between capitalist and socialist principles.

Still, by equating opposition to corporate domination of public life with disloyalty, our country?s rulers disoriented the left, stifled public discussion of the most basic public policy issues, and transformed the left into a plethora of single-issue movements. This removed the progressive dialectic of opposing principles from our political culture and steadily narrowed the difference between the major parties. Without vigorous debate over alternative values and principles the left has receded from view, and our political system has been converted to one focused on personality, appearance, and the ability to raise money for trivial, brain-numbing television and radio commercials.

In short, it has become mor